Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Greetings!

I am spending this Christmas in Michigan with my brother Tim, missing my girls but getting my corgi 'fix' from Elvis.   He is quite the boy and loves Tim more than life itself.    He also loves gifts - not just his gifts but anyone's gifts.   He sniffs them and pokes at them, trying to figure out what is inside.   It's hilarious.  

He loved the Greenies and jerky he got from Princess and Dee Dee, and they will love their new tennis balls when I get home tomorrow night.   I am so grateful for neighbors who care for them when I'm gone.    Christmas blessings to all!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


The day after Thanksgiving (aka Black Friday) is a day for me to STAY HOME!   Not being a crowd person, it often is the day that I put up Christmas decorations.   But Thanksgiving was so early this year that I thought it was too soon to do that.   So I worked on some Christmas gift/favors to share with my rubber stamping friends and take to Christmas dinner at my aunt's house.    After cutting, scoring and taping the sides of the little 'jar' together, I wrapped three Hershey nuggets in Christmas paper and put them inside the jar.  

I was spread out over the living room floor, and eventually needed a bathroom break.   When I came back, this is what I saw!     Dee Dee is my usual troublemaker but this time it was Princess.   Doesn't she look guilty?!?   She knew she was in trouble!    When I said, "Princess!!" - her ears went straight out to the side and she wanted to crawl up in my lap (her refuge of choice!)   It's kind of like spanking a toddler.   They need the swat to help them 'remember' (as my Dad used to say) but when they look at you with a face like this, it's all you can do to keep from laughing.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

In Memory of Sadie

Sadie was our next door neighbor; a black lab mix who was the same age as Princess, and a couple years older than Dee Dee.   When Princess was still a puppy, the two of them would chase each other around and around my garage, the path worn bare beneath them.  Princess was the chaser and Sadie was the chasee.  Princess never stood a chance, but it didn't keep her from trying.   They had so much fun.

Then Dee Dee entered our lives and gave everyone a run for their money.   Sadie's gentle lab temperament was put to the test many a time, as Dee Dee fought to be top-dog.   There were a few occasions where Sadie put her in her place, but over time they became great pals.  Dee Dee would run to greet Sadie,  her butt wagging as only a corgi-butt can wag.  She'd jump up and kiss Sadie's face and then roll over in a submissive posture.   I saw that sequence play out hundreds of times and it always intrigued me.

Mike and Gina have a great bay window and nearly every day Sadie would sit there around 5:30 and wait for me to come home.   When she saw my car round the corner, she'd run to the back door and bark.   Gina would let her out, and by the time I pulled into my driveway she was standing on my front porch.   I didn't need an interpreter to understand what she wanted.  "Can the girls come out and play?"   My girls did the same.  I would be in working in some part of the house, and suddenly they would start barking and come looking for me.   I knew 'that bark'.   Sadie was outside and they wanted to go play.

Over the years, we dog-sat when Mike and Gina had to be gone, and those were the only times Sadie wasn't glad to see us.  Her world was upset, and she paced the driveway, waiting for them to come home.  The joy in her eyes was gone, and she didn't want to play.   As soon as Mom and Dad returned, she was back to her old self!

Recent years brought two bouts of Lyme Disease and a steady decline in her health.   On Friday, October 5th, it was time to say goodbye.   A few days before that, we took some final pictures on my front porch.  It is hard to come home and see Mike working in the yard without Sadie by his side.  We miss her. RIP sweet Sadie.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fall Foliage

Everything on last weekend's calendar got scratched on Friday night when I added 1+1+1 and came up with THREE compelling reasons why we were going to go to Maplewood State Park on Saturday.   1)  Fall colors - which are early this year due to the mild winter we had - were at their peak  2) Temps were forecast to be 80 degrees with SNOW in the forecast for the following week and 3) my State Park sticker was due to expire on October 1st!  

