Sunday, December 12, 2010

Blizzards, blow jobs, beer, and chicken tikka masala

I knew the blow jobs would grab your attention, those of you with your mind in the gutter. I mean snow blow jobs! We all survived (we being everyone besides the Metrodome) a pretty decent blizzard. Haven't seen that much snow in ages. My deck is officially out of commission, fully loaded with about 3 feet of snow drifted on it. This includes my grill, which I use year round. It will be sometime before I get all that snow removed! It will have to be chopped, lifted, carried, and thrown over the side of the rails. A good workout, for sure. Anyway, back to the snow blow jobs. Three of us neighbors got together several years ago and bought a snow blower. Neighbor Norm finished up his driveway around 4:30 Saturday, I donned my snowmobile suit and headed over to get the machine and take care of our driveway. I was done by 6:00, and had worked up a powerful thirst! I also had plans on making an Indian dinner, chicken tikka masala, for the first time. I didn't take pictures of the dinner process. I was having too much fun swilling, cooking, and listening to the Beatles.

Here is the recipe:

Chicken Tikka:
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup plain whole yogurt (low fat yogurt will work, but whole is best)
2 Tbl veg oil
2 med garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbl grated fresh ginger

Masala Sauce
3 Tbl veg oil
1 1/4 cups diced onion
2 med garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 serrano chile, minced (heat will vary, if you keep the seeds and membrane, it will be hotter)
1 Tbl tomato paste
1 Tbl garam masala (a fragrant spice blend found in some stores or specialty shops)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup cream
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.

2. FOR THE SAUCE: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

3. While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.

4. Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.

And, as a salute to the blizzard and to my amigo Bob, I purchased some special beer for the evening:

All in all, not a bad evening!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Pork Stew with Fennel and Butternut Squash

I've made lots of stews, and particulary love this type of dish on a winter Sunday. And as we all know, it's always better the next day! So, when I saw this recipe in Lunds & Byerly's Real Foods, (my employer), I had to give it a try. Now, I love fennel, the dry spice. I use it in just about every pasta dish I make. Whether it's tomato or olive oil based, fennel is in there. I don't use a lot, just enough to know it's there. However, I've never used fresh fennel, which kinda looks like celery dressed as a hooker. Now, when I cook a recipe for the first time, one of my rules is to follow the directions and don't change the ingredients! (my wife doesn't agree) However, when I took my list of ingredients to Byerly's to shop, I came across a couple things that caused me to change course a bit. The recipe calls for 4 oz of pancetta, which is Italian bacon. Well, that 4 oz was going to cost nearly $8. Hmm, I thought regular bacon would be just fine, plus I had some at home already. Then I got to the fresh fennel, located in the produce aisle. The recipe called for "4 large bulbs." I'm still not sure what a bulb is, but, one stalk was almost $3. Since I hadn't used it before, I didn't know how strong it was, and I sure as hell didn't want to spend $12 on it. I bought one stalk or bulb. The recipe called for a 4 lb butt pork roast. No butt roast in the meat case, but, boneless pork chops were buy one get one free. Good enough for the girls we go with! So, with all this said I will print the recipe as written in the book, and will tell you what changes I made. Oh, I suppose I should tell you, it is a wonderfull dish! I've made it twice now. It goes into the rotation at our house. It definitely feeds the bear!

Spice Rub:
3 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp rubbed sage
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp fennel pollen or ground fennel (never heard of the pollen, I used a spice mill on whole fennel)

4 lb pork shoulder (Boston butt) roast, trimmed and cut into 3" chunks
1/4 lb pancetta, diced
3 cups chopped onion
2 Tbl chopped garlic
3 cups pork or chicken stock
1 1/2 cups red wine
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
4 large fennel bulbs, leafy part trimmed and chopped, bulb cut into chunks
5 cups butter nut squash
salt and pepper to taste

Combine rub spices.
Cut meat into 1" chunks (this is where I used the boneless chops). Toss the cubed meat pieces with rub. The original instructions didn't specify. I left them season for a couple hours.

Fry the diced pancetta (or bacon) in a dutch oven. Brown for 10-15 minutes. Remove from pan, add 1/2 of the rubbed pork pieces. Brown for 10 minutes, stirring a couple times. Remove browned meat and repeat with other 1/2 of pork.

Add onions and garlic to the pan, cook for 10 minutes. Add stock, wine, and tomatoes. Add pork and pancetta to pan. Turn oven to 325. When the pot starts to boil, take it off. Put a cover on the pan and bake for 90 minutes.

