Friday, November 21, 2014

We Love Lucy

This has been a rather stressful week for our Lucy.  A creature of habit, she does not like changes in routine.  With the workers still working on our new fireplace she has been limited to the den while they are working.  She loves people and is certain they are here for her to entertain.  So she is better off away from the workers and in the den with either me or my husband.

I think she is looking for new items to use as pillows.  In this instance, it is one of my husband's shoes.  She seems quite comfortable.

 Her hearth is gone completely.  When it is rebuilt it will be only 2 inches high.  Until then she decided to just let her head drop off the bed to the floor.  If she intended to make a statement, it was totally missed as she fell fast asleep.  You can see the outline of the old hearth.  It seems the builders finished the floor before installing the hearth.

It has been a rather chilly week for us but it is finally beginning to warm up to normal for the date.  (I do not use the word "cold" out of deference to our daughter who lives in Milwaukee.)

I will be so happy when the new fireplace is finished and our great room is back in order.  Might as well not have decorated for Thanksgiving this year since most everything is either moved or covered with a drop cloth.  Can it really be?  Is Thanksgiving next Thursday?

Our quote for today is by Franklin Delano Roosevelt:
“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.” 



Monday, November 17, 2014

iPod Photos

The first day of our daughter's visit, she and I drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway to the East.  I had my usual Nikon SLR with me and also my latest generation iPod.  I took photographs with both cameras and I must admit I was quite surprised at the quality of the iPod photographs.  So all of these pictures were taken with it.  How easy it is to stick in one's pocket, pull it out and shoot.  Makes me wish all the more that we had cell phone service at our house so I could have an iPhone.  But we are in a tiny "no bar" reception area.

Our first stop was at Craggy Gardens, best known for the gorgeous rhododendrons blooming profusely in the early summer.  At this elevation, most of the color was gone from the trees.  But it was one of the most clear days we have seen in quite a while.  And we were enjoying almost record-high temperatures.

Across the road from the visitor's center

We continued our drive, going higher and higher in elevation all the while.

 The distant mountains were gorgeous

 We arrived at Mt. Mitchell, highest point in NC
In fact, the highest point east of the Rockies

 We stopped for lunch at the restaurant near the top of Mt. Mitchell.  The food was good and our waiter was hilarious.  He called us "doll babies" and if you could have seen him and his drag-queen mannerisms you wouldn't have minded it either.  Daughter felt like a teenager among the old folks.  Most unfortunately, I felt right at home.

 Filled with a delicious lunch and enjoying the rockers in the warm sun.
The lady standing behind was breathing hard and leaning heavily on her cane.
But not one of those old farts was about to give up a seat.

 Descending a few thousand feet in elevation, we found plenty of color.  Gorgeous color.  That's one of the best things about living in the mountains...a twenty mile drive makes a huge difference in the Autumn color.

We spent every driving on mountain roads.  And the weather was perfect.  I still sort of miss my old (ten years old in fact) car, but my new one really does love the mountains even more than the old one did.  It has four turbo modes and goes effortlessly up the mountain inclines.  The more I drive it, the better I like it.

Friday, November 14, 2014

We Love Lucy

Much cooler air has swept through the South as it has over much of the US.  Our daytime highs are lower than our typical lows.  At least we did not get snow and the sun is shining.

Poor little Lucy has had a rather bad week.  She had a hot spot and the assistant who shaved the area knicked her skin in several places.  Our veterinarian gave us Prednisone and a topical cream.  The area improved.  Then my husband and I washed the area with Softsoap.  We failed to notice that it was anti-bacterial.  Apparently something in the soap irritated the skin and the next morning the area looked much worse with evidence that she had been scratching and biting it during the night.  We applied topical Benadryl and it seemed to calm things down.  Then, after a romp in the park she developed severe itching.  Back to the veterinarian.  We started her on an antibiotic and oral anti-itch medication along with the ointment and she is improving rapidly.  She hates to be scolded so when we stop her from scratching, she is very sad for a while.  But I try to tell her it's better than a cone.

A very sad pup after being gently scolded
She looks as sad as Harlow   (here)

 A creature of habit, Lucy does not like for things to be disturbed.  She doesn't like it when we decorate the house for holidays, especially if we move any furniture.  And today we have workers pulling off shingles on the outside of the chimney.  They have moved several pieces of furniture and put down mats to protect the floor and rug as they will begin dismantling the hearth in preparation for  a new fireplace insert.

 After today, there will be no hearth for Lucy's head.
Only the large stones covering the hearth will remain and they will be at floor level, making a two-inch hearth.
No longer suitable for a pillow.

