It’s Zaturday, the day we (Ziggy and Zorro) take over Mommy’s blog.
Ziggy here. Mommy says today is Halloween. Mommy thinks Halloween is a creepy holiday, so she celebrates the fall season instead. Fall in North Carolina is prettier than it is in Florida, because the leaves turn cool colors. Zorro and I like to sit in the catio and look out at the back yard. Right now, the leaves are falling. Every time the wind blows, a bunch more land on the ground.
Halloween is a day that a lot of people decorate with scary stuff. Zorro doesn’t like scary stuff, because he’s a scaredy cat. I guess I don’t really like scary stuff either. There are lots of pictures of black cats around right now, because we’re supposed to be scary, too. But I don’t think we look scary. Do you?
We’re not scary. We’re sweet and affectionate and cuddly…well, Zorro is more cuddly than I am. Another way to say that is that he’s more needy than I am. Cats are supposed to be independent, but he always wants to be with someone. When Grandma takes a nap, he’s right there on her blanket.
When Mommy’s writing, he gets up in her lap.
When Mommy and Daddy have to leave us, he’s reeeally pathetic. He cries at the door, then curls up and goes to sleep. He’s no fun at all. It’s a good thing that Mommy and Daddy don’t leave us very often.
Zorro and I are going to sign off now with our own version of a Halloween picture—a black cat with fall leaves outside our catio.
October is Adopt-A-Dog Month. You’re used to seeing my cats on here, but in honor of this month-long celebration, I’m devoting this post to dogs. A number of years ago, I found myself having to find homes for four abandoned dogs. Fortunately, the story had a happy ending…for everyone. (I originally shared this on Roxanne Rustand’s blog, Faith, Family and Four-Footed Friends, a Life in the Country.)
A Forever Home for Bruno
I am amazed and heartbroken over how many pets are just discarded.
Shortly before my husband and I were to leave for the holidays, a tenant moved out of one of our rental properties and abandoned five dogs—a black lab named Jackson, a lab/cur mix named Bruno and a dachshund mix with two puppies. The dachshund disappeared; the neighbors suspect the tenant came back for her. People advised me to call Animal Control for the other four. But in our county, as in most others, animals brought to Animal Control have a few hours to a few days, usually on the lower end of that range. I’m way too tender-hearted to carry good dogs to their death. So I enlisted the help of a friend and we googled rescue groups and sent dozens of emails asking for help.
Over the next few days, neighbors gave the dogs food we provided, and rescues responded asking for information and pictures. I went out armed with my digital camera, unsure how the two larger dogs would respond to a stranger. I needn’t have worried. They rushed toward me, tails wagging. Once sure they were friendly, I handed my neighbor the camera and sat down to pet them. Bruno immediately pushed me backwards and attempted to plant a sloppy kiss on my face. I went home with some great photos.
The puppies were easy to place. (Who can resist those sweet faces?) The larger dogs weren’t. It was the week before Christmas, and with many rescue foster families traveling for the holidays, there was no room. (Sorta reminds me of another Christmas story.)
Soon we were down to three days until we were to leave, and Bruno and Jackson were still homeless. My boss had lost an older lab and decided to take Jackson. Bruno and Jackson grew up together and were inseparable, so I asked if we could keep them together one more day while we tried to place Bruno. I would have taken him myself, but I live in a condo where I’m allowed two pets. I have a dog and three cats, all rescues. (One plus three equals two, right?)
My boss told his family about Bruno, and his wife said to make sure he gets a home. When he told her that was out of his control, she said, “Then lie to me!” She promised to distribute Bruno’s pictures around the school where she teaches. By lunchtime, a family had agreed to take him. By the end of the afternoon, both Bruno and Jackson were on their way to their new homes with their first scheduled play date lined up.
Bruno now has a home on ten acres with a loving family, other dogs and cows. He’s living the good life.
Unfortunately, there are hundreds more like him who aren’t that lucky. Calling Animal Control is quick and easy. Contacting rescues involves time and effort. But nothing beats the feeling of knowing some sweet dog or cat has found a forever home and you had a hand in it.
