A RURAL AMERICAN CHRISTMAS~

sitting rm 2.jpgPrepping for the holidays in rural America provides a spectacular kind of fun. In my family, it starts with a late fall girl’s trip, including my sister and eldest niece and this year, my sister-in-law and younger niece who have recently moved back to the area. We usually spend a weekend in a community within a few hour’s drive or less from home where we can visit Christmas themed shops and events. This trip is a time to do a little girl bonding, pick up a few decorative baubles for home, and perhaps a gift or two as well. As for family gifts, my siblings and our families have spent the last few years enjoying what we refer to as a “white elephant” Christmas. Because we are all well into our secure good shop.jpgmiddle years, none of us truly wants or needs anything but we still enjoy giving to one another. Our rules for gifting are to give something we already own, something that we made or purchased from a community crafter, or from a resale store. That being said, the gift must have meaning to the recipient and not just be something that we wanted to rid ourselves of. This is a great way to share our blessings and perhaps ‘trade’ for things we would like to have or even to share an artistic skill.

After girl’s weekend, hubby and I can start to prepare our home for the holidays. We used to go to one of several local tree farms, take a horse driven cart ride through acres of woodlands, and dig or cut our own fresh tree every year. Now that we are a bit older, tree 2.jpgwe prefer to skip traipsing through the snow in the bitter cold and head instead to a local garden and landscaping center to select a fresh tree that they have cut from their own fields. We then stop for lunch at a local restaurant and enjoy a hot cup of coffee to warm our chilly hands and toes. The tree is my favorite part of Christmas so getting it set up and decorated the next day is something I always look forward to. Listening to ‘White Christmas’ or ‘Christmas in Connecticut’ in the background really puts me in the holiday mood.

Over the years, I have tired of some of the interior decorations we have accumulated so I have started decorating more with live plants and flowers throughout my house, including Poinsettias, Christmas Cacti and Rosemary shrubs. The colorful blooms and aromas throughout the house, accompanied by a balsam candle or two really make our home look and smell of holiday joy. I do still like to decorate but I have pared down the pre-made decorations that I have to clean and store and I find that I do enjoy the environment more. After Christmas, any plants that do not survive are relegated to the compost pile while others are placed in my greenhouse for another season.

While Mr. LucyLoves used to light the exterior of our house with so many jeweled lights we used to tease him about airliners approaching, we have cut back in that area of décor as well. In our younger days, we spent a weekend climbing ladders, maneuvering across the roofline and around windows and doors and covering every limb on our wooded acres with beautiful lights. Now in our middle years, the prospect of climbing and candles.jpgtraversing the rooftop in icy weather from dawn til dusk for two straight days has lost appeal. We have settled for decorating our rural home with a less artistic but still tasteful presentation, succumbing to the pre-lit spiral trees, roaming reindeer and a giant frosty to grace our frontage, with a fresh wreath from the garden center that I decorate with miniature lights. Oh, and my electric bill is much lower in January, too.

While we love to celebrate, life here in rural America doesn’t afford us a lot of opportunities to do so. Aside from a couple of family events, we spend most of our time enjoying our own tree, snuggled up with cocoa and a good book or working a jigsaw puzzle together. There are no block parties or museum galas, no disco nights or tree lighting events. If we had those things within driving distance we would love to attend but alas, getting to the few events we do have is always ‘hit-or-miss’ depending on the weather conditions and the distance we have to drive. No, the majority of our party experience is watching the birds at the feeders we maintain through one of many windows or listening to classic Christmas music while we play a couple rounds of snowman 1.jpgScrabble at the dining room table. It may not sound very exciting but it’s cozy, warm and stress-free. When I get the urge to dress to the nines in holiday attire, we head out to a restaurant and make a night of it, indulging in a favorite desert and a second glass of wine. There is the occasional low-key dinner party with friends and the sleigh ride with one of my horse riding pals that we always look forward to. Our town does host a fundraising light display at the park where Mr. LucyLoves and I got married and the county seat decorates to the hilt, complete with playing Christmas music over the town loudspeakers by day. There’s a Christmas tree decorating contest sponsored by the local Rotary Club for the local businesses and of course, every church and school has some sort of concert or pageant that all are welcome to attend. Rural Americans also seem to love their craft shows and we have dozens of them leading up to the holidays where you can buy everything from hand carved wood bowels, to maple syrup from local farms, to beach glass jewelry and sand castle figurines made of Lake Erie’s treasures. If you like a quiet life, you’ll find plenty of low-key, low-stress, low-commercial events to attend.

