Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Merry to you all



The rascally puppy turned out to be an expert gift unwrapper once we encouraged her. She politely refrained from opening anything other than her own gifts. She loves all her squeaky toys, her new frisbee, her new balls, and a chewy bone. She had to open them all, which kept her out of our way as we opened our own presents! I dog-proofed the lowest part of the tree. There's nothing that can be broken when she cruises through the living room forest making branches sway and ornaments clang together. I tried to put up ornaments that would not be appealing to chew. I could have saved myself the trouble. The tree didn't get decorated until Christmas eve so she wasn't around them long enough to investigate and see if anything would have that appealing crunch. Now she has all her new toys to play with, so the tree seems to be safe even when we leave her downstairs while we go up to check email, blog or read.

It's not over yet. I may not be singing a Christmas carol or wearing red/green/Santa themed clothing, but my heart is still merry and light.

It's the third day of Christmas and the turtle doves are cooing. My backyard has had frequent visits from the mourning doves due to the fact that I dumped thistle from the goldfinch bag all over the back step(I took the bag out upside down). Doves are doves and it doesn't matter if there are three or five. Even better, the finches have discovered the bag and we had six of the little rascals hanging from it this afternoon.

All is calm here on the homefront.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Last Licks


I couldn't leave well enough alone. I found two little frames at the scrapbook store when we were in SLC and I knew at once that they belonged in the dollhouse. (Hey, girl dolls need mirrors.) When the elves were here to load the dollhouse on the sleigh for SoCal, I found a minute to glue on the shiny mirror paper so the new owner can decide where to place her new mirrors. I personally would put the white one in the pink bedroom and the ivory one in the family room, but it's out of my hands now.

And the elves probably wished they had a sleigh and some flying reindeer on their way home...a mild front came through and instead of clear roads with a few flurries, it took hours and hours and hours just to get to Sac.

The Princess is worth it.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Attic Playroom



This was the last room that got finished. Fully exposed without the roof, it didn't even look like a room. It was huge and white and I had no idea what it was going to be.

Then my two little neighbors came over and with their help it became a playroom. They suggested so many of the features that eventually found their way into this attic that they deserve the lion's share of the credit.

This is the only room that was painted because it was the only accessible one with the roof off and plenty of room to wield a brush. I think this is my favorite room. I like the others, but this one has personality plus.

It has little ducks swimming in the pond, a very happy sun shining down, little puffy clouds, myriad flowers, even a white picket fence. It's not for those who don't love color--the grassy green floor alone could be overload for those who crave beige.

So...seven rooms in all that were incredibly fun to put together. I hope the Princess has as much fun playing with it as I did creating the backdrop for her.

Now it's time to move on to other projects!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Family Room


The family room actually looks much better than this pic. The blue walls are a nice combination of country blue and retro dots. I never did find a paper like wood flooring strips so I made my own. I acquired wood-like paper, cut it into 1/2 inch strips and inked the sides with a medium brown (yes, that may be the actual definition of OCD), and glued the individual strips down.

However, I knew I should have painted the floor brown before I glued them on. I was in an enthusiastic rush to see how the strips looked and sort of skipped that step. Big mistake. In fixing up the dollhouse I discovered that there are two kinds of scrapbook paper--the kind that glues beautifully and the kind whose genetics dictate extreme wrinkliness when exposed to any moisture. Guess which kind the woodlike paper was? So far, no amount of glueing down of individual prune-y strips has solved the problem. So there is indeed white showing up between floor boards. I suspect at some point I will figure out a way to minimize the white (paint, brown Sharpie marker, other) so it doesn't drive me crazy. I mean, most of the house looks really sweet and this floor just doesn't make the cut.

On the other hand, it sure does look better than the all white house I inherited! And maybe it just needs a rug and some furniture...

Just Ducky


The bathroom.

The first paper I picked out--the little ducks with bubbles. Then I found I needed more, couldn't find the same paper, found some other duck paper without the bubbles that I didn't like as well but decided I had to use, then magically ran across the original duck paper.

This is an early picture before it was finished on all the walls. And it also has a mirror on the wall now. It still gives you the idea of the finished product.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The house

It's sitting in a corner. And I have photos of the other rooms. I just need blogger to allow me to upload them to the site. Alas.

I'll try again tomorrow!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Second Bedroom


I found this green "carpet" early on and lucked into the flower wallpaper just this weekend. So this is the second bedroom (or the master bedroom). So fun!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Wee Hours

Maybe I shouldn't have had that cup of hot chocolate last night. Or maybe it was the perfect snack.

Yesterday, I found several nicely patterned papers at Treasured Memories Too for the remaining rooms in the dollhouse. I began fitting them on the walls, cutting out doorways and windows, and one thing just led to another. I had plenty of energy and felt inspired by the new paper and motivated to get the whole thing finished with Christmas breathing down my neck. I turned out the light about 2 a.m. and still enthusiastically bounded out of bed at 8, ready to put the final touches on it. So I did a little gluing and painting today amidst Christmas decorating and dogwalking and now my mind will have to find another creative avenue (not hard at this time for year) because...

It's done, finished, completed!

Two bedrooms, a bathroom, family room, kitchen and formal dining room as well as a bonus room in the attic that became the playroom. It's been a labor of love, a delight, and I feel like I've really accomplished something. I'm jazzed about the way it looks! Each room is completely different. Each one has its own personality and style. The whole project just seemed to evolve naturally. I didn't overthink it (for once) and just took advantage of the colors and patterns I ran across. I wish all my projects were this smooth.

What have I learned from this experience? That I really love my friends. That enthusiasm is even better than a deadline to get me going. That I should go-with-the-flow more often. That jumping before I look and volunteering before I think is sometimes a good thing because it comes from the heart.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Fine Dining


Okay, batteries charged and camera back in action.

Today's presentation: the dining room. A lovely dark wood floor, roses sweetly rambling on the walls and a high, old-fashioned chair rail. It, like the rest of the house, is a blank slate awaiting a little girl (and her mom and grandmom and probably her great-grandmom) who furnish it with rugs and furniture and a family of dollies.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Onwards

It's not that I haven't been working on the dollhouse. It's that my reliable amazing rechargeable camera batteries have finally given up the ghost. So--no pix, no post.

