Thursday, July 31, 2008

look what I found!

The dogs and I went out to play in the yard after our daily rain storm. After a lousy throw, I had to go hunting under the hosta for Oreo's pink orbee. I lifted up a big hosta leaf, and saw not the pink orbee that I had thrown, but a blue orbee.

Could it be, our original orbee that we had lost weeks ago?

It was!

"Oreo look!!!!!"

I jumped up and down.

"Look what I found! Your favorite ball ever! It's your first orbee! I found it!"

(Hope the neighbors weren't listening.)

I threw it in the air, Oreo leaped up, caught the orbee before it ever had the chance to hit the ground, and risk getting lost again.

We played with it a few more times, then I noticed it felt kind of funny. It was making a rattling sound.

All the orbees have a hole through them. They are designed to hold food to entice your dog to play with them. Oreo has never needed such enticement, and I have never filled them with food.

I brought the ball into the sunlight to peer into the hole for a better look.

That's when I saw a familiar little creature trying to pry his way out. It was the bane of my existence this summer. The dreaded snail. The creature that has systematically destroyed all my zinnia plants, despite my handplucking them off every morning.

The snail had made a home out of the hole in the orbee, and apparently did not like being thrown through the air.

I got grossed out, and looked for a stick to push him out of the hole. The whole time, I was screeching "ooooo, yukkkkkk, ugggggghhhh, grosssss."

You would have been too. Believe me.

(Hope the neighbors weren't listening.)

The snail must have been freaked out by the ruckus I was making, because he pulled his entire, disgusting, sluggish body out of his shell (ickkkkkk), and flung himself out of the orbee.

I used the stick to push him into the ditch (uggggghhhh), then ran the orbee to the shed and cleaned it with a couple baby wipes. Yes, I keep baby wipes in the shed, they come in handy for a multitude of reasons. Then, I ran into the kitchen to disinfect - myself.

Meanwhile, Oreo is "dribbling" the orbee at my feet. "Come on, throw the ball.......what's a little snail poop?" He seems to be saying.

I will give in to him. I always do. I am happy we found the orbee. There is nothing like the original.

no rocks around here

I feel this may be the most important election of my lifetime. I decided to support my chosen candidate by ordering a t-shirt, lawn sign, and campaign button from his website.

I told Jeff I ordered the lawn sign, but Jeff didn't think putting the sign in front of our house was a good idea. He suggested it could provoke some vandalism from opponents. I thought he was being ridiculous. This is America. We are a civilized country. We are free to support who we want, and respect others for having different opinions.

A few days ago, I wore my campaign t-shirt to the grocery store. I went to my favorite check out girl. I always choose her when she is working, because I find her amusing. She often picks up items I am buying and makes fun of them, asks if she can try something, and offers some of my dog treats to the baggers.

She looked at my t-shirt and said, "How many people have told you they hate your shirt?"

I said, "No one. I haven't had any rocks thrown at me yet."

She said, "Well, it's a good thing there aren't any rocks around here."

I laughed.

Later, I thought about what she said. If I hadn't known her, I really could have taken that the wrong way. It was kind of a threatening remark. I'm sure her boss wouldn't have liked her saying that to a customer.

If I hadn't known she was a jokester, I'm not sure how I would have felt about her comment. Although, I was the one who brought up the rocks.

Maybe Jeff is on to something about our sign provoking vandalism. I haven't put it on the lawn yet, our town doesn't allow political signs to be put up until a few weeks before the election.

I guess I can always keep the sign in a safe place for the next 25 years, and then see how much its worth. I certainly don't want rocks thrown at our house, all because of a political campaign sign.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Jeff's Chopper

I was able to find the new American Iron magazine at my local Walmart this morning. So, hopefully most stores have the new issues stocked.

Jeff was very happy with the article and photos chosen. Jeff had no idea what the actual story would be about, since the phone interview went so quickly. From writing this blog, I know that once a writer gets an angle, you just run with it. Sometimes I can write paragraphs from just one fleeting thought in my brain. So, I guess the author hooked onto the "cheap" idea, and had his whole article wrapped up.

While the second time around is not nearly as exciting as the first, it is still pretty cool.

I still think Jeff's bike is way nicer than the bike on the cover of the magazine, but maybe I am biased. His bike is definitely prettier. But hey, I'm a dog person, not a biker chick, what do I know.

