Tag Archives: Hiking

Are You Still Contemplating Where the New Year Is Going?

Garden Gate in Spring
Spring Time in Our Garden

On January 1st, I wrote Contemplation on a New Year. Now it is January 27. We have been through a Capitol Riot, other political upheaval, an inauguration, and continued deaths, infections, and societal closures to avoid virus spread due to the pandemic.

And yet, I feel like I am still waiting for the New Year to start. I feel like I got cheated out of last year too. Since last March, one day is much like the next for me. Getting up in the morning, drinking coffee, hanging out with dogs and hubby, reading a little. Late morning is for blogging, baking, or cleaning. Cleaning is always last on my list.

Lunch splits the day up for us. While we eat, we stream the television show My Name Is Earl. Earl is trying to make the world a better place by righting past wrongs he has committed. And boy, did he excel in the “wrongs” department. Trying to make the world a better place is a worthy goal though, so we persist in watching.

A couple hours of our afternoons consist of walking or hiking with the dogs. This has sometimes been tricky to pull off with the January weather. Our winter has been mild so far. We rotate our walking locations depending on the weather and day of the week. If the weather is dicey, we walk on the campground entrance nearby. It is plowed and rarely salted which is better for dog feet. By then, we require tea! And of course I must follow this with a little reading .

Late afternoon is time for a little more work of some sort. I pick a job or two from the list I keep and knock those out. Then it is time for supper, and tv, and more reading!

What is missing from my existence is family and friends. And so it is for many across our country, and indeed, the world. Until now, I was not able to imagine how much I would miss everyone. And the new people I have encountered through dog rescue, Facebook, and other ways. Some of you, I would have invited over and gotten to know better. I miss our yet to be forged closer friendships.

Many are in the same boat as me. Truth be told, I am luckier than most. I have the option to stay home without losing a job and everything else that would follow. I have dogs and cats and a spouse to pass my days with. I have a warm home, food, and lots of books. (I have been so much happier since I have figured out the selection system and curbside pickup at the library! E-books just don’t do it for me.)

I can’t wait until I am eligible to receive the Coronavirus vaccine. As soon as they tell me, I will be there! I know very few people who have received it so far. My mother-in-law did get her first dose this week. My own mother is long gone, so I don’t have to worry about her. (What I Chose to Do the Day My Mother Died, my most read post of all time!)

Looking back, I guess if I feel like I am still waiting for the New Year to start, that is on me. I need to do some things that make me feel productive and like time is moving forward. What are you doing to make 2021 into a good year? I would love to hear in the comments below.

A New Collar For Cassius

Greyhound Dog in new martingale collar
Cassius in his new collar.

 

Cassius is currently the only greyhound we have. We have had three others over the years, Merlin, Cyrus, and Phoebe. To be precise, Merlin was probably a lurcher. A cross of greyhound and hunting dog. Some hunters like this cross because it can result in a fast hunting dog. Merlin looked just like a greyhound to me, only a litter smaller and shorter, front to back. Merlin was a stray that came running by my house my day. Our three previous greyhounds overlapped in the time we had them for a couple years. Boy, that was a lot of dog food! Greyhounds may look skinny, but they eat a lot because of their fast metabolisms.

The photo above is Cassius in his new collar which arrived on Saturday. It was long overdue. His previous collar was once a fancy, handmade one that I bought for him from a vendor at a dog event, the Pet Expo at Hardesty Park, in Akron a couple years ago. The collar had a hard life (see photo below). As you may know, we have been doing quite a bit of walking and hiking since I retired Fall Hiking. Cassius’ old collar has been torn by briars and underbrush as he goes crashing along the trailside. The other side of the collar is even stained with a substantial amount of blood. On one of our hikes in the fall, as he was looking for a spot in the weeds to do his business, a large thorn caught in one of his ears. The thorn impaled itself in a vein in one of his ears and broke off. I was able to remove the thorn, but then the blood started flowing. And flowing. I had a couple of tissues in my pocket that I used to apply pressure. We had to stop our hike while I treated Cassius’ wound. It took several minutes of applying pressure to staunch the flow of blood. By the time we were ready to continue our hike, Cassius’ ear, a good portion of the collar, and one of my pant legs had large blood stains. All this from a relatively small injury that healed up within days.

