The five service pups I've raised...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Where the surf meets the turf-in old Del Mar

Friends of Casey, Day at the Races (July 2009)
A pivotal summer activity for many in San Diego is going to the horse races at Del Mar. Since 1995 or so I’ve been joining a friend’s group for a pre-race party and racing advice seminar.
Now Casey is from Kentucky originally so he prides himself on knowing horse racing… When Casey first started putting the group together & would buy a block of grandstand tickets - the Del Mar folks asked him the name of his group –so he just dubbed us “Friends of Casey” so we’ve been FOC every since. While his parties were a bit rowdier in his earlier, single days in Pacific Beach, Casey still has a kicking party. Although he now lives in La Jolla, is married (to a fellow Kentuckian!), and has two young boys. Casey taught me what a true Mint Juleps tastes like and it is SO GOOD – made only with authentic Kentucky Bourbon of course, fresh mint leave branches poured over crushed ice into real pewter glasses!

His friend Garth always puts on a racing tips forum outlining the proper way to place a bet, and updates us all on the season’s stats to date for the various jockeys, trainers, horses, and stables. We figure if Garth does well enough that the IRS has him fill out tax forms at the races, then hey! we just might learn something from him. Ha
this little gal is all ready in her hat and sun dress...

Well even with all the tips, I still came out in the red this year…picking only two first place winners, but the one I got closed out at the window before I could place the bet due to a lady allowing her friend to ditch line. And doesn’t it just figure, THAT was one of winners I selected-- “Time Gone By” (sentimental meaning).

(Side note: I met a gal last summer that has a charity called “after the finish line”. See her link here:
Her group helps retired race horses, finding them homes; as race horses that no longer race or perform well enough are considered disposable. So as much as I still love the pageantry horse racing, this Sport of Kings; watching these majestic animals run; it’s hard for me to not think of the by-product of the industry.

I am glad to know groups like Dawn’s exist to help these magnificent racers.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Time to redirect - a blog you gotta see!

So every now and I visit brand new blogs that blogs I follow, say are funny.
And this one is funny -> see here:

It's a blog by Jacques Le Feesh and it's a riot.

It makes me wonder about the time the author took waiting, waiting to get the perfect camera shot....well click above and take a look. Best fishes, I mean best wishes for a grand day.

Summer Fun with Friends

I heard a funny saying the other day: "Life is like a roll of toilet paper, the closer to the end, the faster it goes!" Well for summers the most, it does just seem to fly by...

And very recently the weather in sunny Calif has been hot and not just warm but HOT. Up in the 90s on the coast which is quite rare. It's like a Santa Ana but without the dry winds. And clear -so clear like winter days after a good hard rain. You can see every detail of the distant hills, and lots of stars at night and the colorful sun rises and sunsets....what a show by Mother Nature. So as to not waste these lovely evenings when there's still plenty of daylight left after work, I went to Wine Steals in Cardiff with Lori last night and then tonight sat on Sunset Hill with Lyn at Dad's yard, to share wine and pizza and watch the brilliant coral sky fade into the Pacific. (the dogs napped in the car after their play time). The moon rose crystal clear and casting a long bright arch on the shimmering sea. On they way from my place the bank sign said it was 83 degrees at 7pm...this is most unusual for us. By this time of the evening it's time for a sweater, even in summer.

So Lyn and I enjoyed our meal and we reflected how the summer has been speeding by...

but tonight I was looking through my photos on my computer and I realized how much fun I'm having this with friends, relatives and with the dogs.
Trips, picnics, parties, parades, classes, dining, dates and activities.

at Lake Arrowhead cabin
Dinner on the patio with the pups... I love the long days of summer; and although it's been warmer than I like, the balmy nights are great for walks and star gazing. Here's to summer!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Satisfaction of a job done ...well BY ME

Have you ever accomplished something that gave you a huge feeling of accomplishment?
When my friend Linda made me a cool window valence for my bedroom and she and her father hung it up, I was delighted when I got home and saw it for the first time.

I thought “Man! How amazing to hand-make that!”

And, my friend Belinda does reupholstering. Seeing furniture she has transformed, blows me away. How satisfying that must be, I always thought.

