CBD Oil and Asthma in Cats

Callie developed heart-wrenching asthma several years ago, and to watch her wheeze and try to clear her lungs enough to suck inadequate oxygen pulls at my heartstrings. She will be having a wonderful time wrestling with me and will roll over playfully, only to have to sit up violently to cough. Brushing her right away seems to calm her, but the coughing fits are coming more often and taking lo her to subside. When she was finally diagnosed with asthma after 6 months of antibiotics from another incompetent vet, Dr. Stephens in Morro Bay put her on prednisolone cream that is applied to the ear flap and causes Callie very little stress when administering it.

But now that we aren’t going to Morro Bay as much, we have had to change vets and have a lovely vet named Sandy, at Encinitas Village. Unfortunately for us, we ran out of the cream quite some time ago and are waiting for a delivery that will arrive on Monday. She first prescribed prednisone orally, and that did nothing for her cough, so we got creative and chose to purchase some CBD oil from a local dispensary. The olive oil-based CBD oil is dropped into soft food and the usually very picky Callie laps it up like it is the best-tasting food she has ever tasted.

The results have been pretty conclusive and her cough is down by 75% and she appears relaxed and happy. The only downside that I can see, is an increase in her appetite and gum disease by eating soft food. I resist the temptation to feed her canned and only feed her dry kibble once I have given her the medicine, but Callie’s preference for gummy canned food is going to be a challenge. When we first rescued her as a 3-year-old, she already had advanced gum disease and we had to schedule her for teeth cleaning. Her gums really improved and she hasn’t had any oral issues ever since. I can already smell her bad breath again though and will have to be very careful.

We pick up the prednisolone cream tomorrow on our way to Las Vegas and will be staying at the Thousand Trails Campground for the first time. This summer we became members and now we can stay for free in any of the campgrounds that are in California and Nevada, Washington and Oregon. What a great deal! We are very excited to see our daughter again and I hope to do some landscape photography at Valley of Fire, Snow Valley, and Zion. Once I have the cream for her ear I won’t have to give her the CBD oil as much for asthma but will be using it for separation anxiety that makes her throw up, and that is another story altogether!

Happy Holidays to all of my beloved readers. I hope that you have recovered from Thanksgiving and can move on to Christmas and Hanukkah and whatever it is that gives your heart joy and causes you to reflect on your life and all that you should be grateful for. I am so grateful for having rescued Callie. She has become my muse and contributes so much to my life and the adventures I am having traveling in the RV with my wonderful husband of 41 years.

Nature is Thriving

The coronavirus is affecting humanity in a way that has not been seen before in my lifetime. It is a humbling experience to think of a tiny virus, a microscopic blob of RNA, can kill one person within weeks and leave another one with mild symptoms. None of us knows whether they will be one of the lucky ones and live to tell the tale. Those of us who are hiding out in our homes and behaving responsibly are sheltering in place and practicing social distancing while watching the numbers of deaths go up at an alarming rate. And until a vaccine is discovered, we will all be vulnerable to catching this virus and possibly dying from it. There is no place that is safe anymore.

I am spending my days exploring the backyard with my camera in hand and the wildlife is thriving and actually doing better without all of the people around. The birds are singing with less interruptions, and my neighbor down the street even had a wild turkey hen visit her backyard. Sweet Pea, the dominant male, Costa’s Hummingbird rules his territory with lots of spunk and plenty of girlfriends, and I had a Phainopepla, a rare blackbird with red eyes that usually only lives in Agua Caliente, visit the other day. He must have blown in with the fierce winds that have rattled the blooming ocotillo that then scatter seeds and pollen everywhere across the sand. Hooded and Bullock’s Orioles arrive to raise their young and the bright golden yellow of their feathers is startling to see after the faded and washed-out colors of the windblown brittlebush have all but disappeared. A Belted Kingfisher suddenly showed up one day and announced his arrival with a comical cackle that pierces the silence when he dives down into the murky water from a tree limb that hangs outstretched over the shoreline. He quickly disappears under the surface with a splash and effortlessly catches a fish and flies straight back up to the same branch he left just seconds ago with a tiny fish wriggling in his strong beak. The graceful Great Egret soars across the surface of the water silently on huge outstretched wings and settles down on the safety of a rock for the evening in the company of noisy frogs croaking loudly in the fading light.

