Saturday, September 26, 2015

After Absence, New Things To Discuss

It has been months since I have posted.  So.

I just asked Google a question I thought so bizarre, I didn't think I would have an answer.

I started typing," Will a buzzard eat..." I got that far and the multiple choices appeared. First was what I thought was my bizarre question: Will buzzards eat dead skunks? Yes, with enthusiasm.

I'm glad, because these ugly birds help keep the environment cleaner and smelling better for those who don't like the lingering smell.

That the question arises readily tells me a lot of people don't live in cities yet. That it is the first option offered tells me more. While skunks can adapt to cities, only more rural areas have the tragedy of a skunk crossing the road just when your car comes by and kills it. With any warning at all, said varmint sprays. The smell hovers for days, getting into the air systems of cars who pass by. It lingers. The tragedy goes both ways. We get a lingering smell. The skunk, of course, is dead.

Even skunks themselves don't like the smell. Dogs don't, and considering what dogs will roll in and live in, skunk spray may be the only smell a dog doesn't like. But apparently, buzzards do. THAT is a very good thing.

I still live where land, and farmers, and families with home vegetable gardens, abound. Each year, more and more of us are going organic in our vegetables and in our protein. I know neighbors who  sell eggs from time to time, but I buy from the store when the hens aren't laying. I always buy cage free, and if I can afford it, organic. Those are eggs as close commercially as I can get to what my neighbors produce with their hens.

Many of you, who buy store-bought eggs, however, have never eaten eggs from Easter Eggar hens. They are my favorite, not even counting their green or blue color. The yolk is bigger, and the cholesterol is lower. Ehh! If they were the worst, I would prefer them. for the taste. You really can, if you have the chance, tell a difference in eggs from various breeds of hens. Grocery eggs are five to six weeks old, and tasty and usable. The fresh, for me and thousands, hopefully millions more, is better.  

With the enthusiastic expansion of home-egg manufacturing, the breeds of chickens range from chickens with hairless necks to chickens--Silkies--with feathers on their legs.

That leads to another question about protein. How is your meat raised? What is in it?
The animals are raised within Dept. of Ag standards. And if you have never lived on a farm or even seen animals or birds you, yourself, kill, prepare, and eat, the question may be spurious.
But I did. And the way I saw them raised and the way they are raised to feed millions of us, is so different.

To feed all of us, they must be caged with no room to move. Because they are so closely packed, they must be given antibiotics to stay healthy. You are eating this every day if you eat fowl, or pork. I don't THINK beef, but I haven't checked yet.

So I don't eat pork anymore, unless it is organic. That is because I started with pork. I eat organic pork because it not only has none of the additives I don't want, which is worth proselytizing about. I want meat from animals who have been able to walk, turn around, and maybe express happiness besides eating a continuous trough of  (nutritious feed you don't want to know contents of, although it is nutritious, safe, and they eat it.)

Organic bacon is smoked, not cured. I call it "steak bacon" because it's so meaty and smoked and delicious. I am researching now for farms with organic meats locally and have found some.

Yes, eating organic plants can be important. Eating organic meats may be even more important, not only for health but for sheer enjoyment. I'll post more when I know more.

Meanwhile, hamburger pizza with mushrooms and onions is tasty. So are all-beef hot dogs.

I don't do rallies about this, or campaigns, or whatever I could do. I am writing a blog about what I am doing. Someone I told, who lives in another city, says she has gone meat organic and has found local meats not so costly. She is surprised that it keeps longer and remains delicious.

The rest of you know what you are doing. You are intelligent, and have your budgets, and I won't write about this as a cause. It is important to me. I am telling you about it. What I write next probably won't be about this.  Hope you think about it, a little.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Home Care for the Pups for Vacation

It was a great vacation. When I download some photos, I will talk about it.

But it was pretty good for the dogs, too.

Petsitting is becoming popular, as is having a caretaker come by the house daily to do XYZ.
We got Brody from a shelter when he was three months old, but he still gets a little anxious. I don't think dogs wonder why; they simply know they are somewhere else. Gracie is sure the world is a good place, but she is pretty attached as well.

So this time, I left the dogs home in our (theirs and mine) house with a petsitter they knew--my oldest granddaughter. I left her 4 pages of single spaced, typed notes, including that she HAD to let them out no later than 8 am, wipe up any accidents, let them play for at least a half hour, come back at noon, then suppertime, water the plants, etc. etc. etc.  Four pages. Teenage girl ,16. Summer.

I never worried.

I did ask once, halfway through, how they were doing, and she sent pictures of her walking the dogs every day, something I have long planned to do, resolved to continue when I got back, and so far haven't done. They loved it.

