This is my favorite photo of Darby so far.

We had just finished a 3.5 mile walk with 30 some other dogs and countless people. I think he almost cracked a smile. His expression is just priceless.



It has been over 6 weeks…

When I think of his 1st week with us, well, over his 1st week I just shudder. It wasn’t easy, he was not easy. That my friends is okay because we LOVE a challenge.

We went from that sound of a hungry, protesting, spoiled dog to this….

progress….dare I say it. This is meal time now. 6 weeks ago he would have been crazy boy….today he is learning to wait.

I figure I should give you a real photo or two of this boy showing his very lovely self.
Just before going for a walk.

Chilling out.

I am still waiting for a smile, that is all I am waiting for. I guess for me that is the most important thing…a happy dog. Time, it is just a matter of time. When it happens I will share it, lets all cross our fingers.

For laughs….Dexter the cat is willing to share Darby’s bed with him…I guess it goes to show that the cat doesn’t care that this is a Pit Bull type dog. Dexter just like his bed and for the moment he willing to call a truce.

After this photo Darby went and sat on Dexter….I guess Darby just wanted his bed to himself.

For those who are wondering….Yes, we watch every single interaction among the animals. That bed is in a X-pen…the resident cats and resident dogs cannot get into it when the door is closed. We are 1st hand safety people here, any funny business is nipped in the bud asap. The husband and I spend a whole bunch of time monitoring the animals interactions with one another.

It is late and 6:00 am comes early….pack walk with 19+ other people in the morning and I cannot wait to see just how many dogs. We could be close to 35 or 40.

Then there was Three.

Sorry this is long but as of late my hands have been very full.

A long time ago I had a pipe dream.  What if, someday, I could get Miss Stella to pass CGC.  This would be the same dog that one year ago I sat down with Scott from Versatile K9 and asked for help.  A friend of the husband and I – who we do pack walks with every Sunday morning finishing with breakfast, complete with Bloody Mary’s – sent us an e-mail and asked if we wanted to enter the dogs in CGC classes.  Connie told me flat out – let my dogs prove me wrong.  She knows Miss Stella and she knows that Miss Stella can get scared in the company of strangers.  The test as I read had one part which you leave your dog and walk out of the room.  I thought no way she will be able to handle this.  So I wrote Kaethe of Versatile and asked for her honest opinion about doing this CGC thang.  Practice, let this be practice for Stella, Kaethe stated.  So I took a leap and Miss Stella went back to school with 20 other dogs.  OMG!!!!

I didn’t blog about the experience – but should have.  Miss stella can do the walk like nobody’s business – but other stuff like feet being touched, brushing, petting, leave me in a room with all these dogs and people – are you joking lady?  I know this is what she was thinking when we started.

The week of Thanksgiving we also started fostering this guy – Darby.

He is a dog with a huge personality – being a rock star and all – so he thought.  One day his contract was up because he didn’t have a the fan base and was banished from his posh pad.  Life has been very interesting of late and there has been no time for anything.  If you are wondering if this is the same dog I talked about before that we were considering adopting…yes!   We are currently fostering him for many reasons and until we see a change in the pack dynamics we won’t be his forever home.   There are many great dogs in need of forever homes and the way we feel is that it must be a match for us, however he can rest his head here for as long as needed.

Now the interesting thing is that Darby was also in CGC class with Miss Stella.  When we began to foster him we realized we had 2 dogs with different sets of issues that needed work.  Stella and her trusting skills and Darby with basic manners – okay, at least 7 out of 10 to fix in a very short period of time.  Darby not only had just lost his rock star status but he also had to work for every single thing – like going outside to use the restroom.  Nothing, and we mean nothing, in this pups life was for free any longer.

Poor Darby. Life was sucking big time and trust me he let us know how much it sucked.  This too shall pass we said over and over, during our Thanksgiving dinner.

So there has been a lot of training.  Miss Stella and setting her up with success and having big fun in a room full of people and dogs.  Mr. Darby  learning that mouthing the human is a huge no, no.  I should mention that we cut off the treats – and that affection was now his only reward.  This dog was way too focused on food and us missing some fingers was not part of the deal.   There will be more about that topic at a later time.  Trust me, it was the best thing for him.

