Saturday, July 9, 2011


State Government Shut Down, Day Whatever . . .
Another busy, fun-filled day yesterday, also my birthday.  How can I be 63?  That used to be old!  Why don't I feel old?  It seems as if the 60s is now the New Middle-Aged.  (At least I hope so.)  Friends who are my age certainly don't seem old, although I have to admit we don't actually look young anymore, but we sure don't act old.  I remember a few years ago discovering that the mother of a friend as actually younger than I was, but I had always assumed she was an old lady, because she acted like an old lady.  That's NOT for me.

Argus catches a fish
Laurie and I took Argus and Nikon down to Hidden Falls Park for a hike and a swim yesterday morning.  It was already warm, and the dogs enjoyed splashing in the river.  Because the water is still very high, there is no exposed beach where the water gradually gets deeper, which would be more fun or the dogs but they both had an excellent time. 

Argus found a fish floating along the edge, carefully picked it up by a fin and brought it to shore where he studied it for signs of life.  Perhaps he thought we should take it home and give it tank space.  He enjoys watching my aquarium fish, and treated this one the same way he treated the Ctenopoma who jumped out of his tank.  Argus found him under the edge of the fish rack, whined softly, pulled the fish out with his foot, and studied him carefully.

In the afternoon we all went to Slumberland to pick out furniture for the family room.  My birthday gift, although Ron & the dogs will get the most use out of it.  Decisions, decisions.  Did I want the upholstered sofa & loveseat or another leather sofa?  Finally decided on the latter, easier on Ron who was stressing out over the need to get rid of one of the chairs in addition to the old loveseat.  He hates to part with anything and is convinced that the Salvation Army will come for the old loveseat because someone will want it.  Yep, his bedraggled, hairy, broken down beloved piece of wornout furniture. I reminded him how hard it was to get rid of the last furniture we replaced, and it was in much better condition.

Dinner with Ron, Laurie, Jess and my mother, then on to mom's for Rhubarb Pie.  I can honestly say it was just about the best pie I have ever eaten - or was it just because it was shared with family & friends . . .  Over 200 birthday greetings from Facebook Friends too.  That's fun, and such a hoot. I really enjoy that part of Facebook.

Worked on the whelping box in the afternoon, as Reebok will be needing it soon.  It's called the Reebox!  42 x 36 inches and triple-walled corrugated cardboard.  Love these big boxes and they can be recycled rather than stored.  I'll add "pig rails" tonight, bumpers along the walls so pups don't get caught between mom & the sides of the box.  I don't normally use them, but because Reebok is so large and ungainly now, it's worth the extra effort.

Reebok with her "puppy"
The puppies must have started shifting around yesterday evening as Reebok was very restless.  She couldn't decide where she wanted to lay, then finally decided that perhaps she would dig a nest on the loveseat next to Ron.  Because the whelping box wasn't quite ready yet I couldn't put there, so moved her to the big crate in the basement and gave her some blankets for nesting.  That was exactly what she wanted.  I had to put a leash on her to get her out this morning, and on the way in she discovered the pink toy that she has been keeping in her crate.  Her puppy!  It went back downstairs with her, where she is carefully washing it and encouraging it nurse.  Her practice pup!

I'll take her temperature this morning before we leave for Jess & Don's. Assuming it's still above 100 degrees, things will go on as usual.  She's really not due before Monday, but . . .

Friday, July 8, 2011

Better Late Than Whatever

What an amazing Daylily

Whew, busy times. Yesterday Laurie & I went to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and later, joined by Ron, we had a wonderful meal at Caribe.

Haven't been to the Arboretum in years, and really enjoyed my visit.  Going during the week was perfect as it wasn't crowded like it is on weekend.  Saw many awesome plants and flowers, although we were sorry to have missed the Irises and Peonies.  The Roses were not all out yet, but the Annuals, the Daylilies and the Hostas were spectacular.  We took the tram ride to see all the outlying sites as it was too hot and humid for walking, and had an excellent lunch as well.  Such fun!

