March weather here is definitely living up to its “lion” billing. Lots of rain and last nite, we had winds over 60mph tossing stuff around. Still need to explore the yard to see what either got broken or got blown far away.

We had to break up

Dear MySpace;

It’s been over for a long long time. We haven’t spoken in well over a year, probably more, so don’t act like you didn’t know it was coming. Just give me back my blog posts, and my photos and we won’t have to ever see each other again. It’s for the best, really. You smell like dust-bunnies and teen angst, if that’s possible to do simultaneously, and I can’t be seen with you in public. Or in private anymore, it makes me feel weird.

xoxo, Lisa

It took me an entire flippin’ day (several months ago), but I finally cut the cord. Canceled the account. Cleaning out my internetz closet. 5 years worth of blog posts, about 50% pretty entertaining. With photos and such it took significantly longer to archive than one would expect. What a nightmare. But it’s done. It’s 5 years history of musings and ramblings, something I didn’t want to burn without a backwards glance. MySpace is dead. It has been for a while. I suppose it was mostly for teenage kids and 20 somethings, a few 30 somethings bored with no other outlet, and a lot of bands. It served to keep me in contact with some friends that I would have otherwise let fall by the wayside due to my awe inspiring ability to procrastinate. Social networking isn’t all obsessively stalking your high school sweetheart and making comments on co-workers posts about their weekend adventures, there are some benefits in today’s highly technical and internetical world ( I made that word up just now, internetical). But seriously? MySpace is dead dead dead. An interview on some news/talk radio station confirmed it for me the other night. The radio news anchor was interviewing some entertainment lawyer about a celebrity lawsuit over comments posted on Twitter (a social network feed that I personally find insanely ridiculous in both form and content). Anyhow, the lawyer blabbles on about how you need to be very careful about posting comments, making statements, blah blah blah on (and I quote) “on Twitter, FaceBook and MySpace….well, not so much MySpace anymore, but all the other social networking sites for sure….”. I just sat their and laughed. Nothing says your business is a cold stiff corpse more than the media consciously and explicitly excluding you from a known market.

I may (will) be re-posting some of those archived blog entries because upon re-reading them they make me giggle, so if we’re connected on Facebook, or were connected on MyDeadSpace, and you think you’ve seen that somewhere before ? You probably have. If you haven’t, maybe it’ll make you laugh out loud. Gosh, I hope so, I don’t write just to hear myself….um….write.

Mud dawgs

The weather here has been uncharacteristically warm the past couple weeks, so we’ve been catching up with yard work and various stuff outside. I emptied the hot tub and used the old water to irrigate the fruit trees and the puppies decided that it was time for a mud fest:

“Wait” is not in his Holiday Vocabulary

H called me about 2 weeks ago to tell me she and Lyric and Echo (Darby Crash’s mom and his sister) had a Christmas present for us. We love presents, so we ran right down to the clinic gather our loot. When presented with a very simple brown box, I asked if we could OPEN IT NOW?!? We were told no, it’s a Christmas present, you should wait. Darby and I sighed together and agreed, we would wait. So I put the box in the van and left it there (in the foot well of the front seat). Today (Christmas Eve Day), I loaded up DeeDee and Darby and we went to do a little last minute shopping.

Let it be noted that all of my dogs are very well mannered and trustworthy in vehicles. I travel often with one or all of them, and they never destroy or soil anything (seatbelts, electronic cords, seats, etc). At worse they’ve gotten into the trash or my training bag and scattered or devoured the contents. Not so today. I had forgotten Darby’s obsession with cardboard boxes. Not paper bags, not magazines or newspapers, never blankets or dog beds. But a severe cardboard addiction, starting with chewing a corner until it’s soggy, then going wholesale nutso ripping and shredding like a mad-dog until there’s nothing but confetti remaining. But I had forgotten, and left the two in the van parked directly on the street in front of the store I was in without a second thought (other than how lucky I was to find a coveted parking spot in a busy shopping area). The alarm was set, the minivan was parked within sight, what could go wrong?

When I was done, I got in the van and put my packages on the passenger seat. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something that made me do a double-take.

Dead Monkey Wig, first glance. What else could it be???

