Grandma; My Nature Mentor

I would like to acquaint you with the amazing lady, my Grandmother, who shared her love of nature with me. Gram taught me to appreciate all the creatures; great and small! She also instilled in me a gratitude for the environment around me. I loved spending time with her. I have always believed we were soul mates.
When I was younger, we would take long walks in the fields behind her home and enjoy the sun, clouds, rain, whatever weather came our way! She taught me about the many plants that grew out in the fields, we especially loved finding wildflowers and my personal favorite; Japanese Lanterns. We also found some pretty interesting bugs and lots of grasshoppers! We would see mice and moles and she was never afraid of them. There were lots of bunnies and squirrels and we would sometimes take corn along for them, I was sure they knew her! The bird book and her gloves were always in her pocket on our walks, with a variety of birds to discover. There was a wood thrush that built a nest on our way up to the field and we would check on that family every time we walked. We never got too close because she didn’t want to scare them away. If a baby bird fell out of a nest, out came the gloves and she put the bird back. That was my Gram, she taught me to save the animals!
Gram and I had a special park we would visit to catch frogs and look for crayfish. Springs Park was full of them and we had so much fun looking. I often wonder how many pairs of tennis shoes I ruined at that park sloshing around in the springs.
Every summer, my sister and I would go on vacation with my grandparents up north to Lac Du Flambeau. We had a special hotel we stayed at and there were always dogs who visited the guests! This picture is one of the many dogs that my grandma made friends with on our trips!

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One of the places we would visit was Jim Peck’s Wildwood. It was a wildlife utopia for a young girl like me. We fed baby raccoons, mink, opossums and even skunks. My favorites were the raccoons. They were so soft and loved to cuddle.

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Yes, my Grandmother was a very unique lady and I learned to love every creature no matter big or small, even green lizards. My parents weren’t sure what to do with me when I brought home white rats, but that is a story for another day. I hope that I can help my grandchildren learn to love and appreciate nature the way my Gram did for me. I always thank the Lord for giving me my Grandmother, she was a true gift! I loved her with all my heart!
I am grateful for the mentorship and encouragement to blog by Artist/Photographer Karen Hanrahan.
http://karenhanrahan.zenfolio.com/about.html

 

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A Real Gift

I walk in the door after work, still expecting that Max will be there to greet me; but it is not to be anymore.  This day, however, there is a little black and white cat waiting for me; he is meowing and weaving in and out of my legs.  I guess he is happy to see me!  I walk into my bedroom to change my clothes and he keeps meowing very loud and following me, trying so hard to get in and out of my legs.  I stop and reach down to pick him up and he starts jumping around.  He jumps on the bed, grabs my sock and flies off the bed.

At this point, he is yowling and keeps running toward the hallway and then back to the bedroom.  After watching him do this several times, I believe he is saying, “Follow Me!” in kitty language!  So, I follow this little black fur ball down the hall.  He turns into my office, still yowling and looking back to make sure I am following him.  His tail is all fluffed out and his fur is standing on end.

I walk in the room and stop short…..there waiting for me on the floor of my office is a mouse. At first I think it is Emmet’s toy mouse, but no, this is a real mouse, a real dead mouse, lying upside down.  Emmet walks around it with his tail high in the air.  He is so very proud of this dead creature.  He is purring now, weaving in and out of my legs and then walking around the mouse.  The dead mouse.

I had to get rid of this gift, but didn’t want Emmet to feel bad, so I told him what a great hunter he was, got the pliers, picked up the mouse, put him in a box.  Emmet was still purring and weaving in and out of my legs.  Such a proud hunter!  I took the box and put it outside in the garbage can, all the while hoping there were no more of these little fellows hiding in my house!  I felt confident that if there were, Emmet would hunt them down and take care of them.

When I come back inside, he is waiting for me on the couch.  I sit down and he climbs in my lap.  I congratulate him on his catch and tell him that if there are any more of these real mice in the house, he is welcome to take care of them for me!  He looks at me, lies down and falls asleep in my lap.  Hunting is exhausting!!

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The Paw Print

Had to make my first visit to the Danada Veterinary Hospital since losing Max; Emmet needed his claws trimmed on Saturday morning.  While there, they gave me Max’s clay paw print mold.  It came in a nice little box with the baking instructions on it.  As I sat and waited for Emmet to be done, I thought about that paw print and all the places I will miss seeing it.  I especially missed it that morning in the snow on the deck.  It used to be all Max prints in the snow.  He loved snow and running all over in it!  After playing in the snow, he would come in and get wet paw prints all over the kitchen until I could get him toweled off.  He always ended up stealing the towel I used and ran with it all over the house!  Many winters of stealing towels!

