Garden Gifts

Jessie and I went to see my friend, Diana, a couple weeks ago to see her new litter of puppies.  Diana and I have been friends about twenty years.  She gave me my first standard poodle, Molly and also my second standard, Sagey.

This new litter of Diana’s are Sagey’s grandchildren so I was anxious to see them but mostly, I just wanted to visit with Diana.  It had been awhile since we’d seen each other.

There were lots of colors in this litter.  An adorable blue female,

Blue standard poodle puppy

a cafe-o-lait puppy,


and two brown puppies.  How do you resist this when you love your daughter and you love puppies???

Jess and brown puppy

I’ll tell you how:  Five dogs, two goats, and twenty-some chickens ran through my head.  In spite of all that, I barely managed a “No.”

Diana’s granddaughter, Savannah was visiting.  She and Jessie struck up a quick and busy friendship.  Puppies are a great icebreaker.

Children and puppies

Sneak attack…

Girls and puppies

Puppies and little girls

poodles and little girls

Poodle pups and girls

Little girls and poodle puppies

Diana’s sacrificial hostas made the perfect playground for hide-and-seek puppies.  So while Jessie and Savannah sought and found and sought again, Diana took me on a tour of the rest of her garden.  It’s very lush like an English garden but with a slightly tropical feel.  There are several exotic plants like this purple passion flower:

Purple Passion flower

And this really cool voo doo plant.  Check out the stalk:

VooDoo exotic plant

I want this gorgeous succulent.  They are the only things I can grow.


Behind the fountain are Angel Trumpets.  They will produce enormous trumpet-like blooms when they flower and are very fragrant.

Angel Trumpets
Diana gave me one to take home as well as gifts of her water lilles…

Water lily
And a water hyacinth…

Water hyacinth
I think the water plants were my favorite.  Mostly because the container possibilities are so darling.

Water Hyacinth copper pot

Diana has several garden vignettes…

Garden Viniette
…and she does a gorgeous job of adding color and texture.

Colorful leaves


She had several of these magnificent cabbages intermingled throughout the garden:


It was a gorgeous day full of color, textures and patterns.  I can’t do it justice with my photos but between the girls, puppies and flora, it was an ideal visit.  Gardens provide a world as it could be.


A Happy Reminder

Our Dog Happy

One of the biggest things dogs do for us is remind us.  They remind us to pet them, feed them, give them water and play with them.  They also remind us of emotions like compassion, empathy, hope, trust and love.

Years before I met GGMark, he took two-year old Charlie on a road trip to pick up a young basset hound that needed a home.  They surprised Max with the floppy eared dog after his first-grade class was done for the day.  The three of them decided that a dog that had this face:


just begged for the name Happy.

Happy’s life was mostly uneventful.  When he was a young dog and Mark lived in town there were a couple of escapes to the local car dealership.  Only a basset nose could tell why he chose that destination.  He was promptly retrieved both times and brought home to his backyard where he bellowed at the fence at passersby.  He was never one to miss an opportunity for a tasty handout.  Evenings found him under Mark’s feet for a good old fashioned massage and curled up with Max for a good night snooze.

After Mark and I met and we moved to the property, his short aging legs followed me on the dog walks around the property.  His nose led him in a zig-zag and the poodles and I could easily lap him.  As the slope in the back got to be too much for him, he would wander around the front yard.  Mark and the kids would gently rake his body with the shedding blade.  He’d groan and grunt unabashedly, rolling around and giving them access to his most itchiest parts.

Last summer it became clear to us that it would be Hap’s last season.  He could no longer make it up and down the three steps in the garage.  Mark carried him three or four times a day, every day, all summer, outside.  There were a few times we thought the day would be his last.  But Hap would rally.  The dragging ears would come forward, the thick tail would sway back and forth and the voice boomed, “Nope.  Not yet.”  His chosen spot was right by the back door where we stepped over him to enter and exit.  He was not to be counted out.

