Monday, December 12, 2011

One Week Later

On the night of my last post, around 10 pm I started coughing. I thought I had just inhaled a piece of dust but it wouldn't stop and before the night was over I had chills, even though I seemed to be burning up. Somehow, somewhere I caught a bug which has now lasted a week. I've been miserable, the only thing that hasn't happened to me is praying to the porcelain god. Everything else, I got hit with it. I don't remember running into anyone who was ill but I guess I caught this the night of the anniversary party 2 days earlier. Only time I was with a lot of other people.

Fortunately, the fever only lasted the one night as did the sore throat but I've pretty much felt like crap the last 7 days. I guess I'm lucky that other than chasing down Ziggy on occasion and Luna when she was bad, and loading the wood stove, I could pretty much lay about and do nothing. I didn't even feel like eating which is unusual for me even with the stomach flu. I've actually lost 5 pounds though I figure at least 3 of those are just water weight, but at least it's a good thing that came out of this.

Hal took off to camp which was fine with me because I didn't want to cook, could barely function as it was. Plus I hope he does not contract this, it is nasty. I thought I was feeling better yesterday but today I feel worse so I'm still not eating much though I am planning on pizza for dinner. My bred machine even now is madly whipping the dough into shape.

Otherwise, still no snow and no idea when my younger sister is arriving. I figure I have a few days to get back to cleaning up the house, now that I can move about again without feeling as though parts of me wish for non-existence. I wonder if this would have been worse without the flu shot I had in October.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Between the Holidays

It's 20 days till Christmas, a little over a week since Thanksgiving. Not a lot has been happening around here. Thanksgiving dinner was at the farm, just Hal's parents and one of his brothers. Everyone else stayed downstate. It was nice not to be at a restaurant and have a home cooked turkey instead.

I've plugged all the fence holes and now Luna can't escape but Ziggy still could. Today I watched him sail right over the 30 inch fence in the front yard. So the question now is do I get a taller fence or opt for the easier installation of a transmitter and a zapper collar? I'd prefer the fence, I think he'd be too stubborn for the zapper to work. I also don't like the idea of zapping my little boy, either.

No snow yet. we had about a half inch a few days ago but then rain and temps in the 50s yesterday took care of that. Feels odd not to have any yet. Can't complain though, I hate shoveling the deck.

Decided to keep 5 guineas and 2 ducks through the winter. Hal rebuilt the coop door so it drops down instead of hinges upward. Hopefully this means I won't be chipping ice to close it this year. Since we got rid of the chickens the fox has disappeared too. He'd gotten at least 3 of my chickens this summer. The guineas can fly and the ducks are pretty large. Chickens seem to be easy targets.

Celebrated my neighbor's 50th wedding anniversary Saturday night. I made chicken chili and peach, blueberry trifle. I stayed to help clean up when it was over. My neighbors seemed to have a pretty good time.

Been waging the annual fall battle of the fleas again. I think I am finally getting a handle on it. My ankles are a bitten mess, but the dogs seem to be flea free at the moment and the water traps aren't catching much of anything now. Must vacuum the floors yet again to keep ahead.

Been cleaning the guest room for the arrival of my younger sister, her boy friend and Lyra in less than 2 weeks. Got to clear half the garage for her car. Ought to get back to that now.

Until next time.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Friend Died Today

We knew it was coming, just not this weekend. She had Alzheimer's and lung cancer. She was my neighbor and my friend. She loved animals, she was funny. But this last year she became more and more lost, drifting away into that odd half life of Alzheimer's. She really wasn't "there" when another friend and I went to see her and sit by her with her husband.

It really sucks.

Friday, September 30, 2011

My New England Vacation - Part 2

After getting into the house Tuesday night, (GF was already asleep) we pretty much also went to bed. There was only one guest room and we shared a bed. Suffice to say, I ended up on the sofa after a couple hours, due to various incompatibilities. The next day we went out and had a nice lunch at a place called Brittany's just over the border in Northboro. SIL had a crab meat sandwich wrapped in a tortilla, I had a Monte Cristo sandwich. Very tasty. Then we found an Ocean State Job Lot and bought an air mattress for the empty dining room. That took care of sleeping arrangements. We also bought a few other things, it's a cook store.

