Sunday, May 2, 2021

CANINE COMMUNICATION

 There are so many things that our dogs know about us and then again there are so many things that we do not know about them. Really, there are times that I believe that they are so much more intelligent than most humans. Let's take for example a few questions such as why do dogs chase their tails? 



One must admit that it is quite amusing to watch. Occasional tail-chasing that is not causing injury is definitely not something to worry about. It could be an indication that they may need more activity or brain games. For the most part, I am sure that it is just their silly antics to entertain us. 

If on the other hand, they are causing injury to themselves, then by all means get them to the vet. If it is related to stress, such as being left alone for a while or a family member missing from the picture then it could be a form of self-soothing.

In the case of our two goldendoodles, it is simply their goofiness. Our youngest one will be lying on her bed nearby while we are having a meal and all of a sudden notice her tail. She will go round and round to try to catch it for a moment or two. Then go back down just to look at us, as if to say, "Did that entertain you?" The other doodle backs his rear end up to us for a back scratch when we are sitting down. If I play with his long tail, he becomes quite interested in it and will start chasing it. Always coming back for more back scratching. 

I am not thinking that they need to go to the Doggie Shrink for being goof-balls.



The next frequently asked question is why do dogs seem to love squeaky toys? You may find this one hard to believe of your loveable little pooch but it goes back long ago when their ancestors were predators. There is instant gratification from gnawing on that squeaker. They feel rewarded when that little squeak comes out, as if they caught their prey. An instinct to hunt and capture is strong.

The main thing is to supervise squeaky toy play. If your dog can tear up a plush squeaky toy and remove the plastic squeaker, then he is not alone. Once the noise stops, the hunt is over. As a responsible dog owner, I definitely do not ever want to have our dogs rushed to the Doggie ER to remove part of a squeaker that one of them swallowed. Again, it is a fun part of play for our dogs to catch the squeaking toy and then one tries to take it away from the other one. Taunting each other with the squeak that the toy makes. 

If you find that your dog does not enjoy the squeaky noise then just be thankful that you will have a more peaceful home. Find your fur-baby the kind of toy that does interest him.


Have you ever watched your dog turning in circles before settling down to sleep? We all, even as humans, have our little routines to get comfortable. It can be turning around in circles or sometimes scratching at his pillow like he is digging for treasure or even nuzzling his head into the side of the cushion. It is an instinctive trait inherited from their ancestors - wolves. As the story goes (all researched based) this circling is geared towards survival. He can turn around in the circle over and over to check out how safe he will be in that position from his predators or other threats like snakes or critters, rocks and branches just so that he may get a good night's rest. Even though our dogs have memory foam beds, they still have this instinct within them. He is just making himself comfortable.



Have you ever seen your dog rolling around in the grass? The simple answer is because it just might feel good and satisfy an itch. Dogs interact with their environment when they are outside or inside through smell and touch. If they find something that feels good they may choose to roll over and over. It does mean that your dog is relaxed, playful and happy. Dogs like to get another dog's attention by rolling over on his back for play time. 

If they choose to roll around in something stinky just know that this is normal too. It could be the instinct to hide their own scents to make them better hunters. Or it could be their way to communicate with other dogs, as if to say, "Smell me!" We may think it stinky but to them it is their best perfume. It is a way to tell other dogs that he rules the roost and is in charge. 

Luckily for us, our dogs don't tend to go rolling around in stinky stuff. Our older doodle does love to find mud puddles and just get covered in the mud. Maybe it is his way of having a 'Mud Spa Day?' I just know that it is not much fun in trying to get all of the mud off of those curls.


The last question that pet owners ask is how do you stop a dog from barking? There are some reasons why your dog may bark excessively and there are some training tips to help curb the yapping.


Barking is one of the ways that dogs communicate with their immediate environment. Most of the time dogs bark out of fear, boredom, loneliness, or to seek your attention. They may also bark to defend their territory or as a form of greeting or play.

