54/93: Blogging for Books

This is a review through Blogging for Books. I was not paid, but I was given the book at no charge. 

A few months ago I lost two dogs. And not the they-went-wandering-off-into-the-woods kind of Lost. But the oh-shit-they-are-really-sick-and-there’s-nothing-we-can-do kind of lost. And it sucked. Our beautiful, long legged, constantly chewing 15-month old Potcake was coughing one night and four days later we held her in our arms while she struggled to breathe and we said goodbye. Our 11.5 year old Boston Terrier, who had braved months of physical therapy and a slew of medications, stopped walking and eating one day. We knew it was time. He passed just two months and five days after she did. Our hearts broke. Again. 

They were loved. As are the rabbits who mow our grass, the birds that hang on our feeders, even the &*&^%$$* chipmunk that lives in our garage/gutters/gardens. So, when I got the opportunity to read a copy of “My Gentle Barn,” in exchange for a review, I jumped at the chance, or rather, clicked. I had seen the Gentle Barn Facebook and while I have never worked on a farm I always greet the cows and horses as we make our way through Western Wisconsin. I love animals. I think they like me.
“My Gentle Barn” was a delight to read. It started a bit slow and I have to admit that although some of Ellie’s childhood stories seemed either unbelievable or exaggerated, it showed Ellie’s personality and character and her deep love and respect for animals. As the book progressed and the barn grew I found myself cheering for Ellie and the animals. As a working mother, I knew the battle she faced trying to do everything, and having a hard time letting go. When her second child is born and she refuses to leave her side, I had mixed feelings of “oh my god, get over it and let her gain some independence” and “I wished I could spend every waking minute with my own child-guilt, but I have to and want to work.” Despite some personality quirks, Ellie comes across as a loving and very patient, educated caregiver.
Read this book. If nothing else, to learn about these animals and more about where our food comes from. Don’t assume that the animals you’re eating were treated well. In fact, there’s a slim chance they were. But if you’re looking for more details on that, there are other books you should read. Read this book to see a dream come true and not just for Ellie, but for the hundreds of animals and people she’s helped, and continue to help.
A couple of weeks ago I found myself at a petting zoo. This wasn’t any petting zoo, as it focused on rehabilitated animals, mostly deer. Some of the animals were in pens (wolves, mountain lions, etc.) but most of the deer were roaming freely, often following us. The goats were behind fences, probably so they didn’t climb on us, as were the miniature horses, llamas and pigs. Have you seen the joy on the face of a five-year-old when I deer walks up and hugs your child? It was this joy that Ellie felt when she hugged her cows.
At the petting zoo I let my daughter ride a pony. Ellie would have disapproved, as she only walks the horses because riding them is degrading. I have to agree, and I haven’t ridden a horse since Girl Scout Camp. But as daughter rode, we asked the pony’s name. Stormy. And we spoke to him. We told him he was very handsome and s

53/93: In Other News


The YWCA featured me on their blog today. I’m raising money for them.  Because I believe in what they do. Because I’ve benefited from what they do. Check it out here.

For those of you who have donated, THANK YOU!! I’m so excited to race!!


52/93: The Goldfinch


I just started reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I have read very little fiction since daughter was born. And this monster is over 700 pages long. I don’t remember where I heard about it, or what I heard about it, but it became available at the library and I picked it up so I feel committed. I have three weeks. Did I mention it’s long? But I’m already to page 120 and I can’t put it down. And it’s big! it’s Heavy! I brought it with me today running errands in case I had a free minute. And you know what? Between the consignment shop, Gymboree, the library and the pretzel shop I found more than a minute to read.


51/93: The Moon


Tomorrow is a full moon, actually a Sunday Moon but I have no idea what that is. But knowing tomorrow will be full, I knew that tonight it would at least be an almost full-moon. We had a few clouds working against us but we decided to let daughter stay up late so she could see it. She can, and hopefully, will sleep in tomorrow, so why not? When wandered outside a few minutes ago and could see the light of the moon behind the clouds. It was disappointing, but as we stood out there, in the middle of the cul-de-sac, the clouds parted and we saw (most) of the full moon. It was amazing. And beautiful. And daughter was more than thrilled to see it glow against the wispy clouds.


50/93: Writing


(moss along Lake Superior) 

Fifty, yes, 50!, days in a row I’ve been writing. I’m amazed. The first week wasn’t exactly tough, but it required some planning ahead and thinking! Now I can feel the habit forming. (It takes 90 days to form a habit, someone once said.) So here I am an 50 and more motivated than ever!

I met a dear writing friend for lunch yesterday and she confirmed all these crazy thoughts. You don’t need the perfect studio, or even a laptop. All you need is a few (I like 10) minutes, a piece of paper (can be a napkin, a receipt, etc) and something to write with (pen or pencil is best, crayon if you’re desperate). The point is to just WRITE!

Yesterday, after Husband and Daughter left for the day and before sweet Z went into her kennel, I went on the back deck. I had five minutes before I had to leave for work. I said out loud, or possibly to Z, “Ten Minutes.” And we spent those ten minutes on the deck. Me, scribbling furiously. Her, sniffing lazily. In those ten minutes I opened up a whole well of ideas, memories came pouring back.

The rest of the day those words whirled around my head. So good.


48/93: Hummingbird



(image via Etsy, from Dusty Shamrock Studios)

This morning. Sitting on the deck. Pen in hand. Pup by my side.

A hummingbird appears. Looks at us.

I realize the feeder hangs above my chair.

Pup watches intently. Inquisitively.

It floats. Wings buzzing. Annoyed. It’s time for breakfast.

“What is it?” Pup’s brown eyes ask me.

She’s not sure.

Not a bird. It floats. “Maybe a bug?”

I notice the long beak; Wings blurred into semicircles.

Pup cocks her head. Confused.

I touch Pup’s back. “Come on, girl.”

It’s time for breakfast.


47/93: Missing Him

photo-45I’ve really been missing this little guy lately. Over the weekend I had a dream that he was still with us. He was still sick, but wrapped in my arms and what Joy it was to feel his weight against me. I think daughter detected my missing him and has been sleeping with a stuff Boston Terrier since we returned.

Then I came across this quote from the always amazing Anne Lamott:

“You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” 
― Anne Lamott

She is so completely, totally right.


46/93: I’m Back

photo 4

We spent four days on the shores of Lake Superior. We had a blast biking, kayaking, hiking, eating, blueberry picking, wine-tasting, sailing…. we’re been home less than 24 hours and it feels like we were never there.

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Now we’ve both got two feet back in reality.

photo 2

But the best part was seeing, feeling, hugging, being tackled by sweet daughter. Even sweet puppy leapt right into the car and onto Husbands lap while he parked.

photo 1

But we have our memories. Our photos. Our more-relaxed-now shoulders and backs.

And now we focus again on work, on raising daughter and dog, on enjoying our new home, getting ready for Kindergarten and writing. Always and forever, writing.