 

greyhound dog's old martingale collar
Cassius’ old collar

Greyhounds do have very thin skin, and little body fat, so cuts on them can produce quite an injury. I remember one time Cyrus was running from the pasture to the house and ran headlong into a planter. The ceramic planter broke into shards and cut his head open. There was lots of blood and he ended up getting several surgical staples on top of his head. It must have been feeding time for him to be so intent on getting in the house.

Anyway, back to Cassius’ new collar. I searched for some time for what I wanted. I never did find it, but settled on this one which I do like. Greyhounds should ideally have wide martingale collars. Their necks are bigger than their heads so the martingale type of collar makes it harder to slip out. And a wide one is preferred, about 1 1/2 inches, so there is not so much pressure put on one point on the throat. Again, greyhounds do not have much body fat, so this is particularly important. I wanted his new collar in safety orange or safety yellow. There is lots of hunting in our area and I can see how a dog of Cassius’ size, shape, and coloration might be mistaken for a deer from a distance. Better safe, than sorry! My search produced no martingales in these collars. I could find orange and yellow, but not in the designated “safety” collars. So, I went with the green. It is pretty and bright and highly noticeable.

greyhound dog napping
Cassius, resting and napping.

After his adventures, Cassius likes to have a good nap. Greyhounds are sprinters by nature, so walking and hiking (Hiking In Winter) over uneven terrain, for long distances tire him out. And greyhounds are excellent couch potatoes. He would be happy napping under a blanket even without the walk!

Can You Take the Small Town Out of the Girl?

Portrait/Photo from 1964
Photo of yours truly from 1964.

Every so often an advertisement for a sweatshirt comes up on my Facebook feed that says “You can take this girl out of Beach City, but you can’t take Beach City out of this girl”. I would have to say this is fairly accurate. Our roots are something that stay with us for our entire lives. The experiences that we encounter growing up play a part in helping to form who we become.

Beach City is a small town near the southern border of Stark County, Ohio. I grew up there from the time I was born in 1962, until I moved away to attend college in 1983. It was a village of 1,200 people, give or take a few.  Even now, the population is just over 2,700. I thought we were “city people” because we lived on one of the two main streets that went through town.

I walked across the street to attend the local elementary school, and home again at the end of the school day, from kindergarten through 7th grade. The only exception to this was on my first day of 1st grade. Kindergarten was only for half a day, so 1st grade was my first full school day. I got in the wrong line at lunch time. I was supposed to eat lunch at school, but got in the line with kids who were sent home for lunch. Oh, the horror! So I dutifully marched across the street to my house. My mother was surprised to see me, especially since I was in tears because I got in the wrong line. My mother fed me a can of Chef Boyardee Ravioli and sent me back to school. These things are earth shattering when you are six years old. Enough so, that I still remember it clearly.

In case you have not guessed, my world was very small. I did not realize this. Like most youngsters, I thought everyone’s lives were this way. Three of my five aunts and uncles lived within walking distance in the same town as us. The other two lived the next town over. They and my cousins were a frequent part of my life.

Most of my time outside school was spent playing Barbie’s, riding my bicycle, walking my dog around town, reading, or sitting on the front porch swing watching the cars go by and daydreaming. Evenings were spent watching television with my mother. That was pretty much what happened every day of my life.

Once a week we would “go to town”. This meant driving to the larger towns of Dover and sometimes New Philadelphia in Tuscarawas County, to shop at department stores and grocery stores. Before doing the shopping on those days, we would often “go visiting” first since we were already in town. We often stopped to see my mom’s second cousin Janice where I got to play with her three children while the grown ups talked. Or perhaps we would see some family friends. Driving 12-15 miles for shopping seemed like a big deal in those days, so it was reserved for once a week. 

Other evenings, mom and I would ride bicycles to visit one of my cousins and spend a bit of time playing. This was big excitement once my cousin Eddie got a swimming pool. That was also the summer I finally learned to swim, despite having taken swimming lessons in previous years. You don’t learn to swim by getting in a pool five days a week, once a year.

Self Portrait
Me, about 56 years later.

Despite living in the country now, and being a few years older, my life isn’t all that different. I have a few more dogs but still take them on walks and hikes. I spend lots of time reading and sitting on the porch or patio and watching or listening as the cars go by. Evenings are often spent watching television with my husband.

In the photo from my childhood, although we lived in town, I was dressed like a country girl in my cowboy outfit complete with the boots. I called it my “cowby” clothes. The Sundays of my childhood were often spent going to the family-owned woods, adjoining the family farm and “running the dogs”. The farm was originally owned by my grandfather, later run by an uncle, and then the uncle’s son. I think that although we lived in town, this is where my country roots began.

