Friday, August 31, 2007


I was going to make a lemon-strawberry cheesecake yesterday and post it today, but the fruit stand guy was out of strawberries. I'll try sometime next week.

Carli came over to print a paper for her class. Last week she just started the Dental Assistant program. (I'll get a picture of her in her scrubs. She's so cute!) She had her first major exam yesterday and aced it! 100 %. Two people have already dropped out, and only one other person had a high score. The teacher's comments: STUDY! So anyway my husband decided to celebrate and despite Carli and my best efforts to persuade him to go out to eat (for some reason he has an aversion to that) we did order in from Marie Callender's. Of course we had to get a double cream blueberry pie for dessert, so that is why I didn't make the cheesecake. Could this be why I'm having so much trouble losing weight?

I went to the dentist yesterday for the ongoing crown thingy. My appointment was at 8:30 and I didn't get taken back until 9:05. Now, I know that's not uncommon for a regular doctor's appointment, but that's never happened to me at the dentist before. And especially so early in the morning. I was a little irritated about that but by the time I was finally finished (at 10:30!!) my good mood had returned. Two more weeks and I'll be getting my permanent crown.

It's been really hot and humid here this week. Maybe not so bad by east coast standards but we aren't used to this kind of humidity. It's rather energy sapping. It actually sprinkled here for about three minutes in the morning. The above picture is from yesterday's sunrise. I guess that's one good thing that came about from getting up early to go to the dentist!

Clyde is definitely going to training. I just have to figure out when. This weekend is Labor Day weekend and I don't want to be on the road for that mess. And Saturday also is opening day of Dove Season and my husband wants to participate in that. So this weekend is out. The following weekend is a big Bracco Gathering in San Diego and we still haven't decided 100% to go to that. It would be fun and I would like to go somewhere for a mini vacation but I suspect it's rather late to be making reservations now. We'll see about that one. I may end up taking Clyde myself for a quick turn-around trip to the trainer. We'll have to wait and see on that too.

I apologize for the dearth of farm related news. It's just a slow time right now. The animals are busy incubating, eating, and pooping. So in the mean time I'll continue to take my fascinating photographs and share a recipe now and then.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

15 Years Ago

These pictures were taken in January 1992. For Christmas 1991 we went to my in-law's house in Oregon. The s.i.l. that lives in Oregon brought her family over and we all had a great time. That is, until she revealed her son was just getting over the chicken pox. "Oh, he's past the contagious stage," she said.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lunar Eclipse

Early this morning we had a total lunar eclipse. When I heard on the news that it was going to happen I scrambled to try and figure out the proper settings for my camera. I ended up doing some quick research on the internet and got the info I needed. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do it justice, but after fiddling around with my camera I finally got some halfway decent pictures.

You'd think by now I would know how to change the f-stop and film speed settings but I always relied on the automatic dial. Now I finally know how to do that. I feel kind of dumb thinking that when I put the dial on the "sports" mode it would automatically change the speed. I found out it's been on the "100" speed this whole time. Well I guess you learn something every day.

As it turns out it was supposed to be on the 100 film speed after all. These were taken at f/8 and 125 shutter speed. Of course I used my beloved trim to bring the moon even closer. The first two pictures are in black and white mode.

It is now 4:15 am and I've been up for 2 1/2 hours. I think I'll go back to bed. Good night!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Whining About Wine

An enophile is someone who is knowledgeable and appreciative of wine. A sommelier is someone who has actually studied all aspects of wine and can allegedly give recommendations as to food and wine pairings. A wino is someone who consumes large quantities of wine. I fall closer to the last category. I like my wine.

I don't think I'm a wine snob by any means. I hardly know what makes a chardonnay any different than a chenin blanc. I don't care about having red wine with red meat, or whatever. I believe you should drink whatever you like with whatever you want. My palate is not so special that I can tell any sort of "oaky, cherries, berries, honey, blah blah blah" in a wine.

I tend to prefer the sweeter wines and I really love ice wine. The problem with that is #1: they are rather on the pricey side and #2: they have more sugar than normal, something I definitely don't need. I will buy a nice dessert wine every once in a great while. They usually come in half bottles, which means one glass for me. If I really load it up with ice I can maybe stretch it to two glasses.

