Sunday, November 04, 2012

Post-Hurricane Sandy gasoline situation

We filled our gas tanks before the storm hit, but I don't think either of us imagined things would get to this point. When I went out the door yesterday, I saw this at our closest corner:

Was this an epidemic of bad parking? No, I figured it probably was a gas line, but there are no gas stations on this street. And the line didn't stop here. It went for blocks beyond this.

So I went for a drive to investigate (and run some errands). Sure enough, the line went up to the next major intersection, around the corner and for blocks to the next gas station. Overall, the line was about 3/4 of a mile long! That's on top of all the people standing at the station with gas cans for generators! This is madness!

At the gas station in question:

And down the road from there:

Same thing at another gas station down the road, with a big line backing into a bowling alley parking lot.

I have a long commute to the hospital every day. I hope this ends soon!

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Catching up

So much has happened since I last posted, so let's catch up a little. Recently, I learned of a working poultry farm down a back road not far from my office. I went and checked it out, and we're now hooked on their eggs. You might think "an egg's an egg," but farm-fresh eggs are amazing! Since he'd only heard about the farm (and enjoyed its products), Marc went with me to see if for himself a few Saturdays ago. While there, I took a few photos:
This is where we go to buy the eggs, chicken breasts, etc.

One of the places where the chickens hang out

Some peacocks are hanging out in here It's a nice little farm, and I like that we can see the birds wandering the grounds. So I know they're truly cage-free. They've got more space to wander than I do here at home! 

In other non-news, here are some photos of my boys out for a walk that weekend:
Most walks with Dodger include a lot of stops, either for rest or sniffing!

My boys, as they return home

And for the last bit from that weekend (by the way, this was 3 weeks ago), a couple of photos from a local bakery called Sweet Karma. We were going to visit some friends, and we said we'd bring dessert. When Marc isn't up for making something (sometimes we're just too busy!), this is one of our favorite places to go:

We got the Banana Cream Pie (middle shelf on the right)

The pie was fabulous, of course! All in all, that was a good weekend!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A remembrance from elections past

I miss the old days of serious campaigning going on right here at home: Take a look!


I haven't posted anything since July? That's just wrong! Okay, I'll work on this. Sorry, blog!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A quick review of a good, entertaining book

Prince Of Fire (Gabriel Allon, #5)Prince Of Fire by Daniel Silva
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've liked every Daniel Silva book I've read. I only just got to Prince of Fire, as I'm going back and reading any of the ones I missed over the years. This is one of his better books.

Mr. Silva is a terrific writer, but saying that just isn't enough. He has a level of insight and empathy that sadly eludes most authors of this genre. While his heroes are Israelis fighting to defend their country and other innocents against terrorists, he doesn't make them purely good, and he doesn't paint the terrorists as pure evil. He does show the evil of the terrorists' acts, but he recognizes and acknowledges the wrongs their people have suffered that sowed the seeds of their extremism and hatred.

Prince of Fire is an entertaining, page-turning read, and it also provides food for thought. That's not a common combination! I highly recommend it!

View all my reviews

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bernice & Mandy touched the hearts of everyone they met

We knew that Bernice and Mandy won over everyone they met. Our girls were special. I know everyone feels that way about their dogs, but people who had met them would go out of their way to ask about them and it was clear to us that they really made a great impression and brightened the world.

Now, a sympathy card from the vet can ordinarily be seen as their standard procedure, but I don't think it's standard for it to look like this...

Go ahead and click on that photo, so you can read those notes. If what really matters in life is how you touch the hearts of those around you, then there's confirmation of just how special our girls really were!

Saturday, July 07, 2012

The hidden intelligence of dogs

Another Bernice memory came to mind today. While cleaning up, we found a couple of old 3.5-inch computer discs. This brought to mind something Bernice did early in her days with us, back when she was an only child.

I had received anti-virus software in the mail, and it came on a big stack of discs (maybe 10 or 12 of them). They were sitting on the coffee table when we went to work one day. Apparently, Bernice was bored, so she decided to take them apart. A bored dog chewing up something in the house isn't particularly noteworthy, but here's where it gets interesting.

