Puppy Power

Lets get a puppy, it will be fun! A cute cuddly little puppy. Who doesn’t love a puppy? Ah the joys of puppyhood. I do absolutely love my puppy! We have been going to beginner obedience class, she is so good. We are graduating next week! She is seven months old and she is a ball of fire! She has so much energy! She is either full speed ahead or fast asleep! I am so happy she is in my life. But she is a mess! She loves to play outside, she brings the outside in! Her wet muddy paws all over my floors. Stickers, leaves, and sand in my bed. Water, omg the water, she sticks her whole face in the bowl to drink! Then she shakes her wet mop face all over the place. Every water bowl in the house is full of sand. She is making so much extra work for me. She has just recently found the joys of digging so now I am raking and cleaning, and washing constantly! She loves toys and is an expert at tearing them apart all over my carpet! I must be crazy!

She has finally stopped getting car sick so now I can take her places without the fear of having to clean up my car when we get home! She chases my chickens and plays with sticks. She loves to play frisbee and swim in her pool. She loves tackling and wrestling with McKenzie, my poor older dog (she loves her too, most of the time)!  Who’s idea was this?!

She is getting so big. I bet she weighs 40 pounds by now. I know that because she likes to jump up on the bed in the morning and lay on my chest to wake me up! She eats socks and drinks out of the toilet. She chews up shoes, flip flops are her favorites! Her personality is huge, she is outgoing and gregarious. Tallulah Bleu, she is a handful! What was I thinking?! I love her and I can’t imagine life without her.

I Am a Dreamer

Autumn, this has always been my favorite time of year. I absolutely love it! Last year I kinda missed it, so I am enjoying it even more this year. It is still unreasonably hot and humid here. The horses are already getting their winter coats. The grass is growing much slower, everything seems to be slowing down and getting ready for winter. This time of year there is so much to do, harvest festivals, haunted houses, Oktoberfest, art shows, pumpkin carving foods and drinks! But it is also a time to slow down a little, and get cozy. I hope I can pull out a few sweaters and a warm fuzzy blanket or two this year. I don’t care for super cold but I love a little chill in the air. A lovely cool evening listening to the owls and watching the bats fly overhead. A crisp morning of hiking, drinking hot chocolate and not sweating. Sitting around a fire and telling scary stories! It is all just so enchanting to me, ahh!

Now on to real business! As a reader of my blog you know I had some really bad health issues last year. Actually November is the one year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. It is something I would love to forget! But I’m not sure that is possible, I have daily reminders (aches and pains) and lots and lots of bills! My health insurance alone costs me a small fortune. This is not good because I am not working right now, yikes! I want to work but some days it is all I can do to take care of all the farm chores. I still don’t have all my strength and stamina back. I have neuropathy in my thigh which prevents me from standing for any length of time, very annoying! I am going to physical therapy 3 times a week. So…I’m trying to figure out what to do. I want to do something meaningful and fulfilling. I want to be creative. I have lots of skills to use and I want to share with other people. You know, be useful in some way!  They say, “Do what you love and the rest will follow.” I have been struggling with this.

Then one day it hit me!!! Something I have always dreamed about was owning a bed and breakfast. I love to cook and bake, I love entertaining, I love sharing my talents with others. But I live in a small house and there was no way for me to do that. There’s hardly enough room for us, let alone any guests, we would be tripping over each other at every turn! I had this idea about ten years ago, it has evolved, but what I want to do is offer camping at my farm! I am so excited! It is going to be great! And I want to invite you to be involved. Details to follow!

Well, Well, Well…

We have been working nonstop on the farm. Putting in irrigation and electric to the out buildings. Although this is a lot of work in this hot sweltering weather,  when its all said and done it will be so worth it! I am so sick of dragging kinking hoses and extension cords around the yard. You should hear me cussing when I drag that hose all the way down to were I need it and then, right when I get there, the water stops because of a kink, or four, all the way back at the faucet, its not a pretty sight! Lol I’m not even sure how many hoses Jerry has run over with the lawn mower.  All I know is we have a stack of patched together hoses! We spent most of the week digging trenches and getting wire and pipes. Connecting all this and hooking up waterers and sprinklers. I can’t wait to flip the switch! Yay! Everything works! No leaks! Ahh finally, no more hoses. Peace of mind with automatic waterers. I feel a sense of relief. It will be so nice when we go out of town to know that the animals will have fresh clean water. Not that my pet sitter doesn’t keep everything in perfect order but, why not make it easier for everyone?

