Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Juniper, our chocolate lab puppy, is now six months old. We received an email from Shauna, Juni's human mom, last week asking if we might bring Juni over so she could play with her brothers and sisters. All of them were going to be together on Saturday so we went for a doggie playdate.

When we arrived, Shauna came running from the house and looked like she was going to cry when she saw Juni. They had expected her to be short and stocky but rather she has lengthened into a rangy, leggy teenager.

Juni now weighs 48 pounds. All her previously cute cuddly little puppy brothers and sisters are also about 50 pounds apiece. It took a few minutes for them to take each other's measure and then the playing romp was on. Lots of mock fighting (I call it grab ass when Juni and Daisy are doing this ~ teeth bared, lots of guttural growling and tails wagging furiously), jumping, racing around and pawing at each other.

It was great fun and so strange to see seven close to identical Junis and her mom all jumping around. They are different shades of brown but otherwise look much like each other (you can sort of tell the different shades of brown in the middle picture above). We kept them straight by their collar colors. Shauna and her boyfriend Matt know them by sight but we sure didn't.

In the pictures above (left to right), Juni is the one in the scarf. In the middle picture, I was doling out treats to the dogs and trying to keep them straight so they each had the same number of treats. In the picture on the right, Juni and one of her siblings are so tired they're playing grab ass but while laying down. Juni is underneath John and using him as protection though she hardly needs it.

Both she and Daisy wear bandannas most of the time to distinguish them from Erin's dog Domino when he's here. Where Juni and Daisy are mellow and friendly, Domino is aggressive (part Lab, part pit bull on 30 mg of Prozac daily) and we all believe he has a bite to back up his bark (though it hasn't been proven yet, thank goodness). However, Domino is fine around his own people and wonderful with Emily and Lucy. If he ever is NOT good with the kids, he's a goner; there will be no second chance.

Anyway, we had a great playdate with Shauna, mom dog Denali and the seven puppies. Now we're figuring we'll have a first birthday party for them in July. What fun to look forward to. Doggie birthday cake!

Sunday, January 25, 2009



Main Entry:
te·mer·i·ty           Listen to the pronunciation of temerity
synonyms temerity , audacity , hardihood , effrontery , nerve , cheek , gall , chutzpah mean conspicuous or flagrant boldness. temerity suggests boldness arising from rashness and contempt of danger temerity to refuse>. audacity implies a disregard of restraints commonly imposed by convention or prudence audacity and vision>. hardihood suggests firmness in daring and defiance hardihood>. effrontery implies shameless, insolent disregard of propriety or courtesy effrontery>. nerve , cheek , gall, and chutzpah are informal equivalents for effrontery nerve of that guy>cheek to call herself a singer> gall to demand proof> chutzpah needed for a career in show business>.

definition from Merriam-Webster online dictionary

Johnnie has two older brothers, the oldest in Ohio; the middle in New Mexico. We are quite close to brother Ferd and Mare in Ohio; less close to brother Wiz and Marylyn in NM. We have been monitoring an unfolding situation between Ferd & Mare and Wiz & Marylyn.

Wiz and Marylyn are traveling from NM to Ohio for a trade show in which they are exhibiting. They asked to stay at Ferd and Mare's home for a week. No problem.

Next phone call: Wiz asks if their cat, Sparky, can come along. They never travel without Sparky. Ferd (their host for the week) is allergic to cats. Because Ferd is a nice guy and never says no, he says that Sparky can come and stay at the house too.

More calls ensue where Ferd is asked to arrange for numerous things to facilitate their successful exhibit at the trade show. Ferd does it all. Wiz then calls and says he has found a better deal for all the requested items so never mind. No apologies proferred. Ferd cancels everything without a word of recrimination.

Wiz calls this weekend (they arrive on Tuesday of this coming week) and asks if their brother-in-law Dougie can also stay at Ferd and Mare's house. Ferd and Mare have never met Dougie. Apparently he's 6'4" tall and will have trouble sleeping on an aerobed, the only available sleeping surface (other than the floor) for him at Ferd & Mare's.

How. rude. How amazingly inconsiderate of them! Bad enough they're bringing a cat to which Ferd has proven allergies. And now to also invite their brother-in-law to stay as well.

Johnnie and I are aghast at the inconsiderateness and the rudeness. There is a motel less than two miles from Ferd and Mare's home that accepts animals. We have to conclude it also accepts brothers-in-law. We've all stayed there for various events when the house couldn't accommodate all of us.

