Archive for the ‘fun’ Category

Into the Hills

The mountains have pulled on my heart-strings all Summer long.  I guess when the end of August approached, I felt an urgency to go into the hills, and so I did.

The Devil's Garden Overlook on the Blueride Parkway in North Carolina

The Devil’s Garden

Click on above image for a closer view of The Devil’s Garden Overlook

We first arrived at Stone Mountain state park in North Carolina without a reservation.  The trout-laden creek makes the area especially desirable to fisher-people (most of whom are men and boys).  The park ranger instructed us to keep driving north, which I didn’t mind too much.  The higher up we went, the cooler the weather became, and we found a nice little spot to camp. 

I’m not sure that the area we were in is specifically what the Cherokee called, Shoconage, meaning, “The Land of Blue Smoke,” but we did see the blue hue over the mountains and the clouds did look a bit like blue smoke.

My son and I went on our first mountain camping trip when he was only five years old.  I was pretty young myself.  We had joined a friend who was always saying that I should give camping a try.  He was right.

Oddly, after more than twenty years and many outdoor adventures later, I find myself longing for and returning to that same area of the Blue Ridge mountains in North Carolina, Doughton Park Recreation Area, where my son and I first camped with our friend. 

The rolling green hills and awesome views always make me feel like I’m in the right place.  Happily, my son still enjoys coming along with me to camp.

“What do you think would make you feel better?” my son had asked, several days before I decided to pack my gear and go camping.

“I’d like to sleep under the stars and wake up when the sun rises,” I told him.  “I want to feel the rhythm of nature.”

Little did I know that only a few days later, my wishes would come true.

We could only camp for a few nights.  Neither of us wanted to leave, but I hadn’t packed well enough to stay longer and was tired of driving to the store, which was twenty-some miles away.  Twenty mountain miles make for a pretty ride, but feel like fifty when you’re tired.

My favorite part of the trip was on the second day when my son and I had a heart-to-heart talk.  He was more relaxed than I’ve seen him in a long time.  We both remarked on the good night’s sleep we had each experienced.

There’s something about sleeping outdoors, feeling the wind blow, listening to the sound of nature without background noise and tuning into the rhythm of nature that brings clarity to the mind.  Perhaps Mother Nature unfolds a veil.

My next favorite part of our short trip was sitting by the fire, which was the night I removed the rain-fly from our tent, providing me with my second wish the following morning; an awesome view of the sun rising above the mountain. 

On our way home, we drove down to the creek at Stone Mountain State Park, where we spent the day by, “the small falls.”  We enjoyed local sour apples and tart blueberries.  My son and our dog rested on the flat rocks.  I chased a pretty little black and blue butterfly.

Water Energy is a Green Healing

The Small Falls

Butterfly Beautiful

Two children, a girl and an older boy, came to play and of course, they loved our dog, sweet little Ruthie Mae.  Everybody loves Ruthie. 

They were mountain people.  The boy looked about eleven years old. 

“You want me to take her down to the water for you?” he asked. 

Ruthie Mae feels my stress and one way she shows this is by pulling on her leash when we walk, which she’s been doing off and on for a couple of months.

“Sure,” I said to the boy. 

I trusted him right away with my dog, which is unusual.

“C’mon girl,” he said in a lovely Carolina mountain accent.  “C’mon now.  We’re gonna go right down here.  Okay?  There ya go.”

His way with her made me feel good.  I love seeing her happy and she was smiling.

I could tell he had been to those falls many times.  He had a sure foot and the younger girl with him did as well.  I liked him and so did Ruthie.

Ruthie’s enthusiastic walking didn’t seem to affect him.  He continued talking to her in his kind voice and down the craggy path they went toward a sandy spot by the water. 

“You’re really good with her,” I told him.

“Yeah,” he said.  “I been ’round dogs all my life.  I can tell she’s a good one.” 

For a moment, I could imagine him being a grown man and what he would be like.  I imagined a gentle man in the making.

He and Ruthie Mae didn’t get to play together for long because his mother’s cell phone wouldn’t work.  I liked that mine didn’t work.  I figured the woman had to be available for some important reason. 

After the boy and his family left, Ruthie joined my son for a nap on one of the big flat rocks by the water.  He made a soft place for her and she cuddled up next to him.  I occupied myself chasing the pretty black and blue butterfly that liked the sand.

