A simple story for Christmas

It has been a while, hasn’t it? Christmas Eve is a splendid time to revisit the blog community, after two years of not writing a blog!

As you may know from my old blogs, my precious Chocolate Labrador, Heidi, died three years ago after a tremendously naughty and nice lifetime of 15 years.  After all, she was a Labrador and all they are capable of is naughty. There wasn’t a nasty bone in her body.

As fate would have it, my children love animals and dogs in particular. Two of my handsome boys have Chocolate Labradors, Bella and Jersey.  There is an open invitation to Bella and Jersey for doggy sitting, sleep overs and occasionally to stay as company when I am alone. I was unbelievably lucky to have a week this past November with Jersey as my companion.  Jersey’s owners run in marathons, so they needed a sitter to run in a Texas marathon. I love doggy sitting and besides it would ‘up the ante’ on my daily physical fitness routine.

The week was everything you might imagine.  We jumped in bed early, curled up with my book and snuggled into the lengthening winter nights.  Jersey adapts well to her surroundings, so by day two she was under the blankets on my husband’s side of the bed with her head and right paw on his pillow.  I have to admit I let her!  I prayed madly to the patron saint of animals, Saint Francis of Assisi, that my son and his girlfriend provided Jersey with regular flea and tick treatments. (It worked!  No fleas!!! Thank you Saint Francis!)

By all measures, it was a fantastic week.  My biggest regret was how quickly the time went. It was already day 7 and I enjoyed my Jersey time like it was a vacation. So, what better way to cap it off but with a nice lengthy walk, not a marathon, but an indicator that I was a suitable sitter for the dog of a marathon runner, who finished her race in under 4 hours.

I live in the country, on a farm. We walked through the farm everyday that week.  We walked in our local park practically everyday. But for as long as I have lived here, which is now 33 years, I have never walked from one end of our road to the other.  It is approximately 5 miles either way, so that would be a round trip of 10 miles; not 26.2 miles that comprise a marathon, but not bad.

It was a cold and crisp day, but we had been spared any snow. Not even a puddle had begun to freeze up yet.  I put on two sweaters, my thick hiking socks, my new skinny jeans, followed by my relatively new Helly Hansen Newport jacket.  Finally, I donned my very lovely new Asics Fluidride Dynamic Duomax GT 2000 sneakers …and out the door we went!!!  We would make our mark that day as distance strollers of the senior citizen variety. In truth, we were fake senior citizens, Jersey is a mere 7 years old and it is really none of your business knowing how young I am.  Agreed?

Jersey didn’t have her regular collar that week, as she lost it hiking with her owners the week previous. Christmas was only a month away and opportunity for enhancing Jersey’s closet was beckoning! I made a mental note to look into colour coordinating collars with my wardrobe for her next visit on Christmas Eve.  Instead, on that November day she was sporting a lovely blue body harness with a red lead clipped onto to the body harness. The colours of the harness and lead didn’t match, but being a dog, I didn’t think she would mind.

I willfully abandoned a colour matching opportunity. My son had instructed me to use the gentle lead (red) when taking Jersey walking. A gentle lead is a fabulous product that is just as it is described, gentle. It effectively signals walking commands to the dog. I also must compliment the designer on the multitude of colours! The gentle lead is also referred to as a head collar which goes around her nose but is not a muzzle. Regrettably, I did not pay enough attention to the demonstration and couldn’t figure out how to loop the gizmo properly. Our other strolls went charmingly with this mismatched body harness ensemble. I gently wrapped the lead around my left hand and we took off as colourfully as a maple tree in autumn.

As we walked, I soaked in the impact of a picture perfect day.  Very little traffic.  The skies were a little grey, but the cloud cover was high, leaving the impression of an endless sky. As we got comfortable with our pace, I unwrapped the lead from my hand to give Jersey more freedom. We went up hills and down again. My Fitbit was just clocking off steps to beat the band!!!! Ah, now I must admit I am competitive.  I regularly complain about my husband’s fitbit giving him more steps than I get with mine. He usually wins hands down on a daily basis. My husband wasn’t about to catch me this day, 10 miles would amount to a clear win on a work day!  Oh, the benefits of dog sitting abound.

