Monday, January 30, 2012

Furry Children

Growing up on the farm, I befriended more than my fair share of the four-legged employees. Inevitably, there came a day when a "pet" appeared on the table in the form of a meal.  Despite the troubling experience, I still ate the food prepared for me and eventually, I became accustomed - desensitized may be more accurate - to the process of both working with and caring for animals that ultimately ended up at the dinner table.

The thought of animals as companions only was not a foreign concept, however. We owned several dogs and cats that shared our household.  For a brief part of college and the several years of Vermont apartment life, I did not have animal roommates. Now, though, I find myself with two cats and one dog (plus a tank teeming with guppies) and I am feeling  more like a "parent" as I referee their interactions and prevent broken belongings.

For several years, I enjoyed (for the most part) the dynamics between Scooby and Lilly, which were isolated incidents of "wrestling" and Lilly chasing Scooby.  With the addition of Ziva, the barn rescue kitten, it has changed the household completely.  She definitely has a personality, and Lilly and Scooby each interact with her in their own way.  

Lilly loves wrestling with Ziva, and despite the David-and-Goliath nature of the match-up, Ziva seems to enjoy it as well. In fact, I heard her purr as she bites, claws and twists to get away from the dog. Lilly tends to initiate contact with the kitten. Scooby, on the other hand, tries to avoid the kitten at all costs. Recently I did see him willingly chase her.  I haven't decided if it is out of playfulness or maliciousness yet.  The following photo was taken just after he hit her in the face, but he doesn't look overly upset.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Wacky Winter Weather

This week produced some wacky weather here in central Maine.  Although today's wintry mix across the state was typical January fare (and again, we were squarely in the belt of snow/sleet/freezing rain mix), earlier this week we had a couple mild days.  Most of the ice melted from the driveway and temperatures reached into the upper 40s.  With a light breeze and occasional sunshine, all I could think of was this:

Ah, softball...can't wait until March!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ambition, thy name is....any work by Tolstoy

On Google+, I had remarked that I should have including "reading more" on my list of resolutions.  If I had, that would have provided me with at least one resolution that would likely be accomplished. I shouldn't be too hard on myself; it is still the first month. So far, I have one regret - I didn't make it to church last Sunday, and I won't be able to go next Sunday due to an out-of-town conference.  Otherwise, my other goals still have potential.

Anyway, I read Water for Elephants, Bednob and Broomstick, Stuart Little, and Julie and Julia. I just started Anna Karenina.  And when I mean "just started" I mean I am 20 pages in after an hour of reading.  So I have a ways to go since I don't anticipate the pace to pick up much over the next 780 pages or so. But I will definitely feel a sense of accomplishment once I finish the tome; and so far I do find it interesting.

Once I finish Anna Karenina, I will likely opt for some Stephen King or some other contemporary work that should read fast.  Or I may take a break from reading altogether for a while!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Is there a grace period for resolutions?

Feeling guilty that I haven't been blogging lately, I decided to review all of my "new year's resolutions" while I thought of it. I haven't written 1000 words a day yet; missed blogging last week altogether; exercised for 30 minutes a day an average of six days a week (although it's been low intensity); attended church once this month; did some research on teacher certification; lost one pound total in the last three weeks; and I blew my monthly budget about a week ago - yikes!

In summary, I have some work to do to make progress with all of my resolutions but it's still early in the year. Even though I may not experience a lot of initial success, I know that things can turn around. There's plenty of time left in 2012!

On an unrelated note, I am very proud to say that Ziva is officially housebroken - thanks to Lilly the Super Sheltie-Aussie.  If I had to use one pet to house train the other, does that make me a horrible pet owner, or a spectacular one?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Training the dog to train the cat

It takes a village to raise a child and a household to raise a pet. We recently added an abandoned kitten to our household, which already consisted of a ten-year-old cat Scooby and a six-year-old Australian Shepherd-Sheltie dog Lilly.  I decided to name her Ziva (yes, in honor of NCIS) and she is a fiery little gray tiger cat.

For the most part, she is a fast learner. She is also quite stubborn, and if there is something she wants to do, she finds a way to do it.  I can't tell you how many times I have removed her from my laptop keyboard, only to have her promptly return. It is, after all, the warmest place to stretch out.  I even saw her get up from another comfortable spot, go running across the room, run up my leg and jump onto the computer as soon as I opened it up.

As a result of her stubbornness (and my admittedly inconsistent instruction), litter box training is not exactly on schedule. She will voluntarily urinate in it, but apparently feels the need to place her feces in the living room. Or the shower, if she is locked in the bathroom during potty break.

It's getting frustrating, and I am trying different methods but I wish she would accept the litter box as an adequate bowel movement receptacle. It's almost sad that my dog is now trained to chase Ziva away from the baseboards in the living room as soon as she begins scratching.  At least one pet has had her intelligence harnessed for good and not evil.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A rocky start

Okay, I looked over my resolutions, and I am not off to the best start but if I remain positive and focused, I should pick up some momentum.  I haven't written 1,000 words each day, but I have been writing daily, mostly through a journal of letters to my nephew.

Due to family drama, I haven't been able to see my step-nephews and nephew for a few months, and prior to that, when I saw them in public, they ignored me. It's  been difficult dealing with the sudden change in the relationships, particularly with my six-year-old nephew.  It's been hardest on my mother, however.  My step-nephews were getting to the age where they didn't want to hang out with their grandmother or aunt as much.  My youngest nephew, though, used to enjoy doing activities with us and we both miss that.

Since we haven't been able to give them the gifts we purchased, Mom decided she would set up an account and keep a journal of the times she thought of him, or something she wanted to buy, put the money into an account and turn everything over to him once he's graduated high school.  I liked the idea, and started my own journal of letters to my nephew.  It's amazing what little things remind me of him, and it's also helped me a lot since it gives me a much-needed outlet for my thoughts.

All of the drama is why I want to develop myself spiritually because it has been incredibly difficult dealing with my hurt and disappointment in the behavior of several family members. I realize there are people who have it worse than I do, and there will be better days. Still, I've allowed the recent stress to affect my eating habits, which leads into my "eat less, exercise more" resolution (although I have that one on the list EVERY year).

Six months ago, I started Weight Watchers Online and had great success over the first three months.  The last three months did not go nearly as well, and I gained back ten pounds.  I've been struggling to get back on track with the plan and hope tomorrow's weigh-in will be the spark I need to just put one foot in front of the other.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

I resolve...

I am one of those people who likes making New Year's resolutions.  I do place importance on the first day of the year being a day of new beginnings, and an appropriate time to implement changes (or at least be more diligent in efforts to make changes). Here are my resolutions, in no particular order:

1) I resolve to write daily.  My goal is to write 1,000 words daily.
2) I resolve to blog on a REGULAR basis.  My goal is to blog twice a week.
3) I resolve to exercise regularly. My goal is to be active five to six days a week, for at least 30 minutes but ideally working up to an hour each day.
4) I resolve to develop myself spiritually. My goal is to attend church at least twice a month, and I think I want to learn more about meditation.
5) I resolve to develop myself professionally. My goal is to have a full-time job by the end of 2012.  I intend to do that by creating detailed short-term and long-term plans to enter the career I want.
6) I resolve to lose one pound each week (which sounds much less intimidating than "lose 50 pounds in a year").
7) I resolve to adhere to a monthly budget.  My goal is to live within my limits, and shift my spending mindset from "splurge" to "save."

These seven resolutions are ambitious, but each is extremely important to me, and I have tried to make them as realistic as possible. I am very excited to assess the status of each throughout the year!