Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wednesday's Book

Before I start on my new project, let me welcome Polly's Path a new follower of my blog. And I'm thrilled to have found yet another animal caregiver, who works hard to save a newborn goat's life and also finds a new puppy while hubby is away. Or maybe, the puppy found her, as puppies will do. Check out her blog, it's delightful.

I have no idea how this will work, but I've decided to set aside Wednesdays to write about books I've read recently. I have always been a reader. I remember my dad taking me to the library when I was a kid and how I just loved everything about it, the smell, the feel of a book, the anticipation of what would be inside that red cover. Yes, all the books in the Stockholm library system were red back then. And I still feel that same excitement today when I enter a bookstore or go to the library. I'm not going to say that a Kindle wouldn't be for me, just that I love to hold and read a "real" book.

This will be a challenge for me and a bit of a scary project. I'll probably only write about the books I liked. Because the ones I don't like I won't read. Some of those I may put away for later and I may change my mind, as I give them a second chance. That's what happened with Christine Falls, the book I'm reading now.

I will begin this journey with the books I've read since my accident. That will give me a few to get started with.

The first book is an autobiography by a very special author:

Time To Be In Earnest
a fragment of an autobiography
by P. D. James

One of my favorite writers of detective novels, or as I learned from her, mysteries here in the US, P. D. James is the only author I read with a dictionary close by. There I am, reading about a murder in East Anglia, and I know from experience that I will encounter a word I'll need to look up. I love that about her -- she truly makes you see the beauty of the English language, a second language for me, but one that I love.

P. D. James began this book in 1997, on her 77th birthday, and kept it as a diary of her 77th year. She used the diary format to look back on her life, while writing about her current life during that year. An unusual approach to writing an autobiography, but one that I found to be an enjoyable and satisfying read. She writes so well about an interesting life and a very full year: Completing a book, promoting the book, traveling, attending events, spending time with many friends, often traveling with them, and so on. I love to see how she manages all that at 77. I used to read her books years ago. When I found many at our local library, I started to read them again and also read some new ones. I enjoy books that bring England and especially London back to me.

This book was a gift from my friend, Jane. (We pass books back and forth, but recently she's been sending me many, something I'm so grateful for.)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Preview Of Coming Attractions And My Morning Here In The Canyon

Before I begin, I would like to welcome two new followers of my blog:  Amy, a mom in the UK, who blogs here:  At Home With Amy and Lynda, whose blog from a large farm in Tanzania I have followed and loved since I first started blogging last fall. You can find Lynda's blog here: Food, Fun And Farm Life In East Africa

This morning, I looked through the 2010 visitor's guide to Tehachapi that came with the weekly paper. And I realized that this is a truly alive and vibrant place. Why is it, I wondered, that when I was able to visit all these places, I only went to very few. Now I look at them with longing. So my friends, I promise you (and myself too) that when I'm out of this darned sling, we'll go and look at some of them together.

Here's a preview of places to visit: A convent (has a fabulous gift shop, with all kinds of home-made jams and such), a Buddhist monastery, Tomo Kahni State Historic Park that preserves an ancient village and ceremonial sites of the Kawaiisu Indian people of this region. This area is also home to an ostrich ranch, several alpaca ranches and there are even some reindeer not too far from where I live. We have vineyards, apple farms, lilac farms and wind farms. According to the guide, Tehachapi has the largest wind resource area in California. Up there, among the wind turbines, you may see wild mustangs running free. Oh, I wish – I have been looking for them. Then, of course, we have the world-famous Tehachapi Loop, where the rail line climbs in a spiral over itself so that the front of a long train actually travels over its rear cars (see photo above). This engineering feat enabled trains to travel from Bakersfield (400 ft) through Tehachapi (4,025 ft) to Mojave (2,700 ft) and on to points south and east. The engineer who designed the loop in the late 1800's is said to have observed how mules and donkeys traversed the steep mountain by circling up the mountainside. Are you getting excited about taking little day trips with me? I am!

After breakfast, I went to the shed to plug in the lawnmower – it was pretty much charged, but I had unplugged it a while ago.

I wanted to cut this scary patch of tall, and by now, completely dried up grass under a juniper tree.

I got my camera while I waited and took this picture of the crazy little "forest" that's by now growing from the roots of my tree that died – that is the top died. I think the buds froze, but I really don't know. It happened to both of the cottonwood trees here.

