Friday, March 30, 2012

Fridays are Golden

Several people commented on my last post about bath day.  Apparently some groomers sedate the dogs.  Be assured that our groomer does not do that.  She has a small number of clients and does the bathing and grooming in a converted porch in her own home.  We were delighted and surprised at how inexpensive her services are.  Once when I went to pick up the girls there was a woman picking up her little Maltese.  She asked the groomer, "forty-five dollars, right?"  After she left, I told the groomer that I hadn't know she had increased her rates and that I had only a check plus tip but I would come back with the remainder.  She then told me she had not raised her rates but that she charges based on how difficult the grooming is.  I was quite proud when she told me that our girls never have any matting, their ears are always clean and they behave so well that she can do both of them more easily than the little Maltese.

So the zombie conditions have nothing to do with sedation.  The other time we have zombie girls is following a visit to the veterinarian and that is usually a rather short visit.  When we start out in the 4x4, they are happy and assume we are going for a hike or a run along the dam.  They are alert to the turns and there is a set point where Lucy realizes...hey...this is not the way!  Stop!  This route goes to the groomer or the vet!  She starts what we call 'stress whining' as if she is trying to tell us something.  Ellie would otherwise be fine but she is attuned to Lucy's distress and while she doesn't whine she is clearly affected.  Thus both dogs are exhausted by the time we reach the groomer or the vet.

We have a lot of fun with our dogs.  And sometimes we have fun even when they are not moving around.  We often laugh at them and the places they choose to sleep.

Lucy loves a pillow.  If none is available she will use Ellie, or a pair of shoes, or the chair rung.

 I cannot imagine that could be comfortable but it must be since she fell sound asleep.

 Lying parallel in the sunshine, Lucy half on and half off the bed.

 The same Lucy who usually wants a pillow is also content to lie with her head lower and her body on the bed.  You figure.

This is proving to be our county's second warmest March since temperatures were recorded; second only to March 1945.  We have truly enjoyed the awakening spring.  We spend a lot of time outdoors and the dogs love the early morning and late afternoon romps.

It's only reasonable that today's quotes  are about dogs.  This one is from Dave Barry:
"You can say any fool thing to a dog, and the dog will give you this look that says, 'My God, you're RIGHT!  I NEVER would have thought of that.'"

And a similar one from Samuel Butler:
"The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too."

And in today's troubled world it is nice to occasionally make a fool of oneself in front of a non-judgmental pet.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Of Course It Didn't Take a Week

Well, you see?  The weather has been magnificent and while we did get the DSL installed I have been playing hookey from blogging.  So that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it.

It did take the better part of the day for the installation.  Our contractor apparently split all the telephone wires from one trunk when the house was built.  With so many splits, our reception was not good.  So the installer had to pull a line specifically for the router.  And with our house and its high ceilings and angles, this was not an easy task.  But he figured it out and now we are happy we will be able to stream.  Especially since round ball is coming to an end.  Actually it ended with the 'Heels rather sooner than we would have wished.  Plagued with injuries they did not make it to the final four.  Our interest is turned to the Louiville vs Kentucky, one of the most fierce rivalries around.

The Golden Girls got baths last week.  We used to bathe them ourselves because we have a great place for doing so.  Then, when we had an injured player I found a great groomer.  Believe it or not, she trims and bathes both dogs for fifty dollars!  So I did some thinking...we usually did the process in two days.  One day to trim nails, pawpads, and ears.  One day to bathe them.  Throw in the dirty clothes and towels, along with our time and its a no-brainer to take them for grooming.  Their time at the groomer allows us to mop their room, wash the feeding dishes, change the crate pads, etc.

Fortunately the groomer has a very large crate that will hold both of them.  We take them for a long walk before they go to the groomer and they are totally exhausted when we pick them up.  They just lie around glassy-eyed the rest of the day.  (Which is different from their usual lying around without the glassy eyes.)

