Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wild Horses

What to do with out of town guests who have already been to Tahoe, Truckee, the Donner Memorial, Virginia City and the Auto Museum...take them to the Wild Horse Adoption Facility up in Palomino Valley!

There's a lady to suit every taste. Do you like redheads or brunettes? Blondes? Short or tall? Bold and brassy or shy and sweet? Here's just one of the corrals filled with mares. My cousin is partial to blue roans (greys to most of you) and I love the chestnuts with cream manes and tails. But then along came this curious little pony-sized creature who tried to steal my heart. They are all gorgeous girls!
The Wild Horse Adoption Program has come a long way since it started. It's gotten creative. Some centers have special weekend adoption events. There are horse shows exclusive for mustangs who've been adopted into new homes. Some horses are trained by inmates in local prisons. There is even a trainers' challenge (sort of a Extreme Makeover for horses) to see how much a yearling can learn in a couple of months.

We didn't plan it, but Spring is a great time to go tour the facility. Spring and babies just go together and there's nothing cuter than a little brush-tail.

Except maybe a couple of fillies that we could see up close and personal.

For all their beauty, they are very wild and untamed. We made them more than a little nervous. What a huge leap of faith to adopt and care for such wonderful critters.

Maybe someday I'll make that leap. I'm adding it to my life list.

Magic Fingers

It's now a new ungrade for all beds in west Reno. We brush our teeth, climb into bed and the Magic Fingers feature begins for us.

I think this might be the beta version though, because there are a few kinks. So it's time for consumer reviews.

  • From pogonip in West Reno: At first it was kind of exciting to lie in bed
    and feel the vibrations. it was like being on vacation but we didn't have
    to feed quarters into a machine. Now we think it's just to unpredictable
    since we don't have control of when the Magic Fingers begin. We've been
    woken up from a sound sleep several times. Some of the shakes are strong
    and some are gentle. Some provide a nice rocking motions, other a
    disconcerting jolt. Some last for a reasonable time and some are way too
    long for comfort. We wouldn't recommend Mother Nature's Magic Fingers to
    Rating: one-half star (out of five).

Add your consumer review now:

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Paper, Clocks, Cement

One anniversary is paper and one is clocks, then of course there's a silver anniversary and a gold...does anyone know which one is cement?

Because that's what we got each other for our anniversary Saturday. And may I just say that it's a fabulous present since it means the fence is one step closer to being finished?

Although there is something about concrete shoes and sleeping with the fishes, isn't there? Not to worry, I've been good (mostly) and he set two of the 4x4 fence posts today after soccer and before he put on a tux and bow tie and headed off to sing with the Philharmonic. Don't you just love a man who is multi-talented?

I do! (That sounds vaguely familiar somehow.)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Arbor Day

It used to be a cool hike on a hot summer day, winding along a trickling creek shaded by huge old Jeffrey pines. Kharma loved to alternate jumping the creek like a squirrel on a pogo stick and wading through it like a determined salmon. She'd gambol uphill and come crashing down at full speed through the loose soil. Inevitably she looked more like a chocolate lab than a blonde border collie when she was finished.

Then came the fire. It roared through the little drainage, consuming bushes and trees, cracking rocks with its heat. The windstorm it created scattered huge chunks of charcoal on our yard.

Today was the first time I'd been back. The lower approach was an unfamiliar-looking lunar landscape of blacks and greys. Gradually the trail wound upwards through what remained of the forest. So many of the century-old pines were blackened and sad. The fire crews' stellar efforts saved many of the larger trees. Yes, they had many toasted branches, but the tops were still green and the trunks weren't charred down below. They had a hopeful air.

Kharma and I were part of a community effort to re-forest Alum Creek. We had ten baby pine trees to plant with our team, a dad and his fourth grade son. We dug deep, planted tenderly, mounded soil and mulched with rock. The fourth grader acted as water boy, carrying water uphill from the creek to "our" trees.

Kharma pogo-sticked over the creek and splashed happily through the water as usual. She looked in vain for birds, lizards and squirrels to chase. She had black socks before long as the ash and charcoal began to coat her wet legs.

