Saturday, October 31, 2015

Hike #1 - Wolfden

Susan and I kicked off our hiking venture yesterday. It was wonderful and the weather was absolutely perfect.  We hiked on the Wolfden Trail at Pine Mountain.  It was ranked easy to moderate.  There were enough challenging places that Susan and I were glad that we hadn't talked any of our on-the-fence friends into starting with this one.

Just before the hike we stopped at the ranger station at the top of the mountain and bought our yearly park passes.


We officially began the hike around 1:20.  We had a couple of false starts.  Susan decided her new boots were not broken in enough to risk wearing, so she changed shoes.  My backpack was too heavy so I got rid of a few things.  The path looked very pleasant and easy at the start.



The trail was well marked.  We needed to keep watching for blue swatches painted on trees and rocks.  There were a few spots that required a little investigating to be sure, but mostly it  was easy to figure out where to go.


There were six or seven creeks to cross. We passed a few hikers with walking sticks or poles  One hiker, noticing our lack of sticks, told us sticks would be helpful.  He wasn't kidding.  The creeks weren't all that wide or deep, but I felt sure it would have been very painful to fall.  I took my time judging each step and testing rocks to see if they were slippery or wiggly.  I'm happy to say, we didn't fall.  On the way back, after a good bit of searching, I finally found a sturdy stick.  At one point I carried two sticks.  The second stick was larger and very heavy so I only used it for a few crossings.  The sticks made crossing sooo much easier.  I'm definitely going to invest in some lightweight poles before my next hike.


There were six falls along the trail.  They were all pretty dinky, but they were fun to see.  We could hear running water almost the entire hike, which was really pleasant.



Finally, we made it to the largest falls - Cascade.  It wasn't all that large, but it was quite pretty.  There was a bench there, so we sat a few minutes and had a snack.



The falls were right beside the wolfden.  It's hard to tell from these photos, but there's a large overhang down low.  


We didn't stop to take photos on the way back.  We didn't want to risk getting back late.


Our muscles were definitely feeling the workout by the end.  As we cooled down on the ride home, everything started getting stiff.  That didn't phase us.  We're already planning our next hike.  Friends - let us know if you want to join us.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Changes - Saying Goodbye to a Hobby

I've promoted several antique malls over the last years, on Facebook mostly. I was retired from teaching and this was meant to be a hobby.  I had a knack for it and I feel certain I helped 3 local businesses.  Best of all, I made some great friends.  I hope to keep the friends, but I'm saying goodbye to the hobby.



I have lots of my plate right now and I am feeling pulled in new directions.  What I find most interesting about this process of letting go is that as soon as I began seriously asking if this was something I should stop, I got my answer.  What had been a smooth and easy path, became bumpy and time consuming.  I know the whole bumpy situation was nothing more than an answer to my question.  Once I made the decision, everything began falling into place really well, which tells me I made the right decision.

Just to clarify - that bumpy path wasn't anything awful or unfriendly.  The bumps were all weird little things like a random jerk from the Phillipines trying to hijack a store page and sell records.  All the bumps were gifts propelling me towards new things.

I'm looking forward to having more time to pursue other ventures.  Hiking (and enjoying outdoors) is number one on my list for now.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Trading in My Canoe Life for A Kayak Life

I was watching a guilty pleasure show on Netflix when one of the characters came out with something I found to be rather profound.  I found that what she was describing could be used to describe my life recently.

For the last 38 years, I have been going along in a canoe.  Two people were paddling.  Each of us had an oar and we each paddled on opposite sides of the canoe. We worked together to keep the canoe on course. That works fine as long as both people are able to paddle.  When one person drops their oar (or gets cancer or dies), then the person left paddling goes in circles if they try to keep paddling the same way.  They can paddle harder and faster, but they'll still be going in circles.  If the one person tries to paddle both sides of the canoe, they have to be willing to work much harder and progress much more slowly.

A kayak is different.  It's smaller and uses a different paddle.  One person can easily work both sides of the boat.   One person can navigate through life, but they need to design their life differently than a couple.  I am that person.  I need to redesign my life so that I can handle it on my own.

