Hi-ya, ‘member us? It’s me, Sam. You know, Chief Knucklehead and Standard Poodle Extraordinaire from the Ranch. Lately it’s been a rough time here. We lost a couple of beloved pups in our extended family (R.I.P. Aria, aka Big Dawg and cutie pie Wriggly-we hope you’re running free and enjoying life at the Rainbow Bridge-we hope to have a better memorial post once we can locate a couple of photos) and Mom’s been out of town for too long handling a family emergency with her mom that we hope, (fingers crossed) has been resolved. Can I get a woof, woof?! Mom came back Tuesday evening and boy am I and my goofy Ninja sister thrilled. I haven’t stopped wagging my tail and won’t let her out of my sight for a second, which has made her trips to the water torture room kind of interesting.
We hope to be back full-time blogging after mom decompresses catches her breath like we used to, so we hope you’ll be patient with all of us. And I know she is ever so grateful for those of you who have reached out and asked what’s up with us. We appreciate your kindness, concern and fur-iendship. In the meantime, look what I dug up out of the archive backyard. My predecessors, McKenzie, Eliot and Crosby. I know, I hear your ‘awww’s through the screen and admit they were pretty adorable. I think McKenzie looks like he could have been the Ninja’s older brother. Eliot always looked like a giant stuffed toy and Crosby was mom’s first dog when she moved to Denver who also had the dreaded Epi-Monster visit him way too many times. I think mom might have been able to treat his condition better now days than she did back in those olden days. She’s learned a lot with Elsa which seems to make a difference since the monster hasn’t visited her for a number of months. We hope you’re all doing well, staying warm, safe and cozy. So what have we miss?
It’s December 20th and I’m just now starting to get into the ‘howliday’ spirit. Given last week’s unexpected and ongoing family emergency, I might be ready by December 30th. Then again, it might be January 30th. 😊 Are you ready for the jolly one?
Today is Thanksgiving in the US and on this national ‘howliday,’ we ‘paws’ and give thanks to all our family and fur-iends. Wishing you a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. Just remember the operative word today. Woof!
Family ties…but not the ones from that popular TV series, but instead real life family ties. The past 10 days have been filled with them. First my 21-year-old granddaughter and her boyfriend visited (yeah, I know, hard to believe I”m that old to have a 21-year-old granddaughter but I digress). I have a special bond with Hailey, having taken care of her when she was an infant every weekend for her first year. When I went to Hawaii last spring to celebrate her brother’s graduation, I was fortunate to meet her boyfriend, a quiet, adorably nice young man. Kyle is a local Hawaiian and as kind of a human as anyone could wish for their progeny to find. Polite, sincere with a beautiful and respectful life ethic, it was great for me to have them stay with me. Turns out after all they did while visiting her friends from high school, staying with me was a vacation they needed…i.e. rest. I think the go-go mentality of young road warriors had caught up with them after days of constantly being on the move visiting places and sharing the beauty of Hailey’s home state with her boyfriend who had never been to Colorado before. This thoughtful sweet girl took him to South Dakota to visit with her other grandmother for a few days as well. When I think of how this beautiful young woman has matured into a loving human, I am filled with joy and yes, a helluva lot of pride, too.
As Hailey and Kyle were preparing to return to their island paradise, Hailey’s dad arrived, their co-visits only overlapping by a day. Ostensibly to attend his 30th year high school reunion (I know, here’s that age thing again…WTH…how did that happen?), we managed to schedule some family time as well. For our family who relishes these get-togethers more than anything, it usually involves a fair amount of good food and some liquid refreshments. And this was no exception. Kevin’s best friend since junior high helps out his cousin’s craft brewery here in the metro area. The brewery, located in Del Norte, Colorado near where we lived more than 35 years ago, Three Barrel Brewery specializes in small batch “artisanal inspired brews produced from San Luis Valley grown, single origin malt, hops, Haefelis’s honey (from a local honey farm) and fresh mountain water.” Seth provided us with a healthy supply of some of their more popular brews which provided us the opportunity for some experimental suds quaffing. Had never tried ‘sour beers’ before and think the consensus amongst our collective palate is we’ll probably stick to slightly more conventional options. Perhaps I’m too old to be hip enough to enjoy the sour beers that the brewery is well-known for, but no worry on my part. Give me a robust IPA or ale and color me a happy gal. I’ve known Seth and his family for more than 30 years and he’s practically a family member. It’s always good seeing this man who now also has a family though substantially younger than my son’s. Seth is a generous, smart and funny guy, who is Hailey’s godfather so we go back a long way, in more than just time.