Did they pass?  Eight days into Darby’s stay, on CGC night I had 2 dogs to transport and keep separate.   I was driving the dogs to class using the husband car and not my Jeep.  I had to feed dogs, load dogs one by one and I was late getting out of work.  I walked into the boy screaming his fool head off for dinner.  The Bean barking her fool head off.  Miss Stella thought it would be a great idea to join in.   The excitement level in the house was on turbo.  I lost it.  I screamed at my dogs, threw a dog harness on the floor and completely flipped a script.  By the way, did I mention this was day number eight of the boy screaming.  Those who know this breed know what sound I am talking about – there is nothing about that sound which is pleasing to the ears.

Miss Stella at class that night failed the practice run of the separation part.  She failed it.  It was my fault.  I allowed my energy to effect her instead of taking a couple hundred deep breaths before I turned the handle on the door of the house.  It was my fault and nobody else.  We did a practice a couple weeks prior and she did fine and that is how I knew I screwed up big time.  I didn’t know if I would be able to get her back in a state of calmness within 7 days.  The boy, well not a whole bunch affects him except rain, but he still had major work to do.  Seven days.  Can we pull this off in 7 days?

The next night I sat in my car for 5 minutes prior to turning the key.  I needed to prepare myself for the screaming of the Darby.  The barking of the Bean and would Miss Stella join in?  Who knew?  When I got home only a couple barks from Bean and a whimper from the D-man.  Interesting I thought.  Dogs went out, came in and now feeding time.  All was very quiet.  Interesting I thought.  The house was silent.  Was this a set up I thought.  I waited and there was nothing.  We had finally turned a corner.  Our home was at peace again.

Yes both dogs passed and with Darby it took a small army of people over a course of time to teach him “sit” and “the down”.  We finished with the rest.  We taught him how to properly walk on the lead. Come when called. Brushing is not going to kill you.  You will not mouth a human if they touch your feet.  Stay in place.

My Miss Stella was awesome and I am so proud of her that she trusted me enough to leave her in a room with a stranger.

Fast forward….six weeks later.

Darby is a legend in his own mind – he still thinks he is a rock star – but because he loves attention we use it to our full advantage.  He loves the human.  He will follow us everywhere.  He likes to be in the mix with the other dogs but we have learned that he needs some work on dog manners.  Not his fault –  it’s the people who originally raised him.  These are the behaviors we watch for.  The best thing so far that we have learned about him is that he is great at migrating on pack walks – no joke.  The other thing this he has one hell of a nose. I already have him playing “find it”.

1st time with a back pack

I’m not sure what he thinks about Dexter the cat because kitty boy stares at him, claims his bed and we think is basically screwing with him. See…

The Ashie has finally come down from our bedroom this week and ventured around the house with him out of the x-pen.  Our animals tell us what state of mind this guy is in.  It has taught us to pay attention to small details of their interactions or lack of interaction.  Like I said, this has been very educational for us.

Fostering this guy has been very educational.  Darby is a very different kind of dog.  That is not bad he is just different.  I keep waiting for that smile.  I would like for him to relax and just be a dog.  We see this from time to time, not often, but we now know that it is there and he just needs time.

Time we can give him…

An Empty Kennel…..

There has been much going on these days.

During our stay-cation we did over 18 miles worth of hiking.

We learned that GF pizza sucks royal – I can still taste the foulness in my mouth 3 months later.

The husband and I have not touched anything that we are not suppose to have since August and at least for me I feel much better.

I have lost around 5 lbs due to not eating wheat or sugar.

I learned that strange forms of sugar make me vomit – this was by pure accident.

I have Stella the dog in CGC classes which the little shit is thriving in.

We have been dealing with a type of skin yeast infection with the other dog.  Can I tell you it is not good when you dog smells like a Frito.

There have been many dinners with friends, brunches after pack walks, and a good Bloody Mary is my new Sunday drink with brunch.

The most exciting thing is that if the stars align we will be adopting a new dog very soon.  Let me tell you about this boy.  He is young and handsome.  He really thinks that he is a rock star.  I guess if you were treated as such you would think so to.  He had a rough start, there has been some medical stuff but the boy is now on the road to recovery.  The rock star status came to be because he has been spoiled rotten – trying to make up for all the bad by every human who he meets.  The boy thinks that he should be petted by everyone.  He believes that he should meet/play with everything he comes in contact with.  He tried his smooth moves on Stella which only got him a yipe (he put his paw on her).  I think Stella told him its only our second date and you will keep your paws to yourself.  The girls seem to be okay with him.  Currently we are only walking the dogs together a couple times a week.  It is always best to do things very slow.  The husband has been walking him everyday for the last week and when I’m off we take the girls with us.  He is an interesting fellow who for his breed is very narcissistic.  We are not  sure if this is new because of being spoiled and not having rules, boundaries, some basic manners so this is why we are watching every little thing he does.   I really don’t want to deal with a dominate dog.  So we wait and see to make sure he is right for our family.

Now I am off to give Lena a bath to rid her of the Frito’s.

Holding to Promise….

“If you go in I promise to take all the pain away”….

The husband made a promise to one of the feral cats (Manson) last week because he was badly injured.  We waited, we set a trap and hoped that he would go in.  He didn’t.  Everyday we would look for him to see if he had passed.  Everyday he surprised us and we had no idea what kept him going.  I think he wanted the younger cats to mix with the small colony in the back 40.  All this week I watched the younger ones spend more time back there with the elders (the back 40 cats are much older).  The younger ones have been having a difficult time, lost if you will, since Manson became injured.  This dude was like the pied piper, the young cats would just follow him everywhere.

This morning he sat by the feeder not moving I couldn’t even tell if he was breathing or not.  The husband said he was still with us but most likely not for very much longer.   The husband decided to see if Manson would let him pick him up and put him in a box.  He did.   This is one of many reasons I love this man.  The husband kept his promise to this cat and took him to the vet who does all our TNR.  Manson will be returned to us for this will be his final resting place.  He was born here and this is where he shall remain with the rest of his family.

RIP buddy, he kept his promise.


It’s a Jazzy kinda day…

There is something about listening to jazz music and cooking.  The smell of onion, garlic, thyme, basil and tomatoes is lingering in the air and this makes me happy.

I had blood work done over a couple of weeks ago, my results are less than satisfactory.  My TSH levels jumped another .09 since my last test.  This has effected my cholesterol levels in ways that I found unbelievable.  I was shocked!    There has been a direct correlation in the last two tests. What does this mean?… thyroid is having a shit fit.  I am burnt out, actually my adrenal glands are burnt and my pituitary has malfunctioned.  I have been feeling crappy for a good couple years, but I had chalked it up to Peri-menopause.   So a girl thinks – this too shall pass.  NOPE!

Here’s the deal – many women in my family take the pill.  Not that pill, the synthetic thyroid med every day and they still haven’t lost weight, still are stress mongers and don’t feel like themselves.  I refuse to join in the party.  So I made an appointment with the husband’s nutritionist to see if there is anything I could do in order to not take the pills.  Everything I have researched over this week points to refined wheat, rice, barley (I love barley) well…. gluten being one part of the issue.   On Monday we started a no gluten, no refined , no preservatives, no nothing in the the grub change in diet.  We already do the last part but moving away from gluten is going to be interesting.  BTW this also includes sugar – the white stuff.

I read this blog called “Gluten Free Girl”, long before I started this blog – Shauna’s recipe for grilled/broiled peaches is divine.  Her blog is personable and the food that she and her chef hubby make has always been intriguing to me.  I never thought that I would actually be  making a life style change and the gluten free community is where I would need to turn to because let’s face it – I love bread, pizza, cake and all the other sins of baking.  I have no shame, and yes I love stuff I am not suppose to have.  I am human and not some saint after all.

You see I only weigh 104 lbs but I do love the goodies.  This simply goes to show that weight has absolutely nothing to do with health or how you feel.  I have no energy, doing a 4-6 mile hike puts me in nappy time mode.  I have no motivation, I push myself everyday to do what I need to do.  Might by explained by the lack of energy.  I go through phases of depression for no apparent reason-loathing the city I live in may be part of that, but still.   The light headed feeling I can really do without.  These are just a few of the many.  It’s all rather complex.  However  I really need to do something with stress I like to pretend that I don’t have.  We all have stress it just comes in different forms, that’s all.

