Friday, December 28, 2012

Impulse Buy

The Chevrolet HHR has been a great vehicle for me. I really have to toot its horn a bit, and say that it handled everything I threw at it without question.  However, to be honest, it was a wee bit small for my needs. Sure, it could fit two Doberman-sized crates, but that left very little room for other luggage. We'd been casually looking at other vehicles, but hadn't planned on getting rid of the HHR for another year or so.

But then my friend Aryn's car ended up needing repairs... the kind that cost more than the car's actual worth.  And so starts the story of the weirdest impulse purchase I've ever made.

Yesterday, while I was toiling away at my job, Aryn instant-messaged me a link to a little European station wagon for sale up in Ames. She thought it was very pretty.  I agreed that it was indeed very pretty. I took a break from my work to peruse the dealership's other used inventory, and my eyes about popped out of their sockets when I saw a listing for a vehicle I'd wanted since high school - a Honda Element.

It didn't have super high mileage for a 2007 model, it was in great condition, it had four wheel drive, and the price was excellent... and it wasn't white. I refuse to buy white cars.  I messaged Aryn back, to see if maybe she wanted to drive up to Ames together, so we could look at both vehicles.  Aryn thought that was a fabulous idea, so we made it so.

In the end, it just made sense. The dealership gave me a great trade-in for the HHR... like insanely good. Apparently four days before the end of the year is a great time to buy a car, because they all want to get those last-minute sales on the books for year-end.  I ended up walking away with a a slightly older yet much more reliable and appropriate vehicle for my needs.  That, and unlimited free oil changes.  Seriously, I'm way too excited about those oil changes.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to take photos of a car... at night... during a snowstorm?  Blah!  Anyway, meet Zephyr.  Yes, I'm one of those nerds who names vehicles.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Blizzard. Learned a few things.

My colleagues who work in the office got the day off. 
Since I work from home, it was business as usual. It was actually kind of fun. It was like being in the office by myself, except I was still at my desk at home.  I'm not sure that made sense.

Small towns are overrated.
We've lived here three years, and every year our cars get stuck in our ridiculous alley. The town refuses to plow alleys, yet requires all cars to be moved off the streets in the event of snowfall. Since we are the only house on the block without a driveway, we are required to drive through that alley to get to our garage. It falls on us to pay someone to plow the alley.  Of course, once it's plowed... one of our neighbors uses it.  She's not our favorite neighbor... can't stand that woman.  Anyway... only once have neighbors come out to help us, and they aren't longtime residents either.  They moved here from North Carolina.  My "hometown" - the second largest city in Iowa - had more neighborly goodwill than this stupid small town.  

Toe shoes are great and all, but sometimes you just need a pair of heavy-duty snow boots.
... because I can't imagine digging a Pontiac out of 2' snowdrifts in Lontras. 

When you're frozen to the bone, a hot shower really helps.
In case you were wondering what to do when, after more than two hours outside, you're still chilly and miserable.

I need a truck.
I'm not sure a Transit Connect will get through the alley.  So tempted to get a 4x4 truck or SUV next time, but not sure how I'll ever afford one.

The desert-dog loves snow.
Selma wouldn't come in, so I had to chase her around for about twenty minutes before she finally gave up. I'm sad she doesn't have a forever home for Christmas.

Here are the dogs, playing in the snow.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hodgepodge 12.0

Aw shoot, I missed out on an incredible opportunity!  I should have written this on 12-12-12.  Then it would have been Hodgepodge 12.0, 12-12-12.  Oh well, we can't always be perfect.

Puppy Chow
I made over 5lbs of puppy chow for the obedience club's holiday potluck tomorrow. Any leftovers will be donated to the wonderful folks at Village Veterinary Hospital. Village Vet staff, you have been warned.

Too Many Dogs
I have too many in the house right now.  Selma was so close to having a forever home, but now we're back to square one, yet again.  I will say this again... she's not staying. Yes, I like her - but I'm her foster mom - it's my job to like her. Regardless, she needs to be elsewhere by February.

Speaking of too many dogs...
I have a sixth dog here until Sunday.  She's a nine year old owner-turn-in, and thankfully her breeder is more than willing to take her back.  Say what you will about breeders, but the good ones do their part to ensure no life they've brought into the world ends up burdening rescue. It really says a lot for a breeder when they happily take back a senior dog with health issues instead of letting rescue pick up the pieces.  Anyway, her name is Princess.  She's kind of stiff in the rear end and needs to gain a fair amount of weight, but she sure is cute and sweet.  Yeah, I put her in monkey pajamas...