So, I guess it really is true, you can’t take Beach City out of the girl.

Hiking In Winter

Hiking with dogs
Shelby takes in the trail scents

We are on a roll. Today is our 18th day in a row of hiking. We have been hiking religiously since the fall, but this is the longest stretch without a day off. We are eager to see how long we can keep it going. My husband carefully checks the forecast, and sometimes the weather radar, to find times during the day to go when it is not raining or snowing heavily. Given that it is January, our hikes have been pleasant and not overly cold.

I hate to think what the dogs’ reaction will be on the first day we are unable to go. Dogs appreciate routine and ours’ come to expect that if we do something two days in a row, it is now part of our schedules. Most days we depart near 2:00 pm for our outings. The dogs start pestering us starting about 1:50 now. They stare at us and begin to pace in anticipation for the fun to begin.

Hiking with dogs in Ohio
A snowy, winter hike with the dogs

We vary our choice of hiking location depending on weather, day of the week, upcoming plans, or maybe just on a whim. The day’s pick may be at a State Park, a County Park, a local cemetery, a Hike and Bike Trail, or just up the road and back. We even have a walking trail around our property to use in a pinch. You have to go around the loop about 5 times to make a mile though. Here is a link to a walk in our woods during the spring. Woods Walk

Most of our hikes are not extremely long. The average length is somewhere between 2.5 to 3.5 miles. The amount of exertion does not always correspond with the length of the walk though. If the terrain is especially hilly, rocky, or swampy, that 2.5 miles can seem far longer than a 3.5 mile walk.

I track all of our outings with the Walk For A Dog App to raise money for Northeast Ohio Shetland Sheepdog Rescue. It doesn’t raise a lot of funds but every little bit helps. (Many other non-profit rescues are available as beneficiaries on this App too!) I like the App because aside from being a fundraiser, it lets me know how far we have walked, the miles per hour, and the time each walk took us. You can also look back at the historical information to see how many miles you have walked over the past 30 days. When we get up over 50 miles a month, I start feeling really good about it!

We enjoy our hikes for multiple reasons. Of course getting exercise and spending time with the dogs are the obvious rewards. We also get to see what birds are in the woods at this time of year. We see what plants and bushes stay green late in the season and throughout the winter. It is easier to locate side trails and see the paths that streams take without all the undergrowth obscuring the view. The sounds of the winter woods are different from other seasons too. Each season has its own beauty and can be appreciated in different ways.

So, here’s to Hike #19. Onward and upward!

How Technology Helped Us Today

Walk for a dog app mapping our hike
Today’s hike, mapped by the Walk for a Dog App

We took a different route on our hike this afternoon. We hiked for an hour and fifteen minutes. Some of the time we were not exactly sure where we were. We had a general idea, but it is easy enough to get turned around. What do you do when you and your hiking partner do not agree on which direction you are going? You download a Compass App and find out. Isn’t technology great?! There is little chance that we could actually get lost in the area we were hiking. It’s just a matter of how long until we get back to the car.

None of the dogs cared. They are happy to hike anywhere and for as long as we want. They did enjoy this particular hike because we were in the woods all the time and we didn’t encounter another person the entire time. And only Zekie cares about other hikers, bikers, etc.

We hike with five of our dogs. I walk Shelby and Claire, the two shelties, and Zekie the Keeshond/Sheltie mix. Hubby walks our greyhound Cassius, and Baxter the Lab/Rottweiler mix. We often elicit oohs and ahs at the sight of our pack. Little Nikki, aged 13, stays at home in front of the fireplace soaking up the heat.

Although our hike was a little over an hour and slightly more than 2.5 miles, it tired the dogs out. Even Zekie the Wonder Dog is resting for the evening. Zekie the Wonder Dog  Until our next hike…

Zekie resting post-hike
Zekie resting post-hike

Hanging out with Claire waiting for better times.

Better Times Are Coming!

Hanging out with Claire while waiting for better times.
Hanging out with Claire while waiting for better times.

I have spent a lot of time recently focusing on how to survive in a pandemic world. In retrospect, most of these ideas are good to apply to our lives in general. But most of us are searching for extra help and guidance right now. When we are spending so much more time and energy just to slog through our daily lives, there is little left over for getting beyond that. See my post giving you some ideas on how to cope. My Top 10 Ways to Deal With Isolation During the Covid Pandemic!

