Author Archives: Stacy Alexander, Writer/Artist

About Stacy Alexander, Writer/Artist

Stacy Alexander - mixed media artist and founder of Arte Alterado and Stacy Alexander's Silverthorn Studios. Mother of one daughter. Grandmother to Maya, Ingrid and Harry.

Reno, Tahoe… One More Time

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We have just returned from one of the best trips we’ve ever made to Reno and Tahoe.  The video is our friend, Kat Wilson, who invited us to Truckee for dinner with her and our other friends, and then to listen to her band, Arizona Jones, which provided an outstanding evening of entertainment.   We danced until we closed the place down.  Then everyone came over to our Tahoe place for a great evening of fellowship, food and laughter.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…..Let me back up and start with Reno….

We ate at some new (for us) restaurants, joined by various friends, and we joined Kat and her boyfriend, Len, for a second dinner that was also spectacular.

One of the places we tried was the Napa Bistro, upstairs, at the Atlantis Casino.

The food at this restaurant was outstanding, and the service was even better.  We had a great visit with a guy who is attending helicopter school here in Portland, and made plans to hook up with him later.

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I had an excellent marinaded portobello mushroom with polenta.  John had the flatbread pizza.  My husband went over the top and bought us a bottle of  Krug, Clos du Mesnil (2000), which we shared.  We rarely splurge to that extent, but we were on holiday after working very hard through the winter so why not?  We thoroughly enjoyed it, and had such a nice, romantic lunch together.

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We had little shot glass desserts…pies….and then the waiter brought cotton candy on a plate.  Stop!  Too much sugar!!! But fun, nonetheless.

 

One night, I cooked a nice Mexican dinner for my friend, Patti Hazeltine and her boyfriend, Mark.  After we ate, we all went downstairs and played pool.  Patti beat us all.  She’s good!

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Upon a friend’s recommendation, we went to a tiny nearby bar called, “The Point” where we ended up hanging out with the band, consisting of Joe, Doug and Paul, AKA “The Kindred Souls.”  Went back to hear them a second time on our way out of town.  Really had a nice time.

We also went to the Nevada Art Museum, where we saw a Burningman retrospective, and an exhibit by Ugo Rondinone, a collection of Maynard Dixon’s work and a Mexican collection of modern and contemporary work.  After shooting dozens of photos, I discovered that I had left the memory card out of my camera, so no evidence of the visit.  🙂 Both of us love that museum, though.  It is small and intimate, and excellently curated.  We go there every time we visit Reno.

After a couple of days in Reno, we headed up to the Tahoe house.

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This is a gorgeous house situated up in the hills at Carnelian Bay.  The deck sits at treetop level, and it is a perfect place just to bask in nature and relax.  I spent a good deal of time cooking, taking walks, visiting with friends, spending time with John , and doing other things that I love.

My friend CalLing came down from California, as did my Santa Cruz friend, Linda, and her son, Brandon.  Sutton, Kat, Len, Debbie…..the whole gang came out off and on, and we had some laughs, passed the time together, and generally had a great time.

Tahoe water levels were abnormally high, and the water was a spectacular blue.

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We explored restaurants at the lake that we had not been to before. We went on hikes, meditated.   It was all grand, and the time passed too quickly.  I always leave part of my heart there when we leave….as I did this time as well.

 

More to come….

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Hi Folks,

I’ve been in Reno and at Lake Tahoe, having an awesome time with our friends there, and haven’t had the opportunity to update.  Coming soon, is a photo essay of the time we spent there, and also an article about contemporary US poet, Charlie Zero, who I interviewed before we left.

Just hang tight.  Will return soon with all that and more.

 

Stacy

What are the Best Supplements for Fibromyalgia?

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The following article come from NutritionFacts.org, Dr. Michael Greger.  Sign up on the website to receive the latest in nutritional news and research updates delivered directly to your inbox.

Fibromyalgia is one of the most common joint and muscle diseases, affecting millions of Americans, characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, and often accompanied by other symptoms, such as fatigue. The medical profession used to think it was all in people’s heads, “but today there is irrefutable evidence” that it is, indeed, a disorder of the body and not just the mind.