I wanted to stay.  I mean, I really wanted to stay and I almost did, but I had responsibilities waiting and not enough money to do whatever I wanted.  I wish I could go back and stay for the rest of Summer.

(You can click on any photo in the gallery to view a slide show)

Stately Winged in Carolina

The Stately and Lovely Northern Cardinal

In the first weeks of Spring, a female Cardinal started visiting my backyard.  She liked the fallen seeds below our bird feeder.  

Within days of her arrival, she had two bright and very handsome red suitors.

I watched for weeks as the two male Cardinals chased her through the edge of the woods, swooping from branch to branch, stopping momentarily to show off their plumage or grab the best perching seat.

The female Cardinal appeared to enjoy the chase.  From where I stood, her future looked pretty good.

I don’t know which of the two males finally got her attention, but on Mother’s Day, I was delighted when just before Dusk, I walked outside to catch the last of daylight and heard a symphony of unfamiliar sounds.  

I thought at first the frenzy was normal dinner-time excitement in the backyard.  I soon suspected something more special was going on out there.  And it was!

A female Cardinal was feeding a fledgling!  I could barely make out the color of the little bird, but I sure heard it, and siblings too! 

I felt a surge of delight.

Slowly, I walked a little closer to a nearby briar patch where the loud and persistent cries were coming from.  I hoped for a photograph.

A bright male Cardinal flew across the yard, landing clear on the other side.  I’m pretty sure he was asking me not to get one step closer to his family.  I returned to the view from my deck.

The cries of the young birds moved me.  Although, the fledglings made lots of noise, I had a feeling their tweets were more a communication of location and confident awaiting, rather than ones of unmet needs.  

The mother was surely capable of providing and proving as much to her new children!  She looked well-fed and strong, yet when she bent over to offer her little one a bit of food, it was with an amazing gentleness. 

My heart was struck with love.

I returned inside to give the beautiful family peace and privacy.  I watched from my kitchen window until dark.

What a terrific gift for Mother’s Day!

I’ve seen many beautiful birds so far this Spring, but I must say, like my Winter resident, the American Robin, the Northern Cardinal has captured my heart.

Thank you for visiting dogkisses!

Memetastic True Story Revealed

I wrote five stories about myself in an earlier post, MEMETASTIC BLOG AWARD. Only one of the stories is completely truthful.

I confess –this does feel like a confession and one which I hadn’t expected — Story number THREE is the whole truth.

I have an authentic Mile High Club button.  I earned it in college.flying free a mile high, image of mile high pin, nightlights on a plane

I couldn’t believe I found the button, or pin rather, when I looked for it yesterday.  It’s a shiny little pin that one would wear on a shirt, but I don’t think I’ve ever worn it.

It’s as shiny as it was when it was given to me by the professor, who eventually became my long time friend and mentor.  We went on several flights together, but that was the only time we did anything like we did the day we earned our pins.

The only bold-face lie out of the five stories I wrote is number four“I love Comic Sans, Oprah, and Dr. Phil.”

I didn’t know what Comic Sans was until several days ago when I received the Memetasic award from Deb, at DorkyDeb.com.

I’ve never watched a daytime television talk show, unless it’s a PBS special or something of that nature.  I read an article in Oprah’s magazine a couple of years ago, which I enjoyed, but I never watched her show.

I didn’t know who Dr. Phil was until I saw his face on a magazine, while standing in line at the grocery store, which was around about 2004.  I asked my friend who was with me to tell me a little about him.  She was altogether shocked.

The other stories are mostly true.  I’ll likely write about the truth in those in a follow-up post.

About my little wheel-chair in story # 1.  I actually loved the chair because it was the only way I could get around.  And the day I could walk again, which I remember vividly, I was a very very happy little girl!

I have a history with pilots and airplanes.  I don’t know why.  As a result, I’ve flown in old planes, small planes, huge planes and a few in the middle.  A few times, I’ve flown the planes myself, but have never attempted to land one.

My dad took me on my first plane ride when I was about eight years old.  He and his buddy, Carly, who had a plane, but I’m not sure about a license, were quite the pair together.  We lived in the country and Carly had a landing strip on his land.  One time they took one of my sisters and me on what my dad’s friend called the, “roller-coaster in the air.”  We did, “donuts.”

