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.



Saturday, January 29, 2011

Baby Pictures - My New Nephew

As promised, pictures of my new nephew Jacob. 
And props to my Dad who upon reading my last post promptly sent me a real, full sized picture of Jacob, thus proving that he not only reads the blog, but has very strong computer skills.  I didn't ask how long the picture sending process took though, or how many people were involved in assisting. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Uncle John

Prior to a last week, my only experience with Uncle John has been the fabulous and satisfying collections of the Uncle John's bathroom reader series.  These books come in many editions and have been given to me through the years by friends and family.  Apparently for those who know me, the assumption is that I spend a large amount of time in the bathroom.  This is actually untrue, I am quite efficient.

If you are the type of person that needs some diversionary fun and educational enlightenment whilst taking care of daily activities, I would highly recommend the Uncle John's bathroom reader series, they're full of small vignettes that leave you both enlightened and lightened.  (This is probably the first/only poop joke, poop pun, or extensive scatological reference we've had here at the normally very high brow Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes, so quit yer whinin'.)



But now the title of "Uncle John" has new and special meaning, mostly because I am officially an Uncle.  Uncle John to be specific.  My sister and her husband had their first child and I'm officially an Uncle. 

I don't have any photos of the new baby to post (Jacob Brent is his name), since all I've gotten are cell phone pictures of my new nephew.  As soon as I get some real photos, I'll be sure to post them. Unfortunately since sister and her hubby are in the crazy first weeks of dealing with the new arrival, we have to rely on my Dad to supply pictures, which is why I don't have any real pics yet.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Deaf Puppy Picture of The Week

I've been alternating between dealing with the basement finishing (much more on this in another post) and working at the computer.  Puppy has been curled up behind my chair in a "too-small-for-me-but-I-don't-care" sized dog bed.  They're all leg and awkward neck angle at this age. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Jungle Gym For Dogs

For Christmas we decided to purchase a jungle gym for the pups to play on.  But since we frequently have weather that isn't conducive to outside playing, we chose an indoor jungle gym.
Just climb right up there.  Don't fall.
All the way up to the top of the jungle gym you go.
Shaak Ti wanted to play on the jungle gym too, so she hopped on up. 

In case you couldn't tell. the jungle gym is actually Alycia's Dad.  Whenever he sits in this particular chair the dogs (Tito excepting) feel compelled to climb on him and sit on his lap/chest/neck.  He's a pretty good sport about it. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Morning Temps

It's -18 this morning, with a bit of a breeze from the North makes the wind chill about -35 (or so says the Grand Forks Herald website).  We're currently under a wind chill advisory from the National Weather Service and headed for a forecast high of -5.  These are the rough days, when the high temperature is still negative.  Ugh. 

We're supposed to stay cold all week with a possible break on Friday for some light snow.  It could be a good week to spend most of our time inside, today for sure.  I hope you're warm and dry wherever you are. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Princess Bed and the Puppy

My parents never let us have a dog when we were kids.  The excuses were pretty standard parental excuses - house cleanliness, adequate backyard space, walking and feeding responsibilities, my sister's allergies etc.  Every time we asked to get a dog, the answer was a firm and decisive "No".  End of story. 

I think it was that childhood doggy repression that has led to the overabundance of pooches that all us siblings currently have.  I have 3 (assuming I count Tito as a dog, which I usually don't), my brother has 2, and my sister has 5*.  And since my sister has begun recently downsizing to a smaller house, she's had to get rid of some of the several dozen dog beds** that she currently owns.
* sizes of her dogs - 2 XXL, 1 L, and 2 XXS.  The sizes could not be more extreme.  Two of them are black Labs that are 120 pounds and two are Chihuahuas are like 6 pounds. 
** I'm actually not embellishing on this one, she has a TON of dog beds in her house.  Their bedroom is huge and the floor is literally a sea of dog beds. 

She generously gave us a few of these extra dog beds, which was great.  You can always use a few extras and they're mother expensive to purchase.  As I've mentioned before, one of the beds was a pink and white frilly bed that said "Princess" on the side.  From the second we brought it home and set it on the floor, Tito loved it.  Loved it.  Who knew that Tito was a princess trapped in a angry ball of fur?  Well, I suspected.  As the old adage goes "give a dog a princess bed and they're a princess for a day, give Tito a princess bed and he's a princess forever".  Or something like that.  
Tito on the right loves his princess bed.  Loves it.  This of course leads to an inordinate amount of smack talk on my behalf towards him.  Since he can't hear (and likely wouldn't care anyways) it seems perfectly fine to taunt him about his preference for a pink frilly, lacy bed.  Puppy is not to be outdone in the princess category and tries to fit in the little orange princess bed* on the left.  She's a little too rough and tumble to be a delicate little flower.
* OK technically it's not a princess bed since it says "Happy Spring" on the side, but since we're in the throes of winter, it ain't no Happy Spring right now.
Not to be outdone by Tito's frequent princess Tours de Force, puppy tries to be a super double princess, by laying in both princess beds.  Sorry kiddo you're too big for those. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

You Can't Fight City Hall

Or so the old saying goes.  But right now, I don't want to fight City Hall.  In fact if I could, I'd go right now and give City Hall a big hug.

My previous experiences with City Hall and official business was in San Diego when I had various legal type items to deal with, mostly simple property issues related to the house in San Diego.  A handful of visits there always yielded the same result; waiting and waiting for some jackalope to break away from their coffee break with the five other "workers" so they could be bothered to come help me.  Said help was always slow to materialize, hampered by poor communication skills and abject indifference, and almost always resulted in my being told to go a different department where the process was repeated ad nauseum.

