Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dog Park Grand Opening

I had never been to a dog park grand opening before, so Olive & I were not about to miss the opportunity!

The new dog park is Lower Kinnear Dog Park. The fenced in off-leash area is a little smaller than our local park, but...

Olive loved it because the ground was mulch and wood chips (rather than gravel) and she loved running on it.  She ran like I had never seen her run before!  She was outrunning a Jack Russel!  There is also a large tree (seen in the photo above) that she was using an obstacle in her running - running behind it, changing directions, it was fabulous.  

There were quite a few people there for the grand opening, and so many of them commented that they couldn't believe how fast she could run on 3 legs! 

She also is not usually interested in tennis balls or anything like that, but she grabbed a tennis ball and ran around with it, and seemed to enjoy being chased. She also took a large dog's football, but couldn't carry it in her little mouth very far! I wish I had gotten a picture of that! 

Although the off-leash area is not as large as our nearest dog park, it is surrounded by a larger park with a few trails and a scenic hilltop view of Elliott Bay. So, in addition to the off-leash run, we got to take Olive on a little trail walk.

For the grand opening, they had free Starbucks coffee and snacks and also had a raffle of prizes donated by local businesses.  We won 2 raffle prizes!  The first, an exam and nail clipping from Olive's new vet's office.  And second, a coupon for a free pizza!  Not bad for a day at the park! 

Although this isn't our nearest dog park, so we probably won't get to it as frequently, it is a really nice park so I hope we can at least make weekend trips there. And we're thinking about getting involved in the volunteer organization that maintains it. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Part of the Same Club

I just read a great book.

Polar Dream by Helen Thayer. A Washington resident, she circumnavigated the North Pole solo and on foot with only her dog at the age of 50. She is one tough woman. I read it as part of our hikes with dogs book club (yes, we hike, and with dogs, and read books about hiking with dogs, and discuss those books about hiking with dogs after our hikes with our dogs).  The club is coincidentally all women, at least for now, so it was cool to read a book featuring such a kick ass woman.

Thayer had planned to make her expedition alone but was convinced to bring a dog along the day before she left, mostly because the dog would warn her of and protect her from approaching polar bears. Her dog, who she named Charlie, was an Inuit dog with little prior human interaction in the sense of being a "pet" but they quickly formed an amazing bond.

This afternoon, my little polar bear alarm, Olive, and I walked to the library to return the book.

At a light, a man approached us from behind (we were stopped extra long at the light so Olive could practice sitting at the corner). He asked me "How old is your dog?"  "About 2," I answered.

"We're part of the same club," he told me, "Nobody can take that from us.  Part of the same club!" 

I just nodded and said "uh huh" or something, as Olive and I continued walking.

Then he held out his right hand and showed me that he had only two fingers remaining. The thumb, index and middle finger were missing.

"Amputees! Part of the same club!" he said, walking off.  

Olive & I get questions and comments about her being a tripod every day, but that was a first!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Hot Yoga Experiment

Here's what I learned at hot yoga today:

1) As I'm usually not reminded until summer, I don't really like the heat.

2) My body can hold a lot more sweat than I ever knew.  It just kept coming out.  More and more.  I couldn't believe I could sweat that much.

3) And an hour can be a really long time. I know it doesn't seem like a long time when it's your lunch hour, let's say, or happy hour, but when the yoga instructor asks that you please not leave the room for the hour of the class, and it is really really hot in there... an hour is a long time.

The hardest part was that I felt really lightheaded a lot, which I think was a combination of the heat and the inversions (I always feel a little lightheaded coming up from any inverted pose) but then, about halfway through the class, I started to get a dull headache behind my eye, which I recognized as probably being dehydration (I had sweat out about a gallon of fluids).

I was surprised how well other people could function while sweating profusely. I looked around and saw people holding poses while sweat dripped down their noses. Not me, that's a form of torture! I have to grab for my towel.

But I'm glad I tried it!  And my deodorant held up impressively well. I could do a commercial for them.

My friend Katelin from glassblowing invited me to her join her at  her yoga studio using her guest pass. I promised to do my best not to embarrass her.  I gave it my best shot.  I'm trying to say "yes" to things more, try things that take me out of my comfort zone, and challenge myself with new things.

