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What I hate about Barbara and Jim’s Garden, Part 2

It’s been awhile since I wrote the posts detailing what I like about Barbara and Jim’s Garden, and “what I hate, part 1”, but I still have my list and pictures, so I want to complete the trilogy.   I don’t think I’ll match Jim’s “Top 20 things I hate about Barbara’s Garden”, but I do have a few more to add.

I’ll group the first category into “clothing related issues”

People who garden go through a lot of clothes, particularly when its 160 degrees in the shade. Multiple changes a day aren't uncommon.

Regarding those multiple changes of clothing....it isn't a good idea to garden in your everyday clothes. You need special "gardening clothes" that generally come from the 49-cent last-chance rack at Goodwill. So that means the clothes that come off when its time to change into the gardening outfit frequently end up in interesting places.

Likewise, old disgusting clothes or shoes, never die, they just get recycled for gardening. The smellier the better. These gardening shoes wouldn't make this list if they actually stayed in the garden. But when I see them making an appearance in public, like church or in a restaurant, it makes me long for the old days where I would have simply tossed them in the trash then claimed ignorance of their whereabouts. Just call me Marcia Anthony.

The next category I will call “things I don’t have because of the garden.  Now granted, I  also have many other things that cost more money than the garden…..kids in college, nice cars, wonderful trips and vacations, pets, good food to eat, etc, etc.    But for whatever reason the garden gets blamed probably because while we’ve had all those other expenses for years, the garden is a relatively new one and it gets lumped into the “household items and other misc. stuff” category:

Do you like my big, huge, blingy-diamond?? Oh wait.....that's right, I don't HAVE a diamond ring! You see, when we got engaged, then married over 27 years ago, we were so young and poor we got a tiny, cheap set at the Pekin mall. Needless to say, it didn't last as long as our marriage, and 4 years ago it broke beyond repair. I got a new wedding band, but we decided to wait on the diamond until our 25th, which was 2 years away. Of course by then we were moving and changing jobs, and kids were graduating college and starting college, and we had to buy a new house, and the house had a big garden and needless to say, I never have gotten a replacement. Or maybe he's just waiting to make sure this relationship is the "real thing" first.

This picture represents just one of the inside house projects that are sacrificed on behalf of the Outside. I'd like to have a tile backsplash here, but instead I have happy trees, and burning bushes and shaded beds with important Latin-sounding names outside the window.

Even though we buy lots of wine, visit wineries, and belong to a wine club, we still have just this little wine rack bought from wine-racks-r-us about 10 years ago. I did get a little wine refrigerator this year, but we could obviously still use more storage. I had something nice all picked out this Spring, but then we remembered it was time to mulch and there went that idea.

One of the many gardening expenses. Heck, who needs bedroom curtains when you can have piles and piles of mulch. I do like this color much better than last year's though (and that's not a joke)

My water bill...no explanation needed.

The last category I’ll just call “miscellaneous things”

Allergies. I've never had them in the past, and now I find myself craving Claritin and Benadryl and Ibuprofen almost daily. I'm sure the garden isn't entirely to blame, but I'm guessing the same trees and bushes and flowers that draw the birds and bees and butterflies and hummingbirds to the yard don't help the sinus headaches.

I don't actually have anything against the gardening books, I just think its funny how they are all ginormous and weigh about a ton. No "pocket-sized book of plant names" here. Surely there must be an app for the "A to Z Guide to Every Plant in the Entire Universe" collection.

This is one of the gates into our backyard. I like our gates. What I don't like is that with all the in & out and rolling wheelbarrows around and hauling mulch and tools, and trimming and replanting plants to sunnier or shadier spots, the gates tend to be left open occasionally. And open gates with a blind dog and a "neighborly dog" aren't a particularly good combination.

One of the best parts of having a garden is showing off the pictures. But those pictures have to stored . And the resulting file of 4000 flower pictures makes it hard to find an actual picture of your children or your vacation or your Christmas morning, or the things that used to be in our photo files.

