Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sylvia's New Puppy Bi

It's no secret in the dog-loving section of the Blogsphere that my favorite dog trainer, Sylvia Trkman, has a new puppy.

Presenting Bi:


For more fun with Sylvia and her pack, featuring tricks that have to be seen to be believed, try her channel on YouTube "yolle555" .

Then if you're completely inspired by her relationship with Lo, La and Bu and want to know how-does-she-do-that, she also has a website at http://www.silvia.trkman.net/

Kharma and I love tricks. Freestyle is our niche. We haven't tried agility (yet), but I'd love to just so I could take a training session when Sylvia comes to this side of the Atlantic!

Dem Bones

What do Rasta Joe's, Maui Wowee, Kinder's, Razorback and Sweet Meat have in common? A dinner that I didn't have to cook!

Labor Day has meant the Best-in-the-West Rib Cookoff to us for twenty years. We've even packed up our tent and rolled up our sleeping bags early (back in the camping years) so that we'd be back in time to get our ribs. Nowadays we traditionally go to the Cookoff with our neighbors and bring back ribs from several booths, mix up a fruit salad, add fresh sourdough bread and feast outside to celebrate the end of a wonderful summer.

This year our hunter-gatherering (is that a word?) at Victorian Square was wives only, so we celebrated being temporarily husbandless by strolling through the craft vendors. This is the first time in twenty years I've ever been able to do that. Men just don't appreciate a leisurely walk peeking at jewelry, wooden signs, metal garden art and straw hats when the smells of barbecued ribs, corn on the cob and beer-battered zucchini are beckoning. We women managed to stroll and still come home with three and a half racks of ribs.

My tummy is happy, my fingers have just about had their skin licked off in my pursuit of each flavorful drop, and we have a large pile of bones in our kitchen. Our favorites this year? Razorback had a nice spicy dry rub and Kinder's Hot BBQ Sauce rocked! Since we all enjoyed the spicier meat, next year we are opting for hot over mild when squirting a liberal amounts of sauce over each box of ribs we buy.

Kharma and Zelda were in dog heaven with all the rib bones that came their way. And I'm praying that all those bones agree with them since I'm the designated scooper tomorrow.

Farewell, August. One more day of summer vacation and then it's back to a regular paycheck!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Wish List

Could summer vacation last longer, please?

I'm not ready to give up long walks with friends, eating lunch outside, gardening all day long, no alarm clock, no watch, shorts and tees, ponytails, no makeup, a complete lack of stress, more energy than I know what to do with, and days filled with doggie kisses.

Yep, "teacher clothes" come out of storage this weekend. Sigh. I'll iron my long skirts and comfy blouses and hang them carefully in my closet. I'll dig out my watch and replace the watchband. My teeth are whiter and my legs are exfoliated. I've trimmed my ends and colored my roots. My toenails have a coat of Charming Rose Creme instead of a rim of dirt. I'm getting my lap ready to comfort multiple children when their parents leave and they realize kindergarten is for kids.

I've already re-organized my desk, refilled my stapler, and bought some new rollerball pens. The cubbies are stuffed with announcements, book club flyers, and school calendars. I'm memorizing student names so that I can match faces with them quickly.

Our new class is adorable and the parents a joy. We are all excited about their first baby steps into formal schooling. I know I'll wake up with a smile on my face and joy in my heart for the next nine months.

But can I postpone it for just a smidge longer? Pretty please?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Authentic


In honor of Tasha Tudor, who would have been 93 today, I'm celebrating the simple beauties in my daily life.


My Moonstone rose



Ripening tomatoes destined for homemade Pizza Margherita tonight.



My alphabet sampler, cross-stitched in the school parking lot when I was a carpool mom.




And fresh brown eggs.


She's always been a favorite artist of mine. There is a sweetness and earthiness about her drawings and paintings that speaks to me of unhurried quiet. The simple pleasures of eating home-grown green beans and kneading bread, wearing handmade crochet edging, feeding lettuce scraps to the rabbit and having a dog rest her head lovingly on my lap. The joy of providing my best attempt at decorating a birthday cake for my boys.

She left a legacy of a life richly lived. May we all be so lucky.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Hole In The Ground

It's taken me all summer, but it's finally dug out. My goal is to have a pond by Labor Day. Originally I cut out turf for a pond about half this size. Then I lived with it and thought about it for a month, and and decided it was just too small for the yard. Looks kinda like a strip mine right now, doesn't it? But there's a reason for all those levels. The shallowest level is designed for bog plants. Then there's a deeper level for water lilies and iris and lotus and cattails. The very deepest section will stay ice free so plants can be overwintered down there.


