Monday, August 30, 2010

Are you ready for some football?

I can't wait! This Saturday is the first K-State home game. And since it is Harley Day, it is also Rib Day! What a great combination!

I love home football games and the requisite tailgating. I thought Don was crazy when he suggested we get an RV for tailgating, but it has been great! We have made many close friends with whom we have shared some great wins and some very sad losses. But we have mostly just shared in the fun!

So Go 'Cats - and let's have a great year!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


It is time for the fireweed to be absolutely gorgeous in the mountains. With its pink flowers and red stems, it is a stunning presence in the cool atmosphere of 7500 feet above sea level.
Until I worked on my Common Wildflowers of Northern New Mexico booklet, I didn't know what this plant was. I had seen it in Alaska, but I didn't realize we had it in New Mexico. Perhaps because I haven't spent much time in the mountains in late July and August, I didn't see much of it. But it is very prolific in the Pecos . . . so enjoy it when you see it!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I Love My _____ Life

Yesterday while in the doctor's waiting room, I picked up a Redbook magazine. One of the features in it is a column entitled I Love My ____ Life. They ask celebrities to fill in the blank and write about it. In this case it was Trisha Yearwood, and she said she loves her dogs' lives . . . which would also work for me, because our dogs have it pretty cushy.

But then I decided that I really love my kids' lives. They have grown up loving to learn, and their extraordinary education has fostered it! This love and wonder of learning has led them to do such interesting things - travel to India, Laos, Vietnam, Brazil, Europe, and Hong Kong; eat chicken feet, fetal duck, and eel; study in other countries such as Spain and the UK; as well as enjoy the many wonderful sights in the US. They read fascinating books - biographies of Ronald Reagan, War and Peace, Atlas Shrugged, and many others. They talk about politics and economics, religions and beliefs, sports and health. And they have fun with their many friends.

This generation connects with each other differently from the way we connect with our friends, but it is in some ways better. They keep track of each other, and although they may not talk frequently, they certainly do chat! I have been thrilled to watch the world through their eyes, and although I am sure my parents thought the same thing about our lives, I love my kids' lives.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Surprises are the Best

I have been planning it for several weeks. Since Diana leaves for Madrid on the day before her birthday, I decided to have a surprise birthday party for her. Then, when I realized that Kenneth and Melinda would be here at the same time . . . and that some of their friends would be in Kansas, I decided to expand the guest list and make it a surprise birthday/bon voyage (though Kenneth and Melinda knew about Di's surprise). Since both of them are going to be gone for awhile, I thought it would be nice to add family and godparents . . . and what do you know? We had a great party!

My kids' friends, our family, and our friends are the best! We had people drive down from Kansas City and Manhattan, up from Oklahoma City, over from Dodge City - and even fly from Krakow (though she really came to visit her family and just happened to be here at the right time). Victoria, Jon, Erica, and Dereck fabricated a story about why they were in Wichita, and as a result, we had them over for breakfast before the surprise! Aubrey, Lynn, Rob, and Pam decorated with beautiful yellow and red flowers, Spanish-looking paper, and candles. Melinda baked two DELICIOUS chocolate cakes!

All of the kids got to see family members and friends they hadn't seen in awhile. We are so blessed with the people in our lives! We are grateful for all of the people who support us and our kids in our endeavors. They are what make our lives special!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Molly and Me

Well, my family is coming home today. I hope they missed me. But the Dog Lady keeps telling me that I have gotten into some bad habits . . . even though she really did try to keep me from it. She says I turned into a teenager last Tuesday, and since then, I have started doing some things that I hadn't done before. Like chewing. I didn't chew anything - except cardboard - until last Tuesday when I found the ladder with leather on it. They quickly put the ladder elsewhere, so I found the pillows on the couch in the basement. They moved them, too, before I could do anything. And then they moved their drums and anything else they thought I might like. I haven't chewed anything since, but I would if I could.

I have also learned to jump on the bed and on the couch. They would have me get down, but when their old ones were allowed to be there, how fair was that? And I have seen those pictures of Molly on the refrigerator . . . if she was allowed on the couch, why not me, too? I think they gave up. One day, the two old ones were sleeping in the lounge chair downstairs, so I just joined them. She didn't get a picture before the black one got down, but I heard her say it was pretty cute.

