Monday, December 22, 2008

My Mountain Dog

Two weeks ago I drove 5 hours south, to one of my favorite hospitals. It was a long, foggy, stressful Monday morning drive. I entered the hospital through the back door, going into the kennel area and was greeted by a small huddle of employees sitting at a kennel door baby talking to a patient I couldn't see. "So what do you guys have there?" And I was introduced to the sweet faced fella below.

His sad story is not uncommon. He was picked up by Animal Control, a young intact male, roaming the streets south of Fresno. He was filthy, matted, covered with skin lesions, thin, and passing blood instead of stool. Animal Control dropped him off at the hospital for an exam and blood tests. It was determined that he most likely had ingested rat poison. Treatment was started, he was bathed, clipped and treated for the dermatitis. hhmmmm.... I kind of liked this dog.

I found myself drawn to this guy frequently over the next few days, just stopping by to say hi, taking him out for walks, having some quiet private chats. Then I went home for the weekend.
Shared pictures of him and I admitted my thoughts of bringing this dog home to the family. Jerry, Tristan, Amy, Cort and the CATS were all in agreement (well... maybe not the cats so much).
Monday back at the hospital there was a message from the Animal Control Officer to please call.
No owner had been located, the Rescue had no foster home for him, would I be interested in him?
Have you noted his breed? He is a Bernese Mountain Dog. I have always admired these guys. He had a microchip which lead to a disconnected number in Missouri, we have reason to believe he was from a puppy mill. Just look at that face, how could I resist? I am very reasonable about not adopting every animal that needs a home, but I really liked this guy. Showing up at home with two kittens, then taking in a beat up colt all in one year, I am beginning to wonder about my ability to just say NO.
Well, animal control brought him back to the clinic at my request and I looked for a reason to turn him down. Hip Xrays; good. Chest Xrays; good. Heart worm test; negative. Blood panel; regenerative anemia, good. Blood clotting is improved. Skin condition; clearing up on meds. Neuter performed - dog is mine. We agreed on a trial visit to insure that everyone at the log cabin gets along. I worry about disrupting the harmony that exists between our pets at home.

This is honestly, the cats' reaction to the dog being brought into the house the first time. 'Ho-hum'. They stayed in their napping spots but kept their eyes on him. He approched them slowly but didn't invade their space.

He trots around the property with a big smile on his face. I love a dog who smiles. Cort likes him but we had to keep them apart at first, Cort wants to play too much. The Mountain Dog has to take it easy for a while. Introduced to the horses, he sniffs their muzzles and shows no signs of aggression or desire to chase. I like this dog. Cort is not kept away from him now and they are perfect together.
The following pictures are disturbing. He was thin when picked up off the streets. Very thin. He had put on 5# in the 10 days or so that he was with Animal Control.

He will get several medicated baths weekly. This is his first bath at home. Thin.

Very thin. I am feeding him frequent meals during the day, he is not an eager eater. He is on several medications.

He is a very happy, friendly, calm, eager-to-please dog. Life continues to be good; harmony and peace between my furred family members.

Our only delemma now is the naming of the beast. I feel like his name has to be just right. Jerry suggested Socks or Boots or Concho, sorry Jerry , no go. I have tried out Luke, Luca, Lucas, Jake, Ivan, Ian, Gorgan, Bruce.... and a multitude of others. I get raspberries, gagging motions, rude looks, or the names just don't fit. Yesterday I called him Carson. I like Carson, Tristan likes Carson (since we won't name him Hector), Jerry says 'just name the dog already', Amy says Carson is ick, way too yuppy. What the heck is yuppy anyways?
So I am inviting your comments, suggestions, feelings, input on names. I reserve the right to pick his name myself, I will reject your names kindly as long as you aren't too harsh with my choices. I want a strong, gentle ,dignified name that is not one commonly heard. Rover or Spot won't make the cut. (Or Boots or Socks, sheesh Jerry)
I feel like he is a very wonderful Christmas gift. I think he kind of likes us too.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Today is my Mom's Birthday. In my defense, I did try to call her today, she was shopping, I spoke to Dad for a while. The cell phones went into typical mountain static mode and I lost Dad. Fully intending to call back to wish Mom a Great Day, it is now evening, and I missed calling back. As things go around here, we had friends drop in, they stayed for dinner, they left, we cleaned up, and now it is too late to call.