We had a dog that rarely barked. Then we added another dog and does she like to bark? And at times it is upsetting to our older one and then he starts to howl. Compulsive barking is such an annoyance and as owners of one, we have tried many things. The one thing that does not work is yelling over the barking for her to stop. This just reinforces the barking because now she thinks it is a competition or game. Dogs do not process that their owner is not okay with barking by yelling at them. 

First thing is to find out why she is barking. Is it fear, pain, excitement/play, boredom, a need for attention, a warning or guarding, or communication with other dogs. For our little yapper we know she feels the need to let us know that the mailman or delivery person is at our home and when it is someone she knows it is a greeting of hello. It also is a time for play when one of the neighbor's cats come strutting by or the local squirrels sway their bushy tail at the dogs or mercy me - the mallards or geese take aim at waddling through the front yard.








The most important thing is to be patient and consistent with your effort to stop the yapping. This means talking to your dog in a firm and calm voice. I starting holding my finger to my lips and making the "SHHHH" sound and calming saying, "No bark!" If I catch her before she gets herself all riled up, she will make eye contact with me and come to sit by me for a treat for being a good girl. This really does work. However, I believe that she knows if she barks, I will make the motions and sounds of no bark and she will get a treat. The trick is to never reward or pay attention to her when she does bark. Wait until she is quiet to reward her with any treat, praise, food or attention. She works well with hand motions so maybe in a few more months, either she will outgrow it and know that it is not good to be barking. 


Davis and Maggie Mae on their best behavior!

Sunday, April 25, 2021

GRANDMOTHERS ARE SO SPECIAL!

What do you think it is about Grandmothers that is so special? Worldwide, they all have wonderful attributes that make their grandchildren gravitate to them. I know that I can remember mine and she was everything that a grandmother should be. She always looked fantastic, cooked and ate well and she showed me how to cook. Most of the recipes were just up in her head. Rarely did you find her using a recipe book. I wrote down what ingredients she put in but had to guess at the amount because she never measured. 



Grandmothers are the ones that we go to when we have a problem, no matter how big and important it seemed to me, she was able to put it in perspective  to look at calmly. She always gave me the 'big picture' just to show me that it was not the end of the world. I can hear her say, "Honeychild, just don't worry your pretty little head about it. All will work out and these cookies and milk will help." She was right.

Your Grandmother can be your biggest supporter, the one who cheers you on and comforts you but Lordy Mercy do not ever sass her. She will put the FEAR in you as fast as a New York minute. That presence, no matter how far away I may be from her physically or how old I was, this was what kept me in line. I was a fast learner and it only took a few times.

Then there is the pocketbook of a Grandmother. Always had hard candy, gum and tissues inside. The other magical things inside this pocketbook was her spare pair of readers, an actual checkbook, along with essential make-up, especially lipstick and lotion. No woman should be without these things. She clutched it as if it contained the secrets of the world in it. Yes, it was like the Mary Poppins bag. Nothing that she brought out from her pocketbook would surprise those around her.


Most Grandmothers also had that delicious, calming smell that I never figured out if it was the lotion, perfume or some concoction of what she cleaned things with. No matter what, that smell immediately brought me back to hugging her when I saw her.

My Mamaw took up for me when it came to my Mom. When I was a teenager, mini-skirts were very much in style. My Mom did not like them one little bit. Not only did my Grandmother buy them for me, she sewed some of my coolest outfits ever. She did this somehow without irritating my Mom too much. Mamaw was a top notch negotiator. She would bring up topics that my Mom took her through that really stopped the negotiations because she was telling the tales of back in the day when my Mom was younger. It reminded my Mom that maybe I was not such a bad kid after all.

Most all Grandmothers can inspire their grandchildren to always do the best that they can. They truly are magical that way. They feel as if they have earned the right to spoil their new grandchildren. I have noticed though that so many of today's generation of Grandmothers really want a sweet and sassy nickname instead of Granny. Nothing is wrong with that or the formality of Grandmother. I have taken a poll of some of the popular nicknames for Grandmother. Some are cultural but for the most part they are universal. The only rule is that it must start with the first grandchild and the others will follow suit.




