Category Archives: Life in General

Red Nose Day Actually

It’s May 25, 2017 otherwise known as Red Nose Day in America. If you’re not familiar with this worthy cause, check out the video below with my favorite zombie apocalypse fighter and a few of his friends. According to its website, “Red Nose Day run by Comic Relief Inc., is on a mission to end child poverty – one Nose at a time. Money raised supports programs that ensure children in need are safe, healthy and educated. Half of Red Nose Day’s grant money will be spent in America on projects close to home. The other half will be spent in some of the poorest communities in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Red Nose Day brings people together to have fun, raise money and change the lives of kids who need our help the most. Money raised by Red Nose Day in the US has benefited programs for children and young people in all 50 states and in 25 countries internationally.”  We’ll be doing our part, how about you?

Red Nose Day, May 25, 2017

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

Monday Musings

Happy Monday, sports fans. Hope you had a fabulous weekend. Any of you watch the Preakness race Saturday? O.M.G., was that a finish or what?

Although there won’t be a Triple Crown winner this year, that was one heck of an exciting race that gave me goosebumps and took my breath away. Amazing!

Last night I was looking for some inspiration to follow-up on the race and came across this photo and thought starting out the week with a smile like this. Here’s hoping all your photobombs make you smile and you “come from the outside” to win the week.

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

Friday Fun

Winter dropped by yesterday in Colorado with snow and rain. Some nearby mountain areas received close to 30 inches. You read that right 3-0! While my neighborhood only received a skiff of the white stuff, more is forecast for today, though I expect only liquid stuff. The joys of springtime in the Rockies. In the meantime, IT’S FRIDAY!!  Wishing you a fun, fur-filled weekend.

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

That age old question…

What defines old age? Who’s to say, since we’ve all probably witnessed uprights in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s who act like they’re ancient, moaning about aches and pains. We have also seen folks in their 60’s, 70’s, even 80’s who enjoy life to its fullest and seem years younger than their chronological number suggests. So what gives?

I’m not sure what exactly defines old age, goodness knows there are days when I think I’m still in my 30’s and then other days when I instead realize I’m egad! middle-aged but have been accused of not acting my age and suspect it’s a lot like pornography-you just know it when you see it.

How old is old?

But I think we all agree we’d love for our fur-babies to be aging with us much longer than they do. But what constitutes old age in dogs? According to this chart from the AKC, it’s not that old 1 to 7 ratio we heard growing up. In other words…it depends.

When Sam turned 11 last year, I started to wonder when I’d  begin to notice signs of him reaching the infamous ‘senior years.’ He was barely beginning to walk slower, somewhat of a sign but his penchant for jumping up on furniture and the pogo-sticking leaps when greeting me hadn’t seen much diminishing. Enter the Ninja. I’m not sure if Elsa’s presence has lifted the little man’s spirits but on a regular and daily basis I see HIM engage her after months of avoiding her play invites. He seems genuinely younger at heart and now initiates the roughhousing just long enough for me to try to reach for the camera to document but then of course, they stop. I’m sure he just doesn’t want any photographic proof since he rather seems keen on feigning self-righteous indignation at the mere thought of his engaging with his sister.

So what are some of the obvious signs of a dog reaching the senior years? Well, for starters, the eyes provide clues (as do a number of other indicators).