My brother Tim and his wife, Natalie, opened up their beautiful new home to the family clan multiple times. Natalie’s nieces were visiting while Hailey and Kyle were here; our two families sharing food, beer, and loads of laughter completely warmed my heart and soul. After our recent pet therapy visits getting together was definitely most welcome and the perfect Rx to soothe and comfort my spirit.
Having my son visit, even for a short time, meant the world to me. Not only did I get to have some much-needed time with my son (a mother’s dream) but the quiet mornings over coffee and breakfast catching up on the details of his life, of how his new job was going and the final details on the remodeling of the ohana back in Kona allowed me to see exactly the kind of incredible role model and human he is, as a son, a father and a loving human with incredible talents. Even just thinking about it, I can’t help but smile.
At first meeting, Elsa was slightly wary of the new people arriving but quickly warmed up to Kevin, Hailey and Kyle. Sam became particularly attached to Kevin’s hip, following him around the house. And though both dogs waited outside guest bed rooms sniffing at the crack each morning waiting for their new BFF’s to rise, Sam in particular reconnected with his old friend from when he stayed with us for an extended time before moving to Hawaii in order to wait out the quarantine period with his own dogs.
Now that everyone has left, Sam wanders around looking for Kevin in particular, hoping he is still here. And much like me, he’s missing this wonderful man who provided such joy while he was here. It’s a lot quieter around the Ranch today and as we adjust back to the old ‘normal,’ I smile thinking of this wonderfully loving family, the cherished visits with everyone shared over lively conversations, tasty meals and libations. This is what I’m talking about…these kinds of family ties and as I look forward to the next one, be it here at the “Ranch” or on an island paradise, my heart is filled with love allowing me to face the dragons of this crazy world anew. It’s good to be fully stocked again by the best fuel around-my family.
Morning, sports fans. Hope you had a great autumn weekend. Did your football team do well over the weekend?
Seems I have this little black cloud foreign exchange student following me around these days. Seems like I can never turn around without a certain raven haired beauty shadowing me. I’ve never been a big brother before so this is all new territory for me. Mostly I’ve been pretty good, but sometimes, she just gets too close and doesn’t let me monopolize and guard see my mom. Are all foreign exchange students like that, or just sisters? Remind me again when the semester ends?
Those of you who follow us on Facebook know what I mean when I say “a funny thing happened on Friday” but let me set the stage for the rest of you. So…have you ever considered sponsoring a dark-complexioned foreign exchange student (from the foreign shores of Greeley, Colorado-trust me, that town’s a world away even though it’s a mere 49 miles northeast of Denver)? Me neither but our world was about to change.
For many months, I’ve been contemplating the addition of a baby brother or sister for Sam. I’ve looked at a number of dogs that might be suitable for us with no luck. For one reason or another, none of those other pups seemed to fit. But that didn’t stop me from still trying to find a sibling for the doofus. I knew I didn’t want a new puppy so limited the search to Standard Poodle rescue groups across the country, looking at hundred’s of dogs.
