Monthly Archives: November 2013

We Cook with Gas!

My Hubby is a “handy man”. Our boys all think so too. A recent Father’s Day gift was a “Tool Man” tie. Note that we have only sons. I am sure that if a daughter were involved in the gift decision it may not have been the Tool Tie.

My hubby’s handy man skills emerged later on in our marriage. During the dating / living together stages he showed little enthusiasm for fixing anything around the house. In fact I secretly rejoiced, when upon viewing a flooded floor next to my water heater, he stated that he’d have to look into some home repair manuals when he had his own home. He walked away from the scene, content to let a “professional” deal with this mess.  This appeared to be a man who would be OK with calling a repairman. Hallelujah!

I was a fairly “handy” woman in my own right.  Having been single for a few years I’d managed to install a ceiling fan, remove and replace a garbage disposal, and had even scrambled up onto the roof of my southwestern home and replace the water pump on the evaporation cooling unit. Hubby had no real opportunities to demonstrate his mechanical prowess during the early stages of our life together.This changed as soon as the “I Do” part happened.

Hubby moved into my existing home and now had concern for items like leaking hot water tanks, sagging gates  and other miscellaneous items that he’d been eyeing, during our courtship.  I found that his passion was to work in the yard and  garden. There was already a substantial vegetable garden on the south side of the house, which under his nurturing care increased the production of greens and herbs to the point I was giving away heads Romaine to all my friends!  I even learned to make pesto from cilantro. Hubby’s love of fruit trees was boundless. Added to the typical Southwest Pink Grapefruit and Valencia Orange trees, he planted unusual varieties like “Dolly Parton” lemons, two varieties of limes . Next he added a Peach tree and two Santa Rosa Plums.  Hubby even planted a Dwarf Apple tree that was guaranteed to grow in desert climates.  At one point I considered signing him up for  “Plant Buyers Anonymous” meetings. I swear I saw a brochure for this on the bulletin board at Home Depot!

I truly became concerned when I saw that he moved plants around the yard like we women might rearrange the furniture in the house. He couldn’t plant the Plum trees next to the Mexican Limes… they’d get too tall and provide too much shade. He needed to move them around!  Digging all those holes eventually meant that Hubby learned the location of the underground utility lines. We had the our city’s Home Safety Department on speed dial.

The most memorable event was the time he “found” the gas lines on the west end of our back yard. Even the fire department arrived for this occasion. Indeed the neighbors probably thought we were hosting a party for personnel of our city’s public utilities.  Both the gas company and the local firemen from our city crowded into the back yard to look at and listen to the hissing gas lines that had been breached with Hubby’s shovel.

Flash forward about ten years. We relocated to the  Seattle area. Moving only provided many additional opportunities to meet new personnel at various water, gas and electrical utilities in the great Northwest.

We’d been spoiled by the luxury of a gas grill in our backyard down in the Southwest. Many a meal was grilled in our own back yard and the best part was that we never had to refill Propane bottles! Our cast iron El Patio gas grill was fueled by in line gas that ran from our house main across the back yard. Remember those visits from the Gas Company and firemen I mentioned?

Hubby set about to recreate this convenience in our new home in Seattle.  Never mind that the house had no actual gas lines. He did research and found that indeed there was gas available to our home. The lines came up the street. He just needed to link into those lines and bring the gas into our home via copper pipes.  Welding copper was no problem. Just about every boy has had a welding kit as a toy or at the very least had some experience with welding in Shop class, right?

So how hard could it be to plumb a home that was not constructed with any gas lines? This project was before Internet searching and You Tube technology. But Hubby is a very good student so he consulted books on the subject. He even called our local gas company office to consult with a woman in Consumer Service and Safety, about when the inspection could happen when he’d finished work on our pipe layout. She freaked out to say the very least that he was going to do this work!  There was a justifiable concern about an amateur homeowner doing work with a combustible substance without the oversight of a professional!

Hubby has regaled many friends and acquaintances with his imitation of his conversation with the high pitched screeching voiced women on the other end of the phone at the local Gas Company. I have to admit it was pretty humorous too, even if it did paint a member of my own sex as a hysterical raving loony.  When she did pause for breath, Hubby did reassure her that a licensed contractor would be inspecting each and every joint, before any gas flowed through the pipes!

At the end of this project we did indeed have a gas grill on the back deck. We have enjoyed many wonderful grilled salmon dinners. The fact that we have to work with an umbrella in one hand on many occasions has just become part of our Northwest experience.

While he was at it, he plumbed gas to the kitchen and the garage area for additional appliances.  I will say we saved a bit of money switching to a gas water heater and I truly enjoyed cooking on my new Kenmore Elite Self Cleaning Gas Range with its Convention oven. We were truly “cooking with gas” at last.

