Coming Soon: Free Book

Coming Soon: Free Book
Planning to give away a book or two!

Thursday, January 31, 2013


My mother used to say the Minnesota winters are either full of snow or way too cold. And this winter has been way too cold.  Today was the second or third day that that the temperature never made it above zero.  To top it off it was so windy that my house was singing. 

At first I thought cats were fighting in the alley. But then I realized that the wind was hitting something (never figured out what) and causing a whistling or crying sound.  It is one of those days that the sound of the crying wind made me shiver.  I had the thermostat set at 73 degrees and I was chilled (in the mind over matter category the mind was winning.

Outside the whipping wind has blown away any loose snow and packed the dirty, grundgy snow to a gray shine.  "One more day" they say.  I hope they are right.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Todays new friend... tomorrows family. (A fortune given to Gibbs from Abby on the first day they met - NCIS)
Over the past 3 years we have welcomed 35 new puppies into this world and met 23 new people because of the precious puppies.  With the 11 new puppies, our family will grow by at least 9 new families. 2 of the puppies will be going to families that have purchased other puppies. 

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
A dog is man's best friend.  Closer than any other family can be.  Like children they are totally dependent upon their peoples.  Maybe that is why so many of us that are owned by our dogs refer to them as our children (grandchildren for those of us that have periodic litters.)

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
Cuddle Pups
The puppies themselves are wonderful friends but the people they choose also become special friends too and soon become family.  Several people come back to buy a second puppy because they are such well behaved dogs.

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
Bath time
Every time you meet a new person keep in mind that person may be your future family.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How are your birdhouse gourds?

I tried to post this last night and it got caught in never land.

If you have never dried these before, you are most likely grossed out by now.  If kept in the house, they mold all over everything.

Most of my gourds are drying in my carport.  It is okay for them to freeze, thaw, re-freeze and thaw over and over again.  My carport is covered by a piece of heavy duty canvas that only stops the need to scrape off the vehicle windows.  That isn't much protection for the gourds.  You can see how the outer shells are developing their character. 

I didn't have enough room in the carport so I left six outside by the trellis.  They can be seen poking through the snow.  But what is that? Something is happening to one of them.  That something is my "one brave bunny". Now you know...bunnies also like bird house gourds (before they have dried.)  

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Heavy Metal

Cast Iron Cookware is something that I had not used for cooking on until I met Dale.  He has a full set. Sure they are heavy but you don't need t worry about Teflon peeling off.  After every use and washing you must towel dry and season with a light covering of oil. I have a glass top stove and I don't think you can used cast iron on it.

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
Cooking in Cast Iron
Cast Iron Cookware can go from stove top to the oven without any problems.  So for supper I browned 4 boneless pork chops. Dale prefers a bone in chop because they have more flavor, these were on sale so I browned them with special spices to enhance the flavors. Then I topped them with Stove Top stuffing and cream of celery soup and baked them. 

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
Boneless Chops with Stuffing
Sometimes you just need some good comfort food...cooked the good ole fashioned way.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Biking Weather

15 degrees, snow on the ground sounds like perfect biking weather.

I was driving home the back way because the highway had a string of drivers going five miles under the speed limit. The back way is full of curves and no passing zones.  But there is a very slim risk of slow driving "farm equipment" at this time of year.  So I was surprised to see this scene.

The things that hit me about this was that it was WAY TOO COLD to be out on the back road pumping peddles. Do you notice that they are in a tight pack?  They did not appear to vary at any point and time. Synchronized bycicling?

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
Double take 01/27/2013
In the summertime, there are often various biking events on the back roads. It is rare to see two people side by side.  So this pack of six, that even hearing a car approaching stayed in exact formation was unusual. 

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
Biking in Minnesota in January?
I do confess that after passing them I thought, they'd better hide their identities drom the government or they will have their guns taken away.   Those nine people have at least one cog missing after all; it is 15 degrees without the wind chill.

Friday, January 25, 2013

What in the World?

Some background; I used to own a business. The landlord didn't renew the lease and I ended up filing bankruptcy.  My credit rating was and is very good but the bankruptcy is looming out there.
I don't like credit cards but part of the mandatory "retraining" of the bankruptcy process actually tells you to start with a prepaid credit card until you get a pre-approved offer. Then open up a normal credit card and pay it off every month to build up the credit. 

I had a credit card that I had all paid off and cut up but I had forgotten to call and cancel it.  One day, when I was looking for a prepaid credit card, I received a new card in the mail.  "You haven't used your card in over a year." I started using it periodically and I put some money in a CD, set up for regular (but small) payments to be pulled out of my checking with a balloon payment due immediately after the end date of the CD. I paid it off and the bank reported a perfect payment history.  (Now you know a good trick to raise your credit rating.)

So what has my feathers all ruffled? Three years ago I opened a (store) card when making a major purchase to receive 10% off and rewards points.  It was a card that was not limited to that store. Today my available credit is over $8000.  I rarely let any balance roll over to the next month.  I've changed jobs now and I've been looking for a credit card that would have better "perks".  I get about 20 solicitations a month to choose from. I decided to go with a card sponsored through my airline rewards program.  I got the card the other day.  It has a limit of $12000! 

I called a loan officer for a recommendation.  I was thinking I would call and cut back the limits.  He told me that as long as I was keeping them paid off or with a minimal balance that the higher limit would be have positive affect on my credit rating.  I just want to go on record saying, "that is so backwards and dangerous!"

No wonder the US economy is so messed up!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Puppy's Rule

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
Litter 3 all 11 Puppies
And we have had 24 hours with very little sleep.  We may monitor the puppies in excess but they are so tiny and helpless.During the whelping process, sometimes they need a little extra stimulation or the sack doesn't come off well and the mama needs our help to get or keep the puppy breathing. 
Then crawling around with their eyes closed, they easily get separated from mama and their siblings.  Those lost pups need to be moved closer. 

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
Duchess and Litter 3

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
Duchess and Litter 3

Then mama gets up and moves to a more comfortable position. When she sits back down, those wiggly little puppies sometimes end up under her. We do frequent counts (it is easier when the colors are more even).   We need to work quickly to remove any puppies from under her.  This is most critical during the first 24 hours when she is so tired from whelping and the almost continuous feeding schedule.

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
Mama takes a break
On TV they had a new celebrity mother on and she was complaining about her newborn eating every two hours.  The pups feed in shifts about once an hour.  There is maybe 20 minutes an hour that Duchess isn't feeding at least one of the pups.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Puppies Are Here

WARNING:  some photos in today's blog may be graphic.

Cell photo by Trisha Field
Puppy #1 Litter 3
The first puppy was born at 9AM.  Dale and I were both at work.  I ran over on a mid-morning break and Duchess was cleaning the sack off a puppy. At this point, there are 11 puppies: 2 red/rust and 9 black/rust, 6 females and 5 males. 

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
Birthing Process
Sometimes, after several hours, more puppies will be born.  So I am not willing to say at this point that this is all the puppies. 

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
Mama & Puppies
We weighed all the puppies this time.  Not that we will be able to tell which one was which.  They weighed from 14 ounces to 19 ounces.  One that weighed 18 ounces was born dry, the sack was pulled off some time during the birthing process. Duchess took care of the sack and umbilical cord and the puppy wasn't breathing yet. I picked it up and stimulated it while giving it mouth to mouth. (I got very close to it's mouth and blew little puffs until it was breathing.)  I kept a close eye on it until it was breathing smoothly and crawling.

These first 24 hours take a lot of due diligence. Duchess is so tired that she could easily stand up, move around and accidentally lay down on a puppy.  So we do a puppy count to make sure they are all present.

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
What's that?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Still waiting

Her due date was either Jan 21st or Jan 25th. Dale said you count the days from the first day they breed and I said it was from the last day.  We are past his option but for the better of the relationship hopefully neither one of us will be right.

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
Duchess pregnant with litter 3

It is Duchess' third litter so I would expect her to get larger faster.  But she is getting so very BIG. I put a picture of one of her first litter pups all grown up so that you can see normal.

Cell photo by Trisha Field
Mama & Daughter
I had to laugh yesterday when the girls came over to visit they both decided the couch was the perfect place to nap. My Jenny was laying there first and by golly she was not going to budge. Duchess was not going to be deterred either despite the fact that she was almost falling off the couch. Aren't our spoiled princesses absolutely adorable?

