Dog calming vest for fireworks season

The brand name is ‘Thundershirt‘.  It is a tried and true device for calming dogs who fear thunder and fireworks, by creating a swaddling effect.

[Picture from the Thundershirt website.]

ThunderShirt Polo Dog Anxiety Jacket

 

I may end up buying the authentic Thundershirt for Myrtle (or one of the smorgasbord of other brands now available on Amazon, such as this one called Mellow Shirt“).

But first I want to see if Myrtle needs it and if it will calm her during fireworks season.  We’ve had three nights of fireworks in the neighborhood so far.  The first night, she was visibly agitated, even in the house when I was with her, trying to comfort her.  She was startled and barked at every boom.

So, I’ve mocked up a DIY compression vest for her.   The first mock up is made of terry cloth, to be soft and cool.

Vest Floor 2 w RSR

The next mock up will be all or part netting, and stretchier:

Netting w RSR

While wearing the terrycloth vest, she immediately began sitting and laying down more, while not showing signs that the vest bothers her.

Sitting w RSR

Napping w RSR

Watchdog 2 w RSR

However, the real test hasn’t occurred yet.  The fireworks have been quiet in our ‘hood since that first night.

I’ll be watching and tweaking the vests all week, hoping that by July 4th, we’ll have something that keeps her from being frightened.


The vest has not taken away her energy, and by that I mean her desire to play with the baby robins in the neighbor’s tree.


 

Fourth of July tips from our humane society:

Fourth of July pet tips from KHS

And from the totally awesome The Oatmeal:

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Check your main shut-off valve

Do you have a main water shut-off valve inside your house?  It’s a code requirement, so you probably do.  But if for some reason you don’t have one, I recommend getting one installed.  It makes it easy to shut off the water to repair or replace toilet valves, washer hoses, sink faucets and supply lines, etc.

Mine looks like this.  I access it from a trap door in a closet.  

IMG_20190623_103638574 RSR

 

Do you turn off the main shut-off when you go on vacation?  I recommend it.  It’s peace of mind that you won’t come home to a flooded house if a washer hose bursts, pipes freeze or some other unplanned catastrophe occurs.

Can you easily access your main shut-off valve, or is it behind a locked door, accessible only by ladder, or otherwise barricaded by stuff?  If so, I recommend clearing a path and making it quickly accessible.  That way, if there is a water emergency, such as a burst pipe or hose, you can quickly stop the flow.

The next important question is:  Is your main shut-off valve this type?

IMG_20190519_150242482a RSR

If so, I recommend replacing it, and here’s why.  It will break.

IMG_20190519_150302266a RSR

Recently, I turned the water off at the shut-off, so I could replace a toilet valve.  With the toilet valve easily replaced, I re-opened the shut-off valve.  Unexpectedly, the shut-off valve handle came off in my hand, and water started pouring into the space under my house. 

IMG_20190519_150258359a RSR

Miraculously, I got the handle back on and the valve closed.  Murphy’s Law dictated that this would happen on a Sunday afternoon.  No plumbers were available.  I went all night without running water, worrying that the shut-off would fail.  Thankfully it didn’t.  The plumber got here first thing in the morning and replaced the valve.  He replaced it with a quarter-turn ball valve.

IMG_20190623_103644727 RSR

This is the type of shut-off I had always wanted, but didn’t realize I should have gone ahead and gotten the replacement.  The total cost was $150.  The plumber rolled his eyes at the round handle type and said “they all fail”.

With the quarter-turn ball valve, my peace of mind is restored.  If I want to replace a faucet, or go on vacation, a simple turn of the shut-off valve is all it takes to turn the water off to the entire house.


Not all water can be so easily turned off.  I’m speaking of all of the rain we are getting here in the Arkansas River region.  Our banks, reservoirs and ditches are full, and we are sending the excess on to Oklahoma and Arkansas.  Sorry ’bout that, neighbors to the south.

Bridges are still doing okay in my area, but some streets and paths, not so much.  Parts of our river bike/walk path has been submerged.  When the water recedes, in some spots the path has washed away with it.

IMG_20190524_191555069b RSRIMG_20190524_193019097a RSR

‘Some’ are enjoying it.  Others like me are spending a lot of extra effort on cleanup.  Sigh.

I had measles as a teenager.

There’s a lot of conversation about measles these days, in the US anyway.  Here’s my story….

I got miserably sick with fever, and then a rash started showing up.  Mom took me to the doctor.  The bewildering diagnosis was measles.  It was bewildering because–

  • No one gets measles (or so I thought); and
  • As a child, I had been vaccinated against measles.  My immunization records confirmed it.

