Sunday, October 23, 2016

Fairies Come Out To Dance At Night

When I built this last garden, I didn't plant any flowers, just trees and bushes. I just wanted to create some shade to border the parking spaces for day swimmers. As much as I love flowers, they are a lot of work. I seem to have as many gardens as I can handle right now, so I resigned myself to just mulch.

I needed a "fence" of sorts to stop cars from bumping the trees in an effort to get the most shade. I was thinking of some rustic posts, with maybe rope or chain to define the area. HeWho procures material looked at me blankly ( a technique he employs when he doesn't want to do something).

Fortunately, I have the ability to repurpose items on hand. Stumps we have in abundance. We usually split them into firewood, but we have plenty and I needed a barrier. The next step was to actually move them to the designated area. Another blank look from HeWho mows and I employed the use of the hand truck ..... after nagging him to fill the tires with air. I can move anything on wheels. I have moved them by rolling them before, but that was in my younger days and I didn't have as far to go way back then.

I re-used some landscape timbers and then it struck me that the stumps looked like potential fairy houses. The granddaughters were scheduled to come and I just knew they would love to help me create a fairy village ...... that didn't work out so well, but it didn't stop me. I used found items. Horseshoes make great doors. I painted them for frames and used popsicle sticks for the doors. I didn't buy them and I know they are inexpensive, but I collected them. HeWho loves popsicles provided the raw material for doors and windows.

HeWho loves ice cream is a big fan of Dove bars. Those sticks have a different shape. I cut them in half to make shingles. I found some 2" tiles and used those to create sidewalks. It is hard to see, but this front door is adorned with witches brooms and tiny pumpkins.

Thrift stores are great sources of raw materials. There is a tiny bird house above the door on this stump. I am scrounging around for something to make a sidewalk with and this house needs windows.

Always a work in progress. I will add more photos as I make more progress with the village. I found an interesting branch that I used to make a tree. I found a toy motorcycle and borrowed the wheels to make tire swings. No pictures yet.

Christmas d├ęcor will be going up soon. This will be fun with tons of miniature lights and tiny trees.
I am already gathering vines for wreaths. My biggest challenge will be securing all these tiny things. The wind here is mighty.

So, here you go, Val, as requested, the fairy shanty town!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Witches and Pies

I am not feeling particularly festive of late, but the fairy witch seems to have arrived near their garden. Looks like she may have hit a tree in her descent and flown head long into a hollow stump. That had to smart! You will notice some of the fairy dwellings in the background.

But .... this post is about apple pie. I was in a cleaning frenzy mood yesterday as I waited for the return of HeWho had taken his beloved mower in for repairs. Can't leave the park on a Friday. Even before noon, as those pesky campers don't always wait until check-in time. When the park is booked, I cannot allow them to choose their own site, it always creates disaster. Of course, leaving HeWho should never be in charge can sometimes be as bad.

But, groceries must be procured, unless we depend on my creativity in the kitchen. Like the Italian/Mexican dish I prepared from a variety of leftovers before we left on our trip north. So, while I waited, impatiently, I decided to clean out the fridge. I usually start from the top and work my way down, but I decided to do the opposite and see what surprises might await me. An entire drawer full of apples! I emptied them and washed the bin and replaced it, then washed the other. This is as far as I got, knowing I had to do something with the apples before we would be overtaken by fruit flies. I cored and peeled them all and ended up with enough apples to fill the crock pot. I dumped a little cinnamon and  cloves on them and set the crock pot to low. I was thinking apple butter, maybe.

HeWho arrived home, minus his best friend, the lawn mower, and I grabbed my keys and took off for the fastest shopping trip ever. It was already 2 o'clock and I was leaving him to check in campers. I was back in just one hour with a car full of pantry items and lots of meat. As I approached my campground I saw a camper in the parking lot. Careful to not exceed my speed limit (I am the only one willing to set a good example), I parked as quickly as I could and raced inside to take over.

What a look of relief on his face! I handed off the keys and told him to unload the car. I normally prefer to do this myself, as I have strategically placed the items in rows of priorities. I unload the freezer stuff first and work my way to the other items. Just how I like to do things .....

I checked the check-in preformed by He-Who seems to be unable to read my carefully thought out chart. I find that he has followed my instructions to the T! Of course the camper comes back to announce that they cannot fit in the site assigned (translation: they don't like the site and would prefer another). I have frozen food to deal with, so I tell him to move up one site and decide to deal with the fall-out later, since the site he is taking will not be filled until the next day.

