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Delilah Decides, Sweater or Blanket?

November 22, 2012

As winter approaches, it’s a wonderful time to do one of my favorite things…knitting.  As I took a little break from my newest project, Delilah decided it was a better blanket for her than a sweater for me, and made herself comfortable.  Ahh, she always makes me smile!

 

sweater

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Explosive Fun on Father’s Day

June 20, 2012

First things first on Father’s Day…the presents!  Then Jasper has some hide and seek toy fun with his Grandpa’s gift bag.  Not to be outdone or left out, Delilah grabs her favorite bunny ball.

Earlier in the day, my Dad and I had heard of the “explosion” that mentos and diet coke create when mixed together.  With affirming glints in our eyes, he asked “You want to try that?”  And my answer, of course, was “Yes!”  We got online and checked out the masters of this experiment at EepyBird.com  These choreographed geysers are amazing!  So with materials in hand, a two-liter bottle of diet coke and a pack of mentos, we moved the party to the backyard.  We carefully set the bottle of coke in the center of the grass, held the mentos over the opening, and prepared to run.  We dropped the candy in and ran back, expecting a huge geyser.  To our disappointment, we got little more than a two or three foot fountain of coke. 

Determined to find out how to get one of those tall sprays that we’d seen, we went back to the experts at eepybird.com and found the instructions overlooked before.  The trick was to drill a hole in the top of the bottle cap to create a smaller opening.  Then we drilled small holes through five mentos and strung them on filament line, as instructed, and threaded it through the cap.  We returned to center stage in the backyard and I held the line of mentos in place as my Dad put the cap back on the coke bottle.  “Are we ready?”  “Ready!”  I released the line and we ran back, turning to look at the spray that my Dad judged to be about fifteen feet high.  We were ecstatic!

“Let’s do it again and film it!”  So off we went to drill and string together more mentos.  We gathered our materials and headed to the backyard one last time.  Camera in hand, I began filming, while my Dad held the line of mentos with one hand and twisted the top onto the coke bottle with the other.  However, there was a slight malfunction when he dropped the mentos in the coke before he had the cap on all the way.  I panicked and hit the button on the camera, causing it to stop recording.  Then my Dad said “Go!”  And I hit the record button again.  Even though we didn’t catch our best geyser on video, it was still loads of fun!  And maybe the best times are the ones that are just meant to be completely enjoyed in the moment anyway.   So here’s that last attempt (notice my extraordinary filming abilities):

My Mom, who had been watching safely from inside the house with the dogs, opened the window and said, “Well, you’re all out of coke now, time to come in,” as though we were children being called home at the end of a long day of play.  And maybe, for an instant, that’s exactly what we were.   Happy Father’s Day, Dad!  and Grandpa!  We love you!

Garden of the Dogs

June 15, 2012

First TomatoThis is the summer to tackle the backyard!  When we moved here, the yard was a mixture of grass and weeds, with no plants or trees on the property.  I was elated with such a blank canvas…and a tinge overwhelmed as well. 

The weeds this year have been fierce, and Jasper’s long coat is like a magnet for the accompanying stickers.  Delilah’s coat is so short, she fortunately doesn’t have issues with this.  After about a million times of picking off those little tiny velcro-ish stickers from Jasper’s coat (just in the last couple months!), I’ve decided that enough is enough!

I want my dogs to live in a delightful playland, where there are no worries about dreadful stickers or toxic plants.  So I did a little research at the ASPCA Toxic/Non-Toxic Plant Guide section of their site to find out which plants were dog-friendly, with no potential harmful effects no matter what they did to them.  And then I headed off to the local garden center.  I purchased lavender, sage (salvia coccinea, which was the only one listed that was definitely okay for dogs…don’t know for sure about other salvias), star jasmine, and alyssum.  These have all been favorites of mine for as long as I can remember.  The only one missing is the Shasta Daisy, which I haven’t been able to determine whether or not is dog-worthy (if anyone knows for sure whether this particular daisy is safe for dogs, please drop me a note in the comments section…it would be most appreciated!). 

I also planted mint, which has a reputation for being invasive, so I planted it in an area that has more weeds than I can defeat without chemicals, which I won’t use, so I am hoping the mint will smother out the weeds in a takeover.  Apparently, from what I’ve read, mint can also be good for discouraging pests, including fleas.  Every little bit helps!

Then for the big project!  Without having built a single thing in my life, I decided to add raised beds to the yard.  These would do double duty, both covering yet another area prone to weeds, and creating an organic growing area (our soil is hard clay…not so conducive to vegetable cultivation).  I recruited my Dad to join me on a trip to the local lumber store, and gasped as I saw the price of redwood, which was one of the longer lasting woods recommended for raised bed gardening.  Back at the house, my Dad gave me pointers, like pre-drilling boards before actually attaching them to the corner posts.  I had no idea.  His directions turned out to be invaluable, and when he left, I dove into the project!  Here’s some of the materials I started with, and two of the three boxes.  I still have one to build.  But I’ll tell you, I was walking a little taller with pride after finishing that first box!

Garden Materials

Garden Boxes

These boxes are both the same size, but the magic of photography implies that I am the worst carpenter ever.  Anyway, I mowed the area at the lowest setting on the mower, then moved the boxes into place.  Next, I’ll add layers of newspaper to block out and kill what’s left of the grass/weeds.  I found great websites about building raised garden beds, preparing soil, and all kinds of stuff!  Earth Easy and Plant Native were both really helpful!  Now back to work for me!

Watering the Dogs

June 4, 2012

I hear all kinds of claims about water, both bottled and tap.  After a little research, the conclusion I’ve come to is that filtered tap water is as good as, and often better than, bottled water.  The documentary “Tapped” was pretty convincing on this point, as well. 

I used to be a fan of those sixteen ounce personal sized bottled waters.  I bought tons of them, and ultimately, of course, tossed them into a recycling bin.  Then I heard a woman describing the plight of polar bears, floating on broken ice and drowning due to global warming, and decided throw-away water bottles weren’t such a good idea.  Different reasons work for different people, and the fluffy bear image was indelibly etched in my mind’s eye.

Still not completely convinced water straight from the tap was completely tasty and healthy, I moved on to buying gallon-sized bottled water that I could now pour into my newly purchased Klean Kanteen (which is the best, by the way), and that seemed a modicum of improvement.

Klean Kanteen

Photo courtesy of kleankanteen.com

There are all kinds of sizes, but this is the particular Klean Kanteen I picked.  It’s stainless steel and has a “wide mouth”, so I can easily squeeze lemon into my water.  It’s also insulated, so cold things stay cold, and hot things stay hot.  Spring for the extra five bucks and get both the loop and the cafe lid…you’ll understand why you need both when you start using it! (No, I don’t have stock in this company, nor do I receive compensation for endorsement.  It’s just a good product.)

But now I want the plastic completely removed from the cycle.  My next step is to  install a kitchen sink filter.  It’s amazingly affordable to buy a good charcoal filter that is diverted to its own faucet (comes with the kit), so that all cooking and drinking water is the best, and no more leaching of plastics!Drink of Water

HeartSpring has a good overview of various kinds of water filters available, and then for a more comprehensive site, there’s NSF Consumer Information.

I arrived at a very obvious choice with embarrassingly minute baby steps.  But the dogs and I are going to be drinking clean and healthy water soon, and hopefully helping out a new generation of polar bears!…and, well, everyone else on the planet.

AfterBath

May 26, 2012

Jasper and Delilah got baths today, and were doing the typical sprints around the house.  Here they are afterward, relaxing in the sun…

And It Was Good

October 15, 2011
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Ahh, it’s great to rest with a friend!

Two Dog Night

September 11, 2011

It’s always a two dog night at our house. With her short hair, Delilah likes to crawl completely under the blankets and curl up next to me.  Jasper opts for sleeping on top of the covers.  I end up snugly in the middle of them, all of us toasty and cozy warm. 

And any of you out there who sleep in a bed with your animal family know the special challenge we all face.  Yes, it’s the interesting positions you adjust your body into, so as not to disturb the dogs.  We twist and turn into oh-so-special contortions, making only minute adjustments for the sake of the pack. 

I don’t understand people who say their dogs can’t get on the bed or the couch or the chair or wherever…  In the words of Anne of Green Gables, “Oh, Marilla, how much you miss.”  And, p.s., giving dogs access to the furniture doesn’t effect training issues in a negative way.  If anything, it enhances the trusting relationship you want to build with your dogs.

Shambala experiences to all you dog lovers out there…rock on.