Marching Into March 

Yesterday was the first day of March and it started off overcast but pleasantly mild. Hoping to avoid the predicted rain showers, I took Jazzmin on the short hilly walk right after breakfast. Although the clouds were thick, it was warm enough to walk without a coat and it didn’t start sprinkling until we were almost home. On our walk we were treated to the sight and sounds of a large group of turkeys in a field. I always enjoy seeing the males all puffed up as they try to attract the females.

Once back home and freshly showered, I expected to hunker down inside for the rest of the day and work while it rained outside. Mother Nature had other plans though as the rain stopped and the sun broke through the clouds. Not one to waste such beautiful weather in the midst of winter, I took Jazz for a second walk, much to her delight! 

I spent a bit more time outside taking care of other important tasks because I knew the forecast was calling for a drastic drop in temperature the next day. Sure enough, this morning dawned with temperatures in the teens even though it had been 50s with I went to bed the night before. Such extreme temperature changes ushered in by ridiculously high winds seem unfortunately normal these days.

It was too cold to walk Jazzmin even once today and I ventured outside as little as possible but I know the weather will rebound eventually. March is a temperamental month as if it knows that everyone is eager for spring and it wants to hang onto winter a bit longer. Regardless, the world around me is starting to reawaken as spring nears and I’ll take it one day at a time while looking forward to warmth and new beginnings. 

Time Flies with Big Brown Puppy Dog Eyes

Jazzmin being adored by Daisy

Five years ago today I adopted my beloved pup Jazzmin aka Jazz/Jazzerboo/Puppers/Goofball etc., etc. I can’t imagine my life without her following me around and watching me with her big brown puppy dog eyes.
We’ve learned a lot from each other over the years. I’ve taught her how to play fetch and she’s taught me the importance of walking every day, weather permitting. We learned the right way to walk together and although it’ll always be a work in progress, we’ve come a long way. 

When I adopted Jazzmin from the shelter, she was untested with cats and I had two cats at the time, my senior cat Aviendha and my former feral cat Owl. Fortunately, with some patience, refereeing and the unavoidable affection of loving Owl, Jazzmin learned to live happily with cats. 

Avi has since passed and Jazzmin has learned to love our two newer cats Angel and Daisy. During the winter, all three of them are quite often snuggling on the couch with me as Owl sits closeby. Their furry, sleeping bodies help keep my body warm and their unconditional love warms my heart.

Jazzmin’s sweet nature helped my daughters get over their fear of dogs and see just how great pups can be. Jordan will walk her sometimes and Jaycie wants to become a dog trainer some day and own multiple dogs. Amazing what the love of a yellow mutt can do! 
As I write this, Jazzmin is rolling around on her back on the floor like the adorable goofball she is. I gave her a special treat to mark her five year adoptiversary and she was happy to snarf it. Five years with her and her big brown puppy dog eyes have flown by!  I don’t know if she even still remembers living in the shelter or who owned her before she became a stray, but I do know that she seems very happy now and that I’m very happy to have her as my loyal companion and walking buddy. 

Have pup, must walk!

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When I first adopted Jazzmin four years ago, all I knew was that I wanted a dog. I figured a dog would be good company when I didn’t have my daughters and a dog would motivate me to walk more regularly. I had been walking almost every day that first year in my house until winter set in and I then lost all desire to venture out in the cold. But when I adopted Jazz, I didn’t rescue a dog, I rescued a pup.

I call her a pup because I think it’s as adorable as she is and because she has the seemingly limitless energy of a puppy. She was two (best guess by the shelter) and already well trained when I adopted her and knew sit, stay and shake. She was also crate trained which was perfect because at the time I worked away from home and had to leave for several hours a day.

The first night I had her home it was just me, her and the two cats I had at the time. Not knowing how good she was about letting me know when she needed to go out, I took her out a few times during the night despite the snow and cold of January. I quickly learned that she’s very good about telling me when she needs to answer nature and that she can make it all night without a problem.

It took me a while to figure out the right way to walk Jazzmin, but even as we were figuring that out, I walked her almost every day. It was obvious how much she loved walking and I didn’t want to deny her that pleasure, even in the cold. I bought her a fleece jacket and booties to help keep her warm and dry and we walked the roads around my house quite regularly.

