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.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Shaak Ti is ready for Christmas

Shaak Ti is ready for Christmas. She claims that she has been super good all year (this is debatable).
The phrase "magical idiot" is heard a lot around here. We currently have two furry magical idiots in residence here at the homestead.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Just Relax

Holiday shopping got you frazzled? Don't think you'll have enough hours in the day to accomplish everything? The thought of all those relatives at the house for the Holidays got you feeling blue?
Shaak Ti says "Just relax. Point your tummy towards a warm fireplace and let yourself melt. Ahhhhhh, can you feel your stress just slipping away?"

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thanksgiving Preparation

We're preparing for a low-key Thanksgiving here at the homestead. Just the four of us, two people and two dogs and a simple menu.  We're going to make our famous Neatlof (recipe here), some mashed potatoes, and a few fun veggie sides.
Shadowfax knows that there is a food centric Holiday approaching and even though she's been told that it's just us, she's still pretty excited - licking her lips excited. She associates Holidays with Cavalier, North Dakota and the grandparents, and all the tasty treats and smells that go along with it.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Chilly Fall Mornings

We woke up to a chilly Fall morning of just 17 degrees. We scurried through our morning walk, took care of business, and got a nice breakfast in our tummies. The dogs then set about to the serious business of napping by the fireplace or covered with blankies.
17 degrees isn't unheard of this time of year but it still pretty chilly for us. The good news is that the days are sunny and afternoons get back up into the 40's. The past few days have been glorious sunny afternoons, with breezes blowing the colorful leaves off the trees.
The key is to rotate so one end doesn't get overdone.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Sleepy Shadowfax

You know when you've had one of those long weeks and you can barely keep your eyes open. It's a Friday evening and it's been a just a non-stop workweek of walks, playing in the yard, budget meetings, and chasing squirrels.
It's hard work being a deaf dog around here, there's always work to be done.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Why We Yoga Elsewhere

Alycia has been a yoga practitioner for some time. She generally goes to the local YMCA to take a class. It would be simple to just do a few yoga poses at home when she has 15 or 20 minutes to spare, but there's a problem.
The problem is Shadowfax. The second that yoga mat is unrolled, she immediately goes and lays or sits on it. Ah Shadowfax, silly puppy.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

A New Basketball for Shadowfax

Through trial and error we've discovered that Shadowfax's favorite item to play fetch n' catch with is a deflated basketball. She loves the challenge of chomping (or trying to chomp) something so large and enjoys running it over as she scampers after it. The good news is that these are pretty easy to come by and usually very cheap, often free.

Any basketball that's been sitting in a garage or yard for a few years and won't stay inflated is just fine with Shadowfax. Alycia and I recently visited her Uncle Mike who lives here in town. He mentioned that he had a few old basketballs and had heard that our dog enjoys them.
This particular ball is old enough that the panels had started to peel away at the edges. Even better! Now it's a chew toy too. Thanks Uncle Mike!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

A Warm Fall Afternoon

It's been lovely Fall weather here in Boise, Idaho. Warm days in the 70's transition quickly to cool nights. These days are perfect for lounging on the back patio, soaking up the afternoon sun...and watching for those pesky squirrels.
Shadowfax finds it easier to spot squirrels when she has a better vantage point. Alycia's lap fit the bill perfectly.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Shadowfax Plays Hide-And-Seek

We were playing Hide-and-Seek the other day when Shadowfax tried to hide in Tito's old crate. I counted to 10 and found her pretty quickly. She gets some credit for trying a new and innovative hiding spot, but she gets low marks being found so easily.
This crate had been in the same place for months, Shadowfax has never given it more than a second glance. All of a sudden, for several days in a row, she's decided that she needs to thoroughly explore it. Dogs are silly.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Process of Moving On

It's been a couple of weeks since we've posted anything. Many thanks to everyone who sent a card, an e-mail, called, or posted some kind words on social media. It was really tough for Alycia but she greatly appreciated all the contact from friends and family, near and far.  Thank you.

