Monday, September 2, 2019

Summer Getaway!

I never get tired of viewing the Mackinac Bridge
It was supposed to be a week of vacation.  I've been working some pretty crazy hours since last December, and had only had one vacation day since LAST August.   So I was really looking forward to a week at the cabin.    But alas, a crisis the weekend before we were to leave turned our week into a long weekend.    I learned, however, that a vacation doesn't have to be long to be refreshing. 

We had just three full days at the cabin but managed to pack a lot into it.  I left home with a migraine that lingered for a week, but whenever I was at the beach or in the kayak, it was barely noticable.   We were blessed with perfect weather and capped the trip off with a stop in Plainwell, MI (an hour from home) for ice cream on our way home.    Yum!

Grand Marais (MI) music festival

For the many years we've been vacationing in the Michigan UP, I have always wanted to take in the Grand Marais Music Festival but somehow, we've always missed it.   We finally managed to get there!   Dogs weren't allowed so we found a spot just outside the gated area where we could see and hear well, and save the $35 entrance fee, to boot!  It used to be called a FOLK Music festival and I was a little disappointed that it is no longer strictly folk and acoustic groups, but we did hear a couple that I enjoyed very much.    When the metal bands took the stage, we wandered off to the gorgeous beach, and found a wonderful new pizza place.    Can't wait to go back there next year! 
I have to credit Tim with this amazing picture along the
Au Train River. 

We dismantled a fire pit at Tim's property near Grand Marais,
carried the rocks in 5 gallon buckets to the car, made three trips
out to the main road to prevent the car from bottoming out and
rebuilt the firepit at Au Train.   My back hurt for days!! 

Kayaking the Au Train River with my best bud 
Jam session at the Falling Rock
The other two days consisted of raspberry picking,  kayaking (with my brand new 12 foot Punto ..... it is awesome!), a  jam session at the Falling Rock Cafe that Tim plays in, and a LOT of beach time.    The water was warm and the dogs had an absolute blast retrieving sticks and crashing into the waves.    Zak - who is always tentative at first - finally realized that he REALLY CAN swim and just loved the water.     When it was time to go home, I knew I needed to CARRY him to the car.    Tim was a little skeptical.    I said, "No - he sees me packing up and he's not going to want to go home."    I was right.    In fact, I had trouble catching him in the CABIN - a small cabin at that.   He was under the bed, behind every piece of furniture he could find, cowering with pleading eyes,   "Mom - we've only been here three days.   We can't go home YET!"  It was hard to leave, but Tim told me that Oval Beach in Saugatuck opens to dogs (it's called "local season") after Labor Day so we plan to meet there next weekend for one last rendevous in the water.

After some serious swimming and stick-chasing, Scarlett
dug herself a bed in the warm sand, crawled in and went
right to sleep.   Have to say - I love this picture.  It
captures my girl so well. 

This boy had fun! 

It's a 425 mile trip up there, but I was so desperate for a weekend of refreshment that it was well worth it and fit the bill.    I have another week off to look forward to in October.   Those plans have changed somewhat too, but with all my reservations made, we're going to take a swing down to Brown County, Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee anyway and hopefully see some dazzling fall colors.   That will be our next post!

Swimming in the big waves of Lake Superior! 

Sunset at Au Train Beach

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Zacchaeus at Six

Can it really be six years since I brought home a 3 lb, squawking fur ball who cried all night? Who charmed the neighborhood and everyone who saw him? Who caused cars traveling down 8th Street to turn onto the frontage road and ask if they could PLEASE see the puppy? Who followed his big sister, Princess, EVERYWHERE for the first three weeks - convinced she was his new mama, even though she had zero tolerance for him? And who, after three weeks, got a new 'big sister' who absolutely ADORED him and claimed him as her own. The love affair between those two goes on, and though there are jealous moments, it always warms my heart to see Zak groom Scarlett - licking her face, her eyes, her ears .... she, on her back, soaking it up and then rewarding him by jumping up and giving chase. He has long since passed her up in speed, but they still have a ton of fun together.

Huge shout out to Betty Boersma, Mike and Gina Wander, and Emma Baardson for all the help, advice and encouragement they gave me in those early months. For 16 months I had three dogs - a puppy, a one year old and a very elderly senior who spent a good bit of the last year of her life at the neighbors!

