Meet Mr. Belvedere


Good morning Everyone!

Meet Mr. Belvedere, the latest addition to the growing list of buskeys (and buskey photos) people are kind enough to share with me.  Even better, Mr. Belvedere’s friend, Sara, has one of those rarest of photographs – a picture of a buskey as a puppy!

Puppy, basset hound, husky, buskey

Mr. Belvedere at 10 weeks old! Who can resist those puppy eyes?
Photo Credit: Sara Kyser

Sara works at a shelter, and is responsible for temperament testing all of the shelter dogs, so she also had more training than many of us on managing a buskey.   Belvedere sings, howls and talks, and is very smart.  He likes to play a “find-it” game and food games with Sara that use the exceptional sense of smell he received from his basset hound forebears.

basset hound, huskey, buskey

Mr. Belvedere at Two Years Old
Photo Credit: Sara Kyser

Belvedere is the first buskey I have “met” that is not, ummm, shall we say, vertically challenged.  Sara says he looks sort of like a basset hound on stilts, being long, tall and thin, with the loose skin around his neck and the long nose of a basset hound.  He also has the smelling acumen of a basset hound.

He is full of personality, another trait most buskeys share.  In addition to his vocal talents, he likes to play in the sprinkler and in water.  (Something I am not at all sure our Mandy would do – although I have seen her step and then sit in a bowl of ice water that we left on the porch once when we had to leave the dogs outdoors in the summer.  We did that several times that summer, and it took me forever to figure out how they managed to splash the water everywhere while we were gone!).

Mr. Belvedere also gets along very well with the other dogs in the household.  In this picture, he is napping with his brother.

Dogs, basset hound, husky, buskey

Mr. Belvedere and his brother together Photo Credit: Sara Kyser

Sara had his DNA tested and it came back as 1/2 basset hound and 1/2 husky, with pure bred parents as far back as the DNA people could go.  

Sara has noticed, and been working with, a tendency to “resource” guard, which she believes comes from his husky half.  It’s good to know that he does that, because I have often been frustrated watching Mandy take a good 45 minutes to eat the same bowl of dog food that Darwin could scoff down in about 10.  She waits until everyone else (people included) are done eating in the morning before she starts.

Sara also wanted to share the following with anybody intending to intentionally create the buskey mix (or, for that matter, those of us who were just lucky enough to match up with one at a shelter somewhere.)  This is what she wrote:

He can be a bit of a husky with handling, somewhat sensitive. I have worked on this and resource guarding issues from the time he was a pup, and continue to this day. I mention this because I think it’s important for people to understand that both hounds and huskies are known to have resource guarding issues. Huskies are known to be difficult to handle in general. Crossing these two breeds makes for an amazing, funny, intelligent dog but positive training is essential, and they might not be for the first time dog owner.

As you may recall, one of the readily identifiable characteristics of every buskey I have encountered so far is a strong independence streak, which is why the positive training is needed.  We have noticed that streak in Mandy, also.  If you tell her “bad dog” about something, she looks at you thoughtfully, as if to say “that’s an interesting point of view,” then goes ahead and does what she wanted to do originally anyhow.

Mr. Belvedere, however, was lucky enough to find someone who knows how to train him – and I think Sara thinks she was pretty lucky, too!

Have a great day!

Nancy

Top Things That Irritate Me at Fast-Food Drive-Thrus


Good morning Everyone!

fast food window

Cartoon Credit: http://www.clickartonline.com
All rights reserved

I use fast food drive-thrus far more than I should.  Here are some of the things that irritate me the most:

1)  The failure to follow simple rules of etiquette.  The words “please”, “thank you” and “you’re welcome” shouldn’t be considered archaic and outdated!

2)  Giving me a regular Coke when I ordered a Diet Coke.

3) Worse, giving me a Dr. Pepper or Diet Dr. Pepper when I have ordered a Diet Coke.

4) Those drive-thrus that deliberately plot against me by giving me the correct drink 20 times in a row than failing to give me the right drink the one time in 21 trips that I do not check the drink before I pull out of the drive thru.  (How do they know?)

Soda cup

Photo Credit: http://www.clickartonline.com
All rights reserved.

