Tuesday, August 31, 2010

West Virginia = Heaven on Earth

We just returned from a weekend in "Wild and Wonderful" West Virginia for some much needed R&R.  We went wayyy up in the mountains to Davis, West Virginia, which just happens to be "the highest incorporated town in the State of West Virginia, with an elevation of 3,200 square feet." (according to their website) It's such a beautiful area and about a 5 hour drive from our house to this destination.  And the weather this time of the year is absolutely beautiful.  Because of the elevation, you don't get the humidity and high temperatures that we've been suffering with this summer in Maryland. Although it's pretty rural up there, it's a wonderful place to go if you really want to relax, unwind, and get away from cell phones, computer/e-mails and the mindless drone of television (which I watch very little to none of anyway), as well as the general stress of everyday life.  And if you love nature and outdoor activities like I do, this is a great place to be since there's lots of parks and trails for hiking, horseback riding, golfing, fishing and bird/wildlife watching. And I'd rather be in the mountains than any place else. I'd love to see the Rockies in Colorado and the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. Someday. My husband is more of a beach/water guy, but give me mountains and the cool, shady woods.  Can't get enough of 'em.

That said, Tony and I left on Friday afternoon (had good intentions of leaving early, but you know how that goes sometimes) and we got there around 6-ish.  We had dinner at Sirianni's restaurant in Davis that I SWEAR has the best pizza on the planet! No kidding.  I can hear you saying "C'mon, best West Virginia? No way."  It's true!  And I'm a serious pizza lover, too.  In fact, it's so good that we ate there twice over the weekend! So during dinner Tony casually mentions that he'd seen a sign advertising karaoke Fridays at Timberline resort restaurant.  Karaoke? Did you say karaoke? I LOVE karaoke! Totally love it, in fact.  I know it's corny and cheesy and all that, but what can I say? I still love it. I'm a horrible singer and I know it, but that doesn't stop me.  But that's the best part about it tho, isn't it? The worse you are, the more entertaining it is for the audience.  And the audience, in this instance were all bikers. Yep. Leather wearin', heavily tattooed, chains, the whole nine yards. A pretty rough crowd, if I must say. They were having some kind of a motorcycle rally at Timberline that weekend and all congregated in the bar/restaurant that night to party. And sing. Just like me. Tony didn't think I'd do it.  In fact, I think he was hoping I WOULDN'T do it, since he told me about a dozen times that it wasn't too late to leave if I decided to change my mind.  Of course I didn't change my mind and decided on "Coalminers Daughter" by Loretta Lynn.   I figured "when in Rome, right?"  I thought I'd be terrified at the last minute, but once the music started I never gave it a second thought.  Sure I was bad.  Horrible even. Go ahead. Doesn't hurt my feelings. But I didn't get any rotten tomatoes or beer bottles thrown at me, which I considered to be a major accomplishment.  And I had fun, which was all I wanted to do anyway.  If you're not familiar with the song, check out the video that Loretta Lynn sang in the early 70s:

Saturday we went to the Tucker County Animal Shelter where I dropped off some desperately needed food and supplies for the animals.  I guess it was a good thing that Tony went with me, too (or was it?) since I came very close to falling in love with the cutest little female Jack Russell terrier that had come in 2 days earlier as a stray.  I swear I have ZERO control when it comes to animals.  But much to my dismay after my husband stood his ground, we did NOT  leave with a new puppy (Rats!).  Just dropped off the supplies, talked to the lady who runs the shelter, looked at all the dogs and cats and left. Sigh...

Sunday we went to the local ski resort where the attraction in the summer was taking a chair lift up the mountain and looking down at the valley below. Absolutely spectacular!! Once at the top of the mountain we did some hiking on the trails for about an hour (fortunately there were no bear sightings, which has been known to happen - Yikes!), took the lift back down the mountain, had an early dinner, then headed home to my BABIES!!! (the four-legged and feathered variety, that is) 2 days away from home seemed to be just the right amount of time for a get away.  I think any longer would have made me too homesick for all my animals, but I think it's important to get away every once in a while, just to recharge your batteries, see some new sights, and experience some new adventures.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Can't We All Just Get Along?

