Friday, November 21, 2014

Holiday Pet Photos

I decided to feature Charlie on the holiday cards this year. After tackling this somewhat hectic task, I have a few tips for you: 

1. Keep the "sessions" short.
2. Use "high value" treats to keep their attention on you!
3. Have an off-camera helper to hold treats above or near the camera to keep your pet's eyes on the camera.
4. Have fun! Don't get frustrated; let this be a fun experience for everyone. 

You might have to use a not-so-perfect picture, but it'll be funny and memorable.
Good luck!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Birthday Hike + Bullshit Weather

I awoke this morning to a bright blanket of fresh snow outside and immediately felt the need to go for a walk. Before breakfast or even coffee, Charlie and I headed out onto the neighborhood sidewalks as the day lightened, although no sunrise was visible through the clouds that were still snowing on us. The motion of walking and listening to the snowflakes land on my jacket helped invigorate my tired brain.

It's amazing how tiring the grieving process is.

I go through my daily routines: working, eating and sleeping, and even though I'm getting enough sleep, I'm tired all the time. I have to literally force myself to get up and take Charlie for a walk, which always makes me feel better, but just the same, it's an effort I have to talk myself into doing.

But today is my dad's birthday and I wanted to honor him by hiking and getting outdoors. He was an avid outdoorsman and I inherited that quality from him. And even though my family wouldn't be together today, we were all going to be doing the things he loved in his memory.

After a short deliberation and weighing the current road conditions, I decided to stick close to home and hike the remaining (and newer) portion of the Plover River Segment of the Ice Age Trail, where my tribute to my dad began almost a year and a half ago. Amazingly, I had never completed hiking this segment. Every time I arrived at the parking area, I automatically headed toward the trails that were familiar to me.

But my dad was always up for an adventure and often took the path less traveled, so instead of heading south today, I went north. I had seen pictures of the beautiful boardwalks that were recently built for this new trail and couldn't wait to see them in person.

What follows is a super long video (17 minutes!) of part of our hike today, condensed down from 2 hours. I was surprised that the video didn't fully capture just how beautiful the woods were today, but it'll give you an idea. The snow was crunchy under my boots but otherwise the woods were quiet; surrounded only by the sound of snow falling from the tree branches, and once we heard a flock of cranes in the distance.

During the return walk, I slipped and tripped numerous times and fell twice. The first time I fell, my boots slid on a patch of wet leaves beneath the snow and my butt landed firmly on a glacial rock in the path. I slid a few feet down the slope and suddenly noticed that I had peed my pants during the fall. Wonderful. Thankfully the camera was put away in my backpack by then.

But I didn't let any of that get me down. Quite the opposite actually. I surprised myself by laughing out loud as I wiped the snow off my pants. From that point on, every time I slipped, I let out a little "whoa!" and then giggled to myself. It's a strange sound to laugh at yourself in the woods, but I'm sure it helped heal the hole in my heart just a little bit. Although Charlie probably thought I'd totally lost my mind.

Tonight, as I reminisced the sweetness of today's hike, I overheard the weather forecast for the week and had to yell, "BULLSHIT," at the top of my lungs. I got a laugh out of my mom for that one, but seriously??? What is with this early cold-snap? I'm thankful that I got out into the woods today because with temps dipping into the single digits this week and a winter storm warning, I think I'll be hibernating for the rest of the week.

Please, please, please tell me this winter is NOT going to be like last year.

Love you, Dad. Always. Happy Birthday.