Sunday, December 6, 2009

The three L’s: Life, Love and Letting Go

For some time now, my beloved companion, Hannah (a German Shepherd Dog) has had some problems. It started with a limp last year and after X-rays, we found that she was having a degenerative problem along her vertebrae (neck and back) as well as some joints. We knew that her body would gradually give in to the degeneration. Not what we wanted to hear, but had to deal with and unfortunately Hannah had to live with.

In January, Hannah tore a cruciate ligament on her left knee and had to have that knee repaired. After the surgery it took some time to recover. It was a struggle, but she was a trooper, never complained and her knee healed nicely and was in good working order.

Last month (November) she tore the cruciate ligament on the other knee and had to have that one repaired. Not really a surprise, since this knee had to bear the weight of the other during the healing process. She was a very active dog. This knee was beginning to mend nicely.

Last Tuesday evening (December 1) I had a really bad night with Hannah. Upon coming home that evening, my husband was on the floor with Hannah and told me that she had gone down and couldn’t get up. She couldn’t use her front legs to walk. Hannah wasn’t paralyzed, she could move her front legs, but from the pasterns down, her front legs didn’t work. The next day wasn’t much better, the vertebrae problems in her neck had come to a head.

My husband and I knew this day would come, yet we avoided the conversation in hopes that it would not rear its ugly head. It had now knocked on our back door and we had to answer it. This knock happened much sooner than anyone had thought and it was loud.

I asked my vet come out and evaluate the situation. We decided to try a steroid treatment to see if we could get her joints to work again, if at least for a little time longer. It was the time that we so desperately wanted. We had 24 – 48 hours to keep our fingers crossed, pray for a miracle and hope that the drugs would work.

I slept on the floor in the evenings and either sat or lay next to Hannah during the day to be by her side. I tried to let her know that she was unconditionally loved and to make her worn out, deteriorating body comfortable. This was for 3 days and 3 nights. I tried to keep a constant vigil for her. If I got up for any length of time, I made sure to be close so that she could see me or have my husband sit with her so she wasn’t alone. As time went on and as fate would have it, she would gradually lose the use of different parts of her once able body.

At one point, when I was lying beside her, she was dreaming and I could see her legs move. I know she was dreaming of running. I hope she was dreaming of catching a squirrel or running off the vultures or crows as she used to be able to do. She was always the fastest dog in our house, with the speed, agility and athleticism of an Olympic champion and could catch a squirrel in a heartbeat. She was also a master guardian to my goats.

Through Hannah, I have learned the selflessness, devotion and love that a dog has for its owner. No one has said it more eloquently than George Graham Vest in a speech he made to a jury in 1870 in Warrensburg, Missouri. He lost a beloved Foxhound, Old Drum, from a neighbor viciously shooting it. The dog was more than a hunting dog to Vest, he was a family companion. Vest took the neighbor to court and won. Originally Vest was a lawyer and later became a senator. Here is his closing speech. I think it is worth a read:

Gentlemen of the Jury: The best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name, may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it the most. A man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads. The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog.
"Gentlemen of the Jury, a man's dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master's side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert he remains. When riches take wing and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens. If fortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies, and when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by his graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even to death."

When I would leave Hannah’s side for more than a few seconds, she would try to gather her broken body to follow me. She didn’t want to leave my side, even though her body failed her. All she wanted the most in this world was to be at my side. As her body became weaker and couldn’t lift her head, she would lap water from my fingertips to drink. In her last hours, I realized that I could steady her head up on my knees to offer her bowl to drink by herself so she could feel a sense of normality. She still wanted her water, food and treats and we gave them freely.

In the end, her mind was solid, her spirit was strong as was her love and loyalty. All she wanted was to be by my side, and since her body wouldn’t let her, I brought my body to her as she would have done for me.

We lost the battle, but know that we took every avenue we could. On Friday evening, I placed Hannah’s head in my lap and my husband and I, along with our caring vet, peacefully let her go. We all told her that we loved her, and I do feel that she felt she was surrounded by the unconditional love that she gave in this world.