But I thought I should at least state that work is ongoing and going quite well in fact.

The family room now has a wood floor, with each plank individually laid. No wall treatments yet there.

The mystery room on the ground floor turned out to be a dining room once I realized that there were actually two doors--one in the middle and one to the largest room. So the largest room became the family room, the middle one became the farmhouse kitchen (see the previous post) and the little one is a charming dining room with roses on the wallpaper and a plate rail up high.

I have new camera batteries charging right now and photos soon to follow...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Farmhouse Kitchen


List in hand... samples present and accounted for...measurements firmly in mind...brain on board...

The girly-girl pup and I returned to the craft store. This time I checked that I everything I bought and paid for made it into our Forester before I left the parking lot. I enjoy the craft store, but I didn't want to make another trip anytime this week. Also, did you know that Michael's holds packages you've paid for and accidentally left behind for only twenty-four hours? Either they have an awful lot of absent-minded customers whose packages would take up too much space, or they have found a great way of increasing the bottom line. Hey, I'm just saying...

Moving on, I'm learning the intricacies of Modge Podge when applied to dollhouse walls and scrapbook paper then adhered. There are lots of bubbles that arise when the paper gets damp. The paper somehow mysteriously stretches without being touched. I'm trying less Podge, longer drying time on Podge, Podge more evenly applied. I'm not trying to be a perfectionist; I just want the walls and floors to be fairly kidproof when Santa brings to the dollhouse to Southern California. Just trust me, wallpaper is a whole lot easier and some rooms may be covered in fabric (my original inclination until detoured by some very cute paper.

I have to say I like the way the rooms are going together. This photo (needless to say, but for some reason I'm saying it anyway) is the kitchen--who would have ever guessed that it would turn out yellow? Like it's my favorite color or something...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Kids' Room


It seemed appropriate that the children's room in the dollhouse be pink. I was fortunate enough to find the sweetly striped "wallpaper" which coordinated well with the "linoleum" that caught my eye.

There is always a down side of any redecorating job, and this one has turned out to be the standard size of paper versus the actual dollhouse dimensions. I'll be going back for enough flooring to finish this room. It works out in the end because of the absent-minded decorator who left half her supplies in the cart and who will be making a trip back to reclaim them.

So nothing is "installed" yet since the Modge Podge is one of the items I left behind, but I really like the way it is coming together. It's so fun to decorate for girls and use pink! I suspect that any dolls who live there will be both female and appreciative.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Attack of the Merry Maids









The house as Itself.
Dirt as Itself.
The dual role of Merry Maids and Bubble Girl will be played today by moi.

Act 1

House: Clean me! Clean me!
Dirt: Heh heh heh.
Merry Maids (knocking at the front door): Hello, Merry Maids, anyone home?
Dirt: No, no, anyone but Merry Maids.
Bubble Girl: Hi, I brought my Goo-gone and a nice soft cloth to make those windows shine!
Dirt (moaning pitifully): Too much shine, too much soap and water, too much perkiness. I'm going down the drain to find someone who will appreciate me.
Merry Maids and Bubble Girl (waving): Have a nice trip!
House: My heroines!

I love the before and after shot--the fingerprints show how truly grimy it was. I still can't figure out how the inside could have been dirtier than the outside. Did they turn it inside out to store it?

Anyway, it's completely clean and ready for the decorator who even as we speak is measuring for the new blue-and-yellow rubber ducky themed bath...

Tune in tomorrow for Episode 3: Will the decorator save the bathroom? What will the mystery room become? Where did the door go?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Fixer Upper, Nice Bones, Great Potential


Handyman's Special Older, 2 bedroom, 1 bath home in need of TLC. Large bedrooms and eat-in kitchen. 1020 square inches of living space does not include bonus attic room. Sturdy construction, needs updating. This could be your dream house!


It's a spacious 1020 square inches of doll luxury. At fifteen dollars, it was irresistable. Unfortunately I have no girls. However, there is a young Princess in the family who would be the perfect landlord for a deserving family of dolls. And I'm the lucky one who gets to play HGTV so that Santa can deliver it on Christmas.

It took thirty minutes, four women and a roof removal to finally find a way to fit it into Grammy's car for the trip home. It took thirty days for me to finally haul it inside to begin work. I realized I only have ten days to remodel it before it changes hand for the trip south. Happily, I've already bought some wallpaper for the bathroom and have the glimmering of an idea for one bedroom. I've made a good start in just one afternoon. I've vacuumed and washed it down. There are no spider webs, dust bunnies or stickers from the previous owner.

The first level has an entry that's 15x12. It's flanked by a large 15x13 room and a petite 15x9 room. The second level has a nice 15x13 bedroom, a 15x9 bath and a second bedroom that's 15x12. There's also an attic that is more apparent with the roof on--it's 15x34. It's currently off-white and cream--some might call that a blank canvas or a neutral interior. I call it just plain blah. Jen likes color as much as I do, so it won't stay white for long!

So...a kitchen/eating area to occupy the largest room downstairs. The entry will become the family room. Don't know what the third room will be. As a good responsible decorator, I'll have to consult my clients.

Stay tuned for daily updates--feedback and suggestions welcome!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Baying at the Moon

The soccer season may have ended for the Wolfpack, but the memories of a wonderful season linger.

I know that I can always count on meeting friends when I arrive at Mackay Stadium and head for the bleachers at midfield. Midseason, my coworker asked me who I was going to the game with and was surprised when I told her I was going alone. I grinned and told her I always met friends at the game. It evolved without planning. I've always encourage my team to attend, because I believe a lot of learning comes from watching good players. My line has always been, "Look for me at midfield!" So my players and their parents come, and they begin bringing friends. They are frequently my ex-kindergartners and they are usually surprised to see their teacher exhibit a different side of her personality: sportsmanlike, but noisy! We've built a camaraderie.

