Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Dog Surfin' the 'Hood

It's been a rough few weeks without my buddy. His toys are still around so it's easy to pretend he's just snoozing in the other room until I drop food on the floor in the kitchen and yell, 'Clean Up!' and no one comes running. Or when I need a big old hug and sloppy kiss....let's just say Cooper is a poor substitute.

I have discovered a way to relieve a little of my Doggy-Less Life Blues recently though.  You wouldn't know it to look at me, but I've been walking three miles a night and 5 on the weekend days forever now. I've always stopped to greet the dogs I've met along the way; a head scritch here, a kiss there. I don't care if you're running, or in a bad mood and don't care to stop and talk, thank you. If you have your canine companion with you, I'm going to wreck your timed run and possibly enhance your bad mood, because your pup and I?  We got bid'ness to attend to! After all, all dogs on the planet belong to me....I just keep them different places.

To be honest, I've lost a lot of the runners in the past. One look at my 'built for comfort, not for speed' physique and they just know, there is nothing I can do to stop them, unless I trip them...and that was just that one guy that time. But I've recently become much wiser. I load my pockets with dog treats before I leave the house, that way I have the means to easily approach folks and get my puppy loves!
I've discovered that all I have to do now is to stop a runner ONE time. Then once I give their fur baby a treat, the dog will do all the work every time I encounter them after that, possibly dislocating the runner's shoulder should he/she try to resist!  Who's a good puppy?! I think it's you! Yes it is!

Yesterday was a pretty horrible day. I dreaded my walk because it was so hot and humid and I felt blah, but I dog-boned up and off I set. Seems like Howard (of  'Our Father, who art in Heaven, Howard be Thy name' fame) knew that I needed a little something extra last night, so he put a lot of new dogs in my path. I ran into the folks I almost always run into each night, like Bubba and Otis, who start baying like werewolves now when they catch a glimpse of me in the distance; and Betsy, the Great Dane whom I've been tempted to ride around my walking path more than once. And Katie and Oscar, two lab puppies at two different houses along the way, that keep my arms consistently scratched and bitten up with their enthusiasm. But last night I also made a bunch of new friends and met some pretty great neighbors too. There was:

Sadie-A sweet, little lab mix that was found alongside the road with her puppy-brothers and sisters in Georgia. I met her in her yard, and then THREE more times with her Mommy and two, young, human brothers out on the trails. She reminded me of Ben the way she sat-kerplunk once she realized I was packing Milk Bones! Her brothers, Seamus and Andre were quite put out that I didnt' have a pocket full of chocolate chip cookies for them!

PePe-In all honesty, PePe may be some South American rodent. He was small with sparse, wiry hair and a bald tail. His eyes here running, he had diarrhea and the longest fangs I've ever seen on a 'dog' but we were pals from his first bite of biscuity goodness. South American River Rats need love too! His dad  was very stand-offish at first, but after two minutes was listing all of PePes ailments and we were discussing possible solutions. It helped that the dad was running into the park where there are no trash cans so I offered to take his poop bag back with me and toss it since I was almost home.

And Reilly-the new kid on the block; an 8 week old Boston Terrier. Oh. My. Howard. I contemplated sticking her chunky, fuzzy body in my free pocket and forcing my chunky, fuzzy body into a run and kidnapping her. But who was I kidding? Her dad was easily  350# and had a 11 month old toddler on his hip and he still would have tackled me before I made the end of the door yard. What a sweet little pup, though.  Not only did I give her a tiny Milk Bone. Her dad said he wasn't sure she would eat it because 'it was her first treat ever'! That's right, direct from Aunti Min!

By the time, I got home, I felt marginally better.  Pretty cheap therapy for the price of a box of Midget Milk Bones!

Monday, May 23, 2016


OK, so sometimes fraternizing with your fellow humans will bite you in the butt; not often, but sometimes.  Case in point, at the gas station today, I saw a young man wearing a green 'I (heart) VT' t-shirt (exactly like the one above), so I say to him,

"I love's so green...well all of New England is pretty."

He looks at me like I have a hole in the head and then looks behind him to see if I am maybe talking to someone else. Nope. It's just you and me. Bucko!

I try again.  "I was born and raised up in Northern Maine but live out here now. I sure miss the Atlantic."

Again, he gave me an 'OK, who's in charge of the the crazy lady' look and finally said, in a clearly irritated, haughty, voice, "I've never been out East.".

I say, " Oh, I just saw your 'I (heart) Vermont' shirt and assumed. Sorry!'.

He looks down at his shirt and said (and I quote), "VT doesn't stand for Vermont. It stands for Virginia Tech-my alma mater" in a snooty tone and then turned his back to me.

Huh. I wonder how much tuition is at Virginia Tech these days, 'cause this poor guy didn't get his money's worth. Maybe  I should call up Virginia Tech and have them add a blurb about the abbreviation for Vermont in their geography classes...and have them mention that Virginia is, in fact, ON the EAST coast, or 'out East' as it were?

After he left, the cashier and I burst out laughing. I guess sometimes the ones that bite you are entertaining as well!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


 I walk three miles or so  every night. I have a designated route around the 'hood. Three laps around-flat and paved.  It is so beautiful tonight that I decided to go a different way around a big field. I stumbled onto a segment of the Ice Age Trail that I didn't know was there. I do so loves me a path in the woods!

The woods was chock-a-block full and covered with wonderful purple flowers.


I think it's called 'Mallow', but feel free to correct me in the comments if I'm wrong. 

I heard something crashing around in the woods and thought for sure that after 25+ years of searching the prairie lands, I was finally going to find a moose here. Since I spent the first 25 in Maine, it is an unkillable instinct to search every swamp, field and woods for them. I KNOW we don't have them here, but I STILL have to talk myself out of looking once my brain kicks in! Turns out, here as in Maine, nothing sounds like more a full grown bull moose on a mating-season rampage thqn two grey squirrels getting frisky in the underbrush. Sigh. 

The trail empties back out into the prairie. I'm so lucky, there is a paved bike path nearby and mown paths all through the grass for walking.

 The prairie has an entirely different set of flora and fauna. 

These Shooting Stars look like Lawn Darts to me!

I'm not sure what this is. I only saw one on my whole trek. I'll have to ask my plant-y friends and get back to you. Until then, I'm calling it Black Death Asparagus. 
(I emailed the UW Arboretum folks and they graciously told me that it's White Wild Indigo and will grow up to look like this!)

Here'a another one I don't know, although there were a ton of them where the grasses butt up against the woods. I think they are some kind of tree
(Later: I found it on line. It's a Shag Bark Hickory Tree)

I know what these guys are! Tent Caterpillars!  These are just baby ones. There are several small nests every spring in the same place on the prairie side of the trail.

At any rate, I'm glad I skipped my Rainman routine and off-roaded it tonight. I came in at just over 3 miles and will definitely take that trail again! Soul soothing!

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Don't Judge a Gansta By His Cover

I love when three totally different planets end up in the same airspace and are forced to deal with each other. I was in Target today. All of the lines had a gazillion people except for one, so I made a beeline for it since I was on my lunch hour and time was limited. The only people in line were what folks around these parts refer to as 'gangsta'; a Latino couple, completely covered with tattoos, piercings, heavy gold jewelry, sun glasses and 'tough' clothes. He had the obligatory hat on backwards...over a bandanna. She was a little, bitty thing so pregnant that she looked like she had taken out the 14 month plan, chewing a huge wad of gum and looking bored.

As I walked up behind them, it was clear he was having problems with the credit card machine and was getting  frustrated by it. The young woman cashier looked antsy as he inserted his Target card over and over only to have it beep and decline. Finally she said, 'Let me try something different', and took the card from him. I was trying to formulate a plan for a graceful (and non-violent) escape when a new mother with a baby seat on her cart pulled up behind me; oblivious.She started piling her stuff on the belt, realizing too late that there was a kerfuffle happening at the front of the line. She clued in after she had heaped her Enfamil and Huggies high and it was too late to get out unnoticed.