In all honesty, it's been hard to sit at the computer and type ideas that are both appropriate and coherent for our first post of the post-Tito era. I've typed and deleted several hundred words at this point. Nothing seems quite like the right thing to say.

Tito's absence loomed large (and it still does), but Shaak Ti and Shadowfax are both still here. They're here and they seem to be completely oblivious. I've been calling them the "Oblivious Twins" off and on since Tito left us. And they truly are seemingly oblivious to the fact that there's one less deaf dog in the house. Perhaps they're doing it on purpose.
Even though things change there are still dog walks to take, meals to prepare, and jobs to go to (for Alycia anyways). In the meantime, we'll post a cute picture of Shadowfax and see if this can help us get kick-started back into some regular blog posts.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Saying Goodbye

Tito the Wonder Puppy left us today. His angry little body just couldn't function any more after 18 years in our world.

We are incredibly sad, but also relieved. We're relived that Tito is no longer in pain. We're grateful that he's free from the fear and confusion that seemed to grip him when he couldn't figure out why he was unable to see as well or move like he used to. We're comforted that he's no longer constrained by the frustrations of a declining mind and an old and aching body. Tito can once again be the Tito of days gone by, young and spry and devious and teacherous. This is the Tito that will live forever in our hearts.
This was Tito and Alycia's bedtime routine for the last year or so. After all the pups had gone out for evening potty time, and eaten their evening cookie, she would give Tito one last chance to go out to do some business. Tito rarely went outside though. Mostly the two of them would just stand there together, looking out into the darkness. Moths would flutter by, the sounds of night would gently drift in, and the two of them would stand there, side by side, looking out into the darkness.

Tonight we will hug Shaak Ti and Shadowfax extra tight and tell them we love them. We'll make sure that they are given lots of love and attention and pets so that everyone can grieve in their own way. Godspeed Tito. May you find the solace and peace that eluded you in life. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Tito's Special Week

It's Tito's special week. We're giving him anything and everything we think he may want. Since we can't hook him up to a leash and journey anywhere and he won't let us touch him, our ability to spoil him consists entirely of food treats.

He isn't eating much, but we figure we'll give him every "bad" treat we can think of. He won't eat out of his bowl or even off a saucer, so we have to hand feed him in small chunks. His dinner a couple of  nights ago from a small plate (clockwise from the top): Smoked sardines in olive oil, roasted dark meat turkey, grocery store meatballs, bacon, spam in the middle.
Last night he had beef tenderloin, pan-seared in bacon grease and butter to medium rare. There is still another pound of bacon in the refrigerator. Tito's going to get the very best send off we can manage.

We'll be taking lots of pictures and videos this week. Along with various scars, we'll have those to remind us of him.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Shadowfax Sleeping

Here's a fairly un-compelling video for you, unless you like watching pitties sleeping with their tongue out and twitching.

More than anything our blog is a repository for all of our silly pictures, stories, and videos of our dogs' antics. And if some folks on the internet get some out of it too, than that's just a bonus.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Tito - Alive and...well alive.

I was out of town for a bit for work and during our daily chat Alycia told me the latest Tito story. She came into the kitchen for a cup of tea and found Tito, sprawled halfway out of his crate, eyes halfway open, and tongue sticking out. Tito never sleeps like this and she thought he had finally passed on. But after a minute of the now-common "Tito breathing check" (a long look to verify that his chest is indeed moving up and down), she realized he was indeed actually still alive.

She grabbed her phone and snapped a picture. While maneuvering in for a close up, Tito sprang to life and echoed his familiar refrain about not liking folks taking his picture.
This photo is really only funny because Tito is in fact still very much alive. I actually laughed out loud when I saw it 'cause well jeez, he sure doesn't look alive. 18 years old and still as ornery as ever. Tito.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Shadowfax Snuggling Yet Again

Shadowfax loves her people (truly she loves all people), and enjoys nothing more than being physically attached to them.
If it were up to her the house rules would be changed to allow dogs on the sofa and bed. As it stands, we sit on the floor for snuggling time and allow her to sit on our laps on the back patio furniture. She greatly enjoys this.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Garden Pictures and Future Plans - Part 2 of 2

We continue our pictures and stories about the front yard garden from Part 1.

