Monday, May 18, 2015

Houdini and the Sausage

What did you think would happen to you after you ate your “sister’s” $1,500.00 not-covered-by-insurance hearing aid?  You'd already chewed your way out of your hard-sided dog crate.  And eaten your “mother’s” fund-raising pie.  And eaten all of her hair ties.  And you ate your “brother’s” leggos.  And chewed up your “sisters’” miniature plastic people.  Plus you kept finding new ways to open the back gate latch and escaping.  Your “parents’ were so busy and so tired and yet they still fed you and cared for you and forgave you.  And then … then ……………. you ate Emerson’s hearing aid?!?

Who?  Me?

 And that’s why, a couple of months ago, Angus’s brother, Baxter, came to live with us.  And why we spent most of a day last week setting up the outdoor dog kennel Baxter brought along with him.  We spent half our time driving to town to buy one size of rubber mat at Tractor Supply and then driving to Big R to buy another size only to discover the Big R’s pad cost waaaaaaay more than we wanted to pay which meant we had to drive home to re-measure and recalculate and by the time Dean had come up with a new plan he was hungry so we had to take a lunch break.  Then we drove back to Tractor Supply to return the pad we’d purchased earlier and bought two different ones, after which we drove to Home Depot and bought 10 paving stones.  And then, finally, we drove home.  We hitched up the cart to the John Deere, loaded the mats and stones, drove them over to where we wanted the kennel, carefully placed the mats on the grass, laid the paving stones in the area the rubber mats didn’t cover, set the kennel on top and ta da! we were finished!  

Nope.  That would have been the good enough way.  That would not have been the RIGHT way.  Oh, no.  And we always do things the right way.  Oh sure, we did carefully place the paving stones and the cumbersome, super heavy mats on the grass.  But then Dean meticulously cut the ground around the edge of the mats and stones with his utility knife so we’d know the EXACT boundary.  THEN, we picked up the super heavy cumbersome rubber mats, carefully lifted the paving stones, set them aside, and dug up the grass.  And smoothed the edges.  And leveled the ground.  And THEN, 


once again, we very precisely laid the super cumbersome, heavy rubber mats and the paving stones into the edged, scraped and leveled area.  And then and only then, did we …. FINALLY ….. carry over the dog kennel and set it down.  And it fit perfectly.  I mumbled “you were right,” and Dean barely gloated. 

So now, after two months, the dogs can be safely outside when we don’t want to play the odds and leave them alone in the house.  Not that they haven't been free range in the house many times before. Baxter had been over here to play with Angus most days of the week anyway so having him full time hasn’t really made a huge difference.  We were already used to the furniture-shifting wrestling matches and fur rising up like fog from a lake when we walked through the house.  The cats were somewhat hesitant at first but they have gradually adjusted.  I don’t worry about their panicked sprints through the house when Baxter chases them because it’s the only exercise they get and the vet did tell me they need to get exercise somehow.  

When Baxter first arrived I cringed a bit when I thought about what the dog food bill would be but Angus, aka The Sausage, is now on a diet so we haven’t had to buy all that much extra dog food after all.  What’s really increased is the dog poop cleanup which, between the two of them, is always a treasure hunt.  So far the fully intact four-inch square of bright red cloth I used (not anymore!) to clean my iPad screen mashed in Baxter’s poop pile has topped the small blue plastic foot nestled in Angus’s poop.  I did notice this morning, though, that I’m missing a bright green footie …. THAT could brighten tomorrow’s walk!


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Tongue Tied By Beauty

“This isn’t the way I thought retirement would go,” Dean said.  As I bent down to throw another humongous chunk of cement over the bank, making sure I threw it exactly between those two trees and far enough that it lands on the bank, but not so far it lands or rolls into the water, I was thinking I wasn’t going to tell him that those two trees now had areas of missing bark and that somehow chunks of cement had gotten into the creek. But when I wasn’t thinking that, I was thinking I agreed with him and that we needed a break from the yard projects that seemed to have taken over our lives.  So we did.  Take a break.  We ignored our aching joints, stiff backs, swollen fingers and throbbing feet and took Emerson to the Tongue River Canyon for a day of hiking. 

