Categories
Animals Good Pets

Rescue

According to the National Day Today calendar, today is National Rescue Dog Day.

My husband asked me if there is a difference between rescue dogs and pound puppies. It appears that there are some minor differences.

A rescue dog, according to National Rescue Dog Day information, is a dog that is in a dire situation, such as living on the streets or abandoned in some way, and ends up being rescued via an animal shelter, a foster home, or adoption. They might need serious medical care, although very often, they recover quickly and develop into healthy dogs once they are in a safe situation.

“Pound puppies” is an unofficial term for dogs that are at the animal shelter, generally healthy but also in need of fostering or adoption. They might not have been in danger, sick, or injured when they arrived, and they typically don’t require extra care once they leave the shelter.

The primary differences, therefore, seem to be in the circumstances that brought them into their current situation and what they might need to live safe and happy lives. A small difference, but a meaningful one. Most importantly, however, they’re all dogs in need of good homes. If you’re considering a furry family member addition, please start your search at your local animal shelter or rescue organization.

There’s another aspect to National Rescue Dog Day that’s relevant. Rescuing can be a two-way street. Dogs have a way of making things better; easing loneliness, making us laugh, feel loved and accepted. Bringing a shelter dog into your life doesn’t only help the animal – although, of course, that’s a vital goal. But, if you yourself are in need of a little rescue, even if it’s only from time to time, it can help you, too.

There are oodles of animal rescue organizations and shelters doing their best to care for dogs, to find them homes and connect them with medical help and other necessary resources. One of the best known is the ASPCA. If you’re in a position to give of your money and/or your time, you can find more information at https://www.aspca.org/. If you’re looking for a more specific option, such as an organization that rescues certain types of dogs or delivers specialized medical care, a quick internet search will likely give you the information you need.

Happy National Rescue Dog Day. Here’s to all the dogs who’ve made life better through their companionship and love. And, here’s to all the people who have been and still are working to rescue each and every one.


Categories
Life Nature

Weeds

It’s nice, having a backyard garden. We ate some of our tomatoes last night at dinner, and I’ve been adding kale to various recipes during the past few weeks (the only good kale is cooked kale). Watching the plants sprout and grow and offer their bounty is rewarding and fun.

The thing is, however, that the planned plants aren’t the only ones that grow in the garden. Left to its own devices, a bit of dirt, combined with some rain and sunshine, can quickly become a home for random stalks and leaves, bits of nature taking over the neatly-arranged rows and productive patterns.

And so, it is necessary to engage in the never-ending process of weeding.

Pull some here, pick a few there. Some days, the end result is a clean garden, nice and neat everywhere. Most days, it’s only a small patch, one area under control for the time being, soon to be back where it started but weed-free at the moment.

I confess to feeling a little guilty when pulling the weeds. They’re simply growing where nature planted them. I’m the one who’s ending their journey, telling them that they’re not worthy. And, I quite like some of them, especially those that flower and climb, offering bright cascades of green and lush tangles of color. They remind me to be humble, as they quietly grow without my involvement. I am an observer, a participant – not a creator.

In the garden, however, coexistence doesn’t work very well. The weeds use up the resources. They block the light and invade the space, preventing the vegetables from growing properly. If the goal is tomatoes and cucumbers and basil and peppers, there must be a choice. I must take action. The weeds must go.

Here’s to gardens and plants and the fine line between wild and free, planned and productive. May we all have the good fortune of enjoying the special things they each have to offer.

Categories
Animals Good Nature

Otters

This morning, right before I woke up, I was dreaming that I was in the water, surrounded by sea otters. They were floating all around me, quietly, on their backs. Nothing more, nothing else – we were all just floating there, together, gently bobbing in the waves.

I suspect I dreamed this dream because of an article I read yesterday about sea otter sleeping habits. Otters often sleep on land, but sometimes, they also sleep in the water, on their backs. When they do, they wrap themselves in kelp strands and (here’s the part that makes me go squeeeeee) hold hands with other otters. This keeps them together; they avoid drifting apart and away during their nap time.

