Saturday, April 30, 2016

Animal Natural Defenses - When Danger Approaches

I'm a chameleon - changing color to blend with my background so predators can't find me.

Why are you looking at me and holding nail clippers?

Friday, April 29, 2016

Happy Arbor Day

My human Dad left for the office on Arbor Day with the wooden bow tie (he only wears bow ties), so I'm going to send a  Happy Bark Up the Wrong Tree Day! greetings and a little humor to all of Blogville.








Abby Lab

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

You Were the One for Me


Tell me again how you became my Mom, please?

Abby Lab asked me to tell her the story again of how we adopted her from animal rescue.  After Barkley went to the Bridge we made the decision to adopt an older hard to place rescue, which I wrote about in "Saving Grace" and she just caught my eye, with her shy demeanor and soft coat, even though she was so very thin with  heartworm and several months at a really awful shelter that was closed down.  Her foster Mom had driven 12 hours round trip to snag her before she was put down, and having already been approved to adopt through her Foster Mom's Lab Rescue, she just seemed destined for my home. One reason I selected her over some other senior dogs as she was smaller in size than a purebred lab (easier to walk with my bad knee) and she was very relaxed on car rides, important when for the first year and a half with me she drove back and forth between Indianapolis where I worked and had a small apartment after my house sold and Chicago where my new husband and I lived.

I've been up in Chicago full time since fall, but tonight, in rain which caused some delays, I thought back to one of those last drives.
Abby - quit biting Mr. Lion in the butt and get ready to load up in the truck.

Sometime in  2015

It was going to be  a long drive home with traffic after a long duty shift.  Adding to the fun would be an assortment of truckers who truly believed that because their truck could go point five mph's more than the other semi truck in the right lane truck they should take over the only passing lane and stay there for 15 minutes, while cars back up behind them 10 miles. Usually when I finally get past one of them, I'll speed by like a lizard on a tile floor, full throttle and giving him that friendly Hoosier wave (involves a distal phalanx). Since our kitchen floor is not quite done, and I'm very tired, My husband suggested I just get a good nights sleep while he lays the rest of the tile, and I'll go up in the morning. Sounds like a plan and I have Heidi Pops popcorn (pretzel jalapeno this time)

I can't say I love the commute, but I love my husband and our home, and it just happens to be several hours from where I work.  But sometime it's a pleasant enough drive, listening to music and the news. After all the news of Washington and terrorists and such lately, I'd almost love to go back to the good old news days when the headlines were simply some New York mayor candidate that can't keep from sending  nudie photos of himself to strange women.  All I could think of was, as tired as I was -  "what if politicians were named like the seven dwarfs".  You'd have  (in New York anyway) Hippy, Horny, Sleezy, Gropey, Greedy, Humpy (only six dwarfs, Doc was replaced by Obamacare).

But you know, for every story I read like that, for every relationship that's imploded in the news, I still know dozens and dozens of people, many like family to me, some actual family, that have someone in their life that is their one and only.  Many of us also have had the blessing of parents that weren't just partners in the marriage, but were best friends as well.
Not long ago, a friend shared a picture with friends of he and his not-yet wife in 1971, re-united after he'd been away for four years in the military, two without even seeing one another once. She waited for him, and you can tell by the look in their eyes in that photo, they are both very glad. You look at the picture of them now, forty some years later, and they still look at each other like that and when my husband and I shared a meal with him last, and he talked about her, his face lit up in the same manner. That just makes me smile.

Every family has their stories of when "Mom and Dad" met.  My parents - sixth grade.  Dad mercilessly teased the new girl in school all day. On the way home she wound up and beaned him from a good distance with a milk bottle. I'm surprised it didn't hurt him, but he was certainly impressed by both her throw and her aim. They were pretty much inseparable after that, only being apart during WWII.

Since I work with all guys (my secretary is male and ex Army) no one really talks about "relationships" though (unless it involves a relationship with a buffalo chicken wing), but once in a while someone let's something slip. When leaving for a business lunch with someone that's also a close friend, he  noticed the large tire iron wedged where I could easily grab it from the front seat of my truck (the "drive through Gary road service tool").