Apparently, such discs have a variety of parts in them. There's the plastic case, of course, and the sliding metal part on the outside. Then inside there are other parts, like a little spring, a fabric piece, the circular disc of recording media itself and probably some other things I've forgotten.

Yes, Bernice had chewed them apart, but what we found was:

A pile of plastic casing pieces.

A pile of metal sliding pieces.

A pile of little springs.

A pile of internal plastic discs.

Every component was sorted and piled together. No one else had been in the house. The alarm system was armed, the doors locked. There was no other explanation. Our silly, young dog did this.

I don't think many people know that story. It's not one we shared too often, but we remember it well. We humans tend to think of dogs as relatively simple creatures, largely because of their inability to communicate with language, but I've often wished I could know what really goes on in their minds. They're probably far more complex than we can comprehend!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Mandy's U2 song

Did you know that U2 did a song about Mandy? If you've been reading this blog or ever visited us over the past 12+ years, you probably noted that Mandy's chief (among many) nickname was Moosedog.

Mandy could be an enigma at times, of course in adorable ways, but still. Anyhow, I told Marc today that her U2 song was stuck in my head. That, of course, is the well known song, Mooseterious Ways. This came after the many times that I told Marc, when Mandy had been somewhat enigmatic, that she moves in Mooseterious ways.

It's not easy at times like this, when so many famous bands have written song after song about your dogs! And now, a couple more photos of our beautiful pup...

Rest in peace, baby. I'm crying as I type this. I miss you and Bernice so much!

Monday, July 02, 2012

Remembering Vanna Black

In Alan Alda's autobiography, he warned readers to never have their dog stuffed. Sound advice, I think.

I can tell you one other thing worth avoiding--although it's much harder to avoid in my case--and that's using your dogs' names in various plays on words. I can't listen to most songs right now, because I have Bernice and/or Mandy's names, or nicknames, worked into them. Yes, I've always been that kind of smitten dog person. I fall in love with my pups, and this is what happens. (If you're wondering, I do this with Marc's name/nicknames, too.)

Just flipping on the TV for a mindless diversion (Wheel of Fortune) hurt tonight. For one thing, when it comes on, they introduce, as I'm sure you know, Pat Sajak and Vanna White. But around here, it would be "Pat Sajak and Vanna Black." Vanna Black was one of the many nicknames of my girl Bernice.

And then we get to the commercials. There's one for a service called "Coupon Suzy." I can't stand the ever-so-bubbly character in their commercial, but I'd always coped with that by engaging in silliness with Ms. Mandy Moosedog, or, as she would be known at such moments, Coupon Moosie. She would give me one of her looks, and that would bring a smile.

Now, it's all salt in two gaping wounds.

Yes, the happy memories will eventually overcome this pain. I know that. But for now, well... Eh, it's who I am. Dodger is at my feet as I'm typing this, and I call him by silly names all the time. So be it.

Thanks for listening, folks. It has been therapeutic. Now I'm going to go cuddle with a dog, whether he likes it or not!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Dodger's really a dog after all?

I wouldn't for one second suggest that there's anything good about our losing the girls. It has been devastating for us, and we've even observed Dodger having nightmares (he never was the type to growl and bark in his sleep--we hope it's helping him work out his grief).

But some interesting things have happened in the past few days. We threw out Mandy's ball, because it was just too crushing to look at it lying there, while the girl it belonged to had departed this life. When they played together, Dodger would grab it to play a sort of keep-away game when all three of them went after it, but he was never interested in playing ball himself.

The day after Mandy died, I found a new tennis ball, still in its wrapper, in the closet. I unwrapped it and asked if he wanted it. Not only did he want it, but he chased it when I threw it and brought it back to me. This type of canine behavior was never in Dodger's repertoire!

Then today, a friend at work who was hurting for us brought me a bag. In it was a big, fuzzy bone-shaped dog toy and some treats, along with a card:

A little something to help lift the poochie's spirits.
Sorry for your loss!