I hate high-definition films and TV.
I know it's the rage right now, but I hate it. Hate, hate, hate it. Here's the deal... movies ask the viewer for a suspension of disbelief, but HD doesn't honor that. It's so crisp and real, you can tell the characters are actors.  You can tell the scenes are sets.  Instead of watching a story, HD forces you to watch a bunch of actors play out a story.  It's so real that it's clearly fake, and that frustrates me.  On the other hand, Okami looks sick in HD!  Sick as in 'awesome' - not sick as in 'vomit-inducing.'

I sometimes tend to be over-dramatic, especially about my nerdier interests and hobbies.
On December 10th, I described my morning via Facebook as 'bad, as in earth shattering sadness and disappointment, followed up by shameful embarrassment.'  No, I'm really okay. Seriously. It wasn't actually that bad.  Basically, I discovered what appeared to be a paparazzi photo of my favorite actor holding what appeared to be an adorable, squishy little Doberman puppy.  I freaked out like a fangirl, and for more than an hour was really excited at the thought of said favorite actor and me sharing a common interest in Dobermans.  I was caught up in the fantasy of suddenly asserting myself as said actor's Best Friend Forever, and we'd take our Dobermans for walks and playdates and we would be best friends and it would be awesome.  In my search to learn more about the photo, I revealed my (platonic) love for this actor to a group of like-minded yet completely unknown individuals, and was curtly informed that the photo was an old one* and that the puppy wasn't his.  I was shattered.  I was so ridiculously sad. I should have known he wouldn't have gotten a puppy recently... I was such an idiot for thinking he'd have gotten a puppy! But at the same time, I couldn't stop laughing at myself and my pathetic nerdiness.  Four days later, and I'm still laughing at myself. (* I should have known... that was his 2010 haircut. Damn you, puppy, you distracted me into not seeing all the variables in the photo!)

Mysterious Packages
I received two Scentsy bars in the mail today.  They weren't marked, and I didn't recognize the return address or name.  Whoever sent them... thank you!  I love Scentsy!  If I ever find out who sent them and why, I'll be sure to post an update.

Boozin' It Up
Speaking of Scentsy.... I had a great time tonight at Aryn's Scentsy Party.  I think I spent too much, but that's pretty typical when I come in close contact with smelly wax. Aryn provided slushy wine from Prairie Berry and it was delicious. Tomorrow, it'll be rum and Cokes at the holiday potluck! Drinking twice in a row, that's got to be a record for me. (Shut up, I'm not a big drinker! Stop laughing!)

The Swanson Pyramid of Greatness
Why does it seem like my husband and I (and Julie C.) are the only people that love Parks and Recreation?  Seriously guys, it's a great show.  It's got the spark that made The Office so wonderful a few years ago, and yet I've only met a few other people that regularly watch it. Ron Swanson is my hero.  Netflix and Hulu have most of the episodes, so go watch Parks and Rec.  

Random Photo:  My kitty Jacques, wearing a holiday scarf.  The End.

Friday, December 7, 2012

552 Days

It's been 552 days, 17 hours, and 34 minutes since I lost the best dog in the entire world.

I've been thinking about Ronin a lot recently, and I don't know why now, of all the times to think about him, I keep coming back to him... and missing him more than I've ever missed anyone.  Tonight I was thinking about tattoo designs - which is a story for another time - but again, there he was... pushing his way into my thoughts.  I messaged a friend of mine (who also has a special red Doberman) to maybe help me find a way to articulate why Ronin keeps popping up in my mind.  Sometimes talking about things with a friend helps me organize my feelings.

I was always his best friend. Every breath he took, he took for me.  And every time he looked at me, I swear he he was secretly smiling at some sort of inside joke that only he and I shared.

To Kaylee, I'm a partner.  To Jayne, I'm a parent. To Ilsa, I was a servant. To Ronin, I was... everything.  I was the cosmos inside the mouth of Vishnu. (See? I knew I'd eventually find a use for that minor in Religious Studies!)

He was just like Jayne.... he needed so much help. Like Jayne, I was stupid to get him. His previous owners fucked him up. (And no, I will not apologize that f-bomb.) When I met him, Sandi had us all sit at the kitchen table with our hands in our laps and told us not to look at him or touch him.  He was stressed, running around the kitchen and panting, but eventually he stopped next to me and just... looked at me.  And I knew he needed to come home with me.

I wasn't sitting in that house to buy a 20 month old dog with issues.  I was there for a confident, happy, well adjusted, 12 week old red puppy from the Tyler x Fawnie litter.  When I finally worked up the courage to ask Sandi if I could have the crazy one instead, she looked at me like I was insane and said, "you don't want that dog."

But I did.   I don't know why, but I just did.

And I tried to show him, I really did, but he wasn't going to beat Breaker or Ranger or Bryce or any of the other nicer dogs that were always his competition. He was nice, but not nice enough for a completely novice owner handler to finish.

