Saturday, April 24, 2010

Quiet of night

Frequently over the years, I have had difficulty with sleeping throughout the night. It's not what I would call insomnia, but more a function of joint aches, restless legs, barking dogs down the street or, like last night, coughing due to a cold and springtime allergies. Now that I no longer have to get up early and go to work, interrupted sleep isn't a big problem. I can always take a nap later in the day if I get tired. As a result, I have begun to enjoy the quiet hours that I am awake.

Take last night as an example. A coughing attack woke me up at about 3:00 a.m. I knew I wouldn't go back to sleep right away so I got up and went to the living room. Actually, sitting up helps my chest and bronchial tubes clear out so I don't cough so much. Sometimes when I'm up I'll turn on the TV to see what inspiring late-night fare I can find. Usually I don't find anything much other than maybe a many-year-old rerun of some cooking show on Food Network and last night I wasn't in the mood for any of that. I didn't even want background music from the cable music channels. Instead, I picked up my needlework and spent a couple of hours stitching away on the quilt blocks I'm making and just listening. Listening to all the sounds that happen at night. Mother Nature has a wonderful orchestra that plays all night long. The "instruments" change as some creatures go to sleep and others wake up. No matter who is playing, the music is soothing. The only sounds other than nature were the ticks of the clock as the hands changed time and the refrigerator condenser keeping my food cool.

These last two were minor sounds. By far, the loudest sounds came from Mom Nature. It is always soothing to listen to night sounds, but for some reason they were especially welcome last night.

I have always said that working on my needlework is what kept me sane throughout all those years of working. I have to add night sounds to the list of enjoyable things.

Night sounds differ with the seasons, too. In the middle of winter, especially after a snowfall, the sounds are much different, more muted, but still in existence. Springtime night sounds are muffled a bit because the trees have leaves that help hold the sound down. Summer night sounds include bullfrogs and crickets. And in the fall, if the windows are open, you can actually hear a leaf hit the ground.

Mom Nature really does give us a new show all the time. And I haven't even touched on the sights and sounds of daytime. That is a whole other discussion completely. For me, though, the quiet stillness in the middle of the night is the most relaxing time of day for me.

Til next time, thanks for reading.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Pet ownership = responsibility

I grew up on a farm and had all of the typical farm animals around me. And, of course, we had pets - dogs and cats in particular, but also rabbits and other wild animals including a skunk. (I'll leave that story for another time.) We were taught from a very young age that tame animals depend on humans for food and other basic life necessities and we kids had to fulfill those needs or pay the price from mom. (Yep, she was the main disciplinarian in the family because it seemed like dad was always working.) Taking care of the pets was not a burden to be borne, but rather a fact of life on the farm.

My upbringing among animals is one of the reasons I started watching Animal Planet. I enjoy learning about different animals and their habitat. One program that I happened across by accident is Animal Cops. There are a couple of cities featured - Houston and Miami - that I watch regularly although other cities are featured. To be honest, I don't know why I continue to watch this program because I come away each time just fuming! If you've never seen the program, local SPCA shelters are the focal point and investigators from those shelters are followed by cameras as they go in to confiscate abused animals. And some of that abuse is horrific! Watching this program is akin to rubber-necking an accident on the highway. You know you're going to see something terrible, but you just can't look away. How can someone profess to love their animal and let that animal waste away to skin and bones - literally?

In most cases, the confiscated animals are awarded to the custody of the SPCA through the court system and are then given food and medical care that is needed. And in most cases, the animals survive and are adopted out to loving homes. Unfortunately, sometimes the most humane treatment is euthanasia. Yet in the cases that are followed in the programs, the animal owners vow all through the legal process that they do love their animals and want to get them back. Grrrr! Makes me want to slap those folks around...and I don't subscribe to violence.

Animals can be a blessing for most people and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. If someone no longer wants their pet, most communities have a shelter that will take in the animal and try to adopt it out to someone else who will love and cherish it. And if no loving home can be found, these animals are at the very worst euthanized in a respectful way.

I'm climbing down from my soap-box now. I just had to get that off my chest. Thanks for listening. Now back to my regularly-scheduled stitching.


P.S. No, I do not have a pet. I love animals, but feel that at this time in my life I am better off without a pet. That may change in the future. You can trust, though, that if I ever decide to get a pet, that pet will be treated like a queen/king!