Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tuesday's Treasures & Things

A couple of notes before I get to the treasure for this Tuesday. First I would like to thank all of you for your comments on my remembrance of Princess. As I wrote it, I realized again what a really special dog she was. Your kind words meant so much to me, thank you very much for caring.

Then I would like to welcome four new followers to my blog: Lootielou, Jeff, Kim at Golden Pines, and Tone. I am looking forward to getting to know you all better.

One more: I am freezing cold this morning and I love it, love it, love it!  My yard is full of California Quail, pecking away and life is good here in the canyon.

This is my father's mother as a child. She doesn't look very happy to have her picture taken. She was born in 1882 -- I don't know how old she is here, maybe eight?  So this photo must be about 120 years old!  I actually have photos of family gatherings with her father in them somewhere. I have to find these treasures, they are here somewhere.

My grandmother lived to be nearly 90 years old, so I knew her well. She was a very controlling woman, but she had a lot of responsibility placed on her when she was very young and I believe that's why she became that way. Her own mother passed away at a young age and left many children for my grandmother, who was the eldest, to raise. My grandmother was one of those phenomenal women who could do everything within the domestic realm. She was a great cook and she could embroider like no-one else. I have a few of her tablecloths with the finest embroidery that looks as good on the back as it does on the front. And everything is trimmed with lace that she also made. She was an expert seamstress who made all her own dresses. Of course that's all they wore, the women back then, dresses.

My grandfather was the sweestest man. He lived to be 90 also, so they spent all these years together and she would always nag him and nag him. I think she should have been happy to have such a kind man for a husband, but I doubt she was. I know my mother wasn't very fond of her either, as she probably tried to control her son, my dad, and by extension my mom and our lives. But she was very good to her grandchildren -- oh, the candy she would bring when she came to visit. I had a lot of respect for her and I was, and still am, in awe of all that she could do.

These are a few pieces from her everyday dishes that I brought back here. They are from the former Czechoslovakia. As I remember, many sets of dishes that we used in Sweden came from there.

Thanks for visiting and have a nice day!

Monday, August 30, 2010

This is For Linda in Memory of Benjamin, a Sweet Donkey

"Watch two old burros standing together quietly and you will know the true meaning of friendship."  By Inger W.

It is Sunday morning as I write this and I just found out that Benjamin has died. Benjamin is the donkey in the picture and I think he was just adorable. This is sort of strange because I never met Benjamin and yet I am so very sad to find out about his passing.

I have come to care a lot about him and his donkey best friend in the past year. When their previous owner passed away suddenly, I was worried about the donkeys. They had just found each other and became best friends right away. I wrote the above quote a couple of years ago after getting to know donkeys and noticing how attached they would sometimes get to a companion donkey. Since you can't explain to them why they can no longer be together, I hoped and prayed that someone would take in both Benjamin and his best friend.

And this wonderful woman did and I thought that now they could both live together, happily, ever after. I thought these two would be friends for a long time to come. Sadly, that was not to be and my heart goes out both to the donkey left behind and to Linda, the woman who adopted Benjamin and his friend. Linda cared so much for Benjamin, she has worried about him since his surgery, hoping, praying, and asking all of her friends to pray for his recovery. And that's how I came to know Benjamin better. For the past week, I have prayed for him and I have thought about him all the time and now that he is gone I'm really sad.

I heard that the little donkey that was Benjamin's best friend may have bonded to one of Linda's horses. I hope so because he has been through so many changes in recent years and deserves to settle down and enjoy his life.

Linda, I am so sorry for your loss and I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. I know how much you loved Benjamin. I also know that he loved you very much and knew you wanted only the best for him.

Your friend, Inger

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Remembering Our Princess

Princess found my husband at our house here in the canyon in February 2006. She was five or six years old. And she was starving and worn out. For some reason my husband did not, as we had always done, look for an owner. Intuition, yes, because we later found out she had belonged to a crystal meth addict who had left her alone and gone away for two weeks at Christmas. So Princess had in effect spent six weeks in the hills around here. Many people had seen her, but no one had taken her in.

It's too painful for me to share recent pictures. In March of 2006, my husband took a series of photos of her as they were hiking on our land. On the ones that follow, he is down below what we call the waterfall (and it would be one if there were ever enough rain) and she is on top. At first she is trying to figure out how to get down, then she gives up on that and sits down, giving him some interesting and I think beautiful shadow photos. I'm placing them in-between the text.

When Bandit was lost in the hills and we searched and searched, my husband finally had the idea to bring Princess to where we last saw Bandit. Without training, she understood what she was supposed to do. She took off in a totally different direction, ran up a hill and down on the other side, out of sight, came back up and stood at the top, wagging her tail. Bandit was on the other side and we got him.

