Friday, May 29, 2009

Pizza Night - a Tradition?

I don’t really believe that you can force a tradition. It seems that the best sorts of traditions just happen, like 4th of July at the cabin (and before that 4th of July in Spicer, MN). So traditions can change, but can you hold an event and announce, “From here on out, this will be our tradition.”? I don’t know, but I’m trying.

A few months ago, I ordered pizza online from Papa John’s. Ever since then, I get several emails per week announcing some special or another. Some of the specials make sense – like a Super Bowl deal. Some are odd – I believe they had an Election Day special in November. One thing they do every week is to send an email on Friday afternoon announcing a weekend deal. The past two Fridays we were in town, we’ve ordered pizza. I plan to do so tonight.

I intend to make this a tradition. And all shall enjoy it!

Happy Dog

Duke is well. He seemed to enjoy a night at home with the family – though he slept most of the evening. This morning he was somewhat perky – or what qualifies for perky when one’s just had major stomach surgery. He is back at the vet’s for another day of observation. They are starting solid food – which is good because I caught him with his nose in the garbage can twice this morning. Duke is hungry.

Looks like Petco may not post my comment. I suspect they review all comments before letting them go out on the web site. My comment probably alarmed them. It sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen. It would be nice if someone picked up the cost of the surgery, but I’m not going to ask. The way I look at it is that this is one of the risks you take with a large omnivore – especially when we have him on a "starvation" diet.

Speaking of diets, Duke weighed 96 pounds this AM. I guess that 92 reading was just dehydration talking.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Before Picture

You’ve seen the “after” picture, here is the “before” picture. This is what the rope chew thing looked like before it was torn apart and partially consumed by Duke.

I also submitted product review for the PetCo site.

Resting Comfortably

[Sunshine - hooray! - on the Iris this morning.]

Picked up Duke around 7:30 this AM at the Animal Emergency Hospitalwhere he spent the night and transported him back to St. Francis Animal & Bird Hospital where he will spend the day under the watchful eye of Dr. Stefan and staff.

It was a good night - they checked his vitals, etc. at 12:30, 3:00, and 6:00 am. They gave him a new catheter for the IV at some point due to swelling - but that's not a big deal. Duke was able to walk out under his own power and one of the Vet Techs and I hoisted him into the car for the trip to St. Francis, where we hoisted him back out and brought him in.

Not sure if Duke will get to come home - apparently they need to make sure the stomach and its various plumbing operations are working before they let him go - it might take a while!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Whoa - they got it all!

My apologies to those with squeamish stomaches but I just have to post this picture. I'll try to post picture below the fold - so you don't freak out immediately.

This is what was removed from Duke's stomach this evening. It appears to be mostly rope from a rope/flossing "toy" we acquired from the local pet shop. The rope - once torn apart and swallowed created something of a net that caught all the various sticks, twigs, leaves and other parts of Duke's recent lawn foraging. The mass of gunk was in his stomach, but some of the rope was also in his intestine.

Duke appeared somewhat alert after surgery and during the transfer to the overnight emergency center. Dr. Stefan reported that he was actually more alert after the surgery than before. He wanted to operate tonight rather than wait 12 hours til morning out of a fear that some of Duke's stomach tissue was so badly damaged by whatever was stuck in there and the damage would spread.

Dr. Stefan figured that Duke had about another 3 days given his weakened condition. Good thing we got him in there when we did.

Now we have to watch for the usual post surgery things - infection, etc. He will be moved back to the vet clinic tomorrow morning for continued observation. Not quite sure when he comes home. When he does I'll be sure to post pictures of the very shaved belly - he will certainly be cool for the upcoming summer - they shaved almost half of his side and belly. It's not a stylish look.

Sick Dog - Update

Just spoke with vet. Surgery will take place tonight. I get the impression that Duke is not as stable as they would like - but they don't want to postpone surgery until tomorrow morning. The vet would rather cut now - since the foreign object has been in so long - and the longer it's there, the better the chance it has worked it's way out of stomach into intestine - really can't tell from x-ray.

After surgery we have to transport from vet's office to the emergency clinic - so someone can monitor Duke overnight as the vet's office doesn't have overnight staff. Then in the morning, we take Duke back to vet's office. Heaven help us if we do the same on Thursday night - as the recovery can take 24 to 48 hours.

Sick Dog Story

Perhaps we should have been more suspicious; after all Duke’s been eating leaves and sticks for at almost two weeks. He started out on the leaves and twigs from our cottonwood. All these leafy greens resulted in no vomiting, but a little extra action on the back end. This past weekend at the cabin Duke really went crazy eating all sorts of sticks and leaves – not discriminating as to tree type. Then the vomiting began – including a few times in the car on the way home. He couldn’t keep food down – although he was drinking water.

When we came home from work, Duke was exhausted. He had also vomited all over himself in his kennel – poor guy. We called vet and arranged to bring Duke in this morning.