My dream was very peaceful. Perhaps the next time I’m feeling anxious or concerned about something, I’ll try to remember the feeling of gently floating in the water with all the otters surrounding me; the calm quiet and soft knowledge that I was not alone, that I would not drift away.

Here’s to sea otters and their simple yet smart sleeping habits. And, here’s to tranquil dreams of bobbing waves and feelings of warm, connected togetherness.

Categories
Life Nature

Bounty

“For ourselves, who are ordinary men and women, let us return thanks to Nature for her bounty by using every one of the senses she has given us.” – Virginia Woolf

Categories
Life

Firewood

Where I live, the days are warming up. Our days of fireplace flames are likely over for a while.

I’m still collecting firewood, however. During last winter’s freeze, when we were without electricity, the fireplace was an important heat source. Unfortunately, we didn’t plan well enough, and we had to ration the wood at the very end.

At one point, I went out in the backyard and gathered the sticks and branches that were on top of the snow. As I did, I remembered the Laura Ingalls Wilder story – I think it was from On the Banks of Plum Creek, but it might’ve been from Little House in the Big Woods – about Laura and Mary staying home while Ma and Pa went to town.

In the story, a blizzard sprang up unexpectedly while Ma and Pa were gone. Mary and Laura considered how they should manage the situation. They had heard of people freezing, stark stiff, in blizzards, because their fires had gone out. So, they decided to bring firewood in from the pile outside. That way, they could keep the fire going in the house without continually risking the journey outside in the howling, snowy wind.

They got a little carried away, however, caught up in their worry and the rhythm of going back and forth from the woodshed to the door. Ultimately, they brought the whole pile of wood inside.

When Ma and Pa got safely home, Laura and Mary explained about their fear of freezing stark stiff. Ma and Pa laughed at the situation, even though they appreciated the intent. They agreed that Laura and Mary had been wise, but Pa also said something along the lines of, “Next time, girls, don’t bring in quite so much wood.”

Each day now, in the mild spring weather, I gather a few sticks and branches from our backyard and put them in containers on our back porch. I figure that, by the time winter rolls around again, we’ll have enough to ensure our fire keeps going, even if our firewood supply runs low. At some point, of course, the containers will be completely full, and I’ll stop collecting. No need to go to extremes.

Some might think it’s a silly thing to do – in fact, I sometimes chuckle as I toss that morning’s collection into the bucket. Is it really going to make a difference? Is this ritual even worth my time? But then, I remember how it felt to worry about our firewood supply last winter, and I empathize with Laura’s and Mary’s perspective of better safe than sorry. And I tell myself it’s okay, as long as I don’t get carried away.

Here’s to being prepared for whatever life brings, as well as being wise enough to know when enough is enough.

Categories
Holidays Life

Honest

It’s Mother’s Day here in the U.S.A.

Today, the phrase “Happy Mother’s Day!” will echo across the land, perhaps accompanied by flowers and candy and handmade cards, sparkly gifts and family dinners. It is a day for celebrating moms; 24 hours dedicated to glorious motherhood.

I’m grateful for the recognition; I also struggle with it. It seems a bit dishonest to pretend, on this day, that motherhood is entirely magical. Yes, there are magical moments, but in my experience, motherhood is truly a roller-coaster ride, full of ups and downs, twists and turns.

I am beyond happy to be a mom. I adore my sons. I delight in their presence and marvel at the intelligent, kind, funny, wonderful adults they’ve become. They make my heart sing.

But. However.

As much as I am and have been and always will be a loving mom, an adoring and appreciative mom, a mom who sometimes can’t believe that she has the great good fortune of having these beautiful boys in her life, I must be honest. I also am and have been and will be, on occasion, an exhausted mom. An angry mom. A confused and scared and bewildered mom. An impatient mom; a mom without answers. An imperfect mom.

