Sunday, May 5, 2013

Things of Spring


Since returning home from our trip to California, it's been business as usual around here. The warmer weather is infectious, and my latest hand-printed cards have a colorful spring in their step. I'm still getting to grips with the whole printing thing, and I mostly end up covered wholly in ink, but there really is nothing more satisfying than a freshly printed picture. The waste-paper basket has seen a lot of action, and I'm going through soap like it's going out of style. This is an honest sort of craft though, and it's fun to produce what feels like a series of mini artworks- each one unique. Chicken soup for the soul, this printing thing. 

Can't go wrong with a rainbow of thanks. Variety is the spice of life, am I right?

 In other news, a certain somebody had a birthday recently. In an ambitious bid for wife-of-the-month award, I did a little research and surprised Forrest with a home-brewing kit. We proceeded to make a big mess, while Felix looked on, wondering why we wouldn't just cook some bacon instead.

And voila! After a few weeks of twiddling our thumbs and checking our watches, we had officially brewed a batch of Belgian ale. We'll make a master-brewer out of my husband yet. One of the finest beverages ever to grace a (fancy schmancy) beer glass. Gold star, Forrest!

 It's also that time of year where I have to battle my fears and hold my breath as spiders scurry around me in the garden. I think only three screams have escaped my lips, but jeez do those eight-leggeds know how to leap out at me. Shudder.
I have big plans for canning this year and I am SO EXCITED, but it's really not being very sunny and my plants seem to be at a standstill. Maybe I'm just looking at them too often. We also have about a million volunteer tomato seedlings shooting up everywhere, presumably from our compost or old tomatoes from last year that got dug back into the soil. It's pretty neat.  Mother Nature is one interesting lady. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Dog-tales. Chapter II.

So, it was February and I was in full planning mode. With three dogs as my shadow, we wrote lists, mapped routes and loaded up the car. Fingers crossed for good weather, knock on wood for happy dogs and wish on a star for our sanity.  2,300 miles til our destination, so let’s go.

All potential disasters considered -winter weather, the dog-circus, my navigational deficiencies, etc- it was a pretty successful trip. I don’t know many hotels that allow German shepherds, (20lb weight limit? Oh dear)…but when Rudy hopped along to say hello at to the front desk of our various stops, we sure did our best to melt some hearts. (and then we snuck Felix and Nessie in the back door. Sorry, but you do what you’ve gotta sometimes…no?). Anyway, we fooled nobody and got charged a wide array of dog fees, but at least our sleepy heads got to hit some pillows!

(stretching our legs at a rest-stop, in some where cold, USA)
We eventually made it to California fueled by adrenaline and caffeine, in a manner that made us feel like quite the young adventurers. The freezing winds of Nebraska kept the cobwebs away, and the lure of In ‘n’ Out (burger joint of our dreams) kept us focused on our destination. If the Golden State was not such a money-suck, I’d live there for the food alone. And don’t even get me started on the wine. Glug, glug.

So, speaking of wine, we rolled up in Napa where our motley crew was welcomed  with homemade beef-stew and wide smiles. I’ll say it again, I won the in-law lottery.

Conversation turned to the dogs,  and discussions upon conferences upon back-and-forths later, we were faced with a dilemma. Or at least, a new option. After thinking we were dropping Nessie off at her new home (see previous, overly-wordy blog post), Forrest’s parents campaigned for keeping Rudy instead.

Deep breath.

It all made perfect sense. Rudy would get the rest and relaxation he needed, away from a very boisterous Felix. The California climate is more agreeable than Tennessee for a dog who loves to be outdoors. Nessie and Felix, both under 2 years of age, needed exactly the same things in life, while Rudy had an entirely unique set of requirements. But you only need to click around this blog for two minutes to realize that Rudy is our baby, our beloved StrudelDoodle, Pooder, BigBum, First Sergeant BooBoo. How do you take all that love across the country, and leave it there?

Well, knock me down with a feather, because that is exactly what we decided to do. To say we stewed, deliberated and agonized over it, would hardly even scratch the surface. 
Nonetheless, we found a new vet, introduced her to Rudy and his complex medical history, watched him give her the irresistible Rudy-Show, as I shed an involuntary tear of pride- as is now my custom at every vet-visit. Yep, I have been reduced to mush. 

So...while I feel a whole world of heartache now- 2 months after the fact- I don’t feel any regret. I receive daily Rudy-Reports from my Mother-in-law, keeping me updated on Roo’s issues, eating habits, and daily adventures. 
Yesterday I learned that Rudy had been getting nervous about the chickens that live in the back yard. Not the kind of dog to chase chickens, he was more worried that his feathered peers were conspiring to steal his ball or stick. Thusly, he was kept quite busy hopping in security-guard fashion around his belongings, whilst no doubt singing the chickens a song of warning, and throwing a multitude of stank-faces in their direction. What a good boy! This kind of thing let’s me know he’s doing okay!

So it was a bittersweet trip to California. We saw a lot of old friends and family, enjoyed some indulgences of the ‘it’s-a-vacation’ variety, and ate like royalty, mostly courtesy of my Mother-in-law being an exceptional cook. In fact the 15lb of weight that I had lost- worrying about Rudy- was starting to show up squidgily on my outer edges. Le sigh. All three dogs were spoiled rottenest by their Grandparents, and they surely got more than their fair share of new sights and experiences. 

So, back to the now. While Rudy is living out his days in fruit orchards and horse-stables, lounging on the sofa and dining on gourmet meals prepared by Forrest’s Mum, we are busy missing him (probably a lot more than he is missing us!). Luckily, Nessie is a dog that knows when she got a lucky break, and pretty much lives to make us happy. And she succeeds, with room to spare. Felix is glad to have a little sidekick who wants to play even more than he does, and Forrest and I are happy to have such caring and generous parents as our own.

And with that, this chapter of the Dog-Tale is concluded.

And below: an abundance of photos of the trip, for good measure :)
San Francisco!! 
Napa Valley
Big Roodle asking if he could go swimming. Who needs words, when you are offered this face?
Nessie's first swim! (accidental)
Mister Fluff.

Whenever Felix started looking fidgety and wide-eyed in the backseat, we'd stop for a little recreation. Happiness!!

The Grand Tetons
We were amazed by how many of the national parks were in shut-down mode this time of year. The Badlands were eerily quiet.
Baby of the bunch. As I proudly present the now-permanent member of our family: Miss Nessie Neumann.