The first thing I thought (and remember, first thoughts don’t have to make sense) was “There’s a dead monkey in my van????”, and then actually turning around and looking closer my second thought was “Somebody chewed up a wig???”. Then I realized that I have neither a long haired black monkey nor a wig, so those first thoughts couldn’t be correct. Then I took a good look at the bigger picture and saw the cardboard carnage, the nibbled/ripped greeting card envelope, and of course the Dead Monkey Wig that I still couldn’t identify and was a little hesitant to touch…..

The bigger picture, still don’t know what that thing is. Suspicious.

It was about that point that Dee started doing a little prancy-dance and then dove onto the back bench seat to try and look as small and non-guilty as possible, leaving Darby ‘holding the bag’, or in this case the chewed box.

Guilty, ten times over. The glitter on his face, and the lack of glitter on Dee, confirmed it beyond a reasonable doubt.

Maybe he was set up? Maybe Dee wasn’t so innocent as she pretended and had arranged for Darby to take the fall? Not a chance. In his guilt Darby flooded me with snuffly face nuzzles and kisses….his muzzle was covered in glitter. A Dead Monkey Wig, with glitter???? What was this mangled furry glittery thing that was liberated from the plain brown box Helen had insisted we wait until Christmas to open? Was this some sort of deranged joke? I gathered up my nerves (a Dead Monkey Wig was still in the top running as a possibility at this point, having no other ideas) and plucked the hairy, spit flecked thing from the floor of the van. It was a toy, a very nice quality wool ‘chaser’ toy, similar to a fox-tail, but wool. And scary-hideous if you have no idea what it is. I plucked the cardboard shreds and various pieces of tape and other wrappings from it and tucked it safely away in the center console, gathered up the nibbled card and smiled at the greeting from H, Lyric and Echo. The card is one of Helen’s original Lyric photo Christmas Cards, so it was sort of special from a mom-to-son perspective.

I still think it looks like a Dead Monkey Wig.

Glitter-Lips continued his 3 part apology, further cementing his conviction as the gift shredder. All was well, but I should have known better. If there’s ONE THING Darby cannot resist for any length of time, it’s a cardboard box left unattended. He has stolen them from the recycle pile in the carport, he’s nabbed them from the office, he’s liberated them from the barn. No matter the size, no matter that he knows he’s not supposed to destroy them, he loves cardboard boxes and they are not safe in his presence. But he’s a Good Boy, and to be fair, it WAS his present. No harm, no foul. Still adorable, of course, which erases all wrong doing and resets the “Angel-O-Meter”.

Angel-O-Meter…. all in the positive. For now.

It’s got airplanes in it.

I found a bottle of Creme de Violette at the local booze-store and of course brought it home because I’d seen, somewhere, a cocktail recipe that called for it. Creme de Violette was discontinued somewhere back in the 60s, and recently reintroduced. After bringing it home and pecking around for the recipe I realized I didn’t have one of the other key ingredients. Maraschino liqueur. Did you know it’s harder to find that stuff than it was to find the purple stuff??? Yeah. I’m not a big fan of cocktail or food recipes, for that matter, that contain hard-if-not-impossible to obtain ingredients. In fact, I usually smirk and say ‘yeah, right’ and turn the page. But this was different, I had stumbled upon the Creme de Violette and the prospect of a purple cocktail was too enticing.

Yesterday I found the elusive liqueur at a nondescript liqueur store off of University and West street in Berkeley, Ledgers Liquors. THEY HAVE EVERYTHING.

And so then… purple cocktail! This recipe was taken from my all-time favorite foodie magazine, the recently discontinued Gourmet Magazine. Dammit. I loved that publication.

Aviation Cocktail
In a cocktail shaker three-fourths full of ice, combine 2 ounces gin, 1/2 ounce lemon juice, 1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur, and 1/4 ounce crème de violette liqueur. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass.

I like it, a lot. Mostly because it’s purple. Art took a sip, made a face and said “phwew…..what’s in that???”
I smiled really big.
“Oh, well, that explains it then”.

Art doesn’t like gin. I do. He didn’t believe me when I told him it was made out of real airplanes. Oh well.

Super Secret Spy Gophers

For weeks I’ve been haranguing Art the Husband to please please please set some gopher traps in the paths between and around my raised garden beds. When we installed the beds we had the foresight to lay down wire mesh under the beds, but failed to do the same outside the raised walls. That was a big mistake. Our property, lawn pasture and otherwise, is plagued with pocket gophers and ground squirrels.

