A friend of a different sort…

Asked what chore I find the most challenging to do I’d have to say all of them! To me, a chore is a mundane task that must be done but isn’t exactly fun. Usually, the most challenging part of completing a chore is in summoning up the motivation to start it! But the question reminds me of a friend whose company I was lucky enough to be able to enjoy about 20 years ago.

I had an Australian Shepherd/Chocolate Lab mix named Strutter and we walked in a nearby public park each morning before I went to work. If you have a dog you take out for walks, you know you meet a lot of people depending on how friendly or curious your pup is about investigating new humans and/or other dogs. Once Strutter decided to befriend Molly, a Black Lab that was often out walking the same trail at the same time we were, I was blessed to meet her owner, George.

George was in his early 80s and quite a character. Any time we ran into each other, we’d stroll along chatting while the dogs played and socialized. I loved his stories, wit, and perspective. One morning as we shared our plans for the rest of the day, I whined that I had to do laundry. George asked why I dreaded that, as he considered it one of the easiest of household chores to accomplish.

He pointed out, “You just put the clothes in the washer then when they’re done put them in the dryer and that’s it!”

“Yeah, but it’s having to sort everything; whites, darks, colors, it’s a pain”, I replied.

“Sort?!” His blue eyes sparkled when he exclaimed, “I gave that up 30 years ago!”

I laughed along with his infectious chuckle at that response and still smile when I think of George. And now I realize I’m around the age he said he gave up the annoying aspect of sorting laundry. Do I dare? If you see me wearing a pink sweatshirt that obviously was originally grey, you’ll know I decided the answer is yes!

“Sneaky sneaky, Sir”

Many factors determine what makes a gift memorable. For example, sentimentality. Years ago, my dad gave me a rain suit to keep me dry when caught on my motorcycle in wet weather. He laughed when I thanked him and told him it was a truly appreciated gift that I hoped I wouldn’t need much. I still think of him when I make sure it’s packed on the bike for a trip, even more so since he passed away.

Another gift prompts a memory I’d like to share because of the element of sneaky surprise. I was Christmas shopping and spotted some hummingbird suncatchers. My mom and I both enjoy feeding and watching hummingbirds in the summer, and we’d talked about how we miss them when they leave for the winter. She likes bright, warm colors so I bought her a red one, one that would be around through all seasons.

I saw a blue and green bird suncatcher I liked at that time but didn’t buy it because I decided I should stick with gifts for others that close to Christmas. I knew my mom would like the one I chose for her, and excitedly showed it to my boyfriend when I got home and described the colors of the other birds I liked. A few days later, I decided I just had to have a permanent hummingbird too, so I went back to the shop that sold them. The one I had wanted was gone, so I picked up a green suncatcher to hang in the window.

Imagine my surprise when I opened my gift from my boyfriend a couple weeks later. There was the blue and green hummingbird I’d wanted! It wasn’t at the shop when I’d tried to go back for it because he’d secretly gone sneaking back to pick it up for me. Both hummingbirds are hanging in the window to this day, and I remember the effort my boyfriend made to surprise me that year. It still makes me smile when I look at them.

A Magical Medium

When I’m asked why I write, three reasons come to mind. First, I write to express myself. It’s satisfying to use the written word to explore my thoughts and feelings without interruption and hurry. Also, since written communication is constantly used for work and other areas of life, it’s nice to use it as an outlet for my own creativity and enjoyment.

Additionally, I write to describe and share experiences. Whether it’s to record an occasion to reminisce over with someone who was there or to explain to another what an event was like, it’s a fun medium of fellowship.

Finally, I like to write to entertain others. I’ve loved giving and receiving the magic of storytelling my whole life. Given my love for reading, it’s a huge compliment if something I’ve written evokes emotion in another person. Especially if it’s my favorite reaction of laughter.

To brave or not to brave…

As part of the Bloganuary Challenge, the question has been asked, “How are you brave?”

It’s a thought-provoking inquiry, especially when comparing textbook definitions of the word brave to my own perception of its meaning. Any mention of bravery is typically associated with the heroic actions of an individual who defies fear and danger, one who takes risks to win some sort of challenge.

I’ve noticed that given the types of hobbies I enjoy, one person might call me brave while another is  calling me crazy. To each their own, I’ve reciprocated the same thought about other people regarding their pastimes. In these references, there is usually a physical activity involved. For example, some call me crazy for riding a motorcycle. I think rock climbing is crazy and yes, still consider those who choose to participate as brave.

Personally, I would describe bravery as venturing out of one’s comfort zone, especially to provide assistance. And helping oneself counts as much as that of aid given to other people as far as I’m concerned. Quieter tasks such as applying for a better job, taking a class you’re interested in but intimidated by, or just going out to dinner by yourself could all be thought of as brave.

After some of the hardships everyone has persevered through since covid became a part of our reality, I hope everyone recognizes the bravery inside themselves. Credit yourself for the courage it takes to keep going and rock on with your brave self!


Happy New Year! I rang in 2023 with family and as we all speculated on what the future might bring, we also shared many memories of times past. We entertained my 14-year-old niece with funny stories from her toddler days. That included a video my brother shot of her at his desk with a pad and pencil trying to write. As she seemed to mimic her dad at work, he teased her by “just happening” to suddenly rearrange items in her space and place obstacles in her way. She ignored him at first but as her attempts to continue her composition were blocked, she became frustrated at his interference and yelled, “No Daddy, need WRITE!”

A few days before this recollection, I’d decided to participate in the WordPress Bloganuary Challenge to motivate me to spend more time writing. After all, I haven’t posted to my blog in almost two years! And so, when the first prompt questioned what I’d like to achieve this year, I found it timely that I’d been reminiscing on my preschooler niece’s declaration that she need WRITE!

I do too.

This year for my goal, resolution, or whatever you want to call it, I’ll strive to accomplish more writing. It’s been taking a backseat to other obligations, so actively scheduling time to write and giving it higher priority is an achievement I hope to reach.

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.

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.


“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!