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What I hate about Barbara and Jim’s garden, part 1

Last post I mentioned that I wanted to do my own take-off on Jim’s recent “What I hate” series from his blog.   First I said some nice things, but now that I’ve done that, its on to my list of complaints.   Before I begin though, let me bring up one thing I hate even more:  WordPress.  Specifically trying to get my pictures formatted and placed correctly.   After messing with the last post for way longer than I had either time or patience to do, I ended up just lining them up in the center.   And since I have no intention of going through that type of frustration again,  I will probably do the same thing with this one.

So here in no particular order, are the first few things I hate about the garden:

  •  This vine over the garage.   I have hated it from the day we moved in, and asked several times if we can’t just take it down or at least cut it way, way back.   Apparently it is some “Southern Specialty” and it does bloom, look pretty, and smell smell good for approximately 1.7 hours each year.  The rest of the time it just grows.  According to our realtor these vines are very popular, and we’re supposed to like it (I’ve never taken well to being told what I’m supposed to like).  A few neighbors have one.   Those who don’t are welcome to have mine.  It always looks like its about ready to attack, and I can’t walk underneath it without envisioning a snake slithering through the vine, hanging down from its tail and coiling around me.   Plus I’ve just never gotten why they only go 1/2 way across.  Its asymmetrical.  Trimming it helps for no more than a week, and every time Jim gets on the ladder with tools to after it, I envision my life caring for a brain injured husband.  Jim has never taken my dislike of this Garden-of-Eden monstrosity seriously until recently when he came in from putting a bag in our trash can, which sits directly underneath the vine and a lizard fell on his head.   Who knows what else lives in there.

    Overgrown rainforest vine. Full of spiders, snakes, lizards and jaguars.

    View out the window of my neighbor's vine-free garage. I'm so jealous.

  • The cherry tomato plants around our mailbox.  When we moved into the house, Barbara had cherry tomato plants rather than flowers around the mailbox.  It seemed like a cool, different idea, so we continued the tradition.  Last year we planted the little orange kind, this year we have the little red kind.   The problem is that none of us eat many cherry tomatoes.  At least not at the level produced by these plants.  It is the only vegetable plant we have that’s doing well, and its doing much too well.   I learned last year, as I brought bag after bag of cherry tomatoes into work, as I ran out to throw them in the mailman’s truck, and as I went around the neighborhood trying to give them away, that cherry tomatoes are not nearly as popular as their full-grown cousins.  We put them in every recipe and I find myself forcing myself to snack on them even though I don’t really like them very much. One or two, fine—-200 not so fine.  They are difficult to cook with.    Next year, flowers.

Overly prolific cherry tomato plants

A typical daily harvest with a ratio of 400 cherry tomatoes for every 1 regular or roma.

  • Our dead vegetables.   Yes, the SC heat has a lot to do with this, but its so discouraging to plant all those cool veggies and see them just wilting away, not producing a single vegetable. And this was a problem last year too. They get lots of water, but I have yet to produce a single zuchinni or squash in this state?  Who can’t grow zuchinni’s?! Usually they take over and grow to mammoth proportions.    But mine 80% dead with no blooms of any sort. I was so looking forward to cucumbers, pickles, squash, melons…..even the basic green onions and radishes died this years, and the herbs look awful. And to add insult to injury, other than tomatoes (big ones!),  the things that are growing are the things I don’t really like – mainly the peppers.

Just pitiful

Look at these wonderful specimens! Did we grow these in our garden? NO, we did not...these were given to me by someone who has so many they can't keep up. I offered to give her some cherry tomatoes and she said, "Um, no thanks...just take these."

 

To be continued..

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Barbara and Jim’s Garden

My husband Jim has a great blog, Visionary Gleam.  When he started this endeavor, he described it as a blog about school leadership and his relatively new hobby of gardening.  Since then, the school component has taken a backseat to the gardening posts.  And that’s OK,  because topics and interests evolve over time – for instance, this one was supposed to be about learning and/or doing something new everyday, and lately I’ve only loosely stuck to that theme.