So .... HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! Miss you. Sorry......

It has been another busy month. I got my previous to-do list done in a matter of days. I have nice pictures of going to cut our Christmas tree. We brought home a tall one, and have more good photos of Jerry balancing on a ladder decorating the top. We were in a Christmas parade, and our riding club was awarded a first place trophy for our participation. I have spent days and nights away from home working. Weekends have been a whirlwind of business and social Christmas Parties. I have gotten most of my Christmas shopping done. We intended to shop very light this year, and succeeded.

I did bring home a family gift Thursday night. It is one of those gifts that really is mine....

Tristan and Jerry are on the couch playing a game of Battleship by flashlight. Interesting.
It's peaceful here and I'm glad to be home again for a while. Country music is softly playing, the Christmas tree lights are on, there is a large lit wreath in the front window, Tristan and Jerry are on the couch, a warm fire glows in the wood stove, Amy is reading at the kitchen table, the furred creatures are warm and napping, dishes are done and the house is clean.

We have out of town guests coming for a few days over Christmas, they plan to ski every day. We'll go up and enjoy the slopes ourselves once or maybe twice with them. We were getting worried two weeks ago that we may not have snow. There's plenty now! Tristan even had a snow day from school this week; school is only 5 miles from us. We get no snow here at our house! I'll let you know if our real estate agent was being honest about that....

I tried to post a few pictures but the connection won't allow pictures tonight.
Good night. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Old age isn't for wimps.
Our (mine and the cowboy's) old tympanic membranes just 'ain't what they used to be'.
We've all heard that communication is the secret to a long, happy marriage.
Based on communication, ours is destined to be short and unhappy, or a good natured comedy of errors.
I submit a sample of a typical morning exchange here in the log house.

Bright eyed and cheerful farm-marm (me) preparing to provide breakfast, asks "- Cream of Wheat OK?"

Cowboy with tilted head and wrinkled brow slowly responds, "ummmm, y e a h ......"

Noticing his hesitation, farm-marm questions cowboy, "ahhh, what did you just hear me ask?"

Cowboy is quick to answer. "Can you read OK?"


Last year at this time, Jerry was in the hospital recovering from a heart attack and 3-way bypass. This has been an incredible year for us. And I am so thankful that he has recovered so well and is such an active, busy guy.

I fully intend to update my blog more frequently than once or twice a month. When I am not working for a paycheck, our at home chore list keeps me busy around here. Winter is coming, rain's on the way (we hope) and frost is on the ground.
A sample of chores on the list for the past two weeks:
Seed pastures
Seed yard
Neighborhood dog proof front fence (again)
Stack fire wood in wood shed
Cover wood piles outside with tarps
Put up corral fencing
Bandage horse leg
Float horses' teeth
Create huge brush piles
Burn brush piles
Till garden and fertilize
Make curtains
Make cute pillows
Organize office and catch-up on paperwork
Closet - reorganize seasonal clothes
Balance checkbooks and sort bills for taxes
Organize new business venture

- and lots of other stuff that I haven't even started yet.....
So I'd better get busy again.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Spending the day kayaking up the Wailua River, hiking jungle trails, and finally reaching the waterfalls was my favorite activity while we were on Kaua'i. I used a water proof disposable camera. The jungle was dark so my pictures turned out dark. The day was partially cloudy, sometimes full cloud cover. The weather changes frequently and quickly in Hawaii.

Close to the ocean, the river was wide and open, silky smooth and peaceful.

Beyond the bridge is the ocean. We put the kayaks in the water at a small boat ramp near the bridge.

The clouds never cleared completely but we didn't mind. The weather was lovely.

The further up river we paddled, the narrower the river became.

Eventually we were in tunnels of jungle trees. Paddling upriver was easy, the current was not strong.

Here we landed and got out to visit the Fern Grotto. It was a lovely large flower garden; at one time. Now it is being destroyed by wild pigs rooting up the soil, trees and plants. A half circle of rock cliff was covered thick in ferns, before the dry spell, now the ferns remaining are brown and dry. We stayed for a brief walk through and I got no pictures.

Eventually we reached our final landing site. We found the trail and headed into the jungle. It was dark, humid and warm; very warm.

The trail was narrow and slick with moist mud. Much of the trail followed the river.
We passed these little falls and the trail forked. We agree on which fork to take, the one continuing along the river. As we hiked on, the trail became more narrow, increasingly wet, and suspiciously similar to a wild pig trail. We climbed on and on. The trail stopped, no warning just an abrupt end. It was a pig trail. We had climbed higher and steeper than I had realized as we had been trudging uphill. The hike down the narrow, slick, mud trail with a raging (at this point it seemed to be raging) river below was not pleasant. We made it to the fork without plunging to a watery death. I was emotionally and physically exhausted.

We made it to the falls. Those small spots at the bottom are people in the pool. A very high and beautiful waterfall. We didn't spend much time here, we figured we had just enough time to get back before nightfall.
I slept quite well that night.
Speaking of sleep, it's time to get to bed. I'll be heading home tomorrow and will be working in my home territory for a while. Back to the land of poor Internet connection, thus fewer pictures to share.
Thanks for joining me and sharing your thoughts.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Waimea Canyon Drive, Kaua'i, Hawai'i

The Waimea Canyon Drive was my favorite road trip on Kaua'i. The road meanders along, following the edge of the canyon. I was relieved to see guard rails, providing a sense of security, on sections of road that seemed to be mere inches from certain death if a tire drifted off the pavement onto a non-existent shoulder. I wonder how many plunge to their deaths off this road?, but I really don't want to know.
Years ago, a girl friend and I, with our young daughters, took a trip through Colorado on our way to Cheyenne, Wyoming. We drove up the Pike's Peak Highway. Stopping to chat with a ranger on our way, we just had to ask that very question. His answer was most disturbing, I didn't enjoy the rest of that drive, not relaxing until we made it back down off the mountain.

I have a love-hate relationship with mountains. I love mountains, I belong in the mountains but, I am terrified of heights. I sort-of like that adrenalin rush of the fear, but I sure don't like the terror I feel, the fear of free falling off a cliff and smashing at the bottom. My palms are sweaty as I type that. *shudder* I doubt that I'll ever really take that mule ride down the Grand Canyon, I need to erase that from my list of things to do.

A short distance along the road and the canyon is deep, our first stop, I get kind of close to the edge but not too close without a fence or guard rail.

The rest of my pictures were taken at pull-out lookout points with heavy sturdy fences firmly anchored into the ground to keep us sight-seers safe.

Now I want to point out something quite disturbing; well it was to me. On the second picture, look at that hump of red rock cliff below the tree line... see it? Look at the top of it, see the defined line? That is a hiking trail, for crying out loud, and people were actually out there hiking it. They were too far away and teeny tiny to show up on this picture. It made my palms sweat.

Colors, shadows, depths, waterfalls... spectacular and constantly changing.

A different view of the falls as we drive further along the road and increasing elevation.
As we reach the end of the road there are several lookout points. We are looking straight out across a canyon that opens to the ocean. This shot is to the left.

This view is to the right. The view constantly changes as the clouds drift by. We could appreciate the elevation change as at one point, a tour helicopter flew for a short distance into this canyon and you could just barely make it out.

The clouds have drifted by and the sky is clear. We have driven a bit further and this is another view.

Feral hens, chicks and roosters are all over the island. Everywhere. These were pecking about in the parking area at the end of the canyon drive.
The story we heard, was that a hurricane demolished a large chicken ranch, spreading the birds over the island and without predators they have flourished. Sounds fair enough, I'd come up with a better story myself though.

Mutt and Jeff

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Hawaiian Sunshine

Yes, we did see some sunshine on our vacation.
I'll show you.

We started our mornings with breakfast out on the little screened in porch dining area. A canyon drops steeply beyond the yard green with jungle plants and flowering trees. I kept expecting to hear the screech of monkeys and roar of tigers.

The guest cottage we stayed in, nestled in the jungle. Compliments of Ollie.

It was cozy and comfortable and we loved our stay here.

Sunny skies and waves.

Sunny skies and waves.

We took a chartered sail boat trip, 5 1/2 hours along the south to western coast line. We were promised snorkeling, awesome views of the cliffs, and as you see above, if you look closely, abundant sea life. We enjoyed a large group of dolphins swimming along with us, leaping in the air, racing us, and just generally having a blast.

Jerry visiting with our captain.
That's all the pictures I have of our 5 1/2 hour trip.
For 3 1/2 hours I was puking off the back of the boat, just wishing I would fall in and drown.

We don't see many signs like this here in California. I liked it. I laughed.
No coconuts fell while I was being cautious, but I saw an entire village of small tent campers and their dogs........

Blue skies and green trees.

The telling of my vacation is almost longer than the actual trip. I am most certainly one of those who show way too many grand kid and vacation pictures. But the reality is that if you're bored you can just skip by and I never know the difference.

One more day of Hawaii, I'll show our two favorite days, and then I'll be on to other topics.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hawaii - Day Five

Continuing my travel journal, skipping to our fifth day on Kaua'i. I took pictures on the skipped days using a water proof disposable camera. Hopefully they will be ready to share in a few days.

The bee business was fascinating and we enjoyed spending time with Ollie, the apiarist, learning about bees and increasing my vocabulary. An elderly Japanese couple called, requesting the removal of a hive of wild bees they found in their shed in a cooler. The yellow globs of alien looking stuff is a mass of bees, wax, honey, and comb. It is a several day process to get them moved. I snapped a few pictures and then retired to the safety of the car.

Ollie suited up and went to work with the bees, note the absence of gloves... *shudder*...
We watched him work with his hives several times without the 'space man' suit, only a puffer of smoke to protect him from bee stings.
We learned that the smoke blocks the pheromones the bees emit to signal an attack.

An afternoon drive to the northern shore to visit another cousin. The evening before, heavy rains here caused flash floods along the rivers. The waves at the mouths of the rivers were quite brown with silt and dirt, leaving piles of wood and logs washed up on the beaches.

The rains and wind didn't look very promising for our next planned adventure.
We were on our way to a large cattle-horse ranch.

Another cousin of sorts, manages the horse trail ride business on this large cattle ranch.
They have acres and acres of green grass, a river, waterfall, pond, and canyons. It was raining as we arrived so we really didn't expect to ride, only to visit with the cousin. She is a real sweetie!
She insisted on taking us out for a ride, said that if we didn't mind the rain, she sure didn't. Said it would probably clear up in 5 minutes or so anyways. Jerry and I wore rain coats, she did not.
We rode for a while, got soaked and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The trails were getting real slick and slippy, so we did not ride to the waterfall in the canyon.
That's Jerry and his cousin-of-sorts. She is so funny and sweet and I hope we can get her to come visit us soon.

And a picture of all three of us wet riders. My camera was getting drenched, so not many rainy ride pictures to share.

Jerry and L untacking big wet Blondie.

I think I remember that we drove back to our little cottage, took hot showers, put on dry clothes and relaxed for a bit before going out to dinner.

In previous comments, I was asked if it rained all the time. I do think I remember some sunshine, we'll be getting to that.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Kauai - Third Day

We drove along the cloudy but warm southern and western coast on our third Hawaiian day.

This site is called the Spouting Horn. It was all fenced and there were a few bus loads of tourists but it was neat to see. Although we were tourists, we like to stay away from the crowds.

Another view along the southern coast.

I saw this sign and had to have Jerry pull over so I could see just what was so dangerous.
It was straight down into the 'Kauai' Grand Canyon. Frightful! More on that in a few days.

The depth of the canyon cannot be appreciated in this photo.

More beach, heading along the western side.
No people. The beach to ourselves. Lovely.

Warm and balmy with a few sprinkles of rain.