I've many passions but two of them are reading & camping, so naturally my camper's name is Parnassus for Christopher Morely's "Parnassus on Wheels".
By: PeaceRiverBP, 3:46 PM GMT on March 31, 2006
Since I had such nice responses to my Dog Blogs, I thought I'd write a Cat Blog today.
Our newest pet came into our lives unexpectedly. It happened one day when my husband and I were on the job at a small company where he is a site supervisor and heavy equipment operator and I work part time in the office, when my husband came into the office and said: "Come outside and listen to this." He beckoned me to follow him to a co-worker's truck, who had just parked in front of the office and walked away. Now, a soft sqeaking sound came from the underside of the vehicle and my husband kneeled down and looked beneath it; "Something is up in the frame, or something!" In a moment, the whole crew, including the owner of the company were all gathered around the truck, trying to find the source of the barely audible sound. the crowd must have scared the 'squeaker' because, suddenly, he hopped down from his hiding place and skittered away. We all followed in pursuit and after a short chase, we caught up with a filthy dirty, burr-covered, tiny kitten. He was so young that he still had blue eyes and didn't have any teeth or claws and he easily fit in the palm of my hand. We were all amazed that this teeny baby had mananged to hang on to the underside of the truck during the 25 mile commute down the highway. I took him into the office where we tried to get him to drink some water, but he didn't seem to know what it was. My husband took some shaved roast beef out of his sandwich and the kitten readily ate that. One of the other guys bought some little cheese crackers from the "vending machine" (a cardboard box full of snacks with a coin canister) and he crushed the crackers and mixed them with water, so that it made a cheesy-paste. The kitty ate this as well- in fact he gobbled it down so quickly that we mixed him another batch and that didn't last long, either.
The guys all went back to work and I kept the kitten with me- he laid contently on my chest near my shoulder and cried pitifully if I tried to put him down. But, his long fur was full of sandspur burrs, so I had to set him on the desk for a while and cut the spurs off him. He was so dirty that now the desk was littered with what looked like black soot, so I gave him two baths to try to get rid of most of the grime. Luckliy, this office job mostly involved babysitting the telephone and the phone wasn't very busy, so I could tend to this little guy without neglecting my duties. The kitten spent the whole day with me and at closing time, the boss and my husband and I all discussed what we should do with him. We finally agreed to take him home and try to locate his original family. The co-worker who's truck he hitched a ride on had no idea where the kitten had come from, so we called everyone we could think of in two counties who might have received a report of a lost kitten and left a description of the cat and our names and telephone number. One animal officer I spoke to said that they NEVER get calls for lost cats and she guessed that he was probably a 'throw-away'. No one ever called to claim him, so, we decided to keep him and my husband named him 'Triton' for the type of truck motor that gave him his first ride. I weighed him on a digital postal scale and he measured 2.8 ounces.
In the mean time, Triton had many Vet visits. The Vet guessed that he was born around April 1st of 2005, which made him about 6 weeks old at his first veterinary appointment. After a few such visits, the Vet said that he was gaining weight about twice as fast as most kittens- it was a rate that was almost "unheard of" in his words. He thought that maybe the kitten had been abandoned or lost for a while before we found him and that maybe he was now making up for lost time. Triton required that I carry him with me everywhere for the first two weeks and even though I didn't bring him to sleep with us, he would manage to climb up the quilt and scramble up onto the bed, where he would make himself at home on my pillow all night.
As the weeks went by, he became more independant and gradually spent more time away from me. Triton loved to play and he pulled out all the old toys that our elderly cat had ignored for years, now. He was fasinated with the older cat but Tigger wanted no part of playing with a young whipper-snapper. She was never a very social cat, anyway, and at 18 years old, we wanted to spare her from the kitten's pestering as much as possible.
Some of Triton's rough-housing with her was rather suggestive and the Vet said we could have him neutered as soon as he reached six pounds, so we had him fixed at four months old, to hopefully give Tigger some relief from his attentions- even though the Vet pointed out that male cats aren't sexually mature until they're about a year old, this little guy seemed to be ahead of schedule- he definitley seemed to be on to something!