Jim talks a lot about “Barbara’s garden”, Barbara being the master gardener who owned our house before we bought it two years ago.  You will notice that it is never “Barbara and Walter’s garden”, even though Walter lived here too.  That’s because Walter, presumably, had little to do with the actual daily gardening tasks, although he did create many of the structures and planters, and even the tomato  stands in his woodworking shop.    And in that way, I also think of most everything that lies outside our walls as “Jim’s”.   Like Walter, I have very little to do with the landscaping and gardening—be it planning or day-to-day maintenance, but I have added some touches here & there.

Catie's memory garden. The birdhouse was made by Walter. I picked out the bench, the statue, and ordered the engraved stone.

I occasionally go along to the gardening store and like a kid who’s been dragged to the mall I might get to pick out something I like, usually based on a sound and educated gardening premise such as, “I like purple” or “that smells good,”  but mostly I wander around with glassy eyes wondering if we’ll get ice cream afterward if I’m  patient.    I enjoy the beauty, but the incredible amount of work that goes into gardening is just not my cup of tea and I don’t find myself reading up on plants or even remembering their names, much less what zone they prefer.    I am not joking when I say that if, God forbid, anything were to ever happen to Jim where he could not maintain the gardens, I would have to get rid of them in one way or another. Even Barbara knew that for many folks the enjoyment of looking at the gardens was quite different than the responsibility of owning it, and  when the house was for sale she offered to fill in some of the beds with sod if the new owners preferred.

Recently Jim did a series of posts about the Top-20 things he hates about Barbara’s garden.  They were all pretty amusing and true.  But it also got me thinking about the things  I  hate about “Barbara and Jim’s Garden”.   Its a different list and that’s where this post was originally going.   But then I realized it would be rude if I jumped into my garden complaints without first giving credit for the things I do like. So I will start with the nice things.

This is a view of one corner of the deck taken from the yard.I like to sit here with a book and a glass of wine and watch the birds and butterflies and hummingbirds and dogs and squirrels.

Butterflies and Hummingbirds

My own personal florist

This is really good garlic that I grew myself. Next time I'm planting more.

Tomato Pie. I'd never heard of this delightful Southern dish before moving here, but love making it with tomatoes fresh from our garden. Its basically tomatoes and herbs in a pie crust slathered with a cheesy-mayonnaise concoction.

Green Grass! When we lived in Virginia, we moved into new construction. The grass never grew the way it was supposed to. So we re-seeded it. It died. We seeded again, and it spent most of the summer brown. We put in sod and big patches of it died. We had a perpetually brown yard. In Indiana and Ohio our grass was covered in snow 10 months of the year. So having soft green grass that you can walk through barefoot most of the year is a treat.

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Romans 8:38 – Happy birthday, Catie

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38

Recently our Sunday School class studied the book of Romans.   As we read this verse in class, I was transported back to the first time I really listened to what it was saying.   Probably not the first time I’d read the verse or even heard it taught, but the first time it meant something significant to me personally.  It was in 2005 when I heard my 17 y/o daughter speaking from the pulpit. She had been invited to give the Youth sermon in church that day and stood in front of our United Methodist congregation, a few hundred in the audience, with confidence and ease.

If you’ve read Kim’s blog, you already know she has a way with words, both written and spoken.   After sharing the text with my friends, it has been requested several times, usually as a “I know someone who’s had a tragedy in their family; can I share Kim’s sermon with them?” type of exchange.    Because of this, I still have it saved in a folder in my email, ready to forward on as needed.

And so in honor of Catie’s July 7th birthday, here once again is Kim’s sermon and some pictures to remind us that faith and love prevail.

