First Swim of the Season

Pretending to swim in our unfinished pool

Alright, I am not crazy and I am not part of the Polar Bear Club.  I’m just envisioning jumping into our finished pool while wearing Dave’s flannel shirt, jeans, and motorcycle boots.  Doesn’t everyone wear a bathing costume like this?


Something to Give Thanks For This Thanksgiving!

Dixie is doing SO well!  We got the good news on Halloween when Dave took her for her follow-up X-Rays and a consultation with the vet.  She’s thriving!  All of the good food, snuggles, and love have definitely been well received.  She’s gained weight, her coat is shiny and lush, and she’s happy-go-lucky!  She should be out of solitary confinement on Thanksgiving!  Can’t wait to post a video of that!!!

Outta My Way! I’m Workin’ Here!

Light on the Ranch doorIt’s been a busy week here on the Ranch.  We are in, as I call it, “hunker down and get ‘er done” mode.  I am going out of town next week and I always have a sense of urgency to get even the stupidest of things done before I leave.

– Write those thank you notes for my birthday gifts…from August.

– Pay the internet bill…with a check because our internet provider doesn’t have online billing nor do they autobill (only in the sticks-right?).

– Stock the fridge with food for Dave and the kids. I have to remind myself that’s it’s not as if Dave can’t feed himself or go buy cat food should the need arise.  There is a little 1950’s housewife in me who feels like Dave will live on Kraft Mac n’ Cheez and our chubby cats will starve if I’m not around.

– Wash every item of laundry I can get my hands on, leaving empty baskets.  Really?  As if Dave, the mechanical engineer, is going to put bleach in the soap dispenser, throw a load of our best colorful, knit clothes in and set the washer to hot water?

– Respond to any lingering emails or Facebook messages.  For the record, I am not going to Mars.  They do have internet where I am headed.

These are just a few of the dumb tasks that woke me up at 2:30AM today.  My brain is on overload.  In an effort not to wake the house, I got up, tiptoed into the guest room and played on Pinterest for 2 hours.  Yep.  That’ll check things off the ol’ To Do List.

Dave took the photo above this morning of the light hitting the wall and the patio door.  It makes me think that I need to just chill out and enjoy the peace and quiet of our house.

Pugs Not Drugs

Dixie the Distemper Survivor

Yesterday, Dave granted me sleep until 7:30AM and snuggle/lounging time in bed with Finn while he performed the Dixie morning care regimen.  Our morning routine of Pug Snuggles and Tea have been suffering since Dixie came home.  Frankly, I think Finn has been a little bummed out about it and he’s missed his Only Dog time with Mama.  What he doesn’t understand is how all of the Dixie home care is paying off!

Dixie the Distemper Dog

Dixie is doing amazingly well.  She has really responded to the Azithromycin medication.  Her eyes are 100% clear now.  Nary a sneeze or a cough in days.  Fever, shmever!  Her temperature has been normal for over a week!  She’s perky and bouncy.  Every day I look at her and think to myself, “just keep going, Kid.  Screw Distemper!  You’re gonna be the poster dog for Distemper Recovery and Vaccination Awareness.”  In fact, she actually whined and yipped a bit from the Isolation Ward, yesterday.  Dave and I both said, “what was that?”  She has hardly barked, yipped, or made a peep since we’ve had her.  In response to my Daily Dixie Doodle Dog Report, our vet said, “I really think treating her at home and reducing all the stress of bouncing around has helped a lot!  I’m so glad she’s healing!  Finn must be jealous.”

So, in order to increase the peace around McGee Family Ranch, here’s an adorable Finn photo.

Finn the Pug

Who Wants to Go Swimming?

Pool steps on the Ranch

Our pool should be done within the next two weeks.  Just in time for the alleged rain we are going to be receiving (with hoots, hollers, and dancing, naturally) here in Paso Robles.

Pool on the Ranch

When it’s a million degrees in July, this will be the view (including some fabulous landscaping) from my deck chair set on the “island” step as I sip an iced tea and watch the world go by.  This is, of course, assuming we can train Finn between now and July in his new role as Cabana Boy.

Recovering Nicely

Dixie Recovering

Today was a good day for Dixie. A really good day. In fact, I don’t want to jinx it, but her temp was hovering in the low 102°’s, her eyes are open and not gooey, the scab on her nose fell off, and she was perky.  Needless to say, the texts with our vet included a lot of exclamation marks, but for the first time in a month not in a panicked Mommy sort of way.

Hello? Mother Nature? You Suck!

The before picture of the Ranch

Not that long ago we had grass…lots of grass.  I’m no measurement wizard, but I would guess it was like an acre of grass…give or take a few feet.  Grass that was literally sucking us dry, both financially and well-wise.  Here’s a fun fact that we former city dwellers on city water didn’t understand about country livin’: WELLS RUN DRY.  Yep, in the city we never thought about water NOT pouring from the tap with a twist of the handle.  It never occurred to me that we could potentially run out of water!  How is this even possible?  There’s water in earth somewhere, right?  I vaguely remember something from Geology class about water running deep underground and the techtonic plates that shift around and cause earthquakes out here in California.  Something about the inevitability of California breaking off from the U.S. shore and floating around in the ocean like an island?  Then we’d be surrounded by water!  No need to worry!  We’ll have plenty!  But, I digress…

So, yeah, we had a lot of grass and were paying a ton of money, blood, sweat, and tears to keep it green.  Well, Dave was mainly the sweaty one  (I was nice and occasionally brought him some iced tea) as he struggled with our rinky dink sprinkler system.  The previous owner of our house had business cards printed for himself with the job title “Professional Tinkerer” under his name.  Yep, that’s about right.  For this beautiful acre of grass and the other 19 acres of land?  8 DIFFERENT sprinkler controllers.  You know, like the box that hangs on the wall in your garage that you rarely think about or fiddle with because it’s programmed to water efficiently?  Yeah, we have 8 of those.  Few of them are programmed and none of them are efficient.  Oh, and they are scattered all over the property and are probably 8 different types.  We also have every type of sprinkler head imaginable and none of them work particularly well.  It’s as if whatever head was on sale that day at Lowe’s was bought in bulk and patched into our convoluted system by Mr. Professional Tinkerer.  So, they just sort of spray every which way, but not usually on the grass.  They hit the truck, a tree, the chicken coop, and wherever they darn well please, but only when they are actually working, which is also sort of rare because the gardeners run over them with the mower and sometimes there is a geyser in our yard.  We are <–this–> close to being deemed a National Park and Tourist Attraction.

