This summer I have noticed more birds and sounds of birds. I think it may have been the positive influence of one of my friends from the Bear River Writers’ Conference who is a nature expert. We had a conversation about being able to appreciate nature even in the midst of the concrete jungle of Chicago.
Whether I’m out for a walk, running errands, or running along the lakefront path, I’ve come to notice the birds and the beautiful sounds of their summertime chirping. I also notice, and stay away from, the Canadian Geese…that’s a story for another time.
If I happen to see a dog on the path stalking a bird or a squirrel it brings a big smile to my face. I know the dog isn’t going to kill the bird or squirrel, so that’s why it’s a cute interaction. It’s especially funny when the squirrel outsmarts the dog and runs around to the opposite side of the tree and the dog is left in utter confusion. I can just hear the dog saying, “Where did that pesky squirrel go?!”
For my cats, I have always felt bad that we don’t have trees right outside our window so they can do their own stalking. This year, though, we seem to have a number of birds flying by on a regular basis. There also must be a tree that has gotten bigger or has become a safe place for birds to land, because I feel like we’re hearing more birds when the windows are open. Or, could it be that I’m paying more attention to the calming sounds of nature? Hmmm….
Well, even though my cats are getting more real-life experience with birds these days, I occasionally will play bird videos for the cats on YouTube. It’s so funny to watch them get so enthralled with the computer screen! I love that they think the bird is in the apartment when the bird flies away on the computer screen. Sometimes I’ll play the squirrel and bird video and Abby gets a little upset with the squirrel. I’d hate to see what would happen if they met in real life! The best part is seeing them intent as they watch the birds fly in and out of the screenshot. Ten minutes of bird videos means they will all sleep through the night.
I hope everyone is able to enjoy the nature in your hometowns this week. Enjoy the cuddle!
I first wanted to wish all of the fathers, uncles, grandfathers, step-fathers, and fur-fathers a Happy Father’s Day! I hope today is a day where fathers are honored and have moments of relaxation.
This past week the idea of “being still” kept coming to mind. Reggie made me think of this early in the week. Sometimes Abby and Reggie will go on the stairs for a quick run up and down a flight. Occasionally, I’ll take Reggie on a “walk” up about five or six flights to give him more exercise and some quality time with me. He gets a small bite of a treat when he runs up each flight, so he’s come to love hanging out on the stairs.
Throughout the week I noticed all the cats in their moments of chillin’ and being quite comfortable with being still for a long period of time. I saw an adorable dog the other day stalking a squirrel. I watched this dog look like a statue for several minutes. He was all set on staring down that squirrel for as long as it took. (I wish I had a picture.)
Then, once again, I was reflecting on my time at the Bear River Writers’ Conference at Camp Michigania on Walloon Lake (check out last week’s blog). There are many reasons that I love Bear River, but one of the reasons that I think many of the participants love our time is our chance to be still. Being in nature, among fellow writers, and away from our busy lives allows us a few days to be still with our thoughts and our writing.
It was a somewhat crazy week for me as the end-of-year “stress” piled up; graduation, finals, finishing grades, cleaning and packing up the classroom, and the like. I finally realized that I needed to find moments in my day to be still. Whether it’s sitting down to reminisce about Bear River, or watching Reggie sit on the stairs for five minutes, it was so helpful to me to do something as simple as being still for a few moments. I hope we are all able to find a moment or two to “be still” and appreciate the world around us, as well as, the world within us. Now, if I could only figure out what Reggie is thinking when he’s sitting still!
Allow me to say thank you and to take a minute to honor our nation’s military and our nation’s heroes. I’m especially honored to have my father, grandfather, and several aunts and uncles who served in the US military or served in war. I can’t thank my relatives enough for their service. I do think of them often, especially at times like Memorial Day.
While I don’t know any service dogs, I love seeing reports of the service dogs that served in Afghanistan or Iraq. Yes, I do get a little teary-eyed, but the stories of the soldier who are reunited with their service dogs are so touching. It’s so touching to see that the dogs are honored for their service. It also makes me want to learn a bit more about what they do while serving in the armed forces.
As a child, I also remember Memorial Day weekend as including a day when my mom was glued to the TV to watch the Indy 500. If we tried to ask her a question or tell her something that wasn’t even possible. We learned to not bother mom or join in on watching the race. As I got older, Memorial Day Weekend involved spending the weekend with my grandparents and still enjoying the Indy 500.
My cats may have moments of running around the apartment looking like the Indy cars racing around the track. As long as there are no big crashes, I’m okay with that. “Doggies and kitties…start your engines!”
Next weekend I’ll be at a writing conference in Michigan. I’ll take next Sunday off from the blog and will return on June 11th. I hope everyone is enjoying their Memorial Day Weekend.
Just in case the “cuddlers” are preparing for a busy day, I’ll make this one quick.
Happy Mother’s Day! I day to celebrate our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, step-moms, foster-moms, and of course, “fur moms.” It seemed that this week I stumbled across various news stories and TV shows that were focused on moms from the animal kingdom. At a Chicago zoo, the sea otter pups are now available for the public to see. Of course, the news showed the pups with their moms. I happened to catch (and watch) Jack Hanna’s show, Into the Wild, where cheetah, elephant, black bear, and rhinoceros moms and babies were highlighted. It was so cute to see the animal moms and their babies cuddling up close or playing near their mom.
