Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Autumn Morning in the Canyon

Last night a strong wind howled around the canyon, rattling the windows and making whistling noises, as it whirled around the corners of the house. Angel feels she has to bark at those noises and I wonder what she thinks they may be. A person whistling? But the person has no smell. What? That couldn't be, but I better set off the barking alarm just in case. Oh, I forgot........and my barking woke mommy up again! Sorry, mommy!

I slept with the windows closed for the first time since summer began. And I still woke up freezing. I put my robe on, let the dogs out, and checked the outside temperature. It was 40 degrees, the same as it has been here for many mornings now. But something was different.....fall was in the air.

The dogs and I went for a walk and we all felt energized in the cool air. When we got to Soldier's bush, the one he has to lift his leg on every single day, we turned around.

And walked back home down the road.

We walk by fields surrounded by mountains and pretty with grey rabbit brush in full bloom.

When we get close to home, I let Angel loose and she runs and runs across the large field, behind the juniper bushes, and up the hillside with Princess following behind. I have never seen an eleven-year old dog run so fast. When I see her like that, my heart fills with happiness because not a day goes by that I don't worry about her. Not eating, scared of flies, scared of moths, and sometimes looking so disoriented that I wonder if she is truly demented. Then she has a morning like this, full of fun and energy and I remember that the moment is all we really have and that dogs are masters at living in it.

When we get home, Angel and Princess jump in the doggie pool while I go and check on our fur tree. I watered it while we went for our walk. This tree did so well all summer until a few weeks ago when it turned brown almost overnight. It has done that before, but it seems particularly bad right now. So I do the only thing I know, I water it. It is a lovely tree, but planted in a strange, out of the way, place. When I check on it, I find a rainbow and many little birds enjoying the water.

Before I go in the house, I check on the pepper plant. There are so many peppers on it now and I hope they won't freeze before Saturday when my husband comes home. Yes, I know, he was supposed to come home last weekend, but his work interfered again. This time he has to come because I need his help with some car issues and some other stuff that needs to be taken care of around here. And then there is a little white, furry thing coming with him. Someone I can't wait to meet. And the cinnamon for my oatmeal breakfasts that he buys at Smart & Final. And did I hear about some really good food, maybe even a surprise? I have a surprise for him too; it was his birthday last week, after all. What fun, I can't wait!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Loafing invites the soul.

Friday, September 25, 2009

We All Had Our Nails Done

Hi again, it's me.....Princess!

Today, mommy said we really had to get our pedicures done. I don't like to get my nails trimmed, so I went and tried to hide behind the table. But I guess mommy saw me, because she told me to come out so I could be first. I said NO and tried to hide some more. But mommy just said she would do her nails first.

Off she went and got her stuff. She soaked her feet for such a long time I thought maybe she had forgotten about me. So I decided to come out and see what she was up to. She showed me all these pretty colors she could put on her nails. I wish I could get some colors like that on mine too. But then, guess what, she put the lavender color on her toe nails! Personally, I thought the red was much prettier. Oh, well, you never know what  your person may decide to do.

After that mommy tried to do Soldier. But he is so impossible, that silly boy. Do you know what he did? He let her trim about two nails, then he gently opened his mouth and placed it around mommy's wrist and tried to make her let go of his paw. It worked too! Then mommy tried to bribe him with some dog food. She tried to trick us and called it training biscuits, but i know my kibble when I see it. It's still great to get a treat, don't get me wrong. Just don't call it training biscuits if it's just plain old kibble. Well, after mommy trimmed about four of Soldier's nails, she gave up. Our mommy is not exactly known for her patience!

After that it was my turn, and by now, I felt a bit sorry for mommy, so I decided to be good! First she let me smell the trimmer. I bet she read about that in some book. She is always reading all those books! Well, the trimmer just smelled like Soldier's toe nails, so no big deal, but mommy was just trying to be nice and do the right thing to make me feel comfortable. I let her trim all my claws and now I'm good for a while, then we have to this all over again.

