Archive | September 2015

Happy Birthday, Kona – One Year Old!

Dear Kona,

When I first met you, you were a little fluff of beautifully colored fur. Your little eyes peeked at us through heavy eyelids. As you walked a few steps and found a boot to sleep on, we wondered if you thought it was one of your brothers or sisters. We knew you missed them.  After a short nap, you woke up to make a very small puddle on the carpeting in your new home. You looked at us again like you wondered if that was okay. I knew then that you would learn what you needed to know because German Shepherds are smart, and you live with good teachers.

After you grew a lot and spring arrived, you were no longer carried into our house like a little baby, but entered like a bountiful bunch of energy.  The afternoon you came to stay at our house, we spent our time together in the backyard. I fastened your collar to a rope that was secured around our maple tree. Lila had her rope too. I spent most of the afternoon untangling both of you. You watched me plant zinnias in a garden you couldn’t reach because the rope was too short (for a reason), and I swear you barked a warning to me that bees were buzzing about my head because that was the only noise I could hear. I knew then that you would be a good watch dog.

Kona and Lila

After I planted the flowers, I grabbed the hose. The hose unraveled as I walked with it over to the garden. When I turned on the water, you pawed at the liquid like it was a new creation. You whinnied and whined and tried to get a drink. I knew then that you could make an adventure out of something ordinary.

When you came into our house and the water bowl was empty, you pounded on it with your paw to let us know you needed more. After I brought you back to your own house, you showed me where your treats were by standing patiently in front of the cupboard in the kitchen. I knew then that you would always be a good communicator.

Kona on the Front Steps

Whenever someone you know comes to your house for a visit, you make them feel very welcome. You murmur several greetings or maybe you sound like a hyena. It seems like you greet certain people in different ways, either with a tall hug, a nudge with your nose, or an accident on the floor. When this happens, we know you love us!

It’s been a fun year getting to know you.  I’ve enjoyed the walks we’ve gone on with Laura and Lila around the preserve, Lake Harriet, or the dog park.  I can always tell when you’re ready for a break by how you sit by the water bowl.  Sometimes I wonder if any water ever ends up where you want it to go!


I know you’ve learned a lot in a short time, but don’t forget that you’re very lucky to have these two to love!  They’ve done a great job of taking care of you, kept you out of dangerous situations, and helped shape the delightful dog you are today.

Laura, Mike and Kona

Laura, Michael, and Kona
Spring 2015

Love, (You know me as) Your Grandma 🙂

 Kona and me Jan 15 2015

Sometimes My Dog is Smarter Than Me…


When Lila and I go on our walks through the preserve, we travel along an asphalt path to get there. That path leads to a cement sidewalk that goes alongside a creek underneath a bridge.  Sometimes we’re surprised to see the creek overflowing.  The sidewalk is hidden by the walls of the bridge, and we don’t know if we have to go around until we reach the hidden spot. When it’s overflowing, Lila knows we’re going to turn around and walk up the hill, cross the street, and walk back down the other side. With so much rain this year, the creek has wandered and floated above its usual spot to flood the sidewalk many times. Sometimes the water settles back down by the time we get back where we started from. When that happens, we’re able to walk underneath the bridge on our way home. Once in a while, we continue walking a little further along the asphalt path to another entrance, but that’s not the usual way we go.

When we go on these walks, we listen and hear birds chirping, the sound of traffic going by, rustling of leaves, hoots of owls talking back and forth, and little critters scurrying about breaking twigs or crunching leaves. I like when our footsteps make a rhythmic sound, but that doesn’t last long because Lila goes off to sniff something along the path or stops to munch on a blade of tall grass.  Not only are the sounds different each day, so is the feeling of the air – either sticky and hot or a little cooler and dry.  Lila’s nose twitches a little differently now as new fall odors appear.


On our walks, we always leave the preserve the same way we entered.  The time she reminded me the way to go was when we took the longer pathway – the one we don’t usually take. Her snout pointed to lead me to the direction we needed to go.

“Oh, that’s right Lila,” I said, as I patted her on the back.  “That’s the way we entered.  Good girl!”  I was really daydreaming, I thought.  It must have been the sounds of the preserve that distracted me!

