The Blessing of Time

Time is a blessing. Every day we have on this earth is a blessing. It might not always seem that way during tough times, but sometimes with a new perspective, those tough times weren’t so bad. Right now, life feels good because as I write this, I’m sitting on my deck swing in the beautiful early spring sunshine listening to the birds chirping in the trees. One bird is even watching me from the tree branches.

Ever since my father died, I’ve known that time with family and friends should never be taken for granted. For people who suddenly find themselves thrust into situations where they’re spending more time with their family and/or loved ones than they ever expected, being grateful for such time can be a challenge. But for me, it’s been a wonderful gift.

You see, with my oldest daughter is graduating high school this year, I was feeling like time was moving far too quickly. I’m not ready for her to go off to college and leave the nest, I’ll probably never be ready. My daughters and I are very close and we’re similar in many ways. My oldest daughter is who I chat with about common interests, who plays Warcraft with me, who reads my stories, who gets me as so few people do. Contemplating not seeing her half the week like I do now makes me sad and uncertain.

But then the world abruptly changed, and my daughters’ school closed for a month and I suddenly found that I had a lot more time with my girls than I’d expected. I was thrilled! No more missing time with my girls as they did band, sports, or other afterschool activities. Now suddenly it was like summer break early except that they had homework they needed to do every day.

My youngest daughter getting help with homework from her kitty, Owl.

While many parents might be unprepared and not as excited as I am to have more time with their children, I hope eventually they see what a blessing it can be. Yes, it’s hard to balance working from home with taking care of kids, but I’ve been doing it for almost seven years, and I can assure you it’s possible. Not necessarily easy, but possible. Sometimes the dishes don’t get washed for days, I only vacuum once a week, and the house is always in a state of chaos but trying to achieve “perfection” while balancing so much seems like a waste of time to me.

I don’t know what the future holds, and I do worry about my finances now that my online transcription work has slowed down considerably, but I’m still so very happy to have more time with my girls. Children grow up so fast and we can’t slow down time no matter how we try, but we can at least savor the moments we have and try to remember that the things we took for granted yesterday can become the things we yearn for today.

Avoiding the Frenzy

Now that my state has issued a stay put order effective tonight, I knew the big grocery stores like Walmart and Wegmans would be even crazier than before. So I made the decision to shop at my local grocery store Friday instead and alter the usual Saturday routine I have with my girls.

Before this current situation all started, on my weekends with my daughters I’d pick them up from their dad’s at 9am and we’d go to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast, get groceries at Walmart, and then head to my mom’s to do laundry and visit. Having no desire to subject myself or my girls to empty shelves and crowds of people who may or may not be behaving like decent human beings, I shopped local in my town ahead of time.

Knowing also that local restaurants are no longer allowing inside dining and wanting to avoid a line at Dunkin Donuts, I ordered ahead on their app and just ran in and grabbed my order without a wait. I’d seen online that they didn’t appear to have their usual containers of chocolate milk available so I picked a couple bottles up Friday and brought them with me Saturday morning for my girls. My daughters were fine eating in my car and I was happy to at least provide their usual Saturday morning breakfast even if I couldn’t provide a complete sense of normalcy.

The only grocery store I went into Saturday morning was a store called Tops because I’d forgotten a package of instant potatoes to go with the rotisserie chicken I’d purchased Friday for dinner Saturday. I left my girls in the car to enjoy their breakfast and ran in alone so I could quickly grab what I needed.

Tops was busier than usual and their were bare shelves and such but people were behaving themselves and I was able to find what I wanted. I still hope eventually stores will have toilet paper in stock again but I’m okay for another week or so.

Having acquired what I needed while completely avoiding going near Walmart or Wegmans, I was content and pleased. Perhaps Walmart wouldn’t have been horrible but I didn’t need to subject myself or my girls to it if it was. I don’t usually shop at Wegmans anyway because I don’t feel they’re as affordable as they once were so I wasn’t even tempted to go there. Plus it feels good to support my local grocery store in these times.

With our errands done, I headed to my mom’s house to continue the usual routine. I go very few places on a weekly basis and they’re all essential so the stay put order won’t alter my life noticeably and hopefully won’t get stricter. As long as I can get my girls for my half of the week, visit my mom every weekend like I’ve been doing for years, and get groceries, I’ll be okay.

My continued hope is that my friends and family stay safe and healthy, this all doesn’t last too terribly long, and that people remember to be kind and patient with one another. We can all get through this and come out wiser and more appreciative of the little things that don’t seem so little anymore.

The Comfort of Bird Songs

In these troubling times, it’s easy to lose sight of the good stuff in life and get caught up in all the fear and anxiety. I am not immune to such feelings and I think it’s quite human to be afraid and uncertain about the future right now.

I am guilty of checking Twitter and Facebook for updates on COVID-19 far too often throughout the night because I’m afraid of things like lockdowns and shelter in place orders. Mind you, I already don’t leave my house much because I work from home and don’t have a social life to speak of, but somehow the idea of not being “allowed” to leave my house is unsettling. However, no matter how much tunnel-vision I periodically feel when reading the news, there’s always something that widens my view: the continuing arrival of spring.