5)  When did ketchup and napkins become luxury items doled out in dribbles?

6)  Getting my order wrong.  Especially when I don’t realize it until after I have left the drive thru window.

7) Putting a sign up ordering me to turn off my windshield wipers when I pull up to the window.  I do it anyhow, of course, just to be polite, but I don’t appreciate being ordered to do so.

8)  Being called “sweetie”, “honey” or “darling” by people half my age.

Graphic Credit:  www.clickartonline.com All rights reserved.

Graphic Credit: http://www.clickartonline.com
All rights reserved.

9)  Receiving a deluxe hamburger with only cheese and pickles on it when I asked for a deluxe hamburger with everything on it except cheese and pickles.  I think the cook who did that not only bore a grudge but a sense of humor.

10)  Asking me for my order, then only entering the first thing I say after I give you the entire order.  Then asking me again, only to enter the second thing I say while I give you the entire order.  Repeat ad nauseam.

Have a great day!

Nancy

Hell’s Itch – No Laughing Matter


Good morning Everyone!

My Easter Sunday plans did not include spending the afternoon staring with concern at my daughter writhing on the floor, rubbing her back on a towel and crying.  We had just returned from a five-day trip to the beach that morning. While we were there, Kayla spent one glorious five-hour stint in the water playing with some friends she had made that morning and wound up with an equally splendid sunburn on her back.  Until Easter afternoon, it had been pretty much like any other sunburn, but what Kayla was experiencing then was a whole different order of magnitude.  There was no doubt in my mind that she was sincere but I couldn’t figure out what was going on.

Mark woke up just as I was getting ready to take her somewhere for help, and suggested instead that I first give her Benadryl and some Tylenol.  I did, and it seemed to help for about an hour and a half, then everything started all over again.  While Kayla was calm, we asked her what it felt like, and she said when the itch got bad and she started crying, she felt like she had a thousand knives stabbing deep into her back, causing great pain and a deep, burning itch.  When the itch started to come back after an hour and a half, we gave her two Advil and I took her to our local Doc-In-The-Box.

Apparently, arriving at 5:30 p.m. on Easter Sunday when the clinic closes at 6 ensures swift service.  Kayla was their only patient.  I was a little annoyed at the doctor because I didn’t think she really was taking Kayla and me seriously, but she did consent to give Kayla a shot of Benadryl and prescribe a stronger antihistamine in case the Benadryl didn’t work.  She also told me to get some Cortisone cream and Benadryl cream to put on Kayla’s back.

I called Mark at 5:55 – the prescription had been called into our local pharmacy, which closed at 6, and Kayla and I were about 30 minutes away – and he won Father-of-the-Year award for making it to CVS in less than four minutes to pick up the prescription.

We were fortunate that he was able to do so, because about 10:00 p.m., by the time the Benadryl shot had worn off, Kayla came into our bedroom and woke me up to tell me that her back had started itching again and she wanted me to put the cortisone cream and Benadryl cream on her.  I carefully applied the lotions, but by the time I finished, she was back to writhing in agony again and begging me to take the lotions back off.  Mark woke up because he heard us.  After I wiped the creams back off as best I could,  we had Kayla take an Aveeno oatmeal bath.  (Another remedy suggested by the doctor.)

After she got out of the bath, her back had calmed down a little again, so the three of us sat up for a while.  While we sat,  I did what any stumped parent would do – I googled “intense sunburn itch.”  The results surprised me.

Apparently, there are a number of people out there – adults as well as children – that have experienced the same thing.   The people who have had this happen to them called it either “Hell’s Itch” or ICI – short for “insanity causing itch.”  The medical sites didn’t have a description of it or a name for it, but I know from our experience with Kayla that it exists.  All of the stories I found on the internet described the same symptoms that Kayla had experienced.  One sufferer was a former marine who admitted that he was embarrassed that this – whatever it is – had brought him to his knees.  Another was a former paratrooper who said the same thing.  The adults who described it said that it felt like fire ants were crawling underneath your skin, constantly biting you.

A very important point to remember if you encounter this is that all of the normal sunburn remedies – aloe vera, cortisone and antihistamine creams – only make the itch worse.