I had great fun, but my older sister has since told me that she was scared.  I was surprised.  She says she didn’t want me to know when we were flying. She was always doing what she could to make me feel safe.

The best times I ever had in airplanes was with a man, Rick, whom I once loved very much.  Flying was a hobby for him.  Sadly, he died in a motorcycle accident not that long ago.  As you may have realized if you’ve read parts of my blog, there is usually an element of something hard in my stories.

The funnest flight I ever took with Rick was when he rented a Cherokee plane for my son’s eighth birthday.  My son is part Cherokee, so this was very special.

Shortly after we were in the air, we looked back to see my son sleeping in the backseat of the plane.  At first, I was afraid that Rick would be offended, but then, he was never offended.  He was the most peaceful human being I’ve ever known.  He laughed.  He knew my son fell asleep whenever he felt safe and relaxed.

“I guess he’s really enjoying himself,” my friend said chuckling.  We had a peaceful quiet trip.  We landed at a great little place where we walked across the road to a country southern home-style restaurant.  My son got to fly the plane for a bit on the way back home.  My friend laughed about my son sleeping on his birthday flight from then on.  He said it was the greatest compliment a pilot could ever receive.

I guess, looking back, I’ve had lots of fun in the air!

Thanks for reading my stories.  As always, thanks for visiting Dogkisses’s blog!


Funny pet note

write your dogs a letter explaining the house rules! Pet lovers will love this!

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE PETS, THIS IS A TRUE STORY.

FOR THOSE THAT DON’T, IT IS A TRUE STORY.

The following was found posted very low on a refrigerator door.

Dear Dogs and Cats: The dishes on the floor with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Placing a paw print in the middle of my plate does not mean that is is suddenly your food, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Racing me to the top of the stairs is not the object. Tripping me doesn’t help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space that you are taking up, is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom! If, by some miracle, I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge in an attempt to open the door. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years – canine/feline attendance is not required.

The proper order for kissing is: Kiss me first, then go smell the other dog or cat’s butt. I cannot stress this enough.

Finally, in fairness, dear pets, I have posted the following message on the front door:

TO ALL NON-PET OWNERS WHO VISIT AND LIKE TO COMPLAIN ABOUT OUR PETS:

(1) They live here. You don’t.

(2) If you don’t want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. That’s why they call it ‘fur’-niture.

(3) I like my pets a lot better than I like most people..

(4) To you, they are animals. To me, they are adopted sons/daughters who are short, hairy, walk on all fours and don’t speak clearly.

Remember, dogs and cats are better than kids because they:

(1) eat less,

(2) don’t ask for money all the time,

(3) are easier to train,

(4) normally come when called,

(5) never ask to drive the car,

(7) don’t smoke or drink,

(8) don’t want to wear your clothes,

(9) don’t have to buy the latest fashions,

(10) don’t need a gazillion dollars for college and

(11) if they get pregnant, you can sell their children…..(*_*)

This “pet note” came in as an email from my friend, Rosemary, who has a wonderful health blog about living with chronic pain, Seeking Equilibrium.

Thanks for sharing Rosemary!

 

Time out…

Mystical Mountains

Sacred Oats fall Crows came to call

A magical view of those rolling green hills

those hills sure do call my name

My beloved 4-legged guardian and I walk barefoot

green grassy meadows where the ground is soft, white-tail deer roam and crows come calling

Where the Sacred Oats fall…  Crows come to call

Suddenly we danced in the night around the fire

We danced at night.

Below are some of my journal entries during my camping trip.  They speak mostly to pain and challenges.  I’m a little surprised.  I did actually enjoy myself, at times, but apparently there was more pain and hard times than I realized.  I do love those hills.  I loved some parts of the trip.  Still, these entries mostly reflect how hard the trip was for me.

–Today we are in the mountains.  Many things occurred over the past few days as I was getting ready to go camping that I didn’t like.  But I’m here.  A moment alone now as my son, a man now, and our two young friends are with me.  Of course our four-legged are here too.  Well, my moment is over.  Son is back.

–Preparing for this trip was extremely hard.  Bending over a lot while packing caused severe lower back pain for me.  I had to walk through the fatigue.  I had to dig deep inside for the will or whatever it was that I had to have, determination I guess, to keep on packing despite severe pain and fatigue.

–I fell.  Slid down a moss covered set of stone steps.  No bruises.