There’s one thing that always helps to ease the fears I’ve built up overnight and that’s the coming of a new day. As the sky begins to lighten with sunrise, and even before sometimes, the birds begin chirping in the huge maple tree and pine tree outside my bedroom windows. The first birds are always the robins and they’re followed closely by the eastern bluebirds which stick around all year on my property.

It’s not just in the mornings that I hear bird songs, I hear them all day long and I know who sings most of them. I have a nice flock of goldfinches that are always happily chirping away, some cardinals that sing “pretty, pretty, pretty” frequently, blue jays that sing/screech in their unique way, red-winged blackbirds, wrens, crows, woodpeckers, nuthatches, tufted titmouse, a variety of sparrows, and many more.

Some of my resident goldfinches from a few years ago.

I’m happy that I’ve figured out as many bird songs as I have because I remember growing up that my dad knew lots of bird songs. I remember walking through a park somewhere and hearing a rather distinct bird song and not knowing what it was. Without even seeing the bird, my dad said it was a Scarlet Tanager. We walked a bit more and sure enough, we eventually saw the bright red body of a Scarlet Tanager high up in the pine tree branches.

Scarlet Tanager image courtesy of All About Birds.org

I remember being so amazed that my father knew the bird by its song and I promised myself that someday I’d have that same ability. I’ve spent years listening to and figuring out bird songs and now whenever I go on walks with my girls I can tell them which birds they’re hearing. I feel an immense sense of pride knowing that I’ve managed to follow in my father’s footsteps in that regard.

Hearing my feathered friends singing brings me great comfort throughout the day and reminds me constantly that the world is still spinning and life continues to renew with spring. When the weather permits, I will continue to go on daily walks and take in and enjoy the beauty of nature around me. Nature is receiving a bit of a break with less people driving their cars and such and I’m sure it appreciates it. We must never lose sight of the blessings around us and the fact that we’re just a very small part of a vast, unknowable universe.

The Sun Still Shines

blue sky

With the state of the world today, it seemed like a good time to start writing in this blog again. There seems to be so much, fear, chaos, anxiety, and panic that I can only hope my optimistic words will help somehow.

I live in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York and yesterday I received the news that my girls’ school is going to close for a month. While this has been happening across the country due to COVID-19, there haven’t been any cases of it reported in this county yet. I can understand the school districts wanting to take precautions to protect everyone, but it’s just so hard to fathom that something like this is happening in my lifetime.

Having seen the chaos and pandemonium at grocery stores due to fears about the virus and self-quarantine, I headed to Walmart before the sun was even up yesterday morning because I just needed basic groceries. I was most worried that I wouldn’t be able to get milk for the week but when I checked their grocery app it was still in stock so I was hopeful.

Although I was anxious to get my milk and other essentials for the week, I still took the time to stop by Canandaigua Lake and take some pictures. I think it’s vital that in these “dark” feeling times we still remember and see the beauty that remains all around us and that the light still shines strong. The only eerie part about my visit to the lake was the abundance of seagulls circling overhead but that’s really not unusual for them and perhaps they sensed something amiss about the humans around them.

When I shop early on Saturday mornings, there are usually very few people in the store and as a well-practiced introvert, I’m okay with that.

But yesterday morning there were more people than usual and indeed, the toilet paper, tissue, and paper towel aisles were completely empty. Fortunately, I bought a package last week that will last me and my girls a couple of weeks. Hopefully, by the time we run out, people will have regained their sanity.

I was able to get my gallon of milk and the other essentials I needed for what I thought would be a relatively normal school week. There were odd things missing from shelves such as frozen pizza, pasta, dish detergent, and macaroni and cheese. But when I went to the vitamin aisle, the only vitamin that seemed depleted was vitamin C. Also the bread aisle was nearly as empty as the toilet paper aisle.

While I did my shopping, there were employees dashing around fulfilling grocery pickup orders and people filling their carts. There was a sense of nervousness and uncertainty in the air and I tried my best not to let it infect me. To perk myself up a bit, I bought a colorful spring-themed bedspread and some flowery bell-bottom pants that are far too young for me. But in these trying times, a girl does what she must to lift her spirits.

When I finished shopping, I headed to my mother’s house for the usual Saturday visit which involves doing laundry and watching The Good Witch or something else we can find streaming. I usually play World of Warcraft too and my mom and I have interesting conversations.

Neither of us is panicked about COVID-19, we’re just being smart and taking precautions. My mother is in her 70s and has underlying health conditions so she’s at a higher risk but I pray to all the powers that be every day that she stays healthy and that this all blows over eventually and life can return to normal.

As far as the whole social distancing thing goes, as an introvert, I’ve been doing that for years without an issue. I work from home already so I’m fine with having my girls home from school. I do worry that more people working online might mean less work for me, but time will tell how that plays out. I’m hoping the work from home surge will actually benefit Rev.com and their online transcribers like myself.

I’ve been spending time by myself for many years because on days I don’t have my daughters, it’s just me and my four cats and one dog. I tried being more of a social butterfly in the past but it really wasn’t for me. The only social events I seem to thrive at are the pow-wows hosted by The Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness (MCNAA) and I’m hopeful those will resume and continue when it’s safe.

One of the most important things I do for my mental and physical health is to take the time to stop and appreciate the world around me. I go for walks, I sit outside on my deck, or I even just watch the birds out my window. Today the sun is shining and there’s hardly a cloud in the sky. The world hasn’t stopped spinning, the sun still shines, and I have a lot to be grateful for.

I don’t know what the next few weeks and months will hold, but I remain optimistic and hopeful and always try to find the upside of any situation. Just last week I was grumbling about the time change and how the early school mornings were dark again. Well now there is no physical school for a month and we can all sleep in until it’s light.

By the time school resumes-and it will resume, I have faith in that-the mornings will be light again, it will be spring, and life will begin its annual blooming. I don’t know about you, but I plan on enjoying every moment and focusing more on the light than on the dark.

Owl the Bionic Cat

owl up close

Owl posing for a recent photo shoot I did.

The day before my birthday something happened that cast a shadow over the rest of the week. My 12-year-old indoor/outdoor black cat named Owl hadn’t been waiting at the door that morning when I got up and despite my calling, she still hadn’t appeared a few hours later. I began to fear that something bad had happened to her.

Finally, when I took Jazzmin out around lunch time and called for Owl again, I thought I heard her meowing in response. It was windy that day, so it was hard to hear her, but I eventually found her sitting on a pile of wood next to my side storage shed. I walked up to her and called her, but she wouldn’t come to me, so I had to navigate the hedgerow prickers to pick her up and carry her inside the house.

After I brought Owl inside, I set her down on the floor and she didn’t stand up quite right. It looks like her rear legs were weak and I felt my heart sink into my feet. I’ve dealt with cats that have gotten suddenly sick before and I feared the same had happened to Owl. I was afraid she had some illness that wasn’t treatable and that she was going to pass away.

I gently placed Owl on the couch where she sort of collapsed and just laid down for a while. Her breathing was rapid and there were gurgling sounds coming from her chest. I had no idea what was wrong, but I didn’t think it was good. When I’d pick her up a certain way, she’d growl at me and her growling set all the other cats on high alert and made a couple of them poof out in confusion.

When I picked up the girls from school, I said I’d found Owl and that she wasn’t doing very well, and I was afraid it might be time to say goodbye. I was crying when I told them and Jaycie started crying to because Owl is really her cat and they’ve grown up together. Wanting to do what I could for Owl, I called the vet when we got home, and they managed to fit Owl in that afternoon.

Owl had no trouble meowing her protests on the way to the vet and she definitely still had some life to her. When the vet examined her, I was shocked when she said that it felt like Owl had broken ribs. Owl had been fine the evening before when she went out and I was bewildered that something had injured her to that degree.

I agreed to the course of action that involved x-rays and pain meds and we all waited in the room for the results. When the vet came back, she said that Owl had at least three broken ribs and that the gurgling noises I’d heard was air escaping, which was common in such injuries. Hearing Owl had broken ribs was actually the best worst-case scenario because it meant we knew what was wrong and had treatment options.

The vet showed us the x-rays and said that it looked like there wasn’t any excess fluid and that her diaphragm hadn’t expanded dangerously as it can sometimes with such injuries. Looking at the x-rays, I could see a broken piece of rib just floating around inside Owl and I was in disbelief that a cat could survive that. The vet said that cats can do miraculous things and that she might recover from her injuries.

With a treatment plan that included taking Owl home, trying to keep her quiet, and giving her pain meds, the girls and I took Owl back home. She meowed the whole way home too and she seemed to have more energy than when we’d taken her to the vet.

As soon as we opened up the cat carrier inside the house, Owl tried to run and find a place to hide. Her back legs still weren’t working right (the vet wasn’t sure if she had a spinal injury too or not) but she was moving just as fast as ever. She eventually found a hiding place under the couch end table and we all held onto hope that she’d recover. The vet said she could have anything she wanted to eat, and she happily gobbled up half a can of wet cat food for dinner that night.

Owl slept under my bed that first night because it was relatively safe from the intrusions of the other cats. The next morning when I looked for her under my bed, she wasn’t there, and I was worried and surprised. I walked out into the kitchen and found her eating dry cat food and I was relieved and stunned.

owl1

Owl wondering why I keep taking pictures of her.

owl2

Owl up on my bed with Daisy and Angel. She doesn’t come up on my bed very often.

While I was still worried about Owl’s health on my birthday, I had hope that she’d recover, and I focused on being glad that she was still alive. The vet gave me pain meds to make Owl more comfortable as she healed but I only got one dose in her and she then hid under my bed out of reach for a day, so I decided not to do more meds. She never showed any signs of distress aside from when I gave her meds, so I figured she was okay without them. I don’t think I’d be so tough if I had broken ribs, but Owl is one very tough kitty!

Over the next few days, Owl’s condition rapidly improved and now almost two weeks later, she’s almost back to her old self.

I took Owl to the vet a few days ago and while she still has a protrusion of a broken rib and the rib piece still floating around, she’s doing very well. She’d also gained a half a pound because I’d been spoiling her with all her favorite foods including canned food, cheese, lunch meat, and anything else she wants. She’ll be spoiled for the rest of her life and I hope that’s many more years!

As far as what injured Owl, my best guess is a deer or other animal stomped on her when she came upon it. Owl isn’t an aggressive cat, she stays away from the road, and she doesn’t go near humans aside from myself, my girls, and my mom, so I think whatever happened was just an unfortunate encounter.