Having a wee bit of a safety background, I was alert to the road conditions. Country roads have their own hazards.  The shoulders of this road were very narrow.  This couldn’t meet city codes, surely.  As we crested our last hill, I noticed how deep the drainage ditches were and I tested the shoulder of the road only to find it was soft. Safety first! Spot the hazard, assess the risk, find a safer way, every day! We were already 5 miles down our road.  I decided that at the first opportunity, we would cross to the other side of the road and test the shoulder of the road there.

Out of no where, we spotted a black swarm of birds rising from the field across the street.  I recognized this as Starling Murmuration.  It is well known in the United Kingdom, but less noted in our Canadian neighbourhood. Essentially, it appears as a black sphere that changes its shape as it swirls across the sky above you.  A mesmerizing spectacle.  I instinctively wrapped the lead around my left hand to make sure Jersey would stay by my side.

Documenting the murmuration on my Samsung 4, I felt very fortunate to have witnessed the dance up above.  Realizing the shoulder of the road was soft, Jersey and I decided to cross the the opposite side of the road.  We were practically at the end of the road with 5 miles under our feet!  I was feeling one with nature, gazing once more across the farmer’s field.  This was sheep country, lush green fields with enough for the sheep and the starlings to be well fed before the winter.  There we stood facing the field, toes to ditch, mesmerized.

A sheep moved!

Jersey is a dog, a sheep was scampering away, a dog must respond!  With my left hand, attached to the lead, no ground ahead of me, I had a split second to respond.  That second is quiet detailed, so forgive me for taking sometime to explain.

Jersey’s instinct was to take command of the situation and perhaps corral the sheep. My instinct was to hold  Jersey back.  These are incompatible instincts. She leapt forward to cross the ditch, but gravity being what it is, she went across and down.  My arm attached to this movement sent me forward and down, head first toward muddy, slimy looking ditch water, rocks etc. At some point in that split second, my left fist stopped hanging on to the lead and Jersey was free to scale the opposite side of the ditch and run along the fencing.  I don’t even think she barked. I remembered I had one hand free to protect me and extended the right hand in an attempt to escape the ditch.  As no doubt you are anticipating, my wrist and hand took the first impact, followed by my face sliding over the rocky bottom of the ditch.  My legs were still splayed over the wall of ditch and my Asics super sneakers were dug into the bank.  I remember thinking, this can’t be good. Spitting the mud out of my mouth, I wasted no time getting up. With brown dripping hair, mud caked jeans and soaked coat, I emerged from the ditch. A colour coordinated being that suitably matched the dog!

I had to get control of the situation!  I commanded Jersey to come back,  the way a high pitched whining maniac might try to do.  It was met with the response such maniacs have come to expect. I was ignored.  Jersey paced back and forth on the opposite side of the ditch, wondering how to command the sheep on the other side of the fence.  Sputtering and trying to wipe the mud away from my eyes and nose, I thought of throwing a temper tantrum, but reminded myself instead that one must be dignified and in control. Even so, Jersey remained unimpressed with my command to come back. Resigned to my place in the world, I scrambled down the ditch, retrieved my Samsung 4 and crossed the ditch, remaining upright this time. Jersey responds well when you are next to her, so I did eventually take control.

Several split seconds had passed and there we were back on the roadside of the ditch, facing down another 5 miles.  I guess school must have been over for the day, because suddenly there was lots of traffic.  Some folks even slowed down to have a good look. My hair, my coat, my jeans were a spectacle. My hair had no other choice but to lie flat across the left side of my face, dripping. I had been at the hairdressers that morning.  The back of my head was perfect, the hairspray should be commended. But the spray and the style were unable to withstand the drenching of the ditch!