After you've placed the pan in the oven, now it's time to peel and cut the squash into chunks. When you finish that, chop the fennel as directed. After 90 minutes, take the pan out of the oven. Add the squash and the fennel to the pot, stir into liquid. Put the cover back on and bake for 30-45 minutes. All you want to do is cook the squash so it's done, but not mush. The original directions say to remove everything from the pot, skim off the fat, and cook the liquid down if too thin. The boneless chops are very lean, and not much grease was on top. I thought the liquid was just fine, so I haven't done that either time I've made it.

So here is what I used:
2 1/2 lbs of pork, and only 1/2 the rub seasonings.
Bacon instead of pancetta
1 bulb of fennel
Home canned tomatoes, which 1 jar weighed 17 oz.
All the wine, stock, and garlic.
2 cups of onion.
I just bought a squash and used it all. What the hell you going to do with a partial squash?

This stew has a great flavor, very different from anything else of this type of baked dish. I think 4 bulbs of fennel would be too much. The one head plus the dry fennel are perfect. This made enough for 2 meals for the two of us.

Boneless pork chops.

Seasoned pork.

Fennel, onion, bacon, porn squash, fresh canned tomatoes from my neighbor, Karla, and red wine.

Browned pork and bacon. Chopped garlic, fennel, and chicken stock.

Peeled and cubed squash, with the fennel.

After the meat bakes for 90 minutes, stir in the squash and fennel. Bake, covered, for 30-45 minutes.

Mmmmm good!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Landmarks in Elm Creek

The new trails in Elm Creek are coming along quite nicely. There are some sections that are ridable, although, I'm not sure how much we should be in there. The fact that it's been extremely dry has been good for the trail. I've seen other tire tracks on the trail, but, no damage because of use. Bob and I spoke with the contractor today, he didn't have any problems with us being in there. Some of the stuff I rode last week that was fresh has been tamped down and is great for riding.  The 2-3 miles that are hard packed already have some distinct land marks. I took a camera in on Sunday and took a few shots.

What else can you call this, but the bucket in a tree?

Big ass tree.

There are several rocks on the trail, this is just one of them. None stand out, yet. I'm sure that eventually some rider will nail one with a tire or pedal!
The Narrows. A short stretch of trail with trees close together. Anyone flying through better be paying attention!
Elm Creek Roundabout. 3 trees angled outward with a big dead one in the middle. You have to go around the big tree to follow the trail. So far, it's my favorite landmark.

It will be fun to see and ride the trail as more work is complete. I've been waiting for this for 17 years!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Chequamegon 2010: Cramping my style....

I've done the Chequamegon 40 mile mountain bike race 6 times now. I love all there is about it. My friends that race it. My friends that come to watch. The hundreds of people that watch all along the way. The feeling that you get when you come down that last hill and make the big "U" turn and climb back up the hill and cross the finish line. Even though I finish way in the back, I still can hear my buddies hollering my name as I pedal that last 50 yards or so to the finish. That is a simple joy that always makes me smile. Competition for some, but the joy of pedaling for most everyone else, myself included. So what drives me crazy is cramps. It doesn't matter how good or how bad I feel, I always get cramps around mile 32.

This year, my heart rate was too high the first 15 miles, but then it settled down and I felt great. My bike was performing fabulously. My full suspension bike loved the rocky, rutted out fire roads, and I found myself passing people on these rougher stretches. The week in Breckenride, CO was paying off in that respect. But, in the back of my mind I kept thinking, when are the cramps going to hit? As usual, after Firetower Hill, at about the 32 mi mark, I had my first spasm in my left quad. I stayed on the bike and massaged it out. Rode for another mile and they hit again. I got off the bike for a few minutes and rubbed it out. This seemed to be the pattern. Ride a mile, get cramps, massage, ride another mile, get cramps. I started walking up hills that I would have no problem pedaling, trying to keep them at bay. I finally thought I had it made, but, they hit again so bad I was off the bike about 2 mi from the finish. After they subsided, I pedaled until 1/2 mi left, all I had to do was ride down the hill and back up to the finish. They hit hard, again my left quad and then my left hamstring at the same time. I had thrown the bike down on the ground, and a spectator was holding my bike, encouraging to me "just throw your leg over and hop on, you'll be fine, only 1/2 mile left!" The guy obviously never had cramps before. Finally, I got on and made it the last 1/2 mi. I was so disappointed to see the time, 3:45. My slowest race ever, and 15 minutes slower then last year. At one point during the race, I felt so good, I was hoping for a personal best. Effing cramps. They have taken the joy out of the race for me. Part of me wants to quit doing the race, because the pain and frustration are so great, year after year.

But, then I think of all the things I love about the race, the things I listed earlier. I decided that I'm not going to let 15-20 minutes of cramps change my love of the race. Bastards! I'll just keep researching cramps and trying to find the right concoction of electrolytes or witch's brew that works. Here's something I found that I may try. Even though the company is in New Zealand, they have a distributor in Canada and the US. Maybe it'll be the Kiwi solution for 2011.

Anyway, here is a short pictorial of Chequamegon 2010. Leading off is Dave...

Dave finished 92nd overall, 82nd in his age group. GREAT RIDE!!
You made us all proud.

Loading up Friday.

This cabin beat the hell out of the one we stayed in last year!

John and Bob trying to figure out where all of our crap is going to go.

Dave is contemplating 2:30, Bill is contemplating his "own personal hell."

Matt making salad.

The group. Thanks to Madonna, Berger, Larry, and CJ for taking the time to ride up and support us!
Photo taken by Luke.

My email buddy, Scott. We finally got to meet face to face!

A little bit muddy.

Loading up Sunday morning. Four bikes and gear.

Sunday morning, just before we left.

The weekend was dedicated to our good friend, Larry Cain. One thing we always said about Larry, that guy could ride!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Breck 2010 or, picking up guys in a bar is a good thing...

Well, the bride and I arrived in Breckenridge on Sunday afternoon Aug 29. Got into our condo and headed off to the Breckenridge Brewery. This has been a tradition of sorts for several years, to go there on the first night. We've gotten to know a couple of the bartenders and we've had good conversations sitting at the bar meeting new people as well. This year was no different. I was speaking to a young couple on their honeymoon from Wisconsin. A few snippets of our conversation: "We got married in the spring, but, we're farmers and couldn't get away till now." "I was never in a plane before until last week." "Driving in the mountains is pretty scary." "It sucks that you have Brett Favre, ha, ha, ha!" Actually, they were very nice, and the fact that they made their own organic ice cream was interesting to me, since we were once in that business. I even managed to steer the conversation to mountain biking. Imagine that. Diane was engaged in a conversation with a couple on her side of the barstools. The husband came over to me and said he heard me talking bikes, and asked if we could ride together the next day. I said sure. Turned out he was from New Jersey, and had been out there a few days celebrating his wife's 50th birthday. Chris and I decided to meet the next morning and rent bikes. I knew where I wanted to go, and that was up the Burro trail, to a place called Crystal Lake. The elevation is over 12,000 feet.

Here's Chris and I after the ride. We never made it to Crystal Lake. It was drizzling and cold, with patchy fog. Neither of us were dressed for that type of weather. We decided it would be much smarter to head back down. We still managed to get well over 11,000 feet. Riding with Chris was fun. He's similar to me, more of a roadie then mtb, but likes both sports. He's also a veteren of the Mt. Washington Road Race in New Hampshire.
Chris had great legs for the climbs on the Burro trail, but the altitude was getting to him as well! After the ride, we went to Rasta Pasta with our wives and had the Natural Mystic, a curry pasta dish with chicken and pineapple. They had bananas added to it was well. Chris, it was great to ride with you, let's do it again next year!

The 2nd night, we went back to the Breckenridge Brewery, because I knew Dave was bartending. The picture above is from last year. He offered to take me out last year and I chickened out. This year, he asked me again, and I decided I better take him up on his offer. He took me on trails I hadn't ridden before, which was a welcome change. I don't have any pictures of our ride, because I was chasing him the whole time. He runs a single speed 32x18 gear, and he climbed every hill without a problem. He's a very strong rider (and patient as well). We ended up with about 20 miles. It was a lot of fun to have someone to ride with and to see new trails. A big thanks to Dave for taking me out.

On Friday, I decided to re-ride some of the trails that Dave took me out on. I wanted to get some photos of the trails. There are 3 Flume trails, Upper, Middle, and Lower. We rode all 3. We also went on the Colorado, and Blair Witch Trails. The photos below are all Flume trails.

Dave kept telling me I needed to rent a Santa Cruz "Tall Boy". It's a full carbon, full suspension, 29" bike.
It was comfortable and rode great. I'm not sure I like the 29r style bike for short, steep switch backs. It would be great here in the mid-west. I'll have to try it again next year.

On Thursday, I decided to try and climb to Crystal Lake again. As you can see by the photo above, it was a glorious day! I rented a Yeti ASR 5 full carbon, full suspension 26" bike. This bike was incredible! I rode it for two days and loved it. It would be my next bike.
This is part of the "road" to Crystal Lake. The lake is about 1/2 mile from this point. I was only able to ride about 1/3 that distance.

You can read the elevation, 12,015 feet. I started out at 9,608. It took me 2h 7m to go 6.3 miles! Now, I did stop and take many pictures and videos along the way, but, that probably accounted for 15 minutes. I have videos posted below this posting.
I love this spot! This is part of the Baker's Tank trail. It's interesting because the trail turns red after being gray, and it's only red for a short distance. That's the Yeti leaning on the rock, Beely style!
I took this shot on the Sallie Barber mine road. I missed the turn and had to double back. This is a valley and there are a few nice house back in there. I have no idea how they access their homes in the winter. The road isn't too bad, but, I can't imagine how much snow they must get.

It was a great trip again this year. I was able to ride a bike all 5 days we were there. Thanks to my wife for being so understanding! I also want to thank John, Rich, and Mark at Avalanche Sports. The kept me in bikes and gave me a fabulous deal on the rentals. Thanks guys!

I have several videos posted below, please check them out!

Monday, August 23, 2010

How I spend Sundays

Since I am too busy to write in the blog lately, I have copied the blog from Neil, a friend and fellow cyclist! This is video of what we do on Sundays. Carol was great leading us at the end. We were all getting tired as the heat and humidity started climbing. She even got some road rash as some of the group were "sprinting" towards a town sign!

Great ride!

I'm off to Colorado next Sat, look for lots of photos and video after I return.

Monday, June 28, 2010

New frame!

I finally got my new frame!
Bianchi stood behind their warranty. Too bad they had so many problems with the 928 series of carbon frames. This is my 3rd replacement frame in 6 years! I will miss my LUNA, it was a very unique frame, with the white carbon and irridiscent colors in bright sunlight. I always got compliments on it. However, I've very happy with this frame, the "Born for Performance" series of road frames. I took it for a 53 mi test ride on Sunday. It road beautifully! I will need to make a few tweaks on the saddle and I adjusted the handle bars while on the road. The biggest thing I have to get used to is that this bike has a double compact crank. The Talladega that I've been riding all along has a triple crank, which I've really learned to love as I've gotten older and slower. I ride that middle ring the majority of the time, a higher cadence seems to suit me better then bigger gears.

Also, I have give a big thanks to Pam Saylor! She noticed that the gray cages that suited the LUNA so well did not match the new frame. She offered to swap her black cages for my gray ones. Even after it was discovered that one of mine was broken. I love you Pam!!!

The LUNA in front, and the Talladega behind.

Amigo Bill a couple weeks ago.

And Matt, prior to being sunburned.

Monday, June 14, 2010

"He was such a good boy!!" Charlie, 1998-2010

13 years ago, we had a dog named Maggie. We had her 16 years, in 4 different houses and 3 different areas of MN. Towards the end of her life, we met a great veterinarian named Dr. Kivisto, (more on her later). As tough as it was to put Maggie down, after a few months we started our search for a new puppy. Diane had looked at lots of different dog books, and we were pretty set on getting a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, or "Wheatie." We found a reputable breeder that was having pups soon. She told us we could come and see the pups when they were 4 weeks old. We could then pick one out. The time came, and off we went. But, just before we left, Karen, the breeder, called us. She said, "I just want to tell you to be careful when you come in. Wheatens have a characteristic trait of jumping up on you when they greet you. Don't be alarmed, that's just how they are." Sure enough, Maggie, the mother of the pups, jumped up on me when we came in their house. Not a problem! Some of the pups were already spoken for. The puppies were all wearing different colored ribbons to identify them. I sat down on the floor, and this one with a green ribbon came running towards me, faster then the others. I looked at Diane and said that this has to be the one, after all, he came running for me! The little guy with the green ribbon would become Charlie. Several months after we had Charlie home with us, Diane was reading another dog book, and there was a section on picking out puppies. It said to "never pick out the pup that runs up to you first, because they will be the most active and have the highest energy." Well, they were right about that energy part!
Charlie is being held by Karen, sitting on the couch on the left. Maggie, Charlie's mom, is next to her. 

Wheatens change color as they age, especially during puppy hood. They start out very dark and get lighter as they age. Charlie's black mask disappeared completely after a couple years! 

We wanted to be sure Charlie was trained, and took him to two levels of obedience classes. The instructor kept dried liver treats in his pocket. It didn't take Charlie long to know right where to go when we got to class every week. He would jump right up on the instructors leg to the pocket where the treats were! Those of you that have been to our house knew that he loved to jump up on you when you first came in. The men learned to cover their privates like they were soccer players! The picture above is graduation day. Those of you with sharp eyes will notice the Fat Tire hat I'm wearing.
Charlie learned to sit, lay down, heel, and stay. He would sit or lay down for at least 5 seconds or so, on a good day! What he learned (or we did), was that for a treat he would be very patient. Our instructor taught everyone to use the term "release." I could tell Charlie to either sit or lay down, and put a treat on the floor in front of him. He wouldn't move for the treat until we said the word "release", then he'd scarf it down. He also learned to play fetch this way.

Wheatens are known for their little quirks. One of Charlie's was to pull a cushion off the couch, then grab one of his plush balls. He would move and manipulate the pillow so it was just right. Then, grab the ball and sit like he is in the picture. He would move his mouth up and down while holding the ball in his teeth. This seemed to us to be what he needed to do to mellow out. Hence, we called it "nukking', after a baby's pacifier nuk
Charlie liked his plush toys, especially for fetch. What that dog wouldn't do for one little piece of dog food! When he wanted to play fetch, he would grab a ball and come and ram you in the leg with it. Kinda like, don't you get the hint yet?

One of Charlie's favorite sleeping spots was between the wall and a dresser. He would occasionally sleep in an unconventional position, as this picture shows.
Me and my boy on the couch.

This picture shows why Wheatens are called soft coated. He had the most luxurious fur coat. So soft you couldn't believe it. Unfortunately, he developed a skin disease called panniculitis. He had raw, open sores along his back. This was where Dr. Kivisto became more then just his vet. She researched the condition and finally had us go to the U of MN vet school for treatment. He was given steroids which helped, but never cured the breakouts. His gorgeous fur coat was never the same. The areas where the fur fell out came back, but they were different colored. It was during all these visits to doctors that we learned something about Charlie. He could be a handful at home at times, but, whenever he was in a clinic or hospital he behaved perfectly! Everyone remarked how well behaved he was, and he walked so well on a lead. He was an absolute chick magnet. I couldn't believe how the coeds at the U would stop and pet him! He loved it! The skin breakouts continued off and on for a few years. We finally visited a holistic doctor at the U. Her name was Dr. Choi. She was a Korean woman about 4'10" tall. Her whole approach was different. She looked at him and his sores and said; "He's too hot inside! We need to cool him down!" She prescribed these little round herbal pills with names we could never hope to pronounce. They worked! It was unbelievable. He would go on these pills once a year or so. He never had a breakout again.

He was such a sucker for pictures after a haircut, or maybe we were.
A happy boy.

He could look so sad when no one would play with him. He would gather all his toys around him (and a kong, just in case we were to put cheese or peanut butter in it).

He had a grumpy side. We spent about a year remodeling the upstairs. He wasn't happy that he didn't have carpeting to lay down on. I finally bought him a rug. He also used to stare at us from the top of the stairs when we were leaving. We found out from the neighbors that he would howl after we left! But, whenever we came home he was at the top of those same stairs, wagging his tail, happy we were home again.

As easy going as Charlie was, there were a few things he didn't like. Baths, for example. Riding in cars was another thing that got him riled up. I knew he was really sick last week when I took him to the U of M vet school and he never whined once the whole trip.
A couple other things he didn't like were cats and rabbits. When he was young, our neighbors had a Rottweiler named Jasmine. You wouldn't think a 90 lb Rottweiler and and a 35 lb Wheaten could get along. But, they got along famously. They loved to play with each other and run around the yards together. Jasmine was very protective of Charlie. If Charlie was doing something he shouldn't outside and I hollered at him, Jasmine would bark at me! Anyway, our neighbors also had a cat that was kept indoors. Once, when Charlie was in their yard playing, the cat was sitting on a couch in front of a window at ground level. Charlie broke the window with his head trying to get at the cat.
And then there were rabbits. If one got in our fenced yard, Charlie was uncontrollable. The terrier in him took over and he ran after them like a bat out of hell. He officially was an ace. His total kills were 6 for his career. The first time he caught one we didn't know it and he ate most of it. He learned the hard way that killing rabbits is one thing, but eating them is not good for the digestive system! I only witnessed this once, I couldn't believe how fast he could snap their necks. I was at the rabbit a few seconds after Charlie snapped it's neck, it was as dead as a doornail.

Charlie's favorite kennel was the Rin Tin Inn in Elk River. This picture used to be on their website. That's Charlie on the right.

Diane and our little boy. He was always so happy!

And he could be a snuggler, too.

A little over a week ago, on a weekend, Charlie quit eating and drinking. Now, you have to know Charlie. When we had Maggie, we could put a big bowl of food out in the morning and she would eat when she felt like it. Not Charlie. We fed him 4 times per day, 1/2 cup food each time. Trust me, he could count to 4. Eating for him was a pleasurable experience, although it only lasted 45 seconds. We thought maybe he had eaten part of a dead bird or something, like he'd done before. But something seemed different. We got into the U of M vet school for an appointment. After initial tests and then an x-ray, the vet told me he had a mass in his chest, and for a dog his age it was most likely cancer. She asked if I wanted to do an ultra sound, the only way to really find out which organs were affected. It was expensive, and I had over an hour till the next opening. I called Diane and we decided we owed him that much. Well, they stopped the ultra sound part way through and didn't do biopsies as planned. He had cancer cells all over internally. This was on Monday. As I was walking him out, he was still walking proud, and all the people that saw him were smiling at him. I could barely walk. The drive home was a blur. After we got home, we called Dr. Kivisto. She had left to work in St. Cloud about 4 years ago, but, she had recently opened her own clinic 45 minutes North of us in Princeton. She was shocked by the news. We told her we wanted to put him down on Wednesday. She said she would be honored to be with us. Charlie didn't eat or drink Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. The last meal he had eaten was Sunday afternoon, and it took him an hour to eat it. Wednesday was so emotional for Diane and I, bringing him up there was just too much. It was so hard. We got to the clinic and the first thing Charlie does is start drinking water out of a dish in the waiting room. Then, we get in the exam room. The vet tech, out of habit, offers him a treat. He ate at least a dozen! We were told that adrenalin can do this to a dog. Well, he must have been charged. Dr. Kivisto came in, sat on the floor with him like she always did, and Charlie gave her kisses! She looked at us and told us she didn't think this was the day to put him down. She gave us some different dog food to try and all the treats that she had of the kind he had eaten. We got home, and he ate about 1/2 dish of the new food. He never ate again. The only water he would drink was out of a plant plate on the deck. He got weaker and weaker, and by Friday we knew we had to go through with it. Dr Kivisto was closed on Saturday, but she said she'd come in for us whenever we needed to. We got there Saturday afternoon. The four of us sat on the floor, talked about the past, looked at some of these same pictures I have in this blog. Finally, our good doctor said it was time. I held Charlie's head with one hand and petted him with the other. Diane petted his back. Then he was gone. We all stayed on the floor for another 1/2 hour, petting him the whole time, and talking about everything. We finally got up to leave, and looking at him on the blanket on the floor was hard. He was sleeping, and we wanted to wake him up and take him home. But we knew better. He was chasing rabbits. And there weren't any fences.

This is my favorite picture.
Both of these photos are a little deceiving, he wasn't that big, but he was furry! I think he was about a year old at the time. We used to play this game: I would bend over and put my left arm down, palm up. Then I would put my right arm out, so my arms were in a circle. I would say "come on buddy!" He would jump into my open arms and then I would close them around him and pick him up. We only did this for a couple years, he got too big, but it was a lot of fun. It was our first trick.

The University of Minnesota Veterinary School is the best. What I like about going there is that you always leave with an answer. You have a student see you initially, and the student goes to a professor with their findings and conclusions. The student and the professor come back together and go over everything with you. A couple days later, you get a letter in the mail documenting everything that was done. What I like the best, is the doctors always make personal comments at the end. It's a nice personal touch. A year ago, Charlie had a bunch of bumps under his skin. I again took him to the U for diagnosis. Turned out they were benign. Dr. Lisa was the specialist that did the diagnosis. When we received the follow up letter in the mail a couple days later, it was all very scientific and thorough, as usual. But, at the very end she wrote: "Thank you for bringing Charlie to the VMC. He was such a good boy!!"

Yes, he was a very good boy. Rest in peace buddy. Your mom and dad loved you very much.