Archive for July, 2013

image courtesy of Amazon

image courtesy of Amazon

I turned 50 years old this year and one of my goals was to read 50 books.   One of the books I recently read is A Dog”s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron.

I”m usually up on the latest fiction about dogs, thanks to DaddyNell, whose Christmas gifts for me almost always include a heartwarming book about animals.  But somehow he missed this one.  I heard about it while sitting on a beach in Spain, talking to a fellow traveler.

A Dog’s Purpose is told from the perspective of a dog who reincarnates several times, searching for his purpose.  Interestingly, he remembers his lives, some of which are happier than others, and he is able to put lessons learned in each life to determine his unique purpose.

My traveler acquaintance said the book wouldn’t make me cry.  But it did, though I cry at Hallmark commercials, so it obviously doesn’t take much to get the waterworks going.   I cried when the dog experienced abuse, I cried when the dog died, I cried when “bad” things happened to his owners, and I even cried when he determined his purpose.   I should invest in Kleenex!

On a brighter note, I liked that the stories point out how dogs might misinterpret our actions.  For instance, it’s probably best  to never let your dog play with old shoes if you don’t want him to munch on that new pair.  And perhaps it’s good to slowly teach that young pup how to be alone rather than to give her free reign of the house while the kids are home for summer break, then  suddenly banish her to a garage after school starts.

This is a sweet book for the dog lover.  I checked out the author’s website recently and noted that he has written several more books.  Might have to check them out!






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I turned 50 years old this year and one of my goals was to cook 50 new recipes.  Noticing that this recipe is “number 10,”  I am woefully behind!

But, good news is, I went to the grocery store and bought a cartload of ingredients to make several dishes.  So if I’m a busy bee, I’ll get a few new recipes made this week while also restocking my freezer.

I found tonight’s recipe, Creamy Mushroom Soup, on the blog Straight Up Food.   Someone I follow on Facebook had recommended the recipe, and since I had mushrooms that needed to be used up, I decided to give it a try.

The soup contains mushrooms, potatoes, sweet potato, spices, celery, and water.  It’s quick and easy to prepare and makes a lot (6-8 servings).  While it’s a bit hot outside, the soup is light enough to eat on a summer day.

Delicious and easy!  I’ll definitely make this again.


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It’s been about a month since I returned from walking the Camino de Santiago, and out of necessity, life has been slow going.

Turns out that when I hurt myself near Leon, I actually did have a stress fracture. The doctor couldn’t believe I had walked about 200 miles (and then some) with that injury.  And, looking back, I can’t believe I did, either.

If I had known it was a stress fracture, I would have come home, but I chose to believe everyone who said, “it’s just tendonitis.”  Then I wondered why everyone else with tendonitis was getting better and I wasn’t.

Of course, I could have gone to a doctor, but that’s a whole nother story.   Suffice it to say I thought I could finish, and I pretty much knew that if I left when I did, I might never have the opportunity to come back and complete the walk.

So I limped my way into Santiago, rested a lot, and finally went to the doctor when I got back home.  I haven’t seen the x-rays personally, but the doctor said the bone is displaced.  Sort of makes me a little sick to think of that, actually!   I’ve got a boot, and I’m supposed to stay off my right foot altogether.  Though, between you and me, I am not following directions.  Sometimes I have to put a little weight on my foot, like when I feed my animals or go up and down the deck stairs.  But I do realize I have to stay off my foot as much as possible or it will never get better.

Life on crutches has made things a bit more challenging.  Thank goodness for doggie day camp! Meghan the wonderdog gets to romp and play with dogs twice a week, and comes back exhausted. I feel less guilty about not being able to walk her.

Speaking of Meghan, I am not shy about soliciting playmates for her.  She really needs to run and wrestle with another active dog.  The picture below is of Meghan and Jake, a neighbor’s dog with similar energy.

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Another, more personal challenge is that of integrating my experience on the Camino into my daily life.  In some ways, the insights I received and the experiences I had have greatly changed me.  What of my “old” life do I bring back?  Do I attempt a side business or just focus on my long-term goals of operating a mini-farm/b&b?  Will I be able to  move closer to family?  Can I live more fully in the moment, trusting that angels surround me here just like they did on the Camino?  Can I show the same open-heartedness and support to others that I was shown on the Camino?

Right now, I’m being tested on what I’ve learned.  I’m on the job market, and working hard to trust that the right job, with the right income, will present itself.  Funny how we view things — I never questioned my ability to walk 500 miles (and I might do it again someday!), but I often question whether I can support myself doing a job I like.

Anyway, part of the “old” life was my 50-in-50 challenge.  Some of my challenges for myself (such as the restaurants and new experiences) I’d already given up on.  I’m still reading (I’ve got several books to add to the tally), and I guess I’ll still write about the new recipes.  Funny that I still love to cook and to eat, but I haven’t found the energy to link to the new recipes. Maybe once I’m off crutches, I’ll get back in the swing of things.








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Meghan takes a nap after a big morning, which included a two-mile walk, playing chase in the yard, and a training class.

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I turned 50 years old this year and one of my goals is to read 50 books. One I read while walking the Camino was The Spare Room by Helen Garner.

I was given a copy of this book by fellow pilgrims M. and D., who live in Australia. D. was happy to introduce me to an Australian author, and I was happy to read work by a new-to-me writer.

The Spare Room is about a woman named Helen’s attempt to help her terminally ill friend, Nicola, who needs a place to stay while undergoing alternative treatment for her cancer.

Helen is faced with a dilemma. She wants to help her friend, but she questions the course of treatment, and she’s overwhelmed by the amount of nursing Nicola requires. Nicola is blindly following treatment that is having a detrimental effect on her health. Nicola is also blindly optimistic and she avoids facing the very real possibility of death.

How much help is Helen required to give her friend, especially when Nicola’s demands have conditions? For example, Nicola did not want Helen to obtain nursing help, despite Helen being overwhelmed with the amount of care.

Should Helen question the alternative treatment? Is it okay to dash someone’s only hope for survival? And where does she draw the line between being of help and reclaiming her own life?

I enjoyed reading this book, since I am interested in the issue of choices around health care. Would I be willing to open my home and nurse a friend who is choosing treatments of which I don’t approve? (I don’t know!)

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Meghan the wonderdog finally found her forever home … and yep, you guessed it: with me!

A Plott hound/Pit mix, Meghan was brought to the animal shelter where I volunteer in December. She went to foster care in March, and I adopted her on June 25.

Since she’s about 10 months old, Meghan still has lots of puppy energy and enthusiasm. Luckily, she’s smart and very food motivated, so she’s learning commands quickly.

And I’m learning what toys will work for her. Note to self: just because the toy is labeled “hard plastic” doesn’t mean Meghan won’t tear it to shreds.

So far, Meghan has been content to run and play in my fenced yard. I’m crossing my fingers she doesn’t turn into an escape artist.

We also go on short leash walks, which will get longer once my foot injury heals.

Then, Meghan entertains herself (and me) by throwing her toys in the air and chasing them.

Then, after a few hours of playing outside and in, Meghan settles down for a nice, long nap.


As you can see, Meghan has settled in nicely!

In a few months, I’m hoping to foster a shelter dog. I’d like to give Meghan a friend with whom to play, but mostly, I’d like to help another dog like Meghan, who just needs some extra time and attention in order to find his/her forever home.

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