Wasting Time

Hi everyone! 👋 It’s another Sunday afternoon here in Kansas, and another week of staying home for everyone’s safety has passed. Kansas has issued a state-wide ‘Stay-at-Home’ order to begin at midnight tonight, due to the Covid-19 virus spreading. 📃 Of course, many Kansans (including me and my humans) have been self-isolating for weeks now, anyway. Some people just have to be told repeatedly. And some never learn. And that can make me really angry! 😠 There are still so many people out and about, and I’m not talking about essential workers that we’re relying on. Awesome people like healthcare workers and grocery employees. 👩‍⚕️👩‍🌾 I’m talking about people getting their fingernails painted, and generally wandering around town for no good reason. I know we’ve all seen those people, I’ve seen lots of posts on my social media from you all. It is soooo infuriating! Some of us even have family members that aren’t taking the Stay-Home Orders seriously! 🤦‍♀️ How do you deal with that? What do you tell those people? Do you confront them, or just stay far away from them? I’m not sure there is a right answer, unfortunately. As with any ‘controversial’ topic, some people are just decided in their minds, and their is absolutely no convincing them otherwise. 🤷‍♂️ We should all try to educate and help others understand the seriousness of what’s happening, but at some point, we must step back. For our own sanity. Girl has experienced this extensively with politics, and some people just refuse to even listen to others’ views, let alone consider changing their minds. We all have to remember that we’re only responsible for ourselves in the end. 😌 Our mental well-being and self-care are paramount, especially in these isolating and stressful times. Wasting our time and energy on others is sometimes just that: a waste. Take care of yourselves! *hugs* 💞🧸

My Name is ______, and I’m Scared.

Hi everyone! 👋 I hope you’re all finding ways to keep yourselves occupied during this distancing time. I know news is moving fast, and every day finds more places following even tighter protocols for everyone’s safety. 😕 But we gotta stick together, and we’ll get through this. 👍 I know I posted this online a few days ago, but it bears 🧸😉 repeating I think…

It’s okay to be scared. 😌 It’s okay to be worried, and confused, and angry, and sad! Most of us have never been through anything like this, and we don’t know what do, or say, or think. 🤔 But that is okay! You’re not alone in feeling that. We all need to voice our concerns, and share our fears, because that will help us all to cope. Keeping things bottled up inside, especially while we are bottled up inside 🏠, isn’t good #SelfCare! So, once again, say it with me:

My name is ____________, and I am scared / worried / sad / angry / all of the above. 🖍

A Little Monday Message

Hi everyone! 👋 It’s Monday, and we’re starting another week of staying home for everyone’s safety! I know, that exclamation point makes it sound so much more exciting than it really is, but well, I’m trying to stay upbeat. 🙄 Girl read an article today that said we shouldn’t be calling it “social distancing,” but “physical distancing.” And isn’t that the truth?!? Social interaction, even by phone or screen or text, is more important than ever right now, both for companionship and keeping an eye on each other. 💞 Messaging is such a tricky thing, and the news and politicians don’t always get it right. Throwing out scary words like ‘isolation’ can really cause panic and anxiety! I know everyone is working from an unfamiliar place (both literally and figuratively), but taking just a few extra seconds to think about how a message is portrayed to a scared community could really make a difference. 🤔 Of course, there will always be those idiots that don’t listen. The ones that go out when they should stay in, that hoard supplies that should be shared, that refuse to believe facts. 😤 But explanation and better word choice might sway a few of those morons to the right side of sense. We’re not “isolating” ourselves, so much as “protecting” others. 👍 And if by doing so, we’re “protecting” ourselves as well, then bonus! 😉 Be sure to check in on someone that’s alone today, wash your paws, and take a few minutes for self-care! *hugs* 💜🧸

Self Bear…err, Care!

Hello everyone! 👋 I hope this Saturday finds you all taking care of yourselves. Along with taking care of each other in these trying times, we need to remember to take care of ourselves. Even with the best of intentions, if we are running on empty, we won’t be of much use to our furiends and family. But if you’re anything like me and Girl, it’s strange to focus on ourselves. 😕 So many of us are conditioned to put others first, to hide our own problems, to keep up the happy face. It can be really hard to take even a few minutes to decompress, take a deep breath, and find our inner calm again. But Girl and I manage to. And you can too!

Everyone processes stress and anxiety differently. Some of us are super chill on the outside, while our brains are screaming on the inside. 🤯 Some people are completely and openly flustered. 🥴 No way is wrong, and nothing is wrong with feeling this way. THAT might be the biggest, and hardest, lesson to learn about self-care. It’s okay to feel bad! Repeat it with me: It’s okay to feel bad! It’s a natural feeling! It happens! You are NOT a bad person! You are NOT a failure! You are NOT letting everyone down! Our anxiety and depression and other conditions can convince us of such horrible things, but we have to learn to stand up for ourselves. Even if it’s to ourselves!

Just like everyone processing mad, bad, sad things differently, everyone deals with them differently! Girl listens to music. 🎶 Boy has to find a tinker project to keep his hands and brain busy. 🛠 I like to eat cookies! 🍪 Some other possible remedies, and you might have to try several to find what works for you, could be simple things like: sitting still and taking calming, deep breaths, or meditating and focusing your mind on a particular image, thought, or bright white light, 😌 perhaps going the more active route and having a mini spa day! 🧖‍♀️ A nice warm bath, with some bubbles and a glass of wine, maybe finding a quiet corner and reading a book, away from distractions. 📚 Perhaps a walk ( with safe social distancing) to get a bit of sunlight and fresh air. 🚶‍♂️And of course…UNPLUGGING FROM SOCIAL MEDIA!!! I know we all want to stay informed, and be up to the minute, but twenty minutes away from your screen or television can do wonders for your mental health! 🚫📱💻 Trust me on that one. Besides, if we’re all watching out for each other, we can cover each other’s breaks, so to speak!