Here's a sneak peek:

So, the next time you're in your supermarket, flip through to page 118 and take a peek. There's even a photo of Jeff at the end of the article.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

butterflies and a cool bug

I have had so many butterflies in my garden lately. They love the coneflowers. I have been trying to get one to land on my finger, but it hasn't happened yet. Maybe if I went outside without the dogs one might get brave.

As you can see, the sun is back. The ground is drying out. Time to get back to summer.

Yesterday, Jeff took the day off from work and we went up north to our local amusement park. We rode the old wooden roller coaster all day. Luckily, the line was very short. We were able to sit in the first seat of the first car for almost every ride. It is the best seat! You really get the full effect of the long drop offs. It was so much fun. We would get off, and then get right back in line to go again. We realized many people were doing the same thing, the only difference was that they were all much younger than us. Luckily, they grew bored of the ride much quicker, and would then move on (love that summer break from their ADD medication). Made the line shorter for us!

Friday, July 25, 2008


Jeff's chopper will be in the next issue of American Iron magazine. It hits the news stands on Tuesday, July 29. It is the September 2008 issue.

Poor Jeff has yet to see it. He subscribes, but our issue hasn't arrived. He got a phone call from a co-worker today who saw a copy. Hopefully, our magazine will arrive in the mail tomorrow.

The article will be on page 118, under the title "On the Cheap".

Jeff has been waiting so long for this to come out, he was beginning to think they had forgotten about him, and feared everyone would think he was a liar. So, he is excited.

Jeff hasn't done much chopper building since he finished his last bobber. I think he was a little bit burnt out, and needed a break. Last night, he spent a lot of time on the phone talking to people about the magazine coming out and about choppers in general. I hadn't realized how much I had missed hearing all that chopper talk myself. I love hearing that passion in his voice.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

time to build an ark

It has been one rainy summer, and it is really starting to wear on me. It is so damp that when I went to dust today, my dust rag got stuck on the furniture, because the furniture was wet from the humidity. My hardwood floors feel wet. It is disgusting. I am constantly picking snails and slugs off my plants.

It has been raining for days.

Yesterday, my neighbor drove by and noticed my car window was wide open. Oops. My car was already soaked, but at least I was able to shut it before more water was able to get in. Sometimes it pays to have a spy living nearby. If the sun doesn't come out soon, my car is going to smell like a wet towel for the next five years.

Last night, we were watching TV when we heard a strange gurgling sound coming from the bathroom.

"What's that noise?" we both asked at the same time.

Usually when we hear a weird water sound, it turns to be our fish tank screen saver on the laptop.

Not this time. This time it was our toilet blowing bubbles.


Jeff stood there staring at the toilet, window open, waiting to bail it out, should the septic system start failing. Neither of us really said anything. There was nothing much to say or do. We were convinced our septic system was saturated, with more rain pouring down, and no sign of it letting up. You can't stop the rain (it rained over five inches last night). Our new tile floor, vanity, sheetrock, woodwork, not to mention hours of labor were about to be ruined. All I could think was, I hope our homeowners insurance will cover the cost of redoing our brand new bathroom. Then, I thought will we have to listen to this gurgling all night, how will we ever sleep?

Then, the gurgling stopped. The rain kept pouring down in sheets, but the gurgling stopped.

Crisis averted.

We didn't use any water the rest of the night. We unplugged the water softener, to prevent it from going off during the night. I headed to bed.

At one point, I am awakened by a single poke in my arm.

"Didn't you hear any of that?" Jeff asks.


"The gurgling was back," Jeff says. "I've been down in the basement snaking the vent pipe."

"I'm sleeping," I said.

"I opened the cap, and it let out a big whoooosh of air. So, I snaked the pipe and all this orange stuff came out," he tells me. "Plus, our ditch is totally full of silt and rocks, and it is all over the road, I had to walk down and see it."

Gee. I can't believe I missed all the fun.

Poor Jeff, didn't get much sleep.

Good news, the toilet has stopped gurgling, we can flush, and the meteorologists are calling for sunshine tomorrow! I'll believe it when I see it. Right now, its raining.....

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

hospice journal

Jon Katz now has a blog based solely on his hospice visits with his dogs, Izzy and Lenore. The way his border collie, Izzy, interacts with the hospice patients and their family members is enchanting and worthy of a read.