I'm antsy to fill it with water and have it all be done. But I can't put the liner in until I get some "underlayment" down first to protect it from rocks, roots and other sharp objects. So I'm making a paper pattern (hey, it works when I sew). I'm using old maps, pieced together and cut to size. Tomorrow I'm gonna use these patterns to cut out pieces of old carpet to cushion the pond liner.

I'm determined to take the time to properly construct my pond. I'd rather be a bit slow and have it perfect than have to remodel it later because I hurried. I know I could do it fairly fast after playing around with the Queen Mother's pond for three summers. Going slowly has let me be more creative and artistic though. I really want this to look as natural as possible. I'm striving for a natural drainage pattern ending in an attractive pond surrounded by rocks and plants. I can't count the number of hours spent looking at other ponds and analyzing what I like and don't like about them, not to mention the research involved in how-to build a pond. It's been incredibly satisfying to take on a completely new garden project.

Meanwhile the dogs are very wondering about whether they should help me dig or not. Zelda has tried out those big golden retriever paws a time or two, but Kharma is letting me do the heavy work. Today they couldn't decide if the paper is a new toy or if I've gone loco. They look over my shoulder continually. Both girls are gonna be very happy to have their own watering hole to investigate, swim in, and drink from. I can hardly wait to have two wet, muddy dogs around!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Cephlapod 9-1-1

Squid Boat Salad. Just in case you were wondering.

Take 12 squid mantles. That's the easy part. All you have to do is boil and stuff them with a cheese mixture, cradle them in endive leaves (the boat?) and serve over minced red cabbage with salad dressing.

But getting those mantles--well, just let's say that cleaning the whole squid to obtain the mantles is not for the squeamish:

Pull off and discard thin speckled membrane from the mantle. (Note to self: the word "membrane" does not belong in any recipe. Ever.) Gently pull body (the tentacle end) from mantle (Yuck). Pull out and discard the long, transparent, sword-shaped shell (I don't need that many adjectives, folks) from inside the mantle.
Wait, it gets grosser:

Squeeze out (oh, my!) and discard contents of mantle (double yuck); rinse mantle inside and out (it probably needs it after all that pulling and squeezing, I know I'm feeling the need for some brain-washing to forget all this). Turn body upside down to spread tentacles open (this I could do). Squeeze body gently from beneath (or not)to pop out (!) the beak in the center; discard beak. Cut off and discard portion with eyes and ink sac (yeah, like I would keep'em). Rinse tentacles.
Thank heavens that's over. And to think I went to a lot of time and trouble to fish (sorry for the pun) it out of the trash just for y'all. Sometimes cooking is a little too graphic. Apparently Sunset Magazine thought we were ready for it back in 1987. They were wrong.

I don't think this recipe is related to Swift Boat Salad which will probably be served sometime in the upcoming campaigns. But of the two, I'll pick Squid Boats over Swift Boats every time. I'm picky that way.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Simple Tip #5

See this pile. It's big, it's old (think decades), it's ugly and I have no idea what's in it. Amazingly, it could've been worse. I could have kept the magazines in their entirety instead of clipping out articles. So actually it's a very small pile.

The pile has been living next to my bed. Very restful.



See this, this is our scanner. It's already reduced the irreplaceable slides taken by my FIL to little O's and 1's on our hard drive. Slides that resided in fifteen zillion carrousels for a slide projector that no longer worked. Carrousels that somehow ended up at our house, living in and decorating my front room. Now the slides are all neatly cataloged and copied onto DVD's and given to the rest of the family.

One set of slides took the two of us an entire evening to extract, scan, record and name, and replace. It. Was. Endless.

But it was worth it in the end because the entire family now has easy access to photos of a brand-new house (which is now 55 years old) and itty-bitty trees (that had to be cut down before they fell on the house) and little kids and their friends (who are now retired and take cruises) and lots of Sierra backpacking trips (some things never change).

Even better, my visitors no longer have to sneak looks at the boxes of slides stuck in a corner and wonder what kind of new decorating trend I've stumbled upon. But enough about slides, because this tip is really about my pile which is about to disappear.

I just push the little blue scan button down there on the right and then throw the scanner article AWAY. Amazing.



Better yet, I get to read through my bloglist of friends, crafters, and dog lovers with no guilt while the scanner chugs away. So far I've thrown away over fifty pages. And I'll go through later and arrange the scans into Recipes, Crafts, Gardening, Remodelling, Travel, Holidays, etc.

Now can anyone tell me why I would have kept a recipe for Squid Boat Salad? Using squid mantles? (I kid you not.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Self Esteem

There is nothing better for a child's self-esteem than a well-trained dog.



Don't ya love the smile on California Girl's face after she rewards Kharma?

