Sunday, April 29, 2012

Exploring new methods for dog food

Anyone who knows me will tell you I am passionate about dogs, particularly Labrador Retrievers.  I am extremely selective in what I feed Molly, my black Lab.  I long ago gave up on the general selection of dog food found in the grocery store. . . words like "animal by-products" really aren't acceptable to me in a list of ingredients.  Several years back when there was a real scare in the dog food industry and dogs were dying in large numbers, I switched to homemade dog food, after carefully researching what should go into it.  For awhile, I fed Molly a mixture of cooked brown rice, cooked chicken and raw grated carrots.  At times I would include hard boiled eggs with the egg shell included (it adds calcium to the dog's diet) and fresh raw spinach.

After feeding her this for a number of weeks, I took her to the vet for her annual shots and spoke with him about what I was feeding her.  He told me it is extremely difficult to get all the nutrients a dog needs in homemade dog food and that he didn't recommend this diet for more than several months.  He also stated that during the dog food crisis, it was almost always a smaller breed of dog that died, that larger dogs, while they may have become ill, usually did not die.

It was about that time that I switched to Blue Buffalo dog food, again, after carefully doing research.

Molly has thrived on Blue Buffalo.  But it has become quite expensive - $60 now for a large bag.  From time to time, I include my homemade mix in her diet to make the Blue Buffalo go further.

Several years ago, I worked with a woman who raises Dobermans who had always fed a diet of raw food and bones.  Well, now!  That was a hard one for me to accept!

Enter Lois, From Lois' Hands.  Find her blog to the right of your screen in my Blog List.  She has two Labs and both are active in Agility competition.  Her dogs are fed a raw food and bones diet.  They are obviously doing quite well.

She pointed me towards reputable information on this kind of diet and I am busy learning as much as I can about it.  I checked with the farmer where I buy all my meat and eggs.  He can supply me with raw bones and will even give me a sample in my next order so that I can try it.

I'll keep you posted on how far I get with this new idea.  Meanwhile, I would be interested in hearing from any of my readers who feed this kind of diet to their dogs.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Top award for my son's company

My son, Michael, works for First American Equipment Finance here in Rochester.  From things Michael has told me over time, it was apparent this company values its employees.  It is great to see a company such as this one get recognition.  And I'm thrilled that they chose my son for the picture too!
[Click on the picture and it will show the whole article.]

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A return to winter???

In talking about our mild winter this year, I often bragged about not having to crank up my snowblower all winter.  That just may come back to haunt me.

If the weather forecast for western New York is accurate, tomorrow will be a nasty winter day with blowing snow, up to six inches according to one website.

My lawn has already been mowed this year and needs it again.  I've worn shorts and t-shirts and sandals this year. . . my friend, Nancy, and I had plans to go kayaking today for the first time this year.  Instead, it is cold, windy, with a drizzling rain out right now, definitely not good paddling weather.

In organizing the clothes I will wear to work this week, I suppose I should pull out a few winter items.

As they say in Rochester, if you don't like the weather here, stick around, it will change!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Final thoughts on the cousins reunion

On the long drive home from Alabama, my thoughts often went back to the several days spent with my cousins.  We do know how to have a good time!

What was the one thing that stands out the most?  That's a tough one.  There were so many spontaneous one-liners or touching moments.

It is amusing to see how genes are passed down through the generations, not only in physical appearance, but personality traits too.

Our Aunt Hazel died this past year, after being bedridden for several years.  The last two years, Bruce, Debbie, and Richard rented a van to make it possible for her to come up from Pensacola to the reunion.  Last year she even sat up in a wheel chair long enough to eat with the rest of us.  This year, Debbie brought a framed picture of her, the last picture taken of her and Debbie together, put it on the table and said her mother was there with us in spirit.  Although she was just days away from dying when that picture was taken, she still had a smile on her face.