That afternoon they looked rather like zombies so my husband decided to go out on the deck and snap a picture or two.  He had to bend down for the shots.

Two zombie dogs and a pair of human legs.  On any other day, the girls would have stood up at the door demanding to go out on the deck with the human.

Look at that calf definition.  Does he ever miss a day of exercising?  Yep, he takes the day off every Sunday.

Well, it's another perfect day and we are all headed to the trails.

Monday, March 19, 2012

And Around the Front Yard

Plants are blooming all over the front yard.  Some are much earlier than usual due to the amazingly mild weather we have had.

The camellias often drop their buds but this year the blooming has been spectacular.  We are in a marginal zone for them but occasionally we get lucky.

One of the old fogeys with a stogie looks up at Lenten Roses.

This camellia has never bloomed before and gave us quite a surprise.
This bloom is on the lower part of the plant.

And this bloom is from the same plant.  About half the blossoms are pink and the others almost white.

Another old fogey, this one without a stogie.

We do have a lot of the old fogeys underneath the plants.

No southern yard is complete without at least one garden gnome.
At least this one brought his wheelbarrow and works.  BTW:  Did you know that these gnomes all have names and descriptions and many people collect them?  This one came with a family history!

St. Francis watches over all.  The vines that surround him will soon open to beautiful yellow blossoms.

I'll be taking a blogging break for a week or so.  We are finally able to get a DSL line so we will change from our wireless (inconsistent) provider to the DSL provider.  Definitely a change for the better because our location gives us a marginal wireless reception.  But still a pain as we make all the changes in email addresses, etc.  Have a wonderful week and a weekend filled with basketball as the teams head for the "Sweet Sixteen."

Friday, March 16, 2012

Fridays are Golden

The first cue is the water bottle.  When we fill it, the Golden Girls know that we are going for a ride and a romp at the lake or hike on the trails.  At the first sight of the water bottle Lucy starts her "stress" whining.  She runs to the door, then back again, then back to the door.  I am so glad she cannot talk.

Lucy looks out the open door wanting us to get in the car and go.

Two happy Goldens, running in tandem.

Look at that smile!

Ellie sits for a minute to catch her breath.  The smile doesn't leave her face.

North Carolina is called the Tar Heel State.  (I'll have to write about that sometime.)  UNC Chapel Hill (which is the REAL University of North Carolina) sports teams are the Tar Heels.  Their team color is sky blue.

So we say around here, "You know that God is a Tar Heel because he made the sky Carolina Blue."

We have had these gorgeous blue skies and unbelievably warm weather all week (along with the occasional thunderstorm).  It looks and feels much more like late April than mid-March.  The bears have been foraging for weeks now.  The fruit trees are blooming and some of the farms in the middle of the state already have strawberries.  Our average latest frost in Transylvania County is in early May and we have had significant freezing weather in April.  A hard freeze next month will be devastating for some of the apple crop.

Speaking of politics, Newt Gingrich made a statement last week that Romney was not a certainty as the GOP presidential candidate.  He noted that he and Santorum together have a lot of delegates to take to the GOP convention.  To which Jon Stewart quipped, "Yeah.  And me and LaBron together made 36 points."

Our quote for the week is again from Marcus Aurelius:

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Right in our own Back Yard

In our backyard, some of the trees have faces.  Because they make us smile.

In our backyard we have rock cairns.  Because we like them.

In our backyard we have two piles of brush.  Because the birds and animals like them.

In our backyard we have Mountain Laurel tunnels.  Because we like to walk under the canopy when they are blooming.

In our backyard we have benches and tables made from fallen trees.  Because we like to sit by the little stream.

In our backyard we have comfortable chairs down in the woods.  Because we like to sit there and listen to the birds or watch the dogs at play.

