Sometimes It Snows In April

It was snowing when I took this picture of the daffodils this morning.  Though you can’t actually tell from the photo, I was being covered in big snow flakes.  Most of what came down didn’t stay initially.  It did however, accumulate and stick more as the evening came.

Everyone was complaining because it is snowing in April. I can only imagine that when Prince wrote the song “Sometimes It Snows In April” it was because people were acting surprised about a weather event that has likely occurred a thousand times through out the course of history and it got on his nerves.  Probably not.

It is not unusual to see snowfall in the month of April.  It also has been known to snow in October, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.  Enjoy the white on the yellows, reds and pinks of Springtime flowers and blue skies. It’s an opportunity.

These daffodils were not planted by me. I am not exactly sure where they came from. They popped up along the fence in the back of my property. I have lived in my house f  or almost 7 years and this is the first time they have made an appearance.

I am glad that they came.  Aren’t they interesting?

 

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Little Perfect Things-

My son, Dominic, is on spring break this week.

We never go anywhere or do anything during spring break. I decided that I would rather use my benefit time that I get at work and the money I would spend on a trip during the warmer months.

Yesterday, it snowed. Every other travel destination that we would enjoy would also likely be a miserable experience this week also. Snow and rain aren’t always my cup of tea and definitely not this time of year.

Instead, we treat this week like an extended weekend. Except, I still have to go to work and Dom still goes to grandma’s house. I get to sleep in past 6am and I find that to be delightful. Dom generally gets up around the same time but that’s ok.

Until my mommy guilt kicks in and I drag myself out of bed at 8am.

On the weekends, when Dom isn’t at his dad’s, we like to make a big breakfast. This usually consists of bacon, eggs, toast and pancakes. Sometimes we have little smokey links. I try to have a little bit of everything on hand because weekends when Dom is home are special to me.

Dom will often helps me make breakfast by making the toast. Then we sit at the kitchen table and enjoy our feast at a leisure pace rather that scarfing down a bowl of oatmeal and then sprinting to the car.

It never fails during a regular week. We never get up on time it seems but we always manage to make it across town and to school on time. Even in bad weather. W just seem to time it right, but it’s still a mad dash to get out the door.

This morning I made our bacon, eggs and toast. My teenager was acting like a teenager. He decided that he wanted to take his plate of toast and bacon up to his bedroom to resume doing whatever he was doing before we made breakfast.

I was fine with it. Sometimes, a morning free-for- all is okay. I decided to wrap myself in a blanket and curl up on the couch with my coffee and a book. I have been trying to read Anne Rule’s book about serial killer, Ted Bundy, titled “The Stranger Beside Me”.

I sipped my coffee and thought about how nice it was just to be still in the quiet. I don’t get to enjoy moments like this very often so I noted how nice that was. I even enjoyed the fact that my living room was clean for a change and I didn’t really have any chores to take care of.

Dom eventually made his way back down the stairs and curled up next to me on the couch. He noticed my coffee mug sitting on the table and took that opportunity to drink what was left. The whole time he kept giggling, looking at me and giving me a devilish grin. He knows that I am powerless against his sweetness.

When he finished drinking what was left he giggled and said “Mmm delicious” and giggled. He was quite proud of himself. I grabbed my phone and snapped a picture that he was more than happy to pose for.

I hope that everyone is having a great week!

Happy Spring!

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How I Discovered the Pileated Woodpecker

It all started this past week when I discovered damage to the mirror on the passenger side of my car. It looked like someone had either come along and punched it or shot at it with a BB gun. We have a couple of kids in my neighborhood that I suspected of causing the damage, but I never said anything to their parents.  As much as it irked me, I let it go.

I am glad that I didn’t say anything because a few days later, I discovered that no one was responsible for the damage to my mirror. At least not a human being. The culprit was actually surprising.

This is the damage to my mirror. It’s cracked pretty good and even missing pieces. What was more impressive is that the mirror itself was pushed in and down and I had to readjust it back it its original position.

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I am a member of an app called Next Door. Next door is a social networking tool that connects you with people from your own neighborhood. There are several categories or topics to chose from.  Of these many topics, one of them is “Crime”.

I saw a post made by a neighbor about vandalism to his vehicle. He posted a photograph of his own side mirror that had been damaged and he wanted to know if anyone else had their vehicles vandalized.  The damage to his mirror looked very similar to mine.

Someone else piped up and said that they had witnessed a Pileated Woodpecker attacking its own image in the side mirror of their truck. They went outside and chased it away but it was too late, they too had damage.  They explained that the birds were aggressive towards other males during mating season, which was now. The bird believed it was fighting another male.

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The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker that lives in our area of northern Indiana. They measure roughly 16  inches from head to tail and have a wingspan of almost 29 inches. They are usually recognized by the flaming red crest on their head. The Pileated Woodpecker is the second largest woodpecker in North America, second to the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, which is nearly extinct.

The Ivory Billed Woodpecker species is listed as critically endangered and possibly extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The American Birding Association lists the Ivory Billed Woodpecker as a class 6 species, a category it defines as “definitely or probably extinct”

I’m an optimist.

As the day went on more and more neighbors were popping in with their own experience. They had either seen the bird or had damage to their own vehicle too.  Neighbors in the know suggested putting grocery bags over the mirrors or fold them in to avoid attacks.

Later in the week, the St. Joseph County Parks had posted a photo to their Facebook of a tree that had been pecked pretty good by a Pileated Woodpecker. They explained that they will excavate deep into the wood of dead trees to eat nests of carpenter ants.

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Photo courtesy of Audubon.com

Quite honestly, as much as I love nature, animals and the outdoors, I had never paid much attention to the woodpeckers and the  different varieties. What an interesting way for me to discover them.

While I haven’t been lucky enough to actually see the one that’s terrorizing local vehicle owners, I have heard him. He’s been hanging out somewhere nearby as I’ve heard him several times in the mornings.

They really are beautiful. To learn more about the Pileated Woodpecker, visit Adubon.com

 

The Dausman Ditch Farm Bridge

In my post about the Northern Indiana Floods, I mentioned the wooden bridge over the Dausman ditch. This bridge is located on the property that belongs to my friend Chalisa’s family.  I often take my horse, Belle, down the lane and across the bridge to ride the trails in the woods and the edges of the fields.

This was the bridge during the flood. As you can see the ditch spilled over into the back fields.  It was an incredible sight to see. This is significant for our area.

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The water came up and over the bridge for several days. Chalisa’s father and brother made attempts to save it by reinforcing the structure the best that they could. Their efforts paid off because the ditch crested and the water slowly receded.  The bridge still stands.

This past week, Belle and I took a walk down the road and down the lane to the bridge and the back fields. It was a gloomy gray and misty morning but warmer than it had been. It felt good to get outside and enjoy some quiet time.

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I can’t explain what’s so great about this bridge. It just is.

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The wooden bridge over Dausman Ditch- March 28, 2018

 

The ditch is back to the usual water level. Thankfully.  I hope we don’t have to deal with this again any time soon.

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Nothern Indiana Flood 2018

Yes, I am still alive. I have started several entries this way over the past 2 years since I began blogging here. A lot has happened since the start of the year.  The next few posts are likely to be things that already happened that I want to write about.

I will begin with the flooding in Northern Indiana that we experienced in mid February.

In three days, we received 7 inches of rain that fell on top of approximately 2 feet of packed snow.  The snow was already melting from unseasonably warm weather that we got to enjoy for a couple of days before it began to rain.

Below is a photograph of my house approximately two days before the warm up. I took this photo because I was complaining  discussing how I was clearing snow from the street so I could park and the neighbor kept stealing my space.

 

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This was the scene a few days before the warm up and the rain started. Reports stated that the rainfall would have equaled almost 60 inches of snow.

