SCOOTER4263   29,137
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Cocoa shell mulch may be toxic to pets.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I usually toss alarmist email right in the ol' e-trash can, but as this came through the Master Gardeners' Office at Cornell, I thought it was worth reading and passing along. While the chance of killing your pet with cocoa shell mulch is probably quite slim, if it saves one pet it's worth reading. (And in my opinion, cocoa shell doesn't make a very good mulch anyway. I'd stick with double- or triple-ground hardwood.)


Even if you don't personally have a pet PLEASE PASS THIS ON TO SOMEONE WHO DOES.

Please tell every dog or cat owner you know. Even if you don't have a pet, please pass this to those who do.

Over the weekend, the doting owner of two young lab mixes purchased Cocoa Mulch from Target to use in their garden. The dogs loved the way it smelled and it was advertised to keep cats away from their garden. Their dog (Calypso) decided the mulch smelled good enough to eat and devoured a large helping. She vomited a few times which was typical when she eats something new but wasn't acting lethargic in any way. The next day, Mom woke up and took Calypso out for her morning walk . Half way through the walk, she had a seizure and died instantly.

Although the mulch had NO warnings printed on the label, upon further investigation on the company's website,

"This product is HIGHLY toxic to dogs and cats."

Cocoa Mulch is manufactured by Hershey's, and they claim that "It is true that studies have shown that 50% of the dogs that eat Cocoa Mulch can suffer physical harm to a variety of degrees (depending on each individual dog). However, 98% of all dogs won't eat it."
*Snopes site gives the following information:
/crusader/cocoamulch.asp *

Cocoa Mulch, which is sold by Home Depot, Foreman's Garden Supply and other Garden supply stores contains a lethal ingredient called 'Theobromine'. It is lethal to dogs and cats. It smells li ke chocolate and it really attracts dogs. They will ingest this stuff and die. Several deaths already occurred in the last 2-3 weeks.

Theobromine is in all chocolate, especially dark or baker's chocolate which is toxic to dogs. Cocoa bean shells contain potentially toxic quantities of theobromine, a xanthine compound similar in effects to caffeine and theophylline. A dog that ingested a lethal quantity of garden mulch made from cacao bean shells developed severe convulsions and died 17 hours later. Analysis of the stomach contents and the ingested cocao bean shells revealed the presence of lethal amounts of theobromine.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Thanks for the info. I knew chocolate was a problem for pets but didn't think of the mulch.

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Getting Back Up on the Horse

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

For a professional grower (organic field crops, herbs and flowers) and gardener (design, installation and maintenance of perennial gardens, mostly) who is simultaneously renovating a 4500 sq. ft., 200 year old farmhouse, trying to get the gardens outside into decent shape, and taking care of a husband with health challenges, spring is a busy season.

Unreasonably, outrageously busy. Which is why I wasn't particularly surprised to discover that my clothing was a little looser despite a lack of planned meals and organized exercise routines. Heck, I'm even wearing a slightly smaller size. emoticon

I could use some good news along about now, so I thought I'd be brave and hop on the scale - if I'm smaller I have to weigh less, right?

emoticon Wrong.

In fact, I seem to have gained in the neighborhood of seven pounds (and a very chubby neighborhood that is.) emoticon

My first response was to lug the scale into other positions on the floor. If you've got an old house, you know that the floors - along with everything else - are uneven, and there is always the possibility that I'm just standing in a spot that tilts the scale in a heavier direction. emoticon Alas, it not only didn't get better, it threatened to get worse, so I stopped that maneuver.

Um...let's see...water retention? emoticon Nah, my fingers, which look like link sausages if I'm doing any serious retention, look perfectly fine.

Oh, I know! Muscle weighs more than fat! emoticon I've put on seven pounds of sheer muscle! Sure I have. *insert eye roll here* Way back in the day, when I was a real gym rat, I'd work for weeks to gain what was probably a few ounces of muscle.

So, it's time to face facts. I may have tightened up a little, but all in all I'm moving in the wrong direction. Time to put the GoWearFit armband back on (as soon as I find the strap - I took it off to charge it a week - or three - ago and now I can't find it. I just saw that thing, too....) It's time to take some time away from all these other tasks and plan healthy meals, get the diet thing back into gear. Make sure I get my 5000 step minimum in each day.

(I'm so horrified emoticon that I'm removing my weight tracker from public view - you'll know I've gotten my act together when it reappears.)

Plus, I have the oddest feeling that I'm waiting for something. Not waiting for whatever-it-is before I start getting my Spark back, just .... waiting. Like waiting for rain to stop before you put the dogs out, or waiting for the sanding to be done before you re-wash all the dishes and dust (again.) There's nothing coming up that Im aware of. One daughter is graduating from college and moving back home for a while, but if anything that should spur me to action, not cause me to march in place. Dunno. Guess we just have to see what happens. emoticon

Back to work! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LUNADRAGON 5/23/2010 3:42PM

    You sound a lot like me. At least I think our scales must be long lost siblings! I have dealt with many health issues with my husband, returned to full time work, and much stress in the last 10 years, and put me on the back burner. Heck, I think I put me in the drawer. Now, I am working on me too. You are worth it. so am I. One step at a time, one day at a time.