Hubby’s “improvement” projects can be trying.  In most cases the end results are truly amazing. It’s just living through the process that proves challenging.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather

Elkhound’s Mom: 1… Squirrels: 0

I feel a bit crazy to admit this, but I used a Water Cannon on some squirrels today! I was awesome! I almost knocked the furry little fiend off his perch in the tree.
I must explain. I am not an over the top, aggressive person. I love all animals and would normally not harm a fly. I cried buckets when Bambi’s mother got killed. I was even more traumatized when Old Yeller died from rabies after he saved the boy from the wolves! I only eat meat that has been raised by thoughtful, loving farmers who respect their animal’s welfare and all…but I digress.
Squirrels! My father in law used to call them “rats with fuzzy tails”. Yes their antics can be quite cute and entertaining. I admit to purchasing and installing on a tree near my house, an item called Cobs-A-Twirl. This was a squirrel feeder that had promised to provide fun for both humans watching and for the squirrels by creating wacky squirrel antics and most importantly… keep squirrels away from the bird feeders. It did not keep squirrels from draining the sunflower seeds from my bird feeder, but I have to admit laughing hysterically at the promised “antics”.
I have a neighbor who loves these furry rodents so much she leaves peanuts out for them. Mind you there is a plethora of food provided by Mother Nature for these pests, but she feels compelled. Maybe she was a squirrel in a former life and starved to death. Neighbor Lady also feeds the Raccoon in our area too, but back to the squirrel problem.
I have two ten month old Norwegian Elk Hound puppies. They are, as many or most dogs are, tormented by squirrels. Think about the dog in the movie “Up”. Shouting “squirrel” stopped all action, every single time.
In our neighborhood they are so well fed, they fake bury their extra peanuts, courtesy of the aforementioned neighbor, all over our property. They especially love my vegetable garden. They appreciate the ease of digging and burying peanuts there in my well tilled soil. The fact that they often uproot tender your plants is a constant source of irritation to me. The little varmints also ruined a few lovely Hydrangeas and Narcissus, eating the tender bulbs. I guess neighbor lady must have neglected their peanut supply when she went on vacation this spring.
I think this establishes the fact that I have no great love for the neighborhood squirrels. But this is not what drove me to the garage to look for the water gun. I was tired of having literally every phone conversation completely drowned out by the enraged yips and whining of my two puppies.
There was a squirrel literally shaking its bootie, right in front of the large windows of our Master Craft home. It is a testament to the strength of the window glass used in our home, that we have not had dogs launching themselves through shattered panes and out onto the lawn. The same squirrel or possibly a family member also teases our pups from a perch in an Alder tree right outside the French doors of our master bedroom. The Alder tree has a section at the top that is hollow and decayed, even thought the bottom of the tree remains healthy. The tree is the equivalent of Squirrel Project housing, providing perfect place for the squirrel family to raise its young. We have unlimited entertainment as this tree attracts lots of additional wild life. Yellow Shafted Flickers and Pileated Wood Peckers find tasty treats in the decaying wood and are sort of slowly demolishing the squirrel slum.
My pups have worn a path in the carpet between the front window and the master bedroom door. They are frantic on some days trying to decide which place to go to bark and truly wear themselves out with the task of patrolling these fuzzy tailed rats!
Today I was at my limit. Decibel limit that is. I tried in vain to carry on conversation with several callers today. Frustration fueled by being completely unable to converse, even behind my closed office door was my call to action. Drowned out by high pitched yips, moans and squeals, I decided to give the squirrel some retaliatory fire.
I have some fairly hefty squirt bottles around the house that produce a fairly decent long, straight shot of water. These are strategically placed around the house to be handy when pups need a little wet blast to the nose, to remind them of behavior issues they might be violating. Worked for the most part like a charm on the pups so why not try them out on the squirrels.
Alerted by the incessant and irritating barks of the Elkhound Pups, I dashed out onto the deck, just outside the master bedroom door. I fired off a few rounds at a squirrel lingering on the branch of his tree house home. My water stream was not quite long enough, especially with the breeze blowing across my trajectory, the blast of water fell just short and rustled the leaves under my quarry.
If the squirrel’s actions could be interpreted as a sneer and his chatter as snide remarks. This one clearly gave me the furry finger! I was incensed and suddenly shared the emotions of my young puppies. But instead of whining and yowling I went to my garage looking for a better weapon to wreak havoc on this pest.
There, is a corner of our garage was my youngest son’s vintage Water Gun Super Aqua Blaster Soaker 2000, the perfect weapon to use in breaching the gap between the deck and the squirrel. I loaded up the water tank and was ready for action. The squirrel was still out there. I had half expected the squirrel to have been laughing so hard he’d have fallen off the tree branch. His text to his furry friends would definitely have read “LMFAO- she missed me”.
But there he was, possibly a bit distracted as he was still taunting the puppies who’d run outside to their dog run to continue their protests. I quietly opened the French door, took aim and let him have it full in the face. He did jump off his perch and scramble inside the hollow of the tree. I felt such a rush. Probably made up for those lettuce sets and flower bulbs, not to mention assuaging my puppies frustration.
I swear my boy pup looked up and me and smiled, as if to say “score one for mommy”.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather

The Great Elk Hound Escape

“The dogs are out!” I am a bit breathless as I share this with Hubby. I’ve roused him from sleep fairly early in the morning and he is still groggy. “What do you mean?”

“I mean the dogs have jumped the fence and are in the wetlands!” I am now exasperated and throwing on suitable clothing to go out onto the street in our neighborhood and round up our furry escapees.

“They could not have jumped that fence” he cries in disbelief. He is now struggling into a pair of jeans and heading down the stairs to the recreation room where a doggie door opens to let our pups into their fenced area in the back yard of our home.

I say fenced, but this fence is a “work in progress” and has been since we brought home our new puppies.

Our property is about one half acre and most of the “back yard” is in fact part of a two acre wetlands preserve. Lots of old growth trees and a floor of ferns, sisal and blackberry brambles while unfriendly to us humans, provide wonderful wild life habitat for birds, squirrels, raccoon and the occasional coyote. We own the lot and pay taxes, but there are many restrictions as to what we can do with the property beyond the rear fence that extends out 12 feet from the edge of the house. There is a steep incline to this part of the lot and so once over the fenced dog area it is a pretty steep drop down to the bottom of the lot. There is a creek running through this and the adjacent lots which adds to the boggy marsh like terrain. Not a place we often go hiking through, but rather admire the flora and fauna from the deck on the rear of the house.

Our older dog was pretty arthritic during his last few years while lived with us at this home. He certainly was never spry enough to jump over the fence and explore the wet lands below. Not so with the two young pups! We had several weeks time before they came home to live with our family, to get ready. My suggestions to Hubby about beefing up the fence structure and adding height fell on deaf ears. The process of keeping one jump ahead of their capacity to leap has become a running gag in the family.

Back to the morning I mention above. I had by now run out the front door and managed to round up both of the adventurous Elk Hounds. They were still young enough to fall for the rattling of their favorite treat bag. They scrambled up the side hill of a neighbor’s yard that was not fenced and willingly came back into our house through the front door. Hubby was still down stairs out in the dog run. Shaking his head in a state of disbelief that the pups could have jumped this fence, he had not closed the door to the run.

Both puppies barreled down the stairs and out their door and demonstrated that they could indeed clear that fence. They leaped like deer right over the fence in front of a very shocked Hubby! Just in case he didn’t believe they could do it. The second time the wily pups were much harder to convince to come back. Dog treats didn’t lure them as easily this time around. Hubby finally had to trek into the brambles a bit before they’d get close enough to be grabbed.

A shopping trip to the local Home Depot ensued immediately after we’d secured the pups in crates at home. By the end of the morning the fence had an additional foot of chicken wire added to the top.

Hubby stood back admiring his handy work. He stated smugly “This should hold them”. I just chuckled and muttered under my breath “Yeah, for a month or so until they grow a bit more”.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather

I was ” Paw Dialed”

My nine month old Elkhound puppies called me today on the phone! No kidding, my cell rang and it was the home number. I answered expecting the caller to be my son Nick.

“Hello… hello?” No response from the caller but line was still open and I could hear some background noise.  “Nick is that you?”  Still no answer but more scuffling could be heard and then the line went dead. I dialed back and received a busy tone several times. What was happening at home?  I was in Napa this weekend and wishing we had a security system that had video feed.

I’d spoken to the family, including the puppies almost every night. As much as I enjoyed the luxury of sleeping without fifty pounds of hound on my feet, it was a bit cold in that big bed all alone. I admit I was longing for the silky touch of their cuddles. The buzz of the hotel’s alarm clock was a poor substitute for their wet noses and smooches on my neck and face that accompanied their wake up greetings each morning. My hubby reported that the pups both were excited to hear my voice each time I called. Elki, our female puppy even licked the screen of hubby’s smart phone  while she listened to me calling her name and murmuring how much I missed my furry babies.

I called Nick’s friend and performance partner, Brian. He was scheduled to see Nick for a practice in a bit. He answered his cell phone and I explained about the weird phone call I’d received from our house.  He said he’d leave right away and would report in when he arrived. We both doubted that Nick was in distress, but there was still a sense of urgency that he needed to follow through and set me free from worry.

By this time I had a suspicion that two frolicking puppies may have knocked the phone from its cradle on the night stand in my bedroom. We have set up the base unit there as it needs a bit more space, with the answering machine portion, which is much larger than the individual phone units and their base changing cradles. Somehow they must have stepped on the redial button in the process of their revelry and miraculously called my cell number. Probably all that was needed would be to put the phone back on the hook. Even Nick could do this if I could just speak to him, but alas… a busy tone still was the only response I received when I dialed our home. He was blissfully unaware of the situation.

Sure enough Brian confirmed back to me when he called me back on his cell phone. Nick was just fine.  It was just the bedroom phone disturbed by the pups. Bad news.  Just replacing it back on the stand would not restore service. Upon his arrival at our home he went to the master bedroom and examined the phone system. It was completely destroyed. It would seem they’d lost patience during the call and took out their frustrations on the phone and handset. It was completely disassembled and all the wiring was chewed beyond repair.

These were ATT phones and several years old. So obsolete that no replacement parts exist and would need to be replaced with a whole new set. I wonder if I can claim this on my homeowners policy or as an expense on our taxes.  Until we replaced the crumpled plastic, bent circuit board and dangling wires with a new unit and phones we had no phone service on the land lines.

They are not actual land lines of course, but internet cable service, but dead just the same. Had this been the old fashioned phone with copper wiring, we might have had some fried pups!

I am a proud mommy and would love to believe that our puppies are so superior that they could actually figure out how to dial me up on the phone.  It would be very sweet to think that they missed me so much.  But then I’d have to be upset with them if I thought they did it purposefully. A whole new phone system is not going to be cheap!  I might have to pawn (no pun intended) some of those expensive chew toys that they choose to ignore in favor of dirty socks out of the laundry.

Much easier to call this incident the canine version of a butt dial!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather

Tabasco is the new orange

Tabasco: the new accent color at our house.

Readers if you do not have dogs… just stop reading now. Prospective dog owners please do the visual equivalent of sticking your fingers in your easy and shouting “nah, nah, nah” to keep from reading a story that will make you question why you would ever think of owning a dog. 

Only the dedicated dog owners will truly understand and appreciate this post. Dedicated, Unconditional Love type owners like the couple we met at a local dog park when our puppies were very young.  They own two German Sheppard dogs that were about a year old. My husband mentioned that our puppies were beginning to chew a bit and we were troubled about this aspect since we’d not had that experience with previous pets. The husband laughed and stated that their dogs had a project going in the basement of their home that was keeping them very busy. Basically they had sacrificed the carpet on that floor to the dogs. They figured it would take a year or two before the floor was down to the cement, but seemed like a bargain if they’d stay away from other parts of the home.

Our puppies chew… everything! We purchased a rather expensive, “guaranteed to work”, bottle of Fooey™. This is a bitter apple mixture that our puppy trainer swore was the best. “Be careful to not get this stuff on your hands” she cautioned.  And she was right, because of course we had to taste it ourselves. Made my hubby pucker up like I hadn’t seen since our first date! Great! This was the answer to saving the woodwork. Our dogs licked the surfaces we’d sprayed and smacked their lips for more!

  We’d already tried vinegar. Our house smelled like the salad bar at Sweet Tomatoes. We had tons of chew toys and read the articles on how to get training going by redirecting the pups away from the undesirable item and over to their toy box to find a fun new item that is good to chew. This was accompanied by chirpy enthusiastic reinforcement type statements that made us sound like the 9th grade cheer squad.

A friend said she’d tried many recommended methods too.  She found that Tabasco sauce, straight out of the bottle was the only thing that stopped her Golden Doodle in his tracks.  She painted it on every surface that her pup was attacking. “Great! We’ll try that too”. What did we have to lose? I didn’t take into account that we have all white trim and carpet in our home but stopping them from chewing the trim, right down to the wall board, it was worth a shot.  Orange is a great color for fall, right?

We have bright orange trim now throughout our home. I have developed a slight cough, due to inhaling the fumes of Tabasco as I slathered the walls and trim. It is a good thing that COSTCO sells industrial sized bottles because purchasing such a large quantity of the grocery store 5oz. size would have been even more costly than the Fooey™ .

How is this working you ask? Well I had not found any new shreds of carpet at the bottom of the stairs yet.  I checked other spots in the house for new damage and gouges. We were looking good.

Just as I was feeling like we’d won this battle, our little girl pup seems to have developed a slight cough. 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather