Mo Bloggin'

A little o' this, a little o' that

Archive for the month “March, 2009”

Waking up with flying squirrels

I make no secret that I sleep with dogs.  My running joke–though no one seems to enjoy it as much as I–is that every night is a three dog night.  Often the three cats will join us, for a snug six-pack of furry warmth next to me, on top of me, pushing me out.  I’ve awoken in all sorts of horizontal “Twister”-style contortions, with all of them surrounding me in a jigsaw puzzle of beating hearts.

Bedtop real estate is rarely contested, though there are grumbles and discussions, usually between Farley and Cutter.  While Farley always concedes, moving away in a scuttling rush, he does so with his warbling complaining growl (he wouldn’t dare growl for real) that elicits a talking response from Cutter.  Once The Monster (Cutter) is settled, always perpendicular to me, his head on my hip or leg, Farley leaps up to curl up next to /on my shoulder. 

Farley is the baby of the family.  Somewhere around 3 1/2 or 4 years old, he joined the pack three years ago.  The Rottweilers accepted him and his always wagging tail, and his insane energy and drives.  And I learned about the vast differences between a working breed and a sporting breed.  Far is all birddogbird dog, all the time.  During the long winter months, when the weather is lousy and the back yard is a soupy mire of mud, Farley finds ways to entertain himself, and in the process, me. 

My bird dog is all about his toys, and his delight with each one is such that I can’t help buying him new ones frequently.  He has a toy box that’s brimmng with stuffed squeakys and chew ropes, bones and balls.  Not to mention the sea turtles that are living under the bed, the pheasants lying around the house, the dimply honky ball (now in the wash), soft squeaky balls in every corner, a honking duck, a honking heart-shape (the honking sound is a siren song to Farley, so many of his toys have this) and the latest, a flying squirrel.  The toys are ever present, being tossed seductively to entice me to play.  As soon as I look at the item dropped by my feet he goes into a classic Setter crouch, poised for the feeble indoor throw, then the mad scramble for it as if there were even a remote chance of any competition for its retrieval.  He flips and tosses with delight (more than one toy has ended up in a pot of soup or sauce on the stove) and honks or squeaks incessantly.  And at the end of the night, one or more toys will have made it into the bed with us.  Thus, waking up bleary eyed and rolling over, I encounter this in the morning:

The squirrel

Yes, this flying squirrel is cousin to Rocky, of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame.  The chinstrap of his starred “helmet” turns into a slingshot, so one can launch him by pulling back on the tail and letting go.  The thing makes (er, made) a squirrelly chattering noise as it flies through the air, little red cape fluttering, eyes goggling out of its felt goggles.  The flying squirrel was pretty much anFarley instant hit. 

 I know it will only be a matter of time before another toy comes home with me to join the squadron.  And really, with a face like this, who could resist?

Refining the search for Place

Sometimes I think I’m looking for something that doesn’t exist.  At least not in my price range. 

As mentioned in previous posts, I’m hunting for a home with acreage.  A farmette, if you will.  I already have the chickens, my flock of 12 that have img_0420moved with me and the dogs twice now.   I’m looking for a few good acres for all of us to live, with breathing room and with room enough to raise some food, maybe a cash crop of some sort (herbs?), and room for a few head of livestock.  Dairy goats, some fiber animals (cashmere goats, sheep, alpaca?).  A cow would be fun.  Or a yak.  Something a little out of the ordinary, easy to keep, and that would “return” in some sustainable way.  

BUS30075So yeah, a few acres with some outbuildings and a clean, move-in ready home would be nice.  Fencing a plus!  It sounds easy and doable.  The chicken and egg conundrum, though, the Catch-22 of it all, hinges on my budget.  I have a nice nest egg to purchase a place with a respectable down payment that the banks will like.  But to stay within commuting distance to the job I have–a decent job with a good paycheck that would pay a mortgage–keeps me in the highest priced housing market in the state.  The Seattle real estate market hasn’t taken the nose-dive like other parts of the country have.  Prices are dropping, and there are some fabulous buys, but acreage that’s within commuting distance to work is still mostly out of my range.  Those parcels that do come up tend to have some “fatal flaw” — manufactured home in poor shape and/or power transmission lines dissecting or bordering the property; a proximity to development, or flood plain, or busy highway that’s unacceptable.  I’m looking for my homestead, my sanctuary, and want it to be peaceful and safe for the critters while being clean and livable. 

I have/am considering moving out of the area and leaving the job.  There are many places I’ve seen that could work, except for their distance from the job.  Before the September 2008 meltdown of the national economy, I was much more blithe about moving where the Place was, and worrying about income later.  Now that well paying jobs aren’t as plentiful, I’m feeling a little cautious about just pulling up stakes and assuming I’ll find a good job (one that I like) that will provide a liveable income. 

I’ve looked in Northern California, western Oregon from Ashland to Portland, and pretty much all four corners of Washington State.  All have their pluses and minuses (weather vs. jobs vs. remoteness/too far in the sticks vs. terrain/wildlife vs. weather vs. jobs vs. … well, you get the idea).   I’ve made a lot of lists: a list of things I want, a pro/con list, and places to check out.  And I’m still chasing my tail on all of it.

He swims!

So I took Cutter for his first spa treatment a couple of weekends ago and have to say I’m hooked!    So much so that we went again this weekend, and are scheduled for another visit in two weeks.

You’ve never seen a cuter sight than my “Butterball” suited up in his life vest and floating in the water like some sort of aquatic dirigible (he’s not quite sure what to do), looking at me like this is just another thing to do, or as if we do it every day. 

