Friday, May 25, 2012

BBQ Ribs Cookoff in San Juan Bautista

BBQ Ribs Judge
Alrigh,t I know!  Enough of Ralle in the "shades" already.  This is the last one ...promise.  We just could not let it go to waste.

Week end number two in the Old West was, yea, sort of typical old west.  A bunch of BBQ enthusiasts were having a cook off contest in San Juan Bautista, an old mission town, near here.  What that means for us who want to participate is that one could eat oneself silly, or just gnash on a rib or two!

Ralle and his fans.
Various competing teams set up their wagons with, in many cases, very elaborate smokers and grills along the street so you can eat your way from one end to the other or just graze at the wagon of your choice.  BBQ sauces are being sold along with all sorts of other BBQ paraphernalia to make you a BBQ expert in your back yard.  It is a fun and fabulously tasty event let me tell you!

Ralle after a few beers at Mom and Pop's.
Ralle who is a hit no matter where we go was a highlight for a lot of the visitors.  He guarded the saloon  for a while as we found a shady spot there waiting for another "load" of ribs.  Don't anyone tell Ingela that even Ralle had a few tastes...... NO BONE ..... just a bite or two of the good meat. Ralle smiled!

Ralle had some competition in the cute department.
Yes people came in all shapes, sizes and ages, many with dogs at their side.  None as elegant, impressive, or as sweet as our Ralle of course.  There were babies being introduced to their first rib and their first Cook Off and many veteran Rib Eaters as well.

Yum, yum.  Now THAT is a rib judge in the making!

There was music and dancing in the street in this little town.  A Western band of course, anything else would have been so wrong.

We had the pleasure of having Ryan with us for the week end.  The rest of our family was in Minnesota fishing for walleyed pike, checking out Itasca State Park, and the headwaters of the Mississippi River.  Hmm .....  BBQ or   fish fry!  A toss up?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ralle "The Agility Judge"

The Main Dog
Well,  Ralle was not the main dog, he was more of an anomaly as we attended an agility event our very first week end in California.  Agility is BIG in California.  Overtaking regular dog shows in popularity by leaps and bounds.  Buddy is an agility star!  This event at Casa De Fruta had about 500 dogs entered.  Mainly collies of various kind and cattle dogs some poodles......  

Maria, Laura, Buddy, Neta, and Ralle
That said even Pyrenees compete amazing as that might seem.  If I am not mistaken someone had a dog from Oneida Acres as a contender.  Papillons are increasingly popular and those little cuties just seem to fly!

The Competition looks tough.
Maria's veterinarians,  a couple who have Madonna Mountain Veterinary Service, are avid competitors and they have a Great Dane!  As a puppy she learned how fun it was!  She, the Dane, grew up with some Border Collies and as a puppy she had no problems going through the shoot.  As she grew she simply learned to scoot!  Pretty awesome we think.

The courses are tuff!  Never the same!  The dogs have to follow the signals of their person!  It is very physical for both "partners".

We were too distracting for Buddy who kept looking for us so we left and did not get to see him perform and we did not get any pictures of "the team" during this event.  Laura who is an instructor in the sport "runs" him in Linnea's absence.  Laura calls Buddy her "good luck charm"!

Linnea will be home in the end of this week after finishing her first year at the culinary university she attends in Providence Rhode Island and we know Buddy will be elated (as will the rest of us).  The two of them will have a blast at the events this summer.  We will be there cheering them on that's for sure! Linnea has also been asked to cook at some of the events by some of her friends and team members.  It is going to be a fun summer for us all.

If Ralle can't be a judge at the very least he can be a mascot ^..^ or  V..V

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ralph Lauren aka Ralle a California Super Star

Ralle is now a Californian
Here we are, "California here we come — right back where we started from".  It has been an eventful week with much to be reintroduced to, much to relearn, new "temporary digs" and all.

Our trip went well.  We were worried to death about Ralle and Mister!  So the trip from Frankfurt to San Francisco seemed to take an eternity........ but with sweet instructions from a dear, kind friend and advisor, we envisioned both Ralle and Mister as wrapped in a blue soft blanket through the entire trip and by gosh it worked.  Our twosome seemed relatively unconcerned when we at long last picked them up in San Francisco.  (Big sigh of relief ......... thank you dear H........ it helped a lot :-)

The Moon from California
Now we have settled in a bit and obviously our daily and nightly walks with Ralle  and his new buddy Buddy have a different look to them.

Oh, these California hills!

Ralle and Buddy, the whippet, have become great friends.  Mister on the other hand, not so much. Since sight hounds are "made to chase" whatever moves, and is part of a whippets D&A we are taking their introduction one slow step at a time.  Mister who adores his best friend Ralle is totally unafraid of dogs, for good or for bad, so yes we take it slow.

We will see how it goes ... Rome was not built in a day as they say.

We just wanted to show a bit of our new surroundings, the new look of the "hood" we now walk in on our morning and evening outings.  As we pass Pampas Grass

new sown fields

or vultures waiting on a gate or soaring above our heads.  Oh so Western a landscape and look.

Business Park outside San Jose Airport
Ralle is adjusting to the warmer days and is already guarding his "new" house, horses and extended family.

Cascading water
While visiting San Jose the other day he, the Super Dog, was making friends both left and right.

 On the subject of Super Dogs we missed the famous and fabulous Puppy Gathering at Kennel Vi'Skaly's today!  We were there in heart and spirit however and know the lucky attendees had a great day with great food, great dogs, great hosts and great friends!

This is just a little update. It has been an eventful last few days ...... more later.

Now we will check out the solar eclipse, have a few tortilla chips with Chevy's Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa and a Mexican beer!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Up Up and Away-- Here We Go!

Mister and Ralle Maud's bed

It has been a true adventure!

Spring in Laholm



Four amazing years during which time we have learned so very much.
How fortunate we have been to have had this opportunity.
To have lived in this post card pretty country.



We have met many new wonderful friends.  These friends showed us kindness, helped us, and offered us good advice.  These friends made it less difficult for us to navigate our way thru the Swedish culture.  Thank you all for your consideration, support and friendship.



During all those years living in America I yearned to GO HOME!  Having visions of life as neat, clean well organized, green and pleasant.  But, somewhere deep down, there was some sense of the less pleasant aspects of Swedish culture.  But, that gut feeling, I suppressed and I just knew that those things that I recalled as negative must have changed!


It has been a great "ride" as they say!

Poppy and Ralle in Jonstorp

Great Friends

It is important for me to say that my husband is a "champ" willing to support me in this quest.  How many husbands would do that?

Ralle making new friends in Halmstad

During these last four years we have had some great visitors and some even grater visits back in California and Washington State.  We have had friends come and many family members and it has been with utmost pride we have shown them around in this incredible land.

Halmstad Library

These visits in both directions did make us aware however of how much we truly missed our immediate family.  The visits in either direction was not enough......... we need to be closer!  This was true for our friends as well.

Sailboarders in Farhult

Many discussions and much soul searching ensued and sometime in January we decided that returning to the States was what we wanted to do.  Not forgetting that earlier we said that such a thing would never happen!  It is nice to know it is OK to change ones mind.  We weighed all our options, looked under every rock of our being, and decided that this was the right thing to do.

Melbystrand typical yard

Melbystrand typical summer house

Put the "fun house" up for sale, and ouch, it sold in about twenty minutes!  We had not expected that!
We will be heading for California since that is where we feel most at home and Lord knows where we will end up.  We have Ralph Lauren the beautiful Pyrenees aka Ralle in tow along with Mister Cat previously known as Miss Kitty......... later on I plan to write a book about traveling LONG distances with a giant dog and a stir crazy cat.

Melbystrand Walk

Perhaps it is true "you can't go back" as so many people have said.  To that I can only say that I am so glad to have tried.  Had I not I would still yearn and still wonder.

Wonderful Spring and Sun

Whatever comes next I can only say that We/I have lived a full life.  If I had to do it over, ALL of it, I'd do it again exactly the same.  No regrets here.

The beaches will soon be filled with sun worshipers

While here David learned a new trade.  I have read lot's of books.  We have met many absolutely fabulous people with whom we will keep connected.  Kennel Vi'Skaly's Ingela and Pernilla, who shared both Ralle and Mister Cat with us, we are forever grateful for their trust and for allowing us all that extra love.  Through them I/We have friends like Stina, Lene, Stoffe, Daniel,Jessica, Arita,Alexandra and many others with whom I feel a special  bond...... the beautiful DOGS!

Taking it all in

Thank you one and all for adding something to our long list of unforgettable memories........

Ralle last footprints in Sweden

Wait, Just Wait...... do we have some stories to tell!

We had a great time

Time for  lunch, a burger hot off the grill ......... we will be off in search of other adventures... let's see what will come ......... exciting it will be!