There were only three things that seemed to help the people who experienced this – and two of them were the opposite of what you would do for a normal sunburn.  The first remedy that gave most people relief was to take a scalding hot shower for at least 15 to 20 minutes.  The second remedy was peppermint oil, which is not something I keep on hand.  The third remedy that helped was the prescription antihistamine.  The brand name for it is Aderax and the generic is something like hydroxidine HCL.  With Kayla, basic pain relievers like Tylenol and Advil also helped, although without the antihistamines the most they did was take the edge off.

Hell’s Itch only happens to someone who has acquired a decent sunburn to some area of the body.  For reasons no one was certain of, about 48 hours later, each sufferer experienced an unbearable sensation that ran in waves over the places that were sunburnt.  Even if you are one of the 5 – 10% of people who ever experience this, it doesn’t happen every time you get sunburned.  Some people will experience it once and then not have it happen again for 20 years, even if they get sunburned in the meantime.  In almost everyone, the symptoms subside on their own after 8 to 48 hours.

All’s well that end’s well, of course, and by Tuesday, Kayla was back to normal.  Still, I wanted to share this with you in case you ever end up on the floor yourself writhing with this unbearable sensation, or, even worse, someone you love does.  As for me, I think I’m going to buy some peppermint oil and keep it on hand, just in case.

Have a great day!

Nancy

Memories of a Sweet Dog


Hi Everyone!

I can still remember picking Tyra out at the Humane Society.  We had lost our first dog, Shadow, about a year before, and our other dog, Woof, didn’t like being alone, so we decided to see if we could find a second dog so she would have some company.  Woof didn’t like the shelter much; it was too noisy and loud, so we put her back in the car and returned.  (It was February 14, so the weather was not an issue.)  The first run we encountered had two dogs in it, and two placards with their names on them attached to the door.  One of them said “My name is Tyra, and I know how to sit!”  Mark looked at both dogs, said sit, and one of them, a pretty dog with black hair and white, brown and tan markings did.  (She rarely sat on command after that, but the one time in her life it counted, she certainly did!).  We asked the shelter volunteer if we could adopt her, and the attendant said, “I think that’s an excellent idea!”

Adopted Dog, Shelter, Homecoming

Tyra’s Second Day at Home

No matter how hard a kennel or shelter tries, dogs that reside there acquire the very potent “Eau de Dog” scent, so as soon as we got her home, we popped Tyra into a bathtub, and washed her. From then until the day that she died, that dog never put a foot onto the tile portion of a bathroom in any house we resided in. Apparently, we had inadvertently scarred her for life!

Every dog has a unique personality, and Tyra’s outstanding characteristic was her eagerness to please – not in the goofy, sloppy, wonderful way a lab does, as if his whole world revolves around that instant in time his owner asks him to do something , but in her own quiet, determined way.  She had been left at the kennel by her first family because they had a baby and no longer had time for her.   I always had the impression that she was determined that would never happen again.  Of course, she couldn’t know at first that our family has one firm rule about adoptions of any animal, canine or human – once you’re a member of the pack, you’re always a member of the pack – but I suspect she caught on after a while.

She adapted quickly and well, as this picture from that first summer show.

Dog, photograph, sleeping in the s

Tyra in the back yard in Montgomery

Even better, Woof regained the ability to sleep in the sun and be happy even when Mark and I weren’t in the yard.

Dog, Sleeping in the Sun, Old Dog

Woof in the Back Yard When Tyra was There

We didn’t know it at the time we adopted Tyra, but she was not going to be the only new member of our family that year. In mid-November, at long last, the people at the Alabama DHR told us that they had a child they would like us to consider taking in as a foster child, with hopes that we could adopt her eventually. By December 1, 2004, Kayla had come to live with us. Here is a picture of all five us right about then:

Family Photo

Family Photo

We all had new experiences to share that winter, including the dogs experiencing the joys of having a child on the floor with her Dad and a bunch of Lincoln Log train tracks.

Dogs, Child, Play

Train Tracks, Family and Paws

Kayla and Tyra bonded quickly.  It really helped Kayla understand what was going on with her when we could explain to her what happened to Tyra – and it helped Kayla trust us to keep loving her when she saw how we loved Tyra.