She took several pictures of me on the couch. See how cute I am? Compare me with Molly (though the Dog Lady couldn't figure out how to make the picture go the right way . . . so Molly's is a little weird!) I wonder what will happen when I go home and try to jump on the blue and white couch. The Dog Lady says Audi will not be happy. The Dog Lady has said something about a pop can with rocks in it - she said she didn't think I was going to like it!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bella's Last Song

Bella has been anxiously awaiting the arrival of her family. In honor of their return, she has created one more song, to the same Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda camp song. Enjoy:

Hello Susan, Hello Rick(ly),
Two weeks has gone rather quickly,
So the Nortons aren't too bad,
But I know that when I see you I'll be glad.

When I am chasing, the Norton's bunny,
They just think I'm very funny,
But I've learned to jump on the bed,
And it didn't matter what the Lady said!

Please come home, oh Rick and Susan,
Please come home, this is confusin'
Sit, stay, heel . . . and then she says I'm dead,
Is that really what she said?

Please come home, I miss my family,
Hurry home, how far can you be?
I can't wait for you
To see how big I've grown,
I think you should have known.

Don't come home with a Kangaroo,
I don't know what I would do,
Mother, Father, don't make me worry,
Get on that plane and come and see me in a hurry!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Raindrops Are Falling on My Head

Has it ever occurred to you how many songs talk about rain? Raindrops Are Falling on My Head; It Feels Like Raindrops; If All of the Raindrops Were Lemon Drops and Gum Drops; even Purple Rain. Then there's Singing in the Rain; Rudolph the Red-Nosed Rain. . . oh wait . . . that doesn't work. Anyway, rain seems to be a popular subject for songwriters. And for good reason!

Last night it began to rain in Wichita. After 17 days of grueling heat, the soothing sounds of a slow, beautiful rain were the most welcome sounds around! When we awakened this morning, it was as if the world had had a bath - which it had. The crispy-critter lawns were coming back to life; the birds were frolicking in the bird bath; the trees were soaking up the moisture like a piece of bread in a bowl of milk. By 7:30, we had had about 1.5 inches - beautiful rain.

But there is always the "How do I get the dogs to go out in the rain?" The old things don't seem to mind - they just go do their business and come back in. But Bella is another story . . . she wasn't quite sure what was coming out of the sky, and although she likes water, I don't know that she has seen it coming from above. She was tentative at first - step out, step in. Step out, step in. Eventually, however, she really got into it and didn't hesitate to do her normal "wabbit wun" through the asparagus. When she came back in (through the garage, mind you) she was extra frisky as she shook off the extra moisture. It calmed her down, however, and now she is as mellow as could be. Ahhh, the healing effects of a beautiful rain.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bella's Song

Today on CBS's Sunday Morning show, Bill Geist had a segment about camp letters . . . letters that children would write after their first day at camp. It was accompanied by the Alan Sherman song, Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda . . .

Well, it got me to thinking about what song Bella would write to her family after going to Camp Norton . . . so here it is, to the Alan Sherman tune, in Bella language:

Hello Mommy, Hello Daddy,
Why'd you leave me, with this red "fatty"
And the black one's really mean,
Staying with the Nortons doesn't seem too keen;

They keep driving in the car,
Getting dog bones, not too far,
Going walking, learning heeling,
Mother, Father, Gads! my little brain is reeling.

Take me home, oh Rick and Susan,
Take me home, it's not amusin'
All we do is sleep, and eat, and play
We do it every day . . .

Take me home, I miss my dog door,
Take me home, the Neighbs are a bore,
And get this: The dog bowl doesn't tip,
So all I do is sip . . .

