Wednesday, January 30, 2019

01.30.19 Beautiful snowfall

We awoke this morning to a beautiful light and fluffy snowfall. We had several inches of powdery snow that was a lot of fun for the boys to run and play. It was also easy to shovel and I managed to do the entire long driveway, 2 decks and a sidewalk in the early  morning hours. Later the sky was a beautiful blue without a cloud. As it is now close to February I will admit that February is a favorite month of mine - the days are getting appreciably longer and the skies are so blue that it makes it easy to forget that it is really cold outside! And true to form, one can have a lot of peace and quiet while shoveling. I have no idea what is happening with the plow truck. He did not arrive until the entire drive was shoveled (by me!) and I left for work. All that was left to do was plow in front of the mailboxes, which I decided not to do as it was really heavy from the trucks plowing the snow from the road. Oh well. I can always use the exercise!

On an earlier blog I mentioned I heard a loud cracking noise that I thought sounded as if a pipe burst or a tree fell near the house. Well well well. On Sunday as I was cleaning up a bit more near the house, the ice dam melted away from an outdoor pipe - it had burst during the first bitter cold snap. The noise we heard was indeed a bursting pipe. Now that it had warmed up a bit, the ice melted away from the pipe and it was dripping. The shut off valve was involved in the cracked so I opened it to relieve the pressure and was greeted with a nice cold shower. The plumber was out yesterday morning to replace the pipes and check on other shut off valves. All we have to do is get through another bitter freeze tonight!

Beautiful blue winter skies with snow on the ground. Sometimes I don't think it gets much nicer than this. This is my back yard. This is when 20 degrees F feels warm.

Here is the cracked pipe - a relatively thick connector that had been there for 25 years without a problem during a bitter cold snap! Since it had been cold again these past two days, what water was left in the pipe froze and there were no more leaks.

Here are my three helpers with their individual interpretation of the commands Sit and Stay. Since we also had water in the basement from the recent thaw I did not want wet and dirty paws tracking up the house. Interesting enough, none of them came down the stairs after me. Good boys!

Fionnegan and Gunnarr are ready for any winter weather. They love running in the snow, chasing squirrels, or as I like to say, protecting the bird feeders for the birds.

Shorty, my Yapese dog, really enjoys the cold wintry weather. I have to coax him back into the house. He really seems to enjoy rolling in the snow and he makes the tracks for the other two.

We just came back from a walk, hence he is wearing his harness. Look at his snow covered nose!

At the end of a busy day a nice nap is in order in the kitchen.

As we are experiencing another Arctic freeze, we will need to make sure we have water and can locate the flashlights. And we need to check on the heat and keep the taps open a bit to keep them from freezing during the night. We also need to make sure the line from the oil tank to the house does not freeze so I always like to double check that the warmer is still working.  A few chores to do before we call it a night. Please stay warm and bundle up and stay safe. 

Until next time...….

Monday, January 21, 2019

01.21.19 Patriots are Super Bowl bound - AGAIN!!!! and bitter cold weather!

Yes, what an exciting day yesterday proved to be. First with the snow and freezing rain and bitter cold temperatures. And as it turned out, I had to go back outside and shovel the driveway again - we had over 8 inches here and just a little help from the plow truck. While I was shoveling Gunnarr stayed close by me, scooting over with each row across the driveway. Shorty was happy entertaining himself by rolling around on the packed snow while Fionnegan watched from the porch. Believe it or not, no pictures as I was quite involved in clearing the driveway and walkways.

Then it was the AFC championship. the fourth quarter was a real exciting 15 minutes. The lead changed four times until the game went into overtime. What can I say - TB12 did his magic one more time and we won 37-31. Great game. Next stop is Atlanta for Super Bowl 53. This is the Patriot's third straight appearance in the SB, with luck we will win this one, too. I like that we are playing the Los Angeles Rams - a good competitive team. East Coast versus West Coast. That also makes it exciting. The boys watched the game with me and only Shorty still thinks when I yell GO that he should get up and go to the door. But I explained to him GO is for the football team, he glances at the TV, curls up again and puts his head back down. More TB12 he says, less yelling GO!

These pictures are downloaded from the internet. Our great quarterback, Tom Brady TB12. The best. Watching the excitement on the field was almost as exciting as watching the game.

Little football fans. If they do not enjoy watching it on TV, they at least are very tolerant of letting me watch it undisturbed. I think they like to watch it because of the player movement back and forth. Or maybe they just watch and wait for the commercials!

