Wednesday, June 25, 2008

dog love

This afternoon, I was sitting on the deck reading, enjoying my first day of summer vacation, when I heard one of my dogs "screaming" in pain.

If you have never heard a dog screaming, it is a horrible noise.

I jumped up immediately to see what was wrong. Deck furniture was being pushed around, Oreo was scrambling to come out from under the table. Then, I saw that poor Misty had her foot caught under the deck railing.

Just as I reached Misty to help, she was able to pull her foot free on her own. There are scratch marks on the deck from Misty's toe nails, as she struggled to get loose.

I held Misty's leg, looked for blood, and bent it back and forth, watching her face to see if the movement caused any pain or flinching. I wanted to make sure nothing was broken.

Misty seemed to be fine. I rubbed her leg for a while, and tried to soothe her. Then, she heard a noise next door, barked, and took off across the yard. Duty calls.

Guess she was OK.

When Misty returned to the deck, Oreo kept following her around. Oreo would smell her leg, lick it, and then he would go over to the railing where Misty's leg had been stuck. Oreo did this over and over.

Even half an hour later, when I brought them inside, Oreo was still concerned with Misty's leg. He followed her around the house, sniffing her leg.

It reminded me of the time when Oreo had been bit by the evil St. Bernard. That day, I had to leave Oreo at the vet. I walked Oreo and Misty to the back room of the vet's office, and helped Oreo get settled in their big crate. I stood up, and let the vet tech shut the door. I wanted to leave quickly, as to not prolong our good bye, when the vet tech motioned for me to look at the crate.

There was Misty, sticking her nose through the crate's wires, as if she were trying to tell Oreo that everything was going to be OK. Misty was saying good bye to her buddy.

Oreo and Misty occasionally get into spats, usually over hunks of rawhide. It never lasts long though. Just a brief second. Sometimes, Oreo annoys Misty with his puppy antics, and she quickly puts him in his place. Otherwise, they get along great, and seem to love each other's company.

Today, I realized that dogs are capable of displaying what I consider to be compassion, or perhaps sympathy for one another. It was especially surprising to see Oreo, a young dog who is typically self absorbed, show real concern for his sister's well being.

It was truly a beautiful sight.

Monday, June 23, 2008

bathroom completion

Some of you have been waiting patiently to see photos of our "completed" bathroom. It isn't complete yet, the bathroom fan needs to be wired and the tile sealed, but those won't change the appearance.

It is very difficult to take photos of such a small room. I had to cram myself into corners, but I think you'll get the idea. Maybe I should shoot a video, and do a "virtual tour".

I took some with the lights on and off, I couldn't decide which ones looked better.

oreo the athlete

Here is a series of photos Jeff took of Oreo teetering and playing ball yesterday.

Oreo just loves to teeter.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Summer solstice and memory lane

I read an article in the paper today about fuchsia plants. I have always admired them at the local nursery, but never knew much about them. I didn't even know they were called fuchsia. So, I was excited to read about them.

Fuchsias love shade, which I have a lot of. Hummingbirds love them, and I could always use more hummingbirds in my yard, as they are the coolest bird ever.

The best part was that it was on sale!

I have my first blue hydrangea of the season in bloom today. I just love hydrangea.

My friend, from high school, and I took a trip down memory lane today. It has been 20 years since we graduated from high school.


We decided to take a trip to our high school and see if it looks the same.

We pulled into the parking lot, and saw the doors were wide open. A maintenance worker was inside, and asked if he could help us.

"Can we just do one loop around the school?"

"Sure," he says.

Boy, that's some good security they have there!

Doors were unlocked, even the auditorium. Clearly, this is a suburban high school.

The school had done some renovations, but most things were still the same. The lockers, paint color, stair cases, pool and gym hadn't changed. Even the wing by the band room had the same smell. The chairs, music stands, and band folders were eerily familiar. Every day for four years, I started my day with band, except when period 7 took period 1 (my school had a crazy scheduling system only alumni can understand).