It’s Zaturday, the day we (Ziggy and Zorro) take over Mommy’s blog.
Zorro here. Today is Independence Day. At least, that’s what Mommy says. Ziggy and I aren’t sure what Independence Day is, but we think it has something to do with cats.
Everyone knows that cats are independent. Mommy and Daddy make jokes about it. Daddy says dogs have owners but cats have staff, and Mommy says that cats used to be worshiped as gods and we’ve never forgotten it.
We don’t know about all that, but we’re waaay more independent than dogs. Scientists say that we don’t see Mommy and Daddy as a focus of safety the same way dogs do. Even though we can take care of ourselves pretty well, we do still rely on Mommy and Daddy to give us affection and mental stimulation and to keep us healthy. And we show them that we love them by purring and rubbing up against them. Another way I show Mommy and Daddy that I love them is by blinking slowly at them. I like it when Mommy does it back.
I think Ziggy is more independent than I am, though, because when Mommy goes away, I really miss her. And when she finally comes back, I can hardly wait for her to put her stuff down so she can pick me up and love me. I always greet her with kisses on the nose.
Now, back to Independence Day. Since it’s our special day, Ziggy and I are waiting for our silk pillows…and tuna…and snuggles. Think we’ll get them?
It’s Zaturday, the day we (Ziggy and Zorro) take over Mommy’s Facebook page!
Zorro here. Mommy says yesterday was Friday the 13th. I don’t know exactly what that means, because for us, there are just two kinds of days—days in Florida and days in North Carolina. Well, three. There are also the days that we spend in the car getting to Florida or North Carolina.
But apparently Friday the 13th is supposed to be an unlucky day. Mommy says that’s not true, because she and Daddy got married on Friday the 13th and it didn’t bring them any bad luck. Some people believe black cats are bad luck, too. But Ziggy and I think that’s crazy.
Like how they say it’s bad luck if a black cat crosses your path. The only time that’s true in our house is when Ziggy runs in front of Mommy and trips her. Then it’s bad luck for both of them—Mommy almost falls and Ziggy gets accidentally kicked across the room. That happened not too long ago. Now Mommy is wearing a big black boot and walking funny. But I’m smarter than Ziggy. I’ve figured out how to stay out of the way of the humans’ feet.
But people say nice things about black cats, too. Like that dreaming about one is lucky. (I help Mommy dream about me by sleeping on her pillow.) And that a black cat on your porch brings prosperity. (We can’t help Mommy and Daddy there. They don’t let us outside.) And how about this one: In olde England, it was believed that a sty in the eye would be cured if rubbed with a black cat’s tail. (Ziggy wouldn’t like that. He doesn’t want people messing with his tail.)
But Ziggy and I think all those superstitions are silly, whether good or bad. Black cats are just like any other cats. We like to play, eat, get scratched under the chin, curl up in a sunny spot and spend lots of time sleeping.
So what should you do if a black cat crosses your path at night?
I’m not superstitious. I walk under ladders, have two black cats and got married on June 13th. And yes, it was a Friday.
In our house, Friday the 13th is a day to celebrate. And when that Friday the 13th falls during the month of June, it’s doubly special. The last time that happened was 2014. It won’t happen again until 2025. Some people told us we were crazy planning a wedding for Friday the 13th. But everything went off without a hitch. Well, almost.
At the time, my husband-to-be was in the Florida National Guard. Right before we were going to order his ring, riots broke out in the Liberty City part of Miami, and his unit was activated. By the time he was able to come back home, we were running out of time. We got the ring ordered, but it didn’t arrive until the Monday after our wedding. So we ended up borrowing one. In all of our wedding pictures, my husband is wearing my ex-boyfriend’s ring!
Sometime back, I booked a transatlantic cruise for our anniversary. The last ship we were on, the top deck was deck 13. It was where they had putt-putt golf, basketball courts, the rock climbing wall and several other activities. In checking out the floor plan of the ship we’ll be going on this time, it goes from deck 12 to deck 14. There is no deck 13.
