In 2002 we ran away from Illinois where we were born and raised, and started a new life in SW Florida. This blog is about me (an eccentric old artist), ROM (my Real Old Man), Isabella (our neurotic Standard Poodle) and Emmy (our crazy snake killing Jack Russell Terrier). Oh- and the neighborhood old people. Life is good in Florida!


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Big Fat America

Not only are we eating ourselves to death, we are feeding our pets to death. I've been watching an Animal Planet "My Big Fat Pet" marathon. Evidently, people are too stupid to know how much to feed their animal companions and they need a dog trainer to tell them their dog is fat and to feed it less. Seriously, they are too clueless to figure out all they need to do is read the back of the food bag to find the recommended daily amount to feed.  

One family was feeding their dog 7 times the daily recommendation. Another dog was so fat it couldn't stand up to eat so the owner placed the bowl against the dog's bed enabling it to lay down as it ate. 

It's not kindness or an act of love. It's putting that pet's health in danger. Being overweight shortens a dog's lifespan, causes painful joint problems and taxes their heart and lungs. 

We used to have a neighbor who had three fat chihuahuas. Two of the dogs died before reaching the age of 10.  She literally fed her dogs to death. The youngest is 7 and I doubt if it will live to be 10 either.

Come on, people! You don't need a dog trainer to figure out why your dog is fat. It's simple- if your dog is overweight it needs more exercise and less food. Start with a thorough checkup by your vet to rule out any medical reasons (such as thyroid, etc) and to determine if your pet is healthy enough for physical exercise. If the vet says it safe, decrease the amount of food you feed (and cut out treats) and increase exercise.

All dogs need exercise- from the tiny lap dogs to big working breeds. Taking a couple walks a day is not only good for your dog but for you, too. And by walks, I don't mean walking out in the yard, pottying and walking back inside. Dogs not only need the physical exercise but also the mental stimulation, and so do we. Get out and explore the world with your dog. 

Just as we don't want to see ourselves in an episode of "My 600 Lb. Life", we don't want to see our pet featured in "My Big Fat Pet". 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

My Dog Is The Neighborhood Bully...

It's been awhile since I blogged anything. I've started writing several entries, but they always turned out to be too long and I lost interest before I finished them. The latest one was about our nightmare evacuation when we headed north with Irma on our tail. After two hours of writing, and not even halfway done, I deleted it. I've found the longer I go without blogging the harder it is to get started again. So I'll start again with a simple post...

Emmy turned 11 this year. At her yearly check-up, the vet found she has developed a heart murmur and warned us it could lead to congestive heart failure. We've been making her take it easy- staying in the air during the heat of the day, no more chasing balls until her tongue is hanging out and no long bike rides with ROM. She has slowed down a bit with age, taking afternoon naps which never used to do and actually sitting quietly beside us when we watch TV instead of insisting we throw every toy she owns. She's even stopped defiling her stuffed lambThis older, more mature Emmy had lulled me into letting my guard down with her, which she took full advantage of Sunday afternoon.

Every day for several years, a cranky chihuahua would drive by on a golf cart with his owners. And if Emmy and Isabella were outside with us or on the lanai, the chihuahua would erupt in a barking frenzy which Emmy would match in return. Well, Sunday as I was trying to maneuver Isabella (on lead), my walker and myself out the lanai door, the golf cart with the chihuahua went by the house and Emmy chose that moment to launch her long-awaited attack. 

All I saw was a blur of white shoot out between my legs and through the open door. At first, I wasn't even sure what it was. When I finally got out into the yard I saw Emmy racing down the street after the golf cart. Just before the golf cart turned the corner, Emmy caught up and jumped into it. I froze in terror, yelled at her to come and she quickly jumped out of the cart and ran right back to me. By the time I carried her and dragged Isabella safely back inside, we were both panting and struggling to breathe. Isabella just looked at both Emmy and me, totally perplexed as to what just happened.