All was not lost.  Dignity is not just what you look like on the surface, it is the person you are inside! My left hand was in command of a very muddy lead, wrapped tightly around my hand once again.  Jersey walked in step with me, instinctively keeping her eyes to the path below her. My right wrist was throbbing, as if to the beat of our feet.  I looked at the miles ahead and the friendly passerby’s who must have thought I was a bit of mess to be outdoors and in public, but they just didn’t know the inner dignified me. We continued to plod on a little ways.  I occasionally wiped my face, the way windshield wipers wipe the car’s windshield.  I was able to assess how lucky I was, my face was merely chipped in a few places, nothing major.

I remembered my phone.  I called my husband.  He was gone out! Fortunately, he is a twin and his twin was at work and available!

One and half miles of walking later, my brother-in-law rescued me.  He drove Jersey and I back the remaining 3.5 miles to my home. By this point I realized my right wrist had enough for the day, so in a pathetic sort of way, I asked if my rescuer could continue his service. Graciously, he opened the truck door, unlocked the door to my house, unzipped my coat, and unbuttoned my outer sweater that had big metal designer buttons suitable for dignified me.  He then bid me adieu and took off liked a scald cat.

Well, I am happy to report that my son and his girlfriend came home that evening and Jersey went home with them.  My clothes actually came out of the wash in great shape. My glasses were not broken or chipped. My phone has a wonderful video of the murmuration. My wrist is almost as good as new. Jersey has been back for a sleep over.  We have not attempted my 10 mile jaunt, but we will. I promise to be: a) dignified, b) in control and c) colour coordinated, d) stay out of ditches and other nasty places, and, e) use the gentle lead which would have saved the day!

Until now, I did not share this story beyond my immediate family. I thought it would make a good story and consequently be a reason to recommence writing my blog. I offer this as a simple present, a Christmas chuckle in particular, to my friends and all those who liked to read my blog.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and/ or Seasons Greeting to you from Mo!

Christmas Presents? It’s only October!

I love reading this blog! It is full of ideas that save money.

Saving Without Scrimping

I’ve started saving for presents already as I really don’t understand how I manage to throw myself into debt every December. The month with its parties, gift exchanges and endless dinners comes on schedule each year.

This year IS going to be different! Partly because I already know what certain people are getting based on my gift closet. Last year we had a crafty Christmas with the majority of presents being made. Though this can be less expensive when not well thought out crafty Christmas isn’t cheap.

Last year I made:

  • arm knit blankets
  • body butters, sugar scrubs and bath salts
  • Cookies and breads in a jar

These were all greatly appreciated and I’ve had request for the body butters, scrubs and bath salts so those will definitely make it on the list.

This year I will make

  • body butters, sugar scrubs and bath salts
  • Cookies in a jar
  • Dip…

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Writing 101: Day Ten – Update Your Readers Over A Cup Of Coffee #GlobalGoals

This deserves your time to read and to keep as our to do list!

Koolitzable

Today’s Writing 101, day ten:

No matter what type of blog you have, it’s sometimes necessary to post updates: from project news to personal messages about what’s going on in your life. One creative approach to an update post is a “virtual coffee date,” as seen on Kate Goes Global, which is like catching up with an old friend over a cup of coffee.

In her post, Kate begins each paragraph with If we were having coffee right now… and then adds a detail. You can share any details you’d like and include as many as you want, as long as you begin each with If we were having coffee right now… (or a variation of this phrase, as seen on Girl with the Red Hair).

It’s a simple idea, but offers a bit more structure to your post — and is a lot more fun. So today…

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Inspiration of tweets

Lev Grossman tweeted: “Why is writing so much harder for me than it is everyone else? –every novelist ever,  secretly to themselves, all the time.”

Well I can relate to this quote, but I am not so sure I am completely uninspired.  Let me think. You are correct. Writing is hard.

It is Friday night and poor little Mo imagines herself ensconced in a busy little pub downtown. It is dark, noisey and smelling oddly of stale beer. Surrounding me are loud, imbibed and happy people, chatting about nothing in particular.

