Christmas 2013

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We returned to Lost Acre today after a week up in Michigan visiting family and enjoying the holidays.  We started with Grandpa Ray’s Christmas Chaos.  Dave has lots of cousins and now they all have kids of their own so there were 5 of the 6 cousins plus his brother and sister and then their 14 little ones running around.  And that’s not counting Dave’s aunts and uncles.  It was an awesome madhouse.

Christmas Choas

The next day was supposed to be his Grandma Bettie’s Christmas, but due to bad weather it was smaller than expected with just Dave’s immediate family at his parents house.  Marcie still made chicken and dumplings though so I’ll still call it a win.

My parents place was next, where we stayed through Christmas morning.  Anne, Karl, and Coraline were there too and it ended too soon.  Coraline and Wixer played some epic bitey-face and Bleys joined in in his own special humpy way. He’s just too cute to stay mad at very long.

Santa's most adorable helper
Round about 11 we took off for Muskegon again and it wasn’t the nicest drive.  We saw 4 vehicles on one side of the road or the other who had obviously rolled completely over at least once, and quite a few more that were ‘just’ off the road.  I was very grateful to reach our destination in one piece.  We came, we ate, we opened presents.

Warning! Warning!  Aunt down!  I repeat, Aunt down…we need some dirt cake STAT.

Anut Down!

Back when it was a kick starter I got the Goldie Blox set for Mila and we finally got to give it to her.  It was really interesting to watch her with it.  I’m not sure how much attention it will get immediately as it doesn’t have the glitter factor, but I have hopes that she will come back to it later.

Goldie Blox

We stayed on for Dave’s birthday which was made even better by Ryan and Laura coming out to dinner with us and then on to a dueling piano bar in downtown Grand Rapids.  Total win.  I met Laura in college botany class and she is one of those friends.  You know the ones, it just doesn’t matter how long its been, we just pick right back up where we left off.  It still blows my mind that she and Dave went to high school together and yet I managed to meet her completely separately.

As per usual we got a pass at Dog Star Ranch while we were up there so the dogs could blow off some steam.  I love it there.  The paths in the back are my favorite and it was crazy snowy the whole time which was very pretty and kept the mud at bay.  Double bonus.

You comin'?

Snow Wixer

I grabbed some video of the dogs doing what they do. Its pretty boring for everyone except me, I just love seeing my dogs play.

Bleys Appreciation

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Lets just take a minute to appreciate Bleys.  We were doing nosework in the living room and he was being his normal rockstar self.  I reward him in nosework by tossing him one of these when he sticks on source odor.  The super awesome part about Bleys though is his attitude about the Lotus.  Most of the dogs I’ve seen using them goes something like this: dog does something good, person throws them the Lotus, the dog chases the Lotus and then waits for their person to come open it and deliver to them the treats within.  Bleys?  Not so much.  When I throw him the Lotus he pounces on it.  No really, like a cat with both feet and everything.  Then he rips into it like some National Geographic special on the lions of the Serengeti.  If I reach for it before he’s got all the treats out of it he quick grabs it and takes it to the crook of a tree to savage it at his leizure…  Oh wait I’m confusing him with the lions again.  But he does run away with it so he can be sure to get all those treats out.  I think its just adorable.

He’s also a blue ribbon snuggler.

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He just fits in my lap perfectly and he is SO soft.  I can’t even describe it but petting him is a pleasure.  Look at that fur, just begging to be petted!

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Full on Fall

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Its fall!  One of my favorite times of year, when the temperatures drop, the trees give over to color, and comfort food abounds.  I’ve been taking full advantage of being back up north, sweaters be all up in here!  Yesterday was the first day I was chilly enough to use the fireplace although I’m still a bit conflicted about it.

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Its really convenient to just turn it on, but the gas nature of it isn’t nearly as satisfying as a real fire.  I guess we’ll just see how it goes and if we ever have strong enough feelings to call someone to come convert them back to wood.

Outside our burning bush is lovely and giant.  I’m afraid it might eventually engulf the carriage house.