Starring Kharma as The Best Dog In The Universe.
And introducing California Girl (don't tell her parents I put her out there in the blogosphere.)
Garden set courtesy of the Queen Mother.
Weather courtesy of Northern Nevada (our motto: we have two kinds of weather--sunny and oh, shit that's cold.)
Dog Trainer--Pogonip

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tripodless

Kharma is multi-talented (too bad I'm so objective about her!) and has a nice trick repetoire. These are some old tricks from last Spring that I posted on YouTube recently.

I've gotta dig out our old tripod so I don't get carsick next time I watch this.

p.s. Is it just me or can you feel a hint of September in the August heat too?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sizzling

It never cooled down last night. It was HOT in my backyard at 2 a.m when I wandered out in search of some cooler air when I couldn't sleep. It was HOTTER on my morning walk at 8 a.m. as we prepare for the Journal Jog and I try to lose an inch or twenty. It was HOTTEREST at the Farmer's Market where we found gravenstein apples for a cobbler. I never thought I'd watch the Beijing Olympics (Free Tibet/Save Darfur, and all that), but I got hooked watching Michael Phelps win his seventh gold medal by the skin of his fingertips and his mom's incredulous reaction. Now I can stay inside, downstairs, and watch TV legitimately and avoid going outside.

I'm thinking about how much I'll miss the heat in a few months when icy cold winds penetrate to my mitochondria while I watch the kids at recess.

It's. Not. Helping.

Nor is the lack of a/c or the fan that is blowing directly on me at full speed.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Speechless

I could rant and rave. I've read reviews for and against. I've been trying to blog about my feelings for the past hour. I've edited and cut and pasted and rewritten and cried. I've got it saved, but it'll never see the light of day.

Let me condense it for you:

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can break your heart.
"Retard" is not funny to anyone who has a child with special needs or has taught one; it's inappropriate, cruel and thoughtless. I'm disappointed in Ben Stiller, Dreamworks and Paramount and I won't be watching their latest movie.

Unfortunately, plenty of people will and I imagine retard will be a word even more prevalent in high school parking lots. Way to go, guys.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Voila!

It was a cool spring this year so we experienced Nevada gardeners took longer than usual to plant a vegetable garden. We have learned to wait until the snow is off Peavine Peak (our local signal that it's safe to plant tomatoes, petunias, and other frost-sensitive plants). I can get really antsy though, so I crossed my fingers and put in the tomatoes anyway. The Garden Gods let me get away with it and the tomatoes have flourished.

I usually get nice little tomatoes in four inch pots, but the nursery industry decided that we all needed larger tomato plants that cost twice as much. Ouch! I'm sure it helps their bottom line but it takes a lot of tomatoes to make it cost effective when they're that expensive. I grabbed them off the labelled carts anyway, choosing the healthiest plants I could find and trusted that I had my usual Sweet 100's for Mr. Pogonip who loves cherry tomatoes, Romas for me because I hate tomato snot on my sandwiches, the yellow bug-light cherry tomatoes for variety, and an old reliable Early Girl. When I started to plant them I discovered that the red cherry tomato was actually a Beefsteak, and the yellow cherries were some weird variety I've never heard of. Our Lowe's is across town and gas was already getting expensive, so instead of returning them I put them in and crossed my fingers.


It was only two weeks ago that I realized I had actual large green tomatoes not just the flowers. So today I was astonished to discover we had several orange tomatoes. I guess they must have really liked the hundred degree temperatures over the past two days to begin turning red so quickly.

And I would have never guessed that Beefsteaks would size up so nicely with our cool nights. I can hardly wait to sample the new varieties in a nice cool salad drenched with raspberry vinagrette. I'm drooling just thinking about it. I guess there is a silver lining to the hundred degree temps if the tomatoes ripen more quickly than usual!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Our Day At The Lake

This is Quincy (now four months old) and his mom. Isn't he gorgeous? He's a very blonde golden retriever pup. They invited us--"us" being the K-dog and I--up to their lake cabin. It's become a much-loved summer tradition.

It's Kharma's favorite place. She enjoys swimming by the dock, chasing the ducks, geese and seagulls that hang around. She loves swimming as much as any kid and will spend as much time in the lake as allowed. Conservatively, she probably spent six hours in the water.
Quincy's mom gave her a new nickname--Air Kharma--because she pogos off the dock to get onto the beach. Any normal dog would use the ramp. Doesn't Air Kharma sound like a great name for an airline? Just imagine the commercials--"Fly Air Kharma and get your just desserts"--showing a girl and her dog lolling on a tropical beach. Okay, maybe I'm a little old for the girl designation, it's a granite shore, and Kharma's legs are filthy--but the delight and relaxation were primo.

Kharma's never been in a kayak before; I wish I had some photos of our struggles.

  • Plan A was just have her jump in with me;
  • Plan B was just to get her to sit;
  • Plan C was to let her jump overboard and swim;
  • Plan D was hauling her out of the lake and letting her stand on the kayak's stern;
  • Plan E was letting her walk all over the kayak's deck until she fell off;
  • Plan F was to give up and put her in her crate;
  • Plan G was to give up kayaking and return to a howling dog;
  • Plan H is to have her get completely comfortable jumping in and out of and sitting in the kayak on shore before repeating the same steps in the shallows before ever letting her in with me again.

This kayaking afficianado is determined to succeed in getting her on-board and calm!

The K-dog was much happier hiking around the lake--pushing through ferns, leaping creeks, dashing down into the lake, meeting other vacationing pups, keeping our beach free from marauding ducks, playing with Quincy and occasionally checking to see if I was napping or awake.

I had a very pooped puppy dog; she napped in her crate during the two hour trip and nothing, but nothing, that Zelda did could get her to play when we got home.

As usual, Kharma has let me know that if Quincy's mom wants to adopt another dog she'll happily change homes. (It's just her way of telling me she had a good time.) She'll have to settle for me, the frisbee in the pasture and hikes up the creek until next summer rolls around and another trip to the lake is on the calendar!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Puppy Playdate



Kharma's made a new friend. We walked up the switchbacks to his house one morning for a playdate. Quincy and Kharma played for hours!

Kharma definitely approved of his huge backyard. It has a waterfall and pond and lots of bushes and good places for birds to hide. Kharma taught Quincy how to cool off in his pond. She tried to teach him how to chase mama quail, but I'm hoping that's one lesson he ignored.

Quincy is just getting the merest suggestion of feathers on his hocks and tail. His mom was a little sad to discover his first adult fur coming in on his back. He's going to be very blond and very fluffy when he grows up. He's probably the creamiest golden retriever that we've ever seen--we call him the polar bear cub.

Quincy invited Kharma to come visit him at his lake cabin this week. He's already learned to jump off the dock and swim even though he's just four months old. It's where Kharma learned to swim too. I can hardly wait to see the two of them together romping freely on the shoreline, chasing waves thrown up by the boats or swimming out to grab the frisbee. It's what summer is all about--water and sun, friends and fun!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Simple Tip Number Four

See this:
It's an Ion USB Turntable and it's my turn to use it. Yippee!

Costco tweaked my interest by offering them for sale last year. Our turntable, circa 1979, hasn't worked properly for years. We've slowly and reluctantly been replacing our vinyl with CD's, but possess some personal recordings that would never be available. So I did a little research and came to a favorable conclusion regarding the ability of USB turntables to digitize LP's, but by then Costco had sold out of their supply. I happened to mention the new turntables to Pooh and the Professor during last year's annual Portland visit and one thing led to another. We went halfsies and purchased one.

My goal is to have our modest collection residing tidily on our hard drive instead of occupying an awkward and heavy box. I'm already about halfway through (I iron Erkie-Pie's shirts or read blogs while I'm using the turntable).

I've rediscovered Joan Baez, Neil Diamond, Gordon Lightfoot, Peter Paul and Mary, Tim Hardin and the Moody Blues. I've also been singing Christmas carols in 95 degree heat whilst hoping the neighbors don't hear me!

It's reassuring to have those irreplaceable personal recordings digitized. It's even better to actually be able to listen to them for the first time in a decade.

The Audacity software that came with the turntable is user friendly and then some. Really! Audacity is like Recording for Dummies Simplified. This software has a noise-reduction algorithm that I thought I'd use a lot, but I find that I enjoy that little buzz inherant to an LP while it's playing. It seems to me that I get a richer, fuller sound too. That could be my imagination since I haven't played with the system very much yet.

I have yet to try separating the tracks and naming them, but I'm confident that process will be painless if a bit time consuming. Still, what else is summer for?

Anyone want some old records??

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Doing the Turkey Jerky Tango



Hi, Kharma here. It's been awhile so I thought I'd blog a little while Mom is making dinner.

I'm learning a new trick: Mom's been teaching me to "dance". I can stand up on my hind legs now for a long time compared to a couple of weeks ago. I love to dance because the treats are super yummy--usually REAL MEAT!!! (I'd do just about anything for real meat!)

Mom must have wanted me to practice on my own though, because she left a whole cutting board(!!!) of turkey slices that were almost-but-not-quite-dried turkey jerky sitting out on the edge of the kitchen counter.

I'm proud of myself because she didn't even have to ask me. I practiced a lot and the turkey snacks were delicious.

Uhhh, please don't tell my mom that I kinda rested my paws on the counter a couple times. 'Cause she doesn't allow my front paws to touch anything for balance when I dance. I think she might suspect 'cause she keeps giving me funny looks.

I like practicing my new trick on my own. I'm such a smart dog, BOL!