My attempt to move from Southern California and create a happy and sustainable urban homestead in North Dakota, with some musings on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Shadowfax Napping

Shadowfax gathered her favorite toys around her heated dog bed, got tucked in (by her concerned people guardians), and wove her noggin through the legs of the rocking chair.  This is how she spends a cool and blustery Sunday morning. And don't worry, nobody was using the rocking chair.

Friday, April 11, 2014

My Most Hated Garden Task and Ugly Pictures of the Homestead

Gosh it feels good to get back out in the garden.  There's enough snow melted that I can start on some of the pre-Spring cleaning tasks that have been on my mind since the snow started flying so many months ago.  Actually there are only a few piles on the north facing walls of the garage and house, so while there are a few spots I can't get to, there's a lot of stuff I can do.

I trimmed down some shrubs in the back yard that I've been meaning to hack back since we moved in 5 years ago.  The problem is that these shrubs were a huge attraction for nesting birds (specifically the grackles) and by the time I remembered to trim them, they were full of nesting birds.  Not wanting to be a truly heartless baby bird killing monster, I let them be for the season, vowing to trim the bushes once the birds had fledged, only to have the task escape my mind. 

I then set about tackling my most hated garden task.  Not because it's difficult, it's not.  It doesn't involve heavy lifting or manual labor, but I detest it, even more than scooping dog poop out of the back yard.  I hate it because it's the result of carelessness of others.  The task?  Picking up all the trash in the yard.  This is the single worst time for it too.  All the snow has melted, leaving behind 5 months of accumulated detritus and rubbish.  It's ugly. 
I didn't even need to go find a bag for all the trash, there was one conveniently located in a shrub in the yard.  Our house is on a corner, a straight shot from a main thoroughfare to the park and swimming pool. Not the best location for remaining trash free.  Every day I'm out in the yard in summertime I'm picking up trash.  My work outside shorts have designated trash pockets that I empty every time I walk past the trash can. I've often wondered how much I would accumulate if I saved up a years' worth of garbage I pick up from my yard, but that would probably just bum me out. 
Here's a super ugly picture of my yard.  No leaves on the trees, no Spring cleanup has taken place.  It's brown, leafless, dirty, in need of a good raking and tidying up.  I share this picture because I'm not afraid to show the ugly side of the garden too, somewhere a gardener is giving me mad props for my honesty.  Plus there was some cool alignment of the trash in the shrubs down the shrub line.
An energy drink can, a Styrofoam cup, and tucked under the right side of the bush is a plastic baggie filled with an assortment of pro-Jesus pamphlets.  I could have sworn that Jesus and/or the Bible might have mentioned something about not throwing thine crap in thy neighbors' yard, but I might be mistaken on that one. 
Just a 10 minute tour of the yard yielded me a plastic shopping bag full of trash.  It's stuff like this that makes me hate other people more than I already do.  But at least it only happens every day during the Spring/Summer/Fall seasons.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring has sprung!

It's going to be close to 70 degrees today, but Tito remains unimpressed. The girls, on the other hand, are eagerly awaiting the arrival of spring.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Snow Covered Clematis Trellis

The arrival of Spring took another step back when we got a foot of Springtime snow on Monday/Tuesday. The kind of heavy, wet snow that sticks to everything and makes for unique and very interesting photos.
This is the clematis trellis on the East side of the house.  I made this trellis a few years ago with concrete re-mesh leftover from making DIY Heavy Duty Tomato Cages.  It's kinda crazy that in a couple of months this will (hopefully) be full of Jackmanii Clematis, overflowing with green vines and billows of blueish flowers. 

Monday, March 31, 2014


We're in the midst of a late season Spring blizzard here in North Dakota. We might be mildly dreading all the shoveling and snow hauling that we'll be doing over the next few days, but for now we're enjoying our snow day.  The dogs are tucked away in their heated beds and the people are hunkered down on their couches, plugging away on various computerized work tasks.  Not bad for a Monday. 

The weather reports have indicated that there is a chance of a very rare weather phenomena - Thundersnow!! (yes exclamation points are required)  It's been reported to the Southwest of us and The National Weather Service predicts there's a chance that we'll get thundersnow here.  
I've heard thundersnow before when I lived in Connecticut many years ago. I distinctly remember thinking how cool it was to have a thunder cell embedded in a snow storm.  The convection that you need for thunder and lightning is almost always associated with warmer storms, the typical tropical summer thunderstorm, and pretty rare for snow making systems.  We're on baited breath here hoping for thundersnow.  Intrigued?  NASA has a pretty great article if you want to learn more about Thundersnow

Sunday, March 30, 2014

End of March Blizzard

The headline from the National Weather Service says - End of March Blizzard...No Foolin'. 
If the various weather experts are to be believed, we're in store for 10 to 20 inches of snow starting early tomorrow morning and all throughout the day.  No promises, but we could have some "Puppy playing in the piles of fresh snow" movies by tomorrow.  You can hope for that, I'll be busy hoping for a snow day, or two.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

More Talking Dogs and Talking Titos' Tax Tips

When Alycia sent me the videos of talking dogs while she was on Spring break last week, I naturally did my best to take it to its fullest logical conclusion.  It was a busy weekend of chores, outings, watching March Madness Basketball, and lots of grading tests/assignments for work.  I did manage to make the following Tito video. It makes me laugh.
Then I got to thinking - "What would be the funniest thing that I could get Tito (and the other dogs) to say?" The best idea I had was that Tito could read from my Income Tax textbook.  But that quickly lead me to realize that it doesn't have to be funny, my students could totally learn tax stuff from a talking dog!!! If just once while they're working during tax season, or taking a test in my class and they remember one of Talking Titos' Tax Tips, well then it has all been worth it. 

We thought these were so informative, that we created a separate page here on Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes.  You can see all of Talking Titos' Tax Tips for yourself. And yes, I've made all of these videos available as a resource to my students. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Professor Cummings on Spring Break

What does a high level academic like Professor Cummings do on Spring Break? Are you envisioning thoughtful Ivory Tower contemplation?  Data analysis with scientific looking computer graphics? Grant writing?  Scientific examination of complex brain wave patterns of language development?  Or this...
This was one of three videos that Alycia/Professor Cummings e-mailed me the other day while I was at work.  Proof positive that she was hard at work with high level academic matters.
I was quite impressed that Alycia was able to teach all three dogs to talk in only a matter of a few days.  This is all courtesy of an app from her iPad called My Talking Pet.  It's highly entertaining, but maybe not the high level stuff you'd expect from a college Professor.