Here in rural America, we are content with family feasts, horseback rides under the moonlight wearing our coveralls, and bonfires on the lake shore. We cook and drink and we’re merry. If I could change one thing, it would be accessibility to all the festive light displays, theatre productions and public party events that the city has to offer. But I

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

wouldn’t change my country cottage Christmas for all the riches in the world nor would I wish for a different life. Christmas is about being grateful for our many gifts and appreciating the wonders at our disposal.

Wherever you live, live a beautiful life.

 

 

 

Advertisements

HOLIDAY EMPLOYEES~thank you!

I am in awe of holiday workers.  From the gas station attendant to the nurse and his floor aids to the chemical technician and her subjects, I thank you. While the rest of us are at home enjoying a feast with family or a party with friends, you are hard at work, across America.  While we are celebrating in the couple-on-vacation-1427848.jpgwarmth of our homes, aromas wafting from the kitchen and joyous clatter filling the air, you are slinging coffee from a drive-thru window, tending the injured and infirm, and changing the hotel bed linen.  Our trees are lit, the menorahs standing in their places of honor and the turkey is safely basted and tucked in the oven as you dash from your warm beds, head out into the mean streets of Consumerville, USA and set to work leaving your own families and friends behind.  And for that, I am grateful.

 

Here in rural America, farm life waits for no one.  Cows need to be corralled into their parlors, liverooster-1248500.jpgstock need to be fed and barns need to be cleaned.  Across the nation, hospitals will be staffed, pharmacies will be manned and even the seemingly necessary, 24-hour mini-marts and liquor stores will open their doors.  And what would America do without ‘Wally-Mart’ seven days a week?  Travelers will continue to stop for hot meals and restroom breaks that waiters and attendants make possible, while emergency personnel will be there to try to insure it is all done safely.  Steam will still pour from the towers of power stations and trains will still run towards their destinations while church bells chime in the background.  Cruise ship attendants and taxi drivers will greet their customers and see they have what they need to enjoy their trips while emergency room providers treat the latest drug overdose and check in the stroke patient from the local nursing home.  It seems holidays are no cause  to rest and relax for many.  

 

In my own family we will have a few empty seats at our upcoming holiday feasts as the nurses work 539989668their assigned shifts, the chemical technician mans his research station and even the fast-food peddling teenager fulfills his work obligation.  And I am grateful to each of them.  They are doing what they do for their paycheck but also for you and me.

 

No, I won’t be up at 12:01 A.M. on black Friday to fight the crowds in your customer service line.  I won’t even be out at noon to bid you well while you wrap up your shift and await your afternoon relief.  539668126Instead I will be nursing a cup of cocoa, reading a good book, and staying out of your way so you can make it safely home to your own rest and relaxation.  With the grace of God, no one I–or any of you–love will be in need of the emergency pharmacist in town, or the local E.D., but I’m happy they will be there for those who do.  I try my hardest to prepare for the holidays in advance–gassing up my car a day early, ensuring I have everything I need from the grocery store, filling my prescriptions on time–so that you have one less burden on your holiday.  For those who must stop for coffee, pick up breakfast or grab a windshield wiper refill to make it safely to their own place of employment or, perhaps home to grandma, I am grateful you are there for them.  Know that some of us are thinking of you and the sacrifice you’re making so that the rest of the world can go on.  Some won’t think twice about stopping for that daily donut on their own day off, commenting that if you didn’t want to work this holiday, you should picked have a different job.–as though that’s always a reality.  But most of us are aware of the demands of modern life and its refusal to stop just because the rest of the world 531309386.jpgrejoices.  We know that the holidays don’t mean a ban on emergencies and the infirmities of life, or even shopping for new shoes.  The world will continue to turn and all of you holiday employees will be the ones who keep the cogs well oiled as it does.  For that, I say THANK YOU.  