I have been trying to make everything around here as easy and efficient as I can. Having a farm and animals is a lot of work as it is. So why not make it as easy as possible? Being sick last year and having trouble doing a lot of my regular chores made this more apparent to me. Why struggle with a sore back and bending over when you can easily set up a wash table for the dogs? Why drag hoses when you can just turn on a faucet? Why make more work for yourself? Work smarter, not harder! Finally it is happening! It is so rewarding to look back on all this hard work and know it is done.

Wait a minute…not so fast…After working all day in the hot sun and coming in for the evening, enjoying a good shower…the water stopped! The well is not working! No water! All right I guess there is never a good time for your well to go out, but now… REALLY? We are gonna have to sleep on this one. You don’t really know how much you need water until it’s gone. No coffee, no tea, no toilet!

So all day we are working on this well. Methodically pulling heavy steel pipes out of the ground. Sixty feet, foot by foot. We use an engine lift, a chain fall, and vice grips. The danger here is dropping it down into the well and losing everything, pipes, pump, and all. In hindsight, the well has been acting up, so I guess it wasn’t a total surprise, but still. THIS SUCKS! We find out that the bottom pipe has a hole in it and the water was running out of the tank right back down into the ground. Luckily the pump seems to be ok. Next we have to get new pipes. Then methodically put it all back together piece by piece and lower it back down into the ground. Eight hours later…we have water! Yes! I am so lucky to have these handy guys, I honestly don’t know how I would do it without them! So again, happiness and relaxation set in from a job well done. Shower time! I go to get in the lovely, much anticipated shower. Nice water pressure! Ahh…wait, what is going on the pressure is getting weaker and I can’t get this white soap to rinse off? WAIT! It’s not soap, it’s pipe dope! It’s all over me!  Apparently my shower was the last in the pipe line so all the excess pipe dope (glue) ended up there! We had to take the shower head off and wash it out, it will be fine. I scrubbed the pipe dope off and I will be fine. Just another day on the farm.

Enough

Do we ever have enough? Enough information, enough money, enough stuff. It seems to me that we are ambushed with too much information, at least I know I am. Everybody has an opinion. On my journey towards healing I am overwhelmed with all the different and opposing information. I think I am ready to take on some challenges but its hard to know which way to go. So I guess I have to follow my intuition and do what feels right to me.

First of all I am a strong believer in good nutrition. It is the basis for all health. I am a cook. I eat whole, real, not processed food and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. I buy organic and local whenever I can.  I try to not eat too much sugar, that is my weakness, some say sugar feeds cancer, my oncologist says no. I almost never eat fast food. I don’t drink sodas. I try to drink plenty of filtered water. I have done lots of research on nutrition. I have been on every diet under the sun. I was even a vegetarian for awhile. And until I got my cancer diagnosis I was healthy and fit despite being overweight. I easily did 10,000 steps a day and was always active. Low blood pressure and no signs of diabetes or anything like that. I have some friends that are very strict with their diets and they seem to be sickly. Their skin doesn’t look good and they seem frail. They are always having stomach and digestive issues. They just don’t seem happy.

One of my friends told me the other day they are not going to eat out anymore because it causes them too much digestive trouble. What a shame, you can make good choices at restaurants and it is part of going out and socializing, part of the human experience. If your body is kicking back clear broth maybe you need to do something different. I have another friend who was a little crazy about what she ate, all organic, glass bottled water, no meat, etc.etc. until I found her wolfing down a hamburger one day. And another that did the whole gluten free thing for a year. She described it as the worst year of her life. Too much stress! I think we have put so much stress and emotional guilt around eating that it is almost impossible to relax, eat,  and enjoy a good meal. I don’t think it’s worth it. The information changes all the time. I think we all start out with good intentions but I think you can take anything too far. Too much of a good thing. An example is some people that do animal rescue, a wonderful thing, until they get too many and become animal hoarders that can’t possibly take care of all they have taken on.

I am a foodie and food and eating and entertaining is such a huge part of our life. I want to enjoy my life. I want to experience delicious food. I want to embrace health. I just can’t imagine restricting myself to the point of misery. So I am going to eat real food, in small amounts and move around more. For now, that’s all I can do. It will have to be enough.

Underground to Outerspace

This morning I wake up pretty sore and achey but after yesterdays adventures I am feeling confident. Yesterday was quiet a challenge! Today we are headed for more. Our first stop is the Camuy Caves. A huge limestone cave system carved out by the Rio Camuy, the worlds third largest subterranean river. As we head through the park gates a few people give us some flyers for a couple of nearby restaurants, interesting but effective marketing! Since I’m sure we will be hungry when we are finished exploring these caves.