Another time, I left her outside while I went into the house for a minute. When I came out, she was gone. Then I heard a horrible sound from the fields. Wild animals were killing something, and it was not a rabbit, probably a dog. I feared for Princess as I grabbed some "weapon" and ran to the fields, calling her name. She didn't come. When I arrived at the fields, the horrible sound had ended, and there came Princess, looking like she had rolled in the dirt. Her coat was covered with dirt. She was uninjured but really shook up. Of course I don't know for sure what happened. I believe that coyotes were killing a dog and that Princess ran to investigate, if not help. I don't know if dogs think they are going to help, but she was like that.

You can read about how she stopped Samson from running away and tried to keep up with Soldier when my husband dropped his leash and he took off here.

And whenever Angel drifted too far away, Princess would always go and get her and herd her home. She was such a wonderful dog, my Princess.

In her everyday life, she always came with me when I worked outside. She would find a shady spot and lie down and watch out for me. When we went hiking in the hills, she would run in front. Sometimes, she would see a rabbit and be off on a chase.

And how she loved winter and snow. First thing she would do if there was any snow, she'd bury her face in it, make a long furrow, and then roll and roll in the snow. She had so much fun in the snow. Just like her mom, she loved winter and snow the best. After the snow melted, I would take her looking for snow and when we found some on the shady side of a juniper, she would try to roll in whatever was left.

I know she was happy here with us. She is the one dog that has lived with me that I know had the right kind of doggie life. Not tied up, no leashes, just running free on the mountain, doing her good deeds, and helping out always. And she was so obedient. In the summer, worried about snake encounters, I would say, "Stay on the road Princess," and she would come back and stay on the road. I never taught her this; she just knew what I wanted.

I think she was a good little dog blogger too and I know she enjoyed speaking her mind very much. I particularly enjoyed her post about her vet visit on May 1, this year. The one where the very large dog fell for her and drooled all over her. She was not pleased. You can read about it here.

Dear Princess, Daddy says goodbye and wants you to know that he will miss you always. You were his best friend when he worked on the house here and there were many a night when you kept him warm as you both slept on the cold concrete floor. He will always remember how you shared everything that winter, the long walks, the cookies, the food, and how much you both enjoyed playing fetch with the sticks. He loves you, sweet Princess. Angel and Soldier miss you too. You were their best friend and always kept them safe and they know it. Samson says he liked to kiss you so much and he will miss you too. Pippi Birdie isn't saying much, but then, you know, he is just a little bird.

Goodbye, my sweet Princess, Mommy will always love you. And I will never forget what a very good girl you always were.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Snake Encounter, Bobcat Sighting -- Never a Boring Moment Here Lately

I wasn't going to blog this morning, but I've had some adventures. Here they are:

My husband and I have always said that when you least expect it you will run into a rattlesnake. Sure enough, I haven't seen one all summer long and had more or less forgotten about them. Then yesterday evening at sunset, I let the dogs out in their "snake proof" enclosure.

I see Angel, carefully tip-toeing toward something (she's not one to rush anything, thank God) as she started to bend her head to sniff, I realize it's a snake that looks like a rattlesnake, so I yell at her to stop. I have trained them to stop and this time she obeys and tip toes away.

Soldier, on the other hand, has missed his walks so much this summer that he developed a new hobby: Killing any critters he can get a hold of. I guess he feels a dog has to have some fun. He is right behind Angel when the snake lets out a big hiss and he sees it. I yell stop, he stops, but can't contain himself and starts again. I run about 15 feet in 0 time, grab his tail with my bad hand and arm and his collar with my right hand, and with my injured arm and my right, not so good arm, I get super strong from adrenaline and I lift and drag this 77 lb dog into the house, losing my slipper in the process.

Since I don't know if Angel got bitten, I grab my Benadryl that I keep for situations like this and shove three of them down her throat. I look her over and think she is OK, but I start with the three. I try to remember how long it took for Bandit to show symptoms when he was bitten, but my adrenaline is pumping and I can't remember.

So I go out to deal with the snake. In the four years I have lived here, I have never had to kill a rattlesnake. I have been able to lift them up on a shovel and carry them out on the land and release them. The light shovel was in the shed yesterday and I didn't feel comfortable leaving the snake to go and get it as it was getting dark and Samson has dug so many holes for a snake to hide in. Feeling threatened, the snake was getting aggressive, and I felt I had to kill it. I could barely lift the heavy shovel that was out there and I know I never would have been able to lift that snake and carry it anywhere. I hated to have to do this. I absolutely hated to have to kill it.