Hannah was born December 31, 2002. She was a Christmas puppy. I decided to wrap her in a green Christmas themed blanket that had reindeer and Christmas trees on it. When we have had to bury dogs in the past, I have wrapped them in special blankets and had flowers in the yard to place on top of them in their grave. Some might think it morbid or silly, but I want them to leave with beauty surrounding them. It is something that eases the pain of my loss. I didn’t have anything in bloom this time of year so I went out and purchased a beautiful novelty Poinsettia to place in her grave with her. I carefully cut the flowers and leaves from the plant. I thought it would be perfect for her. My husband reminded me that we had a Christmas cactus and that it was starting to bloom. I looked at it and there was one single bloom. The rest were blossoms. I decided to pick the one full bloom to represent her life and some blossoms to represent her life cut short and not fully realized. She is now surrounded by them and is resting peacefully.

In memory of Hannah, instead of giving her a solemn funeral, I decided to celebrate her life. I bought my husband a brand of ‘dog’ labeled beer and myself a bottle of ‘dog’ labeled wine. I didn’t care if we liked it or not, it was going to be in celebration of Hannah’s life, and how we came to love her along with all of her special attributes. I told my husband that when he opened a bottle of beer, he had to say one thing that he remembered about her that he loved. The same thing went for me. If I poured a glass of wine, I had to say one thing that I loved about her. It made our loss, the loss of a beloved companion a little easier to process.

For my special Hannah:
Run as fast and swiftly as you can my beautiful girl as you used to be able to do, and continue to catch squirrels while you wait for me to cross over the rainbow bridge with you by my side.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

An early Christmas gift from me to you

I'm trying this for the first time. A giveaway collage sheet. I've made it on a Corel Draw program and think I have it figured it out on my computer so I can send it in an 8 X 10 sheet to you. It is all from a Palmer's Method handwriting book. Each piece that I have on the sheet is handwriting that are practice samples. My goodness...lots of practice for me to become this good at handwriting. Back in the day, it was very important to have beautiful handwriting because everyone wrote letters and notes by hand. Now we just type in letters in our computers and we are done. No more handwriting skills for us. I thought these might make some neat backgrounds in artwork.

If you would like a copy of this sheet, please respond to this post and let me know your email addy and I'll send it to you. All I ask is that it isn't sold by you (shame on you if you are so tacky), but is used in your artwork to trade. You can contact me at barefoot (dot) chef (at) yahoo (dot) com to privately give me your email addy.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

May your cauldrons be full and for those of you goolish gosties out there, witches and wicked pumpkins, as well as things that go bump in the night, I wish you a safe and happy Halloween. As for us...Darla is just going out as Underdog and fighting all of those who rob and plunder...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Let's Get Cookin'

I've not posted any cooking recipes and I like to cook. Shame on me! Today we will cook a dish from the 'Gumbo Shop' in New Orleans. You can substitute shrimp for the crawfish if you can't find them and use your favorite ham instead of the Tasso.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Tasso, it is a very spicy piece of pork. According to Wikipedia, Tasso ham is a specialty of Cajun cuisine. It is a spicy, peppery version of smoked pork made from the shoulder butt. In this case, "ham" is a misnomer, since tasso is not made from the hind leg of a pig. This cut is typically fatty, though leaner cuts are often used and have a great deal of flavor. The butt, which will weigh 7 to 8 pounds, is sliced across the grain into pieces about 3 in / 7.5 cm thick. These are dredged in a salt cure, which usually includes nitrates and sugar. The meat is left to cure briefly, only three or four hours, then rinsed, rubbed with a spice mixture containing Cayenne pepper and garlic, and hot-smoked until cooked through.

Tasso is not typically eaten on its own. It is used in dishes ranging from pasta to crab cakes, soup to gravy. Appropriate to its roots, tasso is most often found in recipes of southern or Cajun/Creole origin, such as jambalaya.

This is a dish that I made and served at my wedding...and yes, I used crawfish and tasso...


1 pound pasta, preferably imported Rotini or Fusili
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 pound tasso or smoked ham
1 1/2 cups shallots, chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
2 cups heavy cream (whipping cream)
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 pound peeled crawfish tails
1/4 cup parsley

First, gather your ingredients:

Cook pasta according to package directions, being careful not to overcook. Rinse in cold water and set aside.

