Black labs and bass guitars

Such a sweet black lab!

Such a sweet black lab!

I had a plan for today…and I should know by now that making a plan is unwise because the universe always finds a way to disrupt my plans. I intended to work all day on my freelance jobs and I started strong doing a heavily researched piece for a new client. I had just started my second writing job when I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. I focused my attention to the world outside my living room window and realized there was a black dog running along the shoulder of the road by my front pine trees.

A few moments later, a car came up the road and thankfully slowed down to avoid hitting the pup, but I knew it wasn’t wise to leave the poor pup out there at the mercy of traffic. I quickly stood up from my chair and walked swiftly out onto my front deck. I reached the side of the deck and whistled at the pup a few times until I caught her attention. I called out “Come here, puppy!” and she dashed over happily with her tail wagging fast enough to propel her onward. The moment she reached me, I realized she was the same black lab who had appeared in my yard last year around this time. She is extremely friendly and obviously well-fed with white around her muzzle indicating she’s not exactly a puppy. When I told her to sit, she rolled over onto her back instead and started wiggling happily around.

As I had an old bag of dog food that Jazzmin no longer liked, I went in the house and fetched a bowl and a scoop of food for the black lab. Jazzmin was extremely excited upon seeing the black lab outside, but I kept the two separated, as I had no idea how the lab was with other dogs. Figuring the lab had probably only recently gained its freedom, I put Jazz in her crate with her peanut butter-filled Kong, placed one of Jazz’s collars on the lab, clicked on the leash and decided to walk down the road in search of the pup’s owners. I knocked on a couple doors where it looked like people would be home but no one answered. One woman did answer her door and she was very friendly but said she didn’t know to whom the dog belonged. It was the first time I’d met any of my neighbors aside from the ones right next door and I suppose walking around with the lost lab was one way to become more social 😉

Squirrel?!

Squirrel?!

After ringing the doorbells on every house where it looked like people were home, finding no owners, and being chased off by three barking beagles, I decided to head back home with the lab. She acted as if she hadn’t been on a leash very much as she pulled, jumped, and danced happily around sniffing everything in sight. I was able to rein her in pretty well but it was kind of like walking a small bear. It certainly put in perspective how well-behaved Jazzmin is on the leash now.

Thankfully, when I headed back out with the lab later, I learned from my closest neighbor that she belonged to a house on the corner and that it wasn’t unusual for her to get out when the wind blew the door open. Armed with that useful knowledge, I walked her up the road and returned her safely home. After that, I took Jazz for a walk and let her sniff around everywhere outside where the lab had been so she would be reassured that her “competition” was no longer on the property.

With that interruption to my day complete, I finished my second writing assignment and set to work continuing the task of reorganizing my living room. For me, reorganizing always involves making a huge mess as I sort through things before I find neater places for all those things and put them away. Amid that reorganizing, I moved something that was holding up my left-handed bass guitar and said guitar fell happily on my arm leaving a mark. I took that as a sign that it’s time for me to get it out and try playing it again, so I tucked it somewhere it won’t fall on me and went about my business.

My sexy, red left-handed bass guitar.

My sexy, red, left-handed bass guitar.

At last, I accomplished my planned tasks of moving a storage cabinet intended to hold the dog supplies, reorganizing the shoes with some repurposed racks, and relocating a large storage ottoman buried under piles of papers. Now all I need is a bookshelf for the living room and I’ll finally have a place for everything! While it took me much longer than I expected and had unplanned interruptions, I accomplished a lot today and toasted myself with a nice, cool glass of homemade red wine. A perfect Friday night in for this very tired superchick. 😉

Whoa! I should have worn a sweatshirt!

This was one of the really windy spots on this afternoon's walk.

This was one of the really windy spots on this afternoon’s walk.

 

Sometimes things in my life don’t turn out as I hoped and I’m left feeling confused, disappointed, lost, and all sorts of less-than-positive emotions. The most effective way of dealing with such times in my life is to go for a nice, long walk! Honestly, any type of exercise can help create a more positive perspective because the endorphins start flowing and energy begins surging, but for me, walks work best!

As I took a rather short walk yesterday due to the cooler, more turbulent weather, I decided that today Jazzmin and I would take a nice loooong walk! Our long walk is a total of four miles and involves traveling all the way down to the local farmer’s huge storage barns, but I had a lot on my mind and I knew I had to work it all out with a properly exhausting walk. Sweet, lovable, loyal Jazzerboo would walk forever if I let her, but she’s limited to what her pack leader (me) can handle, so four miles is our longest walk (so far).

