Categories
Life

A cuppa

For me, a cuppa (most often coffee, but tea or cocoa work just as well) represents warmth, comfort, energy, optimism. It might help me start my day. Or, it might be part of an afternoon pause. It’s sometimes even a nice way to wind down before bed.

I’ve long had the habit of choosing my cuppa cup to match my mood. Recently, I started documenting the connection between these cuppas and my experiences and emotions. I’ve added some of those past posts here and will continue to add new posts daily. Perhaps, through this ritual, I can bring a laugh, or offer some helpful perspective, or just brighten somebody’s day.

Please join me with your own cuppa. Let’s share some moments.

Categories
Entertainment Fun

Shark

By the time Baby Shark was a thing, my sons were too old to be interested. The Baby Shark obsession skipped our family.

So, I was surprised when I woke up this morning with an earworm of the Baby Shark theme song.

I must’ve heard it somewhere in the past few days, and it settled into my brain, waiting. Lurking. Watching for the right moment to strike.

Good morning. Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo.

Categories
Animals Good Nature People

Similarities

Lately, I’ve been noticing stories about animals and insects and fish and the things they do that are just like humans.

Bumblebees enjoy playing with wooden balls. Goldfish become depressed if they are alone in a small, uninteresting fishbowl. Elephants use their trunks for tickling. Octopi dream when they sleep.

Yesterday, I saw a video of a mother chimpanzee reuniting with her newborn baby. The baby was born via c-section, and the mother hadn’t yet seen or touched it. It’s possible she believed it was dead and gone.

When the mother realized her baby was alive and within arm’s reach, she responded in a way that human mothers (and fathers) will understand. Watch here (you might want to have a few tissues handy): https://youtu.be/1t0Aa7v0sFI

Here’s to having fun, building relationships, learning new things, giving and receiving love, and all the many delightful similarities we humans share with other creatures.

Categories
Family Pets

Assignment

Mollie, the oldest of my three dogs, is a bit of a big sister.

Sometimes, when Charlie and Maggie play, she joins in. She especially likes to play toy tug-o-war, pulling with her teeth, fiercely insisting that Mr. Pig or Monkey or Blue Dog stay on her side. Most often, however, she sits nearby, watching carefully. If she notices that things are getting too rowdy, or that one of the pups has an unfair advantage over the other, she barks and moves in to break things up. If she’s not in the room but hears me or another family member telling Charlie and Maggie to settle down, she comes running. Sometimes, it’s to support us as we try to bring order. Sometimes, however, she barks at us as if to say, “Why are you giving them a hard time?”

When snacks are given, Mollie waits to be sure Charlie and Maggie have theirs before starting in on her own treat. It’s the same with mealtimes; she wants to be sure everybody’s been served before she begins eating.

Mollie’s generally willing to share her space and her toys, but ear scratches and belly rubs…those are not to be disturbed. Charlie understands that he will have his turn and waits patiently, but Maggie is still learning and often crowds in. Mollie isn’t shy about letting Maggie know to back off, this is her time to be the center of attention. Don’t interfere, Maggie. If Maggie doesn’t respect the first warning, Mollie takes it up a notch, baring her teeth, leaving no doubt that her message is serious. Once all the pups have gotten some love, however, the happy pack is restored. All is well.

I realize that I may be engaging in a bit of projection. Mollie’s a dog, after all, guided primarily by instinct and routine. Nevertheless, I believe (and evidence supports) that dogs are capable of emotional action. Mollie behaves in ways that I, as the eldest sibling in my family, recognize. Protective and responsible (the good), sometimes bossy and controlling (the bad), with notes of jealousy and frustration (the ugly) – it’s a balance of feelings, expectations, and outcomes influenced by family position.

Here’s to the ups and downs of being the oldest, the first, the leader of the pack. And here’s to Mollie, who understands the assignment.

Categories
Good People

Message

Recently, I learned about a nonprofit organization called More Than Words.

The goal of More Than Words is to help system-involved youth (16 – 24-year-olds who are in foster care, homeless, or in the court system) with job training and empowerment. These young people run the More Than Words online book and merchandise sites and supporting warehouse and store operations. Additionally, they participate in workshops and receive case management and individual support to help them navigate their current life challenges and set and achieve their educational and other life goals.

Based on the numbers available on the More Than Words website (mtwyouth.org), it’s a successful endeavor. 95% of the participants have earned or are on track to earn a high school diploma. 88% of the program graduates have held a job for at least six months. Half of the youth eligible to attend post-secondary education programs are doing so. Testimonials from some of the program participants describe hope, help, understanding, skills, and personal growth.

Sadly, we live in world where words are frequently used to make empty promises and irresponsible claims, distract and threaten and discourage. It can be hard to trust what we’re told. Actions, however, rarely lie.

Here’s to the people who are making More Than Words a believable message.

Categories
Fun Pets

Feathers

The most recent addition to our pet family, Maggie, has taken a liking to one of our pillows. She’s been chewing on it, creating a hole in the corner.

I discovered this situation when I moved the pillow, launching a small shower of feathers. They floated upwards, hovered for a few seconds, and then gracefully made their way back down, landing on the bed and the floor and on me.

Maggie’s generally a very good girl. This is really the only destructive thing she’s done. It turns out that she’s younger than we thought when we adopted her; she has most of her adult teeth, but she’s still inclined to chew on things. Her toys are usually the target, but for some reason, this pillow was also attractive to her.

