Category Archives: dogs!

Marching In

It’s dull here on this first weekend in March. The trees are bare, and the sky’s unfinished drywall. With the snow melted away–not that I’m complaining–the world outside my windows is brown and gray.
 
Right now feels like a holding pattern before the hopes (so often dashed) of April.
 
But I don’t wish time away, unless I’m in the dentist’s chair. I need March as it provides a few more weeks of hibernation for me. In fact, the last time I was out of the house, I WAS in the dentist’s chair, and barring unforeseen events or needs, I have no plans to leave my perch until March is in the rear view.
 
Winter’s a trade-off for me. I find it cold, wet and inconvenient–when I have to venture out into it. But since I rarely venture out into it, it provides me with a long stretch of solid at-home and at-work time.
 
It’s a pretty good deal.
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However, seeing this pretty little sign of coming spring pleases me enormously. Bulbs are starting to poke their way up out of the ground. Undoubtedly snow will fall on them before it’s done with us, but I love that sweet little reminder of things to come, and weekends of planting, weeding, throwing balls for the dogs and just being out in the warm air.
 
But I’ll take March and my winter routines.
 
Yesterday, at BW’s request, I made tortilla soup. Not only yummy, but leftovers mean no cooking for me today.IMG_1354 My house is in reasonable order–also addressed yesterday–so no need for me to spend time on that. Nice. I plan to spend the bulk of the day lolling around reading, and that is very, very nice indeed.
 
But before the lolling, comes another part of my daily routine. My gym. I workout every day–rarely miss. I love my little gym, and have taught myself to love (mostly) the workout. Yesterday I tried out a new ab DVD, and am torn between annoyance and satisfaction that my abs ache some this morning. I do not, and never will, have a six pack. I have maybe a three pack, but am fully aware I’d have a zero pack if I didn’t keep at it.IMG_1358
 
Even with my winter purging, I still own about 100 workout DVDs. This is no more excessive for me than my shoe collection. I need the variety to stay engaged, to talk myself–every day–into going out there and doing it. If I didn’t mix it up, I’d bore myself within a week.
 
Not so different from writing for me, as I have a process or routine, but ray out for variety from the suspense, the long-running series and the more fantasy or paranormal-based trilogies. Probably not so different from my approach to cooking where it’s let’s try some of this, or how about adding some of that. Just to mix it up.
 
Maybe that’s why I can embrace and seriously value routine without feeling I’m bogged down in a rut.
 
And that routine I embrace keeps me sitting on my butt for hours daily. Without the routine of hitting the gym, that butt would be the size of Utah. Plus, I like carbs! I am not giving them up! I’d rather sweat for an hour than deny myself french fries. And I want to fit into my clothes, I heard that a flex belt is one of the best home exercise tool for people like me. I really like my clothes even though when happily in routine I’m mostly wearing pjs, sweats or workout gear. But the clothes are there when I need them, and they need me to keep my butt in line.
 
So I’ll be hitting the gym shortly, aching abs and all. Pick out a couple of DVDs so I can sweat my way toward my 10,000 steps, maintain my three pack, maybe soothe the spirit with some yoga, then reward myself with an afternoon of reading.
 
While I’m working out, Parker will likely be following his routine. See how handsome he is? Doesn’t he look dignified and calm?160305-parker-1000
 
Do not be fooled. He mostly has two speeds. Manic delight and excitement, and sleep. This is his routine most days when I’m in the gym. She’s in there, he thinks, I can see her! She won’t let me in there, and she’s jumping around or lying on the floor. She won’t let me jump around with her, or lie on the floor with her? I’ll show her!
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He’ll come to the glass door, stare, go to the corner of the gym, dig in the dirt and mulch like a mad thing, come back, stare. Go dig some more. Too bad, he’s still not coming in.
 
So Parker and I (and Pancho who glances hopefully in the door, then wanders off to wait) will embrace our Sunday routine. After the workout, the dogs (yet another routine) will come in with me and get a much-desired Milk Bone. I’ll get a book, and maybe some carbs.
 
Sounds good.  
Nora

Snowzilla

Here, at least, the weather guys nailed it. They told us it was coming, be prepared, and so it came. We’ve been there, done that many times before, so being prepared is winter routine.
 
We have a plow for the lane, and usually that’ll do the trick. However, Snowzilla mostly came at night, (and laughed and laughed) started late enough so plowing at dusk or dark wasn’t wise.
 

I woke to about sixteen inches and still coming hard. BW had put out his dad’s old, kitschy snowman snow gauge, so I could basically judge the amount without using my old standard, a yardstick.

