The five service pups I've raised...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

When I hear them, certain Christmas songs remind me of family members...
The past few weeks while hearing carols on the radio, I smile when certain songs are played.

For Dad, I think of “Sleigh Ride” for at the end of the song a trumpet makes a neighing sound for the horse call –I remember Dad sharing how as a boy he used to enjoy that part while playing his coronet for Christmas concerts.

For Mom I think of Brenda Lee doing “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”. In the 1970’s Mom used to love to dance with us kids in the living room. We had an old console stereo/radio, a large beast on legs where if you lifted the top, inside was a turn-table (kids, ask your grandparent what a turn-table is) and a radio. I remember grooving with her when this song came on.

For Lorrie – she loved the country band Alabama. In the 1980s they did a song called “Christmas in Dixie”. I still love this song although you really only hear it on country music stations these days, and not often.

For Eric’s Christmas music, I think of him when I hear anything by (none other than) Elvis. Elvis’ “Mama Liked the Roses” and “Blue Christmas” especially.

When I hear “Jingle Bell Rock” I think of Natalie. Because as a little girl her Music Director at Valley Forge Elementary would do a silly little lean forward when directing her choir… “THAT’s the jingle bell, THAT’s the jingle bell, THAT’s the jingle bell rock…” Too funny. For years we made fun of her directing style doing that song.

Ok family, this blog’s for you….do you all recall these?
Feel free to share what songs remind you of each of us. Just click on the comment button if you wish to play along...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Memories and Making Merry

What a grand idea.

Linda decide this year's Christmas present from her would be to "make a memory together".

So she made reservations and surprised me with dinner "down in the city" at Cucina Urbana in the Park district.

We took Francie and after a scrumptious dinner of pasta and vino, walked around Balboa Park enjoying the cool crisp night and all the lovely lights!

International Village at Balboa Park.

At the Prado, looking toward the Tower of Man at the Natural History Museum


Monday, December 7, 2009

Tree Time

Tree time...if I'm going to take the time to put up a Christmas tree, for me it has to be a live one.

I am still a sucker for a live Christmas tree. Yesterday I picked out a noble fir at the tree lot and let it soak over night in a bucket in the garage. Today I put it upright in the stand after first slipping it into the huge bag that I’ll use when it’s time to take it down in January. (It’s easy to hide the bag underneath the tree skirt.) I am aiming for making things easier for myself this year whenever possible.

I screwed the bolts into the trunk to keep it upright in the stand and carried it inside to the living room "Oooof, that's heavy, it will be so much lighter when carrying it out in January, after it has dried out from being in the house for weeks", I thought. Ah but for now that smell, that fresh pine smell –it is almost intoxicating! so fresh, so woodsy. I learned this year that the small nodules on the trunk’s base are actually where the scent comes from. That if you cut open these nodules, the pine fragrance is released. Well that’s too tricky once the tree is upright. (But I did go back a few weeks later when my tree’s scent had subsided, to collect the round trunk scraps cut from others’ tree trunks). I love that smell can you tell?

Ahh fresh pine...such a wonderful smell...

These nodules are the little pods that containt that pine scent.

A noble fir from Oregon.

This year I had the brilliant idea to leave the twine around the tree and just go on faith, picking out the tree by its wrapped fullness and how straight the trunk looked. I think I did pretty well.

Still wrapped up here, it looks almost like a lady’s figure or mannequin doesn’t it?

But once the twine comes off, and the branches relax, wa-la – it’s a tree! I put the fullest sides facing out from the corner.
The angel goes on top first and then the colored lights.A second person would have come in handy for this step, to hand the lights over to.

The dogs are both pooped from their busy day and fast asleep unaware of what’s happening in
their living room.
Kerry says - Too tired Mom, sorry :)

Francie dreams of sugar plums...

After the lights, I open all my boxes of ornaments. I have way too many for this smaller tree (6 foot). I’m a sentimentalist so I save every ornament that has a memory for me, of Christmas’ past.

Well I picked out my favorites. Here are a few of them…can you guess their meaning? I bet most of my family will recognize them or guess their meaning.

Irma and Kerry in a frame

The last ornament Lorrie got for me.

From my ballroom dancing days.

Ralph the sock monkey from PLP training...

My oldest are ones that were hand blown glass that my grandparents used. See the old box – Uncle Sam shaking hands with Santa as it proudly proclaims “American Made”. You won’t see that on any ornaments anymore!

Drats! I only had six of these and now I have 5 :( This sounded like shattering china when it hit the floor. My heart sank.

Ah yes, so pretty. It was an empty corner in my living room just waiting for a week, as I had out my other Christmas d├ęcor, but now, the tree is up so the house is complete.
I love spending quiet evenings just sitting in my rocking chair looking at it; fondly recalling Christmas’ past.

And after a busy but fun afternoon with carols playing, I have this lovely result.

Raise a glass and welcome Christmas.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Francie's First Parade

Francie joined her friends today and was in her first parade.
The La Jolla Christmas Parade. It's a lovely route with stunning views to the Pacific ocean now and then through the buildings, down the street below us.

This baby girl loved the dogs and squealed with glee to see Francie and Ronie.
It was an overcast day with a sky that looked like it could threaten rain, but alas this IS San Diego and it held off for us. Linda brought Francie’s Aunt Ronie, and this too would be her first parade as she was released too young as a CCI pup in training to participate back in 2005. All the pups wore their best holiday get up – antlers, bells, Santa hats- they looked festive and seemed to know they were dressed up for a reason.

Here is a photo of our Canine Companion group:
A float gets some finishing touches. Francie is more keen on a dog coming her way.

In the staging area waiting for our number to come up. Pups in training.

Me with Francie wearing our Christmas red.

Nancy was a great organizer and her Girl Scout troop again carried our banner at the front. We weren’t supposed to throw or hand out anything but I quietly handed the kids on the curbs CCI bookmarks about service dogs, encouraging them to read.

The girl scout troop that carried the CCI banner.

Francie was fascinated by the horses, her nose quivering as she took in their scent. Most intriguing however was a piece of tinsel blowing across the road, for Francie is quite fascinated by anything light and dancing in a breeze – feathers, fuzzies, her handfuls of fur when I brush her…yes these absolutely captivate her. Hopefully she grows out of this fixation or it just may prove a reason for release from the CCI program in Advanced Training next summer. (But we thing positively and keep working on her training so she dis-regards such distractions).
Willie and Garden in the parade, blurry due to trying to walk and take a photo.

Linda, Ronie, Willie and her pup Garden and Francie and I enjoyed a yummy lunch together at a sidewalk table each selecting menus from nearby restaurants and then it was homeward bound with some really tired dogs.
I wonder if they had visions of sugar plums dancing in their doggie heads? Naaaah – probably just rawhide chewies or nylabones.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


It was November 2008 I started down this my blog celebrates it's first Birthday.

A neat shot I got using the macro setting on my camera today...see the bee?

Here are some more photos I took on my hike this morning with the girls; at the local golf course trails:

Francie now 9 month, Kerry 8 yrs.

Friday, November 13, 2009

She's a Star (well locally anyway)

In August I took both Kerry and Francie to Cardiff by the Sea for the annual Dogs Days of Summer festival.

I entered Francie in the costume contest and she modeled Irma's old Tango outfit -the one I sewed for the Canine Companions Benefit "Tails and Tango" back in 2003. Francie was a Spanish Belle. I thought she looked stunning! At only 6 months old, Francie was just the sweetest about donning the outfit.

But after all our effort she didn't even place... I thought she would maybe take 3rd place. But some big dog with a lazy costume, consisting of board shorts and an aloha shirt won 3rd place.

And of course 1st and 2nd places went to the little dogs pulling wagons or something. One can NEVER compete with those little dogs. They're just too darn cute. But really, not even 3rd place for darling Francie in her pain stakingly hand-made outfit!?
Come now.

Well, turns out we got the last laugh -as when I opened the November issue of Encinitas Magazine there is Francie! Page 2 as soon as you open the magazine. And in good company too with our local skate boarding legend, world renown Tony Hawk!

See for yourself here: then you'll need to enter an email address to flip the pages and see this issue - but there she is, a candid of little Miss Francie, black hat with red ball fringe and all! Be sure to turn a few pages forward to read the whole story on the dog festival.

Here's a shot a friend took of me taking a rest with the girls.

Francie naps while Kerry smiles for the camera. And another pup also rests from the heat.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Birthday on NOVEMBER 8

A birthday celebrates the completion of one year, and offers a fresh beginning for starting another year.

It was a sweet start to my day, my Mom phoning me at 6:30am out of a deep sleep (stayed up late watching SNL after my party last night). She sang me happy birthday and was quite proud to be the first to reach me...Natalie later bragged she loved me enough to NOT wake me that early- actually she wouldn't be up that early to be able to, but all the same she made me laugh.
My nephew Bobby texted me from his own phone...then Eric text me but also later phoned me to chat too which was so very sweet -I was really touched...we had a nice talk as I was driving up Palomar Mountain.

As the day broke with me in a mood to get out, take a trip, see a change of scenery. But where? Well by the time I dropped Kerry at Grandpa's for the day and got on the road I didn't want to go far...or else it would be dark when I got home. So Palomar Mt was perfect. Only 70 miles from my house but at 5000 feet elevation, the trees were changing against the evergreens so it was just lovely. The air crisp and cool. Francie slept most of the way and then at the top we got out to take a brief tour of the Observatory and the Hale telescope.

Isn't this a lovely picnic spot? Franice would have voted for a meal I know!

The mountains we're heading toward....the golden trees ...the Observatory.

Watch for rattle snakes many signs warned...approaching the Observatory...some posters in the visitor center, of what can be viewed in our universe - how remarkable!

A favorite stop for travelers.... ..and these guys boast a mean apple pie.
The motorcycle of choice are these mean "road rockets" where the rider almost seems sideways when they take a sharp curve.
Francie and me in front of the US Post Office of Palomar Mountain

I took this shot over my shoulder as Francie was just fascinated by the cycles behind us.

...and back down the mountain heading for home. Happy Birthday to me :)
click this link for cool info about this neat place: