Sunday, July 26, 2015

PSA for Today

In the eastern central part of Missouri where I live, we seldom see armadillos. They're southern critters, native to areas where it's hot and steamy. However, armadillos are apparently expanding their territory. I can verify this as I've seen one not very far from where I live. Most of the time, armadillos in these parts are only spotted by the side of the road. They tend to fall victim to unfortunate encounters with cars. Apparently when they're startled, armadillos jump straight up in the air. This is not a good traffic tactic.

In any event, these almost prehistoric looking animals, are definitely coming our way. I filed away this fact as no more than an interesting observation, until I read a story recently on Facebook. I couldn't believe what I saw and fact-checked, only to find out it's all too true.

Armadillos carry leprosy. That's right, leprosy. When's the last time leprosy crossed your mind? I honestly hadn't even thought about it since my Sunday School days. Or around Easter when I indulge in my annual viewing of the musical, "Jesus Christ Superstar".

It seems Florida has seen a spike in leprosy cases. And each case diagnosed this year occurred after a person had contact with an armadillo. Holy zoonotic diseases!

Since they're obviously coming our way, here's my public service announcement to you. Don't touch armadillos. Don't try to trap armadillos (they spit). And definitely, don't eat armadillos. I don't care if they do taste like pork.

That is all. You're welcome.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Finding Treasure...In the Basement

At my house things tend to land in the basement with alarming regularity. In anticipation of storing some of Daughter's household items as she and Son-in-Law build their new dream home, I decided I couldn't wait until after I retire to clean out the basement. Pictured above is only one small corner of the chaos, and believe me, it's going to take some time to make room for any incoming items.

One would think that with a purpose in mind, the organizing/weeding would go quickly. Problem is, I am easily distracted. All it takes is a pile of old photographs, and I can say good-bye to several hours. Did I mention my basement is full of old photographs? Needless to say, not much got accomplished this weekend.

Among the piles of family photos, I also found some of the outcomes of my youthful letter writing habit. Many times, famous people wrote back to me. I re-discovered autographed photos of Lee Majors, Tim McCarver (from his pre-broadcasting days when he was catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals), Dal Maxville (another Cardinal player from years ago), and William Shatner. I found a letter from Robert F. Kennedy and one from Teddy Kennedy.

Oh, how I used to love writing to people in the news.

The treasure trove made me wonder if celebrities/politicians get emails rather than letters these days. And do they reply via snail mail? Email? Not at all? How sad if they don't send a good old-fashioned letter. Nobody stores emails in a box in the basement. But on the other hand, no one has to worry about being distracted from cleaning duties, either.

Is anyone writing letters anymore?

Sorry, Mom. It's way too hard to hold a pen in my paw.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Thank You!

Thank you to those who so kindly expressed sympathy over the loss of my old friend, Indy. Your comments were much appreciated. Last week I picked up his ashes, and it gives a bit of comfort to have him back home with me again.

All around things keep changing at a breakneck pace. I've said good-bye to Indy, and now Bogey has taken over my lap. I wonder if Indy whispered in his ear or if Bogey senses an empty lap is simply not a good thing. In any event, he keeps me occupied. I supply the petting and he supplies the purrs.

Meanwhile, Daughter and her hubby have put their house up for sale. I've forgotten what a monumental task it is to prepare the house and then try to keep it spotless each day because you never know when an agent will bring a potential buyer. I have a corner in my basement filled with items they are storing to make the house appear more open. Removing items and neutral paint schemes are apparently critical to making a sale. At least we hope so. Fingers crossed that all goes smoothly. Of course a sale is always followed by the joys of moving, so I see some hectic days in their future.

Speaking of days, I'm at the point where I'm counting down days instead of months to retirement. Four months ago it seemed a glacial age away. But now as the finish line approaches, things have started to move at a much faster pace. I've worked full time nearly all my adult life so retirement will be an adjustment. But it's one I'm really looking forward to making.

Change brings about all types of consequences, some happy and some not so much. Yet whether we want it to or not, change most certainly will occur. I suppose it's the way we respond to change that makes the difference. Just like a tree, we can bend with the wind or let it snap us in two.

I'm working on learning to bend.

Sunday, July 5, 2015


Even when you know it's coming, saying good-bye is never easy.

On Thursday, June 25, I took Indy for his final trip to the vet's office. He had stopped eating. And then he stopped drinking. He seemed almost in a daze, as though half in this world and half in another. I knew it was time to make the call I'd been dreading.