Caribe was just as busy as it had been the last time we were there - Tony said we must bring them luck.  I had the Monfongo special again, but this time it came with skirt steak, which was incredibly tasty, juicy and nicely seasoned.  I added the Pique' to my Mofongo, Vinegar full of peppers and onions and garlic.  Delicious!  The dinner came with beans and rice which are "OK" but I was allowed to substitute Curried Bananas, which are so much tastier.  The Sangria was good, service was pleasant and efficient, and we had a lovely evening.

Happy Birthday to me!  I'm having a great time, but need to get ready to go to dinner.  Good Earth with Ron, Laurie, Jess & Gram, then over to Gram's for home made Rhubarb Custard Pie. 

I'll do better tomorrow, Cassidy, I promise.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Losing Track Of The Days

The Monarda are hardy & colorful
State Government Shut Down - what day is it now?
I'm really into this, my Practice Retirement.  I obviously need to win the lottery so that I can afford to retire sooner rather than later, but of course lottery tickets are not currently available in Minnesota due to the shut down.  The newspapers and radio talk shows are starting to stress how much the shut down is costing the state, but the Republicans are still not willing to discuss a compromise.  Sigh . . .

Waiting patiently
Laurie arrived from Virginia, along with her trusty sidekick Nikon, Penny's mother.  We have lots of plans for the next few days, including a trip to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum today.  Argus will be disappointed to be left behind, but I promised we would take him and Nikon for a hike along the river tomorrow morning, assuming the mosquitoes don't eat us alive.  They are starting to show up in my yard, and I noticed (and removed) mosquito wigglers in my daphnia pond yesterday.

Picked up Reebok's whelping box, a triple-walled cardboard carton just the right size.  It will make a perfect whelping box and can be recycled when we're done with it.  One less thing to have to store.  When we return from our field trip today, I have to finish cleaning the front side of the basement and set things up for Reebok.  Just a few more days to go, and she needs to be comfortably settled into her box by this weekend.

Tomorrow is my birthday and I'm picking out new furniture for the family room.  The old loveseat is pretty battered and needs replacing, but the piece that really needs to go is a large radio/phonograph combination that was in my parent's house when I was a teenager!  The radio still works just fine and it's been tuned to WCCO radio for over 25 years.  I vowed that I would keep it as long as the radio worked, but the piece is pretty battered, very out-dated and obviously the radio will work forever.  It's a heavy thing too, but with Laurie here we have some additional help. Time for a change!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How Many Puppies???

Breakfast on the deck!

State Government Shut Down Continues
and I'm really starting to enjoy this.  Is this what retirement is like?  Last night I slept straight through the night, no worrying about things I can't change.  Might as well seize the moment, or whatever.

Breakfast on the deck is a great way to start the day, especially when it's warm, sunny and not humid (at least not yet).  Ron and I have been eating separate meals, since he does not enjoy eating outdoors (although he makes an exception for a picnic).  I eat most of mine outdoors when the weather permits.  So nice to have a deck and a yard full of flowers.

This blog is a little late today as my first chore was to put in my application for Unemployment Insurance.   State employees were given an assigned day to register, to spread out the volume of new apps.  Nice website, easy to complete application.  A novel experience for me - never expected to have to apply for UI, but glad it's available.  Half my salary is better than none, especially if this lasts a long time.

Poor Reebok
The countdown has started, less than a week until the puppies are due.  Hopefully they will arrive on Monday, during the day, during Vet office hours in case we have any problems.  Dals are generally easy whelpers and good mothers, so hopefully things go smoothly for us. 

Wonder how many pups we will have?  Because Dal litters can contain patches (they can't be shown) and deafs (who we do not place), a good-sized litter increases the odds of getting show potential puppies.  Then there are markings to consider and whether or not the pups will have complete eye and nose trim.  Too heavily or too lightly spotted are problems, as are missing bits of eye trim and areas of pink on the nose.  THEN we start worrying about structure and movement, tail carriage, correct bites (they should be scissors) and eye color.  And attitudes!  Some dogs are born with hey-look-at-me personalities, while others are quieter and more laid back.