I really enjoy target shooting anytime, but especially with Kenny.  You just never know what he is going to say, just before you pull the trigger, to throw you off target.   We have the perfect set up for a safe back drop to shoot.  It is a huge tree stump that fell years ago that still has mud and debris on the bottom that will slow down our ammo.  There is nothing but woods all around, but still it's nice to know we can have fun without worrying about how far a bullet can travel.

Some of the time I spent sitting in my favorite umbrella chair with an extension for your legs, just staring up at the clouds and the pine trees blowing in the breeze, something I rarely have time for back home.  It was during that time that I thought of my dad and his brothers and sister and my grandparents who lived and farmed on that very land so many years ago.  When I was a small child walking that land with family, it never occurred to me that one day, we would all gather there on an annual basis to be together and have fun for a couple of days.  If I am to be totally honest, I look forward to this trip, back in the woods, miles from civilization, more than I would an expensive luxury vacation to "where ever."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Another cousins reunion is history

Our 4th annual cousins reunion is now history and what a great few days it was.  Here are pictures I haven't posted yet.

This is the court house at the end of Main Street in the small Alabama town where we meet each year.

The next two pictures are of old homes along the street.  Amazing. . . they have been there as long as I can remember, but as a child, I didn't have the appreciation for them that I do now!

This is Aunt Ileen, the Original Maxine.  She is 90 going on 21.

Redneck cell tower.

And what would Sunday morning breakfast be without Kip's famous buttermilk biscuits.  Believe me when I tell you no one makes them as good as he does!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Cousins Reunion 2012

Since our first cousins reunion in 2009, this has become an event all of us look forward to each year and we've stretched it out from just one day.  The next day after arriving in town,  six of us headed over to the land that we inherited from our parents, who in turn, inherited it from their parents for generations back.  Kenny and I went about unpacking our gear to do some target shooting.

Next up was grilled kabobs on the grill for lunch.

The next day was the big event.  Bruce, Debbie, and Richard, and Richard's wife, Lisa, came up from Pensacola.  Kip and Rita came from Alabama.  As the morning went on, others came.  I think we had 20 all together.

Kenny traded his guns for a rod and reel and look at the results!

This year we had four generations at the reunion.  This picture shows our oldest cousin, June, holding her great-grandson, Jackson.  Next to June is her daughter, Ginga, and then Austin, Ginga's son and Jackson's dad.  Oh!  And with June attending this year. . . I was not the oldest cousin there!!!

After a fun day together, we packed up and another cousins reunion had come to an end.  Some of us headed over to the vacation home of Rita's in-laws.  It overlooks a beautiful lake with that wonderful deck that sits above the water.  What a great place to relax, watch the clouds go by and listen to the birds sing.  Thanks, Rita and Kip, for inviting us again this year.

Before heading back to Rochester, I spent a couple of days here with Rita after everyone else went home.  Another wonderful vacation.

Sandy, our "adopted" cousin and my cousin, Pam's, friend invited me to come to a mountain retreat he owns in Tennessee this summer.  I told him he wouldn't have to beg me to do that!  Hope to see you soon, Sandy and Pam!!! 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Road Trip!

Recently, I set out to attend our 4th annual cousins reunion down in Alabama.  It is a lot of fun and something that all of us look forward to during the year.

The first day is the longest!  When I am driving from point A to point B, my only focus is just to get there.  I drove 12 hours through five major cities and logged just under 700 miles.  Ugh!  I entertained myself with satellite radio and sending silly text messages to my cousin, Rita!  It is a game, but it also lets Rita track my whereabouts should the unthinkable happen.

"Closing in on Cleveland,"
"Just had a nice breakfast here at the hotel, it's still dark, time for another cup of coffee before I start out,"
"the little old lady from Rochester is in Tennessee!"
"zipping right along, closing in on BAMA!"
"less than 125 miles to go!"

The following pictures show what my day was all about!  Wish I could say the traffic was always this light, but then when I was in heavy, slow moving traffic, I wouldn't be holding a camera in front of me!!!

After 19 hours of driving over two days, I arrived in the small rural Alabama town where we hold the reunion.  Stopping at the welcome center in Alabama was a sense of relief.  My long drive was almost over and I was thankful the trip had been uneventful.

