Back in the Saddle Again

Yep, it's been a year. I'm nothing if not inconsistent. But you know what they say about foolish consistencies being the hobgoblin of little minds. Well, just one person said it. Now I copy it. I like it, because it justifies my flaky nature.

well, our family hasn't grown in the way I planned quite yet. No kids...but somehow now we have a horse. A stubborn, spirited mare named Whisper Cinnamon Stix. I'm having a hard time adjusting, but mostly to the creative spelling of Stix--it's too reminiscent of "Kwik Mart" and other businesses that manage to cleverly trademark a name by grossly misspelling it. But the horse, I like.
Riding again (after 10ish years) was an appalling experience. I apparently lost my coordination and courage with age. But now, after numerous lessons, I can indeed get on and off the horse, and ride (at a dignified walk) around the very safe indoor arena. I rock.

I'm sure Whisper will give me all kinds of fodder for the blog--mostly embarrassing, but still, it's material.

A friend inspired me to dig up the old blog again--you must check out her blog, o' non-existent readers--Stuff by Jen. You must read the MRI post, and the post about the team meeting, from about three days ago. I was there--and Jen captured all the funny moments perfectly. :)


First Flight

I know my little happies have tended to all be around the same theme--country living--lately. I guess you can tell where my contentment is coming from...and why I've been too busy to write.

A hawk perches on a white metal barn roof, white hot in the summer sun. Proud and tall, he surveys the surrounding fields, ready to take off in a perfect dive over the pasture. Wait, we take a closer look.
This hawk is newly fledged. It's almost full-sized, but it's tail-feathers are the long, striped training feathers that help a new hawk learn to fly, rather than a striking fan of red. This hawk isn't perched for flight, it's peeking nervously over the edge of the barn roof, flexing its wings, considering trying another test flight. Finally, it launches over the edge. No striking dive after a mouse. This hawk frantically flaps his wings, reaching, reaching, reaching for the nearest tree branch. Finally, awkwardly, he makes it.

We've been excited to have a nest of hawks in the trees on the edge of our property, and today, the first hawk fledged. We were lucky to watch his first flight!


Cat Patrol

My Adventures in the Country, Part Two: Cat Patrol

My dachshund Nixie is, in many ways, a prissy princess--a city dog. She prefers the sidewalk to the grass. She barely tolerates the yard if it's not freshly mown. She puts one paw into snow and steps back in disdain. And she'll do absolutely anything to avoid getting wet. The closest she's come to normal dog instincts was the unforgettable day a few years ago, when she actually caught a squirrel. The fact that it was a young, confused squirrel that ran toward the house instead of the trees, and the fact that because she was on a leash, we were able to pull her away from her catch within seconds, did not in the least take away from her glorious victory. She was able to shake that squirrel thoroughly for a few satisfying moments. I'm convinced that squirrel was severely mocked by his squirrel friends.

But now, Nixie may actually be starting to enjoy being a country dog. We have let the grass grow into hay in part of the pasture, but we've mowed paths throughout. Nixie bounds across the backyard to reach the paths, apparently because paths are the closest things to sidewalks the country has to offer. She explores each path rigorously, every day.

For several days we've noticed a stray cat wandering through the paths, stalking our birds. Well, yesterday, Nixie finally caught the scent of the cat. I didn't even know she had a single tracking instinct. The only thing I've seen her scent out is barbecue brisket cooking in the crock pot, or a stray jelly bean under the couch. But her excitement when she picked up the scent was all-consuming. She bounded around the yard like a deer, her tail straight up behind her like a hunting meerkat. She was positively quivering in anticipation. Of course, though she tracked the cat all the way to the creek, she didn't manage to capture it. But she was clearly satisfied to have chased it off the property--she pranced about proudly, having successfully ensured her yard was completely cat free.

Just another rousing day in the country!


Time Waits for No Tweet, or, The Taming of the Shrew

So I've not kept up with my blog. And I was so proud of myself for a solid start. Sigh. I don't have time to tweet, poke, blog...I'm failing my technology. Ah, well...an update a few times a month is probably more my style. Everyone can officially lower their expectations of me now.

Here's my happy for the day (or at least a little funny)...

My Adventures in the Country, Part 1: Taming of the Shrew

First, our birdseed drew in the mice (into our garage). We set traps, caught the whole happy little family.
Sad day for mice. But our traps were probably more humane than what would have happened if Nixie or Hayley ever noticed them.

Anyway, so yesterday morning we hear a scream from the downstairs, where the garage in question is, as well as my mom's walk-out apartment. The reason for the scream is the baby mouse she sees running from under her bed. So, in keeping with the traditions of strong, brave women in our family--she proceeds to scream, while beating wildly at it with her shoe. A plaid house shoe, I believe.

She then runs upstairs to ask for my help--apparently the mouse is unconscious, but breathing. So I go and get a sack. Okay three plastic bags, used to fashion a glove, and a big paper bag. Must not be too careful. We safely bag the mouse, thinking it's not unconscious, but actually dead.

We had a nagging doubt, though. This baby mouse didn't look much like the other mice we caught. So I went to my husband, bag in hand. He opened the bags, and low and behold, there was a live, uninjured SHREW prancing around in the paper bag. A baby shrew, no less. Suddenly we pronounced the former pest adorable (it really was quite cute, scurrying around the bag like it was happy with a new home, or just happy not to be presented with any more plaid footwear). So glad it wasn't dead, we decided to save it, and let it go at the creek behind our house. So it can breed more shrews to invade our house, I'm sure.

And what didn't occur to me until later, was the fact that shrews are actually carnivorous. If the birdseed didn't draw it in, what did? And where, oh where, are its parents? I must say, country living is not for the fainthearted!


Onward & Upward

Is everyone still speaking to me? So sorry to have been MIA for so long. It's been a crazy few weeks. Of course, that's not really fair. I'm sure everyone has had their share of crazy.

There's a book I'm looking forward to reading. My friend just bought it...it's "Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist" by Michael J. Fox. And I don't want to read it just because I was a big Alex P. Keaton fan when I was a kid.
I'm amazed that his story--his book--can be called "Always Looking Up", when he's living with a debilitating, life-ending disease.

Our family's cross seems to always be health problems. Someone in one of our families seems to always be burdened with the worry of health problems. My grandma and my father-in-law both had strokes/spells in this last two weeks.

And I've seen what chronic pain and health problems can do. It can make it just a little harder to smile every morning. Slower to laugh. Sometimes you just feel washed out. Other times completely flattened and defeated. It's hard to see the future clearly. To be buoyed by hope. So I admire Mike for doing the unthinkable, and being positive, and even grateful, even at the stage of his life.

I was also intrigued by the title of this book. I've always considered myself a positive person, a perpetual optimist. But as I get older I'm realizing that that's not completely true. It's not like I can pride myself on making a choice of seeing the positive in every situation. Because I don't always do that. But what I do is cling to the positive like a lifeline. I've learned that I can't function if I'm focused in what's going wrong. I'm motivated the positive, and when I'm buried in the bad times, it's only by holding on to the bits of good around me, that I can pull out of the mire. So I'm interested to read Mike's views on "incurable optimism." Hope it's good...I'm going to steal it from Dawn as soon as she finishes it. :)

Here are a few quotes from Mike:

"If you were to rush into this room right now and announce that you had struck a deal - with God, Allah, Buddha, Christ, Krishna, Bill Gates, whomever - in which the ten years since my diagnosis could be magically taken away, traded in for ten more years as the person I was before - I would, without a moment's hesitation, tell you to take a hike."
— Michael J. Fox, from "Lucky Man"

""Happiness is a decision.""
Michael J. Fox

""When prescribing one of the drugs I take, my doctor warned me of a common side effect: exaggerated, intensely vivid dreams. To be honest, I've never really noticed the difference. I've always dreamt big.""
Michael J. Fox


Spring Sunshine

Today I was good to the environment, but hard on my aching bones. I planted eight, yes, eight, trees today. All fruit trees...our own little orchard! This was one of those perfect Spring days--sunny and inviting, but with one of those rare gentle Spring breezes. (So much more pleasant than the gales we see much of the year out here.) I spent most of the day outdoors.