When the snake was dead, I realized I only had one slipper on. What an idiot one can be, barefoot with a rattlesnake! I put my boots on and tried to put the dead snake on the shovel to carry it into our field, but I couldn't lift it. I hate to have become so old and weak too this summer. I finally just had to drop the snake in the yard and deal with it this morning.

I'm not going to show you the photos of the dead snake. Instead, look at this critter:

I looked out the window early this morning and saw a bobcat come wandering across my yard. It settled down only partly in view behind my picnic table. (Oh, these wild critters, don't they know I want their picture? They never cooperate, that's for sure.) I waited a long time and then it saw something and crouched and jumped.

I don't think it caught anything but I got a snippet of a picture that I enlarged. Taken through my window, I think it gives a rather impressionistic view of the cat in action.

When it started to leave, I ran out my front door. It heard me and turned around for a moment, then went on its way.

Being a cat it just sauntered off, didn't run, didn't look scared, just nonchalantly went on its way and disappeared behind a juniper tree.

This is a Stink Beetle, there are two kinds, I don't know which one this is. It has an interesting defense mechanism, I wanted to show you. Since the bug my friend AJ-Oaks blogged about on her blog A Little Farm With A Big Heart  waited for her to get her camera, I told this bug to wait too, and it did. Then I sort of poked it a little and it went into its defensive position and let out the stinky stuff.

After I got my picture, I put the shovel back in the shed and went in the house. When I came out a while later, the bug was still on its head, which made me feel bad. I had to laugh at myself, but I really felt bad I had disturbed it. After a while though it got down and went on its way.

So not a boring moment these last few days.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Rain, Wind and Thunder in the Canyon

Yesterday, the rains finally came (first rain since May) accompanied by ferocious winds, thunder, lightning,  and even a fire.

My empty trashcans were tossed around together with lids and tumbleweeds.

Yes, that's another fire in the middle of the picture. It was soon extinguished. And isn't it weird that with all that rain, the sky was still blue on one side of the house?

I knew this morning would be fresh and glorious, so I grabbed my dog and my camera and set out for the mail boxes. There are always puddles here after it rains or snows.

No water in the creek.

Just a lot of mustard tumble weeds.

Angel enjoyed her walk.

While I enjoyed the fresh, green of the rabbit brush.

And the mountain views. I see Angel's ears sticking up in the lower left corner. How funny!

Somethng was wrong with my Blogger this morning. I tried it in Explorer and in AOL and it took me forever to put this blog together. I'm going to do some maintenance this afternoon. So if I don't have time to visit your blogs, it's because my computer is acting up.

Have a great day!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

This, That and a HEATWAVE!

I'm sure all of you who blog have noticed that blogging makes us more aware, more present. Haven't you? I checked out one of my new follower's blogs and he asked the question: Why Do You Blog? a few posts away. There are many reason why I blog, but what I really like about blogging is that it makes me more present in my life. I see so much more in nature, in the way my dogs live their lives, in the books I read, and I was going to say in my baking/cooking, but in all honesty, not quite yet. But even there, I think blogging will help me.

Yesterday, I went to my BIL's place to do some more laundry and I also managed some visiting and shopping in the heat. As I drove home, I saw clouds! I haven't seen many clouds since those magnificent red ones I posted on my blog in early June. But yesterday, I saw the prettiest, puffy, white clouds all around the mountains.

Here are some other things that caught my attention yesterday:

My BIL's garden shed. The former owner of this house was an artist, who loved bird houses. There is a whole town of bird houses on all three sides of their fence with cute names painted on them, like: The Library: Where Owls Get Wise. Here are some others:

This is the jail, so of course the plaque says Jail Birds.

At 11:00 in the morning, it was already 100F/38C in the garden. Butterflies were the only wildlife to be seen. No birds, no ground squirrels, nothing – all the smart critters took a break from the heat. And so did I. After I took a few pictures and picked a few apples, I hurried back into the cool house.

All in all, I had a good day: Got some laundry done, went to see my girlfriend and Suki, the Shih Tzu, her dog, at the dentist's office. Suki, by the way, was very busy with a guy waiting to see the dentist and totally ignored me. But before I left she rolled over and let me scratch her tummy. She's so cute that little dog.

When I got home, I had to take some cloud pictures.

In the evening, I heard thunder rolling through the hills, my power went off, and I went outside to see what was going on. The clouds had changed color and character to this:

The wind was blowing like crazy, stirring up the mustard tumble weeds and making them fly all around with my trash can lids and other loose stuff. There was thunder and lightning, but only about two drops of rain fell around my place.

