Monday, October 29, 2012

Daily Dickens: Facing the Storm

When I was little girl my mother and father would pack me up to take weekend roadtrips.  The destination didn't matter.  We enjoyed the togetherness.  We knew there were discoveries to be made.  On more than one trip the weather turned from glorious to ugly.  To calm themselves (and me) they'd sing.  The song brought a new energy to what we were facing.  An energy called strength.

That memory popped into my head this morning as I readied Dickens for his morning constitutional.  I don't know why my mind wandered back to this memory.  It had never surfaced before now.  I've faced other weather phenomena without this memory.

Today's promise of a powerful hurricane named Sandy has me a bit rattled.  It's not the media hype.  It's not the sound of the wind gaining his own strength.  It's not the threat of an indoor water feature.  I can't quite pinpoint the uneasiness I'm feeling, but when I recall that memory of Dad's hands on wheel and Mom next to him both singing with such love and passion, I feel better.

There's another energy that I often times neglect.  It's called faith.  There has to be a purpose connected to this storm.  There has to be something good that emerges from this stress.  Faith has gotten me through this last twelve months as I cared for both Mom and Dad in his final time with us.  Faith has guided me to take care of what I need to do.  Faith.  That belief there is someone who knows better than I that's it's going to be alright.  It's where I place my trust.

Dickens has been unsettled these past few days.  He and his classmates looked for any distraction they could find to ignore yesterday's lessons.  He's usually the one dying to go out and play, yet he now "does his business" and runs back into the house.  I don't know if dogs have a faith group.  A place in their hearts where they put their trust in something or someone unseen.  In this world, if he does have such a belief system that trust rests with me. 

So my soul tells me to call upon my faith for strength and reassurance.  To be there for Mom and Dickens and any neighbors who might need my help.  I hope Sandy passes swiftly into this good night.  I hope all in the line of fire had the good sense to get out of the way and let this weather system go by.  I hope everyone impacted calls upon their faith, whatever that may be,  to keep them and the creatures they have stewardship over fighting the good fight. 

In the meantime, here's the song Mom and Dad used to sing:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Rocksalot Farm: A Put Away Day

Yesterday's theme focused on putting everything in the gardens to bed as well as a little gutter action.  By gutter action, I mean cleaning the gutters and checking to ensure the downspouts aren't clogged and the water can go somewhere other than into the foundation. 

Before I did all that, Dickens and I made a quick trip to Lowe's.  As I entered there appeared an extensive line.  Perhaps a noted DIY expert coming for a book signing?  A demonstration of a new fangled power tool for the gadget addicted?  No and No.  This line had one goal and one goal only - to be one of the lucky to take home a generator.  Watching folks stand in line anxious and impatient, on their cell phones searching for the next vendor should the supply run out at this store.  These folks appeared weary even before the storm began.

Once home, I grabbed the ladder (I'm not a fan of ladder-work, BTW), but I needed to check those gutters.  Upon closer inspection (as I reached the top), the gutters overflowed with tree debris.  I doubled checked the downspouts and installed extenders to the bottoms to direct (re-direct) the runoff should things get uber soggy.  It's done.  I'm glad.  It's annual project that can save in the longrun.

Here's the latest from The National Hurricane Center.  The smart thing for everyone might be to say "I really don't know about this thing" and just prepare.  To be prepared brings a calmness that can't be beat. 

Today, I'll finish laundry, bring Dickens to obediance class, double check the grounds, and read a book (hopefully).  Today I'll think about all the positive things that can happen, such as reading that book, observing the power of nature, and finally getting some housework out of the way.  I won't stand in line fretting.  Today will be awesome and I hope yours will be as well!

So, what are you doing today?

[Image of 5-day forecast and coastal areas under a warning or a watch]

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Rocksalot cottage: Who Knows?

It always amazes me how awesome nature can be and how we, despite our technological advances, can't pinpoint the track of a storm.  A storm's energy can shift due to fronts, lows, hi-s, and wind, so many variables that algebraic formulae or plain old simple match can't master.  We still have to send hurricane hunters to look out the window to see the storm.  Still have interact with it to determine its true nature.  Amazing!

Here's the latest update from the National Hurricane Center:

[Image of 5-day forecast and coastal areas under a warning or a watch]

Friday, October 26, 2012

Rocksalot Cottage: Hurricane Sandy's Path

The latest as reported by The National Hurricane Center.

[Image of 5-day forecast and coastal areas under a warning or a watch]

Rocksalot Cottage: Mother Nature

Good morning,

I'm spending the next few days battening down the hatches.  Really battening down the hatches.  Surveying the gardens for items that could morph themselves into projectiles during a very high wind.  Saying prayers that the trees in my neighbor's yard stay upright instead of the alternative.  Making certain that gutters are secure.  These activities are usual and customary.  Part of putting the farm to bed for the winter, but in this instance the tasks carry a sense of urgency because they are compounded by something else demanding equal attention.