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Stalwart Snowman gauge
 
By the time my own personal Mr. Plow got himself geared up, we had about 18″. Which proved too much for Mr. Plow. Jeep now stuck. Snowblower’s enough to clear some paths, and the dogs frolic.
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Stuck Jeep, happy Parker
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The narrow driveway path
 
We have a guy–my landscape guy–who does snow removal and asphalt parking lot surfacing in Houston TX. We get on the list, knowing he’s got plenty ahead of us. Doesn’t worry me–I’m not going anywhere.
 
I’m still into my January purge. Hit what I think of as the kids’ room as they use it when they sleep over. Hit the bathroom–the linen closet needs attention, hit the library. Then decide I can sit right down in there and read a book in front of the fire as my reward.
 
Snow’s now up to two feet, and still coming. My guy has decided to grill steaks for dinner later. Not odd for us as we grill year-round, so I figure I’ll make soup on Sunday.
 

I talk myself into a workout. No reason I can’t step outside, walk two feet to the gym. I put on my Uggs for the trip. BW’s cleared the path again, so no big. After my righteous workout, I’m grateful for the boots. Path has a good two or three inches on it again. I can hear all you boot nerds saying “wear real boots for winter from shoesfella.com!” but I dont care.

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The roof of the house (left), the roof of the gym (right)
 
It’s gorgeous out there, no question, and a little spooky. On the deck, the snow’s just below the top of the rail. We’re heading toward three feet. But unlike my first experience living here with three feet of snow, I have plenty of provisions, I have a generator if power goes out, and I don’t have two little boys who need time and attention.
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Post storm, snow on the deck
 
I eat steak, I watch a movie. We have that three feet by the time the snow stops–well after dark.
 
Sunday, when I get up before dawn (I just do) the world is absolutely hushed. It’s always quiet here, that’s country living, but the snow cushions all sound so the world is an empty church. I watch the birds attack the feeder for seeds and suet, watch the sun come up. The day brightens with that incredibly sharp contrast of hard blue sky against pure, untouched snow. Nothing but trees, sky, snow, birds as far as I can see. I love it–as long as I’m inside.
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Post storm Sunday look down the drive
 
More purging. The master bedroom this time, and it needs some serious work. Satisfying work. Then it’s time to make some chicken tortilla soup. Yum.
 
Quiet night, with me pleased my entire main level’s now been purged, a good bowl of soup–and the X-Files! Oh, how happy I am to see Mulder and Scully again. Now it’s time for a long, winter’s nap.
 
At about one in the morning, Parker barks like a maniac. And we hear the plow. That’s our Bryan, plowing the lane in the middle of the night. Bless his heart.
 
This morning, we have a plowed lane–but Bryan called to alert us our ‘main’ road is only plowed for one lane. I expect BW will take another day at home. How do you handle meeting another car with only one cleared lane and three feet of snow on the rest? No need to find out, at least to my way of thinking. The man, however, may think differently.
 
Me, I’m going to sit in my warm office, get to work, and look at the snowy postcard out my office window.
 
Hope everyone who got hit with Jonas stayed warm and safe.  
Nora

Rainy Days and Sundays

Wrath of God rain whooshed and beat down all of Saturday. From my desk, early morning, I watched the trees whip around in a frenzy and thought, surely that can’t last for long.
 
Wrong.
 
But the deluge meant I had no excuse not to do a mini-purge of my closet and organize all my pretty new things from last weekend’s shopping trip. Or procrastinate tidying the One More Room and gathering the items to go into my Fall Into The Story Brunch raffle basket.
 
Or come up with reasons not to shovel out my poor, neglected house that collected clutter in the last week as I pushed down the path of finishing a book.
 
None of those things are nearly as much fun as being outside in the sunshine gardening on a Saturday in June.
 
BW spent the crazy rain day inside the redone shed, putting in the shelves, organizing it. When I finally get out there to look, I did a happy dance. And enjoyed the really pretty whiskey barrel of impatiens Kayla planted in April.
photo 1 (4) photo 2 (6)
 
The dogs spent part of the day in the mobile groomer’s truck. It was Parker’s first time, and he did very well. Grooming was timely as all three dogs decided to sprawl outside my little gym while I worked out–instead of in the many places outside that have cover. I had to stop and put them inside before they drowned.
 
The dogs smell nice–that won’t last–and my house looks like adults live here. That probably won’t last either.
 
Today there’s no the natives-have-snorted-a-whole-buncha-cocaine jungle drumbeat of rain, but it’s coolish and overcast. Still, I got the workout in early so I could get outside and weed. And pick up sticks, haul branches–BW had a photo shoot today, so this is solo–pull those sticks, branches and many leaves out of my beds. The sun came out for about forty seconds, and that was nice.photo 4 (4)
 
In my circuit, I checked the vegetable bags–why Parker dug at a pepper plant inside a bag is a mystery, but I saved it, and the little pepper on the plant. I find lots of little tomatoes, including the very cool purple cherry tomatoes we’re trying this year.
 
And I find lots of deer damage. BW told me yesterday when he was in his office–front left corner of the house, lower level–he looked straight out at a deer munching away. Not a foot from the house, with dead nettle hanging out of its mouth. In all the years I’ve lived here I’ve never known the deer to eat dead nettle.
 
Fortunately I found blood meal that had been buried in the garden shed, now sitting tidily on the new shelves.
 
I see the mimosa trees blooming. BW and I started these beauties from seen years ago. I love the delicacy of those feathery pink blossoms.
 
The storm brought down a small branch from one of the mimosas, so I brought it in, cut some other flowers, made a little arrangement. Gotta look for that silver lining.
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Now I’ve got a weeded garden and clean-enough house, and a free afternoon. I think it’s time to read a book somebody else sweated over.
Nora

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

I’m going to start with the bad and ugly, get it out of the way.
 
My guy’s away for a week–nearly over now. I opted not to go as our regular dog and house sitters are out of town, and you just can’t leave three dogs, much less a new one. And this is fine. I also had a lot of work and a deadline, so a week home alone is all good.
 
However.
 
Our Pancho (someone asked last time, and this is the name he came with when we rescued him at age two) decided about two years ago it was just too much trouble to go into the brush or the woods to poop, and chose to start pooping on the pavers. Nothing we’ve tried has discouraged this. Bad enough, but a couple of piles a day, which BW shoveled up routinely. It seems Parker decided: Oh, that’s how it’s done here. So now two dogs are using the pavers, and Parker’s taken it a step beyond. It’s like he thinks: I’ll go a little here, a little there, and gee, that looks like a fun spot, then there’s that one. So many, many little piles.
 
This week, I’ve been starting and ending my day shoveling poop. This does not make me happy. And also hosing down the pavers. Today, after shoveling NINE piles (and that’s just since yesterday evening) it occurred to me I should take the poop to a poop friendly area, lure the culprits and see if they latch on.
 
Next time.
 
Meanwhile, about half way through my week, I went out in the morning–pre-caffeine– to feed and water said dogs. And nearly stepped on what I took for a really big dead mouse–which explains why Homer wanted to sleep outside the door the night before. I hoped, very much, he’d take it off somewhere, but alas, by the next day, there it was. I had no choice, but shoveled, what I think was actually a mole, (so good boy on that) along with poop.
 
And this morning, I went down to see what the hell Parker was barking at like a maniac, and see the baby black snake right beside my back steps. I cannot handle snakes, seriously phobic there. I don’t care how little it is. I keep the door firmly shut, go workout–opposite side of the house. It’s still there when I get back, and I realize it’s a dead baby snake. This is somewhat better, but I’m still not touching it. I have a line.
 
This is my glamorous life.
 
And that’s the bad and the ugly.
 
The good is very good. If you read my previous Trouble Spots blog, you’ll have seen my worn old garden shed. In case not, and because it’s fun, I’m asking Laura to post the before and after pictures. I’m couldn’t be happier with how this turned out. And next weekend, BW and I will tackle organizing the interior.
 

Before
Before
After
After
My birdbath fountain came Thursday, and that was an adventure. The delivery guys are only authorized to drop it at the door, but as it’s over 300 pounds, and was packed in an enormous box with wood framing, they couldn’t get it off the truck without unboxing it. Lucky for me. Even that was a job and a half for them, but they helpfully hand-trucked it to where I want it. Laid it down there as BW and I will have to level the spot, settle it in. But it’s so what I wanted, and I can’t wait to see it in use.
 
I have a huge box full of packing straw, and wood on the side of my driveway. BW will have to deal with it.
 
I did my weekend gardening. And the lavender is just beautiful this year. Played with dogs. And in a little while I’m going back to relax beside the completed Project.
 
When I first moved here, I needed to have a well dug.  Everyone recommended I hire this guy with a divining rod to tell us where to dig it. Okay. So he comes with the well diggers, looks around, and walks over to this spot–not using the rod. Right here, he tells me.
 
Okay, why?
 
Because there’s an underground spring–that’s where we had the still.
 
Still makes me laugh. And he was right. They hit it fast, and we actually set the record for gallons per minute in the county. While my neighbors were deciding whether to do a load of laundry or take a shower, I could do laundry, run the dishwasher, the washing machine AND shower.
 
The downside was the spring formed a little pool which was basically a mud pool. And I have dogs. Over the years I’ve planted the area around the well–yellow flags as they like their feet wet, hostas as there’s a lot of shade, some trees, some spirea and so on. This is where the jewelweed thrives, especially.
Before
Before
 
But behind it was a crappy little area I never knew what to do with. Until I saw my heart’s desire at the nursery. A water feature, stone, long and curving and with pretty little waterfalls. I contacted our landscape guy, the amazing Brian who tackles the big jobs around here–like the gorgeous stone terraces and walls he built for us.
 