Human moms and animal moms sure have big jobs in keeping their offspring safe until they’re ready to go out in the world. It sometimes seems that words can’t even describe the “job” of a mother. So, may all of the moms, of all kinds, have a beautiful day and feel the love.
It’s been a bit unseasonable cold around Chicago this past week. I know it’s only the first week of May, but in my mind, the weather should be warmer than 40-degrees in the morning and 50-degrees in the afternoon. The rain has also offered a spring chill and the feeling that Mother Nature is a little mad about something. Everyone at work has been dragging a little bit and we’re all blaming it on the weather. The heat in the school building isn’t on, so the classrooms and library have had an extra chill. I’ve had a few days where I never even took off my jacket. My hands have been cold and all I can think about is getting home to my cozy couch and cuddling with the cats.
I’m convinced that a full moon has influences on cats’ behavior, but I’m still observing my cats and weather. It seems that they are in-tune with the fact that it is a little chilly out. I don’t have the window open for the cats to hang out in, it’s a little chilly, and I’m using the cats for lap warmers. I don’t want to turn on the heat because then it gets too warm in my apartment. The cats seem to be cuddling with each other and me a little more this week. Maybe it’s my mood, maybe it’s their mood, or maybe it really is this spring chill and rainy weather.
This is a funny thing that my friend and her mom (or her dad – can’t remember) were talking about…50-degrees on a spring day, when you expect it to be in the 70’s, is much different than 50-degrees in the fall. She was also comparing watching a baseball game in the 50’s vs. watching a football game in the 50’s. Our perception and expectation of the weather definitely comes into play here. Thanks for the tidbit, Karen!
On a side note…I feel sorry for some of the delicate plants and flowers that sprouted a few weeks ago when it was mid-70’s. This week the flowers, especially the tulips, have been a bit disappointed with the weather. I swear some of the tulips have a sad-face-look about them. I feel like telling the beautiful plants and flowers to just hang on for a week…the weather has got to change pretty soon.
Well, I hope everyone has a week of good weather and has a chance to enjoy some sunshine and fresh air! And, of course, don’t forget to cuddle with your fur babies.
Otis cuddling with me. This is rare for Otis to sit next to me like this…he must have known I needed his warmth.
Abby getting warm the first day the temperature dropped.
Reggie and Striker doing a good job of keeping warm on a chilly evening.
As the weather starts to warm up again here in the Midwest, people and pets are re-discovering the joy of being outside. I love seeing the dogs running around in the park near my apartment. Their body language says it all – “Yay! I get to run around and see my friends!” No more of the quick walks because it’s 20-below outside. The dogs and their humans definitely enjoy the chance to run around in the park. Sometimes, it seems, like the dogs want to get chased by their human just so they can stay in the park a little longer.
The other day I bought a new area rug. It took a while to get the living room back together again because the cats kept playing on the new rug like it was a toy. They were “attacking” the little colored spots, rolling on their back, and looking at me with gratitude for the new toy and open space. Reggie and Abby had a game of tag going as they ran around the living room, but the middle of the area rug seemed to be home base. It was funny, but I had to warn them that the coffee table was going to be returned to the space.
Between the dogs running in the park, and my cats claiming the space of the new rug, it made me miss being at my grandparents’ house during spring break. All growing up, we spent our spring break at grandma and grandpa’s house in the country. I, of course, loved visiting my grandparents, but I also loved getting out of the city for a week and having the feeling of space and freedom. It was nice to walk outside and only see tall trees instead of tall buildings. Or, at night seeing the light of the moon and a million stars, rather than the street lights and maybe one or two stars. I just love that feeling of stretching out and having a lot of space.
Sometimes I’ll go over to Lake Michigan and pretend that there aren’t a ton of high-rises behind me with a million + residents vying for space. I love city living, but I sure do love those moments when I get to claim some open space…even if it’s just for a moment.
So, I know April Fool’s was yesterday, but I can’t stop thinking about practical jokes from our human friends and fur babies.
On Friday I gave my students a spelling test of fake words. I saw it posted on Facebook; a teacher gave this test to his middle school students. My students kept saying they thought the words were fake, but I convinced them otherwise. When I revealed the answer to #11 to be April Fool’s, the students broke out into laughter and gave me props for a good April Fool’s joke. It was a nice way to end the week as we approach a week of upcoming standardized tests.
This made me think of the “jokes” our furry friends play on their humans. I’ve played with many dogs in my time and have had it happen to me when they’re about to give me their toy to throw, and they decide to hold onto it or run away with their toy instead. I remember watching this dog and his human on an early-morning run…the human was trying to leave the beach, but the dog was having none of it. The adorable dog would go next to his human and act like he would accept getting hooked up to the leash, and at the last second, would run off wanting his human to play another game of chase. It was so funny! If dogs could laugh, that cute dog was definitely in hysterics!
If you were part of a April Fool’s joke, hopefully it was as innocent as being asked to spell Rol-Aska-Tox or Tangeteen. Or, maybe your fur baby decided to play a joke on you. Either way, I hope you made it through the day with a lot of laughs, and are taking this morning to relax…and cuddle.