HAPPY SIXTH BIRTHDAY Zacchaeus Robert; aka Zak, Zakki, or Zackaroni. You are still convinced that every person on the planet is here to play with you and you manage to convince them of the same. You have comforted me in dark times, made me laugh - along with your sister - every single day, tested my patience at times and brought so much joy into my life. You are a good boy. And there is nothing you like better than hearing that!




Summer is going fast. Other than one horribly, miserable hot spell that lasted about five days, July was pretty nice, after a very wet May and June. A good friend from MN, Joan Groothuis, came for a weekend, and we've found a few inland lakes to cool off. But I've been working some pretty crazy long hours since the first of the year, and when I finally get home at night, I enjoy nothing more than sitting in my hammock (my happy place) while the dogs play in the yard. I have had only one vacation day since last August, so we're looking forward to getting away to the cabin next week. 

Zak will lie in the front yard for hours at a time, waiting for his neighborhood friends to come play. No one seemed to be around this particular day. He's very patient and loves to watch the traffic - which we had lots of in MN and almost NONE of here. But once in a great while, a car will come by or someone will be out in their yard. And he's happy as a lark.

THIS is what he lives for. A crowd of kids gathered all around him, petting him, loving on him, playing with him. He's the center of the universe. Scarlett enjoys it to a point, but a little goes a long way. For Zak, it never gets old. The extrovert of all extroverts. He couldn't care less about playing with other dogs. He wants to play with people.


Saturday, May 25, 2019

Tulip Time 2019

It's been a long time since we've posted.  Life is hard and I don't have much energy for writing fun posts about my dogs' antics anymore.   I hope to get back to it someday.   But a few weeks ago we did make a trip to Holland for Tulip Time (annual tradition).   Actually I missed the official festival and parade due a funeral, but we went up the next day and even though it was raining on and off all day, the tulips were gorgeous - as always.   I think the colors this year were the most vibrant I can ever remember.   Here are a few pictures.

And last weekend, we held a neighborhood garage sale.     Didn't make much money but the dogs sure had fun.   Zak was his usual charming self, welcoming all who were willing to show him a little attention.   He's all about that!    Scarlett got in a on a little of it too, although she retreated to the back deck for much of the day. 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Midwest Corgi Picnic and Corgis in the Park!

It was just the last two years that we lived in Minnesota, that some state and region wide corgi events were planned.   Because they were new, they weren't real big - but I hear they are growing in numbers.    A former friend of mine was very involved in the HUGE semi annual corgi beach days in California, and I think it was because of the wild success (and national exposure) of those events, that other states are following suit.

Tim and I were commenting that you never hear of a "Dachsund Picnic" or a "Golden Retriever Beach Party".     Maybe they exist, but I've never heard of them.    But corgis are such an incredibly social breed - and, let's face it,  - their humans are kind of a subculture, too, that more and more corgi events are popping up around the country.    

Here in Indiana, the "Midwest Corgi Picnic" is held in early October.   That is a three hour trip from Goshen, and we went this year mainly to check it out.     It's a fundraising event, so there are entrance fees, dog park fees, even fees to participate in some of the contests and games.    And it wasn't particularly well attended.     Still, we had a fun day there and might go back sometime. 

There were two Cardigans there and you can see them both in this picture;  the blue merle in the foreground (beautiful dog!!!) and the white one with grey markings is a double merle, which is a big no-no in the breeding world.   They are usually deaf and/or blind; a genetic aberration that comes from inheriting the merle gene twice.    This one was a rescue dog - deaf and an eye that is deformed.  But a sweet temperament and much loved by his family. 

Corgis in the Park - held yesterday in Grand Rapids - is a huge event and we had a blast!    We went last year but it rained almost all day which decreased both the size of the crowd and the enjoyment.  Yesterday was cool and damp, but not raining and there had to have been around 300 corgis there!     As the pictures will clearly show, while most of the dogs were playing with each other, Zak was working the crowd for some lovin' and cuddlin'.    (Poor boy never gets that at home!)   I'm sure he was the most photographed dog there because of the way he goes up to people, plops down right in front and waits for them to pet him .... then beams for the camera when they want a picture.    What a boy!     Scarlett had a LOT of fun running and playing with the other dogs, but made sure she never got TOO far away from me.    It was pretty overwhelming!     I had a meeting later that afternoon and attended a concert that Tim sang in, in the evening and then drove home, getting back very late.   Needless to say, we were ALL tired and have had a pretty lazy Sunday just resting and not doing much else.  