Sermon- Youth Sunday
11/13/05

Good Morning. My name is Kim Lewis, and I am a member of Warwick Memorial’s incredible youth group. I am
only 17, but I have been lucky enough to speak to you, the congregation, this morning about something
incredibly real in my life. God gave me an unexpected story of love and understanding in a terrible and tragic situation. This is that story.

The summer of 2004, I traveled with my swim team to a beautiful location in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to train and compete in an international meet. What an opportunity. It was truly paradise. The first few days of the trip were spent preparing for the meet mentally and physically. And did I ever prepare. I was ready.

A few days into the trip, I received a frantic message from my parents, who were also away on vacation that week. In fact, we were all gone: me, my little sisters Jenny and Anna, and my parents. All but one. The lost sheep so to speak. That person was Catie, Caitlyn Elizabeth Lewis, my older sister. Catie and I did not attend the same school, we did not hang out with the same people, we did not see eye to eye. When we became teenagers, we were practically strangers living under one roof. Catie struggled, always. For as long as I can remember, I was helpless, because her struggles were deeper than anything anyone could fix. And that’s who the message was about. Catie had committed suicide that night. An overdose, a cry for help, the end of the line.

I remember every moment of that week and the following days. How I prayed all night for a miracle when she was in the hospital. The way I chose not to fly home early from my trip. That’s right, I waited in Florida. I competed. I swam, but the water felt different. It cooled the pain for a second, but the pain was even sharper as soon as I climbed out and
faced reality. I remember how I was scared, confused, disoriented. And all my fears were validated, everything people hope never happens to them, was happening. To me. And I can still feel it.

***** Hold up Beach Ball *****
This is a beach ball. Seemingly a summer toy. Well, imagine trying to submerge this beach ball underwater.
It would take force, concentration. Sure, it can be done. But with even the slightest distraction, the ball will fly up and smack you in the face. Or worse, smack someone else in the face.

My sister’s death is my beach ball. I try to keep it submerged, but occasionally it flies up and everyone sees. “Oh, so she was keeping a secret down there.”  Well, everyone has a beach ball, not just me.

As Christians, we oftentimes have many beach balls. We try to hold under so many different things, for
whatever reason. Maybe it’s just too hard to look at. Maybe we don’t want to admit it’s there. Maybe we
don’t want the rest of the church to know about it. So we paste on smiles. We come to church and we smile, a lot, and we use words like, “awesome.” “Everything is awesome.” “God’s doing truly awesome things in my life right now.” “My family? Oh, they’re awesome as well.”
Perhaps all our positive talk is simply a cover for all the things we’re hiding under the surface. Our beach balls, so to speak.
God hasn’t always sent me fuzzy bunnies and rainbows. Sometimes God is hard, and usually God is hardest when
life is hardest. So what does this mean about God’s love, and what does it mean to me? Who can I go to?

I have found the answer is simple. Almost too simple. When God hands me a challenge, I go to God. Jesus knew
suffering. Isaiah 53 describes Messiah as being, “despised and rejected—a man of sorrows acquainted with bitterest grief.”
Jesus had grief like me. Deep, cutting grief. The kind I felt when they closed Catie’s casket for the last time. The kind of pain I feel when I read my sister’s name inscribed on that stone, forever a reminder of just who she was: part of me.
And I am no longer afraid of that grief. I try not to push it under, because I have discovered an extremely important fact as a Christian with a beach ball. The further under I push it, the more painful it is when it pops back up. And, when I’m concentrating on suppressing grief that is perfectly natural in the first place, I am unable to concentrate on God.

But the beach ball always seems to come back, a human imperfection of course. My beach ball emerged again this past summer, as I was invited to attend the same swim meet as the previous summer, in the same beautiful location in Florida. One year had passed. My sister would have been twenty years old. As I boarded the plane just 4 months ago, I could barely face what I knew was coming: my beach ball was about to spring up like it never had before.