We brought him home from his operation and he seemed a sorry kitty indeed. He dragged himself around and slept in my arms for part of the afternoon and I was feeling very guilty about putting him through this. When we went to bed, he curled up on my pillow, as usual, but moving very slowly. He didn't even purr when I stroked his head. Poor, poor little kitty!
At four AM, we were awakened by a miraculously recovered cat who was frolicing with his favorite toy mouse - from one end of our bed to the other. He romped all over us as though he hadn't a care in the world. So much for 'poor kitty'!
Triton was still growing by leaps and bounds- he will be one year old tomorrow and it's been months since he's outgrown being weighed on my postal scale, which only goes up to ten pounds. (See photo- he's the larger cat on the left; Tigger is on the right.) He has developed a funny personality. He loves to fetch like a dog and will retrieve things until you're tired of throwing for him. He loves the smell of cough drops and will steal them if given a chance. Since we now guard the cough drops, he has taken to watching the cough drop tin and if anyone goes near it, he's right there, hoping that you'll at least give him the empty waxpaper wrapper to play with. Q-tips are another source of fun- he likes to steal those as well and will run around with the purloined Q-tip dangling from his mouth like it's a cigerette. Triton also has an attraction to sinks. One day, he somehow managed to turn the cold water tap on while he was sitting in the bathroom sink and the blast of icy water hit him right in the middle of the back! He came dashing out of the bathroom and snuggled up to Tigger for comfort. He laid next to Tigger for a couple of hours, eyes wide open and looking a little shell shocked.
We have two very old Zebra finches that live in a cage that USED to (notice I said USED to) hang from the ceiling in the livingroom. Triton naturally enough considered these fluttering, chirping critters fair game. Eventually, he was able to leap high enough to tap the bottom of the bird cage and send it swinging and make the alarmed finches fly about, so my husband built a shelf up by the ceiling to set the cage on so that the birds at least had a stable home. Now, Triton just sits on the floor looking up at them- ever the optimist- hoping that one day, one of those birdies will just happen to fall out of the cage.
Tommorrow, Triton and my husband will celebrate their birthdays- Triton turns 1 and my husband turns 48. And we look forward for many more happy shared birthdays to come! >^..^<
By: PeaceRiverBP, 5:15 PM GMT on March 30, 2006
In continuation of yesterday's Dog Blog:
Ralph was two years old when he was removed from his first home and placed on "Doggy Deathrow". His original owners were drug dealers who wanted a big guard dog, and not knowing anything about dogs and Saint Bernards in particular- they bought Ralph, who grew to a 150 pounds. Since he wasn't naturally vicious (like most Saint Bernards, who are known for being lovey drool machines) they tortured him and kept him on a six foot long chain that attached to their porch. Ralph came to the attention of the authorities when he attacked two people (while he was still chained) and mauled them. So, Ralph was taken away to await his fate.
In the mean time, a local woman who headed "Friends of Animals" - an organization that places animals who need a home - spoke to my future husband regarding Ralph. (I hadn't come on the scene yet, so this part is as related to me by people who knew the situation.) His dog had recently passed away and she thought that maybe he might be willing to take in Ralph and give him a good home - and she was also hoping that the town would grant Ralph a reprieve if his new owner promised to reform him. After all, Ralph had come from a horrendous situation and a little kindness might turn him around. My husband agreed to take Ralph and he was given a stay of execution; as long as he behaved himself.
Poor Ralph was very scared and confused when he was brought to his new home. He ran around the house, terrified, and finally, hid in the house's only bathroom and growled at anyone who approached the doorway. By evening, he was coaxed out with some food and gradually made himself at home. He became a good pet, but his reputation preceded him and although he never hurt anyone- people tended to flee when he barked at them. He was rather a lazy dog and if he sensed a threat, he was stand up and "Woof!" but he seldom did more than that. The only problem was that he had been so traumatized by his earlier experiences and being picked up by the police and dog catcher, that he hated anyone in a uniform.
This was a problem because my husband had a long-time friend who was a policeman and one day, this friend decided to stop by for a visit while still in uniform.