I’ve kept up the regular walking of my pup Jazz for four years now and I don’t intend to stop. I have watched the Dog Whisperer and know that he suggests walking a dog daily to get their energy out. I don’t actually think it’s possible to get all of Jazz’s energy out, but I do at least try.

I think I owe it to Jazzmin and myself to walk as often as we can. It’s good for both of us as it’s great exercise and gets us out in the fresh air, even when that air has a wind chill in the single digits like it did today. There are some days we don’t walk because it’s too cold or too hot or I’m sick but otherwise, if I’ve got at least 15 minutes, I walk my pup. She doesn’t have the best concept of time so she forgets I’ve walked her shortly after we get home, but I know I’ve walked her and that makes me feel like a good pup Mama.

Although I’m not perfect and I don’t always walk Jazz for as long as experts recommend, I know she’s far better off than most of the dogs in my neighborhood. We rarely see other people walking their dogs, but we do hear the dogs barking at us from inside the confines of their home. Having a nice, safe, warm home is a wonderful thing for any dog and I’ve provided that for Jazzmin, but that’s not enough for me or her. When I rescued her, I committed to giving her a full, happy life and the best way to do that is to put paws to pavement and wiggle on down the road!

Unconditional Love Wrapped in Yellow Fur

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Four year ago today I adopted my pup Jazzmin from Happy Tails Animal Shelter in Canandaigua, New York. I’d wanted to get a dog since my divorce in the summer of 2011, but I hadn’t found one that looked like the right fit yet. I grew up with family dogs and loved them, but had been unable to have one during my marriage because my ex didn’t like dogs. He wasn’t overly fond of cats either, but he put up with them because I wanted them. The freedom to get whatever animals I want and love them without concern for allergies or lack of a partner’s fondness is one of the many reasons I enjoy being single.

Jazzmin and I were a perfect fit right from the start and a friend has called her the canine version of me. She’s full of energy, optimistic and has the most adorable brown eyes. Just like me 😉 She goes a little heavy on the 80’s black eyeliner look, but it works on her and adds a deeper patheticness to her puppy dog eyes.

I was trying to keep Jazz's ears warm. She was not impressed...

I was trying to keep Jazz’s ears warm. She was not impressed…

Jazz and I have had our ups and downs as we’ve figured each other out. I didn’t really know the proper way to walk a dog, ie they walk next to you or behind and not in front, but I learned and taught her. Nowadays she stays by my side with only occasional reminders, as long as a squirrel doesn’t run across the road or we encounter another dog. She’s like me in the social aspect, she likes other dogs but gets overexcited and isn’t sure how to act. Whereas I tend to become shy in similar encounters with humans, she gets exuberant. We may never have the “social with our own kind” thing figured out, but she LOVES people of all kinds and is a favorite visitor at the boarders when I go on my road trips.

Jazzmin panting a smile after our walk.

When I adopted Jazzmin, they guessed that she was around two years old, which makes her around six now and she shows no signs of slowing down. She still walks the road like it’s going to disappear if she doesn’t keep moving and she’s my almost constant shadow when we’re inside. Most days I almost trip over her when I turn around and while I appreciate the loyalty, I don’t need help being clumsy.

I’ve managed to teach Jazz a few things over the years. I taught her how to play fetch indoors. We try it outdoors but she loses all focus and just runs in a circle like a lunatic. I’ve taught her to wait patiently for food and treats and can almost balance a biscuit on her nose before she gobbles it. I’ve advanced the traditional “shake” into a “high five” where she raises the paw a bit higher and while I can’t get her to speak on command, she will howl-talk at me sometimes when she’s impatient. My 9-year-old black cat Owl and I taught Jazzmin that cats are pretty cool and while she may never really “love” the younger cats (neither will Owl), she definitely loves Owl.

Jazzmin and Owl snuggling with me today

Jazzmin and Owl snuggling with me

Jazzmin has taught me some things over the years too. She’s taught me that no matter what I do, I’m always worthy of love and that the best snuggles on the couch usually involve a big pile of yellow fur that twitches and snores. Jazz has taught me a new level of patience as I’ve worked to improve her leash skills over the years. I’ve become more aware of my surroundings too as I try to spot squirrels and other distractions on walks before she does.

