I Can Talk For Hours About. . .

Although I enjoy visiting, it doesn’t seem like I spend as much time talking as I do listening.  But get me onto a favorite topic and I can talk your ears off (provided you don’t die of boredom because you don’t share my enthusiasm).  So for today’s 30 Days of Lists, here are the subjects that I can talk about for hours.  They will not come as a surprise to any of you, since I also blog about them frequently!

Books – at a previous job, one of the consultants loved to read as much as I did and very often read the same books too.  We had to be careful to not talk too long as we both enjoyed comparing notes and making recommendations.

Dogs – I can never tell or hear too many dog stories.  They are an endless source of cute, frustration, and affection.

Photography – I don’t meet many photographers who are as advanced as I am, outside of my favorite boy toy.  So when I meet one, I can stand and talk forever about equipment, Adobe software, social media, and places to go for taking pictures.  I had that happen a while back at the botanical gardens.  The other photographer and I had a great time visiting and had to cut it short because the good light was leaving.

My Daughter – she’s the greatest and I love to talk about everything she’s up to.  Last weekend, she participated in a mini-triathlon, placing in the middle of the pack (the only photos I have are copyrighted, so I cannot post them).  Her skin tight clothes for the event just looked like she was a bit pudgy, not four months pregnant.  When I was four months pregnant, I was already waddling from the bowling ball that was sticking out in front!

State Taxes – put me in a room with the consultants, and we can be swapping stories for hours.  They like it as much as I do, mostly because I’m interactive with them and have good stories of my own.  I enjoy being able to dissect the nuances behind various tax positions and events, especially with someone who knows as much or more than I do.  It’s just plain old fun :)

How about you?  What can you talk about for hours?  Will I be surprised?  Let me know!


Categories: Books, Dogs, Photography, 30 Days of Lists | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Textures in My Backyard


This week’s photo challenge is “texture”.  There are all kinds of great pictures out there to interpret it and I encourage you to click here and check them out.

I eagerly scoured my photos looking for textures until I realized that the photos from my own backyard had some interesting textures of their own!


The two photos above are the trumpet vines that provide privacy between us and our neighbor, whose driveway and garage is just feet away from our deck.  I noticed that the open flowers were facing to the east and when the sun hit them in the morning, they were glowing.  The leaves have all kinds of striations on them, the unopened flowers are smooth and waxy, and the open flowers have a slight velvety texture (complete with moving ants!).

I didn’t see the hummingbird the morning that I photographed the trumpet vine, but it’s been hanging around again this summer.  It really likes the trumpet vine flowers and often in the fall, when the leaves come down, we will find a tiny nest in the vines.

I also found this walking around the deck railing.  It’s a type of assassin bug called a “wheel bug“, named for the large half wheel in the middle of its back.  Talk about textures – look at that wheel, the abdomen, and even the shiny eye.  And yes, it was watching me.  The whole time I photographed it, those eyes stayed focused on me.


Wheel bugs are considered beneficial bugs for the garden.  That long snout is used to pierce through caterpillars, Japanese beetles, and aphids, and suck them dry.

That wasn’t the only texture outside with me that day!  Who could resist scratching that nearly hairless tummy?  The sunbeam came along and captured a miniature pinscher.  For as thick as his pelt is, his tummy barely has any short hairs covering it.


The sunbeam tried to capture a beagle as well.  It must be his age (he just turned nine), but he seems to be shaggier each time I look at him.  For being August and hot, the beagle has tufts of fur everywhere, even in his paws.


From his smooth wet nose to those soft silky ears and his coarse fur, a beagle is a total texture package.  And if you’d like to find out for yourself, he’d love you to come over and pet him!  Just be sure to bring some treats.


Categories: Backyard, Dogs, Photography | Tags: , , , , , ,

The Beagle Claims He Was Tricked

Here I am, minding my own business.

Here I am, minding my own business.

Dear Kind & Gentle Readers -

I got tricked!!!  Yes, I got tricked.  Wait until you hear what Mom and Dad did to me this time.

It started innocently enough.  After the grand morning ritual of the giving of the treats, Mom let me back outside again.  I was so happy!  It was a nice day out and there were lots of little boys to bark at as they walked to the bus stop.

Then Mom comes around to the side gate, whispers my name, and rattles my harness.  Oh wow, wow, wow.  I’m going for a walk!  Or to daycare!  No, a walk!  Check pee-mail!  Joy, joy, joy.  Can you tell how excited I was?  And I was alone – no sharing Mom with any of my brothers.  Little did I know that was by design, until it was too late.

I'm so excited!  Mom has my harness and I'm going for a walk!!  Or something!!

I’m so excited! Mom has my harness and I’m going for a walk!! Or something!!

So Mom let me out and I ran up and down the fence as fast as I could, but finally I was a good boy and let her put my harness on.  Dad was waiting by the car and more wow!!  Now, I’m going with Dad in the car.  I just excited and excited and excited.

We got out of the car and I hop, skip and run in the building with Dad.  Uh-oh.  Brake time.  This isn’t daycare!  And sure isn’t a walk!  Nooooooooooooooooooo.   I’m at the vet!!!!!