Later that night, Duke was too tired to go up to bed and just laid there in the kitchen. He eventually woke up around midnight and came upstairs to his kennel. This morning he wasn’t in any hurry to come downstairs. After a short trip outside, he was back in the house, on the floor by the water dish – taking the occasional drink while lying down.

When the Hobbled Wife brought Duke to the vet he weighed in at 92 pounds (great when you consider we got him at 113 in September – but not so great when you consider he weighed 97 on Friday!).

The report from the vet is that Duke’s x-ray shows what appears to be a link of chain in Duke’s stomach. They will operate this afternoon – if he can be stabilized – if not, then tomorrow morning. I’m a little nervous – how well does an older dog recover from stomach surgery? Will I have to carry him in and out? Good thing he’s losing weight.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I'm a Music Man! - or rather a Towns-Person

Exciting days at the Hobbled Household. The kids and I were given parts in the Rosetown Playhouse's Music Man. Both kids will be in the Band and my part is simply called, "Townsperson". Yes, it's a humble beginning for me - but it won't be long before we have to more to Hollywood or New York.

Hurry - it's not too early to order tickets!

Cabin - Farm - Memorial Day 2009

The Hobbled Family spent Memorial Day weekend at the cabin. The weather was beautiful and we enjoyed a productive and restful weekend. The trampoline was reassembled in record time - and the kids report the bounce is back.

The three Johns put the dock in - then took a celebratory dip in the frigid (but not too frigid) waters of West McDonald.

On Saturday night we held the annual Memorial Day picnic at "the Farm" the ancesteral homeland of the Hobbled Wife's family. I took the two pictures standing in the same spot - first the old barn, then spinning around to catch the out building in the barn's shadow. I don't claim any artistic talent - I didn't even notice the shadow effect until this morning.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Almost Iris Time - and Audition Re-cap

[Can't identify the nice white flowers, but I do note the Irises are almost ready to bloom - up front in the picture.]

The auditions were a hoot - for me at least. The Dude said that he better get in because he had never been more nervous in his life, and had to call on all his courage to do the singing part of the try-out.

It was a three-part affair - the first involved about 10 of us (3 adults, the rest kids) being sent into the school lunchroom to "learn" the Shipoopi dance. The dance person gives a quick group lesson and you are off - without the music. Prior to the audition, I was worried about the singing - but I should have given some more thought to the dance. Hard enough to get the steps rights if I was doing it alone, but we did it all together in two lines. Not the high point of my audition.

Next we did the singing portion. This was done in a smaller group, with the Dude and I paired with our friends - mother/daughter combo. The mother (Julie) is our kids' piano teacher and someone we see all the time so the comfort level with this was a little higher than for the dance portion - at least for me. I sang, This Land is Your Land - not bad, kind of fun as we were in the school theater so my voice carried quite well. Had sort of an out-of-body experience - with my voice sounding like someone elses - it really projected in that space.

Finally, our smaller group was given a script and about 5 minutes to rehearse a page of dialog. I was paired with Julie in the scene with Marian (Julie) and Charlie Cowell the anvil salesman (me). If you are familiar with the production, this guy is a real sleazy character and keeps leering at Marian and calling her "girly-girl". Quite an interesting dialog to enact with your kids' piano teacher - I believe the Dude said that he couldn't actually watch all of it!

The Dude got to read some lines from Winthrop (the Ronnie Howard character if you are familiar with the movie version). He nailed the lisp!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Painting a Parking Lot

Busy weekend. Spent most of Saturday – 10:30 am to 6:00 outside. It was a cool, very windy, and very sunny day. The Dude and I have the sunburn to prove it. Saturday was the groundbreaking for an extensive landscaping project at the Dude’s school. Part of the festivities involved painting the parking lot. I think the upper school kids (7, 8 grades) designed the picture and everyone got to pitch in to paint.

Here is the Dude standing alongside the creation this morning. I personally painted about three of those lime-green doves. Rocky asphalt is not the easiest surface to paint. It worked best to sort of slop it on – though we liked to call it “daubing” for fear that the young paint crew would go overboard on the “slopping”.

Sunday – M sang at Church, followed by piano recitals for both kids, then back to Church for evening spring choir concert.

And now for something completely different – What are these white markings on these leaves? It looks like someone dipped them in white paint (wait – I guess that makes this kind of related). The Hobbled Wife suspects a mold.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Trying to be a Music Man

Call me crazy, but next Tuesday I will attempt to kick off my career in theater - at the age of 47.

The kids want to try out for the Rosetown Playhouse production of the Music Man. When we first learned that the auditions would include a special "Family Audition", I opened my big mouth and said, "Hey why don't we all try out!" I can't back down now.

Many of you know that both kids have been in plays and musicals. They love to perform. Up until now, my theatrical experience has been limited to driving them to rehearsals and sitting through (almost) every performance. I've always thought it looked like fun. Mind you - I was never in a real production in college or high school - but it seems like the right time to try out.

I have to come prepared to sing (unaccompanied) a song (one verse and chorus), then do a dance (in a group - look out!), and recite some lines or something. Should be interesting. I'm thinking I'll try something easy like, This Land is Your Land. The Dude and I have been joking about attempting Born to Run or Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen. M just rolls her eyes. I think she is going to sing Amazing Grace.

