Monday, August 27, 2007

Twelve week pupdate

Luka seems to be growing as we watch; he's thin, but has long legs that will reach the top of the kitchen counter before very long. His appetite is ravenous and he's learned the bad habit of barking non-stop while we prepare his meal. We'll be curing him of that real soon! Tummy troubles and a trip to the vet have him spoiled with homecooked meals for the last week or so. Boiled chicken and white rice, accented with green vegetables, every six hours. Warmed in the microwave, if you please.

What brand do you all feed your dogs and do I need to obsess about it as much as I have been?

We've been crating him for half the day and he's doing well with that. I was worried for the state of my kitchen baseboards and could only imagine the trouble he might cause when he's really teething in a month or two. My husband is the soft touch who doesn't like to use the crate, so I take the role as the bad guy who crates him before leaving for work; then my husband can be the good guy who lets him out at lunchtime. I bought a few of those Kong toys over the weekend for Luka to keep himself amused with while in the crate. I think he makes quick work of them, but at least he goes happily into the crate when I leave and doesn't see the crate as any sort of punishment.

We've been going to puppy classes one night a week, but skipped last week while I got us into a different class with more puppies. The class we were in consisted of a 5 month old Lab who only came once in a while and a cranky little 2 year-old Bijon that was scared of my pup. Not much happening in the way of socialization there, so we got out. I'm curious to see what the new group will be like - hopefully it will be a better fit for us.

I'm taking him with me everywhere - much to his delight! Just tonight we strolled through downtown Red Bank and were stopped every 20 feet by some new admirer. He loves the attention. We've been to the beach and the woods, and he even got his first taste of swimming. We met a huge Newfoundland that day at the beach - that dog could really swim! Luka had the chance to say hello, but somehow got himself tangled up in his lead under that monstrous dog and had himself a good scare. His puppy bravado changed tune pretty quickly and I had to rescue him from the furry bear that towered over him. Silly pup!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Well, that can't be good!

My desktop PC died on me tonight. At least, I think it's dead.

I've been getting the *blue screen of death* every so often for the last few months, but tonight it made some odd beeping sounds and the CPU fan came on as loud as a jet engine. And then it stopped and the monitor is just black.

Hmmmm.... maybe I just need a new fan? I have my fingers crossed that that's all it is. Every single one of my photos is stored on that PC and only on that PC.


I don't even have a clue as to where to begin, aside from trying again in the morning and hoping that it'll start up like normal.

Not likely, right?

Friday, August 24, 2007


Let's see... I'm dreaming of crisp fall days and an excuse to wear my nice Irish fisherman's sweater. We've had rainy days and nightime temps in the 50's this past week, but today the heat and humidity returned in full force.

I'm dreaming of a peaceful night's sleep, free of crying puppies and the anxiety of taking multiple tests to prove my mettle at this new job. The tests are done now; I had three in as many days, but we won't be told how we did until late next week. I was giddy to be done with it yesterday and hate this in-between time, not knowing.

I'm dreaming of a weekend full of sunshine and fun. I've no specific plans, but there's a horse show and a pup who might like a visit to Sandy Hook Bay. Or a walk in the woods close to home; maybe a dip in the creek. The vegetable garden needs attention, as does the pond. Funny how these chores so easily get away from us late in the summer.

The summer itself seems to have gotten away from me this year. Next weekend is Labor Day and then the start of school and before we know it, it'll be Christmas again. Where does the time go?

Has anyone else dreamed up something good for this weekend?

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Puppyhood is fleeting and fraught with danger. Most days Luka is full of puppy bravado and bravely challenges vacuum hoses, ladders, and little old ladies with umbrellas. He sneaks up on napping bunnies like a stealthy cat and pounces at plastic grocery store bags. He talks back when disciplined, yet sits politely while waiting for his dinner.

Each day, with frequent walks to new places and the added help of a weekly puppy class, he's learning some manners and being exposed to new things. I'm amazed with how forward and unafraid this pup is with strangers and unfamiliar things. For all of his life my Buddy would approach the downtown area of our little neighborhood with his tail between his legs - too many people and too much activity always made him apprehensive - yet this little guy trots forward with a happy tail, glad to meet anyone who will pause long enough to coo over him.

He's been stepped on more than once by clumsy strangers and has learned not to put himself underfoot despite his eagerness. Just yesterday he learned how to go down stairs for the first time and was quite pleased with himself for no longer needing to be carried outside for potty breaks like a little baby. He's tall enough now to surf the top of the coffee table; making yet another piece of furniture that I have to keep free of clutter. He spends workdays napping, waiting for us to come home to walk him and peeling paint from the kitchen baseboards.

Everything must be explored with his mouth and teeth. Some flower or rock or patch of dirt has managed to upset his stomach - we've been dealing with that the last few days. Healthy portions of boiled rice and some canned pumpkin have gotten his poops back to normal, but not without accident and a sleepless night or two.

