Season Opening . . . FIRSTs

We had a very nice, extended weekend up at our lake cottage.


It was a bit rainy . . . and gloom-ish . . . up north.


I'm always surprised how far behind "spring" is . . . once you drive a few hours straight north.


But it'll catch up soon!


We did a lot of work this weekend.  Raking and patching and cleaning and organizing.  I even did some KonMari-ing.  (Actually, it was pretty extensive KonMari-ing.)

Tom got the docks in pretty much single-handedly.  (Well.  I did hand him a hammer once.)


Mostly, though, it was just a great weekend of season opening "firsts."

First campfire.


First beer around the campfire.


First jump off the dock.


First swim.


First climb up those steep 112 steps from lake to cottage.


First mayfly.


First . . . of many summer weekends . . .

up north!



Playing in the Dirt

Last fall, when it was time to put my garden to bed, I was incredibly busy and highly stressed.  I had no time to get out in the garden and do any kind of clean-up beyond the absolute essentials.  

All winter, as the snow covered everything in a frozen heap of ice-glacier, I kind of forgot about that.

And then it melted . . . revealing the reeking horror beneath . . .

That's the best thing about gardening, though!  It's never too late to clean things up and get everything in order for the new season.


Thanks to a great weather-weekend, I assembled my tools and made good progress on some of the back beds.  (My gardens are growing more extensive each year, and at times like this, I wonder if perhaps I haven't over-stretched.)


As I clean up my garden in the spring, I'm constantly muttering one of the following three phrases:

  1. What is THIS?  (Because I can't recognize some of my newer plants until they get a little bigger, and I frequently forget what I planted.)
  2. Next year, I'm planting bulbs.  (Because I am lazy in the fall, and always regret it in the spring.)
  3. Oh, YOU have got to GO.  (Because some plants are just plain trouble.)


I have some great company out in the garden!  It's nice to have dogs old enough to behave well and not dig up viable plants.  (Because, yeah.  That's happened.)


I'm thrilled about spring's arrival.  But my garden is just pretty ugly at this stage of the season.  Thankfully, I do have a couple of blooming reminders of the beauty that is to come.

My star magnolia is in full bloom right now (although it's been raining since yesterday, which will do a number on the blossoms).


And my hellebores are just lovely this year.


I even got my hands dirty with some planting.  Although it's WAY too early for most planting, I did put together a couple of "pea-pots."  This . . . 


looks like dirt with a tower stuck in it right now.  But I planted peas, an assortment of lettuce, some kale, and spinach -- all cold-weather crops that should do just fine.

And pansies, of course.


It's nice to have something bright and cheery out on the patio, and on the front porch!  (Although the pansies do make the very dead Christmas wreath still hanging on the front door look really, really sad!)  (Yep.  The nesting finches beat me to it again this year . . .) (They totally have my number!)

And this guy?  


Well, I said, "Maybe we should re-do the foundation plantings in the back this year."  (Because they're unmanageably overgrown and really ungainly, and I've been considering ripping it all out and starting over.)  And then, before you can say Husqvarna, he had taken his chainsaw to 6 (hideous) yews and half a blue spruce!   (So fast I have NO "before" photos!)  (You can imagine where my creative energy will be going now -- as I try to figure out lovely ways to cover the water meter, the cable box, the outdoor lighting timer, and the air conditioner. . .)

It felt GREAT to be out in the garden again -- where it's always fun to play in the dirt!


Driving Miss JoJo

When we adopted JoJo, she was nearly 9 months old.  Although she was a very well-cared for puppy before we brought her home, she did have a rather unusual beginning to her life.  We knew she would always be a "special needs" dog . . . because she wasn't socialized in quite the "usual" dog way.


JoJo has come along quite nicely in our household.  While still a bit freaked out by some things, she has relaxed and come to understand the ways of . . . oh, garbage trucks and motorcycles, snowmen and blowing leaves.

But there is one thing she's never really adapted to:  driving in the car!

For JoJo, a ride in the car has been a type of torture.  We'd haul her in, and she wouldn't move.  She'd just sit.  Terrified.  She didn't look out the windows.  She didn't lay down.  She just . . . stayed put.  And, often, she'd be throw up.

Taking her to our cabin up north was, well . . . Not Fun.  Our vet helped out with prescription dog-car-sick medication, but at $40 a pop for each round trip, this option is not ideal.

