Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ergonomically Speaking

Working from a home office has many benefits. My commute is approximately 45 seconds, the time it takes me to walk from the upstairs to the downstairs. I only need "work clothes" for the days when I'm actually going to see coworkers. The lack of coworkers, however, tends to be one of the disadvantages. You can't walk down the hall and vent to a coworker when you're having a bad day. Somehow it's just not the same via email or telephone.

My coworkers most days are 4 footed furry ones. Lady and Katie never let me go to work alone. Every morning, we have the same routine. I brew my coffee, whip up a protein smoothie in the Ninja, and then announce "Okay girls, time to go to work!" Then we all head to the office downstairs. They stay with me all day, leaving only when I need to go upstairs for a coffee refill or a bite of lunch. It's so cute how they follow me.

Lucky never wanted anything to do with the whole "going to work" business. In fact, during the entire past year, I think he only went downstairs one time. It may have been the stairs. His entire life, he never was crazy about stairs. But I never knew for sure. Since he couldn't talk, he never was able to explain his reluctance to join us for the work day. But that was fine, I always had my girls to keep me company.

However, by the end of the day, sometimes I have strange aches and pains. I wonder what OSHA would think of the computer desk ergonomics that require my remaining perfectly still for long periods of time so as not to roll over a dog ear or paw?

And let's not even talk about the potential for carpal tunnel. 

Yes, Lucy joins me at work too. She doesn't stay all day like Lady and Katie, rather, she comes sauntering down on her own schedule. I hear her before I see her, as she begin meowing her arrival about halfway down the hall. We have a routine here too. As soon she appears in the doorway, I say "Luc!" (pronounced "Loose!")  And she says "Meow!" Then she comes over and asks to get on my lap. How do you say no to a face like this?

You don't. You just welcome her on up, and make do the best you can. Not moving the chair too much (she doesn't like that when she's napping).

And typing carefully, so as not to jostle her little head. 

Ergonomically speaking, it's not the best way to work. 
But I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Safe Haven

I love weekends. One of the best things about weekends is not having a schedule! Or at least less of a schedule. There's time and space to fritter, and explore. Yesterday I was enjoying just such a day, when I decided to look for a place I've long wanted to visit, a sanctuary called Animal Haven.

A little background about my interest in Animal Haven... Several years ago, I rescued a duck from an icy lake. The staff from the veterinary clinic fell in love with her, naming her "Mildred," and one of the staff tried to adopt her. But the woman's chickens took exception to the newcomer, so Mildred had to be relocated to an animal sanctuary called Animal Haven. I was told she would be safe for life there, that she seemed to like it - and that she'd met a boyfriend! I always thought it would be fun to go find this place and see Mildred happy and healthy, considering how pitiful and near death she was when I'd last seen her. However, life being busy as it is, weeks and months passed, and I never made it out there.

On Saturday I was out running errands when I approached the road that I'd been told led to Animal Haven. I was sure Mildred was gone by now, considering that was years ago. But I was still curious about the place, having never seen it. On impulse, I turned. I wandered down the road for awhile, and then spotted the sign as I approached a curve: "Animal Haven of Asheville."

I did not find Mildred, although the volunteer who showed me around encouraged me to call back when the owner was on property. All of the animals were not in sight, and she did not know them all by name. She knew many of them though, like Bonnie and Clyde, who honked loud greetings.

This place is amazing...such a beautiful, peaceful setting, and spotlessly clean! The animals have sheltered areas as well as open pastures, and they seem so happy. I met giant pot bellied pigs, including one who wagged her tail every time you said her name. So cute! I had no idea pigs wagged their tails.

The cats have a beautiful house, filled with all sorts of things a cat would love. Places to climb and hide, two lofts, and a completely enclosed outdoor area. It's cooled in the summer by a fan, and heated in winter. The volunteer explained that the cats are generally able to leave this area as they wish, but a new cat was not yet allowed outside, so we were careful to shut the gate behind us when we left.

I met a rabbit, and chickens, and ducks. But the cutest of all were the goats! Look at this little face...

How cute is he?? His mother was rescued recently from a circumstance of abuse and neglect, and baby goat here surprised everyone by making an appearance shortly thereafter. The volunteer who was showing me around said that the mother goat had made great strides in learning to trust her new environment and people. I saw her some distance away on a hillside and she looked pretty happy, pulling leaves off a tree. And lucky little baby goat, to have the opportunity to be born into such a safe, nurturing, beautiful place.

Few of the animals at this sanctuary are up for adoption. Most are old, or sick, and they will be lovingly cared for at Animal Haven for the rest of their lives. The more I learned about this place during my tour, the more impressed I was. Animal Haven is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, and everyone who works here is a volunteer. Everyone! This is remarkable. It must take an army of volunteers to care for all the animals, do the rehabilitation, keep the pens and houses clean, keep the grounds looking so beautiful, run the thrift store. The place radiated love.

I went on the website today to learn a little more about the background and operation of Animal Haven. I am ready to clean out my house and donate all my unneeded items to their thrift store! They also have an interesting sponsorship program. For $20 a month (or whatever you can afford), you can sponsor an animal that has been rescued from abuse or neglect. You can do this for yourself, or as a gift for someone else. They'll send its photo and information, and arrange a tour to meet the sponsored animal. You can also visit with it as often as you want, if you're local. I want to sponsor Baby Goat! If anyone would like more information about the sponsorship program, check out

I am also going to call back and ask about Mildred. Regardless of whether she is still around or not, I am so thankful she got to live in this place. I could not have asked for anything better.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Life Well Lived

Our friends and former next-door neighbors are saying goodbye today to their beloved Arlo. As hard as this day is - and heaven knows all of us who have loved and lost a cherished furry family member know how hard it is - it's also a day for celebrating love. How fortunate are we who have been loved by a dog! Dogs bring the very best kind of love into our lives. Selfless, freely given, no strings attached.