There are so many ways to carve out even ten or twenty minutes for yourselves, each way as unique as you are, and while many may justify it as a ‘guilty pleasure,’ it really is just a pillar of self care. DON’T FEEL GUILTY!!! *hugs* 💕

Keep Calm and Diesel On

Hi furiends! 👋 These are definitely some scary and anxious times for all of us around the world, and it’s okay to feel and say so. I know a lot of us are following our governments directions, and staying inside as much as possible. Maybe your humans are working from home, or the kids are done leaving for school in the mornings. But one thing hasn’t changed, and that is our social media family. And we are family! In good times and bad, we laugh, cry, share, and support one another. And this unprecedented time is no different. We need to stick together more than ever, checking on each other, especially our more vulnerable and lonely furiends! We must share our ideas, fears, and random daily accomplishments! None of us is alone, when we have furiends, even if they live on the internet. 🌎 So keep sharing those pictures of your home office slash kitchen table, and your puppy dogs slash sudden coworkers! 🐕 Over the next days or weeks (or maybe probably months 😕) I’ll be posting things to try and keep morale up, and to try and take all our minds off of the craziness that is quickly becoming the new norm. Hopefully, all my online furiends will join in, and help me think of ways to distract and entertain while we are cooped up and counting the rice grains and toilet paper squares! 🙈 *hugs* 💕

Modern Day Pen Pals

Hello everyone! I know it’s been a long time since I wrote a blog post, and I apologize! We’ve been so busy renovating The Bear Cave that I’ve not had time to focus on anything else. But I’m here now, ready to post some thoughts that are very dear to my furry little heart: Furiends around the world!

Thanks to technology, a simple little Bear like me has made wonderful furiends all over the world. I get to have interesting and uplifting conversations with people in Europe, Australia, other parts of America, and small scattered places everywhere! I have gotten to know other bears, cats, dogs, zebras, tigers, elephants, humans, and all sorts of other curious creatures! We share our daily lives, funny stories, and sad experiences, and bond over everything from shared sports teams to saving those less fortunate. I’ve learned that, despite our differences or our distances, we are all the same inside! We all love our friends and family, we all have hobbies and interests that are important to us, and we all are interested in the bigger world out there! We are modern day pen pals!

A lot of my furiends are on Twitter (you can follow me at at @IamDieselBear), but I’m also connected to the world via Instagram (iamdieselbear), Facebook (Diesel Bear), and of course here on WordPress (iamdieselbear.wordpress.com)!  At times, it seems overwhelming keeping up with all these sites, and I must admit that a LOT of the posts are cross-shared, resulting in my seeing the same thing three times on three pages. But, it’s still worth it…and it makes me feel less silly (or annoying) to be sharing my own thoughts four times!

We become family to each other, my online furiends and me. When someone has not posted for a few days, words of worry go around! Has anyone heard from so and so? Does anyone know if they were going on vacation or having computer problems? Who has their email to check on them? When there are health problems or losses in a furiend’s life, grief is shared and support is offered worldwide. Some might say that some stranger in another country saying they’re ‘sorry for your loss’ really doesn’t mean anything…but I think it does! I think having a large, diverse, wide-spread network of support and advice is a wonderful thing! I hope all my furiends would agree!

Traditional pen pals began with snail mail, of course! Often, school teachers would assign students pen pals as a writing exercise, for practicing spelling or penmanship. Small, envelope-fitting tokens were often exchanged, including stickers, photos, stamps, and cards. During World War II, letters were a prized thing on the front. Knowing that someone, anyone back home was taking time to write to you was very moral-boosting. Nowadays, snail-mail pen pals are mainly a prisoner thing. Because many incarcerated people are not allowed internet access, they have actual pen-and-paper correspondence.

In the vein of pen pals past, my furiends and I often exchange tokens of our homes! Postcards are always circling the world, sharing vacations and hometowns. Local delicacies, like chocolates and candies, are often shared (and critiqued!) between different countries because what’s sold in Australia may not be available in England! Many of my furiends have fabulous creative talents, and clothes and crafts are always passing through the post! I even have pins on my travel vest from furiends around the world!

It really is ‘a small world’, with many of us finding we know cousins and relatives of our furiends. Here at The Bear Cave Refuge for Unloved Bears, several of our bears are related to my online furiends! Not a week goes by that I don’t notice resemblances between my roommates and my furiends’ pictures!

I truly enjoy my techno-pen pals, or keyboard pals, or whatever we’re called nowadays, and I wouldn’t trade them for all the real-life bears in the world. I’ve learned so much about their homelands, their personal stories, and their families. And I see myself in all of them…my dreams are their dreams, my fears are their fears, and my life is their life!