Callie is doing marvelous and has a brand new passion. Every evening a family of some kind of desert mouse comes out from their daytime burrow and zips along the outside of the sliding door of the entertainment room in search of a meal. She waits with heightened anticipation and excitement at dusk and just about the same time every day she chases them along the glass barrier until they disappear into the night. They seem to know that she can’t hurt them because they stop and stare at her which drives her absolutely insane. Her tail jerks spasmodically as she chirps to herself in frustration at not being able to catch her prey. The bats won’t arrive again in huge numbers until the summer months, so thank goodness there is a new game in town for her to enjoy.

I hope that all of you are staying safe and healthy and learning to cope with your newfound reality. If you are reading this blog post, surely you have a blog of your own and have a creative outlet to explore. I can’t imagine not having something to do that gives you joy during these difficult times. Thank you again for taking the time to read my adventures with Callie blog. I am hoping we can hit the road again soon.

The Pond
Sweet Pea
Sweet Pea’s Mate
Costa’s Hummingbird with Aloe Vera Blossom
Costa’s Hummingbird with Ocotillo
Belted Kingfisher
Hooded Oriole
Bullock’s Oriole
Great Egret
Mallard Duck
Callie on her walk!
Waiting for the mice to come out to play.

Bloom Where You’re Planted

“Bloom where you’re planted” was a favorite piece of advice that my mother would tell her 7 daughters and one son. It is a phrase I remind myself of frequently. One must always strive to do the best that you can under any given situation.

Living in the desert with March right around the corner, the creosote and brittle bush are in full swing and the scent of flowers is everywhere. The mimosa tree will stop you in your tracks if you get within 30ft of it. All the plants in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park are offering up their pollen and nectar to insects and birds and the desert is alive with chirps and buzzes and brilliant flashes of gold and orange colors.

Callie is doing very well and we have found the right medications for her asthma. She is less stressed with the CBD oil and the prednisolone cream that is applied to her inner ear flap has lessened her coughing spells.

I finished a painting of a bighorn ram that I have titled “Size Matters” for a flora and fauna show at the Borrego Art Institute, and if it is accepted, I will have put my toe in the door for exhibiting again. Bloom where you’re planted, has been achieved.

Waiting for birds to arrive
Out on her walk
Chuparosa and Costa’s Hummingbird
Female Costa’s Hummingbird
Chuparosa
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Sweet Pea
Costa’s Hummingbird and Creosote
Verdin on Brittle Bush
Carpenter Bee
Verdin on Ocotillo Blossom
Desert Bee and Brittle Bush
Sweet Pea
Size Matters

Road Weary and Battle Scarred

We came back from Canada so incredibly road-weary and exhausted, that quite frankly, I haven’t felt much like writing at all. Traveling in an RV can be very exciting, and the adventure beyond words, but it is also good to have a house to go home to and gather your wits about you when the journey appears in the rearview mirror.

I know for a fact that our traveling companions, Fred and Becky were also pretty tired and no extended trips are planned for the near future. When looking through photographs of Canada, Washington, Oregon, and California though, nostalgia does set in and the temptation to go becomes a tiny flame and a fleeting glimmer of interest can ignite before you know it.

Callie has loved being back in the desert and when parked at the beach, she can run around and roam unattended. We are going back and forth from desert to the beach where the RV is parked and fitting in scheduled doctor’s appointments and visiting with friends and family while getting things accomplished that were put on hold.

