The Mouse Hotel & Playground Solution

Mouse Cage

Living in a barn, it’s nearly impossible to keep the critters out. Most people are used to spiders getting in, maybe the odd mouse or bat. One year, we had a small family of pine martens take up residence. Now that they’ve moved on, it seems that every few months a deer mouse or two wanders in and starts exploring, nesting, and hunting for food. They’re like little refugees, searching for a safe home of their own. This wouldn’t be a huge problem if they weren’t also so destructive, noisy, and unhygienic. Mice can be carriers of the deadly hantavirus and can pass it to humans through contact with saliva, urine, or feces. I’m all for sharing my food and warmth, but not at the risk of anyone getting sick. Getting these guys out of the barn is an issue of safety and health. But I’m not gonna kill ‘em. … Continue reading…

Life at the Speed of Luna: the Next Adventure Begins

I’ve said it many times. Our dog, Luna, would drop me like yesterday’s chewy bone for anything with a hint of newness. She is always up for the next adventure. She’s always evolving as well, adapting to new challenges. For example, when she wanted out of her pen, she went under the gate. When we blocked off that exit, she exploited a hole in the fence. When we sealed that egress, she considered using the corner braces to climb over. Though she hasn’t yet done that (I caught her in the act and put the kibosh on it), I fully expect she’ll get there someday. But as frustrating as it is sometimes to keep one step ahead of this adventure seeker, it’s also somewhat inspiring. It’s admirable to me that she does not give up and she doesn’t stop attempting expansion of her world. She’s not content to let the … Continue reading…

Goodbye Thorne, Hello Nuance

Love this moment today

Not to put a damper on anyone’s summer fun; after all, it seems like we just got done with winter (and some of us are still keeping our pellet stoves on standby), but we in the Northern Hemisphere have already experienced “the longest day of the year.” Technically, the length of the day itself hasn’t changed – it’s still roughly 24 hours – but the number of hours and minutes we see that great yellowish orb in the sky is at its peak. That’s right, folks, it’s the Solstice. After June 21, the Solstice and the first day of summer, we’re on a downhill glide back into winter. Can you smell the pine-scented candles? Halloween is a mere 129 days away, Christmas is only 184. Let that sink in for a moment…. OK. Moving on. All good yogis know that the key to happiness is to revel in the present moment, … Continue reading…

Unexpected Guests: A Story About Bears, a Rescue, and Never Giving Up Hope

Oreo, a.k.a. Trooper Rocky Cubby Luke Skywalker Vader Shadow

I’m not ready to talk about losing Moose, so I’ll tell you a story instead. It’s a two-parter. Part I – The Bear Family One recent Thursday, five days after Moose passed away, I was puttering around a house that felt a lot emptier than normal, missing my beautiful “Moo Bear.” Standing at the slider-door window, I was listening to Mike, who was in the kitchen talking about cars or something. Suddenly, he tensed up. Looking beyond me to the meadow outside, he asked, “What is that? It’s big and dark!” I turned to look and, sure enough, a large sow bear lumbered into the field. “A bear! Look!” Mike was instantly at the window beside me, binoculars in hand, like he’s The Flash or something. I ran for my camera. With the lens to my eye, I zoomed in. “And cubs!” I exclaimed. Two rambunctious cubs bounded along behind … Continue reading…

Resistance to Change, Meet My New Slippers

Picture of Luna with playful look in her eye.

I have a pair of slippers that is so decrepit that they sometimes trip me as I walk. Sure, I can afford new slippers and, yet, here I am, stumbling down the hall – spilling my coffee, no less – because the right sole has peeled away from the cloth, folded itself under, and caught on something invisible. It’s no joke; slippers can kill. “Dang it,” I say, dabbing at the coffee now dotting my bathrobe, “I need to get new slippers!”  But I don’t. Like with my worn-out slippers, I tend to put up with some things far longer than I need to. Sometimes it’s just easier to live with the problem than to fix it. Other times, though, I don’t know how to make the change, or where to begin. Sometimes it’s resistance, pure and simple, making me struggle against a solution that is obvious. For example, I … Continue reading…