D-Day +70 Years

Today, June 6th, 2014, marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion of Normandy, France. There have been many commemorations and festivities to mark this occasion, and all have undoubtedly included reverence to General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

DDE (because typing Eisenhower repeatedly is just asking for typos!) would later go on to become the 34th President of the United States, but before the wars and the Oval Office, he was just a small town boy. His boyhood home is in Abilene, Kansas…and that’s just about 45 miles from where I live! His Presidential Library is there, as well as his final resting place, and the museum always has interesting exhibits, both traveling and permanent. The link below is for the Library’s homepage, where much of my research came from!

http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/index.html

DDE, known by the nickname of “Ike”, was born October 14th, 1890 in Denison, Texas.  In 1892, his family moved to Abilene, Kansas.  Ike was a good student, especially interested in history, and his mother would sometimes lock his school books up until he finished his neglected chores!  He was also talented at sports, particularly baseball and football, but he also boxed, fished, hunted, trapped, camped, and liked to play poker. Abilene schools were integrated…”but when some of his football teammates refused to line up opposite a visiting African American player, Eisenhower volunteered for the position, and shook the player’s hand after the game. As a boy from the wrong side of Abilene’s class-dividing tracks, Ike knew the minimizing indecencies of prejudice all too well.”

Ike graduated from Abilene High School in 1909 and worked for 2 years at a local Creamery, 7 days a week, 6pm-6am.  In June of 1911, he entered The United States Military Academy, West Point, New York. 4 years later, in 1915, he graduated West Point , a Second Lieutenant. In 1916 he married his wife Mamie, and they had 2 children, losing one at 4 years old to Scarlet Fever. Ike went on to his amazing military career, and after retiring in 1952, ran for President that same year.

Following 2 terms, from 1953 to 1961, he was returned to active duty in the Army, by a law signed by new President John F. Kennedy. Once again a 5-star General, he kept an office at Gettysburg College and lived on a farm near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania until his death on March 28th, 1969. Dwight David Eisenhower made one final visit to Abilene, Kansas on April 2nd, 1969…to be buried in the “Place of Meditation” at the Eisenhower Center and Presidential Library. He is laid to rest alongside his wife Mamie (1979) and his first son, Doud.

The link below is for the entire Chronology of Ike’s life, including all of his military postings.

http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/all_about_ike/chronologies.html#dde

library The Eisenhower Presidential Library

museum The Eisenhower Presidential Museum

home The Boyhood Home

chapel The Chapel/Place of Meditation

 

“The proudest thing I can claim is that I am from Abilene.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower, reflecting on his life.

 

Baseball Bear!

Hello all…long time, no blog! But I’m here today to share my baseball adventure with you! A few weeks ago, my people took me to my very first baseball game. They’ve been to games before, but this was my first and while it wasn’t terribly exciting (our team won 1-0), it was still full of neat sights that I’m going to share! Our ‘local’ team (although they are 3 hours away from us and technically belong to Missouri) is the Kansas City Royals. Kansas City sits on a river/state border, and the team (along with NFL team the Chiefs) is on the Missouri side…but we Kansans still cheer them on!

It was an evening game, but my boy Paul had to work that Saturday, so we met all the family at the stadium during the 2nd Inning. Of course, seats are not meant for big people, and we had about 6 big people in what should have been about 4 seats, so we went and explored during the uneventful game. Along with food and souvenir stands, there is a nice museum behind the Jumbo-tron. That’s where many of my photos came from!

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The giant scoreboard, as seen from the drive into the parking lot, and from the shopping places beneath/behind it! Sometimes, they shoot off fireworks from behind it! But not this time, alas.

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In 1985, the Royals won the World Series…but since then, not so much! The other claim to fame is that in 2012, they hosted the All-Star Game!

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My girl made me a catcher’s mitt, it was kind of ugly but I appreciated her effort. Maybe next time it will be Golden, like these lovely Golden Glove awards! And maybe a bit bigger…definitely gonna need a bigger mitt!

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This paw-some statue was made out of baseballs stuck together, and the people behind me got yelled at by the guards for even trying to touch it…good thing they didn’t notice me!

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There was a model of Kaufman Stadium, and this cool Statue of Liberty…who knew she was a Royals fan?!?

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We had to hit up the souvenir stand, and while my people wouldn’t get me the giant foam finger, they DID get me a pin for my travel vest…naturally!

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By the 7th Inning, it was dinner time! We had some paw-some BBQ, followed by the biggest Ice Cream Cone ever! And we watched the game the whole time!

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The Kansas City Royals won, 1-0, off an early 2nd Inning run…but the Baltimore Orioles gave us a good, last minute scare, with the bases loaded and their very last batter up! But he struck out, thankfully! We watched the end from behind the fountains…you can see them below the Jumbo-trons in the first pictures!

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That night we stayed with Grandma and Grandpa in Topeka, it’s on the way home from Kansas City. I taught some of my furiends there to play catch, and left them my mitt and ball so they could practice for my next visit!

It’s Tornado Season

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As any Bear living in Kansas will tell you, Spring is Storm Season! Well, Spring and Fall both. Many people think that Kansas, and the Midwest in general, are just overrun with storms and twisters and craziness! But that’s not really the case…the news just seems to really highlight the incidents that do occur. I’m gonna tell you all about tornadoes and the crazy weather we have here, and share some safety tips for getting through scary weather!

First, you have to understand Kansas’ unlucky location. We are in what’s called “Tornado Alley”, and that just means that several of the middle states in America get all the icky weather.

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And that is because we are all east of the Rocky Mountains. The cool, dry air from up around Canada and Alaska comes blowing down into America, from west to east, and runs right into the mountains. It has to kinda roll over the tall mountains, and comes spinning down onto the plains. But! While the cold air is rolling in from the Northwest, there is hot, dry air blowing up from the Southwest (think Arizona-ish desert, hot and dry)! But! There’s still more! Hot, wet air is bubbling up from the Southeast, a la the Gulf of Mexico. So…we have all these different types of air, all traveling towards the center of America, thanks to jet streams and normal Earthly wind currents.