My photography has been ramped up to a whole new level now that the cervical stenosis surgery is behind me. I am working with the massive 600mm lens and tripod with gimbal head and even taking the heavy 500mm to the zoo. I was pleasantly surprised that the zoo would let me bring in a tripod, and with the help of Michael who carried the tripod, we went to the Africa Rocks Aviary and I was able to take images of Bee-eaters. I have always wanted to take a portrait of one because they are such gorgeous and entertaining birds. Another bird, the Paradise Whydah is the size of a small sparrow with tail feathers on the male during the breeding season, three times longer than the body.

The pond at the desert is once again filled with life and the heron and white egret compete for food alongside Say’s Phoebes, Black Phoebes, and Gray-Blue Gnatcatchers. Dragonflies are everywhere and provide food for all of the above. Bighorn Sheep are coming down from the mountains in search of water and while waiting for the herd to appear, a single, solitary, roadrunner zipped right past me.

The Geo Tracker is still in Canada and it will probably have to be totaled. I discussed the accident in the last post and don’t want to go into detail again about it, but it is the battle scars portion of the title of this blog post. Geico, our insurance company has at least decided to send an agent to the car instead of having the car towed to the States. That will help…

It will be a while before any of us feels like traveling again, so taking photos and possibly picking up a pencil and brush and painting is something of a possibility. Callie is doing well except for her asthma that is aggravated by all the fires here in Southern California and Michael and I are fine and biking and swimming once again. It is extremely important that you exercise when you get older, or everything falls apart and your health declines. I am now 64 years old and last year was a year for eye and neck surgeries and I am so appreciative that they were successful. I feel better than ever and I am looking forward to a wonderful year of travel and photography and good mental and physical health. Cheers to all you road warriors out there and may this be a year filled with high five adventures!

Right in your own Backyard

We are preparing for a trip to Banff and Jasper in Alberta, Canada, in the next couple of weeks, just as soon as I get the OK to head north after my cervical stenosis surgery. I am hoping that the neck brace can come off in two and a half weeks. The concern is whether the two level fusion took and is healing correctly. It really hasn’t been that big of a deal and I am so appreciative that it hasn’t slowed me down with my photography. As long as I only use the 70-200mm lens with a teleconverter, all is well.

I am also testing out the use of uploading my blog post via laptop. I have been using my iPhone believe it or not and thought since I have the use of the internet now thanks to a next-door neighbor across the street, I would like to see what it is actually like to type on a keyboard and sit at a table. What a difference it is making as far as visualizing what the text looks like, and it is certainly more comfortable on the eyes.

Every morning now I am getting up and walking through the neighborhood in search of birds to photograph for 500px. I am thrilled to say that I am finding more birds than I thought were possible without even getting in the car. My favorite is an Allen’s Hummingbird that only breeds along a narrow strip of coastline in California and Southern Oregon. It has beautiful golden feathers with rust and green and looks very similar to the Rufous Hummingbird. I spotted a Cooper’s Hawk the other day on a power line, and Say’s and Black Phoebes are also numerous. Northern Mockingbirds serenade me with their stolen repertoire and Monarch Butterflies settle down silently on brightly colored flowers that grow in well-tended gardens. It is with great pleasure that I can actually find wonderful subject matter to photograph right here in my own backyard.

Callie will have to be current on all of her vaccinations and I am taking her into the vet at the end of next week. It is necessary for her to have a Health Certificate in order to cross international borders and we will need passports too. I just about have everything in order and am really looking forward to this trip. Our friends, Becky and Fred will be caravaning with us and it will be Becky’s first time RVing for an extended time. We hope to be gone for about a month. Camping can be so much fun, but it is also a lot of work. I can’t believe it has been over 3.5 years since we flew to Huntsville, Alabama to pick up Pipsqueak, our 24 ft Class C Icon. It has given us loads of fun and excitement and an escape route out of the desert during the hot summer months.

 

Lake Cuyamaca

The temperature is really heating up in Anza- Borrego Desert State Park, so we decided to get away for the day and meet our RV travel partners, Fred, and Becky up at Lake Cuyamaca. It is less than an hour drive to the lake from our home, and the 110-acre reservoir provides natural air conditioning to the surrounding shoreline and kept the temperature at a comfortable 85 degrees. We sat around the table at the only restaurant that overlooks the water, and this eatery is famous for its chicken pot pies and fresh, fruit pies. You can be seated outdoors on a wooden balcony and hummingbird feeders hang from the eaves and Brewer’s Blackbirds wait patiently for you to finish eating before descending, somewhat mannerly, onto the leftover French fries when you get up to leave.

I pigged out on both the chicken pot pie and the Mountain Berry pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and topped with whip cream that was then generously sprinkled with cinnamon on it for dessert. Fred and Becky had the veggie burgers with coleslaw and fries, and that too was fresh and delicious. All of the meals were served in a timely manner and were very delicious. Our waitress was good-natured and accommodating, and even filled up the hummingbird feeders so that I could take photos with my camera. I highly recommend going there because it is also a fabulous place in which to camp overnight in an RV. I have written about Lake Cuyamaca in past posts, so I won’t get into a lot of detail, but just wanted to once again reiterate what a nice place it is to visit and camp at.

The lake provides food and shelter for a variety of wildlife. Canadian Geese and Brewer’s Blackbirds, Acorn Woodpeckers, Red-winged blackbirds, and Great Blue and White herons can be seen fishing along the shore. There is also an elusive pair of Bald Eagles that nest there every year in the fall way up high in the branches of magnificent evergreens on the island. If you are so inclined, easy hiking and biking trails are also available and you can’t go wrong if you are looking for a great way to spend time outdoors and escape the summer heat. One can also rent a boat and go fishing or just enjoy bobbing on the surface of the water and checking out the wildlife.

On the way back home, just as we were heading down the hill at San Filipe Wash in Anza- Borrego, a handsome bighorn sheep ram, dashed across the street in front of the car and up and over the rocks. Michael slammed on the brakes so that I could take one photo of him before he disappeared. I was still in the passenger seat with my seat belt on and used Michael’s shoulder for a tripod. I was very lucky he stopped for just a brief moment in time to look around. What a magnificent beast. He was probably searching for water and looked very healthy.

We came back home to Callie sound asleep on her chair and it appeared that she didn’t miss us one bit. We are heading back to the beach tomorrow and had a very relaxing time in the desert.

Summertime in the Desert

Michael, Callie, and I decided to head to the desert for a few days in order to have a little more room in which to live and move around in. The RV, a 24ft Class C, does feel a little small after a while and our desert house in Borrego Springs, even if it is 110 degrees outside, is still a fun escape.

Callie is able to race up and down the stairs and can follow her passion for bat patrol and taking early morning walks with her leash and the vest that has cute little fish patterns on it and a bright blue bow-tie. I don’t walk her as much at the beach because she can roam free in a safe environment with no fear of dogs or coyotes. But in the desert, Callie can’t run loose because of all the predators searching for something to eat and has had to learn to walk alongside me like a dog.

This morning I walked across the street with the 200-500mm lens, camera and tripod in hand and took some photos of flowers, bees, butterflies, and an Anna’s Hummingbird. Yesterday, I saw a roadrunner, white pigeon, White Egret, and a Night Heron. It never ceases to amaze me that wildlife still abounds in the summertime heat. I guess for most of them, the desert is home and they make the best of it in spite of the soaring temperatures. At least they have free access to water because of the ponds at the Ram’s Hill Golf Course.