Our group has enjoyed cheering for the Pack whether they've won or lost. Building a successful team takes time. We've watched the ladies progress from losing seasons, to an occasional draw and now to regular wins that bring an unexpected satisfaction. Winning the WAC tournament and advancing to the NCAA championships was an exciting way of capping a fantastic season. Surrounded by a large and raucous home crowd, I cheered till my voice was hoarse and my hands were red from clapping so much. Mostly, those of us who met regularly at home games are now bursting with pride at how far the women's soccer program has come in five short years.

Home games are now more fun because we get to cheer for Naomi, as one of our own. When she goes on the field, we become her own personal cheering section. She has frequently arrived at our team practices tired from a hard practice of her own and then worked with the girls, encouraging and correcting them as a good coach should. She has added immeasurably to the quality of their technique as well as given them someone to emulate and admire. I can't remember what it was like to coach without her there! I can only say my appreciation for her is heartfelt.

Having most of the Chicks turn out as ball girls for the Pack vs. the Aggies was a memorable day. (Wendy and I may be alums but we cheered the Pack on!) Our girls did a great job and look fantastic in their official Ball Kid t-shirts.

So, a winning season for the Pack. I loved watching Sammy, our #5, speeding downfield with the ball and Randee showing both quickness and strength on defense and Caitlin making save after save. Each game would seem to showcase the talents of yet another player until I knew them all well. We'd track the away games online to see how they did. Naomi would tell us about getting in late due to plane troubles.

Yes, I admit I'm a little jealous of the fans that travelled down to Santa Clara for the NCAA regionals. I didn't really want to brave the fickle weather over Donner Pass, and I'm happy our house is more organized after an intensive effort, but I would have loved to spend one more evening cheering a team I've come to respect. Our ladies may not have won against a tough Stanford side, but they made a respectable showing: 2-1. I've looked at the stats for the game, but I can hardly wait to hear about the game from those partisans who saw it firsthand. I'm full of Pack Pride with a smile that just won't quit.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Growing up



Look what a difference six months can make. Our little girl is growing up. (She's now eight and a half months old, just a step away from being full grown.)

She is becoming a good dog faster than any of our other pups. I don't feel like we are spending more time training her than the others, but perhaps an empty nest creates fewer distractions. I know that having her in Puppy School has encouraged us to spend more quality time with her. She is much more responsive and loves doing her homework.

I do miss my sweet little fluffball, but Kharma still has a beautiful face. It is a delight to watch how athletic she has become. She is an expert frisbee catcher, high jumper and speedster. She is mature enough to stay home and not bark at the workers installing windows next door. I love being able to run upstairs knowing she will stay content in her basket down below.

There is still some puppy exploration going on however. She discovered that the horses I introduced her to are much bigger and a little intimidating. I was pleasantly surprised to find that she had the sense to stop and think about them. I thought I'd really have to restrain her and stop her from chasing them around. It'll be interesting to see what happens when the cows are put back into the pasture we use on our walks.

We are glad Kharma is a part of our lives. Puppyhood takes a lot of work, but she enriches our lives beyond measure. As they say, "Dogs may not be our whole life, but our life is whole because of our dogs."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Currently

Currently...

I'm rereading some David Edding's novels, because a good story is worth visiting again and again.

I'm rejoicing over the end of soccer season. I love soccer and I love coaching, but perhaps now I can spend some time with the most important people in my life.

I'm attending dog school; Kharma doesn't start till next week. She is rapidly learning that our come-right-now whistle involves a gourmet cheese bit. She also spends most of her time watching our hands if they stray anywhere near a pocket which just might contain a treat!

I'm pondering my options. Shall I work on the dollhouse...or print some photos for the scrapbook...or begin stitching on a fat black Halloween cat? Perhaps I shall do them all.

I'm trying to get used to having the heater on, and remembering to turn it down before bedtime.

I'm trying to get up earlier--with no success so far. At least I can rely on some extra sleep next weekend when we fall back.

I cringe when I walk through our home and see a pile (or two or three) in every single room. I hereby vow to create one shining, clean, clutter-free room by tomorrow night (complete with photo to show my success).

And now to sleep...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Fall Favorites


Aspen blazing in the crevices of the ridges,
pristine pinecones newly fallen, untouched by rodents or weather,
blue skies,
acorns whether small or large,
sugar maples lighting the kitchen orange,
crisp mornings and toasty afternoons,
snow powdering our three peaks for a few fleeting hours,
looking forward to skiing and snowshoeing,
cheering at soccer games,
hot chocolate,
kicking crunchy leaves,
firewood,
pumpkins and scarecrows,
stitching on woolfelt Halloween critters,
putting the garden to bed,
small puffy clouds,
my new jean jacket,
Kharma running full tilt at the Canada Geese in the pasture,
golden yellow and intense purple chrysanthemums,
burgundy dogwood leaves,
the twins' birthday,
putting the down comforter on the bed,
holiday planning and anticipation,
singing Home Means Nevada in class each morning,
apple crisp,
train whistles at night,
setting out the pumpkins, black cats, witches, and bats.

Fall is wonderful.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Lucky in Love

Today we celebrated the anniversary that seems to be our most important, most personal, one...the day we met.

We don't share this anniversary with anybody else. No one has pictures of it and only we have the memories. There were no fancy clothes, no planning and no expense. But on a dorm field trip into the Sierra, we met for the first time and that was that. It was love at first sight. We instantly connected and here we are, thirty-five years later, still together.

The ambiance of the lake and cabins, the crisp fall air and snapping campfire, the sound of the breeze in the pines, the laughter of friends and the awareness of two young hearts seems as fresh and clear today as they did the first time we shared our "one month" anniversary.

The memory of that long-ago day has carried us through some rough times and delighted us anew each year. We are both very lucky to have found each other and we give thanks to the fates that brought us together.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Lovey


Lovey used to have a tail, she used to have ears, and she used to have two eyes. She wore a stylish red-and-white Norwegian knit hat too. Alas, all gone.

Lovey was Kharma's sleeping toy when we first brought here to her new home. She missed her eight brothers and sisters, but Lovey, a hot waterbottle and a ticking clock were the substitutes that got her through those first nights.

Then Lovey became a playmate. Kharma was so proud when she learned to carry Lovey aloft that she pranced. (Lovey was bigger than Kharma at that point.) Gradually Lovey became a teething ring of sorts as Kharma developed her molars and Lovey began losing body parts.

