Friday, March 18, 2016

Preparing for Ostara

The Spring Equinox is called Ostara on the Pagan Wheel of the Year.  One MUST have a fire to celebrate!

There is plenty of scrap wood on my lawn down by the river.  Thanks to some heroic help from Sarah and Christina, every bit of those limbs and twigs are lying on one of three bonfires, waiting for the match to be laid.

That means we have one for Ostara, which we are celebrating this Sunday, one for Beltane a.k.a. May Day, and a third for Litha a.k.a. Summer Solstice.  By the time we get to Lughnasadh, there will be enough new wood downed in storms or from pruning and cleaning up around here that we will have plenty for that bonfire as well.

So we are all set!  Yard looks so much better.  When we walked down there to start the task, I really feared we would not be done before sundown, but we did it!  Wish I had taken a "before" picture, but use your imagination - all of that wood spread out over the front of the yard, and many pieces ten or fifteen feet long!  We used a hand saw and nippers, and got the job done.  :)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Too much to do . .

Income tax - still not done.  I have promised myself and my accountant that it would be in her hands by close of business tomorrow.  Maybe . . .

Leaks - there is now a hole in the ceiling of my powder room downstairs because of a leak in my shower upstairs.  We are still not sure that the problem is in the drain.  I plan to take a long shower with a bucket under the drain.  If there is water in the bucket, then the problem is the drain.  If there is none, then the fix that the guy who tiled my shower did this afternoon is the whole solution.  I'm betting on water in the bucket.  Either way, there will have to be some drywall repairs.

My booth at market - good news, bad news.  For winter, business has been surprisingly brisk.  I am working to get caught up on inventory, but I seem to be having a hard time reaching the finish line.  Are people having more sinus problems than usual this winter?  One might think so.  I have several products to address them, and I keep running out of them.

Dog - Figgy, actually.  While he is a very smart little guy, he still hasn't cottoned on to going out the automatic door to relieve himself.  Is he housebroken?  Well, sort of.  More like his mama walks him so often that the indoor mistakes are few and far between.  I long for the day when he is as good as Tashi is - and Ayn Chee was.  All of those walks are taking their toll on me.

My foot - I have tendinitis in my right foot.  Ouch!  The first three or so walks are just fine.  By the fourth, I am in pain!  How am I going to walk the streets of Paris in pain?  

Speaking of Paris, my second language - right now, I am sick to death of French!  French Meet-up at Barnes and Nobles every other Thursday, conversational French at Forever Learning every Thursday, French Canadienne Radio in my car, meetings with a tutor every Monday and every other Thursday, and Pimsleur lessons on my smart phone.  Je suis tres, tres fatiguee!  

Speaking of smart phone - really?  What is smart about a phone that loses calls in the middle of South Bend.  AT&T informs me that the phone I bought last September is already out of date, and they basically didn't promise me a rose garden.  It can't keep up with the updates, or so they say, and so it is failing.  I still owe $580, and now I get to buy another one!  Or go to Verizon, who will give me $650 for switching.  Not a hard decision.  

The other stuff - what do I do about internet, TV, a home phone (which I need in order to call myself when I lose my cell phone)?  

I just do not have time to deal with all of this.  Another time.  I'm going to bed.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Super Dog!

Last night I sat down and wrote a thank you letter to the two women who facilitated Tashi's meeting with Figgy.  If it hadn't been for them, if they hadn't shown wisdom, love and patience, Tashi the Terrible would not have gotten her new friend.  After Tashi's meetings with three different dogs, each of which ended in her lunging at them and letting all know in no uncertain terms that she didn't want them anywhere near her, these two women were the miracle workers who made it happen.

A little background - when I lost my terrier Ayn Chee to cancer in January, Tashi went on a hunger strike.  As she was just recovering from a serious bout of SIBO (having lost 30% of her body weight before it was properly diagnosed and treated), she needed every bite of food, but she would only eat if I sat on the floor with her and literally spooned it up to her mouth.  After a few bites, she would walk away.  She lost three precious pounds in two weeks.  How do you get a mourning dog to eat?  Maybe Super Dog?

March 3, 2016

Dear Molly & Kristen,

I just have to tell you how much I love Figgy Pudding. He is Super Dog. First, I truly believe that he saved Tashi's life. They play together. Tashi lets him eat out of her bowl, while she is eating! They even play, batting at each other and doing fake growls while wagging their tails. She is finally putting on weight, and she eats all of her food with gusto. No spoon feeding anymore.

Here are a few of my favorite Figgy stories. The other night, he pulled his blanket out of the kennel. I put it back in and didn't give it another thought. About an hour later, there it was on the floor again, and he was at his kennel, trying with all his might to pull out the bed. He couldn't, of course. He isn't big enough to tuck it through that little door opening. I thought, “What is going on?” I smelled the bed and blanket. He had peed on them. The little tyke was just doing a little housecleaning. I washed and dried them, put them back in his kennel, and he went to the door and sniffed before he would go in. I burst out laughing! He's Mr. Clean!

He never gets tangled in his leash. He has this little skipping step he uses to unwind himself from the leash. I have never seen another dog do this.

He dances. Tonight, I know he stayed up on his tippy-toes for at least six feet while he greeted me when I got home. So cute!

After just a couple of weeks, he was completely housebroken, and today I let him stay out of the kennel while I went to market. No messes, anywhere! Good dog!!

He bites his nails. My Ayn Chee did the same thing. Maybe it's a terrier thing? I never had to trim Ayn Chee's nails, and it looks like I won't have to do Figgy Pudding's either. I am thinking about training him to make my morning coffee. I do believe he could do it! He is the smartest dog I have ever had!

He has adjusted to the electric fence. That was a hard one for me. But after having him dart out the front door and make it all the way to Lincoln Way, I just didn't want to take any chances with him. He is a fast one! And he has TOTAL RESPECT for those flags in the yard now.

Thanks to both of you, from the bottom of my heart, for helping Tashi to adjust to Figgy that Sunday. He lights up our life.  

Susan, Tashi and Figgy

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Training Figgy pudding

This is the day I have been dreading -- training Figgy to respect the underground electric fence.  First there was a problem with snow, so I put it off.  Then the warm weather and strong winds took care of all of the snow, but Ayn Chee's old shock collar wouldn't work.  I got to put it off two more days until Tom, my fence installer, could make it out here.

Tom told me that the little collar didn't work because you have to be closer to the buried wire with that collar before it will hum, signally that it is working, and also the batteries were quite old.  While he was there, he gave me some new instructions for moving flags around for a tiny dog like Figgy.  I bought a couple of new batteries, he declared Figgy obviously smart (I knew that!) and of good temperament, and it was time to begin the training. There was no reason to put it off any longer. 

But first I had lunch.  Then I put the newly washed slipcover on the sofa.  Then I unloaded the dishwasher and reloaded with my lunch dishes.  I couldn't legitimately think of one more task.  No more excuses.  Time to put the collar on Figgy and take him out to the yard.  I hate to do this, but he has already escaped once and I found him just a few feet off Lincoln Way, where there is very heavy traffic.  So sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

We walked around the yard with Figgy on his leash while I shook flags and shouted "bad!"  (Don't yell at me for doing that.  It's the official routine, and it works.  And I have already trained two dogs that way.)  After three or four flags, all I had to do was shake the flag to back him off.   He caught on much faster than Ayn Chee did - but that's another story! 

Next step is to deliberately let them get shocked - this is the part I was really dreading.  The owner is to stand outside the perimeter and see if the dog will breach the fence.  Most will.  Ayn Chee did - several times!!  Tashi learned after the first shock.

I walked with Figgy to the end of the yard, nearly to the river.  Then I took off his leash and let him go on his own.  He stayed right in the center of the yard.  Wow, that was easy AND painless.  I still hadn't moved outside the fence line.  Then the cat, Holly Berry, showed up, just outside a line of flags.  Figgy took out after her, got a hell of a shock, and that part of the training was complete!  Poor little guy.  But it sure beats getting run over on Lincoln Way, or going into the river and getting caught in the current, never to return.