The assumption was made that the vaccine failed, or the pediatrician’s staff had noted the immunization in my records but forgot to actually administer the vaccine.

It was the most miserable I’ve ever been in my life, and scary.  

  • There were the typical symptoms of being sick–Achy and miserable all over, nose, throat and relentless cough; no energy for anything but bed rest.
  • Itchy, burning rash–The rash covered my entire body, and itched and burned like mad, day and night.
  • High Feverpersistent, deadly high temperatures.
  • Ice baths–The high fever had to be controlled with intermittent freezing cold ice baths.
  • Night sweats–I learned to love them, because it meant the fever was breaking, or something like that.  Confession:  I still love night sweats to this day, because I remember the relief it brought.
  • The misery lasted about a month, with 2+ weeks being absolute round-the-clock hell.

The rash made me really ugly.

  • The rash was thick, soft and red, and covered my entire body; face, arms, legs, and torso.  Visualize the worse case of acne, chicken pox and poison ivy ever seen, and then fill in any open spaces with more rash.
  • My dad teased me about how bad I looked and asked if I was going on a date. (Yeah, thanks, Dad. :p )
  • The rash didn’t disappear when the other symptoms finally did.  It was basically a massive number of sores that took their own time to heal.
  • Even after the sores healed, the rash left dark, blotchy shadows on my face and body, under the skin.  It took weeks and weeks for the shadows to fade away gradually.

I could have infected lots of other people because I didn’t know I had a highly-contagious, potentially deadly virus. 

The 16-year-old me did all of these things on a regular basis:

  • Worked at a fast food restaurant
  • Went to school every day
  • Went shopping (tried on clothing, shoes and jewelry, and tested makeup)
  • Went swimming with friends
  • Hung out at friends’ homes
  • Ate at restaurants
  • Dated boys (and kissed them)
  • Cared for my toddler brother at home (feeding, dressing, child’s play, etc.)
  • My mom was pregnant at the time with our baby brother, or she got pregnant soon after that.

Who knows where I came in contact with the measles virus, but the list above indicates it could have been anywhere.  Kids and teenagers are constantly in contact with the world.

From the Mayo Clinic on how measles is spread:

  • Measles is a highly contagious illness caused by a virus that replicates in the nose and throat of an infected child or adult.
  • When someone with measles coughs, sneezes or talks, infected droplets spray into the air, where other people can inhale them.
  • The infected droplets may also land on a surface, where they remain active and contagious for several hours.
  • You can contract the virus by putting your fingers in your mouth or nose or rubbing your eyes after touching the infected surface.
  • About 90 percent of susceptible people who are exposed to someone with the virus will be infected.

When I finally healed, it was complete.  I was lucky.  Some common complications from measles are dangerous and/or permanent.

From the Mayo website on common complications from measles:

  • Ear problems.  One of the most common complications of measles is a bacterial ear infection.  Permanent hearing impairment can result.  
  • Bronchitis, laryngitis or croup. Measles may lead to inflammation of your voice box (larynx) or inflammation of the inner walls that line the main air passageways of your lungs (bronchial tubes).
  • Pneumonia. Pneumonia is a common complication of measles. People with compromised immune systems can develop an especially dangerous variety of pneumonia that is sometimes fatal.
  • Encephalitis. About 1 in 1,000 people with measles develops a complication called encephalitis. Encephalitis may occur right after measles, or it might not occur until months later.
  • Pregnancy problems. If you’re pregnant, you need to take special care to avoid measles because the disease can cause preterm labor, low birth weight and maternal death

Did I mention having measles was the most miserable I’ve ever been in my life?  It was.  Scary, too.  I don’t want to ever feel like that again.  I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.  

Can I get measles again?  I asked my doc that this week, and the answer was “maybe”.  My choices are to get a test to see if I have the antibodies, or skip the test and go ahead and get the vaccine.  I’ve decided to get the test first, mainly to satisfy my curiosity.  Stay tuned….

More information on measles:

 

 

Next post shall be a return to more fun topics.

DIY Dollar Store phone case

Last month I ordered a new phone and case.  When they arrived, the case didn’t fit the phone.  Dollar Store to the rescue.  At the Dollar Store, I found some cases that were the correct width, but too short.  They were flexible material, so I decided to try cutting one to make it fit.  I bought two, in case I messed one up.  Here’s how the process went.

Cut the case in two, to increase the length.  The case is a rubbery material, so strong shears are needed.  I used kitchen shears.  (The picture below shows the finished black case on the right, and next to it the turquoise one in progress.)

IMG_20190325_093701252

This shows the additional length needed to fit over the phone.  Next I punched holes in both pieces, to stitch in a piece of fabric to bridge the gap.