So I am taking a couple supplements – made from whole foods to re-balance my pituitary which will filter down to my adrenal which will stop robbing my thyroid.  I already drink greenie (sea and land veggie + algea) smoothies for breakfast with hemp powder for almost a year now and I could only just imagine what my TSH would have looked like had I not.  I am 7 days clean from eating gluten and sugar and eat a very limited amount of carbs.   My body is too taxed out right now to deal with having too many carbohydrates to deal with.   What I have already figured out very quickly is that I do not eat enough food throughout the day.   I have to figure out how how to deal with this and now I understand why I seek out junk food.  My workplace is full of it, everywhere I look there it is, gluten and sugar.

What I find which has been interesting is since yesterday after 3.5 mile hike – very easy, btw – we ate, we went shopping and I was exhausted.  I took a nap – not unusual for me – and when I woke up I felt light heated, dizzy, floaty – if you will, high without the stuff.  Today I feel a little better.   The dizzy spells, much less than yesterday, are making me a little crazy.  I figure the best way to calm the crazies is put a little jazz on and start cooking hoping tomorrow will be a better day.

Living for Sundays…..

I think this would sum it up…….

Ice Box Cave

It’s a pack walk

We are up between 6:00 am and 7:00 am every Sunday morning to take part in this get together of like minded folks.  We pick a park, this time it was “The Ledges” at Cuyahoga National Park, we meet up and hike between 2 -4 miles depending on  the weather.  We do this for our dogs, and for us.

For us living in an urban environment can take a toll on the psyche – specially me.  Hiking recharges the batteries, for me it is where I find peace and balance.  This Sunday was a perfect day.  I will be the first one to tell you that it is not easy living in a dying city.  For those who live in this environment and are feeling a little “off”, if possible, get away and go for hike.   There is something about Mother Nature’s healing powers of the spirit.

When it Rains, it Pours – or Not

Wasn’t I just complaining about how much rain we’ve been getting?

Yeah, that’s what I thought…

Well, the truth is that we were getting a lot of rain – which if one is prone to doing some gardening – can be a good thing.

About 5 years ago we purchased three 50-gallon rain barrels.  An environmental and financial good idea.  Water with the rainfall, save some cash and divert some of the water from the over-worked storm sewers.  And for 5 years it’s been a very win-win situation.

One of the lessons we have learned is that during a typical summer rain storm, the amount of roof run-off into the gutters then into the rain barrels is amazing.  50 gallons fills in virtually no time at all.  After about a 2 hour steady rain – 150 gallons of rain water is at our service.

Only on very rare occasions have we had to resort to dragging out the dreaded hose to water our flowers and vegetables.  When droughts happen, 150 gallons of rain water seems to get used almost as quickly as the barrels got filled up.

With all of the vegetable garden expansion we’ve done over the past two summers, along with sacrificing more and more lawn for additional bed space and berry bush plantings – we have a lot more green stuff to water, so the need for additional rain water collection became especially apparent.  We have been tearing through and draining the rain barrels faster than ever before.  Fortunately we did have a pretty wet Spring, but more rain barrels were needed – there was no doubt about that.

So we purchased and combined 3 more barrels into our system – doubling our capacity.

two behind our garage and

two more beside our deck.

We have a third set on the driveway side of the house as well – but I think you get the picture 🙂

Our now 300 gallon rain water capacity should serve us well as we move into the heat of summer 2011.


All we need now is some actual rain to fill them…

Lettuce Give Thanks

Lotsa lettuce…

and other stuff…

What started as this (from my last post)…

Has turned into this…

Lettuce not forget the Tomatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Basil and Asparagus…

Lettuce eat many Salads!

Angry Plants…

The last couple of months has been pretty wet….rain, rain, cold temperatures and more rain.

So in between this….

We made this….

We have been wanting to try this new garden style called no till, lasagna style, no dig etc. It is super easy!

….and because this is Ohio after all, we went from a windchill of 39 degrees last week to 80 something for the last 2 days and now I have very angry plants.

We have about 130 or so plants and herbs that we started from seed, plus we purchased another flat of veggies today with 6 berry bushes.

Hot temps, full sun with high winds don’t really make a good start for young plants. The kids will have to say one more day in their temporary homes, at least they are at they are safe from the elements.

May 2023

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