Monday, August 31, 2015

Chewy News

When tongues attack!

Abby the Lab here.  I get excited when it is suppertime, especially now that I've got some food for sensitive tummies that I love.

But Mom found there wasn't a Speck's Pet Supply anywhere near where we live in Chicago.  There is another big pets type store in the area but she is not a fan of that location.

So what to do to order food?  Mom orders treats and toys online but always (incorrectly) assumed that the dog food would be higher, especially with shipping

Boy, was I wrong.  Our fur-ends at have a great assortment of food, including the Blue Buffalo I love at great savings.  And NO shipping for my order!

Another thing Mom liked was that she had to use a different shipping versus mailing address due to the move in progress  and Chewy called to make sure that was correct and that she  had placed the order. That's good security AND service.

Add in saving time and money and you have a winner.

So go on over to:

and check out the selection and the great prices.  By setting up autoship Mom got an additional discount and today got a BIG bag of food AND two bags of Blue Buffalo treats for less than just a bag of food elsewhere.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Black and White

Remembering those who lost their lives 
in Hurricane Katrina ten years ago this week.

We appreciate Nola and Sugar for their weekly hosting that gathers friends together.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Demolition Derby!

It's Demolition Derby Time!  We had a little bit of that before the race even started as Mom loaded up the Bat-Truck at o-dark thirty and after walking me, we drove to Chicagoland with another load of stuff from the crash pad.  The direct route is closed due to a bad bridge.  "Bad bridge, BAD, no Biscuit" so she had to drive ALL the way to Champaign, then north, making it five hours instead of three, with construction.

I just napped, hoping she could get me home in one piece, you know, so I can spend the rest of the morning bashing my car into others at the Blogville Demolition Derby.

The picture above was my planned demolition derby vehicle, until Dad told me it was really a TORNADO chasing truck and not suitable for the race.  Darn - I thought it was pretty spiffy looking especially with my furry dog ears helmet.

But one of the Blogville Dog Mom's helped me get an even BETTER car.

Yup - that's me in the "Saggin Wagon"

For all the race highlights please go visit:

Then head on over for some fine post Derby eats at:

YUMMM! I want a special Derby Burger and a Cupcake with a CAR on it! Due to moving households  I didn't get entered into the Derby King and Queen contest with my fella Frankie - but we got some great winners! (Pictures from the link below)

 Go see the whole Royal Court at:

Friday, August 28, 2015

Live Aloft

I've got a bird feeder out along my patio that gets the occasional visitor. Most of the birds I can recognize, sparrows, my favorite the Cardinal and the occasional dove. There are ways to tell birds apart from other than looks or color. You can study what they eat and of course what they won't eat, by whether they sleep high up or snuggled down safe in low covering, by whether they eat more in the morning or at night. By the shape and size of the nest, if there is one. By whether they find shelter so close they can touch it or whether they migrate for miles to find it.

But there is one thing birds have in common. Birds are meant to fly free, not be caged in. My Mom Grace always had a Budgie, which she'd train to sit on her shoulder and eat out of her hand. But I always wondered. When you hold a bird in your hand it closes its eyes in resignation. Trust. Or fear?

I once had a neighbor out in the country once who kept a quail in a cage, just so he could hear the "bob white" of its call. I'd watch the bird in there, reminding me of a prisoner in a small cell in a prison camp, sending out small Morse code signals in hopes of someone hearing him and rescuing him. But no one came to rescue him and I could only think of him growing old and dying there in that tiny cage, his prison cell, his will deflating, his spirit becoming drab as his prison uniform over time. I don't believe the man did it to be cruel, he simply thought like others, that he could take a wild thing in and tame in, that it would only require the creature to make an adjustment in its lifestyle, to shift the center of its desire from one thing to another.

One day while the neighbor was away, I went over and quietly opened the cage door. The bird was gone in a flash, with the urgency born of prisoned spring and the awakening of burgeoning true; to itself, the sun and the wind, not the man who caged it.

I think about birds as I go to the airport to take a little flight while the air is still and before it gets dark. It's the perfect fall day, the trees not sullied by a breeze, the clouds wispy strands of sea foam against an ocean of sky. As I take off, I do a turn over my neighborhood. The pond at the end of the road looks sullen, like a glaring eye, as if it intends to ask a question. With a pull of the stick and a tap on the rudder, I pick up the wing and move away from the pond, my response to questions that have already been answered.