After a few years, I found myself at a show in Iowa City and Ranger won Best of Breed again, and Sandi pulled me aside and nicely told me that Ronin wasn't going to finish no matter how hard we tried, and that if I really wanted a show dog that would put me "on the map" in the breed, she would take Ronin back and give me Ranger.  (Side note: Ranger ended up being a Best in Show winner, and is the sire of my Kaylee.)

I said okay.  And I was excited, because I was finally going to have the champion I wanted so badly.

But on the drive home, I looked in my rearview mirror and saw Ronin looking at me like I was his own personal god, and I started bawling. I cried the whole way home. Then I called Sandi and told her I'd changed my mind about taking Ranger.  I knew that I could live without ever having a champion, but I couldn't live with myself if I turned my back on a dog who would never turn his back on me.

That was the last time I ever considered returning a dog because of what they couldn't do for me. And that lesson (and the guilt of knowing that for an hour or two, I was okay with shattering that dog's whole world for my own selfish desires) will be with me the rest of my life.  I don't think I could ever apologize enough to Ronin for what I almost did. 

So suffice to say, I think if there ever was a dog that I'd give up everything I have, just to have back for one day, it would be Ronin.  We'd go for a car ride, and go hiking offleash in The Pits, and dig holes in the dirt, and throw a tennis ball around, and share a pint of ice cream, and I'd hug him and tell him how much I love him.  And he'd roll around on his back, break a few windows, get mud all over my car, and he'd lick my face and fall asleep in my lap.  And it would be worth it.

When I think back to Ilsa, I'm ok. 
But when I think back to Ronin, I just want him back.

When he went into heart failure, we knew he wasn't going to get better. On a Friday, we scheduled his euthanasia for the next upcoming Wednesday. He was going downhill fast, and my friend Sam said she wanted to come see him one last time.  Sam had known him ever since he'd come to live with me.  We had traveled together to dog shows back in the day, so she'd gotten really attached to him and vice versa.  She'd since moved a few hours away, so I was glad that she was willing to make to trip down to say goodbye to an old friend.

Sam showed up late on a Saturday.  In the middle of the night, Ronin got up and went out to the living room to sleep next to Sam. Sunday morning, we had trouble getting him up.  I half-carried him to the backyard so he could potty.  Those were his last steps... his heart finally gave out for good and he died in the backyard. It's almost like he wanted to say goodbye to Sam too, and that he held on until he could see her.  It couldn't have been easy for him to get up and go sleep beside her, but he did it and I want to think that he knew that I wasn't the only one that needed him that night.

A few hours later, Sam and I picked him up, put him in the car, and took him to Lovingrest to be cremated. I didn't cry. It was a nice morning, sunny and cool, a light breeze and just a little bit humid. All I remember was feeling tired and frayed and kind of greasy since I hadn't thought to shower before leaving for the pet crematory... but I felt lighter, knowing that he wasn't suffering anymore.

But now, 552 days, 17 hours, and 34 minutes later, I just miss him. 

Then again... I just realized my face hurts because I've been smiling the whole time I've been adding photos to this post. He always could make me smile.  :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Office

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I have a pretty sweet deal in life... I work from home. Today I had to commute into Des Moines because my work team was having a holiday lunch, and I generally come in for those because I don't want my co-workers to forget that I exist. (Also, I always seem to need more Post-It notes.) Being in cube-world for 9 hours today has reminded me of a few things.

1. People eat donuts. I'd actually forgotten what donuts smell like... they smell terrible. Why do people eat donuts?

2. I talk to myself at home while I'm working. It's sort of a running commentary on what I happen to be working on at any given time. That isn't actually acceptable when I'm in the office, though it is on occasion hilarious.

3. My company buys really comfy chairs for its employees, holy Jesus. As a side note - I did not have such a high opinion of this chair when I worked in the office full time. Odd.

4. When working in the office, I seem to get this giddy sense of urgency and end up forgetting to take breaks and lunch, ultimately leading to me accomplishing way too much.  I need to knock that off.

5. My home internet sucks.

6. Sometimes, people clip their nails at work. That's kind of gross. Ew. Do that in the bathroom or out side.  Or even better, do it at home. *shudder*

7. 99.9% of Christmas movies are awful. The Grinch (the new one with Jim Carey) is really, really bad. Side note... wow, there are a lot of adult jokes in that movie. Do all "kid movies" have a ton of mature jokes in them now?  Have they always?  Not complaining, just puzzled.

8. I forgot how much the building shakes when airplanes fly over. It's unsettling.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sing for your Dinner

It's been a fun evening...

Aryn and I did a home visit in Clive, then went to Trader Joe's and bought kale, cauliflower, fruit and assorted meats. I stopped at the obedience club to print the newsletter* and then headed home.  It was about 9pm by the time I got back to Prairie City.

