Monday, September 29, 2014

The Birds Make a Difference

We have two great vantage points for bird watching.  One is on our deck and the other is the screened porch beneath the deck.  For the most part the birds ignore us even when we are sitting on the deck and they don't seem to see us at all when we are on the porch.  Occasionally a bird will "scream" at us to go inside so they can eat in peace.  Gazing into the woods gives us a peace that helps us overcome our Nation's woes and the cares of the world.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

 Abruptly taking flight, seeming to push off with her feet

 Backlit Tufted Titmouse is losing its tuft
Parasites can cause the feathers on the head to come out, leaving the bird almost bald.
They seem to recover each time.

We're having rain here like most of the Southeast.  We are enjoying the steady drizzle.  Today will be a good day for knitting or reading.  Or maybe a walk in the rain.

Friday, September 26, 2014

We Love Lucy

When Ellie was alive, Lucy followed her around the house and invariably lay down beside her no matter where Ellie went.

Underneath my husband's desk

A "down/stay" at the front door

Hanging out near the kitchen

Or sharing a bed in the den

I miss Ellie especially now when it is Autumn.  She loved the cooler weather, the falling acorns and leaves.  And she loved running through the woods.  Her bushy, feathery tail was a leaf magnet and we had to brush the leaves off before she came back inside.

Lucy seems to have adapted to the change in the household better than the humans have.  She follows my husband around now and is never more than a few feet away from him.  She was always "Daddy's girl" and is even more so now.

We have given thought but taken no action about getting another dog.  Frankly, I do not want another dog.  I had Ellie.  That may change in the future, but for now we will enjoy and love our Lucy.

Today's quote is from one of my favorite people, John Muir:

Climb the mountains and get the good tidings.
Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.
The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy,
While cares drop off like Autumn leaves.

May your cares drop off like the leaves.



Monday, September 22, 2014

Read One of These

The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Color Purple, Ulysses, Beloved, The Lord of the Flies, 1984, Of Mice and Men, Lolita, Catch-22, Brave New World, Animal Farm, The Sun Also Rises, As I Lay Dying, A Farewell to Arms, Gone With the Wind, Native Son...

 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Lord of the Rings, Lady Chatterley's Lover, In Cold Blood, Sophie's Choice, Brideshead Revisited, Rabbit Run...

The titles above represent some of the most frequently banned books across schools and libraries in the US.  According to the American Library Association (ALA), there are three primary reasons a group of people may request that a certain book be banned and removed from libraries.  They include:
1.  the material included sexually explicit language
2.  the material contained "offensive language"
3.  the material is considered "unsuitable" for any age group

The list is surprisingly lengthy and fortunately, many of the bans have been challenged in the court system.  But there are plenty of smaller schools who take the step of removing certain books and hardly anyone is aware of that fact.  This week is "Banned Books Week," and I encourage you to find out if your local library or school has a process for banning certain books.  Write letters and get involved.  At the very least, go to your local book store this week and purchase at least one of the books.  You can find the ALA list of frequently banned books here.

British philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote in the 1800s:
If all mankind, minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.

Friday, September 19, 2014

We Love Lucy

Lucy loves the cool weather but she also loves to soak up the sun.  If the sun is shining, there is always somewhere in the house where she can catch a sunbeam.  She sits and snoozes and dreams of heaven knows what.  Despite her desire to be with people, she is not at all happy to have her snoozing disturbed.
This is what she looks like:

What were you thinking, Mom?

We are very excited that she has not had any symptoms of any kind and seems her happy healthy self.  (Despite the frown in the photograph.)

September is half over and time keep flying by.  The quote for today comes from author Peggy Toney Horton:

"Ah, September!
You are the doorway to the season that awakens my soul...
But I must confess that I love you only because you are a prelude to my beloved October."



Monday, September 15, 2014

Dwindling Days

One more word about honey and dogs.  The honey should be local honey, not the honey you purchase in the grocery store.  So find a market or beekeeper in your area and buy the honey from them.  We give Lucy a teaspoonful twice a day and she weighs about fifty pounds.  You would obviously adjust the amount based on the size of your dog.

Summer days are waning here in the mountains.  We are having brisk mornings and evenings and some of the trees are beginning to turn.  We're watching for the migrant birds to pass through while we still enjoy our year-round birds as well.

Poor cardinal looks a bit ragged after a summer of nesting.

 We have tons of hummingbirds as the northern birds migrate south and join the ones who summered here.
There a lots of fights and disputes among them.

 The katydids are still noisy in the evenings, but they seem fewer in number

We love the changing of the seasons and look forward to the beginnings of each.  We are especially glad that our seasons are relatively mild with the summers not too hot and winters not too cold for the most part.  So we enjoy four distinct seasons without the savage weather of any of them.

Friday, September 12, 2014

We Love Lucy

Lucy picked up a cold virus either at the hospital or at the veterinarian office.  She was sneezing quite a bit.  I had heard that a spoonful of honey would help quiet a cough and sneeze in dogs.  Since we always have honey around, we decided to give it a try.  I got some flimsy paper dessert plates and poured out a spoonful of sourwood honey for her.