Adding insult to injury: Wiz and Marylyn are there on business (the trade show) so will be writing all of their expenses off. They can also (probably) buy and sell the rest of us about three or four times over. No need to pinch pennies. Staying at a motel (especially an inexpensive one) would not be a hardship.

The temerity, the cheekiness, the chutzpah, the effrontery, the gall, the nerve. I'm affronted on Ferd and Mare's behalf. We both are. We love all four of these people: Ferd and Mare, Wiz and Marylyn. However, stretching the family-ness this far is preposterous. Ferd and Mare called us tonight to tell us the latest and they know how we feel about this.

For the first time ever, I'm so glad we live in a smaller city so that our popularity for events such as this is much diminished. I'm typically the mouthy one who says what everyone else is thinking. I seriously cannot imagine taking such advantage of family in this way.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ten Honest Things About Me

Working to fight off the creeping crud that (I think) came from the granddaughters, both of whom have walking pneumonia. Lucy also has an ear infection. I sound as though I have a 4-pack-a-day habit and no energy. I've been with them four out of five days this week so I'm definitely vulnerable. Ah well. Shake it off!

Courtney has tagged me to carry on the Honest Scrap post from Lisha.
Thanks, Courtney - it's my first tag EVER!

Here are the rules:
A) First list 10 honest things about yourself - and make it interesting, even if you have to dig deep!
B) Pass the award on to seven bloggers that you feel embody the spirit of the Honest Scrap.

Here are my entries:

1) I grew up as an only child until I was 12. My father blurted out (during an argument with my mother) that I had a sister. I was ecstatic (about my sister, not about the argument).

2) I sucked my thumb well past puberty. For the record, I don't any more but I still twist my hair when I'm tired.

3) I was the first person in my immediate family to get a college degree.

4) I know very few of my cousins and other relatives, even though we now live within 60 miles of many of them. I'm just not much into extended families, never having grown up around family in that way. We always lived in Michigan and most of the relatives lived in New York state.

5) My previous husbands were seven and 15 years older than me; John is a year and two months younger than I am.

6) I smoked cigarettes from 15 to about 30, started by swiping my dad's Winston's. Cannot stand the stench of cigarettes now.

7) I love to read. If I could, I'd spend hours a day reading books.

8) There are several story/book ideas bouncing around in my head. Some day, maybe I'll even get at least one of them out of there and into the computer.

9) I'm coming to the realization that I'm a procrastinator when it comes to things I don't like or want to do, especially if I perceive that someone is anxious for me to do it. (My father was a procrastinator and was vilified frequently by my mother because of it.) I don't like this trait in myself and will be working to counteract it.

10) Sometimes, I wish we could have a cat but Johnnie is allergic to them.

OK, so for people to tag, hmmmm. I don't know many bloggers yet and Courtney tagged most of the people I would have nominated. So I think I'll let that part of the process slide - sorry.

Now I think I'll go read!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

57 days...

and counting until spring. Somehow that sounds just a **little** better than saying spring is two months away. But just a little better. It's still one and a half Lents. And Lent always seems to go on forever.

I don't know about your part of the country but it is frickin COLD here and seems to be unrelenting. Temperatures have been colder, there's been more snow than in normal winters and more of the same is on the way.
Blah blah blah. And we continue to live here....WHY??

Basically, I'm a flip flop girl wrapped in fleece and trapped in thermal underwear.
My feet may never get warm.

So, I think I'll try to find five things about winter that are enjoyable. Try to turn my miserable perspective around without taking an (expensive) trip to someplace warm.

  1. It's cozy sitting in front of the fire in the evening.
  2. The hot tub feels amazing on cold winter nights (once you trot through the snow to get into it).
  3. Snuggling under the comforter together in a coolish bedroom.
  4. Sometimes the snowfall is pretty until the dogs pee on it and the roads get all brown and slushy.
  5. Seat heaters that get my buns nice and toasty in the car.
Well, the first four are pretty good but then I struggled to get to a fifth. Any other takers?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Zippity Doo Dah

Zippity Doo Dah

Zippity Doo Dah
Zippity Ay
My oh my
What a wonderful day.

Plenty of sunshine
Comin' my way.
Zippity Doo Dah
Zippity Ay

Mr. Bluebird on my shoulder,
It's the truth;
It's actual;
Everything is satisfactual.

