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.



Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Pictures

We spent Thanksgiving with Alycia's family up in the countryside of Cavalier, North Dakota.  As always, there was a fantastic collection of delicious Thanksgiving treats. The pie lineup alone was impressive.
Pumpkin, pumpkin, cherry, pecan, mini-pumpkin, apple.  I made their acquaintance later that day and they seemed quite content to make my acquaintance as well. 
We've got a picture like this from every dinner we've had at the Cavalier Estate.  After dinner for people is snacks for dogs time.  Previously mischievous pups suddenly remember their manners and recall how to sit nicely when there are gooey bits of warm turkey to be handed out.
Tito the four legged pre-wash cycle helps out by cleaning off a dinner plate.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Black Friday Woe

The orgy of gluttonous consumption that is Black Friday is pretty repellant to me.  People standing in line for hours to pay money they don't have for things they don't really need seems wrong on so many levels.  Big box stores opening up on midnight and making their employees (employees they obviously consider expendable cogs in the machine) work on Thanksgiving Day seems cruel.  The all encompassing media advertising blitz for the days leading up to Black Friday just becomes nauseating in its repetition and intensity. 

All this seems like like a microcosm of the many of the woes of our society: the glorification of shopping and spending, the promotion of the idea that buying stuff and spending money will make you happy/loved/appreciated/accomplished, the insatiable yearning for the next disposable electronic gadget, the over-saturation of advertising into every aspect of life, and the indoctrination of younger and younger people into the cult of spending.  It all just seems like such a waste.
Flickr Photo Credit
It wasn't that long ago, just a few years, that I heard happy Black Friday stories.  Groups of friends or family going to a few stores at 5:00 am for some early Christmas shopping, then spending hours over coffee and breakfast at the local diner swapping gossip and catching up.  The talk and the focus was on people and camaraderie and Holiday sweaters, not the sanctification of gladiatorial combat shopping. I don't hear the happy anecdotal Black Friday stories anymore, just tales of people pushing others down, fighting in stores over stuff, and overspending. 

How was Black Friday 2011?  This article titled Violence, pepper spray mars Black Friday shopping should give you a clue.  Is this media sensationalism of a few minor incidents?  Absolutely.  Should we avoid generalizing based on a few isolated incidents?  Probably.  Is it disgusting that a woman pepper sprayed 20 people so she could gain an advantage on buying a Nintendo?  Yup.  Does it say a lot about us that people broke into and looted a store because they were angry it didn't open right at midnight, as advertised?  I think so.  Am I saying that capitalism is wrong and evil?  Nope, not at all.  

I'm not trying to claim that I'm holier than thou or attempting to convert anyone.  I buy stuff.  I go to malls (rarely).  I have a television.  But over the last decade I've tried to give more Christmas presents that I made.  Homemade jam or applesauce, candy from the local chocolate shop, items bought at local craft fairs, tins of homemade cookies and fudge, used books.  Contrary to the messages in advertising, NOT spending money has actually made me happier.  Much happier.
Flickr Photo Credit

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Beyond the Turducken

When I was back in Southern California I heard about a magical creature called a turducken.  It's like the griffin/unicorn/centaur of holiday meat.  They've become popular and trendy in recent years, and if you haven't heard about it, or had the pleasure of eating one, it's simply a turkey with a chicken and a duck layered and stuffed inside each other, all deboned and each stuffed with a different style of stuffing.  I thought I would never be able to embrace more than the theory of the turducken when I discovered that the old-school butcher shop near where I lived (Iowa Meat Farms) in San Diego made turduckens for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I had one for a few Thanksgivings and it quickly became a holiday tradition for me.  So when I met Alycia, and her parents came out for Thanksgiving, I thought it would be a good way to introduce them to the fantastical world of mixed martial meats.  Her parents were initially skeptical but quickly embraced the idea once they had the opportunity to taste the delicious carnival of meat that is the turducken.
The Quaducant - Photo from http://www.delish.com/food/recalls-reviews/better-than-the-turducken

It was with great delight that I read an article Alycia's Mom, Mama Bear, forwarded me called Beyond the Turducken: Five Birds That Will Blow Your Mind.  It's a short article, and well worth it to learn about the Turbaconducken (turducken wrapped in bacon) and the True love Roast:
This True Love Roast from chef Phillip Corrick and creator Devon farmer Anne Petch can feed up to 125 people, took eight hours to prepare, is over 50,000 calories, and was stuffed with...are you sitting down...ready? Goose, Barbary duck, Guinea fowl, Mallard, Poussin, Quail, Partridge, Pigeon squab, Pheasant, Chicken, and finally, an Aylesbury duck.
Yay for extreme meat, and super thanks to Mama Bear for passing along this article.  Happy Thanksgiving to all and may your meal (meat or not) be tasty and delicious!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

That Lull In Postings

That noticeable lack of postings recently has been attributed to my being sick.  Not a little bit of a cold, a touch of stuffy nose sick, but honest to goodness feeling really crappy.  This recent sickness coincided with my return from working in California.  There's nothing quite like a plane ride with painful sinuses and ears popping every 20 minutes from the pressure.  Ugh.