The week came when Hap stopped eating and Mark made the appointment for a Saturday.  All too often, we lose our pets in the midst of busy schedules and planned events.  That Saturday I bid a hasty good-bye to Hap and rushed back to the kitchen to get ready for my Cookie Girls to visit.  In the midst of that busy afternoon, my strongest memory is Mark’s return from the vet.  Standing in the kitchen, entertaining a room full of friends, I watched the red jeep drive across the front yard, past the dining room window heading for our little pet cemetery.

Supposedly, there are seven major life event stressors:  marriage, divorce, death of loved one, selling a house, buying a house, loss of job, new job.  Through stories and histories of these events there is always a good dog as a discreet witness:  Cindy, Laddie, Molly, Bo, Duncan, Faith, Luther, Cricket, Max…the list is long.  Happy was Mark’s companion during a time when he hit each of these events in matter of a few years.  Never unobtrusively, Happy would shove his head under Mark’s feet and say, “Hey!  Forget your troubles.  I have my own.  I need a scratch!”

Happy will have his stories again and again.  He was one of the good ones.

An Olympic Push

I took a shower yesterday morning when I woke up.  You might be relieved to know this is not unusual.  But by late morning, I did wonder why I bothered.  This is how I saw my world most of the day:

Sweat Haze

Through a haze of sweat pouring down my sunglasses.

I worked in the backyard with Mark most of the morning and part of the afternoon.  This is unusual but I’m tired of spinning my wheels inside the house.  Instead I opted to help Mark with some outside work.  Plus I owed him some labor from a Father’s Day coupon.  We are on a big push to complete the backyard landscaping before the frost.

Flowers for landscape

We have a lot to do.  And it’s hot.  And school will be starting soon.  And there is barely any vacation time left.  And we have a locust problem.


Not really but I was running out of excuses.

Jess and I worked on some of the landscaping.  She worked on the area in front of the chicken coop.

Jess working

Jess helping

Jess placing pavers

I worked on the area around the barn.

Flowers and pavers

I was an utter failure at the first pass of pavers.  Mark had to come in and reset them.  But my second attempt was much, much better.

Pavers and level

Mark worked on the door for the chicken pen and cleaned the chicken coop.  The pen is a fortress.  Nothing’s getting in there.

Chicken Pen Door

Except Jess so she can hold and spoil Palma who seems to enjoy it.

Jess & Palma

We’ve  discovered we have another rooster.  He’s been dubbed Archemides.


The day was so hot we didn’t get as much accomplished as we’d hoped.  We stopped early for some home-spun Olympic events.

The DGG’s are big fans of the synchronized sports.  One of my favorites is Synchronized Ice Cream Cone Eating:

Eating Ice Cream

Ice Cream Cones

Ice Cream

Eating Ice Cream

Ice Cream Cone

Aw…Charlie broke a perfect 10…but, a true competitor, he moved on to Synchronized Chicken Roosting:



Ancona Hen

Ancona chicken

I think Charlie and Palma deserve the Gold.

Lastly, we moved on to the always popular Goat Gymnastics where Dannon executes a perfect handstand:

Goat Handstand

And, of course, her unparalleled prowess on the vault:

Goat Vault

Dannon’s favorite event is the balance beam but a recent growth spurt prompted her to leave it out of her routine.

Goat Balance Beam

As you can see, she was quite talented but she has her eye on the Gold.  She and Marigold watch wistfully as Charlie completes his beam routine.

Balance beam

Marigold rests after a challenging grazing routine.  She is concerned she is not getting enough calories to sustain her exhausting schedule.

Marigold resting

The girls await their scores on the podium.  It’s a gold for Team Oberhasli!


And the Individual All Around goes to Dannon!  Have you had your Wheaties today?

Oberhasli headshot

Coach Mark congratulates his girls.  He will be managing their endorsements.

There was celebration in Olympic fashion last night.  The best thing about our torch is that you can make S’mores.


I never fully appreciated what Mark has accomplished this summer until I worked outside yesterday.  One day and I was wiped out.  He has been doing this all summer.  First working in the yard then spending time with the kids.  He doesn’t get Gold.  He gets Platinum.