Monday, September 29, 2008

Boy and Dog in Corn

Here is one additional photo taken Saturday when the Dude and I took Duke for a walk in the “corn field” – the University of Minnesota Ag Campus Research Field – or whatever it’s called. Can’t figure out how to link to a map from the U of MN site, but this Falcon Heights link is nice, just close the pop-up to reveal the fields, west of Fairview, between Larpenteur and Roselawn.

It’s not hard to tucker that dog out. Poor guy is quite big, dare I say obese? He gets tired out on most walks – though to his credit he didn’t try to lay down during this particular walk and we were out for 45 minutes! Compare to this morning's walk. We got up at 6:30, and went out into the field behind our house to do his business. Duke laid down twice during the 5 or 10 minutes wer were out! He assumes a very regal pose, front legs crossed, staring off into the distance – though I don’t know what he saw in the dark and fog. I had to work hard to get him on his feet and moving both times.

Weekend Highlights

It was a busy weekend, so I’ll only include some highlights. Big news for Saturday – we actually went out for dinner as a family! That might not sound so exciting, but it had been a while since we’ve done that. We used to have dinner out a lot – but we hit a phase where the kids could not agree on a restaurant. The Dude was the most difficult to please.

Then Friday and out-of-the-blue, the kids suggested we try going out to dinner this weekend. Mom and Dad picked the location, Pop! – and there were no objections.

On Sunday, everything was back to normal – with neither kid wanting to attend the event du jour – the Friends School annual Harvest picnic at Fort Snelling State Park. As usual, once we got there everyone had fun. At one point, M and I went off for a little hike so she could take pictures.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

30 Long Minutes

Wednesday night is "choir night" for both kids. Choir is a big deal, starting at 4:15 and ending at 7:00 p.m., with a break for dinner from 6:00 - 6:30. After dinner, the older kids go back "upstairs" (since all church meals are consumed in the basement) for an additional 30 minutes of some sort of voice/choir training. That gives me and the Dude 30 minutes to kill. Thank goodness for a beautiful day.

We went across the street to the playground and while the Dude played with a buddy, I tried to take artsy pictures with my BlackBerry camera. I started with the obligatory cloud scene since (IMHO) the only thing this camera is really good for is cloud shots.

I followed that up with a "dramatic" sweeping shot along an old picnic table. Not bad, with the sunset and all. I should photo-shop that parking lot.

Monday, September 22, 2008

[A view of the walking path at work taken over the noon hour today.]

The kids are growing up, and it’s been gnawing at me. At least I’m not the only one, as noted today by Lileks:

I hardly saw my daughter at all, so busy was she with soccer and friends and events, but she made a point of running outside Sunday afternoon as I was having palaver with the Giant Swede, and gave me a hug, just because. A few hours before the Swede had waved to his daughter at the end of the block when I picked him up; she was having a lemonade sale. It’s a good thing kids don’t know that such moments are freighted with foreknowledge of the day when they shrug, not wave, roll eyes instead of smile, slump off with friends instead of skip down the alley in the full free joy of a warm Sunday afternoon. They would wonder what horrible thing was going to happen.

Maybe that’s why we got the dog – or at least why I’m interested. Maybe I’ve been looking for someone to take care of, someone who needs me to feed them and clean up after they’ve gone to the bathroom. Why not have another kid you ask? Sometimes you know that’s just not the solution to your “problem” – but a dog is. Something (someone ) to take care of – but also someone you can stick in his kennel and go off to work. Can’t do that with a kid – or at least you shouldn’t!

Left work early today to mind the dog and be here for M. M it turns out is at a friends until 5:30 so I took Duke down to Como Lake for a walk. He's now stretched out on the floor asleep.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Duke Finds Pool

Busy day today. Lots of church time. M sang twice - first at the morning service, and later at 4:00 at a special service for the new music director/organist. Each service lasted over 1 hour, so I figure we're good with God for a while. Since the choir kids need to be at church 45 minutes before any service they sing at - that means a lot of time for the Hobbled Runner to kill.

In the morning, I did my usual time-wasting activity: Walking up Summit Avenue to the University Club, turn around and go back. Not sure how far it is, but it beats hanging out at church drinking weak coffee and making small talk. In the afternoon I sat and read. I'd been out enough and it's like real summer here so the walk in my Sunday best didn't seem like such a good idea.

In between church fesivities, I walked Duke. It wasn't much of a walk, but Duke is not in such great physical shape. 100 lbs of Golden Retriever is a lot of Golden. Guess what, it's not all muscle, and while he has a big frame, I'm not buying the excuse that he's simply big-boned. He looks good - but he gets so tuckered out from any activity, that I gotta think he's carrying a lot more weight than necessary.

Duke got so hot from our mid-day walk that I broke out the pool since it worked so well for his foster family. He loved it. He spent about 45 minutes soaking and finally got left the pool so he could come inside to nap. The poor guy kept falling asleep with his head up and then his head started slowing sinking into the pool. He woke up abruptly every time his nose hit the water. Then he would straighten up, try to look alert, but after a few minutes he'd nod off and repeat the process.

We had another longer walk after dinner. The cooler evening helped a lot, and I even let him off leash to chase some squirrels around the field behind our house. Even when he's excited and in hot pursuit, he's not too fast. I also think he's got some hip issues. I don't believe the Vet he saw while in foster care commented on it (they are mailing the reports), but you can tell when he "lifts his leg" - which he doesn't do so well, and he is slow going up the stairs. His foster mother did admit that she had to "boost" him into her SUV. That's a lot of boosting.

Roscoe remains unconvinced that Duke was a good purchase. They've taken to exploring each others' food and water, and Roscoe likes to bat at Duke's big tail, which Duke doesn't seem to mind at all. One thing that does irk Duke is Roscoe's habit of entering the family room at about 90 mph, usually just whizzing by the front of Duke's face. It happens so fast that Duke just shakes his head, blinks, and twists his head around trying to see what it was that went past. Roscoe also enjoys when we brush Duke, climbing all over him in attempt to attack the brush. Duke is oblivious.

OK - enough cute animal stories. The Hobbled Wife and the Dude seem to be enjoying themselves in Yosemite and come home tomorrow. We all miss them. It would have been nice to have them around this weekend, since all my time was consumed with the Dog - or at least all my secular time. That means, the downstairs bathroom remains unfinished. The toilet works though -- just ask Duke - apparently the water tastes great.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ghost Sign - and Green Windows

Snapped this early today while wandering around downtown MPLS (before the great Duke Adventure). Not sure what gives with the green windows. Thought it made a neat image, but wasn't even curious enough to cross the street to look for clues.

I had dropped M and a friend off at "Opera Choir" and had 2 hours to kill. After the farmers market I wandered around and snapped a few pictures.

Roseville Family Adopts Celebrity Dog

First news first: We did it. We adopted Duke. When M and I arrived at the RAGOM picnic we did not know what to expect. About 200 golden retrievers (pure and mixed) carvorting around the park. The dogs up for adoption, like Duke, were wearing colored bibs, blue for boys and red for girls.

After talking with the foster mom, M and I took Duke out for a spin. It's like leading a horse! Hard to get him started; he doesn't respond to a gentle pull on the leash as much as a voice command. Just say his name softly, make some clicking sounds, and you're off. When he moves it's horselike - graceful, but you know there's a lot of animal there.

Several picnic-goers recognized him, "Is that Duke? The one who sits in the pool?"

"Why yes," we'd say.

"Honey, look - it's Duke - the big boy who has that cute pool picture on the web site."

And on-and-on. M and I had our picture taken by several people we didn't know. Actually they just wanted Duke's photo - but were gracious enough to let us pose along side him.

Duke is pretty tired now. He's lying on the floor having one of those doggie dreams where he snorts and his legs "run". Duke and the rest of the dogs participated in a 5K walk/run this AM. I was told that Duke walked most of it, but a few times broke into a trot. By the looks of him he ran the course twice - with another dog on his back! Not exactly a long-distance star.

He's made the acquaintance of Roscoe the kitten. Roscoe is much more interested in him than Duke is interested in Roscoe. The little kitten has done the "halloween cat" pose several times - arched back, hair on end - but Duke just smiles and wags his tail.