Per instructions, in the humid heat, she watered outside pot plants daily. She gathered the mail, swept up the Corgi hair, and played with them. And she washed them before I came home.  They smelled and looked beautiful. She gave them their tooth cleaning chews, and in the evening gave Brody his Benedril for a watery eye (pill in peanut butter on a half cracker) and gave Gracie her nightcap of cracker and peanut butter at the same time.

They were REALLY glad to see me, which was good for my ego. But they looked great. So did the house and my plants. Per instruction, she had thrown away all the newsprint ads, so I had only envelopes to go through.

I told her she needed to post some ads on community billboards locally  that she is available for pet and house services. I paid her less than most would get, more than she could make doing anything else for two weeks, and it left her free time. We were both happy, and so were the dogs.

I checked out some kennels, which would have cost much more.  Corgis don't deal well with New. And Brody gets anxious.  The chance to leave them at home  with someone they already knew as family meant they were  in much of normal routine, in habitat. I noticed and expected they would spend time on my bed, and washed the sheets and quilt first thing to de-Corgi hair my bed.

If you can get someone dependable, and honest, this is a good way to go.

My granddaughter has a school-sponsored camp next week, so the timing was great.

I spent some time on vacation with a girl my granddaughter's age, very sweet, smart, honest. But she's never been taught responsibility, commitment, or how to show up on time. I would never trust living animals to her. She would mean well, but they might die. And I love my dogs. I would not risk them.

My granddaughter has parents who grumble she should have done it for free, but agree this was between the two of us. She executed perfectly, and since I was paying, had she not, I would have complained. She, I, and even the dogs, are delighted. My plants have flourished. The house did,

I actually knew some responsible adults willing to do the job for not a lot more, but she did more than they would have done.  Home  dog care is my preferred solution for the future. This was almost two weeks. A little different from even a long weekend. It felt good not to worry.

I had so much fun, I realized even retired people can use a vacation. We often are pretty busy working for free a lot of the time. It is a job. We don't just say we don't feel like it.

Neither did my petsitter.

Monday, June 15, 2015

An intimate vacation in Oregon

About six years ago, I went to Oregon for the first time and got some advice about places and sights from friends and readers--well, my hosts planned a fabulous vacation, and I saw wonderful sights, had some meaningful and fun-filled conversations with people I love, and the trip was Most Excellent.

Now I'm going back again for two weeks. One of my requests was the high desert part of eastern Oregon, and we will go to the Steen Mountains for a couple of days. There's a  wetlands bird sanctuary in the neighborhood. Most of the birds will be new to me.  We will travel in her Prius. Haven't had that pleasure before, either.

My friends have laughed about my request, because they are looking forward to it, too. After 11 years there, they haven't made this particular trip before. There's a rustic hotel with family-style meals like pot roast and roast chicken and fixins. Some light hiking for us, more strenuous for the more muscularly endowed.

We will get back to the four-mile hike through the Old Forest above Eugene, the way Oregon looked when the white man got there. I want to see it again, this untouched part of the earth.

And there's the jet boat down the Rogue River. It's a chance to see some wildlife, not a promise, but I've never been on a jet boat. And then, time to mosey around in the beautiful Oregon landscape, with greedy eyes out for what berries are ripe now. They have a lot of varieties they never ship--too fragile.  I know Costco sells a marion berry and hazelnut ice cream, which couldn't be more Oregon. I will be staying in the county that produces almost 90 per cent of the nations filbert/hazelnuts.

I want to go back to the Eugene Saturday street market/festival. We may get back to the coast again, the rocky, fascinating, beautiful coast with the frigid ocean water I've actually seen Oregon children play in. Mind-boggling.

It is not just that I have known these friends for 40 years, but that we have been active friends throughout. They will have things to do at times, and I, the half and half extrovert and introvert, will enjoy a little space here and there to read, and walk, and enjoy on my own.

We didn't spend time in Portland before, and now one of their daughters lives there in a big Victorian house she and her boy friend are renovating. It will be a mixture of familiar, new, and remembered-new.

I am so glad I am going

They have Shasta daisies blooming as wildflowers on the verge of the roads. Did you know that?

I have traveled pretty widely in my life. Oregon, for me, is just about as enchanted as I have found.

I doubt I'll ever get to New England, but I'd like to, in the fall, as a leaf peeper, greedily gorging on the old New England apples. Maybe I will.

Life keeps surprising me..

Friday, June 12, 2015

Helping to build a New Library

I am getting to do something I never imagined I would do.

A year ago, I volunteered for my small town's library advisory board. I knew we had passed a bond election to build a new one, and that sounded really fun to be involved with.

I love libraries. No matter how many computer programs they store, videos, when you walk in, you can smell the invigorating odor that lots of printed books living together generate. I love that smell.

