Smelly dog, smelly dog

Auguste stinks. It’s time for a bath, which he tolerates, looking at us miserably as if to say “How can you torture me like this? I thought you loved me?” Then, when we lift him out of the tub, he goes crazy, rushing back and forth, biting his towel and shaking it, and dragging it around the house as fast as he can. He then trots into the bathroom and lies down because he LOVES the hair dryer, and practically purs like a cat when we dry him off. He’s a nut. A stinky one right now.

When we bought him, his breeder asked if we knew anything about dachshunds. I’d already had one (though it was a mixed breed), so I knew that their backs were fragile and they should be carried down stairs and not let on furniture because jumping down from a high sofa or bed would eventually strain their backs and shoulders. But did I know they had a stronger odor than other dogs? That, I admitted, I did not. I’d never really noticed! But this is what the breeder said – “Many people give up their dachshunds because of their odor – and because they are headstrong, stubborn, and hard to train.”  I asked what could be done, and he said, “don’t bathe them too often, use very mild soap, and take them to the groomer twice a year. As for training, if you find something that works with a dachshund, publish it in a scientific journal.”

Not reassuring – but I’d never really thought of if before, In fact, Auguste was one of our easiest dogs to house train. He was house trained almost right away – but I think most of it was because he grew up with an already well trained older dog. Rusty, our Lab, would sigh and look pained whenever he did anything wrong. She was also a “rub it in” personality, and would prance up to us after Auguste was scolded and give us her best “I’m a perfect angel” act so that we’d pet her, while Auguste looked on and sulked.

Auguste was a smelly little dog, but it was mostly because he’s so low to the ground he gets into everything, so I was always washing him off. He hated it. I washed Rusty off too, but you can’t use any kind of soap on a Lab – it strips their coats natural oils and they end up smelling awful; Never wash a Lab! Just rinse with water. Usually this gets everything off. German Shepherds are the same – in fact, I’d say the less dogs are washed, the better they smell. Exceptions to this are the non shedding breeds and curly coated dogs, whose fine, fluffy hair traps all sorts of dirt and gunk and needs frequent grooming. Otherwise, for shepherds, Labs, and dachshunds, a good rinse every week with clean water (just a shower will do!) and a good brushing after keeps their coats clean, shiny, and smelling pleasant. (I won’t pretend Auguste ever smells wonderful, but I love him anyway.) He’s not that bad – but right now he’s hiding out on the balcony because I told him it was time for his bath – and he knows that word!

Auggiee

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Thirteen things better than the Tropics

I was sitting here, a blanket wrapped around my shoulders, the curtains drawn, while frozen rain pattered on the windows thinking to myself, ‘Why did I ever leave the tropics?’
When I lived in the tropics, I didn’t even own a sweater. Even the rainy season was hot. I never had to turn the heat on (we didn’t have heat anyway in the house) and once we lived in a house with a fireplace, and we never lit it; it held a huge potted fern.
Now I live in an old house with such drafts in front of the doors and windows that the curtains move as if in a breeze. Sleet is the most common form of precipitation. What can be better about France than the tropics?

1) I don’t have to shake my shoes out every morning. It used to be a habit. I don’t do it anymore. It was to dislodge the scorpions that liked to take up residence there. I shook my shoes for about ten years after leaving the islands. It’s a hard habit to – er, shake.

2) I can open the cereal and pour myself a bowl, then add milk and eat it without first examining it for sugar ants. Sugar ants are tiny, almost invisible ants that get into Everything. To check for sugar ants you:
pour the cereal in a bowl. Hold it very still while peering at it closely. If the cereal starts to move, you toss everything in the garbage.

3) I can go to the bathroom at night without turning the light on.
In St. Thomas, the bathroom was the nighttime gathering place for the tarantula. They would go to the bathroom to drink from the shower, and you did not want to surprise one – they move incredibly fast and in the opposite direction of where you think they’re pointing.
Usually they try for high ground when they’re terrified. Your legs look like tree trunks to them.
Terror spreads from the spider to you as it sprints up your leg. Some nights, no one gets any sleep.

4) When it rains here, it’s a pretty regular rain. In St. Thomas, we got hurricanes. Three times, when I lived there, the island was declared a national disaster area. Our road was washed out, the school was washed out, the house was full of mud, and that’s if the house managed to keep its roof.

5) I can get fresh vegetables and fruit. No, there are no fresh veggies on St. Thomas – or very few. Everything is shipped in. There are home-grown mangoes and g’nips, tamarands and some coconuts. Everything else comes from ‘the mainland’. Here in France, the market is full of fresh veggies and fruit. I love it.

6) Cuts don’t go sceptic in two seconds flat. (that sort of speaks for itself. In the tropics, cuts and scratches got infected. Period.)

7) I can control the ticks and fleas here. In St. Thomas, it’s very hard to keep your dogs and cats tick and flea free. I’m allergic to fleas. They give me huge red welts. Guess who had huge red welts all over her legs and arms for the senior prom?

8) You don’t feel caged in. I used to look out to sea. Endless ocean on all sides. (We lived on a mountaintop – the view was spectacular) and I’d think…’I’m trapped.’ Now I can get in my car and drive. I can take a train. I can walk. I can ‘get away from it all’.

9) There are no people who have come here to ‘get away from it all’. In St. Thomas, most of the people who arrived to live there wanted to ‘get away from it all’. They usually lasted about 6 months. Then they either packed up and left (usually owing 6 months rent) or they landed in the local loony bin and had a nice rest for a while, before leaving for good.

10) There are four seasons here, and I love summer and fall. In the tropics there is hurricane season and the rest of the time.

11) Huge, fifteen inch centipedes. Need I say more?

12) A huge, and I mean huge, difference in class and race – the rich and the poor in the extremes. It’s depressing any way you look at it, and from any angle. I rarely saw such poverty as in the tropics.

13) The crime rate is staggeringly high – drugs, murder and mayhem. True, the mafia did move in and clean things up a bit – but overall, the crime there is scary. Here, I don’t have dogs for protection.

And next Thursday – what I miss. (you can resume dreaming of clear, turquoise water and warm beaches now…)

The dangers of vaccines

Actually, vaccines are safe. I’m not going to say perfectly safe, because nothing in this world is perfectly 100% safe. Even pure spring water can kill you, and oxygen, and kale…and reading ‘Goop’. But some people think that vaccines are dangerous and cause autisme, or other things. But I thought it would be interesting to replace the word “autisme” by “hit by a bus”. Because the problem with causal inference is that, on the surface, it sounds logical. Let’s take another one: “I drank coffee and my headache went away.”  You’re taking coffee (X) and drinking it (the action) and the result is no more headache (Y). So you think, “Oh! X + Y = no more headache!” So using this, scientists can study coffee, and brains, and headaches, and find out if coffee does stop headaches, and it turns out that sometimes it’s the sugar we put in our coffee, and sometimes it’s the caffeine, and sometimes it’s the aspirin we took when the headache kicked in – but at any rate, it’s studied and papers are written, and people make silly memes about it. Résultat de recherche d'images pour "coffee and headache meme"

And then there is Goop, Gwenyth (Superflake) Paltrow’s site which encourages women to put jade eggs in their “yoni” (you know something is wrong when you can’t even use the correct term for vagina). The idea is that the egg (X) shoved into your “yoni” (Y) = life changing into a wonderful powerful kaleidoscope of  self appreciation and love. I’m looking at a whole roomful of scientists making bug eyes at each other wondering how they will verify that, and half hoping they’ll be chosen to work on the project – as long as they can choose the Y subjects themselves.

Now let’s go back to our vaccines and make a causal inference: Getting vaccinated caused my child to get hit by a bus.  The facts:  Over 200,000 kindergarten age children were vaccinated in the state of Florida. 42 children ages 5 – 7 died soon after, hit by a bus.  Causal inference: the child was vaccinated – the bus hit them – the vaccine caused the child to be hit by a bus. More facts: the child was fine until he was hit by the bus, which happened shortly after the vaccine. In fact, up until he was vaccinated, the child had no trouble crossing the street. The cause and effect seems clear – the child was fine. The child was vaccinated. The child was hit by a bus. Ergo – vaccines cause bus collisions with children.