Rather than offer more ideas on how to cope, I would like to offer some words of comfort here. Life is cyclical. There will be good times and there will be bad times. Neither will last forever. The trick is in remembering that. The ecstasy that we feel when we are just married or newly in love, is a beautiful thing. We need to cherish moments like these as they occur. They are a positive experience that we can put into our emotional bank account. Something to draw on and relive when times are tougher. Because they will get tougher.

I think of life experiences as a mathematical sine curve. Positive and negative events go up and down balancing each other out. If time are rough, I think of the curve and know that they will swing up again. Life is not static. Times will get better.

I think it is safe to say that times and events are in a low part of the curve right now. Life is harder for almost everyone. I can’t imagine anyone that Covid 19 has not touched in some way. Those who have become ill or lost a loved are the most affected. But others’ lives have altered too. Businesses have lost income, people have lost jobs. Something so common as going out in public to get food has become a changed thing. There are now masks, sanitizers, and social distance to consider. Nothing is as easy as it used to be. Even when my husband and I take our pack of dogs out for a hike, we worry when a fellow hiker passes. How close did they get? Were they breathing heavily and expelling lots of breathe? Is the air movement good? We carry masks with us and use them as we deem they are necessary.

Hiking with Dogs
Hiking with Dogs

I feel confident that we are at a low point on the curve now so that means that things are going to get better. The roll out of a vaccine is a stepping stone to moving on to better times. Hold on a little longer, better times are coming. I will offer one coping mechanism here that can be used to get you through. Rather than wallowing in the negativity of our current low, spend time thinking about the blessings to come. Make plans for them. I made a previous post about that here. Coping Mechanisms

Our lives will be changing again, mostly for the better. We will be able to safely go out in public again. Not all at once, but each step along the way will be a return to normalcy. We will congregate with friends and family members again. We will share hugs, and I know mine will be long ones! I can see these times in my mind’s eye, even now. Hang on, I know you can do it.

Until then, good health and peace be with you.

Post Christmas Hike

Can you believe this photo was taken yesterday, December 26th? It was 66 degrees in northeastern Ohio, the day after Christmas.

So of course, we took this fine opportunity to go hiking with dogs. This most of the pack, sans Nikki. She is 12 and no longer up to going on walks. Zekie, Shelby, Cassius, and Baxter thought hiking was a grand idea.

Zekie, my reactive dog, even did very well. He was fine with the other people we encountered. We only met one other dog whose owners had him on the side of the trail. I told Zekie that he was being a good dog, and to keep going with the “on by” command. He looked at the other dog a few times but did not bark or react until the other dog, who appeared to also be reactive, barked. But after Zekie barked in response a couple times, he continued walking at my command. It was a proud moment for me!

Good boy, Zekie, good boy!

Good Dog!

Zekie is learning to be a good dog. If you’ve been following his antics, you know he is quite the challenging dog. But he is eager to please so his good behaviors continue to happen more often. Here he is (on the left) near the end of our hike at Shaw Woods over the weekend. He and Shelby are holding a stay so I can get some pictures.

Oops, he got distracted and wanted to see what daddy and the other dogs were looking at. He didn’t break that stay command though. And I didn’t even have treats! Good dog Zekie, good dog.

Buzzard Hike

What do you do when your hubby isn’t home but you want something to do? Take dogs hiking! Although it was hot, Cassius, Baxter, Zekie, and Shelby all had a good time.

Nikki stayed home because, hey, it was hot and she’s 12 years old.

We walked at West Branch State Park on the path along the dam. These turkey buzzards watched us from atop the building. There seem to often be a lot of buzzards in the area. They must like all the wooded areas that surround us.

The pups were all well behaved on our walk and we enjoyed ourselves despite the heat.

Fall Hiking

The summer heat is tapering off.

Except for today when I refused to go outside in the afternoon.

Cooler weather means a return to hiking for us.

Last Saturday I took Zeke and Shelby for hike.

And then on Sunday we took the dogs and hiked at Towners Woods. Although I am out of shape, it was a fun time. And I am in better shape than before I went.

We did try to hike this morning before it got too hot but Cassius re-injured his toe. He tore the nail off it while running at high speeds and turns in the pasture. The trail was rather rocky so it didn’t go well. We turned around and came back home when Cassius started having trouble. There were also quite a few mountain bikers using the trail so it was crowded.

But with fall being near, we should have numerous opportunities for other hikes. Looking forward to it!