Karen Shanley


Reality Check: How Many Leaves Can You Name?

Perhaps you’ve seen a variation of this floating around the web. For me, this pretty much sums up one of the major ways in which the modern world has lost its balance.

brands vs nature

Is there anyone left in the western world who doesn’t instantly recognize all of the logos? If you want to see how you did with the names of the leaves (okay, I did throw in one trick leaf) click to see the answers.

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From left to right:

Top Row: Oak, Ash, Wood Sorrel

Bottom Row: Grape leaf, Birch, Maple



I Knew This Day Would Come…

I love telecommuting from a home office. I’m not bothered by ringing office phones or distracted by conversations. I love that I can dress for comfort without worry of judgement. And I especially love that I get to have my dogs with me all day long.

But when did life get so hectic that, in needing to run to the store to pick up a few items, I forgot to change out of my slippers? I didn’t even notice until I’d done my shopping and was in the parking lot heading back to my car. Now I know why I was getting odd looks. That is, odder than usual. : )


Next stop–bag lady?

Onions and Grandmothers

My grandmother is on the right. Her nickname was Lizzie Cowflop.

My grandmother is on the right.
This was taken on her London trip in 1950.

I’ve got the house to myself for a few days, with a ton of work to get through and an empty fridge. Last night, by the time I’d finished, I was too tired to go to the grocery store. That left me with some brussel sprouts from my garden, an onion, some fresh herbs, and some chick peas. Not exactly scintillating ingredients, but I managed to get a pretty satisfying roasted dish out of them.

As I was making quick work of chopping the onion,  I was thinking about how onions always make me think of my long-deceased grandmother. Having lived through the Depression and both World Wars, she was a loving but tough woman– German through and through. On the rare times we stayed overnight at her house, she’d march us off to bed with no talking and lights promptly out–but then she’d put little presents under our pillows for us to discover upon waking.

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When I was 5 years old, I vividly remember her– at age 60 — getting on my bike and taking it for a spin. I was gobsmacked that someone “that old” could do something like that. She was an adventurer with a raucous sense of humor, who traveled the world in her later years.

And she was a terrible cook.

At least that’s what I remember. She used to put onions in everything! In particular, her “homemade” spaghetti sauce comes to mind. She’d heat up a can of tomato soup, throw in a boatload of chopped onions, and add a pinch of salt for good measure. That’s how, in my formative years, I came to hate onions.

But now, as someone who likes to fancy myself a decent cook, I’ve reconsidered their value and have come to heavily rely on them to help lend great flavor to many dishes. So as I was standing there alone in my kitchen chopping onions–without my husband or daughter’s talk and laughter filling up the house–I thought about the four decades she lived alone with infrequent company, and I wished that I had known better. I wished that I had visited her more. I wished that I had taken more time to store up her stories. Right about now, I might even be able to convince myself that sitting down to some of her homemade spaghetti sauce would be a treat.

“Handy” Tips

One of the ways I help myself miss Cait a little less is to text her. I was sharing outdoor survival tips from a TV show I was watching.

Helpful tips

Glad to see her sense of humor is still in tact.

Why I Don’t Need a Calendar

If I never looked at another calendar again, this is how I would always know that fall is only days away.

w-butternut-squash   w-grapes   w-pumpkin

The Mona Lisa of Dog Faces

Mona Lisa Wink

Herd mentality: ‘Sheepdog mystery’ solved at last. Really?!

sheepherdingParis (AFP) – There is the riddle of the Bermuda Triangle. The unresolved identity of Jack the Ripper. The enigma of how the Universe developed beyond a quark-gluon soup following the Big Bang. And then there is the Sheepdog Mystery. A puzzle that has niggled mathematical minds for years, the Mystery is this: how does a single dog get so many selfish sheep to move so efficiently in the same direction? The answer, revealed on Tuesday in a journal published by Britain’s prestigious Royal Society, is that sheepdogs cleverly follow a simple rule book.

Researchers fitted highly accurate GPS tracking devices into backpacks that were then placed on a trained Australian Kelpie sheepdog and on a flock of 46 female merino sheep in a five-hectare (12-acre) field. They then used the GPS data to build a computer model of what prompted the dog to move, and how it responded. Sheep cohesiveness is the big clue. The dog’s first rule is to bind the sheep together by weaving around side-to-side at their backs, and once this has been achieved, it drives the group forward.

Read the rest of the article here

Yes, the big mystery of sheep herding… All they had to do was ask any sheepherder. This was the first thing I learned when Kiera and I went for sheepherding training.

Truer Words Were Never Spoken

We’re in the countdown hours until Cait leaves for college. Trying to hold onto every moment.

Apparently, I haven’t been too subtle about it.  While stopping at our favorite ice cream place as part of our end-of-summer rite, I was yet again asking my daughter where she was off to next and when she would be returning home.

She looked at me with a wistful smile and said, “Mom, you’re never going to be able to store up enough to fill the void, no matter how much time we spend together…”

Somebody just shoot me now please.

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