We feel very fortunate in having a wooded backyard with a little creek.  Our Wisconsin backyard was professionally landscaped with lots of grass, trees, and planted flowers and shrubs.  It was lovely and high maintenance.  Now our backyard is landscaped by Mother Nature (with a few additions of our own).  It is lovely and low maintenance.  And we love it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

They are on the Move

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird migration has begun.  These little jewels have been sighted in eastern Texas, southern Louisiana, Mississippi, and have crossed the Florida border into southern Alabama and Georgia.

The 2012 map for sighting and reporting is up.  Go here to see the map.  You can track the hummingbird migration so you will know when to put out your feeders.  You might even be lucky enough to sight and report the first one in your area.

I must admit the map always concerns me as the hummingbirds approach our area.  Perhaps because we are so near the Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment, the hummingbirds are seen to our west, east, and north before we finally get them.  So I often have to change the nectar a couple of times before we get any hummingbirds.  But one little bird makes us forget all about that.  Hurrah for spring!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fridays are Golden

Last week I mentioned that Ellie and Lucy are not litter mates.  I thought you might like to see the difference.

Little Lucy, always the pesky one and Ellie, always the patient one.

Even when she was tiny, Lucy liked to cuddle next to Ellie.  Quite a size difference back then!

Our dogs are from better gene pools than either of us.  While I do admire people who give their hearts and homes to rescue or shelter dogs, I make no apology for purchasing our dogs from a wonderful breeder.  These were to be our "retirement" dogs and we wanted as healthy a blood line as we could find.  Both dogs have five-generation pedigrees and their eyes, hips, elbows, etc.,  have been certified.

(All of the five following photographs are from Dichi Golden Website.)
Ellie's father Kona

Ellie's mother Star

Lucy's father Chance

Lucy's mother Annie

They share a common ancestor;  on Lucy's mother's side and on Ellie's father's side.  That makes them cousins of some sort.

Their common ancestor:
American and Canadian Grand Champion
Amberac Dichi Face the Odds

No doubt you can see that all of the dogs are very much alike.  That is because the breeder (Dichi Goldens here) is very selective and ethical.  Dichi dogs are often show dogs, therapy dogs, and search and rescue dogs.

We never cared as much about beauty as we care about health and temperament.  While they have very different temperaments, both Ellie and Lucy are very sweet and gentle dogs.  Lucy is a bit more high-strung and Ellie is much more mellow.  Lucy always looks smaller than Ellie but there is usually a pound or less difference in their weights.  Lucy is more solid while Ellie is bigger-boned.  Lucy has shorter hair while Ellie's is much longer and fluffy.

Lucy was born in 2005 so they have been together six and a half years.
And I really mean "together."

So far March has not come in like a lion in our neck of the woods.  But who knows what is in store for the rest of the month?  Certainly not the meteorologists.

I've been reading Tina Fey's book, Bossy Pants which I am finding quite amusing.  While I cannot quote exactly (and I'm too lazy to look it up), she suggests that when we are irritated with someone else and their actions we should look at the situation and ask the following question.  Does this interfere with my ability to achieve my goals?  If the answer is "no" then let it go.  There's no need for confrontation.  The key words are LET IT GO, something that is surprisingly difficult for some of us.

Advice columnist Ann Landers put it this way:
"Hanging on to resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head."

So this week, lets make it a point to let go of things we cannot change.


And don't forget to turn the clocks ahead one hour tomorrow night.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Birds are Tricked as Well

Our unseasonably warm weather appears to have tricked even the birds.  We have already seen the White-breasted Nuthatches checking out the bird boxes.  They are among our earliest nesters, but this is a bit early even for them.  Mornings are filled with the sounds of the singing in the trees.  It seems the birds are seeking mates already.  One member of our local birding group has documented a Red-shouldered Hawk couple mating.

We are seeing lots of goldfinches in varying shades of yellow.  I never understood why they change so early when their nesting season is relatively late.

I hope the birds are not fooled into early nesting.  But I must admit, I do love the increased activity and the melody pure and true.  Here are my "Three Little Birds."  (Hear Bob Marley's happy little song here.)

A goldfinch showing a little bit of yellow.

Another has a little bit more.

And this one has really begun to put on spring colors.

My Nemesis!  It's fine for you to get a drink of water, but stay away from the feeders, you hear?

Severe weather patterns have led to destruction in our state as well as death and destruction in many others.  Our county has been spared although we have had some big thunderstorms and high winds.  We are grateful for that even as we think of those less fortunate.

Monday, March 5, 2012

They Seldom Get It Right

They said it would be a very cold and snowy winter here in the NC mountains.  They were so wrong.  This has been one of the mildest winters on record.  At this point we have not had any significant more than a dusting.

Here is what February and early March looked like in 2010 and in 2011:

March 2, 2010 brought our first Towhee.  And he was surrounded by snow.

The following week, another big snowstorm.

The little goldfinch in snow over its head.  Thank goodness the bird sits atop the snow.

And don't forget the ice storms.

A very cold perch.

This year's winter has been a record-breaking winter for snowfall.  Actually, for a lack of snow.  We have had less snow than any other winter.  In some areas the apple trees are about to blossom.  If we don't get some more seasonal weather they will flower and a freeze could do extensive damage much as it did three years ago.

When we lived in suburban Milwaukee, the meteorologists back-tracked on their inaccurate predictions by saying our proximity to Lake Michigan made forecasting more difficult.  Here in the mountains we hear much the same, except that here the mountains are to blame for the wrong predictions.

I have very much enjoyed the mild winter.  I do wish for the sake of the flowers and fruit trees that the season had been more normal.  But since you can't do anything about the weather, I pushed my guilt aside and thoroughly enjoyed the sunny days and milder temperatures.  The mild winter in no way reduces my anticipation of spring.  Oh!  Spring in the mountains is a lovely awakening.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Fridays are Golden

March came in like a lamb here in the mountains.  We had a sunny day with high temperatures almost breaking records.  A gentle warm breeze made the day seem even better.  Today we awakened to heavy fog and rain with more normal temperatures.  I took the girls out for a walk and when we got to the mid-point the mist gave way to a downpour.  We met a neighbor walking his poodle.  He said that the speed with which Fancy (the poodle) completed her duty was inversely proportional to the heaviness of the rain.   I allowed as how drying off two wet Goldens is the worst part of it.  That and having to change my jeans because they were wet to mid-calf.

Yesterday the girls were squirrel watching.  They know the word so that we cannot use it even in normal conversation lest they run to the door.

It goes without saying that the lower half of this door gets cleaned often.

Lucy abandons the watch but Ellie persists.
(BTW:  There was not a squirrel out there but I had accidently said the word.)

I don't know how many square feet the great room contains, but it is definitely not necessary that the girls lie together on the floor.  Someone asked if the dogs are litter mates.  They are not.  Ellie is two years older than Lucy but if you go to the fourth generation they have a male ancestor common to both of them.  I guess that makes them cousins of some sort.

As usual, Ellie was there first.  Then Lucy plopped down beside her.


Is anything sweeter than a sleeping Golden?
(The wet spot is from an ice cube Ellie had eaten.)

Here we are on the cusp of Spring.  Time for looking forward.  Remember the old Billy Joel song, "Keeping the Faith?"  I loved the words, "the good old day weren't all that good and tomorrow is never as bad as it seems."

I love what Yogi Berra had to say:  "The future ain't what it used to be."

I feel obliged to use a quote from John Fitzgerald Kennedy this week.  That is my little response to one of the GOP candidates who said that reading JFK's speech that separation of church and state was absolute made him want to throw up.

President Kennedy:  "We have come too far, we have sacrificed too much, to distain the future now."  and;
"...rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation---a struggle against the common enemies of man:  tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself."

Wouldn't it be nice if today's candidates discussed those enemies?  But somehow they seem to think that same-sex marriage and contraception are the main enemies.  Folks, neither of those is an enemy at all, much less a main one.