Bad Dad!

Bad Dad! I’ve been betrayed!!

Dad gave me to the torturers, who put me a cage.  Eventually I was too sleepy to stay awake and the next thing I know, my mouth hurts and so does the back of my neck.  Ewww!  My teeth got cleaned and a lump on the back of my neck is gone now.  Double icky!  My neck got shaved and the stitches itch, but Mom and Dad won’t scratch it for me.  At least I don’t have to wear a bozo collar.

I don’t care if it’s for my own good.  I don’t care if the vet says it was good the lump was taken off while it was still small.  Don’t care don’t care don’t care.  I wanted a walk and I didn’t get one.  In fact, I didn’t feel good when Dad put me back in the car.  I didn’t throw up, but I think I walked into a wall.  And the couch seemed to be a long way up from the ground.

How come I need a nap after I go to the vet?

How come I need a nap after I go to the vet?

So that was my big adventure.  And let me tell you, it stunk.  It was like getting a bath but worse.  I mean, was that fair?  Hellooooooo – a harness means a walk!!  Don’t you people know that?

Mom was nice to me later (take note Dad – you could have given me more treats to make it up to me.  A lot more treats.  But did you?  No.)  She stroked my head, cooed at me and told me what a good boy it was.  How could I resist melting in her hands?  I love it when she uses that special tone of voice and looks in my eyes.

Leave me alone.  I'm tired and crabby.  Go away.

Leave me alone. I’m tired and crabby. Go away.

But dear readers – you can help me out.  Yes, you.  Am I not pitiful?  And deserving of treats?  So send treats.  Lots of them.  Oh, wait, Mom just said something to me.  WHAT?????  I’m too fat already?   But I need treats!  Uh-oh.  Mom just said no.  No – wait – don’t take the keyboard away – I promise to be good – no asking for treats.

Dad!  Dad!  Mom’s nuts!  Let me out in the yard – now.  Yes, now.  Hurry up man and get that door open!

Gotta go!  Be good and don’t get in trouble with Mom about treats.

Love ya!

The Beagle

[Note:  The beagle finally has his own page.  If you'd like to read more of his blog posts, check the tabs at the top or go to here.]

Categories: Beagle Stories | Tags: , , ,

The Beagle Tattles That Mom Assaulted Him!

Dear Readers – I don’t understand why Mom calls me a tattle tale.  Geez – all I’m doing is reporting the truth as I see it.  And as we all know, I’m right.

Wanna play?  Dare you!

Wanna play? Dare you!

So it started innocently enough.  Mom grabbed the towel away, enticing my big brother to play.  He loves playing tug with the towel and sometimes she is foolish enough to let him do it lets him do it.

Opening gambit.  Do you want the towel?

Opening gambit. Do you want the towel?

So there’s a lot of jumping, tugging and growling (my big brother, not Mom).  But was that good enough?  NO!  It wasn’t!

And the answer is YES!

And the answer is YES!

Mom starts chasing my brother, shaking the towel at him.  He’d grab it, growl, and then she’d grab it back and start chasing him again.

And the beagle objects!

And the beagle objects!

Well, I couldn’t resist howling at the two of them.  I mean, was this stupid or what!  So I let them know my opinion.

I'll cheat if that's the only way to beat Dad.

See that cheating paw?

So what happened?  Mom turns around and mugs me.  Yes, she mugs me!  She said she was only playing, but I jumped sideways to get away from her.  Then my brother gave me a noogie.  Nuggie?  Whatever.  He rubbed the towel all over the top of my head.

Mine, mine, mine!

Mine, mine, mine!

Eeew!  They assaulted me.  And all I did was run wild circles around them, howling, and getting stepped on.  Oh yeah, and Mom stepped on me too.  Honestly, she needs to be more careful when I get in her face to howl some more.

Higher!  Higher!

Higher! Higher!

And then she laughed at me!  Oh wait, I’ve said that before, haven’t I?  But it’s true!  She laughed at me!  And told me it was my fault!

The beagle sees his chance to get the toy!

The beagle sees his chance to get the toy!

Of course, she didn’t get any pictures of herself doing that.  So she told asked Dad to redo the whole thing again.

He gets it!

He gets it!

Heh heh heh.  I actually got the towel this time.  I couldn’t believe it.  I got the towel!  I got the towel!

And gets pushed off the couch!

And gets pushed off the couch!

And got hip checked right off the couch.  Oh the indignity of it!  And of course, I let go of the towel.  Two seconds and I lost it.  Mom says I’m using too many exclamation points.  Sheesh, what a crab.  Oh, sorry Mom.  I didn’t see you there.  NO!  NO!  Don’t take the keyboard away.  I’ll be good.

Hey – you guys got any treats?  I need some, so send as many as you can.  Uh-oh.  Mom told me last time not to ask for treats.  Well, that’s just too. . . whoops.  Gotta go!  Mom’s on a rampage!

Love ya!  Send treats!

The Beagle

[Editor's note:  The beagle IS a tattletale despite what he thinks.  His stories can be found at:

Get Out Of The Garden!

