January blues —blech!!

Is there a more depressing month than January?? Fiercely cold, depressingly dark, no long weekends (except for the first which doesn’t count as its really part of Christmas). January is a hard slog.

I took pity on our resident stray cat, Fuzz-butt, and let him into the house. He came in reluctantly, perhaps knowing a level of trust would have to develop between us. The first night he was put into solitary confinement in my daughter’s bathroom–I didn’t trust that he wouldn’t spray everywhere in the house if left free to roam. I don’t think he was happy but he was warm. The second night he was segregated in the spare bedroom. More space but still contained. I think I made him stay in there for three nights. Then as we came to understand each other I gave him his freedom.

It didn’t help that at almost precisely the same time I took possession of my son’s dog for three weeks while he was away working in Florida. Monster, or Meat-Head as I affectionately call him, is a pit bull.

There is a meme that’s been going around. These things are hilarious because they are true.

His head is just sooo heavy. A large preternaturally strong dog, all muscle (including between the ears) Monster wouldn’t hurt a flea. Intensely curious and no concept of personal space he proved a bit of a challenge to Fuzz-Butt. But this orange fluff ball is no pushover. He soon dominated the dog and in fact the whole household. He’s very vocal, very affectionate, extremely muscular and just a real sweetheart. I quite love him.

We do have two other cats but I’m not really a cat person. These are my daughters babies. This is Gideon, her three legged tabby making himself comfy on my just dropped coveralls, and tiny petite momma cat, who I don’t really love but I do have a special bond with. She had been an outside cat but one frigid January I found her in the sheep barn tucked up behind a lambing jug. She had frosticles on her whiskers and I didn’t think she’d make the night. I scooped her up, tucked her into my coveralls and brought her inside. She’s been a house cat every since. (She also produced her last batch of kittens several days after her rescue).

She is a formidable hunter siphoning my momma finch out of the bird cage in the living room, and killing outside vermin, large and small. That first pic is a FULL SIZED RAT!!! eeek!!! I’d never ever seen a wild rat before, but this showed up after the neighbors old dairy barn collapsed from old age. My shoe is for scale. Quite dead and the only cat capable of such butchery is momma cat. The second pic is a tiny little shrew, the size of your little finger. Both victims left for my enjoyment on the sidewalk outside my kitchen door. The birdcage in the living room is now fortified by cookie sheets, including on top of the cage. Momma cat leapt to the top and somehow managed to extract momma finch. Daddy raised the babies alone. My little dog is jealous of everyone, fighting with Fuzz-Butt for his egg, nudging the big dog off my lap. As I said the big dog has no concept of personal space and in the frenzied excitement of all the new smells here at the farm, peed on little Marty. But she didn’t hold a grudge and after her bath snuggled up to Meathead. And outside the snowponies don’t seem affected by the nasty weather. Piggy is always a challenge as I can never make her a winter bed she likes. But this year I have mastered the perfect piggy bed–a thick straw base with old down filled sleeping bags on top. Her nights are now classified by one, two or three covers. Usually three as warmth shouldn’t be rationed. Our animals. Such comics. They make us smile. Something so needed in this terrible month of January.

Back to the old grind

I’ve been retired now for almost six and a half years. I worked 32 years for the City, mostly at our small airport, which I loved. I knew I needed something to do, in my retirement, to give me routine or I would simply get lost in days filled with no responsibilities, in a book or worse, in front of the computer screen. When I handed in my notice I drove down the street and applied for a job driving school bus. And got it!!

A lot of people wrinkle their noses when I say I drive school bus. “Oh, how can you stand the kids?!? I’d go crazy!!” I’ve worked for two different companies and have had essentially rural routes both times. The kids are no problem at all, polite when they interact, their heads buried in screens the rest of the time. I’ve had one parent from hell, (but that is now resolved) but the kids have been fine. Perhaps in the city it might be a different story but the runs are so short, would it really matter?

My work day now starts at six. I’m out of the yard at 7:15, coffee in my travel mug, off to my first pick up at 7:45. We’re at the school at 8:30 and I’m home again at 9:00. 130/140 kilometres, depending who’s on.

In the afternoon I head to the school at 2:30, do everything in reverse and am home at 5:00. I never thought I would like the split shift but it’s amazing how much can be done in those five and a half hours. I love the driving, particularly the dead-heading, when I’m empty. I see the most glorious sunrises and sunsets, brilliant moons, wildlife galore. Moose are always impressive but my favourite are the snowy owls. Huge birds, they swoop and glide effortlessly alongside the bus. In the fall, the flocks of geese are stunning both in their size and the racket they make, I can hear them over the sound of the bus engine.

And even the smallest of creatures are out–just before the Christmas break a weasel, in his white ermine winter coat, was out running and flipping on the road in front of the bus. I slowed to let him cross, his black tipped tail flicking with a life of its own.

And of course the pay doesn’t hurt. I could live on my pension but I’d never travel. So it’s a win-win. I’m doing something I love and getting paid for it.

The holidays have been nice but I’m looking forward to getting back into a routine again. Old Betsy looks like she keen to go too!!

Time flies

I just saw a meme on Facebook a while ago. 

I mean how true is that!!  Thirty years ago will always be 1970!!

I’ve never been one for New Years’ resolutions. But this year I have a goal, inspired partly by a British blogger I’ve been following, and partly by my kids dad.

Shazza over at sunshine and celadines lives in northern England (my favourite bit) and posts about marvellous walks and rambles she takes with her partner and dog Hugo. I intend to use her blog as a travel guide the next time I’m there as she has walked all the places I want to see and some that are new to me but no less interesting. She also participates in something called the 1000 mile challenge (hope I’ve got that right) and logs her miles walked for the year. I believe it’s a program to get people moving and off the couch. Shazza walked over 1500 miles in 2018!!  Way to go. So go check out her blog—https://sunshineandcelandines.wordpress.com

And my kids dad, who after 35 years with Transport Canada/NavCanada, retired and began a new career as a postie, delivering mail. He walks an average of 100k a week and has lost forty pounds. I’m so proud of him. (You can see he rests on the weekend 😜)It was -28C the past couple days. Nasty for walking.

So my goal for the year is to get moving more. It’s really hard when my natural habitat is the corner of the couch with a stack of books but I’m going to try. My son is off traveling for work and I’ll have his big dog to look after.  For three weeks I’ll be walking. Is that enough time to form a habit?  Guess we’ll see.

Here’s wishing you a fabulous New Year filled with reasons to get off the couch and move!!