Libraries and The ‘Dog Days’ of Summer

What do humans mean when they say ‘dog days of summer’? That I can better hang my nose out the car window on warmish days? That it’s too hot to do anything except lie in the shade and dream about kibble and surfing? Something related to Sirius, the ‘dog star’?

‘Dog star,’ huh? I kinda like the sound of that.

Wait. Kid on a bicycle going by.

Now. Where was I? Oh, yeah ‘Dog days.’ We’ve had several this summer. Temperatures ticked up to the mid and upper nineties. That may not sound like much to you Phoenix or Las Vegas types. But in  western Washington, that’s as rare as a smart cat. It’s so rare in fact, that most houses don’t have air conditioning. Pontoons, maybe. But not A/C.

Thankfully, the library does. Have A/C, that is.  So Mom went there a lot, especially during the ‘dog days of summer.’ I’m not crazy about the place. Only service animals are allowed inside. So whenever we walked there – the book place is about 10 minutes away by paw – I’d have to sit outside with one of my brothers or…

Is that the neighbor’s cat?

… or they’d take me for a walk while Mom scooped up some new books. I don’t know why she has to take so long.

Anyway, here’s what I learned about libraries during the ‘dog days of summer’:

  •  The front lawn has lots of nice shade.
  • People say ‘hi’ to me when they go in or out. I cannot jump on them. Cannot, cannot, canno… ugh!
  • The library manager, Mary, has a Cairn Terrier. His name is Max.
  • Libraries have ‘computers’ inside that my humans can use for free.
  • It’s okay to talk in the library. Just don’t bark.
  • Writers are readers.
  • ‘Stacks’ mean ‘books.’ Books are things some humans love. They say they can’t live without them. That reading is like breathing. Like eating. I don’t quite understand this.
  • Some people don’t do this reading thing enough. If they did, they would be better people, says Mom. Smarter. More well-rounded. Creative and thoughtful. They’d probably throw a Frisbee better, too.

I may like libraries after all. Even during the ‘dog days of summer.’

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How I Was Struck By a Random Act of Kindness

Her Mom-ness says kindness can be hard to find these days. Elusive. Rare. So when you find it – or it finds you – be thankful. And reciprocate.

I’m not sure what that means. But it makes Mom smile. So it must be good. Like the other day.

We were out for a looong walk. Miles from home, her Mom-ness and I met up with another dog in a school playground. We played chase the ball for a while. Then the other dog went home with her Mom.

After the last ball toss, I came back limping. Mom noticed. We were a long way from my nice, soft doggie bed. Our water was almost gone. I could barely walk. How were we going to get home?

Mom tried to carry me.  She managed about 12 steps before buckling under my 65 pounds.

We were tired. We were thirsty. I was hurt.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

“We could sure use a random act of kindness right now,” Mom said, nursing sore arms.

I’m not sure what that means either. Something about being friendly. Generous. Considerate. And nice. Just because you can. With no strings attached.

Kind of like the way I am every day.

Anyway, Mom gets out her phone thingy. Starts dialing. Every person she called trying to get us a ride home was either at work or across the state line.

Phooey.

Mom finally managed to get ahold of my big bro, Sam. He’s 22. He “just happened” to be off work that day. He was out at the beach with his girlfriend. Over an hour away.

Know what? They dropped everything. Raced to the car. Whizzed over to the school. Brought water. Picked us up. Drove us home.

Just because we asked.

How cool is that?

Turns out my peds were a bit sunburnt from the heat radiating off the school yard blacktop. I’m fine now. Back to my  adorable self. Whizzing around the place at my usual 90 mph. Trying to be kind to everyone. Like my big bro Sam. I’m also trying to get the hang of kind-ing the mail carrier. (That takes extra practice. Nobody’s perfect.)

Speaking of kindness, here are some of Her Mom-ness’s favorite books or stories on the subject.

If you’re looking for the word “kindness” in the title, keep looking. These books are more subtle than that. They feature stories and/or characters who demonstrate generosity. Courage. Compassion. Grace. Kindness. If you know any of these, you’ll understand:

What would you add?

Meanwhile, I’m liking this random act of kindness thing. It’s kind of contagious. Unless it hits a cat. Then all bets are off.

Anyway, how ’bout you? Have you been struck by a random act of kindness this week? Or have you been the giver of a random act of kindness? Tell us about it. We love hearing from our peeps!

 

 

 

No, You Don’t Need to Blog EVERY Day – Here’s Why

Six words that strike terror into the heart of bloggers:

Please share your latest blog post.

This according to Her Mom-ness. Me? I’m cool with a daily walk and “dinner” twel… I mean twice a day. But you know how moms are. For as long as I can remember – both minutes – Her Mom-ness has insisted that:

  • Serious writers need a blog like peanut butter needs jelly; and
  • Daily blog posts are the one and only way to build your audience and create a platform.

Not Anymore

Now Mom says that “daily blogging thing” fits like a rhino in leotards. I’m not sure why. But you know how moms are.

She showed me Ali Luke’s post, “How Often Should You Blog? (Hint: The Answer Might Surprise You)” by Ali Luke. She says:

“Over the past couple of years, there’s been a shift in the blogging world. More and more prominent bloggers-on-blogging are moving away from daily posting—and reassuring their readers that you don’t have to post every day in order to be successful. “

Luke continues, quoting Darren Rowse of Problogger:

“I once surveyed readers here on ProBlogger about the reasons they unsubscribed from RSS feeds, and the number one answer was ‘posting too much.’ Respondents expressed that they developed ‘burnout’ and would unsubscribe if a blog became too ‘noisy.’”

Mom and I recently re-evaluated the writing blogs we follow. She dumped several. We simply don’t have time to read lots of posts on a daily basis, “particularly if they’re the blog equivalent of War and Peace.” (I say “we” because who do you think is sitting on the floor next to her, tail wagging a mile a minute while she plows through this stuff? Sometimes she even reads out loud. I like that especially.)

A Crackly Crisp and Criteria

Trying to read and crank out quality posts every day had us both fried to a crackly crisp. Been there, done that? If so, it’s okay to scale back. (More time for walks!)

Thinking about this, we decided to throttle blog posts back to a more realistic schedule of once a week or twice a month. Maybe less. There’s no sense cranking out noise just to fill the screen. Besides. When it comes to “building a platform,” it’s okay to not be in a hurry.

A Matter of Priorities

So daily blog posts may be over-rated. If your first passion is blogging, says Her Mom-ness, then get at it and go to it. But if it’s working on your next novel, short story or creative non-fiction piece, concentrate on that first. Blog when you can.

I find that having a treat close at hand always helps. My favorite is Alpo Little Bites. Beef. Just sayin’.

“Besides,” says Mom, “I’m pretty sure neither you nor I will turn into a pumpkin if we’re not blogging every day. Blogging is supposed to be fun. A creative outlet. Not a tedious, tiresome chore. So relax and enjoy the ride.”

Someone say, “dinner”?

How often do you blog? What do you look for in a blog post?