Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Paw Prints in Time

Indy sleeps a lot. His legs twitch and I wonder if he's dreaming of the days when he used to chase tennis balls and go for long walks around the lake. Now he stumbles when he walks and sometimes stands perfectly still in the middle of a room as though bewildered over just where he could be.

He turned 15 years old in March and I know our time together is growing short. Maybe I've been selfish letting him go on as long as I have, but every time I consider making The Call, he perks up and I see a trace of him from his puppy days.

Last weekend I bought some clay, worked it out nice and flat, and then pressed Indy's paw down into the surface. It wasn't the best impression ever made. Indy didn't much care for the process and I hate to overly annoy an old guy who wants nothing more than to nap in a warm sunny spot. Before baking the clay, I put a hole in the top of the piece so it can be hung as an ornament or in a window. 
















I figured as long as I had the clay, I might as well do an impression for Bogey, too. Capturing his print wasn't any more popular.
















Maybe I'll try again another day. Or maybe not. Who needs perfect?

I suppose my clay pieces are a lot like real life, filled with bumps, irregularities, and occasional wishes for a do-over. But there's something sweet about them, too. The clay is a reminder it doesn't matter what life throws at me. When I see the face of a child, bask in the beauty of a cloudless day, or hold on to the endless love and loyalty of a dear old friend, I get a rare privilege. That's when I understand, just a tiny bit, what it must be like to glimpse heaven. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I'm Totally Hacked Off














Picture it: Mother's Day with my kids and their spouses, enjoying a lovely meal along with a glass of fine wine. I'm feeling mellow and happy until...

Daughter checks her phone and announces-"Mom, your Facebook has been hacked. Your account is sending out friend requests to all your contacts."

What? What? What? Talk about a mood killer. And on Mother's Day yet.

First of all, I'm far more a lurker than a poster on Facebook. I like to read what's going on with everyone and often will click the "Like" button. Simple and easy. That's pretty much all I do. I can't imagine why anyone would waste their time trying to hack my account, but someone surely did.

Damage control consisted of Daughter posting a message warning people not to accept a friend request from me (I was too flabbergasted to do it myself, or maybe too woozy from the wine). Then I changed my password and, on the advice of Daughter's hubby who IS tech-savvy, changed the passwords on my email and just about every other place I visit that needs a password. I beefed up my Facebook security levels and hope that does the trick.

I feel a bit like Typhoid Mary, without the typhoid or the Mary, of course. A few people "Unfriended" me completely over this mess. Geez, it really wasn't my fault, people.

Anyway, I felt the need to hunt for advice on staying cyber-safe and found out some scary facts. Did you know there are numerous websites that teach you HOW to hack someone's Facebook account? I guess you can find ways to commit any sort of crime on the internet. So to keep us all a little safer, here are a few tips:
  • Create a strong password (letters, numbers, symbols) and change it regularly.
  • Don't use the same password for multiple sites.
  • Never click on a link unless you're 100% sure it's safe (that includes links in email!)
  • On Facebook, if you're already friends with someone, and receive a new request from them, check with the friend before accepting or just say "no" to the request because this is typically a hack attack. (Note-alerting the friend is helpful, since it may be the first clue a hack has occurred so damage control can begin)
If you have any other tips on how to stay safe from a hacker's scummy shenanigans, please post in your comment. Hacked off people want to know.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Our New Tenants

I have to admit, cats don't miss anything.

If I put a package of chicken on the counter, just as soon as I walk away, Bogey will be up beside it working tooth and nail (literally) to open it. If I stay away more than 5 minutes, I guarantee my anticipated dinner will be a distant memory. He's a sneaky chicken-loving maniac, and very, very fast.

A couple of days ago, I caught Bogey staring out the window, ears perked forward and eyes round as lunch plates. No doubt something fascinating was happening outside, so I took a peek and discovered:
















Right next to the screened porch I have a small star magnolia tree which now holds the largest bird's nest I've ever seen. Look closely. Mama Bird's tail feathers are sticking straight up as she covers her eggs with the warmth of her body. I ran to the computer to try and find out what kind of bird she could be, since I couldn't see anything but the top of her. 

Thanks to the power of the internet, I discovered Mama is a robin. They apparently build large nests of twigs and grass with a mud cup at the top. I suppose robins prefer a nice firm foundation for real estate ventures. It almost looks like she could have a storm cellar, doesn't it?

The nest is in a busy area, as I'm always letting dogs in and out of the back yard. Mama just hunkers down and ignores us, though I'm sure it makes her little heart pound. She's a dedicated girl, and I'm hoping we will soon have healthy babies to hatch, and grow, and fly away.

