Friday, December 27, 2013

A Change of Scenery

I felt this picture would be appropriate for New Year's Eve. 

I'm still on my blogger vacation, just felt a need to retire tomtarna (the Santa goblins) to archives and change my header photo. 

We had a fun Christmas ~ I went out two nights in a row, which is a lot for me; slept almost an entire day, unheard of for me; and ate up all the truffles from the Harry and David gift tower our niece sent us. So we had fun and hope you did as well. 

I'm doing absolutely nothing (including reading blogs) until next week sometime, so I turned off comments. At least I think I did, there seems to be no box clearly stating "Turn Comments Off." 

Happy New Year from us in the Canyon!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year From The Canyon

In the past, I wrote posts about Swedish yuletide traditions this time of year. Today, I want to tell you about someone special in Swedish folklore instead, the tomte. He is in some ways similar to Santa, but he is also very different. This is his story, which I first told in the 2012 A to Z:

This plate shows a tomte taking care of the farmer's horse.

In olden days on each farm in Sweden, there lived a tomte. He was thought to be a small being, smaller than a person, and was usually old with a white beard. He lived under the house or in the barn and avoided human beings for the most part. His duty on the farm was to bring good luck to the farmer and to make sure that the humans treated their animals well. He was sometimes thought to be a ghost of the man who began farming the land where the present farm family lived. 

This is my little tomte looking after our ranch. 

The tomte was known for his bad temper and would retaliate if the farmer didn't respect him or didn't treat his animals well. Therefore, it was very important for the farm family to be nice to the tomte. One way to be nice was to feed him grot (porridge). The tomte was particularly fond of rice porridge, which had to be served with a large pat of butter. If you forgot the butter, you would be in trouble. That was a well-known fact. 

In the book The Wonderful Adventures of Nils Holgersson above, by Swedish author Selma Lagerlof, it's the farm tomte who gets fed up with the farmer's mean-spirited son, Nils Holgersson, and turns him into a small elf, in order to teach him a lesson. Then Nils sets out on his wonderful adventures, riding with the wild geese as the migrate over Sweden. In the end, he learns many important lessons and is returned to boy status and statue by the tomte.

My grandfather made this tomte.  My most loved possession. 

When St. Nickolaus and Santa Claus appeared later, the Swedish version, jultomten, took some of his characteristics from the tomte of old and some from the more modern Santa Claus.

A family of tomtar are a part of my Christmas decorations.

On Christmas Eve, when I was a child, jultomten would come slowly through the deep snow in our garden, carrying a big burlap sack over his shoulder. He would knock on our door and ask: "Do any good children live here?" "Yes, yes, we've been good, we've been good all year long," we would scream and rush to greet him. Then jultomten sat down and distributed all the wonderful Christmas presents. And we never wondered why our grandfather suddenly had disappeared at this most crucial time of the evening.


I will take off from blogging for a couple of weeks. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season. 

Samson Says: Where do you guys live? In my house, they'd know who did it, even if I didn't do it. That's just how they are.....

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Samson Does A Not So Random Five Friday

1. When the snow finally came, I got sooo excited, I ran around in a circle, sniffing my own big paw prints, while waiting for mommy to take me outside.

2. Once we got outside, we saw so many paw prints left behind by the wild critters I like to track.

3.  Mommy said she was surprised at all the ACTIVITY that takes place in our backyard while we're asleep. No surprise to me since I smell them every time I'm out here. See, when you're a dog, you don't need to see, you just smell the ground and it's like a human reading her newspaper.

4. Then mommy said she's impressed by how neat they are, the wild critters. I agree, they walk daintily on our land, leaving no messy prints behind. It's just like the coyote trails, straight as arrows. Mommy and me we mess up the snow when we come through. My big paws, her big feet, going here and there, back and forth, and all around again.

5. Mommy and me we thought these were the most interesting of all the tracks, predator and prey right next to each other. It didn't smell like anyone got killed, so maybe they walked here at different times. 

Mommy says she let me do this cause I was whining so about her not letting me blog. I know this wasn't very random, cause I learned what random is. But I stuck to five, well six, cause who knows when I next get to blog. 

I just had to post pictures of me in the snow so we all remember where I come from and where I belong once it gets to be 100 degrees again. If I use my imagination, I could be out on the big tundra here looking after reindeer, instead of in my backyard looking after mommy.


Puddles: These are trolls from Sweden, you can borrow them to scare away Chrissy if you want.

Have a nice day everyone!

Posted by Samson, the Samoyed Dog.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Trains On Track And Off ~ Same With My Diabetes Control ~ Notes: My Dog & My Mom

A train waiting.