He pulled into the driveway with his cruiser and saw Ralph sleeping in the sun about half-way between the cruiser and the door. He knew Ralph well and knew the door wouldn't be locked, so he figured he could sneak by Ralph without waking him up and just slip into the house, where he could yell "hello!" He quietly opened the car door and shut it with a soft 'click' and then proceded to tiptoe to the door.... but just as he got up to Ralph, Ralph picked up his head with a start! The policeman didn't hang around to see what Ralph would do, he just turned and ran for his cruiser and actually dove through the open window! Ralph ran in close pursuit with his slow loping stride and stood up at the open car window, where my husband's friend now lay across the seat, honking the horn for help. Unforetunately, my husband was inside the house with the stereo blaring and he didn't hear a thing until he happened to walk by a window and see Ralph's hind-end sticking out of the cruiser window. By the time he ran out to rescue the policeman, he found him still laying across the seat, with Ralph's paws on his chest, drooling all over him and he had his radio mike in his hand.
That friend never did say why he had stopped by and in fact, he never visited again.
I came along some years later and Ralph knew a dog lover when he saw one. I gave him lots of special treats and brushed and bathed him. He didn't care about being bathed, but he loved the brushing part- he'd sit still to be brushed for hours and his fur was so dense that I would swear I'd brushed a whole dog's-worth off each time. We'd go for walks, but he wasn't much of a walker- he seemed to examine the world with his nose and he had to stop and smell everything- and I mean EVERYTHING! Most dogs pull on the leash but with Ralph, a leash was only a formality- usually I was in front with Ralph lagging behind.
One draw back was that I had to be very cautious with Ralph
around other people because he'd become very protective of me and although he minded well when told to "be good" when family and friends came over, he didn't like other people to be too close to me. If I knew that "huggy-kissy" family and friends were going to visit, I'd shut Ralph in a room before they arrived because he would be even more upset if anyone touched me.
When my oldest daughter was born, Ralph was absolutely devoted to her and extremely gentle. One day, when she was about a year old and playing on the kitchen floor while I put clean dishes away in the cupboards, a neighbor popped over. This neighbor was a girlhood friend who now lived next door- and like everyone- she knew that we didn't lock our door during the day and she just let herself in. Besides, she worked with animals and even though she wasn't even five foot tall and probably weighed 90 pounds- she wasn't afraid of Ralph at all. She saw the baby on the floor and picked up her with a swoop. I was just turning to face her and warn her that Ralph was eating in the pantry where we kept the dog dishes, when Ralph came barrelling through the pantry's swinging door and lunged for her! I grabbed Ralph off her and shoved him into another room and shut the door. My friend was okay- there wasn't a scratch on her, but she had drool and dog food all over her wool coat. I apologized profusely and helped her clean off her jacket, but she graciously said: "That's okay- he didn't hurt me and it's my fault- I never would have picked up 'his baby' if I'd known he was in the room!" That was the only time that Ralph would actually attack someone- if you discount the time he barked at and drooled on the policeman, many years before.
Most of the time, Ralph was very laid back and even though he outweighed me by 30 pounds, I never had any trouble controling him. He simply did as he was told. But, occasionally he got his own ideas, if no one else was around. One day, my husband and I were going to take the dogs (we had two others, my Sugar and an old hound dog) to the beach and we stopped at a convenience store on the way to pick up a few things for lunch. When we came out of the store, Ralph wasn't in the car! As I gazed around, I saw him. He was sitting in a Volkswagon convertible, a few cars down- with a very pleased, self-satisfied expression on his face. A man who was standing close by must have noticed the look of horror on my face because he called out: "Excuse me! Is this your dog? He won't get out and he won't let me in!"
It was kind of a shame that people were afraid of Ralph, because as long as you respected his cardinal rule:
"don't touch my family" he was really a nice dog. When at play, we sometimes had to fish around his mouth for tennis balls and other toys and he made no protest. And believe me, you really did have to fish around - his mouth was so big, I almost felt like a lion tamer getting ready to put my head in a lion's mouth. When my toddler tried to feed him a piece of salad crouton from her high chair once, I gasped and held my breath, knowing that Ralph had inch and a half canines and fearing that he might accidently nip her, but, Ralph just calmly lapped it out from between her little fingers. Just the same, I told her; "Honey- only Mommy & Daddy feed the doggies!" No need to tempt fate!
