Sunday, September 30, 2018

Canine Dating Advice

Abby the Lab here.  I am happy that Dad is home, and he and Mom have just been able to chill around the house, just enjoying a quiet day after church. Tomorrow is back to work, Mom working from home with her bouquet of duct tape roses Dad made for her on their first Valentine's Day on her desk.

I have to say, Mom is glad her single days are behind her, as Barkley could attest to some of the lousy dates she had (the worse being the blind date that wanted to go out with her because she was a LEO, thinking that was her astrological sign, and running from the table when he found out otherwise-- his being on house arrest and all).  Those of you who have read The Book of Barkley know THAT story.

So from what I've learned from Mom - I'm going to give you some advice on Dating for humans.

Abby the Lab's Advice on How NOT to get a Second Date. 

(1) Rent an uber-fancy new car and drive around like you actually own it. (a) If you look like you spent $80,000 on a set of wheels but you live in a single wide trailer you are  SO not getting a second date. and (b) Think of all the good toys you could have bought with the $1000 you spent on the Ferrari that so did NOT impress her. Think about it while she goes home alone because she knows it's what's in the HEART that counts - not what is in your wallet.

(2) Rent a chick flick and buy chocolate. Chocolate's not good for dogs but dog Mom's love it but my mom would rather watch "Top Gear". This is too easy - and likely NOT going to work. Use your imagination and don't get her what every other guy gives a gal. 

(3) Sample International Cuisine at a Street Fair - have you SEEN the food at a street fair? Unless you have a large dose of Pepto in your purse, this is one to miss.

(4) Pick up two snack packs of KFC and go to a Renaissance Fair.  Are you kidding me?  Mom says the snack packs do NOT have enough biscuits.

(5)  Swimming with the Dolphins.  Sure it looks all fun and romantic on TV but it can turn bad as quickly as a bottle of Tinks  "doe in estros" scent accidentally spilled in a hunter's pocket at the height of deer mating season, only underwater.

(6) Drive out to a country setting and snuggle with your date under the stars. Watch your date carried off by pitchfork-wielding lunatics.
(7) Cook for your date. If you can cook, great. If you can't, do NOT attempt to heat up two single serving frozen entrees and serve on two plates or your date WILL ask for seconds. Or your head on a platter.

(8) One word. Yatzee. No.

(9)  Avante Garde Live Entertainment. Any event where your date might get splattered with overly ripe fruit or processed meat products is never going to end well.

(10) A walk on a quaint old bridge late at night. Picture downtown late at night. A canal. Meeting that crackhead who wants to toss you into the water after stealing your wallet. Viva la romance!

(11)  Small Carnival on the edge of town.  Carnival Ninjas.  That's all I can say.

(11)  A trip to the Comic Convention.  Look, she does NOT want to see you in spandex, She really doesn't care if Paraxxus is wearing the same outfit as Galactus and if she runs into Thor it might get awkward

(12)  Romantic romp on the Beach.  You know that scene from "Here to Eternity" with Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr rolling around in the waves?  Sure it looks all romantic, but that's Hollywood.  They edited out the beach tar, biting crabs, seagull poop and nearsighted geezers with metal detectors.

(13). Play a video game.  All evening, while your date sits next to you on the couch.  Tell her, while the apple pie gets cold,  you're "just getting your kid to the next level".  Do not get to the next level yourself.  EVER.

You're getting WARMER. . . .

(1)  Take her to an event that you both like, and bring her dog along-- show interest in her opinions, make her laugh.  Bring a homemade gourmet tailgate meal so she doesn't have to eat a corndog and chips with "Cheezeeee" sauce.

And take extra treats for the dog.

Friday, September 28, 2018


What's this Mom, while I was out with my dog walker looking at the Howl-o-ween decorations popping up around the village, a box has appeared.  
Wait!  It's the CHEWY box!
Oh, Chewy - I am but your humble slave, unable to resists the temptations of the big blue box.
Mom's got it open!~
What did you order for me Mom?  I see my favorite - Blue Bars Apple and Yogurt Mini Dog Biscuits and the Greenie Breath Buster Bites which were recommended to us by Cam at

 But what is this ORANGE package?
It's Boo Bars Mummy Morsels for Howl-o-ween!  Yay Mom!
How about you scare me up a little snack!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Come Laugh With Us - In Honor of Madi

Abby T. Lab here. We are joining  Madi's special friend

who is hosting the "Come Laugh With Us" Blog Hop to remember our beloved friend Diva Madi the Cat who went to the Rainbow Bridge this year.

Madi was one of the first "BIG" personalities we noticed when we moved to Blogville - she was always so busy in the community, welcoming, creating fun and hijinks, just genuinely fun to be around.
Whether she was busting a move on the dance floor, or flooring the gas pedal of her car, life was always an adventure filled with laughter when Madi was around.

So many events, cookouts, and roundups and car rallies and most special for many of us the Pawlympics!

Madi was always the kind of cat that lived so outside the box, doing things that others were never brave enough to try, living each day in the fullest.

Me, I'm just a dog, so my life was a lot simpler.  Thank you, Madi for inspiring to do so much more!
We miss you Madi!
We are also especially grateful to her creative and loving people who shared her life with us with great joy and humility. May her memories bring you comfort.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Leaving the Light On

As I pull into the long driveway that winds between a stand of spruce trees and the Bungalow, I see Abby T. Lab's head through the sheer curtains, up on the couch, looking down on the driveway as the main floor sits several feet atop the windows of the walkout basement. The windows in this house are old, 50 years?  A hundred?  It's hard to tell.  They're not the best for holding in heat but they do keep out the sound.

I ran a quick calculation and I've spent 13 solid years sleeping in a hotel room (or tent, vehicle or the back of a transport plane).  The last few years, I was able to be home a lot more, as I did less field work and more "manage the technology and people that do the field work". Now I'm I guess what you would call "The Director" if my life was NCIS.  I'm OK with that.  I'm to the point now, that as much as intellectually I miss full-time fieldwork, I'd rather sleep in my own bed at night, even if for two years, before I could get a promotion to take me closer to my husband, I had two homes, in completely different time zones and a three hundred mile drive to and from work on Monday and Friday's.
We've all had our stories of Motel Hell and some that were just fun.  My favorite was a 5-star hotel in the Nation's Capital some 16 years ago where I got $17 macaroni and cheese from the children's menu that was the best I'd ever had, then got to go in the bathroom and talk on the phone and watch TV, while in the bathroom.  No, I'm not cranked by technology, but I was like a little kid playing grown up, calling my Dad "Dad I'm calling you from a phone by the toilet!"  which totally made him laugh.

Then, there was the time I locked myself out of my hotel room in my underwear while grabbing the newspaper.  I had no phone.  I stole a towel off an abandoned housekeeping cart, draped it over my head (they can stare at my butt all day long, but no one will recognize me) and sauntered down to the front desk  "extra key for Dr. J. please".  The clerk is still probably traumatized.
Then there's jet lag. The jet lag is more than a myth, it's a sledgehammer of weariness that hits you as soon as the aircraft door opens up, no matter what time it is. You're lucky if you get a long layover, where you have a day to wander ancient streets in the quiet dawn, strolling among the mazes of alleyways and churchyards and cemeteries of a small village, breathing in air laden with woodsmoke that smells of history. You're lucky if you have time to finally fall asleep in the long hot afternoons, a white sheet wrapped around you like a shroud, pretending to sleep as if it's your own bed and there's more on the wall than a dusty picture of people dead hundreds of years.

There is night after night of sameness. The bed looks like any bed in any hotel.  Dinner is Ramen Noodles cooked in the coffee pot, not because there is no room service or restaurant but because you've had all the interaction with the world you can stand for the day, and you just want something hot to eat all alone.  The mini bar beckons, but you don't go there either, not for the tiny little mortgage you pay with each clink of the little bottle that will only briefly relax your sapless limbs.  The room is quiet, but in your head are the words of hundreds that cannot be stilled, the voices that called you here, to this city, this week, where what little sleep you get will only be when the sodden match that is your brain, has nothing left with which it can spark.

There are the mornings you wake, not knowing what time it is, or what country you are in, and for a moment you pause in your hotel room, breathing heavy with fear as you orient yourself to your surroundings. You look outside, not really knowing what you will see, having arrived in total darkness. A lovely village full of sight and sound, and cobbled steps, or the war-ravaged industrial town, a visage of smoke and ash, gaunt staring rubble rising out from sand, dirt, and weeds with an air of profound desolation that needs no further words. On such mornings I don't need caffiene, just the terror of waking in total darkness in an unfamiliar place will jolt me into my day.
It's a life of constant motion and travel, phone calls, and emails home or abroad from loved ones living the same kind of life,  including one in which you are told "I can't do this anymore", as you sit helpless and shaking 2000 miles away. You don't argue, your only response as the proverbial dial tone growls in your ear is the flinging of a shoe that strikes the wall with a single, shattering blow. The remaining nights you simply sit, as if listening to something very far away or so close as to be contained within you. The phone lays silent, but you do not. You call someone you trust, who also lives on the road, to let it out, and then go on living. Certain types of lives demand sacrifices, but you can no more change that than you can change what is essential to you. You continue with your duty, for it, and order is the only constant that you know.

It's simply part of who we are, traveling where our skills are needed, not because your friends and family mean any less, but because responsibility carries with its own honor. It's a life of many hotels, and meals probably best eaten in low light. It's memories, transparent and weightless, that scatter around you like leaves, blown without destination by winds that forever change.
But tonight, the sounds of my own house are all around, the wind in the eaves, the soft thump of freshly washed towels dancing in the dryer downstairs, the tap of a branch against the porch railing. From the basement early this morning comes the season's first rumble of heat, the house sighs, as do I. From the futon a grey-muzzled rescue dog snores in the contentment which is finding a loving home after years of only being a puppy factory, sent to a high kill shelter when she got sick.  I look at her, her paws gently twitching as she chases silent rabbits on invisible grass, giving out a soft "woof" in her sleep and can't help but smile.

There is comfort in those sounds.  It's like listening to a monk chanting in a language which you do not need to even understand to know. So many sounds, the creaks, the murmurs, whispers of earth and sky and people, quiet tears in a hotel room, laughter and the clink of glasses, sounds evocative of life and death and struggle, things we've been aware of all our lives but never really understood until now. Sounds and words like faded letters on a road sign, not pointing us to where we need to be, but letting us know we were on the right path.
There is no room service, there is no big TV - there are journals and books and more books, tools left about mid function as a mind takes yet another bend in solving the puzzle of the day.  There is dog hair and dust and an ancient refrigerator that operates on sheer will  And there is a stained glass window, as old as I, that replaced what was once a mundane view of a yard,  a window alive with colors that glow when all color everywhere has failed the sky.

For no matter how dark things have been, there will always be that light that awaits you, biting into shadow. It is home, a small dwelling guarded by a sleeping dog and the one that never abandoned me, no many how many nights we were apart.  As for that person I trusted who also lived on the road whom I called on that fateful night so long ago, he is now my husband of five years. He waits for me inside with the light on. There is nowhere I'd rather be.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Park Walkies with Mom and Dad

 I know I won't go in the kiddie pool.  I told you there are alligators in it.  I don't care that you say they are cartoon gators.
 Right there Mom, scratches.
 I love my Mom

Home again, Home again.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Happy Autumn Blog Hop

Abby Lab here - Mom took a walk around the village after church for photos. Only a few of the trees have started to change color but she got some fun pictures. We're joining out friends the OP Pack at
for a blog hop this happy Autumn Day.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Saturday Smiles

Uh, I'll have the BSOD* with a side of hash browns, and a caramel cappuccino.

*Blue Screen of Death

Friday, September 21, 2018

Abby Lab - On Learning to Trust

 So how was your day Abby?
The Big Toaster Truck with the delivery guy stopped by and he didn't bring me anything from Chewy - THAT tells you how my day is going to be.
No one sends me goodies in the mail
 See - YOU got a box from the Big Toaster Truck
 I was robbed.
Even worse, the delivery guy saw me through the window and said "nice doggie".  Doesn't he understand I have mandibles of death. I'm a ferocious watch dog protecting Mom.
" No" - he says "Labs are NICE doggies - they're always friendly."  SIGH
 So I gave him this face. GROWWWLL  He just laughed and said "isn't she cute"
Just wait until next time delivery guy.  
But on top of the box on the porch he left a little doggie biscuit.  Just for me.
 Color me surprised.
And you were so happy to open the box and find the picture of a black lab, a happy, friendly, black lab that a friend sent you.  Because we ARE happy and friendly, we're not mean or scary and don't want to be.
I feel so bad, I was trying to scare the Big Toaster Truck guy away and he just wanted to be my friend and bring things that make my Mom smile.
You were right Mom and Dad - judge people by how they treat us, not how others have treated us.
Did you get that subliminal message Mom. . . . .Treat??