Thursday, January 30, 2014

An Update and Thank You

First and most importantly, thank you so much for your support and words of concern and encouragement, friends and blogger friends, you are coming together in my mind ~ all friends now, whether we met in person or not. And thanks to my pair of supporters, pictured above. You have been amazing!

On Tuesday, I had a dental hygienist appointment and after that my husband took me to Emergency for some X-rays and a consult with a doctor. My ribs are bruised but not broken, however, they could have hairline fractures not showing on the X-rays just yet. They still hurt like !@#$%^&* (so much fun to do that!) but I have discovered that taking regular headache, not migraine, pills from Walgreens help me get rid of the pain faster and better than Vicodin, without side effects. 

I will see my doctor for a follow up next week. The ER doc said to deep breathe often and to be as active as I can be. So that's good. 

I was getting really bored the other morning with nothing to read. I'm in the middle of reading this spellbinding book, called Death in the House of Life, by fellow blogger Roland Yeomans. If you like magical writing, please check this book out here. I will review it here and on amazon after I finish it. It's only available as an e-book, but I have it on a PDF in my computer. I haven't been able to sit at my computer since I injured myself, so I was getting bored, but didn't want to start another book. It was then I remembered a binder I made up a long time ago.

My mom saved practically every letter I ever sent home and I sent a lot. I also had a very good relationship with my parents so I told them almost everything I experienced in this new land. That binder contains many of the letters from my first years in the U. S. 

I found the binder and began to read the first letter: Princeton, Tuesday, February 19, 1963. After I read a few, I realized I had a treasure trove of my early 1960's impressions of America and much more, for example: How much money I made; what I thought a good career move for a woman might be (just in case I didn't find a husband); my first taste of corn on the cob; how much a pair of sneakers cost me, and so on. 

I will create some posts from these letters, and call them: Letters from America, 1963. 

It will give me something to do and, hopefully, something you may find interesting to read. Thinking about it has left me feeling inspired and happy again after a pretty miserable week.

Samson Says:

Don't worry, I take very, very good care of my mommy. If she cries out in pain, I'm at her side right away, licking her and watching over her. Daddy took me on two long walks, maybe he'll take me again today. Tuesday, I was alone all day, way past my dinnertime! They came home with pizza, but I didn't get any. Just my regular dinner. Yesterday, they both "rested." Things are getting pretty boring around here......

Have a nice day, everyone.

Your Samson

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I Have To Tell You This,

I fell on Sunday, while walking Samson. I had him on a double long leash and was practicing sit, stay, come. He came so promptly that I wanted to pet him. I transferred my walking stick (an old bamboo cross-country ski pole) from my left hand to my right, which also held the long leash, so I could bend down and pet him. Well, after that he took off, the pole got entangled in the leash, and I stumbled and fell on the pole. It got me in my ribs on the left side. 

I'm posting some pictures from the beautiful Ojai Valley and the mountains above. We were looking for our retirement place there in 2005.

It happened by the barn, where the earth is a soft mix of dirt and sand. I was very lucky, with my brittle bones, that I didn't break a hip, or anything else. I was also lucky this didn't happen to my right rib cage, where I had radiation so many years ago now, but where it still hurts even without additional trauma.

It hurt horribly though, I screamed, and Samson got extremely upset and came and stood over me, two paws on each side of my body. It was apparent that he would not have allowed any stranger to help me. Then he started digging a hole, which I think he does when he is worried or doesn't know what else to do. Poor thing, I know I scared him. 

I called my husband and he came in the Jeep and helped me up. Since then I have been on pain meds, which didn't do much good. So instead, I decided to increase my dose of the medicine I take for diabetic nerve damage to my legs. (I had to skip those while taking regular pain pills.) And they helped. I feel loopy, but much, much better today. 

I will take some time off from my computer though. It's at times like this that a laptop would come in handy, but, alas, that I don't own. 

So I will see you later. 
Up in the mountains, we came upon these guys, off on a horseback adventure with their dogs. It was a lovely day, one I will not forget.

Hope all is well with you, arctic freezes and all. It's amazing how much snow and cold so many of you have to endure. I wouldn't mind just a little of that here. Or some rain from the UK. Not a drop of anything has fallen here in January, which normally is the wettest month of the year in California. I should be back in a week or so. In the meantime, take care and stay warm!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Hiking With Samson

I took Samson for a hike yesterday. We walked up a path under these fabulous rocks.

Don't they look like they belong in an old Western movie? 

