Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Howl-O-Ween!

Abby Lab here, rocking my Howl-O-Ween costume where I am trick or treating in the You-Pee-S guy's uniform.  Mom wouldn't give me a brown truck through, just a box to deliver.

You have to go see everyone's costumes for the Blogville Howl-O-WeenParade today at

Have a great day and enjoy the extra TREATS!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Halloween Memories

Trick or Treating was big in my house, even as it came with its own set of rules. It was on Halloween, not a Friday or Saturday or what was convenient or politically correct. School night or not, we were out and we were going to get our loot.

My earliest memory of it was early grade school and that Cat outfit mom bought.  She was recently out of the hospital following cancer surgery and didn't have a lot of energy to sew one (she made most of my clothes with her little Singer machine), so she splurged on a store-bought costume.  I still have a photo of me in it, the black pants and top with a big glittery cat on the front, my cheeks flushed with the cold, one front tooth missing and a smile that said: "Look at all the candy Mom!"  As we got older, she encouraged us to make our own costumes, to spark our creativity (note to self - wearing Superman Cape does not enable user to fly).

As an adult, I do the same, though it's a rare party I'll go to, preferring a home cooked meal with the company of just one or two people, or even myself, to a crowd.  But sometimes I will venture out if the people are those I really enjoy spending time with, showing up with a smile and something hot from the oven to add to the table.

One party at a doctors house, I wasn't sure I'd be off duty so didn't get a costume. A friend from work, (not boyfriend) also invited, was going and he was in the same predicament.  He was a pretty tall guy and ex-military, so I had an idea. I had him bring over a pair of fatigues. I wore the top half, which fit just down to mid-thigh, with flesh colored tights beneath. He wore the bottom half with combat boots and a flesh-colored T-shirt that I'd picked up with the tights at Wal-Mart.

We showed up and the guests, most of them as well, in the medical field said - "What ARE you two?"

Upper and Lower GI !

As adults, we can still laugh, even if it's sometimes just at ourselves.

Childhood Halloween traditions never varied. There was always Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin to watch.  For dinner, we'd have hot dogs with sides of orange jello and some carrot sticks and a glass of milk.  Then we'd suit up as quickly as firemen, eager to be out the door, out into the night where the cool Fall breeze shivered and stirred the grass where the leaves had long since fallen.

I paired off with a brother who was older. We were limited to where we could go but we had pillow cases that would hold a LOT of goodies.

There would be an occasional homemade caramel apple, popcorn ball or another such treat from a couple of older ladies up the street, but they put little commercial address labels on the wrapped treat with a note so our mom's knew immediately who sent it and that it would be good to eat.  But the occasional popcorn ball aside, what we were after was the commercial loot. Hershey's and Tootsie Rolls, Fruit Stripe gum, Sugar Daddies, Smartees, Milk Duds (still a favorite), Crows, Skybar, Nestle Crunch, Dots, Pixy Sticks, Big Hunk, Boston Baked Beans (those were given away, I still don't like them), Gobstoppers, SweetTarts (more, please), Charms, those little candy necklaces, Necco Wafers, Slo Pokes, Jolly Ranchers, Chic-o-Sticks, Bazooka gum.

The only thing Mom wouldn't let us keep was the Sugar Daddies. For some reason she thought those would just ruin our teeth and would hide them away with a plan for them to be rationed out one by one over time. Usually however, after a month, she'd forget about them. We'd run stealthy espionage missions into the kitchen until we found her hiding spot and would capture them and hide them in our secret fort to ruin our teeth at our own darn pace.

But the trick or treating wasn't just about the candy. It was being out, imaginations running free, flashlights shining into a future as exciting as we could imagine.

To each porch that had a light on we'd go, candy bag in hand. Trick or Treat, though with my front tooth missing, more like Twik or Tweat. Still that missing tooth got me extra candy (oh aren't you cute).

