Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think if you only try !

- Dr. Seuss

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tucker or Hamilton?

My poor dog.  He seems to have a split personality, which my family is actively reinforcing.

His real name is Tucker.  Actually, to be entirely correct, his AKC name is Sir Tucker of Berthoud.  I never had an AKC registered dog in my life, so when it came time to name him it only seemed fun to give him a regal name with a title.  That's what all the dogs in the the Westminster Kennel Club show seem to have, so we went with it.  Usually we simply call him Tuck.  Sometimes my husband wants to call him a bad word that rhymes with Tucker, but he usually refrains from yelling that word in the backyard.  Usually, I say.

I, of course, love everything about him and can hardly raise my voice to him.  He has me wrapped around his big paw.  

He is an eight month old destructive chewing machine.  He is also unbelievably cute, loyal, and my constant companion.  He still has that long and lanky puppy gallop where his feet and body don't always match up perfectly.  He has an enormous head and gigantic paws and a goofy smile.   

One day I noticed that the brand name of his collar is "Hamilton".   I thought to myself, "what a great dog name that would be."  Somehow this idea morphed into my dog's evil twin name.  Before I knew it, we all ran with it.  Whenever he is bad, we call him Hamilton in the same manner in which all of Seinfeld's characters yelled "Newman!". When he's being a well-behaved dog, we call him Tucker.   

A week or so ago when we went camping and left him in the backyard with minimal supervision (the two older dogs didn't keep him in line) he literally ate the label off of our propane tank on our grill and the igniter switch for the grill.  Now, we could have covered the grill with the grill cover and tried to keep him out of it, but he ate that a couple months ago.  Hamilton! We can no longer sit on our patio furniture because he has systematically removed all of the stuffing from all of the chairs. 

Earlier this morning, Hamilton made an appearance.  He pillaged the trash can in the bathroom and when I heard the familiar wet chewing sound coming from the other room and apprehended him, he was gnawing on used Q-tips and make-up remover pads.

But, a couple hours later, as I write this, sweet Tucker is sleeping at my feet.  His face is angelic and his sleepy expression is calm and peaceful.   Life is good with a puppy head lying on my foot while I sit at the computer. 

As he gets older, we hope that little by little the Tucker side of the personality takes over and we can bid Hamilton farewell.

Of course, he's a lab, so this could take years. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Happy Campers

The last weekend before school started and we finally had time to take a short camping trip. We ventured up to North Michigan Reservoir, which is one of our favorite places.  It is just past Gould on the west side of Cameron Pass.  The drive is breathtaking and one of my favorite parts of the trip is keeping an eye out for the elusive moose which live in the area.  No matter how many times I see them, each time is a thrill to me.   They are magnificent creatures. 

What I love about camping is that it reduces our busy lives back down to the basics:  food, water, shelter. There really isn't anything else that is needed, although beer and wine make the whole trip a lot more fun.   It feels good to wake up to the sunrise and anxiously wait for that first pot of campfire coffee to brew.  That single cup of coffee tastes so much better than anything ordered from a barista, especially when there is frost on the outside of the tents in the morning and your hands are freezing from the cold.

The first rays of the sun start to hit the campsite and we realize how fortunate we are for great weather.  By 10 am we were sweating from the heat.  Hours ago we had been freezing.  We are at the mercy of mother nature for our comfort.

We cooked some fabulous food on the grill and enjoyed smores made with Reese's peanut butter cups (our family secret).  For some reason whenever we go camping, salsa becomes our condiment of choice for everything.  As usual, we ran out and had to get more salsa delivered (thanks Nick and Rachel).

We were all thoroughly grimy and dirty at the end of the weekend.  We let loose on some ATV trails, and my daughter took insane pleasure in crashing me through mud puddles.  After the first day, no one really cares what anyone else looks like.  We are covered with mud.  We all still love each other, even if we all look like crap.   Isn't that what it's all about?

Thanks to all of my kids for going on this trip.  We hadn't all been together for awhile, and it was a wonderful way to say goodbye to summer and hello to the changing of the seasons.   A time to pause and take a deep breath before the insanity of our lives starts again with the new school year.   I wish we could do it more often.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Not to be bragging about my artichoke, BUT...