Wait a minute, you say. That is just plain silly – that can be easily disproved.

All right, I say – go ahead – convince me it’s not true.

Well, you sputter – getting hit by a bus is an accident – it can happen for any number of reasons! Vaccines have nothing to do with it. 

Me: Have you no empathy for the families of these children? What about the little boy in a coma! He was dizzy when he crossed the street, he fell down, the bus hit him. I think he was dizzy from the vaccine. There has to be a link. Too many kids were hit by a bus last year. They were all vaccinated. There is definitely a link.

You: This is ridiculous. You can’t really believe that vaccines cause kids to get hit by a bus. 

This is true. I do not believe vaccines cause bus collisions with children. But if you replace bus collision with the words “autism” or whatever else – you see the problem. The inference is causal – there is no scientific proof. And until there is, I will continue to advocate vaccinating children and adults. And people make silly memes about that too.

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Hurricanes

Sorry I didn’t keep up with the blogging. I’ve been keeping busy cleaning, which is, as you know, what I do when I worry.  The hurricane hit St Thomas (where I used to live) and it was even worse than I feared – it looks like the while island was scoured by a Brillo pad. There isn’t a leaf on a tree, mud and water have run into houses, roofs have been torn off, and palm trees have lost their fronds or been snapped in half.  I remember living in St Thomas and getting hit by two hurricanes – one happened when we lived near Mountain Top, and the other when we were in Contant. The one that hit when we were in Contant passed directly over us, so that the wind blew one way, then there was the calm and blue sky of the eye of the cyclone, and then the wind hit from the other direction, smashing into our kitchen and emptying our cabinets.

The other hurricane dumped so much water on us, the streets were rivers. We splashed up and down the hill in water that was knee deep, watching our neighbors shoveling two feet of mud out of their houses. Cars parked on the hill had all been swept to the bottom, and the trees were broken and smashed. A few months later, we took a hike in the forest and saw where the water had dug huge channels in the mountainside. That was also the day we saw the huge orb spiders, whose webs spanned the ravine we were climbing. The spiders were black and yellow, and the size of dinner plates. Their webs were twenty to thirty feet across and the outer web silk was yellow, and as thick and strong as guitar string. (I plucked it, just to see. For some reason, those huge spiders scared me less than the smaller ones in out house!)

When I came to  France,I thought I’d left hurricanes behind. But in December 1999, a huge storm struck us, waking us up at 5:30 am. I listened to the wind howling like a train outside the shutters and said to my husband, “it’s a hurricane!” (It wasn’t a hurricane, – hurricanes don’t happen in France – it was a wind storm called “Lothar” that swept over France and parts of Germany.) My husband didn’t believe me, but our sons ran into the room saying water was coming through the wall. In fact, it was coming through the shutters and the closed window. My husband opened the window and unlatched the shutters to look, and the wind nearly tore the shutter of his hands. It took three people to close it again. When the storm passed, we walked outside to desolation. Half our roof was gone, both chimneys smashed, the road was red from all the tiles that had flown off the roofs, and the trees that were still standing had lost their small branches and twigs, and we walked on a carpet of matchsticks that was five inches thick. One of our apple trees was upside down. The electricity was off for weeks, the roads, airports and trains were closed – it took three days for the highway to be cleared. I can’t imagine what it will be like in the Caribbean, where the destruction is ten times worse.  Now, hurricane Irma  is barreling towards Florida, and I hope it swerves off and into the Atlantic without hurting anyone. But if it absolutely must hit Florida – I hope it goes straight into Mar el Lago, and then veers out to sea.