I had a small connection with the lady who runs the Poodle Rescue of the Rockies who happens to also be a breeder, shows them and is a big lover of standard poodles. She was friends with the former CFO at work whose wife bred show quality champion Standards. And it was quite by happenstance that I actually met Jeanne at a local dog show a few years ago and have stayed in touch with her over the years. Purebred Standards aren’t exactly plentiful in the rescue area-there are far more hybrid dogs. Jeanne might get a few in a year but every time I contacted her, the answer was still the same, “Nope, nothing right now, but I’ll keep you in mind if something comes up.” Then over a month ago, I called and heard this, “We’re getting in 6 standards from a puppy mill from up north but it’ll be a while before they’re ready. Keep in touch and we’ll see what we can do.” So I kept in touch. In fact, I called every week, “Are they ready now?” was my new mantra. Finally the week came where I could meet two females from the group. Color me overjoyed.
When the dogs came in, Jeanne named the females Hope, Faith, Charity, and Love. We came to the conclusion a female would be a better choice with Sam so we proceeded on that basis. I met Love who everyone called Lovey first. She was a gorgeous girl, as tall as Sam though very skinny with a regal face and half tail. Faith was a bit smaller and all of the dogs came from the same breeding hell-hole (aka puppy mill farm in Greeley) where the 92-year-old owner passed away. The dogs were filthy, matted, and completely unsocialized. Picture the worse, times two. Faith was more aloof but making progress much in the same way as Lovey. I felt Lovey would be a better companion with Sam and the two met. After the initial “sniff, sniff…yup…it’s a dog” reaction, I watched this girl to see if she and I would connect. Something inside me said…”this is the one.” Every few days, I reached out to Jeanne to express my continued interest and see where they were in the process of rehoming. A couple of people had contacted her before me and I was afraid I might end up being a bridesmaid yet again.
Lovey was temporarily placed with a foster while Faith stayed with Jeanne. After a freak accident involving electrical arching from a transformer at the foster’s home, Jeanne took Lovey back so as to minimize the stress. However the 19 (yes, count ’em) 19 firefighters and all the activity associated with determining the house was safe to inhabit, overwhelmed poor Lovey causing her to stress out to the point that she needed to be hospitalized and given medication to stop the dehydrating diarrhea. Then the medication caused her to suffer a reaction and resulted in an evening of seizures. Once the vet diagnosed it was a reaction and not some other medical issue (i.e. epilepsy, etc.), the meds were stopped and the seizures disappeared as quickly as they began. Poor Lovey though lost a bit of weight and needed to be nursed back to health. Last week Jeanne called and said she’d like to see how Sam and Lovey interact together since she thought a ‘big brother’ would be critical to her socialization. The impression I was left with was this was strictly a meet and greet session. We arrived mid-afternoon and were greeted by a number of standard poodles (Jeanne had 6 she was either placing, boarding or part of her own pack). It was doggie Disneyland and Sam was overjoyed at the prospects of ‘playtime with poodles.’ Lovey was used to that commotion and romped with all the big dogs. In true Sam fashion, he was just keen at the chase part.
The meeting went great, and while the dogs interacted, we talked about Lovey’s past and future. After a couple of hours, Jeanne asked, “well, are you ready to take her home tonight?” Wait…what? I thought this was just a meet and greet?! Long story short, we filled out the paperwork, gathered up her pup paraphernalia and loaded up the car.
She was a great traveler (unlike a certain Standard who loves the idea of riding in the car, but just can’t stand the actual moving part. She sat in the back seat checking out EVERYTHING. Nothing seems to escape this girl, she’s curious and needs to check out whatever is in her view. She’s quiet and remarkably calm. My hat’s off to the foster mom and her son for working with her. We had a couple of conversations about her progress and I continue to be awed at what a great job they did while she stayed with them.