We've been playing fetch in the yard and he's loving that. He's still very clumsy and most often lands on his head before getting the ball in his mouth. Today we had a scare when he carried the ball under the Rose of Sharon hedge and disturbed a bunch of ground-nesting wasps. I thought his panic was because the ball rolled out of his reach or that his lead was tangled among the branches, but coming closer I saw that he was covered in wasps. Poor thing! I called Rich from across the yard and we brushed them all off, but Luka was stung and yelping and frightened. We called the vet just to be sure he'd be okay and he is, but it scared me how he became so suddenly quiet and subdued. I wonder if he'll be put off playing fetch now or if he'll pester bees in the garden the way Buddy always did.

The books all say that what pups learn now sticks with them for life, so we're mindful that his expereinces are all as positive as can be. Most indignities have been easily remedied by the generous administration of cookies, but I'm not so sure that this one won't sting for a good while in his memory.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Dog days

Everything seems to be taking twice as long to accomplish these days. Mostly because I've forgotten just how much work a puppy is and how much general chaos they can bring about in a normal day.

I haven't properly responded to your comments here in months, it seems, and I feel badly about that. I barely find time to surf by your blogs before it's time for another walkie or play session.

The pressure is on at work with just a few weeks left in my training period. I've three tests ahead of me in the next two weeks and then a final week of waiting to hear if they've decided to keep me on in this new job. The world won't end if I have to go back to the old one - I've come to that conclusion here lately. There's something to be said for the comfort of the familiar, be it the *old* job or the old dog content to sleep at your feet.

So, in an effort to get caught up with all of you and maintain my sanity (and friendships) I'll be taking something of a summer vacation from blogging everyday. Please don't think me disinterested for not having been in touch lately. When I've found a minute to appreciate the wonder of something, I'll be sure to share it. Please be here with me when I do.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Summer weekend in review

There were dusky butterflies
and little bunnies I met in the shade,
yellow flowers visited by winged friends,
lacy flowers that needed no further decoration
and black puppies playing in a frog pond for the very first time.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A good nap

I love a good nap. It's a guilty pleasure I normally indulge only at the weekend. During the work week, I can't let myself get too comfortable on the couch in the evening otherwise I'll be out for a few hours, nothing gets done, and then I'm up half the night.

With a puppy in the house, there's lots of opportunity, but we use Luka's nap time to get essential things done. Much the way people do with a little baby in the house. He's so adorable when he sleeps that I can't resist cuddling him for a while - I admit it! His habit has been to nap from about 9pm until bedtime - a problem - because when we're ready for bed he's raring to go!

Today while we were at work, little darling Luka got into one of the soda cans that my DH keeps on the kitchen floor. Predictably, he managed to pierce the can with his baby shark teeth and had the kitchen floor and his bed covered in Diet Pepsi. What a little angel!


Well, he's an angel when he's napping anyway.

Puppies sleep a lot (thank heavens!) but it's productive time for them. They play hard and nap hard, but while they sleep they're growing and maturing. There's health benefits in napping for people, too. For me, it's a great mood enhancer. I was very happy when I was in Spain with their society-sanctioned siesta time and wonder why this habit hasn't ever caught on in our part of the world.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

8/9/07 Mid-week bunny fix

How about a bunny webcam to waste a few hours! I have my eye on that big white bunny - what a cutie!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

In praise and thanksgiving

in a moment of peace
I give thanks
to the source of all peace

as I set forth
into the day
the birds sing
with new voices
and I listen
with new ears
and give thanks

the flower called Angel's Trumpet
in the breeze
and I give thanks

my feet touch the grass
still wet with dew
and I give thanks
both to my mother earth
for sustaining my steps
and to the seas
cycling once again
to bring forth new life

the dewdrops
become jewelled
with the morning's sun-fire
and I give thanks

you can see forever
when the vision is clear
in this moment
each moment
I give thanks"

-Harriet Kofalk

Today I give thanks. We very nearly almost had a house fire. Of the electrical sort. I'm thankful for the almost part and that I was home from work in time to discover the problem.

What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Summer snowflakes

Common as it is, Queen Anne's Lace is a beautiful wildflower, I think. I found a nice patch backlit by the sun a few weeks ago and lost myself for a while in the varying forms the flowers take. As pretty as the tops of the flowers are, I think they're much more interesting from below.

It's said to attract more than 60 insects, beneficial pollinators among them, and makes a wonderful pressed flower. It's easily confused with other poisonous members of the carrot family, like water-hemlock or poison hemlock, so be very careful before ever sampling the root.

I was ready to say that this is probably my favorite of the late summer wildflowers, but then I thought of Joe Pye and New York Ironweed. Both are just coming into bloom in my garden now and attracting swallowtails and monarchs. It's August suddenly and the summer is waning.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Monday pupdate

My husband and I don't ordinarily talk on the phone during the workday, but that's changed since bringing home little Luka. We call one another throughout the day with *pupdates* as the need arises. Since he works close enough to home to drop by at midmorning for a potty break for the puppy, and I'm temporarily working in an office where I can make it home on my lunch hour for another potty break, and then the DH can be home from work by 4pm or so, we have Luka's bathroom needs covered at 3 hour intervals. That's helped him to be pretty successful with housetraining so far. In the evenings when we're at home is another story - you know how puppies like to wander off and get into trouble... mainly on the new wool braided rug beneath our dining room table!

