Puss not in Boots

Meet Jory, my tuxedo kitty. Not only is he no longer puss in boots, he’s out of my jacket, my couch, and even my skin. His sharp little toenails anyway. Although he is an indoor-only cat and doesn’t need his nails for defense or escape, Jory still enjoys sharpening histoes claws. For reasons known only to him, his favorite texture to perform this task on used to be anything made of leather. My riding boots are put through a lot of wear and tear already, including plenty of scuffing on the left toe area due to shifting gears. If I forgot to hide my boots in a closet, Jory usually managed to add to the well-worn look by adding scratches all around the ankles. Ditto to leather jackets, his ability to give a new one a vintage look with a few swipes of his paws was incredible. Meanwhile, he ignored actual scratching posts.

It also wasn’t much of a surprise to walk through my living room and have to remove Jory from the back of the couch, dangling there by his claws. My typical response was to shrug all this off with the thought that as a long-time pet owner I just wasn’t meant to have nice things. My boyfriend is not as laid back when it comes to his belongings, like his favorite recliner which just so happens to be covered in leather. Not to mention his preference for his skin to remain intact as Jory could draw blood sometimes accidentally while playing. When we decided to become one happy family under the same roof, (along with Jory comes Legend, the Border Collie), he asked if having my cat declawed was an option.

Did I consider it an option? In a word, NO. This meant I needed to do some research and find an alternative that would lead to a peaceful, skin-all-in-one-piece, compromise. I’d become a fan of Kingsbrook Animal Hospital after taking my dog there, and my solution came quickly enough by picking up the phone. Until I called KAH, I didn’t know there were soft, vinyl caps that could be applied over the cat’s nails. There are several different brands and names, but the packages are all basically the same consisting of the nail covers and an adhesive.

Anyone who trims their own cats’ claws, or plans to start using the tips on a young cat probably has a good chance of simply buying the vinyls and applying them at home. In my case, Jory was 10 years old before I needed and found out about the product. While he is very affectionate, he will not hold still long enough for me to apply a full set of the covers. I simply buy them, take Jory and the tips to KAH, and the vet techs trim his nails and put the caps on for what I find to be a very reasonable price. If a stray tip falls off between vet visits, I can manage to sneak up the cat while he’s still long enough to replace it myself. Otherwise, I keep the covers in stock and make an appointment for his KAH visit whenever needed, or about every six weeks. I was very skeptical about the tips staying on for more than a few days when I first tried them, but they do last! That’s one of the reasons I take Jory in for a new set every other month so they do not grow out too long and irritate his paw pads.

Clear covers are available, but I must admit I love the colors. Not only is it easier for me vetto spot if a tip is missing, it’s so much fun deciding what hue to choose next! I’ve picked green to match his eyes and glittery black or blaze orange if it’s Halloween. The vet techs even seemed to have a blast at his pre-Easter appointment this year. I took in a huge bag of the caps in assorted colors, asked them to use the ones that looked like jelly beans, and to mix the vinyls all up in any way they wanted.

Jory acts like he doesn’t even notice the covers are on, and the scratch-free environment keeps the household happy. Well, except on appointment days when the pup shows signs of dismay that the cat got to ride in the car while she didn’t. But I do make it up to her.

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The name fit for a Legend…

Legend is my Border Collie. After meeting Legend, many people comment that she has an unusual name and ask how she got it. Compared to choosing the names for my other pets, picking her moniker turned out to be quite an undertaking.

I adopted her from an animal shelter in 2009 and have been blessed with her sweet soul in my life ever since. Usually rescue dogs are named at the shelter, but she had only been there for two weeks and the staff admitted they hadn’t come up with anything yet. Her tag on the kennel and the adoption paperwork all referred to her as “Unnamed”.

Legend’s physical appearance gave me some name ideas, but nothing seemed to “fit” her unique personality. She was dainty and feminine one minute, and boisterous and up for adventure the next. Plus, although her age had been estimated at around 11 months old; she had a wiser, more mature demeanor.

I was still pondering and trying out possibilities a month later, so my friends started teasing me about it and offering up tons of suggestions. Then my boyfriend sent me several blank emails and I’d check my voicemail to discover several silent messages from him. When I asked him what he was up to he laughed and replied, “Calling your dog!”

As fate would have it, one night I rented “Ghost Rider” on DVD out of the local Redbox and took it home to watch. Curled up on the couch with my dog and the movie started, I listened as Sam Elliot intoned, “Legends are ways we understand things greater than ourselves.” WAIT, WHAT?!! “LEGENDS are ways we UNDERSTAND things GREATER than OURSELVES.”10616149_10203414116263180_8581121586124358556_n

Like pets. So far in life mine had brought to me true understanding of greater things like unconditional love, patience, joy, excitement, patience, heartbreak when they pass on, patience, trust, and more!

(Puppy owners know listing patience more than once was not an accident…)

I said, “Hey Legend? Do you like that name? Is your name Legend?” She raised her head and I knew the answer from the look in her eyes.

And the Legend continues…

Be sure to season well…

I couldn’t feel the tips of my fingers after 20 minutes. Knowing it was bitterly cold out, I’d piled on so many layers it seemed I could survive a Mount Everest climb. Surely I would be comfortable while walking my dog for about animg_20170109_170643295 hour or more, yes?

No. My half-numb hands prompted me to head back to the warmth of the house in a fraction of that time.

Just a couple days later, a surprising 65 degree January afternoon gave me the first opportunity to get out on a motorcycle this year. I only had time to take a small ride, but it left a huge smile on my face and no pained fingers. I wasn’t even wearing gloves!

Two days after that, the reminder that we are nowhere near spring came from the sky in the form of sleet.

Welcome to the Mid-Atlantic. Where you can experience more than one season within a week or even a day if you stay long enough. It’s been proven to me after living in three of the states included in this region.

I have to say although there are sporadic bouts of weird weather, I do enjoy living in an area exposed to all four seasons. Winter months sometimes feel lengthy and bring frustration if they’re severe enough to keep me from riding or getting out. Still, with Ma Nature’s decorating skills the change in scenery every few months keep the local sights fresh.

Plus, I’m learning the necessity of downtime. How does anyone who lives where you can always go outside to play in the sun ever get anything else done? There are trips to plan, cleaning, maintenance, performance or customization work to be performed, even shopping to catch up on before the season arrives when you’ll actually need those supplies you’re buying.

For example, I discovered I have to pick up a new lifejacket for the dog of all things.4 I noticed last year that hers was getting tight and after taking some measurements the other night, it appears she’ll need a size larger. While she loves to swim, she’s got fur instead of fins and the buoyancy of a rock. The front floats keep her head up above water, and the handles on the back make it easy to help her into the kayak or boat if she’s not in a position to get there on her own. Safe fun for her and peace of mind for me that’s priceless when it’s time for a ride down the river.

So it’s back to my lists and inventory and plotting and…oh yeah, a confession. The other day when I rode without gloves? It wasn’t just because it was warm enough to go without, I couldn’t find my favorite pair. It had been a while since I’d used them and I forgot where I put them last!

Maybe a little get-it-done-before-it’s-spring cleaning is in order too?

“…and I’ll get a pole…”

A friend recently asked me what I take if I have sore muscles after my pole fitness class.

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“Yoga,” I replied.

Most of the time that after-workout achiness can be erased with a yummy stretching routine rather than an over-the-counter pain reliever. Luckily, that was the case today. After 20 minutes I felt like some of the kinks from my most recent class were eased away, leaving me a lot more energized.

I had tried different types of exercise classes before falling in love with pole fitness a little over a year ago. Some of them, weight training for example, really bored me. In this case, the weight I’m lifting is me and what better motivation for not letting go when I could wind up on my head if I do! 12650963_1106246929394114_4288865884633853284_n

I am often asked why I like pole fitness so much. It’s fun and I like how I can feel my body becoming more toned and stronger. Yes, it is risky. Sometimes I say it’s like doing yoga with an added complication of hanging off the side of a pole.