Most importantly, I was nervous about it, and I did it!  And then I had a nice big lunch, including a cupcake, because I earned it!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Puget Sound Marine Life

Can you see the starfish in this photo?  It's blue, and it's pretty much in the center.  
I spotted it while Olive & I were out on a misty morning walk on Monday.  It's in Elliott Bay, very close to my house.  

And then I found a second one on the same walk!  This one was a little further out, so it's a little harder to see.  But, again, it's kind of blue, and kind of centered in the photo. 

I'm very intrigued by the clear water in the bay and the marine life down there.

But not as intrigued as these people who were preparing to make a morning dive in the bay in February. 

Ever since learning about these organizations through Chocofest 2013, I "liked" Puget Soundkeeper Alliance and People for Puget Sound on Facebook. I'm interested in getting involved to protect this beauty next door from pollution. And in seeing more marine animals!  Puget Soundkeeper Alliance posted this great photo of sea lions playing in the Sound yesterday.  Check it out! 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Chocofest 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Jon & I celebrated our first Valentine's Day as husband & wife a few days early... at Chocofest 2013! And it would not be an exaggeration to say it was the Best. Valentine's. Day. Ever.

Jon bought tickets for us to go to Chocofest! Let me tell you all about it. And relive my culinary ecstasy.

First of all, it was at the Pike Brewing Company which is (1) an easy walk from our home - no public transportation or designated driver needed and (2) a pretty cool place - they actually have a museum of microbrews and (3) huge! Which will be more important once you hear about all the stuff they fit in there!

It was held from 5pm-8pm Sunday evening.  I would guess there were maybe a few hundred people in attendance, but, like I said, the place is pretty big, so it didn't feel too crowded or anything.

When we entered and checked in, we received a map of the vendors, a small commemorative glass to use for the drink tastings, and ten drink tickets (news flash - ten drinks, even small ones, in 3 hours is a lot!)  I meant to take photos but I had my hands full with the glass and a small plate, and, fine, I was too excited to grab more tastes!

Inside, there were 12 chocolatiers, 19 distilleries, 17 brewers, 11 vintners, 16 restaurants, 7 bakeries, a shellfish farm, a bitters maker, two cheese mongers (who doesn't love "mongers"?) and a coffee house.  All were set up with tables eagerly giving out samples. You had to exchange a ticket for an alcoholic drink, presumably to keep people from being "overserved."

We didn't consult the map, we just kind of wandered around. Naturally, the areas closest to the entrance were the most crowded, because everyone wanted to stop and try the first sample they saw, while some of the further corners were much emptier. We, too, tried every sample we saw at first, but as we got more full, we were forced to be more selective.

We ate a lot. I mean, a lot. It would be impossible for me to name everything we tried. But I will name some of our favorites: Pike Pub baby back ribs served with Pike Kilt Lifter bbq sauce, Seastar Restaurant's porcini mushroom soup with black truffle creme (possibly my favorite item! I love soup!), three different delicious local oysters from Taylor Shellfish, Confectional's salted caramel cheesecake bites dipped in deep chocolate on a salted crust, Mt. Townsend cheese dusted with Theo's spicy chile chocolate, RN74's crunchy chocolate profiteroles with homemade rocky road ice cream (ok, can I pick one more favorite?), Art Restaurant (they're also the home of the amazing Chocolate buffet!) served Northwest salmon profiteroles (ok, now this was my favorite! definitely!)

I did take one photo (mostly because there was a line, so I had time to prepare):
This is the man from Taylor Shellfish showing us the three different types of oysters. We had one of each. This was the only place where we waited in any line, it was only a few minutes, but he told each person about each of the oysters and shucked them for us and we slurped them right there. Salty, sweet, briny and delicious! 

Taste, the restaurant at Seattle Art Museum, served Chocolate & Stout sandwich cookies. Cafe Lago served delicious meatballs in tomato sauce. Fran's chocolate (located at the Four Seasons, just like Art Restaurant) served smoked salt caramel and grey salt caramel. One is Michelle Obama's favorite, the other Barack's. Oh, now I'm remembering Trace, in the W hotel, served a great duck confit with camembert. Trophy cupcakes had mini caramel chocolate stout cupcakes. I'm feeling full just writing all of this! Ok, wait... let me mention one more favorite: Homegrown's Nutella Fluffernutter warm sandwich, you choose with or without bacon. I went with the bacon, and it was amazing. How could it not be?