Magic Shower Water (she made me take a shower!)

It Was All Dad's Fault (that the ball got lost)

Play Ball! (Mom made me into a movie star)

Loving His Momma

I hope you enjoy reading his side of the story - remember though that his view is quite biased as to who was right and who was wrong.]

Categories: Beagle Stories, Dogs | Tags: , , , ,

Book Review: You’re Already Amazing

[Today's photos are from this week's photo challenge of "forward", using pictures from Christmas 2011 at our daughter's house.  To see more pictures of the puppy at play, click here.]

One of the non-fiction books that I recently completed was “You’re Already Amazing” by Holly Gerth.  Written for Christian women, it encourages us to accept and apply to our lives that we are the way God made us and that it’s time to let go of the expectations, the over-busyness, and the overly critical ways we treat ourselves.

At the very end, she summarizes her book by saying:

You’re already amazing because God made you, formed you, and lives within you.  You’re amazing because you belong to him, because he has a plan for your life, because with him there’s nothing you can’t do.

We're looking forward to visiting our daughter if we just get through this traffic!

We’re looking forward to visiting our daughter if we just get through this traffic!

Her website has interactive tools from the book that can be downloaded.

Other things I enjoyed from her book:

  • Appreciate our strengths and accept our weakness, because if we were good at everything, we wouldn’t focus on anything.
  • Our goal is not to be perfect nor is it to make everyone happy.
  • The skills we use to display our strengths will change with the seasons of our lives.
  • God doesn’t compare us to anyone us and neither should we.
  • ALL of our emotions are gifts from God.
  • God’s journey for our life is different than everyone else’s.
  • We need to align our lives with love in the way God created us to be.
It's always much better to see the sunset when we look forward instead of looking into the mirror to see it behind us.

It’s always much better when we’re driving on these trips to see the sunset when we look forward instead of looking into the mirror to see it behind us.

In the book, Holly says:

You are not required to please people.  You don’t have to meet their expectations.  You are a servant with one master. . . If you’re loving God, others, and yourself, then you’re already doing enough. . . You have a purpose no one else has, and how that unfolds will look different for you than for any other woman in your life.

This is hard for women!  We feel that we have to keep up with others around us; meet the expectations of our families, friends and employers; and in general, be someone other than who we really are.

There's usually a litter of puppies when we go visit.  This one got himself stuck under the table.  He eventually propelled himself forward and got out.  We weren't sympathetic - it kept him out of mischief for a few minutes.

There’s usually a litter of puppies when we go visit. This one got himself stuck under the table. He eventually propelled himself forward and got out. We weren’t sympathetic – it kept him out of mischief for a few minutes.

It’s a fine line to walk – the need to improve ourselves and wear off our rough edges while accepting our personalities, needs and wants and not letting others diminish or denigrate them.  For example, my need for solitude replenishes me mentally, emotionally and physically.  If I’m not careful though, it can also be an excuse to avoid people and situations and not get things done.

I highly recommend the book and the exercises at the end of each chapter plus the end of the book.  It’s a welcome encouragement to be ourselves and see our lives as Jesus intended them to be.

Awww. . . so tired after being a terror.  At least he fell asleep facing forward so I could get some pictures of that sweet face.

Awww. . . so tired after being a terror. At least he fell asleep facing forward so I could get some pictures of that sweet face.

Categories: Books, Dogs, Holidays, Life Lessons | Tags: , , , , ,

The Beagle Loves His Momma

Dear Readers – Got any treats?  (Never mind.  Mom said that’s impolite).

Dear Kind and Gentle Readers – It’s the beagle here to share more of my life with you.  If you have any treats, I’d love to have them now!  (waddya mean I can’t ask for treats?  Patti’s reading this – she’ll give me one!  I bet Jaimie and Darlene will too!).

Here I am, walking over to my Momma.

Here I am, walking over to my Momma.

Okay, never mind, no treats (but I’ll always take one if you have one to offer – just don’t tell Mom).

So the other day I was in the yard, doing my grid search for new bunny trails, when I noticed that I was the only dog out there!  Now that’s not a big deal, as my bigger brother would rather sleep on the couch than go outside and the little guy gets cold faster than I do.

Am I a good dog?

Am I a good dog?

But the big deal is that Mom stepped out there and it was just me and her.  Yep, just the two of us.  Well, who can resist getting some loving from her when there’s no competition?  No bigger dog to hip check me out of the way and no little dog to run between my legs and get in front of me when Mom starts petting us.  It was just me.

I marched right up to the deck.  It was a little dicey as I didn’t follow my beagle trails, but I wasn’t going to waste this opportunity and risk someone coming back outside!  So I minced my way back to the deck and put on my best good dog routine for Mom.

Love me!  Put the camera down - love me!

Love me! Put the camera down – love me!

What do you think?  Did I look like a good dog?  Yes, I know the sun is in my eyes, but I was trying!

I got my loving (even got a treat), then went and took a nap.  It’s hard work keeping the yard free of critters!

Nap time!

Nap time!

Categories: Beagle Stories, Dogs | Tags: , , ,

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