Sunday, July 5, 2015

Requiem



























































































Even when you know it's coming, saying good-bye is never easy.

On Thursday, June 25, I took Indy for his final trip to the vet's office. He had stopped eating. And then he stopped drinking. He seemed almost in a daze, as though half in this world and half in another. I knew it was time to make the call I'd been dreading.

My Indy was a happy boy. In his younger years I signed us up for every class I could find. We did obedience training, flyball classes, and agility classes. He earned Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog International titles. We visited nursing homes where he showed off what he had learned (while patiently enduring the silly costumes I brought along) to the delight of residents.

We participated in humane society fundraisers, and he even appeared on our local NBC affiliate television station (wriggling like a worm in the arms of a T.V. weatherman) to promote an upcoming humane society event. In those days, my Indy got around.

As he and I both became older, our activities slowed. He enjoyed visiting our place at the river, sniffing the scents of the woods and wild things and warming his old bones on the sun-heated boulders surrounding the water.

Finally, even those adventures faded. With eyesight and hearing both nearly gone, Indy spent most of his time sleeping, perhaps dreaming of his youthful days. I'd wake him up to go outside and he'd follow me with the quiet dignity of an old dog.

On the day I drove Indy to the vet's office, I had to carry him inside. His doctor administered the medication while I stroked his head and talked to him. I felt like he could hear me speak and he seemed to listen to my voice until his valiant little heart finally stopped beating.

There are few things in life more enduring than the love of a good dog. Indy was my shadow and best buddy for more than 15 years. I miss hearing the jangle of his tags, seeing him nap in his small bed, and having his soft warmth curled in my lap.

But I do believe heaven holds a special corner for all our beloved creatures. I like to think Indy is there now running fast as the wind to chase a tennis ball and romping through tall grass with a host of new pals in a place where no one ever grows weary.

Until we meet again, my old friend...

Sunday, June 21, 2015

My Computer is Lonely














We get all kinds of messages on our computers. Great news, interesting news, cute stories. However, there's one bit of news we never want to get:

Warning: back up your computer, hard drive failure is imminent

Guess who got that news last week? If you guess me, you're right. Luckily I backed up all my manuscripts over a week ago. This consisted of me emailing all my documents to myself. Pretty sophisticated, right?

So here I am, hundreds of dollars and hours of frustration later. I now have a new computer. I like it. I really do. But here's what I don't like. Apparently the new computer and my old printer don't get along. Like a blind date gone awry, they simply are not compatible. So now my next mission is to hunt down a new printer.

I prefer a monochromatic laser printer with scan capabilities. What do you use, love, and adore? Suggestions are welcomed. I need some advice on fixing up my computer with a hot new printer.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

I Detour for Cuteness

Last week on my way home from work, I got a phone call telling me I absolutely had to stop by a local pub. Further, I was told I wouldn't be sorry.

It had been a long day and the last thing I wanted to do was become a social butterfly. Grumbling to myself, I changed course as directed, wondering what the attraction could possibly be. Surprise visit from an out-of-towner? Friends who simply wanted me to show up for a cocktail? An annoying practical joke?

I hadn't a clue what awaited me. But when I walked in the door...



























































































Yep. A baby raccoon. He's an orphan being raised by a nature-loving friend. Those bright eyes had just opened a few days prior to the taking of these photos. I held the little cutie and he snuggled against me like a baby, which, of course, he is. Aren't his tiny fingers darling? He can already grab like a champ and gosh, does he ever love his bottle.

Please don't tell the Health Department, but this was one detour I thoroughly enjoyed.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

National Adopt a Shelter Cat Month 2015

Can you believe it? Tomorrow is June 1. That means we are nearly half way through 2015. I don't know about you, but it makes my head spin to think how quickly time is passing. Some say that's a sign of growing older. In my case I'm sure it's true.

Though time passes quickly for me, I'm pretty sure it creeps by at a crawl for critters in shelters who are waiting for their own special family. June is Adopt a Shelter Cat Month. If you're thinking about adding a feline to your household, please consider taking a look at your local shelter. Kittens are adorable, and tend to be adopted very quickly. Adults, not so much. You might want to take a good long look at available adult and senior cats. Give them a chance, too. I don't think you'll be sorry.

In honor of Adopt a Shelter Cat Month, I'm featuring 3 kitty cuties from local shelters in my area. A link to information on each one is included. They are each paws-itively adorable.

