Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bacteria finds a way...

With the recent Parvo outbreaks in/around Seattle, and dogs dropping from the most recent strain, my mind is wandering...

Bacteria finds a way, no matter how advanced we believe our combative measures to be.  I have long been of the mind we have helped to create a much bigger problem, through vaccination protocols, anti-bacterial soaps/cleansers, etc., resulting in super bacteria; bacteria that has found a way, and is stronger and more resistant than it would be, had we not given it an opportunity to become strong.  By allowing it to exercise its muscles, as it were, on the obstacle courses of combatants we have peppered it with, bateria (all forms), have just gotten stronger.

Think of those commercials showing us the power of anti-bacterial soaps and cleansers.  Touted as killing 99.9% of all bacteria.  But what happens to the .01% that survives?  How did it survive?  Was it the strongest of the bacteria fleet, ready to move the bacteria population forward, stronger than before?  In my opinion, yes.

So, what's the answer?  I sure wish I had one, but I don't.  I only have my belief system.  My belief system is one where vaccination might put a short-term band-aid on a long-term problem, but it does not fix the problem.  I do not vaccinate my dogs, nor myself.  I do not believe in flu shots, childhood vaccinations, nor vaccinations for animals.

I have put a lot of time and energy into study of vaccination's affect on companion animals, and while it has *some* benefit, I believe the risks *far* outweigh the benefits.  That, however, is another conversation, entirely, and I won't go there...yet.

For now, I'm just pondering...and worrying, and wondering what the answer is, and if we find one, how will we implement it?  Is bacteria just nature's way of culling out the weakest?  I believe so, however, no one, including myself, wants to be the weakest, nor have the weakest pet, to balance the 'survival of the fittest' scales.  Has this been our downfall?

By not allowing our own species to join the 'survival of the fittest' game, have we just continued to weaken ourselves, such that bacteria, super, or not, has the power to overtake us?  I think that may be exactly what is happening.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

For the love of Bun, November 28, 2012

It's been a while since I last wrote to you, Bun, even though you are never far from my thoughts, and always in my heart.

Yesterday Cliff opened your box to put your "LickStrong" bracelet inside.  That was hard.  It's such a gut punch.  It's one of two times we have opened it; once to put your collar inside, and yesterday, the bracelet.  Cliff wept, from his soul, and watching him, I felt my heart break even more, if that's possible.

This morning I updated your page on the website, and changed your story to the past tense.  I knew I needed to do that, and had been putting it off.  It just feels so final...not that your absence isn't, but that was very hard for me to do.

I love you so very much, and I miss you so very much.  A day doesn't go by that tears don't stream down my face, as I think of you, and long to hold you, one more time.

I love you, baby.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chalkboard signs, part one

I mentioned in my 'Thanksgiving' post that my sister and I had endeavored on a chalkboard project over the holiday.  I had seen a small chalkboard made out of a serving tray, and adorned with ribbons.  Seemed straight forward enough.

Friday morning we went to the 99 cent store, and found small metal serving trays.  What a great little score.  I kind of figured we would end up with plastic trays with a silver finish.  Instead we found metal trays, and they were of good weight, too.  A super find, and exactly what the project called for.  I picked up three trays, and my sister also picked up three.

A small bottle of chalkboard paint from Walmart, a couple of brushes, and we were rolling, or painting, as it were.  A very quick project, and a fun one, too, with a decent result.

As it turned out, the 'engraved' design in the bottom of the trays wasn't cut in very deep, so after three coats of chalkboard paint, it wasn't particularly obvious, and it didn't take away from the finished product.

I would do more lighter coats next time, but to my surprise, the paint dried fairly flat, so the ridges seen in the wet paint were greatly minimized when dry.  If I was going for perfection, I would have used spray chalkboard paint, but it wasn't available at the Walmart we went to, and we didn't feel like scouring the Las Vegas craft stores for it, so we went with the 'brush on' variety.