I plan to sew up Lovey's eye. I'm guessing that the nose might be the next to go when Kharma can't entertain herself by pulling out clumps of polyfill anymore.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Darling, On the Summit


I've always wanted to climb this mountain. It's so close to home, so easy to get to, and it's not like it's Everest or even Whitney, for heaven's sake. But I was out of shape and overweight and a big chicken about the whole thing, really. I've had friends who've climbed it year after year. I was envious every single time.

Not any more! Picture that being said with a gigantic smile on my face.

I was invited along for a Labor Day weekend climb and my friend (and classroom partner) said that she wasn't sure everyone would make it to the top. No pressure, perfect! So I thought about it and finally decided that it would be fun especially since I enjoy the other folks who would be coming. So I committed (and that's half the battle) and began researching what I'd gotten myself into.

Fortuitously I'd gotten a guidebook of Lake Tahoe hikes at Costco earlier this summer and there was Mt. Rose on page 85. Only a 10 mile round trip and the elevation gain was less than 3000 feet. I walk hills around home all the time and 5 miles isn't uncommon morning walk. Better yet, it's listed as only 3 stars of difficulty out of 5 and I'd been successful a few years back (okay, maybe it was more than a decade ago) on a 4 star hike. I had my sweetie bring up the topo on the computer and took a look, imagining the route and visualizing what it would entail. I knew I could and would make it to the top, no problem and no doubt. My favorite part is that after helping me check out the topo map, my sweetie decided he'd come along too.

So here we are together, laughing, happy to have reached 10,776 feet.

I've achieved another goal on my lifelist! (I've checked off the aurora borealis, but fireflies are still on it. I've done the Journal Jog, but I haven't hiked the Tonto or seen Havasupai Falls. And whales, grey, humpies or orcas. Alaska would be nice. It's a long list...)


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Love that smile


Someone is a year older, cuter, smarter, sweeter, funnier, and nicer.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Pull up a chair


In our family, we like hand-me-downs. It must be some sort of genetic incapability to say no to anything which might be useful, because we all do it, misers and spendthrifts alike.

I've said yes to an eight-foot gold sofa with a knife cut on the side which turned out to be a godsend when we had overnight guests. I've acquired early American tables with that old fake white paint-on antiquing from the '60s, complete with six chairs. I removed the paint from every inch of those suckers, every turned post and carving. I have no idea how I managed the stripper fumes, the incredible mess scraped paint causes and sanding dust everywhere because we were living in our apartment then and didn't have a garage. They turned out to be worth every minute I spent on them since they turned out to be solid rock maple. They grace our dining room with beauty, style and history.

I'm currently painting a really cheap old desk in bright and cheery Mary Englebreit-style colors and patterns. It's turning out really well, but it's taken me seven years and I'm far from done. Something very dirty got scraped across the perfectly painted top during Gram's move. And the ancient veneer chips off every time I move it the least little bit; so it's in a constant state of disrepair. I originally looked at it as just a really big tole-painted piece that I would get rid of once I'd gotten the furniture painting bug out of my system, but I'm pretty impressed with its cheerful look and it may hold my scrapbook supplies someday instead of sitting in a yard sale.

I won't even mention numerous chairs, tables, and bedsteads that I've either pawned off on other relatives or are currently taking up space in our garage. They've taught me about the ease and indestructibility of tung oil, how get a perfect surface using wet/dry sandpaper, the beauty of electric sanders and staplers, how carpet padding makes the perfect cushy seat, and that hope spring eternal, but they have not taught me how to say no.

As my sister, Pooh is not immune to this genetic flaw. She said yes to a dining set that had been re-upholstered in a green-and-gold herculon fabric. I can see how she allowed them into her house--the wood carving is intricate and unique, the table expands exponentially, and the buffet is a treasure. Unfortunately the fabric should never have been allowed to leave Texas. Fortunately, it only took her fifteen years to find the perfect burgundy print to match her wool area rug. (And another year in which to lure us and the electric stapler to her home.) We were up till well after midnight, pulling the fabric taut, stretching the corners into smooth perfection, praying that the stapler would hit the chair not a finger. It was tiring but ultimately extremely satisfying. This before and after photo doesn't even begin to show the extent of the change from poorly padded to comfortable, rough to luxurious and ugly to gorgeous.

We did a good job! If I have nothing else to show for my summer but my sister's chairs, it's okay with me!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

And the award goes to...

I'm back!

It's been a very hot summer with more 100 degree plus days than we deserved or wanted. We have no air conditioning and the computer is upstairs which is the last place I've wanted to be. Now that we're back to the moderate 90 degree temps, I've spent more time on the keyboard yesterday than I have all summer, combined.

Summer is winding down and the start of the school year is right around the corner, so it's time to achieve a little something to show for my time off--hence some actual blogging!

After a wonderful summer vacation last year roaming the Southwest and its parks for 2-1/2 weeks, this year summer events came to us. We didn't really contemplate any extensive vacationing with a new puppy anyway, but we had thought of going to visit some of the more far-flung family members who a) couldn't refuse to take the puppy because she is family too and b) are dog-lovers themselves and would understand and tolerate the chaos and ruin that our dogs traditionally bring with them. Fortunately for those relatives, they have come to see us instead.

So we've introduced them to Fanny Bridge, its super-sized trout and the beauty of Lake Tahoe. We've been kayaking and jet-skiing and rafting and rock collecting. They've spared my bottom the punishment of horseback riding and found entertainment in taking pictures of the taxidermied animals at Sportsmans Warehouse. They've helped move soil, dig, and dig some more, sod, build ponds, lug boulders, rearrange a garage and compliment the Gram's new house. We got to celebrate a 25th birthday with our son and exchange delayed gifts with a nephew and a very sweet little girl. And the summer isn't over and we get another short visit from still more relatives soon which we are looking forward to.

I did take one short little trip to visit the world's best sister while my sweetie was in another hemisphere. My nephew entertained Kharma while we attacked a tree root which was lifting her sidewalk and the Gram entertained the nephew while Pooh and I successfully recovered the Sixties-era dining chairs. We came back with the feeling of accomplishment and some black-and-blue salvia (Salvia guarantica) to try in our gardens.

But the best, most wonderful, most enchanting moment of the summer came when the phone rang at 4 pm last Wednesday and my sweetie's voice surprised me. We normally talk everyday he's gone, but cell phones don't work at 13,000 feet in the Andes. A co-worker had just brought along his satellite phone and they were giving it a try. Let me tell you, it was awesome. Crystal clear and no sound delay. I felt like I was right there beside him on the Puna, on a cold winter evening with the meteor showers overhead. I'm still smiling.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Kharma Cookies

When my brother was in first grade, my parents had just begun running a donut shop. Up to then, my dad had operated a gas station, and before that kept the books at a car dealership. Now my dad got up at 3 a.m. and made donuts and we were discovering the world of old-fashioned, French, plain, raised, jelly and bar donuts. This was a new and delicious adventure for our family.

Mrs. Columbus, the first grade teacher, asked each child for his or her favorite recipe and assembled them into a mini-cookbook. Choosing a recipe was a chore for my brother because he was (and still is) a very picky eater. I sat on him one summer afternoon, assisted by my sister and the Zink brothers, forced a spoonful of vanilla ice cream into his mouth, and held him until it had disappeared. The general feeling was that being choosy was every kid's God-given right, but that saying you didn't like ice cream was carrying the whole thing too far.

Well, my brother eventually chose a cookie recipe called Crunchy Nut Cookies. When the cookbook arrived home, we discovered that Mrs. Columbus had added a little preface to each child's selection. I remember how thrilled my mom was to read that these cookies were "from Mr. Baker himself". I guess we were new in town and it was nice to be recognized as the family who ran the donut shop. These cookies became a family favorite for all of us.

One downside of this cookie is that, if not stored immediately into an airtight container, they morph into a hardness rivalling that of a two-by-four. They still look delicious, but anyone gnawing on them risks a broken tooth. Oddly, if you leave them out for a day or so, they revert back to the chewy quotient of the perfect cookie. Also, the batter is very crumbly and so they aren't drop cookies, they are more of a scoop-it-on-the-pan-and-moosh-it-together cookie. And then too, they are called Crunchy Nut and we have never made it with nuts and never will.

My children also love this cookie, and since they travel well we've taken them (cookies and kids both) camping and on road trips. We've tried to keep them(cookies, not kids) in ziplocs and when we forget we've suffered through the hard stage(cookies and kids) knowing they are worth the wait. I've taken to tinkering with the recipe a bit, adding a bit more shortening or another egg--anything that might help keep it moist--without success.

I made them recently as a thank-you present for our neighbor who has dropped by daily to let Kharma out and play during the new little puppy stage. I have no idea what possessed me to make the changes I did, but the cookies turned out wonderfully and were the exact color of our new pup. So may I present the improved and renamed (flourish of trumpets, please)...

KHARMA COOKIES

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream 1/2 cup softened butter. Add 1 cup sugar and 1 cup packed brown sugar and mix well. Beat in 2 eggs, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. baking soda. Add 1 cup of flour and 2 cups of whole wheat flour. Gradually add water until the batter is not crumbly (not more than 1/4 cup). Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes until lightly browned.

(With only 1/2 cup of butter and 2 cups of whole wheat flour, you can pretend they are good for you, too!) Enjoy with someone you love.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Tempus fugit

I can't believe it is June already. I can't believe that in two and half days kindergarten will be over and we will have to say goodbye to our babies as they move to first grade. I can't believe that life is so busy. The last soccer practice for our first season of competitive soccer. Our last game. Getting ready for our Mother Goose Party. Getting ready for my sweetie's birthday. Getting ready for an out-of-town soccer tournament this weekend.

Maybe it's good to get away for a weekend. I won't be trying to juggle school-soccer-grammy-yard-pup.

Kharma did great on our last weekend trip and we are excited that my in-laws will get to see her as a pup. A long legged, 15 week old pup instead of our small sweet baby, but still funny and exuberant and slightly uncoordinated.

At least, I do know time is fleeting and keep enjoying the whole puppy experience. It'll be over too quickly. We won't miss the mischief and naughtiness, but we will miss the sweetness and general goofiness! Yeah, I promise to get a good photo of our growing girl and post it soon!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Headshot


Just the proud mommie's favorite pic of Kharma. She is just 12 weeks old in this photo and I think it shows how sweet she is.

At this age, it was hard to get her to stop moving long enough to capture a nice shot. She stopped chewing on the strawberry carton for a sec. This photo was one in a series of 38(!), most of which show a blur of activity and motion. Thank heavens for digital cameras--what did we do before?!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Me and the Mutt




She got her second bath this weekend and she looked so fluffy and clean that we couldn't resist taking lots of pix. We can't believe how much she has grown! She is now 14 weeks old and her legs seem to have grown overnight. Her body is much longer and she is finally putting on some weight.
I am afraid that I won't be able to cart around my "baby" much longer! She is such an adorable chunk of pup and we've enjoyed her cute puppy stage.

However, she is now officially in the "pain the rear" stage. She jumps up on us. She thinks our hands were made for her to put in her mouth as much as possible. She believes anything we are holding is a toy for her and she is entitled to jump and tug on it. She loves doing naughty things, like sneaking upstairs, because it is such fun. We love her anyway.

We are party poopers in her mind because we are telling her NO! constantly, but she loves us anyway.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Witching Hour

You know how kids get really, really tired? And instead of sleeping, they get hyperactive? And the more they move around and get silly, the more wound up they get? And unless parents step in quickly and stop this process, the child will not be going to sleep without many tears and the parents will wonder why in the world they ever wanted children?

Every night from 8 to 9, Kharma becomes Wild Puppy. She plays crazily with her toys, running from one end of the house to the other, jumping up on us (a no-no), and biting everything (another no-no) from furniture to hands. Every attempt to discipline her or focus her attention on something different is doomed to failure. In fact, she openly laughs at us when we try.

But this is the cool thing--apparently puppy chemistry is not like kid chemistry at all! Kharma can act like a whirling dervish for the hour and then she suddenly will calm down, lie on my feet, and nod off.