The grass was tender and lush and the boys took advantage of it to do some grazing, which I know 

from Googling they eat for one of three reasons:  1. they need some fiber, 2. they just enjoy the taste of tender grass, or 3. (and most likely) they think it’s fun to gag and run straight for my area rug where, just as I get my arms around them and start dragging them toward the wood floor, they barf up a pile of bile and long-slimy grass blades. 

When they weren’t foraging they were sniffing, snorting, drooling and enjoying any water we came across.

It was a pleasant surprise to discover that all the cement hurling, compost digging, dirt turning, stone lifting, stooping, bending and twisting we’d been doing over the last weeks had made my body stronger which made it easier to crouch down (and even back up!) to take photos of all the different wildflowers and unique displays of nature.  

I’d really hoped my photos would entice the nature/flower-loving friends we’ve known since high school to come out

and experience the wonders of Wyoming (and see us!) but my photographic talent (or lack of) was

 hampered by the fact that I had no idea how sharp, or even what, was in the viewfinder of my

camera.  I could have easily remedied that problem, but hiking with reading glasses just seemed so, oh, I don’t know, old. 

Photo credit to Emerson -- oh, to have young eyes again ....

After I got home and realized most of the photos I’d taken were blurry, I decided next time I’d just suck it up and wear them.

Squirrel banquet hall

If I’d been wearing them I would have been able to see what I zoomed in to instead of needing to get up close and lean back to get the “perfect” shot.  That way I wouldn’t have ended up like a turtle on its back when my water-bottle-filled backpack pulled me over, which was much more humiliating than wearing reading glasses on a hiking trail. 

 Dean, who I’ve apparently ruined by making him “wait while I just take a quick photo,” of course couldn’t help me up until he’d made me “wait while I just take a quick photo.”

The culprit

We’d hiked the Tongue River Canyon Trail a few times in the last couple of years but had never made it as far as the meadow area.  If you ever want to push yourself a bit farther and a bit harder than you initially planned on, take a 11 ½ -year old hiking with you.  “I’m pretty sure we can go 

farther,” Emerson would say.  And farther we’d go.  This time we made it to the meadow.   And next time ...  next time we’ll hike to the meadow and beyond!

The hike out took half as long as the hike in.  Partly because more of it was downhill, but mostly because Emerson spent her time talking on her rock phone and the more she talked the faster she walked.  She obviously got much better reception than my cell phone.  Mine said “searching” the whole way out but Emerson made multiple calls to friends and family. 

“Hi Mom.  Nana and Papa thought we should have ice cream after we get back.  What do you think?  Yeah.  I think it’s a good idea too cuz it’s free ice cream.  What’s Dad doing?  Is he playing the drums in his underwear again?  Okay, I gotta go.  I need to call Nolan.  Bye.”

“Hi Nolan’s Mom….Mrs. McCready.  Is Nolan there?  Okay, thanks.  Oh, hi Nolan.  I’m just hiking with my Nana and Papa.  Oh, wait, sorry.  Hold on.  ‘What Papa?  Okay.  I’m just talking to Nolan.’  Nolan?  Sorry.  My papa was just asking me a question.  Oh, we're just hiking and then we’re going to get ice cream when we get back.”

She talked ….

And talked …

And talked. 

Her phone lost its charge just as we reached the car.  Or imagine it did because it was very quiet in the backseat on the ride home.  The dogs were sacked out in the back dreaming of the next time they’d get to graze on grass, Emerson was reading the last chapter of a book and maybe trying to decide which sprinkles she’d be putting on her ice cream.  I don’t know for sure but I wouldn’t be surprised if Dean was trying to figure out how he could talk me out of the next project I suggest.   And I was wondering if, once we got home, I’d have time to suck down a couple of Ibuprophen before I had to run for the dog barf cleaning solution.