Kids, Dogs

Kayla and Big Dog

Sweet Kisses

Sweet Kisses

There are so many things that made her unique – like the fact that even when she was old and blind, she could hear you peel a banana from 50 yards away and arrive instantly to demand her fair share, or that the only time I ever knew her to intentionally go after another person or dog was when she thought one of us was threatened. She did it twice – once when she thought another dog was attacking Woof, and once when Kayla was four and answered the door when the doorbell rang, then screamed because she didn’t recognize the person there. That time, Tyra had four teenage boys treed on the trunk of their car in the few seconds it took Mark to fly from the back yard to the front door himself. I felt sorry for the boys – all they wanted were directions. Both times, there was not a mark on either the dog or the boys when all was said and done but she had made a believer out of all of them!

Her story here came to an end on March 22. We hadn’t really thought we were that close to the end, even though she was 14, but that weekend she simply couldn’t seem to lift herself up off our wooden floor or go down the stairs at all, so I dropped her off at the vet’s that day, afraid of what I would hear.  When the vet called me back, I think I knew what she was going to tell me before she said it.  Tyra’s back had many osteophytes on the spine that had grown to the point that they were impinging on her nerves. Dr. Mitchell explained that Tyra would be in constant, worsening pain from then on, and we made the only decision we could.

I am comforted by the thought that Tyra knew without a doubt that we loved her; Mark, Kayla and I all made it to the vet about 1/2 hour in advance so we could be with her, petting her and telling her how much we loved her, and then it was time.

I also expect that it was only seconds after leaving here that Tyra was with Shadow and Woof –  trying to help Woof explain to Shadow exactly what Mandy looks like.

Sleep well, sweet Tyra Belle.

Nancy

Error Messages


Good morning Everyone!

Uh Oh!  Photo Credit:  www.clickartonline.com

Uh Oh!
Photo Credit: http://www.clickartonline.com

Anyone who uses a computer has encountered error messages.  While the worst of these is the blue screen of death – a blank page with a single “>” blinking in the top left corner, other messages make me certain that either the computer or its engineers have a warped sense of humor.

Message One:  Windows has encountered an improper argument.

Every time I get this one, I think,”Join the club.”  I didn’t realize that Windows was raising a 13-year-old too!

Message Two:  The trust relationship between this workstation and the primary domain is broken.

Really?  What did the workstation do?  It must have been bad – the primary domain was unrelenting.  Candy, flowers, cards and sweet messages were not sufficient to restore the trust relationship.    A shotgun blast at the primary domain would not have done so either – although it would have been cathartic both for me and the workstation!

Message Three:  Please do not turn off or power down your computer.

This message does not appear during regular business hours, when I will be using my computer for hours  but only when I am trying to turn my computer off so I can take it somewhere with me.  The odds of the message appearing and the amount of time the computer wants me to wait are directly proportional to the degree of my lateness.

Honorable Mention:  Please begin walking to turn the machine on. 

I received this message from an elliptical exercise machine – while I was walking on it.  Exercise is hard enough without a trash-talking machine!

Have a great day!

Nancy

Symbiosis: Lichen


Good morning Everyone!

Today we are going to take a walk into improbable reality:  the lichen.  While we tend to think of and treat lichen as one organism, it actually is composed of two (or more) organisms living together for each other’s benefit:  a fungus and an alga.  The fungus provides structure, support and water for the lichen, while the alga produces food through photosynthesis.  Because of this symbiosis, lichen are not considered to be plants.  (They aren’t animals either, nor minerals – so how do you answer the question “Is it animal, vegetable or mineral?” when it comes to lichen?)

Lichen, Wood

Lichen on Firewood by a House, Photo Credit: Nancy Eady

I became curious about lichen while we were living in our rental house.  The house owner had cut up a tree on the property, and placed the logs by the house.  Over time, rows and rows of fan-like shapes began to grow on the ends of the logs.  I took a picture of them, above.  As best I could determine, they were a kind of lichen.

