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…

Bill

I frequently write about this guy: My favorite four-legged goof-ball. My buddy, Moose. The Moo-meister General. Moogie Howser, MD (he’s not a real doctor). The Great Googly-Moogly. Today I want to take a moment to pay tribute to another furry friend, Bill, who passed away August 19 after seventeen years in the family. Adopted by Sam and Sherry when their daughter Shanna moved away with her family, Bill quickly rose to the position of Most Awesome of Cats with his sweet disposition and willingness to accompany you on walks. I knew Bill for about five years, during which time his eyesight failed and his fur became hopelessly tangled in dreadlock knots, despite Sherry’s best attempts at combing them out. He was a country cat, after all. Even blind, he would get around, presumably by sound and smell. What he seemed to like best, though, was just hanging out with Sherry … Continue reading…

Banshees and Drunken Monkeys

This post isn’t about Independence Day revelers, although a case could definitely be made that the mix of alcohol, fire, and things-that-go-boom does bring out certain banshee-like behavior in some people.   No, the banshees and drunken monkeys referred to in the title are from a quote by Anne Lamott in her best-selling book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. In this wonderful little book, Lamott puts her years of experience as a writer down for all to see and learn from. She talks about that demon, procrastination, and its evil sister, perfectionism, about shitty first drafts and how to know when you’re done. Like a conversation with a good friend who really knows us, she writes about quieting that cacophony of voices in our heads that prevent us from hearing what our characters and stories have to say. “The other voices are banshees and drunken monkeys. They … Continue reading…

Birthday Indulgences

This week in 2014, the world’s nerds celebrated “Star Wars Day” and goslings here by our piece of the river cracked their way out of their shells and got their first taste of the open air. On Friday, Mike’s son, Scout, turned 14. Grandma Sherry, Grandpa Sam, Mike, Scout, Moose and I all gathered to celebrate at the barn. Sherry made a delicious chocolate cake and I have to admit that I had a bigger slice than I needed. Note to self: just because you can fit it all in, doesn’t mean you should.  The below pictures are just a few of the shots we camera-happy people took that night. Scout’s celebration included pizza, root beer, ice cream, chocolate cake, a movie, and a shower of presents: a litany of indulgence that would satisfy any 14 year old, I think.  As for me, I think I’m good on cake for at least another year. In fact, I think … Continue reading…

Be, Still, My Bleeding Hearts

This week in 2014, I considered showing you all a photo of a dead slug. However, in light of last week’s post about slug racing, I thought better of it. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to raise suspicions that I had actually killed it or, at the very least, been complicit in its untimely demise.  I’m OK with losing a race to a slug these days. The reason is that, well, the photo didn’t turn out. Dead slugs are about as photogenic as sand-covered Tootsie Rolls. So I’ll show you a photo of Bill instead. Bill is Sam and Sherry’s geriatric kitty. He is blind and his fur is matted beyond repair, but he’s such a sweetheart, despite that he appears to be giving me a raspberry… Turning attention from Bill the kitty to my plant babies, I can see the rhubarb is about to explode… …and the bleeding hearts are going to … Continue reading…

Super Villain Bug and Appreciating Life

This week in 2014, I hosted whatever Super Villain Bug has been making the rounds.  Stress and other factors may have invited this strain of crud into my body but, like a clueless relative, it then proceeded to take up residence without permission or any kind of hospitality on my part.  In fact, I even actively engaged it in pharmaceutical combat. However, this probably did more to prolong the agony than if I’d just sucked up the misery for a few days, but that’s a good lesson, too. I will say that watching my body duke it out with Super Villain Bug for nearly six days has given me a renewed appreciation for my health. Having lost all but six hours of my entire work week to this nasty microscopic life form, I turned a corner on Thursday and decided to give it the boot. I’d just had some of … Continue reading…

Anniversaries and Endings

We last left off talking about metaphorical castles and the tenacity required to keep them from burning down, falling over, and sinking into the swamp. Since that time, I’ve continued to work on my castle with mixed success. I seem to be in a “one step forward, one step back” mode, and my castle today leans quite precariously toward that swampy embrace.  (Maybe that’s what I get for being daft enough to build a castle in a swamp!). However, I will persevere! In the meantime, we have a lot of catching up to do. Since my last post, my sister and I both had a birthday. She turned a dazzling 25 (or so she appears!) and I turned [edited] years old.  I’m not sure what she did to mark the occasion but celebrations were subdued and relaxed at my house because, honestly, I’ve never been comfortable using the word “party” … Continue reading…

Unexpected Events and a Wish for a Heart-Shaved Belly

In all my befuddlement – and excitement about chocolate cookies – last week, I forgot to mention that Mr. Moo had surgery. While my cousin was spending last Friday night glamming it up and looking beautiful in Roaring 20’s garb… …I was sitting at home soothing a very drugged up pooch, a boy who was not only high on pain meds but was voicing his feelings of confusion and betrayal with constant whining.  He wasn’t the only one who was thrown for a loop on this one. The doctor had pitched the procedure to remove a fast-growing growth like it would be a quick in-and-out operation, not the knock-him-out completely all-day ordeal that it turned out to be. We both pulled through, thankfully, but I was pretty sure that leaving my buddy at the doctor’s office unexpectedly was going to have me reaching for anxiety meds!  A week has now … Continue reading…

Dog, Cat, and the Letter C

I’m back! And, despite the fact that my To-Do list rivals an Ayn Rand novel in length, I’m also starting another project! Some of you may remember that series of posts I did back in 2012, a “Project 52” series of one post per week based on a theme. The year’s theme was “Home,” and, by the end of the project and having had to come up with 52 different ways of looking at the subject, I was ready to relax and just enjoy being “home” without having to write about it.  It was a worthwhile project, though. It kept me writing and kept me actively looking for things to write about, which they say is one way to stave off senility. I must be feeling not-so-subtle scratchings of senility once again at my mental door because I’m signing up for another year, another 52 posts.  This time, however, the … Continue reading…

Advice from a Moose

If you’ve ever visited a national or state park gift shop, Big R, or a Cabela’s, you may have seen the “Advice from a…” line of cups, mugs, t-shirts, writing pads, and knick-knacks on the glass display shelves within. These cute tourist souvenirs created by the company Your True Nature offer philosophical reminders of the lessons we can learn from nature. For example, “Advice from a Squirrel” might say something like, “Plan ahead” or “Protect your nuts!” (I can’t vouch for that last one but, if you’re a man, it seems reasonable). When I was visiting Glacier National Park last summer, I picked up a mug with “Advice from a Moose.”   As I was sipping from this mug today, I thought about what else I can learn from a moose and then, more specifically, my thoughts meandered to what I can learn from Moose. This is Moose. He’s an … Continue reading…