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~Yesterday was the 4th of July.  Holy mackerel, where did summer come from so fast?  Although I’m looking forward to vacation next month, I’m so NOT ready for summer to speed along out of control like this.  This being my favorite season of the year, I’d like to enjoy it a bit.  Please?

~Both my horses have been sold in he past few weeks, each to fantastic homes with wonderful people.  Selling Pea and Beau was necessary to allow me to go back to school, but it still hurts my heart.  Saying it’s bittersweet doesn’t even begin to cover the range of emotions.  I feel like a little piece of me has been ripped away.  But, as a horsey friend so wisely said, I’ll always be a horsewoman–it’s in my blood.  And when horses come into my life in the future, I’ll appreciate them that much more.

~Two very dear women to me have gotten engaged in the past few weeks, my cousin and one of my closest friends.  Add that to my brother and his girlfriend (now fiance)–who got engaged in January–and it seems like everyone I know who wasn’t hitched is about to take the plunge!  I’m honored and excited that A asked me to be in her wedding.  It’ll be my first stint as a bridesmaid!  (Girliness I didn’t know I had is popping up!)

~Since it rained here from March through May, I didn’t plant a garden for the first time in years.  I feel a little rotten about it, actually.  (Hehe)  To make up for it, I’m planting my own hanging baskets.  More on that project later…

~Salsa, corn on the cob, peaches, sangria, and grilling out may just be the very best parts about summer time.

~Poison Ivy is the very worst part about summer.  Especially when you have it in areas that it’s typically socially unacceptable to scratch in public.  (Yes, I know you’re not supposed to scratch it anyway, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do!)

~This summer is all about home improvements for us.  Currently, my kitchen ceiling is down to the bare bones…which means EVERYTHING from the kitchen is chillin’ in the dining room.  (Have I mentioned how I loath clutter, chaos, messes, things in the wrong place, etc?)  This is going to be an exercise in being a little less OCD…

~Work is all about change, change, change these days.  I’m being reminded that first impressions are usually spot on, but being open-minded is golden, on a daily basis.  Also, pre-conceived notions are just plain worthless.  (We have a new hire from Richmond, VA and–since I love what I’ve seen of Richmond and have a fab friend who lives there–I got this notion that  New Girl A would be T’s clone.  Of course, the reality is that the city doesn’t make the person, just as the person doesn’t make the city.) 

~I up and decided to creatively fill my tragically boring wardrobe and have had a blast doing it!  Plato’s Closet and the thrift store have been my best buds, with a trip to Kohl’s, another to Old Navy, and an e-trip to Victoria’s Secret’s semi-annual sale thrown in for good measure.  I can now say that I’m (finally) happy with my summer closet!  Winter clothes are coming along, but I *may* need to do a little more tweaking to get it just right.  (I plan on posting pics some day!)

~I started college (again) two weeks ago.  (Yay!)  Class has been…interesting.  It’s a 5 credit hour class that meets once a week–which works fabulously for me, but makes Tuesday a long day.  Class is supposed to be 5:30-10pm, but our prof moved our start time to 6.  We’re talking about psychology during the life span–so from birth to death–which is fascinating.  What major theme have I learned so far?  That it’s very, very easy to screw up your kids.  Definitely enough to make me think twice about ever wanting any!

~I read an amazing book a few weeks ago.  It’s called I Am Nujood: Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali.  It’s a short, easy read, but emotionally draining.  Definitely worth reading, though.  That girl has more cojones than just about anyone I know.

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Long ago, I photocopied an article called “50 Quick Stress Cures” from a Ladies Home Journal and stashed it away for future reference.  Today, while de-cluttering my desk, the article resurfaced.  (Funny how these things pop up at just the right time, isn’t it?)

Since I’m a condenser by nature, here’s MY top 10 stress reduction strategies:

1. Talk to someone – “Bottling things up is for brewers.”  Exchange a listening ear with a close friend or significant other.  I’m lucky – my hubby is 100% trustworthy with my gripes and I also have a close friend who is an excellent listener.  Of course, I provide the same for both of them.  (Hubby is also excellent at providing such true–but unhelpful–advice as “Just let it go”, and “No one cares as much as you think they do.  They’ve probably already forgotten about it.”)