Transcending Fire by Casey Moss

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Hello! It’s been quite some time since I’ve had a release, and now I can say all that’s changed. A big thank you to Jennifer for allowing me to visit today and share my story Transcending Fire. This erotic, futuristic, dystopian story based around different motorcycle gangs has had quite a journey to get to this point. Perhaps one day I’ll share the two-plus-year jaunt this story went through to find a home. Luckily, it finally has. Even with all the trials it went through, I still love this story. It’s one of my favorites that I’ve written, and one that I didn’t get tired of during the editing process either. Yay!
A man dealing with an Earth in chaos. A woman from an alternate universe hoping to find her destiny. Two motorcycle gangs and a real bad ass who wants to ruin everything. What’s not to like? Continue reading

Voyage, voyage

So, this is typical. My son Sebi has gone off on his vacation. He planned it last year. He’s been wanting to go for ages, and so off he went, accompanied by his gorgeous fiancée, to visit South Korea. I admit – he was never good at timing, and he actively seemed to look for trouble. This time, it’s off to a peninsula that, in better times, hardly shows up on the back pages of the news. This time it’s front page news. I actually had to turn the news off today – it’s making me too jittery. With the lunatic in the White House making war noises at the lunatic in North Korea, it’s all I can do to sit down and write – I’m more of a nervous pacer, you see. I get nervous, I clean. I do laundry. I rearrange the furniture. I paint the whole apartment. I want to call Sebi and tell him to come back.  I know I’m  being ridiculous. Life goes on, no matter the bluster of anencephalous Trump or Crazy paranoid Kim. The clouds sail across the sky. And speaking of clouds – there is a doozy heading for my old home – the Caribbean – so I’m worried about my friends there too. It seems today is a day of worry. My house will be spotless. My husband is off to Singapore this evening – but that is just making me jealous. I’d love to visit Malaysia. Hopefully, he’ll have such a wonderful time he’ll want to go back and take me!

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Here I am with our friend Wen,who lives in Singapore.

I’ve been having fun imagining a trip to Malaysia (Why didn’t Sebi go to Singapore?!) and planning what I’d like to see. Does everyone do that, or do you just go somewhere and decide what to do once you get there?

I’m not sad to stay alone – my daughter will be here most of the time, as she’s starting her year at the University. Auguste will keep me company (and sit on my lap and sleep on my pillow if I let him, lol). And I have a ton of work that I’m supposed to be doing right now – instead of writing a post about how worried I am about my son going to South Korea, and about how jealous I am of my husband flying off to Singapore! Voyage, voyage – I hope both trips go smoothly and wonderfully and that everyone has a fantastic time. What can Sebi bring me back from South Korea? Any ideas?

The world’s easiest lentil soup

Today I made the world’s easiest lentil  soup. I was going to keep the recipe to myself – but I decided to be magnanimous, after all – there are others out there, too lazy to rinse, soak, and cook their dry lentils, then fry up onions and carrots and celery, then…bla bla bla. Listen – this soup is quick, easy, and delicious.

You need: 1 can of cooked lentils. A blender. Some bouillon (chicken or veggie), a pinch of hot pepper flakes, coconut milk (I get mine in a little carton – a half a cup is enough), and curry powder. Use the best quality curry powder you have – it’s worth it.

Directions: Open the can of lentils.  Put half in the blender. Add one mug of bouillon (half a bouillon cube for a full mug of boiling water if you like…) and blend until creamy. Pour into a pan and add the rest of the lentils, half a cup of coconut milk, and a good tablespoon of curry, and a large pinch of hot pepper flakes. Cook over medium heat until just bubbling. Reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes. Serve hot. 

I made this soup this afternoon for my son, who has a bad cold. He loved it, and had 3 bowls! He finished it – so I couldn’t even get a photo of it – but it was delicious. And easy.  I think that it is, without a doubt, the World’s Easiest Lentil Soup!

Enjoy!

Oh, and after I put an old stick of cinnamon in a mug of boiling water and let it seep for a while – then added honey – wonderful cinnamon tea. One stick makes about 6 cups of tea, then use the softened stick in a rice pudding recipe or cook it with a stew.

 

 

The Sullivans by Bella Andre

The Sullivans Boxed Set Books 1-3
by Bella Andre

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GENRE: Contemporary Romance

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BLURB: More than 6 million readers have already fallen in love with the Sullivans! Now get ready to meet your new favorite family in Bella Andre’s New York Times and USA Today bestselling contemporary romances with the first three books in the #1 hit series.

“Not since Nora Roberts has anyone been able to write a big family romance series with every book as good as the last! Bella Andre never disappoints!” Revolving Bookcase Reviews Continue reading