Thursday, December 23, 2010


When I was out on my land in Kansas late September (on the day I learned the dog formerly known as Sassy is really named Mary), I found out that I had accidentally locked Sassy/Mary in the garage the week before. Luckily, Aussie led her owners to where Mary was confined (around midnight, several hours after her incarceration) and they were able to remove the one window in the garage to rescue that annoying dog (and I always do triple dog checks before locking the garage because I know how that dog works!). Oh, Aussie. You are such a good dog because I know how much you despise that dog who is named Mary but who I still think of as Sassy.

Anyway, that was the day Elvis and Sassy/Mary were helping me put together that cart. I had had enough of Mary's sighing for biscuits so I decided we needed to go for a walk. On our way, I stopped to look at this tattered Silvery Checkerspot.

And then this little cross-eyed katydid...

Elvis knew the routine so he politely (and quietly, without any drama whatsoever) sat down and got comfortable and waited. Sassy/Mary also knew the routine so this is probably when she took off and made her way back to the garage to nose out all the undiscovered biscuit crumbs (and then to later get locked up with them).

The air was kind of misty even though the sky at times was made up of white clouds against a brilliant blue sky.

But when Elvis and I got to the top of the hill and then got to the clearing, the sky looked like this...

I don't remember the sky being that oppressive but it certainly photographed that way. It also looked like some of the trees were starting to lose their leaves because they were sailing over our heads... but they never quite seemed to make it to the ground.

When I studied this oddity a little longer, I realized that those tiny black spots in the sky were not fleeing leaves but monarch butterflies on their way south to Mexico.

On my way home a couple weeks ago I had to stop the car because another migration was in progress. They made no sound and they weren't flying in any sort of V formation (but then, it was an exceptionally windy day) but way, way, way up in the sky were thousands of snow geese heading for who knows where. I wish I had a better camera in situations like this because there were just so many of them and I couldn't even get one in focus. Such a disappointing photograph...but what a magical memory.

I suppose there's a migration of sorts that happens every time I show up on my land in Kansas too. The dogs race on over from their yard.

And when it's time for us to all go home, they lead the way back.

Tonight I dropped off Christmas presents and biscuits for all the dogs, even that awful Sassy/Mary. I've had so much fun with them over the past year, I just had to acknowledge that to their owners. Besides, it's always fun to hear more stories about the personalities living in the area who apparently do NOT migrate. Everyone knows everything about everyone because they have all lived there together f o r e v e r. Eventually one of these days, I'll be living out there too (hopefully within two years?) but until then, I am having fun migrating between my present life in Kansas City, Missouri and my future life in the country in Kansas.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Here they come!

This is Tilly.

And this is her brother, Bo.

It's hard to get pictures of them (because they are constantly moving) but Tilly eventually settled down next to Bella.

And with the arrival of the other three grownups (Aussie, Mary and Elvis)...

Everyone got comfortable so they could watch and supervise while I tried to weed on this beautiful October day.

I thought gardening with turtles was impossible but gardening with six dogs????? Seriously, look at that scene. Gardening has just become a lot more challenging. What's next? Gardening with elephants? Gardening on a speedway? Well, none of those things can give you a look like this...

Puppy eyes allow them to get away with anything.

Their eyes don't even have to stay open.

In just six seconds...

Bo was fast asleep.

And when I tried to weed, Bo would get up and fall asleep again so he could be right under me everywhere I tried to work.

Aussie doesn't get it.

And Mary never will...

But I could watch a sleeping puppy forever.

Or until the sun goes down...which is what happened about an hour after I took this picture. :-)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sassy's Surprises

A couple months ago, I was out on my Kansas land and the two dogs who showed up to help that day were Elvis and Sassy. Elvis always stays in the background and wags his tail or rolls on his back and as a helper, that often works out just right for me but Sassy.....everything is all about Sassy and what she wants that very minute. While I put together a big yellow metal cart I got at Tractor Supply, Elvis watched me patiently as Sassy kept exhaling impatiently, and loudly. She wasn't getting the attention she wanted so she then started some high pitched whining. Then some barking. Did I not get it? There was a big box of Costco dog biscuits in the trunk of my car!!!! Every one of them should be dispensed NOW.

Half a biscuit was not enough. One biscuit was not enough. A biscuit (or part of one) was given out every time I managed to get a nut and bolt tightened the way they should be (of course the cart came with the wrong type of nuts which was making me mad) but Sassy wanted even more.

Not too agreeable about the concept of pacing herself, Sassy is one of those dogs who does understand the concept of paying or exchanging something for something she wants. And so, I was introduced to how her dog currency works. Sassy went and got herself a car length tree branch and placed it at the back end of the car (also known as the "treat dispenser"). You can't tell from this photo but that tiny branch in the background was pretty long and hard to maneuver around the trees to get to that spot behind the car. I was kind of impressed with all of that but still, she is a very annoying dog.

The next month, I was out on that land with all the dogs-Aussie, Bella, Elvis and....Sassy when I heard a rustling sound around us. The dogs didn't seem that interested but I certainly was curious.


Triple huh.


I felt pretty sure that these were Sassy's puppies (well, that does explain her recent figure)...

...accompanied by the one Mueller dog (or so I thought) I have not met. Somehow Sassy had employed this odd looking dog as the nanny for her two puppies.

Everyone (even Elvis!) attended to the puppies except Sassy. I'm not sure what dog currency she used but maybe she just wore them down, the strategy that most often works on me.

The puppies were cute but constantly in motion.

It was very hard to get them to slow down but it looked like there was one girl.

And one boy.

I thought there might be more puppies but it was just these two making all the noise romping through the grass. Their manners were as bad as their mother but with puppies you can forgive anything. Aussie had a harder time with it though because I saw a lot of "Please help me, Jesus" expressions from her.

She was not enthused about being an aunt.

Eventually their nanny took them home...and the rest followed, Sassy being the last one to leave.

Treats were dispensed but Sassy took all the crumbs so the puppies didn't get anything. No surprise there.

That was quite the day of surprises except there was one other surprise. I found out Sassy's name is not really Sassy. It's Mary(!). Sassy happens to be the one Mueller dog I have not met (apparently there are eight Mueller dogs, I've only met seven of them!).

And now I'm going to have to figure out a new nickname for her since "Sassy, Pain in the Ass-y" no longer works.

Maybe something like "Mary, who is so Very $#/&!@!!/!??!!"

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday morning with Starlinka

Sunday morning with Starlinka

As bad as Stella is, Starlinka is her counterpart in goodness. Starlinka has never done anything bad in her entire life. She is always full of sweetness and light. And when she chooses to mimic something I say, it's always a compliment (my favorite being "You're so smart.").

Several years ago Starlinka started chewing the feathers on one of her wings so until she molted again, she was unable to fly...for years. That molt took a long time to get started. But now that she's able to fly again, it's bath time every weekend morning. There's a lot of hopping and flying around between my shoulder and wrist while I fill her bath dish with water in the sink. It has to be the right temperature. Sometimes she prefers water that's cold, sometimes something much warmer. She's very enthusiastic with the water so it becomes bath time for me too. She taught me early on that she likes baths and she likes showers and if she can have both at the same time, that is what she expects. I run the water in the sink and hold the bowl under it while it fills, and Starlinka jumps in and would empty it in no time if the water wasn't kept running.

And then it's drying time. I go sit at the computer and she chooses to sit on my shoulder while she shakes and preens and presses herself next to my neck to get further warmed up. It's pretty cute to have that little warm bird spend so many hours with me in the morning. Many times I'll forget she's even there until I feel her beak poke in my ear and then hear her say, "Whatcha doin'?"

Like I said, that girl has never done anything bad in her life except for last night and it could hardly be called bad if it was any other bird but Starlinka. I made dinner last night and she flew over and grabbed a bean and flew off. That wouldn't be too upsetting in this household but that food was hot and if she swallowed it, she would burn herself. So I chased her and chased her to retrieve that bean in her beak but that was too much fun for her. She'd hop on my hand but as soon as I reached for the bean, she was off again. At one point she just swallowed it. And then there was not such a good look on her. She opened her beak wide and I handed her her water dish. She immediately drank a couple sips and then a couple more sips and then a couple more and then everything seemed all right with her. This morning (whew!)...everything seems to be completely all right too. Relief. I'm thinking all that running and flying around cooled that bean down enough so that it couldn't hurt her. The little scamp. One thing I know, when it comes to bad behavior, she will never be able to compete with Stella. There's only one StellaFullaHella. Thank Gawd. But for Starlinka, everyone should have such a sweet little bird in their life who tells them they are beautiful, cute and smart all day long. :-)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Becoming friends with Elvis

On Tuesday I drove to Kansas and sat on a log bench and waited. How long would it take for a dog to show up?

Just two sips of coffee.

Because here comes Aussie!

But wait...

Anyone else?

And here comes...


Elvis never says no to a head scratch...or a belly rub...or just a reach down touch to see if he's still there. Once Elvis got his chin scratched enough, he rolled onto his back...

closed his eyes...

opened them just a little...

put the ears down...

...and then he was out.

A couple weeks ago I found a patch of bamboo and decided that I need to start clearing out some weeds. That bamboo (Pleioblastus pygmaeus) was the only growing plant I recognized (other than the daylilies) in one of the garden beds. A twenty year old patch of bamboo that covered just a couple square feet of earth? That does not bode well for future gardening in this area. That bamboo should have covered Kansas by now.

It's very boring stuff, clearing weeds...

...and my two helpers soon got too bored to help.

Bella eventually showed up but I don't think she ever made it out of the weedpatch so I'm not going to consider her as a third helper. Besides, she' know, Bella.

While I kept pulling up trumpet creeper and who knows what else, Aussie and Elvis moved up the hill with me and supervised from the daylily patch.

Which was too much work for them again. Those two certainly remind me of two "gardening" turtles I live with....if there's a nice cushiony plant out there, plop yourself on it and get comfortable.

It's taken many months and I'm still surprised at the change, but Elvis and I are now friends. For a better part of a year, whenever he saw me, he would run over and bark and growl. I felt the same about him. We did not like each other.

But slowly we got used to each other and learned to trust each other. I was out there one day with just Bella and Elvis and while I was sitting on a rock in the creek reading a book, I put an arm out and Bella slid in under it but unexpectedly, Elvis got in there too. So there we sat, me with my book, one arm wrapped around two dogs, and a big smile on my face. That was a very big day for Elvis and me.

We are now very good friends, that cross-eyed country dog and I. Sometimes he'll even escort me part of the way in the direction leading to home.