Category Archives: Life in General

Monday Musings ~ July 24, 2017

It’s a brand new week filled with promise and all sorts of possibilities. Mine will be hectic and full in anticipation of company arriving soon with preparations being made for their visits. Hope yours is grand, and the AC works its magic during the dog days of summer.

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

Larks and Lavender ~ Colorado Style

It’s full-blown summer here now and while it would be fabulous to travel to Provence, in the south of France, the next best option presented itself over the last weekend in the Mile High and bonus points were scored for not having to deal with TSA. While still relatively new as a commercial enterprise, Colorado’s lavender production has been increasing. Our arid climate lends itself to production of the herb with a climate that is similar to the Provence region with scads of sun, low water and few natural pests. The Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield Farms located in south suburban Littleton hosted a wonderful festival showcasing the garden’s 800+ plants with demonstrations and products, tours of the farm, and including music and kid activities. Beautifully landscaped mounds greeting visitors under gorgeous blue skies along with loads of vendors to share all manner of lavender products including soap, essential oil, dried bunches, potpourri. I wandered around sniffing to my heart’s content. Indeed everyone there seemed mellow and calm, no doubt due in part to the terrific effects of this special herb. We all know how wonderful lavender smells but did you know about all these positive properties?

  • Reduces anxiety and emotional stress
  • Heals burns and wounds
  • Improves sleep
  • Restores skin complexion and reduces acne
  • Slows aging with powerful antioxidants
  • Improves eczema and psoriasis
  • Alleviates headaches

Although I arrived a bit too late to attend any of the formal morning classes, I talked with a number of the vendors who were all extremely informative and happy to share samples of this fabulous smelling herb. I never saw a cranky person or child there and the hot temps \ would have been reason enough to be fussy. Lavender is such a great mood elevator and mellows out everyone.

Look at those beautiful mounds!

This vender was charming and cheerful while being ever so patient answering my questions on growing techniques. I have a number of lavender plants in my garden but learned several tips that may provide even more success with this fabulous herb.

Lavender bundles. No extra charge for bees.

There were other beautiful flowers at the festival

English lavender does better with our winter climate

Loads of happy ‘chill’ people at the festival.

More than just lavender at the Chatfield Farms

Fun garden art made from old spoons

Tons of lavender skin care products

Pretty Echinacea

More Echinacea plants

Even the Clydesdale was mellow

 

 

 

 

Lavender Association Booth with distillation equipment

All in all, it was a great day in the sun and I was able to gain some valuable info about maintaining and improving my own lavender garden. Even when leaving the parking lot that was filled with hundreds of cars, I was relaxed and calm no doubt due to all the sniffing of lavender plants and infused products. How do you enjoy lavender?

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

A hunting we will go…

It is a well-known fact that poodles are great hunting dogs. Just ask my sister, Elsa. Sam here. She ‘hunts’ everything she can wrap her teeth around. I guess I shouldn’t cast negative aspersions since I’ve eviscerated my fair share of leather goods over the years. But she’s taken the whole hunting dog mantel to a whole new level.

First off, can I say she goes bonkers whenever a squirrel is within 87 feet of our house? We can be out for a nice leisurely walk with mom and she’ll see one of the bushy-tailed rats and will try to turn mom into a kite and climb up the tree after it. I’ll admit that girl has some wheels. Twice now she’s come within a whisker’s length of catching the two that terrorize her live in our big tree and raid the trash and recycle bins. One of these days guys…she’s gonna catch you. Just saying.

We were walking early the other morning and guess what we came across? A cute ‘widdle wabbit.’

File photo-not the actual rabbit-there was no way to get close enough without scaring the stuffing outa the poor lil-guy.

Once we realized what it was, our poodle genes kicked into action overdrive. Say whaaat?! (spoken in ascending falsetto voice)

Just look at that pointing form of my sister! I was still trying to figure out just what the heck it is but she knew it was something not squirrel-like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mom could barely pull us away we were so mesmerized. Now every time we pass by this little mini-park, we start looking for Bugs Bunny. Mom said I look like Elmer Fudd when I’m searching, but I’m not sure what she meant by that. No doubt she was trying to be funny. To which I say, ‘don’t quit the day job.’ She’s no comedian, trust me on that. And she’s no great photographer either, as evidenced by all the cross light-beams. She apologizes for the crummy i-Phone pics but couldn’t hold two leashes, two pulling dogs amazing hunters, a bag of poop and the phone at the same time. I say she just wasn’t quite awake yet. She said sometimes, you just have to take the shot regardless of the position of the sun and objects. I say, ‘whatever.’

[Mom here…sorry about the crummy lighting, even editing wouldn’t improve them enough without those hideous light beams/overexposure. You should have seen the raw photos-eek]

So…do you have wabbits in your ‘hood? Are you a world-class hunter? Did you take classes to learn to hunt or does it come natural for you?