As for drinking - we didn't even come close to using our ten drink tickets. I could probably have ten small glasses of one wine if I took it slow, but mix in liquor and liqueurs, etc.?  Not going to happen. We loved the Clear Creek Distillery Cranberry Liqueur, and a nice mix of a chocolate stout and a raspberry lambic which tasted like a chocolate covered raspberry, and champagne Philippe Fontaine.

At each table, we got to talk to the chefs and producers, and some even offered discounts for future visits to their establishments.

There was also live music and a silent auction, and the whole thing was to benefit the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance.  What a great cause!

Overall, it was a fantastic night and definitely the best Valentine's ever. This whole married thing is working for me. I'm already looking forward to Chocofest 2014!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I'ma take your grandpa's style

Have you heard the song "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore?

It's pretty big here, but I don't know if that's just because Macklemore is a Seattle artist or if it's big everywhere. At least the Seattle press thinks it's big everywhere.

Last week, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis's "Thrift Shop" became the top-selling single in the United States, the first rap record from Seattle to reach that position since "Baby Got Back." 
- Mudede, Charles. "Seattle Saves Hiphop, Again." The Stranger [Seattle] 30 Jan. 2013

Anyway, it's a cute song. And the video is funny. I like it.

And now there's a cute parody by "Barklemore." Instead of the thrift shop, he's been adopted.

It's good for a smile on a cloudy day, like today.

"Thrift Shop" ends with a voice asking "Is that your grandma's coat?"
The dog parody ends with the new owner asking "Is that your winter coat?"  Aaawww.

Friday, February 8, 2013

I Got a Response

You might remember this letter I wrote to Compendium Inc. last month regarding their "Perfect Companion" journal which bears the quote "Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet."

Here's their response:

Dear Monyca,

Thank you so very much for your thoughtful blog post regarding our Write Now Journal. We are truly inspired by your love of tripod pooches! I personally also have a soft spot for those special animals who many consider to be “less adoptable” because they are senior, sick, or perhaps don’t quite have all of the equipment they were intended to have—or the many other reasons why there are unfortunately so many homeless pets.

We wanted to respond to your blog post to not only say thank you, but also to note that our intention regarding placing that particular quote on the cover of the journal was absolutely not to exclude any particular type of dog. Indeed, we hoped that this quote would have the widest appeal to the millions of canine lovers as the spirit of the quote is meant to allude to our commonly referred to “four-legged friends.” But, of course, not all of our perfect companions are “perfect,” which, for those of us who can see beyond simple doggie aesthetics, makes them exactly the creatures we want and need in our lives.

Again, thank you for not only writing, but also for adopting Olive. She is obviously a very lucky, happy girl! And best of luck to you as you settle here in Seattle. Please do keep in touch.

Amelia Riedler
Managing Editor

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Olive, the Schoolgirl

Last night we went to Olive's school to meet her teacher. The first lesson was for people only, the dogs will have their "first day of school" next week.

The class was interesting.  It is specifically geared toward dogs who have strong reactions to other dogs. Each dog will have visual barriers separating them from the other dogs in the class (we'll even enter and exit the room at different times so the dogs avoid seeing one another) and these barriers will - hopefully - be overcome, literally and figuratively.

Olive's aversion to other dogs is mild. She does fine in the dog park, and she does alright with most other dogs once she gets to "meet" them for a few minutes. But when an unknown dog first comes into her line of sight, she pulls strongly and sometimes barks. That's not allowed in regular "Dog Manners 1" so we have to start in this remedial class.

The class is held at the shelter where we adopted Olive over a month ago. It was interesting to go back there. I wonder what she'll make of it when we take her there - will she remember it? Will she have negative memories associated with it?  We drove past the small play yard where we first met her and my husband said "That's where you fell in love." Aaww, so true!  It was like revisiting the scene of your first date.

As for the class, it seems like it is going to be good. The teacher seems really into positive training (no yelling or punishments) and lots of treats.

The other students seem fine. There's one young guy (early 20s?), I'm impressed that he's making the effort to train his dog properly at that age. There are a few couples, including one that brought their daughter. (The teacher encourages you to bring anyone who is going to be regularly involved in your dog's training so that the dog will get more consistency at home.)