On this lovely autumn day, the sun was shining brightly, the sky was bright blue, and the wind was once again whipping across the hills. Even so, I thought I’d be warm enough in just shorts and a tank top. By the time we reached the end of my driveway I thought, “Hmm, I might want to put on a sweatshirt.” I then talked myself out of that by deciding the long walk would warm me up and I’d just end up tying the sweatshirt around my waste. I was wrong!

While I usually break a sweat on longer walks, it wasn’t even possible today because the wind cooled off my body before it could get hot. After we crested the tallest hill, I was tired but not hot, my arms and legs had goosebumps, and I was feeling rather numb.

Scolding myself for not wearing a sweatshirt, I continued on the walk and looked forward to the areas where trees bordered the road. Usually I like those spots because the tree shade cools me from the sun, but today I loved them because the trees blocked the wind! Wherever the road was open to farmer’s fields and treeless hills, the breeze blew so strong that I’d see tumbleweeds roll across in front of us. The wind was so strong that butterflies were struggling to stay on course, turkey vultures were having a ball kiting through the air, and leaves were flying off the trees!

One of the upsides of being so chilly was that I was walking rather briskly because I was eager to return home and swim in some hot coffee! While on the walk, I rescued five wooly bear caterpillars and a praying mantis from certain death beneath car wheels. I also saw a merlin, a hawk, and three monarch butterflies. The monarch sightings were a pleasant surprise because I thought it was too cold and windy for any of the lovely orange and black butterflies to be up north still.

When Jazzmin and I returned home over an hour after leaving, we were both quite pleased with ourselves. Jazzmin was pleased because she’d sniffed out every squirrel, deer, raccoon, and chipmunk that had ever crossed the road and I was happy because I’d worked off my negative feelings and replaced them with positivity and hope. There’s no denying the benefits of walking because I experience them first hand whenever I take Jazz out. Even on days when I just want to crawl back into bed and nap because I’m feeling down, I’ve discovered that going for a walk helps my attitude do a complete 180 spin into happier, more upbeat and perfectly positive feelings. I’m also positively feeling that I really need to wear a coat next time it’s as cool and windy as it was today!

New season, new outlook!


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Today was the first day of my favorite season: autumn. I don’t particularly like the season that follows autumn but as I’m working on enjoying the present and focusing on the here and now, I’m not going to worry about that particular aspect of the future.

The weather today was absolutely gorgeous with a cloudless blue sky, gentle breeze and enough sunlight to banish the cooler temperatures of yesterday. Once I’d finished my morning freelance work, I grabbed Jazzmin and we headed out on our daily walk. As I was curious to see how quickly the trees were changing along the farmer’s road, we headed that direction at a brisk pace.

My pup and I had just turned the first corner when I spotted something small and bright green in the center of the closest lane. I peered closer, realized it was a praying mantis and quickly but gently picked him up out of the road. He was the first non-squished praying mantis I’ve seen this year and I was happy to help him travel safely across the road.

The moment I picked the mantis up, he pointed in the direction he wanted to go and I carried him there as he held firmly to my hand.

That way please, Miss!

That way please, Miss!

Now place me gently down there. Thank you!

Now place me gently down there. Thank you!

Once safely on the opposite side of the road, I gently set him down in the grassy shoulder and he quickly blended in with his surroundings. Pleased with another successful creature rescue, I led Jazz onward to the farmer’s access road to continue our walk.

Even though there wasn’t as much color change among the trees as I’d hoped, it was still a lovely walk among dragonflies, butterflies and birds.

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Colorful vines climbing up the trees.

Colorful vines climbing up the trees.

A fallen oak branch filled with acorns.

A fallen oak branch filled with acorns.

This year has also been very good for grasshoppers and everywhere I walk, the ground springs to life as multiple grasshoppers jump swiftly out of my path. I tried to take a picture of the little bugs in action, but they were too fast!

I led Jazz to the end of the canopy of trees over the farmer’s road and up a bit further before turning off the gravel and onto a path of flattened grass created by the large tractors that mow those fields. We walked in the shade of the large trees along the path and paused by a rather large and obviously frequently-traveled deer path. I took a picture to capture the feel of the trees and shadows.