IMG_20190417_080216157a

Marking and punching the holes:

The locations of the holes were first measured and marked, using a simple ruler and gel pen.

IMG_20190325_094058699a

A leather punch worked great for punching the holes.  My leather punch isn’t the exact one pictured, but is substantially similar.  It was $7 well spent.  I use the punch all the time for making belts fit, and numerous other ‘hacks’.  Click the picture to go to the punch on Amazon.

Leather punch from Amazon

When one side was punched…

IMG_20190325_094420475a

I used those holes to mark where to punch on the corresponding piece.  IMG_20190325_094553076IMG_20190325_095052635a

Then, using cotton yarn and a darning needle, I stitched a scrap of woven belting to each side, to bridge the gap.  Almost any durable fabric could be used.  Think denim, duck canvas, vinyl, etc.  Just make sure the edges are bound to prevent raveling.

Using the kitchen shears again, I adapted the back holes for the photo lens and sensor.  This first attempted adaptation wasn’t very pretty, but it did its job.  IMG_20190417_075932068a

On the other case, I omitted the fabric, and simply laced the two pieces together with elastic cord.

IMG_20190417_094745546a

The cord lacing fits as well as the fabric piece.  It was easier to do, and came out looking a lot nicer than the fabric, I think.

IMG_20190417_100432655a

Here’s a side view.  With the kitchen shears, I modified the side cutouts to match the control buttons on the phone.

IMG_20190417_075954000a

From the front, the cases look like this.

IMG_20190417_075925300bIMG_20190417_080206165b

The verdict:

The DIY cases worked out great.  They never came loose from the phone, and they did their job of protecting the phone while I ordered another case that was supposed to fit the phone.  When that case didn’t fit, I ordered a third case.  After three failed attempts to get a proper case, I gave up.  There were other issues with the phone too, so the phone was returned, and I ordered a different phone and case.  The DIY Dollar Store cases got me through while waiting for the ‘right’ phone and case to arrive, and they would have lasted a long time, if I’d kept that phone.



Have a lovely Easter.  We sang this in church on Easter morning when I was little.

That Summer (2017)

This 2017 documentary shows Andy Warhol, Mick and Bianca Jagger, Truman Capote, Lee Radziwill, photographer Peter Beard, and others, enjoying themselves at an ocean-front home in Montauk, and at Lee’s Aunt Edie’s house in East Hampton.  Beard is the main narrator.  Some of the surviving participants and their contemporaries gave interviews for the documentary.  There are no put-ons in the vintage film footage.  No one is on stage or playing to an audience.  The footage is akin to home movies of a group of friends having fun away from the city, taking pictures, and indulging their creative propensities.  That is, except for Lee’s part in helping to bring her aunt’s house up to code.  That part gave the impression of being professionally filmed, but was no less interesting.

About Lee’s Aunt Edie and her house:

If you have seen the 1975 documentary, Grey Gardens, then you know of Edie and the house, and that the two ladies who lived there are famous.  If you haven’t seen the original Grey Gardens, that is the place to start.

[This video is labeled ‘trailer’, but it’s the entire 2+ hour Grey Gardens documentary on Youtube.]

Grey Gardens is the story of Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale (“Big Edie”) and Edith Bouvier Beale (“Little Edie”), mother and daughter, who lived together on their East Hampton estate, as their 1890s mansion they couldn’t afford to maintain deteriorated around them.  Big Edie was the aunt of Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis and Lee Radziwill; Little Edie was their cousin.  Big Edie was sister to Jackie and Lee’s father.

The two Edies became increasingly reclusive and eccentric during their time living together at Grey Gardens.  They never left the property.  They had their groceries delivered.  By the 1970s, the house had deteriorated to a point where they didn’t have proper plumbing, heat or garbage service.  The local code enforcement authorities stepped in like bulls in a china shop, did further damage to the house, and tried to remove the Edies from their home and property.  The Bouvier-Onassis-Radziwill sisters sprung into action to save the Edies’ home without usurping their chosen lifestyle.

In 2009, a Grey Gardens movie was released.  Drew Barrymore did a great job portraying Little Edie, and Jessica Lange was great as Big Edie.  The movie told the poignant backstory of the Edies growing up, and how they ended up living together in their old home.  The movie can be streamed for free right now with a Prime subscription. https://smile.amazon.com/Grey-Gardens-Drew-Barrymore/dp/B007Q34WIK

 

In 2015, the spoof series Documentary Now!, did an eerily likable episode on Grey Gardens, with Fred Armisen playing Big Edie and Bill Hader playing Little Edie.  The episode is called ‘Sandy Passage’.  Definitely a fun watch.

