Category: For the love of animals

Oct 13

Thirteen Reasons Why I Believe in Witches

We all know witches are real…. Wait, we do, don’t we? I’m not talking about the warty, green-faced, Halloween kind (although I’d love, love to give that broomstick-riding thing a try)…I’m talking real, live witches who practice Wicca and other, related forms of neo-paganism. I’m not an expert in or a practitioner of any of these disciplines–can’t seem to make religion stick to me–but I find them interesting, inspiring, and worthy of respect.

Image via pixabay/RondellMelling

To be clear, then, when I say I believe in witches, I mean I believe in many of their beliefs. I think their point of view is a healthy one–nurturing and full of promise. In case you’d care to know why, I’ll be more than happy to count the ways…

One: they love nature and seek to live in harmony with it. Considering that we’re one species among the masses, I have to think living in harmony with nature is the way to go. Personally, when I’ve been disconnected from the natural world for too long, I feel it. I become ungrounded. Lost.

Image via pixabay/MariaMargareta

Two: they view the Earth as our mother. Not a bad point of view to take, considering what naughty Earth’s children we’ve been for the past…oh, two centuries or more. I feel connected to my fellow human beings and my fellow creatures…this Earth is our provider and our home. None of us would be here without it, and none of us will be here if we destroy it.

Three: they follow the Three-fold Law. Also known as the Rule of Three or Law of Return, it states that “Everything you do comes back to you, times three.” So, that mean little thing you’ve been thinking of doing? Might want to rethink it. On the other hand, that person you’ve been helping, out of the kindness in your own heart? Good on you (and unto you).

Four: they believe in the strength and value of womankind. We’ve come a long way, ladies, but we still have a ways to go. Whaddaya say we continue to boost each other up? (That tearing-each-other-down stuff is just so…yesterday. Bleh.)

Image via pixabay/HNewberry

Five: their practices and beliefs are strongly connected to the moon. As a woman, my body and its cycles are pulled by the waxing and waning of the moon. Pretty cool, am I right? I think so. Even after I’m no longer fertile, I plan to maintain that connection. In modern paganism, the moon is representative of the goddess, so all women–young or old–should feel strengthened by her energy.

Image via pixabay/CITYEDV

Six: they live according to the Wiccan Rede. “Do what you will, so long as it harms none.” (It can be expressed in varying wording, but the central concept remains the same.) This statement, although it might seem permissive at first, casts a pretty wide moral net. Yes, you have freedom of choice, but your decisions must take into account the others who might be affected by your actions, both now and in the future.

Seven: they believe the divine can be seen in every part of nature. Every creature, no matter how tiny, has value; every itty bitty morsel of the natural world, down to the tiniest pebble, is part of a greater whole. All of nature matters and is deserving of respect.

Image via pixabay/usesense

Eight: worship can be solitary or practiced with a group. As an introvert (INFP/J), this is music to my ears. Speaking of music, it and meditation are often incorporated into worship. Yet another cause for celebration.

Image via pixabay/RJA1988

Nine: intuition and healing are valued and practiced. What can be bad about becoming better attuned to yourself and to others? Taking that knowledge a step further–using it to help heal–is one seriously positive endeavor.

Ten: neo-pagan religions are decentralized. There is no designated leader, no governing body, no written set of rules that all must follow (though most, if not all, adhere to the Wiccan Rede and Three-fold Law). Neo-paganism is not a one-size-fits-all religion; it can be tailored to meet a group’s or an individual’s needs.

Eleven: they believe in the value and equality of both men and women. Not only are the masculine and feminine honored, they are valued in terms of how they interact and support one another.

Image via pixabay/Hans

Twelve: they believe sex, when practiced consentually and responsibly, is a healthy, powerful part of our human experience. Whew. Such a refreshing stance for a religion to take, no? Hooray for this one.

Thirteen: the divine lives within everyone. We are able to bring that benevolent, creative power forth, and we’re able to use it to influence our own lives and each others’ lives–all for the better.

So, yes, I do believe in witches and I believe in giving them their due. They are all about living in harmony, without doing harm.

Personally, I think humanity and Mother Nature could use a little more witch love.

Image via pixabay/MikesPhotos

Happy Friday the 13th, all!

