Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Morning in March

This morning, two days before spring arrives, I look out my window and see frost on the ground and a dense fog hugging the hills. This is facing north -- the lumps you see on the ground are what I call the "pesky" weeds. I have been digging them up now that the ground is wet. Soon the ground will be hard and dry and impossible to work so I'm determined to dig these guys up with their roots before then. 
This is the front yard and I think you can see the frost on the ground better here.
As the sun begins to break through the fog, the scenery changes...
The fog soon dissipates, the frost melts, and it gets warm outside.
A close-up of my favorite and, I think, very photogenic tree.
And look how green the grass and weeds are. For a few months in spring everything's so pretty here…then it dries and turns yellow as the hot desert climate takes over, sometime in June.
I love it when the fog hangs around the mountains as it does here in the spring and fall.
While down in the canyon, all is clear and it looks like we're in for a nice and sunny day today.
Thank you so much for visiting our canyon, come back soon....

Monday, March 15, 2010

How Rachael touched my heart and made me smile....

Sometimes things happen that touch your heart and make you smile. Yesterday, was such a time for me. This is what happened:  My friend Rachael drove up from Burbank to visit me. She knew I hadn't been feeling well so she came loaded down with gifts, both practical and fun. I think she tried to pretend she thought my birthday, my very big birthday, was just around the corner, but I know that she really felt I needed some love and care right now. I've learned to accept with gratitude all the good things that are coming my way these days and I'm so immensely grateful to have so many really good and caring friends.
Rachael with a view of the canyon in the background.
Rachael is an animal caregiver extraordinaire, who is in the process of starting an animal education program called Sydney's Legacy. Sydney is an aged bearded dragon lizard that Rachael took in a few years ago. She and I promptly fell in love with Sydney, who is the most charming of lizards and who taught me a lot about an animal species with no fur, no long ears, and not too much else to inspire love, yet love him I do. I will never forget him and all he taught me about animals and the respect we need to show them, be they lizards, snakes, tarantulas or what have you. When I knew Sydney a few years ago, he was full of life, fun, and charm. Sydney is old now and sleeps most of the time, Rachael tells me, but his name will live on with this program she is starting.

Almost two years ago one of Rachael's critters, a California desert tortoise, named Gwendolyn, passed away at the age of 40-something. We buried her here in the canyon and Rachael wanted to visit her grave and put some flowers on it. So we hiked up there with all three dogs that were so happy to finally be taken for a long walk.

Princess is looking on with interest.

After we remembered Gwendolyn, Rachael and I took the dogs for a hike. As you can see, it was a warm day, the warmest in many weeks, with a feeling of spring in the air.
Rachael with Angel.

And here I am after we got back home. The dogs were not cooperative as far as getting their picture taken. Princess left, Angel turned her back, and Soldier found a bone and chewed it up before I could take it away.
After the hike Rachael treated me to dinner at one of the best Mexican restaurants ever and, yes, it's right here in town. It felt so good to see Rachael again and her visit reminded me, as did my visit to Carol's place last month, that much as I like my hermit life, it's important to actually see your friends in person, to talk, touch, and share face to face.
You can find out more about Rachael and her critters on her web site and blog at: or just click on It's All About the Animals in my sidebar at the bottom of My Favorite Blogs.

Coming soon to my blog: More about Rachael's critters and her new venture. Come back and visit, they are not farm animals, but they are some great critters. I promise you!

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Murals of Exeter, California

On the Saturday of my visit with Carol, we set out for Exeter, a lovely little town, not far from where she lives in the San Joaquin Valley. Do you know the old country song: "Down in the Orange Grove?" Well, there are orange groves everywhere here and it's gorgeous country. As we drove through the groves, I could just imagine the smell of the blossoms on a warm summer night.
A nice woman in an art gallery gave us some information from the Exeter Chamber of Commerce, so I can describe the murals and name the artists. The sheet I got lists 26 outdoor murals and three indoor ones in various businesses in town. I also learned that Exeter boasts the sweetest and most delicious naval oranges in the world. I can attest to this since I have personally picked and eaten many naval oranges from Carol's tree. I get bags full of them to take with me home when I visit and they really are the best tasting oranges ever.

