Friday, January 19, 2018

Saturday Smiles - Scary Movie Time

Abby Lab here, "bacheloring" it with Mom while Dad is in the UK on business.  A couple of years ago Mom and Dad gave away their small flat screen TV.  It really looked out of place in our 100-year-old home and there was no wall space to mount it given the many sconces and windows.  They hardly watched network TV anyway and don't miss the cable bill.  Mom has an extra large monitor for teleworking so they stream or watch shows and movies on that through Amazon Prime or their collection of boxed sets as the office (which was originally a very large master bedroom) is also a den with a comfy futon, fluffy rugs and other decor to make it cozy.
But with Dad gone Mom I watched some scary movies.  He doesn't like them, but Mom does.

After watching a few of them,  I'm going to teach you what we learned the last few nights.

When it seems that you have killed the monster, never check closely to see if it's really dead.

If you find that your house is built upon or near a cemetery, had previous inhabitants who went mad, flung themselves off the roof, or died in some horrible accident OR inhabitants that dressed in black robes with a giant flaming Pentagram in the yard (I know they said it was a Tupperware party, they lied) move immediately.

Never read a book of demon summoning aloud, especially not as a YouTube video.

Do not search the basement if the power suddenly goes out.
Never ask "is somebody there?" if you live alone and hear a strange noise.

When traveling in numbers, never "pair off" or go it alone.

As a general rule, don't solve puzzles that open portals to Hell.

Never stand in, on, above, below, beside, or anywhere near a grave, tomb crypt, mausoleum or other house of the dead at midnight on Friday the 13th.
If you hear a strange noise in a distant part of the house and find out it's just the cat, leave the house immediately, as it's never the cat.

If appliances start operating themselves, move out. If it's the 1940's stand mixer, call a Priest.

If you find an old farm town which looks deserted, it's probably for a good reason.  Take the hint and turn around. If there are two vacant-eyed kids selling kettle corn at a roadside stand in said deserted town ignore all posted speed limits.
The mutant alien cucumber from "It Conquered the World.

Vegetables can hurt you.  Eat more Pizza.

If you hear a strange noise outside  Do NOT go out there. Or at least take a weapon, some common sense, or a disposable secondary character to use as a distraction.

Don't babysit - seriously, in scary movies babysitters are psychopath crack. Mow laws, the psychos never go after the kid mowing the lawn.
When Muppets Do Meth

Don't fool with recombinant DNA technology unless you're really sure you know what you are doing.

If you are running from the monster, boogieman, etc, expect to trip or fall down at least twice, more if you are female and scantily clad.  Also note that, although you are running and the monster is merely shambling along - it will still catch up with you
If that house in seemingly excellent condition is SUPER cheap don't buy it.
If your companions or housemates suddenly being to exhibit uncharacteristic behavior such as hissing, fascination with blood, glowing eyes, increasing hairiness and so on, get away from them as fast as possible.

If your car runs out of gas in the middle of nowhere do not knock on the door of the nearest dark dwelling for help.  That never ends well.
If your children sudenly speak to you in Latin or in a  deep, dark voice other than their own, pack up their things and drop them off at a relative you don't like.

Don't be a teenager - sure the parties and alcohol and lack of parents at your rave in Mom and Dad's mansion may seem like fun but it just draws demented ax murderers.  Case in point.  Last night, Mom watched a movie wearing Cuddleduds with hair color on her roots and munching on popcorn.  I can guarantee there wasn't an ax murderer within 50 miles.

And lastly folks - if you want to survive to the end of the movie - KEEP YOUR CLOTHES ON!
I'm not scared Mom, let's watch another one.

Thursday, January 18, 2018


The photo above is from a winter trip for a speaking engagement in Dublin that resulted in a weekend side trip to Northern Ireland to play tourist for two days on my own dime before flying back stateside.  After a LONG time between villages as I was in the middle of nowhere (thank you Irish GPS, which I think had too much Guinness) nature called so I found a very  isolated spot (which was pretty much a description of my whole "direct to Portrush" route) and got out of the vehicle to pee.

I suddenly had an audience.  A minute later, as I got my pants up, a farmer appeared off in the distance, chuckling merrily, with feed for the sheep.  Apparently, I showed up right when they were normally fed, and he was gracious when he spotted the rental car and redhead sprinting for the tall grass and gave me some privacy while I finished up.
Watcha doing?

My husband is in the Northern UK on business this week and sent this news link.

Sheepdog in training brings whole flock into the house.  It made me smile (but I'm glad I didn't have to clean up the mess.)


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Not so Wordless Wednesday.

Abby Lab here - this was sort of me today.  It wasn't a quiet day.

There was a word, a very loud word, one of the HBO ones.

I was coming in from my walk with my dog walker, and I was ALL excited from rolling in the snow and getting a treat for a good potty, and I was SO excited I just RAN through the kitchen into the dining room as fast as I could go to see Mom in her office.

And rammed my head at warp speed into Mom's bad knee in the middle of the living room as she went to refill her tea.  Not just "no meniscus" bad knee, but "fell on ice on the landing in her bathrobe taking the trash out and took all the skin off of it a week ago" bad knee.  The scab had finally formed completely.
I'm sorry Mom - why is your knee bleeding?   Uh Oh. I'm sorry Mom
"Hey we're union - no scabs around here."

Sorry Mom, trying to make a funny. I did not head butt your scab on purpose.

Mom's knee was bleeding and my head didn't feel so great for a minute but another treat from the walker made me feel ALL better.

Maybe we'll both have some ice cream tonight and the day will get better.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tongue Out Tuesday

I see you only finished half of that grilled-cheese sandwich
Mom. May I offer my services as a "doggie bag?"

Monday, January 15, 2018

Monday Eats - Flying Frisbees of Goodness

Abby T.  Lab here - Mom made my favorite flying Frisbees this morning after she shoveled the long driveway after we had several inches of snow in Chicagoland.  Dad is in England on business so she figures she deserves some pancakes and bacon for the extra work.  There's her excuse anyway.

I don't get syrup on mine, but they are FUN to catch and eat.

This is the best recipe ever and makes the lightest, most aerodynamic Frisbees ever with the best texture as well as lift over drag ratio!

In one bowl mix:

1 cup flour (Mom is allergic to malt which is in the cheap store flour - she uses White Lily or an organic flour such as Arrowhead Mills - they are both Malt free but if you see White Lily in Texas snag some - it's a Southern soft winter wheat, unlike the flours up north and makes the lightest and fluffiest biscuits, pancakes, muffins, and waffles)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
In small bowl mix

1 cup room temperature Kefir (Kefir is a drinkable yogurt found with or near the yogurt in th store in a quart sized bottle.  It is normally lactose free and full of probiotics - if you can't find it use buttermilk or milk soured with a tablespoon of lemon juice replacing a tablespoon of the milk.)
Splash of pure vanilla extract (about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon)
1 egg (at room temperature) or equivalent egg substitute.

Whisk wet ingredients together, and then SLOWLY stream in while whisking - 

1/4 cup melted butter

Mix wet and dry ONLY until mixed (do not overmix) and cook on a griddle on which a drop of water sizzles.  The batter should be fairly thick.  If it is not (this should NOT be a pourable batter) add 1 Tablespoon of flour.

Don't make make them too big to make them easier to flip as these are thick fluffy pancakes. Mom uses a 1/4 or a 1/3 cup measure to make the pancake.  Makes about 10 medium sized pancakes. They freeze well - no need to buy those expensive boxed frozen pancakes.
- Abby T. Lab
Warning - Eating Too Many May Induce Flying Frisbee Coma

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Like a Hawk

This morning, we got up about our usual time for a Saturday and there was NO activity at the bird feeders nor a squirrel in sight. Normally by around 7:30 they're out and about and with it 10 degrees out I knew the birds would be looking for food and the fresh water I put out.

I looked carefully through the yard. Under the Spruce tree by the feeders, I saw a shape. At first, I thought it was Mr. Bun, our yard rabbit, but it was too big and he's normally out at dusk.