2. Choose your food wisely – Always eat breakfast (preferably a healthy one), which I’m a first class grump.  ‘Nuff said.  Eating almonds, fiber, dark chocolate, or a bowl of oatmeal before bed are other easy dietary stress busters.  Finally, add drinking black tea, a glass of red wine, and staying well-hydrated to the list and you should be in good shape.  (I drink green tea because it’s lower in caffeine.)  A note on the red wine: make sure you don’t drink your daily glass right before bedtime; it’s actually a stimulant.

3. Laugh – “[Laughing] decreases stress hormones in the bloodstream [and] relaxes muscles.”  Watching Family Guy usually does it for me.

4. Do something girly for yourself – Whether it’s a haircut/color, buying a new nail or lip color, or just shaving your legs, doing something feminine for yourself is an easy pick-me-up.

5. Play with your pet – I’m lucky, I can tease my kitty, play fetch with the dogs, or groom my horse.  They’re all forms of therapy for me.

6. Stretch – Stretching releases toxins that build up in the body’s soft tissues.  Thus, stretching=instant detox!

7. Have sex – “An orgasm a day keeps stress away.  Well, perhaps you don’t need one every day, but research is clear that the massive endorphin release that happens during orgasm has a calming effect on the body long afterward.  And let’s be frank: partner optional.”  Ditto for exercising in general.

8. Loose yourself in a good book – My #1 favorite form of stress release.  I read for a few minutes (or longer) in bed every night before I turn off the light.  This is my routine, and it tells my mind “OK, time to turn off up there”.  I usually fall asleep just a minute or so after turning off the light.

9. Crank up the music – Loosing yourself in a song is a great stress reliever.  I usually indulge in my car with my sunroof open.

10. Do some handiwork – Whether it’s knitting, crocheting, needlepoint, or sewing, the repetitive motion and mindlessness of these crafts allow your brain some downtime.  Plus, you get to enjoy–or gift away–the results.

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One of my goals for this month and my 101 in 1001 was to write a Christmas Letter.  It’s done (yes, it’s late–it’s going out as an e-letter this year), so here it is:

Happy New Year from Our House to Yours!

Dear Family & Friends,

We hope this finds you in the best of health and enjoying the holiday season!  As we look forward to the New Year and reflect on 2009, we thought it would be nice to let friends and family know what’s been going on in our world. 

On May 19th, we celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary by visiting The Wilds, a 10,000 acre wildlife conservation center in Cumberland, Ohio.  Besides that it was FREEZING COLD and—of course—we chose the open air tour bus to see the animals better, we had a great time.  In August, we spent a week on Bald Head Island, NC with Tim’s parents, brother, and sister-in-law.  It was an absolute blast (despite the millions—literally—of stinging jellyfish) and we dream about a repeat trip.  On our way home from NC, we took a detour through Richmond, VA to visit a long lost friend of Alverna’s.  It was a VERY happy reunion and the guys got acquainted in the way grown men prefer: playing video games.     

Tim has become quite the handyman this year.  He replaced our hot water heater after our old one went kaput in the middle of the winter (brrr!) and, at the same time, he installed the almost brand new, high end water softener system we were generously gifted with.  The combination of the two new systems has made a huge difference in our ultra-hard well water situation.  Tim also built a new door for our chicken house, built porch steps, and installed a tile floor in our formerly carpeted kitchen.  (Seriously, who carpets a kitchen!?)  He also worked on his golf game, but unfortunately the weather prevented him from showing off his mad skills at the Bugh Family Reunion.  Instead, we mingled with the rest of the family on the Inn’s porch and generally goofed off.

Alverna has now been working at Twin Maples Veterinary Hospital as a veterinary assistant for a year.  Although it doesn’t offer her a career path, she enjoys the work and the people, feels blessed to have a job during these tough economic times, and LOVES the shorter commute.  Alverna’s also been trying to keep up a regular reading habit, and in the process has been bitten by the Twilight bug.  (Well, she IS in the over 25 demographic after all.)  Other books she’s found especially enjoyable this year are The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan (in fact, she still can’t stop talking about it) and the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris.  Alverna also keeps a blog (www.AlvernaH.wordpress.com), which keeps her writing, if on an admittedly irregular basis.  

Life on the farm continues.  The horses are ornery as ever and the dogs love their yard just as much as always.  Karli (the Border collie mutt) managed to get her paws on a squirrel.  We’re still not sure if she caught it herself or found it already dead.  Of course, she’s convinced that she caught it herself and is about to catch another at any moment.  Kori (the Pembroke Welsh Corgi) has decided that our new horse farm neighbors across the street have four-legged aliens which must be watched (and barked at) at all times.  In June, our meager flock of 3 hens was joined by a brood of baby chicks which arrived in the mail all the way from Webster City, Iowa.  The “baby” hens are now laying eggs along with the “big” girls, which means we collect upwards of 6 eggs a day.  (Anyone need some eggs!?)  Tim was instrumental in the garden expansion project we undertook this year.  We were able to enjoy fresh fruits & veggies for most of the summer and are fortunate enough to have some veggies in the freezer to eat over the winter.  The highlight of our garden was our first watermelon EVER!  Tim waited SO long for it to ripen, but it was worth the wait. 

Basically, life is very, very good.  As we look ahead to 2010, we wish you a healthy and prosperous New Year!

Happy Holidays,

Alverna & Tim

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On August 15th, 2009 around 3 o’clock on the afternoon, you would have found me on I-95 driving North from our vacation spot in NorthCarolina to Richmond, VA.  You would also have found me practically hyperventilating with nervous excitement.  Why such excitement over LEAVING the beach, you ask?  Because I was on my way to “meet” my best friend from 13 years ago. 

Yes, T and I were inseparable back then.  So many of my happiest childhood memories include our crazy fun times together.  In many ways, we were so very different–she was totally spontaneous, I was a planner; she was a wild child to my (perceived) sensibilities; I’d pretty much grown up in one place, while she had moved often.  Despite our differences, we went together like bees and honey.  We were both talkative, opinionated, independent tom-boys.  When we weren’t providing nanny services for our younger sibs (a task made more bare-able by each others’ company), we were usually exploring the fields, woods, and streams around our homes in our shorts and tees.  (Who needed shoes!?)  We were two free spirits learning where we wanted to make our place in the world. 

Friends are life’s finest blessings. “Friend” and “free” are from the same root word; perhaps because you are free to be yourself with a friend.”
~Author Unknown

We were both gangly–all arms and legs and left feet–but we were gangly together, so it was OK.  Together, T and I discovered boys.  It happened to be the same boy, but our friendship survived just fine.  We also discovered our mutual hatred of geese and love of 4-H.  We formed unique, mature-beyond-our-years opinions about marriage, families, babies, birth, education, and women.  Not necessarily the same opinions, but different opinions, especially compared with other girls our age.  We shared our deepest secrets, desires, and dreams.  Life was pretty awesome with T.

Then, one day, T and her mom and sister moved away.  I was heartbroken, but I made new friends.  They weren’t as uniquely awesome as T, but they were great friends in their own right.  My biggest regret was that I hadn’t been able to keep in touch when she moved away.

About 11 years came and went.  I graduated from high school and college.  I moved to a new city, and then another.  I occasionally thought of my long lost bestie, T.  I even Googled her once or twice, but came up empty handed.  Then, one day, I up and decided that I WAS going to find T.  If Google could tell me anything ELSE, then by gosh it would find her for me, too.  (A teeny bit stalkerish, I know, but this was important.)  It took some time, but I finally found her!  (Yay for Google and social networking sites!) 