In Florida, I literally retraced my steps from the previous year. My heart flew. I relived every emotion that I spent so long trying to forget. As I entered the pool area with one more year under my belt, the sky opened up and it began to rain. But it was still sunny. One little rain cloud, floating right above the pool area. I looked up at the sun and wondered how
that shower was for anyone else on the face of the planet. The rain washed away everything I was covering up, and I simply sat down and cried.

And I still cry. It’s still hard. As humans, we may think that we have gotten rid of our beach ball. But almost subconsciously, we pick it up, put some tape on it, and blow it up again. I have come to expect the pain, almost embrace it. I’ll read the verse from Romans again because I just believe it so powerfully conveys  God’s love in times like these:
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the
love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I love this verse, because it speaks to adversity. It recognizes the highs and the lows, while reminding us God’s love is continually overflowing, no matter what. I struggle, and I truly believe we all struggle with something. I hope that we, as Christians, can begin to embrace and appreciate struggle. If we can do that, we are deflating whatever is holding us back from God.

******* DEFLATE (pop?)  BEACH BALL ******

I have come to appreciate so many things and people from Catie’s death. To all the people that were there
at the very beginning, those tragic first few days, thank you. To all the people I met along the way, counselors and leaders, thank you. To my friends, who make me appreciate every gift so much more, thank you. And most importantly, Thank you to my family, because you have always been there, and you will always be there.

My prayer is that my story will inspire each of you to take God’s promise of love and deflate your beach
ball. Offer it to God in joy and in sorrow.  He’s  always ready and waiting.

 

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Yawn!

Sorry I haven’t written any posts, but I think I am running out of new things.  I’ve done plenty of things, but they have been old favorite things (visiting Virginia, tasting wines, seeing friends, being lazy). The books I’ve read have been summer fluff, the TV shows I’ve watched have been summer fluff, the food I’ve eaten has been summer fluff….are we seeing a pattern here?   One day I  learned something and actually said out loud, “I could write about this on my blog!”  Jim witnessed it.  Unfortunately by the end of the day, neither of us could remember what it was I was going to write about.

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The life of a hard-working dog

Calvin

This blog isn’t about something new, its about something old:  our  Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie) Calvin who took suddenly ill this week and died just a few days before what would have been his 13th birthday.  I’m sure I could come up with analogies to make this topic fit the overall “New Experience and Learning” theme of the blog:  new sheltie facts, or changing doggie dynamics or something but I’m not up for that.  Instead I’ll revert to a childhood response  for that observation…….”So sue me.”    (do kids even say that anymore?).

In the summer of 1998, we had just moved from Cleveland to Ft. Wayne, Indiana.   We had 2 brand new important jobs, a nice new house with a big fenced in yard, 4 active daughters ranging in age from 2-13, one sweet but neurotic rescue dog,  and 2 cats.   What more could we possibly want?  Well, a puppy of course!   While visiting relatives in Illinois, we saw a classified ad for a litter of sheltie puppies.  Might as well just LOOK, right?  So we  headed out to the farm in the middle of nowhere (also known as Carlock)  where they had kennels full of Shetland Sheepdogs with pedigrees and titles and fancy names.   And soon the shaking nervous little puppy in the back of the  crate was  thrown into the chaos that was the Lewis family.  We named him some long official name that I can’t even remember anymore, and sent in his paperwork to the AKC. I’m not sure why we did that since we also had him neutered as soon as possible  but I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Here in no particular order are a few top Calvin memories and pictures:

  • Calvin  took his job as a “herding dog VERY seriously.   Any creature, human or animal, was expected to stay with the herd.   If one went outside, we should all go outside.  If the rest of the children were in the family room and one wandered into the dining room, Calvin would fret.  Calvin was quite good at fretting. For years he would grab our pant legs or shoelaces in his mouth and try to pull us back in if he caught us trying to go out the front door.   Failing that he would stand and bark wildly at us, letting us know how dangerous it was out there.  He always positioned himself on the periphery of any given situation, often near a door or gate—presumably so he could keep track of his flock and be immediately alerted if one tried to escape or a wolf tried to get in.  Now Calvin was the wimpiest dog on the planet so if a wolf DID get in you were sunk, but he’d feel responsible.   A risk-taker he was not.