This process was merely annoying and time consuming until I realized that these city employees were the same jackalopes who could retire at 50 with a six figure pension and were the reason that San Diego, and cities just like throughout California, were sinking in a financial abyss.  This made me angry.  Very angry. 

So when it came about that I had to go to City Hall here in Grand Forks to get a building permit for finishing our basement and dog licenses for the pooches, I dreaded the visit.  Not only did I dread the visit, but I did what I always do with unsavory tasks, I procrastinated.  Yes, I procrastinated like a champ. Delaying, dallying, making excuses, and otherwise putting off things I don't want to do is probably one of my best characteristics (and also probably my most unmarketable job skill). Eventually I ran out of excuses to toss Alycia's way, sucked it up, and went down to City Hall. 

Since I don't know the area and things were covered in snow, it took me a few minutes to find the right building.  This made me a little frustrated and I anticipated taking out my frustration and angst (there was some of that in there too) on some hapless city employee.  Unfortunately for me and my cathartic anger urges, the process couldn't have been easier or more pleasant.  I had to go to two different departments and the total time it took was maybe 10 minutes.  Each employee was pleasant, competent, efficient, and very helpful, a super good combination. 

I literally walked out of City Hall happy and enthused, thankful for the helpful folk I encountered and determined to apologize to the Grand Forks City Hall employees who I prejudged, in the most public forum available to mankind, the Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes blog.  Sorry Grand Forks City Hall, it was wrong of me to judge ye.  Ye are quite awesome. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Chilly Willy

The mythical cartoon penguin would probably even be chilly outside in Grand Forks, North Dakota tonight.  The vaunted local weather folks have predicted a low this evening/tomorrow morning of -26.  Sorry my Canadian friends I don't know what that translates into in terms of degrees Celsius, but it's probably like -144 Celsius.  Luckily there is no wind, which is nice because any breeze would make it feel even colder, which would be whack. 

If I can get my fingers thawed out tomorrow, I'll take the camera outside and get some artistic shots of the large icicles hanging from the Grandma-mobile.  Or Alycia and I will go to Arby's.  We'll see which one happens.

Or if you're cold enough, you could find a furry companion to snuggle up with.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Christmas Bandannas (not Christmas Bananas)

When we went up North to Cavalier for Christmas we naturally took all the puppies with us.  Who better to appreciate the splendor of a Christmas morning in the country (as well as the tasty handouts after Christmas dinner).  Puppies and people had their first Christmas surprise when Mama Bear (Alycia's Mom) announced that she had purchased handsome bandannas for all the puppies to wear on Christmas.

I laughed out loud when I heard this idea since it didn't seem feasible to me to dress up not just one dog, but all the dogs up at once, and I quickly set about mocking the idea.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  You see we never dress up our dogs (except for vital winter survival sweaters on walks) and between their lack of familiarity with dog clothing and puppy, well being a spazzy puppy, I thought the odds of those bandannas staying on any of our dogs were infinitesimal.
Uncle Mozzie and his green bandanna.  He gets dressed up pretty frequently by the Bear Family so I wasn't shocked that he didn't put up a fuss.  He also gets lured into submission with tasty treats, so I wasn't surprised that his holiday neckerchief stayed on.
Tito models his Christmas Cravat from the comfort of Leesha's lap (say that five times in a row really fast).  Tito HATES wearing anything but an angry glare, so I was shocked when he didn't scratch at it and it stayed around his neck all day.  I'm chalking this up to his being distracted by the turkey in the oven and all the delicious smells and dropped tidbits on the kitchen floor.  But still...
Here's Shaak Ti in her striking blue and black bandanna, very sharp indeed.  
And lastly, the puppy in her multi-colored neck ornament.  Ms. Puppy left her kerchief alone all day long, didn't try to pull it off, chew on it, or mess with it.  I was shocked, shocked. 

The dogs kept their festive neckwear on ALL DAY.  Not only did I have to have a mega mea culpa and take back all my smack talking to Mama Bear, but after dinner when everyone else was enjoying delicious apple and pumpkin pies, all I had was a large slice of room temperature humble pie.  Sigh...
One last shot of Tito and Shaak Ti, aka the Bandanna Duo. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!!!

Happy New Year faithful blog readers!!!  May 2011 bring you much happiness, financial success (if desired), many puppy kisses (if you have dogs, if not that might be weird), tasty gluten free goods (if applicable), and all the friends and family you can shake a stick at.  Hopefully you've made all your New Years resolutions by now, one of which should be to bring new readers here to the Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes blog.  Remember any new readers that become a follower get their own personalized shout out (apologies to lifeshighway - I'm getting to yours I promise)

We had a decent snowstorm roll through last night (Blizzard Dave to be precise) and I've got to get suited up, throw on my bunny fur lined "Mad Bomber" hat and attend to some snowblowing and shoveling tasks outside.  I've much more to say about the awesome-ness of my Mad Bomber hat, but I'll have to save that for another post. 

BD (Blizzard Dave) only left 6 or 8 inches but there were some wicked winds that left bare concrete in some places and 2 foot drifts in other places.  The neighborhood is starting to buzz with activity, snowblowers and ATV's with snow plow attachments are making their rounds, and I don't want to be the last one with an uncleared driveway.

After a couple of hours of outside work time I'll settle down, watch some college football bowl games, and post all the puppy pictures from Christmas and recent fun festivities.  So stay tuned for awesome puppy pictures and whatever other awesome-radness may be up my sleeve (gluten free recipes, rants about current events, a new poll for the New Year, and maybe pictures of the elusive breast cancer crane in Grand Forks which is becoming my white whale, my golden unicorn).  That which is unattainable yet constantly pursued.