Watching Owl recover as she has and be the “tough old broad” I’ve come to know and love all these years that I’ve had her, she’s definitely become my hero. Dealing with her injury and being so worried we were going to lose her put everything in perspective and made things I used to worry about seem rather insignificant. I think this latest incident probably used up her nine lives, but I also think she must be partially bionic to still be going strong. I will definitely never underestimate the amazing abilities of cats again!

 

A Broken Spring

Thus far, this May has not felt very consistently spring-like. We’ve even had snow!

The trend seems to be a nice warmish spring day followed by several days of winter temperatures and it’s been rather frustrating.

Fortunately, it looks like the weather is finally warming up and staying warm. They’re even predicting 80 this coming Sunday. After the unpleasant May we’ve had thus far, I’ll believe it when it happens.

Even with the up and down temperatures and rain and clouds, I’ve still managed to get walks in with Jazzmin. I relish every moment of the nice weather because it seems so fleeting but hopefully soon it will be here to stay for more than one day.

Something Must Be Better Than Nothing

A view from our afternoon walk on 5/8/19

I feel somewhat guilty that I’ve let writing in this blog fall by the wayside so I’m going to start posting again. They probably won’t be lengthy posts like before, perhaps just some pictures and some inspiring words.

I do still write quite often, just not here. Life has gotten rather busy as my daughters grow up and I continue to work as a transcriptionist to pay the bills.

But with the handy dandy WordPress app I should be able to post a little something a few times a week. After all, something must be better than nothing. 😉

Reflecting on 2018’s challenges

Now that we’re two days into 2019 and I’ve once again forgotten to buy new calendars before the year change, it seems like a good time to reflect on the challenges of 2018.

In the pre-spring of 2018, my basement flooded because my sump pump stopped working correctly. I managed to repair it temporarily and get the water out of my basement, but then had to throw out a lot of items that had been on the basement floor. Considering that I hadn’t needed those items in the almost seventh years I’d lived in the house, I obviously didn’t need them.

Then my kitchen drain wasn’t draining properly and my attempts to snake it failed to clear the clog. Called a plumber and they discovered that my line to the septic tank was partially broken, thus things weren’t draining properly. So my issues cost much more than a simple snaking, but avoided problems in the future. Plus I got my sump pump replaced with a smaller, safer unit.

After that came a challenge I’d known was coming, getting the transmission on my Toyota Matrix replaced. That cost more than expected, but with a new clutch and transmission now it should last a good many more years.

Just when I thought I might be in the clear, the water pressure in my house took a significant dive. It turned out that the line from my well to the house was leaking. So once again, plumbers dug up my yard and fixed the problem and once again I faced a large and unexpected plumbing bill. But the upside is that I have great water flow and pressure now and know that my well gets plenty of water.

I got a brief reprieve from challenges until late summer when wasps suddenly started appearing in large numbers in my bedroom. I discovered they’d bored right through the wall and into my closet. I then had to spray my closet with Raid and plug the hole with expanding foam.

During that traumatic escapade, the Raid damaged items in my closet and it was then filled with dead wasps I needed to clean out. So I had to clean out and reorganized my closet and that’s something I’ve needed to do since I moved in. While I didn’t enjoy that experience in the least, I do like having a tidier closet that’s easy to store things in.

So while I wish that the challenges of 2018 hadn’t been quite so financially expensive, I certainly learned a lot and was forced to make long overdue changes. Sometimes the universe gets tired of sending me subtle hints that I miss and has to send bigger slaps upside the head. This year, I’m keeping my eyes open for those subtle hints in the hopes of avoiding any bigger issues that arise.

Loki: A Furry Purry Boomerang

Loki striking the perfect pose.

I’ve had my girl kitten Loki for almost a month now and I can honestly say she’s brought fresh adventures into my life. She’s going on four months old and a bit bigger than she was when I first adopted her, but I know she’ll be a fluffy, long-haired, black furred mischief-maker for many more months to come until she “matures.” Angel and Daisy are four years old now and mostly mellowed out, but they still have a bit of kitten left now and then.

Loki is a very brave and bold kitten and she goes where she wants. Quite often this means she wants to walk across my desk, keyboard, laptop, mouse, and other items that help me get my work done. I find myself picking her up and putting her on the floor several times a day, but just like a furry, purry boomerang, she inevitably returns and walks all over everything again. I’ve discovered that if I distract her with a toy or food she’ll then leave me alone and eventually flop somewhere and take a nap or run around the house like the energetic kitten she is.

Loki being playful

 

Loki in her usual “flop” position with Daisy sleeping on the couch below her.

Loki loves sleeping on my bed at night and she usually sleeps by my feet or waist. However, if I wake up in the middle of the night or early morning, she’s immediately sitting or laying on my chest, purring away, and blocking my view of my phone. I assume she’s drawn to the light of the phone and thinks it’s ideal illumination for me to pet her by. She’ll eventually settle to one side of me or the other and we’ll snuggle as I go back to sleep, not quite lulled by her rather loud purring.

Angel and Loki on my bed.

