Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wednesday's Book

A Cat's Life: Dulcy’s Story
As given to Dee Ready

     After 17 years together, a woman’s beloved cat dies. Then, in the midst of her sorrow, the woman hears her cat’s voice and realizes that her cat is giving her a precious gift: Her life’s story. The cat is Dulcy, the woman is Dee Ready, a wonderful writer, who also knows how to listen carefully to what Dulcy has to say about her life and their time together here on earth.
     I have read books every day since I learned to read back in the 1940s, but I have never read a book that touched my heart the way Dulcy’s Story did. Many cats have shared their lives with me and I have loved them the most, the best, and I miss them so. I know how cats are, some of what they may think, why they do some of the things they do, but then, of course, they keep so much to themselves and remain mysterious, always.
     The story of Dulcy’s life was truly given to her human. There is no doubt in my mind. I was deeply touched by her story of their life together, their ups and downs, their misunderstandings, and most of all their love for each other. I started to cry as Dulcy got old and I kept crying, wiping my glasses, putting them back on, crying some more, and on and on for the last 40 pages or so. And I didn’t cry because it was sad. I didn’t cry because it reminded me of all my cats that have passed on. I cried because I felt overwhelmed by the love contained in this slim book. This is a love story like no other --  it is a wonderful book. One of the best I have ever read.
     Dulcy left a remarkable legacy and Dee Ready was able to capture it in words. I will treasure this book forever.

About the Author:
     Dee Ready is a fellow blogger whose blog my friend Fran, AKA fishducky, discovered. I guess they wrote back and forth for a while. Then Dee sent Fran some copies of the book and Fran then sent one to me. I am so grateful, thank you Fran. Unfortunately this book is not available in print, but it is my understanding that Dee will publish it as an e-book on amazon. 
     Dee spent some time in a convent when she was young and right now she is writing about her experiences there in her blog. It is very interesting reading, please look her up here.

Tuesday's Treasures & Things

There are several treasures in this photo from the winter of 2008/2009. Soldier is, of course, my most beloved treasure here, but there are others. The wool sweater that my friend Carol knitted and gave to me when I first moved to the ranch has kept me warm for the past five years. I wear it practically every winter's day and it looks just as nice and is just as warm as when I first got it. A true treasure to keep me warm. Thank you, Carol.

The brown thing made with circles that I hung on the lamp shade is very pretty. I don't really know what it is. It comes from Chile and was a gift from Eve, our wonderful diabetes educator, who holds the diabetes support group meetings every month. Her daughter lives in Chile and after she visits her she brings gifts to all of us in the group. I treasure Eve and I'm so grateful for what she does for the people who suffer from diabetes in our small town. And that's why I treasure this pretty thing. Whatever it is.

Finally, you may know that I don't like to shop at all. With two exceptions, thrift shops and book stores. One day, I walked into one of the thrift shops in town and, as I was browsing, I came upon the afghan that is on the back of the couch in the picture. It's huge, folded in half here with some of it hanging behind the couch. In the store it was rolled into one large bundle. I looked at the price: $8.00! I got it, I love it, it hangs like that over the back of the couch in the winter. If I get cold or sleepy watching TV while on the couch, I just pull it down and wrap it around me and get cozy. Best thing I ever bought for such a small amount of money.

I hope you all will have a really nice day.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Canyon Morning

Sunday morning we got bored with walking on the road and took off for the hills. 

We followed a gully for a while, then climbed above it. 

The weather was warm with sun and a clear blue sky interrupted by a jet that we saw, but didn't hear.

We saw bear tracks, but the pictures didn't come out well, so I leave them for now. Rocks and junipers were everywhere, of course.

Soldier waited impatiently behind bars at home. I took him for another walk around the house. A bit further than last time and I noticed that he now moves his hind legs in a more normal fashion. I think he will be a special needs dog now and we have to be careful with him, not overdo anything and make sure he rests. But he is really doing very, very well. Thanks for all the good thoughts you sent his way. I know it helped him.

California dreaming on a winter's day! Indeed, when you don't have the electric dryer you need, it's great to live where you can hang laundry on the line all year round and it actually dries even in winter or late fall, like today.

While I did that, my hubby prepared brunch for us. This is an old picture, today he had a hamburger and I had eggs, grits, and toast with marmalade. I didn't notice the huge holes in the pepper shaker he used, so I drowned my grits in pepper, had a giggle fit, hubby got annoyed (he takes his cooking seriously), which made me giggle worse, so I forgot to take a picture of today's meal. Once I calmed down and removed the pepper it was really delicious. So that was our Sunday morning here in the canyon. Hope you all had a nice weekend.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Morning Reflections

Evening in the canyon.