We're dirty and tired but happy. The century-old pines cannot be replaced easily or quickly, but we plan to nurture our baby trees, watering them through the summer, mulching them to retain moisture and watching them grow year by year.

Someday, someone else will take their dog for a walk through a cool and shady forest next to the stream. That'll be our reward. That, and this simple poem we found posted on a fence enroute. It resonated, especially on a day like this one:

Work like you don't need the money.
Love like you've never been hurt.
Dance like no one is watching.
Live like it's heaven on earth.


Friday, April 25, 2008

A-Rockin' and a-Rollin'

Earthquakes. They are almost constant right now.

Today a couple of nice strong jolts at school threw the kindergartners into a tizzy. The quakes are pretty small, but we are just a couple of miles from the faults that are producing these tremors so we really feel them. At home, we hold our breath for a couple seconds while we wait for the rolling to stop. At school, the kidlets have to crawl under the tables every time we have a quake.

The first strong 3.2 quake surprised us all. I said, "Earthquake! Get under the tables." Twenty-eight freaked-out little bodies in fetal position were under the tables before I finished. I've never been listened to so well!

That one day produced twenty-five quakes alone. Now our classroom is free of anything heavy that could fall down on a child. We plan an earthquake evacuation drill soon. Just in case. Because we don't really know what will develop.

Now the quakes are constant, usually mini ones so small that there's just a little twitch. We've had several 3 pointers that are just loud enough and bounce us around enough that we stop and wonder just how big a quake we're experiencing. Then they're interspersed with the occasional 4.2 just to make sure we're taking Mom Earth seriously.

We are. Trust me on this one.

The UNR Seismology Lab is bookmarked and referred to constantly for the latest as are the USGS earthquake sites. The whole West Coast is shaking right now, but Reno apparently has the "E" ticket.

I'm a California Girl and unimpressed (usually) by anything less than a 6.0, although I'll enjoy the lesser ones. Hey, I survived the 7.1 Whittier Quake and let me tell you, that was a quake to remember especially as our house was located right on the fault.

This swarm of quakes is a first for me though. Today produced four 3.2+ quakes, two of which woke us up last night and two during the day. There were about fifty other smaller ones (I counted them on the UNR site), many of which we felt.

I look out at Mt. Rose and Slide Mountain, all 10,000 feet of them and remember that they didn't get way higher than the Truckee Meadows without some serious shaking going on.

Shut up, sit down and buckle up. Let's enjoy the ride.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


There's still no fence...but I managed to dig around the old concrete where two of the 4x4 posts used to be!

After the oak tree was removed, I had excavated around the old posts in preparation for fence reconstruction. I'd exposed the concrete, used the "jet" setting on the hose and began a little hydraulic mining on two of the posts that needed replacing. It worked remarkably well. Maybe a little too well, because when our 85 mph breezes arrived there wasn't quite enough to hold up the fence. It might have gone down anyway, but I unintentionally helped it along.

Cleanup came next. Thanks heavens for son #2 because those fence sections were heavy. I would have been smooshed if I'd tried to carry them off myself. Once the old fence was removed I could easily see the concrete footings but I kinda wimped out till the weather was a little nicer. Unfortunately the balmiest days were weekdays, but this weekend found me dressed warmly with pick and shovel in hand. I warmed up quickly once I began!

It sounds a little funny, but I love swinging a pick. I like how much easier it is than using a shovel, but I love how precise I can be with it. It's surprising how ya can hit the exact spot you aim at!

The first concrete footing was a tad daunting--much bigger than I had expected. It turned out to be about twenty inches in diameter. Fortunately for me it was shaped like a mushroom and narrowed once I was down about six inches. It took all morning, but I got to the bottom of it before noon and could feel a slight wiggle when I grabbed one of the old posts and applied a little leverage. A wiggle was all I could achieve no matter how hard I pressed. You'd think that all the Christmas/Valentine/Easter chocolate decorating my tummy, thighs, buns, etc. and sending my scale into spasms would have come in handy but no luck. That concrete must weigh well over a hundred pounds.

So...I set my sights on footing number two, which turned out to be smaller and easier. It was kinda tight quarters digging around it even though I dug out two roses what were in the way first. The poor smashed wisteria trunk, which I hope will send out new shoots, was only three inches away from the concrete. The soil was nice and soft due to all the water from my mining operations and so two and a half hours later, I could move it a bit.