Next, I put the control for the Solo door on his collar.  I'll only give him access when I am here, at least for now.  It would be wonderful if he didn't have to go into his kennel when I am gone.  That will be the next step.

Such a smart little guy, my sweet Figgy Pudding.  He's wiped out on the sofa right now.  This was harder on him than it was on me - I think . . .

That was tough, Mom!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

An update on the experiment

If you read my recent blog An experiment, in which I laid out my plan to plot the speed with which I could do a French lesson against my daily keto reading, you might be interested in this update.

At first I thought I could see some correlation, but soon the data were all over the map.  Let's face it, the complexity of the material from lesson to lesson made this a rather senseless task.

And if you read another blog, posted a week ago, The magic of family, you know that I had a houseful of kids, grandchildren and one great grandchild at my house for dinner a week ago.  Our family loves to eat, and I just decided to throw all caution to the wind.  I ate whatever I wanted all day.  By evening, after everyone left, I helped myself to a piece of apple pie and ice cream.  By then there was no salvation for Grandma Susie!

Carbohydrate heaven!

Look closely at that picture - mashed potatoes, gravy, scalloped oysters, sweet potato casserole, scalloped corn, bread dressing, Potatoes Dauphine.   If you look closely in the upper right hand corner, you will see the platter of heritage turkey.  Any doubt about what I was focused on?  

So what happened to my keto readings?  I was out of ketosis Monday . . . and Tuesday . . . and Wednesday . . .  in fact, every day until Saturday when I registered a paltry 5.  This morning I was finally in decent territory, registering 15 and logging all of my food today in an effort to hit 40 tomorrow.

And what happened with my French lessons?  They were terrible, horrible!  I skipped one day altogether, didn't finish one lesson all the way to the end all week, managed to cobble together two full lessons (in bits and pieces) instead of the seven I should have accomplished during the ensuing week.

This is not my imagination.  I had a totally negative view of the lessons.  I was telling myself it was ridiculous to think a 74 year old woman could learn to converse in French.  That's the frustration and depression side of what happens to me when I am not in ketosis.  The other thing was losing my ability to focus.  It is a separate thing from the depression and frustration.  This is more closely aligned with anxiety - black clouds looming on the horizon make it hard to finish.  That is what I couldn't do - I couldn't finish a lesson, I couldn't even finish a sentence.

Sometimes we need to fall off the wagon to remember just how important the wagon is to us.  In my case, there is a very definite medical reason for me to get on that wagon and stay there.  As for the experiment, what I learned is that this one was hard to quantify the way I thought I could, but there is a definite correlation between where that keto reading is and how well my brain functions!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The magic of family

Today, my family was here for dinner, including my great granddaughter Natalie.  Her mom and dad, Bethany and Bob were here, and we celebrated Bob's birthday.  In addition since Bob's job meant they couldn't be with us for Christmas, we gave them some belated Christmas gifts.

And what a feast we had!  Turkey, dressing, scalloped oysters, mashed potatoes & gravy, salad, and homemade French bread.  I made an apple pie, and Joe made this fantastic cheesecake concoction surrounded by graham crackers and chocolate chip cookies. 

We took a long walk, since my new dog Figgy needs to be walked often.  He is still not quite housebroken.  So it was an excuse, and we enjoyed the walks.

Kate, Andrea, Figgy , Val & Tashi taking another walk

The weather was quite nice -- no sunshine but really almost balmy.  Natalie got to sit in grass for the first time, and she was a bit puzzled by it, but she got with the program.

Natalie crawling in grass for the first time

Natalie - "What is this thing?"

My son Jim (Bob's dad and Natalie's grandfather) was here, as well as Joe and Kate, Bob's siblings.  Abby, Bob's other sister, was on duty in the emergency room this weekend, so she couldn't be here.  Kate enjoyed holding Natalie.  Here are a couple of my favorite pics of the day.

