Friday, December 18, 2009

Sew on Snow Days

Last week I was home from work for two days because of snow.  It was during this same time that Santa was due to visit the nursing home where my mother-in-law lives.  It was up to the families to make sure their loved ones had a gift from Santa.  Being snowed in meant that I could not get out to go shopping.  So, I decided to sew up a stocking.  Here is the finished stocking.  One side I used material that looked like a crazy quilt and the other side, I used various materials in strips.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Old Empty Houses

Old Empty Houses
By Cynthia Harris

I would love to tell my story
But I don’t know how,
My owners left me forlorn
And some burn me down.

Yet I have lots of stories to tell.

My original owners were proud,
The day the first foundation stone was laid.
They looked forward to having
A new roof over their head,
And to the family they had.

But now they’re gone
And other family members
Have abandoned me
And I’m just
Waiting for my death.

© 2009 by Cynthia Harris

Friday, December 4, 2009

News From Abby - Yoga Anyone?


Is it Yoga time yet?

Mom calls me her little Yoga Master when I help her with her Yoga Exercises.

First, you must warm up.

Raise your right paw slowly, like you are trying to pick up something. 

Hold it...Hold it...Hold it...

Next, you must lie down on your right side with your front legs stretched out over your head and your back legs stretched out as straight as possible. 

Slowly raise your left leg and swing it out to your side.

Here I am going into a long stretch.  Once I get fully stretched out, I will roll onto my back and wait for Mom to finish whatever it is she is trying to do, and rub my tummy.

Okay, everyone...lay on your left side and raise your right leg and bring your knee to your chest.  Stretch those hamstrings gals---tighten those buttocks...come on! you can do it!

What?  Yoga Class over so soon?

Until next time.  Maybe I'll see ya around the neighborhood.

Housing Your Pet During the Holidays

Source: Dr. Susan Nelson, 785-532-5690,


The holiday season can be a stressful time of year – even for your pet.

When you leave home for the holidays, it's important to choose the best housing option to ensure your pet's well-being, a Kansas State University veterinarian said.

"It can be very stressful for some pets to be away from their owners," said Dr. Susan Nelson, assistant professor of clinical sciences at K-State. "This stress also may be intensified if the time away is spent in unfamiliar surroundings, so try to prepare in advance in order to make your pet's holiday time as stress-free as possible."

Nelson said the primary options for pet care are a kennel or a pet sitter. Kennels are a good option for sociable animals that don't stress about leaving the house, and pet sitters are a good option for animals that are more at ease at home, especially cats. She said it's important to consider your pet's behavior before hiring a sitter.

"It's best to know whether your pet will be OK staying at home by itself and if it would let a stranger into the home while it's alone," Nelson said.

Some territorial and aggressive dogs don't respond well to a stranger in the home and won't allow someone unfamiliar to enter. Additionally, Nelson said dogs with extreme separation anxiety are best not left at home alone but instead taken to a kennel if there are no other options.

"These are the dogs that when left alone bark all day or have accidents in the house," she said. "They may exhibit destructive behavior and even injure themselves. Some pet sitters will watch your pet in their home, so this may be a more suitable option for certain pets."

To help pets adjust to temporary holiday housing, owners should help prepare their pet beforehand. If hiring a pet sitter, owners should schedule a greeting time when the sitter can meet and play with the pet.

"When the sitter comes to meet your pet, don't be in the house so that you'll find out how your pet will react to a
stranger without you there," Nelson said.

If your pet isn't used to you being gone, you should leave the pet alone at home for short periods of time to prepare for a longer absence. Nelson said owners shouldn't emphasize leaving and greeting their pet when they return, because this can reinforce its anxiety.

For pets going to the kennel, Nelson said owners can help their pet adjust to living in a smaller space by purchasing a crate for the home.

"You can get your pet used to the crate by having it stay in the crate a couple minutes at a time at the beginning and then slowly increasing that time," she said. "It's also helpful to feed pets when they're in the crate so they get used to confinement during a low-stress time."

