Monday, December 29, 2008

Always Good Kharma At Last

I'm a dog lover. No surprise to anyone, I guess, given how many times Kharma has appeared here. I've owned six dogs as an adult and each one has taught me valuable lessons that I've built on.

Then too, I've gotten so many ideas about training and possible tricks from websites and blogs and YouTube. Other dog lovers and their best friends have inspired me. There is no limit to what can be achieved between dog and human when the human contributes as much trust and devotion as the dog does. The 'Net has been the key to a magical place filled with possibilities.

Long story short--I think of Kharma as a partner rather than a possession, family rather than pet. She makes me feel like the luckiest person in the world to have her for a best friend. So 2009 is going to be a year when I challenge myself to provide opportunities for Kharma.

And rather than bore anyone with 365 posts about our journey into Dog Agility and Canine Freestyle and daily trips to the pasture to play Frisbee, I created a dog blog for Kharma. It's up and running. You're invited to visit us there (along with the dogmoms who belong to Johann and Gracie and Xsara and Guinness and Bi and Phoebe)if you're interested! The link is at the left under Blog Friends. And I've added some of your wonderful blogs that I should have long since (you know who you are!).

I now return you from Dog to Food. Behold Mount Krumpet!

It's truly amazing how many apples we can get into a pie. Especially when my sweetie cuts them up like matchsticks instead of slicing them. And festooned with mini cutouts of Christmas trees and stars on the crust, sprinkled with turbinado sugar (my secret ingredient) on top...yum, very yum. Even the Grinch would have approved.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I don't know which one of you sent the snow my way, but it was lovely to wake up to a fluffy white blanket sparkling in the morning sun. Good work!

It was only one inch deep however. So the rest of you need to get crack-a-lackin' with your white stuff (not THAT kind) and make my Christmas merry.

I'm hoping the snow will help me attain some mellow, friendly, relaxed Christmas Spirit. The head cold has receded far enough that I knew I could walk from the Forester to the store(s) without hacking up my lungs in the process. Shopping was high priority because it wouldn't be a very cheery holiday when my family realized my only gift to them was dinner and a the annual showing of "White Christmas". Unfortunately I left my Christmas Spirit at home and was a tad cranky while driving there, shopping, waiting in line, and driving home. Possibly crankiness is just a symptom like a runny nose, a sore throat and my deep cough. Internet shopping with a wrapped photo of the item to be received has become a real possiblity.

I look forward to not being married to the box of Puffs Plus (just bought another three boxes to be safe), not needed cough medicine every four hours, and having some energy. Not to mention that my skin is about to drop off after being soap-and-watered every fifteen minutes. Hey! At least I'm sleeping through the night now. Although I was thinking up some good posts when I couldn't sleep even if I didn't have the energy to actually sit at the keyboard.

Tomorrow is going to be a good day though. Because a PUPPY (!!!) is on the schedule. I get to puppysit a little eight-week-old Shi Tsu until Santa is ready to drop in unexpectedly while they go for a winter walk. I expect to have pictures of me and the little guy.

I'm not sure how to tell Kharma and Zelda that the puppy is not for them.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Jealous and Pouting

Everyone else around our area has more snow than we do. Portland is figuring out how to put on tire chains. Salt Lake is white (no surprise there). Even Vegas had a real true-life blizzard. What's up with Reno?

We've had snow. It was gorgeous--just enough to enjoy, not enough to hamper Christmas shopping. We were all picturing a white Christmas: dogs cavorting, lights reflecting off the glimmer, trees dressed like Disney princesses, peace and brotherhood.

But the snow melted somehow in the winds preceeding the front--not like it was exactly tropical around here, but apparently 35 degrees accompanied by wind equals a heat wave for snowmen. We had a dusting last night and a few vagrant flakes this evening to replace the evaporated loveliness, but it's way too little.

I want your snow. I promise to take good care of it. I'll curl up with my Puffs Plus while I try to stay one step ahead of this miserable ill-timed cold and watch the stuff fall until it disguises the pond, the trash cans and Zelda's deeply dug holes. I want snow. I need snow. I should have snow. Now.

If you're done with your snow, please send it my way. Please? Otherwise I feel a full-fledged hissy fit coming on complete with stomping of feet and slamming of doors.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Something A Husband Is Good For

He found my missing battery charger. From four hundred miles away. Over the phone.

It was in plain sight, so that explains why I couldn't find it. It also explains why I thought it was a good place to put it. It doesn't explain why I thought I had to take a photo of this year's batch of mint jelly.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Un-Photo

Ah, the posts I could publish...if only I could find the battery charger for my camera.

I could film Kharma's advanced doggy classes. I could show you my pond in all its frozen glory. I could take pictures of this year's Christmas decorations as they slowly take over every corner of our house. I could show you before and after photos of the garage as I make room for a car to actually fit into it.

Hey! I could show you how to deconstruct a queen-sized mattress and box spring. Making it disappear was seriously satisfying.

All those lost opportunities! Instead, I have a keyboard and a blog. A blog with no pictures.