I thanked her repeatedly for her thoughtfulness (it was very thoughtful and really touched me!), and I brought the bag home. This evening, not only has Dodger taken an interest in the toy but he actually was using it to play tug-of-war with Marc.

After all these years, Dodger turns out to be a dog?? I suppose so. I actually had wondered, from time to time, if his behavior would change when the girls were gone--figuring, based on ages and health issues, that this day would come someday. Sure enough, it has. The kids spent a lot of time competing with each other, trying to show who was in charge, etc.  They never even threatened to hurt each other, but they were like competitive siblings.

So now, it appears that he can just relax and be a dog. Considering how we got here, I certainly have very mixed emotions about it. But if we had to lose Bernice and Mandy--and that definitely was beyond our power to fix--at least if he can have some of the puppyhood he never got to enjoy, then that's a good thing.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Goodbye, Mandy!

Not even six weeks after losing our beloved Bernice, we've now lost our other girl. Mandy, the puppy we adopted for Bernice to raise, is gone. Bernice did a wonderful job raising her puppy, and they both brought such joy to our lives. Now they're gone. I hope their spirits live on, together in a better place. I hope they and my parents are in a wonderful place together where Marc, Dodger and I will get to see them again someday.

For now, some photos to remember the beautiful girl we just lost.

This one really is the best. It's what I hope the girls are doing now, as my parents watch and smile!

She was about 5 years old here. She always loved the snow!

She had the most beautiful fur. When she was freshly bathed, she shined! And her coat felt like a mink!

Did I mention that she loved the snow?

She also loved playing with a ball. Here, she's challenging Patrick in his own home in Vermont!

I'll stop there for now. I don't want to overload you on photos of the beautiful girl. Besides, I can save some for another day!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

There's another dog

This post may make you think I'm a complete flake, but it's an accurate report. Granted, the meaning is subject to interpretation, but... well, here goes...

For years, there has been a dog hidden in our bathroom ceiling. I know that sounds weird. Here's how it works. While showering, once the ceiling outside the shower gets steamed up, there's what appears to be the image of a dog's face that emerges there. Yes, I always figured it was a quirk of the paint (as opposed to the spirit of some family dog visiting us on a daily basis).

Then came today. This afternoon, we were in the shower, and at some point in things, I looked up and saw something. Marc saw the look on my face and knew something was up.

Marc: What?

Me: There's another dog.

Marc: Huh?

Me: On the ceiling. There's another dog.

Marc looked where I was looking, to the right of the dog image we knew about, and then he saw it. There was another one there. Perhaps just another quirk in the paint and how condensation collects there.

But he added exactly what I was thinking: "It looks like Bernice."

And it does. Not just a dog, but a dog that looks like our Bernice.

Maybe it's nothing. Maybe it's just condensation from shower steam on ceiling paint. Maybe that's all it means when we suddenly, after all these years, see this... an image that looks like the dog we've been mourning for the past few weeks. Maybe, or maybe it means more than that.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A tree is the perfect remembrance

Around here, we're big on trees as a way to remember a loved one we've lost. You may recall that we've planted trees for such things in the past, as well as joining in such tributes when done by others. So it was a special joy when we came home Thursday to find a box from our dear friend Pua and her entire family that held a baby magnolia tree in memory of our beloved Bernice. (Rumor has it, it was Pua's daughter, Averie, who came up with the idea of sending it. Great idea!) Today, my live-in gardener (yes, that would be my husband) dug a hole in the back of the yard to plant it: The tree would have been more than enough, but the icing on the cake was this plaque that came with it: It says, "Bernice, January 1998 - May 2012 Welcome to the family, little tree. May you grow big and strong like the special lady you honor. You have big paws to fill!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Daddy Marc's little girl

Bernice loved both of us. I have no doubt about that. She was a big bundle of love and dedication wrapped in fur.

