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A nice place to visit but……

Happy holidays from Chicagoland!

I woke up to a mini-blizzard today, just enough to remind me why I don’t live here any more. I left for college at 17 and basically never returned.

Earl is fortunate to have stayed home to tend the animals and prepare for his presentation. For many years as a race track veterinarian, Earl studied race track surfacecomposition and their relationships to injuries of greyhounds and horses. He worked for the State of Colorado as the animal welfare veterinarinan. His job was to see that the racing animals were properly cared for. Occasionally, there were animal rights groups that picketed the tracks, but having Earl as their target was dead wrong. He was the guy that maintained a standard of care for the animals. If there has to be racing, a vet like Earl is needed to ensure proper treatment of animals.

One time, he told me he was going on a raid. There was a group of people holding illegal horse racing on a ranch. I went ballistic! Investigators with guns going onto private property? Busting up illegal gambling? No way. He assured me that he would stay in the car, and when everyone was captured or disbursed, he would check the animals. He had quite a story to tell when he got home.

Earl retired from the State of Colorado over a year ago, but is still working on his study. At least we get a trip to Florida for the presentation.

Da Bears beat the Packers in overtime here in Chi-town last night. I guess being from the area has its benefits. I guess if the Cubs can’t win, at least Da Bears can! There was a piece in the Tribune of drafting “Da Coach,”  Mike Ditka, to be the next governor. Works for me. I’m back in the land of twisted politics, and how I enjoy reading about it in a real newspaper.

Got the blues? Walk a dog.

The cold continues here in the West. The sun came out, so I harnessed up the Wonder Husky and we hit the road. Sunshine here tends to negate low temperatures.

Walking a dog is a super way to enjoy the sunshine even when bundled up like an Eskimo. Tipper and I toured the neighborhood delightfully deserted due to the exodus of college students for semester break. No worries right now about the dog pack up the street.

After Tipper went back in her dog pen, I spent some time with Hannah and Scooter in the corral. I brushed the Baby, who loved a good rub in her tickle spot. She kisses me by touching my hand with her tongue.

Scoot got his long, velvet coat cleaned as well. His skin biopsy spots are healing, and his hair is growing in. No news about the cause of the patches yet, but it seems to be a self-limiting condition as no new lesions have formed.

There is nothing like being out in the sunlight doing something you enjoy to ward off the blues. It was great playing with the horses.

I’m downloading a 99-cent movie rental to put on my iPod right now. It’s pretty cool to watch a movie that way, but it takes three hours to download. I’m off to Chicago tomorrow to hang out with my cousin, Gail. My golf buddy, Diane, called me and said she and her husband drove through a blizzard to get to her mom’s house in the ‘burbs. Oh well, I guess I will be reminded why I no longer live there.

Be sure to get out into the sun whenever you can this winter. It’s a great way to elevate your mood.

 

The great escape.

Tomorrow marks the official beginning of winter. Of late, the weather has made people around here wonder about the existence of global warming.

For the last three winters, there have been lots of cold and snow. Two years ago at this time, there were back-to-back blizzards. When the second one hit, I went out to get Tipper, who yipped to come inside. I thought there was so much snow that the dog would come in without being walked on a leash. She made it the twenty-five feet to the back door when off she went, my senior dog fleeing at top speed into the night.

The driveways were buried in snow. The only usable vehicle was our truck. I was more than a little scared of spinning out or getting stuck, as I was only a year and a half out of my total hip replacement. I didn’t want to have to hike for help. Nevertheless, I got in the truck to drive around the neighborhood in almost whiteout conditions.

I returned home with no dog and a massive anxiety attack. With all the growling I do about dogs off leash, my own dog was a runaway. I wasn’t worried about my dog doing any damage. I worried about someone finding a beautiful Husky in all her winter glory and keeping her. I never have understood why people steal dogs. I would go nuts if that happened, which is why our dog pen and corral are locked. I also wasn’t worried about Tipper being hit by a car. I was the only idiot on the road.

Admitting defeat at finding our pup, I called animal control to inform them about the situation. Tipper has tags and an ID chip. I was told that there wasn’t much chance of her getting busted in this weather, and because I called, she would be returned to me if found.

While still on the phone, out of the corner of my eye I saw a streak of silver zooming by the kitchen window. There was the Wonder Husky returning home. She had gone around several blocks, a wide circle of  streets, returning home with a big grin on her face. 

The next two days showed that a ten-year-old dog shouldn’t escape to run full speed at-large. Tipper spent those days sacked out on her plush dog bed inside her crate. I had to hold a mirror under her nose to see if she was alive. Her blizzard road trip was finished. I laughed at the way Tipper looked at me when she returned, breathing hard, her face covered with snow, and her crystal-blue eyes bright as if to say, “Boy, that sure was fun!” 

Our feathered friends.

As you go about your winter tasks in the yard, please remember to feed the birds. It has been strangely quiet around El Rancho Pig Sty-o. Time to bring the birds back.