Sep 20

Our Butterfly Journey

I don’t have any butterfly tattoos…yet, but I admit it: I adore the fluttery critters. They’re beautiful, sure, but it’s more about their changing from something slightly awkward and a little, um, less than elegant, to something majestic and noteworthy and free. (As for me, pretty sure I’m stuck in my chrysalis phase.)

I find butterflies enchanting on any given day, but lately, I’ve been a little obsessed. (You may have noticed if you follow me on Instagram). Though I’ve never “raised” butterflies before, I have cared for them in the past: one a black swallowtail, which had been hit by a car and had a damaged wing; the other a monarch, whose wing never straightened after it emerged from its chrysalis. The monarch was with us for over a month; it seemed comfortable with being held and regularly drank honey-water from my fingertips. (Butterflies drink with a proboscis, but they can also find food by “tasting” with their feet.)

This summer, though, I specifically invited monarchs into our yard. How? Simple: I bought some milkweed plants (here’s the post, with photos), and a Mama Monarch dropped out of the sky and laid her eggs right in front of me. Pretty accommodating, don’t you think?

*Milkweed, in its many varieties, is the only host plant for monarch caterpillars. There’s been some controvery about growing tropical milkweed for monarchs, but it seems to me the good outweighs the risks, especially if you prune your tropical milkweed at various times. (A link at the bottom of this post will take you to an article that addresses the issue in detail.)

By Bfpage – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35048874

Within a short time, I’d discovered my first tiny caterpillar, already in its second instar phase:

This little caterpillar and its caterpillar siblings ate and grew and ate and grew…

   

(Third and fourth instars)

…until they reached their fifth instar phase. I brought the last two inside, so the kids and I could watch what would happen next (and also because, outdoors, their numbers kept dropping and we were concerned that they were being lost to predators).

       

Left to right: fifth instar with a fresh milkweed leaf in the background, caterpillar forming J-hook, new chrysalis

*Here’s a video of a caterpillar forming its chrysalis–if you’re faint of heart or weak of stomach, you might want to skip this one: 🙂

The caterpillars made their chrysalises (also: chrysalides) within a couple days of one another, so we sat back and waited for them to emerge.

      

Changes taking place in the chrysalis; notice the gold specks in the sunlight?
(Even looking like an alien life form, the butterfly manages to be beautiful)

   

It takes at least three hours for the butterfly’s wings to straighten and dry

   

Female on left (thicker veining on wings);
male on right (two spots on lower wings, thinner veining)

Do we think our monarchs are extra-special? Yup! We’re partial, we admit it, but ours are also fourth generation monarchs, the last of the summer. While earlier generations (born in the spring and early summer) live for about two to six weeks, our monarchs should live for up to a whopping eight months. In that time, they’ll make the long journey to Mexico, where they’ll hibernate in oyamel fir trees.

*Logging in Mexico has reduced the forests where the monarchs overwinter; as a result, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed the monarch migration as a “threatened phenomena.” (Source: National Geographic)

Image via pixabay/skeeze

Hibernating monarchs

In the early spring, the monarchs will reach sexual maturity and mate, migrating up to northern Mexico or the Southern US. Here, they’ll mate and lay their eggs. Those offspring, when they reach adulthood, will migrate farther northward and lay their eggs. So, I’m expecting my butterfly grandkids to be born sometime around here early next summer. I hope they’ll remember to visit.

Here’s a brief video on our butterfly experience:

There’s been some controversy about growing tropical milkweed for monarchs, so here’s a good article that should address questions on that front:

https://monarchbutterflygarden.net/is-tropical-milkweed-killing-monarch-butterflies/

For more on monarch migration and decreasing numbers of overwintering monarchs, I’d recommend:

https://www.learner.org/jnorth/search/Monarch.html

https://monarchbutterflygarden.net/8-things-know-monarch-migration/

Sep 15

Two Butterflies went out at Noon, Emily Dickinson

In honor of the butterflies we’ve been “raising” (post on them to come), I thought I’d share Two Butterflies went out at Noon, by Emily Dickinson.

Dickinson was born (1830) and died (1886) in Amherst, Massachusetts. She lived in relative isolation throughout her life, although her family provided her with intellectual and emotional companionship. The rare visitors to her family’s home also had a significant impact on her, as can be evinced throughout much of her work. Though she was not publicly recognized for her writing during her lifetime (her first volume of poems being published posthumously), she is considered to have helped create a unique, distinctly “American” poetic voice.

I love Emily Dickinson’s poems, not only for their natural themes, but also for their seeming simplicity which often belies deeper meaning.

Two Butterflies went out at Noon

Emily Dickinson1830 – 1886

Two Butterflies went out at Noon—
And waltzed above a Farm—  
Then stepped straight through the Firmament  
And rested on a Beam—  
   
And then—together bore away 
Upon a shining Sea—  
Though never yet, in any Port—  
Their coming mentioned—be—  
   
If spoken by the distant Bird— 
If met in Ether Sea
By Frigate, or by Merchantman— 
No notice—was—to me—

Thank you for reading! Hope you’ll join me in wishing our two butterflies well as they enter the Firmament!

May 28

What You Wish For

There are times in my house–quiet times–when you wouldn’t know we had any pets at all…unless you looked around, that is. Dogs seem to be dozing all over the place (often with our lone cat somewhere in their midst). Don’t even get me started on the other evidence: fur.

At other times, even if you closed your eyes, there’d be no mistaking that there are more than a couple of dogs here. They burst into activity and seem to be everywhere at once, wrestling and chasing one another, barking or play-growling, hunting down and dismembering unsuspecting chew toys.

Here’s a little clip of most of them, doing a bit of their doggy thing.

Today, during one such moment of canine chaos, I thought, I feel like I’m living in the middle of a wolf pack. The thought, in turn, struck a memory: I once wished for this.

Years ago, I’d read about a couple who lived in a national park somewhere, surrounded by nothing but woods and wildness. They were there to study the wolves, and could sometimes even watch the pack’s interactions through the windows of their home. How peaceful, I’d thought. I could do that. Part of me–most of me–could really love that life.

Image via pixabay/Der_Windsurfer

Another time, I’d read an article about a family who’d adopted a great big bunch of kids–all colors and creeds, ages and sizes. That, too, I felt I could love. I’ve discussed adoption with my husband many times over the years, and at one point, “the more, the merrier” sounded really, really good. I’m someone who enjoys quiet and craves solitary moments, someone who loves a tidy, clean house–not that I remember how it feels to have such a house–but I was willing to trade those preferences in return for so much giving and receiving of love. I wanted to expand our family by opening it to those who didn’t have one. I wanted to love multitudes.

Image via pixabay/Theo_Q (image is cropped)

The funny thing is, I feel like the universe has granted me those wishes in a roundabout way. Sure, they’ve been altered, but still…

I have my wolf pack. Not only can I watch their wild play through the windows, but they also carry it indoors, often right up onto and across my lap. True, only one of them can really qualify as lap-dog sized, but on the upside, there’s no such thing as catching a chill when you’re resting in this house–not with a dog curled up in front of your chest, another behind your legs, maybe one nestled by your feet, possibly another perched along the top of the couch, and the fifth and final (and largest) lying on the floor next to you. It can get pretty cozy, living inside a wolf pack, but that’s not so bad.

I have my adopted family, too. Our dogs certainly don’t qualify as children, yet we’ve taken those who were without families and we’ve opened our home and hearts to them. Not that I wouldn’t love to welcome a child or two (maybe more?) into our family–if I had the money and the time and the sanity to spare–but the older I get, the more I have to acknowledge that ship has most likely sailed. Yet we love our dogs and you’d better believe they give that love right back, with some to spare.

There are definitely times when I fantasize about having only one or two pets (not that I’d trade any of ours for anything). Days when I’ve just finished sweeping or vacuuming and already there are little wisps of fur floating toward the floor. Moments when I panic. So. Many. Dogs. What have I done? It can be a little too much of a good thing, but in my defense (probably my only defense), it’s hard to say no to kids and puppies, especially when you love them both. Regardless, I asked for this…in some way or another…and the universe saw fit to give it to me.

There’s a Buddhist quote that says, “Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought.” (From The Dhammapada; for the complete quote, visit: King’s Lynn Triratna Buddhists: Dharma Quote of the Week.) Though this quote has much more depth of meaning than what I’m discussing here, I feel the two ideas are related. If you think a certain way, your mind begins to focus in that direction. Your perspective will be affected, your choices will align with your beliefs, and the course of your life may become deeply altered over time. I think of this, in very basic terms, like driving a car: if you turn your head one way or the other, there’s a pretty good chance your steering wheel will follow.

The moral of my post? You know it already: watch what you wish for (because you just might get it).