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I also got a tip from Anne about an orchard that is less than 10 minutes from our house, so we headed over there to get some apples.  Which (after a quick Facebook poll) I promptly make into chunky applesauce.  It is a combination of Gala, Fuji, Jonagold, and a few red and golden delicious apples and then added some cinnamon after it was cooked down.  That’s it.  And it is amazing.  Ah-maz-ing.  I got 9 pint jars out of this batch.

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I’m thinking the pint size is good for Dave and I and I’ll probably put the pickles in that size next time as well.  The quart size is just a little big and I worry about getting through it all in time after they’ve been opened.  I think my next job is to figure out a good way to label all the stuff I’ve been canning!  And to find another dill pickle recipe.  While the one I made this year one is tasty, its not dilly enough and a touch more sour than I’d like.  The bread and butters on the other hand are a keeper.  So good!

I got involved in canning and went I went to find Wixer (Bleys is perfect and just stayed at my feet the whole time) I found this…

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I do agility

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I had planned to make Wixer’s agility debut later this month at an AKC trial (couldn’t resist the fact that its 15 minutes from my house!?!) but then Lisa had to go an invite me to enter day of at a trial she was doing today with UKI.  I had never heard of it, but it was the first UKI trial in Illinois and promised to be pretty low key, low pressure.  She even offered to drive!  So I quick signed up for a number for myself and Wixer and off we went super early this morning.  I did my fair share of freaking out last night, this morning, and before each run.  Luckily it was indeed low pressure and very friendly.  The people running it were super nice and because it was a new thing there it wasn’t super packed and we weren’t rushed at all.  I signed up for Agility (Standard), Jumping (jumps, weaves, open tunnels), and Speed Stakes (jumps and open tunnels) leaving Gamblers and Snooker for a later time.  No need to overwhelm the already overwhelmed!

As an added bonus the venue shares a door with Chicago Brew Werks which was offering samples along with the distillery down one door!

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Alas I was not feeling up to any bervs so I didn’t partake. I bet it made Dave a little sorry he stayed home.

Agility was first and I was a bit worried when we walked out there.  When we got near the start line Wixer went all stiff and I thought he was going to bolt for the jump when I took the leash off.  His muscles were totally tense making him like a little black dog shaped rock.  He eyes were huge!  I managed to get the leash off but when I said ‘get ready’ he didn’t even flick an ear, he just kept staring at that jump.  Rut roh.  I tried again and he came out of his little agility fugue…mostly.  He was still pretty keyed up but he did get ready and I was able to lead out like normal.  Whew!  Overall the course ended with 1 knocked bar and 1 off course but he was pretty amazing.  He held his start line, he rocked all of his contacts and weaves, and listened very well for how intense that start was.

Next was Jumping and that wasn’t so pretty.  We started with less drama, but right off he missed on the weaves and had to retry, then a knocked bar and then and then and then.  It sort of all cascaded into a mess by which point I lost track of my plan.  We still finished though so I’m counting in the positive pile.

Finally was Speed Stakes which went really well!  There was only one misread which didn’t actually affect our run much and he did a pretty amazing go on to a tunnel that I was worried about in the walk through.  Out of 4 qualifying dogs in the 16″ class Wixer took first!

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All in all a really good experience and I’m super happy Lisa asked me to join. Since I missed the beer tasting earlier in the day Dave and I tried some fun meads with dinner.

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Both were delicious, but I think I’m partial to the Zombie Killer.

Beta test

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A good friend in Florida, Brenda, has recently taken up sewing and started making the latest toy craze to hit flyball: the bungee fur bottle tug. We traded some collars for bottle tugs and today I finally got around to giving a try with Wixer. Low and behold Bleys wanted in on that crunchy bottle action and the following ensued. Sorry for the camera bouncing it was hard to keep it still with Wixer and Bleys on the end of the tug!

They’re just so cute when they’re violent.

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Just Keep Swimming

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I’m feeling a wee bit overwhelmed for no good reason.  Overwhelmed isn’t the quite right word, as I am keeping up…for the most part…I think.  I’m never really caught up or getting ahead though.  I have a lot of things to make/fix for people (some have been waiting for a long time which is distressing), a lot of things I want to work on in CraftyTown, and a ton of things I want to work on around the house.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time cleaning up in CraftyTown so I can actually find and get to the things I need to work on stuff in there. I got a little help in the form on napping from both dogs who took turns on the two beds I have in there for them.