Nor rural sights alone, but rural sounds,
Exhilarate the spirit, and restore
The tone of languid nature.
~William Cowper

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Welcome Follower 200 -- In The Riff

When I first started my blog a few friends signed up to follow it. Then Barbee was the very first fellow blogger to decide to follow my blog. I was so excited to have been discovered. But then nothing happened and I was stuck on 13 followers for the longest time. This was indeed an unlucky number for me. I was wondering if anyone would ever read my blog or discover it. Or was I perhaps too non-specific, too all over the place, too eclectic? But then people found me and I found them and friendships began to grow and now I know I have some real friends out there, friends that I have never met, but who I have touched and who have touched me. 

One of the most fun things for me has been the very wide variety of people who are following my blog. People from all over the world, at latest count from 91 different countries. I now read about the lives of people from Namibia to Norway! I see the most beautiful photos of places I have never heard of. I read about adventures, journeys, and everyday lives. And I learn and grow from reading these blogs. It has been a great journey for me too. No wonder I love it so much!

For a while now I have wondered who follower number 200 might be. 200 followers, that's pretty huge for me. And now I just found out, and it doesn't get much better than this in terms of being all over the place. Follower number 200 has a blog about music as you will see from the name In The Riff. In Spanish, which I sort of understand, but can't speak, it is a blog about young people and their music. I love it! I'm honored and I want to extend a warm welcome to In The Riff: 

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Remarkable Sunset In Northern Norway and Down By The Creek Here In The Canyon

Nordis, one of my Norwegian blogger friends, has a photo blog where she posts beautiful pictures of Norway, one of the most gorgeous countries on earth. On November 20th, the sun set on her part of the world for the last time in 2011. The sun will return once again on January 20, 2012. Please visit her blog and see the remarkable photos of that last sunset. And then imagine living without the sun for two whole months.


We stayed home for Thanksgiving and ate chicken. We'll have turkey for Christmas and since it was just the two of us and our four-footed friends, a turkey seemed like a lot to eat. Four-footed friends in disagreement with this.

The creek is dry right now, but water gushes through here after the winter rains/snow.

Today, we are doing something we have never done before: Going Black Friday shopping at K-Mart for a toaster oven. I have no idea what kind of experience awaits us.

The dry, yellow twigs are what's left over of the mustard tumble weeds. All through fall they tumble around, spreading their seeds, and getting stuck in fences, under cars, and so on.

I went on amazon.com this morning and shopped for books for myself and for some Christmas presents for my hubby and also for Rachael, who is coming for Christmas dinner with us, using up the rest of my gift certificate and few dollars. (I just love these gift certificates of $100 we get from the University of California for completing, participating in, and learning about our health in their annual health surveys. Go UC!) I got two books by authors I met during the April A to Z Challenge and I'm really looking forward to reading them. 

Only this time of year does one understand why these bushes are called Gray Rabbit Brush. Oh, no, one really does not. Only the gray does one get. Rabbit, I have no idea and why call a bush a brush? I could go on and on about this thing called the English language. 

When we go to K-Mart (the only all-around store available in our town) I want to pick up winter hats for me and my hubby. He's lost his and I need one that covers my ears without popping up on top of my head, making me look like.....well, I don't know what. Not that anyone ever sees me here, except hubby, but I don't want to go completely to the dogs. (Samson Says: What do you mean? Going to the dogs! All persons should hope they'd be so lucky!)

This photo shows the dry creek meandering through the dry and wintry fields.

Thinking about winter hats brought back some memories, all of a sudden, of hats, warm, fluffy ones that I owned in the past. In the very distant past and then got rid of when I lived in Southern California. Same as all those great woolen sweaters that I thought I would never need again. May there be something to be said for hoarders of old stuff? Phew, I hope not. But I still miss the stuff now that I thought about it and only have K-Mart for convenient shopping.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today, I am grateful for my husband, Angel, Soldier, Samson and Pippi Birdie, our family and friends.
Today, I will think of my close friends who have helped me so much during the past somewhat difficult year and a half. I am so grateful for all you have done to help me. 
Today, I am also thinking with love and gratitude of all my blogger friends who have done the same. 
I wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Soldier Marches Again

I took Soldier for a walk around the house this morning. A wider circle around than last time and he did really well. Here he's dragging me toward the road, wanting to march on and on.

Samson was happy to see him and check him out.

