June 28, 2015

A Weekend Full of Activity

Up until a few minutes ago, the weather was great for the weekend. For the first half of Saturday it didn't seem like I was going to get anything done. My tent needed to be returned to REI in Indy, about 90 miles away. My camera was still not working the majority of the attempts. I had a long list of things to do on the house that really had not been started and ... I was just lazy.

Sometime around 1pm I became highly motivated on Saturday. I backed the FJ out of the carport, pulled out the ladder, a 5gl bucket, a pair of gloves that were rubber coated and my long water hose ... and headed up on the roof. I think I missed cleaning my gutters last fall and after I started Saturday I was sure of it. Still it wasn't bad. There were more cinders from the shingles in the gutters that had washed off than leaves or sticks. It didn't take me long to make two trips down the ladder to empty the bucket of muck.

By the end of the cleaning I was spraying fresh water the full length of the gutter. While I was up on the roof I decided to trim back some low hanging limbs from the mahogany tree in back. I did a quick roof inspection and found out I will need to replace a sheets of shingles for the one that was damaged in high winds this spring. Otherwise the temps were cool enough in mid afternoon to sit on top of the roof for a whole different view on the neighborhood.  I like it up there.

Once back inside the house I knocked off a couple of more easy things on the list, so by Saturday night I had put a thick black line through four things on the list. I ended up being pretty sore from all the bending, scooting on my knees while on the roof and climbing up and down the ladder a few times. I didn't realize I was that out of shape.

Sunday was a bright, sunny morning. Over my two cups of coffee, some blog reading and a game of Mahjong on the new laptop, I decided to miss traffic and all the construction hold ups on the way to Indianapolis that would take place during the week. I decided that I would run up to REI to exchange my tent that had a hole in the mesh after the night of high winds in Utah. 

Before picking up the exact same tent I did look over their inventory and a few times I almost decided to buy a different tent. Yet, I liked that Marmot Tungsten 3P. It kept us dry. On the warmer night in Rifle Gap SP, it was nice to sleep without the vestibule and having a great view of the sky. There was plenty of room for me, a bloodhound and two basset hounds.

It was fairly tall at 48". So I decided to give that tent another try. When I got to the cashier with my replacement tent, she commented it was my lucky day. Most of their tents were on sale, including the one I was exchanging. So I picked up a new tent in exchange and a $74 refund for the price difference due to the sale.

Feeling pretty good about that, I headed south to Bloomington's Best Buy to have them check out my Nikon D3200 that stopped working properly when trying to auto focus. Now ... based on my past experience with the "Geek Squad" last fall, I was expecting nothing more than filling out some paperwork and having them ship it back to Nikon for a repair under warranty.

They didn't disappoint me. Their Geek Squad Tech Rep verified that the camera would not auto focus. He then asked me questions that were answered two or three times during our conversation. He filled out the paper work and under condition "scratched and worn", then tried to get me to sign the paperwork with out reading the find print. You know, one of those "check this box and sign here" things.

Last fall's experience told me to do otherwise. Last fall they also put "scratched and worn" on my iMac that was in mint condition. So when I saw that same condition today, I couldn't resist, I asked the tech rep to point out the scratches on my camera and also any parts that show abnormal or even normal wear.

I knew there weren't any ... so I was curious what his answer would be. 

I know they put that as a condition to protect their asses, in case someone drops it while working on it, damaged in shipment, it falls off the counter ... whatever ... but I'm a stickler for paperwork being filled out correctly. At least this time the date of purchase was correct and not just a fill in date.

The tech rep could not find any scratches, even on the big rear monitor. Nor could he find any places that were worn ... I mean the camera was bought 9 months ago ... give me a break!!!!

After a stare down, he changed the "condition" on the paperwork to "like new". I still dislike Geek Squad with all my heart. I am saying that in a "politically correct kind way". Their phone service even sucks worse than they do in person. I might fall off my diet and celebrate when my 1 year membership expires this fall.  I will be that thrilled about not having to talk to them again.

So I get a new tent plus a refund but give my camera away for 2-4 weeks, maybe less time than that. I marked off somethings from my "to do" list, putting the hounds and I close to the travel mode.

I would say that was a pretty successful weekend.

I took a siesta when I got back ... it seems that's the norm again on weekends. The hounds are always in agreement with a siesta since that IS their favorite hobby.

