Category Archives: Family

If I Could Talk to the Animals

My friend Deb  is dog sitting her son’s 15 year old Boxer, Marilyn.  Deb also has a 16 year old Fox Terrier named Ellie.  Marilyn  is a regular guest at Deb’s house and knows the house and the inhabitants very well. Deb talks to both dogs in a way I find terribly funny. They respond to her in ways that makes me think that dogs are even smarter than we already give them credit for.

One night this week,  Deb was awakened by Ellie pawing at her arm and whining. This can mean that Ellie wants food or that something is wrong. Deb told Ellie “Lie down and go to sleep! You can’t have any treats.” yet Ellie persisted, so she told Ellie “Show me what’s wrong.” Ellie led her to the kitchen, where she found a horrible mess. All the lower cupboards had been opened and all their contents swept onto the floor. Peanut butter containers had been chewed open and the contents devoured.  Marilyn has been known to do this before, but she can only open one side of the two-door cupboards.  Both sides had been opened. This means that someone else (a certain Fox Terrier) helped open all the doors.  Deb yelled “Marilyn, come here! You know you aren’t supposed to open the cupboards”!  Marilyn came over and glared at Deb and blew out her dewlaps, and grumbled “row row row row row” the way Boxers talk, and blew out her dewlaps again.  Deb told Ellie “You go in your bed!” and Ellie slunk to her dog bed with her tail down.

The next morning, Deb gave Ellie her favorite treat-two ice cubes, and Marilyn stole one. She chewed only half of it and spat out the other half onto the hardwood floor because her mouth got too cold.  Deb didn’t see it and stepped on it. Deb was quite annoyed and  told Marilyn “You pick that up and put it on the carpet if you are going to eat it!” Marilyn turned her head away from Deb in an insolent  way and blew out her dewlaps. Deb repeated her command. Marilyn glanced at her, and again looked away insolently and blew out her dewlaps.  After a third try,  Marilyn picked up what was left of the ice cube and took it over to the carpet to finish it.

How did that dog know to take the ice cube to the carpet? That is a complex command involving at least two concepts. It isn’t something Deb says to Marilyn on a regular basis, so she didn’t learn it through repetition.  Marilyn is usually a pretty sweet and compliant dog with Deb,  but they have differences of opinion at times. I love hearing about their arguments. Deb says that she never wins because Marilyn always gets the last word by blowing out her dewlaps as she walks away.

How do you talk to animals? What would they tell you if they could talk to you?

Ice Cream for Breakfast

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Rivertown.

A friend has forwarded to me the information that (get ready) February 18 is “Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast” day. According to one story,  E.I.C.F.B. originated to increase awareness about childhood cancer, and to commemorate the short life of a little girl named Malia Grace, who lived from February 18, 2001 to Dec 7, 2010.  “First celebrated by a group of close friends to commemorate her life and creativity, Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day went on to become a day to honor all the children who have or are battling childhood cancer.  It exploded onto the scene, with thousands of people from all over the world taking part and spreading the message to thousands more.”

Happily, this year February 18 falls on a Sunday, when many of us have more time to hang out with our family, our pets, etc., and indulge.

I also came upon a different site:    This article relates that a mother named Florence started the trend to cope with the boredom experienced by her six children. The next year her kids remembered, and it got to be a tradition. And “thanks to Florence’s grandchildren, who have traveled extensively — Ice Cream for Breakfast Day has been celebrated in countries all over the world, from Germany, to Nepal, to as far as Namibia.”

Whichever story you relate to, enjoy! As the t-shirt says, “Life is short. Eat dessert first.”

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

What else should we have for breakfast that doesn’t usually come to mind?

Gold, Silver, Bronze

I didn’t grow up watching sports. We didn’t follow any teams and even though my parents were avid tennis players, we never watched tennis either. None of my sisters nor I did any sports except what little we were required to do in phy ed.

So it was a surprise to me when I first watched some Olympic coverage in college that I enjoyed it. Not enough to follow sports throughout the years, but more than enough to spend the two weeks of the Olympics in front of the television.  Sports that I would NEVER watch any other time seem interesting during the Olympics (think bob sled, pole vaulting, skiing, swimming).

As a young married in Milwaukee, in a teeny apartment, wasband and I were excited to watch the 1980 Winter Olympics but we had a teen little black & white television. To celebrate the Olympics we splurged with a Rent-a-Center color console for two weeks.  It took up most of the living room, but we really enjoyed it and watched the Olympic coverage constantly.  After the Olympics, back the tv went.