Jazzmin and the sky

In honor of today’s adoptiversary, I gave Jazz a nice big beef bone and she’s been working at it with occasional water breaks for almost two hours. She’s very determined when it comes to getting every last ounce of marrow out of a bone or chewing on a new toy until the squeakie is suitably dead. There’s a lot to love about Jazzmin. Her porcupine quill-scarred nose, perky ears (her right is always slightly higher than her left) white chest, buns of steel as my vet calls them and upright tail that’s wagging almost all the time all make her uniquely adorable to me.

She's rather fond of lobster tail

She’s rather fond of lobster tail

I can’t imagine my life without Jazz and she’d best live forever! I know I’ll own dogs for the rest of my life and every last one will be a rescue like her because every dog deserves a loving home. If you’re ever looking for a new companion, I urge you to go to your local shelter or contact one of the many pet rescue organizations to find the perfect compliment to your life. I see so many dogs and cats I wish I could adopt, but I don’t have the room or the money to create my own “circus.” Maybe someday, but not now. For now I’ll just love the animals I have and do my best to provide them with a very happy home. =)

The kittens snuggled up against Jazzmin.

The kittens snuggled up against Jazzmin.

The Wonder of a Walk

country house

Lovely blue sky above my house today!

Today’s weather was a lovely preview of summer complete with temperatures in the mid 70’s, sunshine, and a steady breeze. Once I finished my morning work, I saddled Jazzmin in her dog backpack and we headed out on a mile-long walk. I haven’t walked that far in quite some time and it was definitely the furthest I’ve walked since I got bronchitis.

I’m happy to say that I’ve mostly recovered from the bronchitis. I can tell because not only did I not need a nap yesterday, but I couldn’t fall asleep last night and woke up in the middle of the night. When I’m healthy, I rarely sleep through the night and considering all the “extra” sleep I’ve had the past few weeks, I imagine I’ll be wired for a while.

The walk with Jazzmin was beautiful and very energizing, even though I’m still not quite up to my usual speed. I enjoyed listening to and seeing the birds and I even had a fly-by from a hawk at one point.

If you look carefully, you'll see the hawk sitting in the branches of a tree.

If you look carefully, you’ll see the hawk sitting in the branches of a tree.

The grass is greening up and one yard had a spread of colorful crocuses popping up. The sun was nice enough to stay behind the clouds for our walk and we were still plenty warm enough in the mid-morning temperatures.

Colorful crocuses in a yard down the road.

Colorful crocuses in a yard down the road.

Temperatures won’t be this warm again for a while, but they’re still predicted to be more spring-like and I’ll happily take that!

The small stream I like to sit beside.

The small stream I like to sit beside.

Squirrel!

dog in the snow with booties

This assignment for Intro to Creative Writing was one of my favorites to write. We had to write a short story and though I struggled for a while picking a subject, once I figured it out, it flowed smoothly. Here’s a little glimpse of what it feels like to be Jazzmin…

***

Squirrel!

Sitting quietly and patiently as instructed, I stare eagerly at the front door as my mama puts on her boots to go outside. The snow outside is up to my yellow-furred belly in spots, but I don’t mind because that just makes it more fun to frolic in. I’m wearing my blue and black weighted backpack because I like to have a job and because Mama says it slows me down a little.

Sometimes Mama puts rubber booties on me to keep my feet warm, but she says it’s above freezing this morning and I’ll be okay without them. That makes me very happy because I hate those booties! Whenever she puts them on, I try to stand on one leg rather than put my booted feet down. Unfortunately, standing on one leg is impossible for me because I have four legs and I need to have at least two down to keep from falling over.

Once she’s all dressed in her boots, gloves, and winter coat, Mama reaches for the front doorknob and I stand up, my tail wagging happily behind me. We’re almost out! She turns to me with stern brown eyes and I remain standing still waiting for her command. “Come, Jazzmin,” she says in the authoritative tone that reminds me to move calmly instead of leaping toward the door. I do as she commands and walk slowly to the door, though I have no control over the arched yellow tail still wagging happily behind me.

Mama pulls the main front door open and I press my nose up to the closed storm door beyond it. I’m sure I can suck in the outdoors through my snout if I just try hard enough! I hear Mama’s low chuckle and then the storm door is open and I’m ready to take off on today’s adventure! Mama’s quick tug on my leash stops me though and I remember that she’s the pack leader and she goes first.

Once Mama steps through the open storm door and onto the snowy deck, she says “come” again and I’m eagerly at her side with my short ears perked straight up and my deep, brown eyes trying to absorb everything on the deck, in the yard, and into the trees beyond. We don’t go on as many walks in the winter as we do in the warmer weather so every time Mama puts my backpack on I get very happy and excited.

We move down the steps from the deck side by side and it feels like it’s been months since I was outside walking! There are so many smells I’d almost forgotten existed and so much to see even though it’s all blanketed in snow. The snow crunches beneath my paw pads as we walk down the driveway and then I catch the sight of movement. Is it snow falling from a tree? A bird? A car driving by? Oh no, it’s something much better! It’s a squirrel! Hang on, Mama!

Finding the beauty

ice covered tree against winter sky

I don’t think I’ll ever say I love winter weather as an adult, but I’m working on not hating winter. I loved winter as a child when I would put on my snowsuit to go outside and play in the snow with my brothers. Once I started driving in snowy winter weather and experienced the panic of getting stuck in a snowbank and sliding backward down a hill, my love for winter vanished.

Although it got a late start (thankfully) this winter has been especially unpleasant with the unending snow and ridiculously frigid temperatures. During the day, I work at my desk with a blanket over my legs and a space heater by my feet to stay warm because my house leaks like a sieve. I hung insulated curtains by my desk and even installed an outlet insulator on the nearest plug, but I still feel a breeze across the top half of my bundled-up body as I work.

The sun has been in very short supply recently so when it made an appearance this morning, I was thrilled! I watched it rise over the hills, I took pictures, and I tried to memorize what it looked like. Unfortunately, it disappeared a few hours later and the dull winter sky returned.

As I worked, I silently urged the sun to return and magically enough, it did! By noon the sun was in full shine amid a blue sky and I knew I couldn’t pass up such a beautiful opportunity for a walk, especially since it’s supposed to get back down below zero tomorrow. I saddled Jazzmin in her backpack, put on my shape-up boots, zipped up my coat, and led my pup out the door and into the 30 degree winter weather.

snowy field upstate NY

Knowing we wouldn’t be able to walk again for a while, I took us on the winding hilly road that’s more fun to walk than drive in the winter weather. Jazz was very well behaved and the scenery was cold but lovely. Yesterday a snowy fog lingered all day so today all of the trees were coated with a shimmering layer of ice that reflected the sunlight. As we walked, the ice and snow began to melt off the trees and at one point we were standing beneath a tree that was creating a gentle, mini snowfall.

ice covered tree against blue sky

During the walk, I felt my mind and spirit restored and I thanked the universe for the gift of warm sunshine. Finding the beauty in winter weather isn’t always easy for me, but after today I know it’s not impossible.

An inspirational beginning

winter rainbow

There are two rainbow pieces in the sky, one on either side of the sun. My phone camera didn’t do it justice.

I went to bed around 9 p.m. last night and while I was awake briefly around midnight, I didn’t turn the TV on to watch the ball drop. The New Year began without me needing to watch a countdown and I was happier warm and asleep than awake and staring at a TV screen.

I lingered in bed this morning until the sun started peeking through my curtains and Jazzmin’s pathetic eyes finally convinced me to get up and take her outside. The kittens were content to cover me with their furry bodies and try to keep me in bed, but I slid out from underneath their sleeping bag warmth and began my day.

There were some freelance projects in need of my attention so I completed them by the afternoon. The WeatherBug app on my phone told me it was 18 out with a wind chill that made it feel like six and I didn’t envision Jazzmin and I walking in that. Even so, I decided I’d at least take her out with me to get the mail and once outside, I realized it wasn’t quite as frigid as it had been in the morning.

While I successfully posted a blog post every single day in December of 2014, I was unable to stick to my vow of walking Jazzmin every day. I couldn’t walk her while I was sick and getting back out in the cold lost its appeal after that. Regardless, I realized I really needed to start 2015 off right with some sort of walk, so I saddled up Jazz with her backpack and booties and dressed myself in warm clothing.

Despite the wind whipping about, the sun was out and somehow that helped combat the chilly temperatures. I decided we’d take the walk up an adjacent road to a certain black mailbox because it was a bit longer distance than we’d gone on since I recovered from being sick.