Many, many years ago I found the perfect wine for me. It was Fetzer's Gewuerztraminer. Back then it was about $3.98 a bottle. I felt like I had stumbled on my own little treasure. It's a fairly sweet wine, but not so much that you get sick (unless you drink way too much, but that's another problem). For me it was the perfect "every day" kind of wine.

But then I noticed a disheartening thing. The price of my Fetzer started going up. Soon it was six something a bottle. Then over the years it went up to eight dollars where it remained for a while. Then it started climbing up again. First $9, then $10. At our local Albertson's store it's now $10.99 a bottle.

It seems other people must have discovered my secret yummy wine.

Well, sadly, I stopped drinking it unless the store had it on sale. Then one day I was in our local Trader Joe's store and found the Fetzer for around $7. I don't go in there too often, but when I did I would stock up on it. When we got a World Market store I checked out their wine and they also happily have the Fetzer for a fairly reasonable price, comparable to Trader Joe's. Nowadays it's up a dollar or two in those stores.

When Winco (a cheaper, bag-it-yourself grocery store) opened I was ecstatic to find the Fetzer for $6.83. Inevitably the price did start inching up and today I found it at $8.12.

As much as I like my wine, I had to find a substitute. I found it at Winco. It's called Forestville, also a Gewuerztraminer. It's not quite as smooth as the Fetzer but it can definitely take it's place, for me at least. At Winco it is currently selling for $2.98 a bottle. Strangely enough, on a few websites that very wine is selling for about $8 a bottle.

I once went to the Fetzer winery when I was passing by Hopland, CA on another adventure. In the gift shop I was surprised to see the Gewuerztraminer cost the same as in the Albertson's store. I was left very confused by the clerk's explanation that places like Trader Joe's and Costco can buy in such bulk they can afford to sell the wine cheaper. Excuse me, but you mean you have to buy your own wine? Isn't it YOUR winery? I just don't get it.

So for now I have a new favorite wine, based on personal preference and cost. I still drink other (more expensive) wines but tend to save those for special occasions. I also enjoy a "cocktail" on occasion, expecially a good margarita on a really hot day.

And now it's time for a little wine. As we used to say in Germany "Zum Wohl!"

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bugs Are Cute?

Who knew a bug could be so cute? Originally this bug I saw on top of our gate looked kind of grayish. But it wasn't until I put the pictures on the computer that I saw how multicolored it is. It actually looks kind of cute! In real life it's only about 1/4" long.

I love the one where he's grooming his leg.

My free photo storage space is now at the 95% level. I don't really know what will happen when I use it all up, but I'll figure something out.

Not a whole lot of anything new on the animal front. A couple of the sheep definately look pregnant now, so it's about time for me to check my calendar to see when they got their first marks. I may be busy with lambs a little earlier than I thought, like around Thanksgiving!

I'll probably make arrangements to bring Clyde to the trainer towards the end of this month. The only bad thing about that is it's Labor Day weekend and I don't relish the traffic. I may have to just do it during the week.

Other than that, there really is nothing new to report so that will have to do it for today!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


My dad was in the army and he was stationed in Germany, so of course the whole family was there too. One of the great things about that was the travel opportunities we had. My dad got a whole month off every year and we took full advantage of that. We were able to go to a lot of places that most Americans only see now on the Travel Channel.

Most of the time we were camping in tents, which saved a lot of money. We had some great adventures during those times, not the least of which was sampling the local cuisine.

This is one of my favorite recipes from Yugoslavia. It is called cevapcici (che vop chee chee) and basically it's kind of like a spicy little sausage.

The ingredients are: 1 pound of ground beef; 1/2 pound of ground lamb; 1/2 pound of ground pork; 4 - 7 cloves garlic, minced; 1 teaspoon salt; 1 teaspoon baking soda; 2 teaspoons ground black pepper; 1+ teaspoon cayenne pepper; 1 beaten egg white.

Mix all the ingredients together and form into "thumb sized" sausages.

Grill until done. You can put them over an open grill too.

Here we have a nice, simple meal of cevapcici served with a dipping sauce of blue cheese dressing, and brown sugar carrots. Any good aoli or similar type sauce would be good.