Melt butter in a large skillet. Cut tasso in a 1/4 inch dice. Saute in butter until lightly browned. Add garlic, stir and cook for one minute. Add shallots and cook until tender.

Add cream, white pepper, cayenne and salt. Bring to a boil and cook about one or two minutes, or until slightly thickened, stirring often. Add crawfish (or shrimp) and parsley. Stir and cook for 2 or 3 minutes. If using fresh shrimp, make sure the shrimp are cooked through. This is what it will look like before adding the pasta:

Add pasta*, mix in well and cook until pasta is heated through. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 - 6 entrees or 8 - 10 appetizers.

*The sauce will thicken when the pasta is added and should also be slightly spicier before adding pasta.


Oh, and I did post about 'Chicken Creole' here:

Friday, October 16, 2009

She Had A Secret

Yesterday was a scary and mixed emotional day. While doing some dishes I looked out and saw Mr. Fox about 30 yards sitting and eying my chickens. I ran out the door yelling and screaming and he ran off. He was really quite a beautiful animal. A deep rich red with a beautiful thick bushy tail and the striking white tip. But the fact is that foxes and chickens don't mix unless you want the fox to have a fresh chicken dinner.

It was a rainy kind of day with the rain starting and stopping. My husband went out during one of the dry times and then came back in to get me. He couldn't find June anywhere. She was nowhere to be found. I went out with the special chickey bread that they all love and called. Only the guinea's and Ozzie came. No June. I looked and looked for her. No sign of her. I finally gave up knowing that the fox got his dinner. Poor June. What a horrible fate for her. My heart was very heavy.

I kept going out and looking for the fox to show up again. As I was looking out my back door watching Ozzie and the guinea's hunt and peck, from out of the garden area sauntered June. WHAT? She just waltzed over like nothing was wrong. I yelled and told my husband and he wanted to know if I was sure. Um, yes, I do know what June looks like. He came over to see her and asked where she came from. I told him I didn't know, just from the direction of the garden. I had looked over there but never saw her in the garden. I went out to give her some chickey bread that she had missed out on and then went to my sewing room to do some work.

I got to thinking...I bet she had started laying, after all, her waddles and comb are a deep red, indicating she is ready to lay and she has been giving me the "I'm going to have an egg" talk and then the "I've had an egg song". I kept telling her she was lying to me. After all I had looked for an egg and never found one. And when she didn't come for the call of a favorite treat, something was up.

I put on my muck boots and went to the garden. It is grown up now and is in desperate need of attention. What do you think I found? Not one egg, but 8. Yes, you read that right 8 eggs! I have the picture here to prove it.

You can see the one clean egg. That is the one she was laying while she went missing. The others are dirty from the rain and mud. I can't believe with all this rain, she lays there. I need to come up with a plan to get her in a better area if she will cooperate. I'm not sure if she is laying every day, every other day or what. For now, I took the fresh egg and put it in the fridge. The others are still there. I think I'll take an egg out and put a golf ball in it's place each day. Maybe that will trick her and the eggs don't go rotten and smell there. Hopefully she won't try to go broody on me this time of year.

At least for now, we still have our little June Bug. All is right in our world. Here is a picture of a young June.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

In The Eye Of The Beholder

Beauty, that is. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and in this case...this is beautiful (to me) or comical, whichever the case may be. This is One Toe, my male guinea at 3 1/2 months old. He really is quite comical to look at and along with my two guinea hens, they are the three stooges and comical relief around here. One Toe's waddles just shake and wiggle as he wanders around the yard looking for bugs. You just have to shake your head and laugh at he and the other guineas following my little bantam chickens around. I don't know if they have really figured out if they are guineas yet. I'm not sure if I'd like to look like One Toe or not, but I sure would love to have his eye color!

Now here is a video of the silly young man taking a dirt bath. Notice how lovely the dirt makes a white bird look...