Loki is the first cat I’ve owned in many years that actually enjoys playing in the carpeted cat house I’ve owned since I was in high school. She loves laying on top of it and swatting at people or Jazzmin as they walk by. She also loves swinging herself from the top of it and inside it and is somehow unphased when she misses and thumps onto the floor. She can spend quite a bit of time going crazy on it and usually it turns into a game of tag with Angel because Angel becomes fascinated watching her play.

Loki with her new scratching post.

Loki recently received a new scratching post from my mother and she absolutely loves it! She knew immediately what it was for and started scratching away and playing with the puff-ball attached to the top of the post. She seems much more cat-like than my other cats in that she loves all cat toys, carries them around in her mouth, and has a fondness for human food. Owl loves human food too, but she’s a bit grumpy in her older age and doesn’t play much anymore. Owl basically dislikes all the other cats in the house but likes Jazzmin, loves my youngest daughter, and puts up with myself and my oldest daughter.

A few months ago I was perfectly content with my three cats of Owl, Angel, and Daisy. I thought three cats was fine and had no plans for getting another cat until Owl eventually passed on. However, Daisy’s disappearance and the hole that left in the household led me to adopt Loki and now I can’t imagine my life without Loki. Even with Daisy back, Loki still seems to fit the hole I didn’t realize existed in my family until I adopted her. She’s such a sweet, adventurous, fun-loving kitten, and I’m happy that I get to watch her grow up and deal with her daily escapades. Loki’s a new kitty sister that Angel loves playing with, Daisy tries to ignore, Owl growls and hisses at, and Jazzmin tries unsuccessfully to play with, but somehow that type of chaos seems about right for my life.

Daisy and Loki on my desk chair. I’m so happy they get to know each other!

A Surprise Happy Ending

Daisy relaxing on the floor by the couch as if she’d never left.

I knew when I woke up yesterday morning that it wasn’t going to be a normal day for me. I had appointments in the morning and afternoon regarding the evaluation and continued support of my youngest daughter and her developmental delays. With those taking up half my day, I knew I wouldn’t be doing my normal routine of work, homework, writing, and beading. However, I had no idea the surprising and unexpected turn my day would eventually take.

I got home from the afternoon meeting with the school about my youngest daughter and I was pleased by how the meeting went. It had gone better than expected and I was relieved that she was going to continue receiving the services she needs to succeed in school. On a happy high from that, I took my dog Jazzmin outside as soon as I got home and even the overcast weather, strong winds, and cold temperatures didn’t bring me down.

Then as I was outside with Jazzmin, I thought I heard a meow. I held my breath for a moment and listened again and sure enough, I heard a meow. Hoping beyond hope that it was my missing cat Daisy, but not seeing her anywhere immediately, I quickly took Jazzmin back in, closed the door, and went out into my back yard again.

I went around the back of my house and to my utter shock, joy, and amazement, there was Daisy crouched on the doors leading down into my basement. I could barely believe my own eyes! She was emitting this mournful meow I’d never heard before, but she looked unharmed. When I tried to grab for her, she ran off and crawled under my mower shed. I called for her a bit and I heard her meowing at me from under the shed, but she wouldn’t come out.

I quickly went back inside the house, grabbed a bowl of food and ran back outside to the shed. I then crouched on the muddy ground by the shed calling to her and shaking the food bowl a bit as she meowed at me from beneath the shed. I called her name and told her it was okay and that I wasn’t mad that she’d run away. I eventually reached under the shed slowly to where I could see her tail and to my relief, she came toward me and didn’t run away.

I placed the bowl of food down on the ground near where she was and kept calling to her and slowly and nervously, she finally emerged. I swiftly picked her up when she was within reach and carried her and the food bowl back into the house. I couldn’t believe I was holding her again in my arms and that she was okay! She’d lost a bit of weight, but had been a bit fat when she disappeared. She wasn’t so skinny that I felt she hadn’t been eating at all during her disappearance, but she certainly wasn’t well-fed.

Once I had Daisy inside the house, I put her down by the food bowls and she eagerly began eating. I sat down on the floor next to her and she came over and started rubbing against me and purring and I just couldn’t stop petting her. It felt so surreal having her back in my house, eating her food, rubbing against me. I’d had dreams that she’d returned home and even a day later, I’m still wondering if it’s a dream. To have a pet I loved so much and that I believed loved me back just as much is an indescribably wonderful feeling.

Daisy enjoying food when she came home.

Petting Daisy as she rubs against my hand.

As I write this blog post, Daisy is sitting in my lap at my desk, using my right forearm as a pillow. My arm keeps moving as I type, but she doesn’t care at all and just keeps purring away. She seems as happy to be home as I am to have her home and I’m mystified as to why she ran off in the first place. She certainly doesn’t seem like she enjoyed her two and a half weeks outside and I sincerely hope she never dashes out again!

Daisy snuggling on my lap as I write.

Daisy has been eating, drinking, and using the litter box just fine since she returned home. She meows a bit more than she used to and it’s a slightly confused and worried meow, but I think that confusion will pass. She follows me wherever I go and slept all night on the bed with me last night, only leaving now and then to eat and such.

Daisy remembers her litter mate Angel and her other sister Owl and she even remembers Jazzmin and was snuggling with me and her on the couch last night.

Daisy and Jazzmin snuggling on the couch with me.