By way of introduction, these 2 young ladies are Peggy and Scarlett.  Scarlett is the black Australorp and Peggy is the tan and black Ameracuana.  I got them in late March at Country Feed and Garden in Gambrills, MD when they were only 3 or 4 days old, which makes them 5 months old now.  Who can resist baby chicks; aren't they just the sweetest thing ever?!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Family Get Together

I'm a big girl now!
Daughter Kelly, and her husband, Tommy, are down this week visiting the "fam" from upstate New York, where Tommy (also known to some as "Sargeant Mason") is stationed at Fort Drum with the Tenth Mountain Division and just back from his second tour of duty in Afghanistan. Before I start rambling on about our get together, let me just brag on him a second and say that I'm so proud of him and his bravery and commitment to our Country.  Okay then!  So we all celebrated their arrival at Tommy's moms' house (Hi, Mary!) in Fredericksburg, VA on Saturday.  Lots of food, laughter, and a little bit of Sangria was enjoyed (okay, I guess that depends on your definition of "little").
Party time!

In any event, there were lots of people coming and going throughout the day at Mary's house starting about 1:00 until somewhere around 10:00-ish.  A busy, busy day that continued into the night and everybody had fun. By the way, I have a great admiration for people who love to entertain as Mary does, because I don't. At all. In fact, it's nothing I even aspire to - ever. That just involves wayyyy more cooking, cleaning, and being "on" than I'm interested in. 

Dave & Audrey
My brother, Dave, and his girlfriend, Audrey (or "Saint Audrey" as she should be called), showed up earlier in the day, but unfortunately we missed them as they had to head out to a wedding later that afternoon and left before Tony and I got there.

I didn't do it Officer. I promise!
There was also no lack of four-legged friends at the party, either. Kelly and Tommy brought their dogs, Norton and Lola with them and Tommy's sister (Hi, Melissa!) brought her "daughters" Zoey and Princess. We left our own 3 lunatics (Zeus, Snoopy & Lilly) at home because parties are supposed to be fun, not chaotic, and if you threw those three into the mix with the other four dogs, the next thing we'd all be seeing is this, which I'm sure no one would appreciate, least of all our wonderful hostess.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Love Has No Pedigree

I recently got an e-mail from a friend, not a close friend, mind you, more a friend-of-a-friend I'd say, but someone I've known for many years nevertheless.  She wrote because she hadn't heard from me in a while, wondered how I was doing, and was excited to show off pictures of her new puppy.  "Misty" was a long-haired chihuahu, and cute as could be (what puppies aren't though, right?).  She went on to brag about how this little lady had descended from champion bloodlines, how momma dog had ribbons for this and that, as well as daddy chihuahu, who also came from a long line of pedigrees.  She then joked to me that with such high-brow lineage, she hoped that Misty wouldn't "grow up to be a snob."  Meanwhile, I felt sad and disappointed.  First of all, I'm always baffled as to why people are so taken, so bowled over and completely enamored with pedigrees, papers and bloodlines.  I mean, is that going to make you love that animal any more - or God forbid - any less, because of their lack of "good breeding?" And while this type of pretentious nonsense drives me crazy, in her case, I get it.    

Knowing her as long as I have (since our late teens), and the large family she grew up in where the only abundance she'd ever known was alcoholism and shame, it makes sense.  Owning a pedigree like Misty perhaps makes her feel as if she can wash away the poverty of her own childhood and show the world that she "has arrived."  Misty's pedigree has become her own. Social climbing by association, if you will.  Kind of like "marrying up."

The other thing I struggled with was that she chose a breeder over a shelter or rescue dog.  To say that there are too many dogs and cats in shelters as it is that need secure and loving homes is an understatement. A BIG understatement. Huge. In fact, I did some scouting around and learned that according to the Humane Society of the United States, approximately 3-4 MILLION (that's six zeros, folks!) dogs and cats are euthanized every year because there is simply not enough room or financial resources to keep them for an extended period until the right owner comes along.  And what's worse, given the status of today's economy, with high unemployment and home foreclosures, more dogs and cats are being turned into shelters than ever before. I recently received an impassioned letter from a local dog and cat rescue that I contribute to, asking for financial support, as well as donations of food and pet supplies. Receiving their letter requesting support was not at all unusual, since most animal rescues exist solely on the financial support of kind people who help them stay afloat. I guess it was the tone of the request, bordering on desperation, really, that surprised me. This was a group that for years always operated, for the most part, "in the black." Unfortunately though, in the last 2 years because of our faltering economy, all their resources had been depleted, donations had taken a nose dive, and the bottom line was, they were in bad shape.  In addition, they simply could not accept anymore owner turn ins for a while, at least until they got back on their feet financially.  