Hello Family, it's your Doggy,
I am very, very soggy,
From chasing sprinklers, Hunting "wabbits,"
Mother, Father, Hope you like all my new habits!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Musings from Bella part IV

The Dog Lady thinks 5:50 a.m. on a Saturday morning is too early, so she needs to be glad that after I went outside I went back into my kennel for about 20 minutes before I couldn't stand it anymore. The Dog Man got up with me, but by 7:00 we were all taking a walk. It is cooler this morning - 76 degrees felt like 50! It was really nice, and I did a very good job of heeling. But once I got home, I was wired and ready to go . . . the black dog and the red dog didn't know what hit them.

We went to the arches place again, and the Dog Lady sat in the back seat with me. The black dog and the red dog sat in her seat, though the red dog decided he wanted to sit on the console. Who made him king? Anyway, I was very good in the back seat, and I even sat some of the time.

You should see me now, sporting my new collar. I have grown so much that my puppy collar is too thin for me, and the Dog People thought I needed a thicker one that wouldn't cut my skin. Luckily they had a pretty purple one already at their house. It has some words on it - something about Kansas State University. I don't know why they have them "on hand" . . . they must really like purple. Anyway, I look very cute in my new collar. They told me if my people don't like it, they don't have to keep it, but I think I remember that my people like purple too!

Yesterday, I overheard the Dog Lady say that the time was going fast and she was going to miss me when I went home. She says I keep things lively around her house. I don't know how much more lively it could get here. Didi came home, Joey and his mother stopped for the night, it was hotter than you can believe, there was a small tornado in Manhattan that hit Anderson Hall . . . it has been a barrel of fun.

Jarred is going to come home today to mow, and then, since he has to work late and be at the pool in the morning, he is going to stay with me tonight . . . at least that what the Dog Lady said. But I will be back with the Dog People tomorrow.

I thought you might like a picture of me, keeping watch on the stairs. I am very scary!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Thoughts on dog bowls and stairs

The Dog Lady told my owner that she had just the answer for my habit of tipping over my dog bowl. She has a big purple paw-shaped bowl for me that she doesn't think I can move. At first, it scared me. I would drink out of it, but that's all. I have figured out, however, that it is not going to hurt me, so now I am trying to figure out how to tip it over.

First, I get my drink. Then I put my paws into it and splash and splash. What fun it is! I haven't figured out why it doesn't dump over, but the end result is the same . . . water everywhere.

Did you know I can blow bubbles in the water? I am especially good at it in the metal water bowl they keep in the bathroom. I haven't tipped it over, but if they put enough water in it, I put my snout in and blow bubbles. I bet Jarred would like to use me as a demo-dog when he teaches beginning swimming!

Also, I have found the best place to sit and chew my bone - on the stairs. I just lay down, put my left feet on one stair, my right feet on the stair below, and chew my bone. That way no one escapes the basement without having to go by me first. I love the power!

The Dog Lady and her husband said the sprinkler clock turned on perfectly today. Don't know what the problem was, but it is working now. And it is nice and cool inside the house. So everything is going well. And Didi is home now . . . she let me sleep with her. The Dog Lady has been so careful not to let me on the bed, so she wasn't very happy when she found out that Didi let me sleep with her this morning. The Dog Lady has told her she can't do that anymore. I enjoyed it a lot, so I am sad.

Well, now it is time for me to find my tail again . . . here I go.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

More Musings

The Dog Lady is trying very hard to keep me from getting bad habits (such as getting on the furniture), but she certainly is teaching me about getting dog bones at the drive-ups. Today we got to go two places . . . the bank and the arches place. The bank had really good dog bones . . . the arches place was out, but the Dog Lady planned ahead and brought some extras. I got a lot of pieces, though I think she used them to keep me in the back seat! I don't understand why the black dog and the red dog persist in sitting in the front seat . . . I wish they would sit with me. But the Dog Lady keeps her hand across the console so I can't get up front with everyone else . . .

I was sitting next to the Dog Lady a few minutes ago, and suddenly something crunched in my mouth. The lady heard it and was concerned about what I had in my mouth. She even put her hand in my mouth . . . all she pulled out was a baby tooth. Crunch, crunch. I think she is saving it for my owners . . . but maybe not. I found some Kleenex in the bathroom trash - that's really soft to chew on. I am tired of trying to get the piece of dog bone out of the Kong . . . so Kleenex is a good alternative.