* I have what I call a "chronic inablity to say No" which has resulted in me being the newsletter editor for the obedience club.  Among other things.

The dogs usually eat earlier in the evening, so they had worked themselves into a tizzy by the time I had their food prepared.  On the menu tonight was beef, elk liver, and turkey feet.  Once the turkey feet came out, Jayne decided that desperate times called for desperate measures.  I blame protection training for this... now, when he wants something really bad, he barks.  Barking eventually earns him a bite, so he apparently thought  barking at his bowl would eventually lead to a bite of another kind!

You get that meat, Jayne!  You get it!  Tell it who's boss!

Kaylee knows the true secret of being fed though... cute DoberTongues get you fed a lot faster than angry barking.

VFF Addiction

I should probably be ashamed.

Komodosport, Komodosport, Bikila, Speed.
Treksport, KSO, Trek, Lontra.
Spyridon, KSO.

I never intended to get this many pairs of shoes, though I must admit that I only paid full price for one or two pairs. I wait until they go on sale... I'm not a moron.  I'm done now though - I don't need any more.  (Though  I wouldn't be upset if somehow I ended up with a pair of Jayas.  White, size 40.  SHOOT, they're on sale at REI for $58.93!  Argh!)  I should point out that I do use each style for different activities though:

I usually wear these in the summer. They're versatile, so I can easily wear them out hiking or out to the store. They do get a bit toasty on extremely hot pavement though.

These are the ultimate all-purpose VFF, and the style I recommend to everyone as their first pair. I wear them everywhere.  The soles are a tad bit thicker than KSO soles, so they don't get hot in the summertime and mask the feel of sharp gravel much better.

I wear these on short hikes, and occasionally to work when I happen to be wearing black pants. TO be honest, the thick lugs on the toes of Treksports sometimes give me sore spots, so I wear these as infrequently as possible.  I do like them when I have to spend an entire day on dirt for an agility trial though - they get excellent traction.

These are leather, and the only reason I bought them was because they are leather.  This means I can wear them to work.  These are probably the least comfortable, least attractive pair of VFFs I own.  I don't like them, but they're a necessary evil. It doesn't help that they have Treksport soles, blech.  These are discontinued - so if you want a pair, be prepared to do a lot of online hunting.

These are my dedicated running VFFs. The sole is quite aggressive and feels different than any other VFF sole I've tried. I love them for running, but I'd imagine wearing them to Whole Foods would be feel strange.

Speeds are my favorite "fun" all-rounders.  I don't think I'd wear Speeds out on a hike, but that's only because I have other models better suited to getting dirty and nasty. These are based on the Bikila platform so they do have a tiny amount of arch support, but they're flexible and thin so you do get a decent amount of ground feel.  I like wearing these when I want to wear fun shoes but not instantly get noticed for wearing "weird" shoes.

These will be my running shoes for times that I'm running on asphalt.  Spyridons can feel a bit lumpy on artificial (hard) surfaces, whereas the Bikilas feel smoother.  These are one of the more recent pairs I've bought, so I haven't had a chance to get to know them yet.
I'll pull these out when the weather gets really cold. They're designed for cold and wet weather, and are currently my only water-resistant pair of VFFs.  They're built on the Treksport platform (darn it!) but they do seem to fit well.  Of course, the temperature hasn't dropped below 50 degrees ever since I got them, so I haven't had a chance to test them out in arctic temperatures yet!

Anyway... yeah.  There's my spiel on one of my more ridiculous addictions.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Some people collect stamps... I collect carcasses.

Ever since a friend of mine posted a list of things they don't tell you about feeding raw, I've wanted to write something similar. We've been feeding raw for awhile now, and it's to the point where I consider myself completely indoctrinated into this bizarre cult of raw feeding.  The kool-aid tastes great... you should try it.

You really do need a huge freezer (or multiple freezers) to make raw work.  Unless you're a billionaire, which I am not.

We have a 24.6 cubic foot chest freezer, and right now it's nearly full to the brim.  That means I have roughly 850 pounds of meat in my basement. Funny thing is, I find myself yearning for additional freezer space. Our freezer is more than adequate, but I would still like another "overflow" freezer for times such as now, when I have a lot of meat, but there is more meat scheduled to arrive soon and I have nowhere to put it. Sometimes my planning is not good, I admit this. Haha.

I know for a fact I couldn't feed raw without my gigantic freezer.  My sources aren't exactly local, and my dogs go through about 30-35lbs of meat per week. In order to get good prices, you have to buy in bulk. What would cost me $120-$150 per week if bought from the supermarket only costs me about $15-$20 when I buy in bulk... and most of my bulk sources are better than what I'd find in the supermarket anyway.  Even if I could afford to "go supermarketing" for my meat, I'd have nowhere to store it. Heaven forbid I take up any freezer space upstairs - where would my husband hide his Hot Pockets?