Thankfully, a tram takes us down to the opening of the cave. It’s huge! Again we are walking on a very slippery damp cement path. There are some rails which you really don’t want to touch because they have guano (bat poo) on them. Just as our guide says, “Be very careful, the path can be slippery.” Jerry goes down, oh no! He was my support, the person I grab onto if I feel unsteady! Apparently the sneakers he wore do not like the cave floor at all, he is slipping and sliding everywhere! My boots seem to be ok. When it gets steep I grab Scott for a little support. We navigate pretty well. Although Jerry is slipping, he doesn’t go down again. The caves are beautiful. Large stalactites (hang down from the ceiling) and stalagmites (grow up from the floor) they are everywhere. There is a gigantic stalagmite 17 feet tall and 27 feet in diameter. Strange shapes and shadows are around every corner, an indian, a witch. Looking ahead out of one of the cave openings I see what looks like gold shimmering or maybe fireflies floating to the ground. It is beautiful, mesmerizing. Our guide says it is leaves falling from the top of a sinkhole and the sunlight is catching them just right. It is amazing. I wonder what life for the Taino Indians, the first Puerto Rican inhabitants, must have been like? We see bats, there are thirteen species of bats in this cave. They are much larger than our Florida bats, about a 12″ wingspan. They are sleeping now. I can’t imagine what this place looks like when they are all flying out for the evening!

We finish our tour and I am feeling strong. I had no problems with the slippery, treacherous walk. As I anticipated, we are hungry. I grab the restaurant flyers and we start driving. We pass on the first one and pull into the next, El Taino Restaurante. A handsome white haired gentleman greets us at the door. “Hello, welcome!” he warmly shakes our hands. He introduces himself as Juan B. Santiago. He shows us his biceps and we realize he is in very good shape for a 77 year old man. He tells us he goes to the gym everyday and he only eats when he is hungry. He reminds me of Jack La Lane. He owns the restaurant, his family works there. He is quiet a character, he seats us and sits down with us. He tells us all about his life and shows us pictures of him at all different ages, that are hung around the restaurant. We order our food. I have a seafood salad with fried plantains, Jerry had a crusted grouper, and Scott had a shrimp stew or something. It was all delicious but the entertainment was better! Mr. Santiago was a pleasure. He sang us old american classics from the 1950’s. He was very well spoken and said he loved words. We enjoyed talking with him very much. As we were about to leave he gave us a warm embrace and a lovely napkin holder portraying a scene from Old Puerto Rico. It was pouring down rain outside, he grabbed an umbrella and walked Scott to the car so he could drive around and pick Jerry and I up from the door. What a lovely gentleman! To be continued…

Dog gone it!

I must be a glutton for punishment. Just when things were starting to get better and I was slowly getting back to my routine…I go and bring a new puppy into the house! Omg would somebody slap me! I must be outta my mind! Late nights up walking the puppy, early mornings up walking the puppy, aggravating my back with all the bending over! Cuts and scrapes all over my arms from her tiny needle teeth. Toys scattered all over the floor to trip over or step on. She is a little ball of energy. And she believes she is the queen of everything right now! Everything in the house is hers to knaw on and play with, including me! Her little needle sharp teeth are testing my blood platelets for sure! I’m afraid she is going to think her name is NO! or OUCH!

The whole house is in an upheaval right now. Puppy proofing the house, everything is up out of her reach sometimes mine too. We crawled around on our hands and knees looking for things she might get into. I hope the neighbors weren’t watching! Of course she still finds little bits and pieces that we missed, proudly marching over to me gumming up a small bit of paper or whatever. My other dogs literally roll their eyes when they see her coming. Giving me looks like, What have you done? And if you want, We could take care of her! Everything was so peaceful, why? Why have you brought this hairy piranha into our house? Nothing is safe! She has everyone riled up. She is a pointer and at seven weeks old she is pointing and stalking my little old dog, Oliver. He hates her and I really don’t blame him. She thinks its funny to sneak up on him, bite him on the butt, and run off like a lunatic! My other dog McKenzie is trying to tolerate her for my sake, I can tell. She’s all like, if you say so. They think she is a devil dog! I prefer calling her Tallula, and I love her.  She is full of shenanigans and mischief and I’m pretty sure thats why they made puppies so cute, so you can tolerate all their nonsense! I gotta go, she is eating the carpet right now!

Puppy Power!

I brought home my new puppy last Saturday, she is so cool, I love her! She is a Wire Haired Pointing Griffon. She is seven and a half weeks old and I named her Tallulah Bleu. I have a feeling she is going to whip my butt into shape! She is already wearing me out, I think it’s a good thing. She keeps me busy thats for sure! It’s been a long time since I’ve had a baby in the house.  Puppy proofing and crate training. New routines and lots of walking! I do feel a little worn out and my back is sore from all the bending and picking her up. But it’s all good, Tallulah is giving me that gentle push to get out and play more! I needed that!