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All of these different types of air, hot and cold and wet and dry, smash into each other and they create instability in the atmosphere. A change in wind direction and an increase in wind speed with increasing height creates an invisible, horizontal spinning effect down near the ground. Rising air inside the updraft tilts the rotating air from horizontal (sideways) to vertical (upright). The next thing you know, you have a Tornado: a violent, rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground.

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Tornadoes come in several different shapes, tall and thin or low and broad. They can form out of dust, (dust devils), or over water (water spouts).  The most severe tornadoes can have winds of up to 300 miles per hour, and can travel touching land for 100 miles or more. But most tornadoes have wind speeds less than 100 miles per hour (161 kilometres per hour) and travel just few miles before exhausting themselves. In an average year, 1200 tornadoes are reported nationwide…the most of any country in the world.

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Many people only hear about Tornadoes in terms of the severity. F2’s and F3’s…but what does that mean?!? In 1971, a man named Tetsuya Fujita created a scale for Tornadoes, based on the damage left behind. Back in the day, the only way to judge a Tornado’s strength was the aftermath…wind measurement and science had not advanced enough to study such dangerous things. The “Fujita Scale” goes from “F0 to F5”, and takes into account wind speed, with references to damage from those winds. The chart below lists it all…rating, wind speed, what kind of damage is expected. In 2007 though, the scale was rewritten. It is now called the “Enhanced Fujita Scale” and goes by “EF0-5”. The Enhanced Scale is more accurate about the wind speeds and damage around a Tornado, reflecting the updates in science, building codes, and storm understanding. Many states (and countries for that matter) still use the original scale, though.

Fujita_scales

So! That’s Tornadoes in a nut shell of very basic terms! We MidWesterners are very used to storm season, but that can be a bad thing. Several States have started public awareness campaigns to remind people to take storm warnings and blaring sirens seriously. There are two main types of Tornado (and Storm, for that matter) warnings: Watches and Warnings. Watches mean that Tornadoes are possible in your area and that you should stay tuned to the radio or television news. Warnings mean that a tornado is either on the ground or has been detected by Doppler radar, and that you should seek shelter immediately! Most cities and towns in America have Storm Sirens, and they will sound for warnings or if a Tornado has been spotted near that town. However, many sirens don’t work (due to aging infrastructure, budget concerns, whatever) and people in the country certainly can’t hear them. Also, many people (especially in Tornado Alley) have become so accustomed to hearing the sirens when the slightest rain cloud appears, that they don’t take sirens seriously! Many States have started Public Service Campaigns to remind people that danger is imminent.

When the sirens do sound, or the TV weatherman tells you to seek shelter, it’s time to move! Basements are always recommended, but many houses don’t have basements or cellars. In those cases, closets, bathrooms, or the lowest interior room in the house is supposed to be safest. Many structures, especially mobile and trailer homes, are especially dangerous during Tornadoes. It’s recommended that those people leave the place and seek shelter elsewhere. Many Trailer Parks in the MidWest have cement storm cellars somewhere on the property.  The lightweight, thin-walled, poorly-anchored metal homes are no match for the high winds. Wherever you hide, you should try to get under sturdy furniture (in case of falling debris) or blankets/mattresses (in case of flying glass or debris), and hold on tight! You should always be careful when exiting a shelter, in case there are sharp debris laying around!

Many MidWesterners are also advised to keep an Emergency Kit handy. That’s got stuff like flashlights, some extra food and water, anything that you might need if the power is out or you have to leave your house for awhile. And you should always have a Disaster Plan with your family, in case you are seperated! Agree on where to meet if the kids are coming from school but you are coming from work, or pick a relative to have everyone touch base with if they are spread out. All of these things apply regardless of the situation, Tornado or Hurricane or Fire!

So, that is my blog all about Tornadoes and living here in Kansas during Storm Season! Some of my details came from Wikipedia and weatherwhizkids.com, but most of it is just known around here. I hope that next time you hear about a Tornado-ravaged town on the news, you will have a better understanding about what happened and how!

To-may-to, To-mah-to

However you say it, I love tomatoes! And my people do to, which is why I grow them some in my garden! Last year, I didn’t get the tomatoes planted until June, and I had to hurry and pick them all green because the autumn frosts came! This was only a fourth of them…this bear had tomatoes coming out his furry little ears!

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This year, the last snow has finally passed and I am about to plant my tomatoes outside! I have the baby plants inside right now, and I’ve been watering them and keeping them in our sunniest window!

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Besides the little plants to go out in my garden, I am keeping a Cherry Tomato plant inside this summer! I just noticed today that the first little cherries are growing! I can’t wait to pick them off and eat them. It’s just kind of sad they are only one bite…I might need more plants!

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Wandering Around The Bear Cave

Hello from The Bear Cave!

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That is my home, here in the Kansas countryside, and is so named because my boy’s nickname is Bear. All of his friends have given their homes crazy names so it’s something of a tradition apparently, although I prefer to think it’s because we run a teddy bear refuge here! Anyway, this evening, before the storm rolled in, I took a few minutes to stroll around the grounds and look over all my plants and things!

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First, I looked at the weather station…it was spinning like crazy! Then I took a peek at my garden. Now that the last snow is finished, it’s time to plant all my food!