Actually during overtime, there was a large crash that sounded as if it were in the house or perhaps very close to the house. What to do - the Pats are marching down the field. The clock is ticking. We have the ball. We need to score. The Super Bowl is at stake!

A very quick check and run down to the basement to make sure the pipes did not burst was enough for the moment. In between plays I checked out the driveway and the car was fine. Anything else could wait until the end of the game! No draft in any room indicated no tree limb broke through a window. The Pats have the ball and scored and we won. That was the time to check on the rest of the house.

Near midnight there was a lunar eclipse. Yes, I did go out into the bitter cold to watch it. Fascinating. The whole yard was lit by the full moon, then darkness. Such an incredible phenomena.

When we went outside this morning it was -5 degrees F. Yes, 5 degrees below 0! Bitter cold. I made the dogs wait to get a sweater and puffer best on before letting them out. Shorty broke through the ice crusted snow and was struggling a bit to get up on the harder crust but he did it all by himself. All of them were having fun sliding sideways on the packed surface, putting their noses in any soft spot they could find, and seem oblivious to the cold. I put on a pair of snowshoes and made some tracks for them so they could manage the areas that were not as solid.

They all seemed to have fun, I enjoyed the exercise of walking around the fence with snowshoes and watching them enjoy themselves. Then I saw three robins! Poor little birds must have been freezing so I filled the feeders and hope they find a warm place to roost. I should leave them a warm bowl of water but the water bath cracked and broke during the last storm so I am needing a new water bath for them. The birds probably stay close to the house as the heat leaks through the walls in the basement, warming the edges of the ground and melting the snow. Old houses, only so much one can do. One year I found them tucked under the bushes in the front of the atrium. When it is really cold, all of the birds seem oblivious of the dogs and go to the feeders undisturbed.

Well this was our exciting day or two. I took the car in for repairs - lucky to have a service center open as today is a holiday. It is MLK day and we observe the messages that he had for us and hope we all learn to be tolerant of others.

Stay warm if you are in the cold, enjoy the warm weather if you are elsewhere. And until next time ….. stay well.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

01.20.19 Snow, ice and a deep freeze on the way

It was bound to happen - a sizeable winter storm. We had over six inches here - not too bad for shoveling, but now the precipitation has turned to freezing rain. Went out to shovel the walkway and porches and clear off the car but decided to leave the drive for the plow truck. My hat was soaked by the time I finished. The boys stayed nice and warm inside. I could not let them out in the front with me as the gates are open for the plow trick. However, he has not yet arrived and I could have had the driveway cleared by now. I am hoping he gets here before it turns into thick ice. Perhaps another call might help!

This year only Shorty was interested in running around outside and he seemed happy to come in when I called t hem. Maybe they just don't like being pelleted by freezing ice. And they only wanted out one more time to chase the squirrels. Now they are all curled up and appear quite content. I put sweaters on them as it is cool inside the house as well as cold outside. Maybe Fionnegan and Gunnarr will be more interested in the snow later. But tomorrow the weather is going to turn brutally cold, so they will only be outside to "empty out". We can spend the day doing inside chores, never a shortage of housework to do!

The bird feeders are full and the blue jays, chickadees, juncos and downy woodpeckers are enjoying the sunflower seeds and suet. I sprinkled some seeds on the ground for the juncos and the squirrels - they all need some fuel to keep warm. Have not seen a cardinal for a while, they must have migrated to a warmer climate. The juncos are also sleeping in the little Christmas tree I took outside. They nestled in the branches and fly out when I open the door to let  the dogs outside. Despite three dogs, the birds and squirrels stay close to the house. They all must know they can escape these three yappers.

Here is a little chickadee at the feeder. He was just flying back and forth as if it were a beautiful Spring day. I didn't brush the snow from the feeder as he seemed to be dong quite well.

I shook the snow from the hemlocks as they branches were already buried in the snow. I'll go back and do it again so the ice does not form and break the branches. Last year we had a lot of damage to the trees so I am going to try to stay on top of things a little better - especially since it is daytime.

Here is little Fionnegan. As soon as I opened the door he ran inside where it is nice and warm. Perhaps chasing squirrels can wait until warmer weather!

Even Gunnarr, who is mostly attached to me wherever I go, was eager to get inside even though I was going back and forth to the feeders and trees. He generally follows me everywhere. But not today.

Shorty was having a good time, He was running back and forth and burrowing his nose in the snow. But when the door opened to the house, he ran inside with Fionnegan and Gunnarr. So I finished the chores by myself!

They do look cute in their puffer vests and sweaters.

But now they are sound asleep on their beds wearing a nice warm sweater. You would have thought they shoveled the porches for me! Shorty likes the more open locations to nap and is in the doorway. He does not like to be confined. 