Back in 2003, an influential paper was published out of the Mayo Clinic, in which a shocking 93% of fibromyalgia-type patients were found to be vitamin D deficient; and so, they concluded that all such patients are at high risk of severe vitamin D deficiency. But wait a second, said the skeptics, there was no control group. Where’s the Mayo Clinic located? Minnesota. Maybe 90% of everyone in Minnesota is D deficient.

When controlled studies were done, some did, indeed, find that those suffering from these kinds of pain syndromes were significantly more likely to be D deficient, but other studies did not. Even if all the studies did, though, that doesn’t mean that low vitamin D levels cause fibromyalgia. Maybe, chronic widespread pain disorders, like fibromyalgia, cause low vitamin D. It’s the sunshine vitamin, after all, and fibromyalgia patients may not be running around outside as much as healthy controls. To know if vitamin D is contributing to the disease, you have to put it to the test.

Studies like this found that the majority of those with pain syndromes and low D levels appeared to benefit from vitamin D supplementation. Clinical improvement in up to 90% of patients. (You can imagine how rife vitamin D deficiency is among Arab women in the Middle East.) But these studies weren’t controlled either. Maybe they would have gotten better on their own without the supplements, or maybe it was the placebo effect? There are many examples in the medical literature of treatments that looked great in uncontrolled trials, like hyperbaric oxygen therapy for multiple sclerosis, but when put to the test in randomized controlled trials, they failed miserably.

And, that’s what seemed to happen in the first randomized controlled trial of vitamin D for a fibromyalgia-type syndrome in 2008. No significant difference in pain scores, though the study only lasted three months, and in that time, the treatment was only able to get the vitamin D blood levels up to about 30. Unfortunately, no controlled study had ever been done pushing levels any higher, until 2014. Fibromyalgia patients were given up to 2400 units of D a day for 20 weeks; and their D levels rose up to about 50 and then, once they stopped the vitamin D, levels came back down to match the placebo. That was reflected in their pain scores, a significant drop in pain severity while they were on the D and then, back to baseline when they came off of it. The researchers concluded “that this economical—[in fact, over-the-counter]—therapy with a low side effect profile may well be considered in patients with [fibromyalgia syndrome.]”

 

Sources Cited:

Speaking of Great PDX Thai Food….Thai Pod!

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Manat Saefung and Natcho Ebay

This is Natcho Ebay with her husband, Manat Saefung.  I recently reviewed Natcho’s grandmother’s Thai restaurant, Thai Touch.   THIS review, however, is about Manat’s restaurant Thai Pod, a completely different variety of Thai food, located at 2015 NE Broadway Street, here in Portland, Oregon.

Thai cuisine in Portland  doesn’t generally get the type of praise it deserves. People order it as a hangover cure from the confines of their couch, or lazily pick up take-out on their way back from the gym. But I urge you to take a little time to understand the intricacies of this particular cuisine.  Eat at Thai Pod, and you’ll quickly realize that your cold Pad Thai from some other restaurant just isn’t cutting it when so many other options abound.

Many vegetarians and vegans will skip ordering from Thai restaurants, because they have discovered that unavoidably, fish sauce usually finds it way into their curry.  This is where Thai Pod comes in.  Just mention any dietary restrictions to the wait staff, and their guidelines will be carefully followed. This is a place where carnivores, vegans and vegetarians can all agree on one thing.  The food is fantastic, and upon request, it can be completely animal free!   When requested to omit meat and sauces that contain meat, Manat  uses a special ingredient in place of soy sauce called, “Coconut Secret.”  It is organic, gluten free, has no MSG, and is vegan…..yet even meat eaters love it, because it tastes great!

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Coconut Secret

Thai Pod is the watering hole for both hipsters and families alike.  Its warm, friendly atmosphere invites hours of leisurely, comfortable dining, where every bite is a separate taste treat that brings plenty of oooo’s and ahhhh’s.  Again, the food is fantastic.

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Thai Vegetable Soup

Other soups served at Thai Pod include, Tom yum, a hot and sour soup of galangal root, lemongrass and lime juice with mushrooms, tomatoes and online, and Tom kha, a spicy soup of coconut milk and galangal root, with lemongrass, mushrooms and lime just, and the famous Po Tak soup, which is a combination of seafood in a hot and sour soup of galangal root, lemongrass and lime juice with mushrooms, basil and online.