This handsome orange kitty is called Donut. What a sweet face!

https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/32305586/




















Here's another adorable feline. Her name is Samara, and she reminds me of my own Bogey boy.

http://www.adoptapet.com/pet/11653522-st-charles-missouri-cat




















Though this looks a bit like a line-up photo, I'm sure Bitty is no kitty convict. Isn't his "beard" cool?.

















Bogey asked me to remind everyone that all homes should have at least one cat because there is no better snoopervisor on earth. And he should know.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Paw Prints in Time

Indy sleeps a lot. His legs twitch and I wonder if he's dreaming of the days when he used to chase tennis balls and go for long walks around the lake. Now he stumbles when he walks and sometimes stands perfectly still in the middle of a room as though bewildered over just where he could be.

He turned 15 years old in March and I know our time together is growing short. Maybe I've been selfish letting him go on as long as I have, but every time I consider making The Call, he perks up and I see a trace of him from his puppy days.

Last weekend I bought some clay, worked it out nice and flat, and then pressed Indy's paw down into the surface. It wasn't the best impression ever made. Indy didn't much care for the process and I hate to overly annoy an old guy who wants nothing more than to nap in a warm sunny spot. Before baking the clay, I put a hole in the top of the piece so it can be hung as an ornament or in a window. 
















I figured as long as I had the clay, I might as well do an impression for Bogey, too. Capturing his print wasn't any more popular.
















Maybe I'll try again another day. Or maybe not. Who needs perfect?

I suppose my clay pieces are a lot like real life, filled with bumps, irregularities, and occasional wishes for a do-over. But there's something sweet about them, too. The clay is a reminder it doesn't matter what life throws at me. When I see the face of a child, bask in the beauty of a cloudless day, or hold on to the endless love and loyalty of a dear old friend, I get a rare privilege. That's when I understand, just a tiny bit, what it must be like to glimpse heaven. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I'm Totally Hacked Off














Picture it: Mother's Day with my kids and their spouses, enjoying a lovely meal along with a glass of fine wine. I'm feeling mellow and happy until...

Daughter checks her phone and announces-"Mom, your Facebook has been hacked. Your account is sending out friend requests to all your contacts."

What? What? What? Talk about a mood killer. And on Mother's Day yet.

First of all, I'm far more a lurker than a poster on Facebook. I like to read what's going on with everyone and often will click the "Like" button. Simple and easy. That's pretty much all I do. I can't imagine why anyone would waste their time trying to hack my account, but someone surely did.

Damage control consisted of Daughter posting a message warning people not to accept a friend request from me (I was too flabbergasted to do it myself, or maybe too woozy from the wine). Then I changed my password and, on the advice of Daughter's hubby who IS tech-savvy, changed the passwords on my email and just about every other place I visit that needs a password. I beefed up my Facebook security levels and hope that does the trick.

I feel a bit like Typhoid Mary, without the typhoid or the Mary, of course. A few people "Unfriended" me completely over this mess. Geez, it really wasn't my fault, people.

Anyway, I felt the need to hunt for advice on staying cyber-safe and found out some scary facts. Did you know there are numerous websites that teach you HOW to hack someone's Facebook account? I guess you can find ways to commit any sort of crime on the internet. So to keep us all a little safer, here are a few tips:
  • Create a strong password (letters, numbers, symbols) and change it regularly.
  • Don't use the same password for multiple sites.
  • Never click on a link unless you're 100% sure it's safe (that includes links in email!)
  • On Facebook, if you're already friends with someone, and receive a new request from them, check with the friend before accepting or just say "no" to the request because this is typically a hack attack. (Note-alerting the friend is helpful, since it may be the first clue a hack has occurred so damage control can begin)
If you have any other tips on how to stay safe from a hacker's scummy shenanigans, please post in your comment. Hacked off people want to know.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Our New Tenants

I have to admit, cats don't miss anything.

If I put a package of chicken on the counter, just as soon as I walk away, Bogey will be up beside it working tooth and nail (literally) to open it. If I stay away more than 5 minutes, I guarantee my anticipated dinner will be a distant memory. He's a sneaky chicken-loving maniac, and very, very fast.

A couple of days ago, I caught Bogey staring out the window, ears perked forward and eyes round as lunch plates. No doubt something fascinating was happening outside, so I took a peek and discovered:
















Right next to the screened porch I have a small star magnolia tree which now holds the largest bird's nest I've ever seen. Look closely. Mama Bird's tail feathers are sticking straight up as she covers her eggs with the warmth of her body. I ran to the computer to try and find out what kind of bird she could be, since I couldn't see anything but the top of her. 