Is there anything in your life that could make you think, I wished for this? How do you feel about it? Was this something you simply wanted, or was there some part of it you truly needed? Are you on the right road, or Is it time to straighten the steering wheel?

Feb 06

Fighting Like Cats and Dogs?

Over the years, we’ve had a total of seven dogs and two cats. (I’m embarrassed to admit how many of them are with us currently–suffice it to say, pet hair is one of my main foes.)

They’ve come to us from different circumstances (all but two were rescues, most had a pretty bad start in life) and they’ve come to us at different ages (some babies, others adults, one a senior–five years later, she’s still tap dancing for treats and spends her mornings playing with puppies). They’ve shared one thing in common, though: they’ve all gotten along.

Chloe and Jake, pioneers in stereotype breaking

Sure, we know the deal. Dogs and cats are so-called “natural enemies,” destined to fight. They are different, after all–not even the same species–while some of their main similarities are that they’re predators with a tendency to be territorial. So, it’s really no surprise that plenty of dogs and cats do fight.

Even around here, there have been days when our home was a far cry from Switzerland. It’s not like we’re spiking the water or anything.

A thirsty Bodhi being very, very patient

As far as we know, none of our dogs had lived with cats before coming here, and vice versa. They weren’t at all comfortable around one another in the beginning. There was fear, on both sides, and that sometimes led to aggression.

One of our dogs, Tess, has borne a scar on her nose since puppyhood, from where Molly the cat taught her not to get too close without an invitation. On the other hand, Molly spent over a year camped out on the stairs, because for our biggest dog, Bodhi, it was infatuation at first sight. He stared (and stared) and she stared back until, finally, Molly got fed up and traded fear for coexistence. These days, if not exactly the best of friends, they are at least peaceful acquaintances.

Molly and Bodhi, conspiring in an all-too common furniture siege

I can’t be sure how or why all our dogs and cats opted to get along, but I do know it took time and required an effort from both sides. Whenever someone new was introduced, there was an adjustment period. There was a slow building of acceptance, which was followed by respect and then trust. Friendships take time to happen (even within species).

Itty bitty Tess meeting our Missy for the first time —

Missy had no idea what she was in for 🙂

It probably helps that our pets are good natured, and they live in an environment where their basic needs are met. It can’t hurt that they all feel safe and loved. Yes, we humans have done our best to welcome them all to our family, but they are the ones who’ve taken it to the next level.

Tess and Molly, breaking bread together, so to speak

(courtesy of Bodhi–these are his bowls)

So, even though our dogs and cats are very different creatures–with the potential to do each other bodily harm–they don’t fight. There may be many factors behind this, but I believe there is one, essential truth at the heart of their peaceful coexistence: it’s in everyone’s best interest to get along.

We humans may not always grasp this point, but I’m grateful that our animals do. It makes the little world inside our home a happier, more peaceful place to live.

Our cast of characters:

              

Jan 06

Top Ten Lessons Learned While Fostering Puppies

About a month ago, my family fostered five puppies for a couple of weeks. It was a lot of fun and a lot of work, but it was also a learning experience. These are the top ten lessons we learned while fostering puppies:

1. Seventy-five-pound Golden Retrievers will try to escape three-pound puppies by attempting to climb inside refrigerators. (*He’s since decided the puppies are the greatest things since Milkbones.)

2. Puppy food apparently tastes much better once it’s been spilled and chased across the floor. Puppy paws are the perfect tools for setting food free.20161227_094041-2

3. If a puppy wants to climb out of its pen, no matter how many times a human tries to put it back inside, the puppy will always win.

4. Hoodie drawstrings serve as perfect puppy pacifiers in a pinch (say that five times, fast).

5. If puppies do something extra-adorable, like tugging one another around in a doll stroller, the Laws of the Universe state that it cannot ever be caught on film.
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6. One of the first skills puppies learn is how to capture the prized delicacy called “laundry.”

7. A puppy can and will hunt down a sheet of newspaper, bring it back to its den, and kill it. Repeatedly.

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8. The antidote to fussy puppies is Bob Ross’ Joy of Painting. Turn on an old episode and puppies will be calmly snoozing before you can say, “Happy little tree.” It’s true, Bob Ross really does make all things better.20170106_111909-1

9. Few things make better puppy toys than the boingy kind of door stoppers. They’re equally appealing to kittens and human babies. As adults, it’s almost our obligation to install them everywhere.