Things that may keep a pup from being considered show potential are often valued by buyers selecting a companion pup.  Patches and blue eyes are particularly popular.  While we can show blue-eyed pups, most breeders would prefer dark-eyed show prospects.  BAER hearing testing and a vet check are also part of the process.  Male pups must have two testicles, and we prefer that show prospects hear in both ears.  Hearing in one ear, called unilateral hearing, makes no difference in companion pups, and most owners wouldn't even notice that their dog only heard in one ear.  Having unilateral hearing does not disqualify a dog from the show ring, and a number of top showdogs have been unis.  Unilateral hearing increases the possibility that the dog will produce deaf pups though, so they are generally bred to dogs who produce particularly good hearing numbers.

When I told Reebok that ten pups would be nice, she just yawned and smiled.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Real Deal

State Government Shut Down Day 5 - The Real Deal
I should be going back to work today.  The new accounting system should be up and the new budget should be in place, but it's not and the real lay off has begun.  The Governor is setting up an advisory group made up of past politicians and current business leaders to discuss the impasse and suggest possible solutions.  Time to try SOMETHING new.

Mom at 87, Coral at 13, Watson at 11
A very nice Fourth of July - hope yours was too!  Somewhat productive as I planted the new herbs, watered and weeded some flower beds (mulch sure makes weeding easier), went to Menards for some more border fences, and painted the bathroom radiator.  We had a picnic with mom, and had real picnic weather for a change, warm and sunny.  Mom brought home made Salsa (Al's recipe) and her ever-good Potato Salad (her recipe),  I made Onion Burgers (Lipton's recipe) and we had Von Hanson's excellent hamburger buns - their burger and dog buns are the very best.  Ron picked up a small watermelon - they always feel like the Fourth Of July.  Cold Coronas hit the spot.

Mom and I reminisced over past Fourths, the ones spent up at the cabin on Rainy Lake when Al and Kris and I were kids and my grandparents were all still alive.  Those were great times and left me with wonderful memories.  Memories of fishing for walleyes, swimming off the dock in ice cold Rainy, trips to Sand Point Island for swimming and picnics, trips to Dry Weed Island for blueberry picking, walking to the frog swamp, picking pine cones, climbing the ranger tower and so many other adventures.  Also things like dodging horse flies, picking off wood ticks, swatting mosquitoes, breathing black flies, and being repulsed by leaches.  Annoying at the time, but all things that still make me smile.

As children we were fortunate that both sets of grandparents lived in the same small town, just half an hour from the cabin near International Falls.  Our summers always included weeks and weekends spent in Littlefork, and "up at the lake".  My dad and grandparents are gone now, the cabin was sold many years ago, and my brother lives in Costa Rica.  But I still have my memories of growing up in a extended family, in small town Mid-America in the 50s and 60s.  There wasn't a lot of money but there was lots of love, and family, and the childhood adventures that make memories that will always be a part of me. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Whelping Boxes & Nature Hikes

State Government Shut Down Day 4 - Lay Off Day 4
No work related dreams last night.  I must be adjusting to being laid off, although we'll see what happens tomorrow when I should be going back to work!  Instead, my dreams included puppies.  Two litters of puppies, born the same day and raised in adjoining bedrooms in my upstairs.  One litter was Bambi's and the other was Tasia's, and there were all kinds of problems keeping the mamas and the babies separated.   At least in my dreams.  This never actually happened, and Bambi and Tasia have been gone for many years, but it sure seemed real!

Poor Reebok . . .
Poor Reebok is looking a little uncomfortable with only a week to go, but she's in good spirits and still enjoys her evening walk, although she's puffing pretty good by the time we get back.  She even plays with Argus, but in very short spurts.  Trying to decide if I will use the large carton we got at the super market, a triple-walled corrugated box that originally held water melons.  It's just the perfect size, but I hate using old boxes if I can avoid it.  It will hurt Ron's feelings if I don't use this one (he found it) but tomorrow I'll check with the Tilson Box Company and see if I can purchase a 4 x 4 x 3 foot triple-walled box.  They really make wonderful whelping boxes, and can be recycled when the litter no longer needs the box.  Because they are so sturdy, a rail can even be attached to the sides of the box.

