Remembering a Love of Horses

It’s my father’s birthday today and I didn’t want the day to pass without honoring his memory in writing. So I wrote a blog post on my other site about how I’m dedicating my time today when playing World of Warcraft to him. I figured I’d just paste it in on this site for my followers here to read…

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A Day for Horses

There are a lot of animals to choose from for mounts, hunter pets, and battle pets in World of Warcraft. I’m fond of many of them, but today I’m focusing on horses. Why? Because it’s my father’s 79th birthday and he started riding horses in his 50s and was a natural. Although he left this world in 2009, his spirit is always with me and I think about him and miss him every single day.

My dad started riding horses because I started riding when I was 13 and he came to every single lesson. He’d help out around the stables and at shows and became friends with everyone there. After a few years of me riding, he decided he’d give it a try and he took to it like a fish takes to water! He could also swim like a fish too so maybe there’s a correlation there. He started doing jumps much sooner than I had and he placed well when competing in shows. Most important of all, he loved riding and it was awesome being able to ride together.

The other day I finally earned exalted on Syaine with the Order of Embers and Stormsong’s Wake and promptly purchases the Smoky Charger and Dapple Gray horse mounts. I’d reached exatled with Proudmoore Admiralty a while ago and of course already had the Admiralty Stallion. I love the updated horse models in World of Warcraft and wish they would update horses across the board, but they haven’t yet. Even though my latest horse mounts can’t still fly, I still love them. Even when they act a bit less than graceful sometimes…

In honor of my father’s birthday, I decided to ride only horse mounts today, aside from flight point mounts obviously. Fortunately, I have the Headless Horseman’s Mount so I have a flying horse when necessary. I also have the paladin class mount and warlock class mount for flying horse options on those classes.

I also decided to finally tame a couple unicorn hunter pets on Sriset. I’ve been meaning to do so since they became tamable but they kept slipping my mind. I’m so glad I have them now because I love how much true horse personality they have. I gave them names that honor my father in a cute way and I’m sure he appreciates the gesture.

It might seem silly to some for me to make today a day of horses in World of Warcraft as a way to honor my father, but it’s helping me feel closer to him, lifting my spirits, and making the world seem a bit less lonely.

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.

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.

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.

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 Halloween Adoption

Loki in her carrier when I first brought her home.

When my cat Daisy disappeared, my house felt out of balance and empty in an unhappy way. I endured a week and a half of that empty feeling before I reached my limit and decided it was time to try and fill a bit of the space she’d left. I knew no other cat could ever replace Daisy, but I thought by saving another cat from the shelter and giving that cat the happy life Daisy and my other pets have, I could start to heal my heart a bit.

I decided I wanted a kitten who was outgoing enough to play with Angel and Owl even if they didn’t want to play. I have adopted older cats in the past, but I just knew in my heart that this time an adventurous and mischievous kitten was required. So on October 31st, Halloween morning, I headed out to Lollypop Farm, the same place I’d adopted Angel and Daisy from four years prior.

I’d seen some kittens on the shelter’s website that looked like they’d fit the open job position. I prefer female pets because my house is already all female with my daughters and I and I don’t want to upset the balance. There’s lot of girl power in my house and I imagine any male stepping into it would find it a bit overwhelming.

I arrived early to the shelter and sat in my car reading until they opened for the day. It was a reasonably mild day for the last day of October with temperatures near 60 and overcast skies.  When the shelter opened, the person at the desk told me go back and look at the cats and then come out when I saw a kitty I wanted to meet. I saw several adorable cats and a few kittens, but none of the ones I had seen on the website. I went back out to the desk and told them I was looking for a female kitten three months or younger and they said they’d send an adoption agent in to see me shortly.

I then went back into the cat area and had a lovely chat with one of the volunteers there who has a few cats herself and had several stories to tell. I told her about Daisy running away and my desire for a kitten and she was certain I’d find the perfect pet to take home. I hoped she was right because I really didn’t want to leave without a new pet to add a new adventure to my life.

When I met with the adoption agent, she told me she had a handful of kittens in back that fit what I was looking for and when I told her about my dog Jazzmin and how she likes to play chase with Angel and used to snuggle with Daisy, the agent crossed off a cuople kittens that she knew were too timid for such a situation. She then went off to retrieve the first kitten on the list and I waited in the glass enclosed room until she returned.