But not so fond of being checked out -- 

Samson's sensitive about his top dog status.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Samson's Complaints and My Updates on Soldier and Me

Me: Good morning, Samson. How are you today?
Samson: Bored!
Me: You look angry, are you?
Samson: Well, I guess you forgot about us? Me, I need grooming, like every day, OK. See the mess behind my ears, hairs all stuck together. This will be painful once you get around to it. If ever! I could file for fur neglect. 

Samson: Then my breed, the proud and sweet Samoyed, was meant to roam the tundra, back there in Siberia. You forgot that, didn't you? Herding and guarding reindeer. I've never even seen a reindeer. All I get to do is go out in the rain and do my business and come right back in again. I'm not even being taken on my boring, boring walk to the mail box any more. I'm whining now, like Soldier, I know. 

Me: OK, Samson, I'm sorry, I really am. Now, let me tell you what's been going on:
On Friday, we went to Bakersfield to see an endodontist so I could get my root canal done. The actual work on my tooth was not bad, but we had to wait so long that I had to go and eat my lunch and then come back. All we could find was a McDonalds so I had probably the third McDonalds hamburger in my lifetime. Oh, well, desperate situations call for desperate measures.
Samson: Excuses, excuses, I bet I would love a hamburger, something I, of course, NEVER get. 
Me: Then the dentist sent me home with a prescription for antibiotics and also pain/anti-inflammatory medicine. No problem there, except I have to take 800 mg of Ibuprofin four times a day. You know how much that is?
Samson: No, but I see another excuse coming. I bet you'll say it's what has made you sooo tired you are totally unable to take us anywhere. Right?
Me: Yes, that's right, my mind is pretty much scrambled too and I feel really, really tired. 
Samson: So are you going to start to walk sideways, like Soldier? 
Me: You better be nice to Soldier. He's doing better and I'm cutting back on his medicines after talking to the vet the other day. I hope he'll be able to walk straight again, but he may never be.
Samson: Then what happens? Does he get to wear that fancy harness, he's so proud of, forever? I don't see me getting anything fancy to wear. Or all these snacks with medicine in them. Don't think I don't know. I know EVERYTHING that goes on around here.
Me: OK, so I guess that means you know you are whining now? Just like Gracie did and you told her off. See how easy it is to whine?
Samson: OK, you're right mommy. Sorry Gracie! I hope Bobbi lets you read this. I love you and I love my mommy and I will try to be more PATIENT!

Posted by mommy and Samson, the Samoyed Pup

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Morning Reflections

Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness. -- Seneca

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Angel Says: I Once Kissed a Cow and Now I Kissed a Donkey Too

Angel has always been the first to raise the alarm if necessary, but being a bit chicken, she will have one of our braver dogs take over and chase a potential threat away. Now it seems like she is working on overcoming her fears because earlier in the summer she marched right up to this cow and planted a big kiss on her nose.  I've never seen a cow jump up on all fours before, this one did, and her startled expression was priceless. 

Yesterday, beautiful white clouds hung low on the mountain and as I was taking cloud pictures, one of the old wild burros from the rescue came up to us. Angel has always kept away from the burros, something I encouraged because these two species usually don't get along. But what do I know? Here she just marched up and planted kiss on him too. This didn't seem to bother the burro, but Angel looked like -- did I just do that? And started barking.

This drew the attention of the rest of the herd and as they approached, ears up, Angel decided to retreat.

OK, she seemed to say to herself, enough of this, I'm averting my eyes and moving to the far side of the road, slowly, without losing face, of course. I am a German shepherd dog  after all.

Many of you asked about Soldier. Here he is yesterday. Soldier is the only dog we've ever had that whines. Being tied up to a dog house for the first seven years of his life, he learned how to whine and good for him, I'd say. And now he whines again. When he was really sick, he didn't. So whining means he is feeling better and wants some action, like a walk. There is nothing he likes better than his walks, something can't have now. But he wakes up cheerful, tail wagging. He eats as well as always, the second or maybe third thing he loves best. The other thing Soldier loves beyond words is his daddy. And he gets to spend time with him now, of course. I don't know if he is any better physically. The harness keeps him stable and he can now get up by himself when he sits down in that awkward position. I keep the harness on all the time, since I only use the front part and it doesn't bother him. I will call the vet today and will let you know more later. Thanks for your concern, we really appreciate it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuesday's Treasures & Things

When my husband moved up here for good in February, he brought with him two boxes of mine that I had forgotten about or assumed were here somewhere. My mother saved every letter I ever wrote, I think, and one box was full of my letters. The other box was full of old photos, mementos, and stories I wrote as a child. When I opened these treasures, I felt almost like I was in the attic of an old relative, recently dead, being tasked with going through what was left behind. I have some experience with this, and it wasn't a bad feeling, but it also didn't feel like this was really me, my stuff that I would leave behind -- or not.