There are so many options for whelping boxes.  You can pay a small fortune for a really nice one, more of a whelping mansion with all sorts of extras which might be a good option if it would get enough use.  But it wouldn't here.  There are also very nice boxes for several hundred dollars, others that are cheaper still, and of course you can always make a whelping box.  I've used many homemade wooden boxes over the years in a variety of sizes, and particularly liked to bottom of a #500 Vari Kennnel - which was borrowed and never returned. Vari Kennel shipping boxes work nicely too.  The crates are shrink wrapped for shipping now so the boxes are not an option, but the box company has a great selection if you is willing to pay for a cardboard box - seems like a weird concept, right?

Many breeders use the kiddie wading pools and then throw them away when the litter is done.  I've never cared for them, as I prefer my whelping box to have an opening that the pups can climb though once they are mobile.  I did break down and use one for Tess's litter - the litter I lost to Canine Herpes, one of the most horrible experiences of my entire life.  I'd have nightmares if I ever used a wading pool again.

There must be squirrels here
Argus & I spent Sunday morning exploring Hidden Falls Park, a place I had not spent much time at in many years.  He had a wonderful time sniffing, splashing, and hunting, while I walked along amazed that such a beautiful place existed so close to my home, in the middle of a major metropolitan area.  We used to take the dogs there to swim in the river - Jocko, Murphy, Sidney, and Eloise particularly enjoyed the water.  Argus certainly enjoyed it, though he still has to stay on leash since the water is so high, the current is so strong, and he is so inexperienced. 

After our walk we went to White Castle for breakfast (Argus appreciated the Breakfast Sandwich but does not care for Hash Rounds), then Argus went home for a bath since he insisted on rolling on a long-dead fish.  A trip to the Farmers Market resulted in pea pods, fresh local broccoli, and wonderful green onions. 

Is this what retirement is like?

Note:  Someone asked about Pauli as I mentioned in a previous posting that she was retired for the time being.  Her co-owner Wendy has some job-related concerns too, so Pauli is home for the summer.  It's quite expensive to have a dog out with a handler and they had a nice run.  Pauli is well-ranked in the Top 10, so she's taking a break.  Wendy plans to train Pauli for road trials, so perhaps they will get started on that this summer.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Day Three

No more dog shows for Pauli
Government Shut Down Day 3
I found this quote in the Strib yesterday, after the article noted that a shut down does not mean that expenditures suddenly disappear. 

One of the biggest new expenditures: unemployment benefits for roughly 22,000 freshly laid-off state employees. In most cases, those workers are entitled to collect 50 percent of their pay while not working, according to a spokeswoman for AFSCME, the union that represents 18,000 state workers.

Those workers also will continue to receive health insurance at a cost of $4.7 million a week to the state. Altogether, the state could be shelling out $13 million a week to keep all those workers idle, based on the average salary of $38,000 earned by a state union member.

Additionally, the state is receiving no income from such diverse things as the state lottery and the car pool lanes.  And just wait until the lawsuits begin . . .

So far I'm doing OK, at least during the day. Nights are rougher as I wake up at 4:00 and spend the next two hours worrying.  How will we ever get caught up?  How will we deal with all the additional problems the shut down creates?  How will we do that while switching to the new accounting system?  We're supposed to be working in both accounting systems until "hard close" in August, but what if we are not back by then?

Is this just a smaller version of what the federal government will soon be dealing with?  What's wrong with these people?  What's wrong with simply restoring the tax rates that were in effect before Pawlenty did "favors" for all his wealthy friends?  How much money is "enough" money for them?  What lies ahead for the rest of us?  Chaos?

There's nothing I can personally do about any of this!  Guess I'll feed the dogs, get dressed and take Argus down to Hidden Falls Park along the Mississippi.  The Hmongs have taken over Como for their enormous Sports Festival, and there will be no parking for the rest of us, so we'll do our Sunday morning walk elsewhere.