See how easy that was? Now just wait til you taste it!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


The mascot of Cal State University Bakersfield are the Roadrunners. Now I understand a little better why they have that mascot. I never used to see a lot of the funny little birds until I started walking on the bike path. But I see quite a few of them now, and they certainly don't allow me to get very close. I brought my camera with me the other day so I could try and get a few shots of them.

Getting ready to cross the path.
Made it to the river side.

Can't you just see the wheels turning in my little brain? I think I need one of those big giant zoom lenses now! Well, no. I don't have an extra $5,000 + laying around just now. I have to draw the line somewhere. Meanwhile I'll just use my little zoom as best I can and the in-camera trim.

Can't catch me now!

Beep beep!

Monday, August 20, 2007

We Found A Trainer

On Saturday we had an appointment to talk with Clyde's potential hunting trainer. I had found Sheldon Twer's website while actively searching for a pointing dog trainer. It's a very nice site with several pages and a lot of information. But there's nothing like actually being at the location to see what may not be seen on a slick website. The same can be said for talking to the man in person. You can get a better feel for the kind of person when you are talking to him face to face.

The kennels is located on the outskirts of Oakdale, about 3 1/2 hours north of us. We left the house at about 20 to 8 and stopped to get fuel for the truck and myself (gotta have my coffee!). My honey bunny decided it would be better to go up I-5 and cut across, rather than straight up 99. He was driving so I didn't argue. He kind of admitted that he may have made a tiny mistake when we cut across on 165 and got stuck behind several slower tomato haulers. (They never listen to reason!)

In spite of the slower traffic we still made excellent time. In fact we were about 30 minutes early for our appointment and Sheldon wasn't there yet. But his kennel helper was, and she talked to us for a time about the day to day activities. At that point she was moving dogs from one side of the kennel to a large fenced field so she could clean the kennels. It was fun watching the dogs running around playing with each other or looking for something in the back end of the field. It reminded me a lot of the dog yard on Cesar Milan's Dog Whisperer program.

Sheldon showed up about five minutes before our actual appointment time and we chatted for a short while. I think what struck me most was how easy-going he was. The kennels didn't have that awful kennel smell I've smelled before and the dogs were all happy. I didn't see any dogs that seemed fearful or overly aggressive. Another plus was that Sheldon currently has another Bracco Italiano in the kennel. Prior to that he was unfamiliar with the breed, so at least now he may have a better idea of what to expect. A little interesting side note was that he's also got another little Italian breed, possibly a Segugio Italiano (I'm just guessing). He said it was in to be trained to flush (game, not the toilet). Both the little unknown Italian breed and the other Bracco happened to be named Enzo. For some reason that struck me as humorous.

So now all we have to do is figure out a good time to bring Clyde.

As we were leaving Sheldon suggested we visit the covered bridge a few miles up and I thought it would be a good photo op. The bridge is in the little tiny "historical" town of Knights Ferry on the Stanislaus River. It's not the original bridge, as that was destroyed in a flood in the 1800's. For more info put "Knights Ferry Covered Bridge" in the search line and a lot of good sites will show up.

Here are a few of the photos I took.

After we left the bridge we headed for home. We were so close to my S.I.L.'s house in Modesto so we swung by there for a brief visit. Turns out her daughter was there with her family too. They had just returned from their oldest son's first football game. We all had a nice visit for about an hour and then it really was time for us to go. We made tentative plans to swing back by when we bring Clyde up. I'm looking forward to that. Maybe we can talk the other S.I.L. and her hubby to come over from San Jose at that time...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Ponies: Flora

Madera was gone and now it was time to find a replacement. Word was put out that we were once again looking for a nice little pony for Carli. We were put in touch with a western style trainer who leased space at a large stable in the southeast part of town.

When I spoke to him on the phone he told me he had a nice little bay pony mare, about 3-4 years old, and he was just getting ready to break her. He said he found her doing nothing in a pasture in Tehachapi and bought her, thinking she would be a good pony for the stable owner's young daughter. But it turns out the stable owner didn't want another pony at that time, so the pony was available.

I made arrangements to take a look and I brought Carli along with me. As soon as they brought the little mare out I knew we had a keeper. We made all the necessary arrangements. She was to have at least 60 days' training and we would assess how ready she was after that.