I used to have fun riding and working my horses. Right now my doctor says, “No riding. Wait a little longer for your bones to get stronger. “I can’t wait to get back in the saddle again. But I guess I need to give it a little more time. Got my XGeeva shot today, come on strong bones! My blood work looks great, the best it has since I got sick. My hair is getting longer and thicker every day. I actually have eyebrows and eyelashes now! When I look in the mirror I am starting to recognize this person! So I know I will be back to full strength soon. Tallulah is a hunting dog, not that I hunt, but she points and retrieves. So I am thinking, when she gets older, I might try doing field trials with her. She is already showing some skills at stalking her toys. Too cute!

Any kind of baby is a big commitment. And I am so happy to say I am ready for this one. I couldn’t have done it a few months ago but I am having fun with her and enjoying every minute! Well…maybe not the late night walks.

Easter Enjoyment

I am definitely getting better. Some days I feel like I’m back to my old self. Some days, when I do too much, I get all achy and crappy feeling again but generally I am making progress. We had a wonderful Easter. I cooked Friday and Saturday. I made Greek Easter bread and potato salad, and baked beans, and ambrosia, and we had a Honey Baked ham, deviled eggs, green bean casserole, and spiced apples. Not to mention a little spring cleaning and shopping. Too much food for sure. I am grateful to be able to have so much, we will be eating leftovers for days! Every year we say we will cut down on the menu but everyone seems to have their favorites so we can never narrow it down. The guys pitched in to help and I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I couldn’t have done this a few weeks ago! I was on my feet a lot. My thighs still get tingly and burn if I stand up too long and I did. So the next day I knew I would have to take it easy. But thats alright I’m just happy to be able to be cooking again.

Good friends and good conversation. At this time in my life one of the things I find myself enjoying the most is getting together with good friends and sharing a meal. It brings me such joy to be able to connect with others and share a laugh or two. When I was not feeling well I couldn’t participate in the kitchen (or anything else for that matter) as much as I would have liked but Easter (a time of renewal and new beginnings) gave me the opportunity to get back in the kitchen and start kicking butt! Feeding people great food is very rewarding. Eating is such a basic human need. I guess this is why almost every celebration is based around food.

I have really come to realize how important the people in my life are to me. I have so much fun with them. I absolutely love adventurous eaters, nothing crazy but people that are willing to try new things. I have so much fun introducing someone to a new delicious food. It’s crazy to me that some people are so set in their ways, they never want to try anything new, thats no fun! I am learning, more and more, that it really is the people that come into your life that make it interesting. Even if just for a brief encounter you may be enlightened or inspired by new thoughts and perceptions. In this crazy, rushed world we live in take the time, put down your phone and interact with someone. You just might be amazed!  Even just a genuine,” Hello, how are you?” can make all the difference in the world to someone. Thank goodness that through all my chemotherapy and treatments my tastes are still the same, yea! I am ready for new foods, new friends, and new adventures! To be able to actually participate in life again is such a blessing!

Synchronicities

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My Muse

Part of my blogging was supposed to be a journal of sorts to capture the grand journeys and adventures of my life. A funny thing I have noticed is that I am inspired to write about the little things, the day to day things, the mundane. The interesting little moments of my life. Maybe they are less intimidating or maybe it is the little things that matter most,  I’m not sure? But I do believe that my travels are amazing and I am so grateful for the opportunities that I have been given. Travel has enriched my life so much and in ways I’m sure I don’t fully understand yet. If you ever have the opportunity to travel, please take it! It has a way of making you appreciate the little everyday things even more!

Last summer when we where in LA, Scott and I took a little walk from the Santa Monica pier to Venice  Beach. We were just strolling along people watching and taking in the views and atmosphere of this interesting place. Pacific Ocean to our right with its balmy sea breezes and sandy beaches and shops and vendors to our left with all kinds of cool and interesting items to entice. I bought a really cool backpack and an awesome hat oh, and a great little sketchbook too!

Food trucks everywhere! People everywhere! Walking, running, eating, biking, sitting, napping, swimming, so much activity! There is every kind of food imaginable there. You wouldn’t have to eat at the same place twice in a year, maybe longer, if you didn’t want to! We have a very limited number of good restaurants where we live and frequent the same few time and time again, not so many choices.