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Mothers Love

Well, Harriet finally did it! She hatched an egg and became a mom. My husband named the egg before it was born and the name he chose was Gordon. Not sure if this is a girl (pullet) or boy (cockerel), but it sure is cute. This is a picture of Gordon peeping out from the warm comfort of his/her mom's wing. Mom has been busy keeping Gordon warm and trying to teach how to eat and drink and this little peep catches on fast. Amazing how nature works. Yesterday I offered Harriet her favorite treat of crickets and little Gordon dived right in. Harriet helped break up the cricket and Gordon was a little pig, loving every bite. Gordon is all of 2" tall when standing upright so is a tiny peep. We certainly are hoping this little peep grows up to be big and strong, just like his Bantam parents.

Here is a picture of the egg Gordon came out of next to a quarter for reference...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

She Wants To Be A Mom

Well, guess who thinks she might want to be a mom? My special little Harriet! That little hen just has my heart. I never thought I would ever be so in love with a chicken!!! I knocked her crate over while she was laying the other day with her in it and she didn't leave. Her little pet carrier (crate) is on top of a plastic milk carton and I was in a hurry, trying to cover her to protect her and her eggs from the rain. She has fussed at me over the last two eggs she laid. I didn't realize that she was beginning to be broody (wanting to set her eggs and be a mother). She has never fussed at me before. She has been staying with her just laid egg longer and longer and then when she leaves has been coming back once to sit on her egg for a while. Yesterday she only had her golf ball and got on it for a long time. I realized that she probably wanted her eggs to take care of. I had 3 in the house I was saving for the neighbor's incubator to try and hatch and I took out the golf ball when she took a break (it was totally warm from her!) and gave her the 3 eggs she had laid. She stayed on her eggs all day and when I brought out crickets that she loves so much, she wouldn't leave her eggs. When she did take her little break to potty, drink and eat, I brought crickets out especially for her. After a little stretching of her legs, she went back to her eggs. We brought her carrier (now bungeed to the milk crate that I knocked over) and put it in the pen where everyone roosts for the evening. I wanted her to be safe, or as safe as she can be. It goes back out in the morning and we will up her up in the evenings. She never moves while we move her crate! I don't know if she will/can hatch all, or one or none, but I am giving her the chance to be a mom. She want's it, and I want it for her. Just think, I could be a chicken grandmother!

Here is a video of her and what she does all day long...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Finding Harriet

As you saw in my last post, Harriet is quite small. She is an every other day kind of girl in the egg department. Today was the other day. Here is a photo of her egg by her golf ball. Yep, her golf ball. The golf ball gives her a hint that this is where she is supposed to lay. It helps so I don't have to play the Easter egg hunt game around the yard.

Now to finding Harriet. Not a problem, instructions are simple. 1. Go to the yard. 2. Ask, "Where's Harriet?" and call chicky-chicky-chicky. Here comes Harriet. Just tell her to run and hurry. She'll be at your beck and call in no time flat. Oh, and you'll get Ozzie and June along for the fun.

Harriet and Me

Just thought I'd share a picture of my best girl Harriet. She is fully grown and just a delight to be around! She comes running when I call (I always ask "Where's Harriet") hoping for a treat and when she is getting ready to have an egg, she comes and tells me. If I think it is about time and I am outside, I just pick her up, put her in her box and she has it. I can carry her around like I am holding her in the photo with her legs dangling. When hubby is under the hood of the car I bring her over so she can give her advice and recommendation. She actually looks under the hood like she is checking things out. This was her photo op after giving a consultation. Gotta love her!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mason Bees

Mason bees are delightful little pollinators. I understand that they are easy keepers and don't sting. If you want to collect honey, they aren't for you, they don't produce honey, just pollinate. They are slightly larger than a fly and smaller than a honeybee. They will take up residence in Woodpecker holes in trees. I found some outback on the wild Lambs Ear (at least that is what I call it) and have taken some photo's and a video of them pollinating. Please excuse the video for being a bit blurry in some parts...I need to learn how to work my camera/video taker. I have an old Pecan tree (photo is at the bottom of my blog) nearby and think that is where these are living. If you'd like to learn more about them just type in Mason Bees in your search engine.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Early Morning Riser

They say that the early bird gets the worm, but in this case, it is the early worker bee that gets the pollen! I was out feeding the outside animals and saw activity on a plant that seems to be a false lambs ear. The pic here is of a honey bee. Notice the pollen sac on her rear leg. She is going to take this home so her colony can pack it away and use it as 'bee bread' to feed the young larve. This certainly makes for happy bees and a happy family!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Trying To Get There

