Karen Shanley


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 arriving.

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.

Pet First Aid App

It’s been an interesting week. We’ve been fighting hard to bring Finn back from the brink of death and he’s finally out of the woods (more on that in another post), and Cait has been very chatty about the movie, Into the Storm.

So combine one very sick animal and a wacko weather movie, and you won’t be surprised that I went looking for an app like this.  It’s a great little app. If you decide to download it, take a moment to upload your pet’s records as soon as you get the app, so if they’re injured, you’ll have all their info on hand when you need it. This Red Cross app also provides instructions for pet CPR and will even find the nearest animal hospital.

Red Cross Pet First Aid (Android, iOS)

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Pet First Aid App


When Cait was little, it was always a challenge to find enough fun things to do at home. Since we didn’t live in a neighborhood, there were no ready friends running and playing from house to house. Nope, it was just me and Cait. And the animals.

I was always looking for ways to keep Cait happily occupied for stretches of time so I could get some work done. When I saw this at Home Depot the other day I had to smile because, back in the day, I would have scooped this up in a heartbeat!

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Outdoor bounce and slide

Want to Know What Online Info You’re Putting Out for the World to See?

Take this LollipopAs part of my work, I have to use social media for myself and for clients. That said, I HATE the massive loss of privacy that we pay in exchange for using these platforms. And, in general, I could not be more angry with the direction all online participation is headed with continuing to rob us of being able to choose what we share.

Because I’m  a geek and I probably know way too much about how easy it is to find out anything about anybody, I have all my privacy settings on everything cranked to the max. Yes, that means using private browsing, and clearing cache, search history, and cookies from my computer every night, etc., etc. Even with doing all that, I’m only moderately more protected than the average bear.

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So when something like this makes it easy to drive the point home, you can bet that Cait is “strongly encouraged” to watch. : )

Go ahead– click on the image. It will take you to the “Take this Lollipop“website.

If you’d like to read the context for the above link, here you go. ” What are you revealing online? Much more than you think .”

Please be as safe as you can be online–remember to regularly check your privacy settings.

Public service announcement over and out.


What Do You Say…?

We live in a culture that’s not very good at helping us face the death of a loved one. A friend’s beloved father just died yesterday. Knowing that I’d already faced a lot of death, just a year ago she asked if I had any words of wisdom to help her deal with what she knew was coming. I sent her an email sharing a few thoughts. Today, she emailed me to say that she’d kept that email and reread it many times over the past year. She expressed thanks for how much it had helped her and asked that I share it in the off chance it may help someone else.

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You may already know all of what I have to say. I won’t worry about what you know–if you already know it and I share similar sentiments, it can’t hurt to have those reinforced. If some are new thoughts to you, maybe they can help. So I’ll just ramble on for a bit…

When experiencing loss of any magnitude, we all go through a stage of raw emotion; the roller coaster of composure and insanity. I believe this is because the energy body is rearranging itself around a new configuration. When we’ve been one energy pattern for so long, it’s quite uncomfortable to experience being suddenly shifted into a new pattern that feels like it’s being blown full of holes.

At least initially, it feels overwhelmingly incomprehensible, inconceivable, unbearable.

Some people find themselves going in and out of a kind of haze, not really sure of what they feel. That’s a pretty common coping mechanism. When in doubt, people are inclined to find a placeholder and stand on it.

What I’ve actually found to be more productive is to let yourself fall apart. Let yourself feel what you really feel. That’s what’s been necessary for my spiritual, mental and emotional health. In the short term, it may appear quite messy to others, but I let that be their problem. It’s really important to let yourself fully experience the experience. Try not to store anything up, thinking you’ll deal with it later. Later never comes.

Yep, inevitably, the death of a loved one does set your life up to shatter. But all that can shatter is what you no longer need anyway. This may be hard to believe at the moment, but I can tell you from experience; all that can break is what is not real, what doesn’t matter, what is a waste of energy. The shattering reveals who you really are. It’s painful but this is a very good thing. Initially, you may experiences the loss as unspeakable, but eventually you’ll come to see that there is a different kind of connection that comes out of all this that will allow you to stay in touch with your father.

While you may not feel lucky at the moment, you are in fact very lucky. You have the advantage of knowing your father is getting ready to shed his physical form. You are being given a chance to say goodbye to what was. And you can begin right now to start building a new bridge to stay connected to your dad when he passes .

After my dad died, I felt the actual presence of him for quite some time, but I didn’t know what to do with that because I was misinterpreting it as a memory of him, which made me sad. But if I knew then what I know now–that I should have accepted this experience of my dad’s presence as real–I would have felt loved and not alone. What I’ve come to learn is that death does not separate. Actually, it fully joins together. Expect that up front, and that will become your experience. I can promise you that.

Suffice it to say that you’ll never lose the connection to your dad through death. That is not possible. You can lose it through depression, anger, and other human emotions.  But you can’t lose the connection through death. If anything, it sharpens and clarifies. It helps the connection because all of the distractions are removed and all that’s left is the pure connection to pure love.

On a more practical level, when you’re with your dad, share what bubbles up. If you’re worried about overwhelming him, wait until he’s asleep and then just hold his hand and talk to him like he’s your dad before age, dementia, and illness stole him. That part of him that’s still that man will hear you. And if you also let yourself listen, you’ll hear him talking back to you.

Fill yourself up while you still have him in a form that you readily understand. It will help bridge the gap for however long it will take you to rediscover how to connect to him when he’s no longer in this form.

I’m so glad you’ve reached out. Nobody should face this alone. I’m only an email, a phone call, a drive away– any time of day or night. And so is everyone else who loves you.

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