Well I now know from a recent experience, that the more foreign something is, it is then that much more satisfying, to take on and accomplish. Allow me to share:

My experience was a dripping bath tub faucet. For months this faucet leaked no matter how tightly I tried to turn off the handles after a shower. And the dripping would drive me crazy. I put a container under the faucet to catch the water. Then I could see how much was really being wasted (although I did use it to water the house plants.) Something needed to be done.

Geesh this would be a great time and oh so handy to have a man around (i.e. a boyfriend, husband, roommate or father – Dad’s still on his trip).

The internet! That was it! As it has the answers to everything, right? Recipes, driving directions, health advice – and “how to” for doing just about anything that needs being done (how do you think the crazies get instructions for making bombs for crying out loud?)
So, I googled “fixing faucets” and immediately I had all kinds of troubleshooting ideas. Heck there was even a “live help” site where you can decide what you will pay for a contractor to help you through a repair job live from his computer to yours. But I figured I’d use that only as a back-up, if I got stuck- but first I would try to fix my leaky faucet myself.

Well the first night didn’t go so well. As I needed to take the faucet stem off to take with me to Home Depot to see what size replacement was needed. Except I could not get the old part off – the stem needing removed was receded behind the tile wall. I was so frustrated, trying to do this with what tools I had; I got frustrated, started feeling sorry for myself for not having a guy in my life that was available to help me with it. Well after a brief fussy fit and a bit of crying, I finally gave up for the night realizing the repair would have to wait. I turned the water back on for my morning shower the next day and went to bed.

I went back to Home Depot the following day and got a helpful sales associate. I showed him the digital pictures I took on my camera showing him how the stem was receded and I could not reach it. I had also measured it with my tape measure so I would not have to make yet another trip. He promptly showed me the proper tools I would need – a faucet seat wrench and a valve socket wrench and he selected the correct size stem that would probably work, based on my measuring efforts. Ah, now I was in business as I was learning how critical the proper tools are…

So my second day went much better. Using the new wrenches I purchased, I removed the old faucet stems and handles and replaced them with the new ones I bought. I dug out the old plumbers putty around the stem valves and replaced it with new putty I bought. The new faucet handles are shiny and they operate so easily. With a few quick turns they easily turn on and off lightly without any heavy cranking needed. So for around $50, some internet research, a few trips to Home Depot I had fixed the problem.! Gosh what a feeling that was! A repair some plumber probably would have charged me $200 or more to do.

But the biggest rush for me from this experience? Why the amazing sense of satisfaction from doing this job, this completely foreign project, ALL by myself!

Kerry wandered in the bathroom staring at me sitting on the side of my tub turning the faucet on and off, quite smug with myself, doing a little seated victory dance. She wagged her tail finding my behavior odd I’m sure. “Hey!” I said, “Remember the first time you figured out how to open my kitchen cupboard to get to the trash can FULL of wonderful smelling stuff and how YOU felt?” Well that’s how I feel! And it feels GOOD! Yes it does.

<--The After shots -->

Monday, August 10, 2009

Plumerias Please Me!

For those that know me, and my efforts to grow plumeria trees (from Hawaii) these folks will chuckle at today’s post.
For finally and I say FINALLY, I have blossoms! Plumerias are those wonderfully fragrant flowers that grow in Hawaii and from which leis are typically made. The trees can have pink, yellow, light red or white flowers.

Well every time I visit Kona, I bring back a stick or two or three! When Dad visits his 2nd home, all I ask him to bring me back is Kona coffee and plumeria sticks. (he rolls his eyes every time- he does, I can hear it in his voice, I can) and says “what happened to the ones I brought you last time”?

Shoot, I recall years ago as a kid the first time I saw the fair vendors hawking the plumeria sticks at the Ohio State Fair. One whiff and I was sold; buying my first stalk at age 12 or so. They told me to root it in water to get it started and then transfer it to soil. Well, it sprouted two leaves and then promptly died.

The dozens of stalks I’ve tried to grow since moving to California have often not fared much better, though usually here in sunny, arid San Diego I get them to sprout 6 to 8 leaves and last a summer or two before they croak.

Well a few years ago I got the grand idea to smuggle some lava pebbles (yes I know the tail of bad luck for taking lava off the island) and black lava sand home from Kona to mix in the pots with my soil here and wa-la, that seemed to be the trick. Oh and I also bought some food to add to their water during growing season.

