Thursday, September 27, 2012

Creek In The Woods

Blogging Friends.... Hi. This Blog post was supposed to be "published" on Monday. But. Life has been so busy this week!! Church on Sunday. As usual!! I had two needles injected--one which was the flu shot--on Monday. I like needles!! I know, I know. I am weird!! We drove to our local zoo on Tuesday!! That is always fun!! Then, yesterday, I visited with my Grampa, as some people went shopping. All the while trying--aimlessly!!--to write and finish this Blog post!! Oy. I spent two insane consecutive late nights working on this!! By the time yesterday rolled around, I was exhausted, emotional, overwhelmed, and physically achy. Not good. I recall telling my Mom that I was attempting to evade a mood swing at the moment. But, truth be told? How can you evade something that is already under way? My mood swing did not last long, fortunately!! I am happy once more, laughing, smiling, singing songs out of tune.... Life is good!!

Here's my second installment about our mini-vacation!!

Water. I find such peace and serenity just staring at nature's "pools"!! Whether it be a foaming ocean tide. Or. A rushing river. Or. A silent creek. I could stare at water for hours on end!! Years ago, I was 18. I had been struggling to figure myself out, while also beginning a pity party. This dangerous pastime of mine which would expand for over one decade. Way too long. We were attending some church campout. Diverse physical activities had been prepared. People all around me were happily participating in them. But, I am an oddball outsider!! I refused to play any games!! Besides, I was lost, newly graduated, and composing poetry within my head!! So, I wandered aimlessly toward this body of water. I just stood there, alone, and utterly mesmerized. I watched it flow. I listened to the water's movement. And, suddenly, my mind was at peace!! Temporarily. Fast-forward to present time. I am now 28, and enjoying my best year in a long, long, long time!! I'm writing.... For this Blog which is internationally known!! I am accepting myself.... And that "terrible privilege" of mine called premature short-term memory loss!! I own a Beautifully Unique mutt named Rose. I am "doing right" and working hard against those dreaded "character defects" of mine. My pity party is over.... For the most part!! And, I can still stare at nature's water for hours and hours on end!! I still find it peacefully serene!! The cabin where we stayed in overlooked this creek. It was a cute body of water!! There were several trees across this creek. Two of which, if memory serves me right, that had small triangular-shaped openings. It looked as though troll dolls with their brightly-hued hair should reside there!! I, of course, never saw any!! Sadly. I did, however--with my baby blue crock-like shoes on--step foot into the creek's icy-cold water!! It felt so refreshing!! Rose, her red leash still attached to my right arm, joined me!! Reluctantly, at first. I had to do a bit of encouraging!! "Come on, girl!! The water feels great!!" I coaxed. Okay. So I told a little white lie to my canine!! Possibly deliberately. Who knows? But, I did not scream as icy-cold water seeped through my croc-like shoes' holes!! Nope!! Nor did I shiver, even!! As usual, Rose and I were not on the same page. Why would we be? For she wanted to lap up the creek's crisp clear water, like some docile-looking deer!! So. Sans a single paw touching its small slimy rocks, her pink tongue dipped into the water!! "No!! Don't drink it!!" I said. I gently pulled her mouth away. "Walk in it. Come on!!" Rose's four paw pads finally did touch the creek's water. But, so did her tongue!! I wonder how it tasted? The following day, we walked down there one last time before leaving. I stepped foot into its icy cold waters. Again. I encouraged my little girl to follow suit. Again. She refused. Literally. Rose looked up at my face as if to complain: You're crazy, Mama!! Why are we doing this again? Well. I am somewhat crazy!! And Rose is no water dog!! That's okay....    