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Next, I checked our well…living in the country, we don’t get to use the city water. (That’s not really the well, it is just a cute statue that covers the pumps and mechanical things!) (Which is a good thing, since we don’t have a bucket for it!!) I also noticed that our Bird Feeder was empty! We put sunflower seeds in it, but the wind just blows them out. By the end of summer, there will be big sunflowers growing all around the base of the feeder!

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I took a look at our little Peach Tree, too! It is covered in blossoms, and hopefully will produce some yummy peaches this year! My Irises are coming up nicely, too, they are planted at the end of our house!

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And finally, I helped Paul mow the front lawn before the storm came in! Just another day at The Bear Cave, and I can hear thunder outside right now!

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It’s A Jungle In There!

Hello again! Time for another blog post, and today it’s going to be about the animals I met while visiting my Gran in California! She likes giraffes…a lot! And had lions, and tigers, and I was the bear…oh, my! They were all very nice and friendly, and kept me company while my girl and Gran were cleaning the garage in preparation for their yard sale. There isn’t much to say, so I will just share all the pictures…oh yeah! Gran made me a wonderful hat and vest out of some faux-snakeskin, and I pretended I was Crocodile Dundee!

This giraffe was always looking over my shoulder...

This giraffe was always looking over my shoulder…

It was a long way from the couch to the fridge...but I took Giraffe-Taxi!

It was a long way from the couch to the fridge…but I took Giraffe-Taxi!

Traffic was crazy though, and we had a fender-bender...

Traffic was crazy though, and we had a fender-bender…

...nothing a hug didn't fix, though!

…nothing a hug didn’t fix, though!

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Camping…Part 2

Where were we? Oh yes, we were camping at the lake this past Easter weekend! This was just a short three day trip, so we didn’t get to do a lot of outdoorsy, wildlife stuff, unfortunately. After settling Friday, we went to the nearby town and had the most amazing pizza! Wheat State Pizza in Lawrence, KS is a must if you are ever that way! They make a delicious wheat crust, and they also do gluten-free crusts if that’s an issue for you. My boy, Paul was extremely excited about getting back there for lunch! And we had to send pictures to all our far away friends to make them jealous!

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After lunch (yummy taco pizza), we headed to Target to get some groceries. I got to ride in the cart, but still climbed out to play around! I was a pirate, then did some hard work, then found the perfect bike…but my girl said we couldn’t get it. Boo!!

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After our fun shopping trip, it was back to the camper where we made steaks for dinner, and sat around the campfire relaxing. Once it was dark, we watched some Dr. Who inside on the little TV, then called it a night…because we had a very busy Saturday coming up!!!

Saturday morning, we woke up early and made a big breakfast of bacon, eggs, English muffins, and orange juice!  Then, it was back to Gram and Grampa’s town for a Kite Fly! My guy designs and sews kites, his kites are with people all over the world! So he and his family fly them quite often, sometimes at other peoples events. They also make and put up banners, the tall, pretty flags that you’ll see in the background of my pictures! I even have my own kite (store bought, though) with a teddy bear on it! It was very windy Saturday, so I didn’t get to fly for very long.

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After flying our kites all afternoon, we went back to Gram and Grampa’s house and helped move some furniture and other stuff, then we had barbecue for dinner. My girl was so busy she forgot to take any pictures, though. By then, it was dark and time to head back to the lake and camper.  We watched some more Dr. Who (yay, Netflix) and then it was sleepy time again!

Sunday morning, after another yummy breakfast, it was time to pack up and return the camper to Gram and Grampa. It was pretty simple, undo the water and power and put everything back away. After dropping the RV off, we got back in out little blue car and headed for home. It was Easter Sunday, and I had chocolate waiting at home! Until the next adventure!

Camping…Part 1

This past Easter weekend, my people and I went camping! We usually go camping in a tent, but this time we borrowed my boy’s parent’s RV and took it to a lake a few hours away from home. It was nice to have, because it was kind of chilly and a tent wouldn’t have been much shelter! We left home Thursday night (my people get Good Friday off work) and drove the two hours to my (other) Gram and Grampa’s house. There, I played with all my bear cousins and we stayed the night in the guest room.

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Friday morning was warm and sunny, and we loaded up all our stuff and headed to the lake! We had to hook up the truck to the RV, make sure all the lights were working, and then drive another 30 minutes to the lake!

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Once we got to the lake,we stopped at the office and paid for our permit!

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It was time to set up. There were wheels to chock (that’s putting blocks around them so the won’t roll…like an airplane, remember?!), water to hook up, power to plug in, and the little slide-out room to set up!

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After the RV was stable and all powered up, I climbed on top and put up the TV Antenna (although we didn’t pick up many channels), then climbed back down to get the fire pit ready. We brought firewood with us, and steaks to grill for dinner!

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Finally! It was time to sit back and relax! The lake was right behind our campsite, and even when it got chilly outside, I could sit in my little window and watch it!

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More…All About the Airport!

My previous post told you all about what goes on outside the airport…you know, when we’re looking for the restroom or paying way too much money for crummy food! But this post is all about the inside of the airport! Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, to be precise! It’s known as DFW (remember, 3-letter airport codes!), and while that happens to be its initials, it is not always like that…most Canadian airports start with a Y (Vancouver-YVR) and Chicago O’Hare is ORD (that goes back to Orchard Field…the original airport long, long ago)! But, I digress…this blog is all about my adventures exploring INSIDE the airport during a long wait for my next flight.