Here are a couple of scenes from the welcome station.  When I left Rochester, the   tulips and daffodils were in bloom but the other blooming plants are still 6 to 8 weeks or more away.  So it was a joy to see flowers in bloom and trees covered in leaves.

I was the first to arrive.  Driving through the last large city, I got a call from Pam.  "Where are you?"

"Almost there," I said.  "I'll be there in about a half hour."

There are 6 of us the first two nights.  We had a great time, lots of laughs, and then we were all tired from our travels so it was time for bed.

Watch for more posts soon on the rest of the trip.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Mail from Australia!

I had been waiting for it with great anticipation.  My blog friend, Karen, (she calls me her long distance friend!) was featured recently in the local newspaper's magazine.

There are her hand made soap bars on the cover!

She was featured in two places in the magazine.  One story was on her kitchen, her favorite room in the house, and where she makes her soap.

And the other featured her very creative designs.

I thought the reporter did a fine job of capturing the "real" Karen.  She is a very down-to-earth woman whose life focuses on her family, her home, and her joy of soap making.

Check out her blog, grannysgarden.  You'll find it to the right of your screen in my blog list.  And, Karen, be sure to let me know when you go global with your soap business!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Just about time for our cousins reunion down South

Long time followers of my blog, and of course, family and close friends, know that our annual Morgan cousins reunion has become something we all look forward to each year.  We were all close as kids.  There were picnics at Pensacola Beach.  Family dinners.  The times we all gathered at Granny and Popa’s up in Alabama.  The grown ups ate at the big table.  The children were seated at another table in an adjoining room.  One time I particularly remember, Aunt Ileen, Uncle Harding, and Pam and Kenny came to Pensacola, from Jacksonville.  Every morning for almost a week, my mom, Aunt Ileen, and I would get up before dawn and drive over to Pensacola Beach to go crabbing in the surf.  Every morning except one, we came home empty handed.  Then there was that one day!  The surf was up.  My mom and Aunt Ileen had hand nets.  Crabs were coming in with the waves in huge numbers!!!  I remember it so well!  My job, as a young child, was to collect the crabs in a big metal wash tub (remember those?)  We had three or four hand nets.  They would run to me with a net full of crabs, I would hand them an empty net and then take the net with the crabs and carefully untangle them from the net without getting bitten!  I can still taste those crabs to this day!

But then time and circumstances drove us apart.  I moved up North.  The rest were scattered across Florida and Alabama.  A few of them, I saw sporadically over the years.  Most I did not.  My father kept me posted on the comings and goings of their lives.

My father died in 2003.  Funerals and weddings always draw relatives out of the woodwork!  My cousin, Debbie, came up to me at the funeral to give me a hug and I had no idea who she was.  Imagine my disbelieve when she said, “Sherry, I’m Debbie!”

So now we are within days of our 4th reunion.  I’ve made lists, started gathering things to take.  The small Alabama town where we gather, although it is just off the Interstate highway, doesn’t have very good restaurants.  Last year I began bringing food and equipment to cook dinner in our own hotel rooms for those of use who arrive on Thursday.  Everybody liked it and for sure, the food was better than the available restaurant fare.  Then on Saturday morning we all head over to “the lake”. . . the land that has been in the Morgan family since it was deeded from the government back in the 1800’s.  My grandparents raised their children there.  Now the old house is long gone and it is just one great big woods.  Back in the 1960’s my dad and his siblings built a lake, more like a mid-size pond from two natural springs.

Aunt Ileen will be there.  She turns 90 this month and is still going strong.  They still let her drive!!!  And I'll bet you she could still chase crabs in the surf at the beach just like she did all those decades ago.

With all the craziness going on in the world today and all of life’s problems these few days a year make me understand what really matters in life.  It isn’t, “Will we have to endure another 4 years of that idiot in the White House?” or “Will the economy ever get back on track?”  No.  That pales in comparison to the realization that we are lucky to be a family that has stood together through thick and thin and share a common bond.

I’ll see you real soon, Cousins!