Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Animal Records - A Simple Method

Since many of you that read this blog are Animal Lovers like me, I thought I'd pass on a tip that might help you keep track of their health.

Records. If you are like many people, you jot on your calendar, day runner (or maybe on your smart phone) when your dog/cat/horse/parakeet needs its shots/wormer/flea treatment/etc.

Or, maybe these dates get lost in the daily shuffle of things, and you sit around scratching your head, mumbling "When was it that Frodo got his last vaccination?"

Maybe because I'm a writer, I like to actually Write Things Down. Ha!

Maybe I'm super-organized. Not!

Maybe I've just had lots of pets/livestock over the years, and sometimes it gets really hard to remember.

So I've came up with a really simple system to keep track of everyone.

First, whenever we welcome a new animal into our family, I make a folder for them, which I keep in my file cabinet. Then, I make a little chart to go inside. At the top, it lists Name/Age/When We brought them Home. (We've had Frodo for 6 years? Really?)

I take a clean piece of paper - like this:

You can do this yourself in about 30 seconds, and mark your columns however you like:

Vaccinations/Worming/Shoeing-Trimming for a horse or donkey.

Vaccinations/Worming/Flea Treatments for a cat or dog.

Or whatever works for you and your animals. Yes, if you take them to the vet, the vet writes this stuff down (and sometimes sends you reminders.) But because I do a lot of these things myself, I like to remember when Frodo had his last treatment/shot/etc.

Hope this helps some of you take good care of your animals!

Kisses to all of your horses, cats, dogs, or parakeets (actually, I've never had a parakeet, do they get shots?)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Giving Thanks

In the rush to mark down the Halloween costumes, set out the Christmas merchandise, and start playing Christmas tunes, Thanksgiving seems to be somewhat overlooked, at least as far as retail stores go. But I love Thanksgiving. In fact, I love the whole month of  November, when people begin to reflect on what they are truly thankful for.

Collection of ceramic and handmade turkeys that I bring out this time of year.
So here's my list:
  1. I'm thankful for family. Although we may not always be together, I come from a close family that talks and shares things and loves one another.
  2. I am thankful for my husband. I married him 22 years ago, and it was one of the best decisions of my life.
  3. I am thankful that I live in a warm house and that I have plenty to eat on Thanksgiving, and every day. I realize that this is not true for many people in the world, and I know how lucky I am.
  4. I am thankful I live in a peaceful country without war at our doors. I am thankful for the men and women who have given their lives to protect us, and those that do so every single day.
  5. I am thankful for the animals in my life, who bring me so much companionship, fun, and joy.
  6. I am thankful that I live in a beautiful place, with trees and woods surrounding me.
  7. I am thankful for my health. Although I am getting older and parts of me are not as good as they used to be, I am basically still pretty healthy, and I am very thankful for that.
  8. I am thankful that I received a good education, that allowed me to read well (one of my primary joys in life) and to learn to make good decisions.
  9. I am thankful for good friends and neighbors, which we have in abundance.
  10. I am thankful for turkey, and pumpkin pie, and laughter, and music. 
I could go on and on, but on this day sitting in my comfy chair with the rain pounding down outside, I am thankful for the time to reflect and give thanks for the many good things in my life.
I hope that all of you can do the same.
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!
I hope you enjoy your day!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How to Choose a Book Club Book

I've been involved in a small neighborhood book club for just over a year. This has been a fun way to discuss things other than the normal talk of a small rural community, which tends to center around hunting, tractors, politics, livestock and oh, did I mention hunting?

So we've had an interesting time reading multi-cultural love stories, war-time drama, and how to cook like a French chef.

But we had come to the end of our list of books, and it was time to pick new ones. Because we've been a small group (usually no more than 4-6 people attend) it was easy to decide whether or not we might choose to read a book by the number of nods (or grimaces) when a book title was mentioned.

But this time, when the list of nominations was rolled out, we came upon some new dilemmas. As one interesting title was mentioned, we found it was only available as an e-book, with no print copies available. Most of us have e-readers, but not everyone does. Also, this one was not available from our (wonderful) library system.

Then we chose another popular title, which we were sure would have lots of copies available at the library, only to find out the library carried it in e-format only.

And one of the titles suggested is very popular, available at the library with lots and lots of copies, but over 100 people on the waiting list!

Because we are such a small club, we've never established rules for picking books. We've made some good choices over the last year, but also had a couple of clunkers. And of course, reading is very subjective, so not everyone will love every book (but of course that often makes for great discussion.)

So for those of you that have been in a book club - I'm wondering if you've run into any of these same problems. Have you established rules for picking books? For instance: Bestsellers, award-winners, on a book club list, achieving a certain rating on Goodreads, available at the library, etc.

Care to share what has helped in your selections?

As for our club - we did come up with the following books to read, and we are looking for more:

The Story of Beautiful Girl, by Rachel Simon
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford
The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers
The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
The Winemaker's Daughter, by Timothy Egan
Still Alice, by Lisa Genova
Wild: from Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Chery Strayed

And, we decided that for our December meeting, we'll each bring a wrapped used book off of our shelves, as a surprise gift exchange. That should be fun!

For a complete list of the books we have read in the past year, check out my Goodreads Book Club list.

Please chime in with a comment, and share how you have picked your books for book club. Also, have you read any of our selections? Did we pick some good ones?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hanging Season

We have some unusual things hanging in our barn right now. The first are called Chinese Lanterns.

Chinese Lanterns - Physalis alkekengi
I received a start of this unusual perennial from a good friend, and they are quite easy to grow. The foliage is not much to look at, but check out the lovely orange lanterns it produces. I cut them off before the heavy rains set in, and hung them upside down to dry. I'll use them in arrangements soon. They are cool, aren't they?
And here are the tomato plants that we plucked from our garden, before the tomatoes all became split and ruined in the rain. We hung them upside down, too.
Even without soil, they'll continue to riped their fruit for several more weeks, and we can enjoy red-ripe tomatoes. Isn't that amazing?
Have you ever tried these methods, or hung anything else to dry that turned out well?