The reason for my angst you might ask?  Well, see for yourself.

Image from NESDIS

That's an image of Hurricane Sandy passing over Cuba.  Hurricanes are infrequent in New England, but when they do make their way here, it ain't a teddy bears' picnic.  We've had infamous storms:  the Hurricane of '38, the 1954 Hurricane, and last year's visit from Hurricane Irene, which took a great deal of time to recover as the trees fell from neighborhood to neighborhood.

So, instead of gently putting my gardens to sleep for a long winter's nap, I need to prepare  Mom, Dickens, the cottage and myself for what might happen come All Hallows Eve.  Compounding the work ahead of me.  Fortunately, there's help.  Checklists from some pretty smart folks at Be Ready.  Additionally, Mom's registered with our state's Department of Health's Emergency Roster.

Twice a day I check the projected path of this rumored visitor.  This morning's news looks ominous for New England, although it could change at moment's notice.  Have a looky.

Sandy just might take a left instead of a right.  The photo comes from The National Hurricane Center.  Looks can be deceiving.  While some might breathe of sigh of relief up here, I know from experience that the northeast part of a hurricane isn't where you want to be.  That quadrant contains the heavy rains.  If this photo had us on the west side of the storm, I'd feel better.  The west side has a lot of wind, but not the deluge.  Another nightmare in the making.

So with an eye on the weather models, another on the wildlife (trust me, they know when something's brewing) and another cup of coffee, let the preparations begin (or continue). 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Daily Dickens: The Tall & The Short

Dickens continues to make new friends during his walks of the human and canine kind.  He sends squirrels scampering. 

In this past week, he rescued two dogs who escaped their owners.  The rescues weren't deliberate, just a matter of good timing.  One dog slipped his lead and came tearing down the street his master giving chase.  Dickens let out a sharp bark beckoning the escapee into the yard.  We began to walk up the street toward their home in order to calm the situation.  Dickens proved his friendship to this little dog by playing him into submission until the leash clicked in place.  We continued our walk until we reached their destination.

The second rescue involved a miniature dachshund who went "under the fence."  He just appeared in front of us and Dickens let out that sound causing the little one to sprint  home.  Later I discovered his human had been searching for him for over two hours.  She expressed how heartbroken she had been.  She told me her husband said he'd check their backyard again.  He came back and asked if she felt well as he found the dog playing safely.  When I told what happened she regained her composure and I think her sanity.

In being Dickens steward, I've learned how important socializing him to various humans and canines.  He loves it.  Truly the tail engages and the fun begins.

This morning he took a walk with one of good friends.  Brady's a ten-year old Norwegian Elk hound and a real sweetie.  When they first got together to play, my heart leaped into my mouth as I saw Dickens head disappear into Brady's mouth, but I discovered Brady has a gentleness that I treasure.  We walked together this morning-his master, Chris, Brady, Dickens and I.  The walk made my heart sing.  Dickens learns from me and his own kind.  Here are some shots of our walk taken courtesy of his Lady, Jodi S-C.  I look at them often and compare Dickens to the wee pup of two months ago.  Time marches on...

The assembly.

 And they're off!

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Daily Dickens: Evening Stroll

The video is a tad shaky because I'm watch Dickens, watching what's ahead of him, and what's in front of me, but it's a piece of our routine that we want to share.  And, yes, Dickens wears his gentleman's coat proudly. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Daily Dickens: Second Time's the Charm

Well, yesterday's grooming session did not go well.  Whether Dickens felt full of himself or the whole session lacked rapport, it left me worried and concerned.

Thanks to my dear friends who hooked us up with a fabulous groomer named Linda D.  Linda understood Dickens's puppyhood, loved him, hugged him, and interacted with him.  These ingredients added up to my pup-son's face being trimmed and styled.  Dickens had a hard time staying still because he wanted to slobber kisses all over her.  Linda D. can call herself my pup's official groomer.  I love my friends.  They are my family.  They have my back.  I love them and so does Dickens.

And now, without further adieu, here's the new stylin' Dickens:

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Daily Dickens: Grooming Virgin

In the event this post's title leaves you scratching your head, I'm not talking about a woman who spends her days in front of the mirror.  No, my friends, my dear boy-pup has been taken for his first foray at the Puppy Parlor, aka Petsmart and I am a wreck.

Dickens and I have spent almost every waking moment together.  To those of you who think how silly the premise of this post might be let me just say I agree with you.  Or, so I thought I agreed with you.