It took a couple of weeks over the winter, but we had a sidewalk installed in the front yard of our homestead. It was one of the few oddities about our house, there was no front sidewalk from the street to the front door. The steps to the front door just kind of deposited you onto the lawn, from whence you were supposed to make your way to the street.
The walkway alone adds an incredible amount of visual interest and structure. It's always amazing to me how one thing can change the look of a garden dramatically. The picture above was taken in mid-May after we had removed a few shrubs and hadn't added some additional annuals for color.
It will take a few years for the new shrubs we planted to grow up, and we're still planning on pruning or removing some of the other stuff, but this will do for now. The pots on the front step add some color and there are both annuals and perennials in the front beds that should be much more striking in another month.

The current master plan is going to consist of garden beds on either side of the new walkway, with meandering connected grass paths enabling garden viewers to see everything. This will greatly reduce the amount of grass to mow (much off the current grass will become flower beds), granting me less time for mowing/edging and more time for playing with fun plants and pretty flowers.We will have more posts as the front garden evolves and changes.

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Grandparents Visit Aftermath

The Grandparents journeyed out from downtown Cavalier, North Dakota to visit over the past week. We had an opportunity to catch up with them and explore the sights and restaurants here in Boise, Idaho. The dogs (minus Tito) were incredibly excited to have Grandma and Grandpa stay at the house and give them all the love and attention they've apparently been missing.
Constantly getting love from the Grandparents was an exhausting endeavor though, and the pups have spent much of the days since they left catching up on napping.

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Essence of Shaak Ti

Shaak Ti has graced our lives for more than a decade now. We've taken hundreds of pictures and videos of her over the years, as this blog will undoubtedly prove. In all that time though, I don't know if there is one single picture that can so perfectly capture her essence. Until now.
Shaak Ti in all her goofy, upside down glory. At least once a day (usually more) she flops down at your feet and demands tummy rubs. Declining to rub her tummy is not an option.
She often tries to turn tummy rubs into a game, pawing and wrestling with your hand. She's a hilarious and magical beast this one.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

A Brief Hailstorm and Apple Trees

We've had some unsettled weather the past week, with moisture coming up from the south and interacting with the early summer afternoon heat. The result has been some showers and great thunderstorms. Not as vigorous as those in North Dakota, but also more fun since they won't involve hiding out in the basement when the tornado siren goes off.

We really only got three or four thunderstorms over the course of the week, with a moderate amount of rain. But a storm on Wednesday involved some close claps of thunder, numerous lightening flashes, and 3-4 minutes of hail bookended with torrential rain.
Less than 5 minutes of hail still managed to leave small piles of hail on the ground. This is the north side of the house. These are Honeycrisp and Gala apple trees that I planted as bareroot trees back in April. They're settling in quite nicely.

I'm going to train them to grow mostly horizontally along the fence, a method known as "espalier". They won't produce as many apples as if they were left to grow unrestrained, but they should still provide enough for eating apples for the homestead for a month or so each. Provided we can keep the squirrels away from them.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day Lounging

Happy Memorial Day to everyone!

The dogs will spend the day the only way they know how, lounging around on various dog beds both inside and outside.