–Sacred oats gone bad.  I am not eating from that bowl.

–I’ve been terribly sick and pretty much having to go at things as usual without much help.  It’s been hard.  I had to do most of the work preparing this trip.  My son isn’t doing well.

–I’m exhausted.  Completely.  My pain levels are off the scale.

–It’s nice writing out here.  My dogs are lying next to me.  The young people went on bicycle rides.  It’s very quiet.

–I love being here.

–Butterflies are everywhere.

–I think the sacred oats that went bad have left us now.  I hope.

–They’re back.

–Well, maybe those bad oats didn’t leave us.

–My pain has hit hard sitting here writing.  I’ll lie down soon.

–God I’m tired!

–My son is having a psychotic episode.

–My intestines hurt like hell.

–I’m watching the last log burn.  Now this wood, well, it’s amazing!

With all the pain and frustration that came with that trip, I managed to get some time out.  I needed to get away from flat land.  I needed to go where the hills surround me.  I needed the cool breeze that always travels through those rolling green mountains.


Horses healing hearts

Horses heal the mind, body and spirit

Candy, A Morgan

Wow!  OMG!  Totally Awesome!

Those are the words that first come to mind as I write, recalling my ride today.  

Today I met a Morgan horse named Candy.  I couldn’t believe her name was the same as the Appaloosa that I rode last summer.  I loved that Appaloosa, who was a very spunky girl and today, I loved Candy the Morgan horse, who was tender, sweet and did exactly everything I asked her to do, and then some!  I mean, some things I asked her to do I didn’t realize I had asked for because I’m an amateur rider.

The trainer showed me how Candy was keen to my every move, such as barely moving my foot in the stirrup, which told Candy to slow down a little. Candy was sweet and intelligent.

I also learned that gently pulling back one side of the reins, while giving a little on the other side controlled Candy’s speed during a trot.   Instead of bouncing up and down, afraid of falling, I was able to move gracefully with her.  This was an awesome feeling.  It was exciting too.  It was most likely my favorite part of the lesson.

The trainer told me I was doing a great job.   She said she was surprised at how well I did during the trot.  I’m sure she had no clue how much this meant to my self-esteem hearing her say that.  I felt good about myself in that moment.  It was a healthy sense of control in a time when most everything in my life feels completely out of my control.

Aside from enjoying the ride there is a relationship that you develop with a horse and it doesn’t take long — only a few minutes.   It’s amazing how much a horse listens.  The simple act of holding out my pinkies, which I didn’t know about,  slowed Candy down.

While I’m certainly tired from the ride, there is a smile on my face as I write.  My spirit feels good.  I don’t feel like a complete failure.  Candy sure helped me.

Morgan horses are so sweet!  They are much like dogs.

Candy, a very sweet girl!

“Morgan horses are kind of like dogs,” the trainer had said when I first arrived at the farm.   I walked through the barn and met the other horses while she saddled up Candy for me.  One of the Morgans especially reminded me of dogs.   She kept nuzzling her big pretty head up against the bars appearing to desire a scratch behind the ears, just like a dog.  I gave her a scratch and she kissed my hand, just like a dog.

I had a great time!

Now I must go rest and dream of my meeting with one of the sweetest horses in the world!

Candy lives at a farm in North Carolina.  This farm does not offer or include in their lessons equine-assisted therapy.   Any therapy I received I captured on my own.

I’m not a doctor or a medical professional, nor am I offering advice on treatment for depression.   I simply want to share my experience and tell how riding a horse, along with the relationship that is created, is great therapy for me in my journey to fight chronic sadness, frustration, illness, grief, and often, a loss of interest in things I would otherwise enjoy.

Antidepressants don’t always come in a pill.

(update on Monday, March 22, 2010) —  Lots of stiffness and sore muscles since my ride, but today I’m doing better.   I stayed in bed most of the 24 hours after the ride.  I also had to take anti-inflammatory medication but to me, it was totally worth it.

Physical strength isn’t a requirement to ride on a gentle horse.    I didn’t have to lift the saddle, which was a good thing and I chose to trot, which I’m sure added to the aftermath of pain.

Compared to the side-effects I have from antidepressant medications, the short-lived flare of the sore muscles and fatigue is not a big deal to me.

The extra pain will go away and the gifts Candy and her trainer gave me will stay.