That was as far as I got while on our trip.  I returned home with the painted trays, then put some thought to how I would hang them. Initially I was concerned about how I would attach ribbon to metal trays, but then I remembered something I'd seen before: 'dress magnets'.

Stay tuned for part two: hanging the trays, and finishing them off with some pretty ribbon!

Cost information:  the trays were 99 cents each, and the chalkboard paint (enough to do at least 6) was $1.97.  Total cost per tray about $1.33...not too bad!

Monday, November 26, 2012


We made a spontaneous trip to Las Vegas, to visit my sister, for the Thanksgiving holiday.  It was a long visit, as Cliff had a lot of time off (must use up that vacation!), and we didn't have a lot planned.  As it turned out, it was a trip more about relaxation than activity, and it was nice.

We swam a lot.  Well, Kindle and I did.  Clearly, my childhood love of swimming is still alive and well.  I swam every day, and as a result, I slept restfully, and my back didn't bother me.  If anything would motivate me to move to a warmer climate, where I can swim every day, those two things have the power to do it!

The swimming was excellent for Kindle, as well.  Ever since her back injury, I have been walking a thin line, trying to manage her activity so she does not suffer further deterioration, but stays physically fit, and in good condition.  Swimming may be the absolute perfect exercise for her, and she *loves* it.

Jumping into the pool was the hurdle I wanted her to overcome from our prior trip, and she surely did.  I was so proud of her.

Such a sweet girl.  I love her so...

We found some time to go see the fountains at the Bellagio while there, and it was so beautiful.  One of my favorite things to do there, so far.  I will have to do it again next time we go.

The hotel, itself, is very pretty, set back off the boulevard, which is nice.  Reminds me of how things were many years ago.

They played one of my most favorite songs for one of the performances, "Time to Say Goodbye" by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman.  It is very moving, especially in light of our recent loss of Ty.  It was the perfect song.  It brought me to tears, twice.

The show takes place in the 9 acre lake, on the Bellagio property that runs along Las Vegas Blvd., and it's free.  A must, really.  The show takes place every 30 minutes from 3pm - 7pm, and every 15 minutes after 7pm.

We also did not pass up a chance to drop in on our favorite burger place - Bachi!

Of course, turkey was on the menu, and we made a beautiful one, stuffed with a citrus and herb blend, and basted with a cranberry and balsamic glaze that not only added a robust flavor, but was beautiful on the turkey, as well.

On the BBQ, before we started basting with the glaze.

And after the glaze.


A couple of pies later, and some of our favorite sides, Thanksgiving dinner was complete.

While visiting, Cliff helped Jamie with some painting, hanging of a fixture, and did some trim work for her in the kitchen, which we had been unable to complete on the prior trip, so her kitchen is now complete.

Jamie and I also did a chalkboard project.  That will be on the blog, in a separate entry.  Stay tuned for that one.

All in all, such a fun time.  Miss Jamie already...until next time, Sissy.  See you soon.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Lemon, basil and smoked mozzarella pizza

It might sound funky, and even look funky, but this flavor combination is really quite exceptional.  This pizza idea was posted to my Facebook wall by a friend, and I decided to try it.


These basic ingredients, when brought together, really pack a punch, but I would do a few things differently next time I make it, and there *will* be a next time.  First off, the pith on the lemons was a deal breaker for me, but the lemon flavor was the perfect partner to the smoked mozzarella and basil.  Too much of any ingredient, in any one bite, was just too much.


Next time I would zest a couple of lemons, and drizzle the juice onto the pizza, making it my last addition.  I would also shred the cheese vs. using the slices.  A little of this cheese goes a long way, and in some spots there was too much cheese, and in other spots, not enough.

I tossed my basil leaves with olive oil before I added them, and it kept them from drying out.  I layered the pizza, starting with the cheese slices, then the lemon slices, the basil, finishing with a drizzle of olive oil.

What will I do different?  Next time I will start with shredded cheese, basil, lemon zest, a drizzle of olive oil, and a drizzle of fresh lemon juice.  For me, I think this will allow the same flavors to come through, but a bit more balanced on the palate.


