Archive | May, 2011

Today’s Resolution, from Simone: Always look cute for there could be treats

31 May

If you've got it, flaunt it.


Today’s resolution: Appreciate their sacrifice

30 May
Observe constantly that all things take place by change, and accustom thyself to consider that the nature of the Universe loves nothing so much as to change the things which are, and to make new things like them. — Marcus Aurelius

Remember the fallen

Today’s resolution: Write and enjoy

29 May

Fullness of beauty

The hydrangea is known to have protection properties to ward off bad energy or hexes.  It’s long been my favorite flowering bush but, sadly, my attempt to grow them failed. But my mother has a gorgeous bank of them at her house that I am fortunate to enjoy each year.

In fullness of beauty


Today’s resolution: Memories of Riverfest

28 May

Riverfest, for me, is best remembered. The festival today has gotten so large that attending is an excruciating, high-anxiety experience.

But there was a time when I loved to go.

During Riverfest’s earliest days, it was held at Murray Park near the lock and dam. It was easy to drive in, park roadside, spend a few hours enjoying the activities, then get out. There were face-painting and activity booths for the kids, a few local musical acts (Greasy Greens, anyone?), food booths (funnel cakes!), jugglers, gymnasts, belly dancers, clowns, local celebrities, politicians working the “crowd.”

My ex-husband and I would take my stepdaughter, Samantha, to this pleasant little festival. She always had a great time in the kid’s area. For us, the fun was watching her. Here’s a photo of Sam, age 3 or 4, after a visit to the face-painting booth.

Sam at Riverfest. Can't you tell she's had big fun?

I believe this was the same year that the Riverfest folks offered, as part of the festivities, rides in Amtrak train cars, from the Riverdale area to the park. Of course, we had to ride the train.

That day, we had typical Riverfest weather — it rained the first night like it has more often than not in recent years. On Saturday, the riverside was steamy and thick with mosquitoes. The temperature rose to the 90s, but the overcast sky saved us from total meltdown.

On the train ride back at the end of the day, every seat was filled. The windows were open, the air in the car heavy and hot. All the passengers were stick-to-the-seat sweaty and half asleep.

Sam stood in the aisle, clutching the back of her father’s seat and swaying as the car moved at about 15 mph on the track. About halfway through the ride, she cut loose.

Camptown ladies sing this song,
Doo-da, Doo-da
The Camptown racetrack’s five miles long
Oh, de doo-da day

Goin’ to run all night
Goin’ to run all day
Bet my money on a bob-tailed nag
Somebody bet on the gray

I swear, she had the lyrics down and was singing her heart out. Her sweet piping voice rose above the rumble of the train on the tracks.

When she finished, no on moved or spoke. All at once, everybody began clapping and calling  for an encore so Sam sang another round before we reached the end of the line.

The next year, I recall, Riverfest moved downtown to the grounds of the Old State House and other places along Third Street. Of course, we were there with Sam.

Those were the best days.

Sitting on the steps of Robinson Auditorium during the first year Riverfest was held downtown. Notice the lack of crowding. Good times.

Today’s resolution: Ice cream, maybe mint chocolate chip

27 May

Right, ice cream has nothing to do with this photo. Just seems like a good day for ice cream. Two scoops. In a sugar cone.

I found this shell in my backyard this morning and thought it interesting. Perhaps the empty shell was pushed from the nest, although I doubt it. Maybe these slugs are repurposing the eggshell as a snug little slug house. Or they’re just sliming the inside.

Anyway, this reminds me that birds can be vicious. I saw it in action years ago during a family dinner on the patio. We had just sat down at the picnic table with our plates of potato salad and hot dogs when we heard a series of squawks, plops and splats. Next, we heard violent fluttering and screeching. Feathers floated down. We looked up to see two bluejays fighting in the air. We grabbed our plates and scuttled back from the table. Then we discovered what had plopped.

Three naked baby birds lay limp on the bricks. We couldn’t save them.

