Sunday, April 24, 2011

Treasure Found in the Blog "Near Miscellany - a daily adventure"

Are you searching endlessly for a well written blog that takes a lighthearted look at a little of everything from DIY, to planting, to recipes, to life with kids and everything in between? You are? Well bless your old cotton socks because so was I... until I ran across this treasure.

It's called Near Miscellany - a daily adventure. (For the link, see My Must Reads.)

The About page reads:

Despite our differences Near Miscellany is written by two similarly cracked nuts. Glitch is a Canadian who can crunch numbers with machine-like abandon and Glyph is an American who breaks out in hives if more than adding is required. We share an inquisitive view of the world that covers music, computers, art, cooking, astrophysics and anything else that grabs our attention. A side effect of this is that we are learning stuff that we think other people might like to know so we’ll serve that up here.

Glitch writes from his igloo in the frozen north, bringing peace to all the distressed computer-using masses. He’s heard the great cry that has gone up to ‘free us from Windows Vista’ and will likewise find other ways to keep the general public from yanking their computer cables out and tossing the machine from a speeding vehicle.

Despite Glyph’s arithmaphobia, she has a long list of magic tricks up her sleeve. She handily takes care of three kids, and hosts an arcane knowledge of cooking that shall enchant even the pickiest. She’s the mistress of practicality, always ready with a Better Way to accomplish something around the house. But best of all, she’s fun, exciting, and full of imagination.

Near Miscellany is mostly no-nonsense (well, maybe a little nonsense!) friendly instruction on everything from home canning, cooking from scratch, making do with little, making your computer run well, and surviving a recession with entrepreneurship and maybe even with panache. There may be a little ranting occasionally but we promise to keep it straightforward and hopefully still useful even if it’s a cautionary tale.

Adorable, yes? You betcha. So why are you still reading this? Get over to Near Miscellany and check it out. Oh, and tell 'em Hawke sent you. :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The New Guy - his sale video and ad

Ain't he purdy?

"PD is double registered APHA and PtHA, and is also breeders trust. He is proven and also comes from a pedigree full of champions and APHA points earners. He is trained for Western Pleasure, Trail, and Patterns. He also does showmanship and has his PtHA ROM in Halter and APHA halter points. He is also good to take down t trails, not herd bound nor spooky. PD is a very entertaining horse that is fun to show and be around. Would be suitable for either youth, amateur or novice. Very pretty and correct. Would also make a great 4H horse for a very competitive youth. He is great to bath, clip, haul, tie... all the show prep. Stands 15.2, no vices or bad habits. Great jogger and awesome lope. Not spooky and settles in great at the shows. This horse could take the serious competitor far on the APHA/ PtHA Circuit. Quiet and sane. Has also been used to give lessons to children, beginners and also more advanced riders. Great horse in every way!"

Welcome to our family, Pete. A huge THANK YOU to the wonderful folks at Platinum Paints

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Contractor or A DIY For Folks Like Me

Because my family are coming for the holidays, I figured now would be a good time to get my old bath tub and those eye-sore-hideous surround tiles torn out and replaced. Brilliant, eh? Yes, I know. So I called a contractor. So the contractor came, took a look, and said he’d call back with an estimate. So he called back a few minutes ago and said the job would cost between $6,500 and $8,000.

$8,000? Geez, I’m not talking about building the Taj Mahal or rerouting the Hover Dam here, just replacing the old bath tub and surround. Hello?

After the shock wore off, I called Tub and Tile Magic. You know, the folks who resurface instead of replace tubs and surrounds, which is a green idea (Bonus!) and is also eight times cheaper than the dreaming contractor. Big fat thumbs up. :)

*slight pause for ooos, eees and ahhs*

Ah, but all of this has me thinking...

Take a hard look around your own home. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Are thoughts of updating (at a price that won’t make your better half pass out) dancing in your head? And more, are you as desperate for inspiration and some good DIY words of advice as I am? Then I invite you to take a gander at the latest addition to my ‘Must Read’ list: Thrifty D├ęcor Chick.

Now there’s a woman who's handy, loaded with inspiration, and explains things in a way I get. And I need all of that... since, you know, I’m about as handy, as full of inspiration and as mechanically inclined as a camp toaster.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

In Memoriam - Edna Stewart Mitchell

It was one year ago today—one year since I lost my support, advisor, comrade in trouble, sounding board, confidence builder, luck, best friend and confidante—my mom, Edna Stewart Mitchell.