Granted, these entries have brought me to tears on more than one occasion, but it can be beautiful to see how a dog can be a source of joy, comfort, and a link to good memories of dogs from their past. I have put a link to this hospice blog on my "list of blogs".

When you have a free moment, if you are interested take a look. The love story between Helen and Warren is a particularly good one - make sure you go back through to the older posts and read their story from the beginning (keep clicking "older entries" until you get to the february entries).

I am also looking forward to reading more about Izzy's trips to the Alzheimer's unit. I am interested in seeing what Izzy is able to accomplish with patients displaying dementia.

I can only hope that there are dogs like Izzy around when I am close to death's door. I can't fathom not having a dog (or 2) in my life. So, I can only imagine the joy I would feel if I were in a nursing home and a dog showed up one day and laid down on my bed to visit!

It is Jon Katz's dogs that inspired me to get that little black and white dog that is snoozing on my couch right now. Oreo may not be helping to comfort people on the brink of death, but he sure brings lots of joy to my life.

Monday, July 21, 2008

automatic or old fashioned way

Have you seen the SUV's with the remote control rear hatch openers?

You press a button on your key fob (I hate that word), and the trunk hatch not only unlocks, but magically lifts up and opens itself. Another press of the button, and it also closes itself.

Now, this seems like a fantastic invention, especially if you have your hands full of groceries, or children, and you need to get your trunk open. It eliminates the need to perform a balancing act, of placing something on your knee while you try and open your trunk. I can think of a few times when such a feature would have come in handy myself. Although amazingly, I have survived 38 years without one.

What drives me crazy, really crazy, is when I see someone, with completely empty hands, pressing the remote button, and watching, just watching, the trunk close all by itself. I have seen this on several occasions.

Now, the trunk closes very slowly on its own. Probably some sort of safety feature, as to avoid crushing a child's hand in the process.

Each time I see a person watching (and watching) their trunk close on its own, I get a strange urge to walk the ten steps to their SUV, use my hand (novel idea), and slam the hatch closed. I know for a fact it would be quicker for me to do it myself, and highly satisfying.

Americans must be the laziest people on the planet.

If only we could invent a remote control that would change every SUV into a Mini Cooper...

Friday, July 18, 2008

GPS for truckers

One morning this week, I was walking my dogs, when a large truck stopped to ask me for directions. This truck was hauling long, heavy, metal, tube like objects. He was looking for a major commercial building site. He was not even close to heading in the right direction.

I told him which way to go, how many lights to count, to keep hanging a left, and another left, etc.

The rest of my walk home, I kept thinking, why, oh why, does this man, who makes a living driving, not own a GPS?

I drive 8 miles a day, with a relatively fuel efficient car, and I own one.

As I teacher, I buy things to help me do my job more efficiently - like a plan book, lots of resource books, candy to bribe kids, DVD player, rulers, behavior charts, stickers, hand sanitizer, etc.....

How much gas (diesel) did this man, or his company waste, by him driving the wrong direction, idling while asking for directions, and then having to back track? I mean, its not like he was driving a Prius or a Mini. I'm sure he was getting a whopping 5 miles to a gallon.

No wonder the price of things has gone up.

The money he wasted by taking one lousy wrong turn, could have paid for a cheap, basic GPS system. The trucker was looking for a major state road, not a dirt one. Even the low end GPS units could have found that road.

Shouldn't every truck hauler and delivery vehicle be equipped with a GPS unit?

All I can hope is that the objects he was hauling are going to be used to build giant wind turbines to generate green electricity!

Isn't it pretty?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

another dog day

Today was a good day to be a dog.
OK most days are, Sara's dog that is.

It's a good day to keep an eye on the neighbors.

Misty:"If that mean lady next door says no barking, I will bark louder!"

Oreo:"Me, too. Unless their big yellow dog is outside, then I have to run inside and hide."
It's a good day to do some tunneling.

It's a good day to go through my chute.

It's even more fun to go through my chute with my pink orbee.

Life is great.

peek - a- boo
Boy, I have more playground equipment than any other dog on our street!

Look at my nose!

Oreo: "Misty, why is that guy in the big brown truck always coming to our house? "

Misty: "Sometimes, he brings boxes that have bones, biscuits and toys for us."

Oreo: "Let's bark at him anyway!"

Cute, smart, and funny what more could you ask for?