We have been working on putting tile down in the laundry/pantry area as well as the kitchen. It has been a slow and frustrating process. Dust everywhere, the refrigerator in the den area, mortar and grout getting stuck in the cracks of the tiles, things piled up on the counters with no counter to be seen in site. It is a rewarding process in the end, though still isn't finished. I still need to seal the grout, paint kickboards, find a home for the stuff on the counters, but it is getting there. Things are looking better and we are trying to get to the next project... Here is a during the process picture and an after the process picture. Notice that the fridge is now back where it belongs!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Doe In The Woods

Wildlife abounds around here. We live in a rural area and have woods surrounding two sides of our property. Saw this little doe grazing around the outside of our horse pasture and got the camera to video her. Wish I could have been closer. I couldn't believe it when she squatted to pee! She pee'd! I guess I didn't really think about it much. I see deer poop all around, but to actually see her pee was quite amazing for me. I guess I am easily entertained.

There is another doe around with two fawns that is around here. Now if I could just catch her on video...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Meet June

Well, I went and did it again. I went to the same place that was having yet another yard/tag sale where I bought the Nelsons and bought another chicken. This one is a 12 week old Buff Black Tailed Japanese Bantam pullet. I call her June (as in June Cleaver). Harriet and June are having some issues, but things are working out. June just can't get near Harriet or between Harriet and Ozzie. If that happens, Harriet yanks the dickins out of Junes feathers and sends her running. Harriet is becoming a little more tolerant of June and June is beginning to learn the ropes around here. Bless her little chicken heart...she is trying hard!

Well, I guess I've started my flock of mini chickens and I'm hoping the hubster won't ban me from more yard sales...

Monday, June 22, 2009

He's A Big Boy Now

Chickens can really be funny some times. This morning I put my stainless steel garbage can out on the patio so I could clean it later. I didn't think anything more until I went to feed the goats and horse. Low and behold Ozzie found himself in the stainless steel and thought it was an intruding rooster. He had to protect his territory and Harriet and it was really quite comical. Harriet sat on a patio chair watching her hero protect her. When she finally got down, Ozzie pushed her away from the intruder with the down wing position, herding her to safety. After all, she is his alone, isn't she? He has been doing this to her all morning. I guess he needs to let her know he is the boss and she goes where he tells her. No other boyfriends for her! Funny thing is...she follows him around everywhere. He doesn't have to do a thing. I finally had to pick the can up and put it in the house so he wouldn't hurt himself.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Meet The Nelsons

Not just your ordinary couple. This is Ozzie and Harriet. They are a pair of Fawn Duckwing Bantams. I went to a yard sale yesterday (in some area's they are known as tag sales) and saw this couple and fell in love with them. I'd been thinking about getting some chickens, but not sure if they would work out here. At the moment, they are in a dog exercise pen that is covered. They have their water and a place to roost, a place to nest and even their own umbrella to shade them when the sun is overhead. I can take them out, let them roam around and then catch them to put them up. I saw them mating yesterday and am hoping to find some tiny eggs soon!

Look how they love to pose for the camera...

Ozzie is on the left, Harriet is on the right.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Apitherapy News: Video: Bees Swarm, Take Over NYC Sidewalk

Apitherapy News: Video: Bees Swarm, Take Over NYC Sidewalk

Click on the link above and check this out! Bees in NYC. Can you believe it? So glad that a beekeeper came along to get them to safety!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Here We Go Once More

Well, the new window came in for the bathroom. Now that there was a wall where the opening had to be cut to put the new window in. Another mess in the bathroom. At least Darla was having a good time looking out!

Here is the new window waiting to be trimmed in...

Now on to getting the bathroom done!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Baby Bluebirds about to fledge

Yes, I have been watching them. There is a family of Bluebirds that have taken up residence in an Alabama shaped Bluebird house that is close to our house. There are two youngsters. The dad seems to be the one who feeds and cleans up after them. Here is a video of the second one fledging today.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Oops...they did it again!