So . . . I've decided to "socialize" JoJo to riding in the car.  I call it Driving Miss JoJo!

Every day, we go for a short car ride.  I make it lots of fun -- with treats and praise and good tunes and open windows.

And we're making progress!  JoJo moves around in the back seat now.  She looks out the windows, and loves to sniff at the fresh air.  (She is especially intrigued with the sunroof.)


She is getting brave enough to put her paws on the front console to check out what's happening in the front seat.


And she'll even lay down once in a while!


Best of all -- no carsick in two weeks!!!

She's also beginning to be excited when I say the magic words, "Let's go for a ride!" (Nothing close to Jenny-level of excitement, but we're moving in a positive direction.

Driving Miss JoJo . . . is proving a worthy undertaking.


Jenny, of course, will only ride shotgun.  ("I'm not sitting by HER.  She gets carsick.")


Disclaimer:  All photos were snapped at traffic stops.

Friday Mailbag


 Dear Mr. Frost:

You do create a lovely landscape.  There is something almost magical about watching the sun hit your handiwork on the hills and trees and rooftops of my neighborhood.  Brilliant!  And the patterns you create on my garage windows?  Nothing short of stupendous.  Really.  Each pane is a little miracle.  Still, despite the beauty you create, I have this to say to you:  Hit the road, Jack!  (And don't you come back no more. . .)


Dear Ryka Shoe Company:

We've had a long relationship, you and I.  Oh, I know it's been a bit rocky for the last two years -- but for the previous ten years, we were constant companions.  How I loved your old studio dance shoes!  The support was perfect for my every leap and spin.  The quality was excellent, and I could count on getting 6 solid months of wear out of each pair.  And the fit?  Why, Cinderella's glass slipper comes to mind.  Sure, your shoes weren't particularly attractive in a "fashion forward" kind of way, but who cared?  You were so consistently perfect for so long.  But then . . . you changed!  First, your quality slipped.  Odd seams were splitting.  Soles cracked.  Problems you never used to have.  And then, well . . . your standard studio shoes disappeared completely . . . and you replaced them with pretty faces.  Suddenly, you were all about being "on trend," playing with colors and patterns and such -- like you were Nike or something.  I didn't want hot teal shoes that fell apart and made my knees hurt.  I wanted my plain, old, ugly, black studio shoes!  I'll admit it . . . I started looking around.  I had flings with Capezio and New Balance.  Where did it get me?  Metatarsal issues and a flare-up of my Achilles tendinitis.  So I'm back.  But I'm still not happy with you.  At all.


Dear Jenny and JoJo:

I know you're used to a walk every morning when I return from the gym.  But really, we can't go right now.  Because the temperature is -15ºF before the wind chill.  Too cold.  Just too friggin' cold.  You'll have to trust me.  STOP LOOKING AT ME WITH THE SAD DOG EYES.  Maybe next week. . . For today, I'll make it up to you by giving you a ride in the car.


Dear Garden Buddha:

I haven't forgotten you.  Please continue to hold down the fort until the thaw comes.  



Happy Friday!  (Stay warm.)




Pudgy Pup: Weight Loss Countdown

Last year, when I took JoJo to the vet for her annual check up with Dr. Barkow (Yeah.  I know.), she weighed 55 pounds.

Dr. Barkow said . . . that was a perfect weight for her.  But that he wouldn't want her to gain any more weight.


In the summer, it is easy to keep her in shape.


We're out in the yard so much when the weather is nice.  And she plays Ball.  And Stick.  And Chase the Squirrel.  And Bark at the Neighbors.

And it's easy to take long walks.

And she swims at the lake Up North.


But now?  Well, now it's winter.  

We're not out so much.  The balls are packed away for the winter.  The sticks are buried under the snow.  There is no swimming.  And  . . . it's treacherous to walk every day.

So JoJo has lost her waistline . . . and gained too much weight.

Time for the Pudgy Pup Weight Loss Countdown!  (Before we go visit Dr. Barkow in April.)

Now, it's two-miles-a-day!


No matter the weather!


It's time to get that Pudgy Pup back in shape!


Jenny is in perfect shape, weight-wise.  She is sleek and rather elegant.  But she can use the long walks to strengthen those bionic knees of hers!


Somewhat Nuts V

Saturdays are for . . . 

Looking up.


There was a lovely, rosy glow in the sky this morning when I woke up to let the dogs out.  It's cold - and clear.

Show and Tell.


I bought this cheery bird painting many years ago, when we first moved into our current house.  (We're in our 12th year here, so it's been awhile.)  It hangs in my front entryway, over a little knick-knack shelf next to the front door.

The painting just charmed me from the first time I saw it!


I used to think of it as a "family portrait."  I was the bird with the long legs, firmly planted on the ground.  Erin was the little one, hovering above the ground, and Brian was the little, squat bird.  Tom was the one coming in for a landing . . . meeting us after work!  It makes me smile every day.



When my kids come home, the first thing they do is get down on the floor for Proper Dog Greetings.  They love coming home to for a little Dog Time.


And, trust me . . . it's mutual!  The dogs are awfully lonely when their far-away-pack-members leave them behind once again.  (For us AND the dogs, that will be later today as Erin and Keith head back to Pittsburgh.)

Enjoy your Saturday (this last in November . . . and last in NaBloPoMo!).


Somewhat Nuts IV

Saturdays are for . . .

Looking Up.


The snow has finally stopped, and we were greeted by a lovely sunrise on Friday morning.  Today, however . . . freezing rain.  (You can't win 'em all.)



This painting . . . is the last thing I see every time I leave the house (placed right at the back door and all).  It makes me smile every time I see it.  The artist?  Brian.  Third grade.  Apparently, he didn't "follow directions" in art class that day.  His was a little different than all the other third grade art students.  His teacher (NOT one of my favorites) pointed this out to me.  

But.  Isn't that what ART CLASS should be about?  NOT following directions?  Making it your own?  Being a litte different?  Why should an elementary school art class be promoting cookie-cutter crafting projects?  I was highly annoyed.  But delighted with the painting.

So I framed it.



  Erin and Jake 1

This is Jake, our dog-before-Jenny . . . and the dog of my children's childhoods.  (That's also high-school-Erin; she was a sophomore.)  Jake was a white German Shepherd, most likely mixed with a bit of lab.  His instincts, though, were pure Shepherd - protect and defend!  He was an incredible dog -- and we still miss him every day!

Jake was a "herder."  He was very clear about his boundaries -- and he never stepped outside of them without our permission.  He kept the kids inside the borders, too!  When Erin and Brian were in elementary school, their bus stop was directly across the street from our house.  Jake would wait for them every day.  He knew when it was time for them to come home (of course), and he would position himself at the very corner of our yard.  (Really.  He couldn't be any closer to the boundary and still be in it!)  And then he would wait.  He'd get a little fidgety when the bus was close.  But he would never step outside the boundary.  He'd wait as the bus pulled up to the stop.  He'd wait while they got off the bus.  He'd wait while they crossed the street.  And then . . . but not until they stepped into the yard . . . he'd go CRAZY with welcoming them home!  And, of course, he would herd them all the way into the house!  

Happy Saturday!

Somewhat Nuts III

Saturdays are for . . .

Looking Up.


It was 12 degrees F when I woke up this morning.  (Seriously?  Already?)



When I was a little girl, my mom had pilgrim candles just like these.  I loved them!  I thought they were just the cutest things.  Sometimes, I would sneak them in to play with my Liddle Kiddles, and sometimes my mom let me get away with it.  Over the years, the pilgrim candles took a bit of a beating (those Kiddles being a rough crowd and all), and I'm pretty sure my mom just tossed them at some point.  A few years ago, I found these reproduction pilgrim candles in some catalog, and the Nostalgia Wave washed over me.  Now, I'm really excited to get them out each November.  (No one else in my household is enamored of them.  But for me, they just bring a warm, cozy feeling.)



There is MUCH Dog Joy in our back yard.  (Jenny and JoJo love frolicking in the snow, so they're having a grand time out there!)

Happy Saturday!

Somewhat Nuts II

Saturdays are for . . .

Looking Up.


It's November.  The forecast is for cold and wet.  And the sky shows the truth in both of those statements.



We have this globe in our library.  It's just a cheapy, made of cardboard on a faux-wood and plastic base (with a dent just off the coast of South Africa), but it's a great and oft-used globe.  It spins and tilts and comes in surprisingly handy!  It's so nice to have such a low-tech item in our high-tech world!



These two look so well-behaved and attentive, don't they?  Waiting for my every command?  HAH!  They are just eagerly awaiting their dehydrated sweet potato snack that I'm reaching for in the cupboard behind me . . . after a lovely walk on a crisp fall afternoon!

Happy Saturday!