I looked down the the guy's arm and noticed one of his tattoos was a bear with a star. I asked if he was from California (because it looked like the CA flag). He said 'YA', in a 'what are you going to do about it' voice. I replied, 'Cool! I love your ink.' He kind of looked at me funny, and I said that I loved to look at tattoos. I told the girlfriend that I liked hers too. Their whole demeanor changed and they started telling me about all of the symbols and what they meant. There wasn't one single gang or white supremacy one to be found, just designs symbolizing places they had lived, family and friends and, in one odd case, a 'special' love that Winnie the Poo has for Eeyore.  I confessed to having a wimpy tattoo and stuck out my wrist to show the tiny pink paw print, star, flower, raindrop, and semi-colon I have grouped there. He grabbed my wrist and looked closely and said that it was 'dope' and that he had never seen an all-pink tattoo. 'You should get a pink one, Mommy', he crowed to his love. At this point, the cashier pulls up her sleeve and reveals a colorful kitty cat tattoo on the underside of her forearm. It was a bonafide mutual admiration society!

I asked the girlfriend if she was having a boy. I felt safe asking because they were purchasing a huge amount of blue, infant clothing, and she said that they were as she beamed. I asked the lady behind me how old the baby in the car seat was and the pregnant lady squeezed back by me to look and coo. The minute she said that the baby girl was adorable, the two ladies were off to the races; besties in the commonality of motherhood/impending motherhood and all that that entails.

Finally the clerk made the card work and got them all checked out. When they left, they told us all to have a nice day in a genuine, enthusiastic way. The clerk looked relieved and sighed, 'That didn't turn out like I thought it was going to!'

After she checked me out, I strolled over to Starbucks before I headed out. The 'gangstah' couple was in the back of the line. They smiled and said 'hi' when I walked in and the guy asked what I was having. I thought he was trying to decide what to get so I told him that I was getting green iced tea and that it was one of my favorites. As they ordered, I was drawn to  pastry case, pressed my face against it and said 'hello' to all of the pretties inside like I usually do.  I stepped up to order and the clerk said, 'I've got you.'. I thought I had been caught leering at the cake pops in a particularly lascivious manner and started to protest that I meant no harm and hadn't drooled on the case (this time), when she said that the couple ahead of me had paid for my green iced tea..size Venti!

I thanked them as they were leaving and wished them good luck on their impending little one. The incident stayed with me all afternoon. Such a lot of lessons; not judging a book by it's cover being the biggest and being kind to strangers thrown in for good measure. People are inherently good. All you have to do is push into their airspace and give them a nudge!

Peace out!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Weekly Challenge #268: "A bit-o-black"

This week's Diva Challenge is to use a bit of black in your tangle. This is probably more than the bit she was talking about....

but I never was one to follow instructions.I also run with scissors, don't play well with others and cry heartily over spilled milk-that's just how I roll. 

It was good to do a challenge again. Haven't felt much like joining anything in any sense of the word as of late, but I'm sure it will pass. My success rate for surviving sucky things is 100% so far. I'm sure I'll survive the hole in my heart and house that Ben left too. 

I did take a Zentangle class with friend-Janice last week. It was one of Katie Butler's that I had taken before on the use of 'Whimsical' patterns. Left to my own devices I tend to veer towards geometrical, symmetric patterns, but whimsical is right up Janice's alley! She hasn't been tangling long but has a distinct, flow-y, flowery flair and she totally rocked the class. She sent me a pic of this tile that she did after class.  
Isn't it awesome!? I hope she keeps taking classes with Katie! She's a natural!

Friday, May 13, 2016


 Big Ben ran joyfully over the Rainbow Bridge in the early morning hours of May 4th. It's only been a little over a week, but the hole he left in my heart and in this house hasn't filled in one bit. I know it was time. I promised that I would never let him suffer and I didn't. I made the most difficult decision    one has to make regarding a best fur buddy. I still think I see him out of the corner of my eye. I long to hug him again and feel his big, goofy, head on my shoulder; his soft, sloppy kisses. I would give anything for one more chance to scratch his soft, floppy, ears.

My Sweet Boy,
I hope you are in a place now where you don't hurt anymore; no knee pain, no tumors, no fatigue. I wish you endless fields to run and chase in, all the yummiest treats and all the toys you can destroy. I hope that the next time I see you, you are waiting at the doorway for me with that dopey grin and waggy tail, just like you did every time I came home the last 11 years. Until then, know that you are SO missed, I will never have a better friend 
All My Love Forever,

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Dreambird Shawl

I joined a Sunday afternoon Dream Bird Shawl knit-along a couple of weeks back. There are 4 of us in the group and we all sat down the first afternoon and tried to decipher the multi-page pattern.  This involved counting (and counting and counting) stitches, a funky cast on, and placing a ridiculous amount of stitch markers. I got really frustrated, and when it got to the step where you 'don't place markers here because there are already imaginary markers', I gave up all together. I got home and ripped the entire thing up and considered not starting again. 