Zippity Doo Dah
Zippity Ay
Wonderful feeling,
Wonderful day!*

What an amazing day! Like a lot of people, I've been looking at those 1-20-09 bumper stickers for years and agreeing that it was time for a new beginning. And what an incredible new beginning we have today. Today I'm proud to be an American. I'm thrilled to see Barack Obama as president and his family begin their tenure in the White House.

Everything won't remain totally rosy and the normal honeymoon period with a new president will inevitably end. But my heart is lighter and I personally feel so much more hopeful for this country than I have in many years.

God bless Barack Obama, his family, the American people and the United States of America.

*While investigating the proper attribution for this song, (1946 Song of the South Disney Productions) it turns out that the film itself was fairly racist and is not legally available anywhere in the US. The song has been running through my mind all morning in relation to the inauguration. I included it here because I sincerely feel that today is a wonderful day, not because of the apparent racism of the movie from which it came. How fantastic that our collective sensitivities have moved us (mostly) beyond racist entertainment. Just watch Blazing Saddles if you want to see racism and politically incorrect humor.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Right here, right now

First, a clarification. Johnnie read my previous post and asked nicely for more description around the statement: "Johnnie thinks they're funny, especially the middle one where my head is turned 90 degrees on my/her shoulders."

The pictures make him laugh but he's not laughing at me, just at the preposterousness of the pictures themselves. And a good many things that I say or do make him laugh because they're unexpected and (according to him) they tickle him. He fully supports any and all efforts to get slim and he never ever says anything derogatory about me. Quite to the contrary. When he looks at me, I seriously feel like the most beautiful and svelte person in the world ~ even in the morning with bedhead and yucky breath. And I get soundly scolded if I get down on myself and say nasty things about myself out loud. 'Course, he can't hear what I say inside my head. So please know that he doesn't think the pictures are anything but the incentive and motivational tools I want them to be.

Our (my) daughter Holly turned 40 the other day. Erin was 32 in September. It got me to thinking about what a different place I was in at their ages.

ME: When I was 32, I had been married at 21, had a child at 26 and divorced at 29
. I had moved from Michigan to Minnesota and was married for the second time.

ERIN: Erin was 25 when she married Mike and had her first baby at 29 and her second at 31. They have lived within a 30 mile radius since they got married. There is no hint of divorce in their marriage and (God willing) will probably never be.

ME: When I was 40, I was on the way to being divorced for the second time, had adopted Holly seven years before and was considering a move from Minnesota to western New York State to accept a new job.

HOLLY: Holly was 33 when she married her husband Mike. They have no children and probably never will. They have been parents to Kirby the dog, Delbert and Chloe the cats. Holly has lived in numerous places - meeting Mike in Kansas City, Missouri and then moving to San Francisco together.

I'm so thankful that both girls have made good life choices to this point and have done things in a reasonably traditional manner. I take from that some solace that my life choices in my 20s and 30s didn't completely scar them for life.

I also know that if I hadn't taken the life journey that I did, we wouldn't all be where we are today and with the wonderful people we have each married. There's an interesting movie, Sliding Doors (1998) with Gwyneth Paltrow.
Plot described on A London woman's love life and career both hinge, unknown to her, on whether or not she catches a train. We see it both ways, in parallel.

If she makes the train, her life ends up one way. If she doesn't, her life has a totally different series of events.

So my choices have obviously affected not only me but John, the girls and their respective Mikes. Despite the sometimes bumpy road and disillusionment that I've felt when discovering that my previous choices were not the healthiest for me, it's still been a good ride so far. I'm just glad the girls are happy and safe and whole. I can't imagine what their lives will be like at 58, where I am today.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Motivation gives way to wistful inspiration

I've been various sizes of chubby since I was very little. My elementary school nickname was Cheryl Barrel. In all reality as I look back now, I don't think I was seriously fat, just pudgy around the edges. I remember wearing a special chubby-sized dress for my Confirmation. (When we met an adult cousin of mine a couple years ago after decades of not visiting, her first words to me were "You're not fat!" Nice.)

That mentality sticks with you. For your entire life, apparently, if you're me. I spent the bulk of this past Sunday afternoon sorting and cramming 40-odd years of pictures into paper boxes to consolidate them. (Another formidable task looms in trying to sort them into some kind of order. That's for a different winter I think.) As I looked at pictures of myself, I realized that I wasn't all that fat for most of my adult life.