Then mommy took Angel in the bedroom and did her nails in there. Angel gets up in the bed, so it's easier for mommy, she doesn't have to bend down. Here is Angel sniffing the kibble and the trimmer.

And here is the kibble (training biscuits) that we all got when we were done. Soldier got some too, even though he was a silly boy and didn't get all his nails trimmed today.

That's all for now from our desert canyon.

Posted by me......Princess!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The First Day of Autumn

The first day of fall and 38 degrees outside at five this morning! Finally.... I have been waiting for this day for a while now. The summer has been brutally hot and very dry and I have been longing for fall. The days are still hot, but at night the temperature drops fast. I haven't picked the last crop of peppers yet, if you can call about 8 peppers a crop. I wanted to see how large they will grow since I still don't know what kind they are. The days are still very hot and the peppers are growing fast, so maybe I should leave them and cover them at night. The tomatoes are still green and not very large. I will definitely try a different kind next summer.

The landscape is turning yellow as the grey rabbitbrush plants are beginning to bloom. The native americans used grey rabbitbrush for chewing gum and tea, among other things. Hmm...I love tea...maybe I should explore how these things were done. But I doubt I will get that self-sufficient just yet. Let me work on those peppers first. Still, it's nice with flowers blooming in the fall, even if they are just weeds they cheer up the dun colored landscape around the ranch.

Then I told the dogs that we need to have a pedicure day soon and they all but disappeared! Actually, with both Princess and Soldier it's best to do one toe nail here and one there. Once they figure out what's up, they want nothing to with me or the clippers.

Let me out of here!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Peaceful Sunday

Come and enjoy with me a poem of inncocence and wisdom and a few photos
of nature that surrounds me here. Have a wonderful and peaceful Sunday.

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour....

  William Blake
              Songs of Innocence

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Diabetes Support Group

On Thursday, I went to the monthly meeting of our diabetes support group. Earlier in the summer, Eve, our leader and diabetes educator, went to the annual convention of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. The convention includes a large exhibit of all the latest innovations and products that will, hopefully, help all of us who have it, manage our diabetes better.

The discussion at our meeting focused on the problem of food addiction. The truth or myth of heart healthy supplements was also explored. From the exhibit, Eve provided each one of us (and there are always many of us in these meetings) with 38 pages of copies of items that were on display. What a great person she is!

I am not going to talk about solutions to food addiction. I'm no expert and this seems to be talked about everywhere, anyway. But I will confess that I'm addicted to cheese. I'm able to control this until someone (read my well-meaning, food-loving, hubby) puts a fine piece of Rosenberg Danish Blue in front of me. Control Gone!

Some interesting information and statistics:

  • We are eating 30 lbs more sugar per person per year than in the 1960s.
  • In 1909 we ate 3.8 lbs of cheese per year (I wonder how they know how much people ate back then). We now eat 31.4 lbs of cheese per year.
  • In 1909 we ate 148.8 lbs of meat per year. In 2005 we ate 202.5 lbs of meat. However, red meat consumption is down and chicken consumption is up.
Believe it or not, cows' milk contains morphine (casomorphin from the cow's liver). Nature uses this to make sure calves nurse. When I heard this, I asked if that's the reason a cup of hot milk makes you go to sleep. Made sense to me, but Eve said that they relate this to our addiction to cheese. Just goes to show you: you are never too old to learn new things.

The list of the best ways to stop food cravings included: eat breakfast, eat foods that hold blood sugars steady (beans and veggies), get regular exercise and rest, and social support.

Fruits and vegetables should be consumed at each meal for their anti-oxidant qualities.

A high-fiber diet reduces c-reactive protein - a marker of inflammation. High-fiber diets (50 grams daily) also lower blood sugars.

