(Not) Fighting Like Cats and Dogs

A few days ago, we took the dog to the vet to get some growths surgically removed.  The one inside her upper eyelid took about 45 minutes for the vet to remove, while the other four, in various places on her body, each only took a few minutes to remove.

The vet put the Elizabethan Collar on to keep her from licking the wounds and it worked as far as it went.

I had “warned” the vet that our cat would likely help the dog and, sure enough….this picture was taken within five minutes of arriving home.

dog-cat

The vet laughed when I forwarded him the picture and said we should do what we could to “discourage” the cat from his licking.  When we weren’t around (or awake) to supervise the two of them, we had to keep them in separate rooms.

For what it’s worth, “kitty” is almost 19 years old and “doggie” is nearing 12 years of age.  Just in case it’s not obvious, they have been together for almost 12 years.

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Just a Few Minutes Ago

Just a few minutes ago, but in 1998, after a somewhat difficult delivery, my wife and I saw our newborn daughter for the first time.

That day ranked as one of the most amazing and joyous days of my life.  Even now, 21 years later, the emotions and memories from that day are just as strong and clear as they were then.

People ask me what I think of her and I reply, “She makes me smile.”  To me that is the highest compliment I can make to her.

21 Years.  Wow

Bugs and Ice

The desert southwest has had morning low temperatures dipping below freezing and is a bit cold for us desert dwellers.  For someone living “up north”, slightly below freezing isn’t that cold, but we aren’t accustomed to cold.  Heat, on the other hand–I’ve been running when it’s 110F/43C and  had lots of company on the trail.

bug

The “bug” was probably 3 inches/7cm long from head to tail and I was kind of surprised to see it out and about.  Desert bugs don’t like the cold either.

If you look closely at the top right area of the image…that’s ice floating atop the water at the spring….at 2pm….

Bugy, it’s cold outside.

Nice Weather for a Hike

Winter in the USA desert southwest is the best time for hiking.  The temperatures are nice (40F-70F/4C-20C) and there are usually winter rains that bring the desert life out into the open.

Today my wife and I went on a 6 hour (10  mile) walk in a desert wash in the nearby mountains.

If you’re not familiar with the term “desert wash”, “arroyo” and “wadi” are equally good words to describe this.   Imagine a sandy bottomed dry stream bed that has water only during (and shortly after) a rain.  Since we were in the mountains, put the dry stream bed in a small canyon, add gravel, rocks and house sized boulders, and you have an idea of what we were hiking through.

pool

For a sense of scale, the rock in the picture is about 15 feet wide and most likely got moved here by the rushing water….so this is not a hike for a rainy day.

This also shows how the rushing water can erode the rock to form low spots where water can be trapped.

Bee2

Just above this clean pool of water was another, much smaller pool.  This one was covered in algae.

While we were standing there, enjoying the complete absence of man made noise, we watched the bees land on the algae, collect water and fly off.  At any one time, there were probably 50-60 bees sitting atop the algae.  I tried, several times, to get a decent picture of the whole bee covered pool, but they didn’t show up in the image.  So, I went the other way and got a nice (for a cellphone camera) closeup of a bee.

For what it’s worth, if you have never experienced a “no made made noise” place, you should seek one out as it is a most amazing experience.

 

The sides of the wash that are shaded for most of the day are still damp and the desert plants are making the most of the opportunity.

Mallow

Sourdough Pizza Crust–Next time try…..

A few weeks ago I noticed a pizza stone on the “75% off” clearance table at the grocery store.  The stone is about an inch thick, 13 inches in diameter and is very heavy.  There were no chips or cracks in it, so I bought it.  I think I paid $5 for it.

Today was the scheduled day to feed my sourdough starter and while doing that, I got the idea to try making a sourdough pizza crust.

The recipe I tried was simple.    Instead of dumping the sourdough starter to be discarded into the sink, I poured it into a bowl and then fed the starter.  I didn’t want the starter to be left “going hungry”, so first things first.

Back to the bowl.  To the starter, I added a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil (someone at a deli suggested the olive oil) and started adding flour while kneading it…..add flour, knead a minute, add flour, knead a minute, etc….. until the dough was *VERY* stiff and almost dry.  I had about 1 1/2 cups of starter and used slightly more than 1 1/2 cups of flour.

I then let the dough sit in the bowl while I went to the store to get the pizza toppings.  This was such an unplanned thing that I had not prepared the toppings ahead of time.

I don’t have a pizza peel, so I dusted the “bottom” of an upside down metal pizza pan with corn meal* and stretched the dough out it until it was approximately round and then slid the dough on the hot stone.  Since the stone had been heating for half an hour at as high a temperature as the oven could manage, the dough instantly started cooking even before I hurriedly added the toppings.

The dough got a bit misshapen during the transfer to the stone, but that’s OK.  I’m not going to be entering the pizza in a contest, nor am I going to sell it.  🙂

I then let the pizza cook until the dough started to get very brown on the edges.  This took about 10 minutes, but I expect this will likely vary quite a bit.

The crust was amazing.  There was definitely a sourdough taste in the crust and since I had so much dough, this was a very thick crust pizza.  But, even though it was thick, the crust was “light and airy”.

Next time, I’ll see if I can find a pizza peel and make up the pizza before sliding it onto the stone.   I will also add quite a bit more “stuff” on the pizza.

When I was in college, recipes would be tried and notes would be put in the margins of the recipe….If I were still in college, the note would be “Next time use more sauce & more cheese.  Crust good as is.”

 

*When I bake round sourdough loaves, the corn starch keeps the dough from sticking and that’s why I used it here.