The desks were all lined up in the gym, ready for exams. They still assign letters and numbers to each desk, so each student knows where to sit. "You will be in desk G4," the teachers would tell us as if it were a battleship game.

Our Russian classroom was sadly transformed into a computer classroom. I was hoping to see the narrow classroom with the floor to ceiling chalkboards on 3 walls, where we would conjugate our verbs.

It's hard to believe that people still go to school there. When we had been students, it felt like the place belonged to us, and that once we left it would cease to exist. All adolescents feel the world revolves around them. That has never changed.

While I have many good memories from high school, you couldn't pay me enough to endure those years again.

Friday, June 20, 2008

no more bread

Every Sunday for years now, Jeff and I have the same lunch. Grilled provolone and pepper jack on rock hill bakehouse farm bread, soup, chips and a pickle.

Makes us seem like an old couple, but we both like routines.

I went to the grocery store this afternoon, and went over to the shelf where the rock hill bread is usually stocked. Today, there were just empty shelves, and a half sheet of paper taped to the middle shelf.

It said that due to rising gas prices and the high price of wheat, they will no longer be able to deliver their product to the local grocery stores.

Rock Hill Bakehouse is local, but not local enough to make sense for me to drive there for a loaf of bread. It's about an hour away. It would cost me more in gas to get there, than the bread would cost.

Prices have gone up with the soaring cost of gas, and I have been willing to spend more for those things I really love. I'll pay an extra $1 for fresh mushrooms, or an extra $2 for a quality dog food. I never thought products would literally disappear from the shelves, like my favorite bread.

This is a sad day.

I remember buying a loaf one day, while the man was restocking the shelf. He turned to me, as I threw the loaf in my cart, and thanked me for buying their bread. The pepsi stocker doesn't thank me for buying his soda, nor does the potato chip guy.

Today, I scoured the bakery section for a bread that looked similar, but was unable to find anything. I ended up with a multigrain Italian bread from another local bakery. I'm sure it will be OK, but it is definitely a tradition breaker.

I called Jeff and broke the news.

He was even more upset than I was.

I told him I bought a different bread for us to try.

He said, "That sounds horrible."

Neither of us reacts well to changes in our routines.

Jeff asks, "What's their number? I'll call them and see if they will ship it to us, or I'll ride my bike up there with a big duffel bag and fill it up with bread."

I don't know if they will ship bread, or how much that will cost. All I can hope for is that on November 4th, gas prices drop, and we go back to business as usual.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

oreo sings

Here is a video of Oreo singing, please ignore or plug your ears when I "sing" to encourage him. If you are getting this via email go to to view.

good dog day...

Got to come home a little early from work today, since we no longer have classes, just exams.

The dogs got to enjoy some play time in the yard. It is perfect dog weather today - low 70's. Here is a slide show of them having fun together. Oreo loves to be chased.

Happy Birthday Dad!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

nature's grandeur

For the past few years on father's day, my dad and I, along with the dogs, take a hike down to my local river and waterfall.

It is always cooler by the water, the sound is incredible, the views spectacular, all of which make the tricky and somewhat treacherous journey down more than worthwhile.
Misty surprised us this year by getting all 4 paws wet, with minimal coaxing. I think she liked the ice cold water on her hot paws.

Oreo preferred to take in the views and new scents.
When I was young, my dad would take me to thacher park to go hiking. Some of my best memories are from the times we would forgo the actual trail, and instead navigate our way through the river there. It was slippery, cold and wet, but boy was that more fun than walking on the dirt path. We had to constantly look for a good rock to step on, and hope it didn't move as soon as we put pressure on it. Nothing beats walking in a wet sneaker. Keeps you cool! Slosh, slosh. We would take the dirt path back, and I would get to ride on my dad's shoulders. Good times.

Isn't nature grand?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

teeter, teeter, teeter

I got Oreo a teeter about a week ago.

From the moment I pulled it out of its box, I had my doubts. How was I going to get a dog to walk across a board, let alone a board that is going to move up and down?

Then, I remembered I thought the same thing about the weave poles, and Oreo figured that out within days. So, I was ready to give it a go.