We have several types of feeders. The tube feeders for wild bird mix and sunflower seeds are popular with the songbirds. Hanging platform feeders so the birds can get in there and snack seem to be a hit for our feathered friends. The downy woodpeckers and marauding squirrels like suet feeders.

I dropped some bucks on new feeders when I had some gardens re-landscaped. The result was beautiful. However nothing, not even a squirrel baffle, can waylay the plans of these little thieves. They even jump off the roof to land on the feeders. They can go through one suet cake in a day. Want to know a secret? I love to watch the squirrels and their gymnastics. Back in Highland Park, where I was born and raised, there was a neighborhood squirrel my sister trained to eat out of her hand. Radcliffe was with us for many years of delight.

Feeding birds in the winter can help drive off the blues of those cold, dark winter days. Our cats are in feline heaven, chirping at the birds through the window. How nice it is to take a time out from a busy day to sit on the floor in the dining room with Matthew on my lap, noting what species came for a snack. Wish we had Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, my favorite bird. They live east of here, but I have seen one here exactly twice. Once in my yard, once up in the mountains. That was in 1980. We can but hope.

Much has been said of diseases birds can get from feeders. Start with clean feeders, disinfected then rinsed well, and there should be no problem.

Oh, about winter tasks-forgot to put straw in the rose gardens. Oops! I hope it’s not too late after a few below zero days. 

Frigid weather: Husky nirvana.

It’s been pretty cold here. The Wonder Husky goes out in the morning when I feed the horses. She usually stays out for a long time. This is weather designed for Siberians!

When I take her out, I bring a pitcher of water for her dog bowl and some chow. Of late, the water in the bowl is frozen solid. One of these days I expect to bring her in with the bowl swinging from her tongue.

Whatever breed of dog you have, check carefully on your its welfare in the cold. When Tipper yips, that means she wants to come in. Dogs should never be left in severe cold. They can contract cold-related illnesses just as we can.

I find it charming that Tipper digs holes in her dog pen, a rather large area with a doghouse that used to be my sister-in-law’s playhouse. The dog pen borders the corral where Tip plays with the horses from her side of the fence. They like to play with her. Her house even has a porch where Tip likes to hang out to watch for foxes so she can use her special fox bark, “BAR-OOOOO.” Note that huskies don’t bark, they sing.  When it is cold Tip goes to her largest husky hole, burrows in and positions herself just as Iditarod dogs do-curled in a ball with her nose tucked into her tummy.

An Iditarod dog she is not. We laugh at her and tell her if she were to go to the Iditarod she would need a heated tent, special dog boots, and servants. Now that she is twelve, she doesn’t mind the humor so much. At age 12, she would be retired from competition now as, in her mind,  a  champion. She is a champion to us, too.

The Midlife Crisis Queen publishes her first book!

Laura Lee Carter’s brand new book, The Midlife Crisis Queen’s MIDLIFE MAGIC: Becoming the person you are inside! has been published. Congratulations, Laura Lee!

I started reading this book while contemplating going outside in six-degree weather and snow. I think I’ll read the book!

Laura’s book is a positive outlook on middle age, and how changes in our lives are not as horrible as we think they are, but they can be the impetus for a better life.

As one who has had many life changes, I can tell you this book talks directly to the reader. The book has quotations interspersed in the text. I particularly like J.K. Rowling’s quote: “Rock bottom became the solid foundation I built my future success upon.” Good words from a woman who was a single mom on assistance when she sat at a café to write the first Harry Potter book. Rowling has enjoyed much fame and success, and is richer than the Queen.

Best wishes to my friend Laura Lee, the Midlife Crisis Queen

Bad dogs? No! Bad dog owners.

I went to the courthouse this morning to find the owner of the rental property where the dogs and irresponsible owners live. Next, I called the man who, with his wife, owns the house, and several others in the neighborhood. A formal report also went out in the mail to Animal Protection and Control.

We had a nice conversation after getting past the “My wife handles that stuff” part. As a landlord myself, I assured him that I understood his problem. Most likely, the owners of the dogs haven’t taken out insurance on them. In any case, any damage done by at-large dogs comes down to the responsibility of the property owner. I want to be proactive. I don’t want my horses hurt. I don’t want to get hurt and have to sue.  I couldn’t  handle more trauma to my leg. These injuries take a long, long time to heal, if in fact they do heal. All I want him (or his wife) to do is have a chat with the renters about dog responsibilities. The violations they incurred were two: dog off leash and public nuisance. Dog off leash refers to any time a dog is not restrained by a leash or behind a fence. Dogs can’t even sit on the lawn without restraint. Public nuisance refers to a dog that approaches you, your dog, or in the case last week, the horses. Ordinances are readily available for the public to access.

Our dog is properly controlled, and she is kept safe from  harm. 

If, as happened with the incident the other day, parties involved in these dangerous violations insist on not changing their ways, laughing and leaving the scene, or refusing to conform to city ordinances; I guess all I can say is remain well-insured.