The dogs LOVE THIS, because they’re good eats. We hate this for all the obvious reasons. Art has an ongoing war with them (as seen in previous posts) whereupon he has applied numerous tactics to bring their numbers down.
This includes:

The Hose

Sometimes the hose with D-Square

Gopher Traps

Gopher Smoke Bombs

And of course, in keeping with Stine tradition, Good Old-Fashion Fire Power

Things we haven’t tried include;

The Rodenator Bunker Buster

Trained Snakes

Mercenary Coyotes

Mercenary Barn Owls

Mercenary Old Retired Guy with a Lot of Free Time and a White Board

REALLY big guns

Marketing of Self Destructive Habits

And Poison

The only thing that isn’t really an option is the poison. We won’t put the dogs, cats or other wildlife at risk and with all the gopher/squirrel eatin’ that goes on here it would be a very real risk. We’re still open to consideration for all the other tactics.

The war became real to me when I came back from a roadtrip to find my garden area looking like, well, a war zone. Besides the beds being overgrown, the graveled pathways were riddled with holes piled high with gopher-tailings. Going out to the garden to grab a few things for dinner had become a muddy, hazardous ordeal. Art and Fraley built a really awesome fence around the beds about a year ago which keeps the deer and cats out, but gophers? Psshaw.

Art placed the traps (if you’re wondering why I insisted on nagging him into doing it instead of just setting them myself it’s because he’s way better at it than me. I always manage to spring them trying to set them.) Within one night of Gopher Covert Operations we had success, and Dee Dee had breakfast.

I took a chance that it was a solitary operative and commenced Sanitation Operations, which is when this war took a turn. In a shocking discovery, it became apparent that these were no ordinary pocket gophers that had been assigned to the West Front Garden Zone, these were…..Advanced G-Troops. These were the obviously the brightest, the best of the best as evidenced by their advanced surveillance/reconnaissance technology;

Ordinary overgrown zucchini? Maybe at first glance.

Further inspection reveals an ingeniously designed and strategically placed ZukeSurveillanceUnit.

Ohhhhh you wicked spying little rodents. This changes everything.

It took 2 days to get everything back in order and as with many war zone rehabilitation projects, slightly better than we started with. Pathways have been leveled and re-graveled, beds have been cleared and topped with compost, gone to seed plants have been pulled, winter crops planted (salad and mustard greens, radishes, carrots, snow peas and chard). Potatoes have been mounded in hopes of one last harvest, onions dug up, weeds evicted. Things that are still going strong were fertilized and mulched. Battle plans were tweaked. Two days is a bit of time to think.

This is what I think; Know Your Enemy.

At this point, a couple of weeks have gone by with no sign of activity in the West Front Garden Zone. But I know it’s only a matter of time. If there was one Advanced G-Troop, there will be others. And I will be ready, or rather, Art the Husband will be ready. Like a General I will remain on a distant vantage point watching my best and brightest wage battle with The Enemy and ponder this new breed of soldier and what it will mean to this war. Until then, my garden will flourish, sans rodents.

Have winch, will travel.

Check on both.

When asked recently “Lis, what HAVE you been doing with your time?” Mostly I say “Stuff. I do a lot of stuff with my time”, But it’s a little more involved than that. I have projects. I have destinations. I get around to both. Most recently was a task I called Project Thursday. Because I tackled it on a Thursday, duh.

If you look back in the blog files to last October you’ll see a post from Art the Husband about fall weather, chainsaws and dominating a messy storm ravaged Oak Tree in the upper pasture. Girlfriend Fraley and several chainsaws helped Art make short work of the fallen and broken limbs. Unfortunately neither the weather or Art’s attention span held out and a year later small random piles of cut (and now well seasoned wood) and brambly limbs remain. In addition last years winter/spring weather and severe winds (and maybe a little summer shotgun action) took it’s toll on the old lambing shed next to the afore-mentioned Oak Tree.

It collapsed entirely, with some of the supporting walls flung partially down the steep slope of the pasture.