Good thing too, because poor Kharma is sick of getting in trouble every time she goes over to visit the Bichon Frisees in back of us. Our neighbor is great about it, but we don't want to press our luck. So chicken wire is strung in the gap to slow her down, but Kharma pretty much laughs at anything less than a five foot fence. I'm motivated to get those two footing removed and new posts and footings installed as quickly as humanly possible just to keep the pup in the yard.

Now I'm just waiting for a big strong man with a pry bar to come my way.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Woof Arf Aroo

Translation from Kharma-speak: Two Year Anniversary

But my title would be Love At First Sight

I remember how glad I was to find our sweet little blonde puppy after so much searching.

My sweetie remembers how glad he was that he didn't have to drive to Corona CA after all to see this sweet little girl. She was named Dayna and I would have made begged asked him drive 400 miles down and 400 miles back to get her if Kharma hadn't been waiting closer to home.

Kharma has truly been the easiest puppy we've ever had. We had a grand total of three bathroom accidents in the house while we were housebreaking. She never chewed up any of our shoes or garden tools or dug up expensive plants. (We will be replacing the drip irrigation system in our backyard before the summer heat arrives, but we chalked that little lapse up to the influence of her BFF across the street.)

It was just about this time of evening that we finished up the paperwork, figured out how to assemble the borrowed crate, and loaded her into our Forester for the trip home. Two years have never passed more quickly. Sweet, sweet memories.

She filled the void left by our dear Tess, created her own identity and claimed her own corner of our hearts. She's our baby, our little girl, our pride and joy.

We love you, Kharma.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Kharma Likes It

We started the week with a fence that had a few wobbly 4x4s that (obviously) needed replacing. Don't you love our hillbilly support system?

We ended Monday with something quite different. Our poor old fence tangled with the eighty-five mph wind gusts and just couldn't quite stand up to them.

Kharma went out to the yard and looked at me with approval when she saw her new and improved, much larger yard. Just goes to show--it's all in your perspective.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


My new favorite color combination: pink and blue

Come late September (with a little help from the bees, a minimum of snow on the blossoms and a ruthless culling process), we'll be harvesting peaches.

Peaches bigger than a baseball. Peaches so ripe that the skin just about falls off. Gourmet peaches. Incredible peaches that are completely organic. Peaches warm off the tree. Peaches I share with my neighbors and co-workers because we can't possibly eat all of them ourselves. Early Elbertas that have the best peach flavor in the fruit universe.

Whoops! I think my taste buds briefly hijacked my post. Because what I really want to say is...

Even if we didn't get one single peach, the blossoms against that blue blue sky would be beauty enough for me!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Kinder-Speak or April Fools

Just love it when they get this cute.

Elle: I'm gonna tell God what you did! An important lesson learned early--bypass all those lower-echelon types and tell the Big Boy himself.

Sometimes it's a tea party, sometimes it's Disney Princesses, sometimes it's put on a wig and fool Mrs. Pogonip into thinking we have a new kindergartner (I play dumb almost effortlessly). Today it was Med School and they were taking each other's Blood Pepper.

Why don't I die laughing?!

Because I yesterday I took a two hour nap, head down on the kitchen table, well deserved after dealing with a tired kindergartner who just had a bad day from the git-go.

We asked him to take his baseball cap off and put it in his cubbie. We would have been kinder if we had just asked him to amputate his arm.

Whininess ensued. I stayed calm and helped him through his I-can't-do-it's and got his project finished so he could go outside to recess. Then I was informed in an even whinier poor-me voice that recess was too short. I sort of ignored him so he repeated it. Over and over and over.

Turned out he forgot to get a snack before recess (and snacks are closed as soon as recess if over) which caused a nuclear meltdownoutburst which caused him to be removed from the room until he quieted down. He didn't. We finally took him to the principal's office. That's why principal's get the big bucks.

Hence my long nap.

He had a fabulous day today. Amazing what sleep will do for kindergartners and their teachers alike.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Little by Little

An update on the downstairs powder room/laundry room remodel:

We had a plan to inset rectangles of tile with some slices of polished petrified wood (from our stash). The highly polished "wood" set against the matte tiles would have looked wonderful. However, time went on, the pieces were sliced but we had no way to polish them and the threshold stayed unfinished. I got tired of unfinished quickly.