Apart from trying to figure out how to accommodate this newbie who was thought to be about 4 years old, we needed to figure out an appropriate name. Lovely wasn’t gonna cut it. With her regal stature, I felt like she needed something noble. Girl names seem to be in short supply from what I could determine to fit the bill. Sure there are 87 million cool boy names, but girl names…that was another story. I knew it couldn’t be some fluff name but what? Finally I landed on “Elsa von Furstenberg,” Elsa for short. Hey, don’t laugh…poodles originated in Germany so I figured, a German name would be just the ticket. I nixed Brunhilda though right off the bat. So apparently…it seems there was a “little” Disney movie where the heroine was named Elsa recently (had I known, I might have gone deeper on the list-yeah there are actual lists of German names for dogs (and cats, too). Think the top 100 baby names. Oy. Anyway, I came up with a regal name (which means noble and it describes this girl to a tee) from the top third of the list after we couldn’t seem to agree on anything (one name was “Misha” to which I said…blech).
These past few days have been a whirlwind for Sam and I. We’re trying to figure out what makes this girl tick. Is she housebroken or not (we’re still asking that question and hoping for a positive answer soon)? Trying to access the personality of a puppy mill dog isn’t easy and you must have the patience of Job. They are easily spooked, have no experience with everyday stuff that seems obvious and yet they are somewhat of a blank slate for the future given the right training. One thing that was a lovely discovery is she walks well on leash, though she continues to not realize ‘you can’t ever cross the streams” (as in cross the leashes with Sam and behind mom’s back) but we’re working on it. I took her and Sam through our neighborhood Farmer’s Market on Sunday and she was a rock star. Elsa is very bright and has a high desire to please (unlike a certain furry brother). She’s figured out that she rather enjoys all the attention she’s garnering through her good looks and was curious and patient while people fawned all over her. I was blown away. I don’t even like that much going on and she was showing me the ropes!
So bottom line last Friday, I rescued a ‘little girl foreign exchange student’ who I will make sure is fully legal and hope you’ll enjoy hearing stories about her and who knows, maybe if she shows some aptitude, I’ll turn the laptop over to her for her perspective. Right now, Sam is thinking, “gee, everything was great at Doggie Disneyland, but did we have to bring her home?” That and “so how long is this semester and when does she go back to that foreign land?”
When you see pics like this, you know everything’s gonna be all good.
Anyone know the procedure for procuring a H-1B Visa? Got any tips to share?
So…as you may recall, I went to Pittsburgh these past few days to attend the wedding of my sister’s oldest son. It was a great opportunity to visit with family members I normally don’t get to see near enough since we’re kind of spread across the US from hither to yon. Fun weddings are a tradition in our family. We’ve shared many laughs at them over the years though it’s probably a good thing us siblings can no longer easily flop down and ‘Tuna’ at these kinds of events…we probably couldn’t get back up again! If you don’t know what that is, search for the Otis Day version of the song Shout from the Toga Party scene in Animal House [with apologies to anyone who saw an inappropriate ad on the YouTube link-it worked fine initially].
The “concept” of family is an extremely significant to all of us and we learned from the best, our parents who taught us the importance being true and loving to each other. It has made all the difference in the world and while we may live thousands of miles away from one another, we are close and try to come together for events like this to support one another. Although a few were unable to make the journey, we had a large contingent in attendance and seeing everyone who was there reminded me that our family is lot like a pool with concentric circles when pebbles are dropped in it. With each new baby or spouse our circles grow outward and we are ever so much richer for those ripples.
From the beautiful new grand-niece I just got to meet to the niece and her family from Texas I haven’t seen in over 6 years, we are a lot like the Sister Sledge song, “We Are Family.”
Those adorably precious, polite and charming kids from Texas added so much texture and depth to our circles and kept us all entertained at the wedding. Who couldn’t love these munchkins?!
And while my mom was unable to partake at the actual wedding ceremony, she was at the rehearsal dinner and at the send-off breakfast the next morning for which we are ever so grateful. Her grace, style, courage and dignity has made all of us better humans throughout our lives and we cherish every. single. minute. that she continues to guide and be an amazing example for us. We snuggled with the newest member who has the classic family personality that reinforces our life circles. Miss Avery, I know you got tired of being passed around amongst all the aunties, uncles, grandparents and great-grandparents, nieces and nephews, but we just can’t help ourselves. We adore you so and just want to leave lipstick marks on your sweet precious head now and forever. Know each mark and hug is given with love and hope that your life is a continuation of our family’s legacy.