He just smiled.  He then told me the story of when he decided he was going to marry his wife of some thirty years. She was a research scientist and I'd  met her several times when we'd all get together for a meal and really liked her, but I had no idea how they had met.
He said "we were in our 20's, in her car, at the mall for something she was supposed to pick up for her Mom.  We came out and though she was well within the lines of her spot, this young jerk pulls in, parking so close to her there is no way she can get IN, let alone OUT, then walks off with a smirk. There was barely enough room on the passenger side for her to get in.  I couldn't fit but she was able to climb in the passenger side, but getting out of the spot was almost impossible, he being an inch from the driver's side door.  After quite a few minutes of  small, but precise maneuvering, she got the car free."

Ahh, I thought to myself, a woman who can handle a vehicle.   Then he continued.

"What I was so surprised with, was how calmly and skillfully she just take of the problem, without asking for help. She just calmly and expertly, got her car free".

So I said "that's when you decided she was the one for you?"

"No". . he said.  "It  was when she had backed out.  She got out of the car, all composed in her pretty little dress, took out the tire iron and busted out his headlights."
Oh, how I laughed But I bet we all have some stories.  Certainly we all have the ones of when we knew someone was NOT the right one for us.  Stories that involve bad manners, crazy relatives, "you have HOW many pet ferrets?", underwear under the bed that's not yours, not work safe yard gnomes, an assortment of 2nd degree felonies and personal computer misdeeds that would make Snowden blush.

Almost all of us have been there, and it usually leaves you wanting nothing more from the world than air to push on through and exhale. Then you meet someone,  Sometimes you come together like two ships, becalmed, floating next to each other until you finally, and softly, touch, and you are captured by that which is the essence of dreams. Sometimes you meet in heat and flame, built up over years of carefully tended embers that survived some rough miles, just needing the right touch and a breath to give spark to it.
Either one is a wondrous journey, one that for me began in a little coffee shop in Indiana where a little train ran on a track along the ceiling inside as the forgotten coffee grew cold and a black dog waited patiently at our feet. We had been the best of friends online for many years, I knew his Dad personally and professionally and we had a couple of mutual geek friends. Neither of us seemed interested in any long term relationships given all of our travel so we'd spend hours on  instant message and Skype telling terrible science puns and jokes or sharing photos of mutual hobbies.  And dogs - always stories of Barkley, as he came from a family that had many beloved dogs.  I had a huge crush on him after a while but never said anything because I was 25 years older and he had just started dating this beautiful ballerina. But we met in person because that long time  friend said "I'm passing through your area today.  Would you and Barkley like to meet me for coffee at an outdoor cafe? and I said "yes" and the ballerina did NOT get a third date. Two years after that VERY LONG cup of coffee we were married.

So - for my four legged friends - tell us a story about how you became part of your forever family or how YOUR two legged family came to be together.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Good Advice From a Canine

Let go of the life that was planned.
 Only then can you see the life that was waiting.
 -  The Book of Barkley

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday Black and White - Sun Baths

Soft rug and warm sun = perfect Sunday.

Thanks to our hosts Nola and Sugar

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Walking Dread - Country Life and Zombie Spiders


While visiting a friends farm in Northern Indiana one fall, someone brought over these round green balls that appeared to be some kind of pod or alien fruit. "What the heck are those?". I asked. Apparently they were the fruit off of the Osage Orange tree, otherwise known as Hedge Apples. My friends  said they repel spiders. You put them in a bowl or on a piece of foil and place them around the house. They won't spoil or mold and eventually just shrink to the side of a walnut. I should have brought more of them home.

For I am afraid of spiders. I can watch "Walking Dead" and sleep like a baby, but spot a big hairy spider in the house and I'm tip toeing around with a rolled up newspaper for days.

Snakes, bats in my hair (been there, done that), no problem. When you're out in the wild, sometimes hiking, sometimes working, you run into it all, bears, wolves, coyotes, horny toads, horny tourists, bugs, ants that bite and those little plastic containered, cellophane-covered sandwiches they carbon date for freshness and sell at gas stations.

I lived in the desert after grad school, and woke once to find a tarantula in my bed. My roommate, raised there, heard my shout and got a dust pan and gently picked it up, talking to it softly, and took it back to the yard to be released. "They do more good than harm" she said. I slept on the couch for the next month.
When I too lived out in the country a few years ago, spiders were a constant, short of running them over with your giant Chevy Subdivision, they were pretty indestructible.  The little ones, I left alone, as they do eat bugs and such around the property, letting them be or gently removing them from house to garden. But those large hairy fast moving spiders scared me to no end.  One night I opened the door to let the dog in and in rushes a grasshopper, into the house as fast as he could go.  What the. . ??  He was being chased, by a large spider.  I got the door closed before a spidey security breach, got the grasshopper picked up in a jar, and put him out the back door at the opposite end of the house..  Next time I opened the front door, the spider was waiting, rushing at the door again. . .

 "I Am Sparta!"  SLAM.

 We used the back door for a couple of weeks.

I can handle a lot of things, be it heights, or horror movies. My family is from Montana, we're tough.  But  I do not want to deal with giant spiders.

So there I was, staying with some friends who live out in the country, up at 3:30 in the morning to use the bathroom (note to self no Guinness after 8 pm) and as I'm taking care of business, a wolf spider about the size of a Buick runs across the floor towards me. Barefoot, I threw a hand towel on it and proceeded with my rendition of the Grapes of Wrath stomp.

Stomp Stomp Stomp. Die Spider Die!

No movement from under the towel. He didn't escape, the floor around it was clear. I left it there for the morning.

At 5 am, I got up (wearing slippers just in case) and look at the towel, prepared to just shake it outside and then throw it in the wash. But what caught my eye was the large dead spider, legs curled up, a few inches away. He'd managed to crawl out and expire next to the tub, rolled up like a crescent roll. OK. At least he was dead. I went to get a paper towel to dispose of the remains.

This is where the fun started

I came back and Mr. Spider was completely reanimated, and pissed off, on TOP of the towel, ready to pounce on my foot like a Chihuahua on a pork chop.

He'd been dead. I'd been sure of it. I'm kind of trained in those things. Now he's back.

I had the only zombie spider in all of the Midwest.

Fortunately, I was highly trained in zombie spider removal and wearing nothing but tactical bunny slippers, dispatched him with a roll of paper towels.

Zombie Spider Rule # 2
The Double Tap

Thursday, April 21, 2016

In Today's News

I was sitting in the eye doctors office, waiting for the yearly exam, thumbing  some ancient reading material. Oh look, an old news headline. . .

10 killed in bat stampede in South Africa.

Oh wait, I guess that word was "bar".

I hate to admit it , but it appears rebel pilot girl needs reading glasses.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

POTP for Loveable Lily

Residents of Blogville - this has been a sad week - first our friend Mitch going to the Bridge and now

was diagnosed with cancer. Please go give her Mom some support and special Blogville love.
 Abby Lab

Monday, April 18, 2016

Paws Raised for Mitch

I blew my knee out again this week so today was setting up MRI and perhaps surgery. But please stop in at the blog for

and see the link he put up for Mitch.  Sadly, Mitch made that long crossing to the bridge today. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

Hugs and tail wags of support for his family.

LB and Abby Lab

Saturday, April 16, 2016

On Focus

There is nothing in the world as focused as a dog who has just spied her treat.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Friday Funnies - When Dogs Dream

We've all seen our dogs when they dream. The back legs may twitch, sometimes they give out a soft little woof.

But I wonder - what does Abby dream she is doing? Is she having an adventure? Is she famous? Is she pulling off the great stuffie caper?












I guess I'll never know.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Blinded by Science

I posted this by accident on the healthy eating blog  - so if you think you've seen it - you have.

This is a Micro crack in steel as seen through an electron microscope. (Though it appears someone in our household photo-shopped the saved science photo.)  I've vacationed at places that looked like this!

Of course the folks on NCIS wouldn't need an electron microscope. Gibbs would just squint and go "ahh yup - micro-crack", before Abby could even consider micro-cracks at the surface of metals detected and imaged by near-field microwave techniques from the crack-induced variations of the resonance frequency and of the resonant circuit quality factor. I mean really, you have to get this thing solved in an hour WITH commercials.

Fire up the welder Festus (yes, Gunsmoke reference for those of us over 50).  We're off to Ferrous Canyon! You all be safe out there,I got the internet back up but I lost a day of work, so blogging will be light this evening.
MY favorite Gunsmoke character is Miss Kitty

Monday, April 11, 2016

It's Not JUST Monday. . .

It's National Pet Day!

For today - a Short Chapter from "Saving Grace - A Story of Adoption (Outskirts Press 2015).


Chapter 22 - Free Willy

My family always seemed to have a dog around the house. Some were rescue dogs, and one was purebred, obtained from a reputable breeder. After I moved out, Dad got a little rescue mutt of unknown origin that resembled a mop but was the sweetest, smartest little thing.

