A transplanted Southern Californian living in North Dakota Idaho, with some insights 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, December 27, 2013

A Gnome-y, Doggie Christmas

Merry Belated Christmas to all of our faithful readers. John is taking the night off so I thought I'd post a few photos of some of our awesome presents.

I have a fairly extensive t-shirt collection, thanks in large part to John's diligence. I got 4 t-shirts this year: an In-N-Out shirt (I still love California and all it has to offer), a Wallace shirt (he looks shockingly like Shadowfax on the shirt), a fluffy (not fat) sheep shirt.
and quite fittingly for this blog, a gnome taxi t-shirt.
All of them are awesome and I look forward to sporting them on a regular basis. I really look forward to the day when I have tenure. Then, I might start wearing them to school...

Also in support of the gnome theme, John's brother and sister-in-law sent me some excellent gnome knee socks - let's count the silent letters there. And, they also sent us a homemade gnome. Here he is resting quietly on our new plant stand.
If you look closely on his bag, she painted a fairly good likeness of Shadowfax (complete with a pink collar).
And finally, possibly one of the most awesome presents ever, I got a dachshund lamp. Not quite the leg lamp from the Christmas Story, but quite close. I new what it was when it arrived, as the box said white dachshund, but I held off until Christmas. I eagerly opened the box.
I was appropriately amazed when it came out.
Some assembly was required, which John assisted with.
And now it has a place of honor on our TV stand - next to the dog toys.
All of us here at Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes hope that you had a fabulous Christmas. More to come soon, including the yearly news letter.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Buoy Found!!!

Last month Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes helped raise awareness on behalf of a UND professor friend of ours who had lost his scientific data-gathering buoy.  See Have You Seen This Buoy? for the full back story.

We're happy to pass along the joyous news (via the Grand Forks Herald) that the buoy has been found.  Granted it's a bit of a bummer that it's current status can best be described as "intact, but stuck in frozen mud along the shoreline".  No word on what, if any, punishment is in store for the buoy for staying out past its curfew without calling and making us worry so much. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sleepy Slumber Time

It's sleepy time here at the homestead.  Pups are snuggled in their slumber balls, covered with cozy blankets, warm and drifting off to dreamland. Sub-zero temperatures outside don't have much of an effect on you when you're as snug as a pug in a rug. 
It was a long day of braving the cold outside, playing tug-of-war, and barking at bunnies from the upstairs window. 
In case you're wondering what pit bulls really look like, this is it.  They're huge sleepy lumps.  They'd rather snuggle than do just about anything else in the world. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

I Have Diseases

Huh?  Well I do have diseases, but that's not what this is about.  This is about Alycia's diseases.  Don't worry, I won't get too graphic or too personal or embarrass Alycia.  Well not much. 

Last winter Alycia was diagnosed with Raynaud's Phenomenon, which is essentially poor circulation in the fingers and toes during the cold months.  This wouldn't be a big deal if we lived in say...San Diego, but here in North Dakota, it gets surprisingly chilly.  She had spent the previous three winters with undiagnosed poor circulation in her fingers and toes and had essentially low grade frostbite for months at a time.  It had to have been painful and uncomfortable and we're both glad that now she has medication to help mitigate the poor circulation. 

Quick tangent - don't worry I'll tie everything together.  Last year Alycia's Dad had separate successive surgeries on both his thumbs and during the months of recovery he was unable to play golf up to his previous high level of performance.  Partly out of need and partly as a joke, he got his surgeon to write (on an official prescription form) "Due to recent medical procedures, please grant Tom Cummings an extra stroke per golf hole and extend to him every possible courtesy on the golf course".  Alycia's Dad is quite proud of this doctors note and shows it off to just about anybody. Alycia quickly realized the importance of having a doctor's note.
Figure A shows arteries in the fingers (digital arteries) with normal blood flow. The inset image shows a cross-section of a digital artery. Figure B shows fingertips that have turned white due to blocked blood flow. Figure C shows narrowed digital arteries, causing blocked blood flow and blue fingertips. The inset image shows a cross-section of a narrowed digital artery.
How Raynaud's Syndrome affects blood flow.
After her diagnosis Alycia spent a few months reminding me how special she was (having a "Phenomenon" and all), then quickly realized that she could play this card to her advantage.  Along with medication to help improve circulation, any and all clothes/shoes/accessories are now also considered a "medical necessity".  She no longer sees a pair of shoes or boots and remarks how cute they are, but rather how well they could help her manage the symptoms of her legitimate medical condition.  Sigh.  This leads to endless derivations of the following exchange:

Alycia - "Look at these SmartWool socks, they sure look warm.  I bet they would really help mitigate the terrible effects of my officially diagnosed condition."
John -  Sigh.

Alycia - "This homespun alpaca yarn would be perfect for me to knit into a nice warm scarf that could alleviate the symptoms of my legitimate medical syndrome."
John -  Sigh.

Alycia - "Oooh, look at these boots, they're cute!!  I mean, I bet they could sure help with my cold feet, which are brought about by a genuine medically diagnosed syndrome and for which I have a doctors note."
John - "Those are pretty expensive."
Alycia - (Sad puppy dog eyes) "But I have diseases" (continued sad face and a sniffle for good measure).
John -  Sigh.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

7 Day Weather Forecast

Here's the 7 day weather forecast for our little corner of Northeast North Dakota, courtesy of the Grand Forks Herald:
Chilly!!!  It's always rough when the high temperature doesn't even get above 0, as it's forecast to do for 4 out of the next 7 days.  And this is just the air temp, with wind chills factored in there are going to be some -30 and -40 degree wind chill evenings.  It will take all of our persuasive powers to convince the pups to go outside and do their business.  I hope you're warm wherever you are.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Assassination of Angel Bear by the Coward Shadowfax the Puppy


Our recent Thanksgiving trip to Cavalier, North Dakota to spend the holiday with Alycia's parents was a relaxing and food filled weekend.  As always we brought along the three pooches to share in the holiday festivities. Tito and Shaak Ti are pretty well behaved and are allowed to mingle in the kitchen and living room, but Shadowfax gets a bit too excited in the free-for-all doggie snacking environment that happens during meal preparation and mealtimes.  So Shadowfax stays behind a baby gate in the hallway where she can see all the action and get pets/treats without the danger of an altercation over a scrap of turkey.

Shadowfax is very well behaved and usually lays in her dog bed behind the baby gate, watching the action. During lunch on Friday I was trapped at the far corner of the table and couldn't see Shadowfax, but I suddenly realized that she had been quiet for several minutes.  Very quiet.  This quiet stretch was immediately followed by some odd thrashing and bonking noises.  Alycia was closest to the hallway and I told her that shenanigans were afoot.  She jumped up and found Shadowfax the puppy in the process of mauling her Mom's beloved Angel Bear, the Beanie Baby.  Not since the demise of Tourist Dog (see A Wake For Tourist Dog) has there been such a wanton, deliberate act of stuffed animal carnage. 

Shadowfax has only mangled two things at Alycia's parents house, a Bible (King James edition) and Angel Bear.  I try to play this off as the puppy having interest in religious matters, but Alycia parents instead see it as a sign of Shadowfax being rasied in a non-religious and immoral manner. 

Alycia brought Angel Bear home and offered to repair him.  I think this might be tough since he no longer has a face, and any repair will leave him with a large, jagged facial scar and may necessitate a name change to Prison Angel Bear, which doesn't quite have the same warm and fuzzy connotation.