As we walked down the first little hill, a hawk alighted from the branches and flew across the road a ways in front of us. That’s always a good sign and told me that walking had been the right decision. We were making our way up the next hill when I just happened to glance to the right and see a raptor flying over the trees. I paused to watch him and figure out what exactly he was (I wasn’t sure if it was a hawk of bald eagle after the bald eagle appeared in my field) and as I watched, I saw a second raptor flying near the first. The way the sun was catching their wings and the distance between us made it difficult for me to determine if they were hawks or eagles and I believe I expressed my confusion aloud.

Much to my amazement, the two raptors immediately started soaring closer to me, as if they’d heard me wonder what kind they were. As one drew close enough, I realized he was indeed a red-tailed hawk and I watched with wide eyes as he flew right above me and then across the road. His companion called to him from a bit further back and while she never came as close to me as the first, she came close enough to show me that she was a red-tailed hawk too. I was so astounded by their behavior that I never thought to get my phone out and try to take a picture. My phone’s camera wouldn’t have done them justice anyway and I think it was far more important that I enjoyed the moment.

Elated by the experience, I continued the last bit to the mailbox and then turned Jazz back around toward home. As I turned to look toward the sun, I received yet another surprise as I saw a small piece of rainbow in the bright halo around the sun. I then saw a second piece of rainbow in the sky on the other side of the sun and I’m certain that my joyful smile was bright enough to match that of the sunlight. I’ve seen a full circular rainbow around the sun before on cold winter days and I’ve also seen the little rainbow pieces as I saw today. Any type of rainbow is a positive sign and omen and considering that I’d noticed them right after the hawks, I felt doubly blessed!

There was a happy lightness in my step as we walked back toward home and Jazzmin was quite pleased to have gotten out for some exercise. I was a few strides from my driveway when I saw another hawk fly through the trees in the distance and my spirit lifted further at the sight of my fourth hawk on such a short walk. The powers that be were determined to start this year by reminding me that I’m never alone and to inspire me as I continue the ever-predictable and wonderful journey of life.

Getting back out there

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The lovely blue sky today


The weather lately has been decidedly un-winterlike with temperatures in the 40’s and no sign of snow. As much as I would’ve liked a white Christmas, I can’t control the weather so instead, I made the most of it.

When I was sick, I didn’t walk Jazzmin at all and I’m trying to make up for that now. We aren’t going on walks as long as they were before I got sick, but we’ll get our stride back eventually. Jazz is just glad to get back out there and put pawpads to pavement.

As the weather isn’t bitterly cold, I can pause during the walks to enjoy the scenery and listen to the birds. I love my walks the most when I can linger and appreciate the world around me. Jazz might be happier walking for eternity, but I’m not a dog, I’m a human who likes to truly experience being out in nature.

Snowpup

snow dog

Jazzmin is determined to sniff down to whatever animal tracks are hidden.

While the snow that fell yesterday is lovely, the frigid temperatures are getting old rather fast. I did manage to take Jazzmin for a short walk despite the wind chill in the single digits but I’ve been struggling to warm up ever since. These are the days I long for a nice, big garden tub that I can fill with hot water that doesn’t stink of sulfur. Someday!

Jazzmin isn’t as bothered by the cold as I am. In fact, she loves to plunge her head all the way into the snow past her ears to sniff the tracks in the dirt far below. She always comes back up and snorts the snow off, shaking her head as if she doesn’t understand why her head is all cold and frozen. I envy her ability to withstand the cold because I know I’ll never be a snowbunny…or a snowpup in this case. 😉

Winter wonderland

snow covered road

The view on our walk this morning.

 

Thanks to one of those peculiar weather systems that’s spinning the wrong direction and moving east to west, it’s been snowing all day where I live. In New England, this precipitation was freezing rain and rain but when it moved west to where I live, it transitioned to snow and cold. It isn’t a blizzard or anything near the amount of snow dumped on Buffalo recently, but it’s the most snow we’ve had yet. As it’s still the holiday season, I don’t mind the snow and I’m enjoying the sight of it gently falling as it creates a winter wonderland.

kitten snowball

Daisy playing with the little snowball I brought inside. Jazz ate is shortly after this.

birdwatching kittens

The kittens were exhausted from birdwatching.