I love the  reading programs we offer for pre-school, the enrichment programs--I finally got to this week's enrichment on raptors. Didn't know we had kites in Texas. Loved the owls and hawks. No eagles this day. And red-tailed hawks are still numerous across the land.

Last week, we had miniature therapy horses and 70 kids and adults to pet them, hug them, yes, raise their lips to show the teeth. It really was magnificent fun. We have other programs coming up.  At libraries, we try to offer the virtual and the real, We have classes. We have programs. We try to deepen community experience. I can now say we, because I am a small part.

The library here is small. The new one will be at least 5,000 sq. ft., still small but bigger. And with room for expansion. We aren't paying for new stacks and furnishings. Fundraisers and grants will pay for those. We want a library with the most technology we can build into it to support the future. The new library will offer the first available community room in town outside the schools and city hall. That matters to the culture of the community,

We are ripe. New subdivisions are going in all around us, if not in city limits, then in our zip code.

Today, we met with the architectural  planners to see the bones of it. We made some early decisions on the brick, the metal roofing, the flooring. We. that means I had a vote. Heady stuff.
For me, it is leaving a little bit of legacy to a town I have come to love.

I am so excited about the future.  I want to be here when it opens. I want to contribute to further success. I want to see the dream fulfilled. I believe in libraries. I want to see our citizens using ours.

Maybe that's not on your bucket list. Believe me, it is on mine.

I am retired. I volunteer in what  I believe in, what is helpful. Oh, and fun for me to do.
Yeah, there is work involved.  I'm kind of excited about that, too.

Yet another excuse to put off mopping the bathroom floor.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Why I Am Not Eating Much Potk Now

I went into Subway today for a sandwich.

It was a difficult choice. I've given up pork. Between the cold cuts, the Black Forest ham, I could choose meatball, chicken offerings, steak and cheese, and tuna. I took tuna.

I've given up pork because of my own scruples, lately developed. I will cook the three hams I bought, and eat them. A pig died for that. I've bought turkey bacon. It's not to bad and it's actually healthier.

I'm not trying to start some movement, because I don't believe anyone would respond anyway. Somebody, sometime, may look at how we raise pigs, how we house them, how we feed them, and start some commotion about this being bad for humans. That's the only chance pigs have got. We have had 5 million pigs die recently, and all we care about is how high's the ham price, Mama?

So far, I buy cage free eggs, and I don't know how my chicken is raised, but that may be another problem. Cows have some happiness before they die, and thanks to research, we know how to slaughter them more efficiently now. They aren't frightened on the way to the slaughter. I'm glad for that. I LIKE eating meat. Always have.

But 80 per cent of our pigs grow up in small crates, where they can scarcely move. They are never touched. They never walk. The females are artificially inseminated, and the sucklings suck off tits available through holes in a board--so the sow won't accidentally roll over.

The living conditions are approved by the government. Their food includes ground feathers, rendered pigs, and sanitized chicken shit. Among other things.  Hey, you like that ham, that pork, so have I. Tasty.  FDA approved.

Well, apparently 20 per cent of pork is raised better. No doubt it's really expensive. I'm curious. Yeah, to feed millions of people, you have to get more practical about the pigs.

But you know, the next time you are eating a bacon cheeseburger and get all upset because some dog is kept on a chain outside in the rain? Pets are cute and cuddly. Pigs aren't. But they are smarter than dogs, and they have a lot of feelings. And we routinely raise them in sheer misery.

So I'm not eating pork, and it's hard not to. I hope I can find a source of pigs that had some happy time before they made my bacon. Misery bacon somehow doesn't taste so good.

As I look at my copy in my blog, all this empty space is there before this segment ends. I don't know why. I would love comments. I have other postings as well.  I usually think glitches like this are due to my technoignorance. 


Saturday, June 6, 2015

It was a really good party, as milestone occasions should be.

A private club on the 17th floor, with wide windows to gaze over a city that went on far beyond the horizon. Great food, plenty of wine, tea, coffee, and a lot of people dressed really nicely. The women in nice dresses. A lot of men with ties and jackets. The elders were all aging well, and the children all cleaned up and adorable. A lot of family, his, hers and theirs.

For Brenda and Bill's fiftieth wedding anniversary, their sons gave them what they would treasure most: a celebration with as many of their family and friends as possible. And it was joyous. The love is still as shining as when it began. It is infinitely deeper, more abiding, richer. While people live longer, 50 years of vibrant marriage is still a pinnacle most of us will never reach. It is right to honor it, because these two add goodness to all our lives.

If I were just caught up with the joy and happiness of a wonderful occasion, I could write this easily, freely, spilling all over. I am feeling my way to express it. Their sons gave them the party. One of my sons went to considerable trouble and effort to take me into the heart of Dallas during the Friday afternoon rush hour. Celebrating their bond strengthened ours, I think.