I could be angry, but mostly I’m amused. Sure, I had to clean things up, and the pillow will have to be thrown out. But I found it funny, these feathers floating around me like snow.

Here’s to life with dogs – the good, the bad, and the fluffy in-between.

Categories
Animals Life Nature

Icy

Yesterday, I watched a video of a polar bear making its way across thin ice.

The bear lay down on its belly and used its front paws and forearms to calmly propel itself forward. There was no kicking or clawing or flailing. Instead, it held its head high while moving, using belly heat and fur to create a slick path for gliding.

The bear didn’t hesitate upon encountering the thin ice. It simply moved into position and kept going. Once across, it resumed its four-legged stride without missing a beat. Just another day, out in the wild, dealing with reality.

Here’s to the instinctive wisdom of polar bears.


Categories
Good Life

Chimes

We have a set of wind chimes in our backyard.

Most of the time, especially this past summer, I forget about them. There’s little to no wind, and the chimes are silent.

Sometimes, however, a breeze will blow, and I’ll hear them. Yesterday, for example. We’ve had a change in the weather, the wind bringing cooler temperatures and perfectly clear blue skies.

Our chimes sound a bit like church bells, certainly not as loud but with the same deep, clear notes. I can’t help but listen, breathing in the calming melody, feeling it in my bones.

Not everyone likes wind chimes. I get it; the sound can be distracting, sometimes harsh, especially if the chimes aren’t designed well.

The right ones, in the right moment, however – well, they can be magical.

Here’s to nature’s music.

Categories
Good Life

Running

Some years ago, I was a runner. I wasn’t hardcore; I didn’t run every day or compete in marathons. I was a casual runner, a neighborhood runner, slowly but steadily wearing away the tread on my shoes.

At one point, I did sign up for a local 5k event, mostly out of curiosity. On a warm, muggy morning, I successfully crossed the finish line, not the first person to do so that day – but also not the last. My “runner’s high” from that event seemed to last for quite a while, bringing new energy to my casual approach.

Gradually, however, I stopped running. My priorities shifted. Work involved new and increasing responsibilities sandwiched between long hours of driving to and from the office. Family schedules often required early mornings and late evenings, juggling clubs and practices and friends. Running seemed inconvenient, impractical, especially on days of blazing sun and sizzling temperatures.

But now, the kids are grown. The work commute no longer exists. Finding the time to run is no longer the challenge it once was. And currently, the hottest days are behind us, at least for a while. Cool breezes invite open windows and outside activity.

I’m older, of course. Creakier. My joints and muscles need extra coaxing and care. It’s unlikely that I can build my running stamina as quickly as I once did. It would probably be unwise to try.

Still, I’ve started looking at running shoes, comparing features and styles. I’ve been thinking about the music that will motivate me on those days when I’m just not feeling it. I’ve been scouting out running paths, reviewing my old route and considering new additions.

It might take a while before I’m back to where I used to be. I may never truly get there; I may need to adjust my expectations. That’s okay. I’m just looking forward to feeling that runner’s high once more.

Categories
Family Food Life

Connection

When I woke up this morning, I was thinking about pancakes. This surprised me. I like pancakes, but I’m not sure why they’d be on my mind right now. I rarely eat them or even consider them now that my sons are grown.

Nevertheless, the more I thought about them, the more I wanted them. So, I decided to make pancakes for breakfast.

Before I could get started, however, my husband announced that he was making pancakes for breakfast. He’s also not much of a pancake eater, and I hadn’t yet mentioned my plans to him. So, his decision seemed especially random, especially remarkable.

We’ve been married a long time and agree on a great many things. We also disagree on a regular basis. I love chocolate; he can take it or leave it. His favorite color is sunset orange; mine is emerald green. We’ve had our fair share of “lively” discussions about world events, house decor, grocery shopping lists, and driving styles.

In the end, however, we always come together. As we will this morning, sharing our unexpected (and delicious) pancake connection.

Categories
Family Pets

Dreams

There’s a scene in Steel Magnolias where Shelby describes her dream of getting old, sitting on the back porch, covered in grandchildren.

My husband and I feel that way about dogs.

We do hope to one day be surrounded by grandkids, oodles of them, but that isn’t up to us. Our sons and their partners get to live their lives according to their plans, not ours, and those plans may or may not involve children.

In the meantime (and perhaps, eventually, in addition to), we can surround ourselves with dogs.

Which brings me to Maggie, who joined our pack this week. She’s a middle-aged pup, cute as a button, quite possibly smarter than me, and still full of energy despite being well past her baby days.

Maggie came to the local animal shelter as a stray. She wasn’t microchipped, so they couldn’t immediately locate her owner, but they cleaned her up, treated her for a severe case of fleas, and posted her picture for several days in the hope that she’d be claimed. She wasn’t, and we scooped her up as soon as she was available for adoption.

It’s clear that Maggie’s been cared for in the past. She’s sociable, trusting and well-behaved. I don’t know her story before the shelter or why she ended up in the sad condition she was in, but I’m grateful to whoever loved her before she came to us. If I could give them a message, it would be that she’s in good hands. We will love and care for her for the rest of her life.

Where I live, there’s a limit of three dogs per household. Maggie’s our third, so we won’t be adopting any more. We also want to be sure we have the time and resources to properly care for our pup family, and three is just the right number for us – and for them. Our little pack is complete.

Here’s to getting old, sitting on a porch (or on a couch or a bed or in a backyard), covered in dogs – or whatever it is that brings happy dreams.