Then of course after winter, came spring…..mud prints!   I used to know wherever he went in the house after he came in and dodged the towel that was waiting to wipe him off!  One particular spring, he decided that rolling in the mud was really fun.  He was covered in it.  I took him in the garage, filled a tub with warm water and before I could get him washed down, he shook and I was covered in mud, too!!  I laughed so hard between the curse words I was muttering under my breath!  I got him cleaned off the best that I could, took him in and gave him shower.  We had a removable shower head, so it worked real fine!!

I came home and took the paw print out of the box; they had also included a lock of Max’s hair in a little plastic bag.  What a thoughtful touch.  I looked at the paw print and thought about how many times I had held that paw and how many times that paw was on my leg comforting me.  I never would have made it through my divorce without Max.  He was there for me every second.  He offered me many comforting paws.  Believe me, I accepted those paws and was so thankful for them.  Those paws got me out of the house walking and getting back into life again.  Max truly was my best friend.

When Max would come in from outside, he would offer me his paw in exchange for a treat.  He was really good at that!  I wonder how many times we shook hands.  I thought back to when I taught him to shake.  He was a puppy and would watch Hobbes when he came in from outside.  Hobbes knew the drill; come in, shake hands, get treat!  Simple!  Max watched Hobbes many times.  I tried for quite a while to get him to shake. I would take his paw and tell him “this is shaking hands, this is what I mean!”  Finally one day he sat there and shook my hand. I probably gave him 3 treats!!  He got it!!  He really got me….he would offer his paw at any time and expect a treat.  He knew I carried them in my pockets!

After baking his paw print and letting it cool, I put it in a special basket on my dresser, right next to Hobbes’ paw print.  Every time I look at it, I will smile; thinking of all the happy times and how lucky I was to have had the dog that belonged to that paw in my life.  Max’s paw print will forever be in my heart.photo(5)paw

Good-bye Max

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I write this with much sadness in my heart.  I lost my dear friend, Max on Friday night.  He became very ill and went downhill so fast.  I miss him so very much.  My dear, sweet, beautiful Max who listened to me every day and loved me just the same!  He would guard me and never let any of the “noises” get me; he would bark at the noises and scare them away.

I had no idea how my life revolved around him; he was such a HUGE part of my world.  My mornings started with him waking me up to snuggle, then up we would get at 5:00 and go outside.  We ate our breakfast and took our vitamins.  While I drank my chai tea, he would sit beside me and we would check e-mail and watch the news.  Then out we went again.  If it was light out, we took a short walk and then I came in and got ready for work.  He and Emmet would lie on the rug outside the shower and greet me when I was all done!   I actually had a rug and a towel outside the shower so they could lay on one and I could step on the other; after I stepped over them to get there!  While I was getting dressed Max would steal my socks and I would have to chase him to get them back!  Always wagging his tail, so I knew he was just playing me!  And I let him!  We took one more trip outside before I left for work and then I would gather my stuff, he would lie down and look sad and then I would give him a kiss good bye, get my “Max goodbye kiss” and off I would go.  I always told him that Jess would be there in the afternoon to take him out and I knew when I got home; there he would be, waiting to greet me and love me.  I always looked forward to that greeting and loved it every day!  We would go out in the back yard and play a bit, then come in, have a treat and get ready for dinner.   Sometimes we would go for a walk or a car ride after dinner to run some errands.  His favorite errands were the bank and Walgreen’s; there were always treats for him there!

One of my favorite “Max times” was either the Eve of Christmas Eve or on Christmas Eve night we would go for a car ride and look at the decorations.  Sometimes the decorations were so bright and some had sound and he would growl at them!  I always got a kick out of that!  We always had fun at Christmas time! I took that ride tonight by myself and cried the whole way, talking to my buddy in heaven, knowing that he was watching over me.  Emmet and I are kind of lost right now and I am very glad we have each other!!

I have so many wonderful Max stories.  I will share them intermittently on the blog.  But for now, I will wish you a Very Merry Christmas and ask you to love your pet a little extra today; perhaps an extra hug or two!

Wrap and Raffia

I thought I was getting ahead of the game….got my presents wrapped, raffia and tags put on, thinking now I could start baking and cards.  This was my year of “being organized!!”

I ran out to pick up some last minute ingredients and stocking stuffers, all the while thinking how ahead of the game I was.  I was driving in the car, singing along with Michael Buble, so proud of my organizational skills!  I got home, unloaded all my bags into the garage, opened the door to the house and this is what I found! I should have known something was up because there was no Emmet waiting to escape out the garage door!

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Imagine my surprise!  Max and Emmet had un-wrapped all my packages!  The wrapping paper was all over the floor!   I forgot to put them in the closet and shut the door.  But I thought that if I was only gone for an hour or so, they wouldn’t notice them sitting on the table.  I stood there with my mouth open; should I laugh or cry?!  I looked at Max; he wouldn’t look at me.  At least he knew he had done something wrong.  I shook my head at him and let him know I wasn’t real happy about this one!   Max could not get them off the table, but Emmet could push them or pull them off by the raffia; speaking of Emmet and raffia…where were they?