When I married the first time, I weight about 120. I'm 5' 3" tall so that's respectable and reasonable. Even at my second marriage I was about the same. When John and I got married in 1993, I weighed a few more pounds but still not more than 130. Again. Reasonable.

What I also remember vividly throughout all of those events and many others, is feeling that I was fat and being dissatisfied with my weight always. I scarcely ever remember looking in a full length mirror and being content with my body.

So most of my life has been a (or attempts to) diet in one way or another. I've done NutriSystems, South Beach, seen a nutritionist for months at a time, did an Oprah-like boot camp, Dr. Fuhrman and many others. We watch The Biggest Loser. We have a WII Fit, free weights, a bosu, fitness balls and two treadmills.

My weight has crept up over the past dozen years (the fate of comfortable living) and I frequently flagellate myself privately for lack of self control, weakness, you-name-it for not sticking with the program and getting the weight off. As I told my doctor last week, I look matronly. Not my desired image and certainly not what I see in my mind's eye. I'm not looking to be age-inappropriate, just slimmer so that I feel and look better.

Now I have about 30-40 pounds that need to come off this frame (and I know it's not all about numbers but that's what needs to come off). I weigh more now than when I was nine months pregnant with Erin. The weight I need to lose is driven home to me vividly each time I carry a 30 or 40 pound granddaughter up the stairs and think how much better I would feel if I got the weight off. Of course, it gets tougher as you get older to take off the weight. And then there's the motivation factor, which I seem to lack for sustained periods of time. Sigh.

I read a tip a couple of years ago about envisioning how you would look at your ideal weight. So I went a little further and clipped three pictures from a Shape magazine and taped my head to the women's beautiful bodies. They worked for a while but now they're just part of the background chaos in my office. They're taped to the front of my monitor so I can't help but see them whenever I sit down.

Johnnie thinks they're funny, especially the middle one where my head is turned 90 degrees on my/her shoulders. The pictures creep our daughter Erin out. I just wish they could reach out from their two-dimensional paper prisons and yank stuff out of my hands when I'm sitting here nibbling on something. Erin's friend Courtney has taken off more than 50 pounds since last summer. That is so cool and I wish I could emulate her success. Heck, I'd be happy with just a smidgen of her stick-to-it-iv-ness.

So my periodic motivation to lose weight has ceded to providing some wishful inspiration to look and feel better than I do. Deep down I don't want to give up the struggle to keep my weight in check. I know what to do, I just need to do it. Consistently. Now.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Eggshell cookies and jiggly Jell-O

Emily and Lucy visited our house early Friday morning while Erin went to a (yet another) doctor's appointment. (I say yet another as I'm sure she's feeling that way too.) I decided Thursday evening that we would make Jell-O jigglers so I made up sugar free black cherry Jell-O* so it set overnight.

As I was buzzing around getting ready for their visit, I decided we'd make (actually I would make, Emily would help and Lucy would be left to her own devices) sugar cookies with M&Ms in them too. What the heck, these are the things of which memories are made, right?

So we started about 8:45 with Emily fashionably attired in a Senor Frog apron. While my back was turned for maybe two seconds, Emily broke open the egg and dumped it into the dry ingredients (it was supposed to be creamed with the sugars and butter first). She had been quite anxious to break open the egg. That should have been my first clue.

Hmmmm. What to do? Didn't have enough flour to toss all this and start another batch (besides the waste of ingredients). Couldn't tell for sure if there was eggshell in the mix but if there wasn't, it was certainly a very small egg. And how bad could a little eggshell be for you anyway? What the heck - let's just go with what we have.

Note: Emily is still wearing her Captain Feathersword eyepatch from her unfortunate run in with a garment hang tag at JC Penney on Tuesday. She has adjusted incredibly well to it, including having ointment put in it three times a day. The patch comes off later on Friday. For more hair raising details about that adventure, visit daughter Erin's blog.

Emily's favorite part was sampling the butter, brown sugar and other ingredients. She and Lucy both enjoyed eating the batter from the mixer beaters. Yeah, I know batter probably isn't great for you but that's most of the fun of making cookies, according to me. I must admit that I ate a bit of the batter myself. Just a kid at heart I guess.