I was headed to California with my girl, to see Gran, and we had a 3 hour layover inside the Dallas airport. We walked all over the place! There was a lot of artwork and modern design, and a lot of nice people that asked me what the heck we were doing! First things first, I had to find out where we were going next! These two informative volunteers were quite helpful, and I even found a vested volunteer who was nice enough to share a picture! And then it was dinner time…we walked all over looking for something decent, only to decide on a snack (a giant snack!) and a soda.

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Once the necessities were out of the way, it was time to explore! We found several enormous mosaic tile medallions on the floor of the air terminal! My girl didn’t want to get too far away, lest someone bear-nap me, so the pictures are only of parts of the artwork. There were floral themes, birds and wildlife, and celestial star ones!

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After plopping me down on the floor every 50 feet for an hour, my girl and I found this wonderful big, old bear doing a very important job…guarding the Chocolate Store! Very important work, indeed! I offered to relieve him for a break, but he said no. I even found him a car to drive (guarding chocolate is hard work, after all!), but he still declined. A good, honest Guard, that one!

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With an hour and a half to waste still, we continued our art walk, coming across this giant metallic, stalactite-ish thing right in the middle of the floor! I tried to pose for scale, but it was enormous! You could walk through the inside of it, although I preferred to climb on the outside!

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Our flight was leaving from the same terminal building as we arrived, but if your flight was farther away, there was a little train to take you between buildings. We went upstairs to look at it, although we didn’t ride it around.  There were super long escalators to get up there, and we rode up and down them a few times…my girl loves escalators! These were super tall, the pictures don’t do them justice…I almost got dizzy!

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After all that walking, we were getting tired and found a nice cushy seat to sit in while we waited to board our flight. Oh yeah, we ate some animal crackers too!

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That’s our flight behind me. From Dallas, Texas to Los Angeles, California was a three hour flight, and it was boring! We were tired but it was too cramped to sleep, so we just listened to our headphones and waited.  But it was worth it, because once we got back to Gran’s house, there was a wild safari waiting for us…but that’s a whole ‘nother blog!

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All About Airports!

Hello, ebearyone! I know it’s been furever since I wrote on my blog, and that’s because I have been busy! Busy traveling all over, seeing all sorts of sights and now I’m ready to share them with you! At the beginning of March, my girl person and I flew out to California to visit her mom (my Gran)! We stayed for three weeks and had lots of fun! I met up with some fellow TeddyBearScouts, went on a Safari in Gran’s house, and flew on lots of big airplanes! That was the best part, and since my girl used to work at an airport, she told me all about how things work! Now, I’m going to tell you all about airports, too!

Many of us are familiar with flying…there are tickets, boarding passes, cramped seats, bad food, and all sorts of racing around between flights. But! There is a whole world of activity beneath the airport! There are conveyor belts, funny looking little cars, glow sticks, and lots of noise!  I’ll start at the beginning…

When the airplane lands on the runway, it taxi’s…drives around the side roads, so to speak, until there is a parking place ready for it at the building.

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When it is ready to park, a person marshall’s it in…using glowing sticks and hand signals to show the pilot where to park! Once the plane is parked, the wheels are chocked…these little blocks go around the wheels so they can’t roll anywhere.

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The Ground Workers, called Rampers (the Ramp is another name for the big parking lot area the planes are sitting on) plug the airplane into various power outlets for fresh air inside the plane and to keep the computers running (since the plane’s engines are turned off).

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Once the airplane is parked, and plugged into backup power, it’s time to unload the people and the luggage! The Jetway (A35 here) (the long tunnel that goes up to the side of the plane) is positioned by the Gate Attendant…that’s the inside worker that takes your tickets at the counter. After the jetway is in place, the passengers (also called Pax, for short) can walk off the plane and into the building…that’s known as de-planing. They will go inside, and either get their luggage and leave, or find their next flight and start all over!

As for removing luggage, the Rampers have a special little car called a Belt-Loader that they pull up to the airplane’s cargo area and put the suitcases on to lower them to the ground. Once the bags are off, Tugs (the tractor-like cars running all over) with Baggage Carts (the big carts with curtains, that kinda look like old circus wagons) come around and pick up the luggage. All the bags have sticky tags on them with codes telling where they are supposed to go. (All airports have a designated code (3 letters) and the Rampers look at those codes on tickets and luggage and they immediately know where people and things are supposed to go!)  So, the Tugs put the luggage on the Baggage Carts and either deliver them into the airport for delivery to passengers, or deliver them to another plane to go with the passenger to their final destination.

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After the people and the luggage leave the airplane, it is time to get it ready to fly away again.  The Rampers do a quick walk through and make sure the plane is clean, has enough supplies (soda, tissue, food, etc.), they clean out the restrooms (through a little door underneath the plane, using a long vacuum hose) (sorry, no pics of that part), and then begin loading the luggage that is arriving from other planes via Tugs. The Belt Loader stays at the plane the entire time, and the new bags are put on the conveyor and sent up to the side of the plane, where a Ramper is waiting to stack them neatly inside the cargo hold (kinda like the trunk/boot of the airplane). Luggage stacking is very important, because during takeoff and landing, the luggage can shift all around…that is a bad thing because balance is VERY important to the plane flying safely! Once all the bags are loaded, the new passengers are allowed down the jetway and onto the airplane for departure.