Lichen Wood

Lichen in Wood, Photo Credit: Nancy Eady

Lichen are ancient survivors.  The oldest known fossil showing both symbiotic components of a lichen is 400 million years old, FN,  so it stands to reason that lichens are even older – it is highly unlikely that the first ever lichen was also the first lichen fossilized!  The variety and distribution of lichen is astounding.  There are over 20,000 known forms.  There are lichen that can colonize the most inhospitable of places, such as bare rock in the arctic, lichen that process and help break down inorganic matter such as wood, and lichen that seem to drift airily down in strands off of bushes and live off of the air.

Lichen, Letharia

Feathery Lichen. Photo Credit: Letharia vulpina JHollinger crop” by Jason Hollinger – Mushroom Observer. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Lichen can live for astoundingly long periods of time; in fact, one lichen from the arctic circle is estimated to be 9000 years old!  I keep looking for a picture of this ancient lichen, but I haven’t located one yet.  I do know that the ancient arctic lichen is a member of what are commonly called “map lichen.”  As you can see, they get their name from the shapes they form on rocks, which resemble maps.  Their growth rate is incredibly slow, yet predictable, so they can be useful tools in dating other objects.  The use of lichen to date objects is called “lichenometry.”

Lichen, Rock, Map Lichen, Arctic

Map Lichen Photo Credit: Rhizocarpon geographicum on quartz” by User:Tigerente – Self-photographed. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Lichen also provide scientists with helpful information about air pollution; most lichen are highly sensitive to air pollution, so if there is an area that normally would host lichen, yet has none, the air quality around the area is likely poor.

Aaliyah Gupta, Lichen, Acrylic on Duralar

Lichen, Acrylic on Duralar, By Aaliyah Gupta, Copied with Permission from the Artist

I have a friend in Seattle who is an artist, Aaliyah Gupta, and she worked on a series a few years ago exploring the symbiosis that creates lichen.  Her work is stunningly beautiful, delicate and unique, capturing the intricacies of a symbiotic dance that has persisted through the ages.

Aaliyah Gupta, Lichen

Lichen, by Aaliyah Gupta, Acrylic on Duralar, All Rights Reserved, Copied with Permission from the Artist

God’s handiwork is astounding.  Nature’s variety and inventiveness is unparalleled.  Taking the time to learn about other organisms on this planet always pays dividends – if only to make us realize how privileged we are to be part of the complex web of life traveling on Spaceship Earth!

Have a great day everyone!

Nancy

 

FN.  400 million years ago was the “Early Devonian Period.”  During the Early Devonian, plants and animals began to colonize land, while aquatic life was farther along and more diverse.  In other words, lichen pre-date dinosaurs, flowers, trees and grass!

Hobbits, anyone?


Good morning Everyone!

As we drove to the store yesterday, to the complete and utter mystification of everyone in the car, Kayla announced,”I need a hobbit!”   To aid her obviously befuddled parents, she added helpfully, “You  know, like soccer or knitting or something.”

Knitting Needles, knitting

Knitting, anyone?

When we explained to her that she meant the word “hobby,” her eyes widened and she said, “No wonder my teachers looked at me so strangely when I told them.”

 

My suggestion that she take up the hobby of studying more for school was not met with enthusiasm.

Have a great day!

Nancy

Just Hangin’ – The History of the Humble Coat Hanger


Good morning Everyone!

Have you ever looked at one of the objects that we use without thinking every day, and wondered who came up with the invention?  I do, and yesterday as I was putting the empty coat hangers from my clothes for the day into my closet (yes, Mark, I do remember to do that occasionally!) I suddenly wondered where coat hangers come from.

Several websites (all of whom, I think, were copying Wikipedia’s entry) say that Thomas Jefferson was believed to have invented a forerunner of the wooden clothes hanger.  However, the foremost authority on all things Thomas Jefferson, the Monticello website, disagrees.  According to the Monticello web site, there is no evidence that Thomas Jefferson invented the individual clothes hangers similar to what we use today, but he did invent the most ingenious closet gadget which allowed him to hang and access over 48 sets of coats, waist coats and other clothing easily.  While the device did not survive the ravages of time, the researchers at Monticello, relying on help from The Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia have come up with a conjectural drawing of what this revolving closet might have looked like.