On his first workday alone, Luka had busted out of the kitchen by midmorning and was napping in the spare bedroom beside Peeper's cage. By the second morning he had figured out how to plow through the gate blocking entrance to the porch where the big bunnies live like a little bull, forcing me to call my husband to come home and rig something up just so that I could finish getting ready for work. Peeper's used to living in close quarters with a dog, but the big bunnies are not so enthused with a yappy puppy on either side of their gate. I think we have the puppy containment issues handled, for a while at least, until he's big enough to jump over the gates...

He's as mouthy as you'd expect from a Lab pup, but we're working on that. He tends to go for my husband's toes, yet he favors the backs of my ankles, or worse, the meaty part of my calves. Youch - he's all teeth! And baleful looks when corrected.

We had our first appointment with the vet tonight, for his second round of shots, and he did quite well when distracted with a handful of biscuits. I asked the vet if he wouldn't mind filing down those shark teeth some, but he says that's part of the price we pay for having a cute puppy.

Puppyhood is so short-lived. I'm trying to endulge myself without spoiling him too much. I bring him up onto the bed at night for a quick snuggle only. I carry him down the stairs and across intersections on our walks while he's light enough for me to lift. I inhale his puppy breath as often as possible. Caress the soft pads of his paws as he sleeps. Laugh at him when he encounters a wheelbarrow or bicycle for the first time. I'm forever pulling rocks and flowers out of his mouth. He's obsessed with the refrigerator and closets. But he's so adorable that my heart sings.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Lily and cats

Remember the new purple waterlily I mentioned in this post, well, here's one open. Nice, huh? I like the color combination, but wish it would bloom a bit more. I feel like I ought to fertilize the pond plants, but with so many fish at the moment, it's probably not necessary!

We had an odd frog incident: I found a smallish bullfrog dead on the slate floor of the gazebo next to the pond. At first I thought maybe it had hopped out and baked itself somehow on the oven-hot slate, but then I noticed one of its' legs was a few feet away and half-chewed up. This afternoon brought a possible explanation: my husband startled a cat from the pond area this morning. That explains how yesterday's dead frog moved itself a foot or more by this afternoon! I also found a black swallowtail dead on the floor of the gazebo - wings only! I expect cats to hunt birds and baby rabbits, but bullfrogs and butterflies?

I wish my neighbors were more responsible with their cats. I could never get away with the same behavior with a dog - why should it be any different for cat owners? At any rate, my husband set a trap out - I would hate to see a neighbor's beloved pet end up at the pound, but we won't have a well-fed housecat using our garden as a hunting ground.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Perfect summer supper

Fresh mozzarella, tomatoes fresh from the garden, and just picked sweet basil - can culinary perfection come any more simply?

I've become totally spoiled by handmade fresh mozzarella in the last year. I've always loved mozzarella - the milkiness and nutty flavor of the fresh stuff is just so delicious! Growing up I remember how I loved to pilfer a few slices of the Polly-O brand my dad made lasanga with - I don't think I could ever go back to eating that. For years I looked forward to the fresh mozzarella my Italian sister-in-law would have on holidays from her old neighborhood in Staten Island - even that can't compare to this stuff!

I like to cut it in large chunks and mix with quartered tomatoes and fresh basil with a sprinkle of balsamic and lots of black pepper. Roasted sweet peppers are a nice addition, I think, if you have them handy.

My only complaint is that you really can't refrigerate the stuff without the flavor being affected. My DH and I mix it up early and then *graze* throughout the day and night so that it's gone before bed. Once decent tomatoes are available, we'll have this treat most summer weekends. Yummmmm.

So, what's your idea of the perfect summer supper?

Friday, August 03, 2007


Be like the flowers, turn your face to the sun.- Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, August 02, 2007

8/2/07 Mid-week bunny fix

Peeper has a new playmate! Not really, but they seem to share a mutual interest in tormenting one another. For the first day or so, little Luka approached Peeper's cage in the spare bedroom on tippy-toes, scared of the strange creature inside. That changed pretty quickly to a play-bow and little yaps from Luka. Peeper comes right up to the bars of her cage to meet him nose to snout and sometimes boxes him if he yaps at her.

It will be years before Luka meets any of the bunnies any closer than this, but I hope with enough positive reinforcement of any gentle behavior on his part that he will come to ignore the bunnies the way that Buddy did.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Summer shade

If you need a break from puppy antics, be sure to stop by Via Negativa for this month's Festival of the Trees. There's nothing more refreshing on a hot August afternoon than the respite found under the canopy of a great tree, like the shade of these weeping hemlocks in the rockery at Deep Cut Gardens.

Dave's got lovely katydid pics to accompany his post and I can hear their scritching outside the open window now; a sort of late summer lullaby. If only that cricket hidden away somewhere in the house wouldn't insist on piping up now and again.