Friday, October 27, 2023

Oh Sophie!

A couple of days ago the dogs wanted to go out. It was around 5 pm, not dark yet, but approaching dusk. I usually go out with them because Sophie is an escape artist. She can still fit through the posts on our cast iron fence, and under them too. We put up netting, but she jumps on it and pushes it down, and then can get over it. We’ve staked the netting to the ground, but it tears, and then she gets through. We put up border fencing around the bottom of the fence and that keeps her from getting under it, mostly.

And recently she started eyeing the fireplace, wondering if she could jump on top of it , and then out to freedom. So we put a couple of chairs on top. That has thwarted that route, for now.

Fireplace Booby Trap

So, the dogs want to go out. But I’m tired, and busy, so I let them out without me. My rule for myself if I do this is to check on them every two minutes, without fail, because if she DOES get out, she can’t get far. Well, at least that has been the case, up until now.

I go out to check on them. Harper and Heather are nosing around. Sophie is nowhere to be found. I start calling. I look in the usual places, the field, the space between our house and the neighbors, our neighbor’s front yard, our front yard. No Sophie.

I run inside and tell Lee I can’t find her. “Come help me. NOW.” 

My eyesight isn’t great. I’m having cataract surgery in January and at times like this it can’t come soon enough. I’m peering down the street in front of our house, trying not to think about Eureka Road, the busy street on the side of our house, the reason we have a fenced in yard for the dogs, instead of an invisible fence.

Lee yells, “I see her!” “Where?”  I scream! “Behind the neighbor’s pool!” This is farther than she has ever gone before. I look over there and I see this little white speck, disappearing into the woods behind their house. Into the swamp.

She was way back in those woods. Scary!

I take off at a run, but not a very fast one, since I’m wearing rubber clogs. I don’t give a shit that it’s been raining a lot and there are large puddles between me and Sophie. Into the swamp I go.

It’s more than a swamp, really. It’s a large wetland, and it covers acres of land between us and the new subdivision. There are lots of places for a little dog to get thoroughly lost, especially if it gets dark before I can get her.

I can still see her though. She’s no longer running in hot pursuit of something, but she’s not coming either. I briefly wish I had some treats, or cheese, or meat, or something. I start crooning sweetly to her, “Good girl Sophie, come on Sophie, come Sophie, come.” Never yell at a dog if you want them to come! She’s stopped now, sniffing. Pees, and then looks at me with her little smile. I scoop her up. Thank God! I pick my way out of the swamp, suddenly aware that my feet are rather wet.

I’m still pretty freaked out about this. I’m a little ashamed that we have let this get so out of hand. Lee has ordered some fencing that looks okay that we can put around the cast iron fence. It’s taller than the netting and it has a pattern that will prevent her from being able to get out. 

For now I’ve taken the dog fencing from around the gardens in the backyard and put it around the fenced in yard again. I had wanted to wait until the ground was frozen so the dogs wouldn’t dig in the plant beds but at this point I don’t care. I just want Sophie to be safe.

This scared me pretty bad. What if Lee hadn’t been home? Would I have seen her disappearing into the woods? If she had gotten a little farther before he came outside she would have been gone. When we practice “come!” she’s really good, but that’s in an enclosed space, and with treats. We obviously need to work on this more.

I love little Sophie, desperately, hopelessly, the way you fall head over heels for a dog. But with this love comes fear too. She’s a smallish Westie, and she’s probably not going to get a lot bigger. She fits into little spaces, and she’s very very curious. She’s interested in the world outside in a way that Harper and Heather no longer are. 

I think I’ve learned my lesson, at least for now. No more going out in the backyard without a person, at least until the new fence is up, especially when it’s getting dark. We need to work on “come!” some more. And we need to stay alert. She’s a mischievous, funny little dog. Who knows what she’ll try next? I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough!

Dog Fencing is Back Up Around the Yard

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

A Cabin in Wisconsin

Monday, August 28

We are in a very nice cabin somewhere in Wisconsin on a lake called Peterenwell. We are out in the wilds, hardly any towns, cranberry bogs. There are plenty of houses but I think they are all seasonal cabins and almost nobody is home. Unusual for this part of the world this is not a natural lake; there’s a dam at one end. 