For the record, I don't expect to get the part of Prof. Harold Hill - I'm hoping for Towns Person #11 or somesuch role. The Hobbled Wife does not intend to try out - but knowing her love of volunteering, I suspect she could stumble into some backstage role or another.

Flower Break

Spring has sprung around the Hobbled Household. Here are just a few of the flowers blooming this week.

But wait - there's more - - shown below are the dozen or so flats of plants the Hobbled Wife recently purchased at the Friends School Plant Sale. I know what we are doing this weekend.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

6th Grade Band Concert

Lazy parents that we are, we rely on friends to forward pictures that they take of our kids. It's good to have such friends.

Here's M tooting away on her French horn. The Dude and I arrived minutes before show-time so seating was limited and he sat on my lap.

Feeding a Squirrel

Here's the Dude and his friend feeding one of their squirrels - yes squirrels! These are kind-hearted folk who take in all sorts of strays so of course they have come into the possession of squirrels. The Dude reported on the fun - but I disabused him of the idea of acquiring any squirrels of our own. Cripes - at our old house, we paid an exterminator to remove the vermin when they nested in our eaves!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Spring Time - Flowers a Bloomin'

Just a shot of some the Hobbled Wife's handy work. I can't recall what these are called.

We will all be busy adding to our gardens as we try to make room for the incredible bounty of the Friends School plant sale.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Plant Sale Weekend!

Video shot by Friends School parent back in 2007.

It's Plant Sale weekend - along with Mother's Day - and Fishing Opener (big deal here in MN). The Hobbled Wife has volunteered for three different shifts at the plant sale. It's great fun - and the money raised goes to a great cause - scholarships at the Dude's school.

I volunteered for "clean-up" on Sunday night - which involves almost 4 hours of fairly strenuous - but fun and rewarding - manual labor. This year I bring my own work gloves. Last year I used some of the "community" gloves - a small, tight-fitting, mismatched pair.

Did I mention we are hosting a belated birthday (Dude and Hobbled Wife) and Mom's day celebration on Sunday afternoon at our house with my brother's family and my mother? Don't expect more than brats and beans. Not a lot of time to prepare!

Freedom Lawn

I’m feeling smug, satisfied, because I now have a plan, and that plan has a name – the Freedom Lawn.

What is a Freedom Lawn you may ask? According to,

A freedom lawn is simply a very low maintenance way to maintain a lawn. Freedom lawns consist of various grasses, broad leaf weeds and basically anything that survives the mowing process.

A freedom lawn is an equal and opposite reaction to high maintenance, high input lawns and involves no inputs like fertilizers or weed killers.

I hit upon the idea while reading Suburban Safari: A Year on the Lawn, by Hannah Holmes. That’s where I first learned of the Freedom Lawn. Googling the phrase turns up all sorts of good stuff.

The idea gained traction with me when I considered the following:

+ Duke (and the kids) have pretty much ruined most of the back yard.

+ There are huge yellow spots of dead grass where Duke pees.

+ Using a service to spray (even the environmentally friendly ones like we used) cost money and then there is the 24 hour deal – people and pets have to stay off lawn for 24 hours after treatment – yeah, right!

So I’ve decided to give the Freedom Lawn a try. I must share this disclaimer, I forgot to cancel our lawn maintenance/spraying contract – it automatically renews – so the lawn will have one spraying this year – but no more.

I’ll start posting pictures so we can all watch as my lawn enjoys it’s new found freedom.

A Boy and His Dog

Duke was pooped after a nice walk - but didn't necessarily appreciate the Dude using him as a pillow. Right after snapping this pic - Duke kicked him off.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Blowing Away

I stepped out for a quick walk mid-afternoon - it was raining during lunch - my usual walking time. The clouds were blowing away - and I mean blowing. Very windy, but nice. Note the two large raptors circling low in the left.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Gotta Get Me Some Goats

Actually - the neighbors keep chickens, so goats might fit right in.

Google - trendsetters that they are - have rented goats to do lawn care.

A herder brings about 200 goats and they spend roughly a week with us at Google, eating the grass and fertilizing at the same time. The goats are herded with the help of Jen, a border collie. It costs us about the same as mowing, and goats are a lot cuter to watch than lawn mowers.

Cute? Not so sure about that but given the sorry state of my lawn - thanks to Duke the dog - I might want to give goats a try. Even without goats, I've already been considering alternatives to our usual lawn maintenance deal.

For the past several years, we have used one of those natural lawn services - the kind that spray only the "good" stuff to kill the bright green clover, pretty dandelions, and other "nasties", in order to foster the growth of our "natural" lawn. Duke must have just the right deadly combination of chemicals in his urine - because we have some rather large dead, burnt out, patches of lawn this spring. I'm tempted to call the lawn folks and ask if they will only tend to the front lawn - for 1/2 the price. The back yard is lost.

Better yet - maybe goats.