Boy born on the 4th of July

by Beth Shepherd
( July 4th, 2015 )

When the entire U.S. is celebrating the 4th of July, if it’s your birthday, sometimes you just want to get away from it all. For a boy born on Independence Day, that can be a tall order. I still remember the first time I asked Big Papa, “What do you want for your birthday?” and he said “Peace and quiet.” I laughed and replied, “Well, the only way that will happen is if you leave the country,” which is exactly what we did. In fact, for several years running, we headed to Canada for a little R&R.

U.S. flag

Our birth dates hold a great deal of fascination for many of us. We might feel an affinity for the season of our birth or find special meaning in the date. I know whenever I meet a fellow Gemini (I am a June baby), I sense a certain connection. I am also lucky to have one special “Birthday Buddy,” a young boy—the son of a friend—who shares my exact birth day.

Being born on a holiday is an extra burden. December 25th babies will say they have a hard time thinking of their birthday presents as anything more than a few extra Christmas gifts. July 4 is an auspicious birthday, but only here in the U.S. Anywhere else in the world, it’s just another day.

But for one key member of my family, July 4th is the day he entered the world. The sun was situated in just this one place, for this one moment, the moment of Big Papa’s birth.

Birthday Persona Profile
People born specifically on the 4th of July are destined to be strong willed and determined alongside their typical crab responsive and dependable nature. The astrological planet that rules over this particular day is Uranus making you highly practical, very hard working and sharply decisive. If you have this birthday early family roots are considered important and it is rare for you to ever forget them. Naturally caring and empathic you can also be temperamental and at times argumentative but also always willing to quickly admit if you are wrong about something. Your humanitarian approach directs you to be kind and usually more objective than others of your zodiac sign, so your kindness is unlikely to be taken advantage of. Individuals with a July the fourth birthday may appear quite straightforward and uncomplicated but they can be sometimes clingy, demanding or repressed emotionally. Under that seemingly tough exterior you are surprisingly sensitive.

Big Papa and Tractor

Happy Birthday, Big Papa!

Here’s to one more trip around the sun.

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Take the road less traveled, Beth

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My garden in summer

by Beth Shepherd
( July 1st, 2015 )

Love is to the heart what the summer is to the farmer’s year

— it brings to harvest all the loveliest flowers of the soul.

~Author Unknown

Welcome July! My garden’s cup runneth over with every color in the rainbow. Dahlia and Sweet Pea for the vase on our table, a sprinkling of chive blossoms and nasturtiums on our salad, a few blueberries and alpine strawberries atop our breakfast yogurt, fava beans and mint for risotto. Summer, you are delicious and oh so delightful.

When I look out onto our tiny slice of urban heaven, I feel proud of the beauty and the bounty we pack into 700 square feet. Every inch is filled with pure joy.

Garden July 1, 2015

Sweet Pea

Side garden

Borage flowers


My garden


My garden from above


Bee and sage flowers

Back 40


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Take the road less traveled, Beth

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Love and loss: Maggie

by Beth Shepherd
( June 26th, 2015 )

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.

~Anatole France

Me and Miss M

I am unabashed when I say I loved, loved, loved Magnolia, my cat. She was with me for 20 years, and when I met Big Papa, with us, and then Little Bird too. We called her Maggie, Maggie Moose or simply Moose. She followed us—everywhere—the best companion one could hope for: our bathing assistant whenever one of us took a shower or bath, at the dinner table in her own seat, nestled between us every night (or an inch away from Big Papa’s nose), always nearby whether we were gardening, doing office work, or hanging out with friends and family.

Nose to nose

Maggie with Joel at computer

Maggie at kitchen table

Oh how her silly antics made us laugh, like the time she sat near the Christmas train set that wrapped around the tree, backing her booty up closer and closer until the train goosed her as it rolled along the track. She let out a loud Brrrrp, her legs running fast in place on the hardwood floor, just like you see in cartoons. before speeding off like a locomotive herself.

Maggie and Joel's lap

Maggie and J in bed

She was a talkative cat to say the least, serenading us with a chorus of brrps, and meowps, trills and chirps. If ever a cat were to start speaking words, I was sure she would be the one.

Maggie and Joel's office chair

Bathing assistant

During difficult times, she was my comfort, staying by my side after several surgeries, there for me to hug close like a teddy bear when my sister, father and dear friends Dee and Marshall became ill and passed away, there through all our adoption woes. For 20 years my day began with seeing her face, and making her a bowl of food. My nights ended hearing a thunk-thunk as she jumped onto the bed and curled up next to my head, purring.

Lying on the deck

Two girls

planting potatoes

The bond between us was long and strong. So much history and and so many memories of spending my days with my green-eyed, tailless tabby girl.

Maggie chair at table

18th birthday

If you’ve never felt a deep connection with an animal, then what I’m saying might sound frivolous. But if you stop to think about it, twenty years is a long time to spend with any living being. How lucky I am she was able to be a member of my family for so many years.

Dancing with Joel

Saying goodbye was heartbreaking, but I was fortunate to spend her last day—just the two of us—in the garden we both love so much. We sat together in the sunshine, and then in a light summer rain, amidst the plants and flowers, feeling the soft breeze on our faces, listening to the sounds of chickadees chirping. I will miss her sweet, gentle soul.

Me and Maggie last day

Last photo of Maggie

There cannot be love without loss, just like there cannot be happiness without sadness, or light without dark.

~Markus Peterson

Magnolia: May 23, 1995-June 24, 2015

And if you want to read more about all things Pampers, follow me on Facebook, Twitter or RSS/email.

Take the road less traveled, Beth

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