After work on Thursday GF, SIL and I left for Cape Cod and her family's beach house. Traffic for the Labor day weekend wasn't too bad though we did run into traffic for the Patriot's game in Foxboro. Now that it's 3 weeks later, I can't remember if we did anything when we got there that night other than watch TV, walk dogs (GF's dog Kimba and her sister's dog Kai were staying there with her dad), perhaps have some dinner? We got there around 9 pm, so who knows what we did?
Kai on the left, Kimba on the right.

But for the next four days we had a blast! There was lobster one night at a friend's house. we brought a Michigan wine. There was lobster at restaurants, there was clam chowder, lots of clam chowder! The best I had was at a place called The Skipper.

Some of the places we went were Dick and Ellie's Flea Market in South Dennis, MA. That was fun, I bought a rubberized rain coat, been wanting a new one of those for years, and there is was, my SIL actually found it for me. I also bought a cool looking straw hat, made me look very beachy, a colorful floor runner for my hall made out of 98% recycled plastic. A pair of earrings, a small costume ring supposedly from the 1940's and a faux Chamilia bracelet with lots of dangly stuff.

Saturday we tried to go to the beach but the winds were gusting to over 25 mph, last vestiges of Irene, so we gave up barely two hours into it, it was warm but not fun getting sand continually blown in our faces.

Sunday we stopped at the National Seashore for a short hike on the way to Provincetown, at the tip of the cape taking my BF's sister with us.  Again, a great time with more chowder, lobster, shopping, checking out the sights, etc. On the way back we stopped at the Truro Winery for a tasting, bought a couple bottles, it was rather pricey, definitely a touristy kind of place.

View form hiking trail at the National Seashore

Provincetown with the Pilgrim Tower in the background.
Monday was the day we were leaving but we did a few more touristy things, one was a visit to the Monomoy Wildlife Refuge. Then we climbed an old stone edifice called Sago Tower. But this is enough for now, I'll post more photos another time.

Hell of a Couple Weeks

Haven't been in the mood to post more vacation stuff. Ended up with massive out ear infections in both ears a few days after my return. Horrible, horrible pain, even Tylenol -3's did not help. A fever closing in on 102 degrees. It came on fast on a Monday and of course, worsened that night. Couldn't see my physician's assistant till Tuesday afternoon. She put me on one antibiotic and ear drops, 10 in each ear twice per day. I ended up going back 2 days later because I had no relief in my left ear. She had to put a wick into that one to get the drops into the canal, it was completely closed up. Plus I got a second antibiotic. That finally did the trick but I was wiped out physically and my energy didn't return till today, almost 2 weeks later.

Then 2 nights ago I was stung by a bee on my ankle while walking back from Uncle Butch's with my dogs. I took 2 allergy pills, cleaned the spot and applied hydro-cortisone. It didn't really swell up or bother me very much till today when my ankle became red, hot, swollen and painful to the touch. So back to the doctor's office, and saw a different PA since mine has Friday's off. She cleaned it, put me back on antibiotics and after checking my ears decided it wouldn't hurt to do more drops for another week.

Do I even want to mention my neighbor's little dog Ernie, who decided to play eat my tire while backing out of his driveway? After rushing him to the vet doing 80 mph on back roads, they determined no broken bones, and the huge swelling in his groin is probably a hernia that will need surgery when he recovers from the initial trauma. I sincerely hope that this will teach Ernie to chase cars no more!

I need another vacation.

Good thing I have one coming up next week, assuming I live that long!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My New England Vacation - Part 1

I invited my sister-in-law, my husband's favorite sister (yes, she's his only sister but still his favorite) to accompany me to the fair state of Massachusetts, my birthplace, a nice place to visit, but a place I have no wish to live because it's expensive, crowded, over taxed, and I plain like Michigan better! I left northern MI on Monday, the 29th of August and reached SIL's place by 4 pm. We left the next morning in my car at 8 am and were in Ohio by 9am. Beautiful day, sunshine, fluffy white clouds, temperatures in the high 70s, low 80s.  Ohio went by swiftly, more swiftly than I remember but that's probably because I usually take this trip alone with my dogs and dogs are neither witty nor talkative.