I never realized how much I rely on my photos for inspiration. I've come to rely on them as a kind of shorthand journalling as I chronicle the more interesting aspects of our daily life. Maybe I've become a lazy writer. Maybe I long ago decided that brevity was a virtue appreciated by those of us who plow through our daily bloglist (priority one) and still find time to cook dinner/fold laundry/shop for the holidays.

My sweetie has been occupying the computer desk each evening recently, playing endless games of online Sudoku and Bejeweled, while I search for my battery charger under the guise of accomplishing housework. (Let me just state for the record that housework is responsible for my missing battery charger. If I hadn't cleaned our master bathroom and reorganized our vanity, I wouldn't have put the battery charger in a new place that seemed obvious then.) I wish I could rewind my thought processes to discover just where that obvious place is.

This whole situation is a correlary to the maxim that if I throw something away, after not needing it for five years, I will need it within a month. Or that cleaning my desk automatically means it will take me an hour to find a piece of paper instead of the thirty seconds it would have taken had I left my somewhat messy, but secretly organized, piles in place. I never learn. I keep on merrily and sporadically cleaning and organizing like a teenager who can't comprehend cause and effect.

Frustration doesn't help me accomplish anything either. Frustration makes me crave hot chocolate, candy canes, frosted Mini-Wheats, escapist literature, PBJ sandwiches, and long soaks in the tub. I don't get much done and my scale groans every time I come near it. And it's not just the lack of a working camera, it's the flat tire on the 300ZX and the dead battery in the Ford and the two computers under repair sitting on the dining room table and the holes dug by a certain puppy, over and over and over. The lack of sunshine when I get home seems to sap my energy and my ambition.

Yet I've still managed to clean and clear the garage so that my little Subaru is warm and cozy tonight. And I have a good pile of giveaways stacked on my front porch for Thursday's pick up. We found two gorgeous Christmas trees in the forest this weekend. We took one to the Queen Mother and put up her icicle lights in the bargain. And our home is red and green from the hand towels in the powder room to the snowman curtains in the kitchen.

Still...if I had my camera I'd be posting about my flock of Nativity sheep that have finally reached critical mass. I'd be planning a post guiding you on a Christmas tour of my favorite things. Instead I think I'll go In Search Of, yet again.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Thanks for the Memories. Not!

During Thanksgiving, I counted my blessings, which are many and vary from family (when they are behaving in a fashion of which I approve) to the bits of new landscaping which have escaped the chewing, digging and general destruction courtesy of a puppy/moose/freight train.

When I exhausted all those easily thought of, I discovered that there have been many things I'm grateful NOT to have.

Foremost this year I am happy not to have the dread Carpal Tunnel. Both hands work and feel perfectly this year and it makes me cringe to remember the pain, sleeplessness and frustration that I experienced last year.

There is a blogger in SLC who is worshipping the porcelain god even as her baby bump grows exponentially--which reminded me that I am never going to be pregnant during Thanksgiving again, thank you very much. It's been a few years, but now I can make my special holiday bread after a full day of work and not blow chunks all over the kitchen floor from exhaustion. I know, I know, more info than you really wanted.

We travelled on holidays with little children for five zillion years and it's nice not to get in the car every November. It means we miss some relatives, but travelling six feet from kitchen to dining room beats an eight-hour drive.

Someday, when I retire, I want to have the house that everyone comes to for Thanksgiving. With a dorm's worth of beds, extra loads of laundry, laughter, political arguments, endless games of Mancala, Monopoly and Uno. And think how thankful I'll be when they all go home.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Another Kinder-Speak moment:

We were looking at the composite birthday chart for both a.m. and p.m. and decided to make a chart of just the a.m. kidlets' birthdays. We had them stand up, month by month, as we made our new graph.

One little girl raised her hand and excitedly told us, "I was born on my birthday!!!"

Oddly enough, I was too.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

November Calm

I've been working out--sweating on the elliptical machine and lifting weights.

That's the good news. The bad news is that everything else takes a backseat--blogs, dogs, husbands, dinners, housework.

So, I decided to take a breather and catch up a little on the rest of life. In no particular order:

  • I saw Twilight on Friday and loved it. It had enough intensity between Bella and Edward that I've been flash-backing all weekend on all those wonderful moments when I fell in love. The movie theater was reeking of estrogen and it made for a great girls-night-out.
  • I recently read The Secret Life of Bees which is one of the best books ever.
  • My lawns are both leafless and mowed as close as I could scalp them.
  • THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS ARE UP!!! Because November is acting like September; the novelty of hanging lights without a ski cap, gloves and a heavy coat to ward off icy blasts is nice. I'm disciplined enough that I won't turn them on until December 1 though.
  • I can't find either green or yellow C-9 bulbs, just clear. WTF?!
  • Kharma is going great in pre-agility, although she'd do better if I'd spend time with her. I hope to video some of our class.
  • I finished reading The Audacity of Hope (twice). I'm currently reading Dreams from My Father.
  • Netflix delivered the first three episodes of The Tudors, in time for a enjoyable three-hour marathon on Saturday evening.
  • The planning for Thanksgiving Dinner has begun. Pooh gets the good stuffing this year, courtesy of the Queen Mother, and I can't talk the family's newest cook into making us some off Is it illegal to have turkey without dressing?
  • I've been tagged for a meme of crazy eights, but it'll have to wait until I have more than a second to spare.
  • Mama Mia! is the first thing on my Christmas list, followed by a new blade for my rotary cutter.
  • School ends too late and sunset comes too early, so I've been doing my best to get up early and take the doggitys for a morning romp in the pasture. I don't know if it would be easier to get up if I hit the sheets earlier.
  • There are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Or is that just me?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Introducing my Cowgirl Pillowcase--