The restaurant has been open for 7 years, but Manat took over 2 years ago.  The cuisine is listed on Uber Eats, Eat 24 and Postmate, so you can order it to be delivered, but I recommend going into the restaurant itself for fresh-from-the-kitchen goodness.

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Thai Pod

Manat uses fresh local produce, much of which is grown by his sister in her own garden. It is his goal to support local farmers whenever possible, and he uses as much organic produce as is praticle.  (Some foods, such as mango, are difficult to find organically grown.)

Manat uses only the finest meats and creates meat dishes that are in high demand. For instance, it is rare to find the type of BBQ pork street food that Manat creates in his kitchen.  He uses a special secret sauce made with fresh herbs and marinates the pork in it prior to cooking.  The dish is served with fried rice.  His Salmon and shrimp dishes are also special, and are served with delicious fresh vegetable accompaniments.

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Salmon Teriyaki on a Broccoli Bed

Thai Pod serves a wide variety of both vegetarian and meat appetizer options.

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Thai Egg Rolls

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Fried Tofu with Peanut Sauce

Other appetizer options include Salad Rolls with fresh vegetables in soft rice paper, Crab puffs, which are savory combinations of crab and cream cheese, Pot Stickers, which are deep fried dumplings, and may other choices.

One of the restaurant’s most popular dishes, is Thai Kung Pao with shrimp.  This dish contains bamboo shoots, bell peppers, onions, carrots, peanuts and chili sauce.

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Manat Saefung in the Kitchen at Thai Pod

Manat puts a lot of thought into his menu and into his cooking, often combining foods from other cultures into  Thai fusion creations.

 

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The Thai Kung Pao is a Thai/Chinese Fusion Example

 

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This mixed vegetable dish with mango was an exciting addition to our meal.  Each flavor was separate and distinct from all others. Thai Pod serves all kinds of noodle dishes, stir fries, salads, a wide selection of curries, and a large number of fried rice dishes, including the diner’s choice of chicken, pork, tofu or vegetables mixed in.

Last, but not least, are the dessert selections.  Everything this restaurant delivers is delicious!

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Fresh Sliced Mango with Sticky Rice

Thai Pod is open Monday through Friday from 11-3/ 4:30 – 9.  On Fridays, they stay open an additional hour, and close at 10 PM.  Saturday, the restaurant is open from 12-noon until 10 pm, and on Sundays, it is open from 4:30 until 9 PM.  They have a nice selection of Thai and American beer selections, as well as plenty of wine offerings from which to choose.

Street parking is available in front of the restaurant, but scarce.  However, ample street parking exists just around the corner.

Thai Pod will offer full-serving catering in the future, but for now, the restaurant offers it on a pick up basis only.  Be sure to give them several hours notice to prepare large orders  prior to pickup time.

Remember, Thai Pod is a family owned and operated business.  Not many people know about it yet, but soon, we anticipate seeing the place packed with satisfied diners.   You don’t want to miss out on this great food, folks!

 

 

 

I Listened

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I listened as they called my President a Muslim. I listened as they called him and his family a pack of monkeys. 

I listened as they said he wasn’t born here. 

I watched as they blocked every single path to progress that they could. 

I saw the pictures of him as Hitler.

I watched them shut down the government and hurt the entire nation twice.

I watched them turn their backs on every opportunity to open worthwhile dialog.

I watched them say that they would not even listen to any choice for Supreme Court no matter who the nominee was. 

I listened as they openly said that they will oppose him at every turn. 

I watched as they did just that.

I listened. 

I watched.

I paid attention.

Now, I’m being called on to be tolerant. 

To move forward. 

To denounce protesters. 

To “Get over it.” 

To accept this…

I will not.

I will do my part to make sure this great American mistake becomes the embarrassing footnote of our history that it deserves to be.

I will do this as quickly as possible every chance I get.

I will do my part to limit the damage that this man can do to my country. 

I will watch his every move and point out every single mistake and misdeed in a loud and proud voice.

I will let you know in a loud voice every time this man backs away from a promise he made to them.

Them. The people who voted for him.

The ones who sold their souls and prayed for him to win.

I will do this so that they never forget. 

And they will hear me.

They will see it in my eyes when I look at them.

They will hear it in my voice when I talk to them.

They will know that I know who they are.

They will know that I know what they are.

