Labor Day Weekend Link Love

August 30, 2019

We’ll be keeping a close eye on the progress of Hurricane Dorian this weekend. It’s not supposed to reach us until Monday, and as I write this, we don’t yet know where it will make landfall. Some models show it crossing from the Atlantic over us into the Gulf of Mexico, so keep Florida in your thoughts. Other than last-minute hurricane preparations, this weekend we’re expecting a visit from my mother-in-law, celebrating our son’s birthday, and my husband and I are attempting to repair something on my car—wish us luck! I might do some baking—maybe chocolate chip cookies or some type of muffin. We’ll see.

Just in case you have some free time on your hands this weekend (a three-day holiday weekend for most of us in the U.S.), here are a few items of interest I’ve come across recently. Enjoy!

“How to Manage Your Energy to Get More Done” was a timely read for me, as I’ve been dragging lately. Going to pay more attention to renewing my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy.  

Have you ever tried to “Follow Your Jealousy”? As Sheila Devi writes, “Jealousy tells you what you want more of. What if you listened to it?”

Check out Modern Mrs. Darcy’s “Rom-Com Syllabus” if you’re looking for something fun and light to watch over this long weekend. There are some great additional suggestions in the comments, too.

This long essay by Roy F. Baumeister examines the differences and similarities between happiness and a meaningful life.

I totally understand and identify with “Pet owners share 55 hilarious rules their animals have made.” The animals are clearly in charge.

What do you think about research that shows that trying to be happy can result in feeling less happy? “Quit Doing 1 Thing Today, and Science Says You’ll Feel a Lot Happier (It's Counterintuitive)” is worth a read.

This is an oldie, but still hilarious. My husband showed this to me again this week, so I hunted it up on YouTube for you:

May you have a safe, relaxing, and happy Labor Day weekend!


Eleven Years Rich

February 18, 2015

Our first day together

Today is Tank’s 20th birthday! In just a week and a half, I will have owned him for 11 years—longer than anyone before me. He is truly “mine” and I am the richer for it.

We rode together yesterday, all by ourselves, while the wind shook the trees and rolled a blue beach ball around the jump field, while a neighbor helped our barn owner move some large items with a piece of heavy equipment. Any one of those situations would have been a recipe for spooking and running when I first got Tank. Yesterday, he didn’t even bat an eyelash. I guess we’ve both matured in the past 11 years.

This quote sums up for me the miracle of a relationship with a horse:

“Riding is a partnership. The horse lends you his strength, speed and grace, which are greater than yours. For your part, you give him your guidance, intelligence and understanding, which are greater than his. Together, you can achieve a richness that alone neither can.” –Lucy Rees, “The Horse’s Mind.”

A recent photo

Thank you, Tank, for 11 years of simple pleasures and everyday adventures. Your birthday “cake” is on its way!


The Accomplished Cat

March 28, 2014

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a cat, and I had forgotten some of the added services cats provide over and above being pets. Each cat has his or her own specialties, and here are a few of Prudy’s:

Alarm Clock. My cat alarm clock is set for 6:30 a.m. This is fine for the rare days that I need to get up that early—which, unfortunately for Prudy, are not that often. Many nights I must shut Prudy in my office/her bedroom so that I can get a full night’s sleep. My office is directly next door to our bedroom, so when her snooze alarm goes off at 7:15, I’m sure to hear it.

Declutterer. Some areas of our house now look a little, shall we say, minimalistic. For example, the dining room table, which used to have a lovely silk flower arrangement, is now a bare sheet of wood. Cats love to knock things off any surface they manage to get on, whether or not they are allowed on these surfaces. As Prudy’s ability to jump or climb has increased, so has the spareness of my d├ęcor—the sofa table, the aforementioned dining table, my dresser. Practically every horizontal surface in the house has been simplified if not stripped bare.  No, I suppose I didn’t really need that ceramic candle holder. But I’m still sad about the folk art cow she knocked off the kitchen sideboard.

Are you sure you need all these papers?

Natural Antidepressant. Prudy is super soft to pet and very purry—she purrs when she eats, she purrs when she plays, she purrs when she’s in the mood for affection. She’ll climb on my lap, lie down, and sometimes go to sleep. She’ll even lie on her back and allow me to play with her paws and stroke her pouffy tail. It’s kind of hard to remain down when faced with all that cuteness.

Asleep on my lap

It's exhausting work being this accomplished

Personal Trainer. Monday morning (a day I had to get up at 6:30—thank you, Prudy), as I exited the bathroom back into our dark bedroom where my husband still slept, my bare feet met something soft and furry. In an effort not to flatten her, I performed some of the most intricate dance moves I’ve done in a long time.

Artist. I’ve been taking Laure Ferlita’s Imaginary Visit to a Past Vacation class, and the first time I worked on an assignment, Prudy lay down on my open palette. I suspect all future sketches will have a little cat hair accent in them somewhere. A new way to incorporate texture!

I consider myself lucky to live with such an accomplished cat, and look forward to seeing what other services she will bring to our lives. Not a bad return on the minimal adoption fee at the shelter!

What are your pets’ specialties?