Still, from day one, she took to Marc with a love and commitment beyond measure. She took one look at Marc and decided he was IT. This photo, from shortly after we adopted her (look how skinny she was!) really tells the story--click on it to get a better view. They were head-over-heels in love, and that never changed. So wonderful!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Do some things happen for a reason?

I’ve always had a hard time with the “things happen for a reason” school of thought. There are too many horrors in this world for me to easily accept that there’s a grand plan into which everything fits.

Still, I was led to wonder this weekend. During a huge crying fit over losing Bernice, I was saying to Marc, in between moments of hysterical mourning, that I couldn’t believe the first people who had her returned her. “How could they be so cruel to her? She was the sweetest girl, and she loved the world. The idea of her bonding to a family and then their returning her. She must have been so horribly crushed.” I wailed, “How could they do that to her?”

Then Marc and I said, at pretty much the same moment, “They didn’t deserve her! If they couldn’t give her the right home, then they didn’t deserve her huge, unconditional love!”

That made me wonder. Could there be more? I don’t know. There’s still so much that’s horrible and cruel in this world, but did something greater say, “Bernice, as you’ll come to be known, you deserve better than these people. There are two guys who are going to love you for all your goodness. You hang in there, girl, and they’ll come for you!”

I still don’t know, but I like to think so. A bright, shining beacon of love has left our world. I sure hope we see her again somehow, someday, but for now we hold her in our hearts, pained beyond measure but knowing we were lucky she came into our world!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A story of our beloved Bernice

Bernice, January 1998 - May 17, 2012

As you may know from seeing me post on Facebook, we lost our eldest two days ago. She was a wonderful girl, and we're heartbroken over her death. My head believes it was the right thing to do, but my heart is crushed and I'm torturing myself over having euthanized her. I'll get past it with time, since we had to keep her from suffering. For the moment, though, I'm really hurting.

Now, I want to start to record some stories of this very special girl who won our hearts all those years ago. I may have to keep this short, because I find myself crying when I try to type things about her. But let's see if I can get an early story down before I have to stop.

We adopted Bernice on October 16, 1998. It was a Friday. We got her from North Shore Animal League. She was nine-and-a-half months old, and she was a bit on the wild side. That's why this almost-grown doggy was there. But she was the one for us (more about that in a future post), and the people who missed their chance to adopt her were fools. We were very fortunate!

When we took her home, she scraped a paw pad on the cement sidewalk as we went to the car--we figured her time in a cage had softened them up, and the soft pads weren't an issue once she had a normal life. We soon saw that the pad was bleeding, and by the next morning we were worried (as new parents) that we needed to do something about it. Since her adoption came with a month of free veterinary care at NSAL, we took her back there (to what we referred to as the "prison vet").

We had to wait a while, and the waiting room was packed. Bernice was a little under 40 pounds at the time, quite lithe and with some growing yet to do (her full, healthy adult weight would be 65 pounds). As we sat on the waiting room benches, there was another dog there, a significantly larger dog that was acting aggressively toward all of the other dogs there. When he tried to provoke Bernice, we kept a tight hold on her leash and she actually behaved quite well. She let it go.

Then the big dog growled at a little puppy sitting nearby. With that, Bernice pulled away, stood in front of the puppy, turned to the big dog and showed that dog what all of the teeth in her Doberman-Shepherd mouth looked like. The dog turned tail and hustled back to hide with its owner. Bernice walked back over and sat down by us, and that was the end of it.

That was our girl. She was there to protect us--there never was a doubt about that--but she also was very much the champion of those who couldn't protect themselves. Heaven help any bully if she was around. We already were falling in love with her, but that really told us that we'd brought someone very special into our family!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Gotham vs. Brooklyn Rugby

Not much need for commentary in this post. I'm just sharing a few photos. First, a few Gotham boys... And now, a couple of the Brooklyn boys... Like I said, not much to say. Let's just enjoy the loveliness! ;)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Book review: Winston's War

Winston's War (Winston Churchill #1)Winston's War by Michael Dobbs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a surprisingly good read! I suppose I didn't expect much from this book, despite reading an interesting blurb on it, because Barnes & Noble was giving it away for free, as one of their Free Fridays offerings. Yes, I realize that such things are supposed to build interest in the author or in similar works. Still, many of the giveaways are worth what I pay for them. In this case, that view was in error.