The monster plant
My artichoke plant is now about four feet high and has a dozen or more artichokes on it.   I like to play artichoke games with it... I give it a couple days and not look at it, and then when I venture out to the back side of the garden to have a look, it surprises me by growing larger.  Yes, it is crazy, and many will call me strange, but I believe I am the artichoke goddess.  I have mastered the art of growing artichokes.  Next year I am planting a few more of these for decoration, as they are gorgeous huge plants and so far I haven't killed them.  They would add a bit of green to the front of my house, where plants and grass have a tendency to turn brown in July and August.  

I also have three watermelons and one cantaloupe, also new items for me this year.  I'm not sure how they will taste, and I really don't know when they should be harvested, but one of these days I'll pick one of the watermelons.  

Close up of the "buds"

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Envisioning a Vision

A couple of years ago a co-worker introduced the idea to me of creating a vision board, or vision journal.  What is a vision journal, I asked of her? She said that it is a notebook that she keeps where she does nothing other than paste pictures and words and thoughts that appeal to her in some way.  It is sort of a visual reminder of images that resonate with each of us, and the concept is that if you surround yourself with these images, some of them will help you move in the direction of achieving your dreams.  For the past two years this idea has continued to swirl around in my head, although I have never actually started the project.  It has been on my "to-do" list for too long, and this fall I intend to begin.  

Today I searched "creating a vision board" on the internet.  Isn't that the clear indication that I need one? I thought that my first step would be to get instruction on how to do it. As I searched for how other people had done it, I realized that that was the logical, organized side of me getting in the way.  My creative side told me that this is not the way to approach the project. Who cares how others have done it?  This is about me, and I should do it the way that appeals to ME.   

So this morning I intend to dig through some magazines and tear out pictures and colors and words that speak to me.  I may not even know why they appeal to me and that's ok for now.

The journey of my vision board will start with the single ripping of a page. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Artichoke Frenzy

When I was sauntering through the nursery this past spring, I came upon an interesting artichoke plant.  It was only a few inches tall and I thought I'd give it a try.  I asked the nursery employee about growing artichokes and if I could ever expect to actually harvest one and she said that some people have luck with them the first year and some don't, and that if I covered it up for the winter and protected it, it might come back next year and produce an artichoke in it's second season.  I loved the look of it, so I took my chances, figuring the $1.79 was worth a try. 

I wish I had taken a "before" picture.  A few days after planting it, it looked sick and it's branches were laying on the ground looking fairly lifeless.  I kept watering it every day and it still didn't look like it had when I bought it.  Ok, so I figured I was killing it.

Then, a miracle happened.  It was like the little artichoke plant that could.  It started growing and growing, and it went from near death to thriving in a matter of weeks.  It must like our bright Colorado sunshine and the water I was dousing it with daily, and it zoomed up to a couple feet tall.   I was happy with the progress it had made and it became a large ornamental fixture in the corner of the garden. If it never produced an artichoke I was happy because it was a huge commanding presence of a plant and looked really cool.  Then disaster struck.  Ants moved in.  For some reason they loved the artichoke and were using it as a high-rise condominium. Normally I wouldn't use pesticides in my garden, but I couldn't help it.  They were taking over my gorgeous plant and I nuked them all. It was chemical warfare.  I sprayed and sprayed until they were banished from the artichoke village they had created.

Last week we were out of town.  One of the best parts about coming home after a week away in the summer is coming home to see what changes have happened in the garden.  That is, if you are lucky enough to have a house sitter that watered it, which I was.  In the past I have come home to a dried up garden, but not this time.  When I went to the artichoke corner of the garden, what an amazing sight !  My artichoke had actually sprouted an artichoke!   

One of the most rewarding parts of gardening for me is when these unexpected successes happen.  I always know that when I plant zucchini I will end up with a gazillion of them, in fact you can't really kill them off.  But, the artichoke was a victory for me!  

I can't wait for the day that I lovingly pick the artichoke, prepare it with butter and lemon and savor every last bite of it.