I climb on up into clearer air, the throttle at full power as the little engine struggles against the decrease in air density. Still pushing on upwards where the air is clearer, and purer still, out of the haze layer of Fall, the smoke, the traffic, clouds at every turn, their dark reflections playing across my wings like shadow puppets. I should probably head back down, to denser air, to the safety of the airstrip. But I like the altitude, the spaces way up here, where up, under the contrail of something much larger than I, order rules.

I think back to a job I had flying when I was young, building time in a small corporate airplane as I waited to go into service for a commitment that would take years of my life, given without regret. I got a lot of hours in that bird, feeling about it like a dear friend. Sometimes, on my day off, I'd come into my hangar, without telling anyone and get a hose and a soft brush and wash it myself till it gleamed, even if that wasn't part of my job. It wasn't mine but I took pride in its care, thinking if I tended to it, giving it care and loyalty, it wouldn't fail me. Then one day I came in and it was gone, the owner having sold it, simply sending me a terse note that he didn't need me any longer, not having the decency to tell me in person. I didn't even get to say goodbye. The last flight in her . . .where was it to? I couldn't even remember. I wished I could have remembered.

If I'd known it was the last flight, I might have paid more attention. I could have pulled the remnants of the flight into my memory before the hangar doors closed so that on late nights in a hotel alone somewhere I could draw them out slowly over a cold beer and the quiet. But, at the time, it was just another happy day flying, another early wake-up call, the rush to get the bags loaded up, the weather checked one last time. Just another launch of hope and adrenalin that 10 years from now, will only be remembered by myself.

I think about that little airplane as I soar up with the birds, drinking in deep of the day, quenching a thirst not born of the body, but of the spirit. A single goose flies past me. I pop the window open to catch a scent of the earth and hear the drone of the little engine. Time settles comfortably into itself, resetting my own internal clock with the reassurance of continuity. I wonder how long these birds soar before they are stilled, just a few years perhaps. For us all, time shortens ahead of us, shaping our chances and shortening our hopes, even if we have no more doubt of our flesh and our bones than we do of our will and our courage.

But today is not about the shortening hours, it's not about, even, the airplane. It's about absolution, those things we do that lay bare our humanity and relax our defenses, as we simply slow into the quiet pool of ourselves for a few moments, bagging a little transcendence from the murky waters of an earthbound life. It's about trust, with a little craft that moves in time with the motions of my hand, like geese that fly in formation with nothing but trust, choreographing something that they have no experience with, yet is as instinctive to them as life.

I hope to get to fly this little bird another day, but none of us know when our last flight will be. So I take in everything around me, holding in the memory. Taking in one moment that you trust will never be the last, keeping it in, like breath underwater, to sustain me in the airless days ahead.

I bank and turn back home, anxious now to get home and pick up the phone to talk the evening away with the one that always stood by me. Trust and hope. The air is smoky this afternoon as some farmers are burning off a field down to its roots, so it can be planted with something new next year. From the smoke, the birds escape the flames, up from the dense remains of grain, into the veined complexity of sky, where space and freedom interface. From aloft they spot my feeder, simply looking for some shelter from the storms, some sustenance while keeping the freedom of their wing.

For isn't that what we all desire.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

A PAWS For a Canine Recipe

Hey, there's a dog in your suitcase! (A Barkley Memory)

I've a former professional cohort who is a dog lover. He's a retired Marine who flew fast airplanes.  He's also Cajun.  There's a mind in there as sharp as a ceramic blade, but what is presented to the world is this "take my time" kinda pondering, good old boy, with that accent that people up here just can not place. When he was my partner, I'd not have anyone else at my back, I can tell you that.

He stopped by my desk not long back, saw the latest picture of my dog and said "we got a puppy dog . . . . from the pound".

I said "What  did you get?"

(Now, you have to picture him,  good looking, big guy, about 240 pounds, the rumpled brow as he chooses his words and that Cajun accent.)

"It's half Rottweiler, half Poodle. . . . . "

Another long pause. a shake of the head

"Alcohol was likely involved".

We love our dogs. I still have pictures of Barkley (below) at Doggie Day Camp where he went when I had a long day (it was near the house I owned before I got married and moved).  He loved it there, as much for the wide open grassy play area, tons of toys and attention, as the treats.  If I requested it, they'd give him a "Frosty Paws" frozen ice cream treat as a snack with a biscuit on the side.  It's not real ice cream, dogs don't digest  plain milk well.

He loved them,  as does Abby, but they a bit expensive and like many pre-made products, they have some ingredients only a chemistry major could pronounce even if they don't contain any artificial colors or flavors.  So I looked around for a "home made" version.  Some of the many recipes on line contained a bit too much sweetener and some artificial flavors so I modified them with great success as evidenced by wagging tails.

 Meet the Johnson canine family members favorite nightcap. . . . .