Lucy's skin is nearly healed and she is no longer itching.  She really looks forward to her pill sammiches...Laughing Cow cheese spread on little pieces of bread and folded over the pills.  She will be glad (and so will I) when the project is completed, hopefully by next Friday.  I hope she won't miss the taller hearth too much.

The following quote is anonymous but rings true.  It reminds me of the divisive politicians  who now want us to all "come together."  The new Senator who unseated Kay Hagan in the most expensive senatorial race in history is pleased that the threats of ISIL and Ebola kept voters from looking at his dispicable performance as leader of our General Assembly.  [And yes, I AM TOO trying to get over it.]

A man may smile and bid you hail
Yet wish you to the devil.
But when a good dog wags his tail
You know he's on the level.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Celebrating the Life of Ellie

I had a wonderful blogging break.  Our daughter and I traveled the mountains and had perfect weather.  Until the day she went home in a terrible early snowstorm.  More about that later.

Today marks one year since our beloved Ellie died suddenly.  While we still miss her every single day, the pain is less and we spend more time reflecting on her life than on her death.

 Ellie's first day as part of our family

 Her favorite little yellow duck which she carried with her constantly.

 She loved the Wisconsin snow

 She was a perfect dog.  Friendly, amusing, and loyal

My favorite picture of Ellie.  Standing in the hall entrance pleading with me to come out of my study and spend some time with her.

I've been lucky enough to have two "heart dogs."  My first heart dog, an English Springer Spaniel named Tipsy Pudding was with us for sixteen years.  Our next Springer Spaniel (my husband's heart dog) was named Penny Lane and was with us for 15 years.  Our Ellie was gone too soon, barely ten.

Dichi Sirius Eleanor Rose, we were so very fortunate to have you in our lives and you will never leave our hearts.  Dear sweet Ellie:  June 21, 2003 to November 10, 2013.

Friday, October 24, 2014

We Love Lucy

We have enjoyed some wonderful Autumn weather this week.  The trees are not very beautiful with dull color and lots of brown leaves falling.  But the mornings have been crisp with frost most of them, and the afternoons have been sunny.  It is a dog's best weather and Lucy has been full of energy.

Sprinting along

 She does love to run

 She got a little bored when we made her stop and rest for a while.

I'm taking a blogging break for a couple of weeks.  Our daughter is coming for a visit and we will hit all the nearby mountains and towns and maybe some not so nearby.  I won't return until after Election Day so I need to encourage all of you to vote.  And don't concern yourself only with the Governor, Senate, and county elections.  Perhaps even more important in some states is the vote for State Supreme Court and District Appeals Court judges.  What better way to control the nation than to control the court system?  (And if you don't believe this, look at the actions of the Roberts Court and what the Citizens United vote did to manipulate our election process.)  This is especially true here in North Carolina where a single party controls the State Senate and House as well as the governor's seat.  They are desperate for like-minded judges less inclined to listen to appeals of some of the more onerous laws they have passed during their controlling time in office.

Judicial races are supposedly non-partisan, but a little bit of reading will give you an idea of which candidate  is more conservative and which is more liberal.  Find the candidate who reflects your views.  Despite the importance of these votes, many people vote blindly for judges.  And that is a shame.  So do some research and don't just vote for someone whose name sounds vaguely familiar.  Or who attended law school at the university of your favorite athletic team.  Be informed. These votes are crucial.

Today's quote is from John Quincy Adams:
"Always vote for principle though you may vote alone.  And you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost."


Monday, October 20, 2014

Annual Tribute

Once again I will reprise this story about two marvelous people.  There is an update near the conclusion of the post.

They met on a blind date and took an instant liking to each other. Much of their courtship consisted of hiking in the mountains of western North Carolina. She was three years his senior, a fact that brought many laughs in years to come. They were married in 1949.

He became a lawyer. A lover of animal, she became a veterinarian, rather unusual for her time. Her continued quest for knowledge led her to take courses in forestry, icythyology, and she loved and studied all things living. She would later give up her veterninary practice to take college-level science courses full time.

They lived in Montana and in New York, but their passion was for western North Carolina where they always intended to retire. The couple were true lovers of the outdoors. When their children grew up they traveled extensively, hiking some of the most rugged mountains in the world. They always stayed in hostels or inexpensive lodging because, as he said, "You meet so many more interesting people that way."

When they were in their 50s he hiked the entire Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia. She joined him for parts of the hike and they celebrated with champagne at the end of the trail. Other hikers were delighted with her ability to identify every tree, every bush, and every flower along the trail.

In 1990 John and Irene Bryant moved to the North Carolina mountains they loved so much.