Driving down to Bakersfield to see my endocrinologist last week, we passed a derailed train, cars off the tracks and a couple down the side of the mountain. It was on the other side of the highway, so I had to wait until we were on our way home to get pictures.

Ours is the busiest mountain railroad in the world, but still, this was the probably the third derailment in the past year. No wonder only freight trains go down these treacherous, winding tracks. As we drove along, we passed several trains standing still, just waiting for a train to come down so they could go up on the same tracks. Must be a bit difficult and certainly time-consuming for the engineers who drive the trains.

On our way home, I held my camera out the window and just clicked. 

Hoping for some disaster pictures, I feel like a paparazzi on the hunt! 

This one's from a crazy angle. Check out that house at the top. So many people build homes right at the edge of an abyss like this, as if they never heard the words earthquake, flooding, and erosion. 

This one gives a sense of speed, but we went very slowly, behind a truck with its rear red lights flashing. Driving too close to a fully loaded truck on this steep mountain highway is a dangerous practice as their speed is as close to zero mph you can get and still move. 

Then, when we were almost home, we had to stop and wait for this highly decorated train to go by. I love to watch the trains go by and never mind waiting.

The doctor's visit went well, only two problems: my three month average blood sugars (A1c) were too high, and my feet are beginning to get affected. But my eyes and kidneys are still fine. "It gets harder to control this disease as you get older," says the doctor, sensing my concerns. (While I, of course, don't tell him about my chocolate addiction. ~ I think I see a New Year's resolution in the making here, because I know once you feet start to go, other complications may not be far behind.) 

But then the doctor tells me of this new insulin pump, touted as the "World's first breakthrough in artificial pancreas technology." The pump has a sensor that senses when blood sugars go too low and automatically shuts down insulin delivery. This would be a huge help to me, as my fear of low sugars often overrides my desire for good control. I am Medicare eligible for a new pump and will pursue this one.

Samson Says: Enough already! Trains, pumps, so when do I get to tell everyone about my adventures tracking wild critters in the snow? And where's the snow anyway? WHERE'S MY SNOW? 

Today, December 18, is my mom's birthday. This picture is from her visit to Los Angeles in 1978, where she is actually standing outside the house that my husband would buy a year later. That's as close as they got to meeting each other. I still have daily conversations with with my mom, just like we did every day after school over hot chocolate and French rolls. As if she were alive, living in my heart somewhere. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Deer Abby ~ A Guest Post by My Friend Rachael, Featuring Abby The Mule Deer

I got a new animal charge on 11/14:  “Deer Abby” (pictured above).  She is imprinted and was, therefore, deemed non-releasable by a rehabilitation facility.  She is super sweet and is already making a great educational animal at the park.  She was found on a hiking trail in the Bakersfield area when she was about a month old.  The people thought she was abandoned by her mother, so they took her home and made a pet out of her.  PLEASE DO NOT EVER TAKE AN ANIMAL OUT OF THE WILD TO MAKE IT A PET!!  It is illegal to do that, and it sentences the animal to a life in captivity.  First of all, she was -- most likely -- not abandoned.  Fawns sit in one spot for long periods of time, while mom forages and then comes back to collect them.  IF an animal is truly abandoned (for instance, you see mom dead next to it) or the animal is injured, PLEASE take it immediately to a rehabilitation facility.  Those folks are experts on healing the animal and doing it in such a way as to not imprint the animal.  So, it can then be re-released into the wild after it is healed, old enough to be on its own, etc.  As I said, Abby is imprinted and looks to people for everything, so she would now perish in the wild if she were left on her own.  She provides us with a wonderful opportunity to educate people about wild animals and proper protocol when ‘helping’ them.  I’m sure, though, if given the choice, she would have preferred being left in the wild over captivity -- even if it meant a shorter life.  Just food for thought...


Rachael works as an Animal Keeper at William S. Hart Park, a Los Angeles County park and museum in Newhall, California. Recently, the local paper published an article about Deer Abby, who has adjusted beautifully and has become a huge hit with visitors to the park. When I wrote about her earlier, some of you asked if Abby could ever be released back into the wild. Rachael's post answers those questions. Please check out this link to read the article and see another picture of this sweet little deer: 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday Morning Reflections

On this, the third Sunday in Advent, I light the third candle and think of times long ago, of family, country, traditions ~ of what I left, and I feel a little sad, just a little.....  


I just read a wonderful, comprehensive, memorial of President Mandela's life that touched my heart. Written by (who else?) Hilary Melton-Butcher, who lived in South Africa for many years:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Clouds, Snow, & A Little Bit of This & That

The snow came on Saturday, a complete whiteout storm, with howling winds and up to 55 MPH gusts. My BIL once said, "the wind speaks to you here." And it does. Angel, always vigilant, never got used to it and would bark feverishly as the wind whistled around the corners and windows of our house.