The agent came back carrying a small cat carrier. She said this kitten was named Loki and she was three months old. As I love the Avengers movies and am a big fan of Loki, I thought that was a perfect name! The agent set the carrier down on the floor, closed the door, and then opened the carrier. Out came a long-haired black kitten who immediately tried to jump at the glass walls to find a way out of the room. The little fluffy girl walked all around the room sniffing and I eventually scooped her up and began stroking her between the shoulder blades. She weighed under five pounds but she started emitting the loudest purr I’ve ever heard! My other black cat, Owl, has a loud purr, but Loki had her beat! Suffice it to say, I was smitten.

I knew after meeting Loki that I’d probably be adopting her, but I agreed to meet a few other kittens before I made my choice. I then saw two sets of litter mates, a black and white pair and a tabby pair. They were all adorable, sweet, and purred when I picked them up, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to adopt just one of the siblings and as I’d already adopted Angel and Daisy as siblings and Daisy had disappeared, I just couldn’t do that again. So I had the adoption agent fetch Loki again and as soon as I held her again, I knew she was meant to be with me. Besides, what could be more perfect than adopting a black cat on Halloween?

Loki on my living room window sill.

After waiting for Loki to get her final checkup, I then had to sign papers and pay the adoption fee. She was already fixed, had undergone flea treatment, and was de-wormed, so I felt the adoption fee was more than fair. Plus the shelter includes a free follow up at my vet, coupon for free bag of food, and a coupon for half off my purchase at a pet supply store they’re associated with.

Loki laid quietly in her carrier the whole ride home and once home, I set the carrier nearby and she just relaxed inside it for a while, even with the door open. She’d just been fixed the day before so I think she was still recovering from that a bit. My dog Jazzmin was eager to meet her, but Loki was not fond of dogs and hissed and swatted at Jazz whenever she came near. I know Jazzmin wouldn’t intentionally harm any of my cats, but Loki is such a small thing and I wanted to play it safe.

Angel on my lap eyeing Loki in the carrier.

Owl and Angel were not thrilled about there being a new kitten in the house, but I hadn’t really expected them to be. There’s always and adjustment period with a new pet and I’ve gone through it many times in my life. Loki snuggled with me on the bed that first night and it was so bewildering having such a tiny thing compared to my much larger cats and dog. It’d been a long time since I’d had such a baby kitty because even Angel and Daisy were five months when I adopted them. Owl was probably as young as Loki when I found her in the barn, but that was 12 years ago and I couldn’t remember much of her being a kitten.

Loki sniffing sleeping Owl while Angel watches in surprise.

Loki adjusted quickly to her new home and bravely explored everywhere those first few days. She seemed to be a reasonably well-behaved kitten and having one kitten instead of the two I’d have with Angel and Daisy was much easier! My daughters met her that weekend and they all immediately loved each other, so I knew I’d made the right choice.

Loki snuggling on the couch with me.

I still missed Daisy and hoped she’d return home, but Loki proved to be a more than sufficient distraction as the first week of her life at my house began. But that’s a tale for another day…

Loki snuggled under my keyboard like Daisy likes to do.

An Unexpected and Unwanted Plot Twist

My four year old kitty named Daisy

The day after the anniversary of my father’s passing I was still doing quite well. I started the day by getting the oil changed in my car, then I did a little work, and then I mowed for the last time of the year. I was happy and content and quite proud of myself for accomplishing so much. The weather was chilly but sunny so I took Jazzmin for a nice long walk in the afternoon.

Unfortunately, not long after I got back from that walk, I realized that I hadn’t seen my youngest and sweetest cat Daisy in a while. She tends to find a spot somewhere and sleep all day, so I hadn’t really thought much of not seeing her until that afternoon. I looked all over the house and called for her, but she didn’t appear. It was then I realized that she must have snuck out the door that morning when I took Jazzmin out. I never even saw Daisy run out the door. I hadn’t even seen her lingering by the door in quite some time, so I didn’t even think she’d want to run out. I was terribly wrong.

I spent the rest of the day calling for Daisy outside, looking around the house, checking the hedgerow, and even going for a walk down the road looking for her. I couldn’t find her anywhere and she hadn’t returned by that night. I was heartbroken and all my good feelings of the past few days and of getting through the anniversary of my father’s passing, abruptly vanished.