10. Puppies have the ability to erase memories. No matter how challenging they can be, all it takes is one squeaky puppy yawn, one puppy “play with me” prance, or one puppy showing up with a stuffed animal in its mouth, asking to be cuddled, for all troublesome recollections to evaporate into thin air.20161208_133050-2

In case you’re wondering what happened to our five foster pups, two went to live with families (with kids!) and one went to live on a horse farm(!) with a new doggy brother. As for the final two, if you saw my post about Instant Puppies, you’ll know my kids fell in love with them and they joined our family. Cheers to all the foster fails out there!

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Nov 28

Instant Puppies, Just Add Water

Turns out I’ve become an instant puppy mom (and, yes, they do need water). Food, too. Plus, lots and lots of newspaper for potty time.

I volunteer at a wonderful animal rescue, where dogs and donkeys, peacocks and pigs, egg-layers and an emu named Simon all live on a lovely little farm with a spectacular view. Once a week, I get to visit all the newly arrived dogs, as well as the long-time residents, a trio of little old men–two Doxies and a Chihuahua–who each own a part of my heart. There’s one place I don’t often go, though, and that’s the puppy room. Sure, I take a peek every once in a while, to see all those darling baby faces, but my volunteer job isn’t to walk the puppies, so I keep my distance. Too much tugging at heartstrings. I’m sure you understand.

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Simon: emu, flirt.

Well, the pups tracked me down, anyway. In the week leading up to Thanksgiving, a large litter of ten puppies arrived at the shelter. Five were in good shape and five were smaller and underweight. With ten mouths to feed, it’s a wonder their poor mother was able to keep any well-fed. A foster home was needed for the five neediest puppies, but volunteers were scarce because of the holiday. Cue: me.

“Sure, I can do it,” I offered. It’ll be tough, I thought, but how hard can it really be? They’re only puppies.

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C Puppies: Cassie, Carson, Clara, Charlie, Cooper

My mantra soon became: what’s harder than taking care of five puppies? Answer: taking care of five sick puppies.

They weren’t sick, not really. They’d been through a lot. Shifted from one place, to the next, until they landed in my home. Their environment was new; their food was new. That can be difficult on puppy tummies. Very difficult, apparently. Now cue: round the clock digestive troubles. I went through several rolls of paper towels, several containers of cleaning wipes, and a large pile of newspaper, carefully saved since last winter, intended to help start our fireplace. Also, I gave up sleep. Lots and lots and lots of sleep.

Regardless, we got through it without any crying. Close, but no crying. I promise. I’m also not talking about the puppies.

All that tough stuff aside, can I tell you? Puppies. A-dor-a-ble. Sweet, round, shiny eyes. Soft, downy fur. Little tiny feet. Darling smily faces.

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Carson and Charlie, and Charlie and Carson

Now might be a good time to confess that we’re adopting two of the five. Yes, “No more puppies,” has been my go-to response, my eternal vow–for the last three years, anyway. My Bodhi was supposed to be it, the last of our puppies. Adult-only adoptions from here on out.

“I don’t have any puppies left in me.” I’ve actually said those words to people. Turns out, there were two puppies hiding.

Why two? Because: Murphy’s Law. Why would my animal-loving children fall in love with the same puppy, when they could fall in love with two different ones?

Why not five, though? Don’t get me wrong. These are all wonderful, sweet, adorable puppies. We’ve fallen in love with every single one of them, truth be told. If it were at all possible and if I’d fallen even farther off my rocker, we might actually keep these five. (Thank goodness we didn’t agree to foster all ten.)

Itty Bitty Cooper, full of spunk

It’s just the tiniest one was so tiny, and he needed to be held a lot when we first got him. We weren’t sure he’d make it. So, there was the first instance of puppy love. My daughter fell hard. Even my oldest son, who was with me on the “No more puppies” train, admired the little guy’s spunk. Then, a quiet, gentle female happened to remind us all of our dear black lab mix, Missy, who we’d lost years ago to old age and cancer. Another son, down.

cassie

Sweet little Cassie, gentle and quiet

Honestly, I was right there with my kids, but I was still holding firm. No more puppies, remember? Hello? Anyone, remember? (My husband remembered well, but let’s quietly give that topic a little space for now.)

So, what can I say? Time passes, love grows, and mom vows wither.