I knew parking would be a challenge, so we were on the road by 9:30 and got there just ahead of the big rush.   We even caught the very first wagon ride through the park - which was decked out in full autumn splendor.    It was a bittersweet day for me, as I realized this was Dee Dee's last hike to the Hallaway Overlook (an annual trek).   Her back legs are all but lame at this point, and when she attemps to climb steps, they no longer lauch her forward, but sprawl out sideways.   So we did most of the hike with my hand on her butt for support.   It was a long walk, doing it that way, but we were rewarded with a view of Lake Lida surrounded by Sugar Maples and Sumac that gave the shoreline the appearance of being on fire.

We had lunch at the main shelter  (pulled pork sandwiches ... yum!) and then went off in search of a lake that was clean enough for the girls to swim in.  Lake Lida (at least the section along the beach) had a layer of thick, fluorescent  green foam ... blue/green algae, which is not only gross to look at but can be toxic to dogs.    I did find Trout Lake, just a short hike off one of the back roads, and it was relatively clean,  so Princess and Dee enjoyed one last dip for the season.   

 On our way home, we stopped at Sherin Memorial Park in Pelican Rapids, which was also lovely.   That area is especially known for the sugar maples, while back home in Fargo/Moorhead, it is the golden ash trees along the Red River that almost take your breath away.     The drought conditions and early hard freeze that we had this year have made the colors more vibrant than I've seen them in years.   Unfortunately, a couple of windy days this week have caused the leaves to drop very quickly.  

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wind, Waves and Camping on a Dock

In my last post, I mentioned that we were camped on a dock at Tim's vacation home in Au Train, MI.   The night we got there, it was warm and calm and also very late - so the dock seemed like the best (easiest) place to pitch our tent.    The following day was a gorgeous one; perfect for taking the kayaks a short 1/4 mile down the Au Train River to the beach - which I'm quite sure is the largest on the Great Lakes.

The following day we awoke to rain.  Badly needed rain, so we dared not complain.  It was a slow steady rain with an occasional crack of thunder, and the men decided to hike to Chapel Rock.   Since I'd been there a couple times before, and wasn't as eager to do a 7 mile hike in the rain, I hung out at the Falling Rock Cafe in Munising.  Later, when the skies started to clear, I took the girls down to Bayfront Park.  That's where Tim and Dan found us about 4:00.  The skies were brightening by that time (or at least we convinced ourselves they were) so we decided to drive an hour to the eastern side of the Pictured Rocks National Seashore, check out the beach at Hurricane River, and have dinner in Grand Marais.   When we got to the Hurricane River, the waves were huge.   I mean, huge.  This is one of my favorite spots in the U.P. and it did not disappoint.   We enjoyed a leisurely stroll along the beach while the dogs allowed the waves to intermittently swallow them up and spit them out as they played with a stick in the water.

After a time, we went into Grand Marais.   The waves there were equally formidable and by now the skies had grown dark, with heavy rain off on the horizon.   We had a brief discussion about the state of our 'campsite' but there was nothing that could be done about it at that point, so we enjoyed dinner and headed back.    My car was in Munising, and I had the guys drop me off there so I could go to a gas station to wash up while they went back to Au Train.   I honestly thought that the tent would have blown into the river (along with all the stuff that was in it) - in which case it would be somewhere along the beach by now.   So when I pulled into the driveway and saw shadows of two men, carrying a tent in the dark, it was actually good news.

The tent had blown into a tree - which is a decidedly better place to end up than in a river.   At that point we weren't sure how badly it was damaged, if at all - but at least all the stuff in it was safe - and relatively dry.   Turns out, the tent wasn't damaged at all!   I've been camping for over 50 years and never had a tent blow down before - until this year.   And now it's happened twice, in nearly identical circumstances, 1200 miles apart.

We were left with just one  problem - where to sleep?    There weren't a lot of options.  And so we climbed over tool boxes and plywood, rolled out our sleeping bags and had an innaugural 'sleepover' in the new cabin.    The wind was howling and it was black as pitch but we were happy to be safe and dry.  We look forward to many more sleepovers there - in more comfortable accomodations - in the years to come.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

UP in the U.P.