 

Live a beautiful life. 

 

WINTER READS~

Now that warm, outdoor activity weather is behind us, I’ve been continuing to read the latest books for two series as well as a few new finds over the last several weeks. As always, I’m enamored with mysteries and these did not disappoint.

GUILT IN THE COTSWOLDS by Rebecca Tope

RT book 2 coverThe latest in the Thea Osborne series, Thea is now engaged to undertaker Drew, a character from Ms. Tope’s Drew Slocombe Series. Thea once again finds herself thrown into the depths of a suspicious murder billed as a suicide and is left to find the truth of the matter on her own accord. With a little help from Drew, she pieces together the truth and but not without rubbing a few folks the wrong way. Thea’s strong character has continued to develop throughout this series and I enjoy the plot twists in these albeit silly cozies. The latest in the series, Peril in the Cotswolds was released in September and I’m looking forward to my library securing a copy.

RT book 3 cover.jpgTHE TROUTBECK TESTIMONY by Rebecca Tope

The fourth book in the Lake District Mystery Series finds florist Persimmon Brown struggling to keep up with the orders for funeral flowers for a local popular resident and ends with her solving another murder. Dog lovers will delight in this episode as ‘Simmy’ must break up a dog napping ring in order to track down the murderer stalking the village. While all of Ms. Tope’s books are rich in historical knowledge and colorful scenery, I find the Lake District Series to be the most vividly descriptive. A great bedtime read for mystery fans.

DOES YOUR MOTHER KNOW by Maureen JenningsMJ book cover.jpg

Fans of the Murdock Mystery Series, now a popular long-running TV show, will love Jennings’ other books set in both World War II Germany and present-day Canada. I started with DOES YOUR MOTHER KNOW, which follows former police detective and now criminal profiler Christine Morris, on a journey from Canada to Scotland where she solves more than just one mystery. Called upon when her mother disappears from the scene of a murder, Christine is also pulled into a family mystery that will leave her reeling. Jennings characters are rich and descriptive and you are quickly pulled into the events of their lives. I’ve already reserved the next in the Christine Morris series and look forward to starting it soon.

THE CROSSING PLACES by Elly Griffiths

I discovered this mystery series through a google search and quickly found my library was in possession of the entire lot via e-book. It took me no time to breeze through the first thr51eh9UCxTUL._AC_US327_QL65_ee installments and I’m chomping at the bit for more—nine thus far. From the get-go, Gritthith’s builds interesting, well-rounded characters who draw you in to her stories and give you the impression that you could really get to know and like these people. Her mysteries are compelling and realistic, starting with the very first murder mystery set in a seaside town near Norfolk, England. Ruth Galloway is delightfully modern woman—a ‘bone’ expert, facing the same perils and challenges of all single professional women her age in curent times. And she finds herself in the same boat as many a gal when the sometimes cantankerous, never-the-less charming, DCI Harry Nelson enters her life. This duo teams up to solve some not only new, but sometimes age-old murders, with an archeological twist. Entertaining and educating, I’m anxious to spend more time with Ruth and her vast array of friends.

I hope you enjoy some of your winter hours cozied up in front of the fire, cocoa in hand, reading some much loved literature, be it from a mystery collection or another genre. Books can make the best of friends for us all.

Live beautifully.

 

 

BLUE APRON MEALS~

Mr. LucyLoves and I both enjoy cooking and we love to try new things. That said, we also enjoy a heart-healthy, low-fat diet containing a few lean meats per week and lots of fruits and vegetables daily. Of course, eating an organic, hormone and antibiotic free diet is not inexpensive and our grocery bill has only skyrocketed over the years. I would have never thought a home delivery meal service would help us to not only eat well, but save money.

BR insert 2.jpgBlue Apron is just one of several mail order food companies that provide a weekly home delivery of fresh, seasonal produce and hormone free meats, complete with step by step instructions and recipes for delicious meals. There is a vegetarian option available as well.