We’re adopting two of our five foster pups. We’re also hoping friends, neighbors, family–people we trust and care for–are the ones to provide homes to the other three. Heck, the other seven would be nice. No pressure, anyone, but we’re counting on you. 😉

Why do we do it? Why foster? Why adopt? Because there are so many–babies, adults, seniors. So many going hungry and unloved, so many mistreated. One is too many, so we do what we can.

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Carson, showing his interest in the big game, Clara waiting for a ride, Charlie trying to help her make the stroller go

As for us, I can’t say we pamper our dogs. They don’t go to salons or wear bows in their hair. Although, Nellie does occasionally get her nails painted. (It’s a thing she and my daughter share.) Still, one thing all our dogs do get, in big, heaping doses, is love. Oh, plus toys. Toys, and of course they regularly take over our sofas. Still, love is the big one.

Yes, two more puppies will be an adjustment; they’ll also mean I’ve become the crazy dog lady I vowed not to be. I’ll be honest–I’m worried, but I’m not too worried. What they’ll need most is love and that’s one thing we have in large supply. Turns out, the more love you give, the more there is waiting in reserve. So crazy how that works, isn’t it?

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Puppy love

I sincerely hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving. Turns out, despite all my anti-puppy mantras, I’m thankful not only for all my wonderful, kind, amazing and loving loved ones, but also for puppies.

Oct 20

Cause For Celebration!

Since I’ve already shared this on my facebook page, I knew I needed to add it here!

It’s been a great week, so far, and I’m very grateful!

(1) First and foremost, I found out my little, old Nellie (aka sweetest beagle ever), despite her respiratory issues, does not have heart problems! Yay, Nellie Bean!

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Remember Nellie? (Of course! How could you forget a face like that!)

(2) My awesome cover artist finished working on both my covers and gave me the thumbs up to share the makeover for My Watcher’s Eyes. Thanks so much for all your hard work, BJ!

img_0322My Watcher’s Eyes has a new look!

(3) Got an “OMG!” from the copy editor who worked on my sequel, When No One’s Watching. Thank you for making my day–no, my week!

(4) I get to volunteer at a doggy rescue Friday! Puppy kisses!

Hope your week is equally wonderful! Thanks for your support and I’m looking forward to sharing my upcoming release, When No One’s Watching (January 1, 2017). XO

Aug 30

My Favorite Coffee Substitutes

I’d so like to be a “real” grownup and have a love affair with my daily cuppa: Joe, Mud, Brew, Java, Daily Grind, Bean Juice, Brain Juice, Go Juice, Jitter Juice, Battery Acid, Cup of Jolt, Liquid Lightning, Mojo, Tar, and my current favorite, Brewtus. But alas, no. Coffee is just not that into me (see: Jitter Juice), so we’ve agreed to keep it platonic.

Sylwia Bartyzel

Image via Unsplash/Sylwia Bartyzel

*sigh* unrequited love

So, how have I been filling my coffee-deprived mornings? Well, I drink tea sometimes, but … besides that? Pets. You heard me right. Pets.

Unless it’s raining buckets or bum-freezing cold, I plunk myself down on my front step first thing in the AM, sporting whatever mismatched concoction served as last night’s pajamas, topped off with my crazy morning hair. Then, I hang for a while with my four-leggeds.

Sure, it takes some finesse to pet four furry beings at once (side note: I’ve been brainstorming ways to add extra hands to busy-mom torsos, but still have only two as of yet. I’ll update you if there are any changes on that front). A cup of Brewtus  might give me the energy boost all that petting requires, but since coffee and I are still only friends, I rely on the sparkle of sunlight, the freshness of morning breezes, and the faces of these four lovelies to start my day off right:

Copy of Spring 2011 and Sean's First Communion 012 (2)

Beloved Queen Molly, ruler of all. She mainly divides her time between permitting well-deserved head pets or perfectly-placed chin scratches, and surveying her royal subjects from the elevation of a nearby table top. She also occasionally likes to swat at lowly canines, but only as a hobby. She is a Master Purrer and goes by the nickname World’s Bravest Cat, for consistently tolerating the obsessive stares and stalkings of a certain infatuated Golden Retriever.

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Nellie Bean, aka Sweetest Beagle Ever. She tap dances when she gets really excited, but usually starts her morning with a short explore, before returning with a crooked smile and a distinctive waddle on her four-inch legs. She’s so thoughtful, she’ll even lift her front paw to make tummy rubbing an easier task. She can’t get enough of kisses or cuddles and does a spot-on impression of a stuffed animal (only her snoring gives her away). This senior-aged pup honestly couldn’t be more wonderful if she tried.