When ROM got home I informed him his dog was now the neighborhood bully and we had to go apologize to the people Emmy had terrorized. Actually, I didn't know what she had done once she got on their golf cart- she could have bitten their dog or them for all I knew. So to their house we went, to beg forgiveness and find out what damages were done. 

And they couldn't have been nicer. They said all she did when she jumped in their cart was to bark at their dog and then she was gone. They thought it was funny and payback for all the times their dog barked at her. We promised to be more diligent about making sure she didn't escape again. 

Heart murmur my ass, there isn't a damn thing wrong with that dog! 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Bougainvillea That Ate My Lamp Post...

Many years ago we slipped a bottomless pot over our front yard lamp post and planted a baby bougainvillea in the pot. It thrived and grew... and grew... and grew. We cut it back several times each year but could barely keep up with it. And due to the treacherous thorns, we were always left a bloody mess. But oh what a gorgeous sight whenever it burst into bloom. 

Bougainvilleas bloom on new growth, and often the new growth would completely hide the light. It was always a dilemma whether to let the new growth bloom or cut it back so the light could be seen.   

As we struggled to keep its growth in check, unknown to us the roots were growing underground as vigorously as the foliage above the ground. The pot and plant sat on a round concrete block that fit around the base of the light pole. The roots found a crack in the concrete allowing them to escape the pot and burrow below. In time the roots heaved one side of the concrete circle out of the ground and caused the light pole to tilt to the left. My baby boughie had become monster threatening to devour everything in its way. 

Last month Real Old Man assessed the damage she was doing and sentenced her to death. I couldn't bear to witness her execution so ROM got up early one morning while I was still in bed and did the dirty deed. Armed with his electric tree trimmer saw thingie he dismembered her. Then with a shovel, he dug out her life giving roots depriving her of any chance of resurrection. With the cement ring back in place, he was able to straighten the light pole. And now we're left with this dusty barren sight... 

I've been brainstorming for several weeks trying to come up with a way to add some color and life. The last few years have taken a toll on me and I'm no longer able to carry buckets of water or lug a hose around. So anything we put out there has to have low water needs and easily maintained. Container gardening and bromeliads to the rescue!

First, we'll put down weed barrier cloth over the entire circle and then cover with ornamental rock. And put some kind of edging around the entire circle. 

One of my red pineapple plants has a new pineapple forming which will produce an abundance of pups. I'll plant pups in half a dozen huge clay pots to set in the circle.

(This is the plant producing the new pineapple)

(Close up of new pineapple)

My other bromeliads are also putting out new pups which I will pot and place in the circle among the red pineapples plants. Sorry, but I can't remember the name of any of them but here are photos of the mamas...

It might take us a month to get the circle prepared and all the new pups repotted. I'll take photos as we go along and post them. 

Now that it's March, are you planning your spring gardening? Won't be long now. When we lived in Illinois, by March I was so sick of winter and longing to garden that I'd have flats of seedlings under grow lights in the house, dreaming of the day I could plant them outside. 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Dear Women Who Voted For Trump...

Dear Women Who Voted For Trump,

It's New Year's Eve and I just finished watching Suffragette on HBO.  It's absolutely chilling to watch what our grandmothers endured to win women the right to vote. They were beaten and jailed but refused to give up their fight. They endured horrible hardships for years, all so that the women who came after them would have the right to vote. 

In the following years women had to fight for the right to access and use birth control, for equal employment opportunities, for the right to have credit in our own names, for the right to not be raped and beaten by our husbands, and the right to serve in the military. We still to this day fight for equal pay. And still we must fight for control of our own bodies as the right wing anti-choice faction work feverishly to defund Planned Parenthood and reverse Roe vs Wade. 

Generations of women have struggled, suffered and fought to make America better for us, our daughters and grand daughters. And how do we honor them? We elect as President of the United States a man who brags how his fame allows him to grab women by the pussy.

How any woman who has read about the Suffrage Movement, watched the movies "Iron Jawed Angels" and "Suffragette", been subjected to unwanted groping and assault by men, and been belittled for their appearance could vote for Donald Trump, I will never understand. They are an embarrassment to our gender and I have nothing but contempt for them. They chose willful ignorance by over looking Trump's long history of demeaning women in so many ways. Shame on them! 