It's magical!

p.s. She sleeps almost 11 hours now.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Single Mom

Life is good. Homecoming now feels right. I put my key in the door and the very first thing I do is get Kharma, give her an all-over rub and take her out to the lawn. It's so nice not to come home to an empty house.

However...

It can be a challenge to take a shower or clean upstairs or use the bathroom, because like all new moms I AM NEVER ALONE!

So I am looking forward to the puppy's daddy coming home tomorrow. Yes, I'll be glad to see him for his own sweet self, but I am also looking forward to having someone else to share the joys and responsibilities of puppy parenthood with. I hope to actually take a quick walk with my walking partner one afternoon. I want to walk upstairs without either banishing Kharma to her laundry room lair or outside. I want to cook without checking on her whereabouts every 3.5 seconds. I want to fall asleep watching TV and not wake up to find her somewhere she shouldn't be.

I am ready to resign my single motherhood and go back to being a two-parent family!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Sweet Sounds of Slumber

Kharma sleeps through the night! She goes down without a whimper even and doesn't get me up until morning. I think she is wonderful. She still hasn't had an accident, she is learning her name, she does great on car rides, and she is growing cute cinnamon-colored eyelashes.

I honestly think she is bigger today than two days ago. Her paws have definitely grown some and her legs are longer.

I'm not sure exactly what she does all night, but I know it isn't all sleeping. (She sleeps in the laundry room/downstairs bathroom.) Yesterday, I found a towel and magazine soaking in the toilet. Today the soap on the counter was knocked over into the sink. And handtowels move around the room.

The important thing is, I get my sleep! (But I plan to remove everything from every surface possible tomorrow. Come to think of it, I may even figure out a way to close the cupboards before she decides to look inside and play with the contents!)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Currently Blooming

  • The first tulips have opened.
  • We've had just enough warm weather for the cherry tree (fruit, not flowering) to burst into creamy white which always reminds me of Anne of Green Gables.
  • The hyacinths which didn't do much last year, are striking this year in purple, white, blue and pink.
  • The creeping phlox is spreading pink joyousness which I will probably remember when I begin wanting to get rid of the prickly little rascals later in summer.
  • The daffodils are on their way out, but still give us sunshiny dreams.
  • Ditto most of the peach blossoms, but we have hope that the lower branches will flower momentarily while we have weather that is actually above 70(!!!) degrees. We are hoping the bees notice and drop by for a little pollenizing 'cause I just love a totally ripe peach warm from the branch.
  • The volunteer violas are blooming through the bricks. One had the honor of being the first flower destroyed by Kharma.
  • The dandelions have apparently been informed that there will be NO herbicides applied in the backyard due to a new puppy and have reacted accordingly. Said puppy has begun to imitate her mommy and is industriously pawing at them and biting off their little golden heads. Good dog!

Name Game


Yes, she has a name.

I made a list; he made a list. We kept adding to the list and the list got longer and longer. I called her by various names each time I took her out to do her business, just to see what they sounded like in real life. The poor pup knew what "Do your business!" meant, but had no idea what her name was.

I began crossing off names. His list stayed the same. I would say things like, "She needs a name before you leave again." and "How can I tell her not to chew up the bentwood rocker if I don't know her name?" Right before he left, he told me his list was on the computer. And here I thought the name list was the lined tablet on the kitchen table. I told him to print it out (this was when I was velcroed to the pup and hard copy was preferable to a computer screen that was upstairs when her bed was downstairs, not to mention the lawn where the real business was done). He was walking out the door and asking if I'd seen the list. Right about then, being a single parent with a pup who didn't sleep through the night was high on my list of worries for the next ten days, NOT a cyberlist.

But I did finally look and I did print it out. I found some good possibilities and circled all my favorites. I even circled the good ones that started with a T, although I knew I'd never live it down if we picked one after our other dogs both had T names. I anxiously awaited his call. When it finally came, he was more interested in settling in since it was late and his flight was delayed over 2 hours, his car reservation went belly up and his non-smoking hotel room was stinky. Phooey!

I looked at his list again. People kept asking me what her name was. I finally began telling everyone that I was calling her Good Dog and my sweetie was calling her No. At least if I couldn't come up with her name, I could get a laugh. His nightly call came, I told him my favorites from his list. We batted them around, eliminated two, talked about them some more, and finally made a decision. One of the names on his list really had surprised me when I read it. It was not one I had thought of, but I had been using it. Remember way back last week when I posted the story of how we finally found the perfect puppy? Well, the title I used was one of the names on his list. The other names were good, but the coincidence was too much to ignore.

Now we can say we really do have good Kharma at our house!

p.s. I have been getting a full night's worth of sleep for the past three nights. Yes, I do get up with her around two or three and spend some time with her under the incense cedar where it's dry and very pee-able, but she settles down quickly and sleeps well. I love my pup.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Challenges


Challenge 1:The mutt is still as cute as ever and is in danger of becoming the most photographed dog since Lassie. However, since I call her Good Dog and my sweetie calls her No, she still needs a real name. The list is long and we are high-grading to find the best possibilities.

Challenge 2: It's like being a new parent again. I finally got a shower and my hair washed yesterday (only because Daddy was puppy-sitting). And there's no sleep yet. We've tried the gentle reassurances and the stern warnings. Tonight may be earplugs, closed doors and total ignoring of whining. And we sleep like new parents--one ear open for noises from the nursery. And when she sleeps longer than we expect, we wonder if she is still breathing.

Challenge 3: Back to the real world of non-vacation workdays tomorrow. It will be interesting to see if she and I both survive.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Drumroll, please...



Introducing: The So-Far-Nameless Puppy. She's looking for ants at the base of the tree. It's not the greatest photo of her, but is the one that shows her coloration the best.

Quick facts:

She's Aussie/Border Collie/Golden or some combination thereof.

She's ten weeks old.

She's a California Girl (as am I, originally).

She's soft as cotton and cuddly.

She has 8 brothers and sisters, some black and white like a border collie, one all gold, one all gold and white. Some are short-haired, some long.

Previous residence: Sutter Buttes K-9 Rescue in Gridley, California.

Current residence: Reno, Nevada, on mom's lap.