Enter Plan B. Anyone who has remodeled knows you'd better have a Plan B. Ours involved creating a pattern with our leftover tile that would be an interesting focal point yet not fight with the main floor tiles set on point. We also didn't want to have too many small pieces in our heavily used threshold. Yeah, yeah, the porcelain tile is should stand up to just about any abuse but...this threshold sees refrigerators and furniture pass over it.

So, here is one possible pattern.

It seemed a little repetitious, so we settled on this version.

And here it is. Cut, set, caulked and ready for the carpet to be tacked down. Apparently the thinset under the tiles was fragile. So fragile that the carpet had to be taped away from it. Who knew?

Is it just me or does all that tape remind you of a Doberman puppy with his ears "racked"??

We even have running water. The new faucet looks as nice as we hoped with the White River granite. It's wonderful to have the mirror back on the wall instead of sitting half-hidden behind our living room sofa for the past two and a half years.

A gorgeous nickel and brass towel rack should arrive shortly from eBay, patron saint of the cheap. The powder room will then be finished.

Except for the wall re-texturing where the outlet was moved. Also a few paint touchups on the wall. And the ceiling really would look better if I repainted it. (Minor tweaks, but I can't say "done" until they're done!)

Then I get to post before-and-after photos. First, I hafta figure out how to take the photos without showing you my reflection in the mirror. Because after a long winter my reflection needs a little remodeling!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Just the Dog-gone Truth

Third part of the dog series. I promise this is the last one, really.

In many ways dogs are better than kids.

  1. They eat less.

  2. They don't ask for money every time you turn around.

  3. They take less time to train.

  4. They normally come when called.

  5. They never ask for your car keys.

  6. They don't hang out with drug users.

  7. They don't smoke or drink.

  8. They have no interest in the latest fashion trends.

  9. Their tricks don't involve a garage roof and a Superman cape.

  10. They don't need a gazillion dollars for college.

and finally,

11. If they get pregnant, you can sell their children.

Now go kiss your puppy.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

To Our Non-Pet Owning Friends

Dear Visitor,

Thank you for your friendship. You don't have a pet and we appreciate the fact that you can overlook the fact that we do and still consider us friends. However your well-meaning complaints/comments/suggestions regarding our dog must end. In the interest of our continued friendship, I feel we should tell you why we feel this way.

  1. The dog lives here. You don't.
  2. If you don't want dog hair on your clothes, then stay off the furniture. (That's why they call it furniture.)
  3. I like my dog more than I like youmost people.
  4. To you, she's a dog. To me, she's an adopted daughter who is short, hairy, walks on all fours and doesn't speak clearly.

We hope you understand. In our house, dogs rule.


Your host and hostess

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

An Open Letter to a Dog

A friend (whose future golden retriever puppy should be born momentarily) received this email from her dog breeder in Colorado and forwarded it to me. It made me laugh so I blogged it for all you dog lovers out there...enjoy!

To be posted VERY LOW on the refrigerator door - preferably at nose height.

Dear Dogs:

The dishes with the paw print are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Please note, placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not automatically make it your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.
The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Beating me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king-sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort. Dogs can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. Also, it is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other and/or stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is not a secret exit from the bathroom. Before you arrived in our home, I had been using the bathroom alone for many years--canine attendance is not required. If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge and try to pull the door open. I must exit through the same door I entered.

The proper order is kiss me first, then go smell the other dog's butt. I cannot stress this enough.


Your human pack member

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Mighty Oaks and Tiny Acorns

Once upon a time, we planted a small oak in our backyard from a gallon can. We had just moved from Southern California and loved the idea of beautiful red leaves each fall. It was the smallest tree we bought for our new home.

Our little tree loved its new home and grew taller and taller. Each fall the oak leaves would turn a deep mahogany red and soon tiny acorns, no bigger than a child's finger, appeared. A mourning dove built a nest on summer in the oak's branches and raised several broods before the winter wind's destroyed the nest. Scrub jays began to sample the acorns regularly, sitting on the fence to hammer them open with their beaks.