However, I realize that some people, for reasons that only they can understand, are completely dead set against owning a mutt, and only a pure bred dog will do.  And for those people, there are believe it or not, animal rescues that are breed specific; mastiffs, jack russells, toy poodles, beagles, great danes, german shepards, etc.  In fact, is a great resource for locating these rescues, and it's actually where I adopted 2 of my 3 dogs.

Did anyone see the movie "Shallow Hal" with Jack Black and Gwyneth Paltrow that came out a few years ago? Okay, not an Oscar nominee for sure, but a cute story with a great message.  Black's character (Hal) only dated girls because of their looks and outer beauty, but in the course of the movie, gets hypnotized and starts to see women on the outside according to their inner beauty.  He meets Paltrow's character, Rosemary, who is 300 + lbs, and therefore, considered unattractive by Westernized beauty standards and the brunt of a lot of cruel jokes throughout the movie.  However, after Black's transformation, her inner beauty (she is a kind, gentle person who works with terminally ill children) shines through and he sees her only as a tall, slim, and beautiful blonde.  In short, he falls in love with who she is on the inside, not what she looks like on the outside and goes against the tide of socially accepted norms, thereby sending a message to the audience that love transcends appearances.  As it should be.  Check it out:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Therapy for the Soul...Enjoy!

Well, everybody, I'm starting to get a little frustrated about one thing in particular that I've been praying for for a while now, and it just isn't happening...I keep reminding myself that God has a plan and he's got it all covered, but I guess I keep looking at my watch and forget that his timing is better than mine.  Okay then! So instead of focusing on the negative, I thought I'd print a few pictures from my camera that would lift my spirits.  Hope it cures anything that ails you as well... 

Pretty Peacock

Mom & babies

Don't you love the color combination here?
"Wow, Mom! Everything is so BIG!"

Beautiful West Virginia

White Peacock

Sunny Sunflower

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Thought for the Day...

Today is the day the LORD has made, let us REJOICE and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Message to Jennifer Aniston: Stop the "Anti-father" rhetoric!

I wasn't going to do this. I wasn't going to turn my blog into a hot bed of controversial commentary on social and political issues because I only wanted it to be a fun, light-hearted account of my life, including all my beloved pets, my love of nature and gardening, maybe some stories involving my quirky but lovable husband, and my talented, funny & smart, all-grown-up daughter or other family members. But I have to admit, I'm aggravated and feel the need to vent. I read a quote yesterday from Jennifer Aniston who is currently promoting her new movie "The Baster." For those of you who aren't familiar with the storyline, Aniston plays a 40-something woman who decides that although still single, she wants to have a baby. The comment she made was as follows:
"Women are realizing it more and more knowing that they don't have to settle with a man just to have a child. Times have changed and that is also what is amazing....that we do have so many options these days, as opposed to our parents' days when you can't have children because you waited too long."
Sigh...Jennifer, Jennifer, Jennifer. Where do I begin? As someone who was a single mother for 13 years, I can tell you that her statement, though probably well-meaning, is just ignorant. What I think bothers me the most about it is the implication that in this day and age, fathers are simply unnecessary and obsolete. Furthermore, it demeans the importance of them in a child's life. Women should be able to have whatever they want, whenever they want it, right? (I think I hear Helen Reddy singing "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar" in the background right now) Listen, I understand that things like death and divorce happen, and I would never (Repeat; never-EVER!) for a fraction of a second advocate that any woman stay in an abusive or miserably unhappy relationship for the sake of the kids. So of course its not always possible for a family to consist of a mother AND a father. HOWEVER, do you think its fair to short change that new little human being you've brought into this world of a father, simply because you couldn't get the ticking sound of your biological clock out of your ears - or maybe you're bored with the career thing and need a new hobby and a baby sounds like just the ticket? How totally selfish. This is also a particularly ignorant statement coming from a woman who has NO children, and therefore, NO idea what single parenting even feels like. For one thing, its lonely. A very lonely place, in fact. So many times you want a partner to share in the fun times with your kids, along with the tough times (teenage years are a killer!) ; someone to talk to about everything going on in his /her life at the end of the day ...or to help them with their homework, which is frankly, over your head(!)....or be your relief driver in that unpaid taxi business you now seem to be running...or hand you the tooth picks for your eyes or strong black coffee the next day when you've been up all night with them, nursing their ear infection/cough/fever/nightmares, etc...or someone to hold your hand after you've given them the car keys for the first time because you're just so scared of what could happen. But that person isn't there to share all that with you and that's very tough. Please don't misunderstand me; I'm not saying that a single woman can't raise a child (or children) alone. They do it everyday and do an incredible job. In fact, they're unsung heroes in my book. And although I personally made tons of mistakes along the way, my daughter and I have a great relationship. Sure, we still have minor disagreements from time to time (just no escaping that red-headed Irish temper!), and in some ways, we're exact opposites. But as I get older, she's more like a girlfriend to me now and we laugh constantly, probably because we share the same cynical, sarcastic sense of humor. But although we both made it through a single parent home without too many scars, would I encourage a woman to do this simply because she's nearing the point of no return in terms of age, and can financially afford to raise a child on her own, or because some Hollywood actress (whose not even a mother) gives you the thumbs up and thinks its a great idea? Get real, honey.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Meet Angel - World's Fattest Chicken?