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After that, we stepped out of the shadows and cut across the grassy field toward the little pond we visited earlier in the week. As we approached, a handful of deer went bounding away from the water’s edge and quickly disappeared into the underbrush of the distant trees. A higher up motion caught my eye and I raised my gaze in time to see a hawk flying out from the trees beyond the pond. Wearing a huge smile, I watched as he soared along the tree line for a short way before swooping upward and out of sight over the treetops.

By the time we finished crossing the field, I think Jazz had smelled every animal that had ever traversed the grass. We walked along the far tree line as I searched the ground for red tail hawk feathers. I found a small turkey feather but alas, my hunt for red tail hawk feathers continues.

Turkey feather I found today.

Turkey feather I found today.

Jazzmin and I returned from our walk quite satisfied by the exercise and our adventures. She took a quick snooze while I showered and then it was off to pick up Jordan and continue the normal routine of the day.

This evening was just as beautiful as the day so my girls and I took a short walk up around the corner to the nearby stream. Jordan had a chance to practice her pack leader skills and I was pleased to see how well Jazzmin walked alongside my oldest daughter.

Jordan walking Jazzmin and Jaycie following behind.

Jordan walking Jazzmin and Jaycie following behind.

It was the perfect end to a perfect day, an ideal beginning to my favorite season, and an eye opening transition to a new perspective!

Pawsome Pup Finds at Paws Pet Boutique!

Exterior of Paws Pet Boutique on Main Street, Amesbury

Exterior of Paws Pet Boutique on Main Street, Amesbury

If you’re a dog owner, chances are you spoil your loyal, four-legged friend. A great store to accommodate such spoiling is Paws Pet Boutique at 106 Main Street in Amesbury, MA. The moment you step inside you’ll be impressed by the surprising size of the store and the expansive selection of food, toys and supplies for dogs. The employees within the store are very friendly, helpful and happy to answer questions. Customers are greeted pleasantly and welcome to browse the variety of dog items.

For those dogs that require distractions and entertainment, there are treat balls and puzzles and the store is happy to provide you with the perfect size treats to go inside. Dogs love a challenge and work busily for several minutes trying to get all the treats out of the ball.

Just some of the toys available inside.

Just some of the toys available inside.

In the cold temperatures, ice, snow, mud, salt and sand, it’s important to protect your dog’s delicate paw pads. Paws Pet Boutique carries rubber booties by Pawz Dog Boots that are specially designed to protect paw pads and remain on the dog’s feet throughout the walk. Pawz Dog Boots are also great if your dog has an injury that the vet doesn’t want them licking because they stay on securely while keeping the paw clean and dry.

Another necessity in the chilly weather is a canine coat. Dogs with shorter fur are happier in a jacket when the temps dip below 40 degrees. Paws Pet Boutique has a large selection of dog jackets and can help you find the right size for your pup.

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Along with an entire wall of dog toys, collars, leashes and supplies, there’s several varieties of dog food and treats. If you have a dog who is finicky about her food, the experts at Paws Pet Boutique can offer suggestions and help.

Paws Pet Boutique Amesbury MA

Stop into Paws Pet Boutique for everything your loyal companion requires and your pup will thank you!

Piles of Pathetic Pupness

Jazz flopped pathetically by the couch this morning.

Jazz flopped pathetically by the couch this morning.

I adore my pup Jazzmin but she, just like every other dog in the world I imagine, is an expert at flopping about in the most pathetic and pitiful piles of pupness. She can go from happy and tail wagging after playing to flopped on the floor in utter misery and woe because I haven’t pet her in the last two breaths. She goes from gratefully burping in my face after wolfing down her food to melting on the floor in feigned utter starvation as if her last meal was months ago. Full on doggy drama queen!

It’s been way too cold to take Jazz for a walk the past several days. Just to put her outside for her morning answer to nature’s call I have to dress her up in her booties and sweater to prevent her from becoming a pupsicle. I even had to carry her 55 pound butt back in the house last week because it was too cold for her to walk in the snow! She’s always so eager to get back in the house and I’m always so hopeful that feeling will last all day. Alas, it never does. Within moments, she’s wondering why I haven’t taken her outside for a walk. She looks at me in utter dismay wondering what horrible thing she’s done to make me punish her with lack of walks. My eyes are about to roll out of my head from her constant puppy dog eyes of death!

Time for a walk yet, Mama?

Time for a walk yet, Mama?

I love Jazz but bundling up to my eyeballs in a snowsuit and ski mask to walk her in negative temperatures just isn’t going to happen. Especially since she’d have to be equally bundled and would never keep a full doggy ski mask on, if such a thing even exists. It was so cold this morning that she was holding her paws up out of the snow even with her booties on! I don’t recall that ever happening before and with her leaky steel trap memory, Jazz doesn’t remember it happening at all by now.

The cold shoulder pout.

The cold shoulder pout.

My daughter Jordan asked me last night if I thought Jazz was born looking that pathetic. I said I highly doubted it and that from what I remember of puppies, they’re furry, round butterballs that sleep a lot, chew on things and pee and poo all over the house. I’m not up to dealing with THAT variety of pathetic pup piles around my house! Despite her constant “woe is me” body flopping in every room of the house, I know Jazz is a happy dog. She has by now forgotten her less than lovely life in the animal shelter but her periodic stays at the boarders remind her what a good thing she has in my tiny, cabin-fever filled house.

Ohhh woe is Jazzmin!

Ohhh woe is Jazzmin!

Eventually the weather will break and we’ll be able to go for walks again but for now I’m doing my best to ignore the sighs, huffs, grunts and stares of longing she keeps aiming in my direction.

Loving Jazzerboo

Two years ago today I adopted my dog Jazzmin from one of the local animal shelters. I fell in love with her the moment the shelter volunteer brought her exuberant, wagging butt out from the room where the kennels were. It was obvious in her whole demeanor how much she loved life and people and her energy was contagious!

My life hasn’t been the same since I adopted my Jazzerboo, it’s been infinitely better than it was before! She is the most loving, loyal and snuggly dog I’ve ever owned and her personality is as quirky as mine. The way she looks at me with one ear cocked higher than the other, the way she lies on the floor with her feet in the air, the way her entire rear end wags back and forth right along with her tail always make me smile no matter what kind of day I’ve had.

Having Jazzmin as part of my family comes with all sorts of perks. Her puppy dog eyes of death are great motivators to go outside and walk, she taught my girls that dogs aren’t something to be afraid of, she’s shown my cats that dogs are just as fun to snuggle with as humans and she’s kept me from ever feeling alone. She’s my shadow when I’m walking through the house and my copilot on driving adventures.

I’d say I don’t know how I survived without her but I do know how I survived and it wasn’t nearly as happy an existence. I know dogs aren’t for everyone but they are for me and I plan on adopting more mutts in the future when my circumstances allow. Every dog deserves a chance at a great life full of love and I gave Jazz that when I rescued her from the shelter. Even better, she rescued me right back!

The Power of Sunshine

Sunshine through the clouds this morning.

Sunshine through the clouds this morning.

It’s been positively dreary around here lately. It was in the 50’s Saturday but raining and then Sunday it was overcast and snowing. Those kind of winter days make the idea of hibernation very appealing!

Thankfully today it was finally a decent temperature with some sunshine thrown in this morning. Seeing the sunrise light the sky and warm the earth was a welcome sight and if I could have bottled it, I would have. I took Jazz for a walk after my workout and though my legs felt somewhat like Jell-O it was still lovely to be out!

Walking Jazz in the winter is much less stressful than in the nicer weather because there’s no one else walking their dogs and the neighborhood pups are all safely warm inside. There are still squirrels, birds and deer to distract Jazz but unlike other dogs, they don’t bark at her so we’re able to continue walking without issue.

The breeze was a bit strong at times but the sun managed to stay out for most of our walk helping to keep us warm. By the time we returned home the sun had been swallowed by the clouds once more. Amazing enough though, the power of that short period of sunshine was enough to re-energize me and remind me that winter won’t last forever and that spring and renewal are always just around the corner.

Not Fit for Queen Nor Puppers

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…

There is a phrase that goes something like “It’s not fit for man nor beast” but as I am not a man and Jazzmin is not a beast, I’m modifying it. This weather lately has been so cold that stepping out the door is just not fit for this queen or her puppers. Alas since Jazz doesn’t know how to use the toilet (nor will I really ever encourage her to) we have to go outside several times a day.

Every time we go outside in the biter cold and wind, Jazz looks at me in dismay as if wondering why I haven’t personally done something to make it warmer out. If it were within my power to do that, I would’ve by now! I bundle her up in her cardigan and I wear my winter jacket and heavy gloves but even then, the wind seems to cut right through us.

Inside the house, we stay warm by wearing layers, covering in blankets, cranking space heaters, exercising and playing games of lobster fetch. By the time it’s nice enough to go outside for more than just our daily walk, Jazz will be a pro at lobster fetch! Thankfully it’s supposed to get above the teens tomorrow and the 40s by the weekend and I’m going to enjoy the “warmth” while it lasts because Mama Nature is having serious moodswings and I’m sure the cold will return…

Fetching Lobsters

Throw it already, Mama!