Loved with a love beyond all telling.
Missed with a grief beyond all tears.

Her favorite poem:


I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

—Alfred Joyce Kilmer

To Hell With Your "Winter Wonderland." It's Gonna Be Fricken Cold Outside!

Tis the season to talk... horse blankets!

Everyone has an opinion—don't they? Even about horse blankets. There's the price, of course. And don’t forget durability, looks, layers, comfort, waterproof, if the damn thing will stay on...

I live in central Alberta, baby, and it can get mighty cold here—cold enough to feel guilty over even the thought of one of our many silent minus forty degree nights, me having the audacity to roast chestnuts on an open fire while my horse has Jack Frost nipping at his nose (and neck and chest and back and sides and butt...). Since moving to Florida was out of the question, I got online and researched blankets to death until I found one I felt would keep my horse relatively happy and me relatively guilt free.

Enter the "Weatherbeeta Orican Freestyle Detach-a-Neck Heavy Turnout"
(This is not an advertisement. This is just me saying what I've found.) It might be a bit pricey, but so are vet calls and antibiotics when your horse comes down with pneumonia.

Super strong 1200 denier triple weave, waterproof and breathable outer layer. Features the Freestyle gusset, shoulder dart and full wrap tail flap, Freestyle detach-a-neck, quick clip front closure, and wither relief pad. Warm 360g of polyfill with a hygienic and strong 210D Oxford lining and stainless steel surcingle fittings.

Sure. Whatever. Sounded good enough to try it out last year (sans the neck attachment though; I mean, it's great to have it in case it's needed, but it's just one more thing my boy can get himself hung up with) on my then twenty-seven-year-old gelding who's housed outside 24/7 in a huge wooden-fenced paddock with a large shelter, lots of quality food and plenty of non-frozen water. And I gotta tell you, I'm glad I did. The blanket honestly worked better than I'd hoped. My gelding was warm and dry all winter with no rub marks or tender spots of any kind, anywhere, and the blanket came through without a mark on it.

Would I buy it again? You bet. In a heartbeat. In fact, I am gonna buy it again because I'm in the process of purchasing a second gelding who’ll need one as well. You know. So I can roast chestnuts over an open fire. Guilt free.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Of all the things my gorgeous eleven-year-old golden retriever Bramble (aka Bram; aka Bob; aka my little man; aka my boy; aka my shadow and constant companion) has had to deal with in the last nine months (thyroid problems, Cushing’s and then Addison’s disease with no middle ground ever found, weakness in the hind legs, and the most recent being a urinary tract infection), that he could possibly have cancer didn't even occur to me. Until this past Wednesday, that is. And that’s exactly what might take him in the next twenty-four hours.

Why would I blog at a time like this?--you ask. Because I need to do something besides lose my marbles… at least until 4:30 am when they’ll redo the lactate test, the first having come back as 8.8 where normal is 2 or under. If the redo comes back lower than that first, then that means it’s dropping and the prognosis will go up. Conversely, if the lactate test comes back the same or higher, the prognosis will of course be hopeless.


Going back a little. Bram was referred to Calgary’s state-of-the-art C.A.R.E. Center (CARE meaning Calgary Animal Referral and Emergency) by our vet who, because of Bram’s longish list of woes and little improvement, wanted to rule out neurological problems. So off we went on Wednesday and again on Thursday, as the tests were so numerous. And that was when they found a mass


on his lung, along with a few other things - the urinary tract infection and quibbles about his current medication dosages. With that, a CT Scan was tentatively scheduled for this coming Tuesday.

Then, today, Bram crashed.