Thanks to the power of the internet, I discovered Mama is a robin. They apparently build large nests of twigs and grass with a mud cup at the top. I suppose robins prefer a nice firm foundation for real estate ventures. It almost looks like she could have a storm cellar, doesn't it?

The nest is in a busy area, as I'm always letting dogs in and out of the back yard. Mama just hunkers down and ignores us, though I'm sure it makes her little heart pound. She's a dedicated girl, and I'm hoping we will soon have healthy babies to hatch, and grow, and fly away.

It does take some extra care nowadays to be sure Bogey doesn't escape out the door. I don't want him mistaking this little family for chicken.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Take Me Out to the Ballgame











I don't feel Spring is truly here until I make my first visit to the ballpark. The aroma of hot dogs, popcorn, and peanuts (not to mention the gourmet items that now show up on every major league ballpark's menu), serve to drive home the notion that mild temperatures and outside fun have finally arrived.

Today I'm heading to my first game of the season and looking forward to soaking up the experience. St. Louis area peeps tend to be a tiny bit obsessed with the Cardinals. We dress up in Cardinals gear and head to the ballpark or to a sports bar or simply listen to the game on the radio.

I remember hearing Harry Carey and Jack Buck on KMOX announce the play-by-play. It's a treasured part of my early days.

"It might be, it could be...it IS...a home run! Hoooly Cow!" 

St. Louis Cardinals baseball makes me think of my dad listening to a tiny transistor radio while barbecuing pork steaks as Mom prepared potato salad and baked beans. We'd groan at every out and cheer every time the home team scored a run.

In Mom's final few years, when she couldn't do much else, she could watch the Cardinals on television. It gave her so much pleasure...especially when "her" team won.

I believe heaven has a special place for Redbird fans, so I'm sure Dad and Mom will be cheering along with me today. Maybe between the three of us we can bring home a winner.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day and Hob-Nobbing with a Famous Author



















May we nurture and cultivate our soil.
May we foster clear and clean skies.
May we conserve and  purify streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans.
May we support and sustain our plants.
May we defend and protect our animals.
May we care for our planet forever.

Whether you pick up a piece of trash, recycle an item, or turn off the water faucet while you brush your teeth, I hope everyone does at least one thing today in honor of Earth Day. And wouldn't it be awesome if each of us could do just one thing every day? I plan to try, and hope you will, too.

On another note, here's a follow-up report on my author/book library visit last week. Susanna Kearsley is a funny, gracious and fascinating woman. I loved listening to her speak about the research she does for her historical novels.

I'm now reading her latest book, The Desperate Fortune, and am totally engrossed by the story. It's on the way to becoming another best seller for her. Congrats to Susanna.

Here's a photo of me hanging out with a famous author. What a fun evening for a book lover!















Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Love a Library












Does walking into a library slow your pulse rate and lower your blood pressure? When you inhale the scent of books do you feel right at home? Can you spend hours in a library and feel like it's only been minutes? If so, you're a true book lover.

April 12-18 is National Library Week. If you haven't noticed it before, libraries have come a long way from the image of prune-faced bespectacled librarians shushing all the patrons. These days libraries sponsor so much activity, it might be more accurate to describe them as a community center. From arts and crafts workshops to book discussion groups to exercise classes, the library does it all.

St. Charles County's library system is truly a jewel. Each branch has a virtual plethora of things to do and learn.

Of particular interest to me are the author/book events. The library showcases both local authors and national best selling ones. Take a listen to a few of the recent big names to visit the library: Sara Gruen, Jennifer Nielsen, Sarah Dessen, Sharon Draper, John Stephens, and  Lisa Scottoline. Every one is a New York Times bestselling author. Tomorrow night I plan to attend the Susanna Kearsley event (another NY Times bestselling author). I recently read her book, The Winter Sea, and absolutely loved it. In high school I adored reading Mary Stewart's books and Ms. Kearsley has a writing style very similar. She meticulously researches her historical romance novels and recently did an event with an author you may have heard of...Diana Gabaldon (Outlander). I can't wait!

If you want to "check out" what's going on at the St. Charles City-County library branches, click here.

If you live farther away, I hope you take the time to visit and support your own library. You just have to love them, don't you?