I have an amazing inability to not  anticipate spacial relationship in knitting. I can't 'see' how it should go or adapt to 'make it work'. I have to have definitive instructions and follow them to the letter. I had the same problem with Eliz. Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket where you essentially knit an amoeba-shaped blob and they when you fold it up-TA DA-it's a little jacket. Or in my case, you knit an amoeba shaped blob and when you fold it up... !SURPRISE!  It resembles nothing even remotely close to a jacket. [Not for a boring, normal baby anyway. I put it aside in case a chilly baby with two torsos, a pencil neck and one arm comes along. Always be prepared. That's my motto!] At any rate, I was able to make a beautiful BSJ once Elizabeth's nephew rewrote the pattern line by line. 

Taking his idea, I went back over the Dream Bird pattern, tore it all apart and rewrote it line by line. I took the 'Knit until you are 5 stitches away from the imaginary marker I didn't tell you to place' line and rewrote it as 'Knit 40'. It took me two days to rewrite. I thought I had it in one, but then I went to knit and discovered some mistakes and had to correct them. I think I ripped the beginning out and started over eight or nine times, but finally success!
The first feather. Once I did that one I started getting an inking of how the feathers were built but only just an inking. 
By the time I had 4 under my belt, I had an !AHA! moment and then I was off! 

I've got 10 now and it's starting to become 'easy' although it's A LOT of garter stitch. At least each feather is built the exact same way, and it's not too difficult to rip back when you make an OOPS! The long repeats in the yarn make it look a lot more complicated than it is. There are only two skeins of yarn. The back ground color (Knitpicks Pallette) and the feather color (KnitPicks Chroma in 'Ferris Wheel'). 

I am renaming it 'Bentley's Wings' and will wear it in remembrance of him over my back wool coat this winter. If anyone is going to tackle this pattern, call me. I can give you a lot of pointers! I perform these experiments so you don't have to!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


I went to Pet Smart on Saturday to get Cooper new dishes.  I got there right when they opened so there wasn't really anyone around. I was headed to the cat department when I passed a cart with a big bin of live crickets in it. Depending on their size, they were .12-.15 cents each. 'What an economical pet', I thought. [On  my planet, crickets are friends not food. We take them home, hand feed them yummy, cricket treats, paint their little toe nails and walk them in fields of clover.]

I noticed that one of the lids on the bin was open and crickets were escaping; all over the cart and the floor. Afraid they'd get stepped on, I started picking them up to put back in the cricket bucket. The were easy to catch, they weren't really jumping-just crawling, but the more I caught, the more there were. Then I realized I hadn't shut the lid yet and the little buggers were still escaping. (Sigh.) I tried to put the crickets I had in my hand back in the bin and then shut it, but crickets are very sticky wickets as it turns out! I tried to shake them off and they clung to my hand, wrist and arms like little cricket rodeo stars.  Meanwhile the crickets in the bin discovered that they could crawl from the lip of the bin onto my shirt where the footing was good and the living was easy. Now I'm shaking my hand in the bucket, AND trying to brush the shirt squatters back into the bin. Sisyphus had nothing on me. I felt like Lucy and Ethel in the chocolate factory!

I was making very little headway when a sales kid came around the corner and saw me. I froze. He came to a screeching halt and just gaped, not saying a word...for longer than was comfortable actually. Finally I said, 'Crickapocolypse'.  He gave a nod,  silently turned on his heel and walked away without judgment (or an offer to help). I wonder what he told his coworkers in the break room.

I got the majority of the crickets back in their home, closed the bin and went on my way. Later I found two crickets in my car and one in my clothes, so essentially I wasn't the hero of the day but a thief who shoplifted ~.50 of insects from Pet Smart. Some Saturdays go better than others!

Cartoon Cricket Clip Art At Clker Com   Vector Clip Art Online

Cooper and The Garden Guest

I discovered earlier this summer that finches aren't the only thing that like my thistle seeds. Even though there is a plethora of seeds...