Photo by Brooklynn Nelson
EnVee from Litter 1

Monday, January 21, 2013

A twist on entitlement

The Sci-fi channel has been replaying the Star Trek movies.  An underlying theme has always been the following:
*Poverty has been abolished
*money is no longer used
*cancers and other significant diseases have been concurred
*the focus of living is self improvement and improvement of society

So what would that look like in our society?
*Everybody working
   Jobs would be made for the ability level of the people.  Every time that I hear someone is on "Social Security Disability" the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.  I have seen and worked with many people that have disabilities.  Instead of paying out SSD we should focus on creating jobs that meet the disability needs. 
*Educate, educate and educate some more. YES, that would mean some people would need to be re-educated.  Some slow learners would need more education than others.   Not to stereotype but in the last 5 years, I've met many people that have twisted the system and are now on disability and the can barely read and can't fill out a job application without help.
*stop creating medicines that are physically destructive. Promote healthier living choices.  Stop selling cigarettes, create synthohol (Star Trek term for a drink with the flavor of alcohol without causing drunken behavior.)
*uniforms at all work places. If you are wearing a uniform there is 50% less need for high price fashion.
*Continued education, fun classes for the non-working side of life.  When I taught in Japan, one elderly student regularly attended English classes.  She told us, "When I stop learning, I start dying."
I think we need to start with everybody working.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A beautiful office view

I spent a couple of days at a client's last week and then half a day at the main office. It has a beautiful view that I just had to share.

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
See the Highway on the Horizon?
So close to the freeway, yet distant enough that it almost has a sci-fi feel sitting on the horizon.

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
Modern in the midst of the woods
The modern buildings built in the middle of the woods, while still protecting the surrounding woods.

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
Birds eye view
They brag about it with the multi-building complex called "Corporate Woods".  It is the perfect setting with the delicate mix of modern city and country get away.  I was here for my interview but I was too nervous to take in the view. 
If you are afraid of heights, don't look out. Because the office is on the sixth floor or tree top level.  Wouldn't it be cool if there was an eagles nest in a tree?

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
Looking Down

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Do I need to get anything when I go to town?
Yea, stop by the bank and bring me a million dollars back. 
For Christmas 2011 I gave him 100,000 (a tin of hundred grand candy bars.)  At Cracker Barrel restaurant I found a million dollar candy bar. So I had just had to buy it.  Now I can tell him, I've brought him his million dollars.  Tee hee

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
Million Buck's worth of Chocolate

I sat down and looked at my budget.  I have paid off a couple of debts this year and with my new job I have more money.  Looking at take home pay by percentages. 
16% is going to savings (11% Roth IRA, 5% regular savings)
13% is food (groceries and eating out)
13% is extra money going towards early mortgage reduction
10% Home Mortgage/home improvement loan
10% God
  9% Car Loan
  7% Gasoline
  4% Heat/Electricity
  3% to pamper the dogs
  2% Car Insurance
13 % spread out to sewer &  water, garbage, cleaning supplies, non-grocery purchases, gifts, clothing, entertainment, medical deductible and co-pays and other things that only come up periodically.

My goal for a Roth IRA and savings account I to have a base of 3 months expenses and then begin saving to buy a couple pieces of furniture, some home repairs, a vacation and the publication of my second novella, "The Man I Was".  Basically as I pay off loans I want to implement the practice of saving and paying cash.

If I can keep paying off my debts ahead of schedule, my car and basic home mortgage will be paid off in three years and the home improvement loan in four years. (The money paying off the car and home mortgage is 26% of my take home pay. As I am able, I can apply that to the home renovation loan so that it is paid off sooner.) 

On paper it sounds so easy.  But if I don't watch out that 13% on he bottom of the list can turn into a money eating beast. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Glitter, glitz, and Is that my luggage?

I enjoy the window seat in the airplane.  Day or night the sites are so beautiful.  It is looking at life outside of our normal viewpoint and what an exceptional point of view. I took off at sunset heading Northeast.  I saw the hues of sunset but by the time I could take pictures;  it was too dark for the cellphone camera.

cell photo by Trisha Field
The faint hues of Sunset
There were several pockets of turbulence so taking pictures of the night lights was a bit difficult.  But I got a few good shots.  I think I even got the monopoly neighborhood. 

