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.



Friday, November 30, 2012

Snowman blown up

It's been a slow time for odd news posted in the Grand Forks Herald. Luckily, with the colder weather, people seem to do stupider things and this gem was spotted in the Friday, Nov. 30th edition of the Herald.

Snowman destroyed in Bismarck explosion
By: Associated Press

BISMARCK — The heat was too much for a snowman in North Dakota.
Bismarck Police Sgt. Mark Buschena tells The Bismarck Tribune that the snowman was destroyed Wednesday in an explosion. Buschena says the police report does not say whether the snowman was made up of snow or a holiday decoration. There was no damage amount listed for the snowman.
A 47-year-old woman reported the exploding snowman when she called to tell authorities about an explosion outsider her home.
An officer who responded to the scene found black duct tape and pieces of sparklers in the yard and in the street.
Buschena says another neighbor reported seeing a white Chevrolet Suburban stop in front of the home and toss something from a window.
Buschena says there are no suspects.


Alycia's comments: I honestly don't know what to say about this. Why a poor defenseless snowman was targeted was beyond me. I like that they don't know whether it was a snow snowman or a holiday "plastic" snowman - wouldn't that be easy to figure out? And, I gotta say that people who drive white cars (we have a white Subaru) are obviously dangerous...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Deaf Dog Myths Dispelled

As proud owners of three deaf dogs Alycia and I have become accidental advocates for informing others about the wonders of adopting a deaf dog.  This wasn't a deliberate or conscious choice by any means.  If you had told me 10 years ago that I would live with three deaf dogs and try to become an ambassador for helping to spread the word about how awesome they are, I would have laughed at the ridiculousness of such a statement.

But being de facto ambassadors for deaf dogs has become a unique and fun role for both Alycia and I as we gently and kindly explain (to often disbelieving people) that our dogs happen to be unable to hear.  Many people are initially incredulous and say things like "Really?!?!", and "Are you sure?", and then "Really?" again.  After their initial surprise there usually follows some questions about what deaf dogs are like, and unfortunately these questions often involve some repetition of some of dis-proven myths about deaf dogs.  

There are some great websites out there that go into greater detail about the incorrect and harmful myths about deaf dogs - among them DDEAF and D2Care stand out, and are both terrific and informative websites that help to dispel the myths of deaf dogs. But today, with personal testimony and video evidence, I will personally dispel a few of the most common deaf dog myths.

Myth #1:  Deaf dogs are harder to train/not as smart as hearing dogs.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Radio Interview - Monday, November 26, 2012

If you happen to be sitting by a computer this Monday at 3pm Central (1pm Pacific), you can tune in to a radio interview with yours truly.  My new employer, Northland Community and Technical College, has a radio station and I've agreed to the interviewed on Monday morning, and then they'll air the interview at 3 pm.  I assume the large gap of time between the interview and airing time is to bleep out all the salty language I'm certain to use.

Even if you're not available to listen live, I've been promised an mp3 audio file of the interview, which I will promptly post to the fabulous Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes website for all of my awesome readers.  Here's the website for the radio station if you want to listen in live on Monday afternoon. 

Pioneer 90.1 Radio Northland.

If you do listen in (either live or in the mpeg I promise to post later), you're sure to learn many new and wondrous things about yours truly, such as: my actual name, what I do for a living, what I've done in the past, and how I came to North Dakota.  It could be entertaining.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Stephen Cave - Who killed Knut?

Very interesting article about Knut the Polar Bear, his untimely death while in captivity, and the paradox of zoos.
"Rather than raising awareness, zoos might be hindering us from recognising the reality. We humans are not the Ark; we are the flood."
Stephen Cave - Who killed Knut?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Updates from the Homestead

There have been a few things happening around the Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes homestead, nothing significant, but since I've been remiss in updating everyone lately, it's probably time to catch you up (and make a few excuses for my lack of bloggering recently) with what's been happening. 

Last weekend saw some measurable snow here in Grand Forks, North Dakota.  Not a lot, only 2-3 inches, but it was followed by some very cold temperatures that allowed the snow to stay on the ground.  So we went from Fall to Winter very quickly, with 50 degree Fall days to ice crusted sidewalks in a few days.  Bummer.  

We've also been visited again by our Pileated Woodpecker friend.  We snapped some pictures and posted them in the recent Pileated Woodpecker post, but haven't been able to snap a good photo of the woodpeckers subsequent visits.  That's OK though, it was just fun to watch the woodpecker frolic around the front yard.

The big reason for my lack of blogging has been a recent knee injury.  It's been a rough month with two cortisone shots (shoulder, knee), two X-Rays (shoulder, knee), and an MRI (knee), and the bottom line is that I'm barely able to walk up stairs or around the block without severe discomfort/pain.  The preliminary diagnosis is a torn meniscus or floating body in the knee, and some other "rough cartilage".  I've got an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon next week to read the MRI and discuss a more specific diagnosis and options.