There is something awesome about the sound of a dog crunching their way through raw bones.

A friend of mine hooked me up with some turkey feet recently. The metatarsus of a turkey is about as big around as a Sharpie marker, and none of my dogs had any trouble decimating their turkey legs.  That is some serious jaw power.

It's easy to worry about the "dangers" of feeding raw, especially when you're just starting out. Eventually, however, you realize that dogs have been eating their way through meat and bones far longer than kibble has ever been around, and they've done just fine. Mother Nature designed them to be able to crunch through bones, crush skulls and tear through cartilage. Mother Nature also equipped dogs with strong stomachs, able to withstand bacteria that would make us humans violently ill.  They eat cat poop, for Pete's sake... raw chicken isn't going to kill them.

If you like to be organized, be prepared to spend a lot of time repackaging your haul.

I have a love/hate relationship with "breakdown days" - that is, days spent taking the meat purchased in bulk and repackaging it so as to optimally utilize freezer space. (WOW, that was an awesome sentence! Look at all those big words! So precise!) Anyway, back on topic. My beef comes conveniently frozen in nice rectangular boxes, so there isn't anything extra I do to it before it gets chucked in the freezer.  My chicken grind comes in pretty little 1-2lb tubes, so those are easily stacked in one corner of the freezer. Everything else, however, needs to be altered in some way.  Depending on the quantity of meat purchased, this can take hours, if not days.

My poultry (organic and free range!) comes in 10-20lb bags, straight from the processor.  I thaw it all, then repackage it in Ziploc bags that are laid flat so no freezer space is wasted. I label each bag with what it contains, how many of said item it contains, and the date. This helps me know how much I need to thaw, and which bags need to be thawed first. (Yeah, I'm a bit anal about this. I accept that.)

Beef hearts are oddly shaped, and need to be cut up and repackaged so they don't take up a ton of room. Whole carcasses (muskrats, rabbits, game hens) sometimes need to be hacked up and repackaged as well.  Sometimes my rabbits come in trash bags.  I repackage them because trash bags aren't clear so I can't see what they contain.  Other times, my rabbit comes in Blue Bunny ice cream containers.  Hilarious as this may be, ice cream containers are bulky and take up too much room in my freezer.

I usually put on some music and make a day of it.  Breaking down 200lbs of chicken necks is oddly soothing.  The only "raw breakdown" I don't enjoy is pureeing livers.  That involves slicing up the liver, putting it in the food processor, then spooning the liver glop into deli containers.  It's messy, time consuming, and smelly. If my dogs would eat liver chunks, I wouldn't have to puree - but alas, they are jerks and prefer their liver to be the consistency of pudding.

It really is a secret society. 

I can't tell you how lucky I've been to find my sources. Some sources I'm willing to share with people, but others I keep secret... only because there isn't an unlimited supply and I don't want too many people to know where my "oasis" is located.  It's one part of feeding raw that I dislike, because I know there are so many people that would like to feed raw but can't because they don't know where to find the meat... and no one is about to tell them.

With the AVMA now vilifying raw, it's even more apparent that raw feeding isn't something that will become "mainstream" any time soon. This forces many raw feeders and raw sources to go "underground" - for better or for worse. It can be a tough world to break into, especially if you don't already have a foot in the door.

You become obsessed with taking photos of your freezer and your dogs' meals.

It's a hilarious side effect of feeding raw. People like showing off their supply of meat, their organizational styles, the weird meat they're feeding for supper, their awesome hauls, their packaging methods, etc. Many dog forums online have entire threads dedicated to the sharing of these photos. Some people (myself included) even take videos of their dogs eating weird stuff, just because it's entertaining.

You'll run into some real "Raw Nazis" if you hang around raw feeders for any amount of time.

This is another part of the "raw feeding subculture" that makes me shake my head and sigh.  We all have slightly different opinions on how to feed raw - some feed partial raw, some feed pre-made commercial raw, some people feed ground, some people feed prey model, some people supplement with fruits and/or veggie mixes, some people are comfortable giving weight-bearing bones, some people feed fur-on carcasses, some people feed expired meat from the grocery store, some people only feed human-grade meat, some people give vitamin and/or oil supplements.

... and some people are real asses to folks who don't feed raw exactly the way they do, or heaven forbid feed kibble.  I apologize in advance if someone throws a hissy fit because you're not doing it the same way they're doing it. They're your dogs - it's your decision. I personally do not feed veggies or weight bearing bones from large animals.  Some of what I feed is ground.  Some of what I feed is not labeled for human consumption. I occasionally give my dogs raw goats-milk as a treat. There are people who do not like how I feed my dogs, and that's fine.

