Ali, the border (disorder) collie at work, continued


Ali spends almost all of her day at her “perch” of sorts by the window that, as Mary Kay says, we had built for her.  She deems it her job to watch and protect our house and it is from this vantage point that she performs her daily task.  If we don’t raise the blinds, she will put her snout right through the blinds, it is quite obvious from the look of the numerous slats that are slightly bent. 

So, there she sits on a daily basis watching the world and when we aren’t looking, up she goes on the window seat.  At this point, she doesn’t care a whole lot that we know this; the minute we leave, she generally jumps up there and relaxes in the afternoon sun.

So many people have said that they would love to spend some time as Ali since she has a great life, watching out the window, chasing balls, and the like.

Ali, the border (disorder) collie at work

It is freezing cold this morning and the experts are worried that it shall be dangerous.  It is about twelve degrees Fahrenheit and the wind chill factor is supposed to exacerbate even that.  I do remember the actual fifteen below degrees and more when the boys were born back in the eighties.  Now that was cold weather!

I sent Ali out  for the paper and she did her usual “disorderly” thing.  One thing I detest is two driveways side by side.  In my life, with houses, because I have been forced to be very crafty in buying homes, I have always had to have a house with some issues.  The first big one was trains.  I was always in a house near a train.  Now I am further from the train but the issue of driveway came up and it almost prevented us from buying this house.  Our first one had an actual shared driveway.  Because of this, I was the snow remover for both households.  I must say, that despite my younger day timidity, I actually talked to the people and gave them a large piece of my mind.  Perhaps that accounts for my mind loss at present?  Anyway, I am getting away from the subject, once again.  Age?

Our current house has two driveways side by side with a small one foot gap between them.  Currently, it is filled with ugly white stones that turn to white powder when I run them over when they wander onto my car’s path.  I personally hate them, but my neighbor originally put them in and likes them.  I have tried to grow sedum “accidentally” in the area, but usually what occurs is that weeds love it. Anyway, once again I am off the subject.

As this “gap” gets toward the house, there is a large fence my neighbor put up.  But, for the most part it is open space.  Ali is a dog who is good about getting a newspaper.  She recognizes the usually blue plastic sack that it comes in.  The problem is that there are usually two of them in the large apron at the end of the driveways where mine merges with the neighbor’s.  Ali, for some cosmic reason, almost always tries to grab the neighbor’s, ignoring mine.  Then I am forced to go out and throw his on his property.  So the wonderful ability of Ali to help us out is canceled out by the fact that she has retrieved the wrong newspaper!  Believe me, I am not going to incur his wrath as I remember so well the “Arrow to Ugliness!”  Today, of course, guess what happened?

Ali, the border (disorder) collie

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Ali is pretty smart, being a so-called border (disorder) collie.  She knows enough that when we don’t pay attention, she can take advantage.  Here she is doing her job protecting the estate while snoozing/watching from her favorite chair. 

She doesn’t like leather, I don’t know why, she loves to chase and herd cows, so this is her only option in the living room other than the floor, the loveseat is in leather. 

While sitting here, she has a great view through the picture window.  That window was put in, after all, just for her!  At least that is what she thinks!

Snowmageddon III, Stalemate?

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I just came in, my fingers are freezing, I need to warm them up before returning to the war zone.  Snow,  5;  Koerners, 1!

Despite all the help I had, I have one large job ahead of me.  I finally managed to clear off the snow overhang in the front and then I unleashed one car from the snow.  I then moved the car to a clean zone so I can more easily clean the snow between the house and fence.  At this point, the snow must be lifted quite high to get it over the snowbanks.

Ali is having a great time.  She insists on my throwing the snow in her face but it is particularly hard to as the snowbanks are so high.  She is totally resistant to cold and snow and loves it.  She was virtually swimming in it, as seen from the pics.

The boys are all out all over the place with snowblowers, plows, and shovels.  We, the parents, are trying to “man the fort.”  Other than removing the extraneous snow, our job is to provide warm food, coffee, hot chocolate, tea, and the like.  I am hoping that the battle we are having against Mother Nature will add more to the “family glue” by cementing our relationships.  Life is far too short!

The snowfall seems to have let up some for the moment.  It is time to get back out there, extricate both cars from their snowy prisons, and then clean up the aftermath. Wish me luck!

Ali’s toilette

I am prepared to not be bothered about something. For days now, I kept hearing that Ali needs to be bathed. Ali hasn’t really had a good bath in a long time and frankly, I have been avoiding it. I kept hoping against hope that someone would rise up to the plate and take charge of her. It didn’t happen!

Ali is not the easiest dog to bathe. Although she is about the same size as our previous dog, she is much more difficult. Freckles was much more docile (and far less intelligent) and I was able to put her in the laundry tub. Ali is the queen of squirm and the laundry tub doesn’t work unless there is more than one person there.

I have done the regular bathtub but frankly Ali has her PhD in jumping. This is no surprise as she is a border collie.

So, I resorted to pretty much completely stripping and getting in the master bathroom’s shower stall. Once I got her in, I closed the bedroom door, then closed the bathroom door as I pulled her in, and finally brought her in to the shower. It is an easy walk in and I do believe that she knew what was coming.

Supplied with plenty of mini bacon bit treats, I began the task at hand. I made sure she was plenty wet and then soaped her up with baby shampoo. She was pretty docile and other than having a tough time positioning her to rinse her off, it went well.

Ali has a double coat and the shedding the past several years has been absolutely monumental. Several family members have taken to brushing her. Frankly, I don’t because she has never enjoyed being brushed and I am not willing to risk the bared teeth scenario. Mikey told me there is some new rubber brush out there and I am dying to try it, but so far we have not procured one.

So, I finished up washing her, removed the clumps of fur, attempted to dry her off with the towels I had and made her lie down with a fresh one in the living room. She looks right now like she has been brow beaten. She sure does smell good, though.

I am so happy that I am now “off the hook!”

I am certifiably ________ (you fill in the blank)!

I am certifiably _______________ (you fill in the blank).  I realize I must be totally crazy. It is freezing outside and I went out with the idea of ostensibly picking up a few twigs left in the aftermath of heavy winds, recent tree trimming, etc.  I got outside, took a gander at my estate (this statement alone makes me certifiably _________), miniscule as it is, pulled the leaf grabbing net off the pond, realized I had a koi that hasn’t survived this part of the winter, tried to take it out, could not because of the ice covering and started picking up twigs.  I realized during my view of the pond that the new apparatus to keep a “blowhole” in the ice is working, so I am wondering what killed my eight inch fish.

Anyhow, went up front, the wind is blowing in typical Chicago fashion and I decided to rake.  Thought I would get me a little workout since I wasn’t hitting the gym today, hadn’t managed to fit myself into the time window that the gym has today.  Raking was exhilarating, but my fingers started freezing despite my gloves, so I came in for a breather and hand warm up.  I bet everyone knew keyboarding is great to get the blood flowing in the fingers, so here I am.

I am going out in a few minutes to complete the job.  Ali accompanied me and was so unhelpful to my venture.  I am wondering if she and Mary Kay have some sort of silent dog/person contract to keep tabs on me and/or maybe keep me busy.  No sooner had I started raking the lawn that Ali went in the back yard and located a branch somewhere which she pulled out into the front and proceeded to tear it apart.  Is this in the master plan for my yard cleanup?  A dog hell bent on keeping me in my aerobic pursuit of bits of wood?  Mary Kay, did you pay her in dog treats?

While doing all this I am pleased to say that I am using my latest iPhone app which allows me to hear a pop music station in France, NRJ.  It is kind of funny listening to so much American music that is introduced in fast deejay French and a real treat to bide my outdoor time.  Right now, they are playing a song that has nothing more than orchestral music interrupted every few minutes by an Anglo saying, “Barbra Streisand.”  Odd, to say the least.

Okay, my fingers are warm and I think I should continue my workout.  Later!

Dismal rain and melted snow on Day Eleven of rehab

I am not sure, but the exterior temperature must be very warm because the huge mounds of snow have dwindled down to almost nothing.  It is raining and has been raining all night and that has aided the cause of the warmer temperatures and rendered the snow mounds ugly with flecks of black and other sooty colors on their surfaces.  The overall effect is one that is depressing instead of renewing and I wonder if that is reflecting our spirits as we head into day eleven of rehab.  I am going to say it isn’t.

We spoke to the young man yesterday and his spirits were high.  He is very anxious to get out.  In the family, we continue, as a group, to communicate and discuss where we are in all of this. This communication has taken every current shape from texting to actual discussion and is ongoing.  We have discussed all sorts of issues that are going to be important as we transition Michael and ourselves from the clinic to real life.  We have made plans here and there to take care of many different things, from the phone (which was paid for by the older boys’ business) to how to get Michael active again (his Christmas present morphed from what it was to a paid membership at either the Park District gym or at a private one).  We have continued to dialogue with counselors at the clinic to get input when we weren’t sure what the best official stance is that we should have in certain areas.  We intend to do everything we can to help him avoid situations that may compromise the progress he has made while “incarcerated.”

Many family members have a background in psychology due to the fact of their teaching credentials, but Christian’s wife is the most expert of all having done her Masters in Clinical Psychology.  She uses it in her daily job working with autistic children.  These connections do not hurt our family goals at all as we all try to help him.

We are not even all sure that he really needed an extensive treatment program such as he has had to endure.  My take is that that is probably accurate.  “Hollywood” as he is nicknamed in the “facility” had himself chosen to fly home without his supporting cast of chemicals and at a certain point tell us he couldn’t do it alone.  My real feeling is that the rude shock of being in a county facility, seeing the horrible effects drug use has on others, and being with people you often don’t have much connection with  is a very good “wake up” call.  This facility is not a “spa like” situation where perhaps he wouldn’t have felt the full effects of what he has done not only to himself, but also to his family.

I have to say that I am not enjoying the tree as much this morning.  My coffee is good despite having been made twice.  Ridiculous man that I am I had done a great job of setting up the coffee yesterday, grinding the beans, cleaning the carafe, filling the receptacle with water, only to find out this morning as I craved my first cup of coffee, that the carafe was filled to the brim with hot water!  I had neglected to install the ground coffee in the gold filter!  As Michael must do with his life, I had to start over.

That was just a preview of how things were going.  I straightened up a few things, and then sat down to the disarray caused by our canine in the living room.  I hate visual pollution and am not happy by the displaced ornaments and pine needles she has knocked down during the night as she heads toward our front window.   Years ago we had replacement windows put in our house,  which is about as old as I am, to conserve energy and to keep me from losing my cool each fall and spring when I struggled with storms and screens.  I have always had little battles going on in all sorts of life areas and that was a monumental one.  Our storm/screen situation was somewhat scary at times since the windows are large for a house that isn’t and the flimsiness of the storms had them bending and flexing as I worked with them only to shatter at the first incorrect move I would make.  It was nearly impossible to fit them in without a struggle and it was a biannual moment of stress I certainly don’t miss.  Anyway, the front picture window was replaced with a bow window with an accompanying seat.  The seat and its surroundings match the décor of the house quite well as they are in oak that I finished to match the furniture we have in the nearby dining room.  Sometimes we don’t think about the ramifications of what we are doing, we ignored here the fact that our dog, Ali, was going to take this location over the minute we left the house.  Not thinking about that I sanded it beautifully and gave it layer upon layer of tung oil, finishing it all to a beautiful luster.  One day we returned home to find enormous gouges in the seat area of the window, attributable to Miss Ali who had, in her quest to rid the house of its mailman attacker, scratched the window seat almost beyond repair.  I immediately took charge, re-sanded the whole affected area, re-tunged it (if I can say that) and once dry I purchased a carpet runner and cut it to fit over the entire seat.  Now Ali has a deluxe area that she can not only use as her attack runway but also to bask in the sun of the afternoon and stretch her long legs out.  At first she would never do this in our sight, now she is bold enough to do it the minute we leave the house.  On top of this, we must leave the blinds open because if we don’t, her afternoon mail attacks damage them!  And then, of course I have had to resort to a plexiglass square sheet directly in front of the window screen on the sides, because Denali has ruined two window screens already as she throws her body against the windows in anger as the mailman passes by and “attacks” our mailbox.  The surprise I just yesterday was that she even cracked the plexiglass!  Ali’s commitment to her job as border collie protector is only matched by Koerner reaction to challenge.  She is not unlike her owners!

So, here it is New Year’s Eve and I have spent all sorts of time talking about my past battles.  It seems that I have a bigger battle at stake here and, as usual, my mind wanders around all sorts of battlefields wondering how to most correctly attack the situation at hand.  I only hope that God grants me and my family the strength and ability to correctly deal with what we have at hand.  Despite what I am seeing in front of me in terms of disarray and ugly weather, I firmly believe we shall be able to conquer the devil that attacked our son and our family.  The support of our family, friends, and overall network will see us through it!

Happy New Year!