by Maryclaire Mayes
I have so many sweet memories of my mom. She had a reputation of being a great cook and was always feeding everyone. I’m not too bad in the kitchen, but mom never liked us to help her much except to do dishes. We did shared a love for gardening, but my mom really excelled at house plants, me not so much.
She had several different kinds of plants. I think orchids were her favorite but mine was her gardenia. When it was in bloom she would often let me pick a flower and wear it in my hair to school. It is a real treat for your sense of smell and sight. They say fragrance plays an important role in memories and the smell of the gardenia is sweet and intoxicating. It also has beautiful creamy white petals that slowly unfold like a graceful dance into a beautiful rose-like flower.
Unfortunately I’m not as good as my mom in growing them. But every so often, in the Spring when they are in the stores, I can’t resist bringing one home. So this one was so beautiful and it was begging me to take it home, so of course I did. The sight and smell of the pretty white blossoms always bring back happy memories of my childhood and my mom.
by Maryclaire Mayes
Does a dog have a personality or is it a canine-ality? Anyway, last year at this time we were mourning the passing of our dog Chia. She had a wonderful personality, actually she pretty much thought she was a person. We had the impression that she thought she was above associating with our cats or even other dogs. She preferred our company and usually tried to figure out what we wanted and do it.
Last June we brought home another standard poodle puppy, Cora. We wanted a white small standard and were fortunate to be able to find a runt of a littler of 10 pups. The breeder thought she would probably be small but no guarantees. We decided on a white dog this time to make it easier to spot ticks. We have lots of ticks here. Chia had been infected with tick born diseases more than once, even though we treated her with tick preventatives.
So it turns out that color is not the only difference from Chia. Cora is very high energy and much more playful. At first we keep thinking getting her was a huge mistake. She is so much more affectionate with us than Chia was and eventually she won us over. She thinks she is a lap dog, which was our first mistake. Not that we mind sharing our lap with her but it reenforced the idea that she could do anything she wanted. She is coming along in many areas, but still has a strong desire to play using her mouth and her paws. She has finally learned that it is not ok to chase the chickens and guinea hens. She still chases the barn cats, but thats ok, they chase her too and they seem to love wrestling together.
I grew up with dogs and I always thought I knew how to train them, but Cora was not responding to my soft approach. Dean and I ( especially Dean) had to learn that we need to teach her she is a dog and we are in charge. I could see she had a presumptuous attitude. She thought anything she wanted to do was good. After Cora scratched a grandchild’s face by being overly playful we decided we needed to take her training much more seriously. While we still allow her to be a lap dog, it is only when we invite her. We had to learn that we needed to be her leader which means we needed to be tougher. We had to learn to balance affection with discipline, so Cora would learn our rules and consequences. Once we started implementing rules and consequences we saw an immediate change in her attitude. We never thought we would get a standard poodle that didn’t have a compliant easy to train personality. The good news is we realized she needed more structure and training and she is becoming the a really good dog.
by Maryclaire Mayes
Yes, I know it’s technically still Winter but I’m wishing the ice would go away already. I’m really hoping that more Spring-like weather will be just around the corner. I’m not usually one to complain about the Winter. I enjoy winter activities The snow and low temps don’t bother me. But this Winter, with all the freezing rain, snow and freeze and thaw, thick ice has built up all around our place. It is especially treacherous on my path out to the barn which I carefully tread at least twice a day. The worst patch of ice right in front of the heavy sliding barn door, which makes pushing open the barn door a challenge. Then there is taking the dog out several times a day. Cora doesn’t seem to mind sliding around on the ice, Dean and I not so much.
Cora is sorely missing her daily walks out in the woods with me. To say she is a little stir crazy is an understatement. Caddy and Midnight don’t have it any easier, Caddy only ventures out a few feet and Midnight hardly at all. Earlier in the winter we were able to clear the light fluffy snow from the top of the paddock and a wide path down to the bottom of the hill that way they have a chance to walk a little outside the barn. The thick ice on the snow made that impossible to make anything more than a small area just outside the barn.The grandkids did get a little sledding and x-country skiing in but since the ice and really cold temps set in, they don’t even venture out. Still I love living in the Northeast and get to experience the dramatic change of seasons. I don’t think I will ever move south. I’m sure the ice it will be gone soon enough and then it will be mud season, I’m looking forward to it this year!
by Maryclaire Mayes
What do you do for Valentines Day? Is it just a plot by the companies that sell flowers, candy and cards? It seems like men think it is a burden and women never seem satisfied. So what’s it all about.
St. Valentine’s Day is named for a Christian martyr and dates back to the 5th century, Valentine’s Day gradually grew in popularity to mark the day lovers began to exchange love notes called ‘Valentines’ with their sweethearts. In the beginning the trend was to send handmade cards but this was changed in the beginning of 19th century and mass-produced greeting cards caught the fancy of the people. In the course of time, Valentine’s day came to be regarded as the festival that celebrates love and not just romantic love. Today, Valentine’s Day cards are gifted to teachers, parents, friends, siblings and sweethearts. Popularity of Valentine’s Day has spread in countries across the seven continents and is still increasing by the year.
I like to think it is another opportunity for you to let your loved ones know how much you appreciate and love them. So Happy Valentines Day!
by Maryclaire Mayes
Reflecting back on our child rearing years, we never worried about giving our kids everything they wanted. We thought that if they have everything they want as a child, they might grow up with unrealistic expectations and turn into unhappy adults. We didn’t buy them many toys. I often told Dean I was glad we were poor when the kids were little so we couldn’t buy them all the popular toys. We went so far as to give away toys they had received as gifts from friends and relatives if we didn’t think they were worthwhile. That only worked for a few years though.
When our children were nine and six years old we moved out to the country on a run down farm. They loved the freedom of running through the open fields. We lived in a tent for four months while we gutted and rebuilt the farmhouse. We all worked hard from morning to night, but our children were genuinely happy. We had already decided we would start homeschooling our kids but decided to wait until the next year when the house project was done (or at least further along) and we also could research just how we would go about homeschooling. When September rolled around I cautioned our children to never tell anyone at school you live in a tent. I was concerned someone might want to come investigate our “home”.
Our kids helped in all aspects of gutting and restoring our house. They carried armloads of debris out to the dumpster and even helped with the plumbing.
Ok, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all work; we did get them each a kitten, which lived with us, and our dog in our tent. Sometimes they would draw on the backs of the stacks of sheetrock that we were going to put up on the walls. They enjoyed helping to measure mark and cut. In their spare time we asked our kids to pick up the old rusty nails that littered our driveway. If they picked up a full coffee can of nails, we paid them with a trip to town to get an ice cream.
That spring we planted a huge garden and our chief planters, weed pullers, and bug pickers were our two kids. I was amazed how hard they worked without complaints. Livestock was the next project on our list. When we finished rebuilding the chicken coop and the barn we bought two goats (my daughter wanted a horse but had to make due with goat) and several chickens, our kids were responsible for their total care. Our daughter got up early and milked the goat and our son collected eggs, feed and watered the chickens before they went to school. Those years were full of learning difficult lessons by experience and receiving the rewards for their hard work.
Looking back, I see how those hard life lessons were making life easy for them as adults. Not really making life easy, but teaching them useful skills. Beyond, plumbing and gardening, it taught them how to work hard, to not be afraid to try, never say can’t and to handle life’s challenges with grace. We are pleased that our children are teaching their kids that they don’t need everything they want and work is good. There is a quote I recently came across that I really like; “Don’t handicap your children by making their lives easy.” Robert A. Heinlein