The fear of the number 13 is a real thing—it’s called triskaidekaphobia. A lot of skyscrapers have no 13th floor, because even if the owner of the building doesn’t have the phobia, they choose to avoid problems with superstitious tenants. In China, in addition to floor 13, they’ll sometimes also skip floors 4 and 14, because of the similarity between the pronunciation of the words “four” and “death” in Chinese.
At least in America, the superstitious only have one number to avoid. Two if you count 666. But that would be a topic for a whole different post.
I’ve never met anyone born on Leap Day, but a friend of mine and his twin brother came really close. My friend John was born on February 28, 1956. A few hours later and he would have been celebrating his 16th birthday today instead of having celebrated his 64th yesterday. In actuality, the odds of being born on Leap Day are 1 in 1,461.
Leap Day happens almost every four years. Did you notice I said “almost”? Years that end in “00” but aren’t divisible by 400 don’t have a Leap Day. Most of us will never see it in our lifetime. The last time this happened was the year 1900. We won’t skip Leap Day again until the year 2100.
So why the weird finagling with the calendar? We know the earth orbits the sun approximately every 365¼ days. It’s this “approximately” that messes us up. The real number is 365.242189. So if we skip Leap Day three times every 400 years, we hit it right on.
A few other fun facts about Leap Day:
1. People born on Leap Day are called “leaplings” or “leapers.” In Hong Kong, the legal birthday of a leapling is March 1. In New Zealand, it’s February 28.
2. There’s a club for people born on February 29—The Honor Society of Leap Year Babies. The club has more than 10,000 members worldwide.
3. One in five engaged couples in Greece will avoid marrying during a leap year because they believe it’s bad luck.
4. In Finland, it’s supposed to be good luck for a woman to propose on Leap Day. If her boyfriend refuses her proposal, he is required to pay her a fine—enough fabric to make a skirt.
5. In Ireland, the man who refuses a Leap Day proposal must buy her a silk gown.
6. And there’s a movie about it. In the 2010 romantic comedy Leap Year, a woman travels to Ireland to propose to her boyfriend on Leap Day, which tradition says he has to accept.
So, ladies, if you’ve gotten tired of your special someone to propose, today’s your day. For everyone else, however you choose to celebrate this holiday that comes around only once every four years, have fun!
Today is Love Your Pet Day. What an awesome holiday!
Over the years, our pets have included a golden retriever/chow mix, two long-haired dachshund sisters, an iguana and numerous cats. All of our pets have been rescues (except the iguana). Right now we have two black cats who are regularly part of my social media posts and who even take over my blog once a week.
I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life when I’ve been without at least one cat or dog. Granted, they can be a lot of work, but when they look at you with love in their eyes, it makes it all worthwhile.
Besides all the love and joy pets bring into our lives, there are also health benefits:
Especially if the pet is a dog. Walking, running, playing frisbee or fetch keep both you and your pet in shape. We never could get our long-haired dachshunds to play fetch, but our Siamese cat Suki had a little rubber mouse she would bring to us to throw. She’d tear off after it then bring it back and drop it at our feet. This would keep up until we finally wore her out. Or maybe she wore us out.
Stress relief and help with depression
What is more soothing than listening to a cat purr or having a dog lying next to you with its head in your lap? Studies have found that being around pets actually reduces cortisol levels (the stress hormone). Pets can make us smile when we’re feeling down, too. The National Institute of Mental Health recognizes animal-assisted therapy as a treatment for depression and other mood disorders.
Lower blood pressure, less risk of stroke and lower risk of heart attacks
A study of hospitalized heart patients found that dogs decreased their blood pressure by about 10%. Other researchers suggest owning a cat cuts a person’s risk of having a stroke by one-third. And yet another study found that people with cats were 40% less likely to have a fatal heart attack. Scientists aren’t sure whether it’s the pets’ calming effects that make the difference or whether people who choose pets are at less risk of heart attack and more stress-free naturally. Either way, it sounds like a really good excuse to adopt a dog or cat!