Daisy was microchipped and I reported her missing to the microchip company but never heard back from them. I then emailed the shelter I adopted her and her sister Angel from, Lollypop Farm, and informed them she was missing and they said they’d open a file and keep an eye out for her. They posted her missing on their Lollypop Spotters Facebook page and I received lots of helpful tips from other pet owners on how to coax her back home. Despite following all the tips such as leaving her litter box out and other items that smelled like home, Daisy didn’t return.

Daisy snuggling with the clam shell toy my daughter made her.

All of that week I felt sadder than I had in a long time. Daisy was such a sweet kitty, loved to snuggle, drank water with her paw, would stand up on her hind legs to be pet, and had just started snuggling on my oldest daughter’s lap. She seemed to be growing even more affectionate with everyone and I thought she was so happy. I was mystified as to why she would run away from everyone and everything she loved. I wanted to rewind time and go back to that Monday and pay more attention to when I went out the door to make sure she didn’t get out. But I couldn’t.

It’s been almost two weeks now since Daisy disappeared and I’ve seen no sign of her. I handed out missing cat flyers to local businesses and I’ll be mailing flyers out to neighbors on my road so they can keep an eye out for her. The four year anniversary of adopting her and her sister Angel was on October 27th and it was heart wrenching that she wasn’t with us to celebrate it. My greatest hope is that wherever she is, she’s safe, happy, and warm. I miss her immensely and I hope that she comes home someday. But for now I can just remember our time with her fondly and think positive thoughts about her fate.

Daisy in one of her usual goofy positions.

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.

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. 😉

Turning Over Familiar Leaves

Canandaigua Lake, September 1 2018

Winds whipping the leaves of a tree on the shores of Canandaigua Lake, New York

As I imagine most parents know, summer break from school tends to create some notable schedule changes. I am fortunate that I work from home as a transcriber for Rev.com because I get to spend time with my girls when they’re home. I do however still have to work and it can be challenging finding a balance between family and work during the summer when they’re home all day. Even so, I love my girls and I do my best to work just enough without having them think that all I do is work. Not easy, but I try.

Nonetheless, summer break doesn’t last forever. I’ve enjoyed every extra moment I’ve had with my girls, but school starts up for them again this coming Tuesday and it will then be back to the usual school year routine. I do my transcribing work while they’re at school Monday and Tuesday and then focus on them when they get home. For the remaining days of the week they go to their father’s house and I focus fully on transcription and college work. While I always miss my girls when I don’t have them, I know that my days without them serve and important purpose.

Along with school starting soon, my favorite season of autumn will also be starting soon. We’ve already had a couple of days of pre-fall weather here in Upstate New York and I enjoyed the cooler temperatures and ability to turn the air conditioning off and leave the windows open. Summer weather has currently returned to my area, but I know fall will settle in eventually and I look forward to it with enthusiasm.

As the familiar predictable school schedule returns and the leaves begin to turn, it’s time for me to turn over some familiar leaves. By this I mean it’s time for me to get back into blogging more regularly. With all the things I have going on in my life, writing tends to get lost in the chaos and I can’t continue to let that happen. Writing is a big part of who I am and most of the writing I’ve done over the summer has been for college courses.

College writing is very important of course and it’s earned me some wonderful grades, but I know that writing for pleasure is also essential for my creativity. My creativity is what gives me the ability to take subjects I struggle with (or even dislike) and mesh them with subjects I’m passionate about to write some pretty astounding papers. I say astounding because I am usually astounded with what I come up with.

Fortunately, I’ve already got a jump-start on flexing my writing for pleasure muscles thanks to being given the opportunity to play World of Warcraft’s latest expansion, Battle for Azeroth, when it was in beta testing. I’ve never played a beta version of World of Warcraft before so I was very excited to receive such an immersive first look at a game world that I already love. Playing Battle for Azeroth Bet was an amazing experience for me and I loved having even a small impact in the final release of the game that was released on August 13th of this year.

What does World of Warcraft have to do with my writing? you ask. Well, playing in that new world with its beautiful settings and interesting new story lines inspired me to start writing about new characters in my Warcraft based books. I base my characters off the “toons” I play in the game because to me, they all already have unique personalities and stories to tell. That comes from being a writer perhaps.

I’ve already written several chapters in what will eventually be a complete book that follows a handful of rather diverse characters as they journey through Azeroth. I don’t really know what will happen with the book or what can happen with the book, but that’s not going to stop me from writing. It took me so many years to get my muse back after my father died that I’m not about to let her slip away again!