A little snow and cold wasn’t going to keep me from my vow to walk Jazzmin every day so we headed out this morning when there were only a few inches on the ground. Jazzmin is always happy to walk but she’d be happier if it wouldn’t snow on her head. Even with the cold and the snow pelting my face as we walked, I was happy because I know how lucky I am. I have a strong dislike for driving in snow and thanks to working at home, I don’t have to worry about driving into an office every day, no matter the weather. I’d much rather be out walking Jazzmin as I’m bundled up to my eyeballs than working for someone else helping them achieve their dreams. Nowadays, I get to chase and achieve my own dreams.

dog pawprints

Our footprints in the snow.

Despite a few unexpected interruptions, I was able to finish my work for the day before dinnertime. One of those unexpected interruptions was actually a welcome one as they cancelled afterschool activities and I had to pick Jordan up from school. She usually rides the late bus with her sister to their father’s house on Wednesday afternoon, but the canceled activities meant she needed somewhere to go. That’s yet another reason I feel blessed to be able to work from home, I’m there for my girls when they need me. Living only three minutes from the school comes in handy on days like today and thankfully, the roads weren’t too bad. Jordan and I enjoyed a quiet afternoon together before her father picked her up and I resumed my tasks for the day.

lights on the walkway

Glow of my walkway lights in the snow.

I’ve already had to shovel five inches of snow off my deck and I’m sure I’ll have to do tomorrow since it’s still coming down, but I’ll manage like I always do. I know that the cold is only temporary and that even when I don’t have my girls, I have my felines and my pup to keep me warm and remind me that I’m loved.

kittens and dog

Snuggling on the couch tonight.

“Neither snow, nor rain…” how about both?

“Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” – Herodotus, 503 B.C.

That is the unofficial motto of the United States Post Office and it sprang to mind (though I didn’t know the exact words at the time) as I contemplated walking Jazzmin this afternoon. The wind was gusting at up to 30 mph, the temperature was rapidly dropping out of the 30’s with a wind chill in the teens, and the clouds couldn’t decide if they wanted to spew out rain or snow so they were throwing down a combination of both.

When I took Jazzmin out to answer nature before I headed into town, the wind chilled me, the rain beat at me and I thought to myself “No way am I walking in this!” Then as I led her back into the house, my thoughts shifted to “Well, if I put earmuffs and gloves on, it won’t be so bad.” It’s not a challenge to take the easy way out and say it’s too cold and yucky to walk, and no one would blame me for skipping it today. Nonetheless, I really wanted to keep my promise of walking Jazzmin every day because she and I both need it. Therefore, I chose to rise to the challenge and head out once I got home from errands.

Jazzmin is always excited about walking, even if the snow is up to her chest and the wind freezes her nose and ears off, so when I got home, changed, and saddled her up in her backpack, she was happy as could be! When we stepped out the door and she started being pelted with the tiny, hard snowballs descending from the sky, her enthusiasm waned a bit. We set out anyway and her step was as light as usual, even as the sleet/snow/frozen mess bounced off her head, ping-ponged off my coat, wove into my hair, and sometimes snuck down my neck.

The view as we turned the first corner.

The view as we turned the first corner.

As we turned the corner off my road and onto the next, the sleet snow started to come down harder and Jazz’s ears flattened to her head. We continued though and I actually laughed at how ridiculous it was that we had voluntarily chosen to be out in such weather. If Mama Nature thought she was going to force us to turn around, she was wrong!

Jazzmin is NOT impressed!

Jazzmin is NOT impressed!

The sleet snow was stinging my face but I thought to myself that it was a wonderful and 100% natural exfoliant for my skin. The wind was freezing my body but I reassured myself that shivering must burn more calories. My hair was drenched with cold wetness but I knew from past snow experiences that when it air-dried my natural wave would bounce back happily. I knew the cold, wetness, and discomfort were temporary and that the walk was good exercise for Jazzmin and me.

My road is waaay down that way...

My road is waaay down that way…

When we returned home, the mini snowballs of precipitation had accumulated into a noticeable layer on my deck. Jazzmin was eager to go inside to thaw out her cold paws and I was happy to be inside the warmth where I could start warming up again.

Jazz's paw prints from where she stood waiting for me to open the door.

Jazz’s paw prints from where she stood waiting for me to open the door.

Despite the chill in my body, I was proud of myself for venturing out when a lesser woman would’ve huddled home, safe under blankets, sipping a latte. I’d kept my promise of walking every day for the third day in a row and with this blog, I’ve also completed my daily entry. As far as winging it? Well, I think if Jazzmin and I had possessed wings today, the wind would’ve carried us off into the sunset.