Then we went over a variety of heart healthy supplements. We found out some truths and myths about the supplements. Too much to list here, except....if you are on medication, check with your doctor before taking any supplement. Please.

The product information we received related both to diabetes and healthy eating. I guess they do go hand-in-hand. Here are some I found notable:

  • Oral insulin treatment for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes will be available next year. You spray this into the inside of your cheeks, not your lungs.
  • Meal Measure - Portion Control on Your Plate! A device for people who have problems sticking to portion control. Fill it up, turn it over, and place the portions on your plate.
  • A glucose meter that talks! Imagine how helpful this would be for people who have lost their sight from diabetes.
  • Generex Biotechnology Corporation in Canada has developed premium nutritional supplements specifically designed for people with diabetes.
  • The Eat Smart Nutrition scale can calculate 12 nutrients (calories, carbs, etc.) based on information you enter.
  • Surprise: Some of these companies are now on Face Book and urge you to sign up and become a fan!
  • Last, but not least, there is a non-profit humanitarian organization called Insulin for Life that has a collection center in the US for no longer needed insulin, test strips, unused meters, and supplies. Insulin and strips must be unopened and have at least three months left to the use-by-date. Insulin and supplies are forwarded to developing countries (where insulin can cost 50% of a person's annual income, not hard imagine the outcome there). Life-saving insulin can also be quickly distributed to disaster areas, such as New Orleans after hurricane Katrina.

Photos: From a Swedish summer.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Juniper Bushes and Black Bear Sightings

Yesterday morning, I woke up to these awesome clouds, hugging the mountains and thought that, for sure, we will get some rain today. We need it so badly..... I need it so badly, I should say, while the native plants and animals seem to be doing just fine. The Juniper bush, for example, is a rough, tough, and enduring part of this landscape.
All summer long, I have felt drawn to this particular bush, so full of berries it appears blue in a certain light.
Here I'm trying a little "artistic" photography....not sure how it came out.
We trim the bushes closest to the house.
The bushes come in all sizes, shapes, conditions: large round ones and smaller odd- shaped ones; junipers in great condition, others that seem to be struggling, and some that are almost dead.  These are the bushes that grow on our dry land.

How they survive, I don't know. They are very hardy and seem to not need any water other than what the seasonal rains and snow provide. Once you get used to their rugged nature, you come to like and respect them for the tough survivors that they are.

My neighbor told me the other day, that a black bear has been spotted several times around where she lives. She also told me that her birdbath and a water bucket, that she leaves out for the birds and rabbits, had been turned over. Hmm....doesn't that sound like a bear? This is at the other end of our property and I haven't been up there for a while. So I haven't seen any tracks or scat and much less a whole bear myself.

And this year, I haven't seen any bear tracks at this end of our land either. But last year, I saw many tracks and a lot of bear scat, even right outside our living room window.

This is a pretty good bear story and it is true too:

One morning last year, I came outside and found my lounge chair, that I kept under a juniper bush, covered in broken-off tips of juniper branches with the berries gone. More branches were strewn all around the bush and the ground was covered in bear tracks. This must have happened before I replaced my broken camera because I have no pictures of it. But my hubby was here and we both saw the mess and were amazed.

One could imagine the bear, sittig down in the lounge chair, enjoying all the berries, as the morning sun came up behind the mountain ridges.

And yesterday, thunder rolled around the hills for a while, but not a drop of rain fell.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Importance of Proper Tools