New regulations about the use of "sourwood" honey on the label make it difficult for the small bee keeper to legally use the term.  But this is definitely sourwood and it is delicious.

 Lucy thought it was the best thing ever!

 She neatly lapped it up.

 Wait, Dad.  There is still a little dab of honey.
Put that back down here, please.

Surprisingly enough, the honey was really effective.  Since she is not overweight at all and her other snacks are fruits and veggies, we decided it wouldn't hurt to give her the honey twice a day.  Lucy definitely agrees.

We are very much enjoying the quiet in the mountains just now.  The summer tourists have gone and the leaf peepers won't come for another month.  The weather has been good and we are delighted that Lucy has not had any seizure activity or any thing abnormal at all.  She's glad to be back running in the park.

Since no one loves honey more than Winnie the Pooh, it is fitting that today's quote comes from him via A. A. Milne:

"Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known."

Not bad for a bear of little brain.



Monday, September 8, 2014

Ducks in the Yard

I know you immediately thought of the concrete ducks found in many rural yards.  You know the ones...with the large mother duck followed by several ducklings ala "Make Way for Ducklings."  No, our yard ducks are  from a local potter and we just love their tacky figures.  The ducks are pottery with rebar legs.  While you can't see them in the photographs, they all do have shoes.  They have been in the yard so long the pine straw has covered them.

Sweet Daisy lives beneath a pink camellia.
(If you enlarge you can see many buds.  Buds in September?  Really?)

 Fogie with his baseball cap and stogie.
(Don't worry.  He never lights it.)

 And Goofy.  He looks so goofy with his cowboy hat, how could you name him anything else?

You may notice the pottery mushrooms strewn about.  Because we have no grass to mow, we can put all sorts of art amongst the rocks and shrubs.  We admit that we might not have much taste, but we know what we like and we surround ourselves with that.  Sometimes whimsical, sometimes serious, but always ours.  Its beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

Friday, September 5, 2014

We Love Lucy

Thank you all for your kind thoughts about our Lucy.  We are happy to tell you that she seems perfectly normal and has not had any further seizure activity or any impairment.  Needless to say she was excited silly to be back home after her brief hospital stay.  The staff there seemed to like her and reported that they had to move her because she wagged her tail every time anyone passed by her crate.  And her wagging tail bothered the nearby cats.  We have a follow-up appointment with our regular veterinarian on Tuesday and we are anxious to hear what he thinks.  He is a very knowledgeable and seasoned vet who has had more experience with continued care than the hospital staff.  (Oh my goodness, those hospital docs were young!)

Lucy has "poodle" paws where her skin was shaved for the IVs

While the hospital staff indicated she could return to her normal activities, we have decided to be cautious and not allow her to run until we see our vet.  Lucy is not at all happy about that.  In reality, it has been so hot and humid this week she probably wouldn't have been allowed to run anyway.

On Thursday morning my husband had a hair appointment.  His actions before leaving the house mimicked his actions when he is getting the car ready to drive Lucy to the park.  She was crest-fallen when he left without her.  She sat at the door several minutes, certain that he would be coming in to get her.

 How could he leave without taking me?

Finally she settled down.  But she was clearly not happy about the whole episode.

 I still can't believe it.  Bummer

This past week has been filled with anxiety over Lucy, in addition to our usual concerns about mankind.  Times like these we almost wish we could be more like the dogs and live more in the moment.

The Buddha said it well:

"The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, not to anticipate troubles.  But to live the present moment wisely and earnestly."


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Lucy Update

Thanks to all of you for the good thoughts.  Lucy stayed overnight and did not have another seizure.  All her blood work and x-rays and all other findings were normal.  That leaves  us with no diagnosis right now.  It's possible that it could be an isolated seizure that will not recur.  Realistically, that is not likely since there seemed no cause for the seizure, and idiopathic seizures are uncommon at her age (nine).  She's had no febrile illness, no toxins, no poisons and no excessive exercise in the hot humid air.

So the plan is to resume her normal lifestyle and continue to watch her.  If she has another seizure they will keep her overnight at the hospital and start the anti-seizure drugs IV.  Then we would bring her back home on pills.  And we would likely undergo more tests, especially a brain scan.  Unfortunately a central nervous system tumor is a real possibility.  If that's the case, the seizures will recur and be more frequent.

So we will continue on with life and hope for the best.  That's really all any of us can do, isn't it?

Monday, September 1, 2014

We Need Power of the Paw

Our Lucy had a moderate-to-severe seizure this morning and is in the hospital for observation and diagnosis.  She recovered from the seizure and was her "normal" self when we left her at the hospital.  There are many things which could have caused the seizure, and most of them are not good.  She is 9 so it is unlikely that she has developed epilepsy (which is more likely to develop in a younger dog).

So we ask for the Power of the Paw from our readers.  Please petition the Deity of your choice on our Lucy's behalf.  I will update when we have some information.