Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mystery Solved

A few days ago I went out to the deck to pick 3 ripe tomatoes.  When I got out there, all 3 had been chewed on.  Even a couple of the green ones had been eaten.  I figured it must be a squirrel.  There's one that always gets into our bird feeder.  I also considered the possibility that my next-door neighbor had made a late-night visit to my deck to try my tomatoes.  She had threatened to steal them when she learned we were growing some.  (She loves home-grown tomatoes!)
Last night I went out to check on them again.  This time, not only were the tomatoes all half-eaten, most of the leaves were gone too.  And this huge, yet beautiful, bug was happily munching on one of the green tomatoes.  Isn't he incredible!  He was at least 3 inches long.  As I was admiring him, I saw another one as big as this one.  And another one!  In all, there were 5 huge ones and a baby one. (The first picture is the baby one)
A quick search on the internet revealed that this is a problematic agricultural pest called the tomato horn worm.  They are the larvae of a huge moth called the hummingbird moth (because it is as big as a hummingbird).
My 3 boys wanted to put them in a terrarium and let them transform in their rooms.  I vetoed the idea based on the fact that 1. they probably wouldn't survive (they over-winter in the soil and I didn't think we could recreate the soil and temperature requirements, and 2. I didn't think it would be responsible to release the moths if they did emerge since this is an incredibly damaging insect to tomato crops.
So I got rid of them.  I was labeled a murderer (even though I couldn't bring myself to kill them - they are too big and squishy - I put them in a plastic bag in the trash).  And I'm happy to report that my tomato plant has a bunch of tiny new leaves on the mostly bare stems and even one baby tomato.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lend me your ears!

I couldn't help but post this picture.  This is Buster.  And, yes, he is a basset hound.  Have you ever seen anything so cute?  This little guy was purchased by a guy to wanted a hunting dog.   But even though he's still a puppy, he wasn't a good enough hunter for his owner.  So what's a guy to do?  Shoot him of course!  Really.  No.  I mean, really.  That's what the plan was!  But lucky for him, he wound up at Hope Rescues in Alton and now has been adopted by a new family.
Thank God for people like Kim and Jackie.  Check them out.  They have a facebook page.  Or you can see them at

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Diabetes Sucks!

Welcome to my pity party.  I guess I'm just feeling sorry for myself today.  I was trying to fold a load of laundry but had to lie down.  (I'm lying on the couch writing this).  For those of you who don't know, I have type 2 diabetes, the most common form and the one that doesn't always require insulin therapy.  I'm not using insulin but am trying to control my blood sugars with other medications.  Two of my diabetes meds cause nausea.  I have it just about every day. Usually it is mild enough to ignore.   But today it is augmented by one of my other meds (which makes me feel like I've got a whopper of a hangover when I forget to take it.  I forgot to take it yesterday so I have the whopper hangover today). 

I know that this disease is not the worst thing in the world.  A friend whom I've known since I was a freshman in high school is battling breast cancer, for God's sake.  And type 1 diabetics have a much harder time of it than I do.  But it sucks nonetheless.  When I'm being "good" I check my blood sugar 3 times a day (or I might just have a period of denial or apathy that lasts for weeks when I don't check at all).   I have to think about the carbs in every meal.  I have to remember to eat even when I feel sick to my stomach.  I have to resist feeling deprived when everyone is having some sinful, delicious dessert.  I have to keep in mind, that even though this disease is not going to kill me right away, if I don't stay on top of it, the constant increased blood glucose levels will damage the tiny blood vessels in my eyes leading to increased risk for blindness, in my kidneys leading to increased risk of kidney failure, and in my extremities leading to increased risk of amputation.  My DH helpfully suggests that I close my eyes, hop on one foot, and imagine myself on dialysis whenever I want to ignore the fact that I have this disease.  I guess increased risk of heart attack and stroke are also worth paying attention to.

I got a "welcome" kit in the mail today from the manufacturer of my newest medication.  It's an injectable (not insulin) drug and the company sent the kit with some info and a carrying case for the injection pen.  It's nice, of course, to have all the information available.  And to have "stuff" to help you deal with everyday issues of a chronic disease.  But today it feels more like a "welcome to my nightmare" kit than a "welcome" kit.  
And when I'm feeling sorry for myself, like today, I really miss my dad.  He had diabetes for 40 something years.  When I was pregnant he gave me pep-talks and pointers on insulin injections and reminded me that it wasn't that bad after all.  He didn't let diabetes keep him from flying airplanes or winning a road race in his 1990 corvette ZR1.  (or spending my inheritance in the process!)  I guess I can get up off this couch and finish folding the laundry.  Besides, my DS's last t-ball game is today.  I can't let a little nausea keep me from that.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

You Shall Not Pass!

Driving in Scotland

We've seen road blocks before.  But we were a little taken aback when we came across this one in Scotland.  
This particular road block was encountered on the beautiful island of Islay off the west coast of Scotland.  

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Obviously they deserve to die!

Look at these precious faces.  These are the faces of "under-performers".  They were breeding stock in a puppy mill (2 boys and a girl).  But they weren't producing enough puppies.  So they were scheduled to die.  Luckily for them, Hope Rescues in Alton, IL (a no-kill shelter. check them out at was contacted and they had room to save these 3 and a few more from the puppy mill.  But how many thousands of these sweet faces die every year because no one contacted a rescue or there was no room?  Or how about when a puppy mill is raided.  Many people who flock to the humane organizations that take in the puppy mill dogs (because they want a pure bred dog at a discount price) don't realize that those organizations can only take in several hundred of the puppy mill dogs if they "clear out" their current stock of perfectly adoptable but mixed breed dogs.  Those unlucky ones often have to be put down to make room.  What's the answer to this tragic situation?  I'm not an expert, but I think there are a few obvious steps everyone can take. 1. Consider adopting a dog from a shelter.  Many shelter dogs are pure-bred and often the shelter will put you on a call list in case one comes in. 2. If you want to buy from a breeder, check them out first.  Red flags include breeders that won't let you visit or insist on meeting you at a rest stop somewhere.  Hmm, wonder what they are trying to hide? 3. Spay or neuter your pet.  If money is a concern, many places offer low-cost spays and neuters.  Just check with your vet or a local shelter.  

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Need Affirmation?

Everyone needs some affirmation sometimes.  Sassy is just the dog to supply it.  She loves everyone.  It doesn't matter if you live with her full-time, or if she's just met you.  She loves you.  She shows this by sitting next you, laying her head on your shoulder or chest, and looking up at you with her big brown eyes.  Those eyes say it all.  "I love you.  You are wonderful.  You make my life worth living.  You are special."  The pictures above illustrate this.  Sassy had just met my friend Ed, yet she's sitting next to him, loving him. 
I know this trait isn't unique to Sassy.  She is a dog, after all.  Did you see the recent movie "Up"?  There's a scene where a dog, who can talk due to a collar designed by his owner, says to one of the characters - who isn't all that nice to the dog at the beginning - "I slept under the porch because I love you."  The scenes with that dog are brilliant in the way they capture the attitude of the dog toward the grumpy old man.  Dogs are devoted, loving creatures that adore their loving masters.  (even those of us who don't deserve it all the time).  

I'm reminded of my college days.  Those of you who went to UT Martin and hung out at the Interfaith Center in the mid to late '80s may remember the affirmations we did as a group.  We'd  get together with one of the campus ministers and take turns telling one person what we liked about them.  Sounds corny, I know, but it was very - well - affirming!  I try to remember to do that once in a while with my kids and my friends.  Especially with kids I think we parents are so busy correcting (or nagging, maybe) that we forget to be affirming.  I mean sincerely affirming, not just telling them what great artistic talent they have after they've shown you their latest masterpiece.  Or agreeing with a six-year-old that yes, he is as steady as a ninja since he can balance his spoon on one finger (Truth is stranger than fiction.  As I wrote the masterpiece sentence my six-year-old said "Look Mom."  I asked him what I was supposed to be looking at.  He said, "My spoon.  I'm as steady as a ninja!")

Anyway, thank God for Sassy.  She reminds me that I am, despite my doubt sometimes, someone worth loving.  And, more importantly, she reminds me how important it is to affirm my family and friends.  So to my friends, remember the words of Stuart Smalley and repeat after me "I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!"