Where’s the Beef?

Where’s the beef???  In Mom’s freezer and, pretty soon, in my tummy!!!!

Mom and I went camping with our Texas cowpoke friends in Missouri a bit ago.  I love the fella, Mr. John.  Those are his feet that I am cuddling up to in the photo to the left.  He knows just where and how to pet me.  As for the lady, Miss Carol, I worship her.  She always has a pocketful of my favorite cookies, and she loves to dole them out to me piece by piece.  It is a lovely game.

Better yet, Miss Carol transferred half a dozen packages of ground cow from her freezer to ours.  She knows I am on a special diet and wanted to contribute to my good health and longevity with beef straight from their personal herd.  Mom says it is magic meat and will probably get me at least through Christmas.  Not bad for a sick old girl that she had all but written off a few short months ago, eh?

Mr. John says that I look great and that Mom is just overreacting to stuff the vets told her.  I really like how that guy thinks.  I also totally agree with him, but I am not letting on.  I am enjoying all the special treatment I’ve been getting, especially the home-cooked diet.

Anyways, we had a great time together.  Lots of walks and visits.  Mr. John and Miss Carol’s house-on-wheels is bigger than ours.  We all fit in there just fine and nobody stepped on me once, though I have to admit I tried my best to trip Miss Carol a couple of times when she was on her way from one spot to another carrying food.  Even if I couldn’t get her to drop what she was carrying, I was hopeful more cookies would spill from her pockets if she went down.  I suppose it is just as well that I did not succeed.  Something tells me that Mom would have banished my old bones from our get-togethers should I not be on her definition of good behavior.

One day we spent a couple of hours outside and, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what the big deal was.  Mom and our friends were trying to see something funny that was happening up in the sky.  They put weird, dark glasses on their faces and stared up at the sun.  Silly people.  Don’t they know that will give you a headache?  Things did get funky for a while, though, when the sky, trees, and grass all shifted to deeper, cooler shades, the cicadas stopped singing and end-of-the day critter songs took up the oddly-slacking chorus.  But it didn’t last long, and I knew all was well with the world when the cookies and walks resumed.

Our friends didn’t just treat me really special on this visit.  They were super nice to my Mom, too.  Mom had a birthday while we were together and they spoiled her even more than they spoiled me!  That’s all right.  Even Moms deserve a little spoiling now and then.

Back to me.  I was really sad when our visit ended.  Mom and I rolled out of the campground and she told me that our friends were going to head back to their ranch in Texas.  I cried and whined for a bit, then I took a long nap.  Everything looked better when I woke up, even though my ears hurt because Mom was howling (she calls it singing) along with the radio.  Mom says we will get to see these friends again in just a few short months and, before then, we will get to see other people that we love.  Meanwhile, I can enjoy the gift that is in our freezer and–to get to the real meat of the matter–I can relish the memories of all our good times.  So many, many good times.

Yes.  Dogs have great memories.

Especially me.

(Note from Mom to all scientifically-minded readers out there:  The picture of the eclipse included above–taken with a simple i-phone and no filter–shows the brightness of the eclipsed sun (around 98%) at the bottom of the photo.  How many observant eyes noted the curious crescent shape above and to the right?  Somehow, the eclipsed sun’s reflection ended up in those clouds, masquerading as a crescent moon.  Please explain.  Because I cannot.  Feel free to use the comments section so that others can see your explanation.  The prize will be another mystery-puzzle based on a ground photo taken around the same time.  So, come on people, make an educated–or intuitive–guess!)

The Psychology of Cows

When one cow is in distress, so is the rest of her herd.  It is a very tight-knit community.

That’s what my friend, Jean, told me.  Jean was raised on a farm near the campground.  She still lives on the land of her old family farm, complete with husband, beloved horses, and a small herd of cows.  She is the adoptive mother of Millie (a.k.a. Foxy Lady), who happens to be Dawny’s best friend in Tennessee.  We go for lovely walks nearly every day and talk about everything from our lives to the lives of cows.

Cow moms and their babies are extremely attached to one another.  The first time I heard them, I was staying at a campground in Texas.  On the other side of a thick stand of trees and across a deep ravine at the back of the campground, I heard an unearthly, deep, rumbling wail.  “Yes, those are the mother cows crying for their calves that have been taken from them,” one of the campers told me.  “They will quiet down in a day or two.”  I’ve heard those cow cries several times since then.  Jean and my friends in Texas, Carol and John, who also raise cows, say that sometimes they will bellow for many days.