Winston's War is an historical novel, focused on the run-up to World War II, as Neville Chamberlain was trying to buy peace from Hitler through appeasement, while Winston Churchill was certain that this policy would only incite a tyrant. Of course, we know how that turned out. What makes this book interesting is the interplay between the characters and the political maneuvering in this very rocky time.

A well-written historical novel requires a good grasp of history. Being a student of history myself, many authors lose me through their lack of real historical grounding. That's not the case here. Mr. Dobbs did an admirable job of maintaining historical believability while throwing in a backstory that holds up and adds to the reader's interest. Overall, this is an excellent book!

View all of my reviews

Monday, March 26, 2012

Well, that explains it

We spent this weekend in New England. There was a party in New Hampshire, in honor of our cousin's (my Dad's first cousin's) 70th birthday, so we made a weekend of it. On the drive up, we spotted some trees by the side of the road that were both flattened and twisted in various directions. Between my background as a big-time earth science geek and Marc's experience growing up in Kansas, we quickly came to the same conclusion: only one thing can make that happen... a tornado.

But this was near Sturbridge, Massachusetts. While there have been tornadoes in this part of the country, including some really deadly ones, tornadoes aren't a regular occurrence around here. But sure enough, a quick Google check revealed that there had been tornadoes in that area last year. In fact, I found a NASA shot of the tornado's track here.

Anyhow, the weekend was really nice, but that was an impressive sight. Seeing what nature can do really is quite a reminder of human puniness!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Reasons to love rugby

As I'm sure you know, I'm a proud member of the Gotham Knights RFC (Rugby Football Club), and that's because of my love of the sport. There's no other reason. For example, new guy Daniel has nothing to do with it...

Okay, so maybe I find him a little attractive. But then there's that off-putting way he speaks. You know, those Australian accents can be such a distraction!


Okay, now I have to get back to editing rugby photos!

Yay! Rugby starts again today!

Today we truly start spring, even if the calendar says we have a few days of winter to go, for today our beloved Gotham Knights have their first match of the year! The camera is ready, and I head out in about an hour to join them. Even Dodger is cheering for rugby:

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Our first baby, Bernice, the Energizer doggy!

When we adopted Bernice, we knew that we'd do our best by her but had to realize, as with all such things... well, you know. She's doing well for her age, but some days are hard for her at this point. We do our best to make every day as good as possible.

Still, the vet told us a while back that a dog of her type could be expected to live 10 to 12 years. I guess we've done okay, because she's now 14 years & 2 months old. And while she has her achy days, she has her good days, too. At the moment, she's sleeping by our feet.

So how's she looking at such an advanced age? Take a look at a shot of our pretty baby that I took earlier tonight as she relaxed on her new bed:

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Old dogs with new beds

We bought a new couch, after one last bit of dog damage finished the old one off. Since we intend to keep the dogs off the new one (or at least try to), we bought new dog beds for this room (as opposed to the dog beds they already have in the bedroom). We only bought two, since Dodger tends to avoid such things during the day, even when they're made available. I don't know why--Dodge moves in mysterious ways.

So we bought lovely new beds that have a center cushion that sits inside a cushioned ring, letting them sink into the cushy center and rest their heads on the side, a perfect arrangement for how they often like to sleep. So what was the first reaction to the beds? Take a look:

Lovely. *sigh*

And what did Mandy do? At first, she was truly ecstatic. She had her ears up and was grinning. But then she got around to "I have a better idea!"

Yes, she got herself under the cushion. Oy vey, these dogs!

Well, she's now on top of the pillow, so all is well with that. And Bernice is on the floor as I type this, but she's been using the bed, too:

It's not easy to keep old dogs comfy, especially poor Bernice who is beyond old for a dog of her size. But we're trying!