It was a hawk.

Lying in wait under the tree. For I have the feeders under the branches of two 100-year old Spruce trees so the critters have a little protection. He was just waiting. Now, I know hawks have to eat too, but not in my yard, there's a forest preserve two blocks away that's about 6 square miles with lots of critters in it.

I grabbed a bag of peanuts and went down my steps in my bathrobe and bright pink pajama bottoms and ran towards the hawk, shouting and waving the bag of peanuts. He flew off. I turned and saw our next-door neighbor, a retired Navy Vet in his driveway laughing.

I said, "just feeding the birds Bruce". He just chuckled and said, "I'm sure they appreciate it!"

I think I"m a regular source of entertainment for the neighbors.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Thankful Thursday - The Word "Love"

Today we are joining

and his Thankful Thursday Blog Hop with some thoughts on love, and how lucky we are to have it.
"Dog's don't know the word "love". To them, it's just a word like any other, a sound that defines or simply fills a lack, a word they don't need to know any more than they need to know the word for fear and pride. Yet, though they can't articulate it, they show it, as though nothing else had ever been, our form the shape and echo of all that is necessary to them.

--from "The Book of Barkley" by LB Johnson

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Driving Mr. Barkley

For about 3 years I had a commute of about 4 hours each way every Monday morning and Thursday night between Indianapolis and Chicago. I worked four 10 hour shifts a week so it made for some LONG days.  I wanted to move to Chicago permanently to join my new husband but  I had a career and a townhome in Indiana.  My large home had sold and I was just renting the townhome, but transferring up to Chicago job-wise wasn't an option as there were no openings at my pay grade (I'm sort of like "Director" if we were NCIS) and I was too close to retirement to take a pay cut to be closer to home.  With people retiring, I knew there'd be an opening if I was just patient.

Fortunately, I had a big, sturdy American made barge of a vehicle to haul Barkley, and later Abby when we rescued her, back and forth.

Sometimes there's miscellaneous cargo of the squirrel, and not so squirrely, in the back..
Often it was dark when I left Monday morning, which was actually my favorite time to head out. It gave me another night "home"  and I missed the worst of the traffic.  At 3 a.m. the roads were mostly vacant, the sky nothing more than the thin deceptive perception of safety.
So I always made sure the truck was full of gas and the road ahead clear and then I'd get Barkley in his harness and ready to go.
Madam - I'll just wait here on my dog bed until you bring the car around

Uh, Barkley, the LITTLE grey bed is your dog bed.

Soon, the night succumbed to day, and everything quickened.  The traffic and my pulse would quicken, as the light spread over the road like water. Soon it's day and from the vantage point of a vehicle that sits up high, I could see all sorts of things.

It's fun to look back on some of the trips, "bed hair" and all. If we were moving I'd just hold up the little point and shoot camera while I kept a hand and eyes on the road and snap back at Barkley.  Some of those were hilarious.  And if we were slowed or stopped in traffic sometimes we could get a shot of an interesting vehicle.

Diary of a Drive with Mom
I'm in the truck with Mom!  I'm in the truck with Mom! I'm in the truck with Mom!
Ninety Nine Boxes of Treats on the Wall, Ninety Nine Boxes of Treats. . .
Can't you change the channel?  It's the "Corn and Cow Show" again and I've seen this episode.
Does she even notice I'm back here, It's been like a YEAR since I got a treat.
Where did he go?
I am SOOOO bored. 
Mom - I think I'm getting car sick.  Can we stop again.  Perhaps at a burger place? 

Wake up Barkley -there's an interesting vehicle!~

The doggie gaze equivalent of "Mom - What the. . . .?"

This truck probably cost more than some of the houses just west of here.  You could have performed surgery off most of its surfaces.  The driver apparently very proud of it, wants you to know who is driving it by the giant dayglo orange name across the back window.   At first, I thought his name was "Tarzan".  Either I'm getting nearsighted or I REALLY need to clean these windows..
Driving through the freeway stretch of Gary (which is normally done at twice the speed of sound, the cops not even wanting to pull anyone over on that particular stretch), I saw what appeared to be the Batmobile.  At least the Batmobile Gary style.
The young man driving it was probably the best driver on the road, in and out of lanes discretely and expertly, yet not being stupid (unlike Vlad the Impala that tried to kill me several times).  I'm not sure what that hood ornament is.

On this same stretch of road, another trip, there was a vehicle for which I didn't get a picture as the traffic was too heavy to be distracted by a camera. There were a couple extra antennas on it. One looked like it was Elmer-Glued on. It looked too new to be a Grand Marquis de Sade, more likely a later model Crown Vic, but the shape and color were such that hundreds of drivers in the past had likely slowed down in its presence thinking it was an unmarked cop car.

The driver, as well, was all in black, with a black baseball type hat, earpiece in his ear, muscled arms clenched on the wheel. In the back window, another black ball cap, this one with 3 letters indicating a squirrel type employer. At this point I started to grin, knowing a bit about such headwear. I can tell you one does NOT put them in the back window of their car, although you can buy fakey looking souvenir ones on the internet. They're worn for a specific purpose and it usually involves a search warrant.
But what our Mall Ninja failed to realize, that despite the old police shaped spiffy car with the extra antenna or two, the clothing, the hat he bought on the net, and "the look", one thing just screamed "mall ninja!"

The yellow triangle in the window that said "Baby on Board".

I did get a picture of this. . .
Camouflage submarine?

Even with a state that's about as hilly as Saskatchewan, I still don't get more than 18 miles to the gallon.  But I bet I get more than this guy, driving a truck that appears to be made out of four separate vehicles with a camper that appears to be attached with Velcro. I kept my distance in case the wind picked up.
And, in an off the freeway foray to get gas in a safe area,  I saw this. Fifteen miles per gallon in hot pink.   I'd tint my windows too if my SUV was that color.
Then - this classic, another pink vehicle, a distinct shade of light pink  I recognized. It's a Mary Kay car I thought. You know, one of those new and shiny fancy cars with the sticker on the back "I Won It, Ask Me How - Mary Kay."

But as we got closer I could see it was a very beat up Volvo, with the rust marks to show its age. But it was pink. Pink, painted with a brush.

With a fresh and flawless Mary Kay "I Won It Ask me How" sticker in the back window.

The man driving it looked like the guy from the Red Green show and the car was full of junk, likely a run from the farm to the junkyard or dump.
There were quite a few drives though, where the cars were mundane, the landscape clouded with shadow and the camera stayed still.  Such were the mornings I looked at the light coming up in the sky, shooting upward in the darkness like the upward floating tresses of a drowned maiden sleeping in a motionless sea, I wish I could capture that.  I also knew that the cheap little camera in the vehicle, in motion, never captured it, that moment or the words in my head and I go back to my coffee and the thump of the miles.

I kept an eye on the weather as well, high winds not being a big concern in my vehicle, but definitely affecting other drivers I'd just as soon stay out of the way off.  I kept the radio tuned to the local alerts, and there is always the weather cow, one of the first pit stops on the journey. It's not the cheapest gas around, but the place was frequented by most of the local LEO's.  It was more country than city and the bathrooms were spotless (unlike the ones up by Crown Point where I think they lock the gas station bathrooms to keep people from sneaking in and cleaning them). 
 Weather cow says it's windy with a chance of flurries
 Weather cow says it's sunny.
Weather cow says it's raining.
Look, Mom !  A trailer full of tractors!

Barkley could sometimes be a pest, with stops for walks, and begging for treats and Barking at the Dart Trucks (I think he thought the Dart guy on the back of the truck looked like the UPS man) But I so I missed him after he went to the Bridge, driving that big Chevy Subdivision of a vehicle, logging miles between light and dark, the clock on the dash only changing the minutes, it seems, when I look away, the slight of hand of time that shapes us all.

So glad we've arrived at the townhouse so I can do something more exciting while you go to work!

Thank you, Barkley - for all the good trips and the good memories and for watching over Abby Lab and me while we made that last year of drives without you. We miss you every day.