Winter writing, walking, and winging it!

winter field

December has arrived with cloudy skies and temperatures dropping into the teens by tonight. One would expect such frigid temperatures this time of year in Upstate NY, but considering that yesterday it was 50 degrees with occasional sun, I’m thinking it wise to expect the unexpected this month.

Along that thought, I’ve already decided something unexpected this month and that is to post a new blog entry every day in December. I was slacking a bit in November with the holidays and having to write my college research paper, but now that the paper is done and I know exactly what I’m getting for gifts for my girls, I can focus on writing for pleasure again! I don’t want my pursuit of a writing career and writing-based college degree to kill my love of writing so it’s best that I continue to express myself with the usual rambling Julie here.

Writing rambling or writing serious work are both easier when it’s cold outside. What isn’t easy when it’s cold outside is working up the motivation to walk Jazzmin. Nonetheless, she and I both benefit from our walks so I vow to walk every day in December! If there are days when it’s -20 with a wind chill we might not make it out, but I’ll do my best to make up for it with more than one walk a day if necessary! Jazzmin could walk forever so I’m certainly not worried about tiring her out and considering how much I love Chex Mix and sweets during this time of year, I could use the beneficial tiring out. 😉

Another thing that tires me out is overthinking. I don’t know if overthinking is just part of being a writer or if it’s just an unrelated malady I have, but it’s an exhausting quirk. I’m constantly thinking of the “what ifs” and “shoulda coulda wouldas” of life and all it does is make me overly anxious and waste my energy. Therefore, for my third W of winter (or at least for December) I’ve decided to wing it. As in go where the wind blows me and not worry so dang much about things I can’t control.

I know two very potent remedies for my overthinking and they’re beading and writing in fantasy books. When I use my overly active mind in my handmade creations, I’m amazed with my own capabilities. Focusing my highly excitable imagination into my writing has helped me come up with plots lines and character developments that astound me. I believe that if I just let go of my worries and allow hope, inspiration, and faith flow freely, I’ll finally be able to break through my writer’s block and create stories the world will love to read. 🙂

Foggy flurries and furry fluffballs

My snowy house this morning.

My snowy house this morning.

Today marked the first substantial snow for the season here. The calendar may still say it’s fall, but Upstate NY has never been a place that abides by such silly notions. I don’t mind snow when it first begins and my girls both seem to love it. I remember loving it when I was a child, but once I became an adult who had to drive in it, snow lost a lot of its magic. The “magical first snow” today started overnight and hasn’t let up since. It’s not accumulating fast but it’s heavy, wet, and perfect for making snowballs.

And make snowballs I did! When I took Jazzmin out this morning, I made a couple snowballs and tossed them at her. She happily caught them in her mouth before spitting them out when she realized they were strange, cold tennis balls. I then took a snowball in to show the kittens and they were fascinated by the cold, white, balls of water. They love water and I’m always plucking them out of the sink, bathtub, and dog’s water bowl. I eventually plopped the snowball in their water bowl and Daisy watched it intently until it melted.

Once the girls were off at school, I did a bit of freelance work and then settled on the couch beneath a blanket to begin some new beading projects. I’d reviewed a new set of instructions for making earrings this morning and I was eager to try them. What I created came out better than I expected, but I discovered I need to start using a thimble to avoid poking my pointer fingers constantly. Thank goodness fingers heal quickly! It’s worth it though because I’m so pleased with last week’s creations that I need more hours in the day to create all the jewelry designs that have popped into my mind.

Modeling last week's beaded earring and pendant creations.

Modeling last week’s beaded earring and pendant creations.

The snow never let up so there was no point in waiting for it to stop before taking Jazz for a walk. I bundled her up in her booties (which she hates) and warm, blue sweater and I bundled myself up similarly in my winter jacket, boots, and earmuffs. It wasn’t exactly frigid today but there was a breeze and I wanted to keep my ears warm. Our walk wasn’t very long but Jazz was happy to be out and we both became thoroughly coated with snow. As we were heading back home, fog began to roll in from the top of the hill which detracted from the beauty of the first snowfall.

Jazz in her sweater and booties.

Jazz in her sweater and booties.

The snowy trees.

The snowy trees.

Jazz smells something...

Jazz smells something…

Yuppers, it's snowing!

Yuppers, it’s snowing!

The fog rolling in down the road.