To the beautiful bride, Julia and her hubby, we wish you a lifetime of love and laughter. Kudos to you for bringing joy to your grandmother’s heart at finally tying the knot, Kyle. You made her and the rest of our motley crew happy for you both and we were thrilled and grateful to share in your joy. May you always be as in love and happy as you were on this occasion. And to my dad and siblings, whether through blood or marriage, thank you all for being you and for being part of my circles in life. You make my heart smile and I’m ever so proud to call you family.
And finally there’s that fur-kid who happily welcomed me home and has barely left my side. Your Velcro-ness following any absence makes me sing and revel in gratitude.
Love you all, every single one of you nut-cases! 😉
On this Father’s Day weekend, Sam and I send our best wishes to “effurry” Dad out there, whether he has two or four-legged kiddos. Whatever you have planned, we hope it’s a super-duper Father’s Day for your Dad.
Heartfelt greetings to my own Dad (with whom I’ll be spending time visiting this weekend), the best father a kid could ever have. He taught his family the kind of values that have served us well over the years. Our entire family is so lucky to still have him as a towering beacon of strength, integrity, love and respect as the perfect example of what being a Dad is all about.
To the man who showed me how to cast a fly rod as a kid, it’s ‘o’fishal,’ you’re #1. With hugs and fishes…love you to the moon and back.
Today is my last day on this incredible island. While I’m ready to rescue my poor lonesome hound from his prison kennel stay, I will miss spending time with my son and his family and seeing the amazing sights this island has to offer. It has been a remarkable trip. As Dr. Seuss said, “Oh the places you’ll go. Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way.” So with those words in mind, here’s what else we managed to visit.
We drove up to Waimea to check out the Parker Ranch. Nestled below the slopes of Mauna Kea, the ranch is one of the largest (and oldest) in the U.S. at nearly 250,000 acres. Founded in 1847 by John Palmer Parker, it is the second largest private landowner in Hawaii. The two homes photographed below are now museums. The Parker Ranch has a fascinating story with a number of up’s and down’s, but it has become a success story in Hawaiian history. It is now run by a charitable trust. This trip has been amazingly remarkable and I hope you’ve enjoyed visiting some of these irresistible sites as much as I did.
But first…we had to pick up a hitchhiker on the way to the ‘big’ house. This Jackson chameleon was the exact color of the biggest Cook pine tree (often called Norfolk Pine) I’ve ever seen (encircled by the family tree huggers). And because it’s Tuesday, here’s a little trivia about the Jackson chameleon – their tongues are one and a half times the length of their bodies!
The grounds had spectacular gardens and a nearby pasture with several horses and their new foals (it was nearly impossible shooting them as they galloped past too quickly before I could even focus). Here are some pics including a gorgeous Jacaranda tree I was finally able to capture and dozens of ginormous Allium, and lovely Bird of Paradise blooms.
In addition to incredible gardens, there were many tools, saddles and pieces of gorgeous koa wood furniture and period clothing, all far too handsome not to share.
Lunch was crashed at the nearby brew house by a gold dust day gecko who loved my Brownie a la mode as much as I did.
I could go on and on, there’s so much beauty and far too many unusual sites on this fascinating island but I’m rushing off to catch a plane soon to rescue the hound. The owner of the kennel called to tell me poor Sam was on a hunger strike. I can hardly wait to try to make it up to him but wonder what that’s gonna cost over the long-term? Time will tell, so stay tuned.
It’s been such a terrific trip and I want to extend my warmest thanks to my son and his family for their graciousness and for making it so entertaining. Know I love you all to the moon and back and look forward to my next visit to your beautiful island home. Hopefully by then the newest fur-kid will have out grown the annoying puppy stage and the neighbor won’t be such a douche. Nala…you are a goofball; and I will miss you and your family very much. <3