Thursday, September 30, 2010

Nighttime on the Ranch

When you see an orange-red moon like this, you just know something is going to show up during the night. 

Of course, the dogs kept wanting back outside 3-4 times after the usual "potty" time before going down for the night.  I'm never quite sure if there is something lurking in the dark outside the yard fence or if it is a ruse to get another treat.

We had this visitor the next night.  So, Mr. or Mrs. Fox may have been roaming around out of camera range the previous night.

I'm almost sure the cows spy on me to see where the camera is placed so they can get their picture taken.

Maggie looking for intruders.

One of the jack rabbits that have taken up residence near the house.

Ooops.  What is this?  It's me mowing outside the yard fence. 

This just might be the day I go to the back of the property to place the camera.  :D  I know, I know that I keep promising to do it.  It is kind of a pain to do because we have to drive to the back since there is a very steep hill covered in loose rocks.  You risk a broken bone or two if you slip and slide.  Driving is the safest way to go down and back up.  In addition to taking the camera,  you need a branch lopper, gloves, and a small branch saw to clear brush before attaching the camera to a tree or fence post.  We also take a small caliber gun for rattlers, coyotes or whatever because the area is undisturbed for months at a time.

I use to walk Luc back there a lot until the walking/driving path became too treacherous with the loose rocks, but I've always felt uncomfortable since my nephew told me of coming across a half-eaten deer carcass a few years back.  He made a fast retreat up to the house.  :D  In other words, you never know what you might come across:  nothing or something you'd rather not meet up with. 

Until next time, God bless.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

More Therapy Dog Training

Stay n Play started another prep, therapy dog class.  Since Nicole and I were in the beta class, we've been invited to participate in this next 6-week session.  Four signed up, but only two showed.  It's a good deal for Nicole and I because it keeps our dogs in training until classes are scheduled by Penny's From Heaven Foundation. 

Meet Bosley.  He has the sweetest face of which I forgot to take a photo because I was so fascinated with his apparatus.  He is just a sweetheart.  I will not forget to take of photo of his face next week.  :D  But, isn't Bosley a great name?!

Meet Tuxon.  Isn't he a beauty?  Of course, I might be prejudiced because he is almost a duplicate of Luc.

I just had to include a photo of Melany because she is so beautiful.  Melany was a little naughty this week because it has been rainy.  Her mom, Nicole, also has a 18-month-old girl who has decided she prefers walking to her stroller.  No way Nicole could walk Melany this week and her baby girl at the same time.  lol  I have to admit that while I wouldn't wish that any dog be a bit naughty, it does relieve my embarrassment when Luc acts up.  Nicole and I just roll our eyes at each other in complete understanding when Luc or Melany acts up. 

Laura, our trainer, was going over the Canine Good Citizen stations with the new dogs to the group.  Well, at the Shaking Hands station, Luc goes behind my back to investigate Bosley.  The dogs are not to cross over to investigate the other.  Secondly, at the Supervised Separation station, Luc decided to whine when I left.  Fortunately, he did not whine when taking the test.  To dogs and especially Luc, every minute of each day is a new minute.  If he wants to do something, he'll ignore all training and do it.  He is better, but he "ain't" perfect.  :D  We need all the training we can get.  At least Luc is not like Marley of "Marley and Me."  Marley was kicked out of several obedience classes; Luc is close but not quite.  But, that's another story.  :D

Until next time, God bless.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Straight Out of the Camera Sunday

It's Straight Out of the Camera Sunday time, a meme from Murrieta 365.  There are two rules:  1) photo must have been taken by you, and 2) no tweaking (cropping allowed).

This family of barn swallows has grown so much that they built apartments, resting places, and another nest under the front porch.  I think there were 5 sets of babies, 4 for sure.  They come back every year to the same place to increase their family.  Don't you just love the little "bandits" peering over the edge of the nest?

For more SOOC photos, click here.

Until next time, God bless.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Brenda Photo Challenge

This week's Brenda's Photo Challenge theme is ORANGE; and when visiting my best friend in Houston a couple of weeks ago, I found these subjects while shopping at The Village.