Airplanes do not have a reverse gear or anything, so they must be pushed backwards and turned around so they are ready to pull away towards the runway. This is called Push (or pushing) the plane, and is done by extra-large Tugs! The Rampers hook up a special pole (a Push Bar)between the airplane and the Tug, and using hand signals between the Tug driver and the Pilot, the airplane is pushed back, away from the building and turned to face the proper direction.  Along with the pilot and Tug driver, there are Rampers Wing-Walking…that is a person on each side of the airplane, walking along the wings and looking out for anything that might hit the plane as it backs up. This is especially important since there are no rear-view mirrors and the planes are so large that the Tug drivers cannot see what’s behind the plane. They could accidentally push the plane back into another plane, or over a passing tug/baggage cart, or something.

20140402_152740After the Tug has pushed the airplane back and turned it so it’s facing the right direction and can pull forward on its own, it is time to disconnect. The tug driver and the pilot use hand signals to set the park brake, and remove the Push Bar, and such. A Ramper will stay out there in front of the plane, until the tug is clear of the roadway, and only then will the Ramper signal the pilot that he is safe and clear to drive off. The plane will then Taxi back to the runway and wait for the Tower to clear it for takeoff.

So! There is A LOT going on while you are inside the airport building, walking around and shopping and looking for the restroom! My girl worked at the airport in Phoenix, Arizona as a Ramper, before moving inside and doing other jobs. It was very hot, very loud, and very strenuous…but she loved it.  Personally, I just want to get my ticket, find a seat belt that’s not too tight, and enjoy the flight!

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Some of My Favorite Bear Books!

Along with rescuing bears (and random other stuffed creatures) from tag sales and antique shops, my people also bring home books. And sometimes that includes Bear Books! They’re the best kind of books, really!  I’m going to share some of my favorite ones and tell you about them…but I’ll try not to give away too many spoilers!

“Charles” by Liesel Moak Skorpen

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“Charles” is about a little bear at a toy store.  Time goes by and no one wants to take him home, and it’s really sad! But then, a man buys him and wraps him up as a present for his daughter! But just when you think Charles will have a happy ending, the girl turns out to be a total brat and doesn’t want  an ‘ugly bear’ and she’s mean to him, throwing him on the ground and then forcing him to play ‘tea party’! The horror! Fortunately for Charles, the girl trades him to a neighbor boy! And he and the boy play outside and build forts and do all sorts of fun things that teddy bears like! Charles even flies with a parachute! And he lives happily ever after!

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“The Last Bit Bear” A Fable by Sandra Chisholm de Yonge

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This is the story of Clover. He’s the last bear of his kind, he wants to start a family but can find no others, and he can’t find anymore of the tree leaves he depends on! Oh no! He sits down to cry, but an animal friend encourages him to explore the world and see what he finds! So he sets off to look for more bit bears. Along the way he meets new friends, including a fish, a wolf, and a rat!  He rescues each of them from some danger, because he is a heroic and selfless bear! He finally settles at a National Park, where he’s safe…although he never does find a mate and that’s why there are no bit bears today. It’s kind of sad at the end, because he ended up alone, but the overall book is about taking care of nature and it’s creatures! My people got this book from the National Park store in Yosemite!

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“Misery Bear’s Guide to Love…and Heartbreak” by Misery Bear

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I love Misery Bear! He makes great short films, and really understands the loneliness some bears face.  In this, his first book, he shares dating advice, poetry, pictures, and other musings on love! Although he never seems to get the girl, all bears can relate to him about hating your boss, running out of booze, and generally wanting to not wake up! (And he makes great movie posters!)

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“Sleep Well, Little Bear” by Quint Buchholz

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Little Bear can’t sleep! He’s put on his pajamas, said his prayers, gotten 5 (!) goodnight kisses, and is all tucked into his bed. But he cannot sleep. So he stacks some books up and looks out the window. He lives on a farm in the country, and thinks back on everything he can see out his window. There’s the scarecrow he played beneath with his boy, and the neighbor lady silhouetted in her lit window, and the water by the dock…rippling in the breeze! Little Bear thinks about how wonderful all of it is, and looks forward to playing pirate the next day with this boy. Finally, he falls asleep to the sound of the moon song! This is one of my favorite Bear Books! Little Bear really represents all of we insomniac bears, and the things we get up to at night when the rest of the house is asleep! And he has a picture of Winnie the Pooh on his bedroom wall!

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“Teddy Bears of the Rich and Famous” by Mark and Barney Leigh

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This is mostly a picture book, but I just received it today, so I’m excited!  It is full of famous peoples bears, including David Bowie and Florence Nightingale! There’s also actors bears and famous historical peoples bears!

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So…these are some of my favorite Bear Books! My person and I are working on some Bear Novels, too, and I will report on those when we finish them! One is “Normal by Norfolk” by @teddytedaloo, my friend on Twitter! And there’s a 5-book series about teddy bear builders-slash-detectives…”The Bear Collector’s Mysteries” by John Lamb! So keep checking back for more reviews…and remember: A literate Bear is a pawsome Bear!

Mmmm…Soup!

Today was kind of dreary and cold, so my person made soup! Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup! And it was yummy…but that’s probably because I helped!

To get started you need a big pot! And a big knife to cut up the vegetables! My person did the cutting…that knife was too heavy for me, and you have to have a good grip on your knives or they can hurt you!

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Into the big pot, we put 2 cups of chopped carrots, 2 cups of chopped celery, and 2 cups of chopped onion.  The onions always make us cry!

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After all the veggies are in the pot, we added about 4 cups of water, about 3 cups of chicken stock, and 6 chicken bouillon cubes.  Some salt and pepper, then onto the heat at medium to boil for about 20 minutes.  Just until the veggies are soft!

