Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Our Dobie

There are not many certainties in life but one J and L could count on when returning home after an adventure or just a day at work was seeing our faithful Doberman standing by the rear chain link fence waiting for us. Dobie, a surprising name for a Doberman, would be standing in the yard rain or shine as though she had an uncanny sense when her masters would return. The other canine family members were often relaxing inside the house or exploring the acreage with possibly a care we may have returned or not (much like human teenage children). They didn't really seem to be too worried about departures or arrivals but our Dobie did.

The Regal Beauty of our Dobie
 Standing nearly three feet tall and weighing in at eighty pounds Dobie made an imposing figure and we knew no one would ever be tempted to clamber into the yard in our absence. With that famous guttural and loud Doberman bark there was no fear of ever finding an uninvited guest surprising either J or L.
The Good mother

She came into our lives, a rescue as are they all, and we hoped she would protect our daughters whenever we were away. She was a lover though, not a fighter. She became the beloved of daughters and visitors and never was there a more loving and loyal dog. Oh, all our rescues have made a great impact in all their special ways, but Dobie was the mommy dog to all those who came into our lives after. 

But God help the strangers who ventured past our acreage. Indeed, she was a great watchdog but truth be known she was also one of the most timid creatures to ever have graced our abode.

Large enough to take down a bull but so timid that carpets had to be placed on the tile walkways within the house since Dobie was scared, yes scared, to walk across anything but carpet, grass and dirt. Don't even think of bringing that 'ferocious killer' near any water where Dobie would stand as still as statue, a very heavy statue, and not move. Cajoling, tugging or even threatening would do no good. She would plop on her bottom and sit there with no intention of moving.

Dobie and our German Daughter, Jana
Dobie did not like water and she was not going near it. On some adventures, when J and L would take their pack of dogs, a mile or more may have to be added to a hike to avoid a small pond or river. Frustrating, yes but that was our Dobie.

Four things Dobie loved the most were: digging in the yard where craters four feet deep could be found which could cause a broken leg if not watched out for, eating biscuits - she had a big appetite, sleeping - whenever possible, and loving her family - both human and canine.

A Merry Christmas with Dobies's brother, sister and cousins
Our steadfast family guardian Dobie passed away in the wee hours of February 19th at the age of eleven while she slept. J found her when he awoke on her favorite plushy doggie bed at the foot of our bed.

We don't know what caused her death but it was her time and she went peacefully surrounded by those who loved her so much.

Cuddle Princess

Somehow J knows he will still see her standing guard while waiting her for loving 'parents' to come home and what more could a mere mortal wish for?

Will Rogers once wrote. "If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went."

Amen to that.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

You break it and you buy it!

The Mall in Waterford City (pronounced water-ferd) in the Republic of Ireland, is the home to some of the most brilliant and expensive crystal creations in the world. Each work is lovingly hand-crafted by expert glass blowers which can be seen in the main retail store in Waterford. Just be careful of what you touch.

J and L felt privileged to walk through the security process, yes, when there are pieces of crystal worth over one hundred thousand dollars, everyone goes through a screening. These are the same people who created the 2,668 little crystals which make the famous ball that drops each New Year's Eve in New York City's Times Square.

Ireland's Harp
This is serious money and a proud piece of Irish heritage.
The Man Who Would Be King

J an L wandered up and down aisles looking at this and that wondering what art work they should purchase with their precious Euros hoping the crystal would make it back to the good ole United States in the same shape as when we bought it.

A Thing of Beauty
The history of Waterford dates back to 1783 when a pair of brothers, William and George Penrose, started producing extremely fine flint glass. The brother's work became world renowned and very expensive.

The company closed its doors in 1851.

Five decades later the company reopened. However, as a result of  the large amount of talent which had left Ireland (fallout from the famine and much more) expert glass cutters were brought in from all over the European continent. The company struggled to remain afloat with the struggling Irish economy in the tank in the 1950's and was taken over as a subsidiary of the Irish Glass Bottle Company.

Yep, Waterford crystal was now made by the same people who put out soda bottles.

"Bottle of bubbling lime aide and crystal chandelier?" That could be more than one could afford.

In 1999 Jasper Conran started designing his own famous signature brand of Waterford. A very talented man that Conran was since it evolved into four unique lines of crystal as well as the fine bone china tableware for Wedgwood in 2001.
Cinderella's Crystal Carriage

Back on top - Waterford was!

Sadly, to this writer and explorer, most of the Waterford crystal is made outside of the Republic of Ireland, in Eastern Europe. Not that J and L have anything against that part of the world and plan to visit soon but the term Waterford means Ireland to us.

Oh yes, the little issue of the seahorse as the mascot for Waterford. Legend has it, and how we love legends and myths, that the factory manager planned it like that. Back in 1947,  Mr. Bill Dolfin believed there needed to be a trademark that would encompass what Waterford represented. Since Waterford had once been one of Ireland's busiest sea ports during the Middle Ages, the graceful and sculptured little equestrian of the sea seemed perfect.

We agreed so much that we dropped a princely sum for a twelve inch tall flower vase to sit and collect dust on our piano back home.

Houseguests - you break it and you buy it!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Another Mystery - ah, not so much!

While conducting the research for one of our previous blog entries (Conspiracies), we came upon some strange and other worldly markings on the hard packed dirt roads the fabulous Toyota FJ were taking us.

For hours the questions were thus:
Who had created such markings?
Where did they come from?
What did they mean?
How could they be there and no one has mentioned them?

Baffling to say the least.

Thoughts of Nazca came to mind from the trip to Peru years back when J and L, with daughters in tow, wondered if the natives had simply had an itch to scrape lines in the rocky surface so future generations would scratch their heads and ponder - huh? Or was it something more tantalizing from
space aliens that allowed them to have directions from the heavens above so they could land safely in their fire ships?

Conversations occurred. Answers pooh-pooed. More conversations happened and more answers that didn't pan out.


And one had to remember this was in range of Area 51. Anything was possible. What is the government hiding beneath our noses or at least our tire treads?

Suddenly the world awoke and there in front of us was the resolution of our verbal quest.

Yes, these wild burros like to follow each other nose to the other end of the head leaving a solid and distinctive path no matter the surface they traverse.These trails are followed religiously, though we're not sure what religion burros follow, day in and day out, leaving discernible markings.

What a let down for us wanna-be conspiracy hunters. But anyway - the truth was out there.

The burro (the Spanish word for donkey) did not come over from Europe until 1495 when Christopher Columbus brought a handful (rather large hand) to Hispaniola from whence they were transported here and there across the ever expanding empire until finally these beasts of burden ended up crossing the Rio Grande in 1598 with explorer Juan de Onate. They were then used for many purposes and some escaped (like all enslaved animals ultimately do) and bred in the wild. Thus populations of wild burros (and horses too) roaming the deserts of Nevada and other states in the southwest is not uncommon.

Really - that was the solution to another possible conspiracy? Sadly yes, and that's no manure.