Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Country Morning

Before I begin this post, I want to thank you for your thoughtful comments on my Emigrant post. 

Just one thing though, no I'm not homesick, this is my home. What I wrote were as Dee said: "Poignant thoughts of memory."

I drove up to Joyce's place and was greeted by a Carmen, who was recovering from having had a foxtail (a grass) removed from her ear the day before. She wanted nothing to do with me and Judah was busy eating a rabbit he'd managed to catch. 

I found Joyce milking one of her cows. This one kicks so Joyce has to sit a bit away on her cool stool that's only a little visible here. 

After spending her youth as a dark gray horse, this mare is now shedding her coat and will, maybe by next summer, become a Grey. I spell it the British way, and for those of you not familiar with horse colors, a Grey begins its days and the first several years of its life as a dark gray horse and then transforms to one that looks white, but is not a true white. So a Grey.

The llama's ears were pointing straight up as I came over, but as soon as he saw the camera pointing at him, his ears went back and I moved out of the way. Since all of Joyce's animals are so sweet, he probably would not have spit at me. He just let me know he wasn't into having his picture taken.

Here's my favorite, the Guernsey bull. And the mother of the horse I wrote about, a gray mare and the chestnut gelding in the background.

The other llama. He is a truly beautiful animal, mostly white.

Franklin, the very massive Devon bull, a small cow, and the chestnut horse eating breakfast. And my shadow photo bombing. 

It's truly wonderful to have a neighbor like Joyce and to be able to come and visit any time you want to. 

Monday, August 10, 2020

Faith And Her Orange Ball

If there's one thing Faith loves more than anything, it's her ball. Actually, it's chasing her ball.

Faith is one of the brightest dogs I have known and she's also one of the more interesting ones.

I will write more about her, of course, when I come to dog no. 12. 

My last dog. 

Faith and her orange ball.

Retriever par excellence!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Thoughts On Being An Emigrant



a person who leaves their own country to settle permanently in another

It was November 1962 when I arrived in America. I was 22 years old. I didn't know it then, but I had in fact emigrated to the United States. At that time, I thought I had come for a year or two and it took a long time before I knew I was here to stay. Before I became a citizen of the United States.

Much is said and written about immigrants, but few of us probably consider that each immigrant is also an emigrant. Someone who left family members, friends, country, culture, language, a common religion, a common ethnicity, nature, food, and so much more. 

I have a picture in my mind of a grandmother somewhere in Central America, left behind, standing in a doorway, TV cameras pointed at her. For me it was my grandfather. I loved him so much. In 1962 he was 84 years old. 

My grandfather, Karl Blomqvist.

Some leave poverty, war, or lack of opportunities. I left because I was unhappy in Sweden. In a spoiled youthful way of being unhappy. I wasn't suffering, but I needed a change, some adventures before I finally settled down to become a grownup.

Perhaps some never look back, but I believe most of us do. 

I wonder if the things that I miss as I remember Sweden even exist anymore. 

My friends are still there and I miss them. Christina came to visit a couple of years ago and there was the ease of sharing common values, culture and background. The ease of understanding. The certainty of being understood, something I'm never quite sure of here.

Trolls by Swedish Illustrator John Bauer

When I was little, my grandmother would tell me old folktales of deep forests where trolls were known to come out at night, giants too, who had to retreat to their caves before sunrise or they would melt. She would tell me stories of goblins and of misty ponds where elves danced. 

Are there any grandmothers left to tell those fairy tales? Does anyone care? Are there just ipads now, ipads and smartphones for the kids? I seriously don't know.

There are still glittering lakes everywhere. There's the almost midnight sun on my birthday, light midsummer nights, fields of flowers, islands full of summer cottages. Snow, ice and dark  winter days too. 

Stockholm, my home town, is still there. Old Town with its cobblestone alleys and ancient buildings that lean into each other, with wonderful cellars where jazz was played when I was young. 

And the Stockholm Opera, where I fell in love with Verdi's music and the drama of his operas. It was so easy to get a ticket back then and sit on the highest balcony. 

I believe the concert hall must be there still. In the center of the city, where I went to a Louis Armstrong concert when I was 15 and just about fainted from the excitement of it all.  

In Stockholm, ferries plow the waters and ancient steamboats head for the archipelago. 

When I sit down to write about Sweden, I think of those things. 

Things that shaped who I am. Before I emigrated.

Blueberries, granite rocks, tall trees --  a Swedish forest.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Morning In The Canyon

I told Annette about this tree, a Cottonwood that died during the drought. As did the tree next to it, where now only a piece of the trunk remains. So the Cottonwood was dead, no leaves except it grew suckers. Then it rained and  rained and the tree came back to life. Not only that, it came back so much healthier and better than before.  I had wanted to find a leafless picture of the tree to see how many actual branches are left. I think there may be quite a few, but I'm not sure. Since Google just changed the blog format this will have to wait until I figure the new format out. Or until the tree sheds its leaves this fall. 

Half-grown coyote puppies have come by to visit for several days, usually in the early morning or a dusk. Faith has chased coyotes before, but she always comes back when called. I was a little worried because there were so many of them, which may have been too much of a temptation for Faith. I worried she would chase them right back to the pack, which may have ended badly for her. So I took the Jeep and drove it around for a while. Driving the Jeep around also keeps up my off road paths. 

I haven't taken a shadow picture of myself for a long time. So here I am with several camera angle pounds added, but who cares, it's just a picture after all. 

I wanted to take a picture of this weed that has popped up everywhere. It's all around my gate and on my road, so I will have to clean it up soon. 

This is my demolished old shed. Some guy was going to come and cart it away, but he didn't want to take it. So Mark said he'll take it to the dump. I don't want him to do any more work here in the heat, so we're looking to September.

Faith found mice or ground squirrels inside it and was fascinated. This is the first time she has shown any interest in catching anything. Basically, she's in love with the chase, not the kill. Good retriever that she is. But both the vet and I think there's some terrier in her. Her strongest drive is to retrieve and she has webbed paws and a Lab tail, but she has a terrier personality. And she can jump straight up, very high, like a Jack Russell terrier. 

Junipers, so many junipers. So many berries/cones the ground below them is lavender blue.  All animals around here, from bears to birds, love to eat the juniper cones that look like blue berries.

After all the running and hunting, Faith is tired. She's also gained weight, so I'm cutting back on her second meal of the day. She won't even notice it. 

I read something like this about Labs: We love to run around in the rain and mud, we love to jump in the lake and swim, we love to run up and down the hills, but if this doesn't work for you, we really don't mind just lying around all day, being your best friend and companion.

And after reading that, I feel guilty every day that I don't give her the best life of running free all across the land.


Saturday, August 1, 2020

Flowers By Jane

Jane brings her camera when she goes for walks in her lovely Southern California neighborhood and then sends flower pictures to me via email. She knows how much I enjoy them. 

Some of you may recall all the wonderful rust pictures Jane sent from all over the world when she and her husband traveled. Now that you can no longer travel, and I doubt there's much rust to be found in her neighborhood, I get flowers instead. 


Thursday, July 30, 2020

Favorite Pictures From The Donkey Rescue

On a cold and stormy December day in 2007, I had the privilege of watching a burro give birth. And see this newborn take her first steps. In my mind, I named her Storm.

Later I took this picture of her, her mom, and an auntie burro. You would often see another burro helping the mother and watching out for the young ones. 

Rescued female burros would often come to the rescue pregnant. The males would be castrated upon arrival. 

Here in the American West, a burro is a feral donkey. Many were rescued by the Donkey Rescue where I worked part-time in 2007. It was located next door here, where Joyce lives now

This is my favorite photo ever. I have an enlargement on my living room wall. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Masks By Jeanne And More

Jeanne made these masks for me and this is my favorite. Isn't it just so pretty?  With a Scandinavian look that suits me well. Of course, you can't really see me, but that's OK. 

A woman I ran into outside the post office was so sure I was someone else that she continued to talk to me as if I were that person after I told her I was not. She went on and on. I kept my mask on, hoping my Swedish accent would deter her. After a while she moved on.

I haven't worn this one yet, but I will. I'm just so fond of the one at the top. These colors suit me well too. I know Jeanne thinks of that before she gives her masks away. 

I'm so grateful for thoughtful friends like her.  

There is a mandate for all Californians to wear masks when out and about. I noticed that Glenn wears one when he comes by, as does Jeanne, of course, but none of my close neighbors and helpers do. They all maintain the appropriate distance and we only meet outside, so hopefully that's OK. 

I hope wearing masks will help our state, but I am concerned and will continue to stay home, shelter in place, unless trips to town are absolutely necessary. 

Highlights of my week: Trips to the post office; Walmart to pick up online order; the Dump with my trash and cardboard recycle. I don't want to go to our bottle recycle place, so they are piling up.  

But the drive to town is pretty with the mountains all around, wild sunflowers blooming by the side of the road. 

A lousy picture of them and now I can't find them again. Maybe next month there will be more of them. The hillside shows a bit of our canyon nature.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Rust ~ Post No.32

I think Ronica must be the one who put a found old and rusty roller skate on a post by my driveway. It was a lovely surprise and to enjoy it even more, I moved it to a post I can see from my living room window. I guess I photo bombed myself this time!

This must have annoyed the ravens because not only do they leave their "mark" inside it, but they manage to almost make it fall to the ground. I'm sure they are the culprits as they definitely consider all my posts their own. 

Friday, July 17, 2020

Canyon Views

For me, this is the quintessential country picture. 

I almost stepped on this plant this morning. I don't know what it is, but thought it looked nice and took it's picture.

We walk here often, but I don't see any dogs, not even photo bomber Samson, so I must have been alone. Just with my phone. I always take it with me, a sound advice for anyone my age wandering about in the "wilderness."

Another picture of my property.

And one from a friend's house with a variety of trees and plants that you don't see at all in my part of the canyon.

