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, February 24, 2013

Saying Goodbye

We have some sad news to report from the Cummings-Chappell estate, one of our beloved fishies, Grommie, passed away on Valentine's Day, 2013.
Grommie, who got his name from me because he was a Gourami fish, actually pre-dated me in John's life. Thus, up to now, Grommie has been a constant in my life and relationship with John. He was a quiet, peaceful fellow always just hanging around in the aquarium. He watched many other fish come and go and was a nice, predictable constant in my life.

When we moved from San Diego to North Dakota, I convinced John that Grommie should come along. I don't quite know what John thought we would do with him if we didn't bring him along, but I didn't want to think about it. We bought a small 10 gallon "travel" aquarium and so Grommie sloshed around in the back of the Camry for 2000 miles. Every night on our roadtrip, John would have to carry the aquarium into our hotel room so that we could fill his tank with more water and then plug in his air filter/pump so that we could give him some more air.

Recently, Grommie hadn't been doing well. He had been resting a lot on the bottom of the tank, often not moving very well - some days it almost looked like he was paralyzed on one side. I am glad to say that I did not find him, John did. It's always a sad day to have to fish out your dead fish from the tank. Currently, Grommie is resting in a plastic baggie in a box in our freezer. When it is warm and the soil thaws, we're going to bury him next to some of our purple irises.
 Photo credits: http://www.aquariumfish.net

Friday, February 22, 2013

Page View Milestone

Your obedient blogging servant El Gaucho is greatly honored by the recent milestone of 50,000 page views that we reached at approximately 2:44 AM EST this morning.  From humble beginnings and its even humbler current state, the Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes blog continues to exceed all expectations.
Unfortunately Shadowfax was less than impressed with this announcement, radiating sleepy indifference from her cozy slumberball/blanket cave.  Fear not little deaf dog, there are more earth shattering happenings in your future.  You see, Spring is just out of reach over the horizon...and the gnomes are stirring.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Snowdrifts and Icicles

A decent snowstorm blew through on Sunday night and into Monday, not a lot of snow only 4 or 5 inches, but a whole lot of wind.  Wind gusts reached into the 50+ mph range Sunday night and all day Monday causing blizzard conditions and the town of Grand Forks to effectively shut down.  The drift below was in front of the garage door, facing West.
Even though there wasn't much snow, that much wind can leave some large drifts and strange formations carved out of snow. 
This beautiful snow drift was along the south facing wall of the garage, was nearly two feet high, and had a near vertical face on one side.  It was gorgeous and mysterious at the same time.  The force of the wind and eddies created by the buildings worked in combination to sculpt this snow drift.  
Enjoying the unusual snow formations went a long way to make up for the cold early morning snow shoveling and snow removal.  As the front passed, bitterly cold air filled in behind it, leaving the area in wind chill warnings from Monday evening through the end of the day Wednesday.  Chilly.  Even though the calendar says it's coming soon, Spring seems a long way off.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Blind Dachshund Painter

Via Facebook friends I came across this lovely little gem - a blind longhaired dashund who paints and sells her paintings with the proceeds going to help one of her local rescue groups. I'm trying to convince John that we should buy a painting. I'm not in to art, but I think this is in a class all by itself. Check it out, it's fun!

http://www.hallieart.com/index.php


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Avian Amazonian Ecto and Endo Parasite Research

What?  You heard me.  Avian Amazonian Ecto and Endo Parasitie Research.  Essentially, researching the different kinds of external (ecto) and internal (endo) parasites in Amazonian birds.  Why the heck would I be mentioning this?  Do I have avian parasites myself?   Well no, though I wouldn't blame you for making such an assumptions, but even if I did this probably wouldn't be the forum for such a revelation.

Alycia was accepted in a grant writing workshop at the University, it's essentially a writers workshop for 6 professors with 6 mentors.  But instead of sharing their respective fiction writing with a group of fellow writers, each person is sharing their scientific grant proposal with a group of fellow scientists.  The purpose of the group is to improve their grant writing skills and for the next several weeks each group member will read a grant proposal from another Professor in another field.

So this morning when Alycia asked me "Guess what I'm reading?", I was a little taken aback when she said "an Avian Amazonian Ecto and Endo Parasite Research Proposal".  A biology professor who specializes in avian parasites had written a grant that the group was reviewing.  It made for an interesting discussion and apparently interesting reading too.  For this particular proposed study they intended to capture most specimens in a mist net, and the secondary method of specimen collection?  Let's just say that shotguns were involved.  Yes science and shotguns can go together.
"Excuse Mr. McCaw, I apologize for the nature of my inquiry, but uhhh, do you have worms?  Ticks?  Other parasites?  Please just answer the question, I am armed."
Unbeknownst to many, Big Bird and Hilary Clinton were part of a Blue Ribbon Commission back in the 1990's to study avian parasites, but the Republican majority House buried the bill in committee.  Scientific research in the field has never quite recovered.  The photo credits (which are actually in the National Archive) didn't disclose who the third person is in the photo, but if I'm not mistaken it is the Speaker of the House at the time Mr. Newt Gingrich.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Waiting for Bigfoot

Entertaining article from Outside magazine about spending the night in the Ohio wilderness hunting for Bigfoot.

Waiting for Bigfoot

Spoiler alert - they don't actually find Bigfoot.  The author comes to realize that camping out in the middle of nowhere with good friends is an enriching component of life, whether or not you find proof of a giant hairy hominid.