I’m also a daughter. I love my mother dearly and will spend time with her today, celebrating the good in our lives. Our roles have switched, however. I am now the caregiver, the mother figure, and the strain of this responsibility has changed our relationship. I no longer think of my mother as a provider of safety and comfort and warmth. Instead, I worry about how to provide these things to her; how to ensure that she’s as happy as possible, that she has the things she needs and that she feels loved and cared for, even if she’s no longer capable of fully participating in the experience. At times, the grief and guilt and resentment are overwhelming, damaging my perspective on what it means to be a daughter and what it means to be a parent.

Today, I also think about the people I know who’ve had (and are having) their own motherhood struggles. Some of them want motherhood with all their hearts but have been unable to realize that dream. Others have experienced the devastating loss of a child and now have only memories. I know of friends whose children have medical or emotional or educational challenges, who anxiously worry about their children’s future, their safety and their potential. Some of my friends are like me, caring for their moms as they age. Still others have found themselves caring for grandchildren, nieces and nephews, children whose parents can’t or won’t parent them, filling a gap, taking on a role they did not necessarily anticipate. And, some have lost their moms and are now coping with feelings of being adrift or alone or simply missing the person they loved.

So. Therefore.

If you choose to wish me a happy Mother’s Day today, I’ll gratefully accept. And, if you’d like me to return the salutation, I’ll cheerfully oblige.

If, however, you’d prefer to offer something like “Yay For Us, We’re Hanging In There This Mother’s Day!” or “We Are Awesome, Watch Us Getting It Done This Mother’s Day!” or even a simple “Let’s High Five This Mother’s Day!”, that’s okay by me. And, I’ll offer you whatever message works for you in return.

We can strive for perfection yet still accept our flaws. We can be happy, we can be joyful and grateful and merry; we can also be sad and frustrated and overwhelmed. We can be mothers who are real human beings, full of real human feelings, doing the best we can to do the best we can. We can be good at that, and that is worth celebrating.

Here’s to an honest Mother’s Day.

Categories
Food Fun

Pie

Today is National Coconut Cream Pie Day. Consequently, I’m now thinking of the TV show, Gilligan’s Island.

I grew up watching Gilligan’s Island back in the Olden Days before VCRs and video tapes and cable TV. The series was no longer filming, but the local TV channels had access to the existing episodes.

Where I lived, Gilligan’s Island was shown every Monday through Friday at 4:00 p.m. I’d get home from school, turn on the television, and join the Captain and Gilligan, Thurston and Lovey, the Movie Star, and the Professor and Mary Ann there on Gilligan’s Isle.

Growing up, my family’s desserts were most often layer cakes and chocolate chip cookies; I don’t recall coconut cream pie ever being served in our house. So, as a child, my knowledge regarding coconut cream pies was based solely on the TV show.

What I noticed was that the pies showed up at various times during the episodes, but they were rarely eaten. Instead, they most often supported one of the zany storylines. While I understood why they were used in that way, I couldn’t help but think that maybe they weren’t as tasty as they looked, and maybe that’s why the castaways were so careless with them. Certainly, if I was stuck on an island and had a truly delicious pie available to me, I’d want to enjoy it, not throw it.

I also wondered how the castaways had been able to make the pies. Sure, there were coconuts on the island, but where did they get the rest of the ingredients? How did they bake the pies? And, why was it always coconut cream? Why not mix it up a bit with some banana cream?

Of course, the most basic question, the one that those of us who watched Gilligan’s Island always got around to asking eventually, was how this group of people could build a neighborhood of huts, replicate many of the creature comforts of home, and figure out how to make dessert – yet never manage to repair the hole in the side of the boat.

But then, I’d remind myself that it was a kid’s TV show, not intended to be a true-life documentary. And I’d get back to enjoying the island adventures.

As an adult, I’ve eaten coconut cream pie. I like it. Each bite reminds me, just a tiny bit, of those fun childhood moments.

Happy National Coconut Cream Pie Day. Here’s to delicious desserts and fond memories of lighthearted entertainment.

