Homage to Andy Goldsworthy

As we were getting ready to leave Chestnut Ridge, we spotted this tree on our way to our car:

It struck me as an homage to Andy Goldsworthy.  Maybe not as complex as some of his amazing cairns or twig constructions, but in that vein.  What a delightful sight!

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Chestnut Ridge Park

What should I have done today?  Chores, and plenty of them!  Some got done, some got delayed because it was a beautiful day.  There’s a Russian saying (supposedly): Work is not a wolf, it will not run away.  With that in mind, I coaxed my husband into going to Chestnut Ridge, a nearby 486 acre park.  The Ridge of the park’s name is considered the first ridge of the Appalachian Mountains.  And it’s pretty, with a mix of woods and meadows.

View from the ridge, which according to the park’s website, rises 1,116 feet above sea level. On a clearer day, you can see the Columbus skyline from the ridge.

Small meadow filled with blooming Queen Anne’s Lace.

Meadow and clouds, lovely!

Blooming goldenrod, and bees.

Thorns on a Honey Locust. Scary, no?

Monarch butterfly on the flowers of a butterfly bush.

Cattail catkin, gone to seed with some Sweet Joe Pye Weed in the background.

Like a beacon or a warning flag, these turning leaves we spotted clearly say that winter is coming.

It was a nice little hike.  My husband took all of the wonderful pictures featured in this post.

Fresh Tomato Salad

So simple!  Just cubed 4 varieties of slicing heirloom tomatoes, drizzled on a little olive oil, added some chopped basil, threw in some mozzarella balls, and then topped with just a little ground pepper and salt to assemble this light, flavorful, and refreshing salad.  Nice after letting set in the fridge for 1/2 hour or so.

Meet Apple, the Hermaphroditic Pug

It occurred to me that although Apple has appeared in a few pictures in here, I hadn’t yet done a “Meet Apple” post.  Quite remiss on my part, because Apple is a total charmer.

She was the fifth pup we added to our pack.  Honestly, we weren’t planning to have 5 dogs!  But when you have 2 pugs, a pug-cairn terrier mix, and a chihuahua, you do get a bit of a reputation. 🙂  We became known as “the Pug People”.    A friend-of-a-friend asked if maybe the Pug People might have room for one more, or might know of someone who did.  They were clever, and included this picture of Apple in an email to the friend:

Still a puppy!  I immediately forwarded the pic to my husband, and he, too, was instantly smitten.

Apple had apparently originally been purchased by a family as a bit of a consolation prize for their eldest daughter who didn’t take the news of her mom and dad’s divorce too well.  Dad remarried, the new wife got pregnant, and they supposedly decided that a baby and a pug puppy were too much to deal with.   So the daughter had to give up her pug.  How tragic is that?   I felt so bad for the girl.

So we set up a meeting.  The girl and her dad brought Apple over to see how she got on with our dogs and to see how the daughter felt about placing her with us.  (I don’t actually think she would have really been allowed to say no, frankly, but they at least tried to let her feel like she had some say in things.)  Apple and the rest of the pack got on famously and the daughter said she thought Apple would be happy with us.  Did I mention how sad this all was?  Really heartbreaking.

Then it got a little odd.  When my husband was asking about Apple’s vet record and when she’d been fixed and such, the dad got kind of cagey, eventually saying that she hadn’t been fixed because she didn’t need to be fixed…and that we’d see.  Huh.  He seemed anxious to bundle his daughter off and be on his way, so we didn’t really press or make a huge deal out of it.

When we took Apple to our vet the next day, we were startled to find out that Apple is a hermaphrodite.    Yup, both parts.  Although not super common, it’s apparently not that rare, either.  It is apparently rare, in such cases, for either part to be fully reproductively functional, though.  We opted to get her fixed just so she wouldn’t be going into heat or develop a pregnancy that she couldn’t deliver or something.  The vet both neutered and spayed her.  We do refer to her using the feminine pronoun because she mostly presents as female, if you get my meaning.  Except every now and then when she’s really excited and her male organ appears out of her female one.  (Hope that’s not TMI, but I figure people might have questions -I did!)

Now this may be me being too cynical and reading too hard between the lines, but supposedly, according to the friend-of-the-friend, the family that gave up Apple was quite religious.  I suspect that the real reason they gave her up was because she’s a hermaphrodite.  Which is really sad.  It’s a naturally occurring thing.  There are hermaphrodites.  That isn’t a religious issue.  And her being one in no way impacts her ability to be a wonderful pet.  Okay, so breeding wouldn’t be an option, but they weren’t planning to breed her.

Apple is a total sweetheart, and really took to my husband.  If he’s in the room, she has eyes only for him.  And the other pups all love her, except for Chico.  She always tries to cuddle him first, and he usually won’t let her.  So then she’ll cuddle someone else, not a big deal.

I still find the idea of making your daughter give up her beloved pet because somehow that pet’s dual genderedness didn’t align with your religious beliefs profoundly sad.  I’m not super religious, but I can’t help but think of the phrase “God don’t make mistakes.”  And of Shakespeare’s assertion that “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,/ than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”   To us, Apple is at once extra special and yet no different than our other pups.

Thoughtfulness

After a crazy busy day at work that included the successful culmination of a long-term project, my sweet husband had a bunch of pink carnations waiting for me when I got home.  I love carnations: they’re long-lasting cut flowers, they’re feminine, and I like their soft scent.  I combined the carnations with some wilder looking Brazilian verbena we have growing all around our yard to make this simple bouquet.  How nice!

Thoughtful gestures like this mean so much.  It can be all too easy to take the most special people in our lives for granted, which is sad.  They’re the ones we should be trying extra hard to be kind to!  I really appreciate that my husband knew it was a big, stressful day and had a nice surprise waiting for me.  Sweet man.

Fried Okra

Our veggie garden has had a tough time of it this summer with the drought and the blazing heat.  Still, some things are starting to produce.  Our okra plants have been doing quite well.

Okra growing in our veggie patch.

In the same family as hibiscus plants, okra is quite pretty.  Its blooms are pretty showy.  After they’re spent, they develop into the long, slender, edible seed pods.  I picked a bunch and then my husband sliced, battered, and fried them up, yum!

Frying up the okra!

Our pug, Apple, was pretty sure some of the okra was for her.

Down-home deliciousness!

Besides the okra, the tomatoes are finally starting to come in, too.  Not a huge yield this year, but there is nothing tastier than a fresh heirloom tomato, so I’ll take whatever I can get.