The biggest question: How am I ever gonna go back to work on Monday?

Puppy Love

she's sitting in my lap,napping, as i type one handed so there will be no capital letters today.

she doesn't have a name yet, but we have a list of possibilities going. she's smart and loves exploring her new world. life from a puppy's point of view is magical, i am finding. grass is wondrous. a leaf is amazing. a breeze can create toys to chase around the yard. a scrub jay high in the pin oak should be studied carefully. i am living on puppy time.

she explores EVERYTHING! we have picked up "stuff" in anticipation of a pup, but she is finding things we never thought about: dead ants around the maple, the part of the chair glide that sticks out beyond the chair leg, the texture of the braided rug. nothing is safe.

she follows us everywhere. she curls up at our feet. she naps on our laps.

we are wearing old shirts so she can sleep surrounded by our scent tonight. we hope to have a more restful night. she's just a baby and we are as sleep deprived as any new parent. and like any new parents we can't believe how wonderful she is. we've memorized her freckles, her patches, her texture.

we smile all the time.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Kharma

Our wonderful, loving, faithful dog died in early December. Her last days were happy ones--she was lively and interested and thrilled that her oldest boy was home visiting. We knew her final visit to our vet would have to be made in a matter of days and we were glad her last days were filled with all the people she loved. We didn't have to make that trip--she made a graceful exit, at home, in her bed. We shed tears and gathered up all the belongings of our beloved friend so that we would not have so many daily reminders to stab at our hearts. Our house seemed empty without her welcoming presence.

Finally in mid-January we were ready to begin looking for a puppy to fill the empty spaces in our home. We went to the animal shelter; we went to the humane society; we searched on-line. We didn't expect to find the perfect animal right away. Both our previous dogs took at least a month of repeated visits to the county animal control or humane society. But a month passed and no prospects. Well, we thought, it's still winter and maybe Spring will bring adoptable litters. We continued to look and look without success. Well, we thought, maybe during Spring Break we'll find something and have an entire week to bond with a puppy. As Spring Break approached, the search went into full swing--continuous online monitoring of PetFinder, of our area pet-rescue websites, and frequent visits to our new County/Humane Society adoption center. We left no stone unturned--looking at postings from Southern California, Oregon, New Mexico, Washington, Idaho, Colorado. If the perfect puppy was out there, I wasn't going to let a little geography interfere (my sweetie wasn't so sure about traveling long distances to get a pup, but I was beginning to be desperate for some puppy love). Some possibilities began appearing and we kept adding photos and descriptions to The List. Of course, some of those were adopted and disappeared, some were just far-away pipe dreams, and some were good but just not quite right. We knew what we wanted: Aussie/Collie/Golden Retriever mix, 5 months old or less, female. We were willing to fall in love with an adult dog or a male if it happened, but we were pretty set on the breed mixtures.

Finally, Spring Break arrived. We survived our Easter blizzard and were ready to take to the roads went they were cleared. If Nevada didn't have the puppy for us, we were going to California to look. Tuesday was nice, but we didn't get an early start and decided to wait a day. In the rush of getting together pound names, addresses, and maps before we started we still found time for one last search on PetFinder and something new turned up--cute, golden, female, aussie-border collie cross pups. Well, Gridley wasn't real close, but maybe if nothing else panned out....

We find the Auburn pound after many false starts but the staff are on lunch break. Off to Roseville but only adult doggies to be seen and not much of a selection at that. Let's hope Sac has more. They do and we are happy to see an older couple adopting the grown aussie that we like, but know isn't right. Back in the car for another couple miles to the animal control--hey! puppies and a good selection. Still just not the dog for us there. (Yeah, we are pretty picky, but this is a new family member we are selecting, not a new shirt.) We think Stockton probably has the next best amount, so we brave the rush hour traffic and head south on I-5. They have two lovely female golden mixed breeds. We even visit with one, but she's just too timid (hence unpredictable) and we have to think of our two little neighbor girls. Guess we'll pass her up.

Time to sit in the car and talk about options. We have our bags packed for a possible overnight stay, so we could continue in the morning closer to the Bay Area. It's just that the shelters all open pretty late in the day. So I make my first long distance call on my Christmas cell phone and ask about the Gridley puppies. They are still available so we get directions and make an appointment to see them that evening. Gridley's a LONG way, my sweetie offers. But right then I would have flown to Indiana to see a good puppy. Almost two hours later, we pull up to Sierra Buttes K-9 Rescue and look for Darrell, our contact, only to have our eyes captured by a rambunctious knot of black& white and gold puppies rollicking around a large pen. The fuzzy gold one from the website is there, but we are captivated by a lovely curly blonde with white markings. There's no question--this is OUR puppy, the one we've looked for and dreamed of. It took 4 months and hundreds of miles, but we've found her!

Don't you just love happy endings?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Garden--4 Spring--1

Given sunshine and mild temperatures, no wind and a free Saturday: the roses now possess neat short thorny canes, the peach tree is tidily pruned, the oak tree lost 2 rows of lower branches so the sun can penetrate to the flowers below, and the Spring transplant list is complete.

Granted, Sunday was a tad inclement. I haven't yet dug in some new soil amendments, so the new irises have not been planted...but I did acquire two red- and two white-bleeding hearts for the shady side yard as well as a columbine for under the pin oak, so it wasn't a total loss.

If I have just one nice afternoon this week, everything will be planted. Heck, just give me a warm lunch hour or two. Maybe this year, it's Spring that will come in like a lion and out like a lamb. Baaaaa.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Leonine March, Blustery April

Where does the time go? Why is it that a week dragged by when I was in fourth grade and now an entire month can disappear while I'm looking for my glasses? Where have I been that I haven't actually sat down long enough to post a new entry in 3 weeks?

I have been spending lots of time at the keyboard. The soccer-related emails alone could account for a full week. Emails about meetings, emails about tournaments, emails about uniforms, emails about games, emails about practices, emails about cancelled practices, emails about schedules, emails about disregarding the previous emails, emails with attachments forwarded from other emails with attachments.