The snow ended at sunset and gorgeous clouds appeared all around the canyon. I went outside with my camera and didn't know which way to turn. The wind gusts were strong and it was difficult to stand upright. I felt like the weather guys you see on TV, reporting in the midst of a hurricane. I could barely hold on to my camera.

This cloud appeared to the east, reflecting the setting sun. During the day both satellite dishes got covered with wet snow, so we couldn't access TV or the Internet. Instead, we watched movies all day long. We both enjoyed it and realized we used to do this a lot but got lazy with it. Maybe a new beginning. 

When my my husband was in Los Angeles, he stopped by Pete's, a guy who sells New Orleans hotlinks, and what a perfect day it was for hotlink sandwiches. We sat by the fire, in front of the TV, which had by now come to life, and had an indoor sort of picnic for dinner. There's just something about a cold winter evening, complete with snow, wind, and a warm fire that brings you close together, a bit out of the ordinary, every day togetherness. 

The view to the north.

And to the south. These look like such happy clouds, dancing in the sky.

When I came back in the house, my husband pointed to a woodpecker hanging on to the trunk of our tree. We rarely see them here. This bird was hanging on for dear life, pecking away, in the middle of this massive storm. Fortunately, without noticing him, I had captured him while taking my pictures outside, which was good, since he took off as we looked at him through the window. Do you see him? 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Samson in Evening Sun and Shadows

I leave you with these pictures of Samson while I spend today catching up on your posts, my emails, a couple of posts on what the storm brought, and, maybe some house cleaning. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sunday Morning Reflections

“When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace.”  

Nelson Mandela 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Random Five Friday

1.  I have come to love Samson's ears sticking up in my pictures. At first they were mistakes, now I catch them on purpose.

2.  The collage in my header is a bit dark, I know, but It's my first. Yes, I used piZap and, yes again, I have a lot to learn. Will work on it.

3. Thanks for your comments on the cows, our new neighbors. For now, they must get used to eating hay, which apparently they had not had to do in the past. I'm not doing closeups of them at this time, they look so depressed and I don't want to disturb them. I'll update as I learn more.

4. It was 8 degrees F (minus 13 C) this morning. That's about as cold as it gets up here and it's only the beginning of December. The sky was clear, the stars brilliant when I went outside at five a.m.

5. I hope all of you in the path of the storms hitting the country are OK. We're supposed to get ours tonight, snow down to 1,500 feet, maybe even flurries in Bakersfield. This cold is of course very bad for the citrus growers in the San Joaquin valley, but I can't help feeling excited about the prospect of some snow.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Samson Goes Hiking

Samson Says:

Now that the air is cool, we go hiking, mommy and me. We climb up these little hills, sometimes I have to pull her up, but she's pretty tough for her age. Of course she's gotta stop everywhere and take pictures of weeds ~ go figure that one.....

Mommy says this is called a gully and when it rains real hard, water comes gushing through here. Hard to believe, cause now we can hike in it. I hope mommy takes me here when it rains so I can see it. 

I know what this is cause I got a good nose to smell with and I can tell who walked here and how long ago. Again, mommy says it's a coyote trail. She's in her lecturing mood, should have been a teacher, is what I think. She's always telling me stuff. Then daddy wonders who she's talking to. 

Sometimes when daddy says she's talking to herself, she says, "no, I'm talking to Samson." She's not, but I won't tell.

Did you notice how pretty the sky is here? 

This is the hill we come down after we go on our long hikes with daddy. 

The hump you see sticking up between the hills is called Sugarloaf Mountain. Once a long, long time ago, a bandit buried a sack of gold there and no one can find it. I bet I could, if I knew what gold smelled like, my nose is very excellent. I bet the people who went searching for the gold forgot to take their dogs with them. That's why no one can find it.

This is a view of the road that goes from our house to the mailboxes. 

Auntie Feral Woman wants to come and hug a juniper. Well, she could try this one! Mommy says when she sees a fence line, like in the picture above, she thinks of auntie TexWisGirl, and when she sees a juniper, she thinks of auntie Feral Woman. Us dogs don't think like that, we just look, sniff, maybe we pee, and then we move on. 

Nothing much to read on this newspaper. Some coyotes went by, some rabbits hopped, some mice scurried, but I smell no bear activity. And the raggedy trespasser hasn't been by since I growled at her, heh, heh.......

Have a nice day, everyone!

Posted by Samson, the Samoyed Dog


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