Friday, September 21, 2012

Feeling Nostalgic

Memories. They can last a lifetime. Through photographs. Stories. Or, for the most part, in my case, through writing. I have been feeling nostalgic lately. About Shadow, my first mutt. I am a nostalgic being, so this is nothing unusual for me!! But I cannot help myself. Not this time!! In the past three days, I have experienced twain beautiful reminders of Shadow. That's right. Yesterday morning, at 6AM, I walked Rose in this creepy, misty fog. I being weird, love that sort of weather!! It is eerie.... As though ghosts or goblins are roaming the area!! Eeeek!! And, depending on its thickness, you cannot see anything!! Like one morning when I walked Shadow. There was this colossal-sized brick building of an Elementary School near our old city neighborhood home--my "milestone marking"--and I could scarcely make out its roof.... If memory serves me right!! Which it seldom ever does!! But we managed our way home. I know the streets of my childhood city by heart!! Now, I am oddly nostalgic whenever fog is concerned!! Oddly nostalgic. Then, on Wednesday night, we were just finished with church, when everything suddenly went pitch black. The entire neighborhood was in ebony darkness. A power outage!! Fun!! I am terrified of the dark, like some small child, yet power outages are, to me, thrilling!! Somehow. On the drive home, which only lacked light for fleeting minutes, I bemused myself with a fond, fond memory. A fond, fond memory. The last time we lost power in church was on January 16th, 2000. That morning when everybody evacuated a pitch-black, windowless sanctuary. Then walked toward the nearby gymnasium. Where, we resumed church service. Seamlessly. Then, by some unexpected, yet divine providence, Shadow became mine!! Mine!! And now my life shall never again be sans a canine to share it with!! For this I am grateful. Two years ago today, I adopted Rose Elizabeth!! Wow. That is 730 days!! I just now added that up!! On paper!! Then, since my math is never correct, I found a calculator for proof!! 730 days. In counting!! Amazing how swiftly time flies!! Rose is now five years old, but I would rather not count age!! Why? Because. To count age seems the same as awaiting life's inevitable. Right? Rose is now, like, seven years closer to death!! Yeah, no. Today is a celebration!! Of the life I have spent with this beautiful creature thus far!! Memories. Past, present, and future!! I baked Rose a batch of dog biscuits today. Our "Birthday" tradition!! I baked "Paw Lick'n Chick'n" again, only with beef broth as a substitute!! I sprayed our pan this time around, which made an enormous difference with removing the biscuits!! And, yes, we are freezing most of them!! If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!! Rose also received two adorable fuzzy new toys as gifts!! A long-limbed floral-print monkey. "Her" name is " Fuchsia Bloom". Because "Bananas" seems so cliché for a monkey!! I was attempting to be creative!! So I channeled my inner eccentric hippie!! Groovy!! Plus, Bananas was already used for one of Rose's previous toys!! Fuchsia Bloom has this cute little patch over her left eye!! I love it!! Then, there is this long-limbed green frog. "He" has colorful swirls all over his body!! Plus beautiful lime-green eyes!! I have struggled all day on what to name this toy. Swirly-Cue? No. Lime-Eyes? No. "Kermit" has already been used for one of Rose's previous toys. And, Froggy? Way too cliché!! Interestingly enough, this toy is Rose's favorite!! She loves her nameless frog!! That's it!! Because life has a huge sense of humor, I shall call him "Nameless"!! There is definitely nothing cliché about that choice!! Well. I should "publish" this Blog post. And go spend some "quality time" with my "birthday dog". She deserves it!!   

















Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Peanut Butter Suet

Blogging Friends.... I appreciated all of your input regarding ideas for avoiding moldy treats when I bake "Paw Lick'n Chick'n" again later this week!!

Infuse humor. No matter what the situation, or how hard life can be, always find time to laugh. Always. Humor can swoop in, like some muscular superhero, and rescue even the most frightening moments. To panic is a given. It's easy. To crack even the lamest jokes during such situations is a choice. Like happiness. This is something that I have been learning lately. Sunday afternoon, we returned home from an unusually long church experience. Service in the morning, food preparation afterward, and, eventually, lunch devoured!! This only occurs but once a month. I think!! What do I know? I just sit on the sidelines, grateful for everybody's hard work, while reaping the benefit!! Happily. I may be an oddball outsider, but at least I'm content at that!! Finally. It certainly took me long enough!! And Rose, of course, stays home. She is always such a well-behaved girl during these long Sundays. So it seems!! Zero accidents. No chewed up furniture like with some canines. Zero messes from a raided garbage. However, the other day proved itself as an exception to that. Because Rose slipped. We returned home to her familiar high-pitched bay. Her happy sound!! I smiled, voluntarily reached into my black jeans pocket, and pulled out our house key. I unlocked the door. It required seconds for me to discover evidence that Rose had been naughty. Seconds. On our great room carpet lie peanut butter-scented crumbs. Along with an opened hard plastic container. Rose's bad behavior was no mystery to solve. The evidence spoke for itself. She found our peanut butter suet, which had been sitting, alongside another, on a chair. Oops. She pried open its container. And helped herself to a rather unusual treat!! "Oh my gosh!!" I gasped aloud. Worry, heart-pounding adrenaline, and fear all rushed through me at once. Plus guilt. My little girl ingested suet!! Bird food!! My mind raced. What is in that stuff? I wondered. Should we induce vomiting? Should I take her to the vet? No wonder my hair is turning silver prematurely!! Rose only ate one block. And, apparently, she was allowed zero time to ingest the second one. Because I inspected it, and noticed some teeth punctures!! Rose....!! I also, of course, read peanut butter suet's ingredients which were, conveniently, listed on its package. Nothing lethal!! I can relax. A little, anyway!! We also discovered this pile of poop. On the great room carpet. I always feel guilty somehow whenever my canines are bad. As though I were responsible for their actions. When, in reality, Rose was a three-year old "second chance" girl!! She lived, if my math and memory is correct, 21 dog years before becoming mine!! 21!! So, why do I always feel as though I'm "in the doghouse"? Why....? Internal guilt from a lifetime of being the "hopelessly flawed" daughter, I suppose!! I always feel as though I did something wrong.... After declaring within my mind--which, under the circumstances was surprisingly rational--that Rose will survive this misadventure, humor came to my rescue!! Immediately!! And, it lightened my glum, guilt-riddled mood up!! I said to Rose, as though she were some child who could answer me: "What are you, a bird?" Because, really?! Peanut butter suet?! Next thing I realize, I'll be noticing that Rose grew some brightly-hued feathers like our visiting Scrub Jays!! She will develop a hardened beak!! I'll witness her legs transform into claws!! Then, finally, Rose will spread twain beautiful wings and fly!! Okay. Enough silliness!! I've been watching Rose, and there have been zero signs of illness. No vomiting. Zero diarrhea. She will be just fine!! There. I infused humor to a situation where it was needed most!! While also gaining some premature silver hairs along the way, no doubt....