What wasn’t blown far and wide was collapsed on top of a deep and rodent riddled pile of mulchy straw bedding. I wasn’t sure what I was going to find under the heavy rotting wall panels, so I collected the dogs and remanded them to the dog run for their own safety (rattlesnakes you know, not dog friendly in the slightest)

After gathering the correct tools for the job and jump starting the lawn tractor Project Thursday was officially underway

You never know when you’re going to need your Ladies Home Protection System, good thing it’s highly portable.

As it turned out (and perhaps due to me stomping around loudly and boorishly before upturning anybodies hiding place) all that I surprised were 4 field mice and a handful of lizards. πŸ™‚ I let the dogs come out one at a time to check it out. Dretti was completely disgusted with the prospect of eating live mice. Darby just enjoyed chasing them down and slobbering them up. Dee looked at them as fast food style appetizers.

It took about 4 very full loads to clean up the remains of the shed. Andretti supervised most of the unloading as Art the Husband was not around to fuss about trivialities like rusty nails and termites. Andretti Ducati certainly knows how to fuss over details.

The big stuff needed to be ‘managed’.

Hello SawzAll. I love my powertools.

And then…..the roof. No trivial piece of metal, this was about 300-400lb of heavy duty and surprisingly well constructed galvanized tin and pressure treated beams. I say surprising because everything else the previous owners did to this place was pretty slap-shod. Quality was NOT a word common in their vocabulary. The lambing shed roof however was meticulously constructed to outlast the earth and elements. And to laugh in the face of our lawn tractor.

For this, I would need the big guns….err, the right tools for the job. It didn’t take a lot of imagination.

It did take some elbow grease though. I had to remove one fence post and the tangle of wire (livestock and barbed) to accommodate the size of the fallen roof.

Of course nothing is easy, once it was through the fence it was facing the wrong direction to tow with the tow straps (the beams that fit tow straps only go one way…grrrr) Angry Birds popped into my head, with all the angles and distances and exact torque. Problem solved, a la Angry Birds.

I wish Art the Husband had been there, I would have LOVED to get a video of him pasture surfing on this thing when I towed it through the upper pasture with the tow straps.

It was a really tight fit through the gate, by a few inches on either side, but we squeaked through. Now it sits by the top fence between the riding arena and the pasture. Any bets? It just needs to be de-constructed. 6 months?? Another year??? I know this much, it won’t be blowing away anywhere, that’s for sure. πŸ™‚

Now for those wood piles…..

I like fizzy things,

and booze. Fizzy-boozy things are the best. Especially if there’s a hockey game on. But I digress.
My end-of-summer-beginning-of-hockey-season all time favorite stand-by is Calvados (apple brandy) and Diet Coke (Thank You Paula and Peter, for the BEST simple mixed drink!) I’m open to other things, although nothing is quite as simple and pouring an ounce and a half of Calvados over ice and topping it with Diet Coke. I’m a simple girl.

This is called an Apple Blossom.
It has two of my favorite boozy things: rum and hard apple cider. It’s a perfect “Fall Cocktail”, if you so choose to ‘seasonalize’ your cocktails (which, although ashamed to admit, I do)
1/4 oz simple syrup
3/4 oz St. Germaine (elderflower liqueur)
1 oz dark spiced rum (Sailor Jerry’s or Kraken are my choice picks)
3 oz (about half a bottle) hard apple cider (I like Woodchuck Granny Smith or Fox Hard Cider)

Use a highball glass (like the one in the photo), build on the rocks (glass full of ice cubes)
Pour the first 3 ingredients, use a stir stick to swirl them together.
Top with hard cider.
Garnish with lemon peel if you’re feeling fancy. Sometimes, although not often, I feel fancy. πŸ™‚

St. Germaine is an unusual liqueur. It’s an Elderflower mixture, smells flowery and sweet. It can be most easily found at BevMo or any other large booze MegaStore. It’s not a cheap bottle, so I think I’ll be searching for some other drink recipes that feature or at least include it. Failing that, I’ll start making stuff up.

How is this even remotely possible?

Hy husband and….gulp….Justin Bieber have the same hair-do. As you can see, at close to the same age they HAD the same coif;

(Art is on the left)

However, you’ll note I used the word ‘have’. This is because Art still has the same cut. I’m married to a 46 year old Justin Bieber. I hold out little hope that the bowl my husbands hair cutter wields will ever produce anything short of this windswept carefree Ramone/Bieber-esque look.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!! Yes.

(Thank you Paula for informing me of this moderately distressing factoid)