My Indy was a happy boy. In his younger years I signed us up for every class I could find. We did obedience training, flyball classes, and agility classes. He earned Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog International titles. We visited nursing homes where he showed off what he had learned (while patiently enduring the silly costumes I brought along) to the delight of residents.

We participated in humane society fundraisers, and he even appeared on our local NBC affiliate television station (wriggling like a worm in the arms of a T.V. weatherman) to promote an upcoming humane society event. In those days, my Indy got around.

As he and I both became older, our activities slowed. He enjoyed visiting our place at the river, sniffing the scents of the woods and wild things and warming his old bones on the sun-heated boulders surrounding the water.

Finally, even those adventures faded. With eyesight and hearing both nearly gone, Indy spent most of his time sleeping, perhaps dreaming of his youthful days. I'd wake him up to go outside and he'd follow me with the quiet dignity of an old dog.

On the day I drove Indy to the vet's office, I had to carry him inside. His doctor administered the medication while I stroked his head and talked to him. I felt like he could hear me speak and he seemed to listen to my voice until his valiant little heart finally stopped beating.

There are few things in life more enduring than the love of a good dog. Indy was my shadow and best buddy for more than 15 years. I miss hearing the jangle of his tags, seeing him nap in his small bed, and having his soft warmth curled in my lap.

But I do believe heaven holds a special corner for all our beloved creatures. I like to think Indy is there now running fast as the wind to chase a tennis ball and romping through tall grass with a host of new pals in a place where no one ever grows weary.

Until we meet again, my old friend...

Sunday, June 21, 2015

My Computer is Lonely

We get all kinds of messages on our computers. Great news, interesting news, cute stories. However, there's one bit of news we never want to get:

Warning: back up your computer, hard drive failure is imminent

Guess who got that news last week? If you guess me, you're right. Luckily I backed up all my manuscripts over a week ago. This consisted of me emailing all my documents to myself. Pretty sophisticated, right?

So here I am, hundreds of dollars and hours of frustration later. I now have a new computer. I like it. I really do. But here's what I don't like. Apparently the new computer and my old printer don't get along. Like a blind date gone awry, they simply are not compatible. So now my next mission is to hunt down a new printer.

I prefer a monochromatic laser printer with scan capabilities. What do you use, love, and adore? Suggestions are welcomed. I need some advice on fixing up my computer with a hot new printer.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

I Detour for Cuteness

Last week on my way home from work, I got a phone call telling me I absolutely had to stop by a local pub. Further, I was told I wouldn't be sorry.

It had been a long day and the last thing I wanted to do was become a social butterfly. Grumbling to myself, I changed course as directed, wondering what the attraction could possibly be. Surprise visit from an out-of-towner? Friends who simply wanted me to show up for a cocktail? An annoying practical joke?

I hadn't a clue what awaited me. But when I walked in the door...

Yep. A baby raccoon. He's an orphan being raised by a nature-loving friend. Those bright eyes had just opened a few days prior to the taking of these photos. I held the little cutie and he snuggled against me like a baby, which, of course, he is. Aren't his tiny fingers darling? He can already grab like a champ and gosh, does he ever love his bottle.

Please don't tell the Health Department, but this was one detour I thoroughly enjoyed.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

National Adopt a Shelter Cat Month 2015

Can you believe it? Tomorrow is June 1. That means we are nearly half way through 2015. I don't know about you, but it makes my head spin to think how quickly time is passing. Some say that's a sign of growing older. In my case I'm sure it's true.

Though time passes quickly for me, I'm pretty sure it creeps by at a crawl for critters in shelters who are waiting for their own special family. June is Adopt a Shelter Cat Month. If you're thinking about adding a feline to your household, please consider taking a look at your local shelter. Kittens are adorable, and tend to be adopted very quickly. Adults, not so much. You might want to take a good long look at available adult and senior cats. Give them a chance, too. I don't think you'll be sorry.

In honor of Adopt a Shelter Cat Month, I'm featuring 3 kitty cuties from local shelters in my area. A link to information on each one is included. They are each paws-itively adorable.

This handsome orange kitty is called Donut. What a sweet face!

Here's another adorable feline. Her name is Samara, and she reminds me of my own Bogey boy.

Though this looks a bit like a line-up photo, I'm sure Bitty is no kitty convict. Isn't his "beard" cool?.

Bogey asked me to remind everyone that all homes should have at least one cat because there is no better snoopervisor on earth. And he should know.

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.