I’m glad Lila was paying attention.  Maybe it’s her way of letting me know that sometimes my dog is smarter than me!

“Anyone who does anything to help a child is a hero to me.” Mr. Rogers

Last week, when I went to see my daughter’s classroom where she will be teaching her first year, I wondered if I appreciated all the work my kids’ teachers did to get ready for a new school year. I didn’t realize how much work was involved to get the classroom looking so great.  Katie had been going to her classroom a lot before her first day of school, so her room looked pretty awesome by the time I came for a visit.

Here are some pictures of my favorite bulletin boards and posters that decorate Katie’s fourth grade classroom:

I wish I could have some of the above posters with me when I go out into the world.  For instance, “What you do and how you act makes a difference in our world” is a great reminder.  I also like the flamingo poster because sometimes people worry too much about fitting in when we should try to appreciate people and ourselves for who we are.  Katie put together the “BE…” sign and the Walking with Jesus poster.  My mom’s big, blue, wooden-beaded rosary hangs in a corner of the room next to a big statue and a little statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Katie painted the rocker she found at Goodwill, and I got to make a new cover for the cushion!  That rocker sits in the reading corner where Katie will read lots of books to her students.  Those kids have a lot to look forward to this year as they learn things they never knew.

Here’s to all our teachers and your guidance.  Where would we be without you?

When I was very young, most of my childhood heroes wore capes, flew through the air, or picked up buildings with one arm. They were spectacular and got a lot of attention. But as I grew, my heroes changed, so that now I can honestly say that anyone who does anything to help a child is a hero to me. ~Fred Rogers

To Keep Them

Not changing something is sometimes a relief. For instance, the grapevine that was planted in our garden before we arrived will stay. My husband and I have often talked about whether or not we should tear it out, but the backdrop of leaves makes a pretty sight, acts like a canopy behind the flowers, and it gives us some privacy. We have to watch our grapevine closely and cut away any little tentacles that reach out to wrap themselves around innocent flowers. When their direction gets changed that way, the vines grow to take a trip along a neighboring tree. They stretch and climb as far as they can. We let it go along the trees because we know it will be fine once freezing temperatures arrive. It’s too bad that other things live in the grapevine and are causing problems.

Last spring, I planted a tray of multicolored zinnias among the daffodils, irises, and yellow-four-o’clock flowers. As I checked the zinnias each day, I noticed some sort of insect got ahold of their leaves and worried they wouldn’t blossom and mature as they should. After they were planted, of course, I read zinnias like to have a lot of breathing space, plus it didn’t help that little bugs live in the grapevine. I hoped the zinnias would take over when the other flowers settled down. Now the coneflowers and phlox are making a grand appearance in our little garden – our treasure that’s stuck in the corner of our yard as if it’s our own little secret. There are times when I look at other gardeners neatly manicured show places and wonder what went wrong with our little potpourri. Even though theirs are perfection, our garden is more true to life, I think. It’s squished, has blemishes, craves attention, but is beautiful at the same time.

We could thin it out as we should, but we want to keep those flowers, just like we want to keep the grapevine. Almost all of the flowers made their beginning in my mom’s garden. Mom shared with us her daffodils, irises, four-o’clock flowers (which are all done blooming now), and coneflowers. Mom would probably laugh at how I’m taking pictures of flowers all the time because it used to drive me crazy the way she had Dad take pictures of all her little beauties. Now I know it’s another way to keep them since soon the cold weather will take them away.

Next year, we hope to expand the garden out a couple of feet, install a new border, and get rid of the decaying railroad ties that now frame our mixture of blossoms. I hope to plant zinnias or some hardier flower in the expanded spot. Hopefully they will be able to breathe there. We’ll also have to figure out how to trap the pesky pests.

Thankfully, the zinnias are doing better than expected but not looking as good as some of the neighbors. Talking and whispering sweet little nothings to them on a daily basis has helped. 🙂 If things go well, I hope to make another garden in the other corner of the yard.  Maybe if there were more flowers in our yard, our garden wouldn’t seem like such a secret.  I’d like to separate out some of the flowers and plant them in the new garden because I want to keep them.  Then, when the time is right, I’ll share those little beauties just like Mom did!

Weed it and reap. ~Gardening Saying