HeWho eats is lingering around the kitchen as I empty bags. He is looking for some good junk food, but I did not purchase any. He spies some frozen pie crusts that I bought with savory pies in mind (and they were on sale). He wants to know what is in the crock pot. He seems to think it is potatoes and a lot of them. I tell you this man has no sense of smell! I look at him in amazement, the aroma of cloves and cinnamon is filling the air! When I tell him it is apples he wants to know if a pie is in his future. The apples had hardly cooked down, so I turned the crock pot off.

In between checking in campers and fielding phone calls of would be campers looking for spots, I managed to get all the groceries put away and peel the potatoes for the leftover roast beef stew. I had already prepared the carrots and celery. I started peeling the apple quarters from the crock pot ......... I must have stopped and washed my hands at least a dozen times to take care of campers.

I finally had a huge bowl of sliced apples. I dumped a little flour and maybe 1/2 cup or so of sugar in a mixing bowl, a splash of cinnamon followed, but I figured there was enough cloves already on them. I looked around frantically and spied the cardamom and decided to dump a little into the mix and then I tossed the apple slices with the sugar mixture and dumped them into the waiting crust. By now it had thawed, but I had neglected to take the two crusts resting in their foil pans apart. The top crust was hard to get out and I literally scraped it onto the top of the pie. Ugly, ugly pie, but I shoved it into the waiting oven that had long since alerted me that the temperature had been reached.

I stirred the stew that was filling the air with a delicious aroma and realized how hungry I was. Then I raced back to the office to take another call and check someone in. Here comes the tricky part. The pie is supposed to cook at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then go down to 350 for another 40 minutes. I was praying that I would be able to hear the timer from the office and not burn the ugly pie.

I was successful and we ate in the office around 7:00. I ate my stew, but all I could think about was the pie and the jerk standing in front of me preventing me from eating my pie! He had called earlier to make a reservation for the same day. When I told him I had no full hook ups left he was irate and told me that he camps here all the time. Like I would bump somebody for him?

He came for a 50 amp site, just water and electric. I recognized him immediately. I see a lot of people every season and usually have to have them refresh my memory. If I ask you to refresh my memory, take it as a compliment, because the trouble makers are seared into my memory! This is an older gentleman  man with what I suppose to be his obnoxious grandson it tow. He comes in declaring to have a reservation for a 50 amp full hook up. I tell him I have no full hook ups available.

He shouts that I told him I did when he called. There are some people in this world of the mind set that if they shout loud enough and make a scene, they will get what they want. They haven't met me yet. I do not intimidate easily ..... especially when I am smelling pie!

Finally I was able to cut into my pie. The crust was browned to perfection, a little gnarly looking. But I took my first bite of perfection and let me tell you, this was the best pie in the history of pies!!! And I doubt I could ever duplicate it, since I measured NOTHING. This pie was so good that by bedtime we had eaten half of it, then HeWho loves pie carved off another piece. The rest is MINE!!

Someone left the cake out in the rain.... I don't think that I can take it.... cause it took so long to bake it..... and I'll never have that recipe again .......

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Still Missing Oscar

A new resident to the Kampground! No, not mine. It will be awhile before I can entertain thoughts of new puppies in my home.

This is a mixed breed ........... Dachshund mixed with a Pit Bull. She is adorable now, but you have to wonder what she will look like as a full grown dog. You will note that one ear is shorter than the other. Her litter mates bit it off!! Makes her all the more endearing.

A gentle rain is falling and matches my mood. So many reminders of my sadness lurk everywhere and lay in wait to get me when I least expect it. I have washed all of Oscar's towels and blankets. Soon there will be no scent of my old boy. Going through Fall decorations, I discovered Oscar's Halloween costume. I picked it up and sniffed it. I was disappointed that it smelled like all the other stuff stored in that bin.

He hated his costume. It was a hot dog bun, with swirls of ketchup and mustard on the opening of the bun. Oscar was the hot dog. He tried to get the costume off, but failed, so he walked around with a resigned look on his face that Halloween. We had a dog costume contest that year. I convinced HeWho has no more control over me than Oscar did, to wear  deep red sweats with "Heinz" boldly scripted across the shirt front. I may have led him to believe I would be wearing  mustard yellow sweats with "French's" on my shirt. Alas, yellow is not my color ........