--'cause I'm a cowgirl at heart and have been since I was three years old. The Queen Mother made me a leatherette vest with fringe and conchos. I'd ride my palomino stick-horse around the yard pretending I was Dale Evans riding through the hills. (Yes, I know she rode a buckskin named Buttermilk, but I idolized Trigger.)

I also had a cute little skirt and eventually a holster with an ivory-handled toy six gun. I thought Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger were way cooler than Superman, but on their best day they just couldn't compete with cowgirl fashion.

Now I have to decide which of these cowgirl beauties is the real me.

This is Red. She's very girl-next-door but with those skin-tight jeans you have to wonder just how wholesome she is. She gets top marks for coordinating her gloves and boots.
Sue has a thing for fringe. Don't let her prim looks fool you; there's a reason she's pursing her scarlet lips. I like her color sense--are those boots ostrich?

Hmmm...I've been known to wear a neckerchief like Bunny, but I usually wear my conchos somewhat less strategically placed. And who is she pointing her gun at? And why? She seems more Moonlight Bunny Ranch instead of dude ranch to me.

This is Ingrid. She's a cowgirl wanna-be although she lives in Europe. Someone needs to redesign her skirt--the fringe is great and I love the length, but we need to lose the dirndl vibe.

Patsy and I can both play "Buffalo Gals Won't You Come Out Tonight" on guitar. Her Stetson is my favorite, but can you explain how she and Ingrid are apparently sharing clothes? No wait, I don't wanna know.

Lucy obviously drinks too much. But she's the best friend imaginable when she's sober. And is there anything really wrong with being a party girl?

Jill is a flirt and very good at getting attention when she wants it. She has great taste in horses.

So who's your inner cowgirl: Red, Sue, Bunny, Ingrid, Patsy, Lucy or Jill?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


That would be me, the one with the huge smile that will not go away.

I spent yesterday evening browsing blogs around the world and came away realizing that the international community was relieved and hopeful that America-the-world-leader was back in the game. The faith that others put in us is inspiring and humbling.

The voting turnout in Nevada was incredible. I was fortunate to be paired with a teenage bundle of enthusiasm as we canvassed on Election Day morning through successive bouts of sun, breeze, rain showers and snow flurries. We only found one person who had NOT voted: she was a hundred-and-one years old and the Obama campaign immediately went into action to find her suitable transportation to her polling place.

The Big Guy (our new name for Erkie-pie) spent forty minutes in line as the polls opened at 7 a.m. and we heard others waited for an hour-and-a-half. We didn't hear about anyone who gave up though. I think voters were either inspired or polarized--either way, everyone felt it was important to cast a ballot.

I calmed my nerves by a) shopping for Christmas fabrics and b) lifting weights at the gym while trying to avoid watching the big-screen TV tracking the early returns. Then the K-dog and I attended our preparation-for-dog-agility class where there are thankfully no news reports. When I finally returned home, I found a red-white-and-blue plateful of Kharma cookies from our neighbors and President-elect Obama (!) giving his acceptance speech. Yeah, I got all misty-eyed.

I just knew he would reach out to his non-supporters and I was not disappointed. I'm hopeful that his actions and policies as president can win the trust of his constituency. I think, I hope, I believe that Barack is the real deal--a born leader who can unite our country.

But what do I know? Hey, I think Harry Reid is okay based on the shallow criterions of appearances at soccer games and smelling yummy when he can apparently be something less than kind at times. Or so I hear.

Kudoes to John McCain as he conceded the election with grace, class and honesty.

Thank God for an end to campaign ads. Now we can all get back to Grey's Anatomy and House, blog about something else than politics, make soup on cold nights, and wonder how we can face another holiday season without gaining an additional thirty pounds.

"Cheers!" she said, still with that silly smile on her face.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Win or lose on November 4th, I'm proud to be an American. We can agree to disagree. We vote and abide peacefully, if somewhat vociferously, with the outcome. We are not perfect, but we are creating "a more perfect union" each and every time we exercise our privilege in the voting booth.

CNN said that Nevada was the easiest state in which to vote. Thank heavens we are first in something, finally!

Early voting was quick and easy. Unless you left it until the last day and then the lines were forty-five minutes long--as my son found out. He's undecided. Not about which candidate to vote for, but whether to get up at the crack of dawn to stand in line and vote or else drag himself home from work and stand in line with all the other workers.

