Who We Are

Monday, November 30, 2015

Siber Monday and the MMM

Greetings to all!  It's me, Maggie!  Before I get to today's post, Cammie and I wanted to wish you a most joyous Siber Monday!  Embrace your inner Siberian today and have a ball!

OK.  So there I was, in the living room, just minding my own beeswax, when ...

"Oooh!  This one's cool! A Sibe hugging Santa!"

"Maggie!  What are you doing by the tree?!?"  It was Mom.  Of course.

"GASP!  What?!?!"

How did she know?!?  And then I remembered.


That's right.  The recently re-named Maggie Motion Monitor.  That thing was going off like crazy. This called for one thing, and one thing alone --- the look of total innocence!!!

Just a little angel, napping by the Christmas tree

I think I've got it down pat; what do you say?

"Heh heh heh!!!"

Laugh all you want now, Sock Monkey -- but know this:  I've got my eye on you.

I want him, dear readers.  I want him, and I want him BAD!

Yours sincerely,
Margaret Thatcher

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Still Decorating, Still Iced In

Greetings to all!  It's me, Maggie!  Day 87,452 of being iced in here at Ao4 Headquarters.  Or at least Day Three of no walks.  Mom says it might be safe to go this afternoon.  I hope so - Cam and I are going stir crazy!

We spent yesterday doing more Christmas decorating. Here I am, ready to get busy!

"Let's get decking the halls, Mom!"

We were going to start with the tree behind me. I couldn't wait to get started! I am learning more and more about all the Ao4 traditions - and am making new ones! For instance .. see this little brass bell?

"How did you know I was by the tree?"

It used to be called a Zim Detection Device!  It's been renamed this year, and for some reason is now referred to as a Maggie Motion Monitor.  Odd, don't you think?  It seems to give Mom and Dad special powers that let them know when I'm admiring the ornaments on that tree.  There's also a famous saying that goes with it -- it goes something like this:  "Every time a bell rings, a Siberian is too close to the Christmas tree."  Hmm.  I'll be sure to learn more about that in the days to come and promise to keep you posted!

We have all kinds of special ornaments on the tree:  ones Mom made, ones friends have made or sent us, ones from Germany and Belgium - it's full of special things!  Here's one we haven't shown on the blog before:

Teeny-tiny snowman!

A friend of Mom's made him about 15 years ago. He is only about 1/4 of an inch in diameter! He's the smallest snowman I've ever seen!

We even have a Kansas State University Wildcats ornament:

"Go Cats!"

Someone who works at the university gave it to Mom and Dad years ago!  It looks a bit too much like that Maggie Motion Monitor for me to relax around it.

We also started decorating our favorite tree yesterday - a tree in nothing but patriotic ornaments! Every year, we put a small tree up in the living room to honor all those who served and who are currently serving in our nation's military. I made a contribution of my own - look!

Who needs tinsel when you have Sibe fluff?

Festive, don't you think? Mom said it didn't quite fit the theme of the tree, though.

Long-time readers of the Ao4 Digest may remember this tradition, but since we have lots of new friends, we thought we'd share this will you; it's a great military family tradition from the frontier days! Mom ties some of our dad's brass Army uniform buttons and even some of her dad's buttons to our tree! She takes spare brass buttons from their uniforms, loops ribbon through the shank, and ties them to our tree! Here is a button from Mom's dad's days at West Point:


And here is one of our dad's uniform buttons:


They help us remember all of our troops all over the world.  We'll show you more of the ornaments on that tree - and the others - in the days to come!

Just this morning, I noticed this little vignette by the house phone:

"I'll get it!"
"Wait - it's for me!"

I didn't even see Mom put those out! Oh, how I wanted to   eat  meet those reindeers! They seem to not be there any more; I have no idea where they are now.  All I heard was Mom mutter something about "Uh-oh, she spotted them", "Need to find somewhere else", and something about "up high".  Hmm.  I didn't know reindeers could be so elusive. Fear not - I'll find them! Trust me.  They have a history of tormenting Siberians!  (Please click here and then here to read the story of what they did one year!)