After I got married and had moved far away from home I had a dog or two, though being on the road so much they were less mine and more my large extended family’s. These dogs migrated between our farmhouse and my husband's

One of the dogs was a Lab, a hunting dog who lived for ducks and ponds. I’d have preferred he not do that: there were gators further to the south, and large snapping turtles lurking in the water could do some serious damage to an animal. The one dog that had no desire to get anywhere near the water was Sammy, our rescued Husky.

Sammy wasn't a hunting dog, he was a shedding dog. I once got so much hair off him in one brushing that I filled up a large trash bag with it. I later found it taped it to the steering wheel of our old Buick with the note “driver’s side hair bag

But one thing Sammy would retrieve, and constantly: turtles. Box turtles, to be precise. I wasn’t sure where he got them, but figured probably from around the pond in the back. At least once or twice a month he'd be at the back door with a box turtle in his mouth, unharmed, waiting for a treat because of this great gift he had brought me. Box turtles have a movable hinge on their lower shell that allows them to retract inside their armor and then completely close up leaving no flesh exposed; but I was afraid Sammy’s sharp teeth might still do some damage. So I'd gently take the turtle from him and go out to the back field to let it go.

But one day he kept going back and back and bringing me the same turtle. I was afraid he'd hurt it, so the last time, I decided to just take the turtle back to his home, where the dog couldn't get him. I walked out back, the turtle cradled motionless in my hands as if he were made of glass. The sun was high and hot, contemplating us sleepily like a large somnolent yellow cat, and I could smell the water. As I got to the water’s edge, I lobbed him out into the center of the pond.

Time almost stopped as he hung there for a moment, motionless and without physical weight, then finally giving over to time and gravity and descending in a perfect arc into the center of the deep pond.

FREE WILLY!

Sploosh!!!

His shell closed up, he sank to the bottom like a stone, and with a few air bubbles he was free.

I got home that night and my brother-in-law came over on a tractor, and I told him what I had done. He started laughing so hard he cried.

Apparently box turtles are land turtles, and though they might gently paddle a bit in a shallow warm snippet of water, swimming up from a dive to the depths was not in their repertoire.

I sent Mr. Turtle to his doom.

I felt terrible but hoped he at least enjoyed the brief flight.

I couldn’t fault Sammy. He was just trying to please his human mom. Adopting him had been a good thing to do when I found him at a shelter as he helped take away some of the quietness of the house. I’d been unable to conceive again, and the quiet in the house was sometimes unbearable until broken by a joyous bark. Sammy didn’t make up for the quiet, but he was still a balm to my spirit, one of those souls we bring into our lives for a reason that is often not obvious at the time.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sunday Black and White - A Little POTP For Any Who Need It

Keep your face always toward the sunshine
 - and shadows will fall behind you. 
-Walt Whitman

Thanks to our hosts Nola and Sugar for this Blog Hop.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Strutting for the Seniors

The Book of Barkley is a monthly contributor to Lab Rescue LRCP of Maryland, one of the first lab rescue groups we met after the book was written. It's a wonderful group of people who donate so many hours of their time as volunteers. One of those special ladies is Carol Lagunda, who has become a good friend. She is a multiple "foster failure", taking in the Senior dogs that stand poor chances of being adopted and keeping them, now including Gomer, Gemna and Queenie
Queenie is extra special.  She came with a large inoperable cancerous tumor on her leg and was quite advanced in years.  Her previous owners did not have it treated (and it was likely treatable when it was small) and when her days grew shorter they just left her scared and hurting at a shelter and walked away.  Carol was NOT going to let her go to yet another home when she got comfortable with her family as a foster, bonding especially with Gemma, another elderly female lab that's a permanent member of the family. She's a well loved and happy member of the household now. There's nothing the doctors can do, for any amount of money, but with good Veterinary care, a warm bed and excellent food she's comfortable and enjoying her days filled with love and companionship.

I know how glad I am we adopted Senior Lab Mix Abby Lab from a rescue group in our state.

So this year, with Lab Rescue doing their annual fundraiser, think about sponsoring Carol (and Queenie) in their


walk to raise money for the shelter.  Lab Rescue LRCP places over A THOUSAND  lost or abandoned Labs into loving homes each year and the Vet bills, getting them healthy and fostered, can be in the six figures.  I'd already earmarked this months Book of Barkley sales for Blanketing Boxers with Love, but I made my own donation from personal funds to get the ball rolling for Carol as they walk the dogs, a fun day for everyone. Even a $5 pledge helps the dogs.

Thanks to all of you that foster, transport, walk or love a senior rescue. And thank you especially for everyone that supports animal rescue.
Walkies!  Walkies!