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    I am busy as a bee as well. This time of year is terrible. Sorry about the weight gain. You will get it back off.

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HIPPICHICK1 5/5/2010 11:01AM

    Wow. Sounds very crazy at your place. Have you considered that it might be stress weight? I hope that you have some success with your weight loss soon. Get some sleep, drink some water, eat some apples and everything will be right as rain.

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GRYFFINSONG 5/5/2010 10:58AM

    I hear you. It can be so frustrating to lose momentum, although hopefully the smaller clothing implies that good things are happening somewhere in there. Brava for getting back on the horse, and hopefully your waiting is nearly over, for whatever it is you're waiting on. Hugs and best of luck!!!


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SHERYLDS 5/5/2010 10:50AM

    Well for someone who is a gardener ... why not just focus on cooking vegetables and enjoying the benefits of nature.

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I need a day off!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Not from SP, or even healthy eating and exercising (although I may limit it to a walk.) I'm tired. My body is sore - even though I was a professional gardener for lots of years, the day after the first major gardening day of the year is always painful. I got enough sleep, though, and I'm not paralytically sore - as I have been upon occasion - so I suspect it's more of a generalized tiredness.

I'm tired of responsibility, of knowing that my husband's health, let alone my own, is pretty much in my hands. Tired of the sea of boxes, trunks and bags that contain everything my mother (and therefore a few more generations of forebears) had in her house, that were picked up and dropped in my (already fairly full) house and barn. Tired of knowing that as fast as I clean up one area, another previously tidied one has succumbed to household entropy and has to be tackled anew. Very tired of not being able to find anything or sit without moving a stack of something-or-other first.

And The Men are here again. Dave and PeeWee. They are, with various other assorted characters, our go-to guys for any sort of construction, repair, and general labor. We feed them lunch, pay them very little (by my standards anyway), listen to their tales of woe and generally nudge them along. The progress that The Men make on a job tends to be slow, but these days it's positively glacial because they're both having Personal Issues. Dave is contemplating quitting his pack-a-day cigarette, 18 pack-a-day beer and occasional Other habit, and PeeWee's wife (he's 38 or 40, Marci is 60... he's been with her, on and off, since he was fifteen *cough*) is facing some serious health problems.

Sure, it would probably be easier to hire the sort of professional workers you find licensed, in the phonebook, with professional references, but we like these guys. They've become a sort of extended family, and I know that if we had any sort of problem whatsoever, they'd drop everything and be here in a heartbeat, and would handle the problem somehow. We'd never freeze or starve or die because we didn't have a ride someplace (if they had to hotwire a car - or a snowmobile - they'd get to us somehow.) They're my boys and I love them.

Still.... I'm currently a little tired of The Men and their Issues.

For anyone who wondered, incidentally, what kind of accountant couldn't handle complicated tax issues, the answer is: skillful, popular ones. It isn't that Ray doesn't know how to do these things, it's that it was going to take longer than my alloted time - my fault entirely, for putting off my taxes until the last minute. I suppose he would have pulled them together if I'd insisted, but he's not only our accountant, he's our friend, and I didn't want to do that to him (or pay him what it would have cost for an all-night "emergency tax prep".)

So I'm going to take a day off. Im going to read (fiction! wow! not even useful stuff!) and play with my SoulCollage card(s) and generally putter about - I'll even put something in the slow cooker for dinner so I don't have to fuss with that (Paula, it's going to be the lentil/cabbage thing.)

Right now I have to make a run to the pharmacy, but the minute I get back, I'm hanging out my Gone Fishing sign.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LUNADRAGON 5/24/2010 12:42PM

    You can be like a grape, when a grape gets pressed, it lets out a little whine!
emoticon emoticon

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SUZY6281 4/16/2010 2:24PM

    Hope your day went as planned. Sometimes we all need a day off from life in general.


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STARLASUE 4/15/2010 6:54PM

    Hey whine is good. Got some cheese with that? emoticon

Hey friends listen to friends vent once in a while, right?

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PUDLECRAZY 4/15/2010 6:29PM

    It's okay - be whiny. I have the occasional whine blog and feel better having written it. A good whine, some fun fiction, and a soul collage can be just what a tired person needs.

I hope you get the rest and the time for yourself that you need.



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SCOOTER4263 4/15/2010 4:12PM

    Wow, I had no idea how whiny I was until I reread this. I'm sorry, guys! Yeesh! emoticon

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MORTICIAADDAMS 4/15/2010 12:58PM

    I'm still dealing with my mother's things as well. Over whelming in many ways.

Enjoy your day and get some rest.

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Where'd Scooter go?

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Here's the story: I *have to* get the tax stuff together, and between being a small business owner plus having an out of state rental property, taxes tend to get pretty complicated (and I refuse to pay Ray, the accountant, to sort stuff I can sort perfectly well on my own.) I usually have all this done in February, but this year, well, between playing here with you guys, doing some new art, working on the book and in general putzing around instead of taking care of business, well... here we are in April.

It's spring: which means, as a grower, I have to be sure I'm up to date with all the organic details and have all the equipment ready to go. Also have to decide what we're growing, and when and to whom we'll be selling, and start getting it together. Shouldn't all that have been done already as well? You better believe it should.

Last but certainly not least, I have a couple SoulCollage cards I've been working at, and I want to get them finished, probably in the evenings before I fall over.

All this means that the book gets shelved (ha! I made a funny!) for the time being - I can work on it in my head as I do outside grunt work, but anything more than that is out for now. And it also means that I'm going to have to cut back on my SparkPeople hours (and I do mean hours) if I'm going to have any time left over for little details like eating and sleeping.

The good news is that I always get plenty of exercise in the spring, and with today's resolve to take better care of myself, I hope to see that weight ticker start to move in the correct direction.

I'll think of you all fondly and check in when I get a minute - and if you see me here too often, chase me off! I am SO BAD with the whole self-discipline thing! emoticon emoticon emoticon

(Why the groundhog? I dunno - I just liked him!)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WRITERGIRLMEL 4/14/2010 6:02PM

    Whew! You have a big to-do list! Good luck, and we'll leave the light on for ya!

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RUSSELLORAMA 4/13/2010 9:37PM

    I haven't done taxes either. Guess who's filing an extension? LOL!

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MOMMA_GRIZZ 4/11/2010 8:31PM

    Yeah for Spring! Boo for taxes! Have a great time outside :D

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HIPPICHICK1 4/10/2010 9:06AM

    I could have written this blog myself, esp the part about the taxes. YOIKS! emoticon

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SHERYLDS 4/7/2010 5:56PM

    A woman with a plan....I love it. Go for it

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    When I recover I will have to do the same.

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You Gonna Get Your Mind Right

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Everyone's favorite Cool Hand Luke quote is always the "failure to communicate" one, and that's good,too, but this is my favorite:

Captain: You run one time, you got yourself a set of chains. You run twice you got yourself two sets. You ain't gonna need no third set, 'cause you gonna get your mind right.

That's my favorite because it seems like I always have to take at least two or three cracks at something before I can do it, carrying an extra set of chains each time, and it's the same here with the weight loss thing.

I guess I really wasn't ready to admit that it was going to be difficult - after all, until the last couple years, I really didn't have much of a weight problem. I'd gain a few, cut back, lose them and forget it, always hovering around the 150 mark, plus or minus ten. (I got down to 133 once with Nutrisystem, after baby #2, but it was too difficult to maintain.)

So I lied to you guys - and to myself - that I was making progress here. I lost ten pounds, then regained two, lost three, regained another two, lost one, gained one, lost three etcetcetc. I never bothered to update my weight ticker because it really wasn't going anywhere.

And neither was I.

The fact is that I'm having a real time of it, draggin' my you-know-what out of bed every morning, planning healthy meals, and cutting out the alcohol. I don't have a drinking problem, but I do have a *habit* problem. I habitually take a nap I don't need in the midmorning, take a cocktail I don't need in the late afternoon and often a brandy at bedtime, eat things I surely don't need just because I make them for my husband.

And whilst doing all those things I don't need, I ignore the ones I do, like the twice-daily meditation I used to do, the long dog walks, the yoga that started every morning, and the million and one little habits that used to keep my weight in check - stairs instead of elevators, yogurt instead of mayo, black coffees instead of two-and-twos.

Sure, I've got plenty of excuses. Maybe even a few good ones that I delude myself into believing are actually "reasons", rather than "excuses", like the injured foot that keeps me from walking the dogs the way I used to (but have I called the orthopedic guy? What do you think?) and the boatloads of stress (like everyone doesn't have stress, right?)

I'm trying to avoid the temptation to just get up tomorrow morning and be someone else entirely - I can do that, sure, for a while anyway, but it doesn't *solve* anything. And I'm awfully damn tired of slapping band-aids on problems.

So it's time. I've got a diet plan (South Beach, recommended for my husband's non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, but good for me too), an exercise plan (a Y membership I've almost never used, a bunch of DVDs, two dogs to exercise and a farm to walk them on, a stretchy thing with handles, and a huge ball that I believe I sit on... and probably other stuff I've forgotten about) and all the support a body could possibly want right here on SP.

Yep. Time to get my mind right.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JENSHAWN 4/8/2010 5:54PM

    I hear you...I hope it helps just coming "clean"! Just keep the faith and you will get to where you are going!

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SHERYLDS 4/7/2010 5:52PM

    I bought the South Beach Book a while ago and never got a chance to really read it. Some pretty good stuff in there. Good luck with the plan.

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HIPPICHICK1 4/6/2010 11:32PM

    It's a slippery slope when one thing gives way to another, then another...
Good for you for getting back to business!!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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