Kim or Matt related July 23rd, 2014

My parents dropped Riley off today for the beginning of his week-long visit. He’s with us until Friday, when Kevin picks him up for the weekend, and then will be back when Kevin goes back to work. Today, Riley met the big dogs (he wasn’t thrilled) went out to lunch with my parents and me at Jack’s Urban Eats, and walked to the Tupelo’s to get coffee with Matt and me in the evening. With all the excitement, he’s all tuckered out.

That’s not to say there haven’t been some hiccups along the way. Riley hadn’t had much to drink today; he didn’t have any of the water I put out for him, although he did have some ice at Jack’s. I knew he was thirsty after the coffee walk, but he only had a few sips. That is, until I got my own water.

Apparently Riley prefers filtered water. So that’s what’s in his bowl now, which he has, naturally, not drunk.

Blog backlog: Jack Jack

Greyhound related July 21st, 2014

My latest greyhound acquisition came home on June 7th, the week before I got out of school. I ended up having to wait two weeks after we first met him, but it worked out to be a good thing, because it took him longer than a weekend to learn to use the dog door. (Why don’t dogs ever teach each other anything useful?) Since the last week of school was minimum days, though, I could come home early to let him out.

He only took about four days to figure out the dog door, which is about half the time it took Sophie. (Not coincidentally, he did not require a trail of kibble down the hallway to lure him out, either.) Jack Jack was enticed by the opportunity to bark at squirrels at will. (Why don’t dogs ever teach each other anything useful?) Actually, Jack Jack doesn’t bark, but he never misses an opportunity to go check out squirrels with Philip. At least they get along, I guess.

We kept his name, although it’s not really my fave, mostly because Matt insisted he knew it. I maintain that all he knows is high happy voice, but what’s done is done and it does suit him. My minor modification is to call him Jack Jack, rather than just Jack. You know, like Jack-Jack Attack? Also, it just sounds natural to me, I think because I’m accustomed to two-syllable names.

Jack Jack doesn’t care what you call him, though, because thankfully (and by design), Jack Jack is a very easy dog. He’s six, so he’s the highest energy of the dogs, but he’s still a greyhound, so it’s not so bad. As is natural for a dog, he loves his walks, and when I pick up the leash, I’m now surrounded by jumping dogs snapping their teeth. (Sophie substituted this annoying habit for the even more annoying demand barking, and she taught it to Jack Jack. Why don’t dogs ever teach each other anything useful?)

Walks have become largely separate affairs for Matt and me, as I jog the young dogs (also known as “the pack”) and he shuffles with the old man (also known as “the mouth breather.”) This holds even when we take the dogs to the river, so last time, we took two cars. Typically, however, we end up back about the same time (the young dogs just go farther), so yesterday, we decided to try all the dogs in one car. They fit!

(Sort of.)

This works only because neither Philip nor Jack Jack care that much about their personal space. So the old man got in the car first (Matt has to lift him), and then Sophie. Jack Jack got in last, and squeezed himself into the remaining space. (See! Easy dog!)

If you put all the dogs in the car at the same time, like we did on the way over, you get this:

with the pack sticking their heads out one window and the mouth breather sticking his out the other.

Overall, Jack Jack has been a fantastically easy addition to the household, and it’s not been nearly as logistically complicated as I thought. The peace will last until Wednesday, when my parents bring their adolescent terrierist for a week-long visit. That one’s going to be interesting.

Happy birthday to me

Greyhound related , Kim or Matt related June 3rd, 2014

Happy birthday to me
I’m getting a greyhound
And then we’ll have three!

The original meeting was scheduled for the kennel in Auburn two weeks ago (why, yes, that was 5/24). And, in fact, the dogs, Matt, and I met our possibly-third dog that day, as scheduled. Not exactly as scheduled, however; he was wearing a cone. Apparently, another dog in his foster home decided he wanted the toy, and opened up a scrape on Blackjack’s nose. Which would have been fine, except that dogs never leave well enough alone, and the next thing you know, he needed two staples and the cone of shame to ensure they stayed in.

Now, Blackjack didn’t seem to mind the cone at all. He would just amble along, banging the cone into things (fences, trees, you name it), completely indifferent. Sophie, on the other hand, was (surprise!) afraid of the cone. She was already on edge being in Auburn! in the daytime! surrounded by people! who wanted to pet her!, so we didn’t want to make a final decision on Blackjack until we could do a cone-less meeting. We rescheduled for the following weekend.

But. Blackjack’s staples didn’t come out until Sunday (my birthday!). And his foster mom wanted to keep the cone on for a few more days, just to be on the safe side. Honestly, I completely agree with the logic, but. . . I want my dog! We’re scheduled to revisit/pick up Blackjack on Friday evening. In the meantime, I’m busy collar shopping online and picking out names. Stay tuned!