Alas, here I am, poised above the keyboard….thinking….conspiring to be inspired. Think Mo, think more deeply.

Lev, if I can call you Lev, who is “everybody”?

Friday night is the reward for all the hard working, somewhat uninspired people, willing to cast away one night a week and pretend that the week was not an uninspired page in their life. I believe, even the Great William Shakespeare had nights just like this.

So, is it true that for you, Lev, it is harder than for everybody else? I think not.

I can see with my mind’s eye, one William Shakespeare in a local English Pub, tired but looking amused and subconsciously listening to the publican natter on. Shakespeare thinks to himself; “A fool doth thinks he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” With that revelation, Shakespeare is off and writing, As you like it

Lev, it is great to know you are a novelist!

Could it be it is easier for a playwright but harder for a novelist? Where would that leave a mere blogger? Can your tweet, Lev, provide inspiration for such an unworthy little Mo on a dark but pleasant Friday in September?  Is it possible that your spontaneous tweet has unlocked a glimmer, a spark of creativity in me. I like to think so.

And I think, secretly to myself…..

Had I been Juliet, I might say, “Good night, goodnight! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night til it be morrow.” As written by the Great Shakespeare.

I will now slumber until my next blog.

Sinking Unaware

laughing with the rain

To separate emotion
numb your feelings,
calm your fears;
sinking unaware.
Achieving peace
through callous heart
and shallow soul;
slowly drift away.
Where nothing is good
or evil or cruel,
unjust or fair;
it merely is.
Life does not exist
beyond what you see,
what you perceive;
your world is small.
Keep it in a tiny box
don’t let it be shaken
or disturbed;
you are safe.
What is pain?

– LP

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Secret

I grew up singing the Beatles song, “Do you want to know a secret?”

This was the song of connections. It was the symbol of belonging, being trusted, being loved. It was the epitome of transitioning into adulthood from mere adolescence.

As a mere thirteen year old, I had lots of secrets, but no one to tell them to. To admit your dreams, fears or horrors was to diminish your popularity. Heavy secrets were a ticket to internal isolation. Nice secrets were lame and a sign of weakness.  Love secrets were imaginary at best.

No wonder John Lennon and Paul McCarthy asked, “Do you promise not to tell?”

What do we say today? It no longer is considered healthy to keep secrets.  In fact, there are academic research papers that are devoted to the physical burden of harbouring secrets. For those of us who have taken on the responsibility to carry that load, we have done so with a cost.  Secrets are by definition something we are less than willing to share, largely because we expect negative reaction.  The type of secret wages its own cost.  It boggles the mind to read some of the research papers as they equate the burden of carrying a secret to temperature, to weight and the variability.

Having just read the book, Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, I was provided the fictional portrayal of living a life of secrets. It was a painstaking description of a young man, who made stereotypical mistakes of a male youth in a world of plenty that then collided with the outcome of a traumatic event. The book depicted the cost of carrying deep secrets that the owner believed could not be shared as he battled with the desire to be youthful and also to be a sincerely good person.  The internal conflict was cataclysmic. In real terms, the burden of carrying the secrets equated to the ability to engage in real and meaningful relationships, to carry on trustworthy and calm relationships, the ability to sleep, to avoid addictions and cope with day to day activities.  This piece of fiction versus the authority of research may not be so far apart as they seem.

Fortunately, for the vast majority, secrets do not carry that high a cost. Yet, for those who carry them as lifelong secrets, shared primarily or solely with themselves, they will take their toll.

My advice is do not let secrets take ownership of your life. You have your today to live. Find your release.  Perhaps you can write it down, place it in a bottle and bury the bottle in the back yard.  Let the ground and the bottle take the burden. The secret belongs in the past and tomorrow is not equipped to change the past.  Give yourself permission to accept that the past cannot be changed and therefore in the future it loses its relevance. Imagine the contents of the bottle has rotted and floated away on its own and has left you whole.

