Friday, July 3, 2015

The Bat Killer Strikes Again

Turns out it wasn't just a fluke last summer when our cat, Willie, killed a bat.  He did it again!  Of course, he kills other things as well.  He is quite the serial killer. 
He looks rather proud of himself, don't you think?  The noble hunter, in repose.

Linked with Feline Friday.

Have a happy holiday weekend, folks!  Happy 4th.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

DIY Electric Dog Fences (with $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway)

Disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post written by me.  All of the opinions below are my own, formed from my previous experience using an electric dog fence. 

When we first moved to Virginia from Texas, we brought with us our beloved two dogs.  One was a rescue basenji/whippet mix named Cameron, and the other was a golden retriever named Monty.  They were used to being in a traditional fenced backyard when we lived in Houston, but where we moved did not have a fence, and the house was right next to a road, which left us concerned about our dogs’ safety.  While we had heard about electric dog fences, we never knew anyone who had one because we were coming from a city neighborhood. 
It didn’t take long for our dogs to find their way to trouble.  Monty, with his retrieving instincts, began spending his days doing his civic duty by wandering the road and bringing back any trash he found.  Every day we would come home from work to find our yard littered with debris.  It looked like the local dump.  Meanwhile, Cameron committed more serious offenses, by killing our closest neighbor’s chickens.  After replacing the chickens, we set out to find a fencing option.

Because we were renting, it did not make a lot of sense to invest money in a traditional fence.  An electric fence can cost as little as $300 if you install it on your own.  We decided to go ahead and put in an electric fence.  Using an electric fence allowed us to fence in a large area of land.  The cost of fencing in that much land with a traditional fence would have been staggering.  We also wanted to protect our dogs from getting hurt (from the sparse vehicle traffic or from hunters) and protect our neighbors from the dogs acting like nuisances.

One nice thing about the dog fence was its invisibility.  It didn’t block our view of the mountains and the land in any way.  You could walk right over it and not even know it was there.  We were able to curve it however we wanted around the odd shape of our yard, and work around the gorgeous flower beds that our landlord had painstakingly put in. 

There was also an added security with an electric fence in that we didn’t have to worry about gates – how many times have you heard stories of someone who lost their dog because someone left the gate open?  Electric fences don’t have a gate to worry about.  If you need to take the dog out, you just remove their collar.

In the end, Monty and Cameron adjusted very well to the electric fence.  We put up flags initially, so that they could see where the fence ran through the yard.  But after they became used to the barrier, we were able to remove the flags, and they knew not to cross the line, even though it could not be seen.  They wore their special collars every day, and we knew they were safe on the property when we weren’t at home.
Our current dog, Bo, who loves to run.
Want a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card?  You can enter through the Rafflecopter below. Be sure to click on the link to find out more about DIY electric fence - it will talk you through the steps so you can save money along the way.   
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Monday, June 29, 2015

The Gargoyle Hunter

I've been obsessed with gargoyles since I was a kid.  Years ago I wrote a fictional story on my blog about gargoyles.  Whenever I visit a city with lots of history, I am constantly looking up for gargoyles.  When I got to Philadelphia, with the assistance of my new friend at the front desk of our hotel, I mapped out a route to go see all the gargoyles within walking distance. 

All the pictures in this post came from the Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. 
 These gargoyles were all seen one morning when Paul and I went on a seven mile run.  I did not want to carry my camera, so the pictures were all taken by cell phone.  When I saw how neat the gargoyles were, I wished I had made the effort to run with my camera after all.  A cell phone with no zoom lens just doesn't do them justice.

Gargoyles were originally designed as water spouts to route water off the building through their open mouths.

They were made to look scary to keep evil spirits away from the church.  I think they're just marvelous.

What do you think, readers?  Would my neighbors be horrified if I were to put a gargoyle on top of our log home?

Friday, June 26, 2015

40 on Friday

1. When I went to the conference in Philadelphia with Paul, he had a very nice reception at The Franklin Institute.  I had a blast in the brain section.  On the upper level, there is a skybike that looks really fun.  Sadly, the line was too long.  But we enjoyed watching.
2.  Today is my fortieth birthday.  Forty is certainly less exciting than say thirty.  Or twenty. 

3.  I have been enjoying the garden this year.  I have spent a lot of time picking off squash bug eggs.  For some reason the companion planting of radishes and marigolds was not effective this year.  I don't like to use any chemicals, so I just inspect every single leaf by hand, day by day. 

4.  Speaking of gardening, I had not planted turnips in 3 years because I was the only one who liked them.  But this year I decided I could just eat them all myself.  So I planted a few.  And guess what?  Cort and Reid LOVE roasted turnips.  We're talking three helpings at dinner love!  So next year I'll be planting more.

5.  After listening to a podcast on Appalachian gardening, I special ordered some heirloom seeds for the cushaw squash.  I had never heard of it.  Supposedly it makes a lovely pumpkin pie.  But even more important?  It is squash bug resistant.  Hoping I will have some luck with these.

What have you got growing, readers?  And if you don't have anything growing, do you have any advice for the 40th decade? 