Oh. But in case that Santa guy is reading the blog:

Me and Cam.  The picture of innocence!

See? We're perfect angels. Honest.

Meanwhile, since it looks like this outside today ...

Ao4 Headquarters

... we'll be inside doing a lot more decorating.

I hope all of you are having as much fun with this decorating thing as I am! And to our fellow Midwesterners in this ice storm: we pray that you'll stay safe, stay warm, and that your power stays on!

Yours sincerely,
Margaret Thatcher

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Let The Christmas Games Begin!

Greetings to all!  It's me, Maggie, here at Ice Station Ao4.  That's right, we're iced in!  No walkies allowed at all yesterday, as it was tricky enough just getting to the yard.  Oh.  And to the rain gauge.  Or in our case ...


The "ice gauge".

Mom reports in every morning to a network called the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS). The National Weather Service and other meteorologists use the data they collect. Unless, of course, it's frozen to a post.

One of the other volunteers suggested pouring hot water on the post (careful not to pour it into the gauge!) to get it off - so Mom skated out there and was able to remove it and bring it in to thaw.

Thawing - note the ice in Mom's hand 

Anyway, we had a ton of precipitation (1.67 inches) that started as rain but turned to ice.  Lots and lots of ice.  So ...

... rather than go for walks, we started decking the halls!  This was very exciting for me, as Mom hasn't put up many inside decorations for the past couple years.  Something about a "very curious someone", "avoiding temptation", "staying out of trouble".... I have no idea.  All I know is that Mom started getting all sorts of interesting things out of secret closets!  Things like this:

"Ooooh!  A snowman!"

He was very interesting.  He's up high on a shelf now.  Hmm.

Mom held this decoration down for me to sniff it:

Gingerbread Man in an antique quilt pocket

Isn't it cute? Ao4 legend has it that there used to be a gingerbread man in there made from cinnamon and applesauce.  We in the Ao4 are sworn not to  rat each other out  name names.  Mom made the stuffed one a few years ago. There's a rumor going around that she had to remove that one from my mouth after showing it to me. Hey! I was just doing a little reenacting of that poem --- you know the one, "...Run, run, as fast as you can, you can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man ..." That one! Seriously!

Moving right along ... there's another Ao4 tradition that Cam and I were compelled to take part in. Here's Cam:

Cam, doing the dreaded snooter hanging!

And here I am:

"Happy now, Mom?"

There's a chance I removed that from the doorknob it was hanging on this morning and absconded with it. I was just moving it to a different place! Really!

While we were upstairs unpacking, I met this guy:

"This is St. Nicolas, Mags!  Your grandma painted him!"
"Mmm.  Tasty!"

Like the snowman, he's sitting high on a shelf now.  Whatevs!  This next guy was way more interesting!

"The Nutcracker!  I've heard about you!"
"Guten Morgen."

Zimmie told me many a story about the Nutcracker -- and I could smell over 30 years of Sibe sniffies in his rather messed-up looking beard!  It was so exciting!!!  I made a mental note to get back to him!

Mom got the Dining Room table looking all festive:

Mom made the table runner; she purchased the Villeroy and Bach porcelain when they lived in Belgium

... then we piled all the stuff from upstairs on it. She wasn't done anyway.

 We unpacked a bunch of things called "ornaments" to go on the trees (in the HOUSE -- there are trees in the HOUSE!!!). One of the more interesting ones was a crown. It's called a Chrismon crown and our grandma made it.  It will go in a place of honor once we trim the trees, as they say, but for now ... oh, Cammie?!?!

"I actually don't mind this one..."

It does seem fitting, doesn't it?  For the record, I was rather ... uncooperative about posing with the crown on my head.  Hey.  I was named after a Prime Minister, for crying out loud!  Why would I want a crown?!?

Anyway, the Christmas fun has sure started at our house!  And since it would appear we are iced in still today, the games will continue!  How about all of you?  Are you helping decorate yet?

Yours sincerely,
Margaret Thatcher

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving Walk

Greetings to all!  It's me - Maggie!  We hope your Thanksgiving was as splendid as ours!

We started the day yesterday with a nice, long walk, just like always:

"The cold front is coming!  I can smell it!!!"
"And it's windy and wet!  Ear flaps DOWN!"

Did we mention it was pouring down rain? And tons of wind? You can see our ear flaps are down in that photo above! Mom and Dad knew it was only going to get worse through the day, then was expected to turn to ice, so we thought we'd just suit up and go! There are only two things that keep us from walking - lightning and ice. We didn't have either one, so we were good to go.

Cam and I are built for cold weather, of course, but other family members not so much. As much as it pains us to show you Mom's fashion statement ...

"Is this payback for making you wear aprons yesterday?"

Maybe.  Oh.  Anyway ... she said when you really love someone, you take care of them - and walking is really important to us! Aww... thanks, Mom! Anyway - back to the walk!

We had a great time! When we got down to this part...

"Ooh!  Gushing water!"
"Cool!  What a great walk!"

... the rain let up a bit. There was a lot of water alongside the road, and Cammie liked walking in it! Before too long, she made a cool discovery:

"Hmm.  A gourd?  A squash?  Something!  We should take it home and make a pie out of it, Mom!"

Mom said it was a special kind of squash called A Plastic Squash and it wasn't really good for pie-making. It was a good find, though!

Speaking of finds, we spotted a bunny under some trees!

"Hello, little bunny!  Come to Cammie!"
"He looks scared, Cam.  Frozen stiff!"

We invited him to come home with us, but he opted to stay put. He must have had other plans for Thanksgiving!  Mom said something about him being stoned.  Or made of stone.  Or something associated with stones.  Whatever.

When we got home, Mom got all showered up and started the Thanksgiving cooking stuff. She said she was still cold from the walk, so in keeping with what she said earlier about when you really love someone, you take care of them, I did this:

"How's this, Mom?"
"Perfect, Mags.  Just perfect."

Hey, it's the least I could do, right?

The ice storm has indeed hit, but so far we have been most fortunate and have not lost power. Our good thoughts and prayers go out to everyone else caught in this storm - stay safe, everyone!

Yours sincerely,
Margaret Thatcher

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Psalm 107:1

"Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!"

From all of us here at Ao4 Headquarters, we'd like to wish all of you and your families a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Take time to count your many blessings, and when you do, please remember to say a prayer of thanks for the men and women of the US military serving all around the world.

"We're so thankful for those serving in our Armed Forces!"
"And for a wonderful home, a loving family, great friends, good health..."

First and foremost, we give thanks to God for our countless blessings!

We confess, the photo above was taken two days ago.  It is currently pouring buckets of rain outside, and is expected to (possibly) change over to ice this evening.  Fear not!  We cooked the turkey overnight in the crockpot, the Sweet Potato Pie is ready, and we just have a few other things to finish up -- in case we lose power.    Now that we're back from our walk in the rain, we're ready to suit up and get busy!

"No, really.  We'd be more than willing to help with the turkey, Mom."
"And the gravy... and the sweet potatoes... and the cranberry sauce..."

Happy Thanksgiving!
Cam, Mags, and our bipeds

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Beautiful Day!

Hello, everyone!  It's me, Cammie!  Yesterday was such a beautiful day!  Yes, it would have been better if it was bitterly cold and snowing, but instead it was over 70 degrees and sunny.  That seemed to make Mom and Dad really happy - so Maggie and I made the most of it!

We started the day by taking Mom and Dad for a nice, long walk.

We walked part of the Hudson Trail ...

"I wonder if Murphy will be out?"
"I hope so!  He's such a nice boy!"

We saw our friend Murphy and got to say hello to him!  It was wonderful!

After that, we got to walk down my favorite hill to go up.  I love walking that way!

After that, we walked up the path by the water tower.  There are always so many cool smells up there!

"There's something in there!"
"Could be a bunny!  Or a bird!  No, wait ..."

Mom and Dad didn't let us jump in there to explore, for some odd reason.

When we got near the top of the hill, Mom wanted us girls to pose for a photo.

"Don't look at her, Mags."
"Got it, Cam." 

We just weren't feeling it.

