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Merry Christmas!

Yuletide cheer from frozen Chicagoland. Gail and I got out of the driveway yesterday and had a wonderful Italian dinner last night with her mom, who is my first cousin, cousin Barbara and her husband, Rod. Yummy dinner.

Before dinner, Gail and I went to the Fannie May store. No, not the mortgage place, the chocolate store. Fannie May is my absolute addiction in life. No one makes better candy. Credit card is now limp from my treasured purchases.

At least while here, I have my cousin-dog, Gracie to pet. Gracie is a senior dog as Tipper is. Mostly Rottweiler plus something else. Gracie misses her family, my cousin Michael and his crew, who went to England for the holidays. Gracie’s Auntie Gail spoils her rotten, and I think Gracie enjoys being pampered.

I miss my crew, and Earl, who is eating at a friend’s house. This is so much better than last year, when I was staying at my friend Jean’s house, going back and forth to Porter Adventist Hospital, where Jean was dying of cancer. I left for home on the 26th, because I had to have a crown put in, and Earl had a doctor’s appointment. Jean passed away early in the morning of the 28th.

I miss my buddy. It sounds trite, but after what she went through, I know she is in a better place. More later.

Blessings to you and yours.

Today in “Ask Frank”

In Ask Frank, it’s nice to know that the boys miss their cat mother. Franklin discusses how cats do not appreciate change.

I’ll second that motion with a story of my cat, Pruney. Pruney was my cat for seventeen years. She went with me from high school through veterinary school. When Earl proposed marriage, I asked him if he would adopt Pruney. The rest is history. I have many stories about Pruney, but to add to Franklin’s post, here is one.

Jean and Phil went to England after vet school graduation. Dr. Jean Arnold is my dear friend who died almost a year ago. Anyway, they left their calico cat, Lucy, at our house.

I knew perfectly well that cats that do not know each other should be separated. Lucy stayed in a suite that was composed of the master bedroom, bath, and a guest room. Lucy was isolated from Pruney, so there were no problems.

After about two weeks, I thought it would be all right for Lucy to join the household. I let her out of her suite of rooms. No problems. One evening, Earl and I were in the family room watching TV. Pruney came into the room, and in the geographic center of the room, squatted and urinated all over the carpet. Message received. Lucy went back to her suite, and Pruney never did that again.

Cats indeed do not like change.

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