Archives for 2020

Beautiful, Useful Rain Chains

Rain chain from Rain Chains Direct

A chain of hammered copper cups. The cups are open at the bottom, so rainwater can flow through to the ground.  Image courtesy of Rain Chains Direct.

I love watching water move, whether it’s at the beach or in a puddle stirred by the wind. I love the sounds of water, too, and sometimes I know it’s raining before I look outside, because I hear the water  gurgling down our gutters.

Recently we replaced one of those gutters – the ones my husband complains about, because they get choked with pine straw every fall – with a rain chain. It was super-easy to install. All we had to do was take off the downspout and measure the distance from the bottom of the gutter to the ground, so we’d know how long the chain needed to be.

Then we attached a gutter installer, a device that holds the chain.  You put the installer into what’s called the leader hole (the opening in the gutter that directs water to the downspout). Add the chain, tighten a bolt, and you’re done.

rain chain gutter installer, courtesy of Rain Chains Direct

Here’s the gutter installer. The chain hangs from the bar in the middle. You tighten the bolt to hold the installer in place. Image courtesy of Rain Chains Direct.

To keep the chain taut, we tapped a stake into the ground and attached it. Next I’ll put some rocks from our creek under the chain to help distribute the run-off, but you can also buy catch basins to match your chain. They don’t hold a lot of water, but they add to the charm.

And rain chains really are charming, although they’re functional, too. Best of all, they don’t clog, so nobody has to climb a ladder and dig out wet, decomposing leaves.

Rain Chains Direct

Rain chains come in many styles. Some look like flowers or small cups; others are lengths of single or doubled loops. This 100% copper rain chain has aged to a soft patina. Image courtesy of Rain Chains Direct.

All I need now is rain, since we’re currently in a drought. I’m looking forward to seeing the little copper cups on my chain channel the water to the thirsty shrubs around our foundation, and to hearing it splash and tinkle. I’m watching the skies for clouds…and watching…and watching.

Thanks to Rain Chains Direct for providing the rain chain used in my review.  The opinions are my own, freely and sincerely given.

The Nebraska Sandhills: Tanking

As a travel writer (I contribute to the Travel Channel), I get to take some pretty cool trips now and then. Recently I visited the Sandhills of central Nebraska, where we did something you can’t do in most places: we went “tankin’ “.  That’s Nebraska-speak for floating down the river in a tank once used to feed and water cattle.  (Yes, it floats just fine!)

This photo is pre-launch. Once we climbed into the tank, we sat on benches inside, and had room for a cooler packed with sandwiches, fruit and cookies. A picnic on the Middle Loup River = unbeatable summer fun.

The water’s not very deep here; maybe 4 feet in spots. It was shallow enough that one of us to get out and give us a shove when we got stuck on a sandbar. The tanks drift with the current, so paddling is optional.

The sun coming through the cottonwood trees on the bank was glorious. If we had had more time, we could’ve pulled our tanks onto the shore and picnicked there. Floating was so peaceful and calming. Nothing but the sounds of songbirds and the gurgle and bubble of the water.

See the sand on the bank? That’s why this region is known as the Sandhills. There’s very little topsoil to support trees, but the sandy hills, which cover about 1/3 of the entire state, are home to mixed prairie grasses.

More to come in part 2!

Paw-some Gifts for Pets! (You Know Your Dog Wants These)

Courtesy of West Paw Design

Human friends, writer-grrl has been researching Christmas gifts for furry friends like me. If you need  ideas for your favorite doggie (and after all, we deserve a buncha nice stuff, because we are soooo cute and loveable), then check out her list, below.

(Santa, please note: I want all this stuff and a whole lot more….wags, Miss Paws)

Shaggy dogs are adorable–but sometimes they can’t see well because their long fur flops over in their eyes.  Tame your dog’s bangs or dress up your favorite bow-wow with a bow. Your Dog Advisor has a list of useful, cute hair accessories for canines. (No, human hair clips don’t usually work. They’re prone to slip out of your pupper’s soft fur.) Choose from simple, utilitarian clips to bands to bows. Miss Paws is such a diva. She wants a bow studded with rhinestones, lace, or satin rosebuds. 

Scratch right here…puh-leeze. Itchy pups may be allergic to their bedding, especially if it’s woolen. Otto likes this Organic Bumper Bed with its easy-to-wash, removable cotton cover. These comfy sleepers are stuffed with recycled plastic, which means they’re Earth-friendly, too. Available in five mix-and-match colors, and sized extra-small to extra-large.

Thanks to West Paw Design for this image. This is Otto, on a West Paw bumper bed. Such a hottie! ~ Miss Paws

Born to run? What dog isn’t? When you’re clenching a leash in your hand, your poor doggie can get jerked along. Canines recommend this Patento Hands-Free Leash, which lets you pump your arms naturally. That lets your running companion (moi, Miss Paws) run at a more natural pace, too. The leash attaches to a nylon wristband with a mini-pocket for your keys or a handy dog biscuit. Reflective stitching on the leash keeps us more visible at night.

Patento Pet USA makes this hands-free leash, sold by Petco stores. Image courtesy of Patento Pet USA.

Humans, I–Miss Paws–am a “power chewer,” which means that writer-grrl spends a lot of money trying to keep me in toys. If you’ve got a chewer in your pack, it can be tough to find—well, a tough toy. Tux is a toy made of a super-strong, FDA approved material. I like it when the humans stuff my Tux with a treat, but it’s also fun if they just throw it for me to catch. Sold by WestPaw, with a one-time free replacement if I do manage to gnaw it up…and I’m working on it.

On the other hand, if you’ve got a snuggle-bunny kind of pup, check out this soft, plush Owl toy. It’s featherless, with a sewn-in squeaker that guaranteed to keep you happy and annoy your humans (LOL–it’s not really annoying). These plush toys are stuffed with 100% recycled materials and they’re machine washable, so your human won’t be grossed out after you’ve got it all nice and slobbery. Best of all, it’s certified safe by third party testing.

Light up the night, so we can see where we’re going! This Dog-e-Lite leash is just what we need for our evening walks. It comes with an LED flashlight that slips onto the leash, so humans can keep one hand free (that makes it a lot easier for them to reach down and scratch behind our ears). Solar technology lets the light recharge in the sun or under artificial lights. I like that eco-friendly stuff, and writer-grrl likes not having to buy expensive batteries.

Okay, that should start my list to Santa. Writer-grrl, are you listening?

~ Miss Paws