Still, there are those moments I continue to get strange looks or am told I’m crazy. In that regard it’s like riding motorcycles then I guess. In which case the saying, “If I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand,” can apply.

Or maybe you just need to get a pole and try it yourself!

New tradition…or just nuts?!

With each passing year I like to try to find new ideas for Christmas gifts that I can create for family and friends. There are so many presents that are just as much fun to make as to receive.

Yummy treats are always good to get. I admit I don’t have the patience to do much baking anymore though. Oh yeah, the first sheet of perfectly shaped cookies are a blast. But then I find myself in a showdown with the never-ending bowl of dough and the cookies get freakishly bigger and bigger until the last batch consists of just two frisbee-sized cookies so I can get it all over with!

So this month I decided while my man was tending to his customary smoker full of chickens, I’d take a crack at spiced pecans.

Not literally, they were already shelled and the ease of roasting a whole batch at a time was appealing. As I pored over different recipes online, the boyfriend suggested I make at least 3 types and we settled on sweet (flavored with maple syrup), savory (thanks to rosemary), and spicy.

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Sweet and spicy pecans

The spicy turned out to be my favorites, spices with a little heat like cayenne mix with the sweetness of brown sugar in an addictive way I don’t think should be saved for just the holidays but will be enjoyed all year. Plus, we’re already looking forward to trying different recipes for next Christmas.

Happy gift recipients and quality time with a handsome guy in the kitchen? It all adds up to a nice Holiday bonus for me!

I see the divine in you…and your claws in me!

Day one of my pre-Thanksgiving staycation. Not only am I allowing myself the luxury of plenty of time to prepare for the holiday, I intend to pamper myself quite a bit. sunrise

As planned, this morning started with some much needed yoga. I love doing sun salutations while actually watching the sun come up, and wonder if I get bonus one-with-nature points considering the extra moves I must throw in because the cat wants to get in the act. 1120150649d

Luckily the routine today didn’t involve any poses where I’m on my back since he sees that as a prime opportunity to pull my hair. Instead I listened to his indignant squawks as he dodged out from under my belly each time I dropped from a plank to transition into upward dog, and tried to ignore his pant leg tugging during warrior one and two.

Eventually he does get bored with teasing me, and moves on to the window to see what the rising sun reveals and I can focus on my breathing and welcome the yummy combo of an energy boost and relaxed body.

Until I slosh a quarter cup of fresh coffee down my leg. Namaste, on with the day…

Vance & Hines vs. Duncan Hines?

Cake aftermath...
Cake aftermath…

I’m up late baking a cake for my boyfriend as it’s his birthday tomorrow. I’m also a bit fascinated at the changes in me as I’ve aged, and why this is such a daunting task. I mean- I remember back when I was 8 to 10 years of age and I could have whipped this up from scratch. We’re talking using only one hand to deftly crack an egg and empty it into the batter with no shell, then decorating the cake afterwards in a professional manner.

And now I find myself straining to remember the last time I baked, striking yoga poses to reach into back cabinets for long missing electric beaters and squinting at directions printed on the back of a cake mix box, hoping to not screw up the whopping 4 steps I must follow for an edible treat.

It’s funny how some loves stay with you through your life, and some fade in and out on the journey as they’re meant to. I still enjoy cooking, but admit baking is an art that takes more patience than I seem to have anymore.

Looking back, I remember signs that this transition was taking place. I learned how to change the oil on my first motorcycle, but one time when I went to accomplish this I found I couldn’t remove the plug to drain the oil. I called in a friend to help me and when he asked if I had a pan to empty the old oil into he was fairly shocked when I emerged from my apartment with a pie tin that belonged to my roommate. Shock turned to laughter when I used flour to soak up some oil I spilled onto the pavement in the parking lot.

Thankfully these days I’m equipped to perform routine maintenance on my bike without having to steal makeshift tools from the kitchen! Likewise no loose screws will be found in the birthday cake tomorrow, just in the cook…