Some of My Best Teachers Have Four Legs

January 13, 2014

“Everything natural—every flower, tree, and animal—has important lessons to teach us if we would only stop, look, and listen.”—Eckhart Tolle

I’ve had various pets nearly all my life. Aside from their cuteness and cuddleability, pets can be expert teachers of life lessons (and if you doubt me, check out the delightful book Guardians of Being). Currently, I have one elderly dog, a “teenage” kitten, and a middle-aged horse. They’ve taught me many, many things (including don’t wear any clothes to the barn you’re not prepared to ruin, and no, the kitchen counter is not tall enough to keep food away from either the kitten OR the dog…). 

Here are a few of my favorite life lessons from my pets:

From Prudy:

There is a time for play and a time for cuddling. Know your priorities and stick to them.

The world is to be explored.

Like everyone until they prove unlikable.

Assume everyone likes you until proven otherwise.

From Scout:

Do everything joyfully: get up in the morning, go to bed at night, eat, announce your presence to the world.

Sleep when you’re tired, even if something interesting is going on elsewhere.

Don’t put up with bull$&@, but only do as much as you have to to get it to stop—don’t overreact.

From Tank:

You can make huge progress by taking many small steps.

Relationship is more important—and ultimately more satisfying—than tricks or blind obedience.

Hold out for your favorite treats. Spit out the ones you don’t like. Don’t waste time (or calories) on them.

Don’t let the turkeys get you down. 

Animals live in the moment. They don’t worry about what might happen tomorrow, or what the dog next door has, or what the horses in the next paddock might be saying behind their backs. Seems like some pretty valuable wisdom to me.

Have you learned any life lessons from an unusual source?


A Day of Gifts

July 08, 2013

Last week was a tough week. Why is it every time I schedule some down time for myself, everything seems to go wrong? Nothing major, just a series of minorly-worrying events that taken together made me feel battered by week’s end.

Finally, Saturday came—a day of noticing the gifts right under my nose and a chance to rebalance. Some of Saturday’s gifts:
  • A strong breeze and cloud cover that kept the temps in the mid-80s, practically unheard of for this time of year.
  • A truly awesome ride on Tank, after wondering if I’d be able to ride at all. I spent many hours last week dealing with a persistent skin problem on Tank’s hindquarters and back (the so delightfully-named rain rot) that left him sensitive to even fingertip touch—so sensitive that I thought there might be something more seriously wrong with him. During our ride, he was so relaxed and responsive I think he enjoyed it, too.
  • Homemade blackberry and cream scones to go with my afternoon tea, drunk from a teapot/cup set that was a gift from a friend.
  • An afternoon spent reading a library book—and isn’t the library one of the greatest gifts of all?

These simple pleasures helped me remember how many gifts I really have—good health, a family I love, precious friends, amazing animals, and resources for entertainment and education through the library. So many gifts, if I stop to notice them.

What gifts have you noticed lately?


What Kind of Bird Is That?

July 27, 2012

Is the coast clear?

Yum, yum…

Oh, you saw that? Well, you meant for me to eat this, right?

Happy Friday. I’m going to go refill the feeder so the birds will have something to eat…


There Goes the Neighborhood

May 02, 2011

I'm up to my eyeballs in article writing (thanks, Michele!), so I'll just share this photo with you:

We have a number of retention ponds in our neighborhood, and this little fella (girl?) lost his way and found himself in our neighbor's yard a couple years ago. (That's my husband's hand.) We helped him to his destination where he went his merry way.  

Now don't you want to move to Florida?


Caution: Tortoise Crossing

May 14, 2010

My son was cleaning off our front porch recently, when he called us out to see a tiny visitor:

A baby gopher tortoise!

Experts think gopher tortoises may live as long as 60 years. They grow slowly, taking from 9 to 21 years to reach sexual maturity, and average nine to 11 inches in length. They eat mostly grasses and legumes, and some wild fruits and berries. They are the only tortoise found east of the Mississippi River.

Gopher tortoises dig burrows in dry habitats, including pine flatwoods, scrubby flatwoods, dry prairies, xeric hammock, pine-mixed hardwoods, and coastal dunes. These burrows, which average 15 feet long and six and a half feet deep, protect them from predators, the elements and extreme conditions such as drought, freezing weather or fires. Gopher tortoise burrows also serve as homes for other creatures, such as snakes, frogs, mice, rabbits, armadillos and even skunks and foxes. Some of these animals share the burrow with the tortoise, and others take up residence in abandoned burrows.

In Florida, gopher tortoises are categorized as a Threatened Species, primarily because of loss of habitat.

He kindly posed for a picture before crawling off into the bushes

This little guy has come to visit us a couple of times, apparently finding our front porch a good place to hang out. We're always on the lookout for his next appearance. Especially when pulling the cars out of the garage...


Happy Marmot Day!

February 02, 2010

This just in—Alaska has declared Feb. 2 Marmot Day! Three species of marmot can be found in Alaska (but no groundhogs), and Sen. Linda Menard, R-Wasilla who filed the official bill, hopes that the state will create educational activities around the animal. No weather forecasting duties will be required.

I’m all for any holiday that honors marmots. My family and I came across a number of the cute furry creatures while visiting Yellowstone in 2008, where they are also known as “whistle pigs,” because of a whistling noise they make. A cuddly animal known as a whistle pig? Who could resist?

Punxsutawney Who?