Thomas Jefferson, coat hanger, clothes rack

Thomas Jefferson’s Revolving Closet Rack
From http://www.monticello.org

Apparently, one of the first patents for a device similar to today’s coat hangers was issued in 1869 to O.A. North, from New Britain Connecticut.  unfortunately, I haven’t been able to locate that patent or the drawing that should be with the patent – records that old at the United States Patent Office are listed by year, classification and patent number only rather than by key word.  Over 13,000 patents were issued in 1869 alone!

Until 1903, coat hangers were made of wood supported by other materials.  The ubiquitous wire coat hanger was apparently first designed by Albert J. Parkhouse in 1903.  Parkhouse was an employee of the Timberlake Wire and Novelty Company in Jackson, Michigan.  His co-employees were unhappy because the company did not have enough coat hooks, so many of their heavy winter coats would fall to the floor during their work shift.  Mr. Parkhouse grabbed a length of wire, twisted it so that one end had a hook on it, there were two ovals below that, and then the other end of the wire was twisted around the stem of the hook.

Coat Hanger, Patent. Invention

The First Wire Coat Hanger

In keeping with the custom of the day, Parkhouse’s employer, Timberlake, patented the idea and reaped the profits.  After a few years, Albert Parkhouse  (perhaps realizing that it is cold in Michigan in winter and not that cold somewhere else) moved his family to Los Angeles where he started his own wire novelty company.  He died at the age of 48 from a ruptured ulcer.

Over the years, many other patents have been issued for designs that improved the original one, to where today the variety of coat hangers is overwhelming.  However, the wire coat hanger is the champion of them all, beloved by dry cleaners everywhere and collecting in our closets in prolific amounts.

Many  Hangers Photogrpah by:  "Grucce" by A7N8X - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Grucce.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Grucce.jpg

Many Hangers
Photograph by:
“Grucce” by A7N8X – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Have a great day!

Nancy

 

An Open Letter to Mother Nature


 

From the Boston Area:

In Boston Photo Courtesy of Corriveau family

In Boston
Photo Courtesy of Corriveau family

Dear Mother Nature:

CUT IT OUT!

Sincerely,

The Lower 48 of the United States.

From Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville, Alabama Photograph by Kelly Kazek at al.com

Huntsville, Alabama
Photograph by Kelly Kazek at al.com

From the Las Vegas Area:

Las Vegas Suburb Photograph by Jeff Scheid, Law Vegas Review Journal

Las Vegas Suburb
Photograph by Jeff Scheid, Law Vegas Review Journal

 

Lost in Translation


Good morning Everyone!

I was writing  yesterday’s morning post with my habitual glass of Diet Coke beside me when Kayla approached with a straw in her hand.  Being the prescient parent that I am, I knew what she wanted, so immediately said,” Do not drink my drink.  There is an unopened can in the kitchen.”  (It’s not that I mind giving my daughter drinks, but I loathe the thought of her drinking from a drink I’m drinking; all I can think about are all the germs she encounters during the day at school and I at work and how I don’t want to share either with her.  And it’s a territorial thing, too.)

Since she’s not deaf, I know she heard me.   Did she turn on her heel and go forth to the kitchen?  Of course not.

Looking straight at me, she leaned down to put her straw in my drink.

I try hard not to get mad with Kayla in the morning, doing my best to be sure she starts her day off well.  A good friend gave me that advice, although she also warned me there would be mornings when I would be biting my tongue in half if I tried it.  It is a good idea and I have tried my best, but when Kayla ignored me yesterday I lost it.

I slammed my hand down on the sofa’s arm and shouted through gritted teeth, “Stop!  Quit ignoring me!” (What I really wanted to do was clutch my drink to my chest and shout “Mine!  Mine!  Mine!”)

Shocked, she wailed, “I just wanted some of your drink!”

I snarled,” And I told you  no, go get some from the can in the kitchen.”

The child had the nerve to answer, “Well, you don’t need to get all mad; I didn’t understand you!”

In keeping with the whole “bite-my-tongue” thing, I did not suggest that then perhaps she should attend English as a second language classes but let the moment pass so she could finish getting ready for her day.

It is a matter of record that she did not try to drink from my drink the rest of the morning.

Have a great day!

Nancy