Friday, May 11, 2018

A Cozy Shaak Ti

Shaak Ti sure knows how to snuggle, better than the other dogs.
A chilly morning saw her all comfortable in her heated dog bed, dog blankets all around.
This isn't the first picture of Shaak Ti all snuggled up, and it certainly won't be the last. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Shadowfax on a Sunday Morning

Happy Earth Day everyone! We're resting up here in the morning so we have lots of energy to enjoy a sun soaked Spring day.
The weather forecast is calling for temps around 70. It's been glorious here the past week or two, and we've got garden tasks aplenty to get ready for the growing season. In the meantime, please keep it down, Shadowfax needs to get the rest of her beauty sleep.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Shadowfax the Helper

We haven't had a cute Shadowfax picture in quite a while! This is from last week, but her routine is always very consistent. Early afternoon always finds here more needy and attention starved.
With her morning naps out of the way, she's looking to be entertained. Once she starts parking her  giant pittie noggin on my computer, I know it's time to set aside my work and take the pups to the backyard for some outside play time.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Forsythia Blooms and the Mulch Monster Appears

Spring is upon us in the high desert of Idaho. Blooms are staring to pop on some plants, bulbs are emerging, and robins have begun to flitter about the homestead. Surely you can't get a more traditional sign of warmer weather than the presence of robins, the harbingers of Spring.

I've never paid much attention to forsythia before, possibly because I'm not certain they were in North Dakota. But forsythia are widespread here in Idaho and for gardeners, forsythia blooms are the first sign that warmer weather has arrived.
Our neighbor has a forsythia in the back of his yard that drapes over our fence. The bright and cheery yellow blooms have been in full effect for most of this week. Forsythia blooms may become a new official first marker for the arrival of Spring.

A time tested sign of Spring for us is the appearance of the mulch monster, aka Shaak Ti, taking a cozy nap on the warm mulch. The temperature needs to be Spring-like, the sunbeam needs to be powerful, and there can't be snow on the ground. Once you get those conditions, the mulch monster appears.

Shaak Ti is pretty good at napping in the mulch, or on the gravel path as she demonstrated last Summer. In North Dakota her favorite spot was against the house, laying in the dirt - the Deaf Dog Dirt Day Spa as we called it. We're hoping that a napping spot in gravel will keep her at least a little bit cleaner.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Do You Need Some Tax Season Help?

April 15th is rapidly approaching yet again. As a reminder, Tito and Shadowfax would very much like to offer you their assistance with completing your taxes.

The original inspiration post for Talking Tito's Tax Tips is here, along with an explanation of why we started this in the first place.

The incredibly informative and permanent Talking Tito's Tax Tips homepage is here.

*It should probably go without saying that this is not meant to be your only source tax advice, I mean they're talking dogs. If you have genuine tax questions, please consult your tax advisor.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Tito Takes a Turn and then makes a U-Turn

Tito had a pretty rough week last week. He had a couple of days of progressively more upset tummy, couldn't hold down anything, and worst of all had no interest in food. No interest even in fresh cooked ground beef. Once he turned up his nose at fresh cooked ground beef, we knew this wasn't a passing bug and immediately got him to the vet.

He got a shot of anti-nausea medication, a shot of anitbiotics, some fluids and more meds to take home. Alycia and I feared the worst. We started having quiet snippets of the conversation that we know is inevitable. At 17+ years old we know that we're playing with house money. Any additional years he lives is spiteful icing on an angry cake.
But if there's one thing I've learned about Tito, is never underestimate his will to live. I'm like 40% certain that the Grim Reaper has approached Tito to escort him to the great beyond, only to be taken aback with a sudden snarly charge that scared the tattered Reaper cloak right off him.

The day after his vet visit, Tito was noticeably better. A day after that he was back to his old self. Barking viciously at the wind, staring menacingly and growling at shadows, and bouncing around the kitchen for evening cookie time. It was an impressive recovery, from looking like he was at deaths door to the spriest 17 year old dog in the world. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Garden Pictures and Future Plans - Part 1 of 2

In theory this blog is supposed to be about gardening and homesteading and Idaho (formerly North Dakota) and deaf dogs. The deaf dogs aspect has been really all we've written about for months now, with only sporadic postings on other topics.

