Category Archives: Pets

August Musings

Here we are already in the middle of August. It seems unbelievable to think in a few weeks’ time we will be in the ’ember months of the year. Before you know it Christmas will be upon us again. It has already arrived in some of the stores here in the UK, and the children haven’t even returned to school yet from their summer break. But enough of that.

I missed posting last month; my apologies – major meltdown due to extreme heat! Heat that has only today started to climb back down the thermometer, and we have rain. Not a lot, admittedly. We do need plenty here as, like many countries, we are in a drought situation. Keeping the flowers and plants alive in the back garden has been hard work, but we’ve made the most of our grey water from the kitchen, about the only real exercise I’ve had, backwards and forwards several times a day. The vegetable garden and annual flowerbed at the front has, I’m sad to say, been a failure because of lack of rain; we have avoided using the hosepipe. As a consequence, we’ve written this year off on the gardening front and back, because the back garden will be given another make over.

The reason being, we have demolished our large koi pond and intend turning the area into another flowerbed. Whilst we both had a lot of pleasure from the fish, which had grown huge, it was becoming increasingly hard work for Dave to keep it going despite so-say modern filters and UV lamps and fitting a new pump each year – not cheap. We were plagued with pond weed, the water never clear. The fish loved it; we didn’t. We agreed back last October that we would run the pond down as each winter we invariably lost a fish or two. Needless to say, this past winter they all survived.

One of the koi (28lbs)

We gave the fish, some as long as 2-3 ft and weighing many lbs, to a local koi keeper so we know they would be going to a good home. Catching them was another matter. All three of us got soaked! Then
began the fun part, demolition of the pond walls. The pond was/is over 8ft deep, with half of it above ground, so we were hoping the bricks and blocks would fill that below ground level. Miscalculation. We now have to dispose of a lot of rubble. This Dave will do in the autumn when the weather is a lot cooler.

Before
After
Demolition begins

The extreme heat here has meant I have not done a lot of art. A special request for a contemporary flower painting was completed and I began working up one for my students to copy at my next workshop at the end of September. They had requested a waterfall, so waterfalls I did. Several of them. It became clear to me that each one was a little too adventurous for some of my group, but I finally came up with a much simpler version that hopefully will stretch them without any duress.

“Pastel Pastures”
“Autumn Waterfall”

Other than these efforts, I have to admit nothing has been done. Hardly any writing because my office was too hot even with a fan running. No housework other than the basics – no point with all the doors and windows open; little laundry to wash – thank goodness for kaftans to lounge about it in all day. On the plus side, we’ve spent most days and long into the evenings in the garden. Our patio is in shade from midday so it has been comfortable, and I have been able to enjoy uninterrupted reading, getting through 5 books, unusual for me in a short space of time.

We treated the month as a long holiday, being exceedingly lazy and relaxed. It was fun while it lasted; now it’s back to normality. I hope your month has been good too.

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Hello I’m Harley

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People think I am a boy puppy. Probably because my people named me “Harley” but note the pink collar!!!  I am on my first camping trip. Wow it’s a big world out here. Lots to see, and smell, and chew on. … Continue reading

Mother’s Day

Jillian here. Happy May. Sorry I missed April. For days before it was my day, I debated what to say and then when the day actually came, I still had nothing. Lol. I don’t have much today either. I’ve fallen into a terrible rut of work, home, work, home, work, ad infinitum. I gotta get out more. 🙂

Yesterday was Mother’s Day here in the US. Hope all who celebrated had a nice one. Mr. C and I ate brunch with my parents at Cracker Barrel. My sister was sick so she didn’t make it. Mom always picks where we go, so off we went. We set 9:00 as the time hoping to miss the breakfast crowd and get there before the lunch bunch. Didn’t work out to plan as it was a fifty minute wait for a table. Good thing it was breezy and 67 degrees F (19 C). Sitting on the porch on rockers was nice. Mom doesn’t eat much these days, but she ate a ton yesterday. I told her that was the most I’d seen her eat in years and she said she knew but she was starving. I guess making her wait 50 minutes plus cooking time is the way to get her to eat more. 🙂

I got to face time with my older son and his family. When I got on, their dog, Primm, was across the room. I called out, “Hey, Miss Primm,” and she came running toward the screen. She let me chat with her a few minutes but ambled off when I couldn’t pet her.