We left yesterday (Sunday, August 27th). It took us about 3 and a half hours to get here. We brought the pontoon boat but didn’t put it in the water until this morning. We got here around 4, with Suzanne and Kris not far behind. Sarah and Erik and the boys went to a Loons game (soccer) so they didn’t get here until late.


This cabin is big! 6 bedrooms, 3 full baths. We have 5 dogs with us, our 3, plus Mika and Kris’s dog Otis. All the dogs are small and old except Sophie, who is small and young. It didn’t take long for Sophie and Otis to become new best friends. Kris hadn’t seen Otis play like that in a long time. She was a little worried that it was too much for him, but he did ok. And he sure was happy wrestling around with Sophie, playing doggie tag and hide and seek. I think Harper was glad to have another dog entertain Sophie for awhile, although sometimes she jumped in too.


Lee made dinner last night, mushrooms and Swiss chard and polenta. We are not going to run out of food, that’s for sure. Everyone brought enough food to feed an army.

The moon over the lake was beautiful last night.

In the morning I went for a short run. Initially I was a little apprehensive since it’s so remote, but I didn’t see anything, only two cars, and one man walking his dog. No bears I’ve decided since there are just regular trash cans. Lots of deer, however!

Then Lee and I launched the boat. There’s a boat ramp really close to the house but it’s really narrow; we barely fit. We are not at all sure we can get the boat back out there. There’s another ramp across the lake. A farther drive but maybe it will be better.

Here’s a funny story for you. Kirby still wears a diaper at night but is getting really good at putting on his clothes. He can also take off his nighttime diaper by himself because they are pull-ups, and put on his underpants. This morning he and Leo got up before their parents, and Lee made them breakfast. When Sarah got up she asked Kirby what he did with his diaper. He didn’t know. Parents and grand parents looked around; no diaper. After breakfast Kirby had to go potty. When he pulled down his underpants he came running out of the bathroom. “I found my diaper!”

Well Kirby where was it?

“It was in my underpants!” He had put his underpants on over his diaper! I’m still laughing about this.

August 29, Tuesday

Sarah made ribs for dinner and they were delicious. We ate outside on the screened porch.

Then we had a fire. Suzanne had these cool packets that you toss in the fire and it makes the flames turn different colors. Then the boys played with their new airplanes that have flashing lights. Lots of neat things to do if you can stay awake until it turns dark!

This morning Lee, Suzanne and the boys took the pontoon and went fishing. They didn’t catch anything, and Lee said it was pretty windy. I didn’t run this morning, just did a little stretching. I’ll probably take Sophie on a walk later this afternoon.

This place is making me appreciate having a fenced in backyard. The first day I was putting everyone on a leash to go potty; with 5 dogs that was making me crazy. Then I realized that Heather and Mika don’t need to be on a leash; they’re not going anywhere! Sophie and Otis definitely do; even though Otis is old now he still has a strong streak of wanderlust. Sophie is not to be trusted, and Harper might be ok, but she can’t hear and  she might see a squirrel or something so I don’t want to find out.

Wednesday August 30

Yesterday afternoon I took Sophie and Harper for a walk. Nowadays when I walk both of them Sophie is charging ahead and Harper is lagging behind. Such a change from only a few years ago. I love my old dogs, but they make me kind of sad too.

At one point Sarah and Kris and the boys took out the kayaks and went paddling. They had a good time but getting back out of the kayaks onto the dock was a challenge. There’s no appropriate shoreline, just piled up rocks, so that was what we had to do. It took an extra person (me) to get the boys out and then steady the kayaks while the adults gingerly clambered out without tipping the kayaks over. We did it too!

One time when I took the dogs out to go potty Sophie grabbed something she found under a bush. It was a dead bird! Ewww! It was a warbler, just the right size for her to get almost entirely into her mouth but too big to swallow. Without thinking I wrenched her mouth open, grabbed the poor bird, and flung it into the lake! I was so disgusted! We really have to watch her every minute, she’ll put anything in her mouth.