I'm always hesitant to reveal personal issues for fear of turning this noble blog into a "woe is me" missive, but this immobilization has been tough for me.  I've not only had to stop playing basketball and volleyball (I play 4-5 days a week) but also modify my Pilates routine (this is easy since my instructor is awesome) and pretty much suspend any and all physical activity.  This totally makes sense since walking upstairs to go to the bathroom or 50 yards from my office to a classroom is very difficult, but it's been hard to grapple with no exercise in my life.  We'll keep you updated with our prognosis and let you know what happens.        

Friday, November 16, 2012

Passport to Your National Parks, Part 2

Alycia here again.  There was such a resounding level of interest in my first posting on the national parks passport program, I thought I would continue to give you more information on the program.

One of the first things you should know if you want to do this, is that many of the big parks actually have more than one stamping cancellation spot - and each spot has a separate cancellation stamp. This means that you could get 2, or three, or even more different stamps at one park. For example, when we were in Yosemite earlier this year, I got stamps at the main visitors center in Yosemite Valley, Big Oak Flat, Wawona Hotel, and Happy Isles Nature Center. We didn't get to Hetch Hetchy, and we couldn't find the Tuolumne Meadows spot.

Another thing to keep in mind if you do the passport program is that only the national parks, monuments, etc. operated by the National Park Service (NPS) are officially part of this program. I found this out because as we were driving through Montana, I saw a National Landmark sign for Pompeys Pillar. I made John make a split-second decision to exit the freeway and stop.

It actually was a nice place and they did have a stamp, but it wasn't the same stamp as the NPS stops - it was just a picture of the pillar, no cancellation with a date, etc. And then I realized that Pompeys Pillar is operated by the Bureau of Land Management - not the NPS. So, long story short, just because you see a highway/freeway sign for a National Monument, etc., it might not actually be a part of the passport program.

On our mammoth two-week road trip in May 2012, I was able to get stamps at four different NPS sites, as well as Pompeys Pillar. Again, as I've mentioned before, I got my four stamps at Yosemite and one stamp at Devils Tower. I also got the stamp at the John Muir Historical Site.

This was a really neat place hidden in the midst of the freeways of the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area. I lived in the Bay Area for 6 years and had never heard of this place - it was John Muir's home, when he wasn't wandering around Yosemite.

It is still a working farm/fruit orchard and if you go at the right time of year, visitors can eat the fruit from the trees. In addition, there is a giant sequoia that John Muir brought from Yosemite and is continuing to grow.

And the other place that I got a stamp was at the Painted Canyon site in Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TRNP) in western North Dakota. There are other stamp sites in TRNP and I'm hoping to get those on another trip.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Passport to Your National Parks

Alycia here.  One of my new and favorite hobbies, beyond tending to the dogs and garden has become visiting National Parks, and more specifically using my Passport to the National Parks as a vessel to guide my visits. Now, I don't know exactly why the Passport strikes my fancy so much. I've come up with four possible reasons so far: 1) It's quite possibly because I'm just a kid at heart. 2) Possibly it's because I hang out with 3-7 year old kids on a daily basis (as a speech-language pathologist), and during our sessions we spend a lot of time playing with stickers and stamps. 3) Perhaps I really am a geeky academic who likes to collect data, and the stamps are a good way for me to keep track of where I've been. Or finally, 4) Possibly, I'm just a cheap tourist and this is a good souvenir that doesn't cost much and fits easily into my little travel bags. But in any case, I get a big kick out of collecting the cancellation stamps at the National Parks and Monuments that we visit, and collecting their accompanying stickers that go with the cancellation stamps.

I first saw the Passports on our trip to Yellowstone in 2010. I was too meek at that point in time to buy a passport on that trip (something that I'm regretting to this day). I thought that it was something only for kids, little did I know that there is a National Park Travelers Club for adults. John bought me my passport book the following Christmas and I was just waiting to use it until this summer when we went on our two week road trip from North Dakota to California and back.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the passport program. In all of the national park visitor centers (and sometimes other places, as well), there is a stand that looks like this one at Devils Tower:

Once you see the stand, you'll probably start to notice people doing things like this, as I did at Devils Tower and in Yosemite:



And finally, you may see people admiring their finished products:



Anyway, I came to the idea of National Parks a bit late in life - primarily because North Dakota doesn't have many. But, I'm really taken by the idea of them (also having greatly enjoyed Ken Burns' National Park PBS series) and hope to plan many vacations around visiting national parks in the future. So, if you see me (or another adult) lurking around with a funny little book and stickers in a National Park visitors' center near you, don't judge us - join us in supporting national parks...

Friday, November 9, 2012

Back on Track

Various sinister forces have conspired to keep me from posting on the blog recently.  Between my new job, lots of Fall garden clean up work, canning and making preparations for winter, a bad knee (probably a torn meniscus that will require some surgery - more on this later), and a nasty cold that has left me feeling utterly crappy, it's been a struggle to get anything posted here on the blog. 

We've got a lot of things to inform you about including dog Halloween pictures (the only time of the year we dress up our dogs), vacation photos from our trip to England waayyyy back in September, and numerous canning and garden projects.  The weather is supposed to be snowy and windy this weekend, so we'll hunker down and get some blog posts written so that the world is up to speed on the happenings here. 

Hearing about my suffering and in the interest of making sure the world has adequate regular helpings of Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes, we were visited by a superhero recently who promised to help us get things back on track...