To help ease your pet's anxiety at the kennel, you can arrange play dates so your pet becomes used to being around other animals, Nelson said. Owners also can bring the animal's favorite toy or something that smells like home, such as a T-shirt, to the kennel.

When choosing a pet sitter, Nelson suggests finding a family member, a friend or a professional. If hiring a professional pet sitter, pet owners should ask about the sitter's training and experience, check for proof of insurance and ask for references. She also suggests that owners have professional sitters provide a written contract of their fees and services and ask what extra services they offer, like playing with the pet. If your pet has special needs or takes medication, make sure your pet sitter will be comfortable performing those tasks.

For kennels, Nelson said it's important to reserve a spot early in the holiday season. When choosing a kennel, owners can visit the facility and see how it looks and smells. They also can see what kind of safety and security the kennel has, such as video surveillance, fire alarms and sprinkler systems. She said owners should ask how often the animals will be let out of their cages and if extra services are offered, like more playtime. Nelson said it's required by most kennels that your pet be updated on its vaccines and that you provide proof. Make sure you find out ahead of time which vaccines are required.

Whether you're leaving your pet in the care of a sitter or a kennel, Nelson said owners should provide detailed instructions for the pet's food and medications. They also should give the name of their pet's veterinarian and what to do if the pet becomes ill. Nelson recommends owners write and sign a document that allows the caretaker to bring their pet in for care. She also said the owner should talk about how finances will be handled because most veterinarians will require payment at the time of service.

"With any animal, especially if it's old or sick, the owner ought to talk about what to do in a worst-case scenario, such as if something catastrophic happens to the pet or if it dies," she said. "Owners need to discuss these things we typically don't like to think about but for which we should prepare."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pets and the Holidays

Source: Dr. Susan Nelson, 785-532-5690,


Though you love your pet, keep in mind that your guests might not appreciate having your four-legged friend at holiday celebrations.

Dr. Susan Nelson, a veterinarian and assistant professor of clinical sciences at Kansas State University, said when having guests over for the holidays, you have to consider how your company will respond to your pets and how your pet will respond to strangers in the home.

"Not everyone likes animals, and some people are very fearful," Nelson said. "You need to be considerate of those who may be afraid of or allergic to your pet."

For your pet, particularly a shy animal, Nelson said it can be difficult for it to accept a crowd of people, especially with little time to prepare. Many pets would take weeks, months or even years to work through their timidity. While cats will typically hide if many people are visiting, Nelson said some dogs can get agitated with new people around.

"The considerate thing to do for your pet would be to put it in a room while you have people over," she said.

This also is good for your pet's safety, because a lot of traffic opens the chance that your pet could escape out the door. When putting your pet in a separate room, Nelson said you can give it a favorite toy or a blanket for comfort. You also can turn on the television or radio to muffle the noise from the party. For extreme phobias, you can talk to your veterinarian about anti-anxiety medications for your pet.

She said if a pet is used to a crate, it's best to keep it there rather than letting it run around a room. Crates often give dogs a feeling of safety, she said. It's also helpful to get the animal used to being in the room by itself before the party.

If there is no conflict with your guests, a friendly animal can stay around your visitors. But Nelson suggests at least putting your pet away when everyone begins eating, especially if it begs at the table.

Pet owners also should realize that pets often can get to food that is left out on coffee tables for guests.

"If your animal has food allergies, ask people not to feed it snacks," Nelson said. "Too many tidbits also can lead to gastrointestinal upset and pancreatitis. Again, the best way to avoid that is to keep your party animal away from the action."

Monday, November 30, 2009

Ginger's Four Babies....Kittens that is...

Here are some photos of the farm kittens born around the first of October 2009.  Ginger is the Momma.

This is the runt of the four kittens.

Here is the little runt again.

There always has to be one different than the others in the bunch.  Can you guess which one is different? :)

 Do you see those beautiful blue eyes?

These two seem to hang together all the time.

This one is very feisty.

Chillin' with Momma Cat, Ginger.   As you can see, Ginger is keeping an eye out for the little ones.  She already sees the human and the camera.