Could I just possibly coach? Could someone else worry about games, players, paperwork and uniforms? And could someone else possibly worry about the weather for me? Because I KNOW the other part of the 3 weeks was spent wondering and worrying and cancelling. We managed exactly one worthwhile practice day before our first game. We had one memorable practice where we had to kick a high-school lacrosse game off our field and then the weather turned so brutal with rain approaching snow and a cutting breeze that we barely survived. Forget actually coaching--my goal that day was to keep my girls moving so their blood wouldn't freeze. Any exposed skin was either our team's sky blue or a lovely shade of frosty pink when we came off the pitch.

At least I am done with paperwork. At least we've had enough girls show up for every game. At least we've had one game with no rain/snow/winds. Maybe the worst is over. Maybe not, but I find I'm not worrying about it. If there is one thing that this season has taught me--worry is a useless waste of energy. I can't change the weather and I can't change anyone else's priorities or schedules. I can read the wind, however; today it's telling me to get outside and have fun.
The sky is temporarily blue, the sun is out, the zephyrs are absent and the emerging perennials need me. And maybe I'll find time to get out the soccer ball and practice just for fun.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Kindergarten Gems

It seems that we have had an unusually quotable kindergarten class recently.

Getting the kids settled down at carpet time
Teacher: "Whoa, be careful, boys! We don't want any casualties."
Boy: "That's okay, Mrs R., I went to the dentist and he said I don't have any."

Things that Start with the Letter Z
Teacher: "What are some words that start with the letter Z?"
Various Kids: "Zebras." "Zucchinis." "Zoos." "Zamboni machines." "Zero."
Little Boy in the Back Row: "Zucchinis."
Teacher: "We already talked about zucchinis."
Little Boy in the Back Row: "No you don't eat them, you wear them."
Teacher: "I don't know quite what you mean; tell us more."
Little Boy in the Back Row: "They are waterproof underwear and you can swim in them."
(Teachers all look at each other in bewilderment)
Little Boy #2 to the Little Boy in the Back Row: "No, it doesn't start with a Z, it starts with a B."
To the teachers: "He means bikinis, not zucchinis."

Rainforest Animals
Teacher (just back from a trip to Costa Rica): "We saw monkeys and snakes and we heard the birds up in the trees, just like in the story I just read."
Child: "Did you see any jaguars like in story?"
Teacher: "No, jaguars usually come out at night and sleep during the day, so we didn't see any. Boys and girls, who knows what we call animals that sleep during the day and are active at night?"
Little Girl: "Party?"

Monday, March 20, 2006

For the ages

There is nothing better than learning something new!

Although our photos are neatly and chronologically arranged in fifteen large photo albums occupying a very long shelf, although I have always enjoyed browsing through them, still...I've always felt there was something missing.

In some cases, what was missing was my memory. How old was Pedro in this photo? Or, good heavens, was that Erkie instead? Was this the Rose Parade in '82 or '86? The train cake was cute for his third birthday, but what games did we play and what were those kids' names again? I never realized how the cherished details of their childhood would blur beyond recall, buried in day-to-day bustle and an avalanche of time.

I always wonder what the boys think when they turn the pages. Do the photos mean anything to them, other than an interesting view of what they looked like when they were small? Do I bore them when I mention details that certain photos evoke or does it make the images live? It certainly seems to me that the albums need a narrative to be complete.

And why in the world have we put each and every photo we've ever taken in these albums? Some are out of focus, some have every person with shut eyes or that strange manic smile peculiar to those being photographed, some have faded, some compositions are rubbish compared to the lucky shot taken a minute later.

Now I am enjoying the satisfaction of orchestrating creative, heirloom, archival scrapbooks. The history major in me loves the story behind the pictures. A picture may be worth a thousand words, a photo without any words isn't worth three cents, but an image with a description of some basic who-what-where-when-and-whys is priceless! These books may mean something mostly to me at present, but someday...I hope they eventually will be the catalyst for rousing yarns, the source of tolerant laughter, or a surprise discovery to the reader.

I've been a crafter my whole life, but the delight I am taking in scrapbooking is almost beyond description. Scrapping is satisfying to the artist in me who loves color and line, to the painter who loves a well-composed scene, to the wife and mother who loves her family, and to the historian who believes that stories make the past live again. These disparate elements can occasionally combine to create a story that rocks!

And now, I'm off to work on yet another scrapbook page...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Things that make life worth living (1)

From deep in March: The silvery fur of pussywillows. A scrubjay's crackle. The drip of sugar maple sap. Being able to sleep in on the weekend and getting up early instead to enjoy the sunrise. Newborn calves. Soil loosened by a winter of frost-heave. 106 male robins on The Paved Road. Remembering Arches. Possibilities.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Hum along

I love the sun!

Don't get me wrong--I appreciate the snow. It's fun, clean, beautiful, crisp. And I even like rain sometimes, even though it's wet. I couldn't raise colorful flowers and a thick lawn without the water they eventually provide.

But.

It's March. If winter wanted to be here, it should have arrived when it was scheduled and then politely left. Storm after storm, delayed starts for kindergarten, icy bridges, cancelled soccer practices. Winter, give it up! You have till Monday when Spring officially begins and then I expect you to gracefully adios. I'll be thrilled to see you again next year. Have fun in the southern hemisphere. Say hi to them for me when you get there.

Today, I'm thinking that "Here Comes the Sun" may be my favorite Beatles song ever.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

HTML pride goeth before a fall

OK, I finally decided that I have a limited amount of time in my life and I couldn't spend all my time sitting in front of the computer wondering how my previous webpages could have been so easy and why the one I had created around Christmas was so very uncooperative. So...I have caved, taken the easy path, gone over to the dark side. Yes, I have given myself permission to use a blogging service and a TEMPLATE rather than doing it all myself from scratch.

Hmm, instead of doing it from scratch and using a template...sort of like using a cake mix or the microwave on a regular basis to save time and still serve a nice dinner. I do that and never feel guilty. And when I do get the "do it from scratch" urge, I have the time and do a great job. I'm suddenly feeling a lot better about all this website/blog in a box business.

And the purpose, after all, is to communicate and have fun doing it! Yeah, I do have a smile on my face. So, folks, welcome to my blog, enjoy! And watch out for falling rocks.