My brothers and I are enjoying a few days up in the UP (Upper Peninsula) of Michigan, after a week of hard work, sorting through family pictures and memerobilia.   Tim is building a vacation home on the Au Train River, but it's not finished yet, so we've been camping on his dock!  The weather hasn't been great, but we're managing to make our own fun.
On the way up here on Tuesday, we shot some pictures of the dogs at Mackinac Island.   Whenever we take a picture of the three together, Princess has to be in the middle, because the other two fight.   She IS smaller than Elvis and Dee Dee, but not as much smaller as she appears in this photo.   She tends to slouch for pictures, while the other two totally ham it up.   Corgis smile rather naturally, but we get them to all look at the camera by saying, "Do you want to go to the PARK?"   And then, of course, after the photo shoot is over - we have to actually take them to the park.    I have a low tolerance for deceit - even for dogs!

Our next stop was Kitch-iti-kipi (Big Spring) at Palm Book State Park, which is a really cool place.   You take a barge across the lake, which is so clear you'd swear you were looking through glass.  You can see the springs bubbling up off the floor - which is 40 feet down!   It was fascinating.   It was getting dark by the time we left, and we wanted to get to Tim's place with a bit of twilight left to put up the tent.   So my brothers found a shortcut on a map.    It was a decent gravel road at first - but I could tell from the map, that it was going to deteriorate into something less navigable.   Turns out I was right.   Suddenly the road came to an abrupt end in a field of thick, muddy clay in somone's dumpy yard.   A pack of dogs (at least two of them pit bulls) charged our car, barking furiously while we attempted to back out of our predicament.   I wish I'd gotten my camera out because it felt like we were part of a movie script at that moment.   Fortunately, the owners chased off the dogs, we were able to back up and went back around via the main road.   And no, we did not have any twilight left to put up the tent.  Not even close.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Buffalo Adventure

What would a camping trip be without a little adventure?   We didn't have anything major happen on our trip, but we sure had a lot of little adventures along the way.

When we were in Idaho, we met some people who were doing essentially the same trip we were - but in the opposite direction.   They told us about some 'must see' things in the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone; one of them being Kelly Hot Springs, just outside Grand Tetons National Park.
So, after putting up our tent in the Tetons and having supper, we went off in search of Kelly Hot Springs.   First of all, it's not Hot Springs; it's Warm Springs - and even that is a stretch.   We were drawn to the fact that it was natural and it was free.   It took us a while to find the place, and by then it was starting to get dark.   Nonetheless, we waded in and the girls went swimming while I soaked my very sore feet in the warm water.    My brother Tim (who was with us the last part of our trip) was taking pictures.   Suddenly, he glanced over at our car, which was parked along the highway with the trunk open and said, "Umm - I'm not sure how we're going to get back to our car."    In the few minutes we'd been in the water, a herd of wild buffalo (probably 20-30 of them) had congregated around our car!   We had seen buffalo earlier in the day along the road, and they appeared to be quite tame - and very oblivious to humans.   Unlike deer, they just stand there and stare at you, claiming full ownership of the road.   Still, many of them had young calves in tow, and we weren't about to attempt to reclaim our car.   So we waited.

Outhouse refuge
After a few minutes, about half of the buffalo decided to walk down to the pool - the pool we were standing in!   I had no idea how the dogs would react to them (or vice versa) so we made a dash to the only safe place of shelter we could see - a very smelly outhouse!

There we took refuge, with occasional peeks out the door, until they all had sauntered away from the car and down to the water.   Tim bravely left the outhouse at that point, got in the car and backed it up to where the girls and I were waiting and we made our way back to the campground, humming "Oh give me a home ...where the buffalo roam...."

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Camping in the Western US

The girls and I just returned from a two week camping trip to the Goldrush area of southwestern Montana, the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho and, on the upswing, the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks.   Given the girls' ages (12 and 13) and the fact that I'm dealing with some health challenges, sixteen days of tenting might have been a little ambitious, but we took things slow and had a wonderful time.