I had not planned to do a post about Arlo. However, this morning I got a text from my sister encouraging me to check Facebook for an update on a pitiful emaciated dog that they rescued 4 days ago (that's another story, will have to share that one next time). When I went to Facebook, instead of seeing Stray Dog's update, I saw the photo of Arlo above, accompanied by a poem written by the family's daughter Emily. It was beautiful and moving, and reading it felt like watching a slideshow of Arlo's life. I asked them if I could share it, and they said that both Arlo and Emily would like that. So here it is. Enjoy, and celebrate the unconditional love in your own life this day.

Bye Bye Bean

Of all the names that we ever made up,
Like Farlo and Bubner, The Bean always stuck.
From the days when you stuffed all our socks in your mouth,
You were even too little to climb onto the couch!

You grew mighty quick, your belly the quickest
That buttery middle was by far the thickest.
Every now and then dad bought you ice cream in town,
Mom gave you cookies when you jumped up and down.
In some of your snackage you were a bit naughty,
Like when you ate all that fudge from Lake Winnipesaukee.

That tummy of yours, always hungry for somethin'
Snarfed brownies and at least one blueberry muffin.
Although you seemed to prefer baby carrots or steak,
There was even that time you gave my finger a taste!

That tum tum, round and warm, loved a good rubbin'
You'd flop on your back, always ready for lovin'!
The butterybeaniest best morning snuggler,
You'd snort and wiggle your way under the covers.
You'd only surrender while actively petted.
Otherwise you'd say, tail thumping, "time for breakfast."

Into late years you'd play like a pup,
Squeaking toys, on your back, legs sticking up.
Remember "Go find Charlie...", "Who's out there...GO GET 'EM!"
You'd chase those deer the opposite direction!

Bean, you were indeed a hairy fellow,
So mom redecorated the whole house in yellow.
A toy carrot, a dishtowel, your Binky you'd find
To welcome each one of us home, each time.

You made great friends wherever you went,
Lives shaped by you are lives better spent.
Lessons you shared without any talking
Like patience, compassion; no judgment or mocking.
Thank you, my friend, for being around
Whether under the desk, or on the old brown couch.

Little Brother, Black Bead, Arlo Von Benard
Arlo Farlo Big Fat Yarlo, BFD, and Schmarl
The time has come, my sweet Bean, the time has come to rest
Come here, boy, come. Lay your head down on my chest.
Our hearts beat for you while you let out your last breath,
May so much love lift you to wherever you go next.

Thanks to Emily for this beautiful tribute, and for allowing me to share it.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Springtime Adventures

Heading up Lookout Trail in Montreat!
It's been a delightful spring here in the mountains, despite the fact that of course, the Luckster Boy is deeply missed. I've been so busy with springtime activities, I've not spent any time blogging. When I turned on my home computer this morning, it opened to a page I was looking at two weeks ago! I had to stop and think - "Had it really been two whole weeks since I last sat down at this computer??"

It's time for an update! My last blog post was about Lucky's passing, so I don't want any of his friends thinking that we've gone into a cave to mourn. No, he would not want that, he would want us to enjoy every minute of spring, and that is exactly what we have been doing.

Springtime means spring cleaning = doggie bath time! Lady and Katie were good sports and tolerated their spring baths well. Of course, Katie adopted a posture of utter martyrdom throughout the process, but otherwise she managed just fine.

After the dogs were squeaky clean, it was time to wash the bed covers. The beds were piled and propped along one side of the living room as the covers dried and were put back on in stages. I got such a chuckle out of the scene below when I passed through at one point. Looks like the baths wore everyone out! 

In the mountains, springtime also means visits from the local wildlife. The bird feeding oasis I got for my birthday lasted about one day before the bears discovered  it. :-(         I was saying very unkind things about the bear population that day. Fortunately (miraculously) it was not destroyed, and everything has now been put away until the winter. Sometimes you can wait a few weeks until they move on, so I may try again toward the end of June. But they'll probably find it again. More likely than not, I'm going to have to be patient and wait until winter.

I need one of these signs that are on the dumpsters in the neighborhood. 

Mama Fox has had another litter of kits this spring, and they have been a joy and delight to watch. This year there were five! They play like puppies, chasing and jumping on one another. Mama's lame back leg makes her easy to identify as the same fox who was seen with kits in this area last spring. It doesn't seem to slow her down at all; she hops along on three legs as easily as if she had four. Almost all the photos I've taken are very grainy, because the family tends to show up at dusk, and I seem always to have only my iPhone with me. I got these pics one night about a month ago when I was driving up the hill back to the house, and oh how I longed to have my Canon Rebel! The kits were fearless and practically posed for me.

Several times during the last week, the kits have passed by my home office window, one or two at a time. I was on a phone conference on Tuesday when one ran into view and pounced onto the dirt near the Mexican sunflowers I've planted. Then it jumped into the air again, spun around, pounced again, and ran off. Maybe it was after something I couldn't see, or maybe it was playing. They're usually moving through so quickly that by the time I get out of my chair and over to the window, they're gone. But a few days ago I got lucky and captured the photo below. I was so excited to finally get a decent shot of one of them! As you can see from the photo, the youngsters are getting bigger.

So that's the update from here. We hope all our Blogger friends are having a great spring too. I'll set aside some time this evening to come visiting, get caught up on what's been going on!