Friday, March 30, 2012

Isn't Spring Pretty? A-choo!

The calendar says it's still March but nobody told the trees and flowering plants. This year our trees are at least a month early. Our Crepe Myrtle which doesn't usually wake up till May is already leafed out.
We're loving all the beautiful flowering trees. These Crabapples opened last weekend.
This is my confused Crabapple tree. For reasons unknown, someone grafted a branch of a different type tree onto this sapling and now we have this interesting mixture of flowers and different sized fruit later in the summer.
This is my favorite. This is a Kwanzan Cherry. I love the bunches of pink flowers.
 There are lots of these trees at the Baltimore Inner Harbor. That's where I first saw them and I needed some for my yard. So far I only have one, but that's going to change.

The Vinca around the front steps is in bloom. This even grows under the porch so if you need a good shade plant. It spreads like crazy, so plan ahead.
Norma Jean says it's nice to lie under the trees, but her Mom says it makes one sneeze a lot.
Today for those of you who have asked I'm starting a weekly monitor for Tsar. This past week was a pretty good one after having a not so good one.  This week gets an up arrow.
Today he was able to stand up with no help and has been asking to walk around the yard. He has a good appetite and has been barking at the other dogs. Best of all, last night he flushed a bunny out of the hedge and tried to give chase. That'll always pick up a dog's spirits.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Join Me For A Rant

Drag out the soapboxes, I'm at it again! This time I have to vent my displeasure at coffee makers.

Rob and I received a coffee maker as a wedding gift. It worked nicely for twenty five years until last year we noticed that the coffee was only lukewarm. We ditched the trusty old coffee maker and set out to buy a new one.

STICKER SHOCK!!! The price of coffee makers went way up over the past twenty five years. Ok, once I adjusted to that fact, we chose a well known brand name coffee maker in the mid price range. I think we paid about $70 dollars. OUCH!! But there were many that were priced much higher.

The one we chose promised to do all the things we wanted plus more. It had a digital clock with a timer and an automatic off switch and a bright nightlight etc, etc, etc. All I really wanted was a good cup of hot coffee to get my brain working in the morning.

The new coffee maker was a disaster from the very first day. Although the instruction book said the carafe was dishwasher safe, there was no way to open the lid enough or to remove it to fit the carafe in the dishwasher. The way the machine was constructed it was impossible to fill the water storage area without spilling water onto the counter. Three out of five time while the coffee was brewing, it dripped onto the counter under the machine. Finally, it was impossible to pour coffee into the cups without a flood onto the counter or floor. The carafe was shaped wrong and as much coffee poured out the sides as poured into the cups. I quickly learned to always pour it over the sink. Many HBO words escaped as I saw half my morning coffee pooling in the sink.

Then, on Monday morning, about a year after this monster came to live with us, it died. Without even a hint that it was sick, it stopped doing everything. I can't say I'm sorry to see it go, but I NEED coffee in the morning.
After breakfast out, Rob and I settled down with our computers to find a new coffee maker. We went to Amazon customer reviews and guess what we found.. We checked out all the high priced coffee makers and found that customers reported the same problems we had with ours, bad design and leaks and dying after a short unhappy life. We read reviews for hours, then I made a decision.

Instead of buying an expensive machine that would leak all over my counters, I'd buy the cheapest coffee maker I could find. That way if I need to replace it every six months, it won't hurt so much. The $13 machine that I selected was out of stock. Apparently, a lot of other people have made the same decision. I found one for $19 and ordered it.

The new cheapo coffee maker arrived yesterday and this morning was the big test. It passed. It was easy to fill, made hot coffee and didn't leak on the counter. I was able to pour coffee into our mugs without spilling any or standing over the sink.

The coffee maker does not have a clock or a timer. It doesn't have a night light or an automatic off switch. It doesn't sing to me as I prepare breakfast but t does just what I want it to do. It makes coffee. 

OK, I'm getting off my soapbox now, thanks for listening.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ice Cream Makes Everything Better

In the evenings Rob and I sometimes enjoy a treat of ice cream. Rob fixes it and usually puts it in a large mug. We used to use regular coffee mugs, but Samba requested that we not use those small mugs anymore.
The reason is that the dogs all lie quietly around the room as we eat our ice cream, but each of them is watching us. As soon as they hear the spoon scrape against the mug, they're up and asking to lick out the mugs. Their big faces don't fit into small coffee mugs and the good stuff on the bottom is out of reach. With the big mugs they can get right down to the bottom.
Half of them go to Rob to help clean his mug and half come over to me. I grabbed my camera and caught the last few enjoying their special treat last night.
Notice that Tsar's legs may not work well anymore, but that doesn't stop him from helping with the ice cream.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Who Turned The Lights Out?

This morning I heard the dogs beginning to move around. I squinted my eyes toward the clock on the bed stand, but the clock was blank. I sat up and looked toward my nightlight. It was dark. The electricity was off. What happened?
I woke Rob and we got dressed and started getting the dogs out. I took the Water Dogs downstairs, thru the garage and into the back yard. Rob took Tsar and Morgan into the front yard. My neighbor called over that their power was out, too and she had heard the transformer pop.