I know what my next plan is on the list and that should be completed by Monday afternoon. All inside work since it will be raining tonight and most of tomorrow. Can we give some of this rain in the Midwest to California??

I still plan to head west again as soon as my list is complete. I know my last trip wasn't long but it was long enough to show me what I needed to adjust for future travel. Heidi's skin continues to improve and grow more hair on those bald spots. Her appetite is still good but I'm not sure if the vet prescribed Pepsin AC is working ...  I think she is constipated now.

Is it timing or just a coincidence that she seems to be doing better on food with chicken and rice, no fruits, no veggies and only one protein source ... compared to months of eating no grain food with fruits, veggies and multiple protein sources? In past years during the month of May and June she was getting allergy shots. So far this year there has not been a need for shots or meds in May and June.

I have a few photos today from the Nikon D3200 but starting tomorrow it will be the iPhone 5s camera and my small Nikon CoolPix 3100 taking the photos, until the D3200 is shipped back to the house.

June 27, 2015

I Picked Up Heidi 3 Years Ago Yesterday

It was three years ago yesterday I made the four hour drive north to meet with the lady that was fostering Heidi for GABR. That is a basset rescue service based in Dwight Illinois. Heidi was named Lucy at the time of adoption.

I am not sure what made me decide to get a 2nd basset hound and a 3rd hound for the house. I think it was the photograph on the left, used in her ad for adoption. It was hard to believe she was in that situation of needing a home.

She came with allergies, written instructions for treatment and pages and pages of medical records. They had estimated at the time she would be about 3 years old in December 2012. For her short three year period she had been everywhere. Multiple times in and out of shelters because she was "a runner". From the records it looked like she had allergies from day one. You could tell just a little by her skin but her coat was shinny and soft when I checked her out.

I had forgot about the meeting place being on Central time so I arrived at the appointed place, a parking lot, a little early. That gave me time to find the nearest Costco store for a new dog bed and some dog food, since at that time all the hounds were eating Nature's Domain. That was Costco's brand name for their grain free food.

After loading that into the passenger side floorboard I was able to build a larger area for her to lay on instead of just a passenger seat in a Toyota Camry. I found out soon after loading her into the front seat, starting the air conditioner for the long trip home ... that Heidi was going to tell me all about her history.

I'm not kidding. For the first thirty minutes of the trip ... she "talked" nonstop. No howling, just nonstop basset hound talk.

I was warned that she would take off in an instant if not on a leash. So until we were better acquainted she was on a leash at all times outside. It wasn't long though that I could see she could be trusted off leash when she went to the door to go outside and also on our daily walks through the field in back.

From the first minute she stepped inside the house, you could tell she use to be someone's house dog. GABR did not have any knowledge who the original owner(s) were. She got along great with Sadie and Winston, showing Sadie who was the real boss of the house by drinking Sadie's water and eating her food that first day ... that is something that Sadie would not let Winston get away with.

For about the first week Heidi slept on the new dog bed I bought for her, during the day and nighttime. That was until Sadie instituted the "Bloodhound Property Laws" as follows:

  • If I like it, it's mine
  • If it's in my mouth, it's mine
  • If I had it a little while ago, it's mine
  • If I can take it from you, it's mine
  • If it just looks like mine, it's mine
  • If I saw it first, it's mine
  • If you are playing with something and put it down, it's mine
  • If I am chewing something up, all of the pieces are mine
  • If it's mine it must never be yours
  • If it was yours, get over it, it's mine
  • If it's broken, it's your fault, but it's still mine

Soon after letting Heidi have the run of the house while I would be gone all day at work, I was shocked to come home and see nothing was damaged, no accidents on the carpet. I could see the water level in her bowl had decreased and there was a pretty solid imprint on the leather coach where it looked like she had spent most of the day.

It was quite a mystery to me how this great basset hound ended up in her local animal shelter multiple times and eventually to a basset rescue adoption service.

Anyway, we have lived with the allergies that seemed to be seasonal until last fall. The shots she had been given over the years no longer lasted more than a week instead of months. As you can see on the right side label called "Heidi's Treatment", the story is there. After a rough nine months she is finally turning the corner with her skin rash but currently the vet and I are trying to find out the cause of her weight loss these past three months.

She has been nothing short of a fantastic hound since the day I loaded her into the front seat to bring her home. So to celebrate her "Gotcha Day" a day late ... are some photos from years past.