Why, you may ask? As we settle into our routines, get used to new jobs, and unpack the house (yes lots of stuff is still in boxes), it's much easier to post a cute picture of Shaak Ti or Shadowfax asleep in front of the fire than draft a substantive post on plants or gardening. Plus we moved last year right in the middle of Summer (aka Gardening Season) and didn't have much of a garden at the new homestead. So we'll start to right that ship now.

The new gardening area of the homestead has a lot of positive aspects going or it. The previous homeowner(s) did a fine job establishing the "bones" of the yard; some hardscape, layout, irrigation, paths, garden beds. There are some things that I might have done differently due to personal taste, but nothing that is shockingly "OMG, I've got to change that now". There are several nice big rocks/small boulders placed throughout the yard too, which is another unique element of visual interest that I probably wouldn't have done on my own, but truly enjoy.

As an aside, if you really want to see some rocks and boulders, check out my blogging friend Karen and her site Quarry Garden Stained Glass.
One minor annoying thing is that there is landscaping fabric everywhere - in all the garden beds. It's used to suppress weeds, but it really only suppresses some weeds and only for a little while. And while it allows water and some nutrients to penetrate down to the roots of plants, it interrupts the natural cycling through of tiny critters, microorganisms, and breakdown of organic material to create good healthy soil. I am not a fan of landscaping fabric.

So how to approach a brand new almost-blank canvas of a yard and garden? Numerous moves over the years have taught me that patience is key to understanding a new garden area. In a perfect world I could watch for a full year to figure out where the sun shines during different seasons, where the water collects, what are all the pros/cons of the space I have, and what areas are shady/sunny, hot/cool, dry/damp, etc. Since successful gardening boils down to putting the right plant in the right place, it's critical to know the attributes of the different places in the garden.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Tito Sleeping Soundly

Over the past years we've chronicled the difficulty of photographing Tito. Suffice to say that it isn't easy, and pictures of Tito are infrequent. Generally any attempts to snap a photo of him end with him angrily declaring his disdain for being photographed. It was lucky that he was soundly asleep and we snapped this picture of him sleeping.
This particular dog bed is overdue for an appointment with Alycia's sewing machine, though that doesn't make it any less comfortable of a napping spot for Tito. And it's looking pretty good that we'll have some posts in the near future about something other than deaf dogs, maybe even some gardening pictures. What do you think about that?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Shaak Ti Warms Her Tummy

Tummy Warming Experience Level - Advanced Intermediate
As we've mentioned in previous posts, Shaak Ti (and Shadowfax to a lesser extent) spends a lot of time staring at or basking in front of the fireplace.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Shaak Ti Contemplates the Meaning of Life

Shaak Ti spends a lot of time in front of the fireplace, usually warming herself. But occasionally she'll just lay there and stare at the fire.
"I was in my room and I was just like staring at the wall fire*
Thinking about everything
But then again I was thinking about nothing."
 - Mike Muir, singer/songwriter

* only this word was changed from the original lyrics

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Birds Have Returned

One of our favorite hobbies is watching birds, either here at the homestead or when we're on vacation. We aren't hardcore birding folk by any means (though we still vividly remember the Harlequin Duck we saw in Glacier National Park years ago), but anywhere we go we try to have a bird identification book, binoculars, and Alycia's iPhone with bird ID apps aplenty.

Back in North Dakota we had a plethora of birds visit the homestead. You can find old posts about cool birds we saw in North Dakota here, here, here, and here. There are probably even more bird posts, because uhhh we kinda like bird posts. Bird visitation was usually concentrated in Spring and Summer though and there were few year round inhabitants.