So often people would brag to me and say, “ahh, all I ever did was stick them in the dirt and they took off!” My friend Celeste showed me a tree in her old yard at her first Coronado home and that tree is now full of blossoms and probably 12 feet or taller. Oooh to have a beauty like that, in my yard...

Well imagine my delight when a few weeks ago the small buds I noticed peeking up continued to venture forth and have recently become full blown blooms?! Woo hoo I'm a plumeria parent, finally. It's kind of a crack up too, as this stalk has ONE single leaf but a dozen flowers on the way. Isn't Mother Nature a kick?

I am thrilled! if I can only get the other stalks to follow suit.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A drive down memory lane....

The first home I lived in when I moved to San Diego.

Through the front windshield ...and this second shot - out the passenger side window.

Today quite spontaneously, after breakfast at Pipes CafĂ©, I drove by the first place I lived when I moved to California. Cardiff-by-theSea…
I had not been in this neighborhood (Sandy Point) for probably 14 years although it’s only minutes from where I now live. It was my Dad’s first home in San Diego from moving down from Mission Viejo. And I lived here with him for a year after college graduation before getting my first apartment across town in Mira Mesa closer to my job.

Now it’s a gated community so I really didn’t think I’d get in, to see the home unless I followed a car through the gate. But oddly for some reason the gate was wide open so I just drove on in. What a drive down memory lane…I told Kerry dog, “this is where I lived before you were ever even a blip on the radar”, as she sat in the back seat and sniffed the air, her nose out the window, taking in the scents, trying to decipher what information she could glean from smells.

Everyone has regrets, but regrets are funny things. They really serve no purpose as the past is the past and noone can change anything about it. But one regret I do have is not moving into this beautiful home when Dad’s renters moved out and he was looking to sell it. I could have just taken over his loan – but I was too intimidated by the prospect. Plus I had only just purchased and moved into my first (and current) condo and settled in, in nearby Encinitas. But in hind site, (yes WITH 20/20 vision of course) living in this wonderful small community AND having this awesome investment – a home with
an ocean/white water view?!

Here below is the path down to the pool/jacuzzi and party house.

How could I have been so dense? And why didn’t Dad sit me down and really emphasize the opportunity? Of course to this day, he wishes he would have kept it but when his renters were continually giving him fits, emotionally it was too big of a drain. But oh what a lovely home – the gated community, a pool, a jacuzzi, ocean views, mountain views, a fountain/pond with trails and a community room for use by residents. Even in this market I did not see a single for-sale sign this morning.
This is the back; with a circular staircase to a deck with an incredible 180 degree view off the master bedroom (which has a dual fireplace) with an adjoining office.

There are many memories from living there- fun neighbors and parties with Sam/Phil, Art/Twila. and Jan and RJ. My room had the stained glass hot air balloon window.
Isn’t it pretty?

I can picture myself walking Kerry along these streets in the evening…would we have met other dog friends here? Would I have met someone’s son or brother; a potential suitor? Perhaps. The home is large enough I probably would have had a roommate… ah well.
But then I love my current neighborhood, my friends, the dog friendly open spaces of Encinitas and Village Park, the proximity to many things – restaurants, shops etc.

But oh that view! And a home so new I did not need to my ancient kitchen still beckons now after 20 years in my condo for a much needed re-model and the storage I would have had in this home...gosh I better stop now. I truly realize how fortunate I am. To own my very own home; on a cul de sac, with a fireplace, two car garage, access to pool and tennis courts. I am truly blessed. Sometimes things just slip from our fingers and we don't realize until later what opporutnity was missed.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

John Deere Tractor

Many American families have in their family or genealogy (somewhere) a family farm. Growing up my Uncle Bud and Aunt Ginnie on my Mom's side farmed the same farm my grandfather farmed in Warsaw, Indiana.

While it was thrilling for me as a kid to visit this old farm house in northern Indiana and see the animals and the crops in the fields, I know it was a hard and demanding life for my cousins.
Me and Walt on the John Deere...

Eric and me on the quad with Bobby nearby

Walt and Juanita

Well last month on my visit to Indiana I had the treat of experiencing the fun aspects of visiting a farm once more. As friends of an Aunt and Uncle (in Ft Wayne, IN) on my dad's side have an awesome farm. And they delighted in sharing it with us. When we arrived from Ohio, we called Dad when we got into Ft Wayne to see where we should come. The answer - "come on over to Walt and Juanita's". So my brother, nephew and I were welcomed at their kitchen table and had root beer floats and Juanita offered us REAL whole cow's milk- not pastur OR homogenized.