Friday, September 14, 2012

Glossy Chicken Treats

I decided to bake Rose a batch of biscuits in preparation for our mini-vacation. Just because. Oh. And we had also run completely out of chewy chicken flavored Milkbones around the same time!! Oops. Good thing I own a dog treat cookbook!! Not to mention, in addition I have collected several recipes from Blogs and Web sites online!! Okay. So, after several days attempting to make a decision among my endless choices, I went with this cornbread-flavored chicken recipe!! Yes, I test-tasted one!! Rose would rate this recipe: Four 'paws' way, way up!!

Paw Lick'n Chick'n
HOW DID THE CHICKEN GET TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD? (Really?! That is such a cliché question!!)
3 cups white flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup chicken broth
4 tablespoons softened margarine (I used butter!!)
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine flour, cornmeal, chicken broth and margarine (Or, in my case, butter!!). Knead dough for 3 minutes. (I had some loose flour on the bottom of my mixing bowl. So, using our metal spoon, I sort of "mashed" it in!! After that, I did not need to set some timer for three minutes!! I'm a rebel, this I know!! I did, however, knead my dough!!) Apply a light layer of flour to rolling surface and pin. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness and stamp out with cookie cutter. Beat egg and milk together and apply to top of biscuits with brush. Bake at 325 degrees for 35 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet. (I baked six at a time for 30 minutes!!) Makes two dozen. (Yep.... That was how many I baked!!) (They are golden brown on top when done!!)

Bake bones on the middle oven rack. If your dough is sticky, apply a light layer of flour to your hands, the rolling surface and rolling pin. Because of variations in oven temperatures, monitor the cooking time for your batch of "Doggy Bones". Bake bones until the bottoms of the biscuits become medium brown, and adjust remaining baking times accordingly. If bones do not become "bone hard", bake bones for an additional five minutes or leave them in the oven as it cools. Store "Doggy Bones" in an airtight container. For extended supply, double your batch and freeze them!

 The dough was dry, so rather than adding "sprinkles" of water, I gradually poured in extra chicken broth!! Yeah!! Extra flavoring!! I allowed Rose a liberal taste of chicken broth. She loved it, and wanted more!! So, I gave in!! Spoiled girl!! For reasons beyond my comprehension, the biscuits stuck to our pan, as though somebody had glued them there. Seriously. Was it the egg/milk coating, perhaps? Hmmm.... Next time--which will be for Rose's "birthday"/Gotcha Day on September 21st--I'll spray the pan!! Why? Because I needed a spatula to pry my biscuits from the pan!! They were bonded that well!! One biscuit actually split in half!! Whoops. But they were glossy-looking!! The prettiest batch of biscuits I have baked!! Thus far!! In fact, they looked too pretty for eating!! Sort of fancy, even!! There is, however, a downside to these biscuits. Several of them developed mold while sitting in their airtight container. Ew!! I threw all of those away, of course!! This may have been my fault. For enclosing the biscuits before they completely cooled. Or, perhaps it was the egg/milk coating? Maybe I should refrigerate these biscuits? Or freeze half of them next time? Queries, queries, queries!! Plus the inside of our enclosed airtight container got damp somehow. Any input would be greatly appreciated!!        