Then we dropped the batter from a spoon, pushed M&Ms into them until we ran out of M&Ms, then waited for the cookies to bake. The audience was most impatient as I took the cookies out to cool. Emily sort of understood they were too hot to eat but Lucy was just impatient. The girls munched on cookies while I finished up making the second batch. Grandpa was lucky enough to select the first cookie with eggshell shards in it. Yum.

Then we cut shapes out of the Jell-O. I know Emily has had Jell-O jigglers before but not recently that I'm aware of. Both girls were fascinated by the jiggly squiggly shapes. I set up their princess table and chairs in the family room and they settled down to watch Little Einsteins and eat Jell-O until Mommy came to claim them.

The cookies themselves? Eh - they were OK. Nothing to submit to the Pillsbury Bake Off. The kids may never remember making cookies today but I'll remember.

*Did you know that Jell-O originated in LeRoy, New York? There's even a Jell-O Gallery. We live within 30 miles of LeRoy but have never been to the Jell-O Gallery. Perhaps we will discover we have a life and go visit it one day.

What bucket list?

Truthfully, I've never really created a bucket list but I think it's a great idea. When I actually focus on it, I can't think of much to put on my own list that isn't trite or silly. However, as I mentioned in yesterday's post, seeing an operation (animal or human) would definitely be on the list.

I asked when I took Juni to the vet yesterday morning and I was allowed to watch our puppy's spaying operation. How extremely cool is that?? I know most people would be heading for the nearest trash can or door but I was mesmerized. The vet came out and asked me a bunch of questions including "can you watch this being done on your own dog without fainting or barfing?" I had thought about that quite a lot and didn't think I'd have a problem.

I'm all about biology and medical science. After a scooter accident in Bermuda, I was thrilled when the emergency room doctor showed me my cruciate ligaments in my torn up left knee before he scrubbed out the pebbles and sewed me up. That was the very best part of the entire trip.

So I got to watch little Juni get her anesthesia, intubation, shaved and set up for an IV. I was given a gown, cap and mask and then the operation started. The vet and the technician assisting were fantastic, explaining things to me as we went along. It was so cool. While the incision was open, the doctor pointed out Juni's spleen, her bladder, small intestines and explained how the dog's reproductive anatomy is organized. She pulled a small section of small intestines out so I could see them. It was beautiful ~ all this transparent pinkish tissue with delicate, tiny blood vessels crisscrossing everywhere.

After Juni was sewn up and being tended by the veterinary techs, the doctor said I could put a pair of gloves on and we looked at the ovaries and uterus together in more depth. She exposed the ovary ~ about the size of a peanut ~ and laid out the whole system.

I was supposed to meet our friend Bridget to walk at the mall after dropping Juni off and ended up calling her to beg off when the doctor said I could watch the operation. Sorry Bridget!

I had to pee when I got to the vet at 7:50 yesterday morning and never thought about it again until I left there at 10am. That's how excited and completely immersed in the experience I was. I called Johnnie just before the operation and left a message. He said later that he could hear the excitement in my voice. I sort of floated through the rest of the day.

It was an awesome experience. And the best part is that the vet has invited me back to observe other operations if I want to. How amazing is that!? I am so excited.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Good things

Despite a spate of really crappy winter weather and granddaughter (Captain) Emily (Featherstone's) eye injury yesterday that pulled me into its maelstrom of concern and unexpected schedule rearrangements for both Erin and me, Wednesday was a great day.

We got a call late in the afternoon from Paul at Birds Unlimited. This is where we had taken Coconut, the blue and gold Macaw in early December to either (a) live out his extremely long life or (b) find a new home. One of the workers at the store has adopted Coconut and has taken him home. They also did a DNA test on Coconut and determined that HE is a HE! We always figured the bird was a female.

I talked with Michelle, Coconut's new mom and it was clear during our conversation that she is far more into birds than I am/we are and Coconut will do great. Michelle has another bird, a Moluccan Cockatoo, and the two birds are getting along well together. She keeps Coconut out of his cage most of the time and even takes him into the shower with her. He's talking and behaving himself so that shows he is adapting well to his new surroundings.

I'm happy that Coconut and Bogart have now found excellent bird-loving, attentive homes for the long haul. It makes Johnnie and me both feel much more at peace with our decisions to pursue getting rid of the birds.

Juniper, our six month old chocolate lab puppy is going for her spaying this morning. I had been going to ask if I could observe the operation (really should have been a doctor or vet myself) but never remembered to call. Guess that will have to go on my bucket list.