New branches are also growing on the tree itself. So maddening, this.

A close-up of the little "forest."

All this distracted me (you have to watch that at my age) and I promptly forgot about the lawnmower and decided to get my trusty kitchen scissors and cut back and/or pull up the tall weeds that grew next to the fence. I got a lot of that done and raked it up (not an easy thing, raking with one arm) and put it away.

Then, on my way back to the shed, I got distracted again by these mustard weeds that by now have reached gigantic proportions. So I stopped to cut some of them back too. It was really hard, so I left most of them for another day.

By the time I got the lawnmower out, it was after eight and it was getting hot. I started to mow under the juniper, but decided I better do it early tomorrow morning. So instead I mowed a bit of the weeds on the north side of the house, but it was getting too hot, and I stopped for today.

Before I went inside, I took the kiddy pool out of the shed and filled it with water, thinking Angel and Princess would welcome it in the heat. No way, it was totally ignored by both.

After I cleaned up the dog run and rinsed it off, I came in the house and cleaned the birdcage, fed Pippi Birdie, and gave him fresh water.

Then I went online and checked the weather alert from AOL:

For the past several weeks this is all I've seen, little round suns! This morning I figured it will be like this for the next 100 – 125 days! Hopefully some clouds here and there, maybe even rain and a thunderstorm or two. But this is the weather you get if you decide to go live in a desert canyon. And I, for one, like the other 250 days much, much better.

And that was my morning. I hope you all had a nice morning too.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Passing An Award Along From One Donkey Lover To Another

My friend, A. J. Oaks, whose blog A Little Farm With A Big Heart is indeed one of the most heartwarming blogs, created this lovely award and gave it to anyone of her followers who wanted to pick it up. I couldn't resist that sweet donkey face. Thank you!

I would like to pass this award along to Tina, whose blog  My World According To Me makes me smile every time I open it. Why? Because it has donkeys marching all over the top of it! If you haven't already, please check it out. Seriously though, Tina volunteers at a donkey rescue and her love and dedication to these wonderful animals shine through everything she does and writes about on her blog. She recently lost a donkey friend, Augusta, that she truly loved. It was sad to read her account of her time with Augusta, saying goodbye. But so good to know that Augusta had a friend who cared. And she knew....

I also want to say that I feel blessed to have connected to a community of bloggers who rescue, foster, raise money for, provide sanctuary to, or just plain love animals and do the best they can to help. Tina, I love your blog and I too love donkeys.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Goodbye Sweet Adelaide

Rachael's female bearded dragon, Adelaide, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on Tuesday. She was six and a half years old and the star of Rachael's education program.

Kids who attended Rachael's Critter Education classes would pet Adelaide's scaly back and fall in love with her. I believe she would stand out in their minds long after the class was over, perhaps influencing their choice of a pet in the future. I believe Adelaide would also make the kids understand that all animals matter, not just the cute and furry ones. An important lesson that Adelaide taught so well.

I'm holding Sydney -- Rachael is holding Adelaide, December 2008

Adelaide charmed not only children -- anyone who ever saw this plump and pretty girl flirt with Rachael's male beardie, Sydney, by waiving her little legs seductively, in slow motion, would not be able to resist her. She was simply adorable and much loved by all of us who knew her.

Rachael and Holly I am so sorry for your loss.

Goodbye, sweet Adelaide and thank you for all you taught me about lizards. I will never forget you.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Midsummer, A Wedding, A Birthday, And A Bad Puppy

In Sweden, Midsummer was celebrated this past weekend with trimming of Maypoles, followed by dancing to music played on accordions and fiddles long into the light summer night. Well, that's how I remember it anyway. Tradition also has it that if a young girl picks seven different wildflowers and puts under her pillow, she will dream of the man she will marry. Of course these are old, old traditions and I don't know what modern families do. But I saw Maypoles when I was there in 2005 and I also picked this small bouquet of wildflowers and put in the window.

Saturday:  In Stockholm, there was a wedding: Crown princess Victoria married her long time love, Daniel. I believe they met when he was her personal trainer; at least that's what they said on CNN.

These photos from my computer are not good, but I loved how she reached out and touched his face during the ceremony. Such a sweet gesture.