A Google Earth shot of our house

In addition to the shoddy sprinkler system we also have gophers.  Google Earth, bless you for sharing our plight with the world.  We have a gopher colony living in our yard, so add “Nature Preserve” to that list of reasons to visit the Ranch.  Although, Dave really hasn’t preserved the colony so much as adopting a divide and conquer strategy.  His weapons of choice are a hose and a shovel.  Flood ’em out and bop ’em on the head.  Yep, this former Silicon Valley Executive has become a cold-blooded gopher slayer.  Makes me swoon just thinking about it.

So, our plan to open the Ranch as a National Park/Tourist Attraction/ Nature Preserve?  Yeah, not happening if it means potentially living without water altogether.  We have chosen another path…

Landscaping Plan

Copyright Madrone Landscapes, Inc. 2014

I’m not sure if you really get the magnitude of what we’re doing, so allow me to elaborate. EVERY inch of grass has been ripped out for the exception of a patch over by the chicken yard. The Gilmore Girls could care less if they have fancy new grass to peck on, so they get to keep the old grass. The rest of the yard will be a Southwest style combination of drought tolerant plants, trees, a vegetable garden, an herb garden, hardscaping, and the amount of new sod is about 75% less than what we had before.  Oh yeah, and there’s a really cool feature going in that will boost our tourism during the 110° days here in Paso…

Pool with Bobcat




Hospital Chic

Erin and Dixie Dog in pajamas

Dave gave up his office and his bathroom (yes, we are that couple who prefer to keep some things a mystery) for Dixie.  He created an isolation ward for Dixie Doodle, The Distemper Dog with these two tiled rooms and the little hallway that connects them.  It was actually quite clever and with the blue tape on the bottoms of the doors, they make this great whooshing sound as they close that really makes you feel like you are going into a true Hazmat situation.  We are doing this even though Finn is immunized against Distemper.  Why?  Because turns out that Finn could still contract Distemper because of his compromised immune system.  Seriously, this disease sucks.  I don’t recommend it, and neither does Dixie.

So, since Dave graciously gave up his space I have willingly given up my mornings…and my fashion sense.  Yes, those are pajama bottoms with chickens on them.  And yes, I am not wearing a stitch of makeup.  The gown and gloves really complete the look, don’t you think?

We all have to do our part.  Go team!

Dixie’s Homecoming

Dixie dog
I brought Dixie home from SAGE yesterday after a little false start.  The SAGE nurse had given me 6 different medications, explicit written home care instructions, a stern lecture on isolation, and placed her in her crate in the back of my car.  I called Dave and told him we were on our way.  Dixie even let out a little yip saying “Hi Daddy!  I’m comin’ home!”  Then I called our vet to let them know that she looked good and we were on our way home, but I would call them if anything changed and I needed to make a pitstop with them.   The first thing Dixie did as we pulled onto the freeway was look straight at me with a glint of rebellion in her eyes and rip the bandage off her now IV free arm (yeah, that’ll show ’em, Dix).   Who knows whether it was the first sign of a Fall chill in the wind, her excitement to bust out of jail, or that she really had to poop, but within the first 10 minutes of the drive home she started shivering.  I freaked out, as you do in cases of driving 70 miles an hour and looking back at a sickly dog who has just been discharged from 5 days at the hospital.  I called Dave.  I called our vet.  I called SAGE.  I flipped the car around and drove back to the hospital.

Dixie dog
Clearly, SAGE didn’t think it was a big deal, but I was a wreck.  It took them a while to come out to my car since Typhoid Dixie, Princess of Distemper (trademark pending) can’t walk in the front door of any hospital for fear of spreading her germs.  They took her temp, 103.3°.  They examined her and of course at this point she had stopped shivering.  I asked when was the last time she had pottied and they didn’t know, but said it was worth a shot.  Sure enough, Miss Dixie left a parting gift for the people at SAGE.  I’m sure this was her version of giving them the paw on the way out.

Dixie Dog
We made it home.  It’s a 3 hour drive door to door.  Dixie slept most of the way home and I drove with Miranda Lambert playing at negative decibels for fear of waking the sleeping dog.  I found myself counting my blessings and talking to myself about how how we are going to beat this stupid, preventable, horrible disease called Distemper.  I reflected on how brave I am becoming about things like blood, needles, and seeing my babies not feeling well.  I quietly thanked Dave for putting up with my love of wayward animals who inevitably end up costing us a zillion dollars, but who give us so much love in return.  I gave gratitude for our amazing vet and his team who had kept Dixie for 2.5 weeks, loved on her, and kept her safe.  I am especially thankful for our vet who has fought so tirelessly for this little gal.  He has been her biggest cheerleader and when he doesn’t hear from me in the morning (even now) he calls or texts requiring his Dixie Dog Update.  Finally, I recognized how blessed we were to have gone through everything we went through with Finn’s IBD because that is what led us to SAGE years ago.

I feel like we are on our way to recovery.  There is a glimmer of hope and a spark of rebellion Dixie and I share.