Oh my. I've not been in my hive to check on them to see how they were doing. Apparently they were doing too well and needed more space. The girls swarmed today. I was outside working in the yard and heard an all too familiar whir and buzz that was coming from the apiary. I looked, and sure enough the girls were swarming. Bees were everywhere flying madly about. All I could do was to stand and watch to see where they would decide to take up temporary residence. Luckily, it was on a low branch. I got one of my neighbors to come over and help me collect the little bundles of joy to put them in a new hive. Hopefully, they will like their new digs and stay put. I'll find out in a day or two.

Now here is a closeup of the little darlings...

Sunday, March 22, 2009


My goats can be a lot of fun. Jackson is a purebred Nubian and is my first goat. He was raised as a bottle baby and was raised in the house. He thinks he is special. We took naps on the couch together. He never pottied in the house. I can go into the pasture and pat the ground next to me and he will lie down to get pats.

If you go to my YouTube site you can see a video of him. Although he does lie down with me, the camera is just too much of a curiosity for him to deal with.

Funny boy he is!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Spring Is In The Air

Wow, what a difference a week makes. Last Sunday we were pelted with snow and today it is 74 and sunny. I guess that is the way spring goes. It certainly is nice to see some of the flowers made it out from that blanket of white. Hopefully, the white stuff will take a hike until winter is back.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Opportunists

We've had some really strange weather here this winter. Warm one day, then freezing the next. It is really hard on the bees. I lost one of my colonies during the snow. I took out all of the frames to clean up the hive body and super. The frames had capped honey in them, so I took the ones from the supers and harvested them and then left the hive body frames with the capped honey out for my other colony to clean up. They sure did love it as you can see in the short video. I went into their hive box before they found what I left for them to see if they were doing ok, and sure enough they are going like gang busters. The hive is full of bees and they have started building comb on top of their super so I went ahead and put another super for them to fill. This one will be for me. March is the time that our bees get going here in Georgia and hopefully this colony will do well with their honey production this year.

Oh, and by the way, this colony is the swarm I caught last year.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Snow In Georgia

You wouldn't believe it is March here and spring is around the corner. We had snow for several hours on Sunday. It was a light wet snow and the flakes got to be the size of a quarter. No light dusting this time. We got about 7 inches. In the photo, I took the picture the next morning after the snow was starting to pack and melt. We were fortunate that we didn't lose power like a lot of folks around here. Here in the south we aren't prepared for snow. In my county, the schools were out for 2 days. I took this short clip during the afternoon. If you go to my YouTube page , you can see more short clips that I took of the snow.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Meet Hambone

Well, a month ago I went to get my mail and a dog was in the road by my mailbox. I always shoo stray dogs because I don't want them on my property. I have some really irresponsible dog owners around me who just let their dogs run loose. I don't want someone else's dog on my property to chase/upset my goats and I certainly don't them here bringing disease. Not to mention tearing into my trash, pooping in my yard and me having to pick up after someone else's pet.

At any rate, I tried to tell the dog to 'get'. He rolled over in the road and stayed there. I could tell he had a soft temperament and was an older dog. I went back to my house and he followed me. What can I say? I took him in (named him Hambone because that is what he looks/acts like). I called neighbors and they told me he had been seen for at least a week running around. I called animal control, the local humane society and all of the local vets as well as putting ads in local papers and Craigs list. I even had him checked for a micro chip. No one was looking for him. Seems as though someone just dumped him off. What a pathetic thing to do.

He is sweet, gets along with other dogs, housebroken, heartworm free and an all round happy fellow. Who could do something like this to him? At one time he was someones loved pet.

