Archive for the ‘Home’ Category

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Lindsey the Amazing Rescued Dog

September 14, 2013

Today we buried our sweet Lindsey girl.

This has been a rough, leaky week, as our furry family member declined rapidly. She took her last breaths Friday morning and we are comforted to know she’s no longer in pain.

Her life was hard. Who knows what abuse she endured before she was rescued? We know she ran away from her previous owners and was found with a rope tied around her neck. Her hocks were worn and bloody (indicative of being tied up on a short leash, likely on concrete) and she exhibited signs of being beat about the head. Her teeth were worn or broken, likely from trying to chew wood or chain. When we got her from Furry Friends Rescue at what they thought was about seven years old, she’d been with wonderful foster parents for about six months. They told us what a sweetheart she was, and they were right. This is her picture from Furry Friends’ Web site that captured my heart the moment I saw her:

Lindsey immediately after being rescued

Lindsey, a short time after being rescued.

We brought her home on a bright sunny, summer day, with her Aunt Diane in the back seat comforting her during the transition. Once home we discovered she didn’t know “normal dog things.” She didn’t know how to climb stairs, wouldn’t walk on hard indoor surfaces, and didn’t know how to play. It took a few days, but she learned the stairs with some coaxing.

Day one: Afraid of stairs.

Day one: Afraid of stairs.

Giving it a try.

Giving it a try.

Her first success without coaxing.

Her first success without coaxing.

Ours is likely the first back yard she’d ever been free to roam. In little time she discovered squirrels that she chased and barked at, tunneling under the deck after other critters, and climbing in my garden.

Running free and safe.

Running free and safe.

She loved the squirrels.

She loved the squirrels.

AND my garden. :-)

AND my garden. 🙂

We buried our sweet girl today deep under the same spot in my garden she used to love to dig. The alstromeria, from my father-in-love’s garden, will remind me of her daily.

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“Rest in Peace.”

Lindsey turned out to be THE BEST little road trip dog. She loved long road trips up to my mom’s in Washington, a 10-12 hour drive. Then when we got to mom’s she settled in like it was her second home. She loved the back yard with all its space and new critter smells.

Chillin' on I-5.

Chillin’ on I-5.

There are REALLY cool smells on the other side of this fence.

There are REALLY cool smells on the other side of this fence.

And I'm going to sit here until I discover what it is!

And I’m going to sit here until I discover what it is!

She was also an amazing companion. When I had major surgery a couple of years ago I slept downstairs and walked slowly and with pain for the first several days. Lindsey-girl slept right at my feet and if I got up, she would slowly walk right beside me. She never left my side. You just knew she knew I hurt. Until she got too weak to climb stairs she was my constant shadow. Then this week, when she was the invalid, I slept downstairs and helped her get up and walk, or just caressed her when she was beyond rising.

Always watching out for me.

Always watching out for me.

And I watched out for her.

And I watched out for her.

Good friends of Lindsey visited often this past week, taking time to share their love with her one last time and say goodbye. My besties brought flowers that continue to brighten my day and remind me that good friends share the sad times as well as the good times. Dozens of friends have left the kindest messages on Facebook. The commonness of loving and losing canine companions is evident in the heartfelt sincerity of their words.

Auntie Diane was there at the very beginning, and here at the end.

Auntie Diane was there at the very beginning, and here at the end.

Bright flowers on a dark day.

Bright flowers on a dark day.

More flowers today, from Lindsey's second mom.

More flowers today from Lindsey’s second mom.

Now the house is quiet and neat. My strong husband quietly gathered her beds, bowls, collars, and blankets while we waited for the mobile vet to arrive. The presence of these things would surely add to my grief, yet their absence is still new and strange.

Lindsey's favorite blanket and pillow. She LOVED to burrow in her blanket.

Lindsey’s favorite blanket and pillow. She LOVED to burrow in her blanket.

Jay built her a raised food bowl when her hips got weaker.

Jay built her a raised food bowl when her hips got weaker.

Dr. Marianna Juergens could not have been more compassionate when she arrived with her colleague. They sat with us and fading Lindsey, until we were ready. They were gentle, patient and kind. They were liberal with hugs afterward. After their departure, and my husband and I had a good cry, we prepared to carry on with the rest of the day. The doorbell rang and my sweet next-door neighbor was on the step to give more hugs. She’d seen the mobile vet leave and, a rescued dog lover herself, could empathize and wanted to share in the sorrow. Her kindness lifted some grief and I was comforted yet again.

We thought we’d have our four-legged friend for more than three years. We learned from our wonderful vet recently that she was likely at least 12 now, rather than 10. Still too young to die, but we are so grateful for the time we had. She was the sweetest, gentlest dog, literally changing “non-dog people” into those who wanted to find one just like her!  She leaves us and so many others with the best memories. I grieve for the pain she experienced for the first several years of her life, and the last few days of her life, but am SO glad we were able to redeem some of the “lost years” and make her final years on earth happy and filled with joyful experiences.

Lindsey giving joy to mom and daughter besties.

Lindsey giving joy to mom and daughter besties.

Lindsey loved everyone, especially the ones that loved her.

Lindsey loved everyone, especially the ones that loved her.

She loved to give kisses.

She loved to give kisses.

She especially loved her "dad."

She especially loved her “dad.”

But he didn't much care for cats on her special blanket.

But she didn’t much care for cats on her special blanket.

Road trips were her favorite.

Road trips were her favorite.

She eventually learned to share with others.

She eventually learned to share with others.

I like to think that I’ll see her again. Regardless, it’ll be a very long time before these wonderful memories fade.