When Rob came inside he told me what had happened and we called the power company to come fix the problem.
It seems that one of our neighborhood pests was using the sky highway when he was overcome by an urge to have a snack.
He did, only he chose to bite down on the power line.
Rob found him dead at the foot of the telephone pole with a bloody mouth. There'll be one less pest raiding the bird feeder today.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Family Photo Album

I love doing genealogical research. I did my own a few years ago and made some amazing finds. I'm working on Rob's now and we've uncovered a few surprises there, too. Unfortunately I don't have photos of many of my ancestors, though I have managed to find a few. I've even had some very helpful strangers take photos of places, buildings, monuments and headstones to add to my collection.

It seems that Portuguese Water Dog people also like to exchange information on their dogs. I've recently received some family photos of Samba and Fudge and thought you might enjoy seeing the family resemblances.

We'll start with Fudge.
This is Fudge's mom, Mandy.

This is Fudge's dad, Kerchak.
Fudge had two brothers. This one is Othello.
We don't have a photo of his other brother Elvis, but he was also all black. Notice that Fudge is the only one in the family that isn't solid black. He's always been an individualist.

Now for Samba's family. Some of these photos aren't very clear, but you'll get an idea of what everyone looks like. Here's Samba.
This is Samba's mom, Reia.
This is Samba's dad, Brilho.

This is a picture of Samba's litter. It's the first look I got at her. She's the one in the back on the far right.
This is one of Samba's brothers. He was not in her litter but was born to her parents in their next litter. His name is Rio.
Doesn't he look a lot like Samba's puppies Sky and Gibson?
Now we're in touch with a couple who adopted one of Samba's sisters. She has the same parents as Samba, but was born in a later litter. Still, look at the resemblance. This is Marin, born 3/9/2004 and died 12/30/2011.
Here is Marin's puppy picture followed by Samba's at the same age.

The next photo is Remy. She's Samba's half sister. Brilho is her dad but she had a different mother. She was born on 8/13/2004.

So we'll keep searching for other siblings to add to our family album. Thank you to everyone who sent me photos and gave me information on my dogs relatives.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Quick Hello

Hi everyone, we're still here.  It's been a rough week around here. It was worst for Jake. The poor little guy was probably sick when we brought him home in October. He used to fall off his perch a lot. I chalked it up to him being young and clumsy. We've had young clumsy birds before. Holly used to fall off her perch a lot at night. Imagine trying to sleep on one leg, balanced on a round stick with your head tucked under your wing (arm). We made a platform for Holly and she slept on that till she learned to balance.

A couple weeks ago Elwood, Jake's brother began picking on him. He screeched at him and would peck at him. That's when the red flag went up for me. Birds often attack a sick member of the flock. We separated them, but by then Jake was looking sick. He sat very quietly, all fluffed up and didn't seem very happy. As he got sicker he started squatting on the platform we gave him and we knew we were getting close to the end. I kept him warm and semi-dark and gave him some supplements, but I knew he wouldn't last long.

Elwood and Holly didn't see him die and so they're both doing well.

Tsar has had a so so week. His legs are getting worse and he struggles to stand up. I give him some help now, one hand on his collar to steady him and one hand on his belly to support him as he gets his uncooperative legs under him. Once he starts moving, he's wobbly, but he manages to get where he wants to go. His appetite is good and he's still very alert and seems content.

I've felt a lot of stress having both a sick bird and a sick dog to care for. Today I slept in with a bad headache while Rob fed the pack. I've been napping on and off all day and trying to get rested up for the next week. I have been visiting your blogs, though I haven't left many comments.

Thank you  for all the supportive messages you've sent regarding Tsar. On some of our worst days your words have given me hope and comfort. It's very hard watching your old dog die. You keep seeing him as that silly pup getting into trouble and you wonder how suddenly he's that old fellow lying at your feet panting.

Tomorrow I'll share some family photos with you.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Little Jake of The Blues Brothers has flown over the Rainbow Bridge.
Jake  adopted October 27, 2011 died March 21, 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

World Cancer Day

Today is World Cancer Day. Is there anyone in the world who hasn't been touched by this disease?

I have both family and friends who have dealt with it. Even some of my fur kids have had it. Today and everyday, let's think of those who are coping with the disease, either themselves or their loved ones. Lets' think about the survivors and those who lost the fight.

For Sue and Linda, Mary, Betty, Joan and Margaret

For Bill

For Louise and Robert

For Harry, Bill and Monty

For Tsar


For Pylon

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cherry Blossom Festival

When we lived near Baltimore we used to drive into DC to see the cherry trees in bloom. They're so beautiful!! Now we have our own cherry blossom festival.
Last year this tree didn't blossom due to the bad winter it endured.
This winter was warm but very dry, so I didn't know what to expect. It's glorious.
The other cherry tree which also didn't bloom last spring, is getting ready. The buds are swelling and if we get rain tonight, I'm sure we'll see flowers in a few days.
Bentley's plum tree in the front yard is also in full bloom. I wish they'd keep their flowers all year. They make me happy when I glance out the window at them.
I love the pale pink color of these flowers.
After the cherry trees are finished blooming, the crabapples will start. In the rock garden the tiny wild violets are opening.
I love spring, even if my allergies are also in full bloom.