Finally... feeding raw turns you into a collector.  A collector of carcasses.

Yes, this is where I got the title of this post.  A friend and I were talking about the joys of feeding raw, and it was mentioned that when you feed raw, you end up "collecting" meat like it's Pokemon or something. You find yourself cruising the meat aisle, looking for something weird or on sale. You skim Craigslist and join raw feeding e-lists, on the chance you'll stumble upon someone selling their extra stock of elk livers. You'll pester your hunter friends for scraps, or in my case... complain on Facebook that you have no hunter friends, and wish someone would just kill a deer for you and let you hack away at the carcass in a dimly-lit garage.

Yes, it's a wild and crazy lifestyle, this lifestyle of feeding raw meat to your dogs.  But seriously - if you can, give it a try.  The kool-aid is delicious.  Here's a turkey foot.  It's a special turkey foot, because it's silver instead of white. This means it came from a "fancy" turkey. If I didn't feed raw, I would have never learned that there are fancy and non-fancy turkeys.  I love this life.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Haven't done this in awhile... a chronicle of my Saturday.

I woke up from an exhausting dream.  I dreamt that my Aunt Pat was going to go on a trip somewhere, but she couldn't go so she sent me instead.  The trip was by air, and for some reason she had it set up to switch flights four or five times.  I had no idea where I was going, and at one point I became completely lost while looking for "Gate N." None of the airport personnel helped me, and my only directions were on an iPhone that I'd borrowed from my aunt.  Once I realized I'd missed my flight (the fourth flight I'd been on in the dream) because I didn't find Gate N, I must have been so upset that I actually woke up.

I woke up again. I went to feed the dogs, but realized I'd neglected to thaw any meat for breakfast.  Now, every Thanksgiving we actually get the animals their own turkey.  As luck would have it, that turkey was nearly thawed, so I simply hacked it up a bit early and fed the dogs turkey for breakfast.  Jayne had wings, Talla had the neck and giblets, and Kaylee had what was left of the front of the turkey after I'd removed the breast meat.

Brought up some meat to thaw.

Decided that I needed a new metal grate for the raw beef bin. Ended up driving to the Indianola Theisens for it. Somehow got lost on the way home and ended up in Carlisle.

Got home, pureed some elk liver, put away some meat.  Brought up more meat to thaw and repackage, because the freezer is starting to look disorganized.  See?  Disorganized.

Took photos of the dogs. See? Photos.

Started watching The Hangover Part II. Steve found it at Walmart for $5.98, and couldn't resist buying it.  

Got bored, pureed some more liver.  Pork and elk this time.  Also repackaged some pork kidneys.  Played with Selma a bit. Continued repackaging meat.

.... uhhh, was still repackaging meat at this time.  Liver is gross.  Fed the dogs something bland for dinner, since they'd had a lot of rich snackies earlier in the day.  (When I repackage meat, I tend to take pieces of whatever I'm repackaging and give it to the dogs.  It's been a liver 'n' kidney kind of day.)

Finally finished with the meat.  Considered taking a shower to get the stank of liver off my skin.

Took a shower to get the stank of liver off my skin.

Suddenly realized I hadn't eaten anything all day.  Paleo is so weird - it's not uncommon to have no appetite for 12-48 hours when you're doing paleo. Ate some salsa chicken and a grapefruit.  Yum!

... watched reruns of Firefly the rest of the night.  :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Hodgepodge 11.0

I forgot to share that Kaylee got her CA (Coursing Ability) title.
I should have shared the good news earlier, but I've had trouble uploading photos.  Instead of sharing the news, without photos, I threw a mini-tantrum and decided to wait until the internet would cooperate.  Photos!

Kaylee at the line = Scary T-Rex!

Almost on it!

Taken by my friend Sara... WOW!

Jayne had a muskrat for dinner.
He thought it was great... it was muskrat love! I don't think I'll ever have an opportunity to get more, but I'll be keeping an eye out for it in the future.  It's a very dark red meat, and the perfect size for a single meal for a Jayne-sized dog.  I think I got three or four muskrats, all 1-2lbs each.

Selma is still here.
She needs to be adopted, seriously.  Steve is beginning to get attached, and that's not allowed. It doesn't help that all four of our dogs think Selma is the best foster we've ever had.  Even Kaylee likes her, and that's saying a lot.

I have a very bizarre Christmas wish list.
I want a deer, for the dogs.  I want grass-fed meat for myself.  I'd really like a pair of Lontras, but I doubt anyone will be spending that much money on me.  I want Injinji toe socks, since without Lontras my feet will be very cold this winter. Of course, gift cards to REI/Target/Whole Foods/Hy Vee/iTunes etc are also on the list.  I do not want Christmas cookies.  Please please please, no Christmas cookies.  I won't be able to resist them.