I looked in my bedroom….nothing!  I looked in my office….nothing!  I looked in Emmet’s room and lo and behold there was Emmet with all the raffia in his kitty tunnel.  What a mess.  He sat there so proud!  He had taken ALL the raffia and put it in his tunnel.  I shook my head at him; he meowed and curled around my leg.  He had no shame.  This was an Emmet Victory!!

I couldn’t get mad because I was so impressed with their inventiveness!  Max loves to chew paper and Emmet loves playing with raffia.  I was amazed how it was divided up!!  And, it only took them an hour and a half!  I guess I can say that I have two very smart critters and I am proud of them!  (Yes, I am a soft touch and look for the positive in all the crimes they commit!!)  I am sure there is a name for that;  sappy, perhaps??!!

Now, time for me to clean up, rewrap and put all the wrapped packages in the closet!   I will smile all the while I am doing that!!

Treats!!

Thought I would share a couple recipes for doggy treats that I make.  Max prefers them over the store bought kind!  The Pumpkin Treats are lower in fat and the other recipe is for Low Protein Treats, great for dogs with kidney issues. (Used to make these for Hobbes when he was still with us.)

Low Protein Veggie Treats

  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 6 Tablespoons low sodium, low fat chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 cup cooked vegetable (sweet potatoes, zucchini or winter squashes—cooked and smashed or pureed)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine flour and garlic powder. Mix in chicken broth and vegetable(s). Add enough cold water to form a ball. Roll out dough to 1/2″ and using a cookie cutter, cut into shapes (love the bone shaped cutters!)  Place on a non-stick cookie sheet & bake for 25 minutes. Let cool.

Pumpkin Dog Biscuits

2 eggs
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons dry milk
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 1/2 cups brown rice flour *
1 teaspoon dried parsley (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.

In large bowl, whisk together eggs and pumpkin to smooth. Stir in dry milk, sea salt, and dried parsley (if using, optional). Add brown rice flour gradually, combining with spatula or hands to form a stiff, dry dough. Turn out onto lightly floured surface (can use the brown rice flour) and if dough is still rough, briefly knead and press to combine.

Roll dough between 1/4 – 1/2″ – depending on your dog’s chew preferences, ask first – and use biscuit or other shape cutter to punch shapes, gathering and re-rolling scraps as you go. Place shapes on cookie sheet, no greasing or paper necessary. If desired, press fork pattern on biscuits before baking, a quick up-and-down movement with fork, lightly pressing down halfway through dough. Bake 20 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully turn biscuits over, then bake additional 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely on rack before feeding to dog.

* Brown rice flour gives the biscuits crunch and promotes better dog digestion. Many dogs have touchy stomachs or allergies, and do not, like many people I know, tolerate wheat.

Since there are no preservatives, I would highly recommend storing all homemade dog treats in the refrigerator

 Woof!!!  (Enjoy!)

The Santa Hat

Saturday morning, a day to sleep in…NOT!!  Max and Emmet wanted to get up at 5:30.  I guess they thought letting me sleep an extra half hour was enough.  So, we got up and started our day!   After we finished breakfast, I had this great idea. I had found my Santa hat in one of the bins of decorations. Why not take a picture of Max in a Santa hat that I could use on my blog and Facebook?   That would be so cool!

I got the hat out, found my camera, put a bunch of dog treats in my pocket, said a prayer and began my quest!

First I got him to sit still; then I put the hat on him, backed away to take the picture….he shook and the hat flew off.  Okay, that was only the first time, so I tried again.  Maybe if I held up a treat while I was going backwards he would sit and wait?  Nope, he shook off the hat, grabbed the treat out of my hand and took off.  All I could do was laugh.

I took him outside for a break; to work off the excess energy.  When we came back in, I tried to sit him down, he was having no part of it.  Emmet was watching me, thinking: Emmet is always thinking.  By the time I got Max seated again, Emmet was posed to pounce.  I hoped I could get the picture taken before he pounced on Max.  I put the hat on Max, stepped back, he shook the hat off and WHAM…in came Emmet!   He grabbed the hat and ran behind the couch.

I was so shocked that I sat down and laughed. Max came over, sat by me and gave me a big kiss, as if to say, “I love you, can we stop now?”   I got the hat and decided to try one more time.  If it didn’t work this time, we were done!  Max saw me coming and sat down.  Hmmm…maybe he would let me take the picture this time with the hat on.   I put it on him, offered a treat, told him he was so good and that if he let me take the picture, I would make him a burger for lunch!  As I backed away, it almost looked like he smiled at me and with a shake of his head, you see where the hat ended up!!!

Oh well, maybe next year!