One Pow-Wow, Two Seasons

pow-wow dancers

Saturday morning of the MCNAA Spring Planting Moon Pow-wow I woke early (as I always do, even on vacation), enjoyed the hotel breakfast, and worked on a beading project I’d brought with me. I never go on a road trip without some beading supplies, as I know I’ll always have some time to work on new creations. It was already humid when I got up and I knew the day was predicted to be just as hot as Friday had been during setup.

Once fed, washed, and dressed, I headed to the Marshfield Fairgrounds to help out at with the final setup of the MCNAA Spring Planting Moon Pow-wow. I arrived a few hours before the gates opened and helped the board members and volunteers that were already there finish setting up the MCNAA booth. The booth usually has three tables, one covered with free, helpful information about various Native American topics and the other two holding MCNAA merchandise such as shirts, patches, and bags. One of the board members was nice enough to say I could set up a little spot on the tables to sell my beaded jewelry and I’ll go into that more in a future blog post about my first experience as a pow-wow vendor.

I set my bag with some beading stuff by one of the chairs in the MCNAA booth and I enjoyed the shade of the canopy as the day quickly warmed up. There was a breeze, but it was still quite hot by the time the event started. In previous years, I have gone out and danced in the heat and the sun, but on that Saturday of the pow-wow I chose to remain in the shade of the booth to assist other MCNAA volunteers with answering questions, selling merchandise, and helping out however I could.

While the heat was too much for me to dance in, there were many dancers that went out into the Circle and danced. I have the utmost respect for them and don’t know how they do it sometimes. I was sweating just sitting in the shade, so I can only imagine how hot it was dancing in the sun in full regalia. (All images courtesy of MCNAA Spring Planting Moon Pow-Wow Page)

Despite the heat, I enjoyed my time volunteering at the MCNAA pow-wow on Saturday and made sure I stayed hydrated. When I wasn’t busy helping people who came up to the booth, I would work on my beading project and also on mending my fringed shawl that I accidentally ripped at a pow-wow the previous year. Overall, I felt it was a wonderful day for the pow-wow and that MCNAA received some nice donations, sold several shirts, and some patches.

We had a special meal that evening to celebrate Harry the Hawk’s birthday and it was nice sitting down with dancers, volunteers, and vendors to discuss various things.

pow-wow meal

The weather prediction for Sunday called for much cooler temperatures with a chance of rain and that prediction arrived quite accurately. While Saturday felt like late summer, the weather Sunday felt like early spring with temperatures in the 50’s, overcast skies, and a cool breeze. I welcomed the change wholeheartedly as it meant I’d be able to dance in the Circle that day without worrying about getting sunburned or becoming overheated.

As the morning was quite chilly and there were fewer attendees expected due to the weather, the grounds were quite deserted when I arrived in the morning. I sat in my car while myself and the other volunteers waited for people to arrive. I busied myself putting the finishing touches on the jewelry display I’d updated for that day (again details will follow later).

Eventually I ventured out of my car to see where I could help MCNAA that day. I asked one of the board members if I could set the booth up and she said yes and that was the first time I’ve set up the entire booth mostly by myself. I was thrilled to do it! I love volunteering because I feel needed, useful, and helpful. Being able to set up the whole booth by putting on the tablecloths, setting out the information, and setting out the merchandise made me feel like I served an important purpose. I may not have set everything out perfectly, but I did my best and was proud of what I accomplished.

MCNAA booth

On Saturday, I was too hot to wear my shawl, but on Sunday it was so much cooler that I kept my lighter shawl around my shoulders and used my heavier shawl as a blanket on my legs. I was happy with the cooler weather though and eager to get out and dance when the drums started. There were far fewer people in attendance that day and not many dancers, but that didn’t keep me out of the Circle. My two favorite dancers, Harry the Hawk and Lee Braveheart were out there dancing and I joined them whenever possible. They were happy to see me in the Circle and their smiles and encouragement always lift my spirit, and my feet!

I danced almost every inter-tribal song that day and found the weather pleasantly cool. I did realize that I was very much out of pow-wow dancing shape and vowed to work on that before the next pow-wow. When I wasn’t dancing, I was at the MCNAA booth helping where I could. Despite the low attendance, I felt it was still a good day and I was invigorated by the dancing.

sneak up dance pow-wow

Sneak up dance featuring my favorite dancers, Harry the Hawk and Lee Braveheart.

