Camping Notes 5/6/13

I realized that on Mondays, I am usually overflowing with camp observations. Thought I’d share some, now and then.

It was the first gorgeous weekend of the 2013 season. Temperatures that I would happily keep year round, 70s, by day, and upper 40s, by night.

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To the right, is our original site which my husband, Ed, had cleared and built. The whole area was thick forest when we began over 15 years ago. This is Ellen and Kory’s place now. (They weren’t here this weekend.)

We have a small Walmart sunken pond which is my first stop every weekend. It provides a wonderful vernal pool for amphibians. The visitors are fewer,so far, and  I have a good theory as to, why?

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010It has been recently dry and the spotted salamanders and wood frogs migrate farther during rainy weather. Only the green frog “locals” and one mature Red Spotted Newt are currently present. This is a first for my pond. This week promises some rain but I’m afraid that their egg laying, for this year, might be over. 😦

So off to check out my plum blossoms. Last year, I was alarmed by how few honeybees had tended to pollination. This year, I spotted a few but the numbers are still dismal compared to years past. I’m hoping that our chilly Spring has not yet awakened the masses.

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As the day progresses, I plan my garden. We have suffered for 4 years with a terrible fungus blight. This year, I plan to grow corn and I’ll be trying an above ground method for tomatoes using wooden skids.

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Ollie, my Jack Russell, is the happiest camper. He’s able to run loose and dig to his heart’s content. He is now 9 years old and requires more breaks in the sun. Of course, he has his own chair.

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Ed and I camp in an area that he prepared for our 5th-wheel. It is just below the old homestead and is our little piece of heaven.

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Ed keeps very busy. He gathers wood and splits it, as well as, maintaining the lawns and building wonderful stone flowerbeds. His four-wheeler has all that he needs. Yes, a rifle and a chainsaw are both necessary here. Actually, Ed had arrived the day before I came. Our gas grill had been knocked from our deck and one (empty) cooler was out in our yard. Our friends, with a game camera, have evidence of a large black bear in our area. Coyotes and a fisher have also been spotted. We leave no food or garbage out to entice them!

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I was pleased to see the first of Ellen’s tulips open. The daylight hours are shorter in the woods, so our campsite is a bit behind what we have at home.

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I was also happy to see some forget-me-not seeds had taken where I’d hoped they would fill in on a banking.

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I never fail to search our piece stone before we leave. It was quarried in Hudson, NY and has many seashell fossils from a time when New York was an ocean floor. I have always loved rocks! I’m thrilled to look for fossils and, sad that so many were ground up, too. I guess I would have never had the chance to find them if that had not happened.

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So there you have a glimpse of the “good life” I find in the forest. I also had time to read in a lovely shaded area beside my dog.

Further updates will show my flower beds and garden. See you later!

Happily Ever After

February xxx 019My husband grew up in a pet-free environment, so when he married me, we had many battles over living with pets.

We will be celebrating our 35th anniversary in July but the pet angle was a great big “bone” of contention for the better part of those years.

To the non-pet people, they are messy, costly and really get in the way of vacationing .

To a pet person, they are comforting, fun, and who needs a vacation, when the pet has to be left behind?

It took many years (about 26) for my husband to finally “see the light”. I can thank Ollie, my Jack Russel, for this transformation. Getting Ed to accept a new puppy took cunning and some deceit (I came clean eventually.), as well as, a sister who was willing to be an accomplice. My need to have a puppy took top priority. My heart was saddened by my husband’s inability to recognize how desperate was my desire for a dog. I could not imagine why anyone, who loves me, would deny me something so critical to my happiness.

Well, there was a power issue. “Who’s the boss?” plagues many marriages. BUT, it was mostly due to the fact that he had never felt the bond of a dog. He couldn’t place any importance on an “imaginary” need.

Then came Ollie. The little guy and Ed became fast friends. Ollie would lean against Ed and beg to sit with him. I would refer to Ed as “Daddy” and pointed out how much Daddy was missed by Ollie.

All things considered it was a very successful effort. Yes, I’ve gotten my way but the best part is having given Ed the love of a dog.

Now I catch Ed talking to Ollie on a regular basis, “What do you think of THAT, dog?” is a heart-warming phrase repeated daily. Ed invites Ollie under the bedding at night too. “Come on dog, want your blanket?” (For you wise guys-NO, he’s not talking to me.)

Above, they are pictured in a familiar camp posture. A man, a beer and his dog…Happily ever after. 😉

The Game of Favorites

I just don’t like the word favorite. It is an exclusive term that means nothing to me. My favorite things are harder to pin down than an accurate weather forecast.

There are too many wonderful feelings, colors, people, and ideas to play favorites. Gosh, I enjoy the rummaging that takes place when I’m ask about my favorite. The flashes from one delightful image to another, makes me smile, but I never was good at decision-making and really don’t care to choose.

Favorite choosing is a waste of time and subject to time also. At any given moment your favorite can easily be “up for grabs”, don’t you think?

I dearly love my dog. He is one of many “dog loves” of my life. To say he is my all-time favorite diminishes the love I’ve had for others and the love I hope to have for others too.

I will be blessed with a new granddaughter in September. It’s hard for me to image any grandchild as precious as Katherine, yet I know there is room for more. Evelyn will be my favorite Evelyn. That is all I can proclaim. She may be Katherine’s favorite sister if her mom’s design of her being the “final” child holds true. Only exclusive things can really, truly, hold the title of favorite and, in my world and yours, so few life experiences are exclusive enough to qualify.