Walt offered Bobby a ride on the swing in the barn and I was not going to miss this, as I LOVE to swing- and this one was amazing. This old barn was built in the 1800's with hand hewed log beams and the swing was suspended from a beam in the ceiling about 60 feet up, you could really get going!

We ended up climbing over and exploring farm equipment that seemed more like a cock pit in a jet with all the control panels; we learned about the incredible farming technology of today.. How the computers tell the farmer their exact yield per acre and they are guided by precise GPS systems as they track, plant, fertilize and nurture their crops until harvest time.

Walt knows farming inside and out and boy did I learn a lot. Technology does wonderous things for farming and I learned some enlightening information about modern farming versus so-called organic. It's not like the old days of blasting a pesticide and wiping out the good with the bad bugs.

We got to ride Walt's quad runner; Bobby and Eric were in heaven and I think Bobby was ready to come back at harvest time this fall for more farming fun. Walt even taught me to drive his John Deere tractor! The photo evidence is above.

Walt and Juanita are good people. I even took some cool photos of the neat old windows in their was a nice treat to get to see them again and share an afternoon. And we returned later that evening at their insistence as they were having their kids and grand kids over to launch fireworks and enjoy s'mores by the bonfire.

I just love the wonderful rich woods, in old farm houses - such character and so warm and welcoming. ...such unexpected fun moments on vacation.

And good ol' Midwestern hospitality.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Life: So Fragile

Waking up this morning and preparing for my day was like any workday morning for me. I had returned from Kerry’s walk and was watering the flowers in my yard. I was feeding my rose bush some Miracle Grow from the watering can, and stepped back, looking down just in time to narrowly avoid stepping right on a little bird sitting on my patio. He was looking right up at me. So I peered down more closely and noticed his feet seemed injured or mangled. My heart melted as he just gazed at me unable and seemingly not interested in fleeing. I went into the garage to collect a box thinking I could put him in that and try to call a wildlife rehabilitation neighbor I know that does volunteer work for that organization.

I came back out and scooped up the little guy and held him against my chest. He seemed to be some sort of sparrow with red downy feathers on his chest and the top of his head. He seemed young because he was so frail but then I thought, perhaps he was very old…what happens to older birds, when they can longer fly? I always see baby birds being fed and cared for by their parents. But when a bird ages where do they go? What do they do? Do they just succumb to prey animals? I didn’t know.

I squatted down and dipped my finger in the bowl of water I have in a planter to collect the sprinkler run-off, for the birds to use as a bird bath. I dribbled the water onto his beak and he was quite thirsty and mouthed the water down. About this time Kerry came wandering back to see what I was doing, curious she came up to us. This caused the little guy to hop out of my hands and hop across the dirt to a log at the bottom of the wood pile. I told Kerry to go lay down please and she wandered back toward the garage. I dribbled a bit more water onto my feathered friend’s beak. But he seemed to be panting heavily. I thought you can’t stay down here so close to the ground in your condition…the neighbor’s cat will surely take advantage of the opportunity.

So I picked him back up and was peering at him, I could feel his little heart beating in my palm, his little wing would rise and fall with each breath. And then he seemed to shrink and not be so fluffy, his eye closed halfway as he went more on his side. His wing then stopped moving and I realized the sweet little bird had died, right there in my hand. His warm, limp body was still in my hand and I stroked his delicate feathers. I felt so sad.

That little corner of my yard gives me immense joy as I often watch the birds frolic there; eating seeds I put out, bathing and splashing in the water, taking dust baths on the ground and just hopping among the branches in the nearby bushes and my pine tree.
I wonder if this little guy had been intentionally sticking close to this area, as his end time got closer; a place to eat and drink and be near other birds perhaps? I said a little prayer for God’s creature and carried him as I went to get a small shovel from the garage. I came back and dug a hole and gently laid his little body in it and covered it with the soil.

All day I’ve been thinking of this experience; pondering his passing and our brief interaction during it. Life is indeed so fleeting. I hope I provided him comfort and companionship during his transition.

Here’s a photo I looked up on the web.

It appears he was a House Finch.