One of our garden hoses finally gave up, after many years of service, and burst open in about 10 places at once. It was time to buy a new hose, but first I had to remove the old one that was pretty much stuck to the outside faucet. The last time my husband and I went to Home Depot, he bought a wrench for me. A tiny, tiny little wrench -- what were we thinking -- not a wrench fit for a woman who may have to deal, all by herself, with all kinds of emergencies, requiring proper tools. Fortunately, he forgot a bucket full of tools the last time he was up here and in there I found a larger wrench. See the difference....little wrench and big wrench:
Little wrench:
Big wrench:
The big wrench worked, so off I went to The Home Depot to buy a new garden hose.
I like the hoses we have now, but they didn't have them in stock. The sales clerk promised that these dark green hoses would be kink free, which is what I wanted. Then, of course, the hoses we have now were supposed to be kink free too and that proved to be not so. I even have a picture in this very blog, to prove that claim wrong. Anyway, I bought a 50 ft. one of these "kink free" dark green hoses.
Then I picked up a few more things while I was there.
On my way back to town, I had to stop at the railroad crossing. I love trains and feel so lucky to live in a town built around the railroad. I will definitely tell you more about the trains in some future blog.

This morning, I successfully installed the new hose, with the help of the big wrench. After that, I watered my container plants and hosed off the dog enclosure and my car. It gets ugly here fast without water, which gives one something to think and worry about. I have only seen about 15 minutes of rain since April and that's not good.

I don't want to end on such a worrisome note, so let me tell you how awesome it was last night at dinner time, to hear the two huge sonic booms as the shuttle Discovery came in for its landing at Edwards AFB, about 30 miles from here. It always thrills me and I so wish I would some day find out about the change in plans, so I could make it down there and watch a shuttle landing.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Do We Really Need All This?

I didn't realize it was September 11, until I posted this. So, I want to add a prayer in remembrance of those who lost their lives on that day, their families, the heroes of September 11 and all our troops that are still fighting wars as
a result of the September 11 attacks: May God Bless You and Keep You.
This is what I blogged about today:
The other day, UPS came and dropped off some packages full of stuff I had ordered. 
Not one to pass up a "Buy One -- Get TWO FREE" sale, I ordered vitamins and supplements for my husband, myself, and our dogs:
UPS also delivered my insulin pump supplies and test strips. I was completely out of test strips and only had an emergency supply, donated by a friend who doesn't use up all of hers. And because there had been a recall on the Quick Sets, I was running low on them as well. It's absolutely amazing how safe I feel when I have all the supplies I need to survive for the next three months. There is more to it than this, of course, insulin being the most important. And I have a good supply of that in my refridgerator. Phew! I'm so happy all this arrived. 
Angel suffers from Discoid Lupus, an autoimmune disease that affects her nose, which is sore and red. It is more common at altitude, where the exposure to ultraviolet light is increased. It is most frequently found in German shepherd dogs, collies, and a few other breeds.
We have a great vet now, but before we found him, she was bleeding all over the house, it was just awful and I was desperate. Steroids were suggested as the only treatment. I said, no way to steroids, and was fortunate to find this vet, who suggested a different course of action: 500 mg each, 3 x/day of Tetracycline and Niacinamide. Both of these can cause liver failure so she has her liver tested every six months. So far, so's been over a year now. Of course I also keep a close eye on her. Included with her meds are some homeopathic treatments for this condition that I order from Natural Canine... a great place for canine supplements. And it's wonderful to have a vet who doesn't mind you exploring alternatives.
Angel gets Bone Meal because she is a finicky eater and needs that if she doesn't eat kibble. The Green supplement helps to keep her strong and I think helps her digestion. I notice that she eats less grass when she gets this supplement. The Calendula cream is for her nose and the Glucosamine for her bones. All three dogs get flax seed oil added to their meals.
I guess this was more information than anyone would ever want to know.....