This morning before making the bed, I showered after tossing my nightgown on the bed. My nightgown is black with tiny white doxies and dog bones adorning the fabric. I entered the closet without bothering to turn the light on in my bedroom. I grabbed a shirt and as my head popped through I looked at me bed. In the dim light from the closet, I could have sworn my nightgown was my Oscar. Like he was just waiting for me to lift him into my arms for our morning ritual. Just my nightgown, though.

Instead of 4 dog treats, I only need 3 and it hurts my heart when I can't give one to Oscar. I had to crumble Oscar's treat for him in his half toothless state. I still find crumbling a fourth treat in my hand before I remember.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Long Weekend

Since My little dog died I have not had 10 minutes to myself. I woke this morning fully expecting to find him in his usual spot next to me. Instead my hand found the long fur of Toni Louise. She has taken his place as the leader of the pack and grieving time is over as far as she is concerned. Toni has a very matter of fact personality. She is determined and single minded. She will make a fine leader of our pack.

I was so sad to discover that I had not been in a nightmare and that this weekend really had happened. Wall-E, our sensitive comfort dog tip-toed to me to offer love and support. He is watching me intently now as I sip coffee and type. One little sniff and he will be by my side. Cujo is content to snuggle by my side here in my chair. He is asleep, though and not really attune to my feelings like Wall-E.

I suppose I should just take comfort in the fact that I have three dogs and a cat to lavish with attention, but I miss Oscar.

If you think things could not be worse than having to paste a happy look on my face and deal with campers all day Friday ...... you would be so wrong! I woke Friday morning resigned to having to put on a happy face and make nice while I registered the weekend crowd of campers. My eyes were puffy and swollen, but I had no plans to try to remedy the situation. I figured make-up would just make it worse should I have a tearful moment. For the most part, people are wonderful and I cannot count how any people shed a tear with me this past weekend.

HeWho loves me and does sweet things for me, made a trip to the grocery and came back with food. Prepared food! He was hungry and so decided that I must be hungry as well. I went in to wash my hands. I had been replanting some things and my hands needed a good scrubbing. No water flowed from the faucet. How much we take for granted the simple luxuries of life!

HeWho plumbs reacted quickly and checked all the things one checks to determine the cause of the loss of water. The aroma of fried chicken filled the air as we tried to determine what was needed to remedy the situation. Keep in mind the fact that there is only one source of water here and if we don't have water, the campers don't have water.

The phone started ringing and I was deluged with alerts about the water situation. Turns out that the motor in the pump was no longer working. So, you say, why don't you just replace it? Because it resides deep in the ground. It is not even 2 years old and under warranty. This provides little comfort when you are the one fielding complaints, though.

It was around 2 pm when this happened and we were without water for about 24 hours. The company responsible for the warranty came out and tried everything they could to restore water until the new pump could be installed. They tried to re-route the water from the pool to provide water to flush. Didn't work, but we tried.

All the while I am in the office, registering guests. Reservations had me at capacity and I was not looking forward to dealing with the water issue. The park host from the state park stopped in for some ice and told me to send my incoming reservations down to fill their holding tanks with water before parking in their spots. Sounded like a good solution. Little did I know they would charge TEN DOLLARS for that water! Of course I reimbursed everyone for this. I tried to contact as many of my reservations as I could to let them know about our water situation.

We only lost one reservation because of the water. It was most unpleasant. The man was so irate, I think he would have hit me if he thought he could get away with it. He put on quite a show, stomping and yelling at me. Demanded to know why I did not call him (he arrived shortly after we discovered the problem and would have already been on his way) He kept shouting that he had driven for 2 hours to get here and wanted me to find another campground with space for him. I suggested filling his holding tank at the state park (only 1 mile away), but he growled that he was not going to do that. On and on he raged about having to just go back home. All the while his wife stood meekly by his side. I really felt sorry for her. I knew her ride home would not be a pleasant one.

I suppose he thought I had sabotaged the well just to ruin his weekend. I even pointed out to him that I did not have water myself. I probably could have left that out, because he told me in no uncertain terms that he could care less about my situation. I hope he did not take his rage out on his wife, wasn't her fault either.

Other than this man, everyone else was very understanding and stayed. I did discount their stays, but that is my job. I washed my hands in a fountain outside and used mouthwash to brush my teeth and went to bed, leaving the men still trying to pump pool water and take down my fence and everything else needed to be able to get the drill truck next to the well. It was well after midnight before we slept with the promise of a 6 am arrival of the new pump.