Grandpa and Natalie

Aunt Kate and Natalie

 My daughter Val and her youngest daughter Sarah made it, too.  Val's husband Mike had to work, and two of her daughters were away.  Kate's special friend Andrea joined us as well.  He regaled us with stories of his experiences here in the USA.  He is from Italy and of course brings a different perspective to our conversations.

Andrea and Val in deep conversation

Anyway, just about everyone made it, and we had a lovely and very noisy time.  I'm not often blessed with their presence here; it's much easier for me to go their way than for them to come mine.  However, as the kids are growing up and on their own, we are so spread out that it really doesn't matter so much where we meet anymore.  I am hoping that they find their way here again soon.

Figgy was a great hit, and I made sure he didn't go home in the pocket of one of their coats.  He was very much in demand.  Kate and Val pretty much fought over who got to hold him all day.  Spoiled little boy he is!

Val & Figgy.  No, Val, you cannot take him home!
You can't, either, Kate.

Well, that is what happened today at the river house.  It's awfully quiet this evening, but the memory of their laughter and chatter is hanging in the air.  One more load of dishes into the dishwasher, and then we are heading to bed, a nice finish to a great day.

Friday, February 5, 2016

SPIRAL celebration of Imbolc tonight

SPIRAL is a part of  the First Unitarian Church of South Bend (click on the link for more about us), and we celebrate the eight Sabbats, sometimes at my house on the St. Joe River, and sometimes at the church.  Tonight we celebrate Imbolc here on the river, gathering at 6:00 pm.  (By the way, I just found out that it is pronounced ee' molc.  Who knew?  It took me forever to learn to say Sow' en at Samhain, now I have another one to re-learn.)

I am making chili for tonight's potluck, and have plenty of kefir .  So the chili represents fire (it's pretty hot), and the kefir represents dairy, two thing associated with Imbolc.  

I'm cleaning now.  Pets make a lot of work.  Just finished doing a complete take-apart-wash-everything bird cage cleaning. Changing the paper in the bottom tray only works so long, and then it has to be the big one.  Figgy had to do a time-out while I did it because birds have been known to escape while taking the cage apart. He was unhappy!  But it is unwise to have a loose terrier and loose parakeets in the same room.

Now down to the basement to clean up the dog and cat footprints from their door with backyard access all the way to (and including) the stair steps to the kitchen.  My maid is nowhere to be found, so off to the basement as soon as I post this.

I cleaned up the poop from the backyard yesterday, will take another swipe this afternoon so that everyone can get to the fire unscathed when we go down to the river for our Imbolc ritual.   But looking down as you walk is still advised!  

My city-born and bred second husband made fun of me for always walking with my head down.  One night after visiting my folks on their farm, he complained that someone must have poop on their shoes because it sure stunk in the car.  I and my two children, all being farm-born and bred, are pretty careful.  My daughter suggested he check his own shoes.  Hah!  There it was, a pile of it filling in the space between the heel and the foot of one of his shoes.  We laughed.  We shouldn't have.  He didn't have much of a sense of humor, especially when my daughter called him out!  But he did quit telling me to keep my eyes up when walking.  LOL  

Back to the business at hand - tonight's celebration.  Catherine and Antonette have been working on our Imbolc (ee' molc, just a little reminder) ritual.  Brigid will be called upon, and they say that she will be bringing a wishing well.  Are you going to be here to drop your wish into the wishing well?

Right now, the weather is spectacular!  Hope it holds for this evening.  Imbolc is such an important Sabbat.  For the Pagans of old, it marked the end of eating the meat that got hung at Third Harvest, Samhain, to get them through the winter.  Now, at Imbolc, there would be spring lambs and fresh milk.  Yay!

Whatever you bring to the potluck will be welcome.  It is always good.  We love to eat, and there will be a bounteous feast as usual, I'm sure.  See you tonight!