Our  “reunion” was bittersweet, at least for me.  I was incredibly happy to have found her, but wanted so badly to see her in the flesh.  See, she lived in Virginia and I lived in Ohio.  Oh well, at least she isn’t in China, I thought.  It could be worse.  I promised myself that sometime, somehow, we would visit.  And so, while planning our Summer ’09 Outer Banks vacation, I convinced hubby that we should travel home via Richmond, VA.

And there I was, driving through Richmond on my way to T and her husband’s house…flipping out.  I didn’t really know what to expect–could our friendship pick up where we’d left off, or would it be awkward and weird?–thus, my heart was trying to jump out of my chest.

As soon as we walked up to the front porch and I saw T waiting with open arms (jumping up and down!), I knew it was all going to be great.  Absolutely, wonderfully great.  And it was.

A good friend is a connection to life – a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world.”
~Lois Wyse

T understands parts of me that no other friend of mine can.  I can still tell her anything, absolutely anything.  I wish, fervently, that she could be a bigger part of my day-to-day life.  That we could travel the road to the future side-by-side.  Don’t get me wrong, the Internet is terrific, but it’s just not the same.  And while I have wonderful, awesome friends here in Ohio, there’s just no one else in the world quite like T.

Alverna and Terra

Reunion

As I look back on all that’s happened..growing up, growing together, changing you, changing me — there were times when we dreamed together, when we laughed and cried together. As I look back on those days, I realize how much I truly miss you and how much I truly love you. The past may be gone forever..and whatever the future holds, our todays make the memories of tomorrow. So, my lifetime friend, it is with all my heart that I send you my love, hoping that you’ll always carry my smile with you, for all we have meant to each other and for whatever the future may hold.”
~Author Unknown

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Since today is a list sorta day…

~I hate Ohio weather.  No wonder all the retirees who have the funds move to Florida for the winter.  It’s in the single digits (with windchill) here today, but we’re supposed to gain an extra 10 degrees every day this week.  So, by Friday it’ll be 60 degrees out.  Grrr, no wonder I’m STILL sick.

~I’m going to come out and admit that I’ve now seen Twilight not once, but twice.  I feel so bad because I cheated on my friend–we had agreed to wait to see it (together) until it comes out on DVD.  Oops, sorry A!  (She knows–and has forgiven me readily–but I still feel guilty.)  I’m now totally, amazingly, pathetically hooked, and I can’t wait to see it again!  Now I desperately want the soundtrack, too.  It’s awesome 🙂  (As a side note, hubby took me to see the movie the first time I saw it and he thought it was OK–which is a compliment.)

~God bless my mother.  I received no fewer than four emails from her last night.  They were timestamped 1:11am, 1:47am, 1:47am, and 3:20am.  (The middle two were duplicates.)  The one from 1:47am read (in part),

here is quiet.  and middle of the night.  I had a very long spell with very little sleep  2 births back to back.  now my day/night is mixed up.”

As I learned well by a very young age, such is the life of a dedicated midwife.

~Hubby and I watched The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King on TV last night.  We had two totally random conversations based on the end of the movie, one about “gay hobbit love” (forgive my hubby’s lack of tact) and the other about “elf-mutts”.  The GHL conversation began during the scene when Pippin, Sam, Frodo, and Merry are back in the shire, sharing a drink together.  Hubby claims they’re making eyes at each other.  (It is, admittedly, a sappy scene.)  I explained to him that they’re just happy to be home and alive after their adventure, but no, he’s certain they all madly want to jump each other.  I explained that Sam was going to marry Rosie, his hobbit lass.  Just a cover up, says hubby.  (Yes, I know this topic has been debated previously elsewhere.  Don’t tell hubs, it’ll just fuel his side of the debate!)  The E-M story centered around Aragorn & Arwen’s kiss at the end of the movie.  My dear hubby is convinced that elf parts & human parts don’t line up, and, even if they did, Aragorn & Arwen would produce weird, mutant elf-mutts.  I contend that it doesn’t matter how many chromosomes they have, their babies would be GORGEOUS!

