Sunday, January 29, 2012

Good Weather--Good Weekend!!

Our weekend so far could not be more enjoyable!  On Saturday, warmth and bright sun allowed us to enjoy some extended time outdoors.  Despite the high winds, the dogs enjoyed a good round of frisbee.  I enjoyed a round of taking pictures with my new camera.  I'm still getting the hang of it because there is so much to learn!
Toby had a round of rolling in the grass...
In the evening we met up with good friends for dinner.  They are welcoming a new family member next week and are borrowing a few of our 'puppy things.' Their little boy will quickly outgrow them, but are needed none the less.  Below is a picture from when they went to meet the puppies.  
For dinner we ate a beautiful restaurant called 'Clydes of Willow Creek.'  The food is amazing and the setting is stunning.  The restaurant itself has a story to tell.  A restaurant group purchased a series of antique heavy timber structures, dating back to as far as 1780, that had been destined for the wrecking ball. These structures were photographed, labeled, disassembled, preserved, and stored for later restoration.  These four original antique buildings, have now been connected, and restored and represents the classic American Inn.  It boosts paintings of the hunt country, classic carriages and buggies and early American artwork along with other reproduced ells from the early days of our country.
Included within the restaurant is a structure known as 'The Chandler Barn, which was built c.1885. This amazing Victorian beauty has two elliptical cupolas, and was originally built for hay, feed, and stock. (The below picture is taken from their website)
It really is a lovely place to enjoy with our friends and spend a Saturday evening!  I hope you've had a good weekend too!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Loss and the Rediscovery

Growing up, my mostly stay-at-home mom cooked almost every meal from scratch. Of course there were occasional meals out, but for the most part, everything was homemade. And in thinking about it, I don't remember eating many pre-made meals at all and when we did, it was a real treat! 

But that was my Mom. And even though I enjoy cooking I'm just not an everyday-from-scratch-cook. With a busy hectic schedule, especially during the week, I rely on frozen or prepared food and a microwave oven.  Unfortunately on Sunday, our microwave stopped working.  I thought we'd be just fine.  But I found that when I would open the cupboards to look for something to make for dinner, there would only be unopened cans and boxes staring blankly back at me.  I was a bit bewildered because I couldn't cook or thaw anything that required the use of the microwave.  In my mind everything in my freezer was now going to waste and collecting freezer burn.  Then there was the moment when I realized that we were not even able to have a favorite treat--microwave popcorn. Oh the perplexity of it all.....!!...
But then, something unexpected happened...I rekindled my love affair with.....the stove-top!  Yes, you read that right, in the midst of my despair over not having a microwave, I discovered that the multi-functional stove-top can revitalize leftovers with the twist of a knob and heat up soup in minutes.  Then there was an unexpected bonus when I discovered it can even make a grilled cheese sandwich!  Okay, I already knew it could do that--But what I did realize that using the stove-top is like so many other good things in life that just take a little time.
~Todd at day-camp this week~
As you can tell, all is well here this week at 'Golden Pines' and I hope it is for you too!  I look forward to catching up with your blogs today, after I buy some 'Jiffy Pop Popcorn!' they still sell Jiffy Pop??

Sunday, January 22, 2012

What's In a Name

Borrowing the words from an 'Eagles' tune, 'the sky won't snow and the sun won't shine,' pretty much sums up our weekend as the cold weather and clouds seemed content to stay around.  It's times like this, when we're home and its cold that I start looking on the internet for something to bake.  One website that I looked at had cookie recipes that sounded promising.

I don't know about you, but for me, there's something about having a name in a recipe that tells you immediately that whatever it is, it's going to be good!  At least this is what I think when I see a recipe with 'My Grandmother's' or 'Mrs ---' in its name.  I just feel like I should automatically trust the recipe, and make it right then.  I also feel this way about church cookbooks.  But this is exactly what I thought about a cookie recipe I came across called 'Mrs. Siggs Snickerdoodles.'  I don't know who Mrs. Sigg is, but she she had a pretty good (and easy) recipe for snickerdoodles!  Because I am a bit of a chocolate person, especially on days like today, it takes a lot for me to make something without chocolate in it somewhere.  But I made them yesterday and for whatever reason, we just didn't seem to have enough, so I baked them again today.  It just seemed like the thing to do.  There were no complaints from Carl.
When I wasn't baking, I tried to spend as much time as I could outside with the dogs. They really do enjoy even the smallest amount of snow.  However, I'm really hoping for more.
But like the cookies, what we have will just have to do for now.  Its been good enough for the weekend.  I hope you've had a 'good enough' weekend too!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Another Non Weather Event

Ahead of what was to be a snow and ice storm, all of the errands and shopping were done on Friday so the day could be spent at home.  As I should have predicted, the event which the weathermen had touted beforehand as 'possibly significant' did not occur.
With temperatures hovering around freezing and slick roads we didn't want to venture out and have just spent a very quiet day at home.  Todd has eaten and played in what little bit of snow we did get.
Each day we learn something new about Lucas.  Look closely at the below picture, and the awkwardness of what is his favorite sleeping position.   
We've also learned that he must have had a career harassing cats.  His continued interest in our cat CC goes well past curiosity and is more like stalking.  Even though I don't think he would (or could) hurt her, we keep an eye on him, and she does too. 
A belated Christmas gift arrived from Carl on Friday, which was a new camera!  While I really love the one I have been using, I have to admit that the new one, which is my first 'DSLR' is going to be fun to learn to use. However, the lens it came with doesn't have the 'zoom' that my old one has.  So until I can save up enough pennies or sell a kidney (or both) to buy one, I'll be using them both  

The pictures above were taken with my 'old camera.' The ones below are straight out of the new camera with no editing.  So far I like the crisper close up pictures when the lighting isn't that good.  I think the pictures and my biscuits turned out pretty good--I'll just add that I make them just like my Mom used too!   

The new camera is going to take some getting used too. But I have plenty of time, and plenty of things to take pictures of.  
I hope you're having a good weekend!!  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's Thursday and It's Okay

For many reasons it's always such a relief to me when Thursday unceremoniously arrives.  The hectic and exhaustive pace of getting up early, getting home late and 3 full days at work are behind me.  Ahead is my day off and the weekend after a short work day on Friday.  My life and my time become mine again.
Lucas saw the vet this week and all the tests results show that he's in good health--Except for his teeth.  My vet commented that she has never seen a dogs mouth in such terrible condition and with so much active infection.  A thorough exam of his teeth was difficult to do because he was whining and crying when she pulled back his lips.  Lucas has been referred to a veterinary dentist because he is unfortunately going to have to have all or almost all of his teeth taken out.  I've called for an appointment and he won't be able to be seen until the 31st.  Until then he is on antibiotics and pain medication. Lucas is getting along well with the other dogs and is right in with the crowd for treats (which he swallows whole) and mealtime.  It has been a bit of trial and error but I have finally found the right combination of a dehydrated food, mixed with canned that he likes and is able to eat with just a little help from me.  All in all, he really has settled in very nicely this week!  He will come and sit next to me and put both front paws on my leg, look at me and wag his tail.  Needless to say, it melts my heart.  But I think he knows he's going to be okay.
~Todd & Lucas~
Enjoy your Thursday!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Family Treasures

My last Uncle passed away this week at the age of 90.  Even though I'm very sad about his loss, there is comfort in knowing that he had a good long life. And even despite a few health problems, he was lucky to be able to continue living at home with his wife (my Aunt of course) of more than 60 years.  My Uncle's passing reminded me that he and my two remaining Aunts are truly a connection to other family members, my past, my childhood and my Mother.  They are what I consider our 'family treasures.'  

With the arrival of Lucas this week, I have thought a lot about 'family treasures.'  He is as you know a senior dog, about 12 or 13 years old.  To many, Lucas would be considered a family treasure.  One that would be looked after, worried about and cared for.  But he wasn't...Or was he? 
I was contacted by someone from the rescue that Lucas's owner had come forward late on Friday to claim him.  The shelter contacted the rescue and asked about perhaps returning him.  I discussed at length with the volunteer from the rescue about Lucas's physical condition--He's almost totally deaf, thin, and as mentioned, his teeth are in terrible condition (!!), and he's also not neutered.  While he may have been loved, I don't believe that he has been cared for or worried about.  This was confirmed when the shelter manager said that the explanation given about why he wasn't looked for earlier was because he was an outdoor dog and 'would be gone for several days, but always came home.'  The owner also said that Lucas 'knew about cars and knew to stay out of the street.'  My problem with that is that Lucas came from the inner-city of Baltimore, not the safest place for anyone on the street, two or four legged.
However the question remained, should Lucas be returned?  He was held at the shelter for the required 5 days.  The rescue legally owns him.  However, when there are extenuating circumstances and owners come forward afterwards, there have been times when dogs have been returned.  But all things such as the owners explanation, the condition of the Golden and the life they would be returning to are all considered and discussed.

In Lucas's case, because of the extensive cost, he probably won't receive the needed vet care.  He also would probably be returning to a life on the street, or maybe even tied up outside. 
Taking all this into consideration, it was decided and I agree that he should not be returned to his previous owner.  I know that some of you will disagree with this decision, and may find it 'heartless.' I respect those feelings.  But I feel strongly that Lucas should have the care he deserves at his age.  He should have a warm place to sleep and good meals every day.  He should have someone who worries about him, every day.  Lucas should have a home where every day, he's treasured.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A New Story and Life for Lucas

Today, a dog known as 'Elmer' to his shelter friends was sprung from his unfortunate incarceration, and put into an awaiting Subaru.  Leaving the hussle and bussle of the big city of Baltimore, his next stop was an inconspicuous and out of the way meeting place, a parking lot of a McDonalds.  A bit unsure about what was happening to him, I took his face into my hands, looked into his brown eyes and told him to trust me, that I'd done this lots of times before, and he would be just fine.  He was then put into my van and unceremoniously and without notice we quietly crossed the border into Virginia--His next stop, Golden Pines.

Arriving in the quiet country side of western Loudoun County, 'Elmer' was introduced to his new housemates.  His initiation was a 'smack down' by the cat, and a nip in the face by a tough-boy Scottie named Todd.  In the end, all decided that he was okay in their book, and could stay!

As the leader of the pack, I have given 'Elmer' a new identity.  At Golden Pines, he'll be known as 'Lucas.'  We think it suits him.  He'll be taken to the vet on Monday where his tired body will be given a good once over.  He is thin, has some laryngeal paralysis, and severe periodontal disease.  The smell of infection from his broken, missing, loose and infected teeth and gums can empty a room.  Lucas is unable to eat anything other than canned food.

There are other things that I could tell you about Lucas, but they can wait.  Right now he's sleeping by the backdoor because he's reluctant to venture much past the kitchen.  When I've gone into the kitchen, he wags his tail.  He's a sweet boy.  I wonder what his story is?  I wonder what his story will be?  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Waiting to Come Home

It has been a very busy week so far!  It started before daylight on Monday morning when I realized that Carl had locked my keys inside my van the day before.  Yes, I'm blaming Carl.  It had to be him, I would never do such a thing, especially when I knew my keys were inside, right?!  Right... I know that to some, it may not be such a big deal.  But when you don't have an extra key, the office where you work is short-staffed and everyone is counting on you to be there, and the only other person who has a key, in this case Carl, works 2 hours away from home, it turns into one.  Fortunately it turned out 'okay.'  Carl made the drive back home, and I got to work only about an hour late.  He decided to take the rest of day off because of something about not wanting to drive a total of 8 hours, to only work for about 6.  I guess in doing the math, it really didn't make much sense to go back.  