All these people, 500,000 of them, gathered to celebrate the event. Whether you support the monarchy or not, a love story will always make you smile.

Sunday: Fathers Day -- I watched the end of the US Open golf championship at Pebble Beach, California. A young man, McDowell, I think his name was, from Northern Ireland, won. It was emotional for me to see his dad run out to embrace this son after he won. I could relate to this, coming from the old country and experiencing something that huge.

Monday: Summer solstice, longest day of the year (in Stockholm there is no midnight sun, but it doesn’t get dark either) and my birthday. I have a sentimental love for Sweden this time of the year. And who wouldn't…it's so lovely.

A midsummer night south of Stockholm.

This year, my birthday was HUGE: 70! When I was young, I thought for sure you were supposed to feel pretty old by 70. So far, so good…I feel just the same as always.

My husband came up, of course, and took me for a drive around the countryside. We saw the huge flock of sheep that mows the large fields all around this area. Some horses that could have been wild mustangs and fields full of wild mustard and poppies. Spring came late here; usually you see poppies in May. It was so much fun for me to just get out -- it has been about a month. I know my husband wanted to either cook something special for me or take me out for dinner, but I could see how very tired he was, so I suggested we just pick up a pizza. I could tell he was relieved. We got a Little Caesar's pizza with extra anjovis that we both enjoyed.

After that, we had this:

with ice cream. In Sweden, even birthdays, 50, 60, and so on, are celebrated in a huge way, but this one was just what I wanted and needed. Quality time with someone I love, simple time, spent together. I loved every minute of it.

Tuesday: We went to town in the morning and stocked up on food and supplies for me. When we came home, this darling boy

had not only pooped in the house, he had dragged out a box of classical CDs and chewed up a Pavarotti boxed set, where he destroyed the first CD, that included some of my favorite arias from Verdi operas. Then he also demolished one of my favorite CDs with music by Erik Satie. There was that hard plastic with sharp edges everywhere and one couldn't help but wonder how much of it was in his stomach. So I fed him a lot of soft bread and I think he will be OK.

They went back to LA late last night, so a short, but heartwarming, visit that I will treasure for ever.

Friday, June 18, 2010

My Yellow Dog

One day in 2007, my sweet husband rescued a seven-year old dog that would have gone to the pound the following day because his owner, an elderly woman, was moving to Florida to live with her daughter. This was a military family, who had named the dog Soldier and taught him to march in place.

It didn't take me long to fall in love with this boy. He is a needy dog, always asking for petting and reassurance.

He even turns his head to make sure I'm following him.

 At the same time, he is a fierce guard dog, who doesn't miss any of the comings and goings at the large ranch next door. But when something unusual appears in the yard, Soldier stands on his love seat, stiff as a board, and quiet as a mouse.

Here we are one Christmas, me and my boy. He's happy at last.

This is how he greets me when I come back from a trip to town.

Soldier hates water, so I'm not sure if that yellow part of him and that lab tail really comes from a lab. But he loves snow and when he realized he could eat it, he loved it even more.

He loves his food too and knows where mine comes from.

Angel and Soldier play together. They are both seniors, but they don't know it, so they have fun together.

They guard together

and rest together.

Then someone else showed up, Samson! He was very tiny at first and Soldier was wonderful with him.

Soldier tells Samson this is what us big dogs do – stand in the window and bark if we see a cow or a tractor or a truck. We bark and bark until mommy tells us to stop.

Samson said he'd rather chew on Soldier's tail. No problem there – but Angel stands by, just to make sure.

Soldier gets a puppy kiss reward.

So who has the longest tongue?

Soldier teaches Samson how to beg.

Soldier has come a long way from his dog house.

Something that makes me so very happy.
I'm crazy about this dog – my husband and I have always had large and powerful dogs, none of them into kissing and petting. I've been longing for a lap dog for years—something along the lines of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – I didn't get that, instead I got Soldier. Never mind my lap dog weighs 76 pounds, he is still the only dog we've had who loves to be petted, hugged and kissed.

I love to kiss his ears and he loves it so much that after a while, he burps! I've never known a dog to burp from sheer pleasure before.

I always wanted a yellow dog. I read somewhere that it's the most common color of mixed breed dogs all over the world. I also wanted a lap dog and now I have both. And Soldier has a good home, a nice loveseat to sleep on, lots of love, food, hugs and kisses and if that's not something to burp about…..