She was an amazing part of the family. We will miss you, Lindsey!

She was an amazing part of the family. We will miss you, sweet Lindsey girl!

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Me vs. The Ants: I Won!

December 23, 2012

I am proclaiming victory in my war with ants! They battled valiantly but I’m bigger and [now] smarter.

If you live in California you likely battle ants twice a year: In the summer when the heat drives them to seek cool places in your home, and in winter when the cold and rain drives them from their nests. Since I’ve lived in CA (in several different homes and cities over the last 23 years) I’ve battled these tiny creatures many, many times. I’ve spent a lot of money on poisonous solutions that introduced toxins into my house and around my family and pets. But no more!

About three years ago during a particularly troublesome invasion, a friend told me about Borax. He had been using it as his wife had breast cancer and has a subsequent aversion to poisonous chemicals in the home. At the time I didn’t read up on how to use Borax for ants and just did what he did — placed the straight powder at the entry points (which then was behind the fridge and in a corner of our kitchen dinette). Even though this was not supposed to work well, it did. We did not see any ants in the house until this past week.

But of course, as is the case with ant invasions, the timing was great — the morning after my mom came to visit. They came out of the wall between the laundry room and garage and covered the floor all the way into the bathroom mom was using. They were everywhere! Thankfully, a couple of weeks ago I had been reading about natural pest control and was ready to do battle. Here is what I did:

I mixed liquid soap and water in a spray bottle and sprayed the entire floor. In 30 minutes or so I swept up all the dry, dead ants. Then I placed two jar lids of Borax powder mixed with blueberry preserves (it was organic, maybe that helped!) at the entry site (I pushed them back between the wall and the dryer so the dog could not reach them). Then I mixed several drops of peppermint essential oil into a little two ounce spray bottle and sprayed a “line” a foot in front of the entry area.

Borax

Two things magically happened: 1) The ants immediately gravitated to the jam. (The point here is that they carry the Borax yummy goodness back to the nest where it begins to wipe out the colony.)  2) The peppermint barrier kept the ants from crossing into the rest of the rooms. (Apparently they hate peppermint as much as they love organic blueberry preserves!) I had to reapply the peppermint a couple of times and use the soap and water spray to clean up strays, but in less than two days the ants were concentrated in and relegated to a small six-inch corner and by the third day there were none to be found. Hallelujah!

A quick search on the internet reveals similar stories and recipes (including orange peel in water to repel like the peppermint, and Borax plus sugar and water instead of jam). Check it out — you’ll likely be happier with this solution than with Raid or other toxic chemical sprays.

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Spicy Broccoli Beef (Gluten-free!)

November 21, 2012

Made this for dinner this week and my “discriminating eater” of a husband immediately proclaimed it a “make again”! Here you go:

Spicy Broccoli Beef

  • 1/3 cup organic, gluten-free Shitake stir-fry sauce (can substitute Oyster Sauce)
  • 1/3 cup Sherry
  • 2 tsp. Asian toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. Tamari (or gluten-free soy sauce)
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 lb. very thinly sliced* steak
  • 1 lb. broccoli cut into small florets
  • 3 Tbsp. coconut oil (can sub. olive or peanut oil)
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 6-8 dried red chili peppers
  • ~1/2 cup organic beef broth (as needed)

In a small bowl, whisk together the stir-fry sauce, sherry, sesame oil, tamari and corn starch. Place the steak pieces in a shallow bowl and pour the sauce mixture over the meat. Stir to coat well and place in the fridge to marinate for 20-30 minutes. (*Note: The trick to very thinly sliced beef is to use a very sharp knife and cut the meat when it is half frozen. If you have fresh meat, simply pop it in the freezer for 20-30 minutes before slicing.)

In a wok or large skillet, heat the oil and toss in the ginger, garlic and chili peppers (break the peppers in half for more heat). Once the peppers are sizzling, toss in the broccoli and stir fry for about 7-8 minutes until bright green and starting to tender. Remove the broccoli from the wok and set aside.

Pour a little more oil into the wok, if needed, and pour the bowl of beef and marinade into the oil. Stir fry until the sauce thickens and the beef is no longer thick, about 5 minutes. Add beef broth if the sauce becomes too thick.

Return the broccoli to the wok and toss with the beef until everything is heated through and evenly coated with the sauce, about 3-5 minutes. Use additional beef broth if needed.

Serve immediately over rice.

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DIY: Homemade Laundry Detergent

November 19, 2012

My sister shared with me her friend’s recipe for homemade laundry detergent. She’d been staying with her friend just the few days before visiting me and used the laundry and soap and really liked it. So we picked up all the ingredients at Wal-Mart and I mixed up a batch today.  Here’s how it goes:

Ingredients:

  • 2 bars Fels-Naptha
  • 1 Cup Mule Team Borax
  • 1 Cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
  • 1/2 Cup Oxi-Clean
  • 1/2 Cup Downy Unstoppables, your favorite scent (optional)

You can grate the Fels-Naptha with a cheese grater, but it’s easier to use a small food chopper or food processor. Make sure you cut the bars into small chunks and don’t add too many chunks to the appliance at one time or the blades will stick and lift. I experimented a bit and it worked best if I manually pulsed the soap chunks for several rounds, then put it on full speed until the soap was the size of little pebbles or pellets.

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl and transfer to a small seal-able bucket, large jar or plastic bag. I found that mixing it in a large plastic bag worked really well also.

Use just 2 Tablespoons of detergent for one load of  laundry. The cost is only about three cents a load. It’s even less if you omit the Downy Unstoppables.

Inexpensive, effective, environment-friendly and easy to make. What good be better?