Categories
Life Nature

600

Yesterday, I read an article about Greenland Sharks.

Apparently, Greenland Sharks can live a very, very long time. Hundreds of years, in fact. Researchers have discovered one shark that they estimate is 600 years old. They’ve found others that appear to be in the 200 and 300 year-old range.

There’s no definite conclusion as to why Greenland Sharks have such longevity. It’s likely that their habitat, cold and deep water, plays a factor. But there’s obviously more at play, something in their genetic makeup that influences their lifespan.

Just as humans have a natural expiration date genetically codified in our DNA, Greenland Sharks are pre-programmed to survive to a specific range of years. Real-world living and medical circumstances can affect the actual lifespan, of course; there’s no guarantee of reaching a certain age. Assuming good health and safety, however, most humans can expect a lifetime of between 70-90 years. And, it seems, most Greenland Sharks can expect a lifetime of centuries.

During the past 600 years, humans have formed countries, invented automobiles and airplanes and spaceships, discovered cures for illnesses, and learned how to preserve an image of a moment in time and then send it to millions of other people with a simple click of a button.

I’m haunted by the thought of sharks swimming unceasingly through the deep, dark, cold water while all of this happened on the land above them. I’m also a tiny bit jealous of these sharks. I don’t want to be a Greenland Shark, but it would be nice to have the potential to live as long as they do.

That’s not the way things work, however. So, instead of focusing on the question of why humans don’t also get 600 years, I’ll be grateful for the ones I’ve had. And, I’ll do my best to make the most of the years, however many they are, that are (hopefully) left ahead of me.

Categories
Good People

Thanks

I like what Carl Jung had to say about teachers:

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.”

Here’s to my favorite teachers, Ms. C and the other Ms. C, Ms. Z, Mr. S, and A, M, and J. Thank you for giving me the tools to succeed and the inspiration to want to do so.

And here’s to all the others out there who teach and train and coach and mentor, who share knowledge along with kindness and hope and determination, grace and humor and imagination. Thank you for believing in us and, in so doing, helping us to believe in ourselves.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week.

Categories
Life

Battle

I received my second COVID-19 vaccine last Thursday.

I won’t lie; I had a rough weekend. Fever, chills, headache, exhaustion, very similar to when I actually had COVID-19.

I have no regrets, however. If I suddenly found myself in a time-travel situation, going back to Thursday and choosing whether to present my arm for the jab, I’d gladly go through it once more.

Because when I had COVID-19, I didn’t feel only sick. I also felt afraid. Every day, every minute. Sometimes, the feeling was just a whisper, a low undercurrent; other times, it became more demanding, requiring acknowledgment.

Fear that the illness would get worse. Fear that I’d end up in the hospital, unable to breathe, isolated and alone. Fear that there were things happening within my body, beyond the obvious symptoms, that might manifest later.

But the greater fear was that I’d give the illness to somebody else. Perhaps a family member, one of my sons or my husband, quarantined in the house with me, living in separate rooms but still exposed to shared air. Or, perhaps in the few days between when I was exposed and when I developed symptoms, I’d unknowingly spread the virus to strangers, who then took it home to their families.

I know that the odds are mostly in our favor, that most of us, even if we catch the virus, will end up fine. I also know that this illness does, in fact, kill. It kills brutally, and cruelly, and very often, arbitrarily.

It isn’t stupid to be afraid of COVID-19. It’s wise. We are wise to approach this enemy with caution.

So, if a quick needle jab and a few days’ worth of feeling under the weather could help to end that fear and destroy that enemy? Sign me up.

As I recovered from the after-effects of my choice, I experienced a new feeling. Empowerment. The fever and headache weren’t scary symptoms, like before. They were now evidence of victory.

Take THAT, you stupid virus! Ka-POW! Blammo! Hiiiii-YA! My immune system was joining all the others out there in a great battle. And every day, our numbers are growing. If we keep going, we can win.


We are no longer at the mercy of this illness. We warriors now, fighting together.