A transplanted Southern Californian living in North Dakota, 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.



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

New Reader Welcome - Caley's Kitchen Garden

Our long standing policy here at Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes is to personally welcome all of our new readers/subscribers.  Remember these are only people that publicly follow (this deliberately does not reward those who are too ashamed to admit they read this blog) and are listed as part of "My Awesome Readers" on the left hand side of the blog. Click on the "Join this site" button to add yourself.

With that we welcome Caley from Caley's Kitchen Garden.  Her site is described as "where humor meets potatoes" and I'd kindly agree with that assessment.  Caley's blog is a mix of great information with honest gardening stories, recipes, growing tips, and entertaining anecdotes.  It's also refreshingly honest - one of those few garden blogs that actually admits to the occasional gardening failure.

Even though we do our best to keep track of all our new friends, please let me know if I made a mistake and missed you in our personal welcome parade!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Marshall County (Minnesota) Fair

This past weekend Alycia and visited the Marshall County Fair in Warren, Minnesota, about 45 minutes Northwest of us. Along with the Pembina County Fair and the Grand Forks Fair, this completed the fair trifecta for the summer. The Marshall County Fair was outstanding, the fairgrounds and buildings were all well tended and obviously cared for, and there were some great food stands and exhibits.  We'll certainly be going back in future years. 
We immediately started off on the right foot when we'd barely gotten out of our car and saw these three strolling on over.  They were some manner of fair ambassadors and before Alycia could even ask the lady she said "sure you can pet her, she loves people". 
Midnight (this was the tiny ponies' name) didn't seem to pay any mind to Alycia, at least until the lady slipped Alycia a tiny pony cookie to give to Midnight.  Suddenly Midnight wanted to be friends.  I think Midnight and Tito would get along pretty well. Where's the picture of me and Midnight?  Sadly there isn't one.  Even though you don't run across tiny ponies every day, Alycia never asked if I wanted a picture with Midnight.  Sad face...
The livestock barn had a big pen of baby chicks and it was a "help yourself to pet the baby chicks" kind of thing, so Alycia picked one up.
This is about the cutest picture I could dream up.  Alycia in her red sunglasses holding a baby chick.  
There were baby ducks too, they were super cute as well.  Their feet looked too big for their slender little bodies.
There was a horse washing station (not automated/mechanized).  Sadly we had no dirty horses to wash and couldn't participate, but they did let us watch, which made me feel like a weirdo, so we moved along.
The 4-H club had an extensive snack shop set up as a fundraiser, and it seemed downright rude not to contribute, so I had some home baked pie.  Peach cream (outstanding) and Apple (very tasty) with a hot cup of coffee.
Here's the requisite shot of Alycia next to a tractor.  Note that this tractor doesn't have wheels, it has big tracks.  It was cool. 
The fair grounds were adjacent to the Settlers Village and had a large collection of old buildings and museum stuff.  We perused through on the way out and checked out some cool old items.  This was Alma Lutheran Church built in 1893.  I took this photo just for my big sister who doesn't see too many churches named after her. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Homemade Strawberry Jam

It's been a strange couple of years here for strawberries.  Typically in late Spring/early Summer there are a multitude of advertisements for U-Pick strawberry places in the local section of the newspaper.  Last year we dutifully checked the paper every day and by mid-July realized "I don't think there are going to be any strawberries to pick this year", and there really weren't.  So last year, we had to GASP! go without homemade strawberry jam for an entire year. 

Being without homemade strawberry jam for a year was sad, but we did have our awesome raspberry currant jam to help fill the void.  This year we decided to not only look in the paper, but also be a bit more proactive (this was a new sensation for me) and search out U-Pick places.  After some telephoning around last weekend, Alycia embarked on a strawberry picking journey of great importance. 
Strawberry fields, not quite forever, but close.  The hooded and cloaked figure in the distance is Alycia's Mom, who met Alycia at the fields and picked berries of her own. 
Only $8 bucks for this bucket of berries. 
Alycia picked all these berries.  Many met their fate in the jamming pot, others were consigned to death by freezing. 
It started to rain just as Alycia was leaving, which was really good timing.  There's an old Icelandic saying "a soggy berry picker is a sad berry picker". 
Your intrepid blogger and jam maker topping berries and preparing the jam ingredients. We made 16 jars (mostly 1/2 pint) of delicious strawberry jam. Winters in North Dakota are pretty long, and anything that helps you get through it, like delicious strawberry jam, really helps. I'll post the jam recipe and pictures of the finished product in another post. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Bee Balm (Monarda) - Finally!!!