 

The mayor of south Bend, Pete Buttigieg, referred to the event as our 500 year flood.

“When we talk about flooding in an area we don’t have 500 or 1,000 years of records,” said David Call, an associate professor of meteorology at Ball State University in Muncie. “We extrapolate out, we graph it out based on the data we do have. When people say a 500-year flood, it’s what we would expect the magnitude of flooding to be once every 500 years.”

If you have been following me on social media, you have seen my numerous photographs of the St. Joseph River. I love the St. Joe. I live a couple of blocks away and I often hike along it, kayak and of course, photograph it.  The river is a huge part of our community.

I have never seen the St. Joseph River that high or the flooding that it caused. I have also never seen the local ditches spill over the way that they did. It was incredible for our area. A lot of people lost their homes and businesses.  Roads collapsed or washed out, bridges were swept away.  Schools were closed for several day and shelters were created in additions to the locations that were already available.

In addition to the St. Joseph River, I also frequent the area of the Dausman Ditch, located near Bremen, Indiana. I often take my horse down the lane and cross the ditch to ride a trail and along the fences and fields that belong to my friend Chalisa and her family.  There is a wooden bridge they use to cross their equipment to get to the back fields.

The water threatened the bridge but they were able to save it.  If you’re following me on social media, you’ve seen photographs of this bridge several times.  It’s a plan wooden bridge but for whatever reason, I am enamored with it.

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The bridge over the Dausman Ditch. I am amazed that it’s still there!!

Professionally, we handled numerous water rescues from homes and vehicles. It was bad enough that everyone was out of barricades and signs. Marshall County, Indiana was in a state of emergency.  One of my close friends is an officer there and told me that one of the most frustrating things that he was forced to deal with was figuring out how to get to the people that needed help either because he couldn’t get to them or couldn’t get to them without serious risk of getting himself killed in the process.

I am begging you to NOT drive your vehicles through high water. It never looks as deep as it really is. You’re going to stall your motor and become stranded. You can also get swept away.  Not only does this put yourself into a bad situation but you’re also putting the responders into a bad position when we have to come and save you.

If there is a barricade or a road closed sign set up that means that the road is closed. It means that it is closed for you, regardless of who you think you are or where you think you need to go.  It’s closed for a reason.  Turn around and find another way to reach your destination.

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Near Wyatt, Indiana- Someone spray painted “road closed” on this van. This was approx 3 days after the rain stopped.

 

The first morning that the water was really high and covering the roads, I had to get really creative to make my destination and at one point, I was going to simply cancel my reasons for travel. It’s not worth putting yourself at risk.

Below is a small gallery of photo’s from our area. I did my best to add captions since the locations are from different areas with different sources of water.  I wasn’t able to get very many because I didn’t go near the affected areas since the roads were closed.  I took the majority of the photo’s and noted which ones I didn’t.

 

Happy New Year!

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Let’s get this party started…

 

For the first time in a long time, I stayed home on New Year’s Eve.

I worked my regular shift at work, picked up my kiddo from his grandmother’s house, and drove straight home.  The weather has been bad for the past week or longer. We’ve gotten a lot of snow, high winds and very cold temperatures.  The idea of going out simply wasn’t appealing.  The roads were bad and there would likely be drunk drivers everywhere.  Not a good mix.

It wasn’t just the weather that kept me home.  It was the burning desire to have some peace in my world as the clock ticked away and then moved us into the new year. I just wanted to be alone in my quiet house with my child safe in his bed and my dog at my feet.

I put on some comfortable clothes, grabbed a bottle of sparkling grape juice, a wine glass ( because I am fancy) and some snacks. I settled in on my couch to watch Atomic Blonde on DVD.  I also enjoyed my Christmas tree and decorations. I felt like I barely got a chance to even notice them this year.