Patty Sue and I really had fun this morning. We ran back and forth, back and forth. After two walks through the park, I was actually pretty calm. The Dog Lady is trying to write a speech, so I will sleep at her feet under the desk. I have found everything fun under there, so now it is just a cool place to lay down. But this afternoon, I have to go rid the backyard of "wabbits."

I did better at heeling today, but the Dog Lady isn't sure I am going to get it before my owners get home. By the time I was done with my second lap, I was not pulling so hard. She even used my bone and put peanut butter in it . . . that worked for about 10 seconds . . . then I got tired of the peanut butter. What she hasn't figured out is I almost have her trained to let me do what I want.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I Found My Tail

The heat is getting to everyone except one little black and white dog. She has been chasing "wabbits" in both yards, gulping sprinklers at will, and trying very hard to heel when she is supposed to. But today:

What's this? It is black with a white tip on the end. Maybe I can catch it. If I reach around maybe I can grab it. Oh boy, here I go . . . now all I can do is run in a circle. Yikes! I am getting dizzy . . . wow, the only way I can quit is to fall down. But there's that white tip again . . . let me try once more . . . oh no, I am falling down again! This is almost as fun as chasing the bunnies around the yard.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bella, the Flying "Wabbit" Hunter

One thing I have learned about Bella is that she loves to hunt "wabbits." And now that we have plugged all of the holes in the fence, we can let her hunt to her heart's content! She stands on our deck, surveying the backyard. Her eyesight is incredible - she seems to spot rabbits in the most difficult spots in the yard. She stands, stares, and then runs!

One of her favorite places to find "wabbits" is in the asparagus forest. She traverses the yard, then heads to the asparagus to see who is hiding amongst the fronds. Sometimes she finds something; sometimes not. But she is not deterred. As long as she doesn't catch one, we love it . . .

Today Bella got her new name. I took her to her own backyard. She immediately began sniffing and looking . . . for "wabbits." She ran along the fence between our yards, both in front of and behind the bushes. After two runs through, suddenly she jumped - all four legs pulled up underneath her - over one of the bushes, as if she were high jumping. Her leap received a rating of a "10" - and hence, her new name. If I hadn't known better, I would have thought she was flying.

The Dance of the Arachnophobics

It's that time of year again. Time to do the Dance of the Arachnophobics.

I wasn't familiar with the dance when I came to Kansas. As a matter of fact, I had never heard of it. But not long after we bought our first house, I went outside one August night, only to walk into the web of an orb spider. I screamed, madly trying to tear the web off my face, hair, and arms. Dancing around, I finally rid myself of the dreaded sticky hairs, and the supposed spider that I knew was crawling in my hair.

Several days later, Don went outside, only to hit the ground trying to escape the webbed monster. Every year since, in the early August mornings or evenings, we tip-toe around, looking for the harmless spider and her web. We know the webs catch nasty flies, mosquitoes, and other insects. We just hate it when it catches us.

Last week, we were taking our usual walk through the park with the dogs and Bella. Suddenly up ahead, I see Don start the Arachnophobic dance - swatting his head, grabbing his arms, kicking his legs. The dreaded web had been built across the sidewalk. Doesn't any self-respecting spider know you can't do that?

Then this weekend, Don had to go to the neighbor's backyard, and I saw him start the same dance. I laughed . . . until I realized he wasn't doing the Arachnid dance, but was instead doing the deadly Wasp dance. Not so funny. He escaped unstung, thankfully.

So if you are in an area where the orb spiders build their web, be watchful. You may see some unsuspecting person suddenly begin the Dance of the Arachnophobics. Don't laugh - you could be next!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Thoughts from Babs and Sepia

Another imagined conversation going on at our house these days:

Babs: What is that little twirp doing now? Tearing up another wrapping paper roll?
Sepia: Yep, how many is that now?
Babs: Today she didn't steal my treat from McDonald's. But she sure tried to shove you out of your rightful place on the console.
Sepia: Who does she think she is? I finally had to get into the Dog Lady's lap to get away from her.
Babs: And have you noticed how, when she goes up the stairs, she stops about two steps from the top, lays down and stares at us . . . just like Snoopy does when he pretends to be a vulture?
Sepia: Patty Sue does that, too. I think they are just jealous that they aren't regal like us, so they try to intimidate us. Just ignore both of them . . . the Dog Lady will take care of us.
Babs: I loved our walk today. The Dog Lady kept her out front away from us . . . and did you see how well she did? She actually was heeling like we were, kind of.
Sepia: She didn't like it when I went to sniff her Kong, did she? I am going to have to be more careful. But she reminded me of how fun it is to bite at the sprinklers. I almost participated with her today . . . but then I remembered that I am 91 years old and probably shouldn't do that anymore! I might hurt myself.
Babs: Did you notice that she jumped on the bed today?
Sepia: The Dog Lady told her that she couldn't get into any bad habits while she was at our house, so she had to get off the bed. Good luck, Dog Lady.
Babs: You know, she really is rather cute. Do you think this is what having Grandchildren is like?
Sepia: Maybe. Or maybe it's like Grandma Moo used to say - "They make me happy twice - I am glad to see them come and I am glad to see them go."

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I Wish I Were Clever

Today, Lynn Ramsey put on her Facebook page a quote from somewhere that said, "I can still fit into the earrings that I wore in high school." Ha, Ha! I laughed out loud. Who thinks of these things?

Some people are just naturally clever. They say things that make people laugh, though if I would say the same thing, people would look at me as if I were from outer space. Don is sort of like that. For example, his analogy the other really hot day where he likened it to sitting in a convection oven. I thought that was funny . . . I wish I had thought of it.

I guess the world is made up of people who think about things in a logical way (me), or who think about things through a "funny" filter. Sometimes I wish I had that "funny" filter . . . but since I don't, I just have to hang around with people who do:)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Musings from Bella, Part III

Well, I slept almost through the night . . . and when I went back to my kennel I settled right down. I think I am getting used to the routine. But when the alarm went off, I was ready to go!!! They said they won't set the alarm on Saturday morning so that maybe they can sleep later!

Today I got to meet Patty Sue. She wasn't very sure about me, and on our walk, I just couldn't stand the thought of heeling, because Patty Sue was ahead of me. When we got home, though, we played and played hard. I hope Patty Sue comes back . . . she is lots of fun! When I took my second walk, I had lots of birds to look at . . . The lady said I didn't do as well today, whatever that means.

The backyard is exciting! There are lots of rabbits, and I love going into the asparagus to find them. I can see them from the deck - and they can't see me - so I have surprised a few! Haven't caught any, however.

The other two dogs are getting used to me, I think. They don't realize they are getting more peanut butter than normal because I get some in my Kong . . . but they are tolerating me better. The lady put a treat in the Kong that I have been trying to get for about 12 hours now. The peanut butter comes out easily, but this treat is really hard . . . I am still working at it.

I got to go back to see Fr. Steve and Mtr. Laurie. I have learned to stay in the back seat, and I even lay down back there once. I like to ride in the car, and sometimes I get a dog treat! Today when we went to the yellow arch place, I ate mine so fast, I got to get some of the black one's treat. On the way home, the black dog and the red dog both got in the front seat and sat there together (with that big purple suitcase the lady carries), so I got the whole back seat to myself! That's living!

In the basement, they have a big blue ball. They used it this morning while Patty Sue's mom was here . . . they sat on it and lifted some heavy bars of metal. I just chase it around the basement. I keep trying to bite it, and I bark at it, but it just rolls away. Then it hits something and bounces up, which scares me. So I sit down, cock my head, and look at it. Then it stops until I push it again. It's lots of fun.

The lady has found she didn't "Bella proof" as well as she thought. I have found all sorts of things under the desk that she didn't know were there. I bring them to her, and she keeps saying, "Bella, where did you find that? Good girl." I know she likes me :)

The lady keeps saying she is Bella Sitting. I am not sure what she means because she doesn't sit a lot . . . but anything with my name in it must be a good thing.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Musings from Bella Part II

I got to take another ride in the car. She said I was a very good dog because I stayed in the back seat the whole time! We went to Fr. Steve's office. I worked on my Kong, though I couldn't get all of the treats out. But I got tired of that and just lay down and went to sleep. Fr. Steve thought I was very special!