 ~I just finished reading Trickster’s Queen by Tamora Pierce, one of my favorite YA authors.  I might feel a little guilty reading her books–I’m probably a bit old for them (??)–but nonetheless I love them and I love her.  One of my favorite Tamora Pierce quotes is this:

I am deeply unhappy that college education standards, as evidenced by all those online lists, is still that of white men who died over a century ago and fear for the best and brightest minds educated on a standard that does not address the fact that we live in a global culture that does not recognize the primacy of the values of dead, white, European men.”

Also:

Books are still the main yardstick by which I measure true wealth.”

And finally (in reference to her early years as a very young writer):

I tried to write the kind of thing I was reading, with one difference: the books I loved were missing teenaged girl warriors. I couldn’t understand this lapse of attention on the part of the writers I loved, so until I could talk them into correcting this small problem, I wrote about those girls, the fearless, bold, athletic creatures that I was not, but wanted so badly to be.”

~I also recently read Ironside by Holly Black, The Parting & The Forbidden by Beverly Lewis, Club Dead & Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris, and Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce (prequel to Trickster’s Queen).  They are all very different books, but all of them good in their own way and definitely worth reading.

~I usually give up something for Lent, so this year I decided to do something instead.  I chose to pray twice a day (morning and night).  I did really well Ash Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  Not so much this weekend.  Routine helps me, so hopefully I’ll get back on track by tomorrow.

~We found out Saturday that friends of ours here in Dayton are expecting!  We have out-of-town friends with kids, but this will be our first friend-baby close enough to visit on a regular basis.  I’m very excited!  Congrats A and T!

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And in comes 2009…

In a nutshell (wherever that phrase came from), HAPPY NEW YEAR! 🙂

I can’t count how many, but a lot of my friends & co-workers have been saying that they hope 2009 is a better year than 2008.  And, if I’m being completely honest, I have to count myself in that number, too. 

That said, here’s my list of why 2008 was still a terrific year:

*I finally started meeting people with similar interests & making friends in Dayton.  (Yay for friends!)

*Many of my out-of-town friends are starting new careers, relationships and/or a family, and this crazy project called home-ownership.  It’s a bit sappy, but it gives me the warm fuzzies to know my friends are happy.

*I’ve expanded my horse-show wardrobe to the point that I can begin showing whenever my horse & budget are ready.  (Possible goal for 2009?)

*My hubby & I celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary in 2008.

*We’ve completed a lot of work around the barn during the past year.  It’s not a show barn by any means, but it’s safe & functional, which is what matters to us.  And the sweat to get it that way was all ours, so we own the success 100%!

*2008 brought me a tiled kitchen floor, which made me silly happy!  Tile is SO much better than ugly brown carpet!

So, while 2008 may not have been a stellar year overall, it had some great moments & will be missed just as much as 2007.  Enjoy 2009!

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A Posse Dog

When I was young we got a dog from the Athens Co. Dog Shelter.  He was a wee puppy (we kids were so excited!).  A few days after we brought him home, he came down with Parvo.  Fortunately, after three days at the vet’s he was in the clear. 

The pup loved to explore, so my Grandpa Moe named him “Posse”, because he said the dog plus us kids made up our own posse.  The pup grew into a big, gentle, long-haired dog.  He had a small patch of white on his chest, but other than that was all black.  He fit the Belgium Shepherd breed standard almost perfectly.  As the AKC says they should, Posse “reflect[ed] the qualities of intelligence, courage, alertness and devotion to master. ” 

Posse patrolled the farm for about a year.  Then, one day, he was hit by a car and died.  I was devastated.  He had been my obedience dog for 4-H that year and I had high hopes for showing successfully together.  Besides that, I’d lost a best friend.

Today I was reminded of my friend Posse when I was browsing the Franklin Co. Dog Shelter’s website, as I tend to do from time to time.  Check out this guy–he looks almost exactly like my Posse.  I love his eyes–they say, “I can’t wait to find a friend to guard & a job to do!  Can I be yours?”. 

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