Carli's new pony, Flora.
Something really strange happened during that time. Unfortunately I was totally oblivious and I didn't have a clue. I should have known when the trainer said he didn't want me to see any of the training for the first 30 days. But I thought at the time, he's been doing this for a long time and he knows what he's doing. We did come several times after the initial 30 days, but our new pony was always just standing saddled and tied to a rail, or back in her stall.

Then came the time I tried to call the trainer. Finally, after several days, he called me back. He let me know he had moved his entire operation to another stable, this stable was at an old, well known golf course/country club on the eastern most side of town. He explained he was having legal issues with the owner of the other stable. In fact, she started sending me board bills and threatened me with legal action if I didn't pay her. I explained to her that my agreement had been with the trainer and my understanding was my bill went from the 15th to the 15th, which was paid up to date, and not from the 1st to the 30th of the month as she was claiming. I still don't know who was legally right, but she finally stopped bugging me.

We visited Flora, as we'd named our pony, a few times at the new place. Carli tried her out and I thought she was ready. We were finally able to bring Flora home. About six months later I heard through the grapevine that the trainer had up and moved again, this time to Oklahoma. He had allegedly taken several valuable horses, including a stallion worth mega bucks. The word going around was "stolen". This made me wonder if the first stable owner had some merit in her claims. Another thing I found suspicious was my vet told me Flora was actually 6 or 7 years old, not 3 or 4 like the trainer had claimed. You'd think someone who had been training for that long would know how to tell a horse's age properly, like the vet. I also began to wonder if Flora had been stolen from that pasture, but I pushed those thoughts aside. That was something I most definately didn't want think about.

We're not really sure what breed Flora is. If you just saw her from a distance in a pasture, or in a photograph without anything to reference her size, you would think she is a horse, not a pony. After going through some horse and pony breeds books, my best guess is that she's a Quarter Pony. But that's just a guess.

She's got a very "A" type personality. Despite her small stature she makes sure the other animals know who's in charge. And that would be Flora. Besides that she's a very decent pony. She doesn't like it when adults ride her, but she'll put up with it, albeit a bit grumpily. But when a kid is on her back she doesn't seem to mind at all.

Flora is a very easy keeper too. She can get quite chubby if she gets a regular flake each feeding. I have to tear the flakes apart if they are too big. The worst thing about her is she's allergic to flies. Without a fly mask and weekly fly spraying her chest gets bitten up and her eyes will get very swollen and goopy. It ain't pretty. So in order to keep her pretty I do that small bit of maintenance and we're all happy.

Flora today.
It's funny to think that Flora is actually Carli's age now. Carli doesn't ride Flora too much anymore but she does visit often and grooms her and brings carrots and other horsey snacks. Flora's face is just beginning to get gray but otherwise she still is full of her usual vim and vigor. Her funny thing now is for the last several months she's been in a large pen next door. Next door is where Bandit, the very fat goat lives. Flora's gotten attached to him and when he wanders to our yard (the grass is always greener...) she whinnies frantically because he's gotten out of sight.

We're expecting our first grandchild (a girl) in December (along with the calf and lambs). It's looking good that Flora will still be here when that baby is ready to start riding.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Ponies: Madera

When I was a little girl I was like hundreds of little girls everywhere. That is to say, I was horse crazy. My greatest wish at the time was to own my own horse. That didn't happen until I was a young adult. I never blamed my parents, because even then I understood it cost money to keep a horse.

I think as a parent you always want to give your kids the things you wanted but couldn't have. So when you are an adult if you are able then you have the tendency to get them those things. That's why after Carli was born I promised I would get her a pony when she was old enough.

We had a thoroughbred filly that was just weaned when I told my riding instructor I was looking for a pony for my daughter. I was willing to buy or trade for the filly. Carli was four at the time.

My teacher hooked me up with some people that had an elderly pony. They were willing to trade for the filly. I drove the filly to Tulare County where they lived. The trade was made, and I came home with a pony named Madera (another California county). He was allegedly a cob type of Welsh pony.

Giving Madera a bath.
His only vice was that when out for a ride he would head for the nearest patch of green, pull his head down and commence to munching. Good luck pulling that head back up to continue on the ride! I thought we would be able to work around that little problem.

A chalk portrait of Carli and Madera, by our neighbor at the time, Ann Iaun.