With a little imagination, one can see a mountain lion looking down ready to pounce. Just kidding, right now I'm more concerned with this black bear that seems to have taken a liking to our land. 

Then I heard on the news last night that a mountain lion has been killing pets in the Bakersfield suburbs. But by then I was back home, safe in front of the TV.

It's terrible to think of what animals are going through, living under these horribly dry conditions. Of course they are coming down from higher elevations, looking for food and water. 

We're at the top of a steep hill here, looking down on our house. D. G. asked about fire clearance in the winter, as you can see there's just dirt around the house. Usually, we clear 100 feet in May, then it rains and snows in the winter, grass and weeds grow, and we clear it again the following spring. No grass has grown since 2011, the last year we had some real rain. The road you see toward the left is the one we walk to the mailboxes. 

Most of the Rabbit Brush up here is dead or dying, so is the mesquite, and the low growing brush. The junipers seem to be doing OK for the most part.

I called my husband from that hill, overlooking our house, and told him the hill looked too steep for me to get down alone. He agreed it would be best if we just turned back the way we came. We did, and when we got home Samson's tongue was hanging out for a long time, a good sign we got some exercise.

And this is what it should look like in January. Some of the time at least. Thank you for your prayers for rain. 

Samson Says: 

OK, so who were you hiking with? 
Who did you tell to stop, sit, stay so you could take all those pictures?
Who was very OBEDIENT and did all you asked?

Me: OK, Samson, that would be you. What's all this leading up to? 

Samson: I'm just wondering why am I not in any of the pictures? 

What's a post about me without me? 

To himself: Humans!!!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

November Sunset

So many pictures, so little room. I'm purging again and will post some of those I like. I thought these were interesting with the dark clouds and sunset combination. 

Yesterday, we went to Bakersfield, where the smog was horrible, for a medical checkup for me and an oil change and tire rotation for the Jeep. All went well, I took some pictures of the dry landscape, but they didn't come out. Saw two dead coyotes along the highway, hit by cars. And poor cattle trying to make do with what's left to eat in the yellow fields. At least they have large spaces to roam. The landscape has a strange beauty though, yellow, brown, dun colored and dry.  So very dry......

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Stockholm Tube Station ~ For Hilary

This is one of my favorite pictures of all time. 

And Hilary, this one's for you. No ghosts in Stockholm, just pretty shiny escalators. (A sort of private joke, referring to Hilary's post about ghostly escalator innards she never got to see ~ you can read all about it here.)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Country Walking

Samson sees them first, way off in the field. Ears up, nose twitching, he's not quite used to these large animals.

They march slowly toward home, the bull in the front, followed by the two cows, then the calves. No rain came from those dark clouds over the hills, not here anyway. 

I hope you can see the two llamas. I need better lenses to spy on my neighbors' critters.

Once, when I worked at the donkey rescue, for some reason a newly arrived llama was put in with some horses they boarded. I was alone out on the ranch when a fight broke out between the llama and a large white horse. The llama started it and it was a horrific thing to see. Rachael was the only one around; I called her at the office, and she had to first calm me down, then find another corral for the angry llama. I don't quite trust them since that day.

And Samson Says: All this activity, all these new large critters, I get so excited! I just don't know what to do with myself! I'm so excited, I dig a big, big hole! Earth flies everywhere, my face gets covered in dirt, 

and I turn into a fluff monster! 

Me: Thanks Tex for coming up with "fluff monster," I call him that all the time now. It's a perfect fit.

Finally, on Friday, Samson had his three-month eye check up. He behaves impeccably at the vet, he is calm and seems to enjoy all the attention he gets. As the vet puts green gook into his eyes, Samson licks his cheek. He gets a good report, his eyes are fine and he's doing well. And, he lost another two and a half pounds! 

P. S. 
I am so glad many of you like the header photo. My husband took it the first winter after we bought this place. The house was a horrible mess and he spent several months making it livable for us. He stayed here alone with Princess, a lost dog he took in. They would take long walks together all over our land and I have many great pictures that he took of her and the snowy landscape. I will post more as our snow-less winter progresses.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday Morning Reflections

The richness I achieve comes from Nature, the source of my inspiration.
Claude Monet

Friday, January 10, 2014

Random 5 Friday

1.  I never heard of Harry and David Gourmet before our niece and her husband gave us a magnificent gift from their gourmet selection for Christmas. It was called a tower and consisted of the prettiest boxes, from small to large, in the shape of a tower, wrapped with a pretty bow on top. In the boxes we found different chocolates, popcorn, nuts, and the best pears I have ever tasted. You can find Harry and David here. In case I tempted you.