Water was restored the next afternoon and life went on. I stayed busy fielding calls from people with no reservations looking for over night stays. I stuck them in every nook and cranny I could and when I finally locked the door, having no available space; I collapsed in front of the TV like a zombie.

My dinner was delivered to my desk. Thanks to Butch and DJ for cooking up some delicious chili. I feel well taken care of.

But, today will be a slow day with too much time to think. Everywhere I look I see my little dog. I miss his whine at the office door to let me know he is demanding my presence. It is just too quiet in here. I think I will go mow something.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Oscar, Almost 17 ....... 12-12-1999 until 10-13-2016

Oscar went over the rainbow last night at a little after 8 o'clock. This is his last picture. Don't look at me, I am an ugly crier.

I contacted my vet yesterday. She has been the best vet I have ever had and she is closing her practice. Don't know where I will go next. She only see patients on Fridays. I had resigned myself to waiting until Friday. I was okay with having him with me until then and keeping him as pain free as possible.

But, she was booked all day Friday and told me to bring him at 8 o'clock last night. I agreed, then had a total panic attack. I thought I had one more night with him. I was outside sitting in the grass while he stumbled around in the sunshine for a bit. I began talking myself out of the whole thing. He was walking in the grass, I told myself. He had not had a spasm in his neck all afternoon, he was getting better and we did not have to do this awful thing. He even wagged his tail when I held him like a baby and crooned his name. Why would I kill my own dog, a dog I loved so much. I often wondered if it was a sin to love an animal as much as I loved this willful, stubborn, handsome little dog.

I called my bestie, Martha. She would understand, because she loves her dogs with the same intensity. She talked me down from my hysteria. She even told me I didn't have to do it if I didn't want to. Thanks, Martha, I love you!!

I was hoping he would fall asleep and just slip away. That I would wake to find him gone, or come into the house to check on him and he would be gone. I have had three dogs leave the world while I held onto them as the vet did her thing. It wasn't awful and I was glad I was with them when they left the world. But this is Oscar. I have never loved a dog for so long as I have loved him. He loved me right back. I was his one and only person. He could be downright mean to others. I confess that I loved being his favorite.

It was 5 o'clock and I noted that I only had three more hours. I texted HeWho drives to let him know and picked Oscar up to cradle him in my arms and sway from side to side like you do with a cranky baby. I had interrupted his nap and he was not content in my arms, so I laid him down and found things to do. I washed the dishes and did laundry, all the while checking on him, kneeling on the floor and dropping tears on his head.

The other dogs stayed clear of us. They knew. I think we ate something. Then, all too soon, it was time to go. I wrapped him in a warm towel and picked him up. He snuggled his head into my neck and lay there, perfectly content. He had not done this in a long time and once again, I was doubting my decision. It takes awhile to get to our vet. She is out in the farmlands and not easy to find or get to. He rode all the way without a whimper of pain. When we parked, though, he started to slip down from my neck and yelp repeatedly. I had just repositioned him when the picture was taken.

He stayed in my arms as she shaved his leg and applied the tourniquet to find a vein and he remained in my arms as he left this world. I rode home again holding my precious dog. He is on his way to the crematorium as I write this. My bed felt empty last night. Even the cat is subdued. None of my furry babies slept in Oscar's spot last night. I found myself slipping my hand over to check on him in the night and that spot was empty and cold.

I know he is in heaven now. He will find my Daddy and they will have a nice nap together. I just hope he can refrain from peeing on the angel wings! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

So Sad

Didn't get much sleep last night. I kept waking up to check Oscar, my old dog, to see if he was still breathing. I am sad, the time has come to say goodbye to my old friend.

He is in pain. Seems to be his shoulders and neck and he is yelping, as he guards himself. He can sense when something is coming towards him and he cries out in anticipation of being bumped. All day long he cried out and was only content when I held him in my arms, on his back, like a baby. He does not want me to sit down to hold him unless I go outside and sit in the rocker on the porch. I find myself swaying to and fro, just like I used to do with my babies.

He is my baby. I have to wait until Friday to take him in to my vet and the next two days will be bittersweet. He is sleeping peacefully right now, and to be honest, I won't be devastated if he slips away while he sleeps. While he is awake, I am holding him and talking to him.

While I am weepy, the comfort dog, Wall-E is staying close by and if I do sit down, he jumps in my chair to sit next to me. Cujo gets in on the game and sits with us. Toni Louise is in her own world, she is the dog of HeWho loves her most, after all. Martha, the boy cat, is sitting vigil next to the sleeping old guy. They all know what is happening and are very subdued.