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
Monopoly Neighborhood (Chicago)
A funny story: during one of the flights the steward walked from the back of the plane to the front. He said to the lead stewardess, "There are still several people with electronics devices turned on."
Taking the microphone and triggering the key to open it she announces, "Our electronic detector is showing that many of you still have electronic devices turned on.  Please turn them of at this time."  With a VERY short pause she continued, "okay that is looking better.  Please continue turning off your electronic devices. Thank you."

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
View from a Window Seat

On a different flight, there was only one window seat left in the section that I like to sit. I am not a small woman but fit easily in the seat.  The gentleman in the aisle seat was over 300 pounds and overflowing his seat.  It was a 100% full flight. And who ended up sitting next to me??? Some man who was about 6'7" with broad shoulders.  I would guess he was at least 275 pound as he did not fit within his seat either.  As soon as we could lean our seats back, I did.  At least we were staggered a bit then.

So many bags are so similar that I found a trick from a friend who travels a lot with groups.  I tied a wild color fabric on the handle.  They give everyone in the group the same color fabric.  In a group you don't watch just for your bag.  You pull any bag with the same color fabric.

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
Is that MY Luggage?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

See with different eyes

I would like to see this view from the cockpit.  The pilots must have some pretty good sunglasses.  It was very beautiful from the window seat.  I was in the second row.  I can't handle being in the front row because you aren't allowed to have anything personal with you; everything needs to go into the overhead bin.  More leg room just isn't worth it.

Cell photo by Trisha Field
Heaven's Glory
 The mighty Mississippi is always grand whether by air, ground or water.  But doesn't it give you a different view with the soft, thin white layer of snow?  You can see the the trees as they grow around and out from the river.  They look like (reverse colored) frost forming on a window. 

cell photo by Trisha
The Mighty Mississippi
The quilt work of the Iowa farmland is scattered by the tributaries that feed out of or into the Mississippi River.  All that I can see is the trees and brush around the waterways.  It was visible to my eyes but may not show on the picture.  You can see the farmers path around the waterway; yet, it looks as if someone took a straight edge and drew a line across the earth into beautiful patchwork squares.  As the farmers rotate the crops, each of the squares has a slightly different color.  Top that off with a thin layer of snow and you have a very unique color and design.  Is this what God sees when he looks down on the earth?  Does he look down and say, "It is good.  It is beautiful.  My children are caring well for the gift that I have given them." 
Cell Photo by Trisha Field

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


On Monday I flew into Chicago Midway airport.  Right before turning my phone off I took these shots.  I remember thinking that it reminded me of playing banker in Monopoly.  We used to line up the houses and hotels in the banker area before my brother Troy bought them all up.  (He cheated. lol!) 

Cell photo by Trisha Field
Chicago through an airplane window
Doesn't this row upon row of houses look just like Monopoly houses?  I could not figure out why it looked so stark naked, so sterile or pristine.  You can see the lines of houses with the tiny garages lined up behind them.  Slightly different roof colors between the residences but other wise stenciled one after another back to back with an alley sliding down a straight line between the rows of garages. 

Cell photo by Trisha Field
Chicago through an airplane window

It took me awhile before I realized the difference it was so blatantly obvious.  But it isn't what you see it is what you are NOT seeing that makes the difference.  There are very few shade trees.  I remembering flying a Cessna and not being able to see the roofs of the houses because of the trees.  Even in the winter time after the leaves have fallen, the trees would partially obstruct the houses.  No wonder they have so much smog in the city.  They don't have enough trees to clean and purify the air. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Are you drooling yet?

Oh me, oh my I'm in seventh heaven.  I was a bit worried because last time I was in Missouri, a restaurant I stopped at for biscuits and gravy had the worlds worst gravy.  (I embarrassed my father by asking for a sample of the gravy before ordering.)  I guess I had a gut feeling and I'm glad I did because that would have been tragic to order but this ... is a very different story.  This morning I had some of the best biscuits and gravy that I can remember eating! 