 

More about Big Edie and Little Edie:

Big Edie was beautiful, spirited and talented.  She loved singing, dancing and performing for others.  Her lawyer-husband left her in 1931, when their three children were still young.  Once the children were grown, he divorced and disinherited her, which left her only the Grey Gardens property and a $65,000 trust fund.

Little Edie was also beautiful, spirited and talented.  She spent her young adult years in New York City, but never married.  At some point in her life she became bald.  There are conflicting stories about how she came to be bald.  To cover her baldness, she wears a variety of headscarves in the documentary, sometimes adorned with jewelry.

Little Edie has so many great moments in the documentary, but this has to be my fave.  Here she is, showing off her self-designed practical outfit for the day–upcycling and repurposing long before those concepts were cool.  

The rest of the Grey Gardens story

I can envision two more potential documentaries to be made out of the Grey Gardens story:

  • One is about Little Edie’s life after Grey Gardens.  She left the home after her mother died in 1977, returned to the stage for awhile, and had other projects, until passing away in 2002.
  • The other potential movie, is about what happened to the house.  There was a time when it looked like it might be torn down, but it was saved and renovated and is now habitable by even the snobbiest standards.  It sold in 2017 for $15.5 million, according to this article in Town and Country magazine.  This blog post has some nice views of the house interior and gardens:   https://hookedonhouses.net/2015/01/26/a-look-inside-grey-gardens-in-the-hamptons-today/ 

To say Grey Gardens is an awkward documentary to watch is an understatement.  Somewhere at any given moment, viewers are easing the awkwardness by making jokes about crazy cat ladies and hoarders; and scoffing about rich people who can’t take care of themselves.  But looking past the easy jokes, the story comes through about how individual all human beings are, and how each person chooses in what ways to conform, and not conform, in the community and society.  I’m captivated by these stories, and so glad for Big Edie and Little Edie and the Grey Gardens documentary, and for the inspiration for creativity and delightful individualism.

 

IMDB links: (Put together these four films, and you have a superb binge-watch.)



And now, back to ‘That Summer’ and what makes it special.  The footage in this 2017 indie documentary precedes the Grey Gardens documentary, and brings together the Edies and Grey Gardens at its most delapidated, with those most famous Warhol-Studio 54 denizens when they escaped the city to the quiet Hamptons.  It is truly unique.  If binge watching, I think you can either start or end the series with “That Summer”.  “That Summer” can be streamed from the usual sources, and can be viewed free on Hulu with a subscription.  https://www.hulu.com/movie/that-summer-6c7dd4c4-49cd-4666-b794-e00ae5ab311a

The risk of fostering for the humane society…

…is that you might not want to give the pup back.  I knew it would happen to me eventually.  Turns out it was foster pup #8.  I’m now her permanent human.  She and I have kept the name the humane society gave her–Myrtle.  I never would have come up with that name on my own, but it’s adorable and fits her perfectly.

Myrtle holidays 2018 RSR

When I first picked her up from the humane society, she was 4-5 months old, and had demodex, a non-contagious mangy skin condition.  She was missing much of her fur.  She was uncomfortable, but had a sweet disposition anyway.

Myrtle first night a RSR

It got worse before it got better.    Myrtle boot b RSR

But the humane society clinic vets are awesome and gave us the right Rx, and in another week we started seeing gradual improvement, so that by week 3 she was really getting her fur back.

This set of pictures was supposed to be for her adoption profile page.  But she was already starting to win me over.

She loves rawhide chews, furry squeaky toys, cardboard, and plastic milk containers.  These days when I take the milk containers to the recycler, they are partly broken down already.  🙂

She made this mess when she was about 6 months old.  She is now almost 8 months, and 44 lbs, and still this serious and industrious about her play.  When she is playing, it sounds like there is a basketball scrimmage going on in the room.  There is a daily carpet of chewed cardboard and plastic stuff for me to sweep up.

Myrtle Christmas prep a RSR

She’s a growl-talker.  She talks to me all. the. time.  I’m still trying to learn what she is telling me most of the time.

She’s a quick learner, but *cough* hard of hearing when she’s in the yard and I call her back to the house and she doesn’t want to come in. 😉

Myrtle Yard a RSR

She has an insatiable love for playing tug-of-war.  A tennis ball in a sock is the best for that.  Here she is with her ball & sock, telling me it’s time to play. Run-Sew-Read 2019She loves taking walks on the leash, which is less a walk than her dragging of me down the street.  Once we have the leash walking routine worked out, I think she’ll be my first dog ever to be a good running buddy.