This is the first time I've gone to hear a candidate speak. It was worth getting up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning. It was worth standing in Peccole Field for three and a half hours to hear him. Our feet were pretty cold but our spirits were warm. Pledging allegiance to a gigantic American flag and listening to a sweet version of our national anthem were inspiring. All around me I heard people say things that I've been thinking for years. Some comments were about what was wrong with our country. But more were about the possibilities that we have begun to sense.

Like many other Boomers, I've been burnt by politicians and the government too many times to count during my voting years. I wasn't prepared to believe that a politician could be idealistic, could be believed, could be trusted. Much to my astonishment, I've been won over. The more I learn, the more I know he's the right man at the right time. He's not perfect, but he's thoughtful, intelligent and calm. More, he strikes a chord that resonates with a positive influence that I can only liken to John Kennedy. He not only makes me believe in him, he makes me believe in our government and in my ability to help change things for the better.

If I'm crying on Wednesday, it won't be because I sat on my rear.

(I just deleted a very long paragraph that began to ooze negativity.)

I've been inspired to campaign, to donate, to help get out the vote. I'm not the only one. Bless everyone who has made phone calls, stood in the cold, walked door to door, manned the early voting locations for long hours, and worked towards a successful outcome. I feel like I'm part of something special.

Win or lose, I cherish this moment when my idealism has resurfaced and my pride in America has never been stronger. As he said at the end of his speech, "God bless the United States of America!"

p.s. Don't believe the derogatory ads about Sen. Harry Reid--he's really a low-key, down-to-earth gentleman from a very small town in southern Nevada and he doesn't deserve to be slandered just because he's a Democrat.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Kinder Speak, Rhyme-Style

Warning: Drinking and rhyming can be dangerous to your keyboard.

A little background first: Twenty-some years ago, as a young mother, I had enrolled my son in Joy School. Joy School was a wonderful, parent-run, cooperative preschool. Each of us took turns teaching a weekly unit about a particular "joy" in life, hence the name. We were provided with suggested lessons and pre-recorded songs, some of which I still sing. I loved every second of it as did my sons and we made enduring friendships with the other children and mothers.

I was teaching one unit that suggested we record the children as they told a story. What a great gift for any parent, right? Immortalizing those toddler voices and pronunciations, capturing a precious moment in time, it's a brilliant idea.

One very bright little guy decided to tell a rhyming story. And the word he chose to rhyme was bucket. Yes, he chose to rhyme bucket and fucket. I tried to coax him gently to think of other words that rhymed with bucket. I grew desperate and suggested maybe he could tell a story about a dog or cat. This child was having none of it. He single-mindedly rhymed bucket and fucket frequently and with perfect diction throughout a fairly long story as my mind frantically tried to figure out how to deflect him from his chosen vocabulary. Eventually, it was apparent that I stood as much chance of deflecting the Santa Ana winds so I gave up the fight and made his recording.

Have I mentioned yet that at the time I lived in Orange County, that California bastion of Republican conservatism where I was one of ten registered Democrats? Or that the other mothers in my group were all Mormon and I used to joke that I was the token heathen? Fortunately, motherhood produces a stronger bond than politics or religion and we all not only co-existed but really liked each other. I warned his mom about the recorded subject matter as I handed it to her and I can still hear her hoot of amused laughter. To this day, the infamous Bucket Tape has been a favorite highlight of our Joy School years.

Fast forward to today. Friday is our Show-and-Tell day. Usually the children bring something to share that starts with the Letter of the Week: a snake for S week, a rabbit for R week, a mermaid for M week. Today the children had to share two things that rhymed. Several children brought a cat and a hat. One brought a dime and a lime, another little girl wore a skirt and a shirt, a little boy rhymed his toy car and a canning jar. The kindergartners were enthusiastic about inventing other rhymes to add: they added fat and bat, time and rhyme, dirt and pert, etc.

We also read a book about The Big Fat Hen. You know--nine, ten, a big fat hen. They took turns contributing words, both silly and real, to each rhyme. My favorite was the little girl that rhymed three, four, shut the door, with whore.

It took over twenty years to produce a rhyme as memorable as bucket. Pity we didn't record it for her parents to cherish.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Making Nice

I'm still around. But it's hard to post when I'm abiding by the principle that if I can't say anything nice, I won't say anything at all. Which isn't a bad idea for political candidates to follow as well.


  • I'm grateful that political candidates are willing to donate their time and energy.
  • I believe (mostly) that they have good intentions. Really, I do.
  • I'm grateful that I live in a country where it's my duty to have an opinion. Better make that Opinion with a capital O, because, dude, I'm opinionated.
  • I firmly believe that we (Americans, Canadians, world citizens) have more in common than not.
  • I believe that people are basically good and kind.
  • I know all of us will be happy when the ballots are cast and the winners are announced and we can all go back to a more balanced existence.
  • Isn't it nice when the last debate is behind us?
  • I've never enjoyed roller coaster rides and the stock market isn't helping--although if Disneyland offered free lifetime rides on Big Thunder Mountain RR, I'd be first in line.
  • I love autumn. Even when the first frost comes early and wipes out zukes and tomatoes that are finally producing.