We were also only able to recover one of Angel Bears' eyes.  There is probably another eye rattling around somewhere in Shadowfaxs' digestive tract, which should have taken care of itself by now.  Though it will be unsettling when I have to scoop up a poop in the backyard that is starting back at me with a single beady eye, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. 
Shadowfax obviously enjoyed the soft, delicious texture of Angel Bear and seemed quite intent on finishing the job.  She was convinced that Alycia was being extraordinarily cruel by not letting her finish the disemboweling and disassembling process.  Even though he has no eyes and may have a rough time navigating the journey, we're hoping that if repairs don't work, that Angel Bear can spread his wings fly up to stuffed animal heaven. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Deaf Dog Indoor Playtime

It's winter here in North Dakota.  It's been cold for the past few weeks and there's snow on the ground with (possibly much) more on the way this week.  When it gets cold outside, doggie playtime moves indoors and we have to get creative to come up with adequate adventures for the pups.  Luckily sometimes they do the work for us and just wrestle and chase each other. 

So maybe it isn't the most compelling video, but it's been a while since we posted a video of the dogs playing.  I mean...this is Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes after all! 

You may notice in the video that Shaak Ti always jumps over the section of hardwood floor between the two carpets in the living room/dining room.  We became aware a few years ago that this section of floor is actually is hot lava, never to be touched. It would have been nice for the real estate agent to disclose to us that we had hot lava in the house before we bought it, but apparently that's not a mandatory disclosure here in North Dakota. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Have You Seen This Buoy?

Our friend and volleyball companion Xiaodong (Sheldon) Zhang is a professor at UND and recently his buoy became lost, either due to natural circumstances (unlikely) or deliberate human malfeasance (likely). You can read the full article on the Grand Forks Herald.  If you happen to know the whereabouts of his buoy, please contact him. 

UND says buoy with scientific payload is missing from Devils Lake
UND is reporting a missing buoy. Anchored in the middle of Devils Lake, the lonesome buoy would report water quality and its location every 10 minutes to scientists at UND.

Anchored in the middle of Devils Lake, the lonesome buoy would report water quality and its location every 10 minutes to scientists at UND.  It went silent about a week and a half ago, and, when the scientists went to search for it Tuesday, it had disappeared, said professor Xiaodong Zhang with the Department of Earth System Science and Policy.

Now, Zhang is asking those in the Devils Lake area to be on the lookout for the buoy, which is 5 feet tall, 5 feet wide, 80 pounds, bright yellow and obsessed with salinity, turbidity and other measures of water quality.  It last called home to say it was two miles northeast of the Spirit Lake casino.

Zhang won’t speculate why the buoy went mising. It’s unwieldy to move and, even though the university spent $30,000 to build the scientific sensors attached to the buoy, all of that is worthless to the average person, he said.

There is some urgency because cold weather is coming and, if the buoy is still on the lake somewhere when it freezes, that could damage the sensors, he said. And more people will be able to get to it by walking on ice and maybe messing with it, he said.

Major project
The buoy first went in the water in fall 2011 as part of a $3 million project funded by NASA. UND’s goal is to figure out how the saltiness of the water changes as the lake floods and as the climate of the region changes.

It was initially anchored in Stump Lake, which is now connected to Devils Lake because of flooding, and was moved to Devils Lake this year. The buoy was last seen Oct. 21 by state Health Department workers doing water quality surveys and last called home at 8 a.m. Nov. 9, Zhang said.

He wasn’t worried when he didn’t hear from the buoy because it has a habit of not calling, he said. In cool weather, the batteries sometime drain before they can be recharged by the solar panel, especially if the solar panel is frozen, he said.

UND is contacting government agencies in the Devils Lake region, such as those that run Grahams Island State Park and Fish and Wildlife agents, and the tribal casino. But it’s also asking the public for help.
How you can help: If you know where the buoy is contact Zhang at (701) 777-2490 or zhang@aero.und.edu. 
On the Web: More info about the water-quality project is at www.und.edu/instruct/zhang.
 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Your Immediate Attention - Follow Up

Thank you to everyone who voted (or tried to vote).  This was a very quick contest, only lasting for the duration of the conference she's attending.  We just learned that Alycia and her colleague did win 2nd place!!!  Thank you all for your support and assistance for helping Alycia achieve her dancing dreams. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Your Immediate Attention Required

Hello all.  I don't ask you for much.  In fact I don't think I've ever asked you for anything.  Heck I don't even give you grief for never clicking on the awesome ads (sarcasm intended) that I have, but that's OK. Now I need you to step up.

I need you to go and vote for Alycia (Contestant #24 - spelled Alisha) and her dancing colleague Sarah. Please, please help Alycia realize her dream of being a Doctor of not just Speech /Language Communication, but also a Dr. of Funk. Vote Now for Contestant #24. Vote Often.

Go HERE and vote for Alisha (sp) and Sarah in a fancy dancing contest being held at the Annual Convention for Speech Pathologists.

Seriously, go do it now.  Vote as many times as you are allowed.  Do it now.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cummings-Chappell Wedding Announcement

My mother couldn't wait any longer for us to be proper Midwesterners - meaning that one of the rites of passage is the wedding announcement in the local paper, which in this case is the Cavalier Chronicle.

John and I made the Community News page on Wednesday, October 30. Below you can see what other captivating news was happening that day in Pembina County, ND.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Geometric Snow Patterns

When you live in North Dakota, you can't fight the weather.  Cold and winter are going to happen whether you like it or not.  Winter might not be the most hospitable season to be outside, but if you're brave enough to venture outdoors, astounding beauty and cool stuff invariably awaits. Last winter after a storm we had awesome Snowdrifts and Icicles.  This year?  Who knows, but we're off to a good start.

We had a decent snow squall move through yesterday.  Over the course of an hour or so of moderate snowfall, we got a decent amount of accumulation.  Decent for early November at least.  I came home to find that the sun had melted the snow in the areas within reach of its warm rays, leaving stark patterns of snow and grass in the shady patches of the yard.
The 90 degree angle at the jog in the fence allowed the sun to melt the snow and form a near-perfect right angle. 
You can see where the shadow of the tree is cast.  The snow in the shadow remained on the ground, everything around it melted.
It was a pretty cool scene in the backyard for a few hours. By evening, the snow had all but disappeared, leaving these cool patterns nothing more than a memory. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Three Year Puppy-Versary

Next week is the three year anniversary of Shadowfax (fka Whisper) coming to live with us here in North Dakota.  As a commemoration I added the YouTube video that her awesome foster Mom Michelle took more than three years ago.
You can see little miss spazzy puppy in all her puppy glory, flouncing and pouncing around with a toy.  I watch this video on occasion happily remembering what Shadowfax was like as a goofy, scrawny puppy.  Much has changed, she's gotten bigger and sturdier, but no less goofy.  And for the record, we bought her the same toy that she's seen playing with in the video (the Floppy Flier) and she shredded it in less than a minute. 

And in case you missed our post in 2011 on our One Year Puppy-Versary, you can check out the musical photo montage I made to mark the occasion.
video

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween Pictures

How about some festive Halloween pictures to get you in the Fall spirit?  Since I don't have any great pictures of myself/Alycia and the pups, I figured I'd pass along pictures of my super awesome nephew Jacob enjoying the autumn happenings. 
Super awesome nephew Jacob testing out the pumpkins at the pumpkin patch.  If they were strong enough to sit on, they were sturdy enough to make a good jack-o-lantern. 
Jacob dressed up as a firefighter for Halloween.  I'm pretty sure real firefighters are supposed to wear shoes, but we'll ignore those safety concerns for now. 
Jacob and his Mom.  Future firefighter with actual real life firefighter. 
Jacob and his buddy who lives s few houses down were both firefighters for Halloween.  This was apparently a very safe neighborhood this particular evening, safety personnel were on the scene. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

New Dog Bed

We recently acquired a new dog bed from Doctor's Foster and Smith, one of our favorite online retailers.  With winter coming up there's been more competition for the one heated dog bed in house, and with Tito's13th birthday coming up, we want to ensure that his old, creaky joints have a warm place to rest on cold winter days. 
So we got a big, fluffy dog bed (emphasis on big and fluffy) and a heating pad to put inside the dog bed to help keep our pups warm through this winter.  Preliminary results are promising.  The bed might be a little too big for Shaak Ti, but she doesn't seem to mind.  
The view from ground level truly shows the immensity of bigness and fluffiness that we're dealing with here.  Shaak Ti's nose and noggin are barely visible amidst all the coziness. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sweet Potato Harvest

There was much yard work to be done over the weekend to get ready for the first snow of the season.  We got an inch or so of wet snow on Sunday, but it was mostly melted by the end of the day.  I spent Saturday frantically getting the garden ready for winter, on the off chance that we got the 4 or 5 inches that were "possible" from the storm.  I had visions of everything being covered in snow until next Spring and that actually scared me into action. 

One task that needed to be completed was harvesting the sweet potatoes.  It was an experiment this year to grow them (we'd never tried before) and it was quite a success. 
I didn't so much "plant" the sweet potato as threw it in a collection of compost and shredded leaves from the previous autumn.  This was a seriously low maintenance experiment since it needed no tending whatsoever and because it was in range of the sprinkler, I didn't even need to manually water it.  
The leaves of the sweet potato vine were pretty well fried from the hard freeze we had over the last weeks, it was ready to come out. 
These were the vegetables of our non-labor - about a dozen sweet potatoes, three or four were pretty big.  After I harvested them, the remaining compost was broken down enough to top dress two raised beds in preparation for winter.  The sweet potato experiment?  Complete success.  A dozen sweet potatoes, virtually no effort, and a handy place to break down compost for use in the garden.  We'll do this next year for sure, maybe even have more than one sweet potato/compost bin. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fall Weather and First Snow

It's fall here in Eastern North Dakota.  The breeze has turned stronger and chillier, blowing the falling leaves in showers of autumn colors.  We've been swamped with pulling the last tomatoes, peppers,and eggplant from the garden and getting everything ready for winter.  The hard freeze on Wednesday night did in the last summer crops including the sweet potato vine that I need to wrangle and chop up into compost. 

The apple trees are holding onto their leaves (barely) and the marigolds somehow still look quite vibrant.  That may all change if we get some snow over the weekend.

From the National Weather Service:
THE FIRST ACCUMULATING SNOW OF THE SEASON IS POSSIBLE SATURDAY
NIGHT INTO SUNDAY. THERE COULD BE A BAND OF 1 TO 3 INCHES OF
SNOW ALONG A LINE FROM AROUND DEVILS LAKE TO GRAND FORKS TO
BEMIDJI. THE LOCATION OF THIS SNOW BAND WILL BECOME MORE CERTAIN
ONCE THE EXACT TRACK OF THE LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM IS KNOWN. IT WILL
GET VERY COLD BEHIND THIS ALBERTA CLIPPER...AND NORTHERLY WINDS
WILL INCREASE SUNDAY AND SUNDAY NIGHT. THE UNSEASONABLY COLD
WEATHER WILL CONTINUE NEXT WEEK.
We'll be busy as little beavers putting the rest of the garden to sleep for the winter, raking and chopping leaves and adding them to the raised beds.  As always, there's so much to do and so little time.  Nothing is quite as motivating though as the threat of snow, it's one heck of a deadline. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Homemade Sauerkraut

This weekend brought a visit from Alycia's folks who came down to run errands and celebrate Alycia's Dad's birthday in the big city.  I'll be discrete and not tell you how old he is, but suffice to say he is retirement and Social Security eligible.  During the gardening season, and especially in late Summer and early Fall they always bring us gifts of extra produce from their gardens or their friends gardens when they visit.