This one is Fionn.

And here is Gunnarr.

Maybe they are resting because they know there is a big New England Patriot football game later tonight, so they are resting now because they will be watching the game!

Here is Shorty reaching up to give Fionn a nose bump!

Need to go check on the plough guy, just in case I need to bundle up and get out there and shovel the driveway.

Hope you all are safe and warm and managing the storm if you are in New England.

Until next time, stay well.

Monday, January 14, 2019

01.14.19 It warms my heart....

Outside of work, there are few things that occupy my time right now as much as football and my four legged boys. The Patriots won the division championship game and we are off for the conference championship game, and if successful, the Super Bowl. So far, so good. And then football will be on the back burner as playoff hockey will be approaching.  While we all love our sports, my dogs are a constant love and challenge!

When I was thinking about bringing Shorty here many thought this was not my best idea because of the added work (yes, three dogs are a lot of work), Fionnegan and Gunnarr mighty not get along with him, (the first day was a challenge), and Shorty will not adapt because he may not want to stay inside the house, walk with a lease, follow commands, get along with Fionnegan and Gunnarr, and tolerate the cold winters and snow. Well, so far, so good here too. We have conquered all of those possible obstacles to a happy home.

Over the last  month there has also been another evolution in their relationship. They do get along well, they wrestle and play like dogs should, and they are  never out of site of one another, unless it is bath time, then Shorty slips away to his bed in the atrium. When one dog goes outside, they all run out the door. If, however, no one follows Shorty, he just turns around and comes back inside. He likes the company of Fionnegan and Gunnarr. And they have gotten used to him. They are a  pack.

Fionn and Gunnarr are my twins. They are litter mates and do have that special bond. They sleep on top of each other and snuggle into the same dog bed in the kitchen and my study. Gunnarr also grooms Fionnegan, hence Fionn has no cougar lines from his eyes but Gunnarr does. Then one day I noticed a sign of affection between Shorty and Fionnegan. Shorty actually gave him one big kiss right on the nose, much to Fionn's surprise! And he did it again when I asked if he gave Fionn a kiss!

I have also noticed that Fionn runs with Shorty when outside much more often this winter. Gunnarr tends to stay close to me while the other two run, not chasing each other, just running around looking for squirrels. Then Shorty started sitting closer to Gunnarr on the couch and would take over his spot when Gunnarr jumped up to bark at the television dogs. He would cuddle  up to me and not budge when Gunnarr came back. So Gunnarr would have to jump up on the other side and scoot in place.

Last night, while we were all in our regular position - Fionn on my lap, Gunnarr next to me, Shorty came over and laid down right next to Gunnarr. They were actually touching and both fell asleep cuddled next to each other. That was so sweet. Perhaps the relationship between animals is as complex as relationships are between people. But given enough time, we can overcome any challenges and get along. Some may even cuddle!

Here are a few cute pictures of my boys.

Shorty and Gunnarr sleeping side by side.

Fionnegan and Gunnarr watch football with me. We are having a discussion about the Patriots and TB12 and Gunnarr is hanging on my every word. I love when he turns his head to the side as he listens. Fionn is also very attentive to the conversation. After all , this is football talk!  They just had a bath and are nice and fluffy and smell good, too! Their Auntie Diane sent us Patriot pillows to match our Patriot blanket.

Shorty sits on the floor and just listens.

Gunnarr grooming Fionnegan.

I hope you are warm and doing well. We have just had bitter cold weather and are doing are best to stay warm. O, the tropics look so appealing this time of year!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

01.06/19 Winter so far, so good.

With the exception of one snow fall that left us with six inches to shovel, it has been a very mild winter. We have had a lot of rain, some very cold days but very little snow. This week we had what I consider the perfect snowfall - nice big beautiful snowflakes that fell for about an hour. Then it stopped. No snow to shovel, no roads to clear. No need to cancel office hours. The perfect snow shower!

I do enjoy snow - one per season and for Christmas. After that I am happy with no shoveling tasks, no trees to clear from the car or driveway. Snow in the mountains for the skiers is great and I am always happy to hear the mountains are blessed with a foot or two of fresh powdery snow. And if we could figure out how to keep it from sticking to the highways and sidewalks I guess I wouldn't mind it too much in the lowlands either! Oh, such thoughts!