Blue Apron subscribers select from two options: a couple’s plan for either two or three meals per week, or, a family plan for two, three or four meals per week. Mr. LucyLoves and I opted for the three meal couples plan, for $60 per week. You can also choose your delivery day and we opted for Thursday.

Our food arrives via FedEx, nicely packed, with the meat products on ice. Produce and ‘extras’ are on top and everything stays adequately cold for the trip. All we must do is open the delivery upon arrival, put the meats in the freezer and the produce and herbs, seasonings and sauces in the refrigerator until we are ready to prepare a meal.

BR insert.jpgI like to review the recipe cards for each of the three meals in advance so I know what preparation is required. Most of the meals can be prepared in about a half hour, with a few maybe taking a bit longer depending on complexity of preparation and meat cook times. The directions are simple to understand and make learning new ways of preparing things rather fun. One person can prepare the meal easily but if you enjoy cooking with a partner, you can easily divide the duties. And the best part is, the meals are healthy and delicious!

There are other positives to a home delivered meal service. For starters, with Blue Apron, Mr. LucyLoves and I seldom eat the entire meal and usually have enough left for at least one lunch during the week. The produce provided is usually very close the amount needed per each recipe so there is no food waste. If I have an extra onion or clove of garlic, I can easily incorporate it into another dish during the week.

As far as feeding ourselves for the remainder of the week, we usually prepare vegetarian meals including lush salads, pasta, potatoes or rice. We purchase only what we need on a weekly basis now, such as breakfast foods, coffee and other drinks, a very few dairy products and the remainder of our produce. No more purchasing food in bulk packs that we can’t always eat up before it spoils, or having too much of one dish and not enough of another. Blue Apron has helped us to prepare just what we need with a bit of leftover items for packed lunches but not so much that we are throwing food away. And that is good for us and the environment. Furthermore, if you don’t have recycling in your area, you can return on the packaging, free of charge, and Blue Apron will recycle it for you.

In the past month, Mr. LucyLoves and I have reduced our grocery bill by about $80 over the previous month. Our bill may vary depending on what we need in any given week and what we choose to eat but any savings, no matter how small, is a savings nonetheless. And I’m always up for putting money in my own pocket.

BR cover.jpgHome delivered meal services may not be for everyone but don’t assume the expense is more than you can afford. If you are willing to make some adjustments to your budget and shopping routine, you may find you are eating healthier while better managing your household funds.

As always, live a beautiful life!

 

 

ALL AMERICAN QUARTER HORSE CONGRESS~

horse 1.jpgOne of my many blessings is to live just a three-hour drive from Columbus, Ohio. Columbus is a vibrant, energetic city that is not only home to the OSU Buckeyes, but also to the All American Quarter Horse Congress, the world’s largest single breed horse show. Running throughout the month of October, ‘The Congress’ attracts both competitors and spectators from around the globe, offering everyone the opportunity to compete with their horses, enjoy the show and shop the dozens of equine related vendors. It’s a horse lover’s dream to the extreme.


Mr. LucyLoves and I make an annual trip to the Congress in early October to enjoy the NRHA Futurity as well as other reigning and cutting classes. While these are our favorite western equine sports, horse enthusiasts can schedule visits throughout October to enjoy classes such as jumping, hunter under saddle, dressage, and roping. In fact, we usually make two or three trips down to watch a variety of events. If you can do it from the back of a horse, you can find it at the Congress. And it’s not only professionals who compete at the Congress, but intermediate and amateur riders can enter classes to compete against fellow equestrians of equal riding ability, regardless of age. In addition to watching various competitions, there are a variety of equine experts giving lectures and demonstrations.

If you are in the market for a new saddle, new riding attire, grooming equipment or some pretty bling for your horse or yourself, the trade show at the Congress will not disappoint. Even if you don’t need anything, it’s hard to resist the bits and baubles that are dangled before your eyes amongst the many vendors on display. From dapper toppers to dazzling diamonds, there is something to entice everyone to part with a few dollars. And if you need a new truck, trailer or RV to transport your horses and family, there are hundreds of those to choose from as well. If they build it, they sell at it at the Congress.