After we got into New York, had rather sad looking  and pricey pita sandwich rolls at a rest area, passed Buffalo and got onto the Thruway we noticed signs stating that US90 was closed between Syracuse and Albany and everyone must exit at 34 A. I thought it odd that there would be that much construction going on to close the entire thruway for such a stretch so as we approached we listened to traffic radio and discovered it was due to flooding from Hurricane Irene. She wasn't that powerful a storm wind-wise but apparently was so full of water there were major floods inland and the Thruway was not immune. However, the detour we were expected to take, US81 south to Binghampton, NY  (67 miles) then US87 north to Albany (104 miles) was insane. It would be a 4 hour detour, adding more than 2 hours to the trip that normally takes less than 2. Instead after a little debate and map wrangling we took route 20 which parallels 90 about 10-20 miles to the south. That turned out to be a lovely road and took us through many nice little towns and past lovely scenery. It was also much more enjoyable than the proposed freeway detour. Yes it was slower and in the end the detour did add 2.5 hours to the estimated 12.5  hour trip, but it was shorter and less stressful than the one the highway department recommended.

When we got to the end of the detour and were about to get on 87 just before it joined back up with 90 we saw lots of flood damage. Trailer homes off their foundations, round hay bales scattered and piled up at the edges of the road, one had a wicker chair tossed on top. Trees and brush flattened for many feet beyond still raging rivers, evidence of mud scraped away from the road surface. It even smelled muddy. Very sad.

In the end we got to my GF's house at 11 pm on the nose. She was already asleep since she had to work the next day. We crawled into bed and spent the next day relaxing and hitting a discount store for various sundries until the drive that night to Cape Cod.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Macro Photography

A little over a week ago the lens on my Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ8 that I bought in December of 2008. I suspected a grain of sand from the beach the day before may have gotten into the works. Since it was dead it in the water I saw no reason not to try the "drop fix" suggested on the web by numerous sources to jar loose any foreign bodies. Instead of 6 feet though I dropped it on its corner from 3 feet onto a padded carpet. It unstuck. I was able to take 36 pictures the next day before it froze again. I let it sit for a couple days while I began looking on line for a replacement, then took the back off to see if I could get to the moving parts of the lens. But there were too many circuit boards in between so I just blew on it poked it here and there, turned it on and off over and over then, for the hell of it, poked a tiny screwdriver into the hole on top above the lens which happens to be the microphone opening. Lo and behold the lens retracted and things were back to normal.

Not wanting to waste any time I decided to find my manual and start using my camera the way I originally intended. I discovered menus I'd never seen before and techniques I'd never tried.  Sepia, black and white, playing with exposure controls and white balance, etc. As I had chosen this camera for it's manual capabilities it only made sense to explore. However, I had used the macro before and because many lovely things were in bloom I started snapping photos. Here are a few of my favorites so far.

1/30 sec  ISO 100 f5.6 focal length 36mm shutter priority
This is a hybridized Black Eyed Susan. I planted them from seeds almost 10 years ago and they have spread like weeds. Good thing I like them.
1/200 sec  ISO 100 f3.3 fl 32mm aperture priority
Commonly known as tiger lilies, this is actually a common day lily, hemerocallis fulva that grows wild all over the country. I received these plants from a friend and planted them along my pond and the swamp under the power lines in my yard. This was a rather unusual curly speciman that caught my eye.

A different view of a different pair from another day.

1/500 sec  ISO 100 f3.3 fl 32mm aperture priority
And below are water droplets on cattail leaves the morning after a rain storm. I really like this one a lot. Those drops are hard to get into focus without a tripod.

1/250 sec  ISO 100 f3.3 fl 32mm aperture priority
(edited for redundant phrasing)

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Few Photos

I have been negligent so thought I'd just post a few photos of the happenings around the swamp for the past 2 and a half months.

I thought I'd show what Ziggy's dinner place looks like every day when he eats. He doesn't pick up the ones on the outside either, but Luna does. I think she looks forward to his rings of Saturn though it doesn't help her waistline.

Ziggy also learned how to swim after watching Luna jump into the pond several times. He sort of fell in. After a few more times he began to leap in though he doesn't retrieve sticks. he just jumps in when he feels like it, does a couple circles and climbs back out. Usually he tried to climb onto Luna when she is climbing out as well. But now that is swimming he can go to the beach which we did a couple weeks ago at Negwegon State Park where he got to play in the waves and had a blast.