Happy Friday. Woo-hoo, how did we manage to get here so quickly? Oh yeah, that extra long ‘howliday’ weekend the other day sure made a difference, didn’t it? Have a wagnificent weekend.

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

Reflections on Life and Death

Life and death. We tend not to think about them until they are thrust upon us. And yet…they are in our sphere every moment of every day. This week we spent a lot of time at the hospital and hospice. And because of our experiences there, this post has been more than a challenge to share what it meant in an adequate way. This is in fact, the third draft and I’m still not convinced it’s conveyed well enough yet.

While volunteering over the past 4+ years, we’ve had many encounters where we’ve seen the impact of a death on those actually there. We’ve been in a room when a patient passed away, a mere 90 seconds after Sam allowed a relative to place the hand of the patient on his front paws. We have visited hospice moments following a patient’s passing and have tried to provide compassionate support for the family and staff. I’ve reflected in past posts how stark I found the fact that some people, despite being surrounding by the most caring staff, too often die with no relatives nearby. I’ve lamented that others have had their loved ones glued to an electronic device rather than being part of a ritual that we all will go through. It’s been confounding and troubling at the same time.

Yet this visit, things played out differently. We arrived slightly before our shift began and knew the hushed convening of people at the front desk signaled something had ‘happened.’ A group of long faced relatives stood outside the closest room with a large man dressed in a dark suit. The nurses behind the desk all softly smiled at the sight of Sam and his tail wagged wildly but something was clearly different. And then it began to unfold.

Lutheran has an amazingly compassionate staff who provide comfort, dignity and support for those spending the final stage of life with loved ones in familiar surroundings. With each patient’s passing, they conduct a beautiful ceremony with a Tibetan singing bowl as the body is removed and carried out to the transporting hearse. We had never experienced this somber spiritually touching ceremony before but that was about to change. This video will give you an idea of the sound (although there is no running water or crickets but I think you can get the picture and feel the peacefulness).

This week our interactions were quite intense as we witnessed the honoring of a life who passed with family and friends nearby, just the way it should be. Sam sat very erect next to me somehow sensing the reverence required despite being among some of his favorite nurses. Any other time, he’d be moving from one to the other engaging them and relishing the ear scratches but when the bowl started its melodic tone, he was still as a statue. The tones were soothing and continued rhythmically until the body and the family walked down the long hallway to the exit where the hearse was parked outside. I was so moved and it took both Sam and I several long minutes to gain our composure for what was to be yet another remarkable encounter.

Today’s visit was met with lots of hushed quiet voices, more so than usual. It’s understandable. Everyone there knows when a patient dies and they all honor the dead with quiet deference. And yet life goes on in areas throughout the facility. Housekeeping continues to clean, patients are tended to, reports filed. Care provided. We received the usual comments about Sam’s calmness and sweet nature, his freshly trimmed haircut. We were told to visit with a fellow in a room down the hall from the patient who had passed away. As I walked by, an older woman sat reading a book, glancing up and smiling broadly. She gestured for us to come in and tried to rouse her friend. Sadly, “Earl” did not open his eyes despite pleas from his friend, “Valerie.” Next to his chest was a large stuffed cat, the kind of stuffed toy that makes noises when there was movement nearby. “Meow, meow.” Sam did the classic dog head-tilt which made Valerie chuckle and I introduced us as she apologized, saying, “Oh, that silly cat. I don’t know why he has it…he raised show dogs for years. Guess he just wanted to create some racket when he first came in a week ago.” While he may have been more animated a week ago, it was clear Earl was not the same man today. A frail small man lay in the bed, his eyes semi-closed, breathing deeply. She laughed about Earl’s sense of humor and I sat down next to her as she talked while Sam sat between her knees. She gently petted him, staring deep into her eyes and he moved even closer. I could tell we’d be there a while as Sam sorting out and addressed her ‘needs.’ Never mind Earl. It was all about ministering to Valerie in Sam’s mind. We talked about how they met, how long they had known each other and their days in the world of dog shows. Earl had had a black standard poodle up until recently who had been the apple of his eye. She chatted as if we were old friends and as I listened to her tales about Earl. Sam stayed focused on her face and she just kept repeating how wonderful he was. After quite some time, he slide down in front of her and curled up between her legs. We weren’t going anywhere soon. And so we continued to chat. She shared her thoughts about the book she was reading and was delightedly to learn the author was also one of my favorite mystery writers, Donna Leon. Many of her novels have been transformed into the PBS series, Brunetti, about an Italian police commissioner in Venice. After a long visit, she said how much she wished Earl could see Sam and expressed regret that Earl didn’t get a chance to say hello to Sam. We wished her well, finished up at hospice and then made our way over the main hospital for even more moving and intense visits with many people. Sam was on his best behavior and totally crashed when we arrived home hours later. We were both fully spent after a day sharing stories about the living and paying homage to the dead.

Hopefully I can continue to rot out my thoughts about our visit even more and share our experience from West Pines which was truly amazing. I am still trying to wrap my head around the intensity and how to share them adequately so that they do in fact convey the incredible privilege we have visiting with the most vulnerable and the needy. 

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

The Privacy Issue

The issue of privacy is a big concern these days. From those strangers on Facebook you may or may not have gone to school with or former co-workers or employers stalking you sending friend requests, to Twitter trolls. And of course too many of us have had our email accounts hacked, our credit card number stolen and surreptitiously used to buy anything from concert tickets thousands of miles away to high-end electronics, just to name a few things.

Whether you live with little kids or dogs, the issue of “privacy” takes on an interesting dynamic that might not live in their lexicon. Oh sure, you can close a door on peeps, but dogs have a slightly different approach to a closed-door situation and are definitely of the opinion that doors are meant to be left open, or be opened. During cooler seasons, there’s usually a line outside the bathroom door waiting for me to return to the 4-legged members and not because ‘someone’ may need to use the facilities. “OMD…you’ve been in there for 90 seconds!! When are you coming out?? Whine, whine, scratch.”

Now that the official beginning of summer is just a day away and temperatures from coast to coast have been off sizzling so air conditioning is the norm rather than the exception. In our case, it means an evaporative air conditioner on the roof. This baby cools the whole house nicely with the added bonus of it adding much-needed humidity to the dry Denver air. The one downside to evaporative cooling is it frequently makes door jams swell. I guess there are worse First World problems, but when you have dogs, it can make for some interesting encounters, especially at the bathroom. In the winter, it’s not a problem unless noisy barks and paw stomping bother you, but these days…

While the door was closed as much as possible, it did not fit squarely in the door jam and stay closed so assorted versions of this generally happen.

Ah, poodles, God’s way of making us smile at long noses designed to push open doors for easy access. How do you deal with the issue of privacy and dogs at your place?

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

 

Can Grass Hurt Your Dog?

How many of us have dogs who think they’re goats? [raises hand] But now that we’ve had some scorching summer temps, some grasses can seriously harm your fur-kid. How is that possible? Grass awns.

Wait…what? Did you just make a typo. Nope. Grass awns are those sharp seed heads that often are barbed and can potentially burrow into our dogs skin, nasal passages and even enter their chest wall. The Mile High City has not received much in the way of rain so walking in yesterday’s early cool morn, I began to see a lot more of this along sidewalks. Way too early in the season.

While summertime is full of outdoor fun, it also heralds the arrival of two notable things that pose serious consequences for dogs. Dogs left in cars [don’t get me started on THAT one here-it deserves a separate post] and grass awns…aka fox tails. While researching the topic of grass awns, I found this website created by Cathy Lewis to “provide a source of information around this issue and to facilitate gathering of case history data so that we can attempt to formulate an action plan to reduce the numbers of affected dogs and save others the worry and heartache that I’ve been through with my own dogs and those of my friends.” While many of the entries mostly relate to hunting breeds, I know only too well that fox tails are very much alive and well in urban settings and can easily attach themselves to a leg or paw while walking. The result can lead to infection and extensive (read expensive) vet treatment. You can read a previous post from a couple of years ago about fox tails here.

Be careful out there-it’s a real jungle. While I’d love nothing more than to let Sam and Elsa enjoy running through swaying grass and sniffing out all the smells of summer, but with those nasty grass awns lurking-just waiting to attach their barbs to my fur-kids, I’ll be keeping an even shorter leash on them as summer progresses. Stay safe, sports fans!

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

Flower Friday

A couple of days ago I went back to the zoo with a friend and as we walked around the 87,000 kids on their school field trips before school closes, I began to notice that the zoo has done a remarkable job of improving their flower beds throughout the grounds. While we strolled past the giraffe exhibit where our own new baby, Dobby was growing like a weed, I was startled by a gorgeous Swallow Tail butterfly.

I was completely mesmerized by its flitting among a narrow bed of lovely purple blooms. Then quick as wink, I happened on this bee and snapped before I could change lens. I didn’t think it would show up since the lens was really too long for the shot, but when I downloaded it, I was a bit surprised.

At this point, I consciously started looking at the flowers more closely and then it happened…that-stop-your-heart screech from a peacock who was behind me. But what a lovely sight. Guess he thought so too.

But because it was the zoo (and I did go there to see anipals), who can resist one of the local freeloaders (with apologies to Facebook fur-iends who have already seen a couple of these). Squee! Here’s to a wagnificent weekend. Hope its grand. 

Live, love, bark! ❤︎