Do not call for my tolerance. I’ve tolerated all I can. 

Now it’s their turn to tolerate ridicule. 

Be aware, make no mistake about it, every single thing that goes wrong in our country from this day 

forward is now Trump’s fault just as much as they thought it was Obama’s.

I find it unreasonable for them to expect from me what they were entirely unwilling to give.” 

Author unknown.

Thai Touch – A Touch of Yum

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It is always a pleasure to discover great new places to eat.  Our latest is Thai Touch,.  Situated at 1334 SE Hawthorne Boulevard, just two doors down from the Portland School of Rock, Thai Touch is a modest, unassuming Thai restaurant that is the brainchild of owner, Pimpron Sricsoontorn, who is a passionate, expert Thai cook.  Pim’s cooking genius is the driving force that makes Thai Touch so special.  Each ingredient is carefully considered and is of highest quality.

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Pimpron Srisoontorn, former Thailand high school teacher

Thai Touch is a family owned and operated business where Pim’s grandchildren pitch in to help. This is Natcho Ebay, who works as a waitress at the restaurant.

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Natcho Ebay

This particular location is the fourth incarnation of Thai Touch, and just may be the best.  The atmosphere is cozy and nicely appointed, while still maintaining a casual, comfortable ambience.

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Daily specials are prominently featured on a chalkboard that stands a few feet from the front entrance.

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Nathalie Srisoonstorn

John and I are vegetarians, and we don’t have a problem finding good things to eat at this restaurant, which also accommodates vegans and carnivores.

One of the appetizers that we like are the salad rolls. They consist of lettuce, mint leaves, carrots, cilantro and noodles wrapped in rice paper and served with peanut sauce.  They come with your choice of shrimp or tofu inside.

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Salad Rolls

We are also crazy about the Baby Rolls.  These delicious rolls are comprised of deep fried cabbage, carrots, taro root and glass noodles wrapped in rice paper and served with sweet and sour sauce. They have a nice crunch and are light and delicious.

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Baby Rolls

 

If meat is preferred, Thai Touch offers appetizers, such as their special pot stickers, consisting of deep fried pork dumplings served with pot sticker sauce, or Heaven, which is deep fried, ground chicken wrapped in a tortilla skin and served with sweet and sour sauce.  I’ve heard that the Chicken S’Tay is quite delicious, too.  This one is marinated chicken on skewers served with peanut sauce and cucumber sauce.

The restaurant has a wide array of salads, including the Cucumber salad with cucumber, carrots, red onions, green oinions, ground peanuts and chicken, or the Beef salad, that includes beef, red and green onion, tomatoes, cucumber and carrots, cooked in a spicy lime sauce.  Tiger Cry is another beef salad with red and green onions, but this one also has dry chili peppers and rice flakes served in a spicy lime sauce.

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Pineapple Curry

Oh!  And the curries!  My personal favorite is the pineapple curry, made with big chunks of pineapple, tofu, bell peppers, bamboo shoots, carrots and fresh basil in a red curry sauce, but they also have green and yellow curries, and a delicious Mus-Sa Mun curry with coconut milk, ginger, potatoes, carrots, pineapple, online and peanuts.  Yum!  Thai Touch offers curries containing the diner’s choice of chicken, pork, tofu, beef, shrimp or other seafood.

Another favorite dish containing pineapple is the delicious pineapple fried rice.  This delightful dish comes with your choice o chicken, shrrimp or tofu, and has olions, big chunks of fresh pineapple, bell peppers, carrots, peas, raisins, curry powder and egg, if desired.   They also offer a spicy fried rice, vegetable fried rice, green curry fried rice and more.

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Pineapple Fried Rice

Their noodle dishes are also delicious.  I love the spicy noodles made wiht rice noodles that are topped with red curry sauce and mixed veggies.  The Kee Maow also comes with favorable reviews.  This one features wide rice noodles, basil leaves, jalapeno peppers, bell peppers, onions, cabbage, broccoli, carrots and chili peppers.

The Thai Touch Paht Thai also comes with high customer reviews.  This one has rice noodles, chicken, shrimp, tofu, eggs, bean sprouts, green onion, carrots and ground peanuts.

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Thai Touch Paht Thai

Listed in “Portland Cheap Eats” as one of the best bargains in the city, Thai Touch goes the extra mile to provide a comfortable, casual atmosphere, affordable prices and food that looks as delicious as it tastes.