  • Cloudy eyes. Sam’s eyes are ‘mostly’ clear, although one is a teensy-weensey bit cloudy. As dogs age, the lens hardens and may appear cloudy or blueish. Vision is not generally compromised but a vet should check for an accurate diagnosis.
  • Cataracts. On the other hand, this condition can pose vision issues for your pup. Characterized by a whitish appearance and cataracts prevent light from passing through the lens. It should be noted that cataracts are not limited to older dogs and can be discovered in younger pups.
  • Glaucoma. The eye’s liquid doesn’t drain properly causing pressure to build up, damaging the internal structure of the eye. Eventual blindness may result and needs treatment by your vet.
  • Ears. Losing one’s hearing as one gets older is not news (dang that loud music I listened to in my youth). Part of the natural aging process is hearing loss. If your pup doesn’t response to commands, he could be losing his sense of hearing or, he could just be stubborn like a certain Poodle I know. My Old English Sheepdog, Eliot was deaf his last few years but managed to motor around fine. In his case, it was almost a bonus since he stopped barking at every one who walked past the house. The downside was extreme startling so care had to be taken to avoid ‘freak-out’ mode.
  • Teeth. Dental care is critical for good health throughout their lives. One clear sign of periodontal disease is bad breath and without treatment, can lead to pain and bone loss. Left untreated periodontal disease may contribute to heart, kidney, and liver disease, just like with us peeps. Bottom line, brush and floss, kids. For both the 2 and 4-legged.
  • Joints. I can certainly attest to this one. The older I get, the more creaky my own joints get. With all the pogo-sticking Sam has done over the years, it’s a wonder he hasn’t displayed any obvious pain. Dogs tend to mask pain so it’s critical to watch for signs like a gimpy gait. More naps and less movement are a clue that moving around might be somewhat painful. Check with your vet for medication that might reduce any joint inflammation.
  • Urinary incontinence. This is more often associated with spayed females and Sam seems to write plenty of pee-mails though no more so than usual. He is a consummate marker.
  • Digestion. Next to sexual encounters, digestion uses the most energy in any organism’s life. Any change in bowel movements, excessive gas or vomiting must be adequately addressed. Sam has long been prone to bouts of colitis over the years so a high quality diet along with pumpkin with his morning meal helps keep the digestion well balanced.
  • Weakened immunity. As dogs and their uprights age, the immune system may begin to lag. Mental and physical stimulation helps keep the immunity strong. Vaccines or titer tests are even more impawtant with senior dogs.
  • Cancer and/or heart diseases. Obviously any unexplained weight loss, decreased appetite, obvious pain, lumps, bumps etc. should all be carefully monitored in the senior dog. Unexplained coughing, blueish gums, edema, weight gain, restlessness are clues that should be followed up with your vet.
  • Behavioral changes. Circulatory or neurological changes can be valuable indicators. My Eliot, mentioned earlier, lived to the rip old age of at least 13 (he was a rescue so hard to quantify with certainty). He suffered from dog dementia in the end which was heartbreaking, but his last years were filled with good vet care, loads of love and special attention to accommodate his age-related infirmities and I tried to make those last 3 years as comfortable as possible.

Two of the best influencers to abate the aging process are exercise and weight-control which is why I think Sam is so youthful looking and acting. Those twice daily walks provide exercise for both the mind and the waistline to keep him in top shape to do what he does best, make everyone he encounters smile. Regular semi-annual wellness trips will likewise keep Sam in tip-top shape.

Who you calling old?

Generally speaking you can pretty much figure a dog reaching 9 or 10 is a senior. But that label occupies a lot of nebulous territory. It doesn’t mean their lives are over, it just means we take extra care of their various ailments and rub those sweet white muzzles tenderly (or in Sam’s case, soul patch), smiling at their sweet faces. Speaking of sweet, the ‘kids’ are roughhousing, so I’m gonna try to see if I can capture their fun. Wish me luck, with those two, I’m gonna need it.

What age do you think constitutes ‘old?’

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

Wish I was there Wednesday

It’s Wednesday and the weather here has been completely craptastic. It will take most of the summer for the area to recover from the hail storm from Monday (see here for details-with advance apologies for being unable to extract the commercial before the video). All this tumultuous weather had me wishing I was back in Germany walking through incredibly appointed castles and drinking in all the culture. When I last visited there was a soft, gentle misty rain during part of my visit to this castle…so unlike Monday’s hell-breathing hailstorm, the current weather has made me wistfully wishing I was back there even more. So please join me on a magic carpet ride back in time to the spectacular Linderhof Palace, located about 15 minutes from Oberammergau in southern Bavaria.

Spectacular Linderhof in a misty rain

Of the three major castles that Ludwig II built, Linderhof was the smallest but the most spectacular and opulently appointed.  It was also the only one Ludwig was able to finish before his untimely death in 1884. The original building began as an alpine hunting lodge and added wings to it which later evolved into the current castle.  Ludwig ascended the throne in 1864 at the young age of 18 following the unexpected death of his father, Maximilian. Socially awkward, painfully shy, Ludwig was a dreamy-eyed but detail oriented Virgo and lived a tortured life whose real interests were in the arts, music and architecture, not governing. One way to detach himself from the harsh royalty reality was to create the ultimate fantasy world which served as a refuge from having to deal with royal duties.

In 1874, the original structure was moved some 200 meters away and work began on this spectacular palace at its present-day site. There were numerous building phases before its 1886 completion. Ludwig’s biography indicates a strong familial French connection with the royal House of Bourbon (his godfather was Louis XVI) so it seemed natural that design plans were strongly inspired by his infatuation with the Versailles Palace with a healthy dose of Wagnerian influences thrown in for good measure. Though smaller than its inspiration, it was nonetheless, equally as ornate and opulent. Linderhof cost the crown over 8 million marks, a gargantuan sum especially back in those days. It was the only castle Ludwig lived long enough to see completed. While photographs are not permitted inside the palace, there are a few snatched from the Linderhof Palace website. The exterior and garden photos are my own.

Situated on the south side and commanding  spectacular views of the surrounding area was the King’s bedchamber. One of the largest rooms of the castle, it boasted a special view of the grounds and woods Ludwig so loved with from an early age. Clad in signature blue color of Bavaria, the bed was flanked by two large candelabras and, as was typical throughout the palace, had an overabundance of intricately embroidered tapestries. Being quite a tall monarch, his bed was specially constructed to fit his well-over 6 foot frame. Set in an alcove on a low stair riser, it resembled an altar. The glass chandelier below held 108 candles.

View from the King’s bedroom

King’s bedchamber-courtesy of Schlosslinderhof.de website

Photo courtesy of Schlosslinderhof.de website

The dining room held a special feature in that the table could be lowered through the floor directly to the kitchen and then cranked up with meals allowing the king to not have to see any servants. Always dining alone, Ludwig was  self-conscious of the poor condition of his teeth according to the tour guide who said the king suffered from a “sweet tooth.” It has been reported that Ludwig led a very lonely life as the king. While the decor is far too overdone for my tastes, this room was breathtaking. The photo simply does not do it justice.

The outside exterior and gardens were equally as fabulous. Ludwig was well-traveled and fascinated by the mystical world of the Orient and insisted on incorporating many of those influences into the sprawling gardens, combining formal elements of Baroque style, Italian Renaissance gardens and formal landscaping of an English garden.

Cascade, Neptune fountain with music pavilion and pergolas

Linderhof Park, Eastern Parterre

Music Pavilion from top of the cascade

Pergola from cascade

Statutory near front entrance

Closeup of Naiad Fountain with Temple of Venus in background

Front entrance facade

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ludwig was so taken with the 300+ year old Royal Lime Tree on the right, he refused to remove it despite its asymmetry in the formal gardens. The gilt fountain operated solely through the pressure of the natural gradient, rising over 20 feet in the air at times.

The Hall of Mirrors, inspired by the same room from Versailles was far too dizzying to include a photo but you can check it out here. I didn’t stay in this room for too long fearing I’d become nauseous looking into mirrors reflecting mirrors to infinity. Ludwig reportedly slept during the day when sunlight could practically ensure a headache in the infinity mirrors but spent time in this room during the night when it was lit by candlelight, where it must have been dazzling with flickering lights. The room has massively large and continuous mirrors, centrally heated fireplaces with chimney pieces of lapis lazuli, ornamented rosewood veneer furniture, bronze figures, the ostrich down carpet in front of the alcove, and fine Carrara marble sculptures.

And last, but certainly not least, Ludwig built an artificial pristine cave with lake and waterfall at the castle modeled after a Wagnerian opera complete with electrical lighting provided by the first electric company in Bavaria. Remember this was the late 1800’s! As with all of his castles, Ludwig employed all manner of technology including electricity, finely appointed kitchens, central heat and dumb waiters.

Venus grotto courtesy of Schlosslinderhof.de website

Linderhof floor plan of first floor courtesy of Schlosslinderhoff.de website

Well, that’s it for this edition of “Wish I was there Wednesday.” Hope you enjoyed the tour! Till the next time…

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

 

 

Earth Day…Revisited

Despite wanting to share this post shortly after attending a photography seminar, a hectic life sort of interfered. But I decided it was just too good not to share the experience. “Walk on the Wildside” was held in connection with Earth Day sponsored by a local camera shop at the Denver Zoo. The guest speaker was not only a phenomenal photographer but one who happened to be a Nikon Ambassador.

Ron Magill, director of communications for the Miami Zoo, is a trained zoologist but never took any photography classes. He learned how to photograph through practice, patience and necessity (stock photos were too expensive when he first started out). I signed up for this class not because I’m planning on a safari trip to Africa, but because I figured any tips could be used in taking photos of Sam and Elsa (who often resemble wild animals).