Unlike the Midwest, where heat and humidity seem to go hand in hand, the dry air of the Western US affords warm, sunny days and cool nights.   We experienced daytime temperatures into the 90's, often falling into the mid-30's at night.   The girls aren't big fans of the heat, so I made sure they got a chance to swim every single day, although with the swift currents of the Yellowstone and Salmon Rivers, I didn't let them go in very deep.   One of our favorite swimming spots was Georgetown Lake, near Anaconda, MT.   We found a beautiful place to cool off and had it all to ourselves.

We left Yellowstone a little before noon on Saturday and drove the 800 miles straight home.   It was a long trip, but the girls were thrilled to finally get a long, uninterrupted nap.   They were quite happy to get home as was I, but we do miss those cool evenings.   It's been almost unbearably this week!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Early Summer

We've been pretty lax in posting the past few months.   Life has been busy, and I'm working on another writing project with a deadline I need to meet, so CorgiTales has taken a back seat.

June is almost upon us, although it seems like we've had a couple months of summer already!   We've been enjoying some long walks along the Red River - something that we haven't been able to do for the past few springs, due to flooding.    This year has been very dry, although we got a much needed rain over Memorial Day weekend.

A group of 10-11 year old boys has been stopping to play with the girls as they walk home from school lately.   They love playing with Princess and Dee Dee and the feeling is mutual.   My girls aren't around kids a lot, and don't particularly enjoy little kids, who are apt to be too rough, put their fingers in an eye or squeeze them too tightly.    But these kids are the perfect age.   They are gentle and respectful and the girls love them.   It takes Dee Dee all of five seconds to roll over for a tummy rub.  We'll miss their daily visits this summer.  

The adage "older and wiser" pertains not only to humans, but to dogs!   There are some things that I used to be able to get away with that I can't anymore.   I love to snuggle in bed with the girls early in the morning, before I have to get up.   Sometimes they are in the mood to join me, but more often they're not.   I used to be able to start wailing loudly (a fake cry, so to speak) and they'd relent.   But no more.   They are totally onto me and walk away with a look of disgust that says, "Get over it." 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tim and Elvis on Tour

As they do every year during spring break, Tim and Elvis are on tour this week with their "Do Dogs Know Calculus"presentation.    There is never a shortage of media attention and this week both CBS and FOX News have covered it.   I have heard from friends as far away as Florida and Kansas City who have seen it on their late night news.  Here are a couple of links. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I have a teenager

Happy Birthday to my Teenage Princess!   I have it easier than most moms.  She doesn't beg to go to the mall with her friends, flirt with the boys or stay out past curfew.    However, like most Moms and teenagers, we have our moments.   She can be moody,  will 'talk back' on occasion and is master of the 'Slowwwww -bey".   In fact, with a dog age of 91 (yikes!!) she is just a bit slower, all the way around.    But then I am too.    I love this girl.  She has brought so much joy into our home!   Happy Birthday sweet girl!

Monday, March 5, 2012

We finally got some snow!

 Now that March is here and everyone is in the mood for Spring, we finally got some snow!   I didn't realize how much I had missed it.  I love going for walks with the girls in the woods, listening to the crunch of the snow beneath my feet.   I love to watch them roll in the soft white carpet, dig up a stick or chase a rabbit down the trail, their barks muffled by the snowy insulation.   Evidently others have missed it too because we had lots of company this afternoon at Johnson Park.  Cross country skiers, snow shoers, youngsters sledding and dogs of all breeds were out enjoying the crisp air and fresh cover of snow.

We met a lady whose golden lab had chased a deer across the frozen Red River and she was waiting for him to come back.    My girls will take off after a rabbit or a squirrel, but they're old and slow enough now that they quickly lose interest when they realize they don't stand a chance.   The fresh air was wonderful today and we're looking forward to another romp tomorrow.