Both photographs from the Transylvania Times

She was an avid gardener and an award-winning quilter. Their passion was hiking, especially the lesser known trails in Pisgah National Forest. They were stewards of the land, purchasing land in their community and donating it to be a nature preserve.

After 58 years of marriage they were deeply committed to one another. The continued to hike together...she in her 80s and he almost 80. They hiked at least once a week, often on the trails of nearby State and National forests.

Their last Christas card.

On October 21, 2007 they went for a hike in Pisgah National Forest. Their son who lived out of State was concerned when he didn't hear from them. He contacted neighbors who also were concerned that they had not returned. The son called the local police.

The car was found near a trail head here in Transylvania County. On November 9, 2007, Irene's body was found near the trail, not buried but covered with leaves. Telephone records showed that she had made a "911" call from her cell phone on October 21 but the signal was insufficient to relay beyond the tower. Their bank card was used in nearby Tennessee.

Irene Bryant had died of blunt force trauma to the head. Her husband John was still missing.

In February 2008 the remains of John Bryant were discovered near a forest service road in upstate Georgia. He had been shot in the head.

Evidence linked the senseless killing of this wonderful and devoted couple to Gary Michael Hilton, although he was not immediately charged.  Following the deaths of Irene and John Bryant,  Hilton pleaded guilty to an equally senseless murder of 24-year-old Meredith Emerson in Georgia. Under the terms of a plea bargain he was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 30 years.  He was tried in Florida for the murder of Cheryl Dunlap, a 46-year-old nurse.  He was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death.  Hilton is considered a serial killer, having murdered at least four people in three different states.
[Update:   Hilton was extradited to Federal court in Asheville, NC and charged with murder, robbery, and kidnapping in the cases of John and Irene Bryant. He initially pleaded not guilty but in March, 2012 he changed his plea to guilty.  He was sentenced in Federal court to four additional life sentences for kidnapping and murder.  Hilton, now 67 years old is on death row in Georgia.]

But this post is not about Gary Michael Hilton. It's not even about justice. There is no justice here. There can be no justice for such heinous actions. This post is about two of my heroes...John and Irene Bryant.

They left behind a legacy of love. Love for each other, their children, their fellow man, and the future. Love of nature, love of the outdoors, and love of these wonderful North Carolina mountains. They are together once again and after seven years we still grieve for them. They left the world better than they found it. Let's all take a lesson from John and Irene Bryant. Live your life to the fullest and give back to nature and to humankind.

Friday, October 17, 2014

We Love Lucy

We had severe weather earlier in the week.  Extremely high winds and 7 inches of rain before the storms subsided.  Seeing our trees swaying back and forth like blades of grass was a bit scary.  Fallen leaves and tree limbs were everywhere as the storm blew away much of the colorful Autumn foliage.

On the first nice day, we decided to take Lucy to the Biltmore Estate to walk the trail along the French Broad River.  It is such a lovely place and especially beautiful this time of year.  As we drove down the mountain the day became more gray and foggy.  We decided to go somewhere closer and ended up at the Pink Beds in Pisgah National Forest  (HERE).  The area was deserted except for us.  So we broke the rules and let Lucy run off lead in the large grassy picnic area.  We feel safe doing this because she immediately runs to us if she sees any other people and she is consistent at recalls.  She doesn't chase squirrels or other animals and the picnic area is sufficiently far away from the parking lot that we could see anyone approaching.  And we are always prepared for poop patrol.

She took off like a rocket, smiling all the way.
(If you enlarge the photos you can still see the shaved area from her hospital visit.  The hair is finally filling in)

 She kicked up her heels

 She stops every now and then to see where my husband is.

 We made her stop and rest, but she wasn't going to take it lying down.

We love the fact that Lucy is well-behaved enough to be allowed some freedom to run even if it is technically illegal.  One place we would never break the leash rule, no matter how empty the area, is at the Biltmore Estate.  When you arrive with a dog in the car, the staff will tell you very politely about keeping the dog on lead.  And then he/she gives an additional cautionary statement...that if you are caught with your dog off lead, they will confiscated your annual passes.  'Nuff said.

We are absolutely thrilled that Lucy has not had any seizure activity and nothing abnormal at all.  We are getting more content that it was an isolated occurrence and idiopathic in nature.

Our thought for today comes from our beloved friend, the late Fred Rogers:

We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility.  It's easy to say, "It's not my child, not my community, not my world, and not my problem."  Then there are those who see the need and respond.  I consider those people my heroes.

We all share this planet together.  What affects one area, affects us all.  We, here in the richest country on the planet owe our help to those less fortunate.  It IS our child, it IS our community, it IS our world, and it IS our problem.  Try to do something to help, no matter how small.  A lot of people doing small things becomes very large indeed.