    Okay, enough positivity for now.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Creek Runs Through It

My brain is no longer on auto explode if I don't lift a shovel, trowel, stone, pebble, or finger continuously during each hour of daylight that I'm not at work.

It's not perfect. It's not done. But it's finished for this year and I can take pleasure in listening to my mini babbling brook, watching for the flash of a gold fin, or laughing at a big golden puppy sitting in the pond.

I can rest easy.

On the slate for next Spring: pebbles and river rock inside the pond...plants around the perimeter...cattails and lotus underwater pond light...a sitting area...luring frogs to our yard...a life that does not revolve around pond engineering and construction.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

StoryBook Pond

Once upon a time there was a girl who had a yard with a big lawn. It was good for kids' soccer and lawnmowing.

* * * * *
Then the kids grew up and the fence blew down and the girl began to re-think her landscape plan. So she dug a hole and began collecting rocks from her neighbors.

* * * * *
Then the girl filled the hole with water and put in three goldfish, some water plants and lots of rocks. She built a retaining wall and filled it with lovely rich composted soil. She even planted the burning bush she bought at Costco last Spring and the red snapdragons that the Queen Mother bought for her at Lowe's.

The girl still has way too much black plastic showing and a giant sit-upon-and-dangle-feet-in-the-water boulder to move, but she also has a free weekend and a son with strong muscles. The girl's heart is filled with hope.

To Be Continued...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Yippee, jammie weather has arrived! It's warm enough to sleep with the windows open, but cold enough that a blanket, a bedspread and jammies aren't enough to keep me warm all night.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Agility Blooper Reel

I've thought many times that Kharma would do well in agility and that we both would have fun, although I've worried I'd make a fool out of myself. This clip has set my mind to rest. It would be impossible (I hope) for Kharma and I to be any funnier than these competitors!

Maybe I've watch Monty Python too many times but it seems to be that bloopers are even funnier when narrated with an English accent.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Currently I'd be happy if last weekend had been five days long. Or if the days didn't get dark well before 8 p.m. Or if my Fairy Clonemother would wave her magic wand and create a doppelganger for me.

'Cause then I'd actually have my water feature up and running, complete with nicely placed stones, swimming fish and healthy water plants. And my garage cleaned, the rummage delivered to the SPCA thrift store, my house immaculate and a restful, restorative eight hours of sleep nightly.


As it is, the pond itself is surrounded by mud and rocks awaiting placement. The cute little goldfish are happily swimming in an extra ten-gallon aquarium that also harbors the water plants I've been collecting. All the plants that is except the lotus tuber Zelda crunched on for lunch. I hope lotus is healthy for puppies to eat, but if she gets the trots it's her own fault. Also my garage is in disarray; the rummage has been collecting all summer in bags, boxes and bins of varying sizes that have somehow gotten mixed with Erkie-pie's storage; and a good night's sleep is a distant memory belonging with summer vacation.

I do have a closet full of freshly laundered and iron clothes though. Better than meditation is ironing. And tomorrow is Friday and the weekend is close enough to touch and hope springs eternal. And right now the thought of taking photos of my adorable little rescued feeder fish in their glass aquarium tomorrow is more enticing than a clean garage anyway.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rock Auditions

I stink of algae. Apparently soap and water and a scrub brush are not enough when you've spent the weekend marinating in pond water. And my bathtub had a layer of fine brown dirt after I washed my grubby self. So I stink, but I'm not dirty. Hopefully a morning shower and some Warm Vanilla Sugar lotion will remedy my little odor problem before I head off for work.

Why would I wade about in pond water? Because I didn't like the sound I was getting from my creek. It looked good but I couldn't hear it unless I was right on top of it. I started thinking that I hadn't gotten a big enough pump, but then realized that if I could create some turbulence in my creek flow I would probably have more, and louder, water music.

I enlarged the inlet to the pond, ripped out the old creek bed and filter/reservoir, and started playing around with ideas to add subtle riffles, deep-toned drops and babbling soprano tones. One thing led to another: I also reshaped the pond shelves which meant removing all the rocks from the pond; moved some boulders onto the edge; re-routed the electrical cord; and graded in preparation for landscaping.

I feel like I opened a can of worms when I started this whole pond project. I'm an idea person, not an engineer. Unfortunately, it's my project so I get to be Chief Engineer on this one. Now I know how my sweetie feels when I come up with a "why don't we do this...?" comment. That won't stop me from launching myriad remodeling projects in the future, but I might have a bit more sympathy for the poor guy.

One huge change that adds music to the pond is a six inch cascade from the creek to the inlet. Constructing the creek means installing the lower end first, so my current challenge is to find some interesting rocks to fit the space, ones big enough to seem like a natural fall yet not overwhelm the space. Seems pretty simple since I've collected a lot of pond rocks. It's hard to visualize things when I'm dirty, tired and sweating with no end in sight. So I grabbed my favorite decision-maker aka my digital camera. Then I began heaving potential boulders into place.