What you see though are these two.  Samson has a thing for ears and always makes sure Faith's are clean and healthy. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The Dogs Of My Life ~ Post No. 8 ~ Angel - Part 2

Angel and Bandit (AKA Bonnie and Clyde)

As it turned out, we never found Angel's owner. We lived in the middle of Los Angeles, one block south of Olympic, a very wide boulevard with, this being LA, continuous traffic. A few blocks away were two other wide streets full of cars, always. 

We took her picture and posted it all over the neighborhood, but never found an owner. So she stayed and became my Angel, also called Angel Cakes by me. She turned out to be the sweetest dog ever, so playful, so loving, so funny. It didn't take long for her and Bandit to team up to make our lives just so much more fun. 

This is what Bandit had to say about her in those "poems" I wrote for him:

My name is Bandit
And I am tough
But when Angel plays
She gets so rough
She pretends I'm a sheep 
And bites me so hard I could weep
Instead I lick my wounds to the bone
And have to wear the dreaded cone

Angel was so much fun and she made me fall in love with the German shepherd breed. Of course, with all the dogs Errol kept finding, I would never have a chance to choose a specific breed, but still, I think they are just wonderful dogs. 

Living in the Canyon

And when they run! Sheer beauty in motion. I loved to watch her run once we moved here to the canyon. 

Angel was about eight when we moved. I'm so glad she got to spend her senior years here.

She was the sweetest, kindest dog who cared for everyone in our family. In addition to the other three dogs, we had two cats and two birds. Sindbad is the cat in the picture below.

As she got older, she became the matriarch of her pack. She took good care of all the dogs that arrived after her and helped to raise Samson to be the dog he is today

Angel died in May of 2012. This is what I wrote on my blog:

After a rough night, Angel died early this morning. We buried her in the yard next to her beloved Bandit, with the scent of lilacs floating through the air and turtle doves flying low above. 

Angel was 13 years and approximately 7 months. She came to our Los Angeles house in July 1999, and refused to leave; she has taken care of all of us ever since. Angel had discoid lupus that only affected her nose. Other than that, she was never sick a day in her life, she didn't suffer from age-related arthritis, she could jump, run, play, and guard still. I am devastated and will take a few days off from blogging to take care of myself and spend time with Samson who was so attached to her. She raised him and taught him all he knows.

When we told our vet what had happened, he diagnosed her sudden illness as bloat. Something we were soon to experience again, but at that time had never known a dog to suffer from.

Angel was our vet's first patient at our Veterinary Hospital and I know she had a special place in his heart. He always tried to help her with her fears, her shaking and shivering every time she had to come to see him. 

Angel was my love, my protector, my very, very special friend. 

Monday, July 13, 2020

The Dogs Of My Life ~ Post No. 8 ~ Angel - Part 1

Finding Us

In the early summer of 1999, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was found early via mammogram and I was scheduled for a lumpectomy at the beginning of July. This was to be followed by six weeks of radiation, later an extra week was added, and then five years on the drug Tamoxifen to prevent a recurrence. 

The night before my surgery, Errol and I stood by our gate saying goodbye to Glenn. Our Los Angeles house was close to the sidewalk with steps leading down from the gate. 

The steps outside our LA house

A couple walked by, followed by a German shepherd dog. The dog saw us, ran up the steps and sat down outside the gate. Errol called for the couple to get their dog. "It's not our dog, it has been following us," said the man. We all looked at each other and the dog, like what in the world do we do now?

I said, "Glenn, do you want another dog?" "No," he replied. And then made a fast exit, leaving us to figure it out.

Three pets per household were allowed in Los Angeles. At that time, we had: Sundance, our disturbed Doberman, Sashi, our loner Siberian Husky, Bandit, our mischievous hound dog mix, who did not get along with Sundance; Samantha and Sindbad, our two cats; Tweetybird and Pippi Birdie, our two parakeets. 

I was having cancer surgery the following day, had to be at the hospital very early. Then radiation, not as bad as chemo, but no piece of cake. 

Angel as a young dog

And here is this adorable dog, wearing no collar, looking a bit thin, but very well taken care of. 

First thing, check to see if male or female. It was a female. She had been spayed. She was very young (later the vet estimated about eight months). She seemed to have been very well cared for, but she had no collar. 

I told Errol I couldn't cope. I would have a fit if we took in another dog. I knew she had chosen us, or so it seemed, but still. I was overwhelmed. 

Errol took her to the pound. A while later, he came back with the dog in tow. Errol said, "she started to shake so violently when she heard the barks from inside. She shook and struggled to get away from me, to just run away again. I couldn't take her in." 

Errol promised to look for an owner, I said I would take her picture so we could post it around the neighborhood once this surgery was over with. 

Then we looked at each other, the dog and I. I felt she belonged with me. Maybe an Angel come to look after me. Help me through this ordeal I was facing. 

But much as I like the concept of angels to protect me, I'm also a realist and of course I knew this was a lost dog, a dog that I would have to feed and walk and take to the vet. With cancer, no matter how small the tumor, how early it was found, there's always fear of what will happen.

I felt I needed all my strength to fight this uninvited cancer.

Not the ideal time for yet another lost dog to come and live with me. 

But we had bonded, whether I liked it or not. 

Part two will follow soon.


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