"Don't get to close to my Babies!"
Notice that Ginger changed positions. 

I said, "Back off, human! Don't you dare come near my Babies!"

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cat's Rule

My cats, Shy a lilac Tonkinese and Abby a Tortoiseshell, definitely rule the roost at my house. Here are a couple of ways they have me trained.

Shy goes to the front door and reaches for the door knob. Her way of saying, it is nice outside and I want to lie in the sun on the porch. I get up and open the door and let her out.

Abby jumps onto the bathroom vanity and puts her head under the faucet. Her way of saying, I am thirsty, therefore, make the water flow. I turn on the water.

A typical cat morning at my house:

Both cats pounce on the bed at approximately 5:30 a.m. Abby pounces on my feet and tells them to get moving. Shy gently touches my face with her front paws as though asking, Are you awake yet? If not, WAKE UP!

Once I am up and moving both cats trot off to the kitchen and sit on their hind haunches and give me their breakfast order. One order of tuna fish with a side dish of Hill's Science Diet with a little Iams tossed on the side.  And it wouldn't hurt if you shared the outside kittens breakfast with me.

After breakfast it is off to the bathroom. Abby on the vanity with head in sink saying, hurry up and turn on the water, and Shy is sitting on the lid (must keep lid down or cats will drink from toilet) of the stool waiting her turn---she is the oldest so she let's the young one have her way in the morning, but not in the evening or before bed time.

Oh, hear Dad tromping around in the kitchen, time to go stretch out on the den floor. He will give a good belly rub before putting on his work boots. After the belly rub it is time to play with the boot laces.

While cats have Dad occupied, Mom is off to the kitchen to pack her lunch for work and get her morning Kashi cereal. Mom sits at table to eat, cats promptly jumps into the other chairs hoping to get the last drop of Soy Milk.

No dice, Mom doesn't share with the Queen and Princess, so time to scatter every toy from one room to another. Mom happily goes behind picking them up and putting them back into the toy box.

Hear the garage door open. Time for the servants to go to work.

Kiss, Kiss---Mom gives a good nose rub--cats way of kissing--and a soft stroke from the top of the head to mid back. Time to stretch out on the pillows in the window and watch the car drive away. Then time to wait for the birds to visit the bird bath and see if the squirrels are awake. Then time to attack each other to see who gets to be Queen for the day.

By 7 a.m. the morning has already been a long one and Shy wanders to her pillow on the sofa while Abby finds hers on the Queen Anne Recliner. It is a rare site to see the two of them lying so close together on the same piece of furniture-se above. Soon both are snoring softly and dreaming of chasing butterflies outdoors on the green lawn :)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Shop

This summer we moved to a 65 acre farm.  The old garage on the farm will become my husband's shop. 

When me moved here the shop was in bad shape.  Here are some photos after we started working on it.  The inside was full of junk and large pack rats nests.
Plywood was used to make some outside repairs.
A new door replaced the old one for a more secure side entrance.

There was some tin missing from the roof, so the boards in the upper section had to be checked for stability.  Some had to be replaced, then the tin was replaced to keep the elements out.

A wood burning stove was added for heat.

Since these photos, there has been many hours of work done on the shop.  I will add more photos later.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Hometown Appetites: She Served Up Americana (With a Side Dish of Quirk)"

Clementine Paddleford wrote, "We all have home-town appetites.  Every other person is a bundle of longing for the simplicities of good taste once enjoyed on the farm or in the home town they left behind."

Benjamin Schmerler of the New York Post wrote, "If the food writer Clementine Paddleford were alive today, she would have at least two Food Network shows (one devoted to cooking, a second to travel), a weekly newspaper column, a cookbook series and, of course, a blog.  Or so it is easy to imagine by reading Kelly Alexander and Cynthia Harris's smartly drawn, surprisingly uplifting biography 'Hometown Appetites.'"

Schmerler continues, "Thankfully, the authors share Paddleford's eye for a good story, deftly documenting their subject's well-deserved contributions to food journalism, but balancing them with biographical color."