Orange Harvest:  Features a scene of orange pickers in the 1930s.
Artists:  Colleen Mitchell-Veyna, Visalia, CA & Morgan McCall, Farmersville, CA

Packing Ladies:  I fell in love with this one that features the Exeter Citrus Packing House, circa 1950. Notice how the ladies pack and grade the oranges, while the foreman sort of sits above them and keeps a watchful eye. Those were the days!
Artist:  Colleen Mitchell-Veyna, Visalia, CA

The mural reminded me of the silk/tissue-papers that oranges came wrapped in when I was a kid. Imagine that, oranges came individually wrapped in tissue paper!! The papers were gorgeous, with colorful, pictures of faraway places. In Sweden, the oranges usually came from Spain, with names like Seville, Valencia, and so on. I used to collect these wrappers and dream of places where oranges actually grew on trees.

Poppies and Lupine:  The hand-out we got says that this field of California poppies and lupine is located on the road to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, not far from Exeter
Artist:  Varian Mace, Visalia, CA

Mineral King "In Our Backyard":  This was Carol's favorite mural and it's gorgeous. It features the Mineral King area with Sawtooth, Farewell Gap, and Timber Gap.
Artist:  Jana Botkin, Three Rivers, CA.

A close-up

Hometown News:  The Exeter Sun Newsroom in the 1920s.  This was located across the alley from Mineral King and showed a newspaper office of long ago. I really enjoy seeing how people lived and worked in the early to mid-20th century. So this was another treat for me.
Artist:  Gary Kerby, Wilsall, MT.

Yokuts Harvest:  I was impressed by both the Yokuts skill in basket weaving and the artist's skill in painting the baskets you see below, thus honoring the skills of the original basket weavers.
Artist:  Ben Barker, Susanville, CA

Exeter Road Race Circa 1916:  One of my favorites (I have a weakness for old roadsters) it depicts race cars getting ready for a road race through Exeter. As I'm reading this hand-out, I see that all the murals have hidden objects in them. I have to go back someday and look for them. Hidden objects here: A polar bear, numbers, a child holding a bear, all symbols from the "Lost" TV program.
Artist:  Colleen Mitchell-Veyna, Visalia, CA

Timber Trail:  Oh, I spotted some long-ears! Mules, not donkeys, but still, what a beautiful painting. Look at the use of light and color. The mule train and wagons transported logs to Atwell Mill, which is now a part of Sequoia National Park (I'm quoting the hand-out here).
Artist:  Martin Weekly, El Dorado Hills and Exeter, CA

This is the mural of the orange pickers from a distance.

And this is a cat, crossing the street like he owns the place…which of course, being a cat, he does.

Thanks for coming with me on this visit to Exeter, California. If you are ever in Sequoia National Park or anywhere in Tulare County, I would recommend a stop-over in this little town. There are many art galleries, coffee shops, quaint places all over, and the antique stores I blogged about earlier.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

That's My Angel!

Early this morning I found Angel looking longingly out the window. And Soldier looking like I just woke him up. I haven't been feeling well for a while and had to be on meds that made me really tired for the past week, so they haven't been for a walk for a while.

This is what she was saw -- it rained heavily during the night, I listened to it for a long time. The rain must have turned to snow in the early morning hours.
But she sort of gave up hope for a walk and went back to bed. Yes, she is the only one allowed to sleep in our bed.
Seeing the snow gave me some energy so I threw some clothes on, got my snow boots out and took them for a walk. Soldier first with Princess. Then Angel and Princess. It was so cold and practically impossible to take pictures. I finally had to take pictures with my mittens on and my fingers freezing cold.
Here is Princess getting ready for her roll in the snow. She just loves snow and rolling in it is for her the greatest joy. Or a close second after chasing a ball.
You may wonder why I keep my GSD on a leash. Angel only does three things when she is off leash: First she runs and at a great speed for an 11 ½ year old dog. This is fine, of course, but due to her age and her incredible speed I sort of worry she may step in hole or injure herself in some way.
But then I think she won't be here forever and just let her do what she loves for as long as she can. So I usually let her go at the end of our walk.

It's hard to capture her speed, but believe me, she is fast. I have always suspected that her great-grandfather was a greyhound.

The second thing she does is stops and sniffs, and sniffs, and sniffs some more. Not very conducive to moving on with the walk.