What's interesting is that he and M hit it off immmediatelhy. Since coming home, Duke's been out and about the neighborhood a little with M. He even participated in the neighorhood lemonade stand. When I went to call M and Duke in for dinner, the dog was wearing a "sandwich board" type sign advertising Lemonade.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Quick report from the Hobbled Household. Wife and Dude off in Yosemite for a wedding of family friend. Looks like they are staying in a great place.

M and I are left to hold down the fort. I was home yesterday afternoon, calling in for a few WebEx meetings while waiting for M to come home from school. Beautiful summer weather here. It made Roscoe a little frisky. Even the hamsters woke up in the middle of the afternoon. Roscoe climbs up near their cage and just stairs - if only! (Will need to build a more secure hamster compound.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

That's It?

That's it? - this one puny part?

It's been over one week without a functioning washing machine. The part for my washing machine arrived todaty, and Sears will install tomorrow. It's kind of embarassing that it's so small. I should do it myself - but no. It would probably take me 4 hours, and that's the window of time I have to wait for the repair person tomorrow morning anyway. He'll probably do it in 10 minutes.

I’m going to miss the Laundromat – seriously – Sunday I did 4 loads at one time. Total time = less than 2 hours.

On the upside, no more collecting quarters.

Duke - Back by Popular Demand

I’ve been scared to post these past few days, fearing I could never top the response to last weeks’ dog post.

Unless – I post about the dog – again.

The Hobbled Wife (HW) has conducted a long-running email (and telephone) correspondence with Duke’s foster mom. Since HW and the Dude will be out of town Thursday through Monday, it's up to me to meet this dog in person and make a decision yea or nay. HW has been very busy arranging my blind date with Duke. We are now down to the final arrangements – where we will meet them Saturday, how will I recognize them?

Here’s a few snippets of a recent email, with my snide comments in brackets - meant to make me laugh, thus reducing the pressure I feel:

I would say that he reminds me of Eeyore and has the same attitude. [Great, a depressed dog.] He is sooooooo easy going and such a sweetheart I have a strong feeling you will have a new dog when you come home. [No pressure there!]

I feed him Nature's Recipe Venison and Brown rice. [Lookout – he eats better than we do!] You could even try a lite version for awhile. Natural Balance is the other food that I buy when it is on sale. I found with all of my dogs, if I try the any on the lower quality dog foods my dogs get sick and one of them had a seizure. Also you will need a large or ex-large crate for him to sleep in. [I’ll be sure to pick up the one with sleep number mattress.]

No pressure here. On the one hand, the Hobbled Wife wants a dog (this dog) so badly. On the hand, the kids couldn’t care less. M is probably even downright hostile to the dog idea on her worst days, at best indifferent on her better days.

So the pressure is on. Who will I make happy, and who will I piss off? Reminds me of work.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Tell Me We're Nuts!


As if a two pound kitten wasn't enough, we are in "negotiations" to acquire Duke, a rescued 90 pound Golden Retriever. The Hobbled Wife has been lurking on the RAGOM (Rescue a Golden of Minnesota) site for years, toying with the idea of adopting a Golden.

We finally applied with Ragom, and had a home visit from one of their volunteers and her dog. We apparently passed the test, and we got put on the list. The first dog we inquired about was adopted by another family, but now we are talking to Duke's foster Mom.

Interesting twist - M and I will be the first (perhaps the only) family members to meet Duke. We will see him on Saturday, September 19th at the RAGOM picnic at Snail Lake Regional Park. The Hobbled Wife and the Dude will be out of town, and it may be up to M and I to decide thumbs-up and thumbs-down on Duke. Apparently we will be given the power to act on behalf of the family - that's a lot of pressure. I'll keep you posted on how it turns out.

Perhaps next will we adopt a child, or a better yet a family.

Only Time to Snap a Good Pic

The only time we can get a real good picture of Roscoe is when one of the kids holds him tightly (like the first day of school photos) or when he sleeps. This picture is indicative of his behavior. He runs and plays like a maniac, stops for moment to catch his breath - but falls asleep - in the oddest positions.

Here he is after playing with the Dude. He stopped for a few moments while sitting on the Dude's shoulder - and the rest is history.

Location, Location, Location

This is not the best photo of my new cube, but it’s not designed to show off the cube. I’m showcasing the new location – right next to the windows! It’s a real view. OK, the windows are tinted so it’s not officially “natural” light, and of course I can’t open the window – but now I can gaze at the clouds whilst developing cutting edge products for legal professionals.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Random Thoughts

Sitting at home awaiting the arrival of the washing machine repair person.

Photo snapped yesterday while walking home from the polling place. I usually don't discuss politics on this blog, but I don't care who knows this - I didn't vote for Al Franken. Yuck! Voted for Dean Barkley - thus another voter throws away his vote on a 3rd party candidate.

This is not news to most - but you can get a heck of a lot of work done at home when you don't have all the distractions of work. I've done more in 90 minutes than I did all day yesterday - or at least it feels that way.

The kitten does not know what to make of the fact that I'm here. He is doing his best to ignore me, spending his time stalking unseen demons around the house. He spent about 10 minutes rolling a pencil back and forth across a hardwood floor. He can't wait to nap.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Soothing Cloud Break

It’s been a busy crazy last week or two at the office, not to mention all the fun stuff at home.

1. Thursday - Rosie the cat visits the vet and returns home after being treated for ear mites and worms (the fun of "adopting" a wild stray). Oh - and Rosie has a new name - Roscoe. Turns out she is a he!

2. Saturday - quick bathroom cleaning turns into 6 hour project that included 4 trips to Home Depot. After cleaning sink in 1st floor bathroom, I'm unable to turn off water. Figure it's time for a new washer (there had been a slow drip for some weeks - I was ignoring it). Go under the sink to turn off water to faucet, but the shut-off valves are "stuck" in the open position. WD-40 and significant muscle power could not un-stuck them. Had to turn off water to entire house, pull the entire faucet and piping from the point the copper came through the wall. Oh - and while I was at it - we always hated that old vanity and sink anyway. So - like I said 6 hours later - we have a very nice pedestal sink. Problem is I haven't had time to successfully anchor the sink to the wall so it's kind of wobbly.

3. Sunday night - doing some laundry and the washing machine decides to stop somewhere between Rinse and Spin. I have a washer full of wet soapy clothes. The repair guy is coming Wednesday morning, probably only to declare it DOA and then we get to buy new washer (and dryer too why not??). Always hated that old washer/dryer anyway.

4. Tomorrow - the first Cub Scout den meeting of the year. I've barely planned it out and they are all coming to my house. Did I mention I don't have the the 1st floor sink hooked up yet?

Oh - and work - lots of crazy fun here.

As the Hobbled Wife said last night, "Take a deep breath".

It helped lift the mood to take a late afternoon walk out-back. My BlackBerry camera works best out of doors, especially with clouds.

Never Too Late for a State Fair Post

The Minnesota State Fair ended last Monday, September 1, but I'm not gonna let it get away without sharing this video from the StarTribune. It features our friends Wendy and Gary, famous for their love of the Great Minnesota Get-Together. In fact, Wendy and Gary were married on the State Fair grounds a few years ago. I've shared the wedding story with several so I thought you'd get a kick out of this short video.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Peace and Quiet?

OK, this is the last Farm photo - for this year at least. I tried to snap some pictures of the cat last night in preparation for a funny cat-post, but none of the shots turned out. My indoor shots with the BlackBerry camera seem to turn out poorly about 1/2 of the time - unlike this nice Farm shot from last weekend.

This is a very peaceful looking picture, but if I could include audio, it would be a different story altogether. Like most of the out-buildings at the Farm, this one is used for storage. My wife's cousin has a very cool drum set tucked away inside and the Dude was wailing away on the drums when I snapped this one. So you see the peaceful field, part of the building - but you miss the sound track.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

School - The Dude

Different kids, different schools, different schedules, same kitten.

School - Day 1, and Kitten

Here's M on the front step - back to school photo with kitten. I believe we are calling her Rosie (or something else if we turned out to have determined the gender incorrectly.)

Note the Beatles T-Shirt, All You Need is Love.

The Many Faces of the Farm

Didn't notice until this weekend that several buildings at "The Farm" have windows and doors configured into "faces".

A warm, windy weekend at the Cabin (and Farm) as the summer drew to a close.

[Yes, this one is faceless. Perhaps we can paint a face next summer?]

Big news - we brought home a kitten - more about that later!