Yesterday was Taco Tuesday; Kris and Suzanne made wonderful vegan tacos with lots and lots of fixings, including fajita peppers and onions, guacamole, vegan taco meat, fried sweet potatoes and lots more. They also had two types of Mexican cookies, which of course I loved. AND margaritas, and strawberry lemonade for the boys. Then later we had another fire, this time with s’mores. The moon gets more beautiful every night. Tonight, our last night, we’re going on a moonlight cruise.

Thursday August 31

This morning It was chilly, 45F! I went for a good run. The lower temps really helped. I ran a warmup mile and then did 8 400 meter repeats at 5k pace, recovered for a half mile and then did 4 200 meter repeats at mile pace. Every single repeat was on target, which hasn’t happened in a long time. Then I came back to the house and ate the last of the French toast that Sarah had made.

Lee and Suzanne and the boys tried fishing again but no luck. There’s a lot of algae in this lake. Maybe it killed the fish.

We’ve had a nice relaxing day. We sat outside for awhile, until it warmed up and the flies started biting again. Since then we’ve been hanging out inside. 

Our moonlight cruise on the last night was great. It was a full super duper blue moon, very pretty. On one side of the lake the sun set then shortly after that the moon rose on the other side. We putt-putted around admiring the moon and then went back. 

This was a nice, relaxing vacation. I think everyone had a good time. Kirby was tired, though. He’s right in-between needing a nap and giving them up. If he takes a nap he stays up too late at night so when he’s not at daycare he doesn’t take one. Sarah said he slept until 9:30 this morning! That’s late for a little boy!

Monday, October 9, 2023

Kirby and Leo Go RV Camping

In mid-August we took Leo and Kirby camping in the RV. We were going to try to go with the Johnmeyers like we did last year but the week we were going to go was horribly hot so we cancelled. We took them for a day of tubing on the pontoon boat instead and that was pretty fun. Leo and Kirby came too along with Henry, Owen, Ada, Arlo, Cathy and JA. Their grandkids are getting so big, Henry and Ada are 11!

Anyway, we still wanted to take Leo and Kirby so we went to Baker Park again, just for one night. It was Kirby’s first time so we thought one night would be enough. He’s potty trained and he was just fine!

We picked them up from summer camp (Leo) and daycare (Kirby) on a Monday and off we went. Well not exactly. Lee drove the RV to Baker Park and I took the car with our bikes and picked up the boys. First I picked up Leo. They were having an event that involved shaved ice and we had to wait until the shaved ice truck appeared. Leo let me have some bites and it was pretty good! But we didn’t have one for Kirby so Leo had to finish his before we could pick up Kirby.

THEN we were finally on our way. It didn’t take long to get to BP. and Lee did have the RV mostly set up when we arrived so that was nice.

First up the boys wanted to go fishing. Lee took them down to the dock and I followed with the dogs. I brought Heather’s back pack because its a pretty steep hill back up from the lake. She walked down just fine but I think she was happy to have a ride on the way back up. The boys caught some fish too.

After that it was time for dinner, a fire, and bed. Of course the big event was making the table into a bed for the boys after dinner. Its very ingenious but it sure gets a couple of little boys excited to sleep in a table bed! I finally put Kirby in bed with Lee and I got in bed with Leo. Then everyone settled down and went to sleep.

In the morning I went for a run, one of those strange runs when it felt like I was going downhill one direction, but when I turned around I was going downhill the other direction too! Hmmm. Then Lee took the boys to the playground and the beach and I followed later with the dogs.

By the time I got there they were at the beach. We have these little toys for diving and they were having a great time with them. Leo was also making sandcastles. There was a yellow jacket buzzing around his head and I tried to shoo it away and it stung me! Boy did it hurt! I was very glad it stung me instead of Leo, but man. My hand swelled up and turned red. It was painful for several days.

By then it was time to get ready to eat a little lunch and then pack up and go home. The boys fell asleep in the car on the way to our house. I tried to carry them inside without waking them. I plopped them on the couch and turned on Bluey. We were all pretty tired.

It was a fun couple of days. It was nice to have both boys. Maybe next year we’ll do a two night trip.


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