For the first time ever, I think I'm going to go shopping on Black Friday.
... but only to Bass Pro. I may or may not take Jayne.  I want to get some sweaters and maybe some ammo boxes for Steve.  I'm still not sure though - I'm scared.

I hoard blankets.
I buy a new blanket just about every time I go shopping.  Walmart always has blankets for under eight bucks, and one always ends up in the cart. This is an addiction and needs to be stopped.  Or not.

I finally convinced my husband to let me put up a gate.
We've been in this house for three years.  For three years, we've had an expen up between the living room and the rest of the house. The argument has always been that a permanent gate wouldn't look good, but come on - really - is an expen really that much more attractive?  No. The answer is no.  So I went out and found a pretty gate.  Behold, my pretty gate!

Friday, November 2, 2012

I'm not fat, I'm FLUFFY!

Last night, as I was playing with my cats, I realized something.... my cats look like fluffy orange manatees.

Alarmed, I worked my fingers through their floof to make sure I hadn't been overfeeding them.  Nope, I could feel ribs, so they weren't fat....

... they are just really damn fluffy.  Jacques in particular looks morbidly obese, probably because his legs are very short so he's got about three inches of clearance between the floor and his belly floof.  I'm convinced he's half-Munchkin or something.

I'm not entirely sure where I'm going with this.  Sorry.  Here are a few photos of my manatees cats.  Scruffbuckets.

(Jacques Louis David and Pierre Eugene du Semitiere)

Sunday, October 28, 2012


When I was maybe five or six years old, I had something unfairly taken from me.  At least, that's how I remember it.

I was on vacation in Michigan with my parents and some family friends.  We'd stopped at a small farm to buy some fruit and vegetables. In addition to produce, the farm also had a few knick-knacks for sale, including a ceramic Siamese cat with a hole in its back.  Apparently it was a planter or something, but at the time I didn't know that - I just knew I liked it.

One of the other kids saw me holding it, and demanded that she get the ceramic cat because she had seen it first.  It was obviously a lie, but the adults sided with the other kid and made me give it to her.  I was extremely upset.  In an effort to placate me, the adults found another ceramic planter for me... a rooster.  I didn't want the rooster.  I wanted that stupid Siamese cat.

I have literally been bitter about this for over twenty years.  I'm sure the girl that stole that ceramic cat out of my hands doesn't remember doing it, and probably doesn't even have the cat anymore.  Who knows - maybe if I'd gotten the cat, I would have broken it or lost it too.

This past weekend, I went to Sioux Falls, South Dakota with my friend Aryn for a dog show.  On Saturday, Aryn's mom and aunt came with us so we could all go to a craft fair and get some shopping done.  Before we went home, we went to a few antique stores.

... and there it was.

Or, most likely, a ceramic cat just like the one that was stolen from me two decades ago.  Five bucks.  I bought that ceramic cat, and it's sitting on my dining room table right now.  I have no idea what I'm going to do with it, but the important thing is that it's mine.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

More Dreams!

It's been an interesting night.

My dream started out in my old house in Valley Junction.  The yard was infested with snakes.  I wasn't too concerned, until a red and yellow snake (approximately 14ft long) chased me from the garage to my front door.  I tried waving a shovel at it, but that only made the snake more keen on chasing me.  I called Aryn, who in this dream was apparently a zoologist.  She came to my house, assessed the situation, and told me that it was worse than she'd originally thought and my only option was to move.

Suddenly I found myself in a prison.  It was built more like a two-level mall though, and the public could apparently come watch us from above.  I got checked in, and was told to go talk to another prison official about my job assignment.  On my way to the job table, my mom appeared on the upper level.  She was holding a shirt she'd presumably bought for me, and yelled down to me that once I was done with the job table, to come up and we'd have lunch.  I yelled back that that wasn't how prison worked.  She seemed shocked.  Not to be deterred from helping her dear daughter, she hollered down that she'd give me some money.  I told her I wasn't supposed to have money in prison, but she threw a $20 bill down anyway.  I quickly hid it in my pocket, and ran over to the job table for my assignment.

For my job, I was assigned to walk the police horses and play beach volleyball.  I never did find out why I was in prison in the first place, but apparently I didn't care much.

My dream ended in Jordan Creek Mall again - the same mall where, in a previous dream, I threw a iPod at Jenny and had to ski home through the Alps.  My regular readers will remember this dream.  Anyway - I was near Cinnabon and noticed a huge crowd of people on the upper level, seemingly waiting for something to happen near the main elevator.  I asked a shopkeeper what was going on, and she told me that Robert Downey Jr. was rumored to be making an appearance at the mall that day.  I shrugged, and walked over to Teavana to buy Christmas gifts.  (In my dream, Teavana was right next to Cinnabon.)  By the time I was done at Teavana, the crowd had completely disappeared.  Robert Downey Jr. hadn't shown up after all.

But then, as I was walking past Cinnabon... there he was.

He was sitting at a food court table, all by himself, picking at a piece of pineapple pizza.  I walked over to him and said, "So I guess you showed up after all."  He grinned, and asked me if I'd like to help him eat lunch.  I sat down, and he handed me the crust of the pizza.  I looked over at his plate, and saw that he'd picked all the pineapple off and was just eating the cheese and the pineapple.  I asked him if he couldn't eat bread.  He smiled again, shrugged, and said that they hadn't ruled that out yet.  I told him I couldn't technically eat bread either, but figured I could make an exception for times such as this, because it's not every day Robert Downey Jr. wants you to eat lunch with him.  He laughed, and we spent the rest of the dream driving around Des Moines, looking for RV hookups.

... and I woke up thirty minutes early - on a weekday - to make sure I got this post typed out before I forgot everything.  That's dedication, folks.

Friday, October 12, 2012


Last weekend I found myself driving down an endless stretch of Nebraska highway (75 mph speed limit, woohoo!) to get to yet another dog show.  Aryn and I managed to break our existing pack-record for the HHR... getting two dogs, two chairs, two coolers and various bags full of clothing and dog junk into the cargo area.  (Tangent: One of these days, I'm going to take a photo of everything we cram into the HHR.)

The conformation part of the weekend was a disaster.  Rocket is a nice dog, he really is, but he doesn't look like anything else in the ring right now.  Our breeder produces awesome dogs, but many of them have a "retro" look - like something out of the past, and not in a bad way.  Problem is, judges don't know what to do with them... so they get dumped. 

Phew, that was a dreary paragraph.  Let's talk about something brighter... lure coursing!  Despite it being freezing cold, the dogs had a great time at the Coursing Ability Test.  Rocket finished his CA and only needs six more CAT legs for his CAA, and Kaylee earned two very enthusiastic (and loud) legs toward her CA. 

(Above: Unbridled power, right there... GO ROCKET!  Can you imagine being a criminal, and being chased down by that dog?  I know, better pack an extra set of underwear!)

The following set of photos are all of my rockstar girl, Kaylee.  Most were taken by my friend Julie, but the ones with the watermark were taken by Doug Neal... thanks Doug!

 (Approaching the start line... she was being a little obnoxious.)

(Still pulling like mad... almost there!)

(THE SLIP! You can see how wide here eyes were, and how her neck fur was all scrunched up from how tight the slip lead had to be... she's a maniac!)

(I love this shot - poetry in motion, and SO powerful.  Dobermans just ooze power, it's part of why I love the breed so much.  Sighthounds may be Ferraris, but Dobermans are the squadcars in pursuit!)

(Getting closer!  Notice how nice her running form is... she's learning how to be a better courser.)

(Almost on top of them!  Notice the black bag - I've never seen a black bag used before, but apparently the judge used it to add more contrast.  You learn something new every day!)

 (Another amazing shot... rippling muscles, crack ears, plus that scarily intense look in her eyes... )

 (The catch... and it was over in roughly 45 seconds... 13 yards per second, 27 miles per hour.  Not too bad, not too bad.

The CAT dogs were the last ones to run.  I did make an observation that I nearly forgot about, but I'm glad I remembered... because I can talk about it now. 

A lot of work goes into putting on a successful lure coursing trial.  Volunteers are needed, but few people actually seem to step up and help.  One of the criticisms I've heard about us CAT folks is that we don't care about any of this, and that we have nothing to offer lure coursing clubs by way of assisting others.

Out of the eight or nine people that stuck around to tear down the field... five of us were CAT folks.  The rest were members of the club that put on the trial and test. So for those of you who think we CAT people are a burden, remember this - When the sighthound folks drove off, destined for their cozy hotel rooms and hot suppers, we CAT people were traipsing around in the field at dusk... collecting pulleys... helping with tear-down.... you're welcome.

It was truly a great weekend... the people simply rocked - we made several new friends, and reconnected with friends we'd made at other events.  I can't explain how happy it makes me to see my dog having the time of her life, and to see so many people cheering her on.  I saw this online a few months ago, and it really rings true for this sport:

We do conformation with our dogs for us, not for them.
We do lure coursing with our dogs strictly for them.
However, I somewhat disagree - so far, there's nothing I love more than watching my girl run after those ridiculous plastic bags. It's more thrilling than the biggest conformation win or the longest conformation rosette. To be frank... lure coursing kicks ass!