She doesn’t know quite what to think of my new kitten Loki (a story for another day) and Loki is equally confused, but they’re getting along relatively well. The only issue is that they both want to snuggle with me at the same time and that doesn’t always work. I said that if Daisy returned then this would be a four-cat household and that’s exactly what it has become. I never expected or planned to have four cats at once, but I have the room and they’re all good kitties and keep me company when I don’t have my girls.

While I held hope that Daisy would return someday, I also knew that there was a possibility she wouldn’t. I live in the country where there are raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes, and other manner of creatures that could have done her harm. My heart would ache thinking that something terrible had happened to her and it’s such a relief to have her back, safe and happy. Daisy’s return home was a very surprising and welcome happy ending and it’s an amazing holiday present/miracle after a year that’s been full of challenges. Somehow the purring of Daisy and all her familiar mannerisms and sweetness tells me that everything will be okay.

Making Peace with October

My father with our cat Sylvester

My father with our cat Sylvester

Today marks nine years since my father passed away. Sometimes it feels like more time than that and sometimes less time than that. Either way, any amount of time without my father has been difficult. However, as the years have passed, the actual day of his passing has lost some of the heavy weight it had upon my heart and I’ve learned to make peace with October.

Feeling sad without my father after his passing used to come around certain dates such as holidays, his birthday, family birthdays, and the day he walked on into the spirit world. It would also come at just random times when I’d be struck with a wave of sorrow that nearly knocked me off my feet. But time has lessened the pain and I’ve learned to enjoy holidays and birthdays again. While I miss him every single day and will always miss him, I also know that he doesn’t want me to dwell in pain and sadness. After all, when my father was alive he was very much into celebrating holidays, birthdays, and all special occasions with as much happiness as possible.

This year leading up to the anniversary of my father’s passing, I’ve been distracted by various things. I was working hard to save up for my recent trip to New England and the week before I left for that trip, I was battling wasps that had come through the wall of my closet. The wasps were an unexpected and unwanted adventure and the trip to New England was my little reward to myself for surviving that harrowing escapade. I think those distractions served me well, even though one was far less pleasant than the other. I had a strong feeling that I needed to go to New England this October because I hadn’t been out in October in many years, and I’m so glad I went! I know my dad was with me in spirit as always and sharing in my travels.

Today I spent the time just enjoying a lazy Sunday with my daughters. My mom stopped by briefly to drop off a new coat for my youngest daughter and we had a nice little visit chatting about various things. I’ve also been playing a bit of World of Warcraft with my oldest daughter, which is always fun and interesting. Then I did some beading of a new Halloween themed pin and had a nice talk with my youngest daughter about the tablet she uses for school and how it helps her with her homework.

This evening will be more along the lines of just spending time with my girls and being grateful for the blessings and happiness in my life. I know my father would want it that way and I know that he’s always with us in spirit. He watches over us, laughs with use, and most of all, loves us all.

Wingspans of Imagination

turkey vulture in the sky

Turkey vulture soaring on today’s walk.

Whenever I see turkey vultures soaring in the sky on my daily walks or when I’m out driving, they remind me of a time when I imagined them as dragons. That might sound odd, but hear me out. It was during a time of my life where I felt trapped in an unhappy situation and I just wanted out, but I didn’t know how to get out. I remember being in the car as a passenger and looking out the window to see turkey vultures soaring in the distance, their great wingspans impressive even so far away. They were soaring further out of view and as they did so, I was able to envision their shapes as not those of turkey vultures, but of dragons.

You see, I believe in magic and I’ve always believed in magic. And in that moment of rather deep despair, I really needed to believe that those turkey vultures were dragons because it meant that they were magic. In believing in magic, I find hope, strength, and power. Believing in magic helps me hold on to the idea that anything is possible if I just put my mind and spirit into it and send the right energy out into the world. Seeing those turkey vultures as dragons soaring out of sight helped me believe that I too would somehow soar out of my then unhappy situation and be free again.

Freeing myself of that unhappy situation didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen. It took longer than I wanted it to, but it’s behind me now and I’m able to soar free in ways I couldn’t even fathom back then. The wingspans of imagination on those turkey vultures was much greater than their five to six foot physical wingspans. For me, the wingspan on those creatures extended beyond reality, as they transformed into dragons that helped carry me to new breadths of imagination, hope, and happiness.

Crisp Breezes and Hot Coffee

adirondack coffee mug lower quality

One of my favorite mugs for drinking coffee.

The weather has turned cool and crisp with the arrival of autumn. Well, at least right now it’s cool and crisp, I don’t really know about tomorrow because the weather has been all over the place lately. Autumn has arrived according to the calendar, but that doesn’t mean the temperatures are going to cooperate. Yesterday it was warm and humid and I was wearing shorts. Today started out the same temperature-wise but turned rainy and cool, with glimpses of sun here and there.

I’ve put warmer blankets on my bed and started using my humidifier instead of my fan at night when I sleep. I’ve also kicked those warm blankets off and torqued up the fan when it didn’t get as cool at night as I expected. I’d say this is typical autumn weather for where I live, but with climate change, I’m not sure “typical weather” is even a thing anymore. I just take it day by day and see what surprises await me.