We visited my friend's house this spring and Luna and Tink, both females and only tolerant of each other had some weird sort of pushing contest. There didn't seem to be any obvious winner and it lasted more than 5 minutes. Very odd dogs.


I don't know if it's all the rain we had this spring and the super cool weather we had (till lately, it's been dry and in the 90s lately!) but my roses are doing wonderfully this year like they never have before. The pink one is a William Baffin climbing rose and the red one the Morden Fireglow.

And this final picture just happened when Ziggy sat in front of Rocket's grave while the daffodils I planted over him were in bloom. I thought it was a nice picture. It's unbelievable how much I miss that big brown dog but I think Ziggy is doing his best to plug that hole.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Weird Spring

Playing on the trail during 3 day rain storm.
Between late snow storms, unseasonably cold weather and more rain than the ground can absorb, it's been a nasty spring. everything is 2 to three weeks late, the tree leaves, the daffodils, everything. And the peepers, those little frogs that usually only sound off for a couple weeks have been going non-stop for more than a month. It's insane. I only got to plant my first vegetable seeds; snow peas, spinach and lettuce on May 1st. They finally sprouted a week ago. My daffodils did look great till the hail storm a couple days ago. Still, it could be worse, at least there hasn't been a tornado.

But Luna and the puppyman Ziggy are fine, Luna is here right now snoozing on the sofa after she unceremoniously dumped Ziggy at Uncle Butch's house. She's been doing that a lot lately, runs over there with him and then comes back home after he jumps on the door to their house to be let in. She's a sneaky girl who I think just wants to have some alone time with me.

I took them to Jewell Lake last week on what turned out to be a cold blustery day. Luna chased sticks into the water But Ziggy only waded in a little bit. I don't think he can swim yet.

Ziggy is 30 pounds now and has most of his adult teeth, his canines are finally starting to grow in, too. I'm starting to think he is going to stay on the small side though at only 4 months it's hard to be certain.

But it does look like he's learning not to chase the chickens. I keep a watch over him when they're all out together and he's being a very good boy.

Ziggy watching the chickens.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring? I Spoke Too Soon

Last night we had a winter storm. I am very annoyed. There are 5.5 inches of heavy, wet snow on the ground, and more to the north. The electric power went out around 3 am and stayed off until almost 12:30 in the afternoon. I'm beginning to think last year's volcanic eruptions may have something to do with this cold spring. I've not found a smoking gun on line yet but I'm not looking very hard.

Because of the wet snow both my satellite dishes were getting covered and messing with my TV and Internet reception so I got out the metal step ladder, got under the DirecTV dish on the big maple out front and began sweeping the snow off. Then the sky lit up like daylight BOOM, one hell of a crack of thunder. I kept cleaning the dishes though as I didn't get zapped. It boomed and flashed on and off for the next couple of hours.

I'm not sure what Luna thinks of this long winter, Ziggy is still so new to everything he just runs around like a maniac. I'm just sick of the whole thing.

Here are some photos.

It's already melting, probably lost 2 inches perhaps 3, but not fast enough for me. Supposed to go back into the 40s tomorrow and 50 the day after. But will it last?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spring Has Sprung!

At long last. The sun came back out yesterday and the daytime temps got back into the 50s. Fifty-five for a high yesterday, almost 55 today. They're predicting into the 60s for Saturday and Sunday. It's by no means permanent, 40s again by next Thursday are forecast but the snow is definitely on its way out now. No sign of any crocuses around here but hopefully it won't be long till they finally pop their heads out of the ground.

I noticed the buds on the maple trees are also swelling today, so in a couple weeks tree pollen should be driving a few people (you paying attention, Hal?) nuts. I am only slightly allergic to trees, it's grass that gets me and that won't get really bad till late June.

Sure am enjoying this weather.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Is Spring Finally Here?

Hard to say. We keep getting sleet or snow, Inch and a half 2 days ago which finally changed to rain and then melted yesterday though it stayed where old snow still existed. It's slowly creeping back into the low 40s for daytime highs but I swear this is the coldest spring I can remember. It's cloudy and breezy right now and perhaps 35. The forecast is showing 50 for Saturday, I'll believe it when I feel it. Tomorrow they say more snow showers. Not a sign of my crocuses yet, usually I have daffodils popping up by now.

Luna and Ziggy are still getting along well though one night she refuse to come home from Uncle Butch's house so I let her sleep there. Ziggy doesn't protest sleeping in his crate most of the time, but I have to go to sleep by midnight because he is invariably up by 7 am, 7:24 at the latest. He's still not quite house broken. Mostly he pees outside, but I don't know that he realizes he can only pee outside. Accidents are fewer now but I still can't trust him and as he still wants to chew everything in sight, I can't let him out of my sight. There are a couple new holes in the skirt on the sofa, who knows what I haven't discovered.

But he is adorable, check out this photo! He was probably 10 weeks old here, he's closer to 12 now.

 And here's a photo of Luna to show she is not forgotten.

I suppose I ought to let the chickens, guineas and ducks outside now, feed them and walk my pups.


Friday, March 25, 2011

A Surprise Spring Snow Storm

It was a surprise to me anyway. I had no idea it was coming till the day I was coming home from the spa. It was a big storm, stretched across several states. But for us it dropped about 10 inches of fluffier than expected snow. Luna and Ziggy seemed to enjoy it quite a bit. Since everything is still pretty new to Ziggy I think he enjoys just about everything.

We still managed to take a couple walks while it was snowing and here are some videos to prove it. Both are in my driveway. First one near the house, second one farther up the road.

The day after the storm was nice and sunny (as was today) and we walking some more. Not a lot else to mention so I'll leave it at that.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Went to a Spa

Last weekend I went to a spa just outside of Petoskey, MI at the Inn at Bay Harbor. First time I'd ever been to a spa or had a professional massage. I must say it was a very nice experience. I also had a facial and a pedicure. A weekend of firsts for me. I went with my mother-in-law and 4 sisters-in-law and a friend. I would say we had a blast. The rooms were great, the food was great and even the local casino was okay though I am not much of a gambler. I lost my $20 complimentary cash from the hotel pretty quickly. The whole trip was a Christmas gift from my father-in-law. Rather nice of him, I'd say.

Aren't those the prettiest toenails? The color is Peruby Ruby by OPI which, of course, has been discontinued so I bought a bottle of It's Greek to Me, which seemed close enough.

While gone I left Ziggy with Hal and Luna with Uncle Butch and his wife. Ziggy has a mild case of kennel cough so he has to stay away from most dogs. Luna had gotten a booster shot last month so she's fine. Every so often I would receive a text message from Hal stating things like "pup still alive." I do believe Hal had no idea what he was in for when he volunteered to look after the puppy by letting me get him before my spa weekend as opposed to after it. When I got back to the farm to drop my MIL off, Ziggy was waiting for me to take home.

Upon getting home I picked up Luna and my two pups acted as though they hadn't seen each other in years. Maybe that's true since dogs have such short lives. But in any case they seemed very happy to see each other again. They bonded so much more quickly than Rocket did with Luna. But then Luna has always been part of a duo except for these past 6 months while Rocket had 8 years of being the sole dog.

So here are a few photos of their reunion.


Such puppy love!

(edited to fix typo)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Here's My New Puppy!!

Well, after talking with Hal, I emailed the shelter Sunday night and Joe from the shelter called me the next morning. Before 1 pm Aunt Judy, Luna and I headed to Tawas City, MI. First we hit Wal-Mart and bought puppy chow, (same thing the shelter was feeding) then we went to the Iosco County shelter and attempted to figure out which of 7 rambunctious brothers and 1 extra 3 month old lab puppy would be lucky enough to come home with me. I don't think I played with all 7 brothers, I know the first one I pulled out was the 3 month old because he was a full blooded black lab and twice the size of the little ones. Some of them were very yappy so I didn't try too hard to play with them. At one point all 8 got out of the pen and ran up and down the hallway. It was not easy stuffing them back into the kennel.

