Monday, January 31, 2011


Another winter storm headed our way. For the whole nation. I was listening to the newscast this evening. The weather is the headliner here, as I am sure it is everywhere. But, what caught my attention was the meteorologist's unique way of summing up the local situation. He said that if the United States was a dartboard, mid Missouri is the bulls eye. Yikes! The snow should start at 7 am and we will get 2 inches per hour. Expect whiteout conditions.

He who would like to procrastinate had a doctor's appointment this morning, so I tagged along to pick up my prescription and some staples at WalMart. My car was covered in ice, but with some persuasion in the form of de-icer, we got in and warmed it up. The 20 minute trip took close to an hour and we saw 7 cars in various ditches and medians. I filled out the new patient forms (legibility and all that) and left him at the office while I trudged off on my mission. After all he is a grown man and I left him with a list of all his medications and questions I had for the doctor. He called when he got into the exam room and the doctor asked him why he was in. I forgot to put that in my notes to the doctor and had to tell them to draw blood. What would he do without me?

But, back to WalMart. I had my list at the ready and thought I should be able to get everything and be on my way. Not so much. The store wasn't crowded. The shelves were empty! No eggs. None. Not a one. Really, not even Eggland's Best. Okay. The entire cooling unit was empty, so I stroll along thinking that maybe their is some problem and they have moved the eggs to another temporary location. No, I went up and down each and every aisle in a demented egg hunt. I gave up. Next on my list was self-rising flour. I always get the store brand, it's flour, just plain flour. Imagine my surprise to find that shelf nearly empty. I grabbed the very last bag of Gold Medal. None of the Great Value. No all-purpose, no self-rising. So, now I am thinking that everyone hit the store yesterday anticipating the storm. Next thing I wanted was fish. Just a mild white fish. NO FISH. I kid you not! They had some catfish fillets that looked freezer burned and a lonely small chunk of salmon that smelled fishy. Thankfully they did have peanut butter and honey, and toilet tissue. No eggs, but we got toilet tissue. I mentioned the sorry state of the shelves as I was checking out and found that most of the employees had called in, so most of the items were in the stockroom. They were also waiting for some trucks that were late. I was glad to know that it was not some weird conspiracy targeted at me. Targeted ........Target ..........WalMart ...........Conspiracy. Bulls Eye????

Sometimes I just can't help myself.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Goodbye Zeke, We Hardly Knew You ........

I give up. I surrender. I am not the woman I used to be! I cannot handle this dog. He overwhelms me. He is stronger than me and when he stands on his back legs, he is as tall as me. He refuses to obey any command I give him and howls and cries pitifully when he who is a man leaves his line of vision.

I could tell from day one that he was definitely a dog raised by one of the male persuasion. All the animals we have ever lived with have been primarily mine. Their loyalty was to me. Wall-E would be the exception, as he loves Papa more than he loves Gramma. That is okay, he still loves me second and more importantly, he obeys me. But, Zeke, is a force all unto himself. He will need a constant strong hand to redirect the bad habits he has. He is not a bad dog, just a stubborn and willful one. Not mean, he is affectionate and I will admit that I am quite smitten with his good looks. Being dog lovers, our furniture is quite distressed. We have no carpet and the couch and love seat are leather to accommodate easy cleaning. We enjoy snuggling close to our warm buddies, especially in cold weather. We have had very big dogs before, so his size is by no means daunting to us. We are used to drool. One of our favorite breeds is the Saint Bernard and we have had many. I am sure that I have a hairball somewhere in my digestive tract by now, but I digress.

Yesterday was my first day alone with Zeke. His master went to work and told me to just leave Zeke outside until he came home. I tried, but, I looked out the window and saw that Zeke was not in his doghouse. He looked forlorn to me and I let him in as dusk fell. I thought if he got too rambunctious I would put him in his kennel. He was happy enough to come in and very affectionate. He leaned against me as I stood in the kitchen and prepared his evening snack. He has been refusing his food. My friend, Yvonne, did point out to me that she had never seen an anorexic dog and that he would eat when he got hungry. I know she is right, but I feel bad for him, losing his original home and all that. So, I am patting myself on the back as I think things are going well and he who loves dogs will be so impressed with his wife when he gets home............