    Catie, Anna and Calvin when he was about 2 or 3

  • Since we were busy people,  when Calvin was about 6 months old we decided to send him to a local  “Canine Boarding School” for training.   We had thus far found him to be a nervous dog who didn’t want to do “dog things” and barked all the time.  The trainer was supposedly going to teach  him commands.  Instead, we got a call to come get him within a week or two—-it seemed that he couldn’t even get Calvin to come out of his crate, much less do any of the typical things dogs need to be trained for.  The trainer decided that he needed to start by learn to walk on a leash.  Except Calvin was too afraid when they walked outside, so he just taught him to walk on the leash inside.  From then on, we had a dog who would walk INSIDE on his leash perfectly.  Outside – forget it.   And he still wouldn’t stop barking or sit & stay or stop peeing in the house or any of the other things we’d hoped he would learn.  Lesson learned for the Lewis family: no more boarding schools, we bought our own dog training books.  And we potty trained him along with Anna (2 at the time).  M&M’s or liver treats for both….neither ever seemed to care which they got although it was confusing to both when Calvin got a treat for peeing in the shrubs while Anna got in trouble for it.
  • Speaking of walks, one of my funniest-ever Calvin memories was several years later in Virginia.  Jim & I decided that it would be healthy for Calvin, who was battling a weight problem, to go for walks.  Calvin was the eldest dog by then, and Hobbes, the younger one LOVED to walk. When we got out the leash Hobbes would go crazy with excitement.  But not Calvin.  He still  hated anything having to do with a leash and thought there was no reason to ever leave our yard.   But that particular day we put a leash on Calvin and set off. We got about 4 blocks away but then, because he had a big fluffy neck with a small pointy-head, he slipped right out of his collar.   Once he realized he was free, he turned around and started running back home.  But Calvin couldn’t really run—-his legs were too short, and he was too fat, so it was really more of a waddle-trot.  He had absolutely no desire to go anywhere but HOME, which is exactly where he headed.  We called him and he ignored us, neighbors who were in their yards and had previously admired how pretty he was when we first walked by now turned to laugh at him and he ignored them too, we waved treats in the air and ran behind him.   Other dogs barked at him and a couple even ran out  to greet him and see if he wanted to play as he ran by, but he focused SOLELY on his goal of getting back home.  He ran all the way, getting there long before us, huffing-and puffing and very indignantly clear that walks are NOT acceptable.  So that ended the “going for a walk”  experiment.
  • But we didn’t give up easily.   Our other dogs liked to go to a local dog park.  They ran and played and socialized.  There were lots of humans and  dogs there, in a big, huge fenced in play area. You can see where this is heading, right?  This was not FUN, it was work!   A HUGE flock, full of unknown sheep, all misbehaving!  Humans and dogs all coming and going and no one staying where they were supposed to.   So Calvin decided to handle this by staying as close to the entrance as possible, checking out whether the fence was really strong enough to keep out the wolves that were surely out there.  He fretted the entire time. I thought we were going to have to give him Doggy Prozac.
  • Calvin loved to pose for pictures