Included in one of the boxes was what may well be my very first short story, written in the year 1948, when I was eight. Interestingly, most of my stories have to do with exploration, going far away, or in this instance deep into the forest. Just for fun, I will translate it here and by doing so, my very first short story will be published on the world wide web. Imagine that!
Little Lisa Little Anna
Little Lisa lived in a little red house by the edge of the forest. Anna was her best friend, she lived in a small cottage a bit into the forest. Anna and Lisa wanted to go a little bit further into the forest, but their mommies and daddies didn't want them to go very far into the forest because there could be very dangerous animals there that they perhaps would think were kind and perhaps they wouldn't come home to mommy and daddy and think how sad that would be if the little girls didn't come home in time for dinner and think if Lisa and Anna would never see mommy and daddy again.
The End. -- IB 1948.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Samson Is Upside Down

Samson Says:

What's going on here, why am I standing on my head? 

All I wanted was to go for a walk.

So I went in the closet and got all the stuff out for you, Mommy. See, Angel's in there too, so it wasn't just me. 
Mommy: Don't worry, Samson, it's just Blogger twisting my pictures around again.
Samson: OK, can we go now?

Posted by Samson, the Samoyed Pup

Sunday, November 13, 2011

For Sharon -- More Kindness to Share

This Sunday morning I'm still reflecting on the kindness of others and I want to share something I discovered yesterday. Many of you know Sharon, whose blog I Forget What I Forgot replaced her earlier blog about her life with, among others, her two dogs, Jack and Jill.

Sharon is disabled, she has to use oxygen to breath, she can no longer play much with Jack and Jill, but what she can do is think of others, be kind, thoughtful, caring, and loving. And she is funny too! I think Sharon is an exceptional woman of strength. 

Sharon likes rocks and no wonder, she is just as strong. Oh, how I wish she could see this place where rocks abound to make ramparts on top of hills and stand sentry to protect us all here in the canyon. 

When I last visited Sharon's blog, I noticed something in her left sidebar. Something I had not seen before: My Soldier's name! Then I read the rest and saw what this wonderful woman has done: She has, under the heading Please Send Love, noted the names people whose blogs she follows and who are seriously ill. Next follows another request: Send Puppy Love, and there it was: Riley and Soldier. No stoic Swede me, this brought tears to my eyes. So I wanted to let everyone know about Sharon and ask you to: Please Send Huge Amounts of Love and Hugs to her. 

Thank you, Sharon, for thinking of me. Sending lots of hugs and good wishes to you. And also to all the rest of you very kind humans who sent so much love and get well wishes to me.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Huge Thanks to Terry and David at Moondance Ranch

When Terry at Moondance Ranch in Colorado learned about Soldier's back problems, she offered to send a dog harness that she used for her dog Clifford after he had a stroke. Clifford has since gone over the Rainbow Bridge so Terry wanted to help Soldier with this gift. "She's an Earth Angel," my friend Rachael exclaimed when I shared this with her. Not  only that, but Terry's husband, David, took the packet with him to Denver and mailed it Express Mail (no less!) from there so it would reach us faster. And it did, it came on Wednesday. 

Look how great this harness is.

I opened the packet and inside was this top notch, best quality you could imagine, dog harness that looked perfectly new. Clifford was a larger dog than Soldier and I hoped the harness would fit. It's a size medium, the only size that would fit Soldier, and the front of the two-part harness fit perfectly. (It may look a bit loose in the photos, but this was just the beginning and we're adjusting it.) Then I realized something funny, or not: While Soldier has a powerful front, he has practically no rear end. So it would be difficult to fit the rear part, but in the end, as it turned out, it didn't matter at all.

Mommy didn't know you had such a small rear end, Soldier!

It may be a miracle, but the front end provides all the help that Soldier needs. If he gets in trouble while standing, we can grab the handle and lead him; if he sits down in that horrible position with his hind legs stuck underneath, it's very easy to get him up and moving again. Before we had to drag him and that was absolutely awful. I was worried he might break a leg or something. It looked that bad. 

I read the instructions, it fits me, and now I'm smiling again.

But best of all, he has not sat down like that since he's worn the harness. It stabilizes him, somehow. He walks better, he does not stumble around, and consequently does not fall down or sit down with his hind legs going in weird directions. I don't think he's done it once since I put the harness on. So the part that fits really works. 