Here's a nice smooth tall dude.

* * * * * *
A little shorter and bulkier

* * * * *

Very similar. Also shorter, fits against the railroad tie and has a little topography for added interest.

Choice number three it is. Now to choose a rock for the other side: I have a big one that I was gonna put along the pond edge, but it just might anchor the left side and look great with the rock retaining wall that I have to re-build now that I've graded the soil.

I'd have it almost finished if it wasn't for a soccer game which SOBO won 7 to 1, planting the Queen Mother's new deodor cedar, mowing her lawn and trouble-shooting her pond which somehow is losing six inches of water a day. Weekends are just not long enough.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Actually that IS the way the cookie crumbles

How to find a runaway Ginger Bread Man (known hereafter as the GBM):

  • first make sure that someone else didn't take him out of the oven
  • check around for a trail of crumbs
  • ask every parent if they've seen him anywhere
  • send the kids home to look for him
  • tell the kids to look while they are riding the bus/walking/biking/riding in the car
  • sniff everywhere for the scent of cloves, cinnamon and ginger
  • ask bigger kids at school if they've seen him
  • when the kindergartners come back to school the next day, ask if anyone saw him
  • call a mommy when one girl insists that they caught him at her house and he's under Mommy's bed, 'cause who knows--stranger things have happened
  • have the kids make a wanted poster with his description which will probably involve the pound and a half of sprinkles they used to decorate him
  • make sure the librarian, music teacher, computer teacher, nurse and secretary know their lines before you visit
  • visit the librarian, music teacher, computer teacher, nurse, secretary and principal as you track down clues
  • tiptoe from place to place so he won't hear you coming
  • check carefully in each location in case the GBM is hiding
  • keep a straight face
  • if you should hear the GBM as he tries to hide in the principal's office, hold tight to the box so he can't get away
  • have the kids says the magic words, "turn back into a cookie", before you try opening the box
  • make sure the kids go to the bathroom BEFORE you start your hunt--because hunting for the gingerbread man is so exciting that they will try to "hold it" and might not be successful
  • wash your hands really well after discovering that the urine has soaked not only underwear and pants but has trickled down into the shoes
  • having a kindergartner come up with a "that's the way the cookie crumbles" comment is very appropriate as the class munches on their gingerbread.

There are worse ways to spend 9/11.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Politics-free Zone

Having gotten that political rant off my somewhat meager chest, I now return you to our regularly-scheduled minutiae drivel mindless chatter trivia.

Well, maybe it's not that meager. I'm not sure whether it's age, a chocolate addiction or an inability to resist visiting the kitchen when I'm reading/watching TV/finished with dinner/bored/alone/avoiding someone/tired/happy/ or depressed...but my new bra is a 36B. Anyone who has struggled to fill a 32A for their entire lives can appreciate that statement. The rest of you can just skip ahead and refrain from any comments. And no, there are NO PHOTOS. I've gotta draw the line somewhere.

Besides the aforementioned chocolate craving, after twenty years I'm still in love with our annual Balloon Races. I'll cheerfully sacrifice sleeping in on a weekend. I'll happily get in the early morning darkness year after year. The Balloon Races only happen once a year and are my absolute favorite special event here. Better than the Rib Cookoff. Better than Hot August Nights. Better by far than (yuck) Street Vibrations.

This year I realized that a "balloon race" is a bit of a misnomer. A hot air balloon races about as fast as a tortoise does although with a lot more style points for color and grace. I think it's possible I have more balloon photos than pictures of my children and my dog combined. They are so colorful (the balloons, not my kids) and the process of inflating the envelope is so magical (although inflating the pup would be interesting too if I got mad enough at her which will never ever happen no matter what she digs up). I get on that field with a hundred balloons around me and my camera seems to take photos all by itself.

Imagine listening to flight themes like Superman and Star Wars and Close Encounters softly playing in the coolness of a September dawn while color and life slowly blossoms around you.

I love this place.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

What Color Is Your Nose?

Character counts. Even for a politican. Heck, especially for a politician!

I have a long memory.

I remember a senator waging a bitter rivalry against G.W. Bush for the Republican nomination back in 2000. That senator didn't have much good to say about his rival. I remember that war-hardened politician frequently being critical of the Bush administration. I remember when folks thought John Kerry might choose a fellow senator for his running mate. One who incidentally had an -R. showing his political affiliation. (The 2004 polls showed that that possible team would have trounced the current incumbents soundly, BTW.)

Yep, I remember a certain Republican senator being a thorn in our president's side. I actually kinda liked that guy. Then, magically, not long afterwards that former gadfly was introducing President George W. Bush on a stage right here in Reno, complete with lots of lavish praise, manly hugs and on-camera camaraderie. That was the afternoon I lost all respect for John McCain. He could have made a difference; he could have provided our country with a voice heralding a different point of view; he might even have changed the course of history.

He didn't. Character truly can count. And he flunked the test.