As we approached Venice Beach we got to walk on the very spot they filmed the opening scene for Threes Company, while singing the song of course! We met an amazing artist and she told us how they welcome artists at the beach, they don’t even charge them a fee to set up and sell their wares? This is amazing to me! She gets to sit on the beach everyday painting and selling her art! She told me if I come back, to bring some art with me and she will make space for me! Wow, where I am from it costs more to show your art than you could ever hope to make by selling it! Even though I only spoke to her for a few minutes she touched my life. I bought a painting from her that day and it inspires me every day and has taken my art career in a whole new direction! It is interesting how these synchronicities happen, I hope to see her again one day so I can thank her in person!

 

Eat California!

Ok when you are out of town you want to experience the flavor of the area, right? One of the last things I want to do when I’m away is cook. And since my blog is kinda foodcentric I would like to share some of the interesting places we went to eat while we were in LA.

First, Jerry took us to Bru’s Wiffle a waffle joint right in the heart of downtown Santa Monica that serves all kinds of interesting waffles, burgers, salads and more. Everything is made from scratch and the portions are huge so bring your appetite! We had chicken and waffles, Bru’s favorite breakfast and a breakfast burrito all VERY good and an amazing drink called the Sunrise, which was a combination of fresh squeezed orange, grapefruit, and carrot juice with a hint of ginger. A wonderful way to start the day. We would definitely go back!

Sprinkles

Sprinkles

Next we took a little trip to CBS Studios and watched the taping of The Late Late Show with James Cordon, so much fun! Then we ended up at The Grove and went to The Cheesecake Factory for dinner, everything was great, absolutely  delicious!  Of course, I had to have some cheesecake, you can’t go to the Cheesecake Factory and not have cheesecake, right? I ordered the turtle cheesecake, it was worth all the extra calories! And while at The Grove we had to pick up a few cupcakes for later at the iconic Sprinkles. We ordered the green tea, the chocolate coconut, the s’more, and chia cupcakes.  I must admit, they were all wonderful but my favorite had to be the chia cupcake, of course you know I am addicted to chia!!!

Norms

Norms

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The next morning we were heading to Fox Studios for Jerry to give us a tour, so we stopped at Norms for breakfast, a down home diner kinda feel. Speaking of diners, we went to Mel’s Diner, one night, after strolling on the Hollywood walk of fame, it seemed fitting! It felt like we were transported back in time! I am not a huge burger fan but I ordered the sliders and the one made with the grass fed beef was amazing!

Pho So 1

Pho So 1

Ok I had heard of Pho, a Vietnamese comfort food, on TV and it was one of my goals to find some out here on the west coast. I have never had it, and all I knew was that it was some kind of noodle soup. Now Jerry and Scott are not quite as adventurous as I am when it comes to trying new foods, so I kinda had to put my foot down! They are pushovers when it comes to me, so I got my way and we went to Pho So 1. It was everything I had hoped for, fresh, delicious, and comforting.  The guys even had to admit they enjoyed it and would eat it again. Yummy, I wish I had some right now! Then off to the La Brea Tar Pits for the rest of the afternoon!

So the next day Scott and I were on our own, Jerry had to work. We went out to find some adventure. We spoke to Elizabeth at the Brentwood Inn, she was awesome! Hooked us up with Uber and suggested a few things we could do. She also told us about a wonderful little restaurant, her husband owned, called Cha Cha Chicken. So we took Uber to the Santa Monica Pier and walked to Venice Beach. Met some amazing artists, bought some cool art, and spent some time people watching. As we were heading back, we were not sure where we were and we were getting mighty hungry! On a whim, we decided to turn and head down this random street, and to our surprise there it was…Cha Cha Chicken! A colorful beach shack with an island flare and wonderful Caribbean food! They are famous for their coconut chicken, yum! They have sandwiches, wraps, salads, and more. I loved the plantains and the watermelon Aqua fresca was so refreshing!

The next day we started off at an elegant boulangerie cafe called La Pain Quotidien. I absolutely loved it! Fresh bakery smells and wonderful atmosphere. They create their menu around seasonal, organic ingredients, which is right up my ally! The food was delicious, felt like I was in Brussels! We ended the day at the Hollywood Bowl with the LA philharmonic orchestra playing the Bugs Bunny symphony! What an amazing evening!

The next day we spent boogie boarding at the Santa Monica beach and strolling down Rodeo Drive. By the evening we were ready for some stick to your ribs kinda food and Scott suggested  BBQ. What? Do they even do BBQ in California? Well despite much joking we found one named Holy Cow and holy cow it was good!

One last place I want to mention is Barneys Gourmet Hamburgers in Brentwood not your typical burger joint. If you are in the mood for a really good burger and truffle french fries, go! You won’t be disappointed!

Barneys

Barneys