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The onions float at first, and it looks like onion soup, but after a while the carrots and celery float up!  In the meantime, my person boiled some chicken breasts for about 20 minutes then chopped them up.  It came to about 2 cups of chicken!  There would be pictures of this but my person got all busy and forgot to keep taking pictures…silly person!

After the veggies have softened, we added the (cooked) chicken bits and also about 4 cups of dry egg noodles.  Another 10 minutes or so of simmering to cook the noodles, and….voila!

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Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup!

It was very simple and very quick, and this recipe makes about 8 servings, so sometimes we cut it in half! And it’s really good the next day, too!

The Grand Canyon is Beary Big!

Hello, everyone! For today’s blog, I’m going to share my trip to the Grand Canyon this past Christmas!  My people and I took a 4600 mile, 2 week road trip around western America at the end of December (2013). We visited the Grand Canyon, Phoenix (my former home!), my girl person’s mom, San Diego, drove up the California coast, visited my people Aunts, drove through Death Valley, stopped by Las Vegas, and finally drove through the snowy Rockies on our way home for New Years! It was a busy trip, with lots of time in the car, but we also stayed in lots of interesting places! One of those was the Grand Canyon!

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When we arrived at the Grand Canyon, we first visited a learning center.  It told us all about the Canyon and how it was formed by a river slowly (like millions of years slowly!) eroding the rock away and creating the big gauge on the Earth.  There was a big model of the entire Canyon, and to be honest, it didn’t look that impressive to me!

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After checking out the Visitor Center, we actually walked out to the edge of the Canyon.  I had to admit I was wrong…it was pretty impressive!  It was a mile deep, and many miles long, with the creation-river still running through the bottom.  It was SOOO far down to the bottom, that the river looked like a tiny silver thread!  I had to use the magnifying glasses to see all the way down, and I took a selfie for scale, but it didn’t really prove much!

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My people took lots of pictures of me at the Grand Canyon, but they had to stay nearby, because the wind was pretty strong.  They even let me stand on the wrong side of the railing (don’t try that at home, kids!!), but they held me tight the entire time!

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We stayed the night right there on the edge of the Grand Canyon!  In a little cabin on the Rim.  It was very nice, and had big windows that faced the sunrise! My people got me up really early so we could all watch the sunrise, and even though it was only 17 degrees F outside, my guy person took a short hike along the Rim of the Canyon.  The trail went right in front of the cabin, so I just watched from the window! It was much warmer inside!  They even had nice big, comfy chairs for me to sit in while the sun came up on my freezing people!

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After the sun was way up high, and we had had a yummy breakfast, it was time to hit the road again.  But I am very glad I visited The Grand Canyon, it was pretty neat!

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Mountain Bear

My people like to go camping and hiking, and they take me with them!

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We usually go to Colorado, it’s the state just west of us.  We have to watch out for wild bears when we are there, and lock our food in the car at night!  I’d really like to meet my wild cousins, but my people are not so sure! While we’re camping, we cook outside, sleep in a tent, and hike around the local trails.

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I have my very own little backpack, and I keep my sleeping bag, walking sticks, and souvenirs in it.  My people have their own big backpacks and sometimes I hitch a ride with them!

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In the summer of 2011, we took a big hiking trip to Colorado with 12 of my peoples friends. There was a dog, too, and he had his own backpack as well! It was a 3 day, 38 mile hike down the Colorado Trail.  It seemed like forever, but the trail is nearly 500 miles total, so it wasn’t really that bad

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After our hike, we went back to our host’s house to recuperate…and maybe have a few drinks!

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If you want to see ALL my hiking trip pictures, this link will take you to my Facebook Photo Album! Rawr!

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The Bear Cave…My Home!

I live with my people in a little house in the country. It’s called The Bear Cave! Originally it was called that because my guy person is nicknamed ‘Bear’, but now…we have teddy bears coming out our ears!  My people like to think they run a bear refuge, for unwanted and unloved bears. They rescue them from all over…tag sales, thrift shops, estate sales, everywhere!  Even if they are a little dirty or need some love and stitches, my people bring them back here to The Bear Cave! They tell me all about themselves and what their names are, and I translate to my people!

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We have lots of fun here! My people read us stories, we play dress up, celebrate holidays, and play in the garden! My girl person likes to bake, so we always have yummy treats too!  My people like to think of this place as an ‘island of misfit toys’, from the cartoon ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’! Just because our teddies aren’t shiny and new and perfect, some people don’t want them.  But we want them!

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It’s Super Bear!!!

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By day, I’m a mild mannered teddy bear named Diesel Bear…but by night, I’m a super bear named Bio-Diesel!

My guy person is an engineer and he likes to tinker on stuff at home. For years now, he has been making his own bio-fuel to run his big truck on! It’s recycled french fry oil from a local restaurant and is at least a little better for the environment! It makes the truck smell kind of funny, sort of like french fries, but that’s okay because it is much cheaper than going to the gas station.

That’s how I got my name!  When he sent me to my girl person (she had moved away to Arizona and he was trying to woo her back here to Kansas) she had to give me a name. Since he was so into his ‘science-y’ stuff, she named me Diesel!  Then she made me a super-bear costume! It’s green because that’s the official color of Bio-Diesel fuels!

So, if you ever need an emergency hug or a cute teddy bear smile, just call on me…Bio-Diesel!!!

So Much Snow!

It has snowed here at The Bear Cave, our little home in the country. There was about a foot of it, but it’s pretty windy, so it keeps blowing up into really tall drifts! My girl person and I are hiding inside until it gets better out, but my boy person has to go to work every morning…I’m super glad I don’t have to go out to work!