When we got home, we went to get the mail. She was happy that her football tickets came. I went into my backyard . . . it was nice to get some familiar smells. I did a good job of staying with her, and she gave me a treat.

Since then I have spent a lot of time chewing on cardboard, going in and out, and barking at the air conditioner man. She keeps saying, "Thank goodness this didn't happen when it was 108 degrees outside." I don't know what she means, but it is cool inside again.

The only thing that would make this better would be if the black dog would quit snarling at me. I want to play with her, and all she can do is growl. The lady keeps saying, "Patty Sue will play with you tomorrow." I can't wait to meet Patty Sue!

Musings from Bella

Well, it has been 12 hours since Bella came to stay with the Nortons. Although I don't understand the language DOG, I can imagine that her thoughts have gone something like this:

What is going on here? I haven't ever been at this house. There are new smells in this backyard - wow! I think we need a secret gate between the yards so I can come chase rabbits here sometime!

Boy, this is fun riding in the car. They left the others at home and let only me come with them. I love sitting in the lady's lap and looking out the window.

She had a little trouble figuring out the leash. She told Jarred that Susan had showed her how to do it, but she was doing something wrong. She still kept telling me to do something called heel. I tried to look cute, and she told me I was a good dog.

That black dog doesn't like me very much. She keeps barking at me and hiding near their chairs. Then she growls at me. She has a very cute name, but I don't think she is cute at all. The red one barks at me and acts like he wants to play . . . but I think he's too fat.

I had a nightmare at 4:00 a.m. I whined, so she took me outside. Then she put me back in the kennel. After I realized she wasn't going to let me out, I settled down. But man, when I heard that radio come on at 5:50, I was ready to go.

They took us all for a walk at 6:00. She figured out the leash this time - it worked really well. When the leash is loose, she tells me I am a good dog. By the end of the first lap, she said I was doing better! Then they took us to a place with a big yellow arch. They said something about dog bones, and then they gave me a treat. The red dog sat in the lady's lap, so I couldn't. Then she took me on another walk, and the leash was loose a lot. She kept telling me I was a good girl. She also said something like "She's like a child with ADD." I think she was referring to the number of times I tried to chase rabbits and birds.

Now she is on the computer and I am ripping up a cardboard tube. Oops, I just opened a door and escaped . . . whoopee, this is fun!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

When Dreams Come True

Golf is an amazing sport. Our family was introduced to it when we were all very young, since my dad played a lot. He was actually the State Golf Champion one year. Both my sister, Katie, and I were Junior Club Champions, though my championship was rather bogus. It was earned honestly, but there weren't any really good golfers playing when I won, as contrasted to several excellent players when Katie won. Nevertheless, we both can sign our names Champion!

When Katie retired, she really began to work on her golf game (whereas, I haven't touched a club since I retired.) Last year (or maybe the year before) she won her Club Championship, so she can claim the title as double champion.

Despite all of the golf my dad played, Katie played, Bart played, I played, our kids played . . . none of us has ever hit a hole-in-one . . . until now. Today, that changed. Katie got a hole-in-one. It was during her club championship tournament - which tends to help one's score - and although she says it wasn't a great shot, it must have been since it went in. So now we can say that someone in our family has had a hole-in-one. Congratulations, Katie, for finally accomplishing the dream that we have all had!!!

Living in a Convection Oven

One thing about an oven. It is hot. Just like Kansas yesterday and today. Hot. Very hot.

Add in a fan to move air around, and you have a convection oven. Just like yesterday here. Hot and windy. Very hot and very windy.

As Don and I were sitting in the bleachers at Eck Stadium watching our nephew play baseball, Don said it felt like we were in a convection oven. I can't think of a better way to describe it. The only thing hotter was being on the field at Eck Stadium . . . we bet the temperature there was over 120!

Although yesterday was officially 107 (but I had 111 on my car), it may ONLY get to 100 today, though one station is saying 108 again. Whatever.

Life in a convection oven. I would rather be at the Cabin!