Friday, October 16, 2009

Post of Many Unrelated Topics

I guess I can cover just about anything with that subject line huh? A couple of you asked for close-ups of the armadillo. Here he is! The real ones are kind of cute too. I had them around the house in Texas and they were fascinating to watch and follow. You can get quite close to them when they are busy. I've sat in the woods and let them snuffle and forage around me.

There is a store a couple of doors up from The Websters called American Trails, they have TONS of these carved figures from Oaxacan Mexico although only a few show on their web site. We have a number of small ones around the house. Some cute, some just plain old strange but all unique.

My favorites are the bats. We have a couple of the Oaxacan, but I can't find the hanging one. He's down for a wing repair.

We have metal bats hanging in strategic places around the house too.

Wednesday morning I had to take Dennett to the vet for his annual check-up. Pogo came along for the ride and to have his nails done by a team of people MUCH better at navigating pedicure problem dogs than Gene and I. His nails look great and he is silent as cat these days. This is an appointment that I dread. Every year we run blood work and check the old boys blood pressure. Often the blood work comes back with all sorts of news I don't want to hear about my oldest best guy. This time we had reason to break out a nice bottle of wine and have a toast. Liver and kidney functions have dropped into normal or almost normal ranges. He had some readings off the chart so to speak. His weight has dropped too, he lost 4 pounds over the course of a year and it's a good thing. He is still maintaining muscle tone and is in fine shape for the shape he's in. There is little we can do about the heart murmur that is loud enough to hear without a stethoscope, but should he start having coughing and lung congestion, we can go to Lasix. We got options if need be to keep quality of life high and at his age, that's what we shoot for. Dr. Gurney also mention how good he looked and asked if I had changed diets. I had and we received kudos for the diet changes on both dogs.
About a year ago after I was having digestive problems with a number of dogs on the old food. Come to find out they had changed the formula and it was now being made out of house. It was time for a change. It took a month of examining and comparing
products but we finally settled on a great product and it has made quite a difference in all 8 dogs. Their coats all improved as did energy levels. Upsets stopped and everyone lost some weight due to the higher nutrient/lower bulk content of the food. We added a canned product in also as every dog likes a little something in with their kibble. I was cooking a homemade stew but it's a lot of work and after being frozen to keep, just doesn't maintain a nice texture. For those that are interested, we went from Canidae
dry food to Eagle Pack Holistic Select, Duck & Oatmeal formula since Smoochie does have problems with allergies and yeasty ears and Halo Spot's Chicken Stew for canned food.
If I hadn't had the vet comment that she thinks in no small part the blood work changes on Dennett can be attributed to better food, I never would have given it all a second thought. My folks have two big Golden Retrievers that are doing well on Eagle Pack also. Pilot has food allergies and he's no longer chewing at his feet. Happy campers east and west I guess!

The weaving has progressed. I am a third of the way through the final towel and hope to get them off the loom today or tomorrow for finishing. I managed to get a pet prayer flag sent out for the Puss 'n Boots annual animal shelter silent auction. They have scarves but this was really appropriate to give them also. I wish I could go but the Greensprings Fire & Rescue is having their Harvest Festival the same night, also with a silent auction.

Lastly, my lasagna sauce recipe was requested.

Now, I make sauce different every time depending on what's available, how much I need and the position of the moon. But here is a bare bones version to jump off from.
2 large cans ground tomatoes ( use fresh if available, peeled and chopped fine or a can and fresh)
1 can ( 14 oz) beef or chicken broth or red wine or a combo
tablespoon or so of tomato paste
fine dice onions, bell pepper, sliced mushrooms and a little celery
fine dice garlic
red pepper flakes, bay leaf, pinch of sugar, oregano, basil,parsley and whatever other spice you might like in your sauce salt and black pepper to taste
olive oil

Saute onions, bell pepper, mushrooms, garlic and celery in olive oil. If you want to add ground beef do so at this time also. For ground Italian sausage I fry in a different pan to drain most of the fat off, or cook sausages in the oven and slice for placement on ricotta cheese layer. Your choice.

Once everything is nice and soft but not browned add spices and wine/broth and paste, bring up to a happy simmer and add tomatoes and the pinch of sugar. Let it all cook for 5-10 minutes and check seasoning, adjust as needed along with consistency.
I don't like a thick sauce, I like a thin sauce so if you need more liquid add it, be it broth or wine. Bring to lowest setting, cover and simmer for about an hour. Use as needed for lasagna or some other pasta dish.

I think that about covers the range of stuff for today. I have tried to give the links for everything mentioned. :-)


  1. When my son lived in Memphis we would see alot of armadillo's that had been hit on the side. But I think I like your better. Very bright and colorful.

  2. Great to hear about the dogs' improvement. It's amazing what we think are little things that make a hige difference! Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Cool bats! I love seeing them outside....inside (not live) is even better!

    Thanks for the armadillo picture!! Very cool! I see several different weaving motifs in there.

    That's great that Dennett's checkup was so good, and that the new food is making a big difference for your pack.

    Yay for weaving progress!!!

    That lasagna sauce looks yummy!


  4. Your comment about Pilot no longer chewing his feet really caught my eye. Our dog will go through spurts where she licks her feet so much that she licks the pads raw. The vet had us try some special Science Diet food, which didn't make any difference. I'm going to try the Eagle Pack and see if that helps our dog.

  5. Looking at this lasagne makes me hungry, but I promised to fry waffles for the kids this evening. I love those figures, they are just great! The first animal looks very strange to me, what is it?

  6. Charlotte, while the carved and painted animals sometimes are an imaginary stretch, the armadillo is pretty close in looks. You can read more about them here:

    Julie, the article also explains why armadillo's are often dead on the roadsides. They jump when frightened. I was also surprised to learn they are considered threatened.

    Restless knitter, try the food, but foot chewing can also be a contact allergy with grass and weeds or some other such thing in the physical environment. I often wonder about the effects of carpeting on dogs too since there is a lot of toxic stuff that goes into its making.

    Sue, I like my live bats outside too. Nifty little creatures. We have a wildlife rehaber in the Greensprings, her specialty is bats. What an interesting take on the painted armadillo pattern too. I've looked at it so long I never saw a weaving pattern in it, but now I do!

    Jennifer, yes, small changes can reap big differences We were both jazzed with his blood profiles this time, but at 16 that can all change so quickly. We make time to enjoy and honor him every single day

  7. Where did you live in Texas? I spent about 7 years in Houston and about 4 years in Arlington.

    The lasagna sounds yummy. Just the thing for these chilly days.

  8. Leigh,
    I lived for 6 years in the Bryan/College Station area while I worked at TAMU. It was a culture shock after 37 years in New England