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cabin In The Woods

Taking a moment on this anniversary of Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, to reflect on, plus remember the terrorist attacks that struck America. Every victim, every fallen hero, every survivor, every family member, every search-and-rescue canine, shall never be forgotten.

Blogging Friends.... This is my first installment of our mini-vacation. The second--and, hopefully last--will come at a later time!! Enjoy!! 

Paradise. This one three-syllable noun has vastly different meanings to it depending on people's perspective. Some think of an island in Hawaii. Others may imagine up a foreign country village. Me? My idea of paradise is, and forever will be, the woods. We used to embark on camping trips when I was a girl growing up. With tents, sleeping bags, and stinky outhouses!! These camping trips served as escapes from our worldly city neighborhood. There was this one location from which we frequented every August. Countless childhood memories reside at that camping area. Aw, what I would give to return.... Our cabin in the woods was every bit as beauteous, every bit as breathtaking, and every bit as memorable. It was paradise. And spacious. Larger than the Ingalls' cabin in "Little House", for sure!! It was rustic. Plain and simple!! Kind of like me!! The front door lead to this mud room, where I kept Rose's food and water bowls. She ate there. Obviously!! That door lead to another, where a highway lurked. A highway. Whenever Rose ate, I stood out there with her, both doors securely shut, watching my little girl closely. Because. The back sliding glass door lead to an endless woodsy area. So. Rose's red leash was attached to my right wrist--or left on rare occasions!!--the entire time!! Yeah. Freedom for Rose was no option!! Not that I am complaining!! I would much rather hold Rose's leash than tether her somewhere to our red dog cable!! The moment we arrived at the cabin, my hound mix's ebony nostrils immediately inspected every corner, every floorboard, every staircase, every room. Repeatedly!! We hiked down these wooden stairs on a porch, explored the creek, and walked circles around our cabin. Repeatedly!! By the end of our first day, my canine wore me out!! Literally!! The bedroom where Rose and I slept in had up a steep, steep flight of stairs which lead to this loft. A loft!! Like where Mary and Laura Ingalls would have slept as girls growing up, only more spacious!! Atop the steep, steep stairs was this crevice which lead to the kitchen. Every time Rose and I walked down them, her block nostrils nosily poked through it!! Too cute, too cute, too, cute, too cute!! Our bedroom had a creaky door. It remained closed all night long. During our first evening, we started the fire pit. Everybody cooked hotdogs and brats!! Yummy!! Rose, safe from any flying sparks, was temporarily tethered to the porch's post. Afterward, some of us roasted colossal-sized marshmallows for s'mores!! Mmmm!! My fingers were sticky after eating the sweet treat. So I headed up our porch to wash them in the kitchen sink. As soon as I was finished, my ears heard this familiar high-pitched baying sound. Rose!! So I flew through our cabin as fast as my legs could carry me. They sped up once I reached the porch stairs. Down, down, down I ran. I then observed Rose's surroundings. Everybody had gone their separate ways, thus abandoning Rose!! Poor baby!! She hates being left behind!! Certainly my presumably neglected mutt's thoughts went something like this: Hey!! Where'd everybody go? Oh, they left me!! They left me!! Make a lot of noise. Maybe they'll come for me!! Oh.... They're not coming back. They're not coming back!! I've been left behind!! Rose was instantaneously silent the second I returned to her side, however!! But she did not bay for very long!! I can only imagine her thoughts upon seeing me: Mama!! You came back for me!! I'm saved!! Of course I came back....











Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Progress Report

Blogging Friends.... This will be my only Blog post of the week, as we are not returning from our mini-vacation until Saturday!! I am so excited!!

"Work in Progress." Everybody has heard or seen this phrase. It is painted on construction signs. Expressed in song lyrics. Used as an excuse, even. But, truly? We are all a "work in progress". Correct? I am....    

I recently came across this quote. It was spoken sometime in 2011.

"Discipline is doing what you say you're gonna do and not doing what you say you're not gonna do. That's life. To me that's honor. I don't want to be a person who doesn't have honor." ~Robert Downey Jr.