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
Biscuits and Gravy with a Side of Eggs
I decided that I'd better take a serving of eggs so that I'd get a bit more protein.  Although I LOVE biscuits and gravy the high carbs at breakfast is probably a very unhealthy choice.  But it was SO GOOD! 
They used a milk and cornstarch base with just enough freshly ground pepper to give a periodic kick.  It was loaded with ground sausage which was either salty enough not to add more salt or the cook knew how to delicately salt without leaving an excessive salty taste in the mouth.  It was perfection!  Now I have high expectations once again. 
I make a very good sausage gravy but I must say that this morning's gravy was better than any that I've made in recent years.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Comfort Food

Awww, I walked into one of my favorite restaurants.  I could spend hours here...this is one of the few places that I don't mind shopping.  Cracker Barrel, they reflect "made in the USA" along with traditional American.  There were several Cast Iron cookware that I wanted to buy. But I was afraid it would be too heavy to get home.

cell photo by Trisha Field
Cracker Barrel, Olathe Kansas

I walked by the fireplace, it had a real fire burning in the fireplace. Not one of those gas fires with fake logs.  These were real logs with ashes collecting underneath.  On the tables were old fashioned oil lamps.  Collectables are scattered around te restaurant and in the store for sale are old fashioned stick candy and several candy and pop options that aren't readily available near my place.

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
Childhood Memories

There were so many options.  They had a special that sounded good.  Buttermilk breaded chicken (baked and the breading was a crumbled surgar-free cereal), a smokey flavored green bean tasted like it could have been cooked in a cast iron pot hanging over the fire. They had a grounded, smokey taste. The sweet potato was cooked to a smooth texture.  Sprinkled inside was a surprising spicy cinnamon that was just a touch of sweet.  It was served with rolls and so I could sample, I ordered one of each (buttermilk buscuit and cornmeal muffin).

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
Comfort Food
I have been told that after 2-3 bites you don't taste your food. Not with this meal. I tasted and enjoyed every single bite.

Never ceases to amaze me.

I got up from working on the couch. (I was sitting on the edge.)  I was aware that My Jenny had taken up the seat beside me but I never expected this....

Cell photo by Trisha Field
Comfortable Huh?
Her nose was stuck up in the air, propped between the cushion. My little bungee butt didn't stay that way too long.  She quickly realized that I had moved and was off the couch.

With Duchess so close to whelping My Jenny has been staying nights at my place most of the time.  She is getting better.  I was actually able to walk  out of the room to clean for about ten minutes before she was at my feet and in the way.

For a puppy, she is a wonderful girl.  But still very much puppy.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

How deep are your roots?

I heard one time that trees that have leaves are a mirror image. The roots underground grow and above ground the branches grow in a mirror image. How anyone would know that beats me!
We often use tree symbolism as we talk. The family tree (expanding out from a specific generation) or where are your roots from (my roots came from England, Sweden and Norway), sibings break off onto different branches.

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
Well Grounded Trees

Today I am going to continue the symbolism on a personal basis. We need to make sure in life that we take the time to set our roots.  Wide with education; as a former student once said, "the day I stop learning, I start dying."  Deep oh so often we do things on the surface; "How are you today?" "Fine." Or forcing smiles when we don't feel like smiling.  We bite our tongues or carefully choose politically correct words. 

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
Trees with Shallow and Deep Roots

If we are so shallow that we are afraid to say what we really believe, when lifes troubles start blowing we are going to be knocked on out tushes. Why? Because we have never really developed our personality and belief system.  Everything and everyone will be able to push us and sway us as they blow off steam. 

Take time for yourself.  Make sure you have time to feed yourself nutrition physically and mentally.  Let it penetrate as deely as possible.

Cell Photo by Trisha Field
Roots that Reach Out

Friday, January 11, 2013

January Thaw

A common string of several days in January above freezing.  Not just a few hours but long enough to significantly decrease the snow cover.   It reminds me of an indian summer; those warm days after the first heavy frost. And that last strange snowstorm that comes after the winter snows are melted.  We are only missing one season...not! There are plenty of cold snaps that flow through in the early summer.

Weather has its general rules of nature.  But for every rule is an exception.  And the exception of this week has been a wonderful break to winter.  As Dale said, "These warm days make the winter shorter."

I don't use salt or chemicals on the lawn where there are icy patches.  Instead, I use crushed shells.  It helps the icy spots and in the spring it adds nutrition for the lawn. 

Dale has put his caddy up for sale. He parked it in the garden.  Then the big snow dropped and it wasn't going to move for a long time.  Today was that long time.  He barey got it out.  But it is in a garage where he can detail it and get it more ready for sale. 

Now we are ready for winter.