Okay, maybe not The fattest, but a pretty big girl nevertheless. She's my one and only Buff Orpington. My husband's cousin, Luke, SWEARS these chickens are the sweetest, quietest, most docile breed in the world (he has about 100 of them). Not this girl tho. She's more stand-offish than sweet. And quiet? Forget about it! She squawks randomly and loudly throughout the day. And surprise, surprise, does she love to eat! Yesterday evening before I put the girls in bed for the night, I rounded them all up and was doling out blueberries for their good night snack when out of practically nowhere hops this baby frog. Without getting too disgusting, it was an ugly scene folks. Angel managed to pull most of it (yuk!) away from Darla (one of the "evil red-headed twins") and she ran across the yard with it, legs hanging out of her beak and all. Not a good end of the day for that frog, huh?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Strange title for a blog, right?

What in the world does this mean you ask; "One Animal Away from Divorce?" How odd. Well this might be a slight use of hyperbole on my part, but I guess what I mean to tell you is that I LOVE animals and as a result, have lots of pets; 3 dogs (Zeus, Snoopy & Lilly), 1 cat (Margie), 5 parakeets (Sky, Pickles, Ollie, Eddie & Violet) and 8 chickens (Darla, Buttercup, Angel, Twinkie, Peggy, Scarlett, Loretta and Lucy (or "Lightnin' Lucy" as she's knicknamed) - what a character she is! I'll devote a whole subject about her in another post!). We don't live on a farm, per se - only 2 acres - but my brother's girlfriend calls it a "farmette." Don't get me wrong; my husband likes all the animals "just fine" as he says, but if he had his way (and you can see that he doesn't), we'd have MAYBE one dog and that's it. It's not that he has anything against any of the "kids" as I call them, he just thinks that they're a lot of work - which they are, but so what? And he occasionally reminds me how much $$$ it costs to feed & care for this whole crew (again, so what?!). I never stop to add up every dollar that's spent on them with food, vet care and incidentals because, I love them. Besides, it's not over the top and I'm not in over my head. I'm not like a crazy cat lady who has 100 cats living in a one-bedroom apt and the situation is totally out of control. In other words, I'm not a "hoarder." All my dogs and my cat have been fixed so I'm not contributing to the overpopulation of dogs & cats in this country. And my chickens are all hens, no roosters, so no baby chicks unless I buy them from the local feed store. In any event, my husband has not actually threatened to walk out and never come back if I add one more animal to the family (mmmm...or has he? well, at least not in a while) but I have heard this on more than one occasion from him: "No more! No more! No more chickens! No more dogs! No more animals! Enough is enough!" Okay, okay. Relax. Jeez. But between me & you, do I WANT more? Of COURSE I do! In fact, I told him if we had more property - at least 5 acres - I'd love to have 2 little pot-bellied pigs. And he immediately replied saying, "But we don't - and I'm not moving!" Don't get me wrong, he's not a bad guy at all. He's very kind and laid-back and I get pretty much get anything I want without a lot of grief. We've been married for 12 years and together for 15 so I've learned to ignore his occasional minor outbursts. Kind of like a gnat buzzing in my ear. But no more pets...for now, that is (WINK! fingers crossed behind back)...