Even after years of annual attendance, Mr. LucyLoves and I still enjoy our trip to watch the competition and browse the aisles of wares. And womenswhen we’ve done with that, we indulge in a bit of the goodies available to eat on at least one or two occasions. You name it, you can find it, from fish ‘n chips to walking tacos to hot apple dumplings, there is something to help everyone stray from their diet on at least one occasion.
toys.jpgEven folks who aren’t horse minded can find something to enjoy at the Congress. Children can delight in watching all the horses and visiting the puppy tent while adults can indulge their fantasies among the rows of designer pick-up trucks and campers and the array of tools, clothing and boots, and glittery bling. The All American Quarter Horse Congress is a family event providing a world of rural opportunity within the confines of the big city. So, when you are ready to take a break from the beautiful horse, you can visit one of many shopping areas, including the well-known Eastern Town Square; a variety of museums and cultural events; perhaps an OSU game and without a doubt, any number of downright delicious restaurants located throughomehout Columbus.
The All American Quarter Horse Congress is a destination for everyone and the city of Columbus is a beautiful host city. Whether you are after a quick weekend get-away, a few days with the girls, or a week of vacation events, you won’t be disappointed in the trip.

 
As always, live a beautiful life

WHERE I SPENT THE LAST THREE WEEKS~ an unedited photo journey

Mr. LucyLoves and I finally made our number one travel dream come true this summer: three weeks touring Germany, in part to visit his former Army posts and also to catch up with friends, both old and new.  To say this was an experience of a lifetime would be an understatement.  Indeed, words cannot describe our adventure so I am sharing it in some of the dozens of pictures I snapped along the way.

Our trip began with first class accommodations and was it ever worth the ticket price!

IMG_20170804_172005.jpg

After we landed, the real fun began.

IMG_20170721_123514.jpg

 

IMG_20170716_155850

Burst_Cover_GIF_Action_20170721173214.gifBurst_Cover_GIF_Action_20170723125021.gif

IMG_20170717_134514.jpg

IMG_20170719_110246.jpgIMG_20170718_173747.jpg

 

 

IMG_20170721_132747.jpgIMG_20170719_163701.jpg

 

IMG_20170721_173558.jpg

IMG_20170721_174306.jpgIMG_20170722_132640.jpg

IMG_20170721_175303

IMG_20170722_192758.jpgIMG_20170720_143225.jpg

IMG_20170726_145758.jpgIMG_20170724_112638.jpg

 

IMG_20170727_115403.jpgIMG_20170726_150859.jpgIMG_20170727_115558.jpg

IMG_20170727_153807.jpg

IMG_20170730_144114.jpg

IMG_20170727_180052.jpgIMG_20170801_155153.jpg

 

 

IMG_20170726_174214.jpg

IMG_20170728_102808IMG_20170728_140118.jpg

IMG_20170731_123815.jpg

 

 

IMG_20170801_155554.jpg

IMG_20170801_153650.jpgIMG_20170801_152429.jpg

 

And while we enjoyed every moment of our journey, coming home to familiar surroundings and our family was just as joyous.  This is an experience we will never forget and one we will share in our memories forever.IMG_20170802_195735.jpg

Whatever your dream may be, make it happen.IMG_20170727_154247.jpg

ANTICIPATION~


There’s a difference between anxiety and anticipation. Anxiety is a nervous, angst provoking emotion that can bring on panic and fear, while anticipation is usually filled with a level of joyous excitement; like a kid awaiting Christmas or a fiancé awaiting his bride walking down the aisle. I relish in the fun and nervous edge that anticipation brings. I’ve been anticipating the biggest trip of my life to date for a while now, which has left me in a state of excitement like I haven’t experienced since I was a child.

Mr. LucyLoves and I are preparing to embark on our first long term, overseas vacation waiting-2-1431368together. By long term, I mean three weeks. This is considered an extended vacation to Americans although I realize it is more the norm for my European friends. Fortunately, we have reached the point in life where such trips will be more frequent and feasible but this first ‘bucket list’ trip has left me giddy.