Isn't this tree trunk interesting?

As we were walking back to our car, I found this very dignified lady with the sweetest smile taking a little rest from her shopping.  I explained the theme for this week's challenge and she was delighted to participate.  I wish I could wear a turban with the same amount of panache.   :D

For more ORANGE-themed photos, click here.  Enjoy.

Until next time, God bless.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Penny's From Heaven & Therapy Dog Training

We had a bang up day at Stay 'n Play Pet Ranch where Luc and I have been in a prep course for therapy dog certification.   Patsy Swendson, founder of Penny's From Heaven Foundation, spoke to us about the rewards of volunteering as a therapy dog handler and about what is involved.  Patsy has put together a very professional organization and runs a tight ship.  A schedule is being worked out for therapy dog certification classes from the Foundation at Stay 'n Play.  

Jen, Patsy and Denise of Penny's From Heaven drove from San Antonio to talk with us about the Penny's From Heaven Foundation.

Jen, Patsy, Denise, Charlotte of Stay 'n Play, and Laura, our trainer.

One side of the information table with the Foundation's scrapbook.  It's impressive.

The other side of the information table stacked with books authored by Patsy.

Patsy answering questions about the Foundation prior to her talk.

Classmates Melany and Nicole.  Melany is such a beautiful dog, isn't she?

After Patsy's talk, we went to Stonebridge Health Center where she, Denise and Jen began to mentor us on what to do and what to watch for.  Here is what I learned in about 45 minutes at Stonebridge: 

1) You need to always be aware of the surroundings and the safety of your dog is the first priority. 

2) There needs to be 2-3 feet between you and your dog and the other handlers and their dogs. 

3) When in a senior center or hospital, you need to be aware if your dog starts to sniff or eat off the floor -- medications can be on the floor. 

4) If a patient coughs, you need to notice and carry sanitized wipes to use on the dog where the patient touched him -- you don't want to spread germs from one patient to another.

5) If a patient is in a wheel chair, you need to make sure the break is on and the dog's paws and tail are clear from the wheels. 

6) If your dog is fine in one room but for some reason hesitates in another, you and your dog leave the room. 

7) You also need to read body language to determine who wants to visit with your dog and who does not.

8) If someone is comatose, you talk to them as if they were alert.

9) When someone comes toward you and your dog, you give them the right-of-way.

10) When not walking or when greeting a stranger, you keep your dog next to your leg and place your hand in a relaxed manner on his body somewhere to reassure him that all is well. 

11) When Luc refuses to listen to a simple command, refrain from using my "drill sergeant" tone which as once a single mother for 12 years of two boys is quite easy for me to use. 

12) Since Luc is an indiscriminate kisser, I was shown how to get that under control while trying to teach him to kiss by invitation only.  I've been working on that for about 3 weeks and haven't made as much headway as I would like -- like almost none.  He is determined to kiss.  Eventually we'll get it worked out.

Luc chilling out at my feet as I listen to Patsy.

It is also a bit stressful.  Labs are goofy part of the time and so am I.  I'm trying to make sure Luc does as he has been trained and he is not consistent. Luc is stressed because he is having to behave in an acceptable manner and wants to please.   Both of us are not always sure what to do.  lol  We took a long nap when we returned home Saturday afternoon -- Luc on the cool, tile floor and I crashed on my bed.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Charlotte of Stay 'n Play for being so determined and passionate about getting a therapy dog program started in our area.  There is a lot preparation and Charlotte has worked hard to bring it about and for it to go smoothly.  Everyone at Stay 'n Play has pitched in; it is well-organized and a pleasure to be a part of the program.  Laura, our trainer, too, put her heart and soul in getting us ready to move on to the next step. 

Until next time, God bless.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Straight Out of the Camera Sunday

It is Straight Out of the Camera Sunday time.  There are two rules:  1) photo must be taken by you; and 2) no tweaking.  I'm using my wildlife camera photos -- I placed the camera so I'm hoping that fits in the criteria. 

Thought this was a pretty good photo of a deer strolling by the camera. 

Since I've been messing around with the wildlife photos, I've begun to notice "eyes" no matter how insignificant.  If you check the tree on the right in the deer photo above, it is completely dark.  But, in this photo with the yellow circle, you see a reflection.  Owl, maybe?  I've never seen an owl but what else can it be on a tree limb? 

These nighttime photos are not the best quality but really peak my interest and curiosity. Hope it does yours too.   These photos are taken fairly close to the house, but soon the camera will be moved to a more secluded area on the property. 

For more SOOC, go here.

Until next time, God bless.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Skywatch Friday

Houston, Texas skyline on Saturday, September 11, 2010.

Most days in Houston have fluffy clouds above.

For skies around the world, click here.

Until next time, God bless.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Old Neighborhood

The trip down memory lane brought back so many wonderful memories. 

As we left The Village, I saw this darling house which is so typical of the 1930-40's era.

After a couple minutes of driving, we entered the City of Southside, a 9-block incorporated city.  I rode my bike 9 blocks to the fire station which had a bicycle rack on the side.  I'd park my bike then walk across the street to West University Elementary School. 

We turned on Edloe and I took some photos of the houses in the area.  This was a middle-class housing area but it has come up in the world.  The homes have been updated, remodeled, and dare not even guess what the market value of these homes are today.

At last we came to my house.

Originally, the house was painted white; forgot the trim and shutter color.  No one had air conditioning when I was young so the enclosed room on the right was a screened porch.  We ate many a summer meal there and I played jacks on the cool, concrete floor many a summer afternoon.  We had one small black fan which my mother moved from bedroom to bedroom during the night so we'd at least get some air part of the night.  We'd also set up cots on the porch to sleep on during Houston's hot summer nights.  We've come a long way, baby. 

How about this tree?  Isn't it beautiful?  That was my aunt's house next door.  The screened porch has been enclosed too.  If I remember correctly, these homes cost about $7,000, maybe $8,000, and the monthly mortgage payments ran about $40 a month. 

As we were leaving the area, we drove past what was once the Bellaire Theatre.  The tower is still there. I either walked or rode my bike the three blocks for the Saturday Morning Fun Shows featuring Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Zorro, The Cisco Kid, Hopalong Cassidy,  and some kind of serial which made you come back next week to see what happened.  :D

I've never been one to go back in time; but I must admit, Saturday was one of the most pleasurable days I've had in a long time.  It was truly wonderful.  So, thank you, Patty and Julie for the day.

Until next time, God bless.

Houston & A Walk Down Memory Lane

I love the way things seem to fall into place without a particular plan.  I was just going down to Houston to spend some time with my oldest and dearest friend.  We ran around Friday to do some shopping.  In the meantime, Patty, my dearest friend, invited her daughter, Julie, to go with us to lunch on Saturday.   Julie's middle name is the same as mine; Patty honored me by giving her my name.  Anyway, Julie is young and up on all the neat places to eat, etc.  Children definitely keep you updated on the latest trends.  Without them, we, perhaps I should say I,  have a tendency to stay in our old routines and habits.  Julie suggested going to The Village area around Rice University which is way across town from the Lake Houston area where Patty and her daughter live.  Suddenly I perked up because those were my old stomping grounds and hadn't been there since the 1960's.

First we went to the Backstreet Cafe, located in an old house on the edge of River Oaks, for brunch.

It was soooooooo Houston.  I loved it and the food was scrumptious.  Patty had a lobster sandwich, Julie had shrimp and grits, and I had migas -- ok, I'm not very adventurous when it comes to food.   The food presentation was lovely; but wouldn't you know it,  I was so hungry that I forgot to photograph the food.

After brunch we went to The Village.  Parking was always difficult, but in the fifty years since I'd been there, a parking garage was built.  :D  The first shop we came to was Furniture with a Soul where I found this jewel.

I did not buy it but may end up ordering it online.  I have to find a place for it first; however, I love turquoise.  I need something turquoise on my wall somewhere. 