All of us, except Toni Louise. I think she is just biding her time as she waits to take over the alpha role. My Oscar has been a dictator for nearly 17 years and it is now coming to an end. I miss the younger obnoxious dog!

In his hey day, Oscar was a tyrant. He bullied everyone. He even tried to bully me. He bit me once and left me with a hole in my nose and a black eye. In his defense, I startled him and he responded without realizing he was attacking his master. He was contrite after he discovered it was me. It did not make me love him any less. He has owned a place in my heart since the first time I cuddled him in my arms.

I resisted the little guy when My daughter, Jill, brought him to meet me. He was supposed to be a birthday present for my son-in-law, Nick. Jill developed an intense hatred dislike for Oscar, despite the fact that she chose him and named him. I kept the name. He is an award, not a wiener! His wife dog was Emmy, being a most precious award of sweetness. As full of love as Emmy was, Oscar was full of himself.

You know how seeing someone or something day after day and you just see them as you always have. Until we went on our trip, Oscar looked, well, like Oscar to me. My daughters were shocked when they saw him and both told me how awful he looked. They even went so far as to try to have an intervention with me about hanging onto my old dog. I brushed them off. He was not in pain then. He enjoyed daily activities with me, little times alone with me in the front yard, riding the golf cart or just being carried around in my arms.

But, he is hurting mow and I cannot bear it. I am so sad and will be for some time.

Friday, October 7, 2016

My Dog Had Fleas!!

It is 9:07, time to lock up and sit in a stupor in front of the TV. I have earned it today. I arose early and picked a pitiful few green beans from my garden, as well as some tiny squash. Feeling industrious, I pre-cooked dinner. Fresh green beans and tiny potatoes. The pork chops thawing and the makings of cornbread all set. I did a couple loads of laundry. One load consisted of all the coats and jackets He Who drives pulled from various vehicles.

The weather is absolutely perfect. A hint of winter to come is in the air and rumor has it that we will drop into the 40's tonight. I fear my bananas will not have time to ripen before I have to dig the tree up and let it go dormant. HeWho drives was on a taxi call to the airport and it gave me the opportunity to move all the furniture and scrub the floors in our sitting room and kitchen.

On the recent trip north I discovered a flea on my Cujo. It occurs to me that anyone reading this for the first time may not be aware that Cujo is my little doxie and not a pet name for something obscene. I mean, it is a pet name since Cujo is my pet, but ..... Anyhoo, since I have had my little dog, he has never had a flea. He was crying and carrying on like he had something horribly wrong with him. He was chewing on his underside, so I flipped him over and found the tiny varmint trying to crawl away on the underside of his short leg. I caught the offender and smashed him between my thumb nails. How dare a flea jump on my dog!

Cujo was very pleased with me. He snuggled close and kept trying to kiss my thumbs. It was close to time for the Frontline to be applied, so we promptly dosed all the dogs the next day. Being away from home, we had to go purchase it.

I had not given the incident any more thought. Until last night. Toni Louise, who has black fur has been itching lately and will scratch all night long. She has been known to have allergies and we have a supplement and some topical spray from our vet. We dosed her with her flea stuff and have been giving her the supplement and spraying the itch stuff on her. Never occurred to us that she would have fleas.

Her belly is so red and irritated and every night we have to hold her down to apply the spray. Last night I found a FLEA! So, today I planned on a massive bathing of animals, but this is not a chore for the faint of heart. Since HeWho drives abandoned us to taxi a man to the airport, I did not want to tackle this task while on my own. It is, after all Friday in a campground. And we are in the throws of Octoberfest.

So, after we ate our dinner and got interrupted only once to check in a latecomer. I decided to tackle the dog wash/flea dip before closing the store. I forbade HeWho drives to abandon me and left him in charge of checking in the last two reservations. All he had to do was take a wet dog wrapped in a towel after handing me the next victim.

I managed to wash and dip all four dogs, with time left to catch Martha, the boy cat and attempt to give him a bath. Martha is now bigger than any of the dogs and out weighs them. It has been quite some time since I have bathed my feline friend. We fought. He won. I did manage to douse him with the flea dip. He is really, really mad at me. Mad as a wet hen, as they say; or maybe a wet cat.

After all that, I took my industrious mood a step further and only did I scrub down the bathtub, but I drug out that handy tool and cleared the drain of hair and gunk. This is clearly going the extra mile, since this falls under the title of a job for the husband! I deserve special treatment.