Madera and Carli hit it off right away. Off course there was that "little problem". We set about trying to find a way to fix it. Carli wasn't strong enough to pull his head up. Even I could barely pull him up before he'd just yank the reins out of my hands again. I taught Carli how to use a crop (riding whip), but even that didn't phase him. The next step was a stronger bit. The snaffle was way too mild for this headstrong pony. I didn't want to go too harsh all at once, so I started buying a progression of different bits. The Pelham worked for about, oh, a minute. This pony was tough!

Whooping it up in the back.

Finally I came to my last resort. It was the bit off a bridle I had bought when I got my first real job here and leased a horse for a year. I bought a saddle and double bridle that were actually for a saddlebred. The saddle was uncomfortably hard and I got rid of that after I bought my own first horse, but I kept the bridle. The bits could always be changed out. I knew the thin snaffle would be useless for Madera, but I had my eye on the curb bit with the eight inch shank.

Well, wonder of wonders! I instructed Carli how to be very careful with this bit, since it is very strong. It could be likened to a host of pulleys. You know how that works: one pulley works well, but the more pulleys you have the easier it is. I think Madera was rather shocked that we had found a way to overcome his little sport. But from that day on, he was a dream pony.

At a little fun show in Keene.

We never knew how old Madera was, but it was obvious that he was very old. I think the vet had said when we got him he was well into his twenties. He was with us for about three years.

One cold February morning before I left for my newish job as a grocery store checker I gave Madera his annual shots. I left him out of the pen so he could wander around and munch on any grass he might find. When I came home for my lunch break I looked out back and saw him laying down by the gates that go from the drive way to the pasture and the backyard to the pasture. He was suspiciously still.

I ran out to check him and he was dead. It looked like he just lay down and died. I always had these nagging doubts that maybe I put the shot in the wrong place, or maybe I should have never given him the shots in the first place. I felt guilty because I wasn't there for him. The only thing that made me feel better was knowing that at least for his last few years of life we had given him a good home.

TOMORROW: Madera's replacement.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Not Much New...

Not a lot going on these days. I have plans to redo the far back patio, I'm just not sure when all that is going to happen. I should do what I normally do, and that is just get it started. Right now I'm just glad I have the design worked out and I know what tile I want to put in.

Ladysmith is still limping. Franz, the dairyman, said she probably pulled a ligament or tendon or something due to her toes being overgrown for so long. He tried to reassure me that if there are no gaping wounds or swelling she will probably be okay. It's just a matter of time, and it may be quite some time, before it really gets better.

The sheep are all looking good. I separated Perry from the ewes a couple of weeks ago. He probably doesn't like it when they are out eating grass and he's stuck in his pen, but oh well. He tends to start getting a little too aggressive with them after they've all been bred and they are refusing his advances. This December should be quite interesting as that's when Ladysmith and the ewes are due.

That's about it for now. I know, not very exciting. Sometimes that's just the way I like it.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Difference A Lens Makes

I'm wondering if I should add a new post label. Like "photography". But that seems like I know what I'm talking about when in fact I really haven't a clue. I guess I could call it "bugs" or "bug closeups", or I could just leave these particular posts unlabeled. You tell me.

Anyway, I was checking out the difference in how close the lenses could actually get. There is my normal 18-55mm f3.5-5.6, and then my new macro lens, the 60mm f2.8. Like I said, I have no idea what any of that means, so don't ask. That's just what they are labeled.

So here are a few examples. The first couple are a worm in a mimosa seed. These are using the normal lens as close as I could get and still be able to focus. Then the picture is trimmed to as big as it would fit.

Now comes the macro lens, first as close as I can get. Notice I made a shadow. Ooops!

And then it is trimmed. Quite a difference!

The hard part is finding a subject that will hold still long enough for me to focus. With the macro lens it really shows up when you aren't focused on the right area. For example this spider.

Notice her legs are really sharp but the body is a little blurry. And finally after about 15 shots, we get it right.

And here's another thing that puzzles me. This is the same spider, the same evening, seconds apart actually. Why did the background turn out so differently in these shots?

Here's another example but this time the foreground is different. These were also taken one right after the other. I'm not complaining though. Both shots turned out kind of neat. I just wish I knew how to make it happen on purpose!

And now I have a confession to make. Most of the spider shots were taken by my son. We had to actually get really close (less than 12 inches) to take these pictures and I was getting totally creeped out because the spider kept zipping back and forth on her web. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate spiders?

So as not to end this on a creepy spider note, here is a really pretty Western Tiger Swallowtail butterfly.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Birthday Dinner and Dessert

Last night was Carli's birthday, so of course we had to celebrate in our usual fashion with a great dinner and dessert. One of our favorite things to do is breakfast for dinner. Only this time we stepped it up a bit and made it a big ole country breakfast for dinner.

We had chicken fried steak, country gravy, homestyle potatoes, scrambled or sunny-side-up eggs, cooked asparagus served cold with blue cheese dressing. And for dessert a fresh strawberry confection called "Yummy Strawberry Delight".

I made a few changes on the original recipe, so the dessert came out a little extra gooey. But it also was extra delish! First I'll give you the original recipe and then I'll tell you about my additions/changes/mistakes.

Yummy Strawberry Delight

  • 1 C flour
  • 1/2 C butter or margerine
  • 1 C coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 8oz package cream cheese
  • 1 C sifted confectioner's sugar
  • 1 T milk
  • 1 3 5/8oz pkgs instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 3 1/2 C milk
  • 1-2 baskets sliced or halved strawberries
  • Cool Whip, Dream Whip, or whipped cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 13" X 9" pan. Combine flour and butter or margerine in a bowl. Cut butter into flour with pastry blender until mixture looks like fine crumbs. Add pecans and mix well. Press in an even layer into buttered pan. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Cool completely. Blend cream cheese with 1 T milk and confectioner's sugar until fluffy. Spread over crust. Mix pudding with milk and pour over cream cheese mixture. Place in fridge until firm. Add strawberries right before serving and garnish with whipped cream.

So there you have the original recipe. I wish I could tell you where I got it, but I've had it so long I'm afraid I can't remember. Probably a magazine or something. Anyhow, I thought I would change it up a bit, and for better or worse, this is what I did:

I used one package of instant vanilla and one package of instant banana pudding. On top of the cream cheese layer I added a jar of that marshmallow stuff, oddly enough called "Marshmallow Fluff". It was really hard to spread so I heated it in the microwave for a few seconds. If you do that BE CAREFUL. It really fluffs up and over the top of the jar very easily. Just keep an eye on it or put it in a bigger container before heating. When I finally got that gooey mess spread to my satisfaction, I made the pudding mixture. I dumped both packages together. Now here's a little tip: READ DIRECTIONS! I misread the directions and added only two cups of milk instead of 3 1/2. (I didn't figure that out until it was too late.) I spread half of the pudding mixture over the marshmallow layer. I sliced up two bananas and layered them over the pudding. This is where I suspected something wasn't right, but I soldiered on. I poured the second half of the pudding over the banana slices. I thought it didn't seem like enough pudding and it was getting thick too fast! Oh well, we had to carry on. I bought a half flat of fresh strawberries from a roadside stand (they are always so much better than the grocery store). I sliced the tops off and arranged them on top of the cake. Then I made a glaze of about one cup of strawberry jam and some leftover cranberry jelly, mixed with about 1/2 cup of orange liquer. I mixed it in a pot over low heat until it was all melted, and then brushed it over the strawberries. That certainly hid a lot of flaws. The cake actually looked good at that point.

I don't know if it was from heating the fluff or a chemical reaction of some sort from coming into contact with the cream cheese, but the marshmallow fluff never hardened again. After thinking about this for a while I think it was from being next to the cream cheese. My nail lady had told me a great strawberry dip recipe which was a jar of fluff mixed with a couple tablespoons of cream cheese. I think that's what happened. Even though it was a bit messy to get out of the pan, and I didn't do the pudding mix right, with a dallop of whipped cream on top it was really, really good.

And the whole evening was even better because Carli's fiance, who normally works out of town until the weekend, was able to come in and join us. I'm sure glad it wasn't me that had to get up at 3:30 am to get back to work on time!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Carli's Birth Day

Nineteen years and nine months ago I got pregnant with my first child. With the exception of a few cases of severe heartburn the pregnancy was very easy. I remember the early morning of the day our daughter was born. It was about 4 am and I felt like I had to pee. So what else is new when you're pregnant?

I got up and started making my way to the bathroom when I heard a weird kind of "pop" in my ears and the next thing I knew fluid was coming down my legs. I got into the bathroom and knew right away what happened. The "mucus plug" had come loose.