Though Trump's misogyny is just one of many reasons he is unfit to be President, it's the reason that is most personal to me.  I greet the new year of 2017 with sadness and anger that so many in our country have such disrespect for women that they would elect Trump as President. May your daughters and grand daughters forgive you for voting for Trump... but I won't. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

What The Hell Are You Looking At?

Real Old Man is still working on his light display...

He just finished stringing new lights on the wicker sleigh...

Tragically, the matching reindeer died. I don't remember what they died of but probably West Nile or Zika from the damn mosquitoes that are still alive and active.  Now the sleigh sits there by itself.  I suggested we dress the dogs up, tie them to the front of the sleigh and put them on display for a couple hours every night. But ROM thought that would be mean. Pshaw- they'd love it! They would until Emmy saw a rabbit or a cat or another dog or a raccoon- actually anything that moved... which she would chase while pulling the sleigh and Isabella behind her. And Isabella would totally freak out, convinced the sleigh would overtake and kill her in some violent and bloody way. 

Between the two of us, ROM truly is the nice one. Like today, when I looked out the window and saw Dryer Sheet Lady on top of her house. The woman is 75 years old and doesn't have great balance on flat ground, let alone on a roof. For some reason she decided she had to clean her gutters right then and there. It was late afternoon and beginning to get dark so ROM went over and helped her. I would have called 911 for her if she fell but I wouldn't get on a ladder for anyone. 

But he's just a nice guy, it's his nature.  So many people tell us how much they enjoy his holiday lights and it pleases him to make others happy. Me? I try to be a nice person but sometimes I just have too much fun being a bit twisted. Like after ROM gets all the lights up there's a part of me that wants to sit out in the yard and when cars slow down to look at the display gruffly yell "What in the hell are you looking at?!?" I laugh just thinking about it. 

See? I told you he was the nicer one...

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Little Paint, A Few Beads and a Couple Dogs...

I finally finished painting our holiday card featuring Isabella and Emmy and setting it up in my graphic program to be printed out on blank Strathmore watercolor cards. I'll then do some finishing touches and line work with ink on each card. And...
...add some beading. 

I need to bead and hand finish 13 cards for the neighbors. I won't bead the cards I mail because in the past beads were crushed when sent in envelopes with no padding. Maybe I'll just add some fine glitter to those.

And I will bake 13 loaves of applesauce walnut bread and whip up 13 small containers of honey butter a few days before Christmas to go with the neighbors cards. Oh, and print out the recipe.

And we still have lights to put up outside. We seem to get slower and slower every year. By the time we're 80 we'll have to start our Christmas preparations in July. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

And The Winner Is....

Remember the recipe for Applesauce Walnut Bread I posted here? It's very good but didn't taste like my old family recipe. I couldn't remember or find my original one but I was sure it called for brown sugar and used chunky applesauce  instead of the smooth kind. So I played with the recipe and came up with one I thought would be more like my original one. 

While the new recipe baked, Emmy helped me clean up the kitchen...

... while Isabella napped (she's such a lazy bitch).

ROM was my more than willing taste tester and the clear winner was recipe number 2! 

As good as the first recipe was, I recommend you go with the new and improved number 2. Or try both recipes and choose for yourself.  I couldn't think of a way to improve the honey butter recipe- it's perfect as is. 

#2 Applsauce Walnut Bread (Winner of taste test)

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 egg
1 cup chunky applesauce
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans if you'd prefer)

Preheat oven 350°F. Mix flour, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice in large bowl. Set aside.

Beat egg in medium bowl. Stir in applesauce, brown sugar, milk and oil. Add to flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Stir in 1/2 cup of the walnuts. Pour batter into 9x5-inch loaf pan sprayed with Pam. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup walnuts on top.

Bake 55 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and then remove from pan.

Walter and Bertha unpacked their suitcases and settled in for the holidays...