Throw it already, Mama!

This past summer I tried on more than one occasion to teach Jazzmin the game of fetch. My attempts were unsuccessful because while she’d run after the ball when I threw it, she wouldn’t necessarily fetch the ball in her mouth or bring it back. She enjoyed the run part but bringing the ball back didn’t happen.

With the frigid temperatures and knee-deep snow outside we’re all getting a bit of cabin fever and Jazzmin is no exception. I do walk her when the temperature gets about 20 degrees and I don’t have the girls but the weather hasn’t been walk-friendly in a while.

To use up Jazz’s energy, we play indoor games of tug, run around the table and chase the red bug (laser pointer). Today we added a new game thanks to me finding a bag from Just Dogs Newburyport while I was tidying. Inside the bag was a toy I’d forgotten I bought for Jazz, a tuggy lobster made of sturdy red rope. The moment I took the lobster out of the bag, Jazz was fascinated by its dangling legs and her tail started wagging eagerly. I tossed the toy at her and she began gnawing at it as she held it between her paws.

Jazz sinking her teeth into some lobster fun.

Jazz sinking her teeth into some lobster fun.

Jazz kept coming over to me with the lobster in her mouth wanting a game of tug but I decided to mix things up a bit. I made her drop the lobster and then I tossed it down the hall. She eagerly ran after it and to my surprise, brought it back to me. She still wanted to play tug and I used that eagerness to create a game of lobster fetch.

Within a few tosses of the lobster, she’d happily bring it back to me wanting more. Jazz still needs a command to drop it but the key part is that she brings it back! I say “fetch!” when I throw it and I think the lightbulb finally lit up in her head that helped her realize what playing fetch means.

She's rather fond of lobster tail

She’s rather fond of lobster tail

I don’t do things the ordinary way so I don’t know why I expected my dog to be any different. Jazz may never be fond of fetching bouncing, round tennis balls but she’s becoming a pro at fetching lobsters!

Beautiful New England

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The snow and ice on the trees at one of the rest stops on the Mass Turnpike

I woke up this morning to a beautiful New England sunrise and it warmed me up despite the temperatures in the teens. I’m always so much happier being in New England, both asleep and awake. Jazzmin is still a bit confuse as to why our “house” is suddenly so much smaller than it used to be but she’s being a very good pup about it all!

Sunshine out my hotel window.

Sunshine out my hotel window.

Jazz watching the exotic NH squirrels...

Jazz watching the exotic NH squirrels…

Jazz eyeing my breakfast in bed.

Jazz eyeing my breakfast in bed.

Yesterday’s drive here was free of weather issues, much to my delight! There was one lengthy delay in Springfield, MA due to construction but aside from that, the driving was easy going. Jazzmin rode shotgun for a while but eventually moved to the back seats. I thought she did that to stretch out but she curled into such a tight ball in the seat behind me I couldn’t see her. She did enjoy watching all the people in the cars when we were stuck in the stop and go traffic and I opened the windows a bit for her then so she could sniff snort the fresh air to her delight.

Jazzmin chilling in the back seats

Jazzmin chilling in the back seats

I arrived at the hotel later than I’d planned and just sort of set my stuff down all over the place. Thankfully there’s an entrance door right by my room so I unloaded the car while Jazz stayed warm in the room sniffing the carpet and acquainting herself with every dog and cat who ever stayed here.

Jazzmin very happy to be out of the car. Notice the yellow blur of her tail!

Jazzmin very happy to be out of the car. Notice the yellow blur of her tail!

Once the car was unpacked and my belongings looked like they’d exploded in the room, I took Jazz on the walk I’d been promising her the entire drive. It was already dark out but there are tons of street lights around the hotel and in the surrounding apartment complexes so we had no trouble seeing. Jazz was fascinated to be out and about somewhere new and while it wasn’t a long walk, we had fun. I fed Jazz her dinner and set about trying to figure out what to wear for going out.

There was an event in Amesbury last night called the Restaurant and Shop Showcase and as I love Amesbury, I knew I had to go. I had a plans for later in the evening but I knew I could stop in at the Amesbury event for at least a little while. I’m so glad I did! There were quite a few people there and lots of yummy food to sample! There was also wine to sample but as I had to be on the road again later, I didn’t partake. I enjoyed fish chowder from Phat Cats Bistro and a stuffed Portobello mushroom from another local restaurant but I apologize because I can’t remember which one. There was just so much delicious looking food! There were also tables for various local shops too and I would’ve liked to look around more but my schedule was tighter than I’d wanted. I did buy the Amesbury holiday ornament though and will be putting it on my tree when I get home.