We have been swimming every day, as it is an approved form of exercise after my cervical surgery. The collar needs to be worn for 5 more weeks. I can hardly stand it in this heat, but I am being a good patient and want to get well. There is a certain percentage of failure with a 2 level fusion, which is what I had done 3 weeks ago, so I had better follow the doctor’s orders. I can still go out and shoot photographs though, and that is all I need to stay sane. That and to be able to write, read, and to walk Callie.

The Circle of Life

Life in the desert is paradise right now. The temperature has stayed below 100 degrees and even though most of the wildflowers have dried up and blown away, there is still ample ocotillo, agave, acacia, beavertail cactus, and so much more in bloom. The Anna’s Hummingbird, Orioles, Costa’s Hummingbird, Verdin, Red-winged blackbird, Killdeer, Says Phoebe, Kingfishers, Great Blue Herons, and White Egrets abound. At night, the pond is filled with the croaking sound of frogs in full throttle mode and dragonflies zip around along the surface of the water. Bats come out in the evening, and this is when Callie gets very excited. She adores watching the bats almost hit the window but somehow manage to veer off at the last second. Her head swivels back and forth as they dart about right before her very eyes. The fragrance of flowers fills the air with a lovely scented perfume and the caterpillars that haven’t been consumed, feed voraciously on what vegetation is left. The Painted Lady Butterflies are so numerous, that if you drive around to take in the sites, they flutter by in droves that many, sadly, are then hit by cars. The circle of life is steadily moving toward the season of summer and soon it will be too hot to live in the desert heat again. Fortunately for us, we can escape the soaring temperature and drive to the beach where our RV is parked.

Callie gets so excited when she knows we are heading for the beach that she stands up in the car to look out the window and starts to meow loudly when she sees the RV. She loves being on the road and is especially fond of the ICON. It is something to look forward to when we have to escape again. We are planning on a trip up the coast to help a friend out who’s husband passed away and she is flying in from Australia to scatter his ashes in May. We will get as far north as Monterey to see the otters. We plan on traveling for 2 weeks. I have much to look forward to.

The Bonds of Friendship are Strong!

Callie has become so bonded to me, that when we are separated, she gets very agitated. I in return feel lost without her. Most creatures experience similar emotions as we humans do, and I am convinced of that without a shadow of a doubt. Animals that have to eat other animals may express less empathy as an emotion, but that is only due to the fact that they have to kill in order to eat. If they stopped to comprehend the act of murder they are committing and feel bad about it, they would starve to death. We, humans, have become so distanced from raising our own animals on a farm to butcher in order to eat, that we hardly recognize our packaged meat, chicken and fish as having once upon a time been a living, breathing, sentient being before it is unceremoniously served as a meal.

I am not a vegetarian and this isn’t about preaching the horrors of how cruel many farm animals are raised and the health risks of eating meat. I love to eat fish and chicken, but it does make sense for the overall health of our planet to stop raising cattle, chickens, sheep, and pigs on a massive scale for human consumption. And to get back to Callie, she wouldn’t think twice about killing a lizard, mouse or bird, but boy does she feel separation anxiety when I am not with her. She developed cystitis a month ago when we went skiing up in Big Bear with my sister from anxiety, and it now appears that she is prone to more and more stress-related illnesses as she ages. As a matter of fact, so am I!

Because we adopted Callie as a stray, we don’t really know for sure her exact age, but we do think it is somewhere around 11 years old. And because she is getting older, she is much more dependent on me than ever before to get through her day. I have had to train her to walk on a leash in the desert due to all of the dangers outside, and she does seem to understand that I am her protector when we are staying in this wild and arid place. When we are camped at the beach in the RV and Mobile Home Park, she is allowed to run free, but because cats are so territorial and love nothing more than to get into a catfight, I have watched her being chased back into the RV at a fast run with her neighbor in close pursuit!

The trade-off is that she is much more affectionate and certainly a lot sweeter than she used to be. I would also have to admit that Callie was quite a handful in her youth and has mellowed out a lot as she has grown older. The same might be true of me, at least the becoming more mellow part of it, I am not exactly sure about being sweeter though.