Todd returned to day-care on Tuesday for the first time since late November.  He was so excited when he saw where he was, and he really had a great time playing with the other dogs!  He especially had a good time with a young Rottweiler named 'Lola.'

Todd was totally worn out when I picked him up at the end of the day.  I was exhausted as well and we all went to bed early.  Today will be another busy day at work.  But I have no real plans for tomorrow when I'm off work.  Hopefully I'll have the chance to catch up on your blogs and things around the house.
We've also been asked to take another senior dog.  He was stray found around Baltimore Maryland.  Right now he's doing his time in a local shelter, and is estimated to be about 12-13 years old.  His owners have until Thursday to claim him.  While I hope that his owners will come, it's good to know that if they don't, he'll have a new home to go to, which will be ours.  Stay tuned.  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Basic Truths and Observations

It's the end of the first week of making a conscious effort to try and be a bit more mindful of what Carl and I are eating.  I have to admit that I've done pretty well despite that lurking within the cupboards of the office where I work are the remnants of the Christmas baskets we received.  As a result, I have been reminded of the basic truths about eating that I just can't deny which are: 

1.  Cake is delicious anytime. 
2.  Broccoli tastes better with cheese sauce.
3.  There is no real substitute for butter.
4.  Fruit does make a great dessert--- But it's even better baked with a crisp topping and served with ice cream. 
5.  At the end of a long day, when you're tired, worn out and stressed out, something 'light and healthy' can make for a disappointing meal. 

These are just my observations after the first week. Todd on the other hand, continues to be stuck on his own observations.
Which are the turkey buzzards that have been flying over our house this weekend.  Each time Todd sees them, he barks and chases them. He's done this so much that now Josh and Charlie are noticing them too.  When they kept coming back, and flying so low, I began to get a little concerned that they might be thinking of Todd as a meal.  Crazy thought?  Probably.  But I looked it up, and read that they won't.  So I'll just let him continue his game as they fly and soar quietly overhead looking for their next meal.  
I wonder how they feel about eating healthy?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Healing Continues

The calendar may say it's early January, but for the past couple of days, it's feeling more like November or March.  Today and yesterday the dogs and I weren't planning on being outdoors long, but we got caught up in the warmth.
~Sunrise on Friday morning~
Todd however, got caught up in watching the cat, CC, walk the fence.   
I'm not sure if it's brought on by the weather, but there continues to be a change in Toby.  He's showing a more mischievous and playful side.  When he is laying in the grass there is a look of peace and contentment about him too.    
I think that like Sheba's leg, the healing is continuing.  
I hope you're having an enjoyable weekend!  
~Nearly full moon on Friday night~

Thursday, January 5, 2012

So Much for Enthusiasm!!

When I got up this morning, I was ready to start the day!  We've had 2 days with temperatures well below freezing, and the day was predicted to be a sunny and warmer one, giving me some added enthusiasm!
When daylight came, I took the dogs for their morning walk.  We even went a little farther than we usually do. You can see in the picture below, that Sheba also had enthusiasm at the start of the day!
It really felt good to be outside in the fresh air.  
I fed the birds and took a few pictures.  
Once back inside, I cooked breakfast for myself and the dogs and tackled the laundry.  I then reviewed the list of things that needed to get done. Sheba had a vet appointment to recheck how her leg is healing. (it looks great by the way) I had an appointment to get my haircut.  My van needs an oil change and a headlight needs to be replaced.  Of course there's always that needed stop at the grocery store. But then, I can't explain it, but something happened.  All of the sudden I had no energy or enthusiasm...
So, I called and rescheduled Sheba's and my appointments.  I'll have Carl  take care of my van on Saturday, and I think we have plenty of groceries.  I've spent the day with the dogs and just relaxing not really doing anything.  After all, why do today what you can do tomorrow or Saturday--Especially when it's your day off, right?!