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Ed Justen from Workspace 36 playing sax at the event. Sorry it's blurry, I was trying to be covert...

Ed Justen from Workspace 36 playing sax at the event. Sorry it’s blurry, I was trying to be covert…

I have some errands to run with Jazz this morning but beyond that, no big plans until this evening when I have a couple holiday events I plan on attending. There’s the Frosty The Snowman book signing at Jon P. Mooers Artist and Gallery in Amesbury tonight and the Christmas at the Mansion in Peabody, MA that Jackie Moldau of Jackie’s Tees and Custom Apparel invited me to. I’m so excited to have holiday events to go to!!! I haven’t enjoyed such festivities in many years and it’s fun being social again!

New England really is such a beautiful place and it’s truly where I belong. I don’t live here yet but I’m already laying down the roots for a very happy future here!

New England in December, At Last!

Amesbury, MA looking festive, November 2013

Amesbury, MA looking festive, November 2013

Tomorrow morning I’m loading up my car, getting Jazzmin settled in shotgun position and hitting the road east again on another trip to New England. I haven’t taken Jazz on a trip to New England since last summer but as she loves car rides, I know she’s up for it!

This will be the first time I’ve been in New England in December. I’ve visited Boston and the outskirts twice in November but I’ve never made it in this month full of holiday festivities. And wow are there festivities! There are a couple events in Amesbury I plan on attending and other fun, new things I’ve never done before that await my enjoyment.

I do hope to get into Boston one of the days so I can see everything properly lit up and festive. A lot to do in not enough time! But I’ll cram it all in somehow or other, along with walking Jazz of course.

Zoey’s Story

The moment I picked up the little black and white cat at the shelter, she melted in my arms. She sprawled out, exposed her belly and showed me that she completely trusted and loved me at first sight. The love was mutual and I took her home that day. My then husband was with me and he liked her too despite not being an animal lover. He came up with the name Zoey for her and it seemed to fit her.

Zoey didn’t discriminate, she snuggled with everyone. She especially loved snuggling with my father when he’d come to my house and relax in the rocking recliner. I swear Zoey would instantly appear on his chest the moment he sat down. My dad always hated moving and disturbing her snuggling but Zoey was always good at resettling.

Zoey loved my daughters from the moment I brought them home from the hospital. Why wouldn’t she? They were more warm bodies to snuggle with! The girls loved her back and they were both fortunate to spend the first years of their life with such a sweet cat.

When I found Owl in my barn as a small, scared, stray black kitten, she didn’t know how to meow. She’d hiss but not meow. I couldn’t imagine then what a meowing loud mouth she’d become or how much of a great snuggler she’d grow into. Zoey wasn’t exactly thrilled by the little black kitten trying to tackle her all the time. Sometimes she’d play with Owl and sometimes she’d put her in her place by knocking her down. Eventually, they learned to get along harmoniously and most days I couldn’t tell where Zoey’s black fur ended and Owl’s began.

Zoey and Owl engaged in a very lazy cat fight.

Zoey and Owl engaged in a very lazy cat fight.

Unfortunately, Zoey eventually grew sick and the vets couldn’t figure out why. She was still a young cat, less than 10 years old but something was wreaking havoc on her body and draining her energy. They gave me medication to ease her pain and I took her back home so she could be comfortable. I had such high hopes that she’d recover somehow. I gave her medicine daily, snuggled with her and told her I loved her.

One night I snuggled with her on the couch and then left to go upstairs to bed. I came back downstairs the next morning and couldn’t find her. I then went searching in the basement because there was an old chair down there she loved to sleep on. That’s when I found her. She’d already passed, her spirit was gone from her tired body. As I write this now it’s been over four years since she died but it still makes me cry. I will forever miss that sweet little cat.

Much to my amazement, my then husband constructed a coffin for Zoey out of wood pieces in the barn. The coffin was far bigger than required for her tiny form but he placed her in it and dug a huge hole out in the back yard to bury her. That was the final resting place for her body but I know her spirit is never far from me.

Three months after Zoey died, my father passed. As hard as losing them both in such a short span of time was, I was comforted by the fact that they were together in heaven snuggling on a rocking recliner, snoring happily together.

