Saturday, December 23, 2006

the little goldfinch

You can't tell by the photo, but this little guy is only about half the size of the other goldfinches that come to our feeder. So small, that I'm expecting someone more bird knowledgeable than me (plenty of those to choose from) to tell me - "that's not a goldfinch you idiot - it's a ...."


Monday, December 18, 2006

What a difference a day makes -

December 8th...

impatiens before frost

December 9th...

impatiens after frost

The petunia is a little hardier...


And just for the record, today was a balmy 77F degrees - I love North Carolina!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

5 girls, 2 boys & popcorn

My sister and her husband stopped by for a quick overnight visit a couple of nights ago. Their 3 canine children accompanied them. I've mentioned before what gracious hostesses our pups are, so as you might expect, the arrival of these visitors caused quite a commotion. This photo was taken a bit later - we found that a little popcorn could bring peace among the cousins.

chihuahuas & daschunds

Yes, the photo is a bit blurry, but blurry is good when I'm wearing pajamas that look like a sleeping bag. Plus, I like the red hue - very Christmasy!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Low maintenance pups

OK, I'm going to admit this right up front ... our pups haven't had a bath since August 2004.

Before we bought Pup1 eight years ago, I bought a little "how to" book about chihuahuas. One of the pieces of advice was "chihuahuas only need to be bathed about every 6 months." Having grown up with a golden retriever, I thought "yea, right, no dog of mine is going 6 months without a bath." So, I dutifully bathed her anytime I felt like it, which was a lot. She loved it - that warm water pouring over her, then being carried around by Mommy for the next hour or so swaddled in hot towels that I had warmed in the oven. If the towels started to cool down, I took fresh ones out of the oven. Yes, baths were good for Pup1!

A few years later, Pup2 came along. We bought her while we were in Florida and so her little "puppy physical" was done by a new vet - a wonderful vet who leaned toward a holistic approach ... the first vet we'd ever been to that talked to us about nutrition and who recommended books and who recommended a raw meat diet with whole grains & fresh veggies and using garlic and cider vinegar in their food instead of Frontline to deter tics & fleas.

So, what does this have to do with baths? I'm getting there ... well, we took the vet's suggestions, all of them, and quit using Frontline and started adding apple cider vinegar and garlic to their food. No fleas...ever! That is, until we bathed them. It seemed that whenever we bathed them, they would end up with a flea or two the very next time they went outside. And a single flea was enough to drive Pup1 absolutely nuts. Were the baths washing away the natural protection that they seemed to be getting from the garlic & vinegar??? That was the conclusion that I came to, so I quit bathing them. It's been over 2 years and there have been exactly zero fleas.

Pup1 probably misses her luxurious "spa days", but Pup2 never liked baths anyway. Any process that takes more than 90 seconds bores her and she gets agitated. So instead of a sink full of bubbles and oven heated towels, it was a cursory scrub & spray, then running around the house at full speed (her, not me) until she was dry.

So how do I keep them from smelling like dogs? Well, they're not exactly big roll-in-the-dirt dogs, so it's not that hard. They love fleece blankets and sleep on them and under them summer & winter. As long as I keep the blankets washed using heavily scented detergent (I like Gain) and fabric softener (April fresh Downy), our pups smell just like fresh laundry all the time. And it doesn't hurt that their favorite place is in a basket of "fresh from the dryer" laundry.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Remember Monkey?

The hard drive on my 4 year old computer is just about full. So, tonight I decided that I needed to sort through my huge photo collection and start thinning it out. I haven't gotten too far. One of the first folders that I looked through had hundreds of photos of Monkey, the orphaned squirrel that I raised last spring. I'm quite sure he's the most photographed squirrel in North Carolina ... maybe the world.

I released Monkey around Memorial Day and he came back to visit most days until Labor Day. Then we went away for 5 days. When we came back, Monkey was much more skittish around us - he would come close, but would no longer eat from my hand. After that I started to leave a couple of peanuts on the deck for him each day. The peanuts would always disappear, but I saw less and less of him. Now we see lots of squirrels around, but I can't be sure that he's one of them. I talk to all of them, just in case.

Here are some of my favorite "baby photos"...

He loved his fleece blankies!

Checking out my mealworm farm...

Meal time...

Here he is - slightly bigger than the peanut he's trying to eat -

Seconds before his leap to the counter top...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Stephanie again

My young friend Stephanie and family came down for a quick visit over Thanksgiving weekend. They visit here every July, so the weather this trip was a little cooloer, but still beautiful. No swimming, but great weather for boating and fishing.