Overall, I can't complain.  I ended up removing the lemon slices before eating, and I'm glad I did.  The pith was just a bit overpowering.  With the suggested changes, I would absolutely do this again.  I rolled a thin crust, and baked the pizza on my quarry tiles.  It made for a very crisp favorite!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A good trip...

Last week was really special.  Not only did we spend a week with my sister, but we were able to see her new house, and help her with some projects, in particular, a kitchen counter top restoration.  A lot of broken and loose tiles needed to be replaced, as well as the very boring backsplash.  When it was all said and done, it looked terrific, though there were times when she wasn't sure we knew what we were doing.  =)


All set, ready for some grout...


A little repair.  A broken corner was replaced, just awaiting some grout...


I took some shots of the kitchen, as well as some of her 'pretty things', and made a video for her.

While visiting, we taught Kindle to swim in my sister's pool.  This was such a fun thing for me.  Shelties are not known for their love of water, much less their swimming prowess.  Kindle, bless her, was a good sport, and once she figured out the dynamics of swimming, was a real champ, really enjoying herself, even hopping in from the steps to retrieve balls we threw hither and yon.  It certainly helped that she has a real love of retrieving, and loves water, though actual swimming was new for her.


And when you have swam so much, your legs are out of juice, just hitch a ride on 'dad'.


There was no swimming for Jet.  He just hung out, doing his 'cool' thing.  At 13, we are just happy he's here.  He has nothing to prove.  Looking good, buddy...


A good belly rub in the morning, from a much loved auntie, never hurt, either.


We were able to squeeze in a few fun things, as well.  A highlight for me, and it will sound strange, because it's a hamburger, was our two trips to Bachi Burger.  Bachi Burger is a burger joint with an Asian twist.  Unique and mouth-watering flavor combinations.

I had the spicy miso burger, which was fantastic.  Not a list of ingredients I would ever dream up, but it was really something special.  If you like burgers, and you have an adventurous culinary side, add it to your list for your next visit to Las Vegas.


I had the spicy miso burger.  It was wonderful...


We also visited Hoover Dam and the Tillman Memorial Bridge.  All I can say is "wow".  It's just one of the most impressive things I have ever seen.  Right up there with the Panama Canal, in terms of its ability to inspire.  To really appreciate it, one must consider the technology available when it was built in the early 1930s.  Truly amazing.  Another "must do" for any Vegas visitor.


In addition to Bachi and the dam, we were able to squeeze in Cirque du Soleil's "KA".  I posted on Facebook that I would talk more about it when I could come up with a word other than 'wow', and I am still stuck at 'wow'.  KA is more about technology than acrobatics, at least as far as Cirque shows go, but there is no question it is most impressive.  I caught myself, several times, as I watched the show, with my mouth open.  I'm not easily impressed.  This impressed the hell out of me.

We also took the auto collections tour at the Imperial Palace.  I wasn't sure what to think when we first walked in, but as we moved from room to room, I was really overwhelmed with the beauty of most of the restorations.  Like anything, there were a few that weren't on par with the most exceptional restorations we saw, but most were beautifully done, with extreme attention to detail.  If money were no object, I would have purchased the Chrysler 300 for Cliff, and the VW bus for myself...probably the Beetle, too.

The bus...


The 300...


And the Beetle...


Overall, it was a great visit.  I look forward to another, soon, when we aren't tearing up a kitchen, but rather cooking, taking in the sights, and just relaxing.

Before I sign off this post, I have to show off my 'fun with color' photos.


One, in particular, has special meaning. On the way down, with nothing to do but watch the desert pass by, and with a pretty strong cell signal, I got creative.  Our beloved Ty was a voracious licker.  There was not another like him and he could lick 'all the live long day'.  In remembrance of him, and to have something to celebrate his life with my sister, who deeply loved him, I had some bracelets made - ordered with my phone, traveling along a lonely road at 70 miles/hour.  My sister is wearing one here.  Can you see what it says?


Needless to say, I never take mine off...neither does Cliff, nor my sister.