Had a good conversation with them and watched grandson play a matching numbers game on his tablet. He said he wanted to come to my house and that made me happy for sure. Being only two years old and 7 hours away, I worry that he won’t know me and so when he asks to visit, that means a lot.

My younger son works for me and gave me a bath and body store gift card. He said his real gift was to finish all the backlog of filing on top of the cabinets (it’s been driving me bonkers). Imma gonna remind him of that about Thursday. Hehehe. 🙂

Here’s Miss Primm and her fancy portrait.

The Promise of Spring

After a winter of rain, rain, and yet more rain here in the UK, this weekend we have had an inkling that spring just might be around the corner! Yay! My favourite time of year.

This morning I actually did my yoga/meditation on the lawn, okay, I wore plenty of layers, but still. It was soooo great. I’ve had to modify my yoga practice a lot lately, thanks to bouts of dizziness that are still plaguing me, but it was amazing to have the sun on my face during practice, and of course I had my stalwart little helper doing her own version of downward facing dog (sadly one pose that is off limits for me at the moment – and it just so happens to be my favourite – *sigh*).

Yesterday, we took a walk in the woods with the sun poking its very welcome head through the trees and warming the still very muddy ground. Thanks to the rain the stream was high again (which a certain water-mad little girl thoroughly enjoyed), and there were carpets of snowdrops everywhere. We saw a few squirrels, badgers, and rabbits, all no doubt venturing out to enjoy the unexpected but extremely welcome sunshine.

This glimpse of sunshine goodness made me realise that there is still lots to be grateful for and to look forward to, despite that the world is currently in a state of such desperate turmoil. It reminded me of the importance of grabbing hold of the things we are grateful for and celebrating them when we can, keeping our focus on the good things and sending our positive energy out into the world with the hope of better times for all.

Namaste …

Just two girls having fun…

Since AJ had to go away last week and the weather was due to be gorgeous for a couple of days (sunny, but cold) I decided to take Vivvy on a little adventure. I’d never taken her away without her beloved daddy before and did wonder if she might pine and get disoriented staying away from home for a night without AJ, but went for it anyway.

We headed to the coast which is about an hour’s drive from us. Vivvy’s not the best of travellers, but I plied her with the pet version of Rescue Remedy which seemed to keep her calm and reasonably relaxed.

Weston-super-Mare is a dog friendly town and I’d chosen a pet-friendly hotel and have to say it lived up to the description. The only place in the hotel off limits to dogs is the restaurant, but the staff set up tables in the bar for guests who wanted to keep their dogs with them during breakfast. Most people seemed to have taken up the offer because the bar was full next morning!

Vivvy loves the beach. We’d taken her to my mum’s coastal home many times but the beach there is all shingle, and this was Vivvy’s first encounter with miles of sandy seaside. She bounced around like a little lamb, so excited, then ran off to play with the other dogs, often returning to me as if to say “this is really fun and exciting, mum”. Ha!

Of course, there was the proverbial stick collecting, lying in any available pool of water, plus several deeply dug holes in the sand 🙂

We were both totally pooped that night having walked the length of the beach (my fitbit clocked over 18,000 steps) and were both out for the count well before midnight. But then I was woken by a paw tapping my shoulder at 4.40am wanting the inevitable night-time trip outside. Duly wrapped up against the icy night, we headed down to reception where I apologised for them having to unlock the main doors, only to be told cheerily that it certainly wasn’t the first time that night they’d had to open the doors for four-legged residents!

After breakfast next morning we took another long walk on the beach before heading home. It turned out to be a great mini break for both us girls and I won’t hesitate to do it again. Vivvy proved once again that we can take her anywhere. She is such a good girl, well-behaved, and adaptable … even without her beloved daddy in tow 🙂

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September Miscellany

Jillian here. Sorry I’m a tad late but work has been crazy lately. I don’t have a particular theme to talk about this month. I’m just going to share some random stuff.