Do you want to know a secret, oooo ah oo?  No, I have willingly forgotten my own.

I wish you peace.

A bunch of things that bring me to life

  1. Dawn
  2. The sound of the radio
  3. The sound of my husband making our tea
  4. Cereal with Greek yogurt and fruit
  5. The rush of water filling my bath
  6. Recognizing the perfume in my shampoo
  7. Wrapping myself in a warm towel
  8. Pressing my selected outfit
  9. Matching accessories
  10. The chill of the morning air
  11. Gliding through the morning traffic
  12. Arriving at work with plenty of time

A glimpse of Mo

The time has arrived to introduce Mo to the world of blogging!

What better way to start than with an introduction!

Mo wasn’t born yesterday. She arrived toward the later years of the baby boom in a sleepy town in Eastern Canada. As a daughter of a Roman Catholic and a Baptist, she was understandably blazing a newer trail in a town traditionally defined across religious boundaries. Everything was new and to be conquered.

Mo was the fifth of six children.  For the first five years of her carefree existence, she ruled the roost. She thought she was the baby of the family, the principal ballerina, the apple of Dad’s eye. All that changed with the arrival of Trisha. There was no point of crying about it, Mo set out to adapt and win at the family game!

Win at the family game was what Mo did!  She was devotee of Gram-mamma, nuisance to Mamma, adorable to Daddy and a complete pain in the backside to the siblings.  As the middle sister, she made a point of learning fashion from her older sister Kate, principally by taking her best clothes. To demonstrate leadership, she lead Trisha around like her personal slave. Her explanation to Trisha was simple, do as Mo asks and Mo will let you play with her.  Otherwise, Trisha might need to be introduced to boot camp.  For the most part, life was idyllic for little Mo.

Time was good to Mo, and, eventually, she found her way to the altar to begin a happy married life.  That life might have been easier if she had been blessed with little girls. As a child she spent little to no time figuring out how to rule over her brothers. Mo and her Prince Charming were blessed with three boys, the not fashion conscious, won’t take “No” for an answer boys!  Kate and Trisha didn’t follow in Mo’s footsteps. While Mo was raising her successful boys, her two sisters devoted themselves to careers and watched their nephews grow with interest.  Mo’s love of fashion faded as she dedicated her time to work, family fun and providing transportation from school to sports venues to play dates. Meanwhile, Read more

Super-Duper-Long-Over-Due!

Very inspiring and might get back to my keyboard!

Iron Gazelle

I’m not even sure where to begin on this latest (and I use the word “latest” with dual meaning – as in the most current as well as super-duper-long-over-due) blog post.   It’s really the second definition that has me not knowing where to begin.

It has been four months since my last post.  I will note one thing first though – in between my last post and this one, I did update my logo to what you see on the site now.   This logo is thanks to dear Dad who spent many iterations working with a fussy client (um, gee I wonder who that is) to nail down a logo that is original and also satisfactory to me.  Dad hand drew each item on the new logo.   I thank him so much for his patience and perseverance.   I’m still messing around with the formatting but close counts!

IronGazelle really FINAL

As you…

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Catching up on 4 Months of Training!

My cousin is amazing! Read her blog to be inspired.

Iron Gazelle

Following closely on the heels of my post from a couple of days ago I thought I’d get another post completed!   I’m using the after-work hours travel time on my flight back from Moncton to Toronto to sketch this one down.  Per my last post, time is precious and having some down time on a plane is a great way to catch up on the 4 month hiatus from my anemic blog.

So training…   I guess there’s 4 months of history to review…  Pretty sure it’s not feasible to cover it all off here. Summary – been training as much as I can.   Travelling for work plus a nine day vacation in late June / early July to Newfoundland definitely created difficulties in getting appropriate training in.  For sure some weeks were better than others.  The trip to Newfoundland was more challenging than I had originally anticipated.   I knew I wouldn’t…

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