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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

All About Gretchy

This past weekend has been very difficult for me and for Kevin. We unexpectedly experienced the death of our Yorkie, Tochter Panzer Gretchen, (which is her AKC name) Gretchen...or Gretchy, or Gretchita, or Gretch the Wretch, as Chris used to call her, teasingly, in the past.

Gretchen was a very unique dog. She tried SO hard to talk to me- she would look at me, bark, cock her head, as if to say, "Are you stupid? Don't you understand what I'm trying to tell you?" She was very intuitive, extremely driven, high energy, very talkative, and impatient-sounds like me, right? She was a wonderful combination of  a black and reddish gold dominant bitch (inherited from her father) and sweet, cuddly happy girl (inherited from her mother).
Kevin and I owned her father, Panzer General, who died in 2007. He was a gorgeous, tiny, 3 lb. blue and gold handful of titanium balls dog with a hoarse little bark who ruled the house. Her mother was an absolutely sweetheart of a black and reddish brown friendly Yorkie named Dinky who had a heart of gold and a constantly wagging tail who died in 2011.  Between the two of them, they gave their daughter brains, beauty and....a flaccid trachea (common in Yorkies).
She's the only Yorkie I've ever known that had a stronger ball drive than any of our German Shepherds. She consistently beat our GSD to the ball while playing catch in the back yard or at the dog park!
She would protect the couch like it was made out of gold- if Ceili, our German Shepherd (90 lbs) tried to get up on the couch, she would fly at her, barking like a nut and snapping as if she would bite her! It was HER couch, and by God, she would defend it!
She had a love-hate relationship with our other Yorkie, Bridget. Bridget is very quiet, shy and sweet. It just pissed Gretchen off that Bridget was calm! Sometimes she would attack Bridget and rip her ear open...other times, she would flirt and play with her. Often, they would cuddle together with the GSD. Wierd. 
Gretchen's most endearing habit was that she loved to cuddle with a point. Usually, about 3AM, she would snuggle up next to me, usually under my chin, and fall asleep. Since she snored like a freight train, it always woke me up- but it was so sweet that I learned to sleep through it. However, if I didn't get up by 7:45AM she would start licking my nose and barking to make me wake up. Now, all of you probably know that I am a night owl and like to sleep in a little later...not with Gretchy around. Kevin would have to take her out of the room so I could sleep- but she would inevitably end up at the door, scratching to be let in...oh Gretchy.
Gretchy also LOVED the chickens. We called her the 6th chicken. They liked her, too. She could walk in their coop, hang out with them and even eat bread crumbs or lettuce leaves we tossed out for the chickens and they never flinched.
Gretchy had one, big, fat, giant sized puppy when she was 3 years old. She had him by C-section, and since she was asleep when she delivered him, she totally abandoned the poor baby as soon as she got home. Puppy? What puppy? I'm back to sleeping on the bed- not with this annoying little thing that needed to nurse! I think that Zephyr was the fastest-weaned puppy on the planet. She just barely tolerated the poor little guy! Fortunately, he went to a lovely family! 
The other thing we've been very surprised at is that she adored the snow! She would bound around, collecting as much snow as possible in her fur and disdaining the little jacket we bought for her. She would jump so deep in the snow that we lost her in it a couple of times! It didn't matter how cold outside, she loved running around and playing in the snow!  When she came in the house, she would hop up onto the fireplace hearth to melt the snow and warm up, but 5 minutes later, she was ready to go back outside! Fearless!
Gretchen had pneumonia a couple of times in the last 2 years here in Klamath Falls. Usually, Yorkies live quite long lives for dogs- usually 15-18 years. The doctors told us that she had an enlarged heart, because she had to struggle with the flaccid trachea and it made her heart work harder. We knew she wouldn't live as long as a normal Yorkie without the flaccid trachea-we just never expected that it would be the cause of the end of her life in such a sudden fashion at age 12.
Here are some pictures of our sweet girl- she loved her place on the back of the couch, and loved living life to the fullest. She is at peace now after a full 24 hours in an oxygen cage.
In honor of her, and all the parishioners at Sacred Heart, and all my friends who took the time to offer some comfort to us in our time of loss- I am reprinting a wonderful prayer. It's also in the parish bulletin this weekend...because, in reality, our beloved companion pets do give us a glimpse of the unconditional love that God has for us...Gretchen was always happy to see us, loved us no matter what or how grumpy we were, and only asked for clean water, food, and a ball to chase. Rest in peace, Gretchy. We miss you so much and are struggling with your loss. We know we will see you at the end of time- because God knows how much we love our pets.