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Miss Tess or Tessa Monster, depending on how high she’s set her sass meter at any given moment. She goes from attaining a state of perfect zen inside the house (have you ever seen a dog meditate? because I have), to becoming head-spinning incensed that a bee has dared to look at her family the wrong way. She’s also the universe’s fastest runner and a world-renowned escape artist (the two titles go hand-in-hand from what I understand). She has appointed herself guard duty over our morning porch sessions, but every so often she stops by for some ear rubs and a kiss–or two or five–on the head.

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Last, but never least (especially if he has anything to say about it), is our Bodhi Bear. No, he should definitely NOT be sitting on that seat in the photo above, but what can I say? The dog sees a chair and believes he belongs in it (just ask our vet) and, besides, he has a pretty fantastic smile. (We made him get down immediately after the photo-op, by the way!) Mr. Bodhi Licious is certain he’s still a very tiny puppy, so he spends our mornings on the front step squeezing himself between “Mom” and any furry family member who is vying for attention. All too often that ends with him plopping his 70+ pound self onto my lap.

So there you have it, a glimpse of the magic that gets my mornings going. It’s no Cup of Sludge, but it’ll do. Besides, two of our furry loves were recently diagnosed with illnesses (thyroid and heart conditions) 🙁 and are also into their double-digits, so we’re treasuring every moment we’re given.

Our motto: seize the morning and the day will follow!

 

*One more aside: three of these four were official rescues and the last was “rescued” from a less-than ideal situation, so as you can see, we are all for adopting! Including these guys and former pets (whom we’ve loved into old age and beyond), we’ve adopted from small, local animal rescues, as well as larger shelters.

Please spay and neuter and remember to support your local rescues and shelters! 🙂

Aug 28

Taking Back Sunday

No, not the band. The concept.

Today is the last Sunday of summer break, so it seems even more important than usual for my family to take back the day. Where did it go, you might ask? Oh, it was stolen–by the work, technology, and myriad of other distractions that fill virtually every minute of our daily lives.

We as a people are stressed, aren’t we?

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Image via pixabay/dpkumarjt

Stress? Who’s stressed??!

The lines between worklife and homelife are increasingly blurred–in fact, many of us work from home, which has numerous benefits, but also means we lose much of the workplace’s social aspects along with the regularlity of a 9-to-5 day. Whether WorkAtHome-ers or not, we habitually toil through lunches, endlessly check emails, and often chug away at projects round the clock.

As for technology … ugh. People who know me well know technology and I aren’t the best of friends–in fact, we’re barely on speaking terms–but I won’t launch into (much of) an anti-tech diatribe here. Instead, I’ll sum it up with one thought: technology is supposed to make our lives easier. It has done so in many ways, except in the ways it hasn’t. In today’s world, we’re busier than ever. “Downtime” has become a foreign concept, as we jump from checking emails to texting to Pokemon Go-ing (you know I had to mention it) and so on. People are having an increasingly difficult time disconnecting from the constant barrage of information and stimulation. We hardly ever take the time to be–just be–anymore.

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Image via FreeImages.com/Sarah Vaughan

Can’t we all agree to communicate through smoke signals??

So, today, this is what I want to do: be with my family.

Summer vacation is slipping through our fingers like sand. Working, texting, emailing, etc., will only make it spill faster.

This Sunday, therefore, the emails can quietly wait. The laundry can stay cuddled up in overflowing hampers. Yesterday’s unopened mail can rest easy alongside the general clutter, while outside, the weeds and grass get to soak up the sun and stretch a little taller. Today, those things can all just be–same as us.

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Image via Unsplash/Elizabeth Lies

Time to be, grass

Yes, my family and I are taking back this Sunday and then we’re going to take a walk together–at a park, maybe through the woods, somewhere beyond where the voices of our neverending chores can be heard. We’ll eat together. We’ll talk and laugh and breathe. Today, we’ll pet our dogs and cat. Maybe we’ll sit with a chicken or a guinea pig in our lap.

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Just be today, Charlie

My family will take back our Sunday because we deserve it–a day of rest, a day to enjoy living, a day to be.

Happy Sunday to you–hope you take yours back, too. 🙂