The pow-wow wrapped up early when it started to rain and the cooler temperatures made it much less exhausting during take down of the pow-wow. Everything that we had put up Friday had to come down and usually the taking down goes faster than the putting up. It was still a small but determined crew of volunteers doing the work, myself included, and we got things down relatively quickly. I said my good-byes to Harry and Lee and promised them I’d try to make it to the September pow-wow at Plug Pond in Haverhill, MA.

When everything was down and the MCNAA crew was ready to head out, I said goodbye to everyone and enjoyed the hugs and well-wishes. As I drove back to my hotel for the night, I was beaming with joy and my spirit was soaring from the pow-wow atmosphere. For me, nothing compares to volunteering for the MCNAA and being able to dance in the Circle. It is a much needed reminder that I matter in this world and that we can all make a difference, if we’re just willing to make the effort.

Overflowing Adventures – Driving, Riding, and Walking

Long Wharf compass rose

Casting my shadow over Boston.

My recent trip to New England was everything I’d hoped it would be and more. With so much to do and so much going on in the places I visit, I try to fill my time as much as possible with interesting things. I live a relatively quiet life in Upstate New York most of the time, so filling my road trips to overflowing is always something I enjoy.

I was blessed with beautiful weather driving out to my hotel in Seabrook, New Hampshire on Wednesday. It was cool at my house in New York when I left, but by the time I reached my hotel, it was 90 degrees and humid. It’s not unusual for that to be the case and I was happy just to arrive after a full day of driving. Following a small issue where the first room at the hotel hadn’t been cleaned yet, I was given a nice, clean, recently updated room that was bigger and far more comfortable.

I stayed at the Seabrook Inn and the staff were very friendly and accommodating, especially since I kept somehow rendering the key card to my room useless. I’ve stayed at the Seabrook Inn before and I’ll be staying there again as needed on future trips. They have a nice continental breakfast, they’re in a somewhat secluded location, but still right near plazas filled with everything I need. I spent Wednesday night unwinding a bit from the drive, doing some homework, catching up with friends, and grabbing what I needed from the nearby Wal-Mart.

Thursday I headed into Boston early by catching the commuter rail from Newburyport Station in Massachusetts. Although the train is a bit more expensive than me driving to the nearest T station and taking the subway into Boston, after so much driving, I enjoy just sitting on a train for an hour to get where I want to go. The train started out mostly empty, but by the time we arrived in Boston, I was squished against the window as the seats around me filled up. I still didn’t mind though because while all those people were commuting to work, I was just heading into Boston to enjoy myself.

Once the train arrived at North Station in Boston, everyone rushed off while I took my time. I didn’t want to get in the way of people who had somewhere urgent to be.

North Station Boston

People heading into North Station ahead of me.

I walked leisurely through North Station amid the crowds and patiently waited in line at Dunkin Donuts for some iced coffee to help me wake up since it wasn’t even 8:00 a.m. yet. Iced coffee in hand, I navigated out of the North Station and walked to a little park like area with an overlook of the bridge coming into Boston. Traffic coming in was thicker than traffic going out and I snapped a photo because I like that vantage point.

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge

Traffic coming into Boston on the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge

I then began my walking journey through Boston as it was a cool, breezy morning and I didn’t feel the need to use the T just yet. I walked through Quincy Market and grabbed a breakfast burrito to eat in the upstairs seating area of the building. There was only one other person sitting up there and she left shortly after I started eating. I enjoy being in Quincy Market that early before it gets so crowded with people you can barely move. At that time in the morning, restaurants and stores are still receiving their early morning deliveries, people are sipping coffee, and the full bustle of Boston hasn’t started yet.

Quincy Hall, Boston, MA

Looking out the windows on the upper level of Quincy Market

Once I finished my breakfast, I headed toward Long Wharf, one of my favorite spots to visit when I venture into Boston. The sunshine and breeze made for a lovely visit and I watched the whale boats and ferries fill with people heading out on the first trips of the day. From Long Wharf, I wandered south along the harbor trail and saw new areas I hadn’t explored yet.

Long Wharf Boston ferry

Ferry coming into Long Wharf.

Long Wharf compass rose

Looking toward Boston at Long Wharf

I discovered some very nice looking apartments/houses/condominiums/town homes, whatever they call them there, along the waterfront and wondered what it would be like to wake up every morning with such a gorgeous view of the harbor. Of course they also had to deal with the constant noise of planes taking off from Logan Airport (although not too loud at that distance) and the boat traffic sounds, but I imagine it’s a minor inconvenience. While I can understand the appeal of living in such a location, I know how much I like having a yard, space of my own, and not having to share walls with people. Certainly doesn’t rule out the possibility of me having a weekend place in the city someday when I’m a famous author though. 😉

Boston harbor condos

Homes with a beautiful view of Boston Harbor.