It started out innocently enough, so much so that we truly believed it was due to the dosage changes of his medications (add a thyroid pill; lower the Prednisone by one; give antibiotics for the urinary tract infection). First, he lost interest in food shortly after 1 pm. Later, he started breathing slightly harder than normal and wanted out and in without doing anything. At 8:30 pm came the vomiting and discomfort and looking at his stomach. At that, I immediately called CARE and then my own vet, and it was on both their recommendation that I gave Bram one Gravol, then one teaspoon of Pepto-Bismol, then a Prednisone tab. After an hour (okay, so it was less) of no discernible improvement, I called and transported him to Animal Emergency. For my sanity’s sake and as a written record to keep it straight in my mind, here’s the rundown:

Chest X-Ray - confirmed the mass, no fluid in lungs, etc.
BP - normal (Addison’s crisis would show as low)
Heart Rate - on the higher end (Addison’s crisis would show as low)
Temperature - increasing (could be from the infection)
Blood work - electrolytes good
- white blood cell count slightly above normal (could be from the infection)
I-Stat Test - slightly lower but not critical
Lactate - 8.8 (normal is 2 or less) **Potential cause for high number could be cancer or, according to what I read, systemic sepsis**
Bram is currently on nasal oxygen fed via a small tube (which he’s pulling out as quickly as they’re putting it in) and IV fluids.
It’s also possible that the mass is causing systemic effects.

The time is now 4:32 am. That’s how long it’s taken me to write this, now badly my mind is working, how numb I am.

4:32 am… and the call just came. His lactate test is now 6.7. Not that it means he’s out of the woods. Not even close. But at least it dropped.

So, was this crash due to cancer, systemic sepsis, both, or something else entirely? That’s unknown at this point. The only certainties are they’ll keep redoing the test every few hours and I’ll keep doing the only thing I can: hope.

Update: With the white bloodcell count good the vet said it isn't to do with the UTI. It also hasn't to do with his Addison's. That only leaves one thing, and if taken off IV he'll only crash again.

He's too sweet, too special, too kind natured and has too much of a wonderful spirit—the perfect guy; family—to put him through any pain just so I won't have to say goodbye. So I guess the decision is made.

Ah my little man, my sweetie, my heart, my love, my beautiful boy—the best boy in town. No one who ever met you had so much as one bad word to say. I was truly, sincerely blessed to have had you in my life. Meet me at the bridge.

Bramble (Bram)
Sept 29/1998 - Aug 22/2010

Not a mean bone in his body; not one bad memory left behind.
That says so much.
We'll meet again, my beautiful, beautiful boy.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Great Gopher War

They’re cute. They’re furry. They’re dangerous.

It’s gopher season here, again. Time to get out whatever nontoxic whatsit that’ll make the ankle breaking hole makers move on (to heaven or the next field, whichever comes first).

So far I’ve tried such things as nailing two decoy owls to the fence (I have a neat story on that; remind me to tell you about it in a little bit), spraying perfume in the hole (namely Oscar de la Renta… which didn’t work for long… but now we have the best smelling gophers on the planet, bar none), cramming their holes with very large rocks (which seems to be the only thing working at the moment), and a whole host of other attempts, some with varying degrees of temporary success, and others which didn’t phase the little bastards one iota.

Now before you go all PETA on me, just remember that I’m an animal lover to the extreme. But when push comes to shove (or rather, gopher’s rights vs. the health of my beloved equines), it’s a no-brainer—Gopher City needs to move by almost any means necessary. In other words, it’s war. Ah, but with other animals around that I want to keep healthy, namely dogs, cats and horses, poison is out of the question. So is hiring the gun toting and possibly inbred neighbor and his two gun toting and possibly inbred sons down the road who, in their kill-spree-delirium, might mistake a horse for said gopher, in which case I’d be the one shooting, would most likely get arrested for attempted murder, and would still be at square one with the gophers.


Now, if a few hawks would just move in. Or perhaps some gopher snakes. I have a massive phobia of snakes, but I’ll tell ya I’d welcome them over the gophers, anytime. At least snakes leave when the pickins are few. Gophers, on the other hand, are rarely without pickins, eating roots, trees, grass, plants and, heck, even things you wouldn’t normally suspect—yep they’re not only dangerous to equines, they’re dangerous to each other!

Speaking of which, a friend of mine was terribly late getting to work one day. When asked why, he said all the cars were backed up at the overpass because of a very sweet and sad sight. According to him, a gopher had earlier run out in front of a car and was killed. That wasn’t the sad part. What was, was that its brave little wife/husband/friend/son/daughter gopher attempted a rescue mission by running out, grabbing said dead gopher, and dragging it inch by inch back to safety.

Aww, isn’t that just too sweet?

Well no, not really.

What my friend didn’t know was that gophers are cannibals, the rescue merely grocery shopping. Not that that has any bearing on equines. But the knowledge of it definitely eases my guilt of wanting rid of them.

Gophers: It’s on.

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