I was in my bedroom with our three little dogs behind a closed door while Zeke had the run of the house. Not good. We were sitting on the couch, Zeke and I, having a lovely chat about rules and expectations on my part. I was giving him a nice rub under the neck, which he seemed to enjoy immensely (if the face wash I got from his tongue was any indication). Oscar was on the floor enjoying the treat that Zeke refused and Wall-E and Emmy were cowering on the other side of me. Zeke sat up and I thought he was making it easier to get a good belly scratch. I was wrong. He had decided that it was time to torment Wall-E, the wonder dog, and he lunged for him. He pinned me to the back of the couch with his body and his one leg that was on my thigh. My free arm was holding the snarling Wall-E back. Zeke started growling and snapping and Oscar decided to intercede and a riot ensued. I was alone, unable to move, adrenaline pumping. I was scared that he would hurt one of the little dogs and I finally freed my other arm and pushed him away with all my might. He bit my hand, my old arthritic hand, right on my swollen thumb joint. He did not break the skin and I am sure he was simply warning me. I took his warning to heart and grabbed up Wall-E and Emmy and fled to my bedroom to the sounds of Oscar really going after this dog that was easily 5 times bigger than him. I did not wait for the adrenaline rush to subside before I ventured out to break up the fight and get Oscar to safety. Then I checked on my throbbing hand and took inventory of my situation. Remember the movie "Cujo"?

It occurred to me that I was being held hostage by a dog. I did not venture out until I heard my husband asking Zeke what he had done. Zeke seemed oblivious to the havoc caused by him. He scampered over for a head rub from me. We tried everything to get him into his kennel. His previous master had told us that he would go in with a simple command. Liar. We tried luring him in with food, with toys, with sweet words, with threats. We tried forcing him in and he responded with growls and bared teeth. I had tossed a sandwich in (roast beef on white with mayo). While our backs were turned he went in to investigate the sandwich and Drew pushed him in and locked the gate.

Heaving a huge sigh of relief I brought out my little dogs and we sat down. I did not say a word. He who loves big dogs said it. He sounded resigned, but he said, "Zeke has to go." I was so relieved. We have always had our dogs from puppies. They are so much easier to train when you start out with a tiny sweet puppy who is dependent on you and wants to please you.

I helped load all of Zeke's food and toys and his kennel while he sat watching from the front seat of the truck, then looked at him through the window and told him goodbye. He is on his way to a rescue kennel until he finds his forever home. His handsome face will help with that. I confess that I did shed a tear as I watched him leave. I know it is for the best, but ..............

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Big Thaw

When I looked out the back door while letting round one of dogs out, this is what I saw. The temperature is rising and soon this will be a bad memory. With every new storm front, I have noticed a new ache in a new joint and I am ready for The Big Thaw............

Zeke does not seem to mind the chilly weather. He was happy to stay outside all day. On day one he refused to eat and was more than a little hard to handle. My back yard was a nice solid white blanket with one path tunneled by Wall-E the wonder dog. Not anymore. Zeke has managed to run and jump and sniff every square inch.

When he is ready, he will stand at the door and cry. He also cries every time he who brought him to this house walks out the door. I can come and go with out any fanfare on his part. That will no doubt change soon, since I am the one who prepares his food. He refused to eat the first day, even treats. He refused to obey the simplest of commands. When I tried to put his harness on he growled at me and nipped me. Did the same with his new master. He went into his kennel and stayed all night until he was let out. Then he went a little berserk. He has had several run-ins with the master of our universe, Oscar, and lost them all. At one point he was leaving bloody paw prints on the floor. Oscar has shed no blood. But he is a stubborn boy and is refusing to recognize that although Oscar may be in charge of the four legged universe; I am in charge of everything. He bit down on my hand, right in the joint that is swollen with arthritis. It was then that I considered him going to a rescue (no-kill, of course). I told he who already loves the new critter to start calling and I left for the afternoon.

I really needed to get out of here. I haven't had a car in two weeks and it was so good just to get out and get a fresh look at the world. When I returned he had calmed down a lot and all was well in our animal kingdom. Well, there is still the slobber .........

Oh, and the issue of walking on furniture. If you think Emmy looks terrified, she is. She was trying to leap into my arms. You will notice that Oscar is unconcerned and will not give up any ground (or couch, as it may be). Just look at he who is the man of the house ..............

I keep reminding myself that he is a puppy, that he is scared and confused. Who could be mad at that face?

Not this guy, that's for sure.

He really is cute and he is thawing out with us. No growling or biting today. Oscar took him down another notch today, but he seems to take it in stride as Oscar struts around after each battle. He kissed me today ............... then I showered.
I am learning a whole new level of patience. I have long since forgotten what it was like when I brought Louise home. St. Bernards have similar personalities and are just as stubborn. She only weighed 55 lbs when I got her and although it was hard, I could still pick her up (I was a lot younger then!). It is a lot easier to assert yourself if you are physically stronger.
Zeke is in his kennel and I am in my bed. All is right in the world ..............

Sunday, January 23, 2011

To Infinity .........

The new dog, Zeke, is here and a one hundred pound puppy is not easy to handle. We took possession today and it has been the longest day of non-ending doggy drama. Oscar has bitten and established that he is the king of this universe. Zeke has been banned to his kennel twice and stuck under the coffee table three times. Wall-E has cowered in my lap very nearly on top of Emmy the entire time that Zeke is out of his kennel. Growling and barking until Zeke confronts him, then he can only manages a squeak.

This, too, shall pass.

But, back to the title. I called Gavin to ask if he had read his last letter from Wall-E. He found the post with the title 'Betrayed' and read about Wall-E's objections to this new dog. Before we hung up he told me he loved me and I told him I loved him more (an exchange started by his cousin, Layla who would answer that she loved me infinity). His answer came back, "I love you to infinity and be gone ........."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ain't Nuthin' Like A Hound Dog

Meet Zeke.
See Zeke with he who told me no more big dogs. He who told me no more dogs of any breed or size. He who loves dogs brought Zeke home. Zeke's owner will be going on the road for an undetermined period of time and cannot find anyone to keep his dog. He is willing to simply give us Zeke. He wants Zeke to have a good home. He knows us to be among those who love dogs.

Zeke came for a visit today to see if he would fit in with our other four legged children. Surprisingly, it was Wall-E who objected to a new member of our family. This is what I look like after only one small cup of coffee and no make-up. I suppose I could have cropped me out, but I rather liked the composition of the photo. Zeke is sweet and offering to be friends with Wall-E, but Wall-E is having none of it.

Zeke is a full blooded bloodhound. Say that three times fast. He is 8 months old and has papers ..... and all of his breeding equipment is still intact. For that reason I was afraid that Oscar would object. Oscar is our alpha dog. Oscar seemed to recognize that Zeke is still very young, therefore easy to train. Emmy was a little indignant that we are adding yet another male animal. She was already out-numbered. The old cat, Smokey, ignored the whole exchange and just watched.

See Zeke. See Zeke slobber. Ain't nuthin' like a big ole slobbery hound dog.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

I'm Dreaming Of A Hot Shower ...........

............just like the one I had last week. Okay, it hasn't really been a whole week. Three days, though. The cold water pipes froze. The ones that travel through the ceiling to our bathroom. We have hot water. Scalding hot water. Trying to count my blessings.

I still have cold water in the kitchen and I can brush my teeth. I have a bucket and I can flush the toilet ........... with hot water. The flushing with hot water makes the toilet warm and cozy. I don't need to go anywhere, so I won't offend anyone with my lack of hygiene.

Got me thinking. How often did they bathe and launder their clothing when they had to haul water in from a well. Would I even brush my teeth if I had to bring in a bucket of snow and melt it over a wood stove? I would no doubt treasure that bit of water that I worked so hard to get. Is this great progress? It is progress that water is delivered right to us, but it has made us wasteful. We all take this luxury for granted until we are denied it. I consider myself to be aware of waste. I try to be conservative with my water usage. I have a rain barrel and I try to think of ways to reuse water from "gray" (not sewer) sources. But, I must confess that one of my guilty pleasures is a very long, very hot shower. You can believe that when the cold water returns I will be in there until my skin puckers!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Gifts and Practical .....

Gifts. They come in many different forms. Some are keepers, some are not. Some are useful and some are frivolous. And some ................ some are unexpected and unwanted.

He who plumbs has been at battle with the water pipes, well...... forever. A busted pipe above ground is not uncommon and although easy to fix is still annoying. The underground problems are not as easy to locate and can be surprising. The pipe above is one of those surprises. See the hole? See the electrical tape? This is a galvanized steel pipe. It was 7 feet underground and has apparently been a source of problems for quite some time. The previous owners had unearthed it and made a repair. Looks like they tried to solder the hole and then wrap it with electrical repair tape. Not really a good idea. You would think that if you went to trouble of digging it up, you would replace the section of pipe. It is cold out there. Wind chill is 2 below. So, he who plumbs is piecing the replacement parts on the dining room table. He covered the table with some of his beloved blue shop towels first. He is learning!!

I love snowmen. My best buddy Deb and I finally got together and exchanged gifts this past weekend. She knows I am practical. But she likes a little bling.

She got me a big snowman that doubles as a serving piece. I love it. I gave her a mani/pedi. What do you give someone who has everything? Yvonne falls into that category, too. So the three of us had a really fun day at the spa. Nothing so fun as being pampered. We topped it off with lunch. I really should not have indulged in that strawberry margarita given my recent stomach maladies. I definitely paid for it!

In the midst of stomach pain and feeling just crappy, I opened an e-mail and found this picture of my sweet granddaughters smiling at me. Jada is wearing the jumper I made for her. I love the baggy tights. I have never, in my whole life had tights be baggy on me!! Remember, he who loves me told me I have sturdy legs!

Then the mail came. A big envelope for me! A calendar with Jada's artwork and potholders from my girls! Can you tell which one is from Maya?

Made my day. I will think of Jada every time I look at the calendar! I am thinking the potholders will never touch a pot, though. Couldn't bear to mess them up! Guess I am not as practical as I claim, huh?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Class A Wedding

I have spent the entire new year battling incessant indigestion. I figured that maybe the cream puff, chocolate eclair eating marathon may have been the culprit. They were mini, okay. They were left over from the party and the men were sharing the wii with Yvonne and I and there they were ......... needing to be eaten. Waste not, want not and all that. I have no idea just how many of those tiny delectable treats I popped into my mouth between turns, but, we won't be throwing any away. I really think I should be better by now, though. I am only eating things easy on the stomach and still having problems, though. I don't know that I will ever eat another cream puff again .........

Fortunately, he who scores higher than me in wii bowling is feeling fine. I say fortunately because we have a major water issue going on. I feel guilty sitting here (writhing in pain...sort of) while he is out in the cold encountering problem after problem. He had to rent a trencher to expose the offending pipe and discovered a concrete slab around the pipe several feet down. He had to go 7 feet down to find the leak. Three leaks. The sump pump died. Had to rent one. Then discovered that all the couplings, etc. he bought are the wrong size. Off to the hardware store he goes .......... again.

So, here I sit carefully sipping my coffee after a night filled with the most horrible indigestion I have ever had. I am bleary eyed from lack of sleep and am thankful we are not busy in the park. But, I hear the chime that alerts me when someone tries to enter the store. I am not open yet, but due to the cold morning I have pulled a set of velour pants and jacket over my pj's, so I open the house door to see what the person might want. It is a mother and daughter looking for a wedding location.

Wondering what made them stop here, I tell them I will meet them in the store and go round to let them in. I do have wonderful gardens in the spring all the way til the first freeze, but right now things are looking pretty bleak. The material that provides shade on the pavilion has been ripped away by the wind and is hanging in ragged pieces from the frame. But, they look like they are in for a low budget wedding and maybe all their guests are campers. They drove into the park, right past all the signs with our park name and logo on them. It is obvious that this is an RV park, since about 30 of them are sitting on sites. The mother of the duo wants to know if it is okay if they have a wedding here and also wants to know where the cave is. They think they are at Graham Cave State Park. They want really low budget. Like free. So I tell them they need to get back on the road and drive another mile and then they will see the sign (can't help myself) that will tell them where they are. My stomach is making audible noises and all I want to do is curl up in a fetal position and succumb to my misery. But, wait, they now want to know if I think they will be allowed to hold a ceremony there. Do I know if there is someone manning the office in the state park ............ I finally push them out the door.

Phone rang yesterday. I answered with my perky voice and the man says "Are you open?" I tell him that I am indeed open. No, he says, he wants to know if the campground is open. I tell him that we are open year round. He tells me that he is traveling south from Minnesota and will need a site. I tell him that I have full hook up sites available and he barks that he only needs electric to run his heater. He tells me he has a Class A and is carrying his own water, that he bought a Class A just so that he would have everything he needed except electricity. Feeling well informed, I am about to tell him that I also have plenty of electric sites when he demands to know what I charge. I tell him what the rate is and he goes ballistic and starts shouting at me about my rates. He says that I am over priced. I don't know why, but I felt the need to defend myself and told him that my rates were comparable to similar parks in my area and that in fact, I was the lowest. He then informed me that the state park was considerably lower and the he would be staying there. All he needs is a place to plug in. He will not need my hot showers! Why do I think he bought a Class A?????? BAM. He hung up. Before I could tell him where to park his Class A.

I have the 'CLOSED" sign in the store. The answering machine can handle calls. I am going back to bed.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Life Of The Party

This is what we all looked like at the end of the evening ......... If you look closely, you will see that the champagne is frozen! We were going to toast in the new year at 10 o'clock (this is what happens when you get old, okay). Yvonne had put the champagne on ice ...... in the freezer, and it froze! This is top drawer stuff, people.

I spent the day getting everything all spiffed up. This is a Christmas Frog. Really. He is.

Mr. Snowman of long long legs is overlooking all my preparations and assures me I have cleaned everything and all is ready.

I believe I am ready. I want to wow them all with my clean, clean house. I did not have time to hang my picture that proclaims "DULL WOMEN HAVE IMMACULATE HOUSES" . It is true!

I proudly display my brand new winter dishes. New to me. I bought them at a consignment store. Forty-five pieces for a mere $25!!! Shopping with Yvonne is so much fun. Our two men disagree, saying they can't afford all the money we save. More about those two later.

My friend, Yvonne. Always laughing and talking ............... and pointing out the spot I missed in my cleaning marathon.

Oopsie ........ missed a spot. Or two.

While I am dusting in my tiara, someone dares to grab my camera.

Jim got a wii for Christmas. Set it up in the store. Drew is getting a tutorial, I think. This is his paying attention look. Really, it is. I know, cause this is the way he looks when I am explaining what I want him to do. Jim, forget it, he is not listening.

Back to the title. Here we have the life of the party. He started out watching a ballgame (he is not particular about which kind of ball game) with his side-kick Johnny. Johnny abandoned him when he started to snore. We all took turns coming in to listen. Crazy Tom can really saw some logs, we all believe you now, Martha!
We all started talking about snoring and remedies. Crazy Tom refuses to use a C-Pap machine. Almost in unison, Yvonne and I suggest the Neti pot. Yvonne is the Neti expert. She went so far as to go get a kit for me. I am a Neti enthusiast now. While I was at my daughters I had her buy one for my grandson. He has my allergies. Just the other night he told me on the phone that his mom had a cold and he was getting the Neti pot ready for her!
Martha said it sounded like a form of water boarding and wondered how it would work on a sleeping, snoring man .............

He woke up and prevented telling us any secrets through the torture of the Neti pot.

When I say "we", I am, of course excluding the two men bowling. All night. They did take a food break. Did they ask any of the rest of us if we would like to challenge them? No. Wii hogs.

We ended up talking and laughing all night. No parlour games. I couldn't seem to locate mine. I am sure it is here. Somewhere. Right where I forgot I put it. I will launch a search party. Later.

We all laughed and talked and saw this.

Laughed, talked and ate. Told stories. Our best story teller, Crazy Tom, the life of the party was missing. He snored so loud my dogs abandoned him. And my dogs love to snuggle up on the couch with a warm body.

Made himself at home, the life of the party. That's okay, we are all like family here. Miss Martha and Crazy Tom, Sue and her Johnny, Mary, Yvonne and Jim. We missed all those who couldn't be with us for one reason or another. Happy New Year my friends.

P.S. For the party from a dog's perspective, click on "Letters To Gavin". More pictures there and the party through the eyes of Wall-E, the wonder dog.