Have you ever heard of worm webs? They are wicked looking, for sure. My parents’ neighbor’s pecan tree developed them this year. They don’t hurt the tree but they sure look like they do. It’s basically a colony of caterpillars who feed on the leaves. It can affect the fruit of the tree so my dad plans to cut the ones on his neighbor’s tree.

The cat I rescued from the restaurant in October 2019 is still doing well. She’s so much in love with my husband that she follows him around at the office all day. Whenever he takes a client in to his office, she sits outside the door, depressed, until he comes out.

I recently finished reading a book called Highfire by Eoin Colfer. I enjoyed it as it was super quirky. There was a lot of bad language and some brutal parts, but it was mostly a fun read with an irreverent dragon who loves vodka and Flashdance. All credit to the author for such a brilliant premise.

The best news for the month is a case that has been the bane of my existence finally ended in a surprise settlement. I’d been winning every step of the way, but the other side was ridiculously litigious so I was stunned when they threw in the towel. Grateful, but stunned. Then it took days to pin them down to the written document and I thought it might be a tactic as they’d lied about settling in the past, but we did achieve signatures and it was happy dance time. My client is the perfect client- she always listened to me and always paid her bill. I’ll miss that too, but praise the Lord, it’s over.

Here’s hoping everyone’s September is wonderful. It’s supposed to be 63 degrees Fahrenheit with 67% humidity (usually 90%) here tonight, so I’m pretty excited about that since August and September are two of the hottest months in our area. Happy taste of fall.

Bridal Shower sans Cake

Good morning and happy August – Jillian here.  An update on Hobbes first—He is back to this normal, crazy self and even though he can be a pill waking me up for food or to go on the porch in the wee hours of the morning,  I’d rather have him like that than when he wasn’t feeling well. Serendipitously,, I met a vet tech who told me more horror stories about that 24 hour emergency vet place – including one where they did a full battery of tests on a dog where they said it was vomiting blood and the animal had serious issues.  The truth? He bit his tongue and it was bleeding where the phlegm he was spitting was discolored.  Reiterates my decision to never darken their door again. 

Yesterday, I drove two hours each way to attend a bridal shower for a nephew’s bride-elect. It was a long trip, but worth it to see family I haven’t seen since February 2020 (the month before Covid lockdown).  The shower itself was utterly unorganized and lasted forever. I was texting my niece that I could feel my hair getting grayer by the minute. 🙂

It was a lovely venue and the bridesmaids did a beautiful job on the decoration and food. They clearly had no clue about timing, though.  It was supposed to be from 2-4 but they didn’t even tell people to eat until 2:45 and they never cut the cake! Here is what it looked like- I didn’t get a pic of it there, but this is a link to how it looked. Red Velvet Rose Cake! – CakeCentral.com  They also didn’t start opening the presents until 3:55 pm. And she got a TON!  So, my plans to get home before dark dissipated.

I really wanted some of that cake, but alas, it was not to be!  The place was beautiful even though it was a barn in the middle of nowhere. Home – The Gilded Oaks  My niece and I put the address in her GPS and we ended up driving down a road that went from pavement to gravel to red clay.  I kept saying, “This cannot be the way.” We were laughing hysterically and the road got more and more narrow–I kept waiting for the dead end— or the banjos from Deliverance. 🙂 (We have a blast every time we get together—she is more like a sister to me—we’re only 6 years apart in age) and when we got there, we kept telling everyone about this road that was not really a road and they looked at us like we were crazy. When we left, we turned the opposite way from the way we came and guess what?? It was a paved road.  All the way. 🙂

A cool thing they did was a flower bar. They had a variety of flowers in a large basket and each guest was allowed to make a bouquet to take with them. How fun was that?  Sure wish I’d gotten a piece of cake though…..

Emergency Vet? Or Preying on Vulnerable People?