I might not have remembered such flagrant and egregious brown-nosing had it not taken place right here in The Biggest Little City. For me, the stench still lingers about his person after four years. And part of that odious smell has been a suspicion that a deal was struck back in 2004.

I want to stop defining a politician as a cynical creature to whom the end justifies the means. I want to know that my vote goes to someone who has some integrity. Is it too much to ask that the welfare of our country comes before a politician's win-loss record?

I'm just saying.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Pond Progress

Look! My pond is no longer just a big hole. Here is the underlayment cut to size and laid in place. Looks pretty cushy doesn't it? It's a great way to recycle old carpeting instead of taking it to the dump.

Let's get the liner in place. You can't believe how heavy a ten-by-fifteen piece of rubber liner was! I started smoothing the bottom first; then I gradually worked my way up, smoothing and folding carefully as I went, occasionally placing a rock to hold the folds in place. It was trial and error but when I was finished, it was smooth everywhere. It's almost time to fill it with water!


But first Kharma had to check out her mysterious new watering bowl.

Oh my gosh! There is actually water in the pond!

Just right for a dog swimming hole! We never actually saw Zelda get in the pond, but she was very damp and the pond quite muddy.

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

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


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


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


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


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


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!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sandia Peak Sneak Peek

I loved our hike on the Sandia Crest. I loved the forest and the wildflowers and the shade and the company. Then I slipped on the trail, sat on my rear, and gave my camera a good knock. I didn't realize the shutter wasn't opening fully until several photos later, but I kinda like the unexpected way these turned out. I like smooching.

It makes me feel on top of the world.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Junk Food Diet

Uh-oh! It apparently came free with our vacation this year. And I have the willpower of an amoeba.

We dined on cinnamon rolls for breakfast courtesy of Holiday Inn Express' Continental Breakfast. Yes, indeed, I now look like a continent, thanks for asking.

Is there anything more fun in the summer than a drive-in for dinner? Sonic to the rescue. It wasn't junk food--I had a fruit smoothie and a southwest chicken salad--but I discovered (apparently I am the last person in America to know this) that their drinks are half-price from 2 to 4 pm every day. Naturally when we were going through Farmington at 3:15 on the way back to Albuquerque, I suggested we stop and take advantage. I'm here to report that every sip of that very large, very thick, very strawberry milkshake was fabulous. Could someone come up with half the calories from 2 to 4, please?

I was a treat not to have to cook for almost two whole weeks, thanks to my son the wonderful and adventurous chef, but (you knew there had to be a "but") he has not discovered the benefits of low fat, low calorie, or whole grains yet. He's young and his arteries are supple and his metabolism is high. Unlike ours. Mouth-watering stuffed shells so rich in ricotta that any cholesterol test would still sound the alarm ten days later. Bacon for breakfast and bags of sour cream and barbecue potato chips to snack from. Salt and fat are an irresistible combination even to a confirmed sweet tooth like myself.

Then there were the fast-food dinners--Pizza Hut and Taco Bell and Quizno's. I was hungry, it was late and they all tasted great.

In the Totally Not Junk Food Column we find the New Mexican cuisine at Garduno's. I love Mexican food, but I adore New Mexican-style--if you don't break a sweat or find that your nose is running, then it's just not hot enough. And I do like it hot. What is it about Hatch Valley chiles? Perfection! Our side order of guacamole made tableside was pretty nice too. Of course for dessert, I dined on sopapillas filled with honey complement the heat from the chiles.

Back at home with the car emptied, the suitcases unpacked and the laundry done I didn't like the number (!) the scale was showing me. (If you're wondering, that was my scream of anguish you heard).

Soooo...lots of water during the day, immense amounts of fruit, whole grains, half my usual amount of sugar, small servings at dinner and an increase in exercise. Vacation food was nice for a short time, but eating healthy is feeling so much better.

(Who am I fooling?)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Clueless and loving it

I have no idea what date it is, 'cause I'm on vacation.

I do know that I get two extra days of someone else doing the cooking though. Does that count? You are thinking, she gets two extra days and wants credit?! She's lucky I don't deck her. I feel your pain, all you worker bees. Still, I earned the two extra days by being incredibly saintly while waiting for my sweetie to finish up while my son was having a birthday WITHOUT ME.

I'm thrilled that I've actually got an internet connection for a couple of minutes. It seems like ages (possibly it has been ages, see sentence one above).

I've been on vacation so long that I almost forgot my blogger password. That's long.

Today we played tennis, boxing, bowling, and golf. (Yep, my sweetie discovered the Wii once the younger set turned off Guitar Hero). I use "we" loosely since I sadly have no interest in it at all. I'm weird that way with computer games of any sort.

Continuing with the loose use of the pronoun: Today "we" dug up and carted two seedling cottonwood trees which actually look quite happy in their new home considering that it's 95 degrees out. I would have gone and helped but the menfolk obviously considered that my babysitting abilities were more valuable and went without me.