I have spent weeks figuring out how to pack for three weeks of travel in one suitcase, not to weigh more than 70 pounds. I have planned for pet care, home care, bill paying and communication with family while we are away. I have reviewed travel books and maps and brushed up on the language and road rules where we will be visiting. Hubby and I renewed our passports this year and applied for our international drivers’ licenses as we will rent a car for the duration of this trip. We are going to be spending time with old friends we haven’t seen for years and new friends we have only communicated with via social media.

finn-on-the-beach-1505384.jpgThis is a return trip for Mr. LucyLoves, who spent many years in Europe during his military career. He is anxious to show me where he used to live, play and relax. He is also looking forward to exploring new finds with me and seeing how his old haunts have changed. What’s not to be excited about?

I enjoy flying and I also enjoy exploring new territories, riding on trains and seeing new things. I love casual strolls through old architecture and brisk walks through forests new to me. I love food and window shopping and people watching in general. Yes, there is so much to look forward to that it can become overwhelming thinking about it, especially for an introvert such as myself. So, taking it one day at a time, including savoring in the days leading up to a new journey, are part of the excitement of the experience. I know that no matter what little glitch may arise, Mr. LucyLoves and I are on the same page where travel is concerned: we go with the flow and we’re open to change. We don’t let one bad apple or one less than satisfying meal take away from our ability to live in the moment and look forward to—and enjoy—the next item on the itinerary.duffy-1392667.jpg

Whatever brings excitement to your life, I hope you look forward to the experience of ‘looking forward’. Relish in the anticipation, the excitement, the pure joy of planning and waiting. We live in such a fast paced, ‘gotta have it right now’ society and that we seldom take the time to enjoy the pleasure of wanting and looking forward to something. In this regard, I feel a loss for today’s children, who never seem to want for anything more than five minutes. Oh, what a joy you miss when you miss the wait.

May you spend every day in anticipation of sheer joy and live a beautiful life!

*Images courtesy freeimages.com

SPRING READS~

If you are looking for a few good books to immerse yourself in while lounging on the beach or passing time in the air, here are a few that I have particularly enjoyed the past several weeks:

TROUTBECK TESTIMONY by Rebecca Tope51PJaeDtonL._AC_US218_.jpg

I’ve been a Rebecca Tope fan for ages now and love all three series she writes.  Troutbeck Testimony is the fourth and most recent book in the Lake District Mystery Series featuring the delightful florist Persimmon Brown.  Set in rural England, ‘Simmy’ has been finding her new life full of unwanted adventure as she is dragged into yet another distressing murder.  But this time Simmy has a special interest in the case as her father is quickly drawn in to the dangerous drama playing out in their serene small town.  Troutbeck Testimony is an easy backyard or beach read that will keep you entertained while enjoying a much needed break.

OUTFOXED by David Rosenfelt51yHmdtvQML._AC_US218_.jpg

Dog lovers and mystery fans alike will delight in the latest Andy Carpenter Series as book 14 does not let us down in terms of entertaining us with fun loving pooches and a plot twisting murder scheme.  Carpenter is an attorney with a heart and dry wit to boot.  Those who favor a bit of sarcasm will find themselves giggling throughout the pages as this upstanding but sassy crime fighter works to nab yet another murderer before he joins the land of the dead.

TO DWELL IN DARKNESS by Deborah Crombie

61KnzS08IgL._AC_US218_.jpgBook 16 in the Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James mystery series, To Dwell in Darkness, finds us fully involved in the ever progressing lives of the crime fighting duo of Kincaid and James.  Now married and surviving the dramas of a blended family, this crime fighting duo must reel in yet another murderer before another victim is claimed.  As the Kincaid and James mysteries progresses, the characters become like old friends and you can’t help but root for the continued success of this pair, both professionally and personally.  Set in the outskirts of London, the descriptives in this series are so spot on you feel like you are present in the moment.  Kincaid and James are likable characters with real life issues that we all face as working professionals trying to balance career and family, but with other lives at stake if they don’t succeed.  If you haven’t read this series from the start, it’s well worth beginning with book 1 and getting to know everyone one murder at a time.

