Wednesday, April 27, 2011


........would have been my father's 99th birthday. This one's for you, Vati:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mad Photographer

Now that I have that fancy camera I always feel obliged to shoot somewhat halfway decent pictures.  There have been prophecies that once I have that magnificent photographic jewel that I will have to leave the canines at home and separate my excursions into a doggy outing and a photography outing. So I've been contemplating as to how I could manage to merge two prophecies into one and I think I finally found the solution.........sort of.

Initially I would roam around in the woods with two camera bags. One for the cam and one for the lenses. Gone are the days where I would casually draw my little pocket cam and shoot at some unsuspecting bird flying by on full zoom. The results were usually very grainy and blurred and even some editing wouldn't help improve the result very much. As long as my "victims" would hold still patiently, it was okay. Once they started moving it was a different ballgame. Now with this camera I can't just draw, point and shoot. No - now different subjects and themes require different lenses. Have you ever tried to handle three dogs and change a highly delicate lens in the middle of the woods ? It's adventurous ! Three leashes looped loosely around my left wrist, with one lens in left hand and cam with other lens in the right, I'm trying to exchange the two as quickly as possible without dropping one. So far, so good. :) The furgang has been exceptionally cooperative and I've been extremely lucky that during one of these lens changes no deer, bunny, squirrel or other distraction has popped up on the horizon. That would be the end of the lens I'm afraid...........

Back to the bags. It's getting hotter and hauling several bags around with me are not really fun. Now I put the lens I don't need in a fanny pack and the cam I am slinging around my neck and off we go. That set-up works pretty well and thus we ventured out to the woods to take pictures of insects........or so I thought. I found out, that the world's most effective bug repellent is - you guessed it - a camera ! Not a bug in sight ! At least none would sit still long enough for me to take a halfway decent picture of it.  What we did find was a couple of ducks in love. They were so kind to sit still long enough for me to take a few pictures. Praise to my canine gang - they waited with barking and making fools out themselves until I was done with my photo session. Aren't they great ? :-))

Here are the ducks:

Not too bad, considering the circumstances. Even met a serious photographer, who looked like a papparazzi that got lost. He had about three different cameras, a tripod, all kinds of gadgets and a backpack. He looked at me as if I had lost my marbles. Three dogs in one hand, one camera with tele lens around my neck and a fanny pack to put some spare lenses. What can I say amateurs.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rodney's New Obsession a little hedgehog, which omits the most awkward and thus Rodney fascinating sound.
It was one of these days again. You know.........rainy weather, nothing to do. Hanging out with a good friend............aggravating the mailman, destroying a couple of plush toys. All things, a frustrated dachshund does, when he doesn't know what to do with his boundless energy. To think that this little guy will be celebrating his ninth boneday this year. Time to slow down........nooooo, not him ! 

Where was I ? Right - the little plushy hedgehog. As you can recognize in the background, the hedgehog is not alone........
Someone, who's name will not be mentioned is after its life ! ! 

Clawing himself ferociously into the desk. . .

... and protesting on top of his lungs

...howling like a wolf at a full moon.....

Wanna know what happened next ? NOTHING ! I did not let him have it, because now I do have an object he will pay attention to. That in turn will help me get his attention, when I need it. Mostly trying to get my point across. Hedgehog has become a lure toy..... an attention getter and motivator. 
I am sure it will last a day or two, and then I'm off to find yet another object he finds more interesting than - let's say: The neigbor's cat, the squirrel in the tree, the deer in the woods, the jogger on the path, the waddling toddler in the parking lot........etc.etc. Wish me luck ! :-))

Some Impressions of Spring

Inspired by my friend Barbara, let's start spring  with a poem by none other than Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

THE SPRING ORACLE. by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
OH prophetic bird so bright,
Blossom-songster, cuckoo bight!
In the fairest time of year,
Dearest bird, oh! deign to hear
What a youthful pair would pray,
Do thou call, if hope they may:
Thy cuck-oo, thy cuck-oo.
Ever more cuck-oo, cuck-oo!

Hearest thou? A loving pair
Fain would to the altar fare;
Yes! a pair in happy youth,
Full of virtue, full of truth.
Is the hour not fix'd by fate?
Say, how long must they still wait?
Hark! cuck-oo! hark! cuck-oo!
Silent yet! for shame, cuck-oo!

'Tis not our fault, certainly!
Only two years patient be!
But if we ourselves please here,
Will pa-pa-papas appear?
Know that thou'lt more kindness do us,
More thou'lt prophesy unto us.
One! cuck-oo! Two! cuck-oo!
Ever, ever, cuck-oo, cuck-oo, coo!

If we've calculated clearly,
We have half a dozen nearly.
If good promises we'll give,
Wilt thou say how long we'II live?
Truly, we'll confess to thee,
We'd prolong it willingly.
Coo cuck-oo, coo cuck-oo,
Coo, coo, coo, coo, coo, coo, coo, coo, coo!

Life is one continued feast--
(If we keep no score, at least).
If now we together dwell,
Will true love remain as well?
For if that should e'er decay,
Happiness would pass away.
Coo cuck-oo, coo cuck-oo,
Coo, coo, coo, coo, coo, coo, coo, coo, coo!

Granted - the German version sounds better, but I hope not too much got lost in this translation. 

The dogwoods in front of the house and behind are in full bloom:

 And the butterflies feed happily on the bluebells:

The tulips are in full bloom: 
And the dogs are happy campers too:

Joint sniffing excursion in the yard.

He also thinks he looks extremely handsome posing in my tulips. 

Bicalina was seen sorting out some sage. 

Tessa in the meantime is having a watchful eye on those two rascals who usually are up to no good.