There is so much beauty in this quote. Just considering how much personal progress Robert Downey Jr. has made throughout the years. Mmmm. I could cry. I am obviously sentimental when it comes to stories like his.... Speaking of progress. Less than one month ago, I expressed a self-revelation. Robert Downey Jr. and I are alike!! Creepy, but true. Personality. Idiosyncrasies. And.... "Character defects". Minus substance abuse on my behalf, of course!! I am stubborn. I refuse to listen. I make lame excuses. I lie. I break promises. He did all of that--plus more--until obtaining sobriety, maturity, and sanity!! Back to me. Okay. Several weeks have passed since I've attempted to "do right", quit my excuse-making habit, stop procrastinating, and keep promises. An entire Summer, perhaps. This should not be so difficult. Breaking bad habits and replacing them with good. Learning to change. Realizing that I was wrong all these years. But it is!! Oh, it is!! I have found myself constantly battling against relapsing into old habits. Huh. If memory serves me right, experts say that after twain consecutive weeks of beginning new habits, you no longer need to worry about relapsing. Hmmm. If this is indeed true, then these doctors have never met me!! Clearly. My battle against relapsing is much less intensified now. But twain weeks into it? I was fighting. Fighting to the nail!! I have since reached some further self-revelations. I possess a "one step forward, two steps back" personality flaw. Don't we all? I work toward something positive, continue it, then.... I stop. Why? I have posed myself with this very query all Summer long!! All Summer long. Laziness? Carelessness? A lack of discipline? Yes. Yes. And yes. I am a "psychiatrist at heart". Seriously!! I love such things as metaphors and psychology!! I am not intelligent enough for that profession, however. So, instead I write!! Contentedly!! The "psychiatrist within me" says that there is a "chain-link result" which motivates my bad habits, thus inviting several bouts of relapses. Beginning with excuses. Excuses link to bad habits. Bad habits link to guilt. Guilt links to lying. It is an endless cycle. And every "chain link" connects back to excuses!! No wonder I've felt like some hamster running in aimless circles all these years!! Because, according to my psychological theory, I have been!! Around and around and around. Oh. My. Goodness!! I have ridden some playground merry-go-round!! According to my Mother, I fell off of one as a little girl!! Ouch. So, metaphorically speaking, I "fell off" of my longtime "playground merry-go-round"!! Cried out in pain, nursed my "injuries" back to health. Then I began "doing right". And, thus far, I have stayed off of that "playground merry-go-round"!! Somehow. I keep awaiting a relapse. I can see it lurking ahead of me like some hunting lioness. Yet. Each time I appear tempted, part of that Robert Downey Jr. quote resurfaces within my head. "Discipline is doing what you say you're gonna do...." No more broken promises. No more lashing out at my Mom because "I forgot". No more letting those who care about me down. No more. No more. No more!! Robert Downey Jr. is now in my head!! Weird. But I will take it!! I told a little joke to my sister last week. It was one of those moments which I immediately regretted. I verbally confessed that some things should simply stay tucked away within my crazy head and never be let out. Never. It was intended to be humorous. Never offensive. My sister just laughed and said: "I thought it was funny!!" Really....? I do not consider myself funny at all. This was just some crazy thought from my head!! My head. Alright. Here is that supposedly-humorous-not-offensive joke: "I am under the influence of Robert Downey Jr.!!" What? He would most likely laugh at that!! Now I am not making fun of him by saying this. I would never do that. Besides, it is a positive concept!! A profound positive concept!! And, so long as I'm "under the influence" of Robert Downey Jr., with quotes within my head--while also dismantling that "chain link" called excuses--I should do okay!! I should do okay.... While on the subject of breaking bad habits, Rose has one too. Digging. Not outside beneath our fences. No. The backyard has not been invaded by gaping holes. Rose digs her dog pillows. And my bed. I ignored this bad habit. At first. After all, digging is a healthy exercise. Right? By doing so, Rose is working out her shoulders!! Her digging is not a bad habit!! I refused to listen when people cautioned that Rose would ruin my mattress. "She hasn't yet!!" was always my stubborn retort. Then.... One day I noticed something. There was this tear on the foot of my sheet. This medium-sized tear. It required zero investigations to figuring out who the guilty suspect was: Rose. So I stand corrected. Rose's digging is a bad habit!! I was wrong. Now, I catch her "red pawed", as she digs. Then I patiently scold my mutt. "Rose no. Rose? Rose no. No." As resulted, my girl always--every time!!--gives me a colossal-eyed expression that says: "Are you talkin' to me?". But she stops digging!! Just like that!! Really?! My canine makes breaking bad habits look easy!!