Linked today with Willy Nilly Friday.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A New Family Member

Maybe some of you remember our beloved border collie, Scooter.  It took almost a year and a half after losing him before we felt ready for another dog.  In a roundabout way, I heard about an English Setter that had been through a terrible tragedy and was looking for a new home.  I went to see him and felt like he would be a good match for our farm.  The boys had been asking for a dog for some time.

Bo is very fast.  He loves to run through our pastures.  He has no trouble keeping up with the boys.  Or with me, when I run.

He is two and a half years old.  We got him neutered and microchipped first thing. 

He needs to put on some weight.  I had the vet do a big deworming.  And am also hoping the neutering and constant availability of food will help. 
Look at that sweet face.  We are happy to be able to offer him a fresh start.  Hopefully he will enjoy living on Two Bears Farm.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Hunting for Gargoyles in Philadelphia

I have two posts about my hunt for gargoyles while in Philadelphia.  I think I walked over 8 miles one day looking for gargoyles.  In the rain.  And cold!  And I had the most excellent time. 

Sadly, the first building I hunted down was a historic firehouse that had been torn down.  I had better luck finding the other gargoyles, which were all on historic churches.

Usually when you think of a gargoyle, you think of the scary creatures with wings.  I did see some of those. 

But gargoyles now seem to include any face along the gutters that can serve as water spouts.  Including creatures like lions on the sides of buildings.

I googled the gargoyles in Philadelphia, and my front desk friends helped me map out where they were in the city.

Each time I came to a new historic church I was excited to see what kinds of gargoyles I might find.

They were really varied on each location.  I never knew what to expect until I got there. 

Below is not a gargoyle, but I thought it a wonderful sculpture, so I've included it in my pictures.

I wish that architects would still be so creative and ornate in their buildings.  Construction today isn't nearly as interesting.

We could use a lot more faces on the corners of buildings, don't you think? 

And giant towers.  We need more buildings with mysterious giant towers, don't you think?

Check out the faces on this church!  Makes me think of Sophocles. 

So this church was by far my favorite.  It had traditional gargoyles all over and they were just marvelous.

Seriously.  Does it get any better than this?  Okay, so maybe if I got to actually go to Notre Dame in Paris that gargoyle could top this one.  But as far as U.S. gargoyles go, this one takes the cake?

The ladies at the front desk of my hotel were intrigued by my gargoyle hunting.  They said they'd never had anyone do so before.  I was surprised more people aren't wanting to go searching for gargoyles.

How can you not love the sparks of imagination these faces create?

This building below is actually from a building on Drexel's campus, so it is the only one that is not from a church. 

It was a little off the beaten track, but was close to where my car was getting repaired, so worth the trip.

Aren't the details on this building mind-blowing? 

You can see the constant drizzle in my picture below.  I dealt with the drizzle all day, but it wasn't so bad.  I had good distractions.

What do you like about historic buildings, readers?  Do you have a favorite?
Stay tuned - I have another gargoyle post coming up soon!

Friday, June 19, 2015

City of Brotherly Love? Yes.

It seems head up north and find even friendlier people than here in the south.  But we met the most helpful and kind people in Philadelphia.  It really is the City of Brotherly Love (see all the kids running around the fountain below?  So fun!).
1.  I made friends with the people at the front desk of the Hilton Garden Inn on Arch street, where we stayed.  They not only helped me with my gargoyle hunting, but they gave me free breakfast coupons for me and Paul.  For all three mornings we were there!  We were spoiled with crepes and made to order omelets with fresh fruit and bacon.

2.  The a/c in my car went out on the drive up.  It's a 6.5 hour drive.  It was 91* outside.  It was 91* inside the car, with the windows rolled down, on I-95.  Not a fun experience.  So I had a little trouble when asking around for recommendations of a place to fix my car.  Turns out most of the folks I asked didn't have cars, because they lived in the city and used public transportation.  But I met one of the Amtrak conductors on a little train I took to catch a commuter train to Manhattan to visit my uncle for the day.  She was fascinating to talk to - telling me stories from her twenty+ years of life on the trains.  She was able to direct me to a Firestone a couple of miles from our hotel.

3.  I took my car to the Firestone.  Paul and I ran back from there, leaving my car for the day.  They put Freon in it, and tried to pressurize the a/c or something, but their machine broke halfway through the job.  They needed a new filter for their machine.  They thought we'd be okay on the way home (we were) but they apologized for not being able to complete the job 100%.  Then they didn't charge me.  And on top of that?  They also fixed a tail light that was burned out.  At no charge.

4.  We went to Hard Rock CafĂ© one night with Paul's boss and his wife.  It was crowded and things were moving a little slow.  Then they accidentally burned the burgers for two of us.  As a result, they didn't charge us for those burgers, and they gave us a round of drinks for free.

5.  A couple of times when I asked for help finding a place, I had people that left their jobs (at the hotel, and at a restaurant) to walk me to where I needed to go.  Wow.

In conclusion, Philly is awesome for all the history and museums and fun things to see.  But what struck me even more was how fantastic the people were.  Their impressions will stick with me even longer than the Liberty Bell.

Readers, when was the last time you met an incredible stranger?

Linked with Willy Nilly Friday.