2. It's so dry here that on a trip to town, I could imagine a caravan of camels trotting through the barren fields. Not quite Lawrence of Arabia yet, but we may be getting close as our neighbors just got

3. a pair of llamas. Not these two, they belong to another neighbor, but probably from the same stock. An elderly woman, who lives up above us in the hills, raises them.

4.  Samson's fur sprouted and multiplied many times over during the coldspell of early December. Now that daytime temps are in the 60s F, our house, our clothes, and ourselves are covered in incredibly soft and fluffy white fur. And I brush, and I brush.....

5. My friend Judy gave me several books for Christmas. When I opened this one, Russian Winter, I found that the author had dedicated it to the memory of a Hungarian couple I knew in the 1960s. Friends of my first husband, who was also from Hungary. Now, what's the likelihood of that, I wonder.

Joining Nancy for Random 5 Friday
Pay her a visit.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Few Good Books I Read In 2013

Just a few of the many good books I read last year, in no particular order:

Eventide, by Kent Haruf

After reading Plainsong a few years back, I became very fond of the ageing McPherson brothers and their high-plains town of Holt, Colorado. And, again, Kent Haruf does not disappoint. The brothers return here in a wonderful story of life, death, and new beginnings. 

And the Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini

In this book the author of The Kite Runner takes you on a spectacular journey through time and place. The book is about family and loss, sadness and joy. In the end, the life stories of all who live in this book are beautifully tied together.

Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier

Women coping in times of war, a soldier leaving the civil war behind and making his way back home across blue mountains and misty woods, this lyrical masterpiece of a novel affected me deeply. 

Shanghai Girls, by Lisa See

Two sisters flee a life of privilege in Shanghai during the Japanese invasion of China in 1937 and end up in Los Angeles, as bought wives of Chinese boys. A very interesting book about fate, hardship, entrepreneurship, family, fear, traditions, and enduring sisterly love. I found it fascinating and learned a lot about the lives of Chinese immigrants in mid-20th century Los Angeles. 

Salmon Fishing In the Yemen, by Paul Torday

A first-rate satire of most things British, this book is full of wonderful British characters and humor. I enjoyed the trip through the novel so much, it left me speechless. I guess this is OK since I'm not reviewing books here, just letting you know about the ones I liked. And this one I loved!

The Stockholm Octavo, by Karen Engelmann

In Stockholm, during the colorful reign of King Gustav III of Sweden, 1771 - 1792, life is full of intrigue, magic, mystery, romance, strange cards laid out to determine fates and politics in the golden age of Sweden. The Stockholm Octavo is unusual and fascinating. 

Too Close to the Falls, by  Catherine Gildiner

Written from a child's perspective of wisdom, wonder, surprise, and innocence this was my favorite of all books I read last year. A story of growing up in a most unusual way, encountering weird and wonderful characters in a 1950's small town close to Niagara Falls

Lady Audley’s Secret, by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Written in the 19th century, this novel has a fabulous plot of deception, murder, bigamy, blackmail, class, madness, and the lady herself, who is not at all what she seems.  And through it all, Miss Bradden crafts beautiful scenes of the English countryside, complete with hedgerows and fields dotted with sheep and ancient trees. 

Half Broke Horses, by Jeanette Walls

Inspired by the life of the author's grandmother, this is a great book about a competent, and tough as nails, woman born at the beginning of the 20th century. She took her life into her own hands, not so easy in those days, and lived it fully. An interesting part of the novel describes what it took to run a large ranch in the harsh climate of the American Southwest while raising a spirited daughter, Ms. Wall's mother, an important character in her memoir, The Glass Castle.  

11/22/63, By Stephen King

A man travels back in time in an attempt to change history by preventing the Kennedy assassination. To await the day, he settles in a small Texas town, complete with Friday night football, high school kids, and a sweet grownup love story. Eventually, he arrives in Dallas, where he meets some of the main characters of that tragic November day. And, in the end, the man learns the consequences of messing with time and history.

Going over my list, I see that I read books from many different cultures, from cowboys to salmon fishers, and from countries as far apart as Afghanistan and Sweden. I read books from the points of view of a very young girl in Niagara Falls to those of an elderly man in Colorado. I enjoyed them all and learned some too. 


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