During our first several months at the new homestead in Boise, Idaho we'd noticed a real absence of birds, spotting a few common chickadees and nuthatches, but not much else. We're in an older neighborhood with lots of large, tall, densely planted trees. Hawks and raptors crying in the distance and circling way overhead are common. We were afraid that the presence of birds of prey would diminish the local small birds at our feeders. It took a few weeks of putting out feeders with nyjer/thistle, black oil sunflowers seeds, and suet before we finally had visitors.
Some small goldfinches started showing up, and after a few days they were numerous. These goldfinches are noticeably smaller than the American Goldfinches that were regulars in North Dakota. Alycia and I have settled on an ID of Lesser Goldfinches. Since it's still Winter, it will be a few more months before the males develop their bright yellow gold coloration. We'll be watching in anticipation for them to develop their summer plumage, and eagerly awaiting any other birds that stop by for a visit.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Shadowfax Watches the Westminster Agility Trials

Shadowfax has never shown any interest in watching television, but this weekend the Westminster Agility Trials were on and she was very excited. She was happy to see at least one competitor that looked like her - a spotted American Staffordshire Terrier. He didn't win, but he made at least one new fan.
She watched intently for a few minutes then returned to lounge in front of the fire. Luckily none of the pups have a tendency to watch too much TV, so we've never had to discuss limiting their screen time. 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Packed Up and Ready To Go

Dogs are smart and intuitive creatures. They know that the appearance of a suitcase is a bad sign. One or both of us is going away, and that's no good.
Alycia recently had a conference to attend. Based on experience we know to delay the presence of the suitcase for as long as possible to avoid the pups consternation. Alycia started packing for her trip and Shaak Ti tried her best to tag along.
After a few minutes Shaak Ti realized that this was going to be a lengthy and difficult vigil and it might be best to rest up for the upcoming "if you're leaving, you're taking me with you" protest.
Unfortunately Alycia's suitcase was already partially packed and she wound up with a nice coating of Shaak Ti hair on her clothes. Nothing like a light dusting of dog hair to remind you of home. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Shadowfax Needs Attention

Shadowfax can be a bit needy at times. And she's not shy about making it known that she needs some attention. Like, right now.
It's a fairly predictable routine, morning and early afternoon is spent snoring away the hours, then about 2:00 she demands attention. I've even got the time stamp  on the lower right hand corner of my laptop to prove it. Today she was super patient and waited until 2:02.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Our Three Deaf Pups as Cartoons

You may have seen that we changed our picture on the Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes Facebook page to the following cartoon. This is indeed our pack of awesome deaf pups drawn as cartoons!

Alycia got me this as a Christmas present and had the image put onto a coffee cup and some cool stickers. It perfectly captures our pups: Shadowfax and her goofy bully pose, Tito and his cloak of simmering rage, and Shaak Ti happily upside down.

If you're interested in getting your pups drawn as cartoons or, even better, turned into stuffed animals, you should check out the website - https://sockdogs.com/ or find them on Facebook under Original Sock Dogs.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Staying Warm by the Fire

We spend a great deal of our time in the living room. Between the leeway of Alycia's academic career and John's "work" from home, there's a great deal of time spent in cozy couch computer productivity. Our purchase of a gas fireplace insert this Fall was a great decision. We can keep the living room quite cozy and the heat eventually spreads to the rest of the house.
The dogs REALLY like the gas fireplace insert. There are even rumors of Tito being caught whilst taking a relaxing nap in the dog bed in front of the fireplace. These remain just rumors...
Sadly neither Shaak Ti or Shadowfax seem to have the ability to regulate their time in front of the fireplace. Typically after an hour or so, they're overheated and panting, with bright pink tummies. We have to occasionally physically rouse them up and hustle them to another bed to cool off so they don't bake their brains. Usually moving one dog causes the other to immediately take their place in front of the fireplace and it's a constant rotating dog bed carousel.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Local Boise, Idaho Canine Celebrity

At a Holiday craft show back in December we had the good fortune to meet a local dog celebrity. Kohl has become famous nationwide for his enthusiastic retrieving of the kick-off tee during Boise State football games.
You can watch his exploits from various news outlets here and here. He's a pretty talented pooch and we got to meet him! And not only is he talented, but a multi-sport dog as well. He is also the official bat-dog for the local minor league baseball team, the Boise Hawks. He retrieves the bats as eagerly as the kick-off tees.