Next time someone asks for your favorite, hold up your hand and say, “There’s no such thing.”

Doesn’t this all sound picky?

I think labeling favorites is the more picky endeavor. Count me out, please.

Dogs Best Friend

Today is my sister’s birthday. Happy Birthday Donna!

She and her husband are exceptional dog parents. They adopt older dogs by choice. Older dogs have lots of emotional baggage and an even shorter life span to share.  These “hard to adopt” canines are lucky indeed.

I am also fascinated by dog behavior and its compatibility with humans. The film attached is a remarkable “eye opener” to what makes dogs and humans click.

This blog post is in honor of Donna, Mike and their dogs, past, present, and future.

An important reminder to all dog owners. They count on you for their happiness and this is an emotional bond that should never be taken lightly. The reward is a pal like no other.

Pals in a Place and Time

Shadow Rough Collie

Shadow Rough Collie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Buffy rolled back his upper lip and grinned. It was the collie in him. He smiled when he was excited and when our car pulled into the dooryard, he was very happy.

I loved him in spite of his lack of kindness to the feral cats. He’d sadly ended the misery for a few who had gotten in his face. I luckily had never witnessed that. This was an oversight in his upbringing that I could not reverse but, as a playmate, he was the very best. He would have given his life to protect me. This I was sure of.

When my parents ended their visit with grandma and grandpa, I would be staying. Buffy and I would have many hours to ourselves.

The chores on my grandparents’ farm, waited for no one. After a very early breakfast, I was left alone to play, while the adults did the morning milking.  Sometimes, I would spend  the first hour among the cows at the new milking “parlor”, but more often, opted to play with my pal and my imagination.

It is only now, that I realize how much my company meant to Buff. Unless the cows got out and he was asked to herd them back, he was overlooked. An occasional pat on the head was the most he could hope for when I wasn’t around.

The sound of house sparrows brings me back to, the two of us , sunning ourselves on the steps. The birds would flutter in the dusty driveway to ward off mites in their feathers. Buffy would lean into me so very hard as I wrapped my arms around his neck. The smell of dust, hay chaff and grease ( from lazing around beneath farm equipment) greeted my nostrils when I buried my face in his fur. A combination that would have been repugnant had it not been the smell of my pal. I’m sure that I will be moved to tears should I find the same odor again. What a bitter sweet surprise that would be.

Then off we’d go. I’d be a master dog trainer and he was my willing pupil. I made up hand signals for him to follow.  I’d wave and he’d jump a bale of hay and follow a maze that I had created. It took many hours and a lot of sweat to manage the hay bales alone. But, I had all day and very friendly company by my side.

Sometimes we’d just sit in the grass on the hill overlooking the barn. Buffy would whine with pleasure as I rubbed his belly. We enjoyed the breeze that that spot always had. The squawk of red-winged blackbirds and the fragrance of  phlox, each bring me right back to those moments. My grandmother’s house was surrounded with phlox of every color and the “crik” below had a marsh where the red-winged blackbirds nested.

Once in awhile, I wish Buffy  could have known what it was like to be a family dog. But, It just would not have fit him somehow. He was a dog of his time.  Instead of wondering “what if ?” , I’ ll  cherish how we belonged to each other, back then, and shared a place and time, where we needed a pal.

Lucky LaValley

We had a dog when I was a kid. My parents spotted a black puppy outside of  a shop in Bennington ,Vt. . He was the runt of his litter, so they say. A Black Lab without papers. I believe they paid 25 or 35 dollars for him. I was visiting my grandparents’ farm when the rest of the family came to own him. When we were introduced, my parents thought I should name him, since I had missed the excitement of finding him. They had been looking for a Black Lab and mentioned many times how lucky they were to spot him. I liked the name Sam, but the name Lucky was mentioned as a possibility. We decided to leave his name to a flip of a coin.

“Lucky” became a neighborhood legend.

He was a black lab and something else.

His bloodline wasn’t the best.

Whatever he was, he was one of a kind

And stood out from the rest.

Played with all kids in the neighborhood

We needn’t worry ’bout dangers.

Many a times his hackles were raised

At the sight of any adult strangers.

Oh how he loved to ride in the car,

He’d hide down on the floor.

Wouldn’t come when he was called

T’was freedom he adored.

Traveled through the neighborhoods

Black pups were here and there,

Treed raccoons and dug some holes,

Adventures… had his share.

To this day, he’s thought of still.

Been thirty years and more,

He’s talked about at campfire chats

Our Lab of local lore.

Lucky LaValley

A Peanut Butter Promise

There’s a very special flavor

Of the easiest kind of chore.

My family used it on the day

We bought him at the store.

Our puppy was the wiggle kind

We named him Barney Fife.

 Made a peanut butter promise

To keep him safe for life.

Peanut butter really sticks

And so did all our deeds.

We made a pact for good or bad,

To meet our Barney’s needs.

I’ve heard about the “comes” and “goes”

Of pets who fall from grace.

Messy feet and doggie hair

or chewing up the place.

Whatever happens, I’ll stand tall

And love him ever more.

‘Cuz we made a peanut butter promise

When we bought him at the store.