The third thing Angel does is strays. She doesn’t go far, she has never run away, but she goes out of sight and doesn't come when called. She is definitely the alpha dog in our pack and I guess she feels she knows what she's doing and doesn't need to listen to me. Hmm, so much for me who's supposed to be the Pack Leader.

This time Princess is tired and can't keep up, but she will do her best to follow Angel, keep and eye on her, and herd her home if possible. Princess is a black lab/border collie cross and she has gone after and brought home all of our dogs when they strayed. Even Bandit, when he was alive and got lost in the mountains. That was so incredible, it saved Bandit's life and made us forever grateful to this wonderful dog. Princess is amazing, so smart, loyal and just plain good.
There goes Angel, heading over to the cows. I know, you can barely see her and I have yet to learn how to insert arrows and stuff in my blog photos. Princess is wondering what to do to help me out.

When she takes off like this, we have a routine: I get in the car, start the engine and honk the horn. That usually does it, but not today. So I get in the car with Princess running beside me. The windshield is full of ice and I can barely see out as I drive down to the bottom of our road, worried Angel may have strayed toward the big road. I can't see her anywhere. So I stop and get out and there she is, running down the neighbor's road along the fence of the field where the cows are having their breakfast. Acting like she did no wrong, she happily jumped in the car with Princess and we drove back home.
So that's why my very smart GSD, who knows every command, understands a whole lot of words in plain English, and on all other occasions is the most obedient of dogs, gets walked on a leash -- until we get home -- when and if I'm in the mood to go through all this stuff with the car, I will let her run. And run she does, like the wind.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Diabetes Support Group Meeting

The other evening, the UPS truck came slipping and sliding up our muddy road and delivered this: My three-month insulin pump supplies.
Which reminded me that I had forgotten to tell you about the latest diabetes support group meeting where Eve, our Diabetes Educator, shared some info from the Diabetes Technology meeting of 2009. Usually thousands of people from all over the world attend. This year only 600 did  - I guess the economy is hitting everyone.

Some Points of Interest

For those with Type 1 (that's what I have) they are working on:
-Oral-lyn, an insulin that's sprayed into the cheek.
-Nasulin, yeah, you guessed it, sprayed into the nose.
-Inhaled insulin – the industry has had problems with this, but is still working on it.
-IN-105, an oral insulin in development. It would be in tablet form.

As far as the artificial pancreas goes, they are still working on math formulas, using computer simulation. This whole issue of an artificial pancreas is so enormously complicated. Which makes you realize how complex, wondrous, and perfectly designed a fully functioning human body is.

Information for people at risk for Type 2 diabetes:
-They are working on a drug called Oxima that will be used with metformin (don't know what that is) and diet for prevention of Type 2 diabetes for those with metabolic syndrome (weight carried around the waist, high BP, insulin resistance, and so on).
-There is also a new test called Pre-DX to see who's at highest risk of developing Type 2. It measures a hormone, C - reactive protein, and insulin.
Also in development: Better needles, better insulin, and better insulin pumps among some other very technical, medical, stuff that I won't go into here.

Are you hanging in there: While I know this is interesting to some, I worry it may be boring to others. But diabetes is an epidemic of scary proportions and since I'm so fortunate to go to this great and informative group meeting every month, I feel I must share what I learn.

But let's take a break and a look at a pretty little cup from England. The plates in the background and the cream pitcher belonged to my grandmother.
OK, break is over!

Eve went over eight weight loss drugs that are in the works at various labs. Since it will take a long time (see below) before they become available, I will not go over them here.

Then she went on to provide some interesting data about clinical trials and the cost of developing new drugs:
-In 1975 it cost $138 million to develop a drug. Now it costs $1.9 billion. Only 31 new drugs were approved in 2008. It takes 10 - 15 years to develop a new drug and only 2 in 10 drugs return the cost to develop them.
-An interesting fact I didn't know: Few other countries spend money on research and development of new drugs.

Finally, I'm sure you all will be glad to hear that they are working on an anti-aging drug called Progensa.

After all this medical stuff, let me leave you with a sunset in winter. Or maybe a sunrise, looks like that could be it. There are almost NO clouds here in the summer, but in the winter they are magnificient.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

March Snow

This morning...
This afternoon...


Related Posts with Thumbnails