When the air is actually cool and stays that way, I enjoy drinking coffee hot. In the summer or hotter weather, I drink it cold. The point is, I love my coffee. I like whole bean coffee that I grind myself, ground coffee from a can, and even instant coffee. I take my coffee, hot or cold, with flavored creamer of some kind. The flavor depends on my mood, the season, the cycle of the moon, and so on. There are certain flavors I avoid, but I like to experiment with new taste sensations occasionally. I always stir the creamer in with an iced tea spoon that I then leave in even while drinking my coffee. It’s a quirk of mine. 😉

As I work from home, I usually drink my coffee at my desk, enjoying sips as I type away on my current transcription job. I tend to have more than one cup of coffee a day, but I am usually at my desk when drinking it. I drink it while I’m playing World of Warcraft or writing in my latest story, or as now, writing a new blog entry. I always have a cup of water alongside my mug of coffee to stay hydrated because coffee isn’t exactly a thirst quencher.

I heard something the other day about coffee that made me evaluate my perception of coffee. Someone said that people don’t like the taste of coffee, but they put up with it for the caffeine element. I thought about that and realized that no, that doesn’t apply to me. I do actually enjoy the taste of coffee. Would I drink it black? I have in the past and while a bit bitter, it wasn’t horrible. I don’t however, drown the main flavor of coffee with my creamers, I just sweeten it a bit.

As far as drinking it for the caffeine content goes, that’s somewhat true, but since I’ve been drinking coffee since I was 16 or so, it really doesn’t keep me alert like it used to. I have even been known to drink decaf coffee just because I wanted the taste of it without the caffeine. I love holding the mug of hot coffee in my hands, inhaling that familiar aroma, and then sipping at it. I like it hot, not tepid, but sometimes I make it a little too hot and can’t hold the mug without burning myself. Obviously even after so many years of making and drinking coffee, I still don’t know what I’m doing aside from just enjoying it.

Thinking deeper about my enjoyment of coffee, I believe one of the reasons I love coffee so much is because it reminds me of my father. I think the very first cup of coffee I ever had was from a pot he made and as I recall it was orange flavored. It was probably some specialty coffee ground from the store, but I remember that taste so vividly on my tongue. I remember it was during a family trip to a cottage in the Adirondack Mountains and I remember waking up to the smell of that orange flavored coffee brewing in the early light of morning. The air was cool and smelled like pine trees as it always does in the Adirondacks, and I recall that that hot cup of coffee helped warm me up on a chilly morning.

To this day, hot coffee warms me up on cool days and makes me smile as I think about my father and how far I’ve come from that first cup of coffee to the amazing life I live now. Wondrous that such a simple seeming thing as drinking coffee can hold so much meaning.

Another “Wild” Friday Night

<a href="https://i1.wp.com/www.clker.com/cliparts/g/6/7/Z/T/E/orange-dog-dancing-hi.png"><img src='https://i1.wp.com/www.clker.com/cliparts/g/6/7/Z/T/E/orange-dog-dancing-hi.png' alt='Orange Dog Dancing clip art'/></a>

Dancing dog. Image courtesy of clker.com

I set a work goal for myself this week that was higher than I’d set in a while because I knew I needed to start pushing myself to my full potential again.  As probably anyone who works from home and sets their own hours knows, it can be tricky sticking to a quota of work and a schedule. But when I really apply myself, I get everything done that I need to. There were a couple of days this week that were a bit challenging, but I persevered and accomplished my goal by quitting time Friday evening.

Working from home has certainly had its share of ups and downs, but it’s definitely in an upswing now and I’ve been happier working from home than I ever was working in an outside office. There’s incredible flexibility in working from home, but also a lot more unpredictability in terms of work flow and pay. I imagine it’s not for everyone, but it works for me and I love transcribing for Rev.com on a daily basis.

With my goal accomplished for the week, I felt it was time to celebrate with my usual “wild” Friday night of beading, writing, and playing World of Warcraft. I’ve never really been a social butterfly or had very many friends because I value quality over quantity. So truly wild Friday nights partying with friends out somewhere has only happened due to bachelorette parties or birthday parties. Now that all of the people I consider close friends live in other states, going out on the town really isn’t even possible. Not that I really think I’d be up for it anyway.

I’m a homebody, I think I always have been. And well, now that I’ve owned my own home and been living in it as a single woman for seven years now, my body loves my home even more. When it’s just me on a Friday night (which it almost always is because it’s not a night I usually have my girls) I prefer to do what makes me happy and truly revel in that happiness and freedom. I still remember what it was like during relationships where I felt trapped and controlled, where someone was telling me what to do and how to do it. Those feelings of being trapped, unhappy, and in emotional pain are something I will never forget. Nonetheless, I won’t let my past control me or ruin my current happiness and so I just keep moving forward.

One of the things I do when I’m really happy, exuberant, and in a very up mood celebrating my accomplishments and freedom, is dance along to upbeat music. I might dance in my chair at my desk while I’m writing or playing World of Warcraft, or I might just jump right up and dance in my living room. My three cats might give me strange looks for a moment, but they’re used to their “crazy” mommy and so they go back about their business. My pup Jazzmin though is another story.

I taught Jazzmin the “trick” of dancing with me when I’m dancing around and she’s always good for a couple spins on the dance floor. I just say, “Want to dance?” and she wags her tail and offers her paw. I then take both of her front paws in my hands, lift her up onto just her hind feet, and we do a little jive around the dance floor, otherwise known as the kitchen or living room. She’s always really happy to be dancing with her mama and I give her a treat afterwards. She’ll then return to whatever she was doing and I can go back to being happy, weird, dancing me.

My favorite place to find my kind of music nowadays is a place called EpidemicSound.com. According to their website, they provide: “Unlimited music for your YouTube channel. Monetise with no risk of copyright strikes.” I pay a monthly subscription fee to listen to and download as many tracks as I want and their selection of original music is amazing! I’ve yet to use any of their music for a YouTube video, but I hope to eventually. In the meantime, I’ve been downloading songs into playlists of new music on a biweekly or monthly basis, depending on when I feel the need for fresh tracks.

Last night I checked their “Latest Tracks” tab and the very first song I clicked on boosted my already happy mood through the roof. It was a song called “We Should Start Right Now” by Loving Caliber featuring Emmi and it had the exact beat, tempo, lyrics, musicality, you name it that I love in a song. Plus, once I’d listened to it a few times, I found the lyrics very inspirational. Here’s a sample:

“Every change has a reason
Baby, let it come to you.
Every soul, every season,
Lives outside a status quo.

If you start believing
We’re meant to be
Expanding our abilities.
If the passion’s gone
We are doing it wrong.

Baby, you and I
Baby, you and I
Should start living now.”

I lost track of how many times I listened to that song because it just lifted me up so much higher than I already was. I had my house windows open and I was blasting it through my computer speakers for all the neighbors to hear. I wanted to shout to everyone I knew that life is too short to waste being unhappy. That we all need to start living now and not keep waiting for things to get better tomorrow. I’ve learned the hard way that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed and that regret is a horrible thing to live with.

Never give up on your dreams, never resign yourself to a situation you’re miserable in just because you’re trying to keep everyone else happy. I lived like that for many years and I forgot who I really was and it’s taken me years to find who I am again. Embrace your light, your power, and your strength. Seize today and every today given to you and pursue your dreams, even if only in small steps. Small steps are better than no steps and well, dance steps are even better.

 

Mowing to the Music

mowed lawn

My unique mowing patterns in the back yard. =)

It’s no secret that my yard isn’t the most perfect yard in the neighborhood, but I do the best I can on my own and with balancing everything else I have to do. Many of my neighbors mow every few days and more power to them if that’s what makes them happy. However, with my busy schedule and lack of enthusiasm for mowing, I usually only mow every two weeks. Interestingly enough, when I’m done mowing, my grass looks the same as my neighbors who mow more often than I do. Well, almost the same…

You see, every time I finish mowing my lawn, it looks a little different than the time before. I hadn’t mowed any yard until I bought my current house in the summer of 2011 and my first time mowing was a learning experience. I’ve gotten better at mowing over the years and it only takes me around an hour a half compared to the two plus hours it used to take me. I’m certainly not about having neat rows and the perfect looking lawn, I usually just want to get the work done and get on with more enjoyable or productive endeavors. Sometimes I miss spots and have to go back and I have trees to go around and sometimes I take turns too sharp and have to double back.

To make mowing go faster and have some degree of enjoyment, I always listen to music while I’m mowing. I put my earbuds in and then put my ear protection ear muffs on because I know earbuds are not sufficient for protecting my hearing from the loudness of the mower. I plug my earbuds into my phone and put on my latest “mowing mix” of up tempo dance type music and get to mowing.

My mind tends to wander while I’m mowing. Heck, my mind wanders pretty much all the time and always has. When I’m mowing I think about all sorts of things. I figure out story lines in my latest book, think about future blog posts, mentally go through my to do list, or dream up scenarios that will probably never come true. I pay enough attention to what I’m doing to dodge beneath low tree limbs and stop for crossing butterflies, but otherwise my mind is usually worlds away from my 1.4 acres of land in Upstate New York.

Well, this last time I mowed, my mind apparently wandered so far and I got so lost in the music, that I mowed on a peculiar automatic pilot. I thought I’d done my usual mowing job, but when I looked out into my back yard the next morning, I saw some rather odd patterns. I imagine I must’ve gone back over missed spots and around trees more carefully, but I think a lot of it was just because I was so uplifted by my music and my thoughts that I just went with the flow. The weather wasn’t too hot for the first time in many months and it was the Friday before I got my girls, so I had plenty to be happy about.

Whatever the reason for my peculiar and puzzling patterns, I still managed to get my lawn mowed and I don’t have to worry about it for another two weeks hopefully. While my lawn may not be perfect or up to the standards of some and it certainly doesn’t have straight lines, the point is that it’s my lawn and I can do whatever I want with it. It’s very empowering owning my own land and being able to do as I please on it without being told I’m doing it wrong or that it needs to meet certain standards. Sometimes it can be a bit challenging living in the middle of rural nowhere, but most of the time, it’s exactly what I need.

So I say, what the heck, mow to the music, dance along to the beats while riding your tractor. Sing along if you want to. Anything that can transform an unpleasant chore into a bit of fun and adventure is more than okay in my book. And if people think you’re crazy, well…welcome to the club. 😉