If you google “the psychology of cows,” you can find all sorts of interesting facts about this placid, doe-eyed creature.  For instance, cows really like being around other cows.  One source stated that eight is the minimum number for a happy herd.  Any less than that, and they start getting unduly anxious and hyper-vigilant.  Makes sense for a prey animal.  Also, even though they are very social animals, cows are pretty sensitive about personal boundaries.  If you get too close too fast, sweet Elsie can turn downright deadly!

Dawny can relate to this one:  Cows have a strict hierarchy in their herd.  It might not be obvious to most folks, but there is an alpha cow in each group and everybody else is ranked behind them.  Even so, it seems to be a pretty cooperative relationship.  Have you ever been out on a hot, sunny drive and seen a cluster of cows all huddled under the shade of one lonely tree?  Other animals might kick the weaker ones out and take that shady spot all for themselves and maybe a few of their trusted sidekicks.  But not a herd of cows.  Nope.  They are one for all and all for one.  There is something simply admirable about that.  Slightly nonsensical, but admirable.

So… why all this talk of cows?  Because that’s the twist my mind took the last few days as I heard from friends, old and new, who saw my last post and reached out to me.  Gently pulling me back to a herd of sorts with kindness and understanding.  Nudges of friendship.  Respect for boundaries.  Absence of judgement.

Mooooo.  🙂

(Photo courtesy of members of the herd belonging to Carol and John, my cow-whisperer friends in Texas.)

Countdown

Countdown to a real book!

In early December I posted that I was feeling strangely excited about arriving at our winter RV home this year.  Now I know why.  Actually, I figured it out shortly after our arrival.

Last winter I met a wonderful couple, Joy and Tony (names I gave them for their blog posts).  I wrote two posts devoted to them (Boxes, Both Miraculous and Mundane, March 6, 2015, and the poem Old Friend, March 14, 2015).  They are here this winter, too, and Joy and I have made a book together.  It is a novella, accounting one woman’s courageous and inspiring life journey.  It is her journey.

We started working on the story the day after my arrival.  We both knew it was right.  The project, the timing, and each other.  Because I love story telling, and she had more story to tell.

Even before setting out on my RV adventure, I had hopes that maybe, perhaps, hopefully, God-willing I would be able to write something like a book at some point.  (I also wanted to relearn the guitar, but that went nowhere!)  A friend of mine made me aware of Kindle self-publishing some time ago, and it made a lot of sense.  It puts the power into the hands of the primary players (the authors) rather than the archaic, convoluted, tortuous maze authors often have to navigate in the traditional publishing world.

Anyone can write and upload a book to Kindle.  The audience is worldwide.  What more can you ask for?  Well, marketing for one thing.  With a self-published book, the marketing is largely up to the author, and social media is a key element.

I have avoided Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and whatever else is out there so far.  As a fine, upstanding, stalwart citizen of IHVU (Introverted Hermits Vaguely United), I get exhausted and frazzled by too much social interaction.  The mere idea of keeping up with tweets and friends-who-I’ve-never-met-and-never-will-meet and whatever else the multitudes have to offer and to take, makes me want to crawl way deeper into my cave.  Well, that’s a great place to think.  And write.  But not to experience.  And not to share.

I created Aging on Wheels before I set out on my journey in mid-2014 with the long range goal that if I did manage to come up with a book, I could perhaps promote it here, on my very own blog.  Meanwhile, the blog took on a life of its own, becoming a friend in a way.  A journal, a diary, a place to share my thoughts and practice my writing.  A place to record the meeting of new friends, reconnections with old friends, and to chatter about some of the things I suspect we all have in common.  As a solo traveler, even an introvert likes to chatter to someone other than the dog sometimes.

It’s odd, but although the blog is out there for the whole world to see, should anyone in the world choose to look, it has felt like a safe place.  I think that is largely due to the kindness of my visitors, who give me space, consideration, and love.

In the vastness of the cyber-universe, there aren’t a lot of people who follow Aging on Wheels.  But please know that I am grateful for all of you who do.  I am particularly thankful for those of you who have expressed appreciation for my writing and for those who have encouraged me to continue.  Most of all, I deeply appreciate all of you who are and who have become friends.

So, to all of my readers here, please pardon my blatant plug for this upcoming book.  I do hope some of you will read it and enjoy it once it is published.  If any of you feel moved to provide a review of the book, that would be truly helpful, too, since reviews help the book rank higher in search lists.  It should be released by the end of the month.  And, trust me, I will keep you posted on the exact date, title, and other details!

Meanwhile, I am busy studying the finer points of formatting for Kindle and how to download a product that my friend and I will be able to be proud of.  It turns out that the process isn’t totally simple and brainless.  But it’s a wonderful challenge, and it feels like a terrific beginning.

It’s pretty nifty getting to enjoy new beginnings at this stage of life. 🙂