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:

 

fullsizeoutput_fb5

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

 And this…

img_0941

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.

 

fullsizeoutput_fb6

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

IMG_8453

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.

IMG_6498

*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….. 

Number Three

Why this yearning for dogs?… Maybe it’s the endless feed of Golden Retriever puppy pictures served up in a Facebook group I belong to.  Or perhaps it’s because of an Instagram account I follow that posts nothing but Golden Retriever puppy pictures.  Or maybe, and most likely, it’s a life force that pulses through my body physically, spiritually, and emotionally.   Something in me that guides me and defines me all at the same time.   I joke that if I have the chance to hang out with people or dogs I choose dogs.  I guess its not completely a joke.  I gravitate towards dogs over people if there is a pup anywhere I am.  I consider myself to be a very social person so it’s not that I shy away from people.  I enjoy people.  It’s just that if there is a dog around it usually commands my attention.  If there is more than one dog more of my attention (and joy).

So I guess it was inevitable that we would eventually add a third dog to our pack.   This morning I picked up “Koda” from True Love Rescue (TLR).  TLR is a wonderful rescue group in Northern California.  It’s the same group that brought us Kali and Kloe.  And yeah, it’s a “K” thing with the girl’s names and we call our mountain home The Golden K where it’s mostly about the pups.

As with many things in our  life Holly and I don’t hesitate once we’re ready to do something; buy a car, buy a house, move from the Bay Area to the mountains, and adopt another pup.  It was just four days ago that we decided the time was right, especially when we learned that there were two pups remaining from a rescued litter.  We called the organizer, told her we wanted to adopt “purple” (the color of the pup’s collar in the picture) and here we four days later with our new pup Koda.  The big girls, Kali and Kloe, were very welcoming and there was no drama when I introduced them to Koda.  Kali was mostly indifferent but polite and accepting.  Kloe, as she is with most new dogs she meets of any age or size, immediately engaged with Koda, with puppy poses, and sniffs of all the usual body parts.  Kloe followed Koda around as she explored her new surroundings and ultimately they engaged in some light play.  Kloe restrained herself appropriately and was instinctively aware of the 60 pound size difference between her and Koda.  I was proud of the the big girls and I know they’ll both be great role models and teachers for Koda in the weeks, months, and years to come.

So yes, number three was inevitable.  I can only ignore the aforementioned life force and pulse in me for so long.  As I end the post I reflect on some of the things I know about dogs in general and especially my girls.  They can lower my blood pressure simply by being nearby.  They can calm me after a difficult day or negative experience.  They can lick my tears away when I cry, and make me laugh when I’m sad.   Sure they can try my patience at times but their patience with me is unlimited.  And the unconditional love they have for me is humbling and consistently challenges me to be a better person.

I  look down and see that all three are now all asleep at my feet.  And for this moment in time I am harmonized with the world, The Golden K, and my girls.

KODA

 

 

 

Boomer

On the day after we moved to the mountains I met a dog named Boomer.  This  dog sauntered up the long driveway to our house like he owned the place.  As a suburbanite transplant who just moved to a rural area I thought, “uh-oh” how many dogs run around freely in the surrounding areas that will be coming onto our property?”  I shooed Boomer away not knowing what to expect.  Would he charge?  Would he bark and take an aggressive stance?   But Boomer, who’s name I didn’t know at the time,  gave me a sad little look as he jogged back down the driveway and out of sight.

The next time I encountered Boomer was a few days later when I took Kali out for her first walk in our new “neighborhood”.  The neighborhood is comprised of mostly five acre parcels with an eclectic mix of homes,  many set back away from the road and out of sight.  As Kali and I walked and explored I noticed Boomer, whose name I still didn’t know,  following us but keeping his distance.   I posted it about it a the time expressing moderate concern about safety and how walks might be significantly different from our old creek trail in Livermore.    Boomer stopped when I looked back at him and he remained still as Kali and I moved on.   As we headed back home Boomer was still in the same place and as we got closer I realized it was the same dog that walked up our driveway a few days earlier.  As Kali and I passed by he kept his distance and eventually ran off with the same sad little look he gave when when he jogged down our driveway.

It turns out that Boomer is a very friendly and sweet dog.  With his black and white speckles and round body shape and short legs he looks like a cartoon dog.

 

Boomer the cartoon dog

images-2

While there are many dogs in the area I’ve never seen another dog walking around freely like Boomer does.  Most families here have at least one dog, many have more, and they seem to fall into one of two categories.   One, they are like our girls who stay within fenced areas or inside the house. Or two, they roam their fenceless property freely and only occasionally come out to the edge of their property line as we walk by but not onto the road where we walk.  They seem to know their limits and what their job is.

With the exception of one or two instances I’ve never seen anyone else walk their dogs.  I can’t blame them as we live on a mountain and it’s usually uphill both ways….  But we walk our girls almost every day.  Often Boomer will join us skipping along in front by several yards and then scurrying back to wait while we catch up.  It used to concern me that Boomer was out and about by himself all the time; and without a collar.  But he seems very capable and comfortable and knows his limits.  I’ve never seen him near the main road where cars travel and he seems to know where everyone else lives and takes care to help them find their way.

On a recent walk Boomer led Kali and I back home.  He was a little ahead of us and he stopped in front of our gate that leads up to our property.  Boomer seemed to know that’s the gate we use to go back home from our walks although it is not the same gate we use when start our walk.  Boomer stopped and waited.  As we approached and headed into the gate he ran on up the hill back to his house, probably feeling satisfied that he got us home safely.   He is truly a great escort and I now laugh at how I could have been concerned the first day I saw this sweet guy saunter up our driveway who only wanted to welcome us to his neighborhood.

Boomer leading the way back home

IMG_4867

Boomer the real dog

 

 

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

IMG_3091

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

40

The Girls chilling’ in the back of my truck

img_3473

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.

IMG_8613

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

 

Merging The K’s

As some followers of Golden Kali know I have another blog called The Golden K.  The Golden Kali blog began the day after Kali arrived from Taiwan and joined our pack.  The Golden K blog started shortly after relocating to the mountains a year ago.

The lines between the two blog sites have blurred because we wouldn’t have The Golden K without our Golden Kali and her sister Kloe.  The tag line for the Golden Kali blog used to be “Kali’s new life in America”.  When we moved to the mountains the tag line changed to, “Kali’s new life in the mountains.  The tag line (I’m a big fan of tag lines) for The Golden K is, “A romantic perspective of life at 3100 feet”.

I can’t think of Kali and Kloe without thinking about how lucky they are, we all are, to be living on five acres of paradise in the mountains.  And I can’t think of the Golden K without thinking about Kali and Kloe and how the Golden K would not be so Golden without them and it certainly would not be called the Golden K.  Maybe the Iron Ranch, or Silver Spurs, but not the Golden K.

So I now succumb to the obvious and will merge the two blogs because they are really the same.  I hope regular followers of Golden Kali will enjoy an occasional post about The Golden K located in the Sierra Nevada Gold Country town called Tuolumne.  And I hope followers of The Golden K will get to know Kali and Kloe, the inspiration for the Golden K.

Followers of Golden Kali can read the first post from a year ago for more context about The Golden K here:   https://goldenk.net/2016/06/22/the-golden-k-begins-now/.

Welcome to The Golden K

40

 

Kloe Time

From Wikipedia (the source of all knowledge, truth, wisdom.  And all for free).

Time is the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future.  Blah blah blababdy blah…

OK , I added the blababdy blah part but whatever….

I mean after all, isn’t time somewhat arbitrary?   I imagine, and can only imagine -because my ADD impatience keeps me from reading more than the first paragraph of the Wikipedia article and even then only some of the words – that there are scientific and logical arguments that prove time to be something other than arbitrary.  If I force myself to look farther down the Wiki page I see words like “physical qualities” and “temporal measurement”.  Huh?…

The article began to catch my interest and as I read further I saw that J.M. E. McTaggart’s 1908 The Unreality of Time argues that, since every event has the characteristic of being both present and not present (i.e., future or past), that time is a self-contradictory idea.  Apparently old J.M.E. was a deep thinker and something called an Idealist Metaphysician.  Cool title but how much could that job pay, right??

“But wait Mike”, you might say.  “I follow this blog to read about Golden Kali, and her little sister Kloe, and to see all those cute pictures of their antics and sweetness.  If I want to read science and hear fact-based philosophical arguments I’ll get that info like everyone else does by turning to social media and reviewing the seemingly endless stream of memes that monopolizes my feed”.

OK, fair point.  So on to the real purpose of this post.

One year ago today we brought a nine-week 15 pound puppy home that we named Kloe.  Kloe doesn’t give a woof about time except if it’s time to eat, or time to walk, or time to play, or time to cuddle.  Those are concepts of time Kloe can relate to.   Kloe time.  But, in “the continued progress of existence and events” it is has been a year, and now at one year and nine-weeks old, Kloe is still very much the same exactly the same pup she was one year ago.  Except now she is 65 pounds heavier and a few feet  longer.

One year, one pup, and one heck of a lot of love and fun this sweet girl has brought into our life.  I might have remembered anyway but in the spirit of full disclosure here is the real reason I knew that it was one year ago today that we brought Kloe home:

Yep – it was in my Facebook feed: “One Year Ago  – see your memories”.  And there were two pictures of Kloe the day she came home.  I smiled, paused for a few moments to reflect, and then scrolled down through the endless stream of memes looking for fake news.

Thank you Facebook for bringing a very special piece of the time continuum to my news feed. 

(1) On This Day 2017-05-07 09-32-59

Thank you Kloe for all the licks, laughs, and love during the past year.