Saturday, March 30, 2013

Early Spring Hike

We went for a spring hike this week.  As you can see by the trail, it is no longer snow/ice covered, but very, very muddy!  It is quite messy hiking in the spring.

Annie misses the snow.  She absolutely loves the snow.  But she still loved every minute of our hike. She would run ahead and then turn around make sure we were okay and still behind her.  I wish I had some of her boundless energy! 

Annie and Cheetah, my friend's dog, got along together great.  This was the first time we had taken Annie on a hike with Cheetah.  They were like two peas in a pod.  Cosmo felt a little bit left out, as he didn't even try to keep up with the two of them, and he mostly did his own thing...

... which involved a lot of this!

The trail we chose to take had some incredible views.  The mountains are still snow-covered in the distance.  The sun was shining beautifully, but there was a north wind blowing, and the air was still a bit chilly.  At times, you wanted to take your coat off, because the sun felt so warm, and then the wind would pick up and you'd be zippering up your coat, and shoving your hat back on... and then the wind would stop, and you'd be hot again... we almost felt like menopausal women on the hike today... hot then cold, hot then cold!

You can see the trail we were on was quite steep. We were breathing pretty heavily by the time we got to  where the trail leveled out.

Cosmo was laid out on the ground panting... but Annie was still going strong... like I said, I wish I had some of her energy!

From our vantage point up here on this trail, we could see all the way into the closest town where the bridge crosses the river.  

And from a different vantage point, we could see all the way to Mount Spokane. 

This area up here had been logged fairly heavily, and most of the underbrush had been cleared away.  It made it a lot easier hiking around up here.

There were some great tree stumps left behind from the logging, and they made great resting spots for us!

Cosmo was trying to tell me he's getting too old for this kind of stuff!

From the highest point on this trail, we had a clear view of the mountains in a 360-degree view.  It was amazing.  The trail ended on a high plateau which had been cleared by the loggers with a few trees remaining, but you could see mountains in every direction you turned.  On such a beautiful clear day, you could see as far away as the mountains to Priest Lake, to Hoo Doo Mountain, to the mountain ranges in Washington, and to Mount Spokane.

It was an incredible day for hiking, and we loved the amazing views we got to see.  The trails were muddy closer to the bottom areas of the trail, but were almost completely dry farther up the mountain.  It took us about 2-1/2 hours to hike all the way up here, and then back down.  Not bad for an early spring hike!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Cat with Nine Lives

Well, I don't think he's used up all of his nine lives... yet... but he's got a good head start on it!  Our sweet orange cat, whom we affectionately call Simba (he's got a white circle on both sides of his body,the circles reminded us of the song Circle of Life in the movie the Lion King, hence his name Simba). 

Simba was a rescue cat.  Our next door neighbor showed up one afternoon on his bike, carrying Simba in his jacket.  Apparently Simba had become separated from his mom and was found wandering outside our neighbor's home.  He kept Simba for the night and brought him to us the next day. We instantly fell in love with this poor little abandoned fella, and he immediately took up residence at our home like he'd always lived here.  He never wanted to go outside, and ran from the door when it was open. Apparently he had very bad memories of being outside. 

His favorite place to be was wrapped up in a coat, jacket or robe with his little head peeking out!

And Cosmo was his adopted daddy... he loved Cosmo dearly, and loved to sleep cuddled up next to him.

He loved to sit in this position like a little groundhog- so cute!

But then one day something terrible happened.  Simba was playing on the woodpile downstairs next to Mr. Beast.  He jumped from the woodpile onto the top of the hot stove.  Instantly, all four of his little paws were burnt.  He jumped off the stove and we found him just huddling on the floor when we came downstairs to see what had happened.  It was an awful thing for all of us.  He couldn't walk at all on his paws.  I took him to the vet, and there wasn't much they could do.  We applied some Silvadene  to his paws and I found these little rubber finger "cots" at the local drug store.  It hurt him for us to put the finger cots on, but it did keep the medication on his paws and kept them from getting infected. 

Problem was, he couldn't walk at all, and we had to carry him everywhere.  He would get on my desk and sleep on my desk.  I snapped the above picture where he had fallen asleep on my Bible on my desk.

His paws finally healed up, and he was back to himself.  His favorite thing was still to curl up next to Cosmo. There were times that Cosmo wasn't too happy about having little Simba sleeping next to him.  But he was patient and kind, and allowed Simba to curl up next to him and sleep. 

We found out that what Simba loved to do most was sleep, and he always made sure he found soft, cuddly sleeping spots.