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We hope you will spread the word about this fine Thai eatery.  Pay them a visit Monday through Saturday from 11 AM – 2:30 PM, and 4:30 – 9:00 PM for dinner, and from 4-9PM on Sundays.  You’ll be glad that you did!

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The food really is that good!

(Tell them Stacy sent you!)

 

 

 

 

June is going Swimmingly

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I meant “swimmingly” sarcastically, as we are still having winter rains, which are finally supposed to end tomorrow, with sunny skies forecast for the conceivable future.

Things have been going very well for me.

My aunt Gaylon visited last weekend, and we did a whirlwind tour of Portland, going to Multnomah Falls, attending Ingrid’s School of Rock concert, taking a bus/Max tour of Portland, and spending quality time together.   She is standing on the bridge with my daughter and Ingrid in this picture.

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Ingrid’s concert was fantastic.  She had a fearful meltdown before the show, but one would never have known it by the time she stepped onto the stage with confidence.  Really.  She did so well.  We were all quite proud of her.  Auntie Gaylon had has all decked out in some awesome finery. She looked like a doll.

Ingrid at School of Rock

John and I are making plans for an undisclosed vacation next month.  Really looking forward to that!

I am happy.

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Finding the Best Flea Collar for Your Dog

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One of my readers asked if I would publish a blog about choosing the best flea collar for dogs.  While we don’t use a flea collar for Beatrix,.  I use essential oils, which work very well, and Revolution for heart worms, which also has a flea and tick repellent.

The Best Flea Collar For Dogs

Fleas and ticks can cause a number of serious illnesses in dogs. Mild diseases can make the dog nauseous or slow it down considerably. However, more severe cases can place the animal in excruciating pain or even cause its death. Therefore, flea and tick prevention is one of the most important elements to assure optimum health for your pet. Flea collars are an excellent solution for this problem. However, selecting the best flea collars for dogs can be a daunting task.

Therefore, we have written this guide to help you make the right decision for your pet.

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What are flea collars?

Flea collars are chemically-treated dog collars that are designed to repel and kill fleas and ticks on your pet. They are worn in conjunction with the dog’s regular collar, and provide safe, comfortable pest control. They come in a wide variety of colors, sizes and styles.

What do they do?

The best flea collars for dogs work to both repel and kill fleas. Some collars do both, and others are designed to do one job only, depending on what is needed for the individual pet.

How do they work?

Flea collars work by killing fleas and ticks, and by breaking their reproductive cycles. Three basic types of collars work in three different ways. The absorption based collar contains a type of insecticide that is absorbed into the dog’s skin. Fleas that then feed on the dog are poisoned and killed. The high frequency flea collar works by emitting ultra-sonic sound waves that repel the fleas. Gas based collars create a toxin that repels ticks and fleas from the dog, and kills the bugs when they come into direct contact with the collar.

How effective are Flea Collars?

Flea collars can be quite effective for combatting fleas and ticks. Their effectiveness varies from brand-to-brand, and should be clearly stated on the collar’s packaging. Some types can last as many as 8 months. Spot on flea treatments only last for up to 30 days.

When shouldn’t you use a flea collar?

It is a good idea to check with one’s vet prior to using a flea collar. Some types of flea collars are not compatible with older dogs. It is also unadvisable to use a flea collar in conjunction with other types of flea treatments and remedies. Use of a flea collar should be discontinued if the pet develops inflamed, red and itchy skin around the neck where the collar rests.

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Fleas

Fleas are tiny insects that form the Siphonaptera order. Their mouths are adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood. Their hind legs are adapted for jumping. Fleas are external parasites of birds and mammals. They survive by the consumption of blood of their hosts. Adult fleas are up to about 3 mm long and usually brown.

Known as holometabolous insects, fleas go through four different stages of their life cycle. Their eggs produce larva, which require a varied diet, and feed on any organic substances that are available, including feces, vegetable matter and dead insects. They are blind and keep to dark, humid places, such as soil, under carpets and in bedding. Once they pupate, they weave cocoons and molt, where they undergo metamorphosis into their adult forms. This usually takes about four days, but can take longer under adverse weather conditions. Mature fleas can live for up to 3 months without food, if they do not emerge from their puparia.