I wasn't sure what would happen next, so I spent the next couple of hours in the living room sitting on an old towel folded underneath me. I had a small cramp here or there but certainly nothing to start worrying about.

Eventually my husband woke up and asked how I was doing. So far so good.

Soon enough the contractions started coming on a regular basis. I called the hospital and told them my mucus plug had popped and my contractions were about 20 minutes apart. They said to come on in. I was hoping it would happen like when my oldest sister had her baby. She started having contractions and barely made it to the hospital on time. But it was not to be.

Once I got settled in at the hospital the wait was on. 18 hours of wait, in fact. There came a point when the labor sort of started going backwards, almost, and the decision was made to give me pitocin. I had heard horror stories about that stuff and wasn't really happy about it, but I was getting really tired and I wanted this to end.

Shortly before eleven pm the contractions began in earnest. They were coming at regular intervals of about five minutes. I had been told to tell the nurses when I had the urge to push. Since this was my first child I didn't really know what that meant.

And then suddenly, I KNEW WHAT IT MEANT! I told the nurse I had to push and she was yelling "No! Not yet! Wait for the doctor! He's almost here! You can't push yet!"

I was sure she had lost her mind, or had I lost mine? Was she serious? I had to PUSH, DAMMIT!

I did my best to breathe through the contractions and that overwhelming urge to push. Meanwhile, the nurse was running back and forth between my bed, checking the monitors, etc, and the window, to look for the doctor. Finally she said, "He's here, the doctor is here! Hang on one more minute!!"

A minute or two later (it seemed like an eternity) the doctor strode into the room. He got himself positioned into place and gave his blessing, "Okay, go ahead and push now."

About ten minutes later our daughter was born. Another few minutes and she would have had the 10th as her birthday.

After the doctor made sure everything was okay with me and the baby had been cleaned up by the nurses my husband leaned over to the doctor and nervously asked, "Is that normal? I mean, her head is so pointy! That just doesn't look right."

Without missing a beat the doctor assured him, "Oh sure, that's not a problem. See, we just put these little hats on them and it pushes everything into shape."

My husband was relieved. Of course, later on when I told him the babies' heads are often pushed that way when they are squeezing through the birth canal and return to normal shape on their own, without the benefit of a "special cap", he felt a little silly.

I was a Mommy. It felt really strange. Here was this little person that came out of me and looked so much like my husband. Weird. I never liked kids to begin with and now I had one. Of course nobody had a baby quite as beautiful as mine. In fact, she was the most beautiful baby I'd ever seen! And she is still!


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A Walk With Clyde

Sunday we took Clyde for a walk. We wanted to see how he would react to the sound of an actual gun shot. We took Gus along because Gus is an experienced hunter and he is not gun shy. Chester, on the other hand, runs from the room if anyone sneezes. That's the honest truth!

We got to the field north of town and let the dogs run around. They were having a great time. When they were about thirty yards away we fired the first shot. There was almost no reaction. The second time we fired the shot when Clyde was a little closer, maybe 20 yards. He was next to Gus, and when the shot went off they both looked up. I think Clyde saw that Gus was not concerned, in fact, he seemed almost excited, so Clyde continued sniffing around the brush.

We did this a couple more times, and to my great relief it doesn't appear that Clyde is gun shy. That had been one of my fears. Can you imagine spending that kind of money on a dog that's supposed to be a hunting tool and then he ends up gun shy? It would be a real shame because it's so obvious that he's got the talent.

When he was a little puppy I would pop the newspaper bag while he was eating breakfast, and I think maybe that helped him just a little too.

We have finally decided on a trainer. That trainer doesn't know it yet because now we have to see when we will be able to get a free weekend to bring him there. I'll keep you posted on how that develops.

Last week I was lamenting to Clyde's breeder about the darth of available trainers in our area. He had recommended contacting the NAVHDA (North American Versatile Hunting Dog Assoc.) organization. It was a good idea, except after I checked I found the closest clubs in CA were either Orange County or north of Sacramento.

Speaking of the breeder, they have a new web site. You can check it out at . And look at Clyde's puppy page here. And how could I have forgotten to tell you that Clyde's uncle won the world dog show in 2006? Click here to see.