But it cooled off fast and smelled as if it had rained. A much needed and appreciated break after the hot day.

Angel and Soldier barking at the thunder.

I don't like thunder storms without rain and, sure enough, lightning must have struck somewhere, not too far away:

Or something else could have happened to start a fire. This one didn't look bad and it was put out right away.

At 7:45 p.m., the sky looked like this as the sun set and the temperature was a cool 82F.

Phew! What a day!

We'll have another hot day today, but by Sunday it's supposed to be around 68F during the day according to Weather.com! That doesn't seem possible, but I'll enjoy any cooling off we get. Then it will get warm again, but I hope for no more heatwaves like this one until next year.

Thanks for visiting and have a great day!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wednesday's Books

First let me welcome Chicken Underwear and THE OLD GEEZER, two new followers of my blog.

Second: So far in Wednesday's Books, I have only written about the books I read while I recovered from my fall in the beginning of May. These are not my all time favorite books, those you can see in my Profile. I have several more of my recovery period books to write about, after that, I'll find others. There's never a shortage of books around here. Except for right now, maybe, I have to check my bookcase again. The Brothers Karamazov loom in my mind, but they will have to get out of that monestary before I pick that one up again.

Standing in the Rainbow
By Fannie Flagg

I read Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop CafĂ© by Fannie Flagg a long time ago and saw the film when it first came out. I liked both a lot so I read the other couple of books written by her at the time. This one, I never got around to and it's another one that's been sitting in my bookcase for years. This book was a perfect read while I was recovering from my fall. I laughed a lot – out loud even! Fanny Flagg presents an America in this book that never really existed or certainly never existed for everyone: The Andy Griffith, Beaver Cleaver town and era. Most of the best part of the book covers life in a small town in America in the 1940s and 50s. A town where most everyone is the same, shares the same beliefs, and has a white picket fence. But in the midst of all this, the most unusual, zany, weird, interesting, and hilarious characters appear. A well-written and very funny account of life in small-town America.

Standing in the Rainbow also took me back to my own childhood. It starts in 1946, Truman is president and the war has just ended. In 1946 I was six years old and my world was also all the same. I lived in a suburb of Stockholm, we had a lovely garden where everything you could imagine grew, from gooseberries, currants, raspberries, potatoes, beets, lettuce, apples, pears, plums, even peaches to gorgeous flowers. It was safe for kids to wander and play wherever we wanted, no adults were necessary, there were no play dates, no adult supervision, everyone just played with each other in each other's yards. There were animals: hamsters, guinea pigs, and dogs everywhere. And one felt safe, so very safe. I remember only one fear: Polio.

As I grew up, I learned, as we all do that bad things happen, tragedies happen, and there can be very bad people living in the midst of all that peaceful sameness.

But in 1946, as far as I knew, I lived in a perfect world. And that was the feeling I got from this book -- it brought me back to that time. Standing in a rainbow I think means we can all let ourselves feel good about life. I for one am immensely grateful for my safe childhood that allowed me to grow up unafraid of life and people.

Have a great Wednesday everyone -- I'm off to my BIL's house now, hoping to see some more wildlife while I do my laundry.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Tuesday's Treasures & Things

I clicked the wrong button, so this got published as a very early Tuesday edition of Treasures & Things!

This is a fruit platter that my parents got as a wedding gift. The set included four platters, like this one, and a very large fruit bowl with the same motif. Because it was so heavy, I didn't bring the bowl with me back to the US after my mom passed away. But I have no regrets about leaving things behind. These used to sit on the wall above our fireplace in my childhood home and looking at them brings back memories. And that's all I need, a few things to remember by. I turned these platters over today and saw that they were hand painted, numbered, signed and produced at the Swedish porcelain factory, Rorstrand.

I have a beautiful photo of my mother as a young woman and I looked for it today, but couldn't find it anywhere. I wanted to post it with these treasures. I really have to start cleaning up my house and getting rid of stuff and locating missing items. The To Do List is growing in my mind!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Samson Goes to Venice Beach

Samson sent me this. Since he doesn't know how to use a camera and I wasn't with him, there will be no beach pictures. So you just have to imagine what Samson saw at Venice Beach. Trust me, those of you who have never been there, it's out of this world, and perhaps a bit much for a young dog to absorb.

Samson Says:

Hi Mommy,

The other day, Daddy said: "Let me take you to a special place where I used to hang out when I was young, back in the '60s." Well, I didn't know what all that meant, but I'm always up for a trip and some fun!

So we came to this place and it was crowded! And LOUD!! And the people! Boy, they sure looked funny, strange, and weird. Some guys had painted bodies, some had huge muscles, and others had rings in their noses and hair down to their midriffs. Oh, and the girls! Most of them had next to NO clothes on. And, yes, Daddy was looking! Me too! There were lots of dogs, all kinds of dogs, some had clothes on! In the heat! Some had their claws painted all kinds of colors and rhinestone collars that glittered in the sun. And there were places all along where they sold all kinds of stuff and played very, very loud music. It was sooo loud, Mommy; I don't think you would have like this place very much.

Then Daddy said, come, let's go and look at the water. So he took me across all this sand, it was hot and nasty and got in my fur. Finally, we got to the water, but it wasn't like the water in your little pool, Mommy. I mean it wasn't safe water that you could just puddle along in like this:

It came in fast and big and then it went out again and came back again. All these kids were out there on big boards, looking like they, at least, were having a good time. And if you tried to drink this strange water, it was very salty. Daddy said: This is the big Pacific Ocean, Samson, isn't it beautiful?

Then some kind of police came and told Daddy I wasn't allowed by the water. I thought: Good, get me out of here! So we left the water and walked back to the car.

Boy, was I one happy dog when we finally got home. It was a very long day for me at this strange place, called Venice Beach!


Just wanted to let you know, Mommy,

Love, Hugs, and Kisses,

Your Samson

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Diabetes Meeting Inspires Me To Do Yard Work

On Thursday, I went to the diabetes support group meeting in town. This time, Eve, our diabetes educator, covered the American Association of Diabetes Educators 2010 Convention.

For those of you new to my blog, I've had type 1 diabetes since I was 49 years old. It's more common that children and young adults get it, but adult onset happens. Only about 10% of all people with diabetes have type 1. Most people have type 2.

We talked about heart disease, one of the many complications of diabetes. Whether we have diabetes or not, I think we all know what we need to eat and how much to help prevent heart disease. So I will only mention these two recommendations: Meditation (prayers count) for five minutes twice daily and exercise for 150 minutes per week.

Eve also reported on recommendations that the Cleveland Clinic made to their employees. These included meditation, dietary changes, and exercise, starting with 100 minutes of movement a day that should include 30 minutes of walking. And then build up from there.

Since I just hate the word exercise, I really liked the word MOVEMENT. It has such a nice ring to it. I know I have been unwell and spent far too much time sitting right here, at the computer, writing, blogging, reading blogs and so on. So movement interested me and this morning I decided to keep track of how much I move right now. Of course that made me move MORE, but that's a good thing.

In future Diabetes Support Group meetings we will cover:

Eating Healthy on a Budget
Merits of the Mediterranean Diet
Let's get Physical

I'm looking forward to all of those.

Of all the products that were displayed at the convention, the coolest one, as far as I'm concerned, was an insulin syringe with a retracting needle. Since it's illegal to dump sharps as regular trash, this would make life easier for people who use syringes. They will no longer have to worry about disposing of their needles safely and lawfully in special containers at special sites and so on.

The weirdest (to me) was something called OraMoist – A New Approach to Dry Mouth, Now Available at Walgreen's! So a moisturizer for the inside of your mouth. Hopefully, we will all continue to drink water and remember that thirst and a dry mouth are warning signs of high blood sugars. I guess, to be fair, there may be some who suffer from chronic dry mouth that would be helped by this product.

This morning, I felt motivated to move, so this is what happened:

Starting at 7:15 a.m., I walked Angel to the mailbox to put a letter in for the mail carrier to pick up. We ran into our neighbor on the road and chatted for a few minutes while being eyed suspiciously by his steer. Total time back and forth: 20 minutes.

Back home I cleaned the dog enclosure, did three minutes on the exercise bike, and then decided to rake some of the grass cuttings that were left after Rachael and I mowed the grass/weeds earlier in the summer. Using my bad arm, I figured it would be a good way to help strengthen it.

Yes, I know: This is the smallest stack of hay you ever saw! But I did it using both arms. It will be slow going until I get stronger.

Another thing that has been getting on my nerves outside: All the branches sprouting at the bottom of this tree.

So I went to the shed and got the proper tool, whatever they are called escapes me right now. And started cutting….

Oh boy, using that tool really, really hurt, but I got the thicker branches cut. And no pain, no gain, so I figure I can count that as part of my shoulder exercises for today. Tomorrow, I'll get the rest with a regular pair of scissors. So that was my morning and my score:

Movement: 105 minutes, of which 15 was walking, and 3 were on the exercise bike. So I guess I can sit here for the rest of the day, reading blogs (just kidding)!

I hope you all have a great day!


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