Once fleas achieve adulthood, they begin to seek blood, feed and reproduce. Females can lay as many as 5000 or more eggs over their 2-3 month life cycle. If no blood bearing host is found, their lifespan can be shortened to a few days. When ideal conditions of humidity, temperature and food supply exist, adult fleas have the life capacity of up to 1.5 years.

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Ticks

Ticks are classified as small arachnids rather than insects and belong to two major families, the hard variety, or Ixodidae, and the soft type, or Argasidae. Adult ticks are noted for their ovoid bodies, which become engorged with blood and expand when they feed. They have firm shields on their dorsal surfaces. The Ixodidae variety have a beak-like structure at the from of the mouth. The Argasidae have mouths on their undersides. There approximately 850 specific tick species, and are known for transmitting such diseases as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme disease and Ehrlichia. They are also implicated in a number of serious infections that are caused by protozoa, viruses and bacteria.

Both varieties locate a blood host by odor or from certain changes in the environment. Both types progress through four distinct life cycle stages, including the egg, larva, nymph and finally, the adult ticks. Different species of ticks go through various numbers of developmental stages. For instance, the soft variety ticks may go through up to seven different nymphal stages.

Dangers of Fleas and Ticks

  • Anemia

    Signs of anemia in dogs, characterized by a low white blood cell count, includes lethargy, exercise intolerance, decrease in appetite, and pale gums. Dogs with mild cases of anemia may not have any signs at all.

  • Lyme Disease

    The most frequently noted symptoms of Lyme Disease in dogs consist of a fever of between 103 and 105°, swollen joints, lameness, swollen lymph nodes, tiredness, and loss of appetite.

  • Rockettsiae Infection

    Symptoms of Rockettsiae Infection in dogs includes difficulty breathing, general weakness, loss of appetite, lethargy and enlarged lymph nodes.

  • Meningoencephalitis

    Two illnesses merge to create Meningoencephaltis in dogs, encephalitis, which is the inflammation of the brain, and Meningitis, the inflammation of the meninges, or spinal cord and outer layer of the brain. It has a mortality rate of between 60-100%.

  • Dermatitis

    Dermatitis in dogs is an inflammatory, chronic skin disease associated with allergies, and can be associated with fleas and ticks. It effects their ears, muzzle, underarms, groin, the areas around the eyes and between their foot pads.

  • Tapeworms

    One of the more commonly known intestinal parasites, tapeworms are segmented, and can be found in most mammals. While usually not fatal, tapeworms can cause extreme weight loss, fatigue and discomfort.

  • Plague

    A parasitic genus, Yersinia pestis causes the bacterial disease known as Plague. Dogs infected with the disease will experience inflammation, high fever and excessive pain.

  • Haemobartonellosis

    Haembartonellosis is transmitted by ticks, and is characterized in dogs by an infection of the red blood cells by a parasite. Symptoms include weight loss, loss of appetite, fatigue, weakness, white to purple gums, and high fever.

  • Erlichiosis

    The severity of the symptoms of Erlichiosism a type of bacteria, depends on the species involved and the individual immune response of the kanine. Symptoms include weight loss, loss of appetite, fever, lethargy, abnormal bleeding, enlarged lymph nodes, coughing, enlarged spleen, discharge from the nose and or eyes, pain and stiffness, diarrhea, vomiting and certain neurological symptoms.

Considerations before buying the best flea collar for dogs

Read product reviews in reputable pet magazines and other publications

Weigh the options between insecticidal, biological or ultrasonic collars

When choosing ultrasonic collars, consider battery life

Consider environmentally friendly collars

Choose collars from among well known manufacturers.

Read product labels to determine manufacturer’s age recommendations for dogs

Find out the concentration of the collar’s active ingredient

Determine which collars work best for specific sizes, breeds and ages

Read all precautions and warnings regarding health and safety hazards for pets and humans

Take note of how long the product is effective,

Find out the specific pests the collar kills.

Ensure the collar is the right size and made of a material the dog can tolerate

Consider collars with reflective strips that glow in the dark

Compare materials such as rubber, fabric, plastic, jute, et al

Decide on color

Consider ease of use for each type of collar under consideration

Find out if collar works alone or with additional products

Consider the magnitude of any existing flea or tick infestations

Inspect fastener

And there you have it!  I hope this has answered your questions about flea collars.  If you have any further inquiries, please let me know.