In the name of God the Father,
who created you and all the animals,
in the name of Jesus the Son,
who spoke of you in parables and stories,
in the name of the Holy Spirit,
in whom every creature lives, moves, and has their being,
go now in peace, dear friend.
May you find rest near refreshing waters,
may you lie in cool, green pastures,
and may you warm yourself under the sun that never sets.
You have been my constant companion,
my shadow and confidante,
my comfort and playmate.
You filled my days with life and brought me endless joy.
For this I give thanks to God who gave you to me.
Now return to your Maker who eagerly waits for you
as you waited for me at the end of each day.
In the Father’s arms, let there be no more pain.
Let there be no more suffering.
Let there be only light as it was on the day God created you.
For our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
Blessed be the name of the Lord, now and forever. Amen.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Projects and Pizza...

Kevin was gone this past weekend at the Knights of Columbus State Convention in Pendleton, Oregon. Yes, it's where Pendleton blankets and Pendleton shirts come's about a 7 hour drive from our house.
While he was gone, I took advantage of the time to do several projects.
First, I wanted to make a chalkboard menu for quite a while, but I wasn't sure if I wanted a canvas one, or a chalkboard frame. I decided this weekend while garage sale-ing, that the frame was the thing!
I found this chalkboard frame at a garage sale for pretty cheap but I didn't like the blue color. I don't have very much light blue in my house (well, turquoise in the 'spring' bathroom colors but no where else) so I decided to paint the frame and glaze it to make it fit in my kitchen decor.
I made my own 'chalk' paint using 1/3 plaster of Paris slurry and 2/3 latex 'antique white' paint (Behr) It was an 'oops' can from Home Depot for....ta da! $2 a quart!! Score!
Then, I used a dry brush to add an antique copper glaze (Martha Stewart- yah it was like $6 for a 1 cup jar but I'll use it over and over) and after letting it dry, I used clear Minwax paste to buff it to a light finish. Pretty nice! Yes, that was dinner when Kevin got home- a couple of petit steaks on the BBQ with Santa Maria BBQ seasoning, roasted Yukon Gold baby potatoes, roasted Asparagus spears and some delicious homemade coleslaw with a vinaigrette dressing!
I also used the carpet cleaner to clean every square inch of carpet in our house (oh how I hate carpet) and I also cleaned every window and pretty much every surface in the house. I also took down all the 'spring' decor and put up the Americana decor in honor of Memorial Day! OK, I know, I'm early, but I do love the red,white and blue...
New copper metal lights on the beautiful antique windows...

Can you say, "I love Restoration Hardware" online ordering? Two day shipping? Just sayin'.....
Today, we planted the tomatoes- I am SO proud of how full the 'seed starts' turned out- only problem is that we mis-labeled them so we are hoping after matching leaves we end up with 7 Roma style tomatoes for canning at least! We are pretty sure we have one Sungold cherry and one Sweet million Cherry, and the rest are delicious, enormous slicing tomatoes!

We buried them deep and put all the Romas on the right side by the rainbarrels since they are determinate and won't grow as huge as the others. The ones on the right will get a lot of full sun (as will the Romas) to help them grow well! We decided against the 'Walls of Water' so far since it's gonna be in the high 70s and mid 80s over the next 10 days- and the nighttime temps will be in the mid 40s. They should be OK- they have been hardened off gradually so we will see. You can see the drip system we will get started later in the week- for now, we will water by hand. Oh and the little red Radio Flyer Wagon- that's the Chicken 'sin wagon'. That's been planted with a bunch of swiss chard (and you notice it's behind the fence) so we can let the Chickens feast later in the season.
I also tried a new recipe today for pizza. As you probably know, I LOVE Sunset Magazine and get a lot of inspiration on food, fun and places to visit there! I saw that Michael Chiarello (SERIOUSLY one of my favorite celebrity chefs EVah!!) had a series in the May edition of Sunset on fire roasted pizza with an asparagus pesto salad pizza.
So tonight, I made the 'asparagus pesto'. All I can say, is this is incredibly delicious! It would also be delicious tossed with Spaghetti squash!
Here's my edition- I didn't have pignolias (pinenuts) and I don't like cheese in my pesto- and it's still fantastic! 
1/2 lb of asparagus, washed, and the hard ends snapped off
1/2 cup of freshly washed and DRIED basil
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of almond flour 
1/4 cup of EVOO
1 tsp kosher salt (or grey sea salt or Hawaii'an sea salt which is what I used)
Toss all of this in the food processor for 3 minutes. Scrape into a bowl and use within 2 days. HA! As if it will last that long...
Make pizza dough. You know my fav recipe if you read this blog. If not, go to this site - the pizza dough is easy and FANTASTIC if you have a food processor William Sonoma Fantastic Pizza Dough
Cut pizza dough into 4 pieces. Roll out two of them and poke with a fork. (Very important) Bake at 450 degrees on a pizza stone for 5 minutes until a little browned. Add toppings and cheese and bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Eat and enjoy!!