It took some time–he’s exacting–and it was a whole bunch of work–laying pipe, electric–which meant digging trenches–and all that before starting to set the stone.
 
The day I walked back, heard the water, saw it, I did a happy dance. And also realized we didn’t want to put grass back in close to the waterfall. I needed plantings and mulch. Hey, Brian.
 
I told him I want a Rose of Sharon, have always wanted one and right there is a perfect spot. I want a dwarf weeper–a bloomer, and some flowering shrubs here and here, and something over there. I gave him basic choices, but as we’ve worked together for years, left a lot up to him. He knows my tastes.
After
After
 
When he was done (still have to deal with the ground behind the mulch, seed it) it was more fabulous than I imagined–and I image very well. I’ve ordered a stone bench as the wood one I had seems not quite right. And I found a little light for accent.
 
I feel like I have this new, pretty little world to enjoy.
 
My lovely new space almost makes up for poop on the pavers. But I’m about to hand over the shovel to BW, and retire from that field.
 
And the dead snake will be waiting for him.
 
I’m going to pour myself a glass of champagne, go out and enjoy my very, very good.
Nora

Introducing Parker

A few weeks ago, BW and I kicked around the idea of a back-up dog. Our boys are getting up there. Homer’s 11, Pancho 8–and we remember too well how sad and depressed Homer was when we lost Steinbeck–who’d been his boon companion since Homer was a puppy.

When we rescued Pancho, Homer–who’d done little but lie around grieving for a month, Homer did his doggie happy dance the instant Pancho got out of the truck. They’ve been the best of pals ever since.

So, we thought, maybe we should rescue another dog, so when the sad time comes, we won’t have a grieving pet. We didn’t talk very seriously about it, just we’d do a rescue, maybe go for a Chocolate Lab or mix this time. At least a couple years old.

Then a friend of mine posted about the rescue place she and her family had gone through to adopt their marvelous dog. I thought, well, I’ll just a look.

photo 3-1And there he was, almost immediately. Parker, a two-year old Chocolate Lab/ Wiemaraner mix. With a face I fell for in a blink. As did BW when I sent him the photo and info.

So Monday, Parker came home. Homer and Pancho were thrilled, and Parker seemed pretty happy himself. Lots of sniffing and running, and showing him the ropes. When Homer, who’s always been an old soul, tired of the excitement, he just wandered off to a quiet place to nap, out of the young guy’s way. Pancho had a sulk the next day–like: I thought it was a play date. He’s staying? But that didn’t last, and within another day, he was the one initiating play.

Pancho photobomb.
Pancho photobomb.

In the house, because it was raining all damn week. Normally, I’d move this sort of insanity outside, but I let it ride.

We also learned, fast, Parker had obviously been allowed, probably encouraged, to make himself at home on the bed, on the sofa. Not in this house. We have firm rules. Human bed, dog bed. This was a battle, several days worth. I won.

We also learned he’d only sit for a treat. I insist my dogs sit on command–hand command. I’m happy to report Parker sits like a champ now for pets and praise. Not bad for less than a week’s training.

He’s also been encouraged to jump on people. Another heated battle, but I’m close to winning that one, too. It may be adorable to have a puppy jump, but a full-grown dog, not so much. Especially when you have visitors. We don’t tolerate jumping on people, and while he wants to, so bad–you can see it in his eyes–he’s learned to stop himself when I hold my hand out in that stop gesture. So he’s smart as well as handsome. Loves dogs, kids, people. And my two oldest grandkids are delighted with our addition to the pack. Plus he didn’t jump on my little honorary grandson who turns five in August, and adores dogs. photo 1-2They get along just fine, and I didn’t have to worry about the little guy getting knocked down.

We’d have all been happier with better weather last week–all that rain was great for the plants (and the weeds), but didn’t make it fun to go out and play fetch or race around. Still, the weekend’s been lovely. BW and I worked outside all day yesterday, which made for happy dogs–and happy plants.

My garden shed’s coming along–better weather, it’d be done. But I’m so happy with how it’s going to look.photo 2 I discovered the deer have had a good week, too, and are munching down on my day lilies, the Black-Eyed Susans I transplanted, and the false sunflowers just starting to bloom. Fresh deer repellent applied to all today.

So, despite days and days and DAYS of rain, a really good week here. A sweet, funny, happy dog to join our pack, and visits from grandkids. A garden that’s thriving, and a shed that’s on its way to being pretty again.photo 1-1

Time to take advantage of the sunshine, and go play fetch. Inside chores can wait.

Nora

 photo 4