So imagine this. . .

Greyhound related May 19th, 2014

. . . it’s 7 pm. Still light out. Matt and I put on shoes to go to the grocery store.

And Sophie starts jumping around and capering and generally begging and pleading for a walk.

Now, this would be normal dog behavior in a normal dog. But Sophie, bless her pointy little head, is not a normal dog. She’s a dog on two different types of anti-anxiety meds (trazodone and paroxetine) who flat-out refused to leave the house on a leash starting last August. She’s actually been out on regular walks for the past few months, but always in the dead of night, when there are very few people around. Last time I tried to take her out during the day, she looked around and then hopped back up the steps and nosed at the door. So. That was pretty clear, and we quit attempting daylight walks.

Until yesterday. Since she asked, I figured, sure, let’s try, thinking she’d look around and head back in (again). But no!

Sophie walk

She went for a 20-minute walk, in broad daylight, and our neighbor even talked to us (voices upset her), and she didn’t freak out (unduly).

So maybe we’re finally making some forward progress. It’s only been two years.

And actually, on that note: Sophie took hot dogs from Kevin two weeks ago!

Kevin feeds Sophie

Maybe there really is hope!

And, um, just in case there isn’t? I might be getting another dog this weekend.

It’s Spirit Week. . .

Kim or Matt related March 8th, 2014

. . . and that means Kim in costumes.

Monday was Black and White Movie Day — we were to “dress like an old-fashioned black-and-white movie.” I don’t have a lot of Hollywood-worthy fashions, but I do have a lot of black and white clothes. A whole lot. Like, I’m turning into my mother a lot. So that was an easy day for me.

Tuesday, by contrast, was Colorful Day — “wear lots of colors.” (Since I work in the ‘hood, the sign was later amended to read, “NO SOLID RED OR SOLID BLUE.” Sigh.) Another easy one for me, although I will admit to buying the tights specially.

Spirit Week MT

Wednesday was Gender Swap Day — “girls dress like boys, and boys dress like girls.” Predictably, more girls than boys participated. I bought the jacket and tie at the thrift store for around $5 total, found a pair of match-ish pants and a shirt, and borrowed Matt’s belt.

Thursday was Hippie Day (as if my kids had any idea, although the school did smell suspiciously like weed all day). Matt and I had to dig around in the garage last night to find the bin where I’d stashed the skirt I made the last time this was a Spirt Week theme. (In fact, since the costume is exactly the same and the last picture is so good, I didn’t bother to take a new one.)

Friday, as always, is School Colors Day. You would not believe how much I hate our school colors. Orange and green, really? Really? Also, fake flowers in one’s hair are poky.

Spirit Week WRF

And now, with Spirit Week finished, I have a weekend of blessedly minimal grading and a whole normally-dressed week to look forward to. Yay, I guess.

I want a puppy!

Kim or Matt related March 2nd, 2014

Mom and Dad came up this weekend with the super-adorable nine-week old Riley. In addition to giving everyone a chance to savor the new-puppy smell, Dad and Kevin were installing screen/security doors. I, naturally, was mostly concerned with the puppy. (Duh.)

Riley, equally naturally, was mostly concerned with treats. As Mom says, “Nothing wrong with his nose.”


It didn’t take him long to cotton on to the fact that he got food by sitting, not by trying to eat my hand.


Okay, so in this picture he’s only sit-ish. But by the end of the evening, I had a sitting fool on my hands. Matt, Kevin, and I were all in the kitchen, making soup, cooking the delicious Alaskan salmon Kevin brought back from (as you might guess) Alaska, and reheating vegetables, respectively, and Riley was following all of us around in turn and sitting. He was very much in the way. (But still super-cute!)

And even though he didn’t eat dinner, he’s just a very small dog, so he couldn’t eat too many treats. (“Kimberly,” my mom said. “You’re going to make my dog fat.”) All the same, he was very disappointed when training time was over.


I was, too. He is really just that cute. Mom said I could have him for the next three months (she wants him back potty-trained, able to pee on command, and leash-trained), but Matt said no. I’m sad now.

Of course, Mom is plotting to leave Riley with me while I’m on spring break (“I’ll need a break by then,” she said), so. . . I can haz puppy?

Broken. Fixed. Lost. Bought. Built. Broken.

Kim or Matt related February 22nd, 2014

So, do you remember how Matt bought a radio-controlled airplane? And got it stuck in a tree? Twice? And then broke it?

Well, he fixed it. And ordered some replacement parts. So when the replacement parts arrived in the mail, I thought he’d be excited. Not so much. ”Well,” Matt said, “that would be useful. If I still had a plane.”