This trip they brought green and red cabbage as well a large sack of apples.  We quickly turned the apples into a large pan of apple crisp, which pairs perfectly with my morning cup(s) of coffee.   The cabbage got sliced up, crunched into a crock, and is currently fermenting in the basement with the hope that it will soon become sauerkraut.
These are the good looking cabbages that Alycia's parents brought us.
I just chopped up the cabbage with a knife, though having a mandolin or more chopping patience could have yielded smaller grain of cabbage or more consistent size, but that's fine with me.
Making sauerkraut has always been on my list of things to try, but fear of the unknown and my hesitation to try fermentation (oh yeah I just rhymed), kept me from experimenting.  But sauerkraut is incredibly simple; just chop up the cabbage, put it in a crock, add salt, wait a few weeks.  Super easy. We'll know in another couple of weeks how it turned out, I'm looking forward to having a big jug of homemade sauerkraut sitting in the fridge all winter. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Gift From a Loyal Reader

In our long and storied history here at Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes we had never received a spontaneous gift from a reader, but that all changed today.  One of our most loyal (and by far our most sarcastic) readers from Southern California, Andy (last name withheld due to his fears of government surveillance), sent us a package in the mail.

Since we have a few months of non-conducive crop growing weather coming up here, we won't be able to plant these until next Spring.  Even though I have to wait a few months, I'm looking forward to trying some of these new plants/herbs out. 
You can see the product here or check out the website My Patriot Supply.

Thanks a bunch Andy!! We hope that this sets a precedent of more unexpected gifts being sent from readers.  Please ask if you need our mailing address to send us a gift, we'll be happy to provide.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Happy National Coffee Day

Did you know that today, September 29th, is National Coffee Day?  I had no idea since, well every day here is National Coffee Day.
Did you know that Theodore Roosevelt (that guy on Mt. Rushmore) drank up to a gallon of coffee each day?  I try to live up to that standard, but probably only reach a half gallon each day.  It's nice to have a goal to reach for and strive towards. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Deaf Dog Dirt Day Spa

It may only be mid-September, but it's time to begin preparing the garden for winter.  Ahh yes.  I've learned that winter here in North Dakota is either in recent memory, or in the near future.  In these parts Old Man Winter is always lurking somewhere with a special surprise, a May snowstorm, a September hard freeze, you just never know.

Getting the garden ready for winter is always easier in small, manageable batches, so we approach our labor in small doses.  Alycia started the ball rolling and cut down some peonies and irises in the back yard the other day, leaving some patches of bare dirt. 
This is one of the patches of dirt left bare by removing the spent irises and peonies.  It may not look like much, but on a warm fall day, this is a fantastical magical place to Shaak Ti, a veritable Deaf Dog Day Spa.  She spent several hours outside today, basking in the sun and rolling in the warm bare dirt.  Then after a few hours of pleasant snoozing, Shaak Ti came inside, covered in dirt and filthy. 
This might not look like much, but she's really dirty.  Shaak Ti is white with gray and black spots.  After her time lolling in the dirt she was gray and brown, covered in a thorough coating of dirt and completely unashamed. 
Conscience clear, she continued napping indoors, upside down. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

New Plants in the Garden Update

It's been a bit since our last posting, yes that's my bad.  All my fault.  I won't even take up your time with my verbal self abuse.  How about we get back on the posting wagon with a follow up to an earlier post.

At the end of June we (and by "we" I mean "me", Alycia didn't do more than supervise) planted a bunch of New Plants in the Garden (that we ordered from BloomingBulb.com).  The Summer Sun Heliopsis, Caradonna Salvia, and Paprika Yarrow have all done fantastically and bloomed profusely despite only having a few months to establish.  The Zing Rose Maiden Pink Dianthus has done OK, most have lived and even partially bloomed.  
The Summer Sun Heliopsis blooming with some sunflowers and Salvia Coccinea - Lady In Red in the background.  

The Arizona Sun Gaillardia?  Not so good, I think only a few survived.  Perhaps they'll return in Spring, but if not they're still guaranteed and I can get get replacements sent. 

