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My what a big girl you are . . .

15 Mar

Meet Freya.  She’s a 6 month old bebe Irish Wolfhound.  Can’t you tell how tiny and delicate she is?  Fragile is the word, I think.

She’ll be coming home to us at the end of the month.   Can you imagine what Ruby is going to think?  Oh my.


Glimpsing the future . . .

9 Mar

Hinting at good things to come . . .

Ruby Tuesday – Could she be any cuter?

10 Feb


Playing with a new toy

29 Jan

Ruby's Face

I am a serious, life-long Mac user. I bought my first Mac computer when I was in college. Back when Mac was starting out, you could go to the computer store and “test drive” one for a few days. I was sold and it paid off, too. My senior year in college, I took the most units I’d ever attempted and made Dean’s List for the first time ever as well. So, yeah, that’s pretty awesome stuff there in that box. Loved it. My computing life has been filled with a series of Macs ever since. And most everyone I know is touched by this love of the Mac. It’s good stuff.

So, it should be no surprise to know that I use iPhoto for most of my photo storage, organization (ha!), and even photo editing. I love me some iPhoto. iPhoto is part of a suite of applications called iLife. And a new version was just released. iLife ’09. I ordered it up based solely one ONE feature.

iPhoto recognizes faces in your photos and helps you to organize them. Hot diggity dog!

So, when it came on Tuesday, I wasted no time installing it and starting to play. But, it had to go through all my pics and catalog them a process which took — according to iPhoto more than 600 minutes. I left it running while I was at work yesterday. Yes, I did.

So, last night I was playing. Going through pics and telling iPhoto who each face was. It then makes a catalog of the faces and suggests other pictures that might have that face in it. Once it gets a baseline on each person, it starts to suggest on each picture “Is this Ruth?” Sometimes it’s right. Sometimes it’s off. But, it’s fun, that’s for sure!

As I was doing this, I’d run into a photo or 10 of Ruby and wonder . . . hmmmmm.

My husband, meanwhile, was playing with other parts of the software (we bought a Family Pack) and sent me an article with 20 helpful hints [click] on using iLife ’09.  The authors were able to get their computer to recognize their cats’ faces.  Game on.

So, I’m working on the computer recognizing Ruby.  So far it’s not working on it’s own but I feel we’re still in the training phase.  And, let’s face it.  I take way more shots of Ruby than my kids.

But what I’m wondering is . . . will it recognize birds’ faces, too?

Christmas Wrap-up

27 Dec

Another christmas bird

As usual, my family had a lovely Christmas.   Between the 6am waking up of my children and the feast at the end of the day, I had a thoroughly lovely day.  My family knows how to do Christmas and are quite exacting and obnoxious in our rituals.  It is a day of family time, drinking, eating, relaxing, stressing, and lots and lots of thoughtful gifts.  We only had my children this year as my nephews were with their father.  I missed their contributions to the event. We know how to cook a true feast in our family and we have some amazing cooks.  Preparing wonderful food with time and love and eating it with much appreciation.  It’s all good.

We are also ritualistic in our gift opening.  We take the time to appreciate the gifts so that everyone can see what everyone got and appreciate the generosity of it and the joy that the receiver had in the gift.  The kids find this politeness to be difficult (and, well, so do we adults) so we tend to push each other along.  “Yes, yes, it’s lovely, who’s next!”  When we get to the stocking opening rituals, we are less polite.  Stockings are a big deal in our family. We all contribute to the stockings with a range of silly little things (sample sizes of organic toothpaste) to lovely things (my mom has been known to slip a treasured family ring or necklace into our stockings).  We open stockings melee-style so the chaos of the moment is huge.  Lots of “Oooo, look at this!” and “Who put these in the stockings?” abound.

Christmas is a warm and happy day for us.  I’m proud of the way we all come together — my family and Greg’s — for the celebration.  This is far and away my favorite holiday!

Ruby enjoyed Xmas Day

Ruby liked it too and wore a golden bow most of the day.  She had her own stocking this year filled with dog toys.  She got a huge elf toy that she is currently de-limbing and there is hollofil all over my house which seems to be coming from a hedgehog’s nose.  Oh, and the rat toy my mother got her has already lost its tail!
A very merry rat terrier Christmas, indeed!

A nice long scratch!

21 Dec





Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

20 Dec


I know you’ve heard the old adage about letting sleeping dogs lie.  Perhaps, however, you didn’t know why that adage is so true.  This, my friends, is why:


Don’t be messing with the dog, people.  Step back.  Walk away.  Don’t look back. Run, don’t walk. Save yourselves!  Women and children first!


Then she was so embarrassed.


Okay, honestly, she yawned while I was taking the pictures.  I loved that “scary” face.  Too funny.

Life . . . it’s what happens when you are trying to sleep . . .

25 Sep

So, most people know that being a teacher is a butt-kicking job.  I come home most days absolutely REELING.  Then I have to run my household — cook dinner, check homework, clean something (ha!), keep up with laundry, and all that.  So anything that throws my routine (if you can call it that) off is a serious annoyance.

Yesterday, was an early-out day at our school.  The kids go home around 1pm but we teachers stay and work all afternoon.  These are days when I am very glad my husband works at home (although our on-campus afterschool care program totally steps up and watches my kids for me on those days when he’s otherwise occupied).  Still I honestly thought that I’d be getting home and washing Ruby with the chemical mix I mentioned yesterday before I could cook dinner and all that jazz.

Instead, I came home to excited children tripping over one another to tell me that they had washed the dog.  “We knew you’d be tired after all those meetings, Mom, so we did this for you!”

Talk about a burst of energy.  I’ll say it now — to make it official — I have an awesome husband, an awesome daughter, and an awesome son.

I also still have a stinky dog.  Only a little stinky though so I think I’ll give her one more bath tonight and hopefully we’ll be done with it.  Fingers crossed!

The cold that’s stalking me is waiting for the weekend.  I feel the symptoms coming on a little bit more each day.  Yesterday, it was a sore throat.  The day before, sinus pressure.  We’ll see.  I have decided that if I get really sick, I’m not going camping.  So, I figure it won’t hit until I’m halfway to our campground.  That’s the way life works, right?


24 Sep

What’s that smell? That rancid, stomach-churning stench.   Oh, that would be the smell of Ruby.  Stinky, stinky skunk chasing dog.  Sigh.

I was all snuggled in and half asleep at midnight last night.  Greg came to bed and slumber sank in deeper.  I smelled skunk smell but it often wafts through the neighborhood so I ignored it.  Greg wasn’t as deeply asleep so he did not ignore it.  He got me up and sure enough . . . Ruby STANK.  She was in my daughter’s bedroom, curled up on her beanbag chair (a truly luxurious beanbag chair that was given to us by a designer who works with my husband).  I took Stinky McStinkerson and gave her a bath.  Greg took the beanbag chair out to the deck.

I am a firm believer in the de-skunk solution you can find on the Internet [click].  It really works.  But, I did not have the supplies on hand.  Ruby still stank after the bath but I couldn’t tell that as I crawled back into bed because the entire house stank so badly.  Greg realized it before he came back to bed and locked Ruby into the kids’ bathroom.

When I crawled out of bed at 6:00, he told me that’s where she was.  Only, she wasn’t.  Nope.  Bathroom empty.  Seems my daughter got up to use the bathroom in the wee hours (get it?) and felt badly for Ruby and took her back to her bedroom and closed her in there.  Ruby spent the rest of the night sleeping on my daughter’s bed.  You can’t imagine how much that room stank when I opened it up to get Ruby out this morning. I hope that I can clean her comforter . . . and the 43 million stuffed animals that she sleeps with every night.

Right now, Ruby’s closed into my laundry room which gives her access to the outside (dog door).  When I get home from school today, I will stop at the store and buy some hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.  If I were smart, I’d buy 47 bottles of peroxide and a dozen boxes of baking soda to keep on hand.  Maybe I’ll just get a couple extra so that next time, the house won’t stink so badly.

What a stinky way to start the day.  Aren’t you glad the Interwebs don’t have a smell-o-vision feature?

The Secret of the Super Secret Meadow

15 Jul

I know it’s supposed to be Ruby Tuesday but Ruby is giving up the floor so that I can keep my promise to share the secret of the Super Secret Meadow . . . you’ll see a tiny bit of Ruby at the end, no fears!

Come back with me to the Super Secret Meadow.  If you remember, we saw lots of wildflowers here but there were two wildflowers that I saved to share with you in a special way.  First of all, many of us read Julie Zickefoose’s blog and there is something Julie is well known for . . . no not her wealth of knowledge on birds and birding, no, not her phenomenal ability to paint birds, no, not the incomparable Chet Baker, no, not her naughty parrot, no, not her nearly unbelievable bird rehabilitation stories, no, not her fantastic kids or lovely garden or . . . yes, that’s right, orchids!  Julie has the most amazing orchids and has encouraged many of us to try growing orchids for ourselves.

Well, the real secret of the Super Secret Meadow is that there are two different kinds of wild orchids growing in this super secret place.  The Super Secret Meadow is somewhere near June Lake, California.  June Lake sits at around 7500 feet above sea level on the easter side of the Sierra Nevada mountains.  This is high desert but clearly not all of it is desert.  There is a fresh water spring up here as well as a mineral water seep.  These conditions encouraged the super secret meadow to form and form it did.  And, these conditions allow orchids to thrive too.

Super-Secret Meadow

Look closely at this picture and you’ll see white or pale green spires sticking up all over the place.  That is our first and most abundant orchid in the Super Secret Meadow. It is the White Rein Orchid which is also known as a Sierra Bog Orchid.   It’s scientific name is Platanthera dilatata or Habenaria dilatata (evidently it’s undergoing a taxon change — well, we birders understand that one, don’t we?  Ask me how my Blue Grouse became a Dusky Grouse that was really a Sooty Grouse).

White Rein Orchid

White Rein Orchid

White Rein Orchid

Isn’t it lovely?

The other orchid found in and near the Super Secret Meadow is the Stream Orchid.  We actually saw these along the trail to the Super Secret Meadow.  The Stream Orchid’s scientific name is Epipactis gigantea.

Stream Orchid

Stream Orchid

Look at those gorgeous colors.

I absolutely fell in love with these beautiful orchids.  They are so, so beautiful.  I was so happy to see them wild and thriving.  I desperately wanted to take them all home with me — and they both do grow in Santa Cruz county — but that would have been so wrong.  And if I collected them and they didn’t survive.  Well, I don’t think I could live with that.  Better to collect photographs and know they are there, thriving, wild, and in a Super Secret Meadow.

Ruby in Super Secret Meadow

Ruby hopes you liked the Super Secret Meadow as much as she did!