Generally, I had 2 at a time in the playroom, settled on 2 and brought Luna in to see whom she liked. She didn't want anything to do with any of them, she backed right out of her collar to escape from the mayhem. I think the one I picked was pretty much one of the first I tried. He seemed very friendly and liked to snuggle with Aunt Judy while I was exchanging puppies. I am so glad she came with me because the only worker at the shelter said he had to stay up front so was no help at all.

I paid my $35, then we went to the vet on the way home and Dr King pronounced him a healthy, chunky handsome man. He got wormed and we finally got home around 6 pm. When we finally put him in the crate and went to bed he began howling and yapping so I had to drag the crate into the master bedroom before he would settle down. He then kept us up most of the night hacking and coughing and I suspected kennel cough but last night he was much better so I've got my fingers crossed he'll keep improving.

Luna also seems to be enjoying the new puppy much sooner than Rocket enjoyed being around Luna. Perhaps it's because they're closer in age, 2 months vs 5.5 years instead of 2 months vs 8 years. Or Luna is just less reserved than Rocket was. At any rate, it's good to see them play together.

Since then it's been up and down and in and out hold me, feed me, let me hump your leg. He's a cute little devil. As for his name, I'm still hovering between Comet, Boomer and Ziggy. He was Comet most of yesterday but I'm not feeling it, I think he's too small for Boomer and I'm liking the sound of Ziggy.

And Ziggy played guitar.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Looking for a Dog

I had actually found a sweet looking 9 year old chocolate lab at the shelter a couple weeks ago that was brought in as a stray but another family got there ahead of me and his photo is no longer on the website.

So I looked around some more and a different shelter has seven 9 week old male black lab/beagle mixes available. They are very cute. I am hoping I can take Luna in to see them later this week. Maybe we can find a new little buddy!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Winter Won't Go Away!

It's official, I am sick and tired of winter. Yes, I know spring is still 2 weeks away by the calender but we've had a few days of 40 degree temperatures and sunshine and then the cold would snap back into the 20s during the day and minus digits at night. And tomorrow we're expecting another 2-4 inches of snow.

*Heavy sigh*

February had quite a bit of snow. A blizzard in fact at the start of the month dropped about 18 inches of snow. Luna really enjoyd it though and I did too, as I haven't experienced a blizzard in years and I didn't have to do anything about it other than shovel the deck, feed the birds, load the woodstove, walk the dog and stay warm. Luna got lots of exercise leaping through it. Check out the video. She had lept off of the deck into the snow then discovered leaping back up was harder than she thought.

A few days of 40 degree temps a week later really shrank the snow base but then we had a 7 more inches last week and now we're expecting 2-4 tomorrow. I'm ready for spring to appear though. The sooner the better.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pictures from Christmas 2010

Pictures of the dogs anyway. I'm late with this entry because I was trying to write some poignant, significant piece but really, who wants to read depressing prose in the midst of a gloomy, gray winter? Last year was depressing enough having lost my mom and Rocket. My sister, her boyfriend, Hal and I managed to have a pretty good time anyway, and our 2 dogs, Luna and her niece Lyra had a blast. So, here's some "dogs having a blast" photos as well as a couple non-dog photos.

Luna giving Lyra a lesson in manners.

Essence of Charlie Brown.

This was the scrawniest Christmas tree ever. It was from the top of a 30 foot balsam that fell over in a wind storm sometime back in October. After Hal cut the top off to clear the trail into the woods, I stood it up in the swamp. Between the cold air and the water it managed to keep until Christmas rolled around. Since it was a volunteer, despite being poorly shaped, I figured it deserved to be our Christmas tree.

A little lazy wrestling beneath the tree.

This is MY plastic cup!

Tug o' war with my neighbor's dogs' toy.

We're very good doggies, may we have a biscuit?
As I said, it wasn't all about the dogs. There were a couple nice dinners as well, one of them being on Christmas day. Muscovy duck with stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, creamed corn and wine. Pies for dessert.

The annual duck dinner.
There was raspberry sauce to go with it.
 Lyra and her family stayed 3 weeks. The guys spent most of the time hunting, while we gals stayed home and baked cookies, played in the snow and did all the cooking. We also watched a few Christmas movies on the nice big flat screen TV we bought back in November. As a "transitional" holiday it was better than we expected it to be. I'm hoping this year's will be even better.