Workin' the crowd

I will be more than happy to sit here quietly while you love on me.
(And oh - by the way - my sister is right behind you ..... you can ignore her.) 

Hello ....

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

One Year!

I can hardly believe it has been a year since we left our home in Minnesota for our new home in Indiana.     It has been QUITE a year. 
October 2017
  Tiny, baby steps forward - only to be followed by a huge setback last Spring made me wonder if we would be moving again.   For a time, it looked like we would.   But just within the past 4-5 weeks, things have started to turn around and I am hopeful that the coming year is going to be one of larger strides and real healing.    Because of the ongoing trauma, I haven't done a good job at updating our blog.    But we have a couple of fun corgi events coming up this month, that I'll want to share pictures from.   So I thought I should first give a brief update on our summer.    In spite of the challenges, we did have some fun.

Much of the fun involved company!    We had a lot of it!    My brother Dan came home from China for five weeks.   He spent a weekend with us in Indiana (Zak still goes and sleeps by "Dan's" bed) and then we celebrated my Aunt Wanda's 90th birthday on July 22nd.   I saw cousins and other extended family and friends I hadn't seen in years.    It was a wonderful day celebrating a truly remarkable woman who is still taking college classes, drives and makes calls on the 'elderly'!

Sleeping late every morning was a treat for all of us!
Tim, Dan and I spent a wonderful week together at the cabin, hanging out on Au Train Beach, kayaking the Au Train River and spending a day in Marquette.     Zak and Scarlett loved the beach and Dan was wonderful about taking them over there every chance he had. 

We stopped at the Mackinac Bridge both coming and going  .... I never tire of the view of the beautiful bridge that connects Upper and Lower Michigan. 

A couple of grown up kids! 
The two weeks after returning from the cabin brought more company!     My best highschool friends (sisters), Betty and Ardis were here for a long weekend and we enjoyed seeing the Mennohof Museum at Shipshewana together.      The following day was a HORRIBLY hot day but I really wanted them to see DeFries Gardens so we went over there for a short walk and headed home.    The dogs were with us, but I was so preoccupied with trying to find a cool place to sit that I didn't pay much attention to them.    A couple days later, I developed a HORRIBLE rash on my chest, up and over my left shoulder and down that arm.    I could not imagine what it was!    I went to the doctor and she said it looked like poison ivy but since I  hadn't been walking through any wooded areas, we ruled that out.    Over the next several days a couple other people mentioned that it ALSO looked like poison ivy.     To make a long story short, we found out that DeFries Gardens has an abundance of poison ivy and Zak apparently got into it.     Because he has a double layer of fur protecting his skin, he had no symptoms, but he transmitted the toxic oil to me when he slept next to me - right up against my left side!     What a crazy ordeal that was!

The weekend after that, my friends the Kidders came to visit from North Carolina and Tim came down to join us on Saturday.     On Sunday, we met Kelly & Brian and Dan's parents in Plymouth for the Blueberry Festival, that I'd heard so much about.     I have several things to say about that.   1) It was HOT.  2) It was HUGE.    3)  It was CROWDED!   4) We had fun anyway, mostly because of 3 year old Elsie who loved the kiddie rides and everything else that makes life through the eyes of a 3 year old so much fun. 

Now we are more or less into our Fall routine.   Scarlett and Zak both had their teeth professionally cleaned yesterday.   I'm becoming very involved in my church in South Bend and loving it there, and also am starting to get back into stamping.     I volunteer Sunday evenings at a homeless shelter and have found that to be meaningful and rewarding.    I am on a long road of healing from traumatic loss, but when I compare my life to that of the men and women who do not even have a place of their own to call home, along with the many other challenges they are facing, it is a good place for me to gain perspective.     Life is STARTING to turn around, and for the friends who have hung with me for the past 2-1/2 years plus a group of four people in ministry who have accepted me, are committed to walking this journey with me and are supporting me in many ways,  I am immensely grateful.