Mimi and Mamaw were already taken in my family. So leaving those out, these are the ones that I considered for myself and sometimes a little fact or opinion about it:
Nanni (too much like a hired nanny)
Nonna (Italian)
Bubbe (the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's name)
Abuela (Spanish)
Glamma (for the glamorous Grandmother)
Lovey (Kris Kardashian's name)
Lola (Filipino - and a good friend shared this with me)
Cookie (sweet)
Bibi (Swahili)
Lolli (goes well if the Grandfather is Pop)
Mimzy (quirky)
Babushka (Russian)
Yaya (Greek)
Pipp (free spirited)
Tootsie (spoils with candy)
Nai Nai (Chinese)
Marmee (from Little Women)
GiGi (just a fun to say name)
CoCo (warm and comforting)
Bella (beautiful inside and out)
LaLa (musical)

No matter which name you choose for yourself, be sure to love it because it is close to impossible to change it to something else.


Grandmothers also have certain sayings. Some of the ones that I listed may be some of your most memorable quotes too.

Bless your heart. Come over here and let me see that boo-boo so that I can kiss away the hurt.

You have such a pretty face. Don't you want to pull that hair back to show it off?

Did you forget to put on your lipstick, honey? Here, dab a little of mine in case we see someone we know in the grocery.

I wish you would look a-yonder. A woman her age has no business wearing such as that.

Lordy mercy, sakes alive!

I am all give out.

This tastes pretty good even if I did make it.



Last Mother's Day I received this framed picture with Lola's Blessings. We just added one more granddaughter this month. Freya Louise! And more to come later, so we hope. Definitely will be a Part 2 of Lola's Blessings. It can hang right beside this one. Being a Lola is such a special honor!
One of my favorite pictures and quotes:





Sunday, April 18, 2021

WHY SPRING?

 


If I were to put out a survey on what is your favorite time of year, I would be willing to bet on the two favorites that would always come up as a close tie. Spring and Fall! Both beautiful seasons, and I would like to throw my two cents worth in simply because it is my blog. In the whole scheme of Mother Nature, each season has high points and low points. We can adapt to what is being thrown our way for the most part. 

Try to find the good in the hot and humid summers by being grateful for air conditioning, convertibles, swimming pools and a saying that my Grandmother always told me. She said that when a Southern lady perspired, it made her glow and actually was better for her complexion than dry cold air. I often think of that when in the heat of the Summer. The cold bleak winter days also have things to be grateful for. It is a great time for skiers(of which I am not) but it is also a wonderful opportunity to shop for warm boots and great sweaters. Also, to be thankful for a warm fireplace to cuddle up next to and read some of the stacks of books that have accumulated.




Autumn also has lots of color involved as the leaves turn beautiful shades of orange, red and yellow. Sometimes I have to work on staying positive just knowing that soon we will be changing time and it will be dark at 5 and the North Wind will be blowing in soon.



Here are some reasons why I have chosen Spring as my favorite time of the year. The United States is a very large country and depending on where you live makes a difference on how you experience the seasons. Everyone finds their own way to survive. Spring in my area is usually quite delightful. It has been a little cooler than usual...60's for highs and 40's for the lows. It is quite doable dressing in layers. The sun feels so wonderful and it is lighter much later in the afternoon. I do need to remember sunscreen, even when driving in the car for my hands and arms. 

With my area of the country completing their second Covid vaccination, more people are venturing out to eat, but many are wanting to remain with outside patio dining. It has been stated that the two places that are still not totally safe to be is inside dining inside of a restaurant working out in a gym. Luckily many restaurants are setting up places to dine outside. The other day it was to be mid 60's, sunny and a little breezy. I met some friends for lunch. The breeze was coming in from the North and it did get a bit chilly. The restaurant had the tall propane heaters and brought one over to us. It helped tremendously. It was just so marvelous to be out with friends at a restaurant after a year of lock down. Masks still must be worn and social distancing from others. But we were our own little bubble so we could safely sit together, wear our masks when not eating or drinking and just enjoy something that will never be taken for granted ever again.



 This Charles Dickens quote sort of summed up how the days have been lately. We actually have not used heat nor air for two weeks. Today was the first day of turning on a little heat to take the chill off. Moderate temperatures and more daylight helps all of us feel better mentally. Just so good for the soul.

Spring is the time that many birds return and start to nest. Baby animals are everywhere.




We have some house finches who have built their nest in our Spring Wreath on our front door.




Another plus is spending more time outside. It is a real mood elevator for our brains. Higher moods and better memory help us to be more creative in our thinking.





Fresh produce comes in the Spring and it has been proven that fresh fruits and vegetables are so good for our health, mental and physical. So bring on the Farmers' Markets.











Sunday, April 11, 2021

A CELEBRATION - TWO AND DONE

 


If you have received your 2nd vaccination then you will know the feeling that I am writing about. It is a feeling that there is now some light at the end of the long dark tunnel. There is hope that we will be able to get back to some kind of normalcy. We all will work that out as we go along. Masks? Yes, for now we will continue to wear our masks when out in public areas.

 The feeling of sheer happiness when this Easter we were able to have our daughter and granddaughters over for an Easter Egg Hunt and a luncheon. And because we had our shots and she had hers we did NOT have to wear our masks when together in our home. Her husband could have come if he had not been working because he has been vaccinated too. Another son could have been with us, however, he was also working. 

Other people I know were feeling as if they were on cloud 9 because as some of them shared with me they now feel safer to venture out. Some friends are now resuming their card games with others who have had their two shots. Others are going to public events that still have social distancing and masks but they now feel safer. Everyone has their own guidelines of how they feel safe within themselves. I am not ready to go inside a restaurant to eat. To sit on a patio with tables spaced six feet apart is where I plan on starting. There is something about having to wear a mask while at an outdoor public patio that is just not appetizing in my mind. Taking it off to have a bite of my salad or a sip of my iced tea is just not the way I envisioned going back to normalcy. It is a baby step to getting there.

Where is there? There will be a much safer place when we get to herd immunity. Everyone needs to cooperate with the vaccine so that we can get to a more normal way of life. With the new variant of Covid, it is even more important and is why we still need to wear masks when out in public places. There has been a jump in numbers of hospitalizations of younger people. Now that the age has dropped to 16 to be able to get the vaccine, hopefully we will see less young people hospitalized. 

The number of people who are less likely to get the vaccinations are being drawn in to get the shots by offering treats and having celebrities get their shots in public. They either talk or sing while receiving the vaccine. The Rev. Al Green received his shot while singing,  I'm So Tired of Being Alone, demonstrating that once you have your shots you don't have to be all alone. Mental health improves once you have a reason to be more hopeful. 

The federal government sent in troops to help in the process of drive thru vaccination sites. After a day they had places running so smoothly that as hard as it was to get an appointment for a vaccine a month ago, now they have times that you need no sign up for an appointment. And there is no long wait. It is a no brainer. Go get your shot to remain healthy and get us to herd immunity. Most people do not have side effects from taking the vaccine. The few who do say it is minor. After the vaccine your arm may be a little sore or you may feel a bit tired. Nothing that a Tylenol and maybe a little nap won't cure. I am thinking of the pharmaceutical ads where at the end of the commercial some voice comes in stating all of the terrible possible side effects yet people still take the drug the doctor prescribed because it makes you better. This vaccine does not have all of the possible side effects like the advertised drugs do. 




Hold on a minute. Now, companies and cities are offering other incentives to get your vaccine. Individual sport teams are getting in on the action. The Cincinnati Reds offered discounted single game tickets to fans who showed their COVID card. Krispy Kreme is offering a free glazed doughnut to any who flash their vaccine card. MEMpops, a local company is at one center offering free treats when people come to get protection from this deadly virus. Free beer at ball games and in the UK they have opened up a 13th century cathedral for people to walk in and request a song from the organist to play while they get their shot. Creative incentives are all over the place. I surely hope it works.