Breed?  She has to be part Labrador, because she has webbed paws, and she’s a water dog.  I’ve already had to pull her from icy lake water.  I was a terrified foster mom, and she was a cold scared puppy.  That may have helped to form the bond.  I think she is also part pit and/or boxer.

She likes riding with me in the car, so when I reach for her Kurgo seatbelt harness, she goes wild.  But once in the car she calms down and is great at riding shotgun.Myrtle shotgun a w RSR

She has her own ‘girl cave’…Myrtle girl cave a w RSRMyrtle in girl cave a w RSR

Because she does great at home alone, I rarely close her in the girl cave.  But, I do regularly drop treats and toys in there for her to find, so she thinks of it as her ‘happy place’.

So anyway, you’ll see more of Myrtle now and then.

Hopefully, this doesn’t mean the end of my fostering, but it will limit the doggos I can foster.  No more tiny ones, or contagious conditions.

Myrtle 1-25-2019 RSR

Valentine greeting, 1920s style

*Happy Valentine’s Day!*

This is a Valentine card of my grandma’s from when she was a little girl in the 1920s.

Front:

Grandmas paper doll valentine 1920s-Mary RSR

Opened up to show the front and back:

Grandmas paper doll valentine 1920s-Mary open RSR

Inside is a paper doll, and an envelope that holds her paper doll clothes:

Grandmas paper doll valentine 1920s-Mary2 RSR

Not only does the envelope have the clothes that came with the card, but either the giver or my grandma made more clothes for her.  I love the hand drawn ‘Life Guard’ suit!

Grandmas paper doll valentine 1920s-Mary3 RSR

The clothes that came with the card have little notes printed on the back.

Grandmas paper doll valentine 1920s-Mary4 RSR corr

Want to print your own fun retro valentine card?  Amtrak has some adorable downloadable ones!

Amtrak-Valentines-Day-All-aboard

Amtrak-Valentines-Day-Angels

Click on the pictures or this link to see the rest!  http://blog.amtrak.com/2019/02/amtrak-valentines-day-cards/

Whatever your plans for February 14th, have a lovely time!

How do you pick the one best song for Valentine’s Day?  I couldn’t do it.  Ruling out songs I’ve previously included in posts, here are several contenders.  It’s basically an entire playlist!

(For Dimming of the Day, also check out David Gilmour’s live version.  It’s really my favorite.)

 

 

 

Nico 1988

This is another film I watched over the holiday.  It was hard to watch, yet I didn’t want to switch it off.  It’s not about the music and scenes of the Velvet Underground or glamorized tales of Andy Warhol and his inner circle.  The film, released in 2018, dramatizes the sobering, heartbreaking life of this 1960s icon, as she lived her final years in the late 1980s, while beginning in earnest to lay the groundwork for a brighter future.

There is no inspiration here, but something else makes it worth watching.  It is a story of a real life, well dramatized with cooperation from her son, and based on witness accounts from her inner circle.

Imdb page: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7186092/

Watch here:

Boxing Day!

Happy Boxing Day!  I hope you had a lovely Christmas day.  Here’s some of what came out of my kitchen over the past few days:

Soup mixes for my family who have pressure cookers. 

Soup mixes RSR

Homemade treats for the pup cousins, using this simple recipe from another blogger.  

Pup treats aw RSR

I tried baking a small carrot cake in the Instant Pot.  It came out dense like a brownie; not light like a cake.  The flavor was good though, so I hastily frosted it (aka the best part), and put it away for my own snacking later.  We shall not speak further of this failed cooking experiment. 😉

Carrot cake baked in PC RSR

Carrot cake ruled out, I ended up making my fail-safe pumpkin bread to take to the family gathering.  

Pumpkin bread aw RSR

Prep for the road trip to KC involved bottling a supply of hot coffee for me, and packing a bag of food, toys and blankets for Myrtle the foster pup.

Thermos etc a w RSR

While I was in the kitchen doing Christmas prep, this cute little booger was in the other room producing a spectacular array of shredded stuff.  Look how proud she is of her work.

Home Alone a

Myrtle mess gif

Not from the kitchen, but this was my first-ever attempt to knit a tiny sweater tree ornament.  It was my ‘hostess gift’ to our aunt and uncle who had us all at their home. (Free download pattern here.)  

Tiny sweater a RSR

The family gathering was special, as always.  Myrtle got lots of attention from the foster cousins, both human and canine.  The cat cousin Willie opted to hide out in the bedroom.

Back at home, where my Christmas decorating is bare-bones, this print is one of my treasured holiday items.  

I Believe in Father Christmas 2 a RSR

Can’t leave out Adam Sandler’s masterpiece.  🙂