Red Girls, Snow, and The Golden K

Snow has been falling off and on at The Golden K for a week now.   I’m amazed at how alive dogs become in the snow.   Impervious to the cold – seemingly energized by it – with the speed of a gazelle and endurance of a marathoner they run, roll, jump and chase only stopping occasionally to catch their breath.  And I believe, as they stop and look around, that they realize their world is different for the moment and they appreciates the beautiful playground that Mother Nature has created for them.   Then all at once they are off again…

Kloe and Koda – The red girls as I call them – have had a lot fun with snow play this past week.  Although The Golden K is located in the Sierra Nevada Foothills we’re just about at the snow line at 3100 feet elevation and don’t receive a lot of snow each year.   As inconvenient as it has been this past week in some ways it has also been special.  The red girls have taken advantage of the velvety layer of cold white powder sitting on top of what is usually a hard and muddy landscape this time of year.

For the past week the red girls have alternated between this:

 

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Kloe and Koda stopping to catch their breath and appreciate their velvety playground

 And this…

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Koda” “Dad you’re embarrassing me.   I’m not cold and I already shook off the snow.”                 Kloe: “It makes him feel better.  If it was mud we’d both be up in the bath right now.”

 

Our Traditional First Snow Walk

Earlier in the week we took our traditional first snow walk with the girls to the top of The Golden K.  It was a little melancholy for me because as we headed out of the immediate area of the house and headed up the hill Kali was struggling.   Kali, now almost ten with bad hips struggled in the deep snow making it too difficult for her to follow along.  She tried but as she labored to make gains up the hill to follow me I could see in her eyes that it was too much for her.   As much as I wanted her with us and as much as I know she wanted to be by my side I took her back to the house while Holly and the red girls waited at the trail head.

 

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Holly”  “If only the red girls were attached to a sled they could power me up the hill… Mush!”

Kali last year on our traditional snow walk to the top of The Golden K

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Kali:  “My hips are frozen – this feels great!”

And so it goes during winter at The Golden K.   Rain follows this snow storm and then more snow, and then more rain.  Hopefully we’ll have a few days to dry out in between all of that.  I’m convinced the earth is spinning faster with the way time flies by.  Before the girls know it they’ll be running on the hard clay ground in sunshine, sitting patiently by the BBQ for a little “sumpin’-sumpin'” and looking for shade to cool down in.  But for now we take what Mother Nature has to give and enjoy the beauty of the Golden K all dressed in white.

The red girls running, rolling, jumping and chasing. How great is it to be them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Trees At The Golden K

This will be our third Christmas at The Golden K., our mountain home in the Sierra Nevada Foothills.   When living in suburbia with our now grown children Holly and I  bought high priced Christmas Trees, usually Noble Pines, from various lots or drove miles to cut them down ourselves.  Later we invested in artificial trees that looked great until the lights started to go out after being wrapped back up and stored for a couple of years.

While packing up Suburbia three years ago we threw out the last artificial tree.   When Christmas rolled around several months later, and now living in the mountains we went to a local nursery to see about buying a live tree.   While looking at what was available we had a “duh” moment realizing that we have five acres full of trees.  Why would we spend money on a Christmas tree when we have hundreds of trees of our own to choose from.   Our pine trees are a hundred feet tall and we don’t live in altitude high enough for firs.  But we do have a lot of cedars so choosing a small cedar for our Christmas tree each year from our own property has become our new tradition.

While cedars are not ideal for hanging ornaments it hasn’t mattered to us.   This new tradition has become important to us as a symbol of our transition out of Suburbia and our new way of life in the mountains.

So today we headed out with the girls and a chain saw in tow to hunt for a tree.

After about 20 minutes of surveying our options we chose a tree on the edge of our property.   After giving the tree a sniff and once over the girls approved of our selection.  Good thing because it was already cut!

After some trimming of branches and securing the tree stand we were ready to trim the tree.

The girls were not to interested in helping with the trimming and almost immediately went into power nap mode.  Kloe woke up briefly to “snoopervise” (thanks for the term Monika!) but it didn’t last too long.