Loves to sleep in the yard once she gets outside

Her normal daily activity

She hates being bothered by flies

No matter what she will chase them until they are caught

Favorite Sleeping Positon
The dog bed was good while it lasted .. Sadie has it now
Always first in the tent

Daily walk with Winston and Sadie - off leash

On of the few times she will be caught running

Relaxing with Winston summer 2014

Summer 2014

Basset's stick together

Summer 2014

Ready for Utah roadtrip June 2015 next to food container

Rifle Gap SP Colorado - Not sure what she sees

June 24, 2015

Some Beautiful Days Between Storms

I'm not sure how long it will last but I have to admit we have had a couple of beautiful days in "the tropics" of Southern Indiana since the storms this past weekend. Of course rain is in the forecast for the next few days, it might blow over and never show up, so we will see.

It won't matter to the hounds ... they sleep most of the day anyway rain or shine.

It's only been three days this week but it's been pretty productive so far. The problem is, all the things I've done, all but one, were not on my house "to do" list. I washed the Mini Cooper, mowed the lawn, washed the hounds last Sunday and even did a little house cleaning. All normal stuff.

Yet all of that is not listed on the "to do" list.

I did get the carpet shampooed yesterday and that was on the list ... so at least after marking through that as completed it looks like I've started to get something done. I have big plans for the rest of the week that should knock of more of the listed things.

I've been having a problem with my Nikon D3200 auto focusing. Maybe some of you photographers and readers can look at the following photos tonight as well as some I've posted this past week and let me know by commenting or email me if the photos don't look clear and sharp.

It started last week when I noticed my photos were blurry or were not nearly as sharp as I remembered when I bought the camera this past year. Could it be my eyes? Almost all of Monday, the camera would not auto focus. If I held the shutter button down half way, I heard a clicking sound. Even though the battery showed a 1/3 to go before the battery was drained, I went ahead and recharged the battery ... the camera started working with auto focus and auto flash after that battery was charged.

I read the Nikon forums after searching on Google for my problem. A lot of Nikon users were having the same problem and recently. I read the owners manual and checked all the settings both on the camera and my two lenses. I tried both of my lenses with the same results. I inspected the inside of the camera, the lens contacts ... all were good.

Anyway I'll post some different photos tonight and let me know what you see.

Monday June 22

I've been noticing Heidi losing what I think is a lot of weight recently, such as since April. Way too thin in my book. So we took a trip to the vet Monday afternoon for him to inspect her and find out what might be going on. She has been fighting allergies since last October.

Records show she has lost 13 lbs since last September and 7 of those 13 were lost since March. Her appetite is always great, normal activity, she barks and plays plus she has been going outside more just to enjoy the day. Nothing seemed wrong on the trip to Utah. All her activities were normal while traveling.

So my vet did some pretty hard squeezing of her stomach and intestinal area. He found nothing nor did Heidi yelp in any pain while he did that. She did start wagging her tail when he finished.

Now you have to remember this vet I use is not one to take off on a lot of medications or testing that drain your pocketbook. In fact he is just the opposite and will always suggest the cheaper option. In this case he told me to go to the local drug store (CVS) and by the generic brand of Peptin AC ... indigestion???  For a hound that now weighs 36 lbs he told me to give her 20mg twice per day.

He thought about adding pumpkin to her diet but wanted to hold off until I saw that this did or did not work. If the Peptin AC doesn't firm her stools up, then we move to the canned pumpkin option. He said blood tests would be a last option if I was still having problems.

Now the last time he saw Heidi was in March while she was still fighting the battle of the major skin rash. In March she looked sore, probably was and all of her paws and hind legs were raw when he prescribed different meds.

She has been off meds now since April. He and I thought her rebuilt skin was looking very good and in fact has hair growing back where he said it might not return. So that was a good thing to hear since she has had a rough 9 months with skin allergies.

Sadie was the only one that wanted to come outside for the photo op tonight. Of course she likes to go outside anytime I say the word .. in any kind of weather. Still she will whine, not bark, to get back inside because she is a true house dog at heart.

I'm guessing the hay field behind my house will be cut any day now. I was going to take some photos of the flowers in bloom this morning but it seemed to late in the day and was too bright. Of course tonight they had closed up.

In this picture there is one color that stands out ... see if you can find it. You might have to click on the photo to make it bigger to find it.

That stake is what keeps a 100# bloodhound in the field and it doesn't matter how hard she is running. Most of the time though she has her nose to the ground, trotting. Still a great invention for keeping animals in the area.