By this time, Ralph was very old and well past the 8 or 9 year life expectancy of most Saint Bernards. He was getting pretty lame by the age of 12 and slowly losing weight. In February of 1984, he was fading fast and I knew the end was near. I tried to spoil him more than usual with treats and brushings, but on February 8th, he didn't even want food any more. While my now two year old daughter napped, I sat on the floor with Ralph's head in my lap (I was eight months pregnant, so I should say- on whatever lap I had leftover!) and I brushed him over and over. If I paused for more than a moment he would pat my hand with his huge paw to spur me to keep going.
He passed away that night and we buried him in a little grove of pines behind the house. That Fall I planted hundreds of daffodil bulbs out there- for the dog who loved to sleep amongst the daffodils.
By: PeaceRiverBP, 5:42 PM GMT on March 29, 2006
This has been a busy morning, starting with an early walk. The temps were only in the low 60's (chilly for SW Florida)but the wind was still and the sun quickly warmed the air. I like to walk not only for the exercise, but to take in my surroundings. I see a few more flowers blooming everytime I go out- a clear sign of summer days to come. I also saw a coyote track, two wood storks winging their way in tandem to some new fishing hole and lots of big bulls, slowly grazing the fresh grasses that have sprung up after last week's rain.
Then it's time to start my housework for the day- ho-hum! But, I'm going to take a break from my chores and thank everyone who sent comments to my UM Weather mail box about my dog photos in the photo gallery.
* * * * * * * * * *
I've had a few dogs in my life, but the two featured in my photo collection went above and beyond the average dog's devotion.
Sugar, a collie/german shepherd (her mother)and husky/white shepherd (her father) mix, was fluffy and mostly white when I got her as a five week old puppy. She accompanied me just about everywhere- even to work. And, back then the Cape Cod was more relaxed than it is, now- she was allowed and in fact INVITED into some stores and restaurants! When I was married, she came on the honeymoon.
At night she slept on the rug beside my bed- close enough that I could reach down and pat her head and get a few tail-thumps in return. The only time she slept away from me was when each of my daughters were born. For as long as they were in a crib, she assigned herself guard duty and dozed under the crib. This was a sweet gesture on her part- but it gave the babies a few rude awakenings during afternoon naps when she would hear a strange voice in the driveway or something and come charging out from under the crib, barking her head off.
Then again, her habit of staying under the crib also solved a mystery one night. Shortly after we'd brought our youngest daughter home, I got up in the middle of the night and as always- checked on the girls- only to find that our two year old wasn't in her bed! I was very alarmed, wondering where in the world she might be! As I searched the whole house, I wondered if she had thought about my mother-in-law's house across the street and she'd somehow unlocked the door and decided to go visit her grandma in the wee hours of the morning. We'd just had a snow storm, so it was very cold and blustery outside and I had myself pretty worked up by the time I'd gone through all the rooms without finding my precious toddler. I was just about to go upstairs to wake my husband and tell him that we had to call the police when I walked by the baby's crib and noticed that Sugar was not at her post, under the crib. She was a few feet away, standing there, staring under the baby's bed with a concerned expression on her face. I kneeled down and peered into the shadows under the crib and there slept my daughter. I gently pulled her out and put her to sleep in her own bed- but I could just imagine what had happened. After we'd all gone to sleep, she must have wanted to spend some more time with her new sister and probably stood by the crib, looking in until she was tired and then had somehow convinced Sugar to move so she could take over the coveted position of "baby guard".
As the girls grew older, Sugar now took to 'herding' them like lambs. She liked to keep them in one section of the back yard where she felt they were safest and continued the practice even if we visited someone else's home. If she felt the girls were going too far, she'd walk beside them and push against them with her side and gradually steer them where ever she wanted them to go.
Sugar was an amazingly smart dog. She could open any door that wasn't locked; she could work a doorknob with her mouth, sliding glass doors, she'd press her nose up against the handle and 'walk' the door open wide enough to make her escape, and with storm doors, she'd rear up on her hind legs, bounce her nose off the latch to jar the door open and then dash outside before the door closed again.
There were times when I had to leave her home- when it was summertime and I had to go to a distant store and it was too hot to leave her in the car while I shopped- and she'd manage to find a door that I had forgotten to lock. She was a connoisseur of all the local restaurants and would make the rounds to beg for goodies at the back door of each establishment. She probably got to try some of the items that I couldn't afford to eat! But, being a small town, everyone knew who she was and the police would pick her up and hold her until I could get her- which usually wasn't very long.