Companies are making their own pitches to the unvaccinated. The age limit has been lowered to all who are 16 or older. It is so very important for every one of us to encourage others to get vaccinated because this is the only way we can reach herd immunity. Jaren Jackson Jr., a Memphis Grizzlie player was in a photo getting his shot with the caption saying, "Roll up your sleeves everybody. For your friends, family and yourself." The city of New Orleans has a slogan, "Sleeves - up, NOLA!"



Some places are requiring you show your shot record to be admitted. There are people who use the same excuse for not wearing a mask. Telling others it is their right to choose not to wear a mask or get a vaccination. We all believe in freedom and the American way. So if they want to risk the health of everyone else, not to mention themselves by saying that it is their freedom with no proof otherwise is simply ridiculous. (my own opinion)

Now it is coming up for debates on the legality of requiring people to show proof of vaccination in order to participate. There has even been talk of having it as a requirement to attend school. Parents must show their children's vaccination card for other diseases. It should be interesting to see where this is headed. 

Back in 1905 the Supreme Court ruled that citizens would be fined if they did not get the smallpox vaccine. Justice John Marshall Harlan wrote, "A community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease." The fact is that in today's times common sense is extremely controversial. There are fights breaking out when it comes to wearing a mask. 

It seems that it will be at the will of local businesses to decide whether or not that their employees and customers prove they've gotten one of the vaccines. We do know that 70% of Americans say they are already vaccinated or plan to be as soon as they can. On the other hand I have read that 20% say they would be less likely to get vaccinated if businesses required proof whereas 10% say that it would make them more likely to get vaccinated.

The Biden administration launched a national ad campaign encouraging people to get vaccinated with one of the ads having Willie Nelson singing, I'll Be Seeing You." One way to help persuade more to get their shots so that we all can be out and seeing each other more. 

In order to achieve herd immunity, a large portion of the population has to be vaccinated; this according to the Mayo Clinic. Only then will things really start getting back to normal, though what our new normal will truly look like remains to be seen. Let's be grateful for all of the new things that we have learned while being at home and now that we all soon will be able to be with others who are vaccinated. Just knowing that two of our four granddaughters and that two of our children, we can see in our home or theirs is such a happy gratitude. New Orleans children and grandchildren will be soon. Can hardly wait! Meanwhile, please mask up when out and about in public places.





Saturday, April 3, 2021

IS HAPPINESS A SCIENCE?

 IS HAPPINESS A SCIENCE?

Choices! I have always believed that we are all in charge of the choices that we make. If you feel yourself being happy and can settle in to the life choices you make, then it can turn your life around. Happiness is truly the best makeup a woman can wear.

There actually are studies and research being done by scientists that prove the point of happiness is when one has satisfaction and meaning in their life. Being able to recover from negative emotions quickly while holding a sense of purpose; contrary to popular belief. Happiness is not having a lot of privilege or money. It is not constant pleasure. Turns out that it is much broader than that. It is the ability to connect with others and have meaningful relationships within a community. That is more or less the recipe to happiness. 



It is true that more money will make people happier to a certain degree. There is data out there that covers the last hundred years, which includes the era of depression and world wars, as incomes rose there was an increase in people's self-reported happiness. Their happiness was achieved once they went from a place of real threats of poverty to a place of being safe. After that point, more money did not seem to add to happiness. Nobel laureate psychologist and economist Daniel Kahneman showed in his research that money increased happiness until about $75,000 annually. After that, emotional well-being did not seem to increase with income.

It has always been my belief that if I could just try having a big lottery win, then I could join in the study just to see if it did or didn't make me happier. It is not that I am unhappy now, in fact, quite the contrary. So the studies that have gone on seem to be true in my case. Still...I would love to know the feeling. 

Do we really need research to tell us that there is a strong relationship between our health and happiness? Of course, we know that being ill causes unhappiness. In fairness though, happiness can enhance health. It is not quite that simple minded. There is a science of happiness. If our health disrupts our daily functioning it can affect our happiness. What does matter is that after the diagnosis if we are able to adapt and compensate by deriving pleasures from other parts of our lives we can still have the "well-being with illness." Another name for this is resilience. This is not to make anyone feel that they are full of gloom and doom if they can't make that transition when illness is seriously disrupting every day life functioning.