When I saw this sign it brought back so many memories of hopping the bus to get The Village, the movies I'd seen there -- admission for adults $0.25, $0.05 for children, my elementary school, and the ambiance of the area where I lived for 9 years.

I haven't the faintest idea why this sculpture was featured in the common because certainly no wild hogs were running around when I lived there. 


We stopped at The Chocolate Bar for dessert. 

Thought this was kind of neat hanging on the wall.

I allowed myself this one indulgence.  I just know I looked ten years younger after eating it because the sign promised me that chocolate is anti-aging.  :D

After shopping at The Village where I bought the cutest outfit for therapy dog visits, we drove to the West University Corner Bakery to sample some food for an upcoming baby shower Julie is giving.  I only took one bite.

I love the look of these tiny tiles.

The next blog entry will be The Old Neighborhood.  Until then, God bless.

Monday, September 13, 2010


I visited my oldest and dearest friend since the 7th grade this weekend in Houston.  I lived in Houston 43 years before moving to the Texas Hill Country.  What strikes me most as I get closer to Houston on the drive is the changing vegetation from brown to lush green.  I do miss the green - not the humidity - but the intensity of the green and, at times, the hustle, bustle of the city.

On my first visit several years ago to my friend's house, she met me at a specific spot and proceeded to tell me that we would turn left at the first stop light after the bridge.  So here I am following her car but was somewhat puzzled when we kept traveling straight after going over 5 or 6 places that I considered a sort of bridge. 

I travel regularly over "low water" bridges that are approximately 20 feet in length and most of the time there is no water.  The above photo has water but it is the only one I could find after searching through bookoos of folders.  :D  However, you get the idea.

It wasn't until I saw this one did I understand what she meant by bridge.  It is at least a half of a mile, maybe longer.  I couldn't help but laugh at myself because I'd forgotten what bridges were like in my old hometown of Houston since we'd moved to the Hill Country in 1982.

Lake Houston.  Don't you just love the fluffy clouds.  Houston skies are like that most of the time. 

More to come on the trip to Houston.  I took a wonderful walk down memory lane.

Until next time, God bless.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hunting Wildlife, Part II

Eureka!  At last, some wildlife captured on film (?), disk (?), digital (?).  Film doesn't really apply anymore, does it.

Deer are stirring around as the sun goes down.

The two small outside circles call attention to eyes and the circle just to the right of the deer looks to be a skunk.  I think Mr. or Mrs. Skunk lives under the red barn just a few feet to the left of this photo.  When I let the dogs out of the yard fence, both dash to the red barn to sniff the space under it.  Something lives there and Maggie, for sure, wants at it.  Luc likes to identify a smell and then moves on to another smell.  lol  Maggie hates skunks.  I've seen her grab one and slam it to the ground over and over again, ignoring Mr. Skunk's defensive measures.  When Luc gets a whiff, he wants no more of it and moves away.  It's the devil to get skunk off Maggie.  First I use tomato juice, second is a mixture of peroxide, Ivory dish soap, and baking soda, and then a bath.  But with all the efforts, Maggie will still carry a faint smell of skunk for about a week.  Therefore, we try to time the walks to when skunks are tucked away in their dens. 

Thought this was a pretty good shot.  There are three deer in the photo.

As soon as the rain lets up, I'll take the camera back to the garden to see if the cantaloupe-eating critter can be captured in a photo.  So far, Tropical Storm Hermine has given us 2 inches of rain which is added to the 2-4/10's inches last week.  We are extremely pleased because our rainwater collection tanks are almost full.   We lost about 4,000 gallons of rainwater earlier this summer when hubby mowed too close to one of the tanks.  The mower sheared off a valve, i.e., water went everywhere.  Fortunately, there is a cut-off valve between the two tanks which was closed and we were able to save about half of the water.   We've been limping along rainfall-to-rainfall.  July and August are usually very, very dry, and many times September is the same.  Hermine put us in good shape.

Until next time, God bless.