Except once- when I'd been gone for a long day of shopping, finishing up with a stop at the grocery store. I came home to a light flashing importantly on my answering machine and I pressed the message button to find quite a few messages from the police, each one more frantic than the last and I could hear Sugar's familiar "Lassie" whine in the back ground of the officer's voice. I called them back right away and thanked them for keeping her safe for me and I said I'd be there as soon as I'd put my groceries away. The poor officer groaned and I could hear Sugar's anxious "Urhhhh!Urhhhh!Urhhhh!" nonstop; "Could you PLEASE come get her RIGHT NOW?" He begged, "She's been whining like this ever since we brought her in and she's driving us crazy!!!" So, of course, I went directly to the "Cop Shop" to pick her up- I did not pass GO!, I did not get $200.00. And that was my lesson to make sure that the house was secure before I left her alone; those poor policeman were nice enough to just let her stay there without charging me for having a loose dog running around and I didn't want to abuse their generousity!
Sometimes, Sugar's taste for human foods got the better of her. I once had a job painting boats at a boat yard that was near a doughnut shop, which was owned by a friend and former neighbor. All of us at the boat yard took turns bringing in doughnuts, so Sugar knew where doughnuts came from after many trips to keep the help supplied with a coffee-break snack. One day when it was my turn again, I chatted with my friend who owned the place, while he filled a box with doughnuts for me and he casually mentioned; "By the way.... the cutest dog comes by here everyday to beg for doughnuts at the back door." Hmmmm!!! "Oh?" I said, "What does this dog look like?" You guessed it- it was Sugar! But, we got a good laugh out of it- she must have waited until I was busy working on a boat (she always laid down under whatever boat I was working on until I was done or came down for a break)and ran across the street and the field to the back door, knowing that this is the magic place where all those yummy doughnuts come from! But, I had to nix that; I asked him not to feed her anymore, because I didn't want her running off, especially since it involved crossing a street and I kept an extra close eye on her from then on.
The years wore on and Sugar and I were both getting older and we settled into our routines of an hour-long walk every day and (veternarians would probably hate this) she always shared my meals. I always left her something on my plate for her to eat. She was a very well minded dog who could be taken anywhere. Many's the time when I've traveled and snuck her into a hotel room with me and she never made a peep or a mess- which is a lot more than can be said for some motel patrons.
At thirteen and a half, she came down with Lyphomic Cancer. I found it while I was giving her her weekly bath and took her to the Vet's, where it was diagnosed. The Vet said that she was the equivalent of hundred years old for her breed and that she'd had a good, long life and that it wouldn't be fair to make her gasp out her last breath (the lymph nodes in her neck were doubling in size every few days, so she'd be choked to death before long) and he told me to go home and think about it.
Well, there was no question in my mind. He was right- she was a good dog and she didn't deserve to suffer, so I tried to give her a few really good days- unforetunately, I couldn't take her for any walks because she was deteriorating too quickly, but I did get her all her favorite foods and gave her extra attention.
It was a very fast acting cancer- thankfully, she was only 'sick' for four days and then I had her put down. She died in my arms and was buried in a little garden at home- where she rests in a place of honor.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The other dog in the photos, a Saint Bernard named Ralph, was also quite a character and he was rescued from "doggy deathrow"- but I'll save his story for another time- if you're not too bored with dog blogs yet.
By: PeaceRiverBP, 12:43 PM GMT on March 28, 2006
Good Morning, All!
There was something on our roof last night, and it wasnít a sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer- but weíre wondering what it might have been. Does anyone know what kinds of critters are likely to be running around on a roof at 2 AM?
For those of you who know SW Florida, youíre probably familiar with the Peace River; I live near the upper reaches of it and thatís a pretty rural area- so maybe an owl landed on the roof? When I was awakened by the footsteps of something walking on the roof directly overhead, I wondered if Iíd imagined it in my sleep- after all, my husband was still snoring contentedly- but then I noticed the cat on the bed next to me staring up at the ceiling, too. Step, step, step! There it was again and though we listened for a while, there were no more foot steps.
Just some speculation- but we had a mourning dove nesting in a large palm tree that is just outside our bedroom windows, until one night last week I was awaked in the middle of the night by the flapping of wings. The next morning, the dove was gone and the nest was empty. The parent doves had been sitting on two eggs, but they must have fallen victim in the attack. So, while I was pondering if I was hearing an owl pacing on the roof, I wondered if it was the same predator who had previously found the nest hoping that maybe there might be another meal awaiting them there and then left when it discovered the nest was still empty.
In any case, thankfully, its 10 degrees warmer out today that it was yesterday- my husband had to scrape frost off his windshield when he left for work at a chilly 38 degrees yesterday morning. Iíve already been outside briefly and there wasnít a breath of wind, so itís not too bad out there. Iím leaving to go for a walk, shortly- I usually leave earlier than this, but Iíve been waiting for it to get a wee bit warmer before I hit the road! Iíve become very spoiled since Iíve moved to Florida and I hate to be cold!
Thanks again to everyone who helped me with my photo question, yesterday- Iíll keep trying to figure this blogging stuff out!
Have a great day! :-D
By: PeaceRiverBP, 7:00 PM GMT on March 27, 2006
Hello, again. I already posted a blog, today, but I just checked back and noticed that when you see my blog in the line up, it shows no photos, even though I have added photos to my account and they have been approved. Does anyone know why- does it take a while for them to be officially added? I can see my photos but I don't know if anyone else can. I'm just curious! Thanks for your help!
By: PeaceRiverBP, 11:59 AM GMT on March 27, 2006
Good Morning from Fort Ogden, Florida! Actually- we don't really live in Fort Ogden- but we live near it. Our little neighborhood is sandwiched between cattle leases and one "golf community" - but I suspect that the livestock outnumber the human residents. It's a nice change from the hustle and bustle of Port Charlotte, where my husband and I lived for three years prior to moving out here to 'cow country'.
We've got a chilly start to the day with temps at 43 degrees, so far today. Normally, I'd be starting out the day with a nice walk, but despite my New England roots, I am now too wimpy to venture out unless it's at least in the high 50's! Thankfully, tomorrow is supposed to be warmer!
In the mean time, I have lots to do while I wait for things to heat up- get showered- go run some errands - clean the house (the excitement never ends!!!) and all the other usual chores.
Do we have any other cooks out there? My husband and I love to cook and I'm always looking for new recipes. Yesterday, while trying to come up with an easy dessert for my husband to take to work, I tried something new. I made up a batch of store-bought brownie mix and placed a spoonful of batter into the bottom of small, foil baking cups (like cupcake papers, only these are made of foil and they are smaller than normal cupcake size) then, I made a simple cheesecake batter with:
2 packages of softened creme cheese (I used low fat)
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
I beat the softened creme cheese until smooth and then blended in the sugar, eggs and vanilla until thoroughly mixed. Then, I filled the foil cups until 3/4 full and baked at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. They were simple to make and tasty and they are an easy food for my husband to eat while he's at work.
The cheese cake batter comes for a recipe I have for Cheese Tarts, which are made with a cookie or graham cracker crust and topped with fruit after they are baked.
Well, it's time to get my day going! See ya! :-D
By: PeaceRiverBP, 9:54 PM GMT on March 26, 2006
Happy Sunday! This is my first blog- UM Weather has been a favorite website for a long time, and I lurked around the blogs for a while before deciding to give it a try.
I'm in SW Florida, near the Peace River. We've had cool weather for a few days, just like most of the country- nights in the forties and daytime highs in the 60's. (Yes, I don't expect any sympathy from those of you up north, but I survived 41 New England winters before moving here and I'm still thawing out!)
But, at least we have the promise of warmer days (and nights) to come! I'm looking forward to continuing my gardening projects at our new house. My husband & I moved from Port Charlotte about seven months ago and bought a house with a lot of wondeful, mature plants on the property, but they hadn't been tended to for years- the whole place was terribly over-grown. So, we're gradually getting both the house and yard in order- I expect it will take a few years. If anyone else is an avid gardener, I'd love to hear about what you do with your landscaping. We had a large fish pond at our old house and we hope to put in another one, here. I'm not sure about stocking it with fish, though- this is a pretty rural area and there are a lot of egrets and storks and the fish may just end up being a snack for hungry fowl!
Hope you're having a great weekend!
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