After a couple of hours of trimming the tree was done.  The girls seemed to approve as they leaned into to get on their Christmas cheer.

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*Editors Note:  The girls would have had on their Christmas scarves for this photo but that is just not possible with a six month old puppy who would rip her sister’s scarves to pieces as well as her own….. 

Flags, Dogs, and Wine

For all our warts I would not want to live anywhere other than this great country of ours, the US of America.

Ray Charles singing “America” in the background, Oaks and Pines swaying to the warm gentle wind, and Baseball coming on shortly.   We are truly blessed at the Golden K.

Whether you stand, sit, or lie down for the flag Kloe, Kali, and cousin Ben wish you the best of bests on this Fourth Of July, Two Thousand and Eighteen.

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Long Running Story

Kali’s new life in America and the mountains is now a long running story.

As most owners of a rescue pet know it’s the pet that usually rescues us and provides us with a more enriched life.  So often it is the pet, in my case Kali, who teaches us new ways to love, re-calibrates our priorities, and shows us that the simplest things in life can also be the most rewarding and heartening.

It’s been three and half years since Kali rescued me. I vividly remember the moment her crate was opened and she was released to us at SFO after a 12 hour flight from Taiwan.  The bond was instant and was fortified on the drive home and in the ensuing days and weeks.

So while Kali’s adventure is a long running one she herself rarely runs…. or trots, or gallops.  Kali is rarely in a hurry to get anywhere except to her food bowl and even then doesn’t run although she does display a remarkable ability to pirouette, bounce, and hop.   A main reason for the lack of speed are her hips which, typical of Goldens, are not in great shape.  She has dysplasia in one hip and the other, while not diagnosed, is not much better.

So on the rare occasion Kali does “run” it makes me laugh and smile.   It’s not the fact that she’s “running”  but that it is so darn cute.  Because even when Kali is moving fast (for her) it’s not very graceful.  If you saw Kali “run” (note the quote marks around the word run and running in the proceeding sentences when referring to Kali) it would not inspire images of racehorses, jack rabbits, or world class athletes.  When Kloe runs it might but not Kali.  Kali’s motion when moving fast is as much up and down as it is forward.   You might say that she runs with her entire body, head to tail, perhaps to compensate for those wonky hips of hers.

Picture a long wavelength and you will get an idea of how Kali runs; it takes a lot of up and down to move forward just a little bit…

Kali’s “running” motion

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There is a gate that leads out of our patio onto the driveway and surrounding land.   This is the gate Kali and I usually leave from to go on our walks or across to my office.  For Kali walks translate to treats.  My office sometimes translates to a bully stick to chew on or at the least a respite from her sister Kloe’s antics and chance to have dad all to herself.  There is also an area nearby my office where raccoons and other critters have made a “deposit” the previous night.   Much to my chagrin Kali loves to forage for those deposits…

More often than not when we go out the gate Kali begins running with her up and down and up and down motion.  As she “runs” she turns back to me with a smile on her face as if to say, “look at me, I’m running – can you believe it?” Or maybe it’s to say, “C’mon, I’ll show you where all the critters pooped last night.”  Whatever it is it makes me smile and laugh out loud as Kali reminds me that the simplest things in life can also be the most rewarding and heartening.

And it’s these moments that I am most grateful to have been rescued by my Golden Kali.

A picture of Kali not running…

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Golden Kali

Hurricane Harvey

As we sit here in the relative safety of The Golden K we are thinking about the impending impacts of Hurricane Harvey that, as of the writing of this post, will hit shore within the hour.  Our thoughts are with Kali’s followers and anyone else who is or will be in harms way.

Prayers, positive vibes, good thoughts, well wishes –  however you want to phrase it – we are sending all of them your way.

Its times like this that our country can show it’s greatness, resolve, and unity by helping one another regardless of race, religion, political affiliations, or sexual identity.

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
And try to love one another right now

-Jesse Colin Young

Kali and Kloe praying for the safety of Gulf Coasters.    Let us know how you are.

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The Golden K is Back

A couple of months ago I decided to merge my other blog site called The Golden K with this Golden Kali site.  The merging of the K’s was a failed experiment. You can read about it here:  The Golden K Is Back.

Kali in her infinte wisdom has asked me to revive the blog site called The Golden K in order to make a clear distinction between her beauty and that of our home in the Sierra Nevada Foothills that we call The Golden K.

In case there is any confusion you can find us in these three places in the blogosphere:

Kali and I send our best wishes and a heartfelt thanks for following us.

Golden Kali

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The Fourth 4th

Happy fourth 4th my Golden Kali!

When Kali arrived from Taiwan in 2014 she arrived with a brown scarf.  At the airport one of the volunteers that was assisting with her transition to our care took off the brown scarf and replaced it with a scarf with red, white, and blue markings that represented the American flag.   Kali was now an “American Girl”.

So beginning with that 2014 4th of July it became a tradition for Kali to don that same scarf and take a photo.  A photo that represents our collective patriotism but more importantly our thanks to the Taiwanese care givers who rescued Kali and sent her to America and to me.  Thank you Jade Lo and team.  Kali and I salute you and honor you for your the work you and your team do for so many dogs in need.

Happy fourth 4TH KALI!

Happy Birthday America from Golden Kali at The Golden K

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My Golden Therapy

When I turn into the driveway of the Golden K, my body tingles with anticipation of seeing “my girls” who will greet me at the gate or inside the house.

If they’re outside Kali and Kloe will trot to the rod iron gate at the first sound of my truck rolling up the Golden K driveway.  They watch me pull into the car port with their tails wagging and anticipating our physical and verbal greeting ritual.

If they’re inside the house I can usually see them through the windows of the doors.  Kali is usually sleeping right by the door and Kloe somewhere near Holly. As the door to the kitchen opens Kali springs to her feet and Kloe runs in to join us.  Kloe’s a little pushy and will always come to the front of the greeting line while Kali hangs back and patiently waits for her turn.The anticipation and intensity of the ritual increases the longer the time I’ve been away.

Lately I’ve been away a lot and for longer than usual periods…

Recently, both my mother and sister have been very sick.  It’s been a difficult few weeks and the seven hour round trip to and from the SF Bay Area to help with their care during this period took me away from my girls for several long days and a few over nighters.  The worry took an emotional tole and the hours driving, often in heavy traffic getting into or out of the West Bay, has been fatiguing.

But when I arrive back home and pull into the driveway the tingling begins and it slowly becomes better because of the healing powers of dogs.   In my case two very special, sweet, and tender dogs that in many ways define the Golden K.

Kali and Kloe.  My girls, my medicine, and my therapy.  My Golden therapy.

The driveway leading to The Golden K and my Golden Therapy

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The Girls chilling’ in the back of my truck

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Face Lift for the Golden K

The Golden K had a bit of a face lift last week.  33 dead pine trees were cut down at their knees.  They never saw it coming.  But we did.

When we bought the property there were already 16 dead pines.  Over the past year – mostly during early spring – another 17 bit the dust.  Bark Beetle dust that is.  The beetles bore their way into the bark of the pines and the pines, after five years of drought, can’t produce enough sap to fend them off.  It’s evident from red dust protruding from the bark instead of sap.  You can almost see the trees dying in front of your eyes.  The death starting at the very top and quickly working its way down to the lowest needles.

Fortunately we still have 107 Pines and plenty of Oaks and Cedars and the 33 now removed pines will hardly be missed in the landscape and organic fabric of the Golden K.

The crew was here for five days and there was a lot of chain saw action to say the least.  Much to Kloe’s chagrin.   When you live in the mountains the sound of chain saws is as natural as the chirping of the birds or cockle-doodle-doing of the roosters.  Kloe has literally grown up listening to chain saw noise. Maybe it was the proximity of the saws cutting down our 33 trees or perhaps some sound beyond our audible spectrum that bothered her.   Whatever it was Kloe was very agitated when the saws were buzzing.  Kali, not so much.  Except for thunder nothing seems to rattle Kali.

Kloe survived the week and The Golden K is better off with the 33 dead 100 foot plus matchsticks.  If you’ve never experienced the sound of a 120 foot tree hitting the ground you are really missing something.  There’s a certain majesty of something that big and heavy hitting the ground with a massive thud and bounce!  On one of the falls I was about 15 feet behind the crew member making the cut.  After it was on the ground he turned around. I told him that I knew he does it all the time but for me it was so awesome to see and hear this massive piece of mother nature hitting the ground.   He grinned and told me that it never gets old for him.  Every time he still feels the rush.

 

So 33 dead trees and a chunk of change later the Golden K is a safer place.   33 fewer matchsticks in the event of a fire and 33 fewer chances of a giant child of nature falling on our house, or God forbid one of us or The Girls.

So at the end of the day ( a term I dislike but use here any way) our small piece of the forest was thinned for the greater good and as we look out over it, or under it as the case may be, we continue to feel blessed with our romantic perspective of life at 3100 feet.

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Boss Lady Holly declaring the job is officially done.

Memorial Weekend

Memorial Day.  A holiday in the United States to honor those who died while serving in the armed services.  Before I launch into the main topic of this blog let me say thank you to all those and their families who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of our country.  I hope it was a justified and last resort decision by our government to put you in harms way.

Memorial Weekend.  The unofficial start of Summer.  Warm weather, BBQ’s, and frosty adult beverages.  A time to strip off layers and lather up in sunscreen.   A time when Rock and Roll gives way to Country music and Jazz moves aside for Bluegrass.   At least on my play lists…

There is certainly room for both perspectives on a long three-day weekend.  We can simultaneously pay tribute to those  who have passed during dark times while enjoying the brightness and warmth of the sun in the present.

Around the Golden K there’s other reasons for gratitude and remembrance.  Events that have greatly shaped this latest phase of mine and Holly’s life.

It was three years ago this Memorial weekend that Golden Kali’s foster care givers drove her and 22 other rescued Golden Retrievers to the airport in Taiwan.  The care givers stayed with the Goldens cooing and petting while waiting in the terminal until the last possible moment before placing them in a travel crates for the 12 hour flight to SFO.  Meanwhile, Holly and I and our daughter were driving from Livermore to SFO in great anticipation of meeting Kali and welcoming her into our family.  The plane landed and eventually the 23 Golden Beauties were wheeled in their travel crates into the terminal and united with their new families for a second and well deserved chance at forever happiness.

It was just one year ago this Memorial weekend that Holly and I closed the door behind us in Livermore and drove away to our new home in the mountains.  After 23 years of raising three kids in Livermore we sold our home, packed up our belongings and drove away.  But not before taking one last walk around the empty house, mostly in silence, remembering both the good and challenging times with a melancholy fitting for a major life changing event.  As we walked out we paused and hugged, choked back a few tears, closed the door, and drove away.

When we drove away Kali  – our Golden Treasure – was there by our side as she had been for the past two years.  But now there was also Kloe.  Kloe – the ten week old precious puppy we adopted just a week before the big move.   Some would call it crazy to adopt a puppy before making a major life change.   But thats how we roll and we considered ourselves blessed to have this little girl at Kali’s side as we drove into the future.

Our home in the mountains is called The Golden K.  A year ago we were mesmerized to be living in the middle of the Stanislaus forest under pines, oaks, and cedars.  A year later the magic remains.  Except this year the boxes are unpacked and we sit and relax on the patio looking up at the pines, cedars, and oaks reflecting on a year of great change and good fortune.  I look down at my feet and see my  rock, my girl, my Golden Kali who’s been by my side every day all day for the past three years.  Next to Kali is Kloe who a year ago was 15 pounds and now weighs in at 80.  Still very much a puppy and so very much a part of the fabric of our lives.

So it’s It’s Memorial Weekend 2017 and we are so blessed here.  Here at The Golden K with our two girls and a romantic perspective of life at 3100 feet.

Warm sunny greetings to all  from Kali and Kloe @ The Golden K