Science does demonstrate that we can have an impact on only 12% of the things that determine whether we are happy or not. The happiest people among us understand that if we make the right choices, that small sliver is enough. This is from an article that I found written by Bill Murphy, Jr.


Genetics can have an effect on about half of our happiness. External events can become involved and that is where we own that little sliver of 12% of our own happiness by the choices that we make.

Happy people tend to choose to exercise. Even small amounts. We don't have to be marathon runners or spend hours in the gym. Just a small period of time throughout the day to be moving around. Being outside tends to make people happier. Even for a twenty minute walk around your garden, your office, or your neighborhood. Soak up the vitamin D. 



Even better if you can be outside with family or friends. Making time for others is good for the soul. We are contributing to our community by doing so, whether it is our family and friends community or our work community. Balancing work and family is a major part of being on the upper end of happiness. 

One last major focus of being happy is to always get enough sleep. Lack of sleep will ruin our lives. It can turn us in to irritable maniacs. And the BIG lie that many people tell themselves is that taking a nap is for "old people." It is not. There not only are whole cultures who believe that a little afternoon nap is good for us, there are famous people who swear by their afternoon naps. A few of them are Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Richard Branson, Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Albert Einstein. This is to name only a few.

Happiness is a science that you can choose to be a part of or not. It is not up to those around you. We get to decide.



Sunday, March 28, 2021

THINGS OUR MOTHERS ALWAYS TOLD US

 


When I was growing up my Mother had loads of "sayings" that she used. I am sure to try to teach me right from wrong. Even though as I reached a certain level of maturity, I was saying to myself that I would never use these trite sayings with my own children. It seems that I was terribly wrong. Some of these sayings just popped out of my mouth. I am sure many of these have been used for generation after generation. I started with one of her favorites, "I wasn't born yesterday." This was used in many conversations, such as when I was trying to not tell the full truth about an incident so as not to get in as much trouble. Why I did it is beyond me. It just got me in more trouble. The truth will always come out when you have a Mom who gives you 'that look.'

Some of the sayings that I listed below I believe you will be able to relate to easily. 

Just you wait and see.

~  No such thing as a free lunch.

~  If it seems too good to be true, it is.

~  Keep making those faces and your face will freeze      like that.

~  Put that bottom lip out any further and a little red        caboose is going to come along and take a ride.

~  If someone told you to jump off a cliff, would you?


Because I said so!

I know what you are doing. I have eyes in the            back of my head. (Apparently, so did my teachers)

Just you wait and see. I can give you something to      really cry about. 

Close the door. Were you born in a barn?

~  If I told you once, I have told you a thousand              times and the answer is still NO.

~  Back in my day we had to walk 10 miles to school        in all kinds of weather.

~  Don't make me have to turn this car around.


~  Oh my goodness. If I let a word come out of my          mouth that was not ladylike I was told that she            would wash my mouth out with soap. (I did put          some Ivory soap in my own daughter's oatmeal          one day.)

~  Money doesn't grow on trees, you know!


~  You are not made of sugar and you will not melt in      the heat or rain.

~  Talking to you is like talking to a brick wall.


~  Don't get in the shower now. There is a                      thunderstorm outside and you will be hit by                lightning. (Turns out this is a possibility because          the electricity from the lightning hitting metal pipes      within the house. Another one that was true was to      not be on the phone during a storm. This only              applies to land line phones, not cell.)

~  Eat your carrots so that you will be able to see            better at night. (carrots as well as many other           vegetables are good for our eyes)


~  Don't sit that close to the TV. It will ruin your eyes.
     (This has been proven not to be true. It will cause
      your eyes to feel strained, just no long lasting              effect.)

I'm not asking. I'm telling.




And so...did you recognize any of the above sayings. We all know that our parents were just trying to do the right thing. I have often said there should be a parenting manual. But then again? Do we all want to turn out the same way? Our parents are just repeating the same stories they heard growing up and trying to raise awesome human beings to carry on with the world. 

Bearing in mind that words have power...choose carefully.