Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Doggie Blanket for Oliver

When I got home in October after my Mom's death, I went into two months of heavy brain fog. Heavy. Brain. Fog. If I compare the grieving for my Dad years ago to grieving my Mom's death, it would be like comparing a marathon to a sprint, a sprint over burning coals. It was incredibly intense, but at least the worst of it was over much quicker.

During the two months of brain fog, I clearly didn't have all my synapses firing. I would forget very simple things. One day I could not bring up the name of a friend of ours. You know one of those couples, let's call them Bob and Sue. You call them Bob and Sue almost like saying Bobbinsue. You can't say the one without saying the other. Well, one day I couldn't remember Bob's name. I said "Sue and........" Nothing. Bob had left my brain. Gone. No Bob. Sue was there, but she was alone. Finally a few minutes later, about to lose my mind over losing my brain, Bob was back, right there where he belonged in my brain with Sue.

Another day, I couldn't remember the name of the Vice President. Of the United States. This wasn't the new one, this was the one we had for eight years. I am a total news junkie. I know who people are. But for a very long period of time, which felt like forever but was probably only about 20 minutes, I couldn't come up with his name in my head. Finally....Joe Biden. Joe and Jill Biden. Barack and Michelle, Joe and Jill, Bob and Sue, I started going through the names of couples, making sure it stuck. Whew, that was scary. My doctor said it was stress, and thankfully she was right because I think I got my brain back.

As Spring approached, I had both some time and cognitive ability to finish the Doggie Blanket for Oliver. Oliver was the pup my sister was dog sitting when my Mom died. That very intense night back in October, Oliver did what dogs do best - they give unconditional devotion and comfort. What happened with that sweet dachshund became Oliver's Story, a Tail of Love. The last photo we have of my Mom is her hand on Oliver's head. He wasn't her dog, but at that point my Mom was Oliver's human. I wanted to make Oliver's owners a little doggie quilt for their amazing little guy. 

I had searched online for dachshund-themed fabric. There are a lot of dachshund lovers out there, that's for certain. I looked and looked, but couldn't justify buying fabric from halfway across the globe for not even a yard of fabric. I don't know what the carbon dog print is for an Etsy purchase from Sri Lanka, but I preferred buying locally. Then I found this, and the Etsy sellers were right here in Rancho Cordova. I could pick it up and save on shipping.

Dachshunds galore!

I had the rest of the fabric, including some cats.
Oliver can chase them in his dreams.
All Squared Up and ready to sew.

Polka dots for a dog with personality.

The furry side.

I rolled it up and sent it off to Connecticut just in time
for the Stella Snowstorm.
And here is loyal and sweet Oliver with his Doggie blanket.
His specialty is burrowing and heart melting.
He excels at both.
Now, what to do for this little bundle of joy?
She clearly needs a coverup.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Things Spring Brings

Spring, glorious spring. As the Winter of 2017 ends, and with it the pounding rains, blasting windstorms and the near catastrophe at Oroville Dam, the Sacramento Valley is in its best shape in a long time. The Sierra Mountains got their snow, the tree roots got their water, the reservoirs will have enough water and we can all flush our toilets whenever they need to be flushed. Life is super.

The irises are popping up, the daffodils did their thing and the tulips are next. Last fall on a particularly hot day, I dug up all our irises and daffodils and redistributed them all over hin and yon. Halfway into that project, with the sweat dripping off my face like water off a dam's spillway, I wondered if it was really necessary. But I'm glad I did, because nothing says hope like spring bulbs. And nothing says garden laziness than iris beds, because long after the blooms are faded, we are left with spiky green plants that need no care. I say cover the world with irises, and I'm doing my part part to make that happen.

After the ground dried out a bit, it was time to do a little walkabout the yard and see how things fared. Not too shabby. There is still a lot of work to do in getting this place in shape so we don't have to do so much work. But that takes work, and the window of opportunity to do that in nice weather is closing soon. Soon it'll be my most dreaded season, summer, when that sweat spillway on my face is in full swing.