Our children set up a badminton net and played, and the tree seemed to enjoy the sport because soon it was sending out branches to grab the birdies. Before long the boys stopped playing badminton, but that was okay because they discovered the joys of soccer and the tree never seemed interested.

The sunny hot backyard grew shadier and shadier under the oak's canopy. We set up a hammock under the oak and enjoyed relaxing while gazing up at the shiny green leaves each summer. We shared the hammock and talked about fishing and sports and vacations. The boys liked to set up a tent under the tree and invite friends for a sleepover during the summer.

After many years we finally put in a sprinkler system and found that large oak roots were in the way so we threaded the pipe through holes between them. The lawn flourished with the new water and so did the oak tree.

The rose bush began to produce fewer flowers each year though. We moved the rose and began to plant shade-loving plants like bleeding heart, columbine, sweet woodruff, and Japanese anenome instead. The plants needed extra water, even though they were in the shade, because the oak leaves blocked rain from the soil below. They blocked the snow each winter, because we discovered that pin oaks do not drop their leaves in the fall. The brown leaves stay on the branches until the new leaves push the old leaves off!

The tree grew larger and larger. Neighbors had planted expensive trees from 15 gallon pots, but the oak tree gradually caught up and eventually was the tallest tree in the neighborhood. It produced so many acorns that more and more jays began appearing and fewer songbirds built nests in the yard. The acorns would sprout every spring and we would pull tiny oaklets out of the lawn and the garden both.

The branches reached out over the lawn and then began to dip lower and lower. Mowing the grass meant ducking away from low branches, so we trimmed them. Large anacondas were about the same size as the roots that began to appear on the soil surface. It was harder and harder to find a place for new plants to grow. Every time we dug, we struck a root. The railroad ties around the garden began to move upwards and we knew our pin oak was sending roots far and wide. The yard grew shadier and shadier. Then the fence began to buckle upwards. This was not good news. The zephyrs would blow and gradually the fence began to wave like a flag in the wind. We would lie in bed, feeling the eighty mile an hour gusts rock the house, and wonder if the fence was still standing. We began tying the fence to the tree for support. We knew that fence repair loomed in our future. We lopped off most of the large lower branches and enjoyed a park-like ambiance in the yard. As the fence grew more unstable, we knew...the tree would have to go.

A few weeks ago, the last dead leaves fell from the pin oak. The shade-loving plants underneath were still dormant. The time had come. We called a tree service to come out and give us an estimate. They never showed up and the tree (and our checkbook) had a reprieve. The shade loving plants began poking their new shoots from the soil--if we waited too long, they would be crushed by heavy boots wielding chain saws. Hardening our hearts, we called another tree removal company who immediately stopped by. They quoted us a very fair price that was quite a bit better than we expected for such a huge tree and we accepted their offer.

I watched the jays and sparrows flit through the bare branches yesterday evening and felt sad that our tree had to go. I knew the birds would miss the branches and acorn bounty. I knew we would miss the fresh green leaves each Spring and the cool shade. I took some last photos of our old friend. I had to stand on the other side of the yard to get the whole tree in the frame.

The tree crew came this afternoon at 2:30. They cut off all the branches, leaving a tall pole in our yard. Then the chainsaws revved and the tree was only half as tall. They roared again and only a large wooden circle close to the ground was left. In two hours, twenty years of growth was reduced to sawdust, mulch and a pile of logs.

We still have many roots to begin digging out--some so we can put in new fenceposts, some that are running under the railroad ties, some that are reaching out into the flower garden. We will still be uprooting oaklets for several months. This summer, though, we will welcome a lush crop of sun-loving flowers planted in fresh soil next to a solid fence. Next winter we will enjoy another part of oak's bounty as we warm ourselves next to the fireplace.

We thought we'd miss our tree, but our yard looks clean and fresh rather than bare. The birds were gallivanting in our peach tree rather than the oak tonight while Kharma gazed at them intently, begging them to drop into her mouth. We planned for future shade by planting an Autumn Blaze maple seedling last summer. It should grow fast now that a large tree no longer will block both light and water. Change can be hard, but a fresh start offers many potential benefits.