The Sandia Crest is amazing. Albuquerque is typical high desert and the Sandias don't look much different from down here. But our hike to the tram and Kiwanis Cabin was amazing, awesome, incredible, cool, shady, lush, flowery, slippery, interesting, easy, challenging and fun.

I can hardly wait to get back to my own computer and download the photos and show you how fantastic it was. I just love wildflowers and the Sandia Crest ranks second only to the Rockies near Yellowstone on my wildflower meter.

I have more petrified wood in my near future when we start back, so the memory of those wildflowers is going to keep me going.

p.s. I am a Nevada girl and the humidity here is killing me. It's the monsoon season and we've had rain showers daily and then 90 degree heat. Yuck. Thank heavens for ceiling fans. It could be worse, Reno was so smoky when we left that it was horrible. I'm hoping it's cleared up a little bit by the time we're back.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

14 hours, 1 devil dog and a mountain of A-1

Vacation time! It wasn't easy to get up at 4 am, but once up it was lovely and cool. Smoke all the way down to Vegas, yuck. 109 in Vegas, also yuck but thank heavens for a/c. Arizona gave us our usual rain showers and it cooled down from 108 to 78 in 20 minutes! We got to see flash floods from the freeway. Tomorrow--petrified wood. We are hoping to get colorful stuff although I was happy with the big pieces of tan wood we found last time.

Then we meet up with the birthday boy for fishing, horseback riding, ATVs and lots of fun up in the cool mountains near the Colorado border!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

My New Favorite Thing

I cook.

I cook because my sweetie eats out a whole lot when he travels and he travels often. I cook because I like my own cooking better than just about anybody or any place else's. I cook because I have control of the ingredients (think calories) and portion size. I cook because I am cheap and restaurant food is not.

I don't necessarily like having to decide what to cook, especially when I'm fresh out of new ideas.
"What do you want for dinner?" she asked in desperation.
"I don't know," he replied.
It's the story of my life.

But I've discovered quinoa. I know, I know, it's spelled like some variant of malaria medicine. But saying "keen-wah" is getting easier and easier.

It's high in protein and fiber (better than brown rice), only takes twenty quick minutes to cook (like white rice), has a neat crunchy texture, looks like fish eyes (okay, maybe that's not a plus), and has a flavor that can be enhanced simply (like butter and salt) or embellished (peanut sauce, tempura, balsamic vinegar). I find it in the bulk section of Raley's or Fred Meyer or Winco.

Having another option for dinner is priceless.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Teamwork Plus

You could train for a million years with your dog, but without love you would achieve a performance as dry as the Nevada desert during a drought. Add some love-- that wonderful, special, secret ingredient--and you get this. Pure magic!

So now I'm off to check YouTube for other videos showing Tina Humphrey and Chandi, fabulous canine freestyle partnership!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Viva Espana!

Yippee, yippee, yippee! Can you tell I'm glad Spain beat Germany in the Euro 2008 final? I respect German talent, but Spain is just more fun to watch. If I can tell you the names of the defense and midfield, the team must be good.

Tournament thoughts: the Netherlands were the most entertaining team and Ruud is a cutie (I'd say he was totally hot but my son might not approve of his mom's thoughts in that direction). I've been conditioned to cheer for teams wearing orange ever since E's team (Zephyr Orange) won state. Turkey was the Cinderella team with come-from-behind wins time and again. I rooted for them knowing that Cencis and his staff were probably just insane with pride at their performance. France, I'm sorry, was lackluster. The goal in the thirty-fourth minute was sweet. Three against one and determination and talent won out. I love it!

I love knowing that friends around the world are watching with me--Turks and Spaniards and French relatives, Croatians and Mongolians.

My sweetie even said he was hoping to wake up at 3 a.m. to watch in far-off Mongolia. He's been sick on the other side of the world recently, so if he slept in he's forgiven. He can watch a replay when he gets home twenty-eight hours from now.

Is there anything better than a Jane Austen novel?

I don't think so.

I'm a Jane Austen fan. Aren't we all? So I couldn't resist this quiz "Which Austen Heroine Are You?

My result? I'm happy to report that

I am Elizabeth Bennet!

Take the Quiz here!

I love every movie version of her books, but my favorite is the complete set of BBC productions that my sweetie got me last Christmas. I think they must have every line of dialogue from her novels.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

In Which I Get a Little Scentimental

My sweetie bought me this outrageously-priced rose at Moana Lane Nursery because I just fell in love with its unusual beauty and fragrance.That was several years ago and we've been lucky to get three blossoms on "Scentimental" each year. I've been blaming the lack of flowers on the shade cast by our cherry tree, but since we cut down our oak the rose has been blooming wildly. Each day brings more buds to be relished and enjoyed and marveled at. So...lose an oak tree, gain a rose! Then I found this baby rose during my Portland visit and couldn't resist bringing it home. It looks like a one-fourth scale model of the full-size tea rose.

I think the two roses, planted in the same bed, will give us many hours of enjoyment during al fresco summer meals. Or as I fill the dogs' water bowl or turn on the garden hose or sweep the patio or attack the ants or...