I hauled the trees and dirt around with the lawn mower (it pulls a small trailer). It reminded me so much of my Grandpa. Papa was more like a Dad to me, and we lost him a few years ago to cancer. Almost every day summer day in my childhood Papa would be working in the backyard. I'd hop in the little trailer behind the mower and he would drive me all over the pasture. He would tell me to get my "workies" on (overalls), and I'd go out and "help" him gather wood, or pick watermelons, or collect acorns. I feel like we're creating something here that he would have loved.

As we gear up for a new work week, here are a few quotes as food for thought. I LOVE this Emerson quote...it puts things in perspective.

"Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have a "creative" job, so I'm always on the look out for inspiration. That's what drew me to this silly little Suess quote...

"Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!"
Dr. Seuss


Our Irritating & Endearing Friends

I'm watching two dachshunds sleeping sweetly and peacefully on the loveseat. Of course, they barked right through the end of Fringe tonight, they demanded a pillow and blanket (one each), which basically left no room for a person anymore, and fought over prime position. Sigh.

I probably have the orneriest (is that a word?) dachshund ever, and yet I'm ridiculously nuts about her. I named her Nixie, which I found in a German name book, and it meant "water sprite". Cute, I thought. Then I saw an article that explained the history of nixies, which are EVIL water sprites. I cursed my dog.
Of course my mom's dog, Hayley, is no better behaved, and she has a normal (albeit too human) name. Her name is irritating, because my husband's name is Lee, and "Hayley" sounds too much like "Hey, Lee." Oh, the hilarity and confusion that ensues.

A friend of mine also has a dachshund, named Gatsby. This clip is for her today. Her dog doesn't like his new apartment, and has taken to barking. Well, maybe Gatsby can get some training from this dachshund.

But since today's theme is pets, I have a few more pet antics that I wanted to pass along...

catapulting cat: this one starts slow, but trust me, it's worth the wait.

slinky: short but sweet.

chick pals: i wish I had this dog's energy.

letter opener: your mail will never be the same.

ninja cat: another slow starter, but pretty great.


You're As Young As You Feel

For some reason today, it struck me how few years I have until I reach 40. It didn't just surprise me--it felt like an out-of-body experience. When did the passing of time become a speeding bullet?

I would like time to be my friend, but sometimes it feels more like a drill sergeant.

Well, if you think getting older means slowing down, just check this out.


The Day After

Well, it's the day after surgery day, and my husband's at home, recovering. We're so happy and grateful to have this part behind him. Now he needs to heal and recover (with quite a bit of physical therapy for his arm thrown in).

This has taken time away from the blog the last few days...but I'll jump back in this week!

Thanks for everyone's support--we appreciate it!

In the meantime, here's a few little bits for you...

For an extreme wedding...click here.

A fun tidbit for Harry Potter fans...click here.


Perchance to Dream

I'm reading a retelling of Persuasion (Jane Austen) right now, written from Captain Wentworth's point of view. There's a lovely quote in it that I want to share. Captain Wentworth had just woken up from a dream about Anne:

"In life one could suspect that a certain thing was true. In dreams, you knew to the core of your being that something was true, even without the slightest bit of support....Out of the blissful nothing, he sensed her presence."

Have you ever woken up from a dream like that? Something that in reality is quite fantastic, but in your dream, seems perfectly logical, and beyond that, feels deeply, profoundly true. More true than we feel things even in real life. I think there's something about those kinds of dreams that let us experience things with our whole heart and soul, without our mind getting in the way. No reason or doubts or fears are allowed to interfere with those simple, true feelings. In those dreams, feeling IS truth. Nothing else is needed. We're in perfect harmony with emotion.

We know moments of joy in real life, but dreams give us a tantalizing glimpse of perfection, a clarity of feeling and purpose, that's really unequaled. It's not that it's better than reality--but it's more pure, more focused--it makes feeling something tangible, that you breathe like oxygen, or moves along your skin like a cool breeze.

Mmmmmm. Here's wishing you all sweet dreams tonight...