Time passed and it was time to get Simba "fixed".  He had overcome his fear of the outdoors once summer came, and soon found lady "friends" and would often stay gone a night or two at a time.  I read an ad in the newspaper that the local Humane Society was having a spay and neuter clinic and made an appointment with them for Simba.

This is the picture I took of Simba the night before the procedure.

Simba was in perfect health, happy and content the night before we took him for the procedure. This is the picture I took of him because the Humane Society requested we tape a picture of our animal to the carrier for identification.  As you can see, he looks as adorable as can be. 

I was shocked when we got him home and took him out of the cage.  His nose and whisker area was abraded so badly it was dripping blood.  His nose was swollen twice its size, and he began frantically running through the house looking for water. He would drink some water and then frantically run through the house looking for more water.  This went on for quite a while, until finally he got enough water to drink. 

I called the clinic to see what had gone wrong with his nose.  They had no answers.  They thought maybe he had gotten frantic in the ride to the clinic, and perhaps tried to escape from the carrier.  However, he is a very calm kitty normally, and we've never had a problem with him trying to escape from the carrier when we've carried him in it before. 

Here is a picture of him shortly after we got him home.  I snapped this picture with my camera phone (sorry about the poor quality) of Simba in the bathroom sink after he drank and drank for a long time.  You can see the red swollen nose.

It has gotten much worse.  He has begun to lose all the hair on his nose and the area around his mouth has become swollen and infected.  He couldn't eat or drink at all unless we gave him soft foods like tuna, and we had to sryinge feed him water.

I talked to the vet who did the surgery and he could offer me no explanation for why Simba was suffering so severely after just a routine, simple procedure.  His only explanation to me was that he did remember Simba because when first evaluated Simba and get ready to begin the procedure, he noted that his nose was already red at that point.  That is why they assume something must have happened to him in the carrier, but they don't know what.  The vet assured me that he should soon recover from this. I was treating Simba with oregano oil in his food, and with some colloidal silver in his water.  The vet felt like this was very appropriate treatment, and that he should recover quickly.

This is Simba today a little over a week later.  He is feeling much better.  He has been lying at the door, crying and wanting to go out.  This is a positive sign, because for the past week, he has not wanted to do anything but sleep.  We had to get him up to take him potty and to syringe feed him water.  He started eating regular cat food again today, and drinking on his own.  And he was able to purr again.  For the past week, he hasn't even been able to purr because his nose and face were so swollen.

He is finally breathing better and not wheezing, able to purr and cry at the door, which are all positive things.  He is eating and drinking now by himself, and we are hopeful that he will continue to improve.

This poor little kitty has been through so much in his little life, and so we are now calling him the cat with nine lives, because he certainly has had a rough go of it in his life so far. 

I am disturbed by what happened with the visit to the Humane Society, especially since no one had any answers as to why our poor little kitty went in a healthy cat and came home looking like he'd been in a violent assault.  When I spoke with the vet, he was very kind, and did tell me that sometimes cats do crazy things in the cat carriers because of all the noise of the other animals.  Regardless of what happened, I do know this one thing, I would never allow another pet of mine to be treated at the Humane Society, as it certainly was not a very humane thing which happened to our poor little Simba. 

Yet, our cat with nine lives is going to be just fine, I believe, and no doubt will be one very, very, very spoiled cat once he is completely well.  I noticed today when I took him downstairs to his feed bowl that he cried after he was finished and stretched out his paws towards me.  He was telling me to pick him up and carry him back upstairs to his bed.  He's so lovable and sweet, I couldn't resist, although I'm sure as he gets to feeling better, he'll want to do these things all on his own... at least I hope he will! 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Comfort Food... Did you say KALE?

Since Spring seems to be dragging her feet .... and winter/cold weather just keeps lingering around... it is the still the season for some comfort food!

So, when I say the words "comfort food" ....  most likely this brings up visions of involving a special soup or stew, or a special dinner, or perhaps it may be a vision of hot steamy biscuits or bread fresh out of the oven dripping with butter.... you get the idea! Comfort food brings up visions of many different things for all of us...

But, this week, I've been on a mission to eat healthier... and with all this cold weather lingering around, I thought it would be a great idea to get in the kitchen, to create something healthy, nutritious, and yummy, all at the same time! And I wasn't sure whether it would qualify in the "comfort food" definition or not... but I was willing to give it a try!

I started out with LOTS of vegetables.  I just about cleaned out the two bottom drawers of my refrigerator... this mixture included grated carrots, green, yellow and red peppers,  onions, jalapeno, sweet potato, eggplant, celery, and fresh minced garlic... I heated up my large skillet with 1 tablespoon or so of sesame oil (this is a really important ingredient... don't use any other oil, the sesame oil gives it an amazing flavor!)