Do Not Hesitate to Meditate!

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I have a lot on my plate.  In finding balance between work, family, art making, marketing, recreation and personal development endeavors, I am often asked how I can possibly have enough energy to do all the things that I do. One of the key tools that I use, apart from exercise a great diet and plenty of rest, is meditation.

One might wonder how using the best way to focus and calm the mind, meditation, can be such a highly effective solution for increased energy, but alas. It works!

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Two things that set us, as humans, apart from prehistoric humans are changes in the brain’s Amygdala and the Prefrontal Cortex. The former (Amygdala) can be thought of as one’s “fear center,” while the Prefrontal Cortex area of the brain is the orchestrator of thoughts. People who still allow themselves to be dominated by their Amygdala are not as resilient during stressful times, ad people who enable their Prefrontal Cortex of reasoning to take control. Amygdala-ruled brains result in people with fewer stores of energy.

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Simply put, meditation upgrades the Prefrontal Cortex while deactivating the Amygdala.

Multiple studies suggest that people who meditate regularly have large, strong Prefrontal Cortexes, with calm Amygdalae. This is because people who meditate live with fewer worries, less anxiety and less stress than people who do not meditate on a regular basis. It also boosts two critical chemicals, GH (growth hormone) and DHEA.

DHEA is best known for providing an increased sense of well being. However, DHEA supplements can have unpleasant side effects. Furthermore, it doesn’t work for everyone, and those who do take it sometimes notice a decrease in energy.

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Growth Hormone is an important chemical for reducing fatigue and for putting a spark in one’s motivation. This is the chemical that makes one taller and stronger during puberty. As we age, however, the body produces less GH and DHEA. However, this is not a problem for people who meditate regularly.

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Meditation also helps one sleep better. It works by boosting melatonin production about almost 98%! Melatonin is a naturally occurring sleep compound. Extra production of this compound enables people who meditate to sleep more soundly and to wake up feeling refreshed and revitalized, and to have more energy.

Meditators also produce less cortisol. This is a chemical that zaps energy and keeps stressed out people in a state of stress. It also leads to excess stomach fat. An interesting study conducted by Rutgers University found that meditation reduced cortisol in the body by as much as 50%!

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Earlier, I mentioned temporary energy boosters, such as stimulants, which also have negative side effects. Coffee, energy drinks and so forth, only provide temporary solutions to fatigue. They always have an energy crash afterward, leaving consumers feeling exhausted.

While physical exercise is definitely a way to up your energy levels, meditation works on the brain and body in very similar and (many would argue) even better ways.

For instance, long distance runners’ are addicted to their sport for good reason, because running causes the brain to produce endorphins. These chemicals provide a powerful energy boost as well as a wonderful kind of mental euphoria that has appropriately been named “runner’s high”. However, meditation does the same thing…only better. The highs provided by meditation simply can’t be duplicated. Meditation lays the foundation for a calm, focused, higher level of mind that stimulants simply cannot touch. Toss out your energy drink. Pickup meditation. You’ll be glad you did.

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Thank you, Mr. Best…and All the Rest

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Portland train stabbing.

Two men were killed in a stabbing on a MAX train last Friday when they tried to intervene as another man yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim, including one wearing a hijab.  A third passenger who tried to help was also stabbed, but is expected to survive.

Rick Best Taliesin Namkai-Meche

This is the climate of hatred that was bred when donald j. trump took the oath of office last November.  Hate crimes are now soaring and discrimination against Muslims has never been higher.

Stabbing on Max Train, Portland, Oregon.  Portland train stabbing

Police identify victims of stabbing on Portland MAX train

Officers arrested the suspect as he ran from the Hollywood transit station into the neighborhood near Providence Portland Medical Center in Northeast Portland, Simpson said. The suspect was ranting about many things, using “hate speech or biased language,” and at one point focused on the young women.

Two men who died in the attack were identified as:

Best died at the scene of the attack, and Namkai-Meche died at a hospital.

Police said the victim injured in the attack was 21-year-old Micah David-Cole Fletcher of Southeast Portland. He remains in a Portland hospital, but his injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

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Today, I visited the spot where Rick Best and the  two other men were attacked, their throats slit, and left to die. The outpouring of love there today was very powerful, and I cried and cried as I walked around and snapped pictures of the offerings from mourners.