I am living in a home designed for a couple.  I am trying to continue doing all the things I used to do while continuing all the things Rudy kept up with.

Oh, the power of PhotoShop...
If only I could make things happen in life so easily.

I'd love to trade my canoe in right this minute, but I won't.  A six dog lifestyle requires the canoe.  For now, the kayak is just a dream, but I sure hope one day to have a much simpler life.  Meanwhile, I'll make the best of this canoe.

That sounds positive.  I'm trying hard to talk myself into feeling that positive.  In truth, this stupid canoe is driving me insane and my arms are tired from paddling on both sides.  I think I'm going to give in to a full-out pity party tonight and hope I wake up tomorrow in a much better mood.  I usually do.  Maybe I'll even dream of kayaks tonight!

Which brings me to a funny part, because I can ALWAYS find humor in any situation.  While looking for great kayak photos to photoshop my face onto, I came across the photo below.  OMG!  Is that a sign that my simple home on the water should be on a lake rather than the ocean?  :-D


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tools for Ill-Mannered Dogs

I have six dogs.  Five are polite and well-mannered.  The sixth dog, George, is polite and well mannered 95% of the time.  Occasionally, he's like a wayward toddler.  If he could talk, "Mine!" would probably be his favorite word.  He's also can be grumpy when he first wakes up.  He expresses his displeasure by being aggressive towards the other dogs and I have no tolerance for that.  I made a decision a while back to figure out how to nip that in the bud.  I have tried a number of little gadgets to assist with his training and there are some that I feel good about recommending to others.

These recommendations are totally unbiased.  I do not advertise on this blog.  I am giving links, but I get nothing if you make a purchase.  I am receiving no compensation whatsoever for this post.

By the way, these tools are not just useful on your own dogs.  Some can be used to protect you from other dogs in the neighborhood or to help a neighbor's dog see the error of his ways when barking non-stop all night.

Tools Using Sound

I wanted to avoid things that inflicted pain.  I read in a place or two that using shock tools when trying to stop aggressive behavior is not a good idea.  It can backfire and increase the aggression.  Sound, on the other hand, works pretty well.  With all of the sound tools, I first say NO as a warning, then follow with the gadget.  After a while, the tool sound becomes less and less necessary.

Dog Dazer II Ultrasonic Dog Deterrent -  This is one of my favorite tools.  It emits a high pitched sound that humans don't hear.  It does NOT work on small dogs.  It works great on all of mine.  I point and push a button and my dogs stop what they are doing and look my way.  I like that it's discreet.  People have no idea what I'm doing.  If you are out walking your dog and an ill-mannered dog approaches, you can "dazer" him and he'll likely back off.  You can do this without the owner knowing what is going on if you are one who likes to avoid confrontation.



Pet Corrector - I call this one "the hisser".  It makes a loud hissing sound.  It, too, is an attention getter.  I go back and forth between this and the dazer.  Dogs can learn to ignore a sound if it is overused.  Swapping around is good.  I ordered a two pack of these.  They are good to have in different spots around the house.  I think I remember reading that each cannister is good for about 50 hisses.


Dog Horn - This one is loud.  If you use this with the neighbors dog, there's no hiding it.  I use this when my dogs are further away OR when George's behavior is particularly bad.  I will probably carry this with me when I go hiking as well.  It can be uses as a distress call.  Some people have successfully run off bears and coyotes with it.



OTHER TOOLS

SprayShield Animal Deterrent Spray - This is described as "a citronella based spray tested and found as effective as pepper spray without harming the dog or making them more aggressive."  I have not used this one yet and hope George learns to behave before I feel the need to try it out.  I got it in case a fight ever got out of hand.



MaxxiCalm - This is a vitamin type chew tablet that helps reduce stress.  You can see the main ingredients on the bottle - all are things seen often in vitamins for humans.  I have been giving George 2 or 3 tablets a day and it seems to have made a difference.  I am now giving it to Annie, my dog who worries and is stressed when I am gone too long.  I haven't been using it with her long enough to know if it's helping.   I also bought Bach Rescue Remedy Pet, based on positive reviews, but haven't used it yet.