After burning everything on the driveway bank this April and cutting small trees down to ground level, I have Sassafras trees growing back like weeds. All of the junk plants, horse grass and weeds have not grown back, so the burning did what I wanted it to do.

I'm going to let the bank grow back like it was for years when I first moved here. That was before the straight line winds took out trees 60 ft along the bank. What the storm didn't take in 2008, the local electric company in 2012 cut every tree underneath their power lines that go into my house and any tree that might grow under their power lines.

Well all I need is enough space along that fence line for my DirecTv and Exede Satellite dishes for television and internet service. It will be interesting to see how the Sassafras trees root each other out for space.

I am happy with my backyard project where I also burnt and cleared out in April. It's not all grass but a lot of it is and will get better in the future. I have about three stumps that I did not cut down to ground level and their roots were too strong to pull out ... so I have decided to let them grow into whatever. I can see to mow around them instead of weed wacking them every week and then I can't see where the stumps are to avoid them with my lawn mower.

The urge to travel is still strong as ever. That short trip to Colorado and Utah this month made the desire to travel even stronger. In my mind I need to get these "to do" list things completed for the house before I hit the road again. That list isn't anything major, just a lot of odds and ends to complete. It lingered in the back of my mind while we traveled a few weeks ago.

I like my new MacBook Air. I cannot believe how much faster it is than my iMac that is approaching 5 years this October. Of course with a faster processor, and not much data on the hard drive, it's expected to be a lot faster.

It's good to have options so I guess I'll keep all the Apple "toys" I've bought over the years.

Now if I can just get my camera to work on a consistent basis, I'll be a happy camper.

Life is good right now in "the tropics".

June 21, 2015

It Was Hound Bath Day In The Tropics

As usual when I plan to do just one thing, I end up doing things unexpected. The plan was a bath for only Heidi. She was due after laying in the dirt when camping plus it was also time to wash some of that dead skin from her healing process from the skin allergies she has had over the winter. She doesn't mind baths. Her ears stay clean which is strange for a hound with long overlapping ears. She didn't mind getting her nails cut .. but a 'dog bone' bribe had to be part of the process to get that done.

This photo was taken right after her bath and towel dry. For those that have been following long enough, I think you can see improvement in her skin condition all without any medications in the pat 2-1/2 months.

Before Her Manicure

Sadie on the other had sprints away as far as possible when she hears me say the word bath to either Heidi or Winston. Since the house is small she cannot sprint to far away but she does make sure she is not the one standing in the tub about to be sprayed. This consists of her hiding under the coffee table, the kitchen table or between the bed and bedroom wall. Anything to keep from getting a bath.

On a rare note, after some coaxing, some 'dog bone" bribery, with some slow motion with the nail clippers. She stood while I took one paw at a time and cut her nails. She never flinched and seemed to prefer having them done standing up, while the other two hounds like lying down when getting theirs cut.

Sadie also helped supervising Winston how to dry off in the grass and also coached him into following her instructions. Still at the end of the day, she was pretty proud that all she had was her nails cut and her ears cleaned.

"Now rollover multiple times to dry yourself off"

"Shake your head as hard as you can ... that will get the ears dry"
She was pretty proud of herself getting out of a bath again

When I asked Winston if he wanted a bath ... Mr. Laidback Nothing Bothers Me Winston ... wagged his tail and walked from the kitchen into the bathroom to stand next to the tub. Unlike Heidi who likes to stand, he wanted to lay down in the water. It's hard enough to wash a hound with a low stomach but when laying down and not moving ... it's next to impossible.

Needless to say ... there were no photos of the bathing process, only after shots.

A towel, then a dog chamois towel dry didn't do much for him. The water just seemed to stick to his hair. Since it was 84° and had a heat index of 90° I decided that if he went outside and ran a few laps around the yard and and used the grass, he could naturally dry off like 90% of the dogs do in the USA.

I can't say he ran many laps around the yard, if any at all, but he did trot out to the yard to start his drying process. Here are some photos of Winston getting the job done.

A short rest after trotting out to the yard

Starting to roll over after the first full body shake

Looking for somewhere softer

This could be the spot

Having Sadie check out the place to dry off


It's too hot to be doing this

Well back to the list of things to do. I can still get some things done tonight but the week ahead is booked solid with stuff to do and places to go. Besides that sunshine of today is gone and it's back to raining again. I just received a tornado warning text for my county from the nearest tv station.