As the vegetables began to cook down, I added in some broccoli, kale, spinach, and bok choy leaves.

Then it was time to add the soy sauce... just add enough to taste... don't add too much at once, you can't undo the salty taste, so just a little bit at a time until it's just right...

Then I opened my package of Rice Sticks.  This is a type of Asian noodle that tastes amazing with a stir fry, and is quite easy to prepare.  Just soak the package of noodles in hot water for at least 10-15 minutes... and that's it! 

Sorry for the glare in this picture...I didn't realize the water was creating a mirror effect while I was taking the picture until later...

And... the end result!  An amazingly easy dinner full of nutrition... and then the real test was my kids... would they like it? 

The verdict came in... they all chowed down and enjoyed the full rich flavor of the stir fry and had no idea they were eating a nutrition packed meal with veggies like kale and eggplant that they had previously turned up their noses at... and this stir fry actually tasted like a comfort food! 

I didn't give exact amounts for this recipe, because there is no need to with a stir-fry.  Just throw in the pot whatever veggies you have on hand, fry it in some sesame oil, add some soy sauce towards the end of cooking time, and whatever noodles you choose to use.  I have also used spaghetti squash with this stir fry, and then you have a vegetable stir fry....  or if you want to add some meat, such as cubed chicken, that works great too! 

I assure you that you'll be pleasantly surprised at how good all these veggies taste together, and also knowing that your body is receiving the comfort food it really needs!

My kids now tell me how much they love spinach, kale, and broccoli... especially in these stir fries... and so,  I plan on experimenting with other ways to feed my family food that tastes good, and is good for you too!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Is Spring On Its Way?

I don't know if it is!  I checked the weather reports for this week, and we are on schedule to get an inch of snow several times this week, followed by rain!  Since Wednesday is officially the first day of spring, our weather is really not acting that spring-y!  Winter just doesn't want to leave!  But, we have been enjoying warmer days and more sunshine, which has been nice!  Have been doing a lot of hiking lately since the snow has been melting, and just enjoying being outside. 

One thing I dislike about spring here in the north, is what happens when the snow melts... everything turns brown and very, very, very muddy! Oh the mud!  I can't hardly tolerate it, and yet it seems to find its way into every nook and cranny of my house!  I think we are growing it sometimes!  But, I am tolerating all the muddiness, with hope in my heart that one of these days, the sun is going to come out, dry up all the mud, and my tulips will start blooming, and the grass will begin to turn green, and maybe I'll even get to plant my garden!  One must always hope! 

Just wanted to share a few pictures with you that I took recently on another hike I've been on .... Most of the snow has melted, so no more stepping into knee deep snow every step you make! Instead we were able to easily hike up and down these mountains without any problems at all!

Even though the incline was almost vertical, it was just a breeze for us, because we'd been doing it in deep snow, and now we didn't have the snow to deal with.  What a difference no snow makes!

Well... when you're going up a steep incline... like this one... snow or no snow... it will still get  your blood pounding and your heart racing!

Some beautiful views once we got to the top...

Moss was growing everywhere... another sign spring can't surely be far off!!

We found a new marker on my friends place that was put in by the US Geological Survey that showed the elevation of this rock.

My friends dog is a real sweetie, and very alert to everything going on in the forest, much more than we were!  We were too busy talking and catching our breath to notice that there were several deer just ahead of us... but Cheetah wasn't distracted.  She watched them very closely and quietly for a minute or so, and then they darted off into the forest before we could catch a clear glimpse of them.  It is comforting to know we have such good eyes and ears with us when we are hiking!

Mequita is a darling border collie and her job is to find all the sticks and twigs and bring them to us, and drop them at our feet.  She stays very busy with this job, and just can't understand why we aren't pleased with her sticks brought to us with great love!

Another hill we climbed down.  I think the going down part was trickier than going up!  The mud made the hillside pretty slick in some places, and I wasn't interested in sliding down this hillside! So we carefully weaved our way down this hill.

I loved the moss covering the ground on the side of this hill top. It has such a happy shade of green... with a beauty all in its own right! 

Just as quickly as the sun comes out and shines, it can cloud up and a snow/rain/hail  mixture can suddenly appear. We've been having lots of these little "storms" that last for about 15-20 minutes with snow/rain/hail, and then just as quickly, it will clear off, the sun will come out, and it will be spring out!  


So, whether spring will really show up on Wednesday or not, it's pretty debatable, given that the weather forecast is for snow almost every day this week... but... one can always hope!!!