Thursday, October 31, 2013

Virtual Altar

I don't get into Halloween... I really haven't since I was a child. Maybe because I chose a profession where there was so much illusion...Halloween just feels like another day at work. But several years ago, I belonged to a cooking club. The night I was to host fell on 10/30. In researching what to serve and knowing the group wanted to celebrate, I discovered so many things about All Hallow's Eve that made me come to love the true meaning of the day... stuff that seems lost on the majority of the world.

This was my introduction to the recipes of the evening for my group:

In Mexican lore, it is believed that a person is more alive after death; that life as we know it is some sort of dream state. Death is a beautiful thing to be welcomed. When the Catholic religion gained favor, it brought fear of death and the concept of hell. Similar to Italian All Soul's Day, it is believed that the souls of loved ones are allowed to return for a visit on November 1st and 2nd. Children and infants return on the 1st and adults on the 2nd. 

As the day draws near, each family prepares an altar or serving table to welcome their loved ones. It is decorated in brightly colored fabric, candles, photos of the departed, flowers (paper versions and real marigolds), sugar skulls to represent the living and the dead, and favorite foods of the departed.
Since my sister's 71st birthday would have been November 2nd, and she was never one to miss a good party, I thought I would post  a virtual altar to share.

For my sister, I will chose our mutual favorite photo:

I will leave her a "real" Coca Cola - something she loved but that diabetes took from her. I'll leave one from Mexico because it still has sugar in it and tastes like they did in our childhood.  I would leave her a pack of Winston cigarettes. Even though she quit smoking decades ago, in the last year of her life, she would frequently ask where her cigarettes were. And one of her winter vests that she gave me will be placed nearby; she was always cold. 

For my father, I would choose this photo of the two of us - my earliest memory from childhood:
For him, I will pick some lemons from my garden and place a shaker of salt. The dashboard of his car was lined with them. He kept a knife handy in the car and would slice a lemon in half, salt it and suck on it as he drove.  I'm going to leave him a clump of my own hair - I shed constantly - because he loved to stroke it so much.

And my beloved Maggie May - the dog that saved my life. I will place a photo of her in one of her Halloween costumes. She loved dressing up!

For my sweet girl, I will leave some cookies and one of the kerchiefs she loved wearing around the holidays. 

You have to admit, there is much beauty and comfort in this holiday when you look at the meaning behind it all! 

Who will you add to the altar? What will you leave them for their journey??? 


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Temperamental Super Model

I take Mabel Lou out to a nice sunny spot with a lovely busy green backdrop and no poop in view for her review for  Mr. Chewy and Fromm's Four Nutritionals Grain-Free Lamb with Cranberry Recipe Dog Treats in yesterday's post. Naturally, she had other ideas! It went like this:

I ask her to sit in my perfect spot. She finds left thigh:

She won't move... I can't get a nice product shot from this angle:

I beg and plead and get her up, ask her to sit again. She right calf! OY!

I beg and plead some more, get her up and she plops down... not in front of the lovely green bushes but with the mucky pool in the background. And a tree coming out of her head. And there's some poop... I get up and scoop and settle back in. I place the product next to her and...she won't look at me:

The chew shots go OK because she was eating....

I then want a smiley or something...licky lips... to close. I call her. She looks left.

I call her. She looks down....

I call her. She looks right....

Finally, after much begging and torturing her with a lamb and cranberry cookie over the camera,  I get a licky lip and

A happy beauty shot!

I swear, photography is rough when your model is so demanding and wants to direct the shoot!

Creekhiker was not compensated in any way for this review. Mabel Lou was given a free bag of dog treats to eat - or not - by

Monday, October 28, 2013

Review - Lamb and Cranberry Treats from Mr. Chewy

I've always wanted to do a Mr. Chewy review cause all my furry friends seem to think so highly of them... but the timing was never right. Until last week! We were asked again and jumped right on it.

Beauty Shot: Mabel Lou with Fromm's Lamb with Cranberry Treats

We're not complete newbies to Mr. Chewy. They saved the day for us with our sudden trip to Louisiana to help out after Mom's surgery. They shipped 40# of premium dog food free of charge and they even carry Mabel's favorite canned line, Evanger's! Evanger's uses "real" food in their canned food. Mabel loves the duck and sweet potato as well as the beef n bacon! Mr. Chewy put a hold on our order because it was shipping to a different address than where it was billed. I loved that they thought about my credit card safety! I called and all was on it's way.  Everything arrived super fast and made taking care of my girl while taking care of Mom so easy!!  It made us big fans of Mr. Chewy.

Hmmmm Tasty!!!!
For our review, we were sent Fromm's Four Nutritionals Grain-Free Lamb with Cranberry Recipe Dog Treats. Mabel can be fussy over hard cookies but not these... she LOVED them and asked for more! She "hoovered" the grass for crumbs too!  They are made from really healthy stuff too!! (See last pic!) I would feel good about giving her these!

More noms plese Mom!