It does take some extra care nowadays to be sure Bogey doesn't escape out the door. I don't want him mistaking this little family for chicken.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Take Me Out to the Ballgame











I don't feel Spring is truly here until I make my first visit to the ballpark. The aroma of hot dogs, popcorn, and peanuts (not to mention the gourmet items that now show up on every major league ballpark's menu), serve to drive home the notion that mild temperatures and outside fun have finally arrived.

Today I'm heading to my first game of the season and looking forward to soaking up the experience. St. Louis area peeps tend to be a tiny bit obsessed with the Cardinals. We dress up in Cardinals gear and head to the ballpark or to a sports bar or simply listen to the game on the radio.

I remember hearing Harry Carey and Jack Buck on KMOX announce the play-by-play. It's a treasured part of my early days.

"It might be, it could be...it IS...a home run! Hoooly Cow!" 

St. Louis Cardinals baseball makes me think of my dad listening to a tiny transistor radio while barbecuing pork steaks as Mom prepared potato salad and baked beans. We'd groan at every out and cheer every time the home team scored a run.

In Mom's final few years, when she couldn't do much else, she could watch the Cardinals on television. It gave her so much pleasure...especially when "her" team won.

I believe heaven has a special place for Redbird fans, so I'm sure Dad and Mom will be cheering along with me today. Maybe between the three of us we can bring home a winner.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day and Hob-Nobbing with a Famous Author



















May we nurture and cultivate our soil.
May we foster clear and clean skies.
May we conserve and  purify streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans.
May we support and sustain our plants.
May we defend and protect our animals.
May we care for our planet forever.

Whether you pick up a piece of trash, recycle an item, or turn off the water faucet while you brush your teeth, I hope everyone does at least one thing today in honor of Earth Day. And wouldn't it be awesome if each of us could do just one thing every day? I plan to try, and hope you will, too.

On another note, here's a follow-up report on my author/book library visit last week. Susanna Kearsley is a funny, gracious and fascinating woman. I loved listening to her speak about the research she does for her historical novels.

I'm now reading her latest book, The Desperate Fortune, and am totally engrossed by the story. It's on the way to becoming another best seller for her. Congrats to Susanna.

Here's a photo of me hanging out with a famous author. What a fun evening for a book lover!















Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Love a Library












Does walking into a library slow your pulse rate and lower your blood pressure? When you inhale the scent of books do you feel right at home? Can you spend hours in a library and feel like it's only been minutes? If so, you're a true book lover.

April 12-18 is National Library Week. If you haven't noticed it before, libraries have come a long way from the image of prune-faced bespectacled librarians shushing all the patrons. These days libraries sponsor so much activity, it might be more accurate to describe them as a community center. From arts and crafts workshops to book discussion groups to exercise classes, the library does it all.

St. Charles County's library system is truly a jewel. Each branch has a virtual plethora of things to do and learn.

Of particular interest to me are the author/book events. The library showcases both local authors and national best selling ones. Take a listen to a few of the recent big names to visit the library: Sara Gruen, Jennifer Nielsen, Sarah Dessen, Sharon Draper, John Stephens, and  Lisa Scottoline. Every one is a New York Times bestselling author. Tomorrow night I plan to attend the Susanna Kearsley event (another NY Times bestselling author). I recently read her book, The Winter Sea, and absolutely loved it. In high school I adored reading Mary Stewart's books and Ms. Kearsley has a writing style very similar. She meticulously researches her historical romance novels and recently did an event with an author you may have heard of...Diana Gabaldon (Outlander). I can't wait!

If you want to "check out" what's going on at the St. Charles City-County library branches, click here.

If you live farther away, I hope you take the time to visit and support your own library. You just have to love them, don't you?

Monday, April 6, 2015

How Do You Furminate a Cat?
















Bogey has been furminated. Well, at least as much as he'd let me.That nice little pile of fur used to be on his back and belly. If I could only have kept grooming him longer, I'll bet I could have collected enough hair to build another cat. But once my efforts bring on a biting and scratching display, it's time to give up. At least for now.

In the areas where he let me work on him, the Furminator did it's job well. I ruffled my hand over his fur afterward and barely even a hair came out. If I had scrubbed his fur like that before, the air would be filled with floating puffs of fluff which would then glue itself permanently to my clothes. Not pretty. Not pretty at all.

This handy little tool is one awe-inspiring invention. Due to it's mystical and magical powers, I am officially in love with the Furminator. All I need to do is convince Bogey.

There has to be an efficient way to furminate a cat. Any suggestions on how to do it without losing a few fingers in the process?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Gift Giving for a Tree Dweller

While in the midst of a recent shop-til-you-drop excursion, I ran across an item that caught my eye. It wasn't something for me, for Hubby, for Indy, for the house, or even for friends. It was for Bogey. Something I knew that if he was with me and he could talk, I'd hear him yowl, "I'd give my right paw to have one of those, Mom."

The price was right and Daughter's big SUV sat waiting in the parking lot. I couldn't help but pull the trigger. Here's the new acquisition. 

   












































It's said that cats are either tree dwellers or bush dwellers. Bogey is most definitely a tree-type cat. He loves to be above the stomping grounds of mere mortals. Since the new addition is two leaps higher than the old one, he's been purring in ecstasy. I'm glad Bogey is happy. Because there's one other item I purchased for him during my shopping trip.










Monday, March 23, 2015

It's On My Mind

Even though we officially have an extra hour of daylight, doesn't it still seem as though there's not enough time to get everything done? Lately I've been chasing my tail (not unlike one of my previous pups), spinning around and around and feeling like I'm no where near finishing anything. That's why this past weekend was a pleasant surprise. Here are a few of the tasks now crossed off my list:

Flowers in my foyer.


 












Plants migrating from a gloomy basement to glorious sun. 















And best of all, I did a BIG project.  I painted my front door in a color I'm sure has astounded the neighborhood. I tend to play it safe with calm neutral tones. But this time I decided to go wonky wild with a bright, vibrant color. 

I pored over paint samples and finally selected The One. I sanded my fingers to the bone to get off the boring cinnamon color. Then I locked Bogey and Indy in the bedroom (no need for paint on hair or hair on paint). My trusty brush and I had a date with destiny, and here's the finished product:















It's fun and glorious and maybe just a tiny bit Easter eggy, but that's okay. Overlooked is something that will never befall my front door. 

Can you tell I'm in a Springtime frame of mind? 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sun, Cleanliness, and Inspiration

Happy Sunday fellow blog peeps! It's going to be 70 degrees today (yes, really). The sun is brightly spectacular and you can almost hear buds ready to burst into bloom at any moment.

For Midwesterners, spring is the pot of gold at the end of a long cold winter. And oh, are the people out in droves. Especially at the car wash. There's something about a beautiful day that makes me wish I owned a car wash. Everyone is eager to get rid of the winter grime and reveal the true color of their trusty car.

Someone else got cleaned up yesterday. Indy has a new haircut, so today he is properly exhausted. He also looks like he lost 5 pounds due to the length and poufiness of his previous curly hairdo. I wonder if a short cut could do the same for me?
















But back to the business of today. I have a wonderful blogger buddy, Tammy, who is a very talented writer. Her prose is about as beautiful as anyone's I've ever read, yet she can throw in a wicked twist of tea-snorting humor when you least expect it. I consider Tammy the Queen of any story, but especially of the mini-story. She can take a picture and turn it into a 100 words or less masterpiece like no one else. Oh, and did I mention she was a finalist in a Reader's Digest mini-story contest? Do yourself a favor and check out her Message in a Bloggle. Scroll down and allow her mini-stories to brighten your day.

Tammy most kindly nominated me for the Inspiring Blogger Award. Aww, thanks, Tammy!











I am to report 7 things about myself, link back to the nominating blog, and nominate at least 3 other bloggers (including a link to the blog). With no further ado, here we go:

1. I am a planner and love to make "to-do" lists. One would think this makes me a very organized person, but my closet, basement, and garage all beg to differ.

2. My son and daughter inherited their mother's love of critters. This means my house becomes the family kennel whenever they travel. They travel a lot.

3. I love watching Jeopardy. I don't know most of the answers, mind you, but I love watching. Hopefully this activity will ultimately keep my brain sharper rather than simply bewilder it.

4. I'm lucky to have among my current dearest friends, some people who were friends in high school. I won't count how many decades ago we met, but we certainly were groovy back then.

5. I've worn an activity tracker for about a year. My best day so far has been 15,000 steps (vacation in Key West without a taxi). My worst, 300 steps (20 times from bed to bathroom in a 24 hour period).

6. I drive an older model silver Ford Escape. So do about 2.5 million other people in my area. I've tried at least 5 times to get into someone else's car. Thankfully, no one has called the police yet.

7. Saved the best for last. I have a target date set for retirement. I'm seeing a light at the end of the tunnel...soon!

Now, my blogger buddies, it's your turn. If you haven't done this exercise before, I challenge you to do it now. Tell us 7 things about you. No excuses and the weirder the better. Come on, let's hear the story of YOU.