two goodbyes and two hellos

January 18, 2015 Leave a comment

On September 18, after a sudden but thankfully short illness, we had to say goodbye to Hank. And a week later, on the 26th it was clear that Maggie was ready to move on too. It was especially sweet how over their last months they became again as cuddly and snuggly with each other as they had been right at the start.



In early October, as a memorial we planted three new aspen trees in the back yard (the third one for Willow).


On November 19, visiting the Family Dogs New Life rescue shelter, we found our new shy boy Tol Tol, an 18 month old 65 pound lab / husky mix. Here’s how the shelter’s website had him describe himself:

20150103cYou don’t want just a slice of love, right? You want “Tol Tol” love! A love so complete that you can’t understand how you ever existed without it! That is what I bring to the table. It will take a bit for it to be discovered, but it is there. Like a diamond in the ruff! Sorry, dog pun. But I am “Tol Tol-ly” serious when I say I can be fearful when meeting new people. I am young, but I wasn’t brought up in the loving, supportive environment doggies deserve. I would do better in a home with people who can be slow and gentle with sensitive souls like me. Cats I can handle, but they still weird me out. I mean, have you ever looked at a cat? They’re creepy, man! I love to have a place all my own and all for me! A place where I can unwind when things get “Tol Tol-ly” overwhelming. Like a puzzle, I may be slow to put together piece by piece, but once you see the “Tol Tol” picture I think you will fall in love.

As you’d expect, knowing Nancy and me, fall in love we did :-).


By January, as Tol Tol got more comfortable around us, we knew we wanted to get him a playfriend. We found the perfect match at Family Dogs New Life on the 10th, in Oswin, a lab mix 2 year old 50 pound bouncy girl.

20150115e I have had a lot more Os-loss than Os-win, it sure seems like. I know I can be a little difficult at times. I get excited and like to play a lot. I can’t live with cats, and I need a home with sturdy older children. But for all of my character “flaws,” there are a thousand shining examples why I would be the best ever dog for someone like you! I am the life of the party and things will never be dull when I’m around. I get along great with all the other dogs here, and have a blast in my playgroup. And there are 996 other things you will discover together with me! I just want that one person out there to give me a real shot. I have been bounced around growing up—no one has yet made a commitment to me. I have so much love and fun and life to share with someone, it is bursting from my seams! I know that if someone devoted their time and heart to me, I would make them the happiest ever! You might think it’s a gamble, but I would say it’s a sure Oswin.

Tol Tol and Oswin bonded right away and are great for each other — he’s much braver with her around, and his quietness calms her down (most of the time :-).



where the magic happens

August 31, 2014 Leave a comment

This is Labor Day weekend, so I thought I’d show you all where I labor. This is actually my new stand-up desk that Nancy and I designed and constructed recently. For the last few years, I’ve been using a jury-rigged stand-up desk I made from plastic tubs and bottom-side-up wicker baskets. It’s been working well enough I decided to make it permanent.

20140830a desk

The new desk is made from a pair of reclaimed vintage windows that Nancy found at Hippo Hardware, Portland’s go-to wonderland for salvaged everything for the house, and from 1″ plumbing pipes from A-Boy Supply, our friendly local hardware store.

20140830b desk

The lower level is made with the horizontal pipes cut so that the window frame can sit firmly and be supported along its full length, while the upper level is designed to “float” while securely holding the laptop and secondary monitor.  Everything is set to the best ergonomic range, and it even worked out that I have a side pipe perfect to be a “caddie” for my work telephone headset.

20140830c desk

My previous desk was back in the narrow back room that’s been my office for the last 8 years, but the new desk fits into the main room so I can be around Maggie and Hank during the day. That way I can be in work conference calls while petting the puppies, which is especially nice given their reduced mobility these days while my work schedule this year has been so full. Having the guitar within close reach is cool too :-).

20140830d desk

Happy Labor Day to all, however or wherever you labor!

boring ohio? not so much!

July 17, 2014 Leave a comment

In July I spent a couple of weeks in Columbus Ohio, doing some training with coworkers in a new team there. I figured it’s Ohio, right? It’ll be boring and flat, with nothing to do unless you want to drive everywhere. Turns out, though, not so much!

20140717a layover

I discovered that the area where I was working was actually very walkable, with plenty of interesting things to find. For example, Hayden Run Falls is hidden just a few yards from a busy six-lane road on one side and a suburban neighborhood on the other.

20140717b hidden waterfall

On the weekend, I took a handy bus to downtown Columbus and visited the art museum and riverfront park.

20140717c art

And then one day, strangest of all, smack dab in the middle of the area of office parks and corporate buildings I was working in, I came across this “field” of ten foot tall concrete ears of corn. According to the helpful plaque, corn has been cultivated in Ohio for 1800 years, and the site itself was an actively farmed cornfield up to 1963. Now it’s part of Sam and Eulalia Frantz Park (named for the last farm’s owners).

20140717d corn

In the interest of full disclosure, that day I also discovered the downside of walking when you believe the forecast that thunderstorms won’t arrive for another hour . . . To quote Dr. Seuss:

You never yet met a pet I bet
as wet as they let this wet pet get

20140717e omen

So Ohio turned out not to be boring at all. Still, it was nice to get back home to Portland, where things are nice and calm, and not the least bit weird :-)

20140717f home

summertime is naptime

July 5, 2014 Leave a comment

When the puppies were younger they’d usually get three walks a day and take one nap; now that they’re 14 it’s more like three naps a day and one walk. If my work schedule allowed, I’d probably be following their example!

20140705 naptime

iowa summer sunset

May 18, 2014 Leave a comment

Back in the midwest for my nephew Jake’s graduation, I had a chance to help Jeff and Dad move some of the planting equipment from one farm to another. From my position at the back of the convoy, I could ponder the old dog-sledding saying, “If you’re not the lead dog, the view never changes”, which in this case means gravel dust :-).

20140518a convoy

I also got stay overnight at the old farm, and hang out with Mike and Kitty.

20140518b mike and kitty

Taking a walk around the farm, up on the hill behind where the old house used to be, I came across an odd valve handle. I’m sure it’s been there all along, but I don’t have any memory of it. Which is strange, since I don’t know how I would have overlooked it when I was making detailed maps of the farm as a kid! I decided to leave it alone, rather than inadvertently opening (or closing) something important.

20140518c main drain

I also visited Beth and Russ’ place, where Emily and Paul showed me their new kittens. Here’s one of the shy ones – knock knock, who’s there?

20140518d kitten

Whatchoo lookin at?

20140518e kitten

But of course, the main event was Jake’s graduation. Here he is with Jeff, keeping it real after the ceremony. Congratulations!

20140518f grad

Iowa summer
chattering house wrens
discuss the sunset

20140518g sunset

big birthday wayback machine

May 8, 2014 Leave a comment

Today is Hank and Maggie’s 14th birthday! Instead of paying attention in a post-lunch work meeting, I did a little browsing through some old pictures to remind myself how tiny they used to be. And as soon as this meeting is done, I’ll go back out to give them some chin and ear scritchies and a few birthday treats :-).

Spring 2000: Maggie and Hank on the day they picked us out, taking a quick nap after romping in the grass with their brothers and sisters.


Maggie: “I’m ready for my close up”


Summer 2000: Hank and Maggie and their favorite toys (as long as they lasted!)


Summer 2000: Hank in mid-romp


14 years later, May 8 2014: Birthday evening naps, because being 14 is hard!


neighbor of the week: a rushing rose

May 2, 2014 Leave a comment

Out on a walk I just saw the first rose of the year blooming in the neighborhood — but at least it waited until May! :-) I’m guessing it was triggered by the couple of hot days we just had, earlier than usual for the season, or maybe it was just in a hurry to be first. Probably by this time next week there’ll be roses everywhere.