Meandering around some more in the yard I came upon first signs of blooming azaleas and rhododendron:

Thanks for joining me on my little tour of the yard. The grass still looks as if dogs live here, but the flowers are starting to make up for the doggy racetrack around the veggie patch. :-)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Something About Me For A Change.

Very funny, Tessa ! I mean it. :-) I am not the world's most skinny person and as a former athlete who was physically active all her life pretty much 24/7, it came as no surprise to me that I had to ultimately put on a few unnecessary pounds once that all-day-running-around being active business had stopped. Mind you, I still am physically active. I like to go swimming at least 2 to 3 times a week, and having three dogs gets me out walking for at least one to two hours every day.  Still - my aging body was not convinced that this was enough exercise and that tough times could be laying ahead and therefore some reserves had to be deposited. Preferably around belly, hips and a couple other not so convenient places. I tried to shed pounds for no avail. My frustration mounted to the point of depression and for every pound I lost, I gained another one back it seemed.
Tried to find help at the doctor's office, just to be told to "eat less and exercise". Thanks, Doc - very helpful ! Now my search for a good doctor is finally over when a  friend of mine recommended her doctor to me.  An endocrinologist (and dog breeder to say the least), located not far from where we live.  I was diagnosed with type II diabetes, saw a nutritionist and was given the equipment to test my glucose levels a couple of times daily. At first I fretted, but now it's routine and I don't think about it too much anymore. I am also slowly adjusted to the necessary medication and so far my stomach is taking it in stride. Only a few days of nausea so far.  To add insult to injury, I hurt my back real bad a couple of weeks ago and physical exercise isn't really too high on my to-do list these days.  By now I am at least able to walk the dogs longer than an hour again and a bit faster than before. For weeks those poos guys had to go on sniffing excursions, which they didn't mind too much it seemed.
I am getting physical therapy for my ailing back and it's been improving steadily.
The good news: Just being on a special diet, medication and some (very little) exercise helped me to shed enough pounds to drop one pant size. Things are (hopefully) looking up !
I hope I can go swimming again some time this or next week and pick up my normal walking routine some time soon.

Today I had to think of my mother a lot. Today would have been her 89th birthday. She passed away at age 45 and I should have been way too young to remember, but I will never forget her. She lives on in me and in my heart. Still miss her terribly.  Mutti - wherever you are - this one's for you:

Friday, April 8, 2011

That Special Bond

Yesterday, as I was sitting at my desk, I watched Miss Bicalina trying to get comfortable:
That picture may not get across what the situation was really like. Here was Tessa trying to get in a few rays of digestive sleep after breakfast, and in waltzes Bica, trying to do just the same.  For her it wasn't just as simple as it was for Tessa, just laying down and drifting off to sleep. No, she had to fluff the bed, push every strand of hair and fabric in the right position, place Tessa's paws at the exact right angle and turn in circles endlessly. Tessa's patience and sleep were tried and after being treated like Bica's personal blanket, Tessa finally had enough and disappeared.
What was left behind was a pretty perplexed looking Bicalina, who had to start the whole ceremony yet again from scratch, and after a couple of twists, digs and turns she finally had found a position that seemed acceptable for her:

One big sigh, and off to sleep she went. Tessa grew up with her around and it's almost unbelievable to think that Tessa will be turning six this year and Bica's been with us for almost five years. Bica was almost not adopted out to us, because she initially was petrofied of big dogs and now she even rules over one ! Tessa is such a sweetie and would never ever hurt her.  Anyways - now, that Bica had found peace and quiet, Tessa and Rodney wanted to go outside and enjoy the morning sun. Rodney and Tessa have a different bond - they are pals. They hang out together and yes, Rodney abuses her body warmth for heating purposes as well:

Tessa usually lasts all but five minutes in that compromised position before she gets up and leaves. What was really cute though, was the scenario that unfolded in front of my office window:

There was some serious doggie smooching going on.  I am so glad that our little pack gets along so well. They sometimes remind me of the three musketeers. :-))

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Photo Shoot With Tessa

Since Tessa was the lucky one who got to accompany me to Mason Neck State Park,  she also had to sit patiently for a photo shoot. Isn't she the world's most beautiful Shiloh girl ?


Enough already !

Monday, April 4, 2011

Mason Neck State Park

Yesterday afternoon I grabbed Tessa and the camera and together we went on photo tour down I-95 to the Mason Neck Wildlife Park and Refuge. I was hoping to get a few good shots at the birds there and my optimism was for the birds, because there really weren't any I could have taken pictures of. Whenever I had an opportunity, I had the false lens mounted. Here an example so you see what I mean:

Could have been some nice pics of tree swallows. Didn't work out too well. Oh well ! By the time I exchanged the panorama lens with the zoom-in lens, they were gone.

Instead I found these cute southern painted turtles:

They enjoyed the warm rays of the afternoon sun and are a sure sign, that spring has sprung and that it will be much warmer again soon.
Some more expressions I collected along the way:

Who knows - maybe next time I'll get lucky and see more of the wildlife..........

Friday, April 1, 2011

Has Rodney lost his Marbles ?

As I look out the window from my office,  I saw a scene unfold in front of my very eyes, which I found hard to believe.  A special bonding between an obviously suicidal bunny and the one of my dachshunds I always believed to be equipped with a hunting gene of some sort:

I am not kidding you ! The bunny couldn't believe it either. ....... Could also be, that Mr. Monstermeister was just too exhausted from excessively hunting squirrels all morning. Looking at his tongue I think he's tired. Nonetheless - it's almost unbelievable. That bunny must have escaped from a household where he lives with dogs. There's just no other explanation !