Boy am I glad I did!! Although I shoot with non-Nikon brand cameras, photographic principles are the same whether you use Nikon or another brand like I do. If you have the time and the inclination, this video is a fair representation of his presentation in Denver with emphasis on his conservation efforts. Ron is high energy and enthusiastic. Be prepared to get caught up with his energy. As a world-renowned conservationist as well as a photographer, Ron walks the walk using his position to draw attention to the importance of saving endangered species throughout the world. Ron stressed the importance of living a life that protects these magnificent creatures so that we can enjoy them now and well into the future. As a naturalist whose primary job is protecting wildlife for generations to come, Ron showed how invaluable photography can be in telling stories that help empower people in to making a difference in protecting our natural world.

Ron showed some of the most inspiring photos in extreme locales; his enthusiasm for photographing nature’s incredible creatures permeated throughout his talk. Even though the presentation ended shortly after noon (and the worst possible time to take photos), I left inspired to see if I could possible capture anything like what he suggested.

Catching up on some 💤

What did I say about your attitude?

🎶 I’m too sexy for my…

Wait, was that a ground squirrel?

I’m the real sexy one!

Hey, no pictures without a signed release, ok?

Hey Ralph, there’s something down in this hole.

The most dangerous creature in Africa (next to man).

While the lighting was atrociously harsh and mostly overexposed, I was able to shoot a few shots that pleased me and as Ron suggested, any photo that you like is a good photo regardless of photographic rules. This presentation inspired me to my very core. It rekindled a burning desire to photograph the odd, the ordinary, and those exceptional sights that I’m blessed to see every day right in front of me. I left with an energized sense of creativity. It reminded me we all are stewards of nature and the need to keep wild animals alive and present for our children. An Earth Day to remember, savor and practice every day, oh yes. And for the record, it has inspired me to visit to the zoo more often, that is, when I’m not living with the zoo at home.

What story will you tell with your photographs?

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

Dogs and the Laws of Physics

Physics, especially those laws of nature posited by our friend, Sir Isaac Newton are not particularly compatible with dogs, instead being more akin to water and oil. They hardly ever mix. Personally I never understood that complicated subject in school, instead choosing to be one of those liberal arts majors everyone loathes today. When determining whether to pursue a degree in the sciences, physics would have been a requirement and with its emphasis on math, well, it gave me more than a moment of pause. Physics is about scientific laws of motion and forces…but with math. Shudder! It’s a well documented fact that I’m horrible with math and it seems my dogs aren’t interested in math or the laws of physics.

Moving objects tend to keep moving. Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation. “Newton’s First Law, which says “an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” (Source: Wikipedia) It’s called inertia, Sam which means when we’re walking, we keep walking. It’s not rip-the-shoulder-out-of-its-socket-instant freeze frame. Trust me on that one-even my orthopedic surgeon thinks so and he never agreed on much with me.

Then again maybe you guys subscribe to Raman’s scattering, described in Wikipedia as “the inelastic scattering of a photon by molecules which are excited to higher vibrational or rotational energy levels” and discovered by C. V. Raman and K. S. Krishnan, a student of Raman’s). Huh?? I looked up inelastic scattering because this made no sense to me and think it means something like ‘blah, blah Ginger, blah, blah blah.”

Courtesy, The Far Side

Let’s go parasailing!

In other words, I have no clue about that law, but am fully aware of the concept of ‘higher vibrational energy’ when the Ninja, standing perfectly still, all of a sudden launches herself into full-on Mach 5 speed with me at the end of her leash much like a human kite.

Must stay off the deep side of the pile

Newton’s second law (F = ma) is apparently is used to “make a mathematical prediction as to what path a given system will take following a set of known initial conditions.” Clearly Newton knew nothing about dogs for they generally do not travel in a straight path, instead giving in to noses that pull them along in helter-skelter fashion as they chase down a scent or prepare to answer the latest pee-mail. This law often manifests in winter and deals with leash lengths. Need I remind you sweet fur-kids, the leash is only so long and while your nose may inspire you to travel outside that length limitation, the upright firmly attached to the end is not inclined to step in ankle-deep snow just to satisfy that urge. That my dear knuckleheads is known as Murphy’s Law because that snow is almost always deeper than any boots.

Do your kiddos follow the laws of physics or are they more likely to be fans of Murphy’s Law?

Live, love, bark! ❤︎