One house, always anticipated, had its owner dress like a witch, press on warts and all, and she'd have a steaming cauldron of dry ice and spooky music playing. That was the best part of that whole street. We'd approach the door, it would open with a haunting creak, the interior of the room blooming with light, a flutter of slender muscles in our arms as we held out our bags, trying to show we weren't really scared. That's just some kids Mom. . right? She really doesn't turn into a witch every Halloween? Then she would laugh, more of a honeyed laugh than a cackle, blue eyes, sparkling, holding us silent with her lifted hand from which would pour down sweet goodness, not toads or bats or other scary things.

But the trick or treating wasn't just about the candy. It was being out, after dark, by ourselves, just kids, with scores of other kids, flashlights in hand. Out in front of us, two whole blocks, dozens of houses, the darkness slung low with lights, the night blowing cool and full of promise.
One year I was a ghost. That year a lot of kids were ghosts, the lumber mill having laid off a bunch of men, and money for costumes was sorely lacking. An old sheet, a couple of holes cut for eyes and you were a ghost. Pity the poor kid who was the pink ghost, he was going to get flattened like a pancake next time the boys played dodgeball. Other years, the costumes were as wide as our imagination and bigger than all our fears.

In our garb, we hovered over places of play, breathing sugar-fueled dreams like air, ashen figures gliding through the night on silent feet. To each porch that had a light on we'd go, candy bag in hand.  The houses weren't decorated up the way they are now, but on the porch would often be a lone jack o lantern, eyes shining from a candle or some fake cobwebs along the porch (those aren't fake! ack ack ack, get it out of my hair!) We'd pass each other wondering just who was that superhero, who was that under the Casper mask? We scurried along, hands waving, quick steps in time to the chatter of chilled breath, the blocks of a post-war suburb stretching out, the dim lights of small-town America.

As ghosts, cowboys, baseball players and Superman, we covered ground, drawing in deep breaths of it all, unutterably aware of how brief this night would be. I think even as kids we know that too soon we'd have to put this other life, this other identify away, as we melted anonymously back into our regular life, with wistful longing and the taste of sweetness on our lips.
Even though we were told to just do two blocks, we always went ahead and did that third one, or as much of it as we could fit in before our little watches told us it was time to back. We advanced, trudging up the steps to that first house, looking over our shoulders as if we could already see our Mom scolding us. We hit about six more houses, with other kids from our street, before as a group we agreed to go back. We swear each other to secret, the words not spoken but carved into stone upon which lies a nameless and forgotten effigy, those secrets of childhood we bear with us always.

There up ahead, the lights of our house. Home! We cross the empty lot where a new house was going in, following a faint path were dozens of small feet had worn the rotting leaves down to the soil. We clicked off the flashlight, whispering there in the dark about Great Pumpkins and Ghosts, where overhead, Chestnut trees thinned against the skies.
The wind had blown the clouds away, leaving a bright starry night, imaginary bat wings beating in the trees, a black cat crossing the road under the silver echo of the stars. Smoke hangs on the air suspended, the ash of burnt leaves that once rattled on the ground like tin.  I stretch out my hand into the vast expanse of darkness as if to clutch a star, to save a sweet fragment of the night to tuck into the book of that day.

Too soon it would be time to go in, the night rushing past all too quickly, stolen moments of sweetness there in the dark. As children we live in the moment, we live in a sugary world where not all is a warning, where people are inherently good, and the goblins and witches and demons take off their costume and reveal a harmless smile. We know that in recollection, we see how quickly it all went past, and holding a sweet piece of time with blurred eyes, I realize we all have lost part of that, the innocence and the wonder, forever, even if memory remains.
When we got back to the house, Mom sorted through our candy, tossing anything not completely wrapped, being careful. But we appreciated that she let the two of us go without parental oversight those last few years; Big Bro being big enough to keep me safe in the street. There were so many other kids out, the streets full, an adult not in sight but for the ones with little tiny kids. She had to worry, it was dark after all, we were hardly isolated, but we were alone.

We probably didn't even look back as we ran out to start our night of fun. But if we had, we would have seen her standing there, evanescent and forlorn, even as she put a smile on her face and waved, so we'd venture forth with hope, not fear.
There weren't many more Halloweens with her there. Too soon we lost her. Too soon we were adults living on our own and learning that too much sugar can make you fat, and that roses often draw blood. Too soon we'd understand the night's promise of unease, the dangers that lurk in the shadows, finalities that go beyond a grave. But she let us live with our innocence as long as she could, while preparing us to be fighters and risk takers, teaching us to be not fixed, but flexible in the light, no darkness to flee through and knowing nothing we could not handle armed with faith and occasionally a firearm.
Tonight, the wind is silent and the house stirs, shadows gathering in the basement, a dark pine forever trying an ancient latch on the window of the room in which I sleep. I smile at a taste of sweetness on my lips, a stolen moment of childhood nibbled before bed. Around me are homes, some dark and cold, no pumpkins yet in the yard, the doors shuttered against laughter. There are always those that look at childhood dreams like viewing something through the glass, behind which is only vacuum, from which no sound emits and which, too soon, fades to where they simply live anchored, until they simply cease to exist.

Saturday, October 28, 2017


My husband is a Mechanical Engineer.  Or at least he TELLS me he is.  :-)  For you see I've never actually seen his workplace or a paycheck, but large amounts of money just show up in our savings account.  I tease him a little about it.

I just returned from a week visiting my 97-year-old Dad and on the clothesline downstairs where my husband had done some laundry while I was away, were all these gloves.  Dozens of gloves, all stained with dark rust like colors that wouldn't come out.

I hear the back door open, then footsteps in the kitchen followed by a creak at the top of the stairs .. . I peer up and ask him as I hold up one of the creepy stained gloves.

"So babe - tell me again - mechanical engineer . . . or serial killer?"

I think I made him snort his beer.

You all have a safe, and sane weekend. Abby was quite happy to see me and I'll have another post up this weekend after I spend some time with both of them.

Friday, October 20, 2017

We Will See You Next Weekend.

I'm heading west to spend some time with my Dad who is 97 and in declining health.  Abby Lab will be home with my husband who is staying behind as he has a local grandma who is doing very poorly and he needs to be close by in case she passes away and he's also in the middle of installing all of our storm windows for which he installed new glass this year.

I will miss them both, and Blogville, but Dad does not have internet and though there is wifi at a local coffee stand, it won't let me post things on blogger due to their wifi security restrictions so I"m not toting a laptop out there.

Pray for safe travels for me and I hope to talk to you all sometime next weekend on my return. (where I will probably weigh 3 pounds more because of the Tillamook Marionberry Pie Ice Cream)

See you all at the Halloween Paw-rade!


Thursday, October 19, 2017

PETFLECT Reflective Vest - It's Good to be Seen

It's getting dark and darker out earlier now with winter approaching.  Abby's Dad walks her before dinner every night on the leash.  Our street is not lit all that well so sometimes it's hard to see a black dog in the blackness.  So I got a Petflect brand reflective vest from Chewy.com.  It was less than $12 and has velcro straps that secure underneath the neck and belly.  Abby didn't fuss at all when I put it on (she wears a harness while in a vehicle). It's available in orange and yellow.  Some of the sizes in orange are sold out, but yellow appears available on their website today in most sizes.  Abby - at 81 pounds wore the "Large" well, it wasn't too big and it wasn't too snug. The Velcro stays secure but I'm pretty sure if she got tangled up on something she could pull it free without harm.

We got the Blaze orange, the same color hunters wear and recognize.  

The package sizing is a little more detailed: Although it states "Large" goes up to 130 pounds, based on the size fitted for Abby, I do not believe that it would fit a dog that big unless it was fairly small in chest and neck for a dog that big. They have an EXTRA large that is said to go to 130 pounds and an EXTRA small for dogs under 15 pounds.

SMALL                                       MEDIUM                           LARGE
under 25 pounds                        26-60 pounds                    61-130 pounds
neck 16.5 - 20.5"                        neck 20.5-24.75"               neck 24.75 - 28.75"
chest 25.25 - 28.75"                   chest 28.75 - 32.75"          chest 32.75 - 35.5"

Tree-rats Beware!  I'm dressed for the hunt!

I'm glad I got this for her.  It will help drivers see her during nighttime walkies, as the vest is visible from 500 feet and in the winter, when out in the yard, we can better keep track of her (we always supervise from the sunporch even when she in the fenced yard as there are coyotes around here).  The trim and pawprint are a special extra reflective material which is a nice touch and it's lightweight washable nylon. Chewy dot com had the best price but the vest is also available online at Tractor Supply Co., Amazon, WalMart, and Overstock.com. I picked up two of them, one for the house and one for the family SUV, in case we are traveling.

I know I will feel more secure when they're out walking at night now.

NOTE:  I did NOT see this vest for sale any longer at the Petflect website, as it appears they've upgraded to selling much pricier reflective service dog vests so if you want to get a nice, easy-to -wear vest for very little money now would be the time.
I know it's still light out Mom but can we go for a walk?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Not So Wordless Wednesday - Flynn

Meet Flynn - he's half Bloodhound, half Bassett Hound (yes). He and his puppy brothers and sisters and Mom (Bloodhound) and Dad (Bassett Hound) were left in a field to die last month in Texas. Whoever owned the land spotted them and called one of the rescue folks. Even as busy as everyone was with the hurricane, they were taken to safety. Flynn was really skinny and sick with hookworms.

One of the rescue ladies, a Facebook friend of mine who has two rescue Great Danes and is used to large breeds, said she'd foster a couple of the pups.  Her husband was a submariner like my beloved brother, though a different generation, and they are just the nicest young couple. Flynn needed some extra medical attention and lots of love but he finally started to eat and put on weight.   My friend REALLY bonded with this dog, who stayed with her longer than his sibling due to his poor health.  But with a young family, and being a stay at home Mom with a small sewing business on Etsy,  there just wasn't the hundred's for the adoption fee.

Some money magically appeared in her PayPal Account to pay for the adoption fees and a couple months of food and Flynn is now adopted and thriving with a beautiful little girl who loves to play with him. So from your "Aunty LB", welcome to your furever home Flynn!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Barkley Memory - Visiting the Pet Store

Mom - I need more squeaky toys.  You leave, you're gone for days and you come home all tired out, without any squeaky toys.

I remember that day, my fiance (now husband)  was visiting me in Indiana and we had a few errands that needed to be run before our Fall wedding.

First a stop at the BigBox store for some cleaning stuff ("hey look - the WalMart Brand of foaming bathroom cleaner with "Scrubbing Bubba") and a trip to the UPS store to pick up all my mail.

Then off to PetsMart.  We'd not been to one before.  He had another groomer that was co-located with his doggie daycare, and most of the time when I needed something, I'd order it online.

But here we were, on our first trip.

 I wasn't sure how Barkley would do, as he hates tile floors, but once he saw all the toys and the smells and the other dogs, he just charged right in pulling his "Dad" like some sort of Nantucket Sleigh Ride.
Look! People!
Hmmm, giant tub of dog Cheetos or the chewy snacks. Can I have both?
I think we need the "Beware of Dog" sign to intimidate that wimpy mixed breed terrier next door.
Oh look, it's dog adoption day!  I'm so lucky to have a home, I hope some folks will take these dogs home today and give them treats.

From the distance came the sound of several squeaky toys going off in a single round and the rest of the pictures were just "dog shaped blur"

He did behave himself at the check stand while his treats, a new leash and a  $1.99 sale toy were bagged up. (The duck was on sale apparently due to a pneumothorax.)

See Barkley - you behaved so you get a toy of your own.

squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeakkkkkkkkkkk!!!! OK, that's enough toy for now Barkley.
You can have my duck when you pry it out of my cold, cold jaws.

Yes, I think everyone had fun! (look carefully at the sticker on my shirt)

So many good memories Barkley while you were with us, and so many new ones now being made with our Senior rescue Abby Lab.  We miss you every day, but Abby has brought great joy into our lives.
Look Mom - I got a scarf from the PetSmart groomer that matches my squeaky elephant! 

Don't I look adorable?

Sunday, October 15, 2017


Octoberfest tonight at our church. Abby was unhappy it wasn't a Dogtoberfeset with sausages for the doggies.  

 Authentic German band, lots of food made by the church ladies, music, dancing, beer, and wine, and the evening just wouldn't be a Lutheran Octoberfest without half the church in the Bible Study hall doing the "chicken dance" to a trombone, tuba, and accordion. Lots of fun! And a great stress relief for all of the parishioners who were dealing with flooding.

The cornbread is not exactly German food, but it is a dish I'm always asked to bring.

LB’s church cornbread

Mix in very large bowl:
1 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup stone-ground cornmeal (ours was from Graue Grist Mill in Oak Brook)
1 Tablespoons baking powder
¾ tsp salt (if using salted butter further down in recipe, reduce to ½ tsp)
¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons white sugar
(2 boxes of Jiffy Cornbread mix can be substituted for all of the above.)

In another bowl mix:
4 eggs (whisk before adding other ingredients)
2 cups sour cream (16 oz)
1 can cream style corn

Whisk 2 sticks of melted unsalted butter into the wet ingredients

Combine wet and dry ingredients in the largest bowl and stir until combined.

Cook in 13 x 9 pan sprayed with nonstick spray 350 F. oven for 40-45 minutes (ovens may vary slightly)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

So Much for that Dry Spell

Abby Lab here - Mom and Dad's basement is flooded.  There have been almost six inches of rain since last night.  Two streets over the whole street is flooded a foot deep all away across the street, but our street is OK (as I think all the water went in everyone's basement).  Even the neighbor with the pump has water inside.

Mom said an HBO word - the brand new expensive sleeping bags (minus 30 degrees kind) were left on a cooler instead of being put on a shelf down in the basement when they arrived, and the cooler floated and one of them fell off and got wet.  Oops!

We'll see you all Monday, lots to do and clean up today and Mom is doing some cooking tomorrow for their church's Octoberfest! So Mom told me to just chill.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Reports from Telework Dog

Abby the Lab here with a report from home.  Mom was working on a big case and teleworked all week, which is great as I get to spend more time with her.  My dog walker still comes by and walks me as Mom usually spends her 30-minute lunch break getting dinner in the crockpot and starting a load of laundry.  So for tonight a recap of her typical day.

Secret Squirrel pops out of bed, ready to start the day.
First, a little walk to get the blood circulating.
A few reps on the workout bench.
This is NOT a yoga pose, someone is stuck.
What are the neighbor's up to?  If you see food, go over and say hello.
Look -  nuts!
What are YOU looking at.

This is Mom's professional telework attire.
No, not her Alma mater, but but it's soft and comfy (I slept on it while Mom took her shower, I wonder if she'll notice the dog hair)
Mom - it's too early to start the day.
Telework days go pretty quick,  as a lot of work can be accomplished with the quiet.  Let's see, I bet Mom can mark out where the witnesses were standing using Gumby and Pokey (hmmm - that might go over as well as the interrogatories with hand puppets).
At lunch - while Mom gets a bite and preps what she will cook for dinner later - I get a walk with my dog walker Jan. I get to sniff and see everything going on in our neighborhood.

While Mom gets back to work - focused and serious.

My job as telework dog is to nap on the futon in the office as the work day draws to a close. It will be quitting time before we know it.
Mom makes a final phone call to someone she needs a report from and puts together a hundred tiny, seemingly unrelated details to form a story.
Yay - she's done and I get playtime in the yard with Mom before she folds laundry and Dad comes home.
"Did you say walk?  Or Bacon?  They sound the same."

Before you know it the light was dimming and it was evening.  Mom didn't save the world or gather a bunch of nuts, but such days are productive days - especially with the best furry office assistant ever.