The fog rolling in down the road.

Jazzmin and I were both happy to get home and thaw out. The kittens were fascinated watching the falling snow and took turns looking out the window or hogging my desk chair because it’s so cozy.

Daisy looking out the window.

Daisy looking out the window.

Angel hogging my desk chair.

Angel hogging my desk chair.

I had to get my snow shovel out of the shed to clean off my deck steps and create a path to the door and it’s now resting beside the door, ready to be used again. Winter has definitely begun but with the combination of foggy flurries and furry fluffballs, I know it will be anything but dull!

 

The best kind of crazy!

Staying warm with my pets on the couch.

Staying warm with my pets on the couch.

More than once in my life, I’ve been asked if I’m crazy. My usual reply is that I’ve discovered being a little bit crazy keeps me sane and I honestly believe that. If I was 100% sane, I’d be extremely boring and I’d never do anything exciting or fun! What a waste that would be. 😉

My particular kind of crazy struck me at a rather odd, but useful time today. It snowed today and it was the first undeniable snow full of big, fluffy flakes that blew about in the frigid temperatures. I stayed warm by working at my desk where there’s a heat vent right underneath it and an Angel on my lap keeping me cozy. At one point, she was using the spacebar as a pillow so I had to slide my keyboard over to a more accessible spot, but enjoying her warmth was worth the minor adjustment. Certainly nothing crazy about seeking warmth on a cold day.

During my lunch break, I snuggled on the couch with Jazz by my feet and Angel by my head. Well, she was actually sleeping in an odd position on my collarbone at one point because she was weary of getting too close to the dog. Jazz and Daisy seem to get along okay now but Angel is a bit more persnickety and still swats at Jazz if she gets too close. The balance of power will settle into its proper place eventually…

This was not what I'd call comfortable.

This was not what I’d call comfortable.

After lunch and a bit more work, I decided a short nap was in order since my sleep last night was plagued with dreams of being chased by dinosaurs. I should know better than to watch Jurassic Park 3 before bed, but obviously, I don’t. As soon as I settled into bed, Angel and Daisy came and snuggled right up against me creating instant warmth. I can say with great certainty that I won’t be cold in bed this winter as the little furry hot pockets keep me nice and toasty!

Feeling refreshed from my nap, I went back to work at my desk and had just finished an article around 4 p.m. when I looked outside and realized it had stopped snowing and almost appeared to be clearing up. It was a balmy 27 degrees out and the sun was going to be setting soon, but I was suddenly struck with the overwhelming urge to take Jazz for a walk. I didn’t do so well walking her last winter. In fact, there were entire weeks when we never got out walking because I couldn’t stand the thought of being cold. Unfortunately, that lack of walking made me squishier than I like, so this year I’m determined to get back out there come snow, sleet, rain, or yetis!

Now this is where the crazy part comes in. A totally sane, warmth-loving person wouldn’t decide near sunset on a frigid windy day that it’s the perfect time for a walk. But I’m the best kind of crazy, so I changed into my walking gear, put on my warm winter walking boots, saddled Jazz with her backpack, donned gloves, and headed out the door. Jazzmin was thrilled! Until she almost fell down the deck stairs from slipping on the ice. After that, she remembered what winter was about and paid better attention.

The wind was still stirring the cold air as we walked and within moment my cheeks were frozen but I really didn’t mind. I was out in the fresh air and Jazz and I were getting much needed exercise! The nice thing about walking in the colder weather is that we never encounter other dogs because we’re the only ones crazy enough to be out. Another bonus is that I figure shivering burns more calories and it certainly makes me walk faster to keep the blood circulating!

The sky during our walk tonight. Yes, there's snow in those clouds.

The sky during our walk tonight. Yes, there’s snow in those clouds.

Though our walk wasn’t very long, it was a great first step toward a winter full of outdoor exercise. Eventually I’ll need to put Jazz’s booties on her and wear a thicker coat, but for this evening, we made do with just her backpack and my thick fleece hoodie. When we returned home, I was so proud of us and I felt like I’d kicked some serious butt, even if it was just my own. To warm myself up, I did the Zumba abs workout and the fun, 15-minute program on a chair thawed my icy bones and had me sweating in no time! It certainly might be more sane to spend the winter snuggled up on the couch covered in kittens, but I prefer to be a bold, brave, and a smidge crazy.