Just as my father bestowed so many gifts upon me, Zoey bestowed gifts upon Owl. She taught Owl how to be a really dedicated and open-minded snuggler and to love anything and everything she met. Owl used those teachings to stubbornly and determinedly attempt to become friends with Jazzmin until she finally got her way.

Whenever Owl comes in the house from being outside, she seeks Jazzmin out and rubs against her until Jazz can’t stand it anymore and walks away. Jazz pretends not to like it but I know she really loves Owl. I’ve caught her looking for Owl when she’s not in the house and going to the door when she hears Owl outside meowing. Thanks to Zoey, Owl transformed a dog with no history with cats to a dog who can’t imagine her future without them.

Snuggle Season

The weather in October was remarkably pleasant most days and I went outside to enjoy it as much as possible. I do hope the nice weather lasts into November and that winter never actually comes but I do eventually have to grasp reality.

My house is small but drafty in certain rooms. I cover the bedroom windows with plastic so we’re less frigid at night but I don’t fight with plastic on the other windows. My living room has a nice big picture window that gives me a great view of my front yard and the neighborhood “scenery.” That big picture window also lets considerable cold in so when I sit on my couch it’s a necessity that I find some way to stay warm.

My favorite way to stay warm is crowding on the couch with my daughters but when they’re not here, Jazzmin and Owl happily step up. All I have to do is cover myself with a fleece blanket and the magnetic pull of that fuzziness brings Jazzmin and Owl immediately to the couch. Jazz isn’t usually allowed on the couch so she loves it when I call her up to snuggle with me. As a cat, Owl does whatever she pleases so she’s on the couch most of the time. Jazz snuggles up next to my legs and Owl follows suit by snuggling up against Jazz’s butt.

Jazz trying to ignore Owl.

Jazz trying to ignore Owl.

Jazz pretends to be slightly displeased by the cat’s proximity but the two eventually nestle right into each other and are snoring away. Usually they make themselves so comfortable I’m practically snuggled off the couch. When I get up from the couch, even if it’s just for a moment, I come back to find my spot overflowing with dog and cat. I gently nudge them back over and while they huff a bit, they quickly resettle and we’re all snuggly again in no time.

My snuggle bunnies snuggling me off the couch.

My snuggle bunnies snuggling me off the couch.

I’m never cold when I’m covered with my snuggle bunnies Jazzmin and Owl. In fact sometimes I get too hot to stay under the blanket. That makes them rather happy because that means there’s more blanket for them. When it’s bedtime, Jazz is reluctant to leave the couch nest but her desire to be close to her mama in the bedroom always gets her moving.  I’m sure Owl enjoys having the couch all to herself and makes her own furry warmth through the night. Snuggle season has begun and I feel so blessed to have such wonderful, loving creatures in my life.

A New Face on the Doggy Gauntlet

The new face resembled this adorable guy! Source: Pinterest

The new face resembled this adorable guy! Source: Pinterest

Yesterday morning I decided I’d take Jazzmin walking through the “Doggy Gauntlet.” I originally discussed why I call it this in a post back in April entitled (appropriately) “The Doggy Gauntlet.” Feel free to click the link to read the post.

I’ve walked that particular area enough times that I thought I knew where all the dogs lived. I discovered during our walk yesterday that I was quite wrong. Jazz and I had made it peacefully by all the homes with known dogs without incident. People were at work and their dogs were confined inside or away at doggy day care. Confident we were safe, I stopped in the shoulder of the road so Jazz could do her business. No sooner has she finished when I heard a deep growling approaching from behind us. Uh oh!

Pulling Jazz close to me and holding her leash tight, I whirled around to face the oncoming dog and found it to be a pup that must’ve been a mix of mastiff and something else. He had the height of a mastiff but not the big jowls and he was a quite handsome blend of brindle and white. I took all that in rather quickly as he came running, growling and barking at us from the house across the road. I’d never heard or seen a dog at that house before so I was rather surprised.

Many thoughts whipped through my head in quick succession as I stood in the shoulder of the road with Jazzmin behind me. Foremost were “Oh crap! Big dog! Eeek!” Thankfully, I’m pretty good when faced with a crisis so I remained calm and silenced the panicked voices so I could focus on the useful voice in my head. The voice and advice came from someone I’d asked almost 2 years ago what to do if a dog came running at me. All I could remember was something about looking and sounding tall and yelling…what was I supposed to yell??? The only word that would come to mind and come out was “NO!” The moment I yelled that in my biggest, most authoritative voice, the dog stopped running at us and looked confused and taken aback. He’d slowed but he kept coming so I stood my ground and kept saying “NO!” as I held Jazz behind me. My voice was obviously doubly intimidating because both the big dog and Jazz obeyed me.