One and a Half Million

My little blog amazes me.  I'm not a big time blogger by any means.  I can't even say I'm a serious blogger.  I don't advertise.  I don't push or promote, though I did link to a few parties a few years ago.  I just blog for the fun of it.

I write about topics of my own choosing.  I don't have a niche or stick to one thing.  If something catches my fancy, it will end up on the blog if I am in a writing mood.  My life has taken many twists and turns along the way.  Some things I wrote about several years ago no longer interest me.  My life, like this blog, is in a constant state of transition.

Yet, remarkably, it has an audience made up mostly of people I've never met.  I realized recently my total page views has passed the 1,500,000 mark.  One and a half million people have seen something I have written.  That's fairly shocking.



I love to write.  I have no desire for fame.  I don't consider myself author material.  Yet I have to say, knowing that people read what I write on a zillion different subjects is a bit of a thrill.

I am so thankful to live in the age of internet and blogs.  It's truly amazing.  I don't just write posts.  I am a reader of blogs as well.  Some, I read often.  Some I stumble onto now and then.  I have to say, I have come across many ordinary people who are like me - they love to write about what they enjoy or what's important to them at a given time in their life.

My most recent blog loves are women who are widows finding their way.  I wish I lived close to them because they feel like good friends.  Not all my reading is sad.  I also follow blogs by women my age who are trying to stay stylish, or women who aren't afraid to tackle anything around the house, or women who have a funny take on any topic.  At night, when my house feels extra lonely, my blogger friends are out there for me.  All I need to do is click.  They have written something just for me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

REI - Take a HIKE!

I'm going to hike!  I'm going to get outside more.  I'm going to walk wooded trails and see waterfalls and canyons.  I'm going to see if nature can save me. (better explanation at the bottom of this post).

I enjoy walking.  I walk every day with my dogs and my dad walks with me most mornings.  It's almost a mile around the perimeter of our property and it's very pleasant.  As much as I've walked it, I'm still not bored.  Still, I'd love to walk even more and see new sights.  My wonderful friend, Susan Holcombe, and I were walking around Lake Horton one day and one of us said something about wanting to do some hiking.  The conversation sparked a fire in us both and we're going for it.  We're going to start hiking regularly!!!  We're thinking fairly low key hikes - mostly 5 miles or so (at first).  Day trips for now.    There seems to be an endless number of interesting places to walk and be back home by the end of the day.  Who knows what's in our hiking future.




We decided to start off our new venture with a trek across town to REI because there's nothing like a new pair of high dollar hiking boots to ensure commitment.  :-D



Dave helped us find the perfect shoes and that was no easy task.  He stayed helpful and good natured through our entire stay.

It's hard for Susan and I to find shoes.  Susan's feel are very narrow.  I have to work around a sensitive area on my right foot where I once broke my ankle.  Susan's search was easy.  Her daughter, Katie, has matching feet and she had already found the perfect shoe.  Susan tried in on and declared it perfect.  My search was harder.  I tried on at least 8 shoes searching for perfection.  I *think* I found it. I'm wearing them around the house for a while to be sure.

To the tune of Nancy Sinatra's old song...

These boots are made for hiking.
And that's just what they'll do.
One of these days these boots are gonna
Help me figure out what to do (with my life)!

The shoes with a tiny bit of purple are mine.   Susan's have bits of orange.  I tried on several that were more girly with turquoise and other fun colors, but these ended up being the most comfortable.  Since I'm a serious hiker, I had to push all my style instincts aside.  Ha Ha
The search for great socks was easier.  OMG.  We fell in love with our socks, but geez - hiking socks are expensive!

Why this new desire to hike?  Let me explain.  I am blessed to have a lot of wonderful, seriously wonderful friends.  They have all been watching out for me through this entire sad time.  They were there in droves when Rudy got sick.  They stayed after Rudy died.  They continue to love me and watch out for me as I figure out how to live without him.  Many of our outings have been to lunch, which is great because cooking for one doesn't seem worth the effort most of the time. Some outings have included a bit of shopping.  I can shop with the best of them, but I'm about shopped out.  I want need things to do that are different and fun and engaging.  Hiking fits the bill and is a great place to start.  I'm ready! Luckily, I have friends with varied interests and no matter what I come up with to try, I can usually find a friend willing to try it with me.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Visit With Aunt Lou

Linda, Nancy and I took off yesterday to visit Aunt Lou, who is in the hospital with pneumonia.  She was in terrible shape over the weekend but she's doing SOOOOO much better now.  She looked great.  She sounded great.  She was surprisingly energetic.  OMG, we love her - she's always such a fun person.  She's one of those people that if you are around her, you know you'll be do a lot of laughing... even in a hospital!



We stayed far too long, but she was so perky and we were all having so much fun that we just stayed and stayed.  By the end, I was getting concerned.  I kept thinking about Rudy and how when people visited, he looked great, but then once everyone was gone, he'd feel terrible.  Once I got that thought into my head, I kept trying to herd everyone out.  I hope Lou didn't think I didn't want to stay for any other reason.  I want to see her well so we can all get together for the lunch we're starting to plan with more of the family.  We call these lunches mini-reunions.

On a funnier note, anytime Nancy, Linda and I are together, there will be some craziness.  For those who don't know, Nancy and Linda are my sisters-in-law.  Now, Nancy and Linda would prefer that I keep our latest adventure on the QT because their daughters, Denise and Carly, will raz them a bit, but that's not stopping me.  I know that when it's our time, our eulogies will contain references to the many times we've messed up.  Some of the stories are legendary in the family.  I am no longer embarrassed.  I found that once I accepted being nuts, I was able to relax and enjoy the adventure.

So, we got in Nancy's truck and headed North.  That's how many of the adventures begin.  Our destination was Gwinett Medical Center, which I'll refer to as GMC from here on).  Mike had given us good directions.  We made it there just fine and were please to be there.


We went in, marched over to the reception desk to state our business and verify the room number.  We were at the wrong hospital.  It was within the same system - see that little heart-like design on the building?  We'll see that symbol a couple more times.  So the ladies at the desk gave us directions to GMC.

I don't know why I decided to capture the parking lot scene, but I had a feeling there was a story in it.


So, back on the road again.

Luckily our destination was supposed to be close.  We'd been told to stay on hwy 120.  We couldn't miss it.

We stayed on 120.  I confirmed every step with Google Maps, which told me we were at GMC at our next stop.  We weren't.  We were at their rehab center.


We knew this wasn't right.  Linda and I marched in.  There was no reception desk, so we went to the first place we saw - a nurses station and I said (a little too strongly), "HELP!"  That probably isn't the best thing to say when walking into a medical facility when you only need directions.

Turns out we were close.  We needed to make a little turn and continue on a mile or two.


Back on the road again.  As I clicked this time, Linda and Nancy became more suspicious of my intent.


I'm happy to say, we finally made our destination and all was well from this point on, until...

On the way home, we hit a good bit of traffic.  There were lots of fender benders along the way.  We called the hero guys to help a motorist who was trying to push his car in the center lane of the expressway.  We played dodge car a bit, especially trying to get out of the HOV lane for passing emergency vehicles.  One of the funniest moments, which I'll leave to your imagination, involved the question, "Is this a lane?"

So here's the my take on this day.  To many, the whole arriving and departing craziness would be dreadful and exhausting and negative.  I disagree.  It's a big part of the adventure.  I had a wonderful time!

One more little thing... once I got back to Linda's, she showed me a family photo our cousin, Darlene, had given her.  Margaret Mitchell is in the photo!!!  MM was writing a story about the family.  MM is the one in dark clothes with a big black hat.  She's at the left end of the second standing row from the bottom.  There's a girl in mostly white standing right in front of her.  The photo is framed and behind glass, so my photo isn't great.  I think Linda said the photo is from the 1920's.  I'll put this photo on Facebook and hopefully, Linda and Darlene and anyone who knows will tag people they can identify.


OH MY! Lorene sent me THIS LINK.
It's a great excerpt from the article Margaret Mitchell wrote about this event (celebrating Virginia Elizabeth Veal's 102nd birthday). What a treasure!!!

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