Gee whiz, what's a dog gotta do to get someone to clean his feet around here?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

fairy houses

Last summer, my dad was unable to do much walking, let alone hiking on our trip to Maine. This year, he is feeling better, so I have been looking for good places to walk, hike, and explore during our vacation.

Here is one place that I found, just a few miles from the house we are renting:

Cliff Trail at Long Reach ~ 2.3-mile loop trail features a shore walk along the tidal Strawberry Creek, two "fairy-house" zones and spectacular views from 150-foot cliffs overlooking Long Reach

OK. There are many words in this description that caught my attention.

150 Foot Cliffs. Spectacular views. Strawberry Creek. Shore Walk.

But, Fairy-House Zones?

That's enough to turn even a dog's head.

What could they mean by fairy house zones?

All I can picture are fairy houses in the woods. Could it be????

I email my dad.

He says, "It must be a Maine thing."

Off to google land I go. Determined to find out.

I stumble across a fellow blogger, who brought his daughter to walk the trail several years ago.

Here is what he wrote.

At the base of the trail you are instructed to build ‘fairy houses’ out of any dead natural materials, sticks, bark, leaves, stones, etc in either of the two areas designated for this purpose. The houses are limited to a foot square of footprint and a cubic foot of volume, “about the size of a milk crate, a tradition started on Monhegan Island (also in Maine).

Well, throw the dogs in the car and let's go!

A little more googling and I discovered there is even a fairy house festival at the Botanical gardens in Boothbay, Maine this August. No wonder why I love Maine so much. Home of Planet Dog, Lobster, LL Bean, Wild Blueberries, and Fairy Houses!

Dad was right, fairy house building is a "Maine thing", but it is catching on. There is an author (Tracy Kane) who is making book tours throughout the northeast, and growing in popularity. It is only a matter of time before fairy house building goes global.

When Jeff came home from work last night, I told him I had found a whole bunch of hikes to go on in Maine. He said, "Oh, we are actually going to do stuff this year? I kind of liked sitting around on the deck trying sudoku and just getting coffee last year."

So, I told him that he and mom can go get coffee, while dad and I go see the fairy houses!

Misty and Oreo say they are ready to go look for some fairy houses too!

Monday, July 14, 2008

have I lost it?

OK, I think I'm losing it. Maybe its hormones or the high iron levels or the new medication I'm on, but what I saw in the road today brought me to tears. Really.

For years, we have had a woodchuck, or similar like animal, living in the ditch line that runs under our driveway. We don't see him often, but every once in a while we catch a glimpse of his head popping up. Sometimes, he scurries across the driveway. He's cute and harmless.

We were wondering last year what would happen to him after the sinkhole ruined his home. Would he move on? Did he survive the reconstruction?

So, we were excited when we had our first sighting of him after the new culvert had been installed. Apparently, Mr. Woodchuck was happy living in his brand new rust free home.

Today, I was pulling out of the driveway, looked to my right to check for traffic, and saw our beloved woodchuck lying dead in the road. I immediately got choked up, and didn't know what to do. I was blocking traffic, because I had inched my way out to see beyond our neighbor's weeds. Do I pull out, and go about my day like I didn't care, or back up and do what? I chose not to get hit by the truck coming up the road and punched the car forward.


When I got home, Mr. Woodchuck was still there. I decided to get a closer look. Maybe it was not really him. Maybe it was a different animal.

Wishful thinking. It was definitely him. There was no blood, so I took that as a good sign. He must have died on impact. He looked so peaceful, as though he was just taking a long nap. I double checked to see if he was breathing. He wasn't.

I put the big lens on the camera, and took a photo to remember him by.

Poor little woodchuck.
Jeff said he will get the woodchuck off the road when he gets home from work, and give him a proper woodchuck burial. At least I won't have to see him on the road again tomorrow.

Do you think I need to ask my doctor for a referral?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

not the really smart one

My sister emailed me this fascinating bit of information she came across about Edith Wharton. I thought I should share it, since so many of you seem to be Edith readers.

Edith Wharton was born Edith Newbold Jones. She was born "into such wealth and privilege that her family inspired the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses"."

Now, you can impress your friends at parties with this knowledge and they will deem you an intellectual genius (like my sister).

Speaking of which...

When I brought Oreo to the vet, I ran into one of my dad's colleagues. I mentioned to him who my father was. He asked, "Oh, which daughter are you?"

Now, there are multiple ways I could have answered that question.

The youngest, the teacher, the child bride, the one without kids....