Here is a slideshow of some of the shots that I took.

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Muslim Hysteria

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According to key research findings from the Pew Research Center, the Muslim religion is the second largest in the world and the fastest growing major religion.  If current demographic trends continue, the number of Muslims is expected to exceed the number of Christians by the end of the century.

The political climate in the United States since the election of “45”, has been one of heightened hatred toward the Muslim population.  Conservative (redneck) media has leveraged its listening audience toward a fear-based view of Muslims, sparking hatred not unlike the hatred exercised toward blacks when lynching was an “acceptable” remedy for suspicious acts.

When a Muslim commits a crime in the United States, it sadly becomes, not about the person or persons committing the crime.  It becomes about ALL Muslims who are demonized, largely, by the uneducated.  I recall a friend of mine telling me that his ignorant roommate calls them, “Mu-SLIMES” and this is a typical redneck response to what is going on.

I say that if we are going to ban people because of the color of their skin or their religion, we should also include this group of criminals.  I could have maxed out my blog with the names and info about these men, but instead, I’ll only post a small sample.   If we are going to ban Muslims because of the actions of a few, why not ban this demographic as well?

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Something to think about.

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Oh, Baby…you DO go down smooth….

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Feeling the music right now . Thought I’d share some of my favorites and the songs that have special meaning to me right now.

I listen to Lake Street Dive constantly, and feel that Rachel Price is one of the best contemporary singers to come down the pike since Annie Lennox.  It has been so much fun to watch this band rise higher and higher on the popularity scales, and not at all surprising.  They cannot come to the Pacific NW without finding Stacy sitting in the audience.

A friend from Oklahoma turned me on to John Fullbright several years ago.  His straightforward, simple, yet skillfully executed lyrics speak straight to my heart. I’ve only seen him play once, but loved every minute of that show in a smokey little Oklahoma bar.

I’ve known Lyle Lovett since the late 70’s when my friend, Katy, and I used to go see him for next to nothing at Anderson Fair in Houston.  I think admission was something like $2.00.  Like Fullbright, he is one of my favorite lyricists.  This is one of my very favorites by him.

My close friend, Robb, in Dallas, turned me on to Shook Twins recently.  I fell for this group when I heard one of the friends singing through an old telephone, creating a wiry, ethereal sound that I found haunting.

Alabama Shakes is another band that I love.  While Brittany Howard might not look like your typical Brittany, her soulful refrains shake me to the bone.

And speaking of bones…..Here’s a little dose of Texas, in the form of Shaky Graves.  Love him. Saw him recently in Portland.  Fantastic musician/lyricist.

My friend, Sheryl, hosted Vandaveer in her Seattle studio last year.  We had so much fun in the intimate setting.  Great people, these, very friendly.  My daughter in law loves them, so I got the lead singer, Mark Charles Heidinger,  to do a little video for her. He was very sweet.  Told her he wished she could be there, et al.  We had a blast hanging out with these guys, and the music was unsurpassed. Sheryl’s friend, Mary was there, and after everyone left, Mark sat down in a rolling office chair, rolled across the room to her and sang “happy birthday” about a foot away from her face. She cried and cried….from happiness.  This was a magical night for all of us. Close friends. Great music. Good food.  We had a lot of fun, thanks to Sheryl, the hostess with the mostest.

Even after all these years, it is difficult for me to make a list of favorite musicians without including Annie Lennox….as dated as this music is, she has remained one of my favorite singers for many years.  This song has special significance, and brings back some happy, happy memories for me….so bear with the oldness of it, ok?  This song was sent to me by someone who is very near and dear to my heart, so when I hear it, I am filled with gratitude.

And last but not least,  I’ve become a big fan of this little sweetie, who absolutely blew me away with a song that is near and dear to my heart for reasons I cannot convey.

So…I hope I’ve turned you on to at least one musician or group you weren’t familiar with. I love all kinds of music, old and new, but these selections all have special meaning to me right now.

John recently gifted me with an Amazon Echo, so every morning I get up and say, “Alexa, play……….(one of these musicians…or some other musicians)….and our house is filled with music.

Gotta love modern technology.