TROUBLEMAKER by Leah Remini51RSTOZb8NL._AC_US218_.jpg

I was browsing my online library searching for something to read and since I enjoy biographies and autobiographies about strong women, I added Troublemaker to my check out cart.  I quickly became absorbed in Remini’s story of life inside the secretive group known as Scientology.  Remini is a strong personality by nature so it is easy to understand how Scientology can pull in so many people and convince them to dedicate life and resources to their cause: If they can hold on to Remini for so long, less confident folks don’t have a chance.  Remini’s account of her life in Scientology gives the inside scoop on how cults operate and manipulate people into surrendering all for the good of a few. And in Scientology, the elite are the only ones who benefit.  Remini walks us through her personal journey and that of her family as she works to reconcile the teachings instilled in her since childhood against the realization that Scientology wasn’t in the congregants’ best interest, but rather, in the interest of a handful at the top. You will feel the loss Remini experiences in walking away from the life she always knew and you’ll be cheering her on as she faces a new life of self-discovery and freedom. A strong woman she is, indeed.

I hope you are enjoying some of your own literary finds this summer and indulging your penchant for books.  Please let me know what you are enjoying and what I am missing from my own reading list.

Beating the Heat with Your Pooch~

Dogs are active creatures.  Some more than others, but they all need their daily exercise and play time.  We have a very high energy dog who is accustomed to walking two to three miles per day and playing routinely in the yard. However, when the summer heat strikes here in rural America, keeping a dog happy, healthy and well exercised can become a challenge.  But there are activities you and your dog can engage in that are safe and fun.

469867021.jpgThere’s no need to skip your daily walk or run with your dog.  You just need to adjust your schedule to make exercising with your dog an early morning or late evening routine, when the sun is low and temperature is still relatively bearable.  I prefer being on our local trail by 7 AM but if I have an early appointment, I have been known to hit the trail after dinner, around 8 PM.  You still need your sunscreen and you may want to top it off with a bit of bug spray but you can enjoy.

Evening is also time to light the citronella torches, grab a drink, and enjoy the serenity of the great outdoors in your own backyard.  Just be sure your pooch has adequate flea and tick protection for laying in the grass.

To prevent hot weather boredom due to ongoing, unsafe sweltering heat, there are other fun activities you can try to keep Fido or Fluffy occupied while enjoying your time together.  Try taking your dog for a car ride and make a stop at your local ice cream parlor.  The sightseeing will occupy your pooch and let him or her feel that they are on a bit of an adventure, and the doggy ice cream cup will be a special added summer time treat.  Just don’t ever leave your dog 479480074unattended in the car.  Run the air conditioning while driving with your pooch and then take them home if you have errands or an event to attend to.  While many dogs enjoy hanging their head out the car window, this can be dangerous as pebbles or other flying debris can hit your dog and cause an injury.

If you live in an area with a park that contains a river with a swimming area, or you have a dog friendly beach, consider taking your dog for a romp in the water if he or she enjoys a swim.  It is refreshing and allows your dog a bit of exercise without getting overheated. Just be cautious of areas that fishers frequent as you don’t want your dog stepping on a fishing hook that may have been lost among the rocks.  An alternative is to purchase a plastic kiddie pool and place it in your dog’s play yard.  Take a dip with your pooch and encourage him or her to enjoy water play by tossing in a favorite toy or treat to be retrieved.

507957122Stuck indoors?  Practice obedience training or new tricks. You can never over-practice positive lessons or go wrong by teaching your dog something new. Another easy means to keep your dog occupied indoors is to give him or her a ‘busy bone’ or other safe chew toy.  You can also purchase treat dispensing toys that provide the same effect.  Simply toss a few pieces of your dog’s favorite food inside and keep your dog busy indoors for some time.