And then there was this one woman... well, there's always one in every group, right?  (More if the group is a law school class.) She came into class and immediately made it all about her.  She wasn't really in this class, but she's going to miss one of her regular classes, so could she join? And there weren't enough handouts (because she wasn't scheduled for this class), could she just look on with someone? She dominated the entire discussion. Then the teacher had us go around and tell what our dogs reactions are to other dogs.  Most of just described with a couple of words, but she had to actually act like her dog and make a loud hissing noise that got all the dogs in the shelter riled up and barking. Seriously, you couldn't just say the word "hissing"? At one point, she tried to elaborate, "Well, my dog's history is that he..."  I was so proud when the teacher said "We don't need to go into our dogs' histories tonight. This isn't the time for that."  Yes!

But the best part came, at the end of class, the teacher said, "Ok, I think that's everything, unless anyone has any issues really individual to their dog, please let me know."  So, I said, "Our dog is a tripod. I think she'll be able to do everything else in the class can do, but since you asked about individual issues, I thought that may be worth mentioning." The teacher responded "Aawww, a tripod! She should be fine, but we'll keep an eye on it."

Then the annoying lady raised her hand.  "My dog has a problem with his legs too."
"How so?" the teacher asked.
"Well, he's kind of bow-legged."
Really?  I'm glad this woman isn't actually in our class, she would drive me crazy.

We got a list of school supplies, so Olive and I went to Petco today to do some "school shopping". She has to wear this front halter thing during class, and we're supposed to spend the week getting her used to it.

Doesn't she look like Hannibal Lecter? 
No? Ok, fair enough, but I've been calling her Hannah-belle! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What a Weekend!

We had a fantastic weekend!  My wonderful friend Hadley came to visit from New York - our first visitor!  Just what I needed to get me through this grey winter!

Olive & I went to the airport to pick her up.  For weeks, I had been telling Olive, "Wait until your Aunt Hadley gets here!" both as a promise and a threat. Finally, it was about to all come true!

(Maybe she doesn't look too excited in this one, but trust me, she was!)

We brought Aunt Hadley home to drop off her bags and show her around our building for just a minute before taking her to the glassblowing studio.  

Hadley was a kickass glassblower!

Heating in the glory hole.

Shaping at the bench.

Wielding the paddle - kind of looks like she's done this before! 

It's just too bad I didn't take a photo of the resulting paperweight.

Jon also cut out of work early so he could join our glassblowing lesson.

He looks like a pro already!

As Jon would say, "Fire! Fire!"

Our teacher, Amy, made a very cool glass turtle for Hadley to bring home to her 3 year old son!

The next day, we did a Pike Place Market tour.  Coffee, doughnuts, tea, salmon, fruit, charcuterie, mac and cheese, chowder, a sandwich... phew! It's a tough job showing guests around, but these are the kind of sacrifices we have to make! 

The headphones were for listening to our tour guide.

That fish almost hit me! 

After the market tour, Hadley & I hit the co-op where she bought chili ingredients and beer. Then I brought Hadley back to my house and forced her to cook up a big batch of chili for our Super Bowl party. Because that's how I treat my guests.

We made up for it on Sunday morning though... when we went to the Theo Chocolate Factory for a tour. Which included a lot of tasting!

It brought out the kid in all of us.

And that was before we tasted the chocolate!

There's the chocolate! Yum!

We had to wear the swim caps if we wanted to jump into the chocolate holding tank!

On Monday, Hadley & I checked out Alki, West Seattle and had delicious prawn tacos and chowders in a restaurant overlooking the beach.

Then we went up to Capitol Hill, drove through Volunteer Park and saw the Space Needle from in front of the Asian Art Museum. The mountains even came out so Hadley could see Mount Rainier! 

We stopped at the Seattle Public Library downtown and admired the famous Rem Koolhaas architecture.

That might seem like a lot, but that's just the stuff I got photos of! We also took a walk around the Olympic Sculpture Park and along the Sound, checked out lots of local happy hours, Hadley got a massage and had time to relax. I hope she had enough fun that she'll come back to visit soon! I also, wisely, made sure we left some things undone so she'll have to come back! 

As for the the rest of you... I hope this is enough enticement for you to come visit us in Seattle soon! It's fun, I promise!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Fun with the Girls

"I was shopping with my mom and my Aunt Hadley when I just saw the cutest thing!"
xoxo Olive