Today, Michael and I have taken the RV into Temecula Valley RV Service and Sales to have it worked on before our next summer travels. We had to travel from the beach to Temecula in separate vehicles, hence the topic of this particular blog post. Callie had hidden in the upper loft when we were ready to pull out because she loves life on the road and didn’t want to leave the RV. I had to abandon her then and follow behind in the car. When she discovered that I wasn’t in the passenger seat when she finally came down once the engine started, Michael told me she was visibly upset that I wasn’t there. She has to park herself on the dash when we hit the road.

Once we got there, I put her in the car with me and I hung out with her while Michael checked the Rv in for service. I can’t express enough the importance of maintaining your vehicle so that when you are out on the road you can have fun instead of experiencing a breakdown. Blowouts and engine failure are the opposite of fun to go through. It is best to be safe than to be sorry. We have learned the hard way. The three of us, Callie, Michael and I have been doing this for 3 years now, and the learning curve is getting easier, and familiarity, of course, makes it less stressful. But still, there is a lot to RVing that can’t be taught. You just have to get out there yourself and experience it firsthand.

I am now waiting in the car while Michael goes over the estimate of repairs that need to be done on the RV. Callie is resting comfortably on the front seat of the car while I write, and now that we have once again been reunited, we can both enjoy this beautiful day in Temecula. All is well and living once again is easy; at least for the moment it is. Who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Life in the Desert

With the Arctic Vortex blasting much of the United States, the Sonoran and the Mojave Desert are a seasonal paradise for many creatures including Michael, Callie and me. There was another lovely rainstorm last night and I am hoping for a super-bloom of wildflowers this spring. I have a pond behind the house that is a temporary home to Canadian Geese, Mergansers, Mallards, American Wigeon’s, a lone, lost Double-Breasted Cormorant that kept looking to the sky for his fellow travelers, a single, male Vermilion Flycatcher that I have affectionately named- Romeo, my darling Costa’s Hummingbird that I have aptly called, Sweet Pea, Say’s Phoebes, frogs that have just started to emerge from hibernation that are croaking out their romantic mating call, and of course the coyotes, desert foxes, and numerous predators that hope to make a meal of all of the above.

Callie has a ringside view of the scene playing out below her from a love seat that I have positioned by the window. She can watch bats swoop back and forth in search of insects at night and the ducks loudly quack and squabble during the day and even one lone male coyote that has as of yet failed to catch a bird in the late afternoon. When it gets chilly out, and it sometimes does, Callie makes short order of the lovingly prepared bed that I have made and crawls underneath all of the blankets when she gets chilled.

Wildflowers such as the tiny red chuparosa shrub are in full bloom already and this is the favorite food for Sweet Pea, the hummingbird. The Painted Ladies, a lovely butterfly which favor the golden yellow brittlebush are unfortunately often consumed by the flycatchers, and the bats and frogs attempt to catch the rest at night. It is quite the ecosystem playing out right before my eyes. It has really inspired my photography and the new Nikon D850 camera that my husband gave me for my 63rd birthday has improved my skills; I rarely take iPhone pics anymore.

We are moving the RV back to the Riviera possibly this weekend after having all the batteries replaced and the loss of hubcaps too! This particular RV seems to like to ditch them on the roadside along with blowouts that we have had with just about every tire. It must be a flaw in the design of the Class C and the fact that Michael has a hard time replacing them if there is still plenty of tread. The weakened sidewall is the issue and a gentle warning to all who RV, don’t be fooled like we have. Blowouts are dangerous and costly, not to mention the inconvenience and discomfort you have to go through in such an emergency. We also had the generator oil replaced and are now ready to park it back at the coast. I am looking forward to another adventure though soon and our first one may be to head up to Lake Cuyamaca or Agua Caliente if it is still too cold. Such is the good life of an aging retired couple and their adorable cat named Callie.