This Cairn Terrier has finally realized that:

      1. I am the Alpha.
      2. My hand holds the treats and he likes the treats..
      3. He likes the affection he receives from me.
When I had my first dog all those years ago, "going to the groomer" meant taking the dog out to the backyard, filling a tub, washing him, and essentially letting him "drip dry."  Today, there's an entire list of tasks that comprise grooming (not including brushing).  Tasks such as, ear cleaning, rear transmission valve (you know what I mean) work, tooth brushing, nail clipping, etc., etc.  I also requested that Dickens get a good conditioning treatment to protect him and his skin.

For some reason which escapes me, I thought the entire session might take a couple of hours.  Imagine my shock when the groomer, aka Elyce, told me three to four hours.  Now that's total care.

They told me they'd call me when he completed pampering.  They slipped a leash on him and whisked him away.  That's when I noticed something deep happening within me.  I didn't want to leave the store without him.  My buddy (and sometimes my challenge) would not be sitting next to me as I drove home.  The sensation felt hollow...empty...sad.  Guess my little "Jaws" has embedded himself into my heart. 

After all this time training him and caring for him, I guess that wall that surrounds my heart got penetrated.  Ha, knowing Dickens he probably tunneled under the wall rather than over it.  Cairns are smart that way.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

71 Years Later: Mom Reconnects

It's been seventy-one years since my mother was graduated from her high school.  A place that holds her heart even to this day.  A place she felt nurtured, loved, and challenged.  Seventy-one years holding good memories, for the most part.  Seventy-one years of holding another type of memory - the loss of her father just three months before she left a place she called home.  A nun who took her under her wing after her mother fell apart with grief at the loss of her husband.

On Friday, Mom reluctantly kept her doctor's appointment.  All checked out well.  I told him about the next day's reunion.  The doctor asked Mom if she wanted to go.  She said she did.  He told me he saw no reason why she couldn't attend, so I called the Alumni Association and reserved our seats.  Mom seemed happy that the wheels had been set in motion.

Yesterday morning, Mom told me she couldn't go because no one would watch Dickens.  (Dickens would be fine in his crate I told her.)  She appeared to anxious, out of sorts, hell, downright cranky.  She vehemently stated she would not leave the dog.  My reasurrance fell on deaf ears.  I told her the day had been paid for and did she really want to lose the money.  In the blink of an eye, she began to dress (it's got to be her Scottish heretage speaking).

Once we got there, Mom morphed into the bell of the ball.  At our table sat younger graduating years, but two stood out brilliantly - Mom, from the class of 1941, and another woman from the Class of 1940.  Mom met another classmate who she hadn't seen in years.  The event swept her up so much that she didn't want to eat, just socialize and take it all in.

Mom couldn't attend any event without bring something.  She had her band photo from 1940, her 1941 Commencement Program, and her father's picture in the event those "Just older" alum remembered his store. 

I am deeply indebted to a teacher who helped me to tend to Mom - Mrs. C.  Mrs. C. taught business at the school (now closed).  She has the sweetness demeanor I've ever met in a teacher.  Her smile radiates compassion.  I heard she had been a tough teacher, yet fair. Kinda made me want to turn back time and pursue a business track.  Mrs. C. definitely deserved a place on my hero shelf.  I can't thank her enough.

As the awards program began, Mom had already shown signs of fatigue.  It had indeed been a very long day.  I told the coordinator I needed to get her home.  She asked me if I could wait a few minutes.  I agreed, but she knew I was concerned.  At the bottom of the program, the Association presented Mom with a half-dozen beautiful roses.  Her smile lit up the room.

Mom told me she enjoyed her day once we got home.  It certainly had its moments, but that reconnection, that being part of a long-ago lifetime has to be the best medicine she's taken to date.

Today's gray weather gives Mom a chance to catch up by sleeping and recharging her batteries.  The connections now a little fresher.  Fresh with present day memories of her school years.  Fresh with memories from her neighborhood.

I'd go through yesterday morning's battle a hundred times over just to see that smile beam brightly again.  It's another kind of reconnection.  It's the reconnection of a mother and daughter.  It's a different type of stepping back.  It's a look at my mother before she married.  At the end of the day, it was well worth it. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Daily Dickens: Shhhhhhh!!!

Yesterday's weather was wet and dreary - typical October. 

I don't know what my pup got hold of, but let's just say the rear transmission problem returned, then nothing.  I took him out hourly, dried him off hourly, and he did not like it one darn bit.  In fact, he decided he'd take control of the situation, which means grabbing everything he could find, some good, some bad, some not human (aka, stuffed animal), some human (aka, me). 

The rear transmission issue sent me to my favorite Cairn Terrier site.  Folks, if you own a Cairn you need these people more than you know.  They are friendly, supportive, and, most importantly, loaded with knowledge.  Loaded.  Overflowing.  The forum site deals with every issue a human faces with a Cairn.  Best of all, the ultimate saving grace, they do not make you feel like an idiot for asking questions as some other site "experts" do.