I called my vet and she works with a local group that is a no kill shelter. Most animals are being fostered until they find a forever home. I have been Hambone's foster home. This is a great group. They take care of all of the animals health care and food. Hambone not only got a fecal, he was tested for heartworms, he got his shots, teeth cleaned and microchipped at their expense. This group sets up at PetSmart every Saturday to show off the adoptable pets. They require a 3 page application to be filled out, a home inspection (for 3 reasons, one to see that there is a home at the address given, two to see that they actually have a fenced in yard with four sides and a gate if they claim to have one and three to make sure that they are not hoarders, meaning they don't collect dogs/pets because they feel sorry for them and have too many). There is also a $200 adoption fee which is really cheap when you consider the price of spaying/neutering, heartworm check, fecal, worming ect. I took Hambone there and on the first Saturday, someone fell in love with him. It has taken a few more weeks for paperwork to be filled out, a home inspection done and tomorrow Hambone will go to his new home. He will be a companion to a new family and a 13 year old boy who wanted him to love. I would say that this is a good ending for this delightful fellow!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Yet Another Try

Set aside some time to try another plum blossom on a more appropriate paper. It does take a good amount of practice. It is fun to watch brushstrokes become something familiar. I do like this one better and will keep trying...

Monday, February 2, 2009

My First Attempt

Ok, I've tried to attempt some plum blossoms with my Chinese brushes. It wasn't the correct paper (didn't absorb well), and was only an envelope that I used to paint on. I however did use the black inkstick and tried to copy some colors with the watercolors I had on hand. I didn't have a seal, but used a stamp that was supposed to be a Chinese coin.

Hopefully this first attempt (after practicing) isn't crummy. I know what I need to do differently and I think with practice and time I will get better.

Friday, January 23, 2009

She Doesn't Deserve It

As many of you know, I don't have children, but I do have dogs. Many don't know the love of an animal, and the love you have for them along with the bond you create between the two of you. I spend many hours in training for various AKC titles, and when you spend this amount of time with the dog/animal, you form an extremely close bond with the dog/animal you are working with. You learn to notice little differences in body language when working with them, and learn to read their body language. My relationship with Hannah is no exception.

Hannah is a German Shepherd Dog. She just turned 6 years old on this new years eve. She is brave, protective, a guardian of my small goat herd, a friend, companion to all other dogs here, and a loyal friend to me. She is always good natured, happy and delightful to be around. She is very loved.

Last year she began to limp on one of her back legs and I took her in for X-rays. Her hips seemed fine, so I chalked it up to pulling something due to the fact she loves to run so hard. I kept her inside with R&R for 2 weeks. A couple of weeks later, it happened again. I just thought she had once again pulled or sprained something. When it happened again a few months later, I took her in and requested more X-rays. We redid her hips along with her back and neck. Low and behold, she had compression going on in her neck and spine. Not only did she have compression, but little spurs growing out of several of her vertebra. She was in severe pain. She had been for some time. We put her on pain killers and steroids to relieve the inflammation. She was also put on 'bed rest'.

A couple of nights ago, she ran a bit and then began limping. After a vet's visit, she was diagnosed with 'Ruptured Cranial Cruciate'. She has torn a ligament in her knee. She will now be going to have surgery on Monday to try and repair it. While recuperating, she might be using her other leg/knee so much that she will damage it and have to have surgery on the other knee.

She is such a sweet and good natured dog. She always tries to please you and do whatever you ask. Throughout all her pain, she has never been the least bit snippy. She doesn't deserve this. This whole time all she does is wag her tail and give you kisses.

The photo I have posted is when she finished her AKC C.D. title.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Delightful Gift

For Christmas, I received this lovely Chinese brush, ink stone and ink stick set. My stepdaughter purchased in China and thought that I might be able to use it. How wonderful is that?

In the upper picture you can see the ink sticks on either side of the case. They are beautiful and ornate. They are so lovely that you almost hate to grind them down to use. The lower picture is of the ink stone with the lid removed. It too has a wonderful ornateness to it. It is heavy as well.

Chinese brush painting is supposed to be therapeutic and relaxing. When slowly grinding the ink stick on the ink stone, you are to meditate and contemplate about what you are going to paint. The grinding process also relaxes and loosens your hand and wrist muscles. A friend of mine, Stewart, who lives in the UK does this type of work and says "you can smell the charcoal of the pine forest from which it (the ink stick)was made." Wow, smelling the forest/tree from which it came! That would certainly make one slow down, reflect and enjoy the wonder of the ink.

For a little history in Chinese brush painting, go here.

This is a neat website that has some lessons in Chinese painting.

If you google Chinese ink painting or Chinese brush painting, you can learn more about it. I can't wait to get some nice paper now to give it a go.