 

Arch at Rowes Wharf, Boston

Arch at Rowes Wharf, Boston

Boston skyline

Boston skyline view from the end of Rowes Wharf.

I ended up walking all the way down to South Station in Boston without even realizing how far I’d gone. It was just such a beautiful day for a stroll along the harbor! I stopped into South Station and grabbed a muffin for a snack before heading to the nearest T station to make my way to the library. For me, no visit to Boston is complete without a visit to the Boston Library to sit at one of the long tables with their green lamps and convenient plugs to charge my phone. Plus, it’s a nice opportunity to enjoy the quiet and rest my feet for a while.

Bates Hall in Boston Public Library

Bates Hall in Boston Public Library

Once my phone had a better charge and I’d written down some of what had happened that day in the small notebook I always carry in my messenger bag, I headed to the Copley T Station and took the T back north in search of a restaurant I’d visited before. I really liked what I’d gotten there, but I was dismayed upon arriving to discover that they’d changed their menu completely. It was getting close to the time I wanted to get back on the train to return to Newburyport, so I decided to forego lunch until later and get back to North Station.

After getting briefly lost trying to find North Station (getting lost is sort of my thing), I found my way there just in time to board the train back to Newburyport. The train was a bit crowded when we started out, but more and more people got off with each stop and I was able to stretch out a bit and just enjoy the ride. I was very hungry by that point, but had a plan for lunch when I got back to the station, so I knew I’d be okay. Overall, I was very happy with my visit to Boston and suitably tired.

I wasn’t able to make a solo trip into Boston last May when I made this annual road trip, so I was glad to have accomplished it this most recent trip. There was more I’d wanted to see, but I just didn’t have the energy and I know I’ll be able to see it next time. Some people might get tired of Boston after a while living, working, or visiting there, but I don’t see that ever happening for me. It will always have a place in my heart and call me to it for new and interesting adventures.

Birthday Gifts To Myself

calendar page Lidancie Arts

Today’s the day!

Today I turn 41 years old, but honestly, I’ve already felt 41 for a while. This year I was fortunate enough to have my girls the weekend before my birthday and I’ve been essentially celebrating my birthday all weekend long. On Saturday, my mother treated my girls and I to birthday lunch at Olive Garden (one of my favorite restaurants) and then we spent the rest of the day just relaxing at my mom’s house in the lovely weather. As a continued celebration of my birthday yesterday, I took my girls to see the new Star Wars movie, Solo, and treated us all to overpriced movie theater snacks. We all enjoyed the movie and then went to ice cream afterwards.

I’m quite sure I’ve never celebrated my birthday over more than one day, so I’ve been enjoying this unusual treat this year. For me, the best gifts are spending time with my girls and family, having good friends, and being able to do what makes me happy. If I need material items, I can just buy them for myself, so wrapped gifts aren’t really necessary anymore. Thus far, 41 is off to a really good start!

As I continue to celebrate my birthday today on the actual day I was born, I decided to give myself a very important gift. This year’s birthday gift to myself is that I will spend the entire day while the girls are at school writing. Writing future blog posts, writing in my Warcraft fan fiction, writing outlines for future stories, whatever I want!

When I was a teenager, I promised myself I’d be a published author by the time I was 30 years old. That deadline came and went without realizing that goal, but I haven’t given up on that dream. I do have one self-published Kindle book, but it’s non-fiction and while I think it’s a good story, my heart is really in fantasy fiction writing. I love that anything is possible when magic is involved and that type of freedom helps my writing go wherever it wants to take me. My muse is very much alive these days, but I have trouble making the time to let her out. Hence, today’s birthday gift of writing!

I think like any writer, I doubt my own abilities to tell something new and different in my own interesting style. However, as I’ve read in many inspirational writing quotes, although something might have been told many times before, it hasn’t been told by ME and with my voice. Therefore, I feel like I still have much to offer this world as an author. At my core, despite the many paying jobs I’ve had and have in my life, I am and have always been a writer. The universe gave me this crazy imagination for a reason and today I’m going to channel it into my keyboard and onto pages and pages of new adventures!