Turns out he took his repaired plane out to fly in the park where he got it stuck in a tree the first time. The wind was minimal down on the ground, but stronger higher up, and since the plane is really light (styrofoam!), it got caught in a breeze and stuck in a tree. Again. But this time, about 60 feet up.

There wasn’t going to be a soccer ball savior this time.

So Matt decided to invest in planes built with modular parts, rather than buying another all-in-one and risking losing all the electronics if the plane were to, say, get blown off course 60 feet up into a tree. (Admittedly, he did buy a little plane when we went to Berkley with Kevin, but it was $35, and he’s only flown it inside.) Guided by non-stop Flite Test videos (I am so tired of Josh and Josh), Matt’s been turning dollar store foam board into a pretty cool plane.

Matt's new plane

The plans for the Flite Test planes all have a removable power pod, which houses the motor, receiver, and battery. So Matt can build a bunch of different models, and just fit the power pod to each. Or he could.

If he hadn’t broken the power pod.

With three nose dives. On the first three launches of his newly built plane.

“User error,” Matt said. “The humidity from the kitchen warped the poster board, and I didn’t properly check the ‘trim’ (air quotes his) before launching. Resulted in nearly catastrophic failure.”

So now he’s rebuilding the power pod. Good thing balsa wood and dollar store foam board are cheap.

A very kitchen weekend

Kim or Matt related February 17th, 2014

I could really get behind this three-day weekend thing; I’ve had two in a row, and that extra day helps my productivity enormously, especially in the kitchen. Last week, Matt and I got chard and spinach at the farmer’s market, and, miracle of miracles, actually used it. We made a gratin with rice, and  I had high hopes — the filling was delicious. I was disappointed, however, to find that the final product tasted more of rice and egg than greens. (Matt disagrees, but I’m sure I’m right.)

So I spent the week plotting how I could make better use of the filling, and came up with a lasagna. Layers of pasta noodles mean less starch compared to greens, and a white sauce to bind rather than egg (I don’t really care for eggs). In order to get a head start, Matt and I opted for the Saturday market, rather than the bigger Sunday market. We went out in search of chard and spinach. . .

. . . and found romanesco! I haven’t been able to find any this year (or last year, for that matter), and I love it. So we snapped it up (figuratively; no pic, as it wasn’t very pretty) and added my Jamie-Oliver-inspired casserole to the weekend cooking list.


(By the way, we only have one well-lit place in our house for food photography. . . and it isn’t in our house.)

food photography

We did the romanesco yesterday, and the lasagna Saturday. The lasagna prep took forever — trim the chard, parboil for two minutes, ice bath. Wash the spinach, parboil for 30 seconds, ice bath. Squeeze out excess water and chop greens. Chop chard stems. It doesn’t sound so bad that way, but it takes a really long time to process two large bunches of chard and a large bunch of spinach. And I actually cheated and used a box of frozen chopped for half the spinach (fresh tastes a lot better, by the way).

The lasagna itself went together in a snap, since we’re pretty good at cheese sauce (well, Matt is, anyway). Even with a sticky lasagna noodles problem (not enough water), the assembly was quick, and the lasagna itself is pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.


Inspired by our culinary successes, we decided to tackle something new, and, in retrospect, a bit ambitious. Kevin’s brought us cupcakes from his favorite place in the Bay Area a few times, and the s’mores flavor is our favorite. So when I ran across a recipe for marshmallow frosting, our next baking project seemed like a no-brainer. We chose an Alton Brown chiffon cupcake recipe, since Matt prefers a lighter cake, and made an easy graham cracker crust for the bottoms.

The batter came together easily enough, and the graham cracker crust was predictably simple. We had logistical problems, however, in that we could only find one cupcake pan (we’re not sure whether the other is lost in the disaster that is our kitchen or lost in the disaster that is my classroom, still waiting to come home after Pi Day last year).

We decided to bake the cupcakes in batches, even though I feared (correctly) that the egg-white leavened batter would deflate. As it turned out, baking two batches was a blessing in disguise, because the 30 minutes of cooking time the recipe called for was way. too. long. The finished cupcakes were dry, dry, dry (think desert, rather than dessert), and the graham cracker crust was burnt. Very, very burnt.


For the second batch, we set the timer for 20 minutes, and then checked the internal temperature of the cupcakes. The recipe says it should be about 205-210; ours were only at 200, but I pulled them anyway. That turned out to be a mistake, too. But the graham cracker crust is perfect, and the cupcakes themselves are much better, if rather flat.

Since the cupcakes turned out so poorly, we didn’t bother with the frosting. So now I’m looking forward to a whole additional round of disasters.

Maybe s’mores cupcakes weren’t such a good idea after all. Maybe I’ll just stick with macarons.

Planes, and their relationship to soccer balls

Kim or Matt related February 8th, 2014

(You wouldn’t think there was one, but just wait for it.)

For Christmas, Matt asked for a small radio-controlled airplane kit. It didn’t work out quite as well as he hoped; it was missing a part and there was something wrong with another, plus he found the assembly instructions unclear. So last week, when Kevin and I were out furniture shopping in the Bay Area, Matt went to a local hobby store and bought a different kit.

The Champ RTF is apparently the plane to learn to fly on; it’s inexpensive, lightweight, highly customizable, and has replacement parts available (more on that later). It was easy for Matt to put together, and he was out flying it the same day he bought the kit.

And promptly got it stuck in a tree.

(No pictures; I was in the Bay Area and Matt was mortified. How did he get it down? Neighborhood kids threw a soccer ball at the tree until the plane came loose.)

Well, it was his first time out. And there is a learning curve. So the second time he took the plane out, when I was taking a nap, he tried a different location.

And promptly got it stuck in a tree. Again.

(Again, no pictures; I was napping and Matt was even more mortified. How did he get it down? More neighborhood kids and another soccer ball. Now you see the relationship, don’t you?)

When Matt took his plane out today, for the third time, he managed not to fly it into a tree. Although there was kind of a close call.

flyin toward the trees

Having learned his lesson, Matt is now launching the plane from the middle of the field, well away from any trees.


And he’s getting much better at flying, such that the plane often does what he wants it to do.

flying the plane

Until it didn’t. In Matt’s words, “So, I figured out how to do loops, where you take the plane pretty high up, and point it down to the ground and gun the engine, full throttle, pull up on the stick, and it will do a nice long loop. But you have to get it going pretty fast; hence the dive. So, in this case, coming out of the loop, I pulled the stick the wrong way, which meant that the airplane, instead of righting itself, was now flying upside down. So it was about 10 feet off the ground, and flying upside down, which I was thinking was pretty cool, since I had never gotten it to fly upside down.”

plane crash 1

“And so I wanted to right it, and so instead of pulling up on the stick to come right side up, I pushed down, and it was still on full throttle, and so it did a nosedive straight into the ground.”

plane crash 2

“At which point, catastrophic failure. The wing broke off.”

You’ll want to ponder, at this point, the excellent forethought on the part of this plane’s manufacturer, in making available replacement parts. Matt’s ordering some right now. In the meantime. . .


. . . it’s superglue and straight pins to the rescue.

Forget gold. It’s more like platinum.

Greyhound related , Kim or Matt related February 1st, 2014

First of all, and I just want to make sure this is clear up front, I love Philip.

Everyone loves Philip. He’s very easy to love, after all. He’s charming, affectionate, fearless. He is also very, very, very expensive. Matt and I used to joke that Philip was worth is weight in gold. Literally. As he’s gotten older, though, and the total expenditure has skyrocketed up, well, I think gold is undervaluing him. In case you’ve forgotten, here’s a brief summary of Philip’s medical history:

  1. Worms. Weeks and weeks and weeks of worms.
  2. A dermatologist. Months of dog food rouletteYears of IVD Rabbit and Potato.
  3. Foot surgery (twice)
  4. Back surgery

And now, Philip is adding to his lifetime totals with:

  1. Old man stuff

Philip, lest we forget, is eleven. He doesn’t act like it, but he is, and he’s slowed down noticeably in the last few years. Oh, he still barks at squirrels and demands walks, but he sleeps a lot more, is much lower key, and gets tired a lot faster. Also, he has arthritis.

At its worst, the arthritis got to the point where Philip could no longer jump on the bed. Matt and I discussed various remedies (get a ramp — no room; get a lower bed — sigh) and took him to the vet. Philip went on twice-daily NSAIDs, which helped, but even then, he was reluctant to jump on the bed. Matt was lifting him up every night, and lifting a 75-pound dog up onto the bed multiple times a day gets really old (or so I hear). Matt’s colleague Carole recommended we try acupuncture; she thought her senior dog really benefited from it. So off went Matt and Philip to the Center for Integrative Animal Medicine.

Philip acupuncture

At around $150 a visit, it’s not cheap. But it does seem to be helping; Philip is now back to living on the bed, having gotten there under his own steam. Of course, to start out, treatments have been weekly, though now we’re able to spread them out a bit more (every 2-3 weeks), and we’ll be able to go down to once a month eventually. In the meantime, though, ouch.

And that’s not including the NSAIDs ($80 for a 30-day supply), or the blood tests we have to get to check liver function ($150 every 3-4 months) to ensure Philip is healthy enough to take them. Nor does it include incidentals, like the biopsy on one of the random skin tags that pop up every so often ($50) or the visit to the opthamologist to biopsy the frankly disturbing growth in Philip’s eye that had been there forever but then got red and inflammed (don’t ask).


But I’m pretty sure if we totaled it up, he’s worth his weight in platinum.

Next »