With the warmer and less snowy weather I am working on a new pathway in the yard. Because of the dogs (in large part) there is no grass from the porch to the edge of the treeline. And when it rains it is all mud. So I have been making a stone stepping pathway. It has changed shapes and configurations as I add a path to the bird feeder and one to the edge of another garden. And it always seems I need just one more big stone to finish the walk. So I go to the local nursery to get a few more stepping stones, add another dimension to the path and then need a couple more! Yes, this is a process. The stones are heavy but I am managing all right. One at a time, carrying them from the car to the yard. At the store I tell them that I will eventually finish but not until it snows! Then I will be finished, at least until the Spring!

Maybe the stone path will remind Shorty of the stone pathways of Yap. We used to walk them every Saturday or Sunday after Church. They meander through the forest and that is where I took a favorite picture of Shorty. We were walking with two of my favorite children Allerick and his sister Eva (forgive me if the spelling is not correct) when Shorty would run with the little girl but turn around to see if I was still coming with them. He has always been a good dog and good companion. I miss Yap and hope to return sometime soon. I wonder if Shorty misses Yap. It is hard to tell. He seems to be happy wherever he is!

Yesterday I hope I bought and placed the last stone for the pathway. I can easily now step from one to the next stone in a comfortable stride and stay out of the mud. And what do the dogs do - yes, you guessed it, they avoid the stepping stones and run through the mud! So we still have muddy paws and that leads to baths. They are not allowed inside the main part of the house with dirty paws. Fionnegan is so sweet. He knows the drill. As soon as he comes inside the atrium he stands on the blue towel to have his paws wiped. Gunnarr and Shorty come back when called but are less likely to stop for a paw cleaning unless called.

Shorty is learning a new trick - catching kisses. Sometimes I blow him a kiss and he now lifts his head up as to catch it. It is cute and entertains us both. Who knows what he thinks he is supposed to be catching in the air. And Shorty has also developed a new trick on Gunnarr. At night Fionn sits on my lap and Gunnarr is plastered to my side as we read or watch television. Shorty then sits on the other end of the couch. But lately, if Gunnarr leaves his spot to bark at a dog on TV, Shorty will take his place next to me and cuddle up by my side. The look of disappointment on Gunnarr's face the first time this happened was precious. But he has managed by now jumping up on the other side of me, a good feat for a dog somewhat less than athletic. He has to jump over Fionn and the armrest and does it most of the time with just one try. Both Fionn and Gunnarr seem to be a little shy of jumping on me in front of Shorty, maybe instinct tells then he will growl at them. Or maybe they are afraid he will snap at them. He is a snapper sometimes so I am always watchful of his behavior. His origins have determined his disposition - survival. Gentle nature or not, he has a strong survival instinct.

There is an interesting display of dog behavior here and I try to observe and not influence their interactions. They have done so well together and their relationships continue to evolve in a very positive way. They now interact much more often in a gentle physical nature with nose bumps and gentle nudges. Of course, they still wrestle a lot! And they are always together. Brothers to the end.

Here are a couple of pictures of my boys at the end of a day of play and running and helping me with the yard work. Sound asleep. Good boys. Let sleeping dogs lie!

Hope you are enjoying the mild weather of the new year if you live in New England as we prepare for winter storms in the near future. May you also be enjoying a new and peaceful new year.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

01/01/19 My shadows and some birds

Today was relaxing. Cooked a nice dinner and then we went outside to enjoy the day. We are fortunate to have some really mild weather and spent some time outside running around the yard. However because it rained and snowed last night the yard is a bit muddy - not great for those little paws. But we are enjoying the sunshine and warm air. I did find some plants breaking through the ground so covered them as it is not yet Spring. I suspect they are confused by the really cold weather now the warm Spring like day.

My three four legged boys are following me around everywhere I go, inside and outside. They seem to be enjoying having me around the house today. We fed the birds a couple of times as it is entertaining for me as well as them. I like to watch the birds at the feeder and don't mind the squirrels either. We all have to eat!

It is too muddy to take them on a trail - I am not prepared to give baths today. When we trail walk they get dirty all over - tummies, heads as well as paws. But they have a lot of running room in the fenced area with much and boulders so less of a mess.

Here are a few pictures of the boys and birds from today's activities. I am having some camera problems and still need to work out some of the bugs. But the lens is clouded and does not seem to clear - again. Ugh.



When I go inside they wait by the door for me to let them back inside with me. On occasion, if there is a small gap, Gunnarr can open it and surprise me by running inside the house to find me! I will need to remove those stickers. They were put there so the boys would not bump into the glass when going outside. For a while the window was out of the frame for repair and they would just jump through the door. The first time the window was put back in place, they bumped their nose on it!


Tufted titmouse.


Singing for his supper! Look at those nails.