The moment that the clock struck midnight, my phone blew up with HAPPY NEW YEAR texts and the world outside my window exploded in gunshots and fireworks.  I wasn’t lonely since my friends remembered me and the stupidity outside my window was still keeping me employed.

2017 wasn’t a bad year for me. A lot of people claimed that it was one of the hardest years of their lives. While mine certainly wasn’t perfect, there were a lot of changes and transitions that needed to happen. My acceptance of these facts made the sadness and the pain a bit easier to manage. I simply had to move on. So I am.

I am looking forward to 2018 and I am embracing life now, more than I have in a really long time. I like the direction that my life seems to be going. The unknown is always scary but it can also be exciting. It just depends on the way you choose to look at it.

I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Year’s Eve! Here’s to 2018!

 

Skunk! Lu Gets Sprayed

In case you weren’t aware, skunks literally live everywhere. EVERYWHERE!

Even in the city.

About three years ago, I was enjoying an evening outside in one of my Adirondack chairs in the front yard. I was sitting in the dark just enjoying the weather when I saw something move out of the corner of my eye.

I sat in silent horror as the biggest skunk I had ever seen in my life, waddled across the yard in front of me. I do not know if it knew that I was there. I would assume that it did, but I did not introduce myself.

I tried to stay perfectly still, and not breathe, as I watched the skunk sniff around at the bushes before it made its way across the yard and then disappear into the night.  I was mildly horrified, but at least I pulled through unscathed.

Dingo Lu was not so lucky.

Recently, I got home from work late and let her out to poddy. I went upstairs to change my clothes and the skunk odor came through the bathroom window and into my bedroom. My heart sank because I just knew that Lu had been sprayed.

I rushed downstairs and confirmed the hunch as I slid open the patio door and in came a very sorry little Australian Cattle Dog. She was immediately ushered back outside.  Poor Lu took a direct hit to her face. Her eyes were watering and I have never seen a dog drool like that.

It was as awful as it sounds.

Skunk funk, as I have come to call it, doesn’t smell like you think it would either. It’s more of a burning tires and hot piss kind of smell.  Or, if you’ve ever walked into a Starbucks.  It’s terrible.

I quickly took to the internet to find a real remedy vs what I have heard through the channels of Old Wivers tales.  Who has the time  to mess around in this situation?  Not I. I quickly made a list of necessary supplies and sped to Wal Mart.  Thank God for 24 hour super centers.

I obtained everything that I needed for the task at hand. Then I sat in my car in the parking lot and ate an ice cream bar while contemplating running away from home. No really.  I was at least mentally preparing for the endeavor.  The process was as awful as you imagine. It was also cold and raining and I had to do all of this outside because there was no way I was putting her in the car to take her to the dog wash across town.

In the end, I got it done.  The method I used worked.  I will share this with you below in the event that you end up in this situation yourself. .

Skunk funk. What is it?

Skunks have two glands; one on each side of the anus. These glands produce the skunk’s spray, which is a mixture of sulfer-containing chemicals such as thiols (traditionally called mercaptans), which have an offensive and nauseating odors. I can attest to this.  A skunk’s spray is powerful enough to ward off bears and other potential attackers, like little nosy cattle dogs.

It’s important to know that the chemical spray from a skunk is oily and you will also want to take care to avoid getting it on your hands and clothing. Don’t worry if you do, I have a tried and true method to remove the smell from your pet and from yourself.

You will need:

  1. Rubber gloves that come up to your elbows.  You can find these next to the cleaning supplies at the store.  Trust me on the gloves. Buy the gloves.
  2. Depending on the size of your animal you will at least want to start out with two medium size boxes of baking soda.  I used Arm & Hammer.
  3. Hydrogen Peroxide
  4. Dawn dishsoap
  5.  A large bowl
  6. Water
  7. Oatmeal Shampoo

 

In the bowl mix the following:

1 box of baking soda

1 quart of 3 % Hydrogen Peroxide

2 tablespoons of Dawn Dishsoap

Mix these ingredients together to create a paste.

Wet your animal in warm water. Then apply the mixture to the entire body, be careful around their eyes. Let the paste sit on the hair coat for 10 minutes. Rinse.  Then do the process again.

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Lu soaking in her paste. Poor unhappy Dingo!

I did this three times. It got most of the odor out. Her face was still a bit stinky.   I then used the oatmeal shampoo to soothe her skin and it helped to have a little bit of extra fragrance.

While this method cleared up 99.9% of the odor, there was still a faint odor. I noticed it more when she was wet or if I got really close to her face.  I decided to see if there was anything else that I could try.

I did some research and reached out to friends who all recommended that I follow up with a product called Nature’s Miracle Skunk Odor Remover.  You can find this product at PetsMart.  I got the big bottle that retailed at $19.99. It’s lavender scented.

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I gave Lu another bath using this product and it was highly effective. It smelled really good.  I poured the product into a large bowl and then soaked the collar she was wearing at the time of the incident, the collar she used when I gave her the baths, and also the leash that I used to hang onto her.  It worked great.

The smell has finally disappeared and life has returned to normal. Though, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little paranoid at night when I open the door to let Lu outside to do her business. I never want to go through that again.

At least I know what to do next time in the event it does. Also, my silver lining is that it happened at home and not out on the trail where I would be forced to put her into the car and transport her to get her cleaned up. I cringe at the thought!!

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I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

Death Of A Friend- The Story Of Sasha

My sweet Sasha has flown away. She was 12 years old. She drifted away peacefully in her dreams during a late afternoon nap. One moment she slept peacefully on her bed and in a moment she was gone.

Several years ago, I came across a little female rottweiler at the local animal control center in our city. I was actually there to look at a different dog that was involved in an incident that involved the police department the night before.

Officers had come across the biggest Rottweiler I had ever laid eyes on.  The dog was running loose around the neighborhood attached to a log chain. Residents who saw the dog running down the street were alarmed and called the police. I can’t say that I blame them the dog, nicknamed Bruno, was the Great Dane of Rottweilers.

I was curious about him so I went to check him out. I was lead out to the pen adjacent to the building, along with Bruno, to see if we might be a fit for adoption. Bruno was not interested in me or the girl from Animal Control. He sniffed around the pen keeping one eye on us and one eye on the ground as he made his way around.  The hair was standing up on his back and he was growling at us. We couldn’t get him to come back to us to go back into the building and we had to utilize a catch pole. It wasn’t good. He ended up being adoptable.

As I was leaving I was informed that there was a female rottie, named Sasha, who was currently being held as part of a possible hoarding situation. Sasha was found running loose with her brother and when a woman came in to claim her she also tried to claim several of the other dogs that came in at the same time.

After about a month and a half of waiting for the legalities to clear up, I adopted Sasha and brought her home. I also had another Rottweiler named Jabari, who was also a rescue. He and Sasha ended up being like peas and carrots. Perfect fit and no problems there.

Unfortunately, Sasha and my now ex husband did not end up being like peas and carrots.  Sasha was pregnant and nobody knew. She was so emaciated that you couldn’t tell. We woke one morning to the cries of puppies and she was still delivering. The ex lost his mind.

He seemed to settle down and accept the idea that Sasha and the pups could stay downstairs and that I would handle the care and any mess and that as soon as the puppies were old enough that we would place an ad. He was okay with that at the time.

Or so I thought.

For the longest time, I have allowed people in my past to save face and  I have done my best to beat around the bush or mask the actual events of what happened to Sasha. I believe in taking the high road and just allow people to reveal themselves in time. While that’s truly the best way to conduct business, I have stopped hiding the truth about Sasha.

My marriage at that point wasn’t great. My ex husband cheated on me several times with several people. We were “working on it”. We were in the middle of losing our house due to allowing ourselves to become victims to a predatory home loan. We were planning to allow the house to go into foreclosure and we were going to find a rental. There was a lot going on.

I never expected for him to load up Sasha and her puppies and take them back to Animal Control. Or at least that’s what he said he did. I later learned that Animal Control had no record of them coming back into the shelter. All I know is that I came home from work and Sasha was gone.

I didn’t bring it up. I asked him what the staff said to him when he came in with her and he said “That dog looks like Sasha and I said, yup it is and a litter of puppies,” that was followed up with a “I don’t give a fuck, I didn’t sign up for puppies,”

Over the next few months we moved out of the house and into another one in another town. Life went on because it has to. Eventually, everything continued to fall apart and there was really nothing I could do and I admit, I was tired of even trying. We split up and got a divorce.

I wasn’t able to find a place to stay that would allow Jabari at the time so he went to stay with a friend of mine. I think that helped my mind with the issue of Sasha also. I would have had two dogs to rehome instead of one.

Life changed a lot over the next five years. I found my footing, changed jobs and moved a couple of times into the house that I have now. Things settled down, for the most part. Like I said, life went on because it had to.

I still talked about Sasha. I still carried around the guilt that I had put her in that situation. She was a very sweet girl. Kind to everyone and loved my son who was very little at the time. You could see the love in her eyes. You could also see that she had lived a harder life and likely had a lot of experiences. Yet, she was still so very kind.

In July of 2013, I received a phone call from  Animal Control in my city. I didn’t recognize the number so I let it go to voicemail. I listened to the message tells me that my dog Sasha had been recovered by the Humane Society in Phoenix, Arizona.

I called Animal Control and I explain the situation and the woman I spoke with remembered me. She tells me that they had no record of Sasha ever coming back into the shelter and asked me if I wanted to get in touch with the shelter in Arizona.

Sasha had a micro chip. Apparently, I also listed the phone number for Animal Control in addition to my own and they decided to call them first. My phone number, at the time, was still the same as it was five years before.

I contacted the Humane Society in Phoenix and explained to them what happened. They had a few choice words about the situation and then asked me what I would like to do. I was in awe of the situation and had no idea how I was going to get to Arizona to pick her up.

My wheels turned and I started scheming. When my mind stopped spinning, I recalled that my friend Amanda and her husband lived just outside of Phoenix. They were on their way home from a vacation in Colorado. They didn’t even have to think about it and agreed to go and pick her up from the shelter.

That was the easy part. The hard part was getting her back to Indiana. Actually, I take that back. The hard part was worrying about what the ex would say when he found out.  He isn’t shy about voicing his often loud and unsolicited opinion about everything. There was a time when he thought he was still in control of my life.

I reached out to different groups on Facebook. I eventually made contact with a group of wonderful people associated with the Kindred Hearts Transportation Connection. I had been previously advised,  by someone involved in a rescue group,  that I shouldn’t tell anyone that the situation was the result of a domestic problem because “no one would want to touch it.”

I told the truth anyway. The woman that I spoke with was compassionate and annoyed at the situation and had the attitude and said “Fuck that guy,” and was happy to help me. Over the next couple of weeks 24 people grouped together to volunteer to get Sasha home to me.

After several weeks,  Sasha’s journey ended in Lake Station, Indiana where Mike and I greeted the final volunteer driver, Staci Govia and Steve Garcia from ABC7 out of Chicago, who was interested in covering the whole story.

I had no idea that how big this story would end up being but it was huge. It went viral. I saw stories about us in several different languages all over the world. I was asked to do several phone interviews and was even asked to be on the Steve Harvey Show. I declined. Most thrilling was when someone from Diane Sawyer’s show had called me.

I was a nervous wreck for awhile. Being famous is hard. Especially when people start calling you at work to talk to you about it. It was an emotional time. I was over the moon that I was able to get Sasha back but it also ripped the scab off of an old wound.

I was angry and bewildered when it happened. I also wasn’t in the best position to oppose or do anything about it. I know he has since spun his own tale and version of events. It is what it is, I suppose.

Facing judgement from the commentary on the various social media and news media sites wasn’t always easy.  We didn’t disclose the actual situation at the time the story went viral.  People had a lot of questions.  From how does a dog just come up missing and why wasn’t the dog in the house to why wasn’t the chip discovered before this?

Over the next few weeks, life went back to normal and time continued to march on. Sasha was once again a part of our little family. She was incredibly kind to my son and she was fiercely protective of us both.

Sasha was my constant companion and would follow me wherever I went from room to room in the house and wherever she could follow outside of the house. She was never very far away, if ever out of sight.

Sasha and I were kindred spirits in a way. She was one of my oldest friends .We led similar lives of abandonment and periods of great sadness. Sasha was an old soul. You could see it in her eyes when we would look at each other and seem to just understand and know what the other was thinking.  Battered, bruised and weathered from the many storms we faced.

Sasha was buried in an undisclosed location where we hiked all of those years ago and occasionally since she returned home. A beautiful place, under a tree, that overlooks a sprawling meadow where people rarely travel. I chose this exact location on purpose. In the spring, I will plant crocus, daffodil and tulip bulbs on her grave site so that flowers will grow every year.

While her life certainly wasn’t always perfect, in the end, she passed  with the love of a little boy and a woman who came to her rescue twice. She never went hungry, was cared for, had a big fluffy bed and was loved.

Life was good.

Life came full circle.

Keep your faith and never lose hope. Everything is in God’s timing.

This was the lesson taken from my experience with Sasha.

So long my sweet, Sasha. Our lives were better because you were in it.

 

 

Getting It Together In the New Year

I don’t follow along with the whole “new year, new me” cliche. Every day is a fresh start to make whatever changes that you want to make in your life. No matter what it is. With that said, at the conclusion of 2016, I realized that I really needed to get real with myself.

On January 1st, I wanted to wish everyone a Happy New Year and wrote a post with that was simply titled “Happy New Year” In that post I made a list of resolutions that I wanted to make for the upcoming year.

I have changed the name of the resolutions to the following;

  1. Life Plans
  2. Promises to myself

Organization- Time Management etc

The first thing that I did for 2017, was to go out and purchase a daily planner.  This seems like a no brainer but it actually isn’t.  Apart from making the purchase, you actually have to utilize the planner by writing the events you need to remember and the notes in which you need to recall.

I also utilize the Google Calendar. You can access this through your Google account. It’s free to use. The smart phone and tablet app(lication) is also available. Your Google Calendar will synch to the app on your phone as well and vice versa. You can color code events and also determine how you want to be notified.

What’s the point of using a planner vs using a service like the Google Calendar? Accountability. You can easily dismiss notifications from your devices. I often don’t even read the notifications. I swipe it away and tell myself that I will look at it later. I may or may not. Often, I will still remember but there are times that I do not.

With the written planner, I write it down. I have the planner sitting out where I can refer to it the night before or the following morning. I have a large block of space to write notes for that particular day. Let’s say that my ex husband was 25 minutes later dropping my son off at our scheduled custody exchange, I can explain what happened that in the notes for that day.

Keeping the Google Calendar also keeps my schedule handy on the go. Obviously, I am not going to lug around my calendar book everywhere I go. I don’t need to do that. If I need to check a date then I can get out my smart phone or tablet and check the app.

I do not believe that this is extra work. For those of us who are on the go constantly, these things  are life savers. Keeping an electronic calendar is awesome but so is the written planner. You just have to decide what works for you and your lifestyle. For me, I am choosing to have both.

I created a space in one of my spare rooms to keep a small desk that I am referring to as my “writing desk”. It’s actually a table that I purchased at the Goodwill and painted a really pretty blue/teal/Robin’s egg color. The original intention was to use it to keep my plants on it. I now have other plans for it.

On my writing desk, I have two organizer boxes from a company called Basketville. One is for supplies, pens, markers etc and that the other is for notebooks, books and part time home for my iPad while it’s charging. I also have an adorable glass vase with an iron branch that homes a small ceramic bird. Lastly, this is where I keep my lap top. It’s big enough to hold these essential items and that is all. It’s perfect for deflecting clutter.

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This is my personal space to sit down and write, blog, journal or surf. Whatever. I have another desk in the den where I get down to business with bills and other things. I wanted to separate my creative space from a work space. Also, my little bird vase couldn’t look nearly as cute sitting on that desk.

I also keep a note pad on my desk to jot down my to-do lists or anything that I need to remember to do before I go to bed or first thing in the morning. Anything that doesn’t make sense to put in the calendar. For example, if it’s “Team Spirit Day” at my son’s school, this will remind me to allow him to wear his orange t-shirt with his school’s mascot on it. I find myself creating shopping lists the most.

Finances

I started using a ledger for my checking account again. Seems like another no brainer. However, how many of us are actually keeping track of our finances the way that we should? We have fallen back into the habit of checking our accounts online and expecting ourselves to just keep track of everything in our head.

Maybe that works for you, it isn’t for me. I know for the most part where my money is going, but it doesn’t hold me accountable all the time for my decision making. In the past I have had a habit of nickle and diming myself and I need to make sure that comes to an end.

I want to build my savings. I have plans for the future. More than anything, I want to hold myself accountable for every penny that leaves my possession. I think that every time you write an expense in your ledger, you pay closer attention to your decision to spend money.

I am also taking advantage of a free service called Digit. Digit is a program that studies how you spend money and determines what you can afford to put into savings in small deposits.  One day it might take two dollars, another day it might take five. It just depends on how much money you make and what you spend.

The idea is to save money without you even noticing that it is gone.  The less painful way to save. People believe that small deposits into savings don’t matter much, it has to be done in larger amounts. That simply isn’t true. It builds up over time and you will be pleasantly surprised.

I would recommend for you to go to the Digit website and read about it for yourself. Again, it’s free and you have total access over your money. If you need to take money out of the Digit savings and deposit it back into your bank account, it usually only takes 24 hours. My experience has been less than 24 hours.

You have nothing to lose in trying this. I turned my boyfriend onto the service about 2 years ago and he raves about it.  I haven’t been nearly as committed to it as he has.  I can’t recall what date I resumed using the service, it was sometime this month.

You can get updates anytime to your phone through text.  I wanted to inquire about my savings since I resumed using Digit.  Side note* You can pause saving up to 60 days at a time.*  This is a snapshot from my phone screen to give you an idea of what that looks like.

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Taking care of my health.

Apart from visiting with doctors for my Lyme Disease, I haven’t been as proactive with my health as I should be. I had the PHA for insurance completed in December. While the results weren’t frightening or even surprising, I have issues that I need to work on. I turned 40 and I realize that I really do need a primary physician that knows me. Taking care of your health is more than just going to the gym. I finally made an appointment to have a real physical completed so I can move forward with taking better care of myself.

I also made an appointment to have an eye exam. I haven’t had an eye exam in almost seven years. I have been wearing the same gas permeable contact lenses since that time. I actually haven’t had new glassses since 2008. The only reason I even went then was because my son flushed my contacts down the toilet. Case and all. He went through a phase where he would flush whatever he could if he had two seconds of unsupervised time to do it.

These are small things. Big to me. Small to others. I know there are a lot of people out there who ignore these aspects of their live and responsibility. I am to the point where I am serious about buckling down and doing things better for myself. More than just what I have to do to get through the day.

Organization is a huge thing for me right now. All of the issues that I think that I have all go hand in hand.  Since I have made these small changes moving into the new year, I actually feel quite a bit better .

Onward and upward.

What about you? Have you made any changes in the new year? Are you sticking with them?

Below is a small gallery of the items I am using on my writing desk. I really love this little space. It’s cute and simple. Not too big and not too small.