Kevin wanted red sauce, diced steak (leftover from last night) sauteed mushrooms and cheddar cheese with a little parmesano-romano; I had the asparagus pesto, artichoke hearts, diced fresh tomatoes and mostly paremesano-romano with a little cheddar. Yah, no pics of the finished pizza because...well, we ate it all before I remembered to take a picture. Sorry. You have to make this! It was GREAT!
So, today was a good day. A fun coffee talk with a friend, a little thunder and lightning, a little hail, a little super hard sideways pouring rain, some fun in the garden, a wonderful lunch of tacos and enchiladas at Jalepeno's, a delicious pizza dinner and it's time to watch some playoff hockey. GO KINGS!!! GO DUCKS....until you have the play the Kings, and then, GO KINGS!!!!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Our Big News!

This weekend I announced to the Sacred Heart Church community that I will be retiring this summer!
Kevin and I have decided that we need to spend more time together- traveling to see our family and seeing the United States! And SKIING  a LOT more!!!
I will miss working for the Church, but I will love even more the time on the road! I've always loved to drive and to see the country....I'll be heading to So Cal on Mother's Day weekend to visit MY MOTHER;  I was looking forward to a long 12 hour drive each way to sing out loud all the 70's music and country songs I know and not drive Kevin crazy...but my Mom worries so much when I'm on the road that she decided to buy me a ticket from Medford to the OC so she wouldn't worry!
I've always loved driving and traveling and especially, camping! I know, I grew up thinking that 'camping' was when we stayed at the Holiday Inn on our trips across country to Rhode Island from So Cal...but I always loved tent camping in the San Bernardino Mountains in So Cal  as a Girl Scout and when I found out Kevin's family were campers, I was all in!
My first trip with Kevin's family in their travel trailer was to Shaver Lake. It was an awesome trip- I knew this was the man I would marry after this trip! We ate lake-caught trout, took 25 cent showers for about an hour, walked a bunch of beautiful trails and slept out under the stars...well, remember, I was 18 at the time. In love- with the outdoors and a man who could start a fire anywhere. (figuratively and literally)
We kept tent camping after that...and a couple of years later, when Patrick was 6 weeks old, we took him tent camping in the Sequoias. I think his love of the outdoors started then....
After many tent camping trips to many memorable places such as Rock Creek, Zion, Santa Barbara and June Lake...we have finally graduated to a travel trailer. OK, I'm in my mid-50's. I've slept on the ground, on a pad, on an air mattress, and seriously, I'm tired of freezing my ass off in the snow and sleeping on rocks. And, I want to be able to drive to see stuff like Farmer's Markets and wine tasting and then, go back to my own little house on wheels so I can pee in the middle of the night without putting my coat on or encountering a freaking GIANT deer at the door of the women's bathroom at 2AM....hello, Zion! I think Pat, Chris and Kevin still remember that scream- like I was being murdered....but that's another story.
Here's our new baby...
It's an 18' Aljo with a walk around Queen bed, a 2 burner stove, a fridge (bigger than a dorm fridge!) a separate bathroom with a toilet and a real shower with a tiny tub (a door to keep the stink contained- ha ha) and LOTS of storage! We are in love...the past week since we've owned it, we've been out in the trailer almost every night, having a drink, eating dinner, dreaming about where we will has an air conditioner and a heater so the possibilities are endless...although, my friend Patty Kay said, " we don't have anywhere to heat up the Safeway Turkey Dinner for Thanksgiving Weekend in Mammoth"...God, I love Patty! So sure we will be doing the Mammoth Turkey Day Ski/Dinner/James Bond Fest in November 2012!!!
So, wish us well and you will be seeing more....tales from the road...along with recipes perfect for camping or a two burner dinner....and a tour of the Catholic Churches we encounter! By the way, Happy Orthodox Easter!!!