Jeff said that this would be the true test of whether or not Oreo could be an agility dog.

Gee, I thought he already was...


To start off, I am teaching Oreo to walk the board while it is flat on the ground. I get him close to the board and say, "teeter, teeter, teeter".

At first, I straddled Oreo, to keep him from jumping off the board. I would hold on to his ball, which was in his mouth, and pull him across the board. Oreo will do anything if it involves his Orbee ball. I don't know how I would have trained him without it.

Within a dozen attempts like this, Oreo figured out what I wanted him to do. Now, I say "teeter", he steps on the board, and walks down the entire length. Then, I throw his orbee for him. Everyone is happy.

How could I have had any doubts that he could do this? This is Oreo!

I still find it amazing how dogs can learn to understand so many words. It makes me think that dogs really want to be able to understand us humans, as much as we want to understand them.

We have put off training the past few days,it's just too hot. Once the heat breaks, I will work on getting Oreo to be 100% reliable walking the board, and then attempt to get it teetering.

Right now, he'd rather lay on it.

(Editor in chief - please notice all the proper uses of it is, its, and it's in this blog, I think I got them all right or is that alright?)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

summer is here

It was really hot here this weekend. I swear my tomato plants grew 12 inches in two days. They love the heat. The dogs...not so much. They kept seeking out cool places to lay down, didn't want to move much, and we saw a lot of tongue! Misty got a summer haircut - we shaved her belly fur down to about one inch. Hopefully, that helps her out a little.

Long tongues.
Happy peony.
dogs in the shade

Monday, June 2, 2008

house hunting

Every Sunday, I look through the real estate portion of our newspaper. Perhaps I watch too much HGTV, but the lure of houses and property draws me in. I love to see what's for sale, and dream of those plots of land with acres and acres.

Jeff and I never really house hunted. We went to a co-worker's house for a party. Her house had been on the market for months, and we made them an offer that day. I don't know what made us want it, it certainly wasn't the orange shag carpet. The fact that we agreed on the house so quickly was quite miraculous.

I love our house, but part of me always wonders if we should have looked a little more to see what else was out there.

Yesterday, I saw an open house for a log home. The house was in what I consider to be our price range, i.e. cheap, and it was located in an area that would not add much to our commute time. Jeff and I have always loved the look of log homes, so we decided to check it out.

The house was at the end of a dead end street, in a quiet neighborhood. It had a great front porch, and a big, flat front yard (ideal for an agility course). Inside were wide planked wood floors, exposed beams, and wooden walls. It was cozy.

We checked out the kitchen. Clearly, it was the original kitchen from 20 years ago. Our original kitchen is so much nicer. We checked out the bathroom. No way was that nicer than our brand new bathroom. The bedrooms were about the same size as ours. The windows were old, and there were a lot of things that were crooked, which would drive my anal husband crazy. There was a finished basement, with lots of space. But, what would we do with all that space? We would end up collecting even more stuff.

The yard was nice, if you could ignore the fact that your neighbors were two feet away, and there was no fence for the dogs. Also, one side of the yard was bordered by a swamp, with a resident turtle. Cute turtle, but that means snakes are lurking nearby.

Jeff liked the detatched two car garage, but there was no heat in it.

The one big difference from our house, was the lack of traffic noise. It was very quiet, but then their neighbors weren't home.

We spent a lot of time wandering the property, and talking to the lonely realtor.

She asked us how many houses we had looked at.

Well, just this one, and the one we live in. We tell her we have a really nice house, and that it is close to everything.

We left, giving one last fleeting look at the cute log home. It'll make a good house for a young family, just not us.

Driving past our house, and pulling into our driveway, I admired how cute our house is. We have a fenced in yard, gardens, new windows, new bathroom, new furnace, new water softener, new water pump, new appliances, new roof, central AC - all things lacking in the log home. I thought about all the time, sweat, and love we have poured in (along with lots of cash). It is perfect for us.

The best part is that it will all be paid for in four years.

What were we thinking house hunting?

I'll still check out the real estate section, looking for that perfect place, but I doubt I will ever find a place better than here. Home.