A post dealing with the issue recommended a bit of poached chicken with some boiled white rice and some pumpkin.  Giving a dog "human food" always sends mixed signals.  I've always thought dog food good, human food bad.  I continued to read the appropriate posts as I mixed the meal, gave the pup-boy about 1/3 cup of the gruel, and held my breath.  Nothing.  Nada.  No deposit.  Arghhhhhhhhhhh!

By 4 PM, my nerves had fried, so I called the vet and scheduled an appointment for today.  They were very nice, but cautioned me to keep an eye on him overnight.  Something could be stuck.  Great. I can take care of humans, but dogs not-so-much.

At 5 PM, I gave him straight pumpkin with a small amount of kibble mixed in (I'm talking a tablespoon) as I didn't think he'd like it.  Wow, did he gobble that down!  Incredible!  Despite the mouthing, grabbing nonsense, he seemed to settle down a bit.

5:45 PM I decided to try to walk him again as the sun had emerged.  To my great relief (and I bet Dickens's too) he made a poo-bag deposit.  The stress rolled off me.  OK, he's going to be fine.  Whew!

This morning offered the same result!  Yes, I love pumpkin!

Now, he needs to normalize, to regroup.  In the meantime, shhhh!

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Daily Dickens: Discoveries

It never amazes me what Dickens finds on our fair streets.  As good as the neighborhood looks, deep down there are hazards that a puppy uncovers in a heatbeat causing the neurotic mom to bribe, cajole, scream "DROP IT!" at the top of her lungs on a calm Monday morning.  Here's an short list of Dickens' Discoveries this morning:

a small ball of wire
a coffee-to-go lid and straw
old kleenex (ditto paper towel)
small bits of a blue, plastic don't-know-what
Every morning it's a new list of "junk" that folks have tossed out the window only to be found by a six-month old puppy.  Stuff, that if swallowed, can lead to an emergency vet visit, tears, and expense. 
So, the next time the great outdoors looks like a suitable wastebin, think twice.  You might be creating a hazard for an animal.  I keep small, plastic doggie doo bags in the car for small waste.  They are great!  Once full, I place them in the trash.  No muss, no fuss.
Thank you.
The Neurotic Mom

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Daily Dickens: Super Saturday

Yesterday held something special in the air.  Something wonderful and glorious. 

Dickens had a great day.  No biting.  Just a lovely walk with his friend, a Great Pyrenees, named Sammy in the morning, lots of training during the day, and ended the day with a stroll around the block with his friend, an Elkhound, named Brady.  [Will post video later.]

Fall cleaning continued, Mom got up early to enjoy the air, and we ended the day with an amazing recliner gifted to us by my sweet friend Katie.  [If you've been keeping up you might remember I tossed the living room furniture to accomodate Dad's hospital bed a year ago.]

The recliner sits in the living room as if it's offering a huge hug.  I needed that and will always be grateful to have my "Katie Chair".  The universe can be pretty frickin' wonderful!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Daily Dickens: Just Passin' Through

Dickens had a wee problem lately.  It seems that what he ate made a hasty exit.  Just passin' through his tummy.  He also had a bit of gas.  Everytime I picked him up, I could hear the air moving.  Ugh! 

Since I believe this pup deserves the best, I attempted to switch him to a better food.  Blue Buffalo, no way!  Wellness?  Ah, no.  These foods are just too rich for his blood.  Really rich. 

Thankfully, Dickens had a vet appointment yesterday at which point this frantic woman explained the problem.  The vet replied that I just had to find the right food.  One that did give his system a protein explosion, but actually nourished him without distress.  She also said that once we found the magic morsel his nipping and biting should diminish.  Also, the wrong foods cause itching and, wait for it, biting.  Who wants a human messing with a dog when the dog has gas pains?  It all makes sense.

Now, I find myself surfing (or is that serfing) the web trying to get a handle on a Cairn terrier's nutritional needs.  Cairns do not tolerate grains well.  They need protein, but what's the magic number?  25%?  30%?  Fat content?  What's the source of the fat?  How much?  Now onto the carbs.  Carbs are good.  Too many carbs, not so much.

So, after returning the Blue, after ditching the Wellness earlier, we're trying Natural Balance.  Hopefully, this works.  If not, I'm making the darn stuff myself.  I cook enough, what's one more?
Dickens did not have a rear transmission problem this morning.  Hopefully, we are on the right path.  If you have any insight into this breed's nutritional requirements, or if you are a Cairn owner who has overcome this obstacle, please share your story by leaving a comment.

Dickens thanks you and so do I.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Daily Dickens: Update

The Daily Dickens shall return on Wednesday. 

It seems that the new food I tried to switch him to had too much "octane" causing a little gastric upset.  He was getting 25% new/75% old. 

We'll be back on Wednesday when things "firm up."  (If ya know what I mean.)