Four cups low fat plain, regular, or Greek yogurt
1 soft and ripe banana, mashed
3 Tablespoons peanut butter (not low fat version which is full of sugar)
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons honey

Blend ingredients well and freeze in small (about 3 oz) Dixie cups.  When set slightly, place a bone shaped dog biscuit end side down into mixture to act as a handle.   When frozen, holding by handle, peel the paper off and serve.  If it's stubborn, stick it in the microwave for just a few seconds to release it from cup.

Hey, but what about frozen treats for your two legged friends?

(I'm telling you ladies, men LOVE this).

FROSTY PAUSE (human version)

1 cup coffee ice cream (I like Valpo Velvet from Northern Indiana)
3 cups vanilla ice cream
4 Tablespoons heavy cream
4 Tablespoons amaretto
4 Tablespoons Kahlua.

Soften ice cream and mix, blend until smooth and serve right away, or freeze for later.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

And it Didn't Even Squeak!

Today was the start of the new job so I was up early and it ended up being a little longer day than I normally have scheduled.  Abby had a couple long walks during the day (we have a professional dog walker on any day I can't come home for lunch or work late)  But I think she was a little bored when I got home later.

I walked in and she is on the couch.  On the floor next to the barstools off the kitchen is the seat cushion from the dining room set chair - that's found in ANOTHER room.
Yawn  "Mom that flat, square, unsqueaky stuffie you left for me to play with was SO boring."

Monday, August 24, 2015

Blue Buffalo Adventures

Hi folks.  Abby the Lab here.  Today was both sad and wonderful.  Sad, because Dad was with Mom at the crash pad this weekend but he had to leave for work this morning and I won't see him until Saturday when she finishes her work week and drives home. (only another month before she's transferred to the city where our home is at!)

It was wonderful because I got to try the BESTEST dog food ever.

I have a really sensitive stomach and don't do well with grains or funky ingredients (funky is a real word, I saw Mom use in in Scrabble once).  The first time Mom fed me mystery dog food after she got me from rescue  and then had a 4 hour drive home it was something like this in the car. (those scientists and engineers out there will get this).
Those who have read "Saving Grace - A Story of Adoption" know that story as it is in a chapter there, as adopting animals has with it as many adventures as adopting you hoomans.

She learned  from that and got me on a better quality and bland dog food.  But it wasn't all that tasty, Nutritious, I'm sure, but there were days I'd just pick at it. 

Today she was going to see a friend and passed her favorite Pet Store in the Indianapolis area (Plainfield location) and saw something Big and Blue parked out front. Specks is just a wonderful store, with a good selection and friendly, supportive staff that always asks how they can assist Mom and always offers to carry that big bag of dog food out to the truck for her.  The manager of the Plainfield location remembers his customers names and always is there with a smile, Mom says. That's service you don't see so often any more.

But today, though Mom had not planned on stopping she did, because who can resist a big blue truck with buffalo horns!

It wasn't Babe the Blue Ox, but The Blue Buffalo truck visiting Specks. 

She met the Blue Buffalo team, a very engaging and knowledgeable young man and woman and learned about their products and got some samples of their Blue Basics for sensitive stomachs.

It is a limited ingredient food and promotes gentle digestion (gentle being something other than "thar she blows!!!!")
She gave me a little nibble of it when she got home.  Boy, was that turkey and potato flavor YUMMY and made from simple ingredients that are good for me!  I just snarfed it up and begged for more.  There wasn't a kibble left.

So she went back to the pet store, driving all the way across town again, just because she loves me. She got me a stuffie and a surprise.

The stuffie - OK, it's a Kong stuffie, my favorite and I'm usually very cranked about those but today not so much.  I'm sulking because Dad is gone and the tasty food sample was too small.

She went back out to the truck and brought in something else.  It looks  sort of familiar - it smells vaguely familiar.
It's the Wonderful Food!!

She bought two bags!
I'm the happiest dog ever!  And the Blue Buffalo team gave me my own Blue Scarf, so I'm well fed AND fashionable.
She added just a bit of the Basics to my old food as changing my food needs to take place over 7-10 days to avoid any tummy upsets.  I can't wait for a bowl of nothing but Blue Buffalo!

So folks - take it from me, Abby the Lab - if you're ever out driving and see a big blue truck with HORNS - Stop!  You'll learn stuff, get free samples AND coupons from really nice people who love sharing and caring for animals.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Black and White - Waiting for Dad

My husband drove to the crash pad yesterday (six hours instead of 3 and a half thanks to Indiana having their main highway  between Chicago an Indianapolis closed for a month for repairs).  He's helping me get some items that are heavier moved back home for my job transfer to squirrel headquarters.  I start the job this week but physically won't move my office until our new fiscal year starts Oct. 1.

Abby saw me fussing around and I said "Dad's coming".  She knows what that means and spent the next couple of hours checking out the window for his arrival.

Thanks to our hosts Nola and Sugar.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Crow Attack!

Just when you think it's safe to go back in the water.

Mom was just minding her own business, then suddenly from above, a flurry of black and she suddenly squealed in pain.


Blood was running down her hand from a small but deep divot in it.

Crow Attack!

She washed it with soap and warm water so it wouldn't get infected but it still looked painful even a half hour later..

I told her to be careful - you never know what seemingly benign creature might attack.

We were able to round up the offending crows

Who appeared to suffer some damage as well.

I TOLD mom not to put them up on the very  top shelf where they might fall on her. The sharp corner of the box really nailed her when it fell as she tried to get it on her tippy toes.

That's what she gets for trying to cheat on her diet. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Barkley - This is Another Day Lord

The photo was taken when Barkley had to have a cancerous growth from the corner of his eyelid removed.  It was caught early and he recovered quickly but he did NOT like the cone.  When I blew out my meniscus in  a fall around the same time, I too understood the patience required in the healing process.

From the Book of Common Prayer.

"This is another day, Lord . .
if I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely.
If I am to still still, help me to sit quietly.
If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently.
And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

On Pups and Puppies

Abby Lab is happy just being at the "crash pad" with Mom and another new Stuffie (she loves her stuffies and for the most part gently carries them around and sleeps with them all piled on her bed).

When she came into rescue she had evidence of multiple litters of puppies. She's not purebred, there's a little flat coated retriever in her from her head shape and her fur. Probably bred with a purebred lab with the puppies passed off as pure but no papers with a good retriever linage. She has a great stance and point. As soon as she got old and heartworm positive she was dumped at a  high kill shelter.  I don't think she was "puppy mill" as she was quite socialized but she'd had probably borne several litters to make someone some money,  Getting her spayed was first thing. The scar did not grow fur back but she thrived and recovered from the often scary heartworm treatment.

At that point she was a permanent part of our family and couches in two homes.

I think she's comfortable where she is.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Curse you Perry the Platypus - On Being a Scientist

I know there are a few science types and geeks out there in Blogville - so after a somewhat stressful day - a little smile for those of you out there that will see a bit of yourselves in here. And as you can guess from the title - I love watching Phineas and Ferb. LBJ

Yes, it's a bulletproof clipboard.  It was sort of a gag gift from a dear friend and fellow squirrel, as short of dropping a piece of lab equipment on my toe, or falling off of a hill out in the field, my on the job danger level is pretty low.

I work with a pretty serious bunch but I'm not the only one that has a little toy from childhood, a car perhaps, a gadget, on my desk to pick up and hold quietly in the palm of my hand until the world falls back into equilibrium again

We all grow up, yet, we all do not, still children inside, even if we won't admit it.  For I have, on more than one occasion, been up on a stand in a courtroom as the expert witness, or offering testimony on a case of my own, doing the double take when I hear "Dr. Johnson" convinced for a moment they've got the wrong person. For honestly, on such days, there in my dark blue suit and button down white shirt and shiny shoes, I still feel like a kid playing grown up. Perhaps it's the sugary cereal I still eat, certain childhood toys and cartoons some of which till make me smile. Perhaps it's just how I view my life and my world.

But in what makes me smile, what makes my mind ignite, some things really never change. You probably see that as well. For in many families there is usually one child that has that deep seated curiosity that sets him or her apart from the others. Sometimes it's as subtle as a lot of "why" questions; sometimes it's finding out someone asked for a lathe from Santa. But for you new parents and grandparent out there in Blogille  here are some helpful hints to recognize if your child  or grandchild is going down the path of saving the world, one science experiment or engineering drawing at a time.

How to identify if your child is going to be the next engineer or scientist in your family (my father can relate to many of these).

All toys are first taken completely apart before playing with.

Hooks dogs leash to remote control car so he/she does not have to leave the porch to walk him.

Pumps up his or her Super Soaker with an industrial air compressor.

Can demonstrate  Bernoulli's Theorem with a shop vac and a golf ball.
Jello + BB Gun. Does anyone have a mop?

Installs Dad's stereo speakers in duct work for true "surround sound".

Freezes siblings chair with liquid nitrogen when he's foolish enough to be temporarily absent.

Rolls his/her eyes when you call a Pipe Wrench a Monkey Wrench.

Comes home from Sears with permission slip to buy a nail gun.

Asks for a large sheet of plywood and a saw horse or two to go with the toboggan at Christmas to better make the ski jump.

Uses Dremel tool to convert striped Phillip head screws into slotted screws. Opens the stuck jar of mayonnaise by puncturing the lid with a clean nail to break the vacuum.

After a day of playing "spy", uses the pressed,warm flat edge of a knife to convince a small piece of dry ice to spill the goods.  "We have ways of making you talk . . SQUEAL"

Solves Rubik Cube by disassembling and reassembling in the correct order. (Mad Scientist bonus: Disassembles and reassembles leaving it one cube out of place and leaves it for unsuspecting siblings).

Can repair any toy out of existing garage inventory

Has built a Bazooka out of a floor vacuum cleaner, PVC pipe, a PVC 3 way junction with an  angle of 45° that fits the straight PVC tube, duct tape and a projectile

Takes apart 36 inch model of Cutty Sark with a hammer to build a workable raft for G.I. Joe, accompanied by Barbie and Midge dressed up like Mary Ann and Ginger. (Note, raft not to be confused with a B.O.A.T., (Buoyancy Operated Aquatic Transport)
When given permission to build a tree house, presents a bill of materials including the proper number of nails.

Launches G.I. Joe/Star Wars Project to melt enemy troops with magnifying glass.

Makes Bionic Barbie (Formerly G.I. Joe raft date Mary Ann) with scraps of wire and auto body filler to replace leg lost in tragic potato gun accident.

When asked why he or she is borrowing the vice grips replies "I hear the tooth fairy pays good money."

Passes meatballs to little brother with  tiny trebuchet.

Trip to ocean involves buckets and plastic M80's for building and destroying sand castles.

Takes apart TV set "because there's nothing to watch".
Instead of marbles, has a jar full of nuts and screws. (Got bored playing marbles when discovery made that you can always win using a steel ball bearing.)

Discussion at parent/teacher conference involves discussion of intentional launch of schoolyard bully off of teeter totter to correlate weight and angle to trajectory.

Neighbor calls that your kid is in their back yard with a your lawn chair, duct tape, a two liter bottle of diet coke and Mentos (Remember kids, Mythbusters taught us to grind up the Mentos first!)

While Mom makes cookies, mixes Borax, white glue, water, and food coloring to make homemade slime.

Borrow tools and does not return them.

Has pet that works for OWCA.
So - if you have someone like this in your family, try and set a good example of research and safety (eye protection!). School them in the laws of man and physics (those fingers just won't grow back you know).  Then sit back and smile as you quietly watch them do the same things you used to do, remembering how, in the long run, it helped you learn and grow.

For you never know when such skills might come in handy, for that day you might meet pure Evil and he's just invented the "Delete-ALL-initor".

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sunday Black and White

"There are things known and there are things unknown,
 and in between are the doors of perception."
-Aldous Huxley
This is a Blog Hop. A big thanks to our hosts Nola and Sugar!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Someone's Watching You!

Mom had a stat counter on the blog which posts the visitor count, but she only recently looked at it.   There's a wide assortment, 90%  of the visitors are from the states, maybe 8 % from Canada and the UK and the rest an assortment, including a military base far away. She then clicked on visits from the state where the crash pad is, which broke down by City.

She wasn't expecting anything unusual, Broad Ripple, some friends in Zionsville and further north, but there it was, sticking out like a sore thumb. A frequent, really frequent visitor from the town right next to our little burg. 20 minutes away. Three visits on some days. Some lasting an hour or more. Early morning, late night. A couple of Saturdays, logged on all day, one visit in the total count, but all day. Did they log on in the morning and just forget about it like I do a lot. Or what?

Mom was a little creeped out, not by being, perhaps popular, but because she has testified against some bad guys who  have promised to stop by and say hello when they got out of jail so she's careful with her address and full name on the internet.
I could tell all those visits so close together bothered her a little bit.  None of our friends live there. None of Blogville does.  This person just seemed to visiting ALL the time. Sometimes staying for hours late at night, multiple visits on a daily basis. Creepy.

Was there some strange guy and his dog in a nearby city just looking on here, biting down on the squeeker in a dark room. .


We need to quit watching those scary movies when Dad is out of down.
So Mom looked at Stat counter to see if she could see the IP address. There it was, the IP address, the Internet provider.


Apparently, our little town doesn't show up with the IP, the next closest town does. Mom - who turns on blogger than walks away do other things for an hour or so all the time was the stalker.

My Mom is a COMPLETE dork.

But she's MY dork, and I love her.

Abby Lab