Worried about allergies? Having pets in your home when your children are young can decrease their risk of developing allergies later. A seven-year study of almost 500 children found that those who were exposed to pets as babies, were half as likely to develop allergies and asthma.
For 13 of the most heartwarming pet stories of the past decade, check out this post. Warning: It’ll make you cry!
In honor of this great holiday, how about giving Fido or Fluffy an extra treat? They deserve it.
As romance authors, love is often forefront in our minds. Today, a lot of the rest of the world is joining us.
One part of my job that I always find fun is coming up with unique and sometimes humorous ways to bring my couples together. We refer to that first meeting as the “meet-cute,” which is defined as “an amusing or charming first encounter between two characters that leads to the development of a romantic relationship between them.” I have my own meet-cute, which, though not especially humorous, is a little unique.
When I met my husband, it was love at first sight. Well, maybe not love, but definitely a good amount of interest. My best friend had invited me to her church singles group Christmas party, and when I saw him standing across the church yard, I was hooked. I asked her to introduce us. We began to talk, and it didn’t take long for the subject of the conversation to turn to music.
I told him that I play and teach piano, and he said he had seen me play somewhere. I named a couple of places. When I mentioned performing in the Young Artists Concert with the Lakeland Symphony Orchestra a year and a half earlier, he said, “That’s it! You played Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto in G Minor!” I decided I was dealing with a man who was really passionate about music. Or a stalker. As it turned out, he played the French horn with the Lakeland Symphony Orchestra and accompanied me at that concert.
Two weeks passed before we had our first date. Two and a half months later, we were engaged, and two and a half months after that, we were married. It’s been almost 40 years, and we’re still making music together. (Except now it’s at church rather than in a concert hall.)
Go ahead. Its all right. Today is National Hugging Day.
I love to learn about obscure, little-known holidays. Some are pretty off the wall, like National Nothing Day (January 16) and Measure Your Feet Day (January 23). Huh? Who came up with those? And more importantly, WHY?
But some of these not-so-well-known holidays are pretty cool. Like January 21, National Hugging Day. Now there’s something to celebrate!
When I was at the Romance Writers of America conference in New York City last year, I was headed to a workshop on digital marketing but changed my mind the last minute and instead sat in on a talk on handling stress and burnout. That ended up being the most helpful workshop of my conference.
(I know this sounds completely unrelated to my topic, but hold on. I’m getting there.)
The workshop presenters began by explaining how important it is to work our way through the entire stress cycle, even if we can’t do anything about the stressor. Some stressors we can eliminate with good planning and wise choices. But if the stressor is a boss or a loved one? Walking away isn’t always a good solution, and it’s illegal to shoot them.
The speakers provided several methods for completing the stress cycle, or moving from “stressed” all the way to “safe.” These included things like physical activity (running, tennis, working out), sleep (7-9 hours every 24 hours, however your body wants it split up), hearty laughter, a big cry, and creative self-expression. (Interestingly enough, once writing becomes a job, it no longer qualifies as creative self-expression for stress-relieving purposes.)
One of the methods they talked about for completing the stress cycle was affection, things like kissing and hugging. (See? I told you I’d get there.) But a quick peck or slap on the back won’t do it. There are actually scientific studies that have determined the average number of seconds it takes to complete the stress cycle with activities involving affection. When kissing, the magic number seems to be six. (This should probably with your significant other. Otherwise, it could get really awkward. Or get you in a lot of trouble.)
For hugs, the ideal amount of time is a lot longer—20 seconds. That can seem like a really long time, especially if you’re counting it out. One thousand one, one thousand two… But the exact time isn’t as important is staying in the hug until you feel the shift.
I’ve experienced this through the years on a number of occasions. After a stressful day, I have no trouble saying, “I need a hug.” And hubby is always more than willing to oblige. At a particular point, I actually do feel a shift, almost like flipping a switch.