Broken (2011 photo/RO)

Today’s resolution: Reflective energy

26 May

Oklahoma City bombing memorial (2010 photo/RO)

Today’s resolution: Don’t make things more difficult than they are

25 May

Robin's nest (2011 photo/RO)

Creature Feature: For pets, pain is what we say it is

25 May

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Family, 1E, May 25, 2011

By Rhonda Owen, Special to the Democrat-Gazette

I’ve heard that cats don’t feel pain like people do. Is that true? If it is, how can I tell if my cat is hurting?

Cats and other animals do feel pain, but they are better at masking it than we are. In the wild, showing pain makes them vulnerable, so animals have learned to hide pain as a protective measure.

However, just because an animal won’t overtly show pain doesn’t mean there aren’t signs.

“Although all animals experience pain, expression varies with age and species, as well as among individuals,” the American Animal Hospital Association says in its “Pain Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats.”

Veterinarians focus on an animal’s behavior to assess the type and level of pain, but that can be tricky because behavioral changes may be subtle. Also, the vet needs to understand a pet’s normal behavior before he is able to identify abnormal behavior. This is where a pet owner’s observations can be invaluable, the association says.

“For humans, pain is what the patient says it is. For animals, pain is what we say it is,” veterinarian Arnold Plotnick explains in Catnip, a publication of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

He says it’s also hard for veterinarians and pet owners to accurately measure an animal’s pain, especially in cats. Dogs will “vocalize” or cry out when they’re in pain, while a cat may not.

“As a general rule, cats do not demonstrate overt pain-associated behavior,” Plotnick says.

After surgery, cats often get less care for pain management — primarily because it’s hard to recognize or determine a cat’s level of pain. But a cat’s posture can provide some signs.

“A cat with a hunched posture, head hung low, eyelids half closed, sitting quietly in its cage and not seeking attention or resenting being handled is probably experiencing pain,” Plotnick says. “Cats in pain sit at the back of their cage, rather than in the front.”

In contrast, a dog in pain may be restless or agitated, or may react aggressively if touched or handled. Some dogs will act timid or needy and want more contact with people.

“Dogs may adopt an abnormal body posture in an attempt to cope with pain,” he says, explaining that a dog with abdominal pain may tense up its torso or arch its back.

The animal hospital association says there are general signs for cats and dogs that may indicate pain:

• Decreased activity or appetite. A cat may stop grooming or may not want to eat, for example.

• “Inappropriate elimination,” which in indoor cats could mean urinating beside the litter box or elsewhere in the home. If a cat begins doing this, it’s sometimes a sign of a bladder or kidney infection.

• Increased body tension or flinching when touched.

• Elevated heart rate, blood pressure or body temperature as well as rapid breathing.

The association also notes that the most overlooked cause of pain in cats has to do with muscular soreness, arthritis and degenerative joint disease.

Creature Feature appears each Wednesday in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

What to know when traveling with your pet

24 May

SUMMER vacation is no longer just for two-legged travelers. Room service menus for Fido, massages for over-stressed terriers and tabbies, cushy beds for canines: many hotels have been ratcheting up the pet amenities. Best Western has even hired Cesar Millan of National Geographic Channel’s “Dog Whisperer” to be the chain’s pet travel expert.

The problem is getting your pet to the destination. In recent years, transporting pets on commercial flights has grown more complicated — and more expensive. All major carriers have significantly raised the fees they charge for bringing pets onboard, matching, or in some cases, surpassing, the $100 surcharge each way they typically charge for children flying alone. Fees vary depending on whether the pet flies under your seat, or as checked baggage or cargo, which involve extra handling. American, Delta, United and Continental charge $125 each way for pets in the cabin. United charges the most for pets traveling as checked baggage: $250 each way or $500 round trip. READ FULL ARTICLE

Hosed update

24 May

Vent hood with "frosting"

We had another thunderstorm with high winds and hard rain last night. This morning, I checked the dryer hose. It  was dry! No water! The muffin-top vent pipe hood held tight. My confidence has shot up a point. But mostly I’m relieved. As my sister says, it doesn’t matter how it looks but only that it works.