When we got home, Mom wanted to get a shot of us in front of the Burning Bush, so we obliged.

Maggie and me

Did I mention Mom remembered she had treats in her pocket?  Yeah.

So then, after Mom and Dad did some work-like things and we all had lunch, we headed out again!

We went down one of our favorite winding paths ...

"Lions and tigers and bears..."
"...oh MY!"

... then zipped past the Kansas Ocean.

Mags and me by the KSO

On the way home, I did this cool thing with my shadow:

Me ... and my shadow

We had such great fun!  We took naps and played with toys for the rest of the day.  I hope your day was just as beautiful!


Monday, November 23, 2015

Working On The Weekend

Greetings to all!  It's me, Maggie!  I hope all of you had a good weekend.  Cammie and I mostly worked.  I know - it's because we're proud Working Breed pups!  It's in our blood and gives us great joy!

I helped Mom in the Studio for the first time in quite a while! She set up my cool box in a different sort of configuration!

"How awesome is this?!?" 

Mom may have mentioned something about helping me focus my efforts strictly in the inner and outer Studios and not spread around to the rest of the downstairs, but I'm not quite sure what that's all about! All I know is I can run around both of the rooms, go under that one part of the sewing table, then there's my box there; it's like a being in a castle! It's awesome!

I had a great time down there, helping Mom and all.  Working.

Ah, yeah -- Cammie.  Poor Cam!  Instead of boxing with me -- I mean working in the Studio, she had to stay upstairs and help Dad.

"Oh.  Um... hello."

Poor thing. She really carried the workload this weekend.

"I don't always get to play with this toy,
but when I do, it's because Maggie is otherwise engaged."

She said she didn't mind helping Dad out, and even encouraged me to go help Mom in the Studio some more this week.

"La la la la la la la...."

Is she an awesome sister, or what?!?!

Yours sincerely,
Margaret Thatcher

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Serene Scenery Surprises Sunday

Hello, everyone!  It's me, Cammie!  Welcome to Serene Scenery Sunday -- oh, with surprises, as per the title!  Lately, I've been very interested in our side yard.  Mom has let me do a bit of exploring and ...

Me - in the honeysuckle patch

That's right - something or someone has been in the honeysuckle!  Mom and Dad trust my hunting instincts, so they've been on extra-alert for intruders!  They KNOW something has been visiting our yard!

Then, the other morning, just as Mom was grabbing her coffee, she looked out the door to the deck and check out who she saw!


There was a third one, too, but Mom didn't get her in the photo! It was very exciting!

For those who might be wondering, Maggie went out on the deck to help Mom get the shot. She saw the deer and they saw her, but neither party reacted. We just stare at things; we don't bark. It's not like Maggie could run off the gated deck, dial the combination to the lock on the gate to our 6-foot fence and chase them! Anyway - just wanted to let you know. Me? I stayed in the house, in case Dad wanted to serve my breakfast while Mom was out there.

Anyway, now Mom and Dad know why I've been so interested in that side of the house!  Mom just loved seeing them - they do not come into our neighborhood very often at all!

Later that day, Mom had another surprise! You know how she loves birdies? Look at who showed up!

Cedar Waxwings!
They are about as good as Siberians in the "holding still" department
Going for a nice, plump fruit!

Maggie wanted me to add that when she tries to eat those fruits, she is told "NoNoMaggieNo", but when the birdies do it, Mom is delighted and stands there photographing them.  Mags may have mentioned something about a double standard, but since this is SERENE Scenery Sunday, I'll just leave it there.

OK, back to the birdies:

Puffing out his feathers
Action shot:  DIVE, DIVE, DIVE!

Mom took a ton more shots of them. Please check out our set on FlickR, if you're interested.

Later on, Mags and I went out to relax on the deck.

"Wait!  Mags, I see something!"
"Is it the deer?!?!?"
"Ah.  A guy with a Labrador.  That's cool, too!"
"But it COULD HAVE BEEN the deer!"

It COULD have been!  Mags and I are keeping an eye out for them!

Anyway, we hope you enjoyed our photos of some of our surprise visitors!  Do you feel the serenity?

Have a lovely Sunday!