Jillian here. Warning: this is long, so move on if you don’t have time. I won’t be offended. 🙂

A few weeks ago, Hobbes was lethargic and not eating on a Saturday evening. All day Sunday, he just laid in my bed and slept. He never surfaced to eat or anything. Of course, Mr. “I Need Treats All Day” had me worried but I chalked it up to his being tired from helping Mr. C in the yard on Saturday.

Monday, we all went to work, but when we got home, Hobbes wasn’t able to make a sound other than sounding like he was choking. He was also was making the cat vomit movements they do with their neck before puking, but nothing was coming out. He was clearly in distress.

#2 son and I thought he might have a stick or something in his throat and, rather than waiting until the next day to see his regular vet, we decided to go to the 24 hour emergency vet. I’d never been there before but know it cost $110.00 just to walk in the door. But this was Hobbes so I was ready for that.

The rules were you had to call from your car and then they tell you when to come in. Masks are required and only one human with the animal. We were the only ones to follow those rules as shall be seen….

When I got inside with him, they whisked him off. Before I could get checked in, this woman ran in with her daughter—no masks—and started screeching about her dog being kicked in the head by a horse. He looked alert so I was hopeful for him. They took her back to a room with her dog and her daughter. My son was sitting in the car because, rules….

While I was being checked in after the drama of the dog. A man and woman (no masks) came in holding a poodle in a towel and kept saying, “excuse me…our dog…” 

I finally got in a room and the waiting began. The lady with the dog that got kicked in head was in room next to me. I could hear her sobbing and crying with her daughter and then a man who joined them. Meanwhile, my son still sat in the hot car—running the engine so he could use the air conditioner.

Finally, after an hour—which I get due to triage— the vet came in to talk to me. She talked 900 miles a second and I could barely keep up. She asked if I knew Hobbes has a heart murmur. Nope. Never heard that before. And that became her focus. Not that I thought he was choking or something.

She left and then they brought in a plan of treatment. It was an estimate of $1,500.00-$2,500.00. I just about had a heart attack myself. She had a long list of things she wanted to do and they required $1,900.00 down right then. The tech acted a bit peeved that I needed to call my husband. Then, the kicker? I had to sign and choose between 3 methods of resuscitation. 1. None, 2. Minimally invasive (for $500.00) or 3. Invasive ($1,000.00). At that point, I wanted to vomit or cry or both. To me, they prey on people who are worried about their pet. It was vile and manipulative—both the outrageous bill and the choosing resuscitation method. But, being worried about Hobbes, I left him there and chose the $500.00 resuscitation option—it was explained they need that in case they couldn’t get me if he was in distress.

As I was at the desk paying the “deposit” a vet tech came running in from the side door screaming she needed someone to help her resuscitate the huge dog she was carrying. She was yelling “STAT” and calling out a room number.

I almost went into melt down. This place was too much for me. And I was leaving poor Hobbes there. He’s not a big fan of noise or drama. So, worried about him and his health and traumatized myself, I left.

You can only call to check on your pet between 5 and 6 am or 4 to 5 pm. I set my alarm and called at 5:10 am to be told she wanted to observe him for the day and wanted to get the local animal cardiologist in to look at his tests. She said that $500.00 the cardiologist charges was within the “budget” they gave me the night before. I almost snorted at that. HER budget maybe. Not mine. I declined. She told me to call back at 4 pm to see if he was ready to go home.

So, I did. Had to call 3 times before I could get an answer. Finally got there to get him at 4:50 p.m.  Called from car as I was still following the rules. The girl said, “Give me a few minutes.” I waited 5 minutes and then went in. She turned in her chair and in a voice like I was five years old, she barked, “I TOLD you to wait in your car.”

Stunned, I said, “No. You told me to give you a few minutes.”

She pointed to three people in lobby—none with masks—and said, “I have to wait on them first.”

“I just want to get my cat and go.”

“You’re getting a partial refund so go back to your car until I call you.” Again in that voice reserved for small, misbehaving children.  And why were others allowed to sit in the lobby with no masks, but I had one on and had to go back to my car?