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I got this one at CanAm this year from the Cheap Bed Guy for Bleys, but apparently Wixer figured it would work.  If it fits it naps!  I’ve sort of lost track of a lot of the stuff I’ve made since the last time I posted so I think I’ll just skip all that.  Today I worked on a leash for Patty, which I think turned out pretty well.  Hopefully she and Carol are going to let me know how the handle junction holds up.

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And then I started repairing a collar for Kelly when this happened:

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Oh seam ripper, how can I do all the frogging I need to do without you?  Guess I need a sturdier model.  Wixer says great!  Now lets go play!

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Bacon

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Anne brought this book home from the library.  I’m pretty sure it should be illegal.
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She looked through it and decided we should try the French Toast Bread Pudding with Bacon for dinner one night.  I had to agree.

I basically made French toast (I used challah) and bacon (I like to cook mine in the oven) separately and then use them and some dried cranberries to make a bread pudding.  The recipe called for 4 eggs to make the stuff you dip the French toast in before cooking, but I ended up needing 6 eggs worth.  Not sure if my bread wasn’t stale enough maybe?   I was a bit concerned when I added the custard as it seemed impossible that it would set up with that much liquid, but it turned out just fine.

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Dave made a fresh berry salad to go with.
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We went through almost a whole 9 by 13 pan between four of us so I’d say it was a success!

Such meals do not come without consequence though so today I decided to try out a rails to trails path I located nearby.  Living where we do there isn’t much walking you can do right out of the door.  This path has a parking lot about 5 minutes drive from us though so it seemed like it would be a good start.  I decided to only take Wixer as I’m still being overprotective of Bleys and too much heat and exercise.  He is not amused.  So Wix and I went for about an hours walk.  I decided to try out Bleys’ pack on Wixer as I haven’t been happy with how far forward his sits behind his front legs.  I’m afraid it might rub there.  He was a great walking partner and hopefully got a bit of his yayas out working that pack. I must say it sure was nice to have him carry the water and my keys!
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At first I thought our walk would need to be short because of how sunny it was with the blacktop and all, but soon after we started the trail headed under trees making it much more enjoyable for both of us.

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I’ll definitely go back to walk this trail again.  Hopefully I’ll get Bleys out there soon too.

Around the garden, I think the hummingbirds have me figured out.  They spent a lot of time hovering around the feeder and not eating.  So I realized it was empty.  One of them hovered over my shoulder as I took it down and watched me through the kitchen window as I cleaned it out and refilled it.  I’m a little short to use the step ladder to hang it back up so he left for a bit while I struggled to get it back on the hook.  But he and a friend were back very soon after I went inside.  Smart little birdies.

Water Intoxication

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Dock Jumper

I read an update from another dog sport person today that their dog is suffering from water intoxication and not doing well at all.  She’s on a ventilator and her prognosis is very uncertain, please take a minute to spend some good thoughts her way and maybe hug your dog an extra time.  This story hits close to home for me as Bleys went through this a few years ago.  It sounds like this case is much worse than Bleys and I don’t really know the person or the situation well, but I felt like maybe I should recount our experience in case it helps people recognize what it is.  I firmly believe my knowledge of water toxicity BEFORE it happened made all the difference when it did happen.  Please don’t rely on the emergency vet you get when you take your dog in to know.