I planted a couple of different bee balms three years ago.  I didn't plant them the first year until mid summer, so I wasn't really expecting anything from them that first year other than pushing out a few leaves and surviving the winter.  They happily obliged.

Last year I anxiously awaited the proliferation of iridescent blooms that I expect from bee balm.  And I got....nothing.  All they did last year was grow to a height of 12-18 inches, their growth seeming to stagnate  by mid-summer.  Summer ended and I hung my head in shame at what I perceived to be yet another gardening mishap/failure/miscalculation/bad idea.  But this year I've got blooms, modest blooms, but blooms none the less.
 Bee Balm (Monarda)* - Coral Reef
Bee Balm (Monarda)* - Purple Rooster

* Please note that all plant identifications are a "I'm pretty sure that's what this is" and may not stand up to the scientific rigor of the blogosphere.

These aren't really all that impressive, I've seen much more incredible looking bee balm specimens.  But considering I've been waiting 2 plus years for this, I'm quite proud of this modest showing.  And next year should be even better.

I'm sharing my pictures with Tootsie for Fertilizer Friday - you should check out her amazing blog.  Along with her blog, there are some great gardening blogs every Friday, chock full of pictures of great blooming things. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Dispute Over Vomit Cleanup Spurs Hammer Attack at Fair

Some breaking local news for you. Here's the article from the Grand Forks Herald.

FARGO – A carnival worker arrested last week for hitting a fellow employee at the Red River Valley Fair in the head with a hammer allegedly did so after the victim insisted he clean up a pile of vomit left on a ride by a fair-goer.

Richard “Old Man Richard” Wareham, 49, of Houston, Texas, was charged last week in Cass County District Court with one count of aggravated assault, a C felony.

According to court documents filed in the case, Cass County Deputy Jeff Arth was dispatched at 9:47 p.m. July 9 to a report of an assault with a hammer at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds in West Fargo.

Arth interviewed the man hit with the hammer, Jesus Geronimo Avila, 39, who said he was working on a ride he doesn’t normally work on, alongside a man nicknamed “Old Man Richard.”

Avila told the deputy that he confronted Wareham about not wanting to help clean up some vomit on the ride. The ride isn’t identified in court records.

According to Avila, he was putting away a broom when Wareham came after him with the hammer, hitting him in the head with it five times and leaving four lacerations, authorities allege in reports filed with the complaint.

Avila was taken to Sanford Medical Center after the alleged assault.
Wareham was taken to the Cass County Jail. His bail was set at $10,000 cash.

His next court appearance is set for Aug. 7.

You can read the full article at the Grand Forks Herald.  

Monday, July 15, 2013

Awesome Nephew Pictures

My little nephew was on vacation with the family outside Yosemite National Park, California and I received some photos of his various exploits.  He is an active member of the FFA (Future Firefighters of America) and was testing some of the towns equipment.
It's crazy to think that he's not even three years old yet, what a large little dude. 
Fighting imaginary fires can make you hungry, nothing better than a cool ice cream cone to stifle that hunger.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Homemade Tomato Cages on Yahoo

My blogging series on building homemade tomato cages with concrete remesh has culminated in getting published on (now defunct website ) Full of Knowledge.

DIY Heavy Duty Tomato Cages.

In case you missed the series of posts about these tomato cages over the years, you can read the First Post, the Second Post, and the Third Post in chronological order.  These posts offer the full story along with details on how to make some of your own. Along with these posts, my Cost Benefit Analysis and Final Thoughts completes the series.

If you don't want to make your own tomato cages, that's OK.  If you have a few bucks to spend, you can get some pretty sweet tomato cages, like the tomato towers or these sturdy and long lasting ones from Gardener's Supply Company or on Amazon.  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Deaf Dog Checklist

It was a banner day for Shadowfax the puppy the other day, 

Play fetch in the back yard? Check
Splish-splash through the pool? Check
Visit from Grandma and Grandpa? Done
Tug-of-War time and playing with toys? Completed
Patrol the house and yard and bark at everything/everyone? Accomplished
Shoot a beam of sunlight out of my nose? Check
Actually she collapsed on the carpet after a full day of romping puppy fun and antics.  The last few rays of evening sunshine were coming through the window and I snapped this photo.  It makes it seem as though she can shoot a ray of sunlight from her nose, when in fact this is not one of her super powers.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Muppet Show - The Cat Came Back

I was out in the garden the other day, spending several hours planting and weeding and digging.  It was early afternoon and already pretty hot and humid, I was soaked through with sweat.  Perhaps it was the first sign of heat exhaustion, or that my internal cranial temperature reached some unknown threshhold required to connect some long lost neurons.  Or maybe it was just a sign of how my brain works.  Anyways, the following song popped into my head.
I haven't heard or even thought of this song in 20? 25? years, but there it was clear as day playing in my brain-jukebox as I whistled along.  It's on days like this that I feel kind of bad for Alycia.  It's strange/weird/difficult enough for me to live in my own head, I wonder how she feels sometimes having to interact with me and my inherent craziness on a daily basis.

And I know that you'll probably just go looking around on You Tube for your other favorite Muppet Show skits, so you should start off on the right foot with the Mahna Mahna Song.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Pembina County Fair

Alycia and I loaded the fur-kids in the car and drove up to visit her parents in Cavalier, North Dakota for the Fourth of July.  After spending some time visiting with them and wandering around their garden with the dogs, we left the dogs with them and headed over to nearby Hamilton, North Dakota (Pop. 61) for the Pembina County Fair.  It was nearing 7 pm on a warm, breezy, picture perfect summer evening. 
The Pembina County Fair is the oldest county fair in North Dakota.  It's exactly what I thought county fairs were supposed to be.  I grew up in San Diego and went to the San Diego County Fair every few years.  It's a huge month-long exhibition that attracts over a million people during its run.  It was fun (and HOT), but short on animals and "fair stuff" and seemed more concerned with separating you from your money.  At the Pembina County Fair? 
The 4-H folks were out in force and well represented.  There were cows...
...pigs...
...and a handful of sheep.  This fair was big on animals and agriculture, and also held on the hallowed ground and in the sacred halls where Alycia displayed her award winning guinea pig, Mokey, back in the day.  That's right, while other kids were wrangling cows and horses, Alycia was taming one of the most fearsome beasts ever domesticated by humans - the guinea pig.  Alycia claimed that there was a gold plaque somewhere that commemorated her local dominance in showing guinea pigs, but no such plaque was to be found. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tito's Summer Plucking

Tito is proudly part Corgi and often demonstrates typical Corgi characteristics, herding, nipping, being generally OCD.  He also has the Corgi power to shed, in fact for a dog his size, Tito is a champion shedder.

In late Spring or early summer Alycia tries her best to help get some of the hair/fur off Tito.  Since he hates (I can't emphasize enough how much he hates it) being brushed, the best that Alycia can do is to pluck out as much of his thick undercoat as possible. 
Alycia plucks Tito as he looks particularly pathetic.  You can see the pile of fur or "mini-Tito" that is forming to his left.  Again, for a dog as small as he is, Tito sheds like a champ.
Avast ye mini-Tito, ye shall rise up and be powerful. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

New Plants in the Garden

A month back I got a fairly regular e-mail from one of the Internet sites I've purchased from in the past (Blooming Bulb) that advertised a huge growers overstock sale with significant savings.  I clicked on the link and well, you know how this story goes.  Before my better senses could take over I'd ordered 125 root divisions.  Granted they were only being sold in increments of 25 and they were quite cheap, but still.  This was yet another case of my gardening eyes being bigger than my gardening stomach. 

That's why it's been quiet on the blog here, I've been planting (and panting) like crazy the last week getting everything in the ground.  It shouldn't be long before we have a whole lot of cool new flowers around here.  So what did I add?  25 each of the following:
  • Zing Rose Maiden Pink Dianthus
  • Summer Sun Heliopsis
  • Paprika Yarrow
  • Arizona Sun Gaillardia
  • Caradonna Salvia  
Maybe in another month or so I'll have some new flower pictures to post, so stay tuned.