  • Even though he worked hard, Calvin also liked to play.  But only for short periods of time, on a pre-arranged break of course.   One of his favorite games was the “flashlight game.”   He would chase the light around the floor, try to get it on the wall, and bark like crazy at it.  And even later in life he would go through playful periods where he’d try to engage the other dogs or join in on a game of ball.   He didn’t quite know what to do with a toy once it was in his mouth and when we played ball we had to hold the other dogs back occasionally so Calvin could get it.   As long he was off the clock and there weren’t any wolves around, of course.
  • Luckily for us Calvin relaxed and mellowed a lot in his old age.  He stopped barking so much, stopped worrying so much and welcomed whatever humans and/or animals that might come to visit without feeling like he was responsible for their entire well-being and probable imminent wolf attacks.   He learned important tricks, like “lying my head on someone’s lap while they’re eating dinner, because they’ll think that’s adorable and reward me.”  He still, however, kept many of his old habits.  Even up until last week,  our morning routine was for me to get up and shower, then all the dogs to accompany me downstairs.  Calvin was convinced I probably couldn’t find the way unless he followed along behind me, herding and barking at me  the entire way. Good herders never go first—-they have all their sheep in sight at all times and Calvin was a good herder.
  • Calvin has a diet named after him.   As I mentioned before, he got kind of heavy when he was younger and Jim took him to the vet who informed him that our dog was overweight.  Jim asked him earnestly, “What should we do?”   thinking  there was probably some special doggie diet food or routine, or even a medication he would recommend.   The response was, “Well, you control his food—–feed him less!”   (thinking, “DUH, that will be $75 please.”)  So that’s what we did.  And lo & behold he lost weight.  So now we occasionally put our other dogs and ourselves on the Calvin diet, which basically consists of this complex principle:   eat less.
  • Calvin HATED to be brushed, so he was usually “overly fuzzy.”  Every once in awhile we’d take him to a groomer who would chastise us and tell us we had to brush him every week or we were horrible, awful doggie-parents,  but we never did and I like to think he thanked us for that.  Like most Shelties, once the weather got warm he’d do what they call “blow his coat” which basically meant he would shed and shed and shed and shed and shed.   The rest of the time he just shed (and shed).   I love you Calvin, but I will not miss your hair.
  • taking a rest break

  • He LOVED snow.  When he was young he would play and roll in it; when he was older he’d eat it and lounge happily in it.   We’d bring the other dogs in and just leave him on the deck to enjoy the feeling of the snow.  I’m happy he got another couple of snows this year.

No photo session is complete without the obligatory "picture with Calvin"

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Twitter

A few days ago I listed “Twitter” as a new experience I would like to have.  My savvy and always up-to-date with what’s going on in the world friend, Gwen, was kind enough to give me some basic tips, such as using Tweetdeck and telling me why people put things like RT, @ and # before everything they write.   To be fair, I wasn’t totally new to Twitter, because I still had an account from when I’d tried it before and just didn’t get it.   But I think I get it now.

Unfortunately I still don’t really like it much.   I finally just had to turn Tweetdeck off because it was driving me nuts, popping up and “tweeting” things like where my friends were eating lunch or whatever Keith Olbermann was indignant about at any given time.  It was like having a houseful of children running in as I was trying to concentrate and work, saying, “Mom look at me!”,  “I think the President’s an idiot!”,  “I’m eating at Panera right now!”,  “They’re protesting in Wisconsin!”  “I like baseball!”  “Its sunny/snowy/rainy right now!”,   etc, etc, etc

To be fair, I don’t like verbal “tweeting” or chattering much either.  Too much jabbering inevitably makes me irritable and gives me a headache, and I can only take it in small doses.    Listening to people talk all day is the main thing I do to earn a living, and I’m frequently interrupted in my office with phone calls and a steady stream of people showing up at my desk as I try to get things done, so adding the Tweets on top of all that was just too much.     And I honestly could not think of one single “hashtag” topic that I would want to read about whenever anyone in the world felt like emitting 140 characters or less about it.

So now I’ve tried Twitter, and I do like having the account and being able to go into the website on MY time, when I feel like it.   But I read through past tweets, more like I do Facebook updates, rather than keeping up in real-time.   I like following my friends, but not while I’m trying to talk on the phone to an attorney, have a patient in crisis, am 3 reports behind and need to plan next week’s group presentation.    I guess I am not surprised—I also hated it when AIM was popular, and almost always have the “chat” feature on Facebook turned off.  I usually prefer email to phone calls to relay/receive information.  But I can now officially cross learning Twitter off my list.  Now, who wants to take me on a photo safari of Africa?

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