The dog was partially wagging his tail and had stopped barking and growling as he stood 5 feet from Jazz and I in the road. I don’t judge dogs negatively by their breed or size and I think he just wanted to play but I had been told by the owner of the voice in my head that having two dogs meet head to head wasn’t a good idea. Not to mention this dog probably weighed two of Jazz so “playing” might have been tricky. Having heard my yelling, the owner of the dog finally stepped out his side door and called the dog back.

Grudgingly the dog left us and trotted back across the road. For once the owner didn’t try to reassure me by shouting “Oh, he’s friendly!” I’m sure the owners mean well when they say that but when their dog has just come charging at Jazz and I barking and growling, it’s hard to accept at face value. It really would be better for everyone involved if they kept their dogs on a leash or safely confined by invisible fence. Thankfully I knew what to do when faced with a charging dog and it worked but not everyone who walks by will possess that knowledge.

After that bit of excitement I was very proud of myself for standing my ground and of Jazz because she didn’t try to lunge out in front of me or emit a single bark. I was so pumped with adrenaline and endorphins that we made record time on our six-mile walk! It helped that the road was relatively flat and mostly shaded but I was impressed with us nonetheless.

Yesterday morning proved to me that the voice in my head can be a saving grace when I need it most. Somehow in the turbulent waves of my mind, that important piece of advice popped to the surface and I was able to do exactly what I needed to. Among the swirling whirlwind of my mind there exists a calming force, a stabilizing anchor, a rock that grounds me. It began with my father’s influence and continues with a powerful, living presence I feel very fortunate to know.

Don’t Go Halfway…

I didn’t want to break my blogging streak but I’ve had a rather busy, tiring day so I’ve copied and pasted in a blog post I wrote on my Corbin Creations blog last summer. I walked the big hill tonight so the post is relevant and the message in it is something I need to remind myself about more often. Enjoy!

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Don’t Go Halfway, Take the Whole Dang Hill! 7/12/2012

I’ve been slacking and haven’t taken Jazzmin on a good walk in a while. It’s been too warm or too buggy…or some other stupid excuse. Well it was cooler last night and the nastiest of the biting flies have died out for the summer so off we went! As usual, Jazz was raring to go, but as I’m teaching her not to pull, we stopped five times before we even made it to the end of my road. The local bunnies were testing her obedience by munching happily away in the shoulder of the road and while Jazz wanted to chase the adorable little fluffy things, I kept her under control and made her sit until they hopped off out of sight.  That distraction dealt with, we resumed our stride.

The air was a little thick but there was a nice breeze to help cool the sweat and I decided I’d take Jazz halfway up the biggest hill on our walk route. The sun had nearly set and neither of us was at our aerobic peak anymore so it seemed like a reasonable plan. We got halfway up without any trouble and I paused just a moment before deciding we were going to conquer the whole hill. Halfway had been easy enough and we weren’t overly winded and continuing the uphill climb didn’t seem daunting at all. After all, we’d done it many times before…

I quickly remembered that the hill gets much steeper after the halfway point as my calves and thighs burned and Jazz’s tongue began to drag on the ground. She certainly wasn’t pulling anymore and we were both panting but we kept going at our strong pace and sure enough we made it up! The view of the surrounding countryside is amazing from the top of that hill and it’s like stepping into a whole new world. I was very proud of myself and my breath soon returned.

No one was there cheering me on or pushing me to go all the way up and Jazz would have been fine turning around, but I’m just not someone who can go halfway. Even if it seems crazy and risky, I go all the way and I’m constantly testing my own limits and discovering my own strength. In order to be a source of strength for those I love, I have to first be strong myself. I have to have faith that somehow things will be okay. As I told my best friend last night, there are more dimensions to faith than there are stars in the sky.

My friend has told me that with Jazz I need to be the leader, he says it’s up to me to show her the way. Have confidence, he says. Great words of advice for much more than training my pup! I admit that my confidence can waver on occasion and it really never should because I know in my heart that I am an amazing woman and that I can handle, and have handled, anything life throws at me. Life lessons are rarely easy and they hurt, but I know that when I keep going and push through the pain, all the suffering will be healed by the bright, beautiful light that forever shines through the darkness.