First up was weeding. So far I've only tackled the front yard and the fountain yard in back, where we put down mulch. The places in the yard that have yet to receive the mulch treatment are just too scary. I'm just pretending for now the property line ends where the weeds start. It's a coping mechanism, and it works for me. All told, even with the thick layer acting to suppress weeds, I filled a large green waste bin. You can see clearly from the pictures below what a huge difference this made.

Before I weeded
After I weeded.
OK, maybe not worth all that effort after all, it looks just about the same. Moving onward.

The back patio - otherwise known as The Place We Put Stuff That Doesn't Belong. This winter, in trying to avoid the mud pit of the backyard, a lot of stuff ended up on the patio. It was time to tackle it. You can see clearly from the pictures below what a huge difference this made.

Before I cleaned it.

After I cleaned it.
Now there are some good Before and After pictures, wouldn't you say? We had exactly one meal out there, and then the weather turned a bit cooler and we gave up on that for now.

The Alligator-Lizard-Monster Thing
This thing, this abomination of nature, did not appreciate me cleaning the patio. He stared me down. He glared at me. He won that battle. I went back inside. But it's going to be a long summer, Buddy, and we will use our patio. Go live in the weeds for now, the ones in the way back.

Not interested one bit in lowering the Alligator-Lizard-Monster population.

With spring comes the plans for an abundant and amazing veggie garden. All the hopes, the wishes, the visions of cabbage-sized tomatoes ready for slicing, zucchini-sized zucchini that don't go all Lizard-Monster on me, and luscious fruit free from bugs, worms and squirrel bites. It's spring, let me have my dreams. 

A few years ago we planted two cherry trees, and wouldn't you know it, they weren't the kind that, ahem, get along, if you catch my drift. Cherry trees need certain other cherry trees to set fruit, and of course the two we bought weren't the right kind. They needed some cherry romance, another tree with the goods. So we had to buy a third cherry tree, and we're hoping that between the birds and the bees, their pollen all gets to where it needs to be and we get some fruit from these trees. But of course it will - it's Spring and all things are possible.

Don't be shy, come on over and talk to her!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A very long February

February is a chocolate lover's delight. It's everywhere. And after February 14th, it's still everywhere - but now it's half-off! Yummy and cheap is the best combo ever invented, after chocolate and peanut butter, that is.

I blame my decision to give up chocolate for the month of February on just that combination, chocolate and peanut butter. Namely, Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cups from Trader Joe's, First, they're delicious. Second, they're pretty cheap, even if they never go to half-off. Third, they are in a reasonably sized container that doesn't make one feel like there's too much chocolate in the house.

It's that easy-off lid that becomes the kicker in the behind. With just a flick of the wrist, that ever-so-nimble lid can be easy popped off for a "just one more" moment. You know, that moment that happens about eight to ten times. Before dinner.

My sister visited in January, and being the generous guest that she is, she bought lots of groceries from Trader Joe's. This included lots of the aforementioned peanut butter cups, the ones don't need to ever go on sale because they are already so reasonable. Did I mention the easy to remove lid?

By the end of January I had consumed enough chocolate for an entire season. It was time for drastic measures. I decreed a No Chocolate February!

Now some balanced folks would say that I just needed to put a lid on that overconsumption, that it was high time to show a little moderation. Those are the same folks who find sad, old cartons of ice cream in their freezers, as in they forget they have it and never finish it. I'm not one of those folks.

So come February 1st, I packed up all my chocolate (there wasn't much left) and gave it to my dog sitters. And I began the Month With No Peanut Butter Cups. No chocolate covered anything. Not even that sesame seed treat pictured with the little bit of chocolate drizzled over it. I was strict as strict can be. 

So here we are on March 1st. A new month. The rains and winds have stopped. It's sunny outside and the bulbs are emerging. And somehow just having that tiny chocolate-drizzled treat sitting right where I put it in the freezer is good enough. How long does it take to break a bad habit? Some folks say two weeks. I'm not some folks. For me it took twenty-eight long days.