Finally, our vet said that a harness would be the best help for Soldier and it will be. I am so grateful for this gift and Soldier and the rest of our family send thanks and lots of hugs to Terry and David at Moondance Ranch in Colorado.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Photos From Last Summer's Fires

Today, I will share some scary pictures of the smoke from  one of last summer's fires. I took these pictures when I didn't have a computer and I really wanted to share them at the time, but couldn't.

I think the pictures give you a sense of the power of nature.

This was the first of many fires in our country, caused by a small plane that crashed into a mountain. It was the one closest to our canyon, but we were not at risk.

Several people lost their homes in an area where it is difficult to get home insurance. So it was very tragic. Our town pitched in of course, as small towns always do, but still.

Sometime later in the summer, lightning caused some 50 fires in our county, mostly to the west of us. So, once again, we were safe. Firefighters had several command posts in town, making me feel safe. They are my heroes, for sure.

With the exception of that small dot, which must be from the flash, I really like this picture with the black smoke clouds on top, the setting sun in the middle, and then the contour of the hills. I exhale every year when it gets cold and wet in the canyon. And say a prayer of gratitude....

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wednesday's Book

Freedom, A Novel
by Jonathan Franzen

Much was written about this book when it first came out last year to great reviews. I read it a while ago and enjoyed it, but have since found myself unable to get enough of a grip on it to talk about it here. I read Jonathan Franzen's  earlier book, Corrections, also much loved by critics, but not by me. I could not relate to it at all. I looked up a few reviews on amazon.com and found that the average reader was not nearly as enthralled by either of these books as were the critics.

Freedom is a long novel that wanders all over the place as it follows the life of an American family, named Berglund – yes the husband, Walter,  is of Swedish descent, and much of the book takes place in Minnesota. A large part of the book describes his wife Patty as she strives for perfection early in her marriage. It covers her college years and later how she changes: Her regrets of what she perceives as missed opportunities, her anger and depression as the couple struggles with their family and their lives. Her husband changes too in ways that are difficult to understand. Also included is the story of the couple's son, which does not make sense, and to me does not add anything of value to the book. There are issues raised of mining,  evicting people from their land in order to blow tops off mountains, using a small bird and the threat of overpopulation as a sort of cover for this. At least that how I saw what happened. 

The book did something for me though: It helped me understand what freedom means to many Americans, something that I have never understood before. I will not get into the details of this new understanding here because the issues raised are complex and I want this to be a simple blog about country life. What this book does very well, I think, is to  remind the reader that freedom can be a burden and liberty brings temptations. 

If you are interested in reading this book, I suggest you go to amazon.com and read a few reviews first. I enjoyed the book very much, it gave me something to think about, but I found it to be not as great as the reviews I read in magazines last year.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesday's Treasures & Things

About yesterday's post: There have been black bears around the house before, but we haven't seen tracks for several years. Then my husband and Samson saw tracks in two different places in the past few weeks, so I was just curious, hoping to see tracks without bear.

Today's treasure grows everywhere in the canyon and I may have written about these trees in more detail earlier. Yesterday, I noticed this beautiful juniper full of huge, bright blue cones. So this will be my treasure for today.

Juniper berries are an attraction for both bears and coyotes. As you will see in my photos, there is an abundance of these hardy trees here in the canyon, most of them several hundred years old. Juniper trees are interesting: Although they look like bushes, they are trees; and their cones, which look like berries, are tiny cones in pretty blue covers.

Angel and I came upon this tree full of cones on our walk yesterday. We got a lot of rain last winter and the junipers perked up and turned from dusty greens to more vibrant colors. And as we saw here, the cones are huge and very healthy looking this year.  

It was 16 F here this morning. I'm so excited that winter is on its way!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Looking For Bear Tracks In The First Snow

Yesterday, we woke up to the first snow, which cheered me up no end. As soon as I realized that it was really snow, that white stuff, I was up and out the door. My husband, Angel and Samson followed.

They had spotted bear tracks and scat a couple of times, so I wanted to see where. It turns out it was very close to the house. We saw no fresh tracks, but someone large had slept under this juniper tree and matted down the grass,

which looked like this when untouched under a neighboring tree. So someone slept there and I for one was glad the critter had moved on. 

Beautiful colors of fall in the canyon. 

Lichen, moss, and snow on rocks.

The short view was pretty nice too and

the long view, magnificent.

Donkeys in the snow.

Back home, my husband fixed grits and eggs with left-over seafood for brunch.

Soldier was able to get up and go outside several times during the day. He negotiated all turns without that weak leg sliding underneath and making him sit down in an awkward position. And that, of course, was the best of all.


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