Mindful May: Self-Awareness on the Menu

Last month, I wrote about how sometimes we get derailed from our very good intentions or we plan more for ourselves than we can handle. For me, April was one of those times. I had a list of intended goals for myself and instead of blasting on through them like a boss, I stumbled around them like a geriatric flat-coated retriever doped up on pain meds. In my post, Tactics for the Over-committed: Four Ways to Stay on Track and Stay Productive, I offered four basic tacks I planned to use in May to keep on top of my goals, which include: 1. Accountability – having someone that helps me hold myself accountable. 2. Planning – writing down or declaring specifics for how I will succeed. 3. Letting Go – shelving tasks that fall into the “bit off more than I could chew” category. 4. Rewards – giving myself a … Continue reading…

Step Away from the Keyboard: Tips for Avoiding Ineffective Online Arguments

The Internet is a Wonderland, isn’t it? It truly is a magnificent place where truth and fantasy collide, where the media we digest can make us feel either really large or really small, where rationality is optional. Indeed sometimes logging on can be a lot like falling down a rabbit hole. Take social media (no, really, please take it!). Hailed as a monumental leap forward in human communication, this truly is a marvel that has opened doors, created friendships, and given us a nearly instant way to keep in touch with loved ones and old school mates. It is a tool for sharing and learning, and has generated more cat videos and funny photos than any time in history. It has also become a playground for marketers, a battleground for political agendas, and a cesspool in which haters thrive. The most negative and useless place on the Internet is the Comments … Continue reading…

Tactics for the Over-committed: Four Ways to Stay on Track and Stay Productive

Do All the Things Meme

There are some months when I rock my goals every day. I blast right on through each of my daily and weekly tasks, and sometimes even have energy to tack on a few more for good measure. Blam! Take that, To-Do List!! Other months, I peck at my goals like chickens in the yard foraging for bugs. April has been one of those months. My dear friend, Crystal King, launched a book this month, a novel called Feast of Sorrow. She researched, wrote it, shopped it, and reworked it based on professional feedback over about ten years. About 18 months ago, she got the call from Touchstone, the publisher who picked it up. Since then, she’s been working tirelessly with a small army of people to get all the little details right, including additional edits, blurbs, acknowledgments, and accompaniments (like working with top chefs to create a companion cookbook). And … Continue reading…

Ready for a Feast! Countdown to a Delicious Debut Novel

Cover of Crystal King's novel Feast of Sorrow.

It’s not often that I sing the praises of books in this blog; so many other sites do that wonderfully enough. However, this is a special occasion.  In just under thirty days, on April 25, a debut novel written by my wonderful friend, Crystal King, hits the shelves and some of us are ecstatic about it. Some of us just have to share! Feast of Sorrow is set in ancient Rome in the noble house of Marcus Gavius Apicius, a ridiculously wealthy man whose ambition to become Caesar’s culinary advisor is matched only by his appetite for indulgence. He flaunts his wealth by throwing lavish parties and capitalizes on the talents of his slaves to elevate his own status. Does it end well for him? Well, that would be giving it away. To say this is a “delicious novel” is not me being unbearably snooty. This novel centers around the … Continue reading…

Trying New Things: Putting the Shine Back on Winter

New bag and scarf modeled by me

  Most of us start the year ready to tackle goals and do new things. By March, though, some of that shine has begun to wear off and, if you’re like me, you start longing for something to freshen things up, to polish up the motivation a little. Trying new things staves off boredom and research supports that surprising and challenging your brain with new information and tasks can help fight dementia. It also helps to distract you from the long, gray days of winter (if it happens to be March and there is still a foot of snow outside your window). For all of these reasons, I have been in the mood to try more new things, some successful (and delicious) and others a work in progress. Here’s a little run-down of some of the new things I’ve been doing this month to put the shine back on my winter: 1. 5K Sundays.  January’s a … Continue reading…