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bragging Alert!

I've been on a mission for the past week: To cut back the, by now, ridiculously high weeds and grass on the southwest side of the house. When Rachael was here, she did most of the front yard and a section by the road before the lawnmower ran out of juice. I don't know what I would have done without her help. My husband will be here this weekend and I hope he can do some weed whacking at the back of the house while he is here. He has no idea of what I have accomplished this week, but I'll tell him before he comes up. It was one of those things where I thought he wouldn't want me to do anything for fear I would hurt my shoulder or ruin the healing process. Or he would worry.
Last week, I saw a reminder in the local paper:
This said that on June 9, the county fire department would begin their checks of rural properties for compliance with fire safety standards. It also said that altitudes above 4,000 feet were not critical on June 9, so they would start checking at the lower elevations. (We are at 4,141 feet per Google Earth)
(California fire safety standards require that rural lots are mowed to stubble within 30 feet of a home and that fuel matter is reduced for the next 70 feet. Tree limbs should be cut to four to six feet from the ground.)
Looking at my yard on June 9, this is a small portion of what I saw. The grass definitely had started to turn yellow.
No stubble here. With no help in sight, I decided to charge up my electric lawnmower and see what I could do.
This good old Craftsman and I worked for about half an hour most mornings this past week, cutting back the tall weeds, something I had thought I perhaps couldn't/shouldn't do with my broken shoulder. But I love to mow and had been itching to get out there. So I thought I would try…doing a little and resting a lot. I used my right arm and my stomach to push and it went OK.
By June 15, I had cleared 30 feet and more, maybe 50 feet of the very tall weeds on the southwest side of the house and mowed the shorter grass in the front yard that Rachael mowed when she was up here.
I took these pictures in the evening because the shadows were so strong in the morning. Looking at all that I did, made me feel both satisfied and proud…hence the bragging alert of the post title. Yeah! I did all that, kind of thing! It hasn't hurt me physically and it certainly has given me peace of mind. I'm not afraid of anything here, except fires. (And, of course, my new fear of tripping over dogs.)
This area of the front yard still needs to be mowed. Then it's on to the back, where, thankfully, the grass and weeds are not as bad and thick as these.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Spa Day -- Sort Of -- Mostly Brushing

Hello Everyone, it's me, Princess!

Before I tell you about our spa day, mommy and me want to welcome a new follower to our blog: The Cottage Garden Farmer.
We found out that we were going to have a spa day yesterday. You never know exactly what that means. If it's just a brushing, it's fine with us dogs.
But none of us likes a bath and when we saw all the stuff mommy took out, we got a little worried.  We don't like to get our ears cleaned with this stuff even if we can hear better afterwards. And we're all scared of our pedicures.
Look at Angel; she's trying to hide all her paws! And doesn't she have a worried face?

Yesterday mommy gave each one of us a good brushing. Then she wiped us off with some nice smelling doggie towels. That felt very good. She told me I was the dirtiest dog of all – I bet that's because I just LOVE to ROLL: in the snow, in the grass, and, I must confess, in the dirt too. Here I am, rolling in the snow:

I like rolling in the snow the best!

We also got our ears cleaned, but then mommy got tired and said she would do our nails later. She said she had to go and take a shower and brush herself too. I wonder why she thinks she needs a brushing; she doesn't have any fur, except for that long hair she needs to get cut. Us dogs never quite understand what our persons are doing most of the time.
So she disappeared in the bathroom and was gone a long time. When she came out, she was rosy all over and smelled real good. But she wasn't done, she brought out a towel and put a basin of warm water on it and said she had to soak her feet. That always looks so nice and I wonder why us dogs don't get to soak our paws. I heard that Martha Stewart's dogs have to soak their paws before they are even allowed in the house. I bet you Martha Stewart has a cleaner house than mommy does.
Then mommy brought this out. Oh, I've had my eyes on that orangey/red nail polish for the longest time. I think it would go so well with my black fur, don't you? I guess mommy may put some on me if I agree to have my pedicure without fuss. I have to think about that.

This time mommy just put on clear nail polish and after that our spa day was over.

Thanks for visiting – we all hope to see you here soon again!

Posted by me, Princess!


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