It took 20 minutes for her to call. There was more dog drama while I was getting my refund- the yelling and carrying on in that place was heartrending and stressful. The emergency vet prescribed heart pills and said he’d have to be on them the rest of his life. I left there with Hobbes at 5:55 pm. And I will never, ever, ever darken their doors again.

Three days later, he was still lethargic and not eating or using the litter box. His regular vet, at his follow up appointment, said he had no heart murmur and never had. She looked at the X-rays they took at the emergency vet and said he had fluid on the lungs and was probably nauseous. She gave him a shot for the nausea and some Lasix pills to get rid of the fluid. No need for the super expensive heart pills.

By the time we got home from the real vet, Hobbes was perky and hungry as a bear. He ate a lot and wanted to go outside. It took a few more days for him to be completely back to normal and his meow was the last to recover (he had been sounding like a frog, not a cat).

What did I learn from this? That, sadly, the 24 hour emergency room staff do not care about how they treat people, don’t care about following their own rules, will gouge people who are concerned about their animals and over test and over charge. And do not truly have the best interest of anyone but themselves at heart. While I didn’t like paying the amount of money they charged me, I am lucky I had the resources to do so. What about the people who don’t? How many animals does this place put down due to the financial constraints of some of the pet parents? How many people go way into debt for unnecessary tests to save their animal? I don’t want to know. All I know is, I won’t be returning there. Ever.

April Showers… and all that jazz

Jillian here! Happy April – We have already had a lot of flowers blooming here- Azaleas (see below) and Japanese magnolias are always early here- March-and then they are gone for a while- We have weird weather in the spring- some days it’s 80 and others it is 40. We always, always, always get a cold snap right before Easter- no planting veggie gardens until after Good Friday is the rule here because no matter when Easter falls, we will have a cold snap- or even frost- around Good Friday. This year was no exception. 🙂

The last two days, we’ve had the April showers in abundance – it has been as dark as night when it’s time to get up and that really messes me up as I think I have more time to sleep 🙂 Hobbes is even off kilter with his crepuscular behavior. He’s chillin’ in the photo- like the boss he is!

My day job that I do for the federal government requires that I am audited every 2-4 years and this week was that joyful occasion (NOT!) – I’m always confident that all the banking is good, but they always have some kind of findings on record-keeping (it’s a CPA thing- I know, as I am married to one) 🙂 It’s like being in school again and realizing there is a final exam that morning and not only haven’t I studied, I seem to have missed class all semester- 🙂 In other words, it causes me stress and angst.

The good news: It ended yesterday and the findings were very minor – and nothing I anticipated 🙂 Typical. Thus, the no chance to study fear. And I can breathe again for a few years. 🙂

Enjoy the April showers and await, with anticipation, the May flowers.

Lockdown Walks

Since we’re in lockdown (again) here in the UK, it’s not been possible to venture too far from the old homestead. In fact, the farthest I managed was a six mile car trip to get my COVID-19 vaccine!

That said, we have had some lovely and interesting walks in our local area. Having lived in the village for almost 25 years, we prided ourselves on knowing it quite well, but with the release of a new book by a local author detailing twenty circular walks within easy reach of our village, we have discovered some new and fascinating routes. Each walk has a short version and a longer version and every one of them features a route by either a lake or river, which has pleased our water-loving Vivvy no end 🙂

We’ve encountered some interesting characters on our new walks and have learned a lot from them about the countryside as a whole and the local area in particular. I didn’t know there were quite so many different types of gates and stiles, or that our area held quite a number of intriguing stone circles each with a fascinating, and sometimes lurid history. Ghost stories abound, as do sightings of strange and mysterious creatures that appear to unsuspecting walkers, often as dusk falls. You can imagine how my writer-imagination fires on all cylinders while listening to these often tongue-in-cheek accounts by the locals. They have certainly given me food for thought for future stories. I’ll need to do some further research, which means revisiting the places from which these strange tales emanate. But I’ll be doing that in daylight, of course, and will make sure to be home well before the light fades!