Otter puppy

Bleys is a crazy retrieving spaniel.  You might not think it of a Cavalier, but he’s pretty much a badass and will retrieve in the water as long as you will throw it.  The day this happened we were at the wonderful lake run by Performance Pups down in Dania Beach Florida and both dogs were having a grand time.  Since its such a great place for them to run and swim and be their crazy dogs we stayed for 45 minutes.  It didn’t feel like a long time while we were there.  During those 45 minutes Bleys was his normal self, running into the water after his ball, bringing it out of the water and running off with it.  Then leaving it far away and barking his fool head off for you to go get it.  Nothing seemed amiss until we got in the car to drive home and Bleys seemed a little lethargic.  Nothing extreme and we passed it off as being tired after swimming so we went home and spent a few hours hanging out.  Bleys slept a lot and was still tired, but it wasn’t until he didn’t eat dinner that my concern grew.  Not one to miss a meal he also added glassy eyes and a lot of drooling to the list of symptoms.  I tried getting him to eat on and off for an hour with no luck.  He was still responsive and able to walk and everything so I was still stifling my concern, trying not to overreact.  It got to be about midnight and Dave volunteered to stay up with Bleys just in case.  He woke me up at about 3:00 am when Bleys had a seizure.  Bleys was on the couch unconscious, rigid, and jaw clamped.  Scariest thing I’ve ever seen and I immediately went into teacher Susan mode and started getting stuff done.  We hopped in the car and I drove to the emergency clinic at unsafe speeds and on the way I asked Dave to call and let them know we were coming with a dog with water intoxication in the middle of a seizure.

Beach Bum

When we walked in a tech was there to whisk him to the back (to start treatment I assumed) while we were escorted into a room to wait.  When the vet came in she said that he had stopped seizing and they needed to wait for the next one to decide what was wrong and how to treat.  Clearly my diagnosis was either not given to the vet or disregarded.  I reiterated that he had water intoxication and he needed immediate treatment.  The vet restated that they would wait for the next seizure (so much for not being given the diagnosis, well I tried to be generous anyway).  In my head I was desperately trying to figure out how to not offend the people who had Bleys’ life in their hands while I really wanted to scream and shout and insist they start DOING SOMETHING RIGHT NOW.  We went back and forth for a minute and then she suggested we could do some bloodwork while we waited for the next seizure.  I squelched my immediate reaction of:  wait, bloodwork hasn’t already been started?!? And went instead for an enthusiastic Great idea!  If she looked at his electrolyte level it would be clear there was an immediate problem.  She went in the back to do that and I’m guessing look up water intoxication because I really think she didn’t know what it was.  She came back with the results and finally we had progress.  He was started on treatment and was transferred to our regular vet the next day (Monday).  He spent a few days there and was able to come home with no lingering side effects that we know of.  Of course every time something neurological is a off I wonder…

We still let him swim, but now he wears a Ruff Wear Float Coat (has neoprene under the chest to keep him higher in the water), only fetches flat toys that don’t force his mouth open (he used to retrieve a ball), and only swims for 15-20 minutes at a time.

 

I don’t know if this is helpful and every case is different, but it felt like something I should do.

Badass

Pie

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I’m still working my way through the blueberries Dave brought home, mostly by eating them by the handfull. But I got a request for blueberry pie from Anne, quickly seconded by Dave, so today I made a pie. I do make a pretty wicked pie crust!

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And I can’t abide wasting the leftover dough so I also made some crust cookies, which Karl enjoyed.

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Blueberry bonanza

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Its blueberry season!  Dave came home from the store with 4 pounds of them today.  Aren’t they just gorgeous?  I ate a large quantity of them without delay.

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But I also couldn’t resist baking something with them immediately. This is a recipe my mom gave me years ago called Blueberry Batter Cake. Its one of the weirdest recipes I’ve ever made, but its easy and super delicious.

You start with blueberries and lemon juice.

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Add a layer of batter (butter, sugar, flour, milk, and salt) on top.

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Another layer on top of that consisting of sugar, baking powder, and salt.

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Pour 1 cup of boiling water over the whole shebang and bake for an hour.

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Of course I didn’t remember to take a picture of the finished product before devouring it for dessert, but going by all the empty bowls I’d say it was a success.

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We had pad thai, thanks to Dave, before this confection and since we have a variety of tastes in the house right now we saved some of the ingredients as options to add at the end, so people could choose to only add what they wanted. I contributed a jalapeno and some cilantro from my very own garden.

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There is something so satisfying about harvesting herbs to add to dinner.  As Dave was chopping up the cilantro he said the leaves were so perfect they almost looked fake.