A little back story: Cutter will be 11 years old in June, and doing pretty well considering the fact that he’s been an epileptic for six years now.  The past two years have been especially tough, as the seizures have progressed to multiples (called clusters) and he’s had to go to ER for several days a half dozen times now (cha-ching!).

While he remains radioactively cute, there’s no question that the heavy duty anti-seizure drugs he’s on (again, cha-ching) have taken their toll, as has Father Time, and Cutter is sedated and lethargic much of the time.  I take him for walks (well, more acurately, strolls–he’s s-l-o-w) and he drags his feet to such a degree that I’m concerned he’ll rub his skin raw on his toes.  People have suggested booties for him, but with his lack of coordination (he stumbles very easily) I’m afraid they’d cause problems for him. 

What to do?  Due to age and inactivity, he’s losing muscle mass and strength, and it’s hard for him to get up some days.  And his stamina is just not there–a walk around the block is all he can handle, and he fades fast.  Plus there’s the aforementioned toe dragging (his nails are worn down abnormally) and risk of scraping his skin raw. 

Then I thought of swimming as a way to build muscle tone, and remembered that  a world class doggie spa is just down the street from me.  I made the appointment and brought him in, nervous at how he’d react.  He’s not overly fond of water when we go to the river, and may step in a few inches or so, but that’s about it.  The great canine therapist  who worked with Cutter, Carol, put on his life jacket (talk about CUTEr!) and lifted him into the water with her.  He looked at me with wide eyes for a minute but didn’t struggle in her arms as she sat with him and let his feet touch the bottom.  She began to work his back with deep massage, noting how tight his muscles were over his hips.  He visibly relaxed and she moved him to deeper water, so he was floating, suspended by his life jacket and supported in her arms–a big Rottweiler bobber.  He was obviously loving it, and I could tell he was comfortable enough to fall asleep. 

She moved him out to the deep water–where she could stand and he was at cutter-swims-0051her chest level.  He let himself be moved around without any fear, and just hung in the water, legs limp with relaxation, and didn’t do anything when she let him go and encouraged him to swim.  Nothing happened until I opened the bag of cookies I brought with me, sitting by the poolside.  He was uncoordinated and clumsy in the water too, but made his way to the pool edge for his reward and ridiculous amounts of praise from me.  We did that another four times and he got better each time, and seemed to be getting the hang of it. 

The indoor pool room is tropical in its delicious moist heat, and the pool is jacuzzi warm, and I was a little concerned it would be too warm for Cutter–but I think he enjoyed it as much as I did and only began panting a bit on the last swim-for-cookie.

Time’s a changin’ (Warning: rant ahead)

It’s so weird to have the switch to daylight “savings” time (really, we’re not saving anything…just moving  the clock around) so early this year.  It used to be in April, and late April at that.  Here it is, only March 8, and the days are “longer” (such a goofy saying).  While I like the idea of the hour of daylight at the end of the day, not the beginning (when I’m likely to be unconscious anyway), this whole thing, changing the time twice a year, is irritating. 

In the winter we’re plunged into early darkness, and the days seem short and fitful for four long months (during the crappiest weather of the year).  It’s depressing and dreary and the suddeness of it gives you no time to adjust.  Suddenly you’re coming home from work in the dark and you don’t see your outside environment until the weekends. 

In the spring it’s a sudden switch to “longer” days.  The daylight after work is welcome–very much so–but I find it takes some adjusting to get on track with what time it really is, especially during the work week.  With the sunset later than you think, evening routine is skewed, and I end up staying up even later than usual (and for me that’s sayin’ something!). 

In short, I say quit messing with it.  Leave it one or the other, just pick one and stop this switching around (we’re down to only four months of Standard time anyway when it used to be six of each).

Snow again!

Wheee!!  We had another decent snow last night–two or three inches I’d say.  It was icy coming down (you could hear the flakes as they hit the ground in a tinkling hiss), and came with a brief thunderstorm (a few lightening flashes and some thunder–such a weird occurance, snow and thunder), but then the clouds passed and the moon came out–magical!  There’s been some melting today, but most of the snow stuck around for the whole day since it’s been so cold.  I love it. 

I took Farley for a walk over to the park by the river and let him run around in the snow.  He wanted me to throw the ball, but when I did he didn’t bring it back to me.  Game over.  So we just tromped around the ball field and through the path to the river.  The rocky beach was snow covered, and there were a few patches of ice on the river in the spots where the water slows to a stop (Farley had to get to the water in just these spots it seemed). 

We didn’t see any of the Merganser couples today, though I did see a solitary Western Grebe (big birds!).  They’re even shyer than the Mergansers and look gigantic when they fly.  We also saw a Bald Eagle, which is pretty common though always a thrill.  They are so huge; there’s really nothing else like them, with their broad, slow wing strokes at tree top level. 

When I’m out on these walks with Farley I realize often that I have a smile on my face.  I think it’s always there, and I probably look “simple” to the people in the cars whizzing by on the road, but I can’t help myself.  I especially notice it when I see something extra, like the eagle.  It intensifies the joy I already feel and I find I have to smile even wider.   How could you not smile at such an amazing world?

Snow again

img_0233I had to smile–not only because I love snow, but because my last post was all about spring and the promise of nicer weather to come.  I did say it was the February Spring Tease, but didn’t expect snow a couple of days later! 

While my little town didn’t get more than a dusting (I’m pretty much right at sea level, with the river only three blocks away), some areas got several inches, and the roads were snarled up with compacted snow. 

It was pretty though.

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