Mr. Chewy carries everything dogs and cats need. We have also just ordered some Made in the USA duck jerky since the warnings about the Chinese stuff came out... Duck jerky is her favorite bedtime snack and I just don't feel I can take a chance with my Sr. Dog's health by buying the Chinese version anymore! Mr. Chewy had the most affordable version I could find, however, I did have to phone and speak to someone to find out which versions are American made (Natural Balance and Etta Says). I'll let you know how the new treats go over soon!!!

For those who are interested... I was VERY impressed reading the ingredients in the Lamb and Cranberry treats. We will put these on our shopping list for next time!!!

Now those of you that know Mabel Lou know that she is a most difficult super model to work with. Tune in tomorrow for out-takes from her photo sesh.... She's such a funny dog!!!

Creekhiker was not compensated in any way for this review. Mabel Lou was given a free bag of dog treats to eat - or not - by

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

So Beautiful to Me

It's sometimes hard to think about the fact that I didn't like this dog very much. I never thought she would have my heart the way she does...she was such a naughty and frustrating puppy. I still remember giving her commands and her giving me that side-long glance that basically was her way of saying that no, she would be doing exactly as she damn well pleased. But we're both older and wiser now...

I'm always amazed at my own ability to communicate with animals. Maybe it's because I feel so lacking in my efforts at human interaction. I've impressed many a friend on the trail with my ability to know what Mabel is chasing based strictly on her body language. Tennis ball, golf ball, lizard, canine friends, unknown dogs, runny babbit, cat, rat, coyote or deer all have a different tell.

Two days ago, we went out a bit too early and had a rather hot hike. Mabel Lou and I had been hiking for an hour and were on the last hill top before the car. I saw our Rottie pup friend Otto entering from the levy and I could see our pals Hank & Sue had parked in front of us. There was a time we would have turned and went back for another round...just to be outside with friends. 

I told Mabel, "Otto, Hank and Sue are here... do you want to go back in??" 

She stood there looking around as if debating. I've never seen her do this. Normally, she would have simply trotted right back up the trail. 

So I asked her, "Do you want to go home?" 

She headed for the car.

But just yesterday, Hank & Sue decided we should pond... we haven't been going as it's cooler now. Plus we have to cross the stream up to knee deep in several places there and ... the water is cold to the two-leggers! And there is no close parking... we have to cross a busy four lane street with no crosswalk or park on the dark side, walk under the bridge and climb a steep hill to get in now. It makes for a long hike! Still Mabel was running and playing like a young pup!

We were finished with the pond when our pal Otto showed up.  His brother Bart had some medical tests done and we wanted to catch up on all the news. I asked Mabel if she wanted to loop with Otto on the dark side. She knows this is a long walk!  And she turned and trotted up the hill after him. A DOUBLE walkie!  She kept up, chased a coyote smell with Otto and was even in the lead a bit!

I just love this girl so. She makes me smile every day.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Good Cuddler

Mabel Lou has always been a good cuddler. This pic was taken weeks ago but it happens pretty much every evening. The girl requires a good cuddle, followed by a game of bitey face, ear scritches  and kisses before she would even think of her bedtime routine. Don't you just love the gray tip of her tail?

Just a Tired Old Dog

I'm having to learn so much about Senior Dogs now that Mabel is one. We are the oldest in our pack and too slow to hike with most of our friends now. And my girl sleeps... A LOT!  But she still wants to go go go. She's grown accustomed to her ramp in and out of the car. And she still has the most beautiful smile... when she's awake. Shhhhh! Let's not wake her!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Got Creek?

We had a gulley washer of a storm Wednesday. Our temps dropped seven degrees down into the 40s during the storm. As soon as there was a break, you know we had to dash out to see the creek. We ran into Chloe and her dad  just as we were trying to figure out our way over an impromptu stream bed cutting across our entry. We made our way over to the river bed and were all over joyed to find water!

Toward Mt. Lukens

Downstream view:

By the time we hiked out, that first stream had dried up. And today, there was nothing but mud puddles... Here's Hank and Sue in the same spot Thursday night. Ms. Mabel was in a "no photos please" mood with seeing no water in her stream...


Monday, October 07, 2013

Mystery Plant Photo Bomb

The other day, Mabel and I were most please to find the city had started their annual clean up of Dirty Creek! They do this to make the water flow in winter (cause they didn't for a few years and some houses got flooded and the city and golf course got sued!)

While they no longer remove all the North side vegetation (making Mallory and crew very happy!) there were so many partially felled branches from a spring was feeling rather perilous to hike there! There were so many areas to explore...places we simply couldn't get to for safety reasons for months... we were overjoyed. Our hiking buddy and her Hank and Sue Rhodesians joined us and we had a lovely easy hike!
As we started to leave, we noticed a rather strange plant we've never seen before. It had obviously gotten a fresh haircut, courtesy of the city. But, we have no idea what it is and there's nothing like this in the area!
I snapped off a few shots and realize that Miss-No-Photos-Please Mabel had photo bombed every shot!