What I always feel people really want to ask is, are you the really smart one who went to all those fancy colleges?

No, I'm not that one.

So, I went with just telling him my name, and let him figure it out from there!

Friday, July 11, 2008

double dose for our double stuff cookie dog

Yesterday afternoon, I noticed Oreo was shaking his head a lot. I thought a bug might have flown in his ear, or he may have scratched it on a branch. So, I washed his ear out with some cleanser.

This morning, he was still shaking his head, and holding his head at an angle, sure signs of an ear infection.

Luckily, the vet had a cancellation first thing this morning.

My poor baby has an infection in both ears. Looks like Oreo had one too many play sessions with the hose. Water, dog ears, and heat are never a good combo.

Oreo will be on a two week regimen of ear drops in not one, but two ears. Not an easy task with this dog.

Munchkin was the easiest patient ever - he let me do anything without protest. The vet once gave him stitches with no anesthesia, and he wagged his tail the whole time. It was as though he knew the vet was helping him. He "cried" with joy every time we pulled into the vet's parking lot. Munchkin just adored going to the vet, and that is rare for a dog. Hell, most humans don't even like going to their own doctors, and we have logic and reason. Sometimes, I think Munchkin was far more advanced than me in many ways.

Misty is a good patient too. Although, I think she behaves more out of fear.

Oreo, not so good. He squirms, wiggles, cries, and protests. So, squirting fluid down his ears should be great fun. I think it will be a two person job.

The good news is that I caught the infection in its very early stages. In fact, they were amazed at how early I caught it.

Well, when you spend 24/7 with your dog, you really do notice any minute change in their behavior. Especially excessive, annoying shaking of the head! Duh.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I have been frequenting a sheltie blog out of the UK. You must check it out to see the "family photo" she posted of her six shelties (5 adults and one puppy). I don't know how she got them to pose like that, especially the puppy.

Take a quick peek. It is listed under a post for today's date (Thursday, July 10, 2008).

You can click on the link knight's shelties under Links and Blogs I Like (scroll down under where it says subscribe to my blog), or copy and paste this:

oreo and friends

This is what happens when you have a digital camera, too much time of your hands, and an agreeable dog:

I had the idea to pose Oreo with the two sheltie stuffed animals. After taking those shots, Oreo didn't want to move, so I decided to start throwing all the other characters on there with him. I thought it was cute when Misty came over to check it all out. Too bad there wasn't room for her to hop on too!

jumping for dog days

Cool enough to do some agility practice for the first time in days. I got the camera out to see if I could capture Oreo doing some jumps.

The amazing part is I was able to get him to do this while I was at the other end of the jumps with the camera (and jerky). Usually, I run along the side of the jumps with him.

I threw in a couple ball playing shots too. He loves that ball. We lost his original orbee last week. It is kind of sad. Granted it was just about to break in half, but I would have like to have saved it. Jeff thinks it will turn up in the Fall when all the plants start to die back. I hope he's right.

dog days of summer

The heat wave has finally broken. The weather has been so hot and humid the past few days, it has been unbearable. It has been miserable, and so have I.

The dogs have done nothing but move from one cool floor to another. Oreo has been sleeping under the kitchen table for some reason. Maybe he thinks the table provides some shade?

Today, there is a wonderful cool breeze, and it is actually below 70. Heaven! Misty chased Oreo around the yard for the first time in days. It was like she was celebrating. It is officially the dog days of summer, so she should be celebrating. She really suffers in the heat.

The good things about the summer heat are starting to come into fruition. I have been picking fresh black berries in the cemetery to put in my cereal. We had our first taste of this season's sweet corn last night. There really is nothing better than summer sweet corn on the cob. Yum. No butter, no salt, just the corn boiled for two minutes.

I noticed this morning that I have a few red cherry tomatoes on my own plants already. That is early for me. I guess it paid off to risk planting a few weeks before memorial day. A tomato right off the vine is like beef jerky to a dog.

My doctor told me this week that I have excessively high iron levels in my blood. Just call me Iron Woman. I have been doing lots of googling about iron rich foods, and one is shellfish. Lobster isn't really a shellfish right? I mean, it doesn't look anything like a fish. Regardless, I will still be eating lobster everyday on our trip to Maine, even if that means donating a couple pints of blood to the red cross when I come home! Eat lobster, save a life - can be my new mantra.

That's what summer eating is all about - berries, corn, tomatoes, and lobster.

Before you know it, school will be back in session. Staples already had their first 1cent sale on Sunday. I bought folders, pencils and purell all for 1 penny! Oh, and FREE retractable highlighters. I walked out of there with two bags full of school supplies for $2.50.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

the mount

Jeff and I spent the day touring Edith Wharton's home, The Mount, in Lenox, Mass. The place is in danger of foreclosure, due to lack of funding. This may be the last year it is open to tourists. I am so glad we made the trip, and highly recommend it to everyone.

I have been wanting to create a structured garden on the side of my house (presently a weedy mess), and knew that The Mount had some spectacular gardens. I thought I could go there for some ideas.

Boy, did I come home with some inspiration.

Jeff and I fought over the camera all day. I wanted to make sure I got photos of what I wanted, and he wanted to make sure he got what he wanted.

Jeff is excited that I finally want to add a garden that has some symmetry and order to it. He likes my garden, but prefers something with clean lines (like a motorcycle). Typically, I like my garden to be rather disorderly and crowded. Less weeding that way.

What I learned, from Edith Wharton's gardens, is you can have symmetry and still have a touch of magic.

I don't know much about Edith Wharton, but the moment I saw that she had a pet cemetery, I knew we were kindred spirits. There were five headstones for her precious little dogs, tucked under some trees on a hill. What lucky dogs to have lived in a place with such beauty.

Here is a slide show from our garden tour. If you want to see bigger photos, double click on the photos, and you should get redirected to picasa. If that doesn't work, go to this link:

Now, I will be searching for the round centerpiece of my new garden. I am thinking of a birdbath, surrounded by impatiens....

Saturday, July 5, 2008

my little secret garden

Yesterday, the electrician told me that I have beautiful gardens, and that his wife is a master gardener.

What a nice compliment, coming from someone who must have a magnificent garden at home.

It got me thinking about how my yard has transformed since we moved in years ago. Our backyard was a blank slate. It was all grass, weeds, and a corner of hosta plants. That was it.

One day, I envisioned a field of daisies growing in my yard. I went to the hardware store, bought a big metal rake, and started digging up the massive weeds that were growing on a slight slope in the back yard. That was the beginning. I had no clue about gardening, but I was determined to bring some beauty to my dreary yard.

I don't have a field of daisies, but I do have a perennial garden where the weeds once lived. In fact, I still fight with the weeds more than ten years later. They are stubborn. Occasionally, I let the pretty ones live.

Over time, I have divided the resident hosta plants, and spread them around the yard. I'm not a big fan of hosta, but they do serve a purpose in a shady yard. Plus, they are free and multiply like rabbits.

Fencing in our yard last year was the best thing we've ever done. Now, the dogs are part of my garden. They have created their own favorite "zones" where they like to hang out, munch on plants, sniff for bugs and critters, lay in the cool ground cover, and hide behind trees and shrubs. I have incorporated the dogs into my plans now. They had been making their own "path", so I decided to make it permanent and put down some rubber mulch to keep their feet clean. I am avoiding using plants that are easily crushed in areas where they like to play. I want them to enjoy the garden, not get yelled at for destroying my astilbe.
I read in the paper today that if you plant anise in your garden, it will have a similar effect on dogs that catnip has on cats. I will have to look for that at the nursery, and add some to the dog part of my garden. That could be entertaining. Maybe then they will stop eating my coneflowers.

Every year, I add to the yard, whether it be plants, decorations, or hardscape. I like whimsical things. When we added the white garden gate and stone walkway, Jeff said it was "Hansel and Gretel" like, which was just the feeling I was going for. Storybooks. Fairytales.

This year, I added a door to a tree, for the elves. Every garden should have some elves and fairies.
What I like most about my garden is the secrecy of it all. No one knows it is here. You can't see it from the road. Even my next door neighbors can't see it. We had a friend come into the yard once. He had been to the house dozens of times, but had never seen the back yard. He was surprised. "Wow, it's nice back here," he said.

It is unexpected. My little secret garden.

Friday, July 4, 2008

OK, you are always telling Oreo that he is cute, and Misty that she is pretty. But who do you think has a better profile?

I think these dogs would even look good in mug shots.

This afternoon, Jeff and I were driving behind the owner of the St. Bernard who bit Oreo last year. She had a bumper sticker on her car that read, "My St. Bernard is smarter than your Honor Student." Too bad the dog seems to be smarter than it's owner.

Happy Fourth of July!

Oreo wishes everyone a happy, safe fourth of July.

We are all so happy that Geoff will be coming home from Iraq this weekend. I'm sure Mary, Maddy and Adele will be overwhelmed with excitement, relief, pride and pure joy with Geoff's homecoming. It is a time in their lives they will never forget.

This is always Misty's least favorite holiday. She hates fireworks, and spends most nights this week cowering next to Jeff. Poor baby. Between fireworks and thunderstorms, summertime is a rough season for her.

We started our 4th with an electrician coming to our house to wire our bathroom exhaust fan. He saved us from having any unnecessary "sparks" flying in the house. Jeff tends to stay away from electrical jobs. Jeff saw a licensed electrician get jolted once while he was installing our central air, and that was enough for Jeff to leave it to the "professionals".

Jeff is handy, but he's not stupid.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

under the sheets

Oreo loves when I do any work around the house. He barks and attacks the vacuum. Jumps and grabs at dust rags. Lunges at the swiffer, and bites the dustbuster.

Sometimes, when I notice Oreo is napping soundly, I will try and "sneak" in some cleaning time, so I can do it without having to defend all my cleaning supplies. Unfortunately, Oreo has a sixth sense, and he wakes up as soon as I pull a dust rag out of the drawer.

Today, I washed the mattress pad and sheets. I had the worst time getting everything back on the bed, because Oreo kept burying himself underneath everything. You would have thought it was cold in the house.

I decided to grab the camera to catch a video of some of his antics.

Here he is hiding under the top sheet:

And the antics didn't stop there. Here he is hiding under the blanket that I put over the sheet.

Oreo is such a silly dog. He will make a game out of anything. No wonder why he likes going through his tunnel/chute so much.

Here he is looking all innocent after the bed is finally made!

you're our best customer

When we moved into our house 13 years ago, home heating oil was 87 cents a gallon.

Good thing, because our oil burner was original to the house. It was a dinosaur from the 60's.

Every winter, we would wake up one morning (sometimes two) to a freezing cold house, because the furnace had stopped working.

Our furnace would typically break on the coldest day of the year, on a Sunday when repair rates were tripled, and on the day when every one's furnace also broke.

We would turn on the electric oven, light a fire, and huddle under blankets, while we waited hours for the repair guy to come.

Bit by bit, we replaced just about every part of that old oil burner.

One day, a coworker was telling me how her new furnace paid for itself in just one year, because they had used so much less oil. Their new furnace was much more efficient.

I mentioned this to Jeff. He argued that we had already replaced everything major that could go wrong, so why spend the money on a new one. He had a point. We decided to wait a little longer, and continue purchasing the service contract from our oil company, which paid for itself in one service call.

About six winters ago, I came home from work one afternoon, and our house seemed really warm. I thought the furnace must have just kicked off. Sometimes the radiators would get really hot.

I noticed the dogs were panting. I let them outside to go to the bathroom. Misty laid down in the snow, and refused to come back inside. I went back in, and realized the house was unusually hot. I walked over to our ancient thermostat, and saw the red line was as high as it could go. The house must have been over 100 degrees. I began throwing windows open. Not an easy task, since all my storm windows were in.

I called my oil company. They asked for my name and phone number. I could hear him punching on a keyboard.

"Oh yes," he says. "You are one of our best customers."

What does that mean?


He tells me to go in the basement and look for the emergency shut off switch.

I look all over the place, and find nothing.

"Oh," he says. "Your system must be really old. You'll have to hit the breaker."

I nervously hit the breaker, hoping I don't blow myself up, and he sends someone out to fix the dinosaur.

Misty stays in the snow for hours. Jeff and I eat dinner, in the middle of February, with the kitchen windows wide open.

I realize our dogs could have died from heat exhaustion that day, if I hadn't come home when I did.

Turns out, a couple of wires had fused themselves together, which kept the furnace from shutting off.

We had the furnace fixed, and then had a new one installed in the Fall, along with a shiny, new, emergency shut off switch.

After our first winter with our new furnace, I realized why we were our oil company's "best customer". With our old furnace, we had been burning 1200 gallons of oil a year. With our new one, we average around 500.

With the price of home heating oil inching up to $5 a gallon, I'd say the new one has paid for itself.