I promise that we'll have more stories in the near future.  The first hints of Fall are in the air here in North Dakota, we even had a Frost Warning last night, and there shall be tales of apple cider, deaf dogs in sweaters, raking leaves, and pumpkins from the garden. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Big Melon

I wish I could claim this huge cantaloupe as my own, but it didn't come from my garden. 
Alycia's parents have a friend out in the country who's a retired farmer and grows corn, pumpkins, and some of the biggest cantaloupe I've ever seen. 
It's larger than the bowl of peppers and Japanese eggplant that we picked the day before.   
I couldn't come up with anything in the kitchen that was of standard enough size to be able to compare this monster melon to.  The best thing that I came up with was this egg carton, which seemed more than capable to demonstrate how large this gargantua-melon really is.  
Big melon, circumference larger than my large knife.  It was quite tasty too, even though it wasn't organic.  If I buy fruits and veggies I prefer to purchase organic, but if it's free?  Well, I can't be too choosy. 
It's that time of year when things are coming in fast and furious.  We processed a bunch of tomatoes to turn into pasta sauce. Along with our giant melon, peppers, and eggplant we have a shopping bag full of fresh picked corn and sack of apples. The corn and apples were courtesy of Alycia's parents, they're phenomenal providers of produce. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Family Visit

We've been busy preparing for the upcoming school year here at the Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes homestead.  Back-to-school prep and harvesting the late summer bounty in the garden was work enough, then we had family come for a week to visit!  My sister, brother-in-law and my two awesome nephews, 2 and a half, and 8 months, all visited last week.  It was great to see them and we had a blast, but I'm still recovering.
Our awesome little nephew Jacob will be the focal point of many of these pictures since he's pretty cute and all.  Plus you want to see a little kid trying on cowboy hats and hugging people, not me.   
We took every opportunity to tire out the little tyke, including having him run up the dyke wall.  For the record, no they didn't roll back down the hill.  Cookies surely would have been tossed. 
We picked corn near Cavalier, North Dakota.
Alycia and Jacob posed in front of the aquarium at the local Cabela's store, always a must see for folks from out of town.  
And Alycia got to spend some quality time with awesome little(r) nephew James.  It was a very good, but tiring, week. For childless folks like Alycia and I, it was quite an assignment keeping up with two vigorous youngsters.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

500th Blog Post

This is our 500th blog post. In my noble quest to come up with something memorable, worthy of a 500th post, I struggled for a week and came up with...nothing.  My usual writing technique that involves drinking several cups of black coffee (Raven's Brew - Dead Man's Reach) and waiting for the magic to happen just didn't pan out this time.  Each passing day brought more angst as every idea seemed less and less worthy of such a milestone post. 

We've got the typical litany of excuses too.  School is right around the corner and Alycia and I are making all the requisite preparations whilst battling the back-to-work-blahs (I know, I know, we've had the whole summer off while you've had to work, so I know exactly where I can go shove it).  Family is coming today for an extended visit, so we're preparing the house and grounds for a busy 3 year old and searching for activities that will tire out a busy tot and entertain out of town guests.  All the while the garden keeps producing and we try to keep up with canning and freezing and pickling and weeding. 

Now for a self indulgent look back at our humble origins. To be honest, I never thought back in 2008 that I'd write this much or for this long.  I look back on my first post with a feeling that borders on mild embarrassment.  Heck I'd barely figured out how to post pictures at that point.  In fact the digital camera that I received as a present that year is still in use as the official Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes camera.  The camera, like me, has definitely seen better days.

The "Gluten Free Girlfriend" who initially requested blog anonymity (thus the original eponymous moniker) has not only become a writing contributor to our blog but has also received a long overdue promotion to Gluten Free Wife.  I have pictures to prove it, see below.  She was a humble grad student when we first met and now she's about to go up for tenure. 
It may sound cliched to say that we've come a long way, but we have, literally and figuratively.  North Dakota is one of the last places I ever thought I'd move, but we've made a lovely home here.  There's happy dogs scampering about, thunderstorms, homemade jam, lots of chuckling, snow days, and an overwhelming feeling of contentment.  Fun stories are even more fun when you have people to share them with, so thanks for being part of Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes, reading and being part of the fun.