Angel's medicines and supplements above.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Flies, Mice, and Storage Solutions

So, what's up with this, you may wonder...... Well, a while ago an email was forwarded to me that said: Put some pennies in the bottom of a zip lock bag, fill it half-full of water and hang it above or around your door opening or window and it will repel flies, wasps, and bees. Testimonials from all over the country followed. Scientific explanations mixed with folk lore abounded. Well, I thought I would try and see for myself. I half filled a larger bag and put more pennies than recommended in it since is is so windy here. And, I did not have a single fly in the house for about ten days. When they came back, I figured the water needed to be emptied and refilled. So I changed it and no more flies. If anyone wants to see the email, let me know and I'll forward it.
When I first moved here, a mouse chewed off a wire in my car engine to the tune of $175.00. I found out about Critter Out on the Internet. It really works and is inexpensive if you buy the concentrate and just mix it with water. I spray my engine every 10 days and I haven't had any little visitors since I started this, about three years ago.
Second line of mouse defense: Yes, I know this is not a cat, but he will catch them. Last time, he walked around with the mouse in his mouth, with its tail hanging out. It was really gross, particularly since he tried to get in the house with it.
This is my "Feed Shed." And yes, we do have some sheds, a barn, and even a huge storage container on our property. They all need to be cleaned out and it is something I need help with, so until it gets done, this is where I store the larger bags of dog food. It works great because I don't have to carry a 40 lb bag around and I don't have to lift it very high to get the kibble out of it.
Instead, I have developed a pretty neat system of getting the kibble from the bag to the container. I put the container on the rear bumper, push my knee up against it to hold it in place, lift the bag just a little, and then begin to pour. Works great for me!
And here they container per dog, all ready to go back in the house. Yes, our dogs usually don't eat the same food: Soldier eats regular store bought kibble; Princess does too, but then she gets fat and has to eat diet food; and Angel is so finicky..... she usually eats brown rice with veggies and can of dog food (yes, I do cook her chicken and she loves ground turkey), but I try to mix it up with any kind of good senior kibble that she will eat. Spoiled, anyone?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Walking with Dogs and a Slug Bug Explanation

Hello's me again, Princess!
Let me tell you about our walks. Our walks are more fun in the winter because we go hiking in the hills. In the summer we have to stick to the roads. We have our rattlesnake vaccines, but mommy still worries, so she doesn't want us off road where we can't see a snake. I'm lucky because I'm so OBEDIENT that I get to run loose. All mommy has to say, if I stray off the road, is: "Princess, get back on the road." Angel can be loose too, because I keep an eye on her and go and get her if she strays too far. Problem with her is, she doesn't get what it means to go for a WALK off leash. She either runs and runs, really far away, or she stops and sniffs, stops and sniffs, and never goes anywhere. Soldier has to be on a leash because he runs away and I can't keep up with him and herd him home. Silly boy!
We have been taught to not rush out of the gate, but wait for mommy to go first. Mommy watches the Dog Whisperer on TV and he says you are supposed to walk next to or behind your person. I don't believe in that....I always walk in front to make sure everything is OK ahead. Mommy lets me walk wherever I want to, as long as I stay on the road.
This is Soldier's special bush. He dives right into it and then he has to lift his leg! He has messed up this bush pretty good, that's for sure.
Before we turn around and go back home, mommy makes us sit and rest for a while.
Then we go back home and get Angel. Soldier has to stay home, but I think he gets a cookie so he won't mind.
We walk up toward the barn and then back down the road again. It was a nice cool morning, and I enjoyed my long walk.
When we got home, both Angel and I jumped in the pool. And then we drank and drank from it. We were both very thirsty.
Then Angel started playing with Soldier. I think she was trying to trick him into getting in the pool. But that boy is so scared of water, I don't believe he is a lab cross like me.  Here he is, anyway, playing with Angel.
We had a lot of fun on our walk today and I liked playing in the water and getting all wet and dirty when we got home.

Posted by me......Princess!
Here is grandma Carol's slug bug explanation:
"I guess I forgot to explain Slug Bug..that is what they call a Volkswagen Bug in Bangkok. When you see one, you are supposed to punch someone in the arm and say "slug bug" but James and Toffee won't tolerate the kids punching each other so they just say slug bug and try to find the most on each trip."
And I thought it was some kind of exotic Thai bug!! I guess I'm supposed to do my research before I put stuff out in cyberspace. But I got a good laugh out of it....


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