For a big adventure, a good internet search or pet friendly travel guide (AAA carries a great one) will provide listings of local as well as nationwide dog welcoming establishments and activities that you can enjoy.  Surprisingly, there are a lot of restaurants and cafes that allow dogs and have well shaded seating available so you can even dine with your best friend.  Many state and federal parks allow dogs in certain areas where you can safely walk your pooch at a leisurely pace.  Some also have very affordable rental kennels where your dog can enjoy the cool breeze in the shade, as well as possibly some canine companionship, while you venture through the areas that are off limits to pets.  We have used these self-serve kennel set-ups and have never had an issue.  Pet friendly vacations are also surprisingly easy as many kennels offer day boarding or doggie day care.  You and your human travel partners can play a 472677506.jpground of golf, visit a museum or engage in any number of activities while your dog plays the day away at an air conditioned facility.

No matter what you do to beat the summer heat, always make certain your dog has fresh, cool water at all times.  Change it frequently and carry water with you when you take your dog on outings and offer drinks on a regular basis.  And as always, have a wonderful time with your faithful companion and live a beautiful life.

freeimages.com

RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS~

The world has become such a crazy, chaotic place.  Rudeness, vulgar behavior and obscene adjectives have become the norm for so many.  Going on an errand run or spending a day out is often littered with visions and sounds of lewd and sometimes, downright mean behavior.  So what a surprise acts of kindness have become.  For the most part, I encounter happy and pleasant people on my ventures.  Those who behave otherwise, I try just to ignore as best as I can.  But even in the workplace people have become less than pleas155886454ant and often rude and unaccommodating.  I know I am not the only person who is put off by modern social standards and I hope I am setting an example of how I wish the world would behave.  Then I had a little fun reminder yesterday of what kindness can mean and how easy it is to share it with others.

While walking my dog on our morning hike, I stumbled upon a brightly painted rock with a little message glued to the back.  I had heard this game was going on in my area and here I had become a part of it.  An anonymous group of people are painting little rocks and hiding them all about my corner of the state.  They ask that you take a picture and post it to their facebook page, if you have access, and then hide the rock in a new location for someone else to find and enjoy.  By posting to the page, people can track the rocks they find, as well as others.  It’s just a fun little game and if you do not enjoy the experience of engaging in a little play, then nothing is likely to put a smile on your face.  What a gre462970629.jpgat idea for spreading a little joy in our community.  Then by some bizarre chance, I found another such rock today, just 24 hours later.   According to the facebook page, these rocks are now popping up in other states as finders are traveling with them to spread joy on a much broader scale.  What joy!

This brought to mind the little secret acts of kindness I used to try to bestow on employees in my organization from time to time.  I would send anonymous gifts to random employees from our directly listing, just to do something nice for someone for no particular reason.  You never know when a little surprise might lift someone’s spirits by making a bad day brighter or a good day even better.  It was never anything substantial, usually just a candy bar or a cutesy office supply item I picked up at a discount store.  But people would talk about receiving these little gifts or I would see them out on desk tops around various offices and know that my secret act was valued.472513714

I have also enjoyed engaging in other random acts of kindness such as covering the cost of the toll or the coffee order for the car in line behind me.  And I have received similar gestures of kindness from others throughout the years like having my dinner tab paid by a stranger or receiving a surprise anonymous bouquet of flowers during a period of illness.

Acts of kindness need not cost anything at all.  If you can afford to pay a bill for someone, by all means, enjoy giving the gift at your expense.  If not, even a painted rock can put a smile on someone’s face.  No matter who the recipient is, a message will be heard.  It will bring joy and happiness, or may bring a grunt but regardless the recipient cannot deny that someone did something for them without reason, without cause and without expecting  any payment in kind.  And the grumpy, unappreciative folks perhaps benefit the most. If nothing else, it may make them stop and think about their attitudes toward others and how they present themselves.  Maybe they will take that moment to realize they too can be part of a positive movement in their community. 494348531.jpg

A random act of kindness serves two purposes: to make someone else smile and feel positive worth and, to make the actor smile and feel positive worth as well.  It’s a win-win for everyone.

 

freeimages.com