I'm trying to decide if I indeed had the flu, all the symptoms were there - but is it too early for the flu?  Maybe it was the swine flu, or aardvark flu?  I'd like to think I got it out of the way early this year. My purpose here isn't complain, but to illuminate.  I know that verily, thousands of Internetters were poised in front of their computers wishing and yearning for a new Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes post. 

And if any of my readers are interested, I have a sure fire weight loss protocol.  Just come on over and we can make out (Alycia may not like this), you'll catch whatever I have and in a week or so when you regain full consciousness, Blammo!! you'll be 10 pounds lighter.  Works like a charm.  If you are averse to making out with me (most are), then feel free to come over with a couple of pastries/desserts (cookie, donut, danish, croissant, etc).  I'll eat one and then sneeze and cough on the other one for you to eat, you'll catch whatever I have and in a week or so when you regain full consciousness, Blammo!! you'll be 10 pounds lighter.  Just thinking of ways to help you, loyal reader. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

One Year Puppy-Versary

What better way to celebrate a life milestone than a musical picture montage.  Enjoy.
video
The song is "Awake My Soul" by Mumford and Sons

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hairy Woodpecker Visit

No this isn't some segue into a bad joke or grimace inducing pun.  We have a good number of woodpeckers here in our homestead in North Dakota, and the other day I happened to snap a pretty good photo of a Hairy Woodpecker on a tree in the backyard.  I even circled it on the photo for ease of locating it. 
You can't quite see the red patch on his head, but you can read more about the Hairy Woodpecker and see much better pictures that the one I have here.

The Hairy Woodpecker isn't the biggest of the woodpeckers that live in North Dakota, that honor goes to the Pileated Woodpecker (See more info and pictures here).  We had a Pileated Woodpecker briefly stop and visit us last fall off and on for a few weeks.  On the couple of occasions where he was working on a tree, you could certainly hear it, the sound was unmistakable and LOUD.

Alycia's parents had a Pileated Woodpecker in their backyard for a few months over the summer who hollowed out a significant size cavity on a dead tree.  It was pretty impressive to see the size of the hole and the amount of sawdust and tree chunks produced by just one bird. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Family Visit Photos

Here are a few more choice photos from the family visit to Grand Forks, North Dakota at the beginning of October.
We plopped little nephew Jacob in his stroller and went for a stroll (one must use a stroller when strolling) along the Greenway to bustling downtown Grand Forks.  It was a lovely day, pleasantly warm Fall weather with leaves turning all manner of yellow and gold as I posed with my big sister and Jacob.
We didn't make it to the pumpkin patch, so instead Jacob and his parents posed for the one pumpkin growing in our yard.  It's not as dramatic as a picture surrounded by dozens of orange Halloween squashes, but the everyone looks great, a fantastic family photo that I will expect to see on a Christmas card in the coming months. 
We drove up to Cavalier for the day and Alycia's Dad had a chance to explain to Jacob why the Minnesota Vikings are so terrible this year.
Alycia's Mom (Mama Bear) also had a chance to play with baby Jacob.  This picture was taken after the intensive Mama Bear led seminar on "Modern Interpretations and re-creations of Cubist period art using squished mashed potatoes".

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sleeping Puppies

For once we're going to stay true to our name and actually feature some deaf dogs.  And nobody can say "no" to a cute sleeping puppy picture.
I put a picture like this on Facebook a few months ago and a few days later my friend asked me "What the hell was that a picture of?  Was that a dog?"  I explained that yes it was a dog, our beloved puppy all curled up in a crazy heap of limbs and ears and rib cage and spots.
Here's a closer view of the mess.  It usually takes her a minute or two to get all untangled and wake up from a nap like this.
Here's a more normal sleeping pose.  Awww.....

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

PHHS On The National Stage

My alma mater, Patrick Henry High School, made the news recently for electing two lesbian girls as homecoming king and queen.  It's hard to believe that this is still a headline making event worthy of being relayed by CNN, but it's even harder to believe the number of hateful calls and e-mails the school has received from around the country.
“What is especially disappointing is that adults who have contacted the school, many of whom are not even San Diego residents, are demonstrating such a lack of tolerance and are presenting such a negative role model for children with their hateful comments,” San Diego schools superintendent Bill Kowba said Monday.
You can see the CNN Story here or read about it in the San Diego Union Tribune.