Sunday, February 19, 2017

Tools of the Trade

From the left: grooming mitt, leather gloves to protect my hands from cold and potential leash-burns, a thin (and cheap) kennel lead. Then a short black goat-lead (yes, goat, you read that right), two chain collars, a green nylon collar for a dog to wear when he's riding in the car, a leather leash that originally belonged to Babe, and a 10 foot training leash.

Not represented is a soft red slip lead because it was in the car.

Bernie made me this cute wooden rack for Kermit's stuff. It hangs on the wall behind the bedroom door, perfect for a left-handed grab while my right hand signals Kermit to sit or lie down to get ready for an outing.

The mitt and gloves are pretty understandable, but why so many things, and what is their purpose?

The thin kennel lead is something I can tuck in any pocket (I have one in the glove compartment of the car, too) and use to show Kermit what I want him to do, such as lie down and stay put in any given place instead of pestering people. It's a slip lead; it has an eye at one end and a handle on the other. That way it can hang loosely around the dog's neck if the dog is calm, or be tightened under the dog's ears to control his head. What Kermit has learned from it is that he is to pay attention to what I want him to do. It's not a punishment, it's a permit to relax and not have to think things out for himself.

The goat lead is a nylon handle with a snap end. It hooks to Kermit's chain collar. At that arm-length and dog-height, he doesn't need to put any pressure on it to walk properly at my side. Lillian had one when she was showing goats for 4-H, and I knew it could be a useful tool.

The two chain collars ... one was Howie's, and fit Kermit when I got him. A "choke" collar like that should have a four-inch drop -- uhh, that is, if you tighten it up high on the neck under the dog's ears, there should be four inches of chain running to your leash. This kind of collar is not to choke a dog, but a quick tug makes a clanking symbol to Pay Attention Now. Babe's old chain collar is in a secret place in my studio, too big for Kermit, as Kermit doesn't have the heavy thick neck pelt that Babe did. But Howie's chain collar is now too small for his froggy successor.

The nylon collar is simply for car travel, so Kermit can still his head out the window and not put nicks in the glass with the chain collar. I don't like what nylon collars do to fur, so it's strictly a car outfit.

The leather lead is what I use most often lately; the 10 foot training lead is handy for when we're out in the woods and I don't want him off leash to chase squirrels, and was invaluable when Kermit was just learning how to go for a walk -- I could use it as a slip lead to control his big head, but the long length was good for letting him sniff the new world he found himself in.

But lately, he's been "getting it" and walking pretty darn gentlemanly with the leash hanging in a loop, putting no pressure at all on my hand. Makes me feel good, seeing my big dog padding along at my side, checking on my attention to make sure he's doing right.

Right now, he's coiled on an oversized ottoman by my knees, waiting to see what we're going to do next, dozing until I'm ready to move. Oh, good dog.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Happy New Year! And Food! And Dog!

Bernie's grand experiment this past fall was to attempt to grow Brussels sprouts in pots in our front yard farm. I'd given it a half-hearted try the previous year, but planted them too late -- I got to eat some of the foliage, but they never made those cute little mini-cabbage shapes. Bernie has had much more success.

Today he decided that some of them were big enough to eat. So we cooked them in bacon fryings with diced onion. Melt the bacon fat, add the onions, let them sweat down a little, then put in the halved Brussels sprouts, stirring gently now and then. When the color is bright green, cover them and let them steam themselves for a few minutes. Then flavor with salt and garlic powder, stir and steam again. They're done when a fork can penetrate them tenderly.

Holy smoley, they were delicious! Of course, as with just about all food, the sweet intensity of the flavor was so much better coming out of the garden minutes before. Yes, fresh is better than produce that sits in bins for days or weeks.

I love how they look like little knobby palm trees, and based on our culinary experience today, Bernie says he wants to plant a lot more of them next fall. I agree. More Brussels sprouts, more red-leaf lettuce, less spinach and chard and collards.

Yes, of course I have a picture of Kermit on his office chair near the table where I work. When I picked up the camera, he looked at me as though he expected to be photographed. He was very proud of himself today: he helped me unload the throw rugs from the dryer, every one of them. He's a working dog.

2017 is coming in with a deluge. I even heard a rumor that some of the reservoirs are going to fill to pre-drought levels. I certainly hope so, but I'll believe it when I see it. In the mean time, we have tentative plans to visit a somewhat flooded soccer field on Monday -- we're supposed to get a whopper of a rain over the weekend. Kermit is going to love it...

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year for 2017

In 2016, I did not make as much of an artistic effort as I would have liked. I'm hoping that 2017 will be a little better in that regard.

The big things in 2016? An expanded front yard garden, with over 150 pounds of tomatoes, a year's worth of turnips, my first successful canteloupes and cabbages, and more chard than I can eat or give away.

And Kermit the Frog-Dog. He's about a year and three months old now, hopefully as big as he'll ever get, and blossoming with a sweet and gentle personality. When I first got him, he was very needy-puppy-don't-mess-with-your-laptop, but with the newly-donated furniture in our front room, he has his own chair right behind where I work on the Press. I pull out the computer, and he hops up on his chair and snoozes like a perfect Office Dog. Maybe he'll let me get more art done in the coming year.

In spite of not doing enough art in the past year, I did renew my love/hate relationship with water colors, and revisited my teen efforts (crap, 46 years ago???) with oil pastels.

Do I make any resolutions for the new year? Not really. I'd like to do some art work every day, but I know that it's not, at this time, a realistic goal. I know I'll walk more with Kermit, garden more with 10 raised boxes in the front yard, and learn how to lay hardwood laminate flooring (starting in a week or so). I'll keep the Piker Press going.

That's probably enough.

Happy New Year, everybody.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Surprise Snack in the Flower Pot

What the heck?

Who knew that ornamental sweet potato vines would produce -- sweet potatoes?

And not only are they edible, they're delicious with a little butter and salt.

Kind of looks like plumbing under the sink, though.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Frog in Autumn

Some people might say that I am besotted with this dog. I can only counter that I have loved all the dogs I've had in my life. Kermit is no exception.

Kermit is also a dog with NO undercoat. None. Under that flat black hair he is naked. And he gets cold. We've had a few chilly nights, and since we sleep with the door open to the air, I've been awakened at 3am a number of times by a big froggy beast who forcefully pastes himself against my back to get warm. If I drape a blanket over him, he settles in.

So I got him a sweater.

Extra large.

Monday, August 29, 2016

I wasn't sure how stacking would work out after having surgery on my left hand, but it was fine.  A non-stick bandage kept the area clean, a light cotton work glove padded it even more, and then the leather work glove over top -- no problems.

Of course the highs were huddling very close to 100 degrees every day that I stacked -- doesn't matter if I get wood in July or August, the heat always soars for the dirty, strenuous wood-work.

Interestingly, this year the stacking seemed a lot easier, and I worked for longer stretches than previous years. For that, I guess I have Kermit to thank. The priority of walking him each morning for 40 minutes has really paid off in terms of my health.

Speaking of which big black pup, he's really coming along (so to speak) with walking on a leash. We've been walking through town instead of on the outskirts, and I'm pleased with his progress as he adjusts to the hustle and bustle on the streets.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Ahhh ... Football Again

So imagine me, eagerly using the modern technology of Direct TV to search, last Sunday, for the first pre-season NFL football game, the Hall of Fame game.

No one else in the house was particularly interested, largely because the Hall of Fame game is pretty much an exhibition game (it does rhyme with "lame") and has no meaning for the season. Still, it was the Colts and the Packers, and who wouldn't want to see if Andrew Luck has healed up well, and watch for that nasty glint Aaron Rodgers gets in his eyes when he knows his team is going to shellac the opponents?

Right, not many people care, but I'm one of the few.

I find Channel 206 with a minimum of effort (I really, really like Direct TV) and tune in to hear the announcer saying, "We don't know if the game will be canceled or not at this point."


Apparently some doofus -- maybe that should be capitalized, because I think that this mess may have re-defined the appellation -- some Doofus overseeing the painting of the turf's logos didn't know the difference between field paint and exterior building paint (or didn't bother to check to see what the crew had picked up from Supply) and the field was ruined. Especially after they sprayed some solvent on it trying to fix the mess, and I don't know of any exterior paint solvent that isn't toxic as hell.

Game over. Good thing I didn't make up my chicken wings to eat during the game. Or a plate of noshes, either of which I would not have done for the Hall of Fame game anyway.

But it would have been NFL Football. So I've had to wait another four days. Tonight there are six games being played, and I am going to watch all of them. Well, no, I won't, but whatever game is on, I'm going to watch it.

I'm going to be looking with hungering eyes for those long, bullet-like passes, the fancy footwork of running backs, and the defensive pounces that can sit a quarterback on his butt on the field in seconds. Will Garoppolo start for the Patriots? And will the Denver defense look sharp again this year?

Can't wait to find out!