These days I actually watch a couple of channels at a time. Men’s team ice skating on one channel and downhill skiing and luge on another; I switch back and forth at the commercials or whenever the commentators get verbose. I don’t really have a big preference for either summer or winter Olympics.  I have favorite sports in each, but nothing that tips the balance for me one way or the other.

What gets a gold medal in your world this week?

Vintage

A few weeks ago I cleared everything out of my mother’s Lane cedar chest.  We have had the chest for about three years,  but I didn’t feel like sorting through it  until  now.  It is a traditional hope chest with mahogany veneer.  My mother stored her best table linens, my baptismal dress and baby slippers, her mink pill box hat and detachable mink collar, and other things she treasured in that chest.   My parents were solidly middle class, but mom had a few really nice things that she kept in that chest for decades.  I felt that I took a trip back to the 1950’s as I sorted through everything.

My parents didn’t entertain very often. Mom would have ladies over for sewing club or coffee occasionally,  and the relatives, of course, but nothing that she really dressed up for. I was surprised to find this apron in  the chest.  It is clearly an apron a woman would wear at a gathering as she served the ladies the elegant luncheon she had prepared. The photo doesn’t do it justice, and I am not wearing the requisite full skirted dress it should go over.  It is made of a very heavy linen/cotton fabric. It is very long and  full, with a wide waist band and wide ties in the back that are meant to create a lovely bow.

 

The insets on the pocket, on the ties, and near the hem look like this.

The apron appears to be hand made.  The hemming stitches are extremely uniform and perfectly spaced.

The bands of insets were also attached by hand onto the fabric with perfect, even stitches.

Someone went to a lot of work to make this apron.  When I took it out of the chest it appeared to be  carefully ironed and the fabric did not seem to ever have been washed. I don’t remember my mom ever wearing it. She wouldn’t have spent good money on a fancy apron like that, so I assume it was given to her as a gift.  I wish I knew its history. I have decided to wear it. That apron has been in the chest too many years. I feel taller and quite elegant when I wear it.

I kept most of the things mom had in the chest but I will try to use them when I can. I kept the  mink hat and collar, but I don’t think I will ever wear them, though. Our kitten thought the hat was the best thing and I had to retrieve it from her several times after she dragged it down the hall.

Have you ever worn vintage clothes? What era of vintage clothing would you like to wear? What is the oldest article of clothing you own?

 

 

Carousel

Today’s post comes from Occasional Caroline

I think it was back in October, when I was too busy with my mom to even be occasionally on the trail, and was catching up days or weeks after a post was current, that the topic of carousels was raised in a post about something else. Anyway it was too long after the fact for me to comment by the time I read it, but I did have something to say, so here we go. Has anyone been to  Lark Toys in Kellogg, Minnesota? http://www.larktoys.com/carousel/

When we first started going there, I think when my 40-something daughters were a pre- and young teen, the carousel was in process and you could sometimes watch the carver working on the individual animals. They are all hand carved from large hunks of beech-wood, and stained, not painted. The intricacy of the carving is fantastic. When it was being carved, there were informational posters on-site and one of the things I partially remember reading was that Merry-Go-Rounds had only horses and Carousels had many different animals. This one was originally going to have 4 horses, one representing each primary compass direction; North, South, East, and West. I believe by the time the mechanicals were sourced and acquired, some of the carved masterpieces had to be left off the final collection to keep the weight down. I think only one or two horses made the cut, and a moose and several other larger pieces are now displayed in the building, but not on the actual carousel. The horses are beautiful, but the dragon, the goat, the goldfish family, and others are works of an amazing imagination. You could study the goat for an hour and not notice all of the intricacies hidden in it’s depths.

The entire complex is wonderful. There’s a children’s book store; a toy store with a model train running on a long track high up and around the perimeter of the store. Among other wonderful, unique and creative toys, is a huge collection of hand puppets. A Christmas shop, an antique toy museum that has every toy you or your cousins or friends had as a kid, a boomer toy store that carries replicas of many of your old toys, a candy store, an ice cream stand, and a mini golf course in the summer, are all part of the magical experience.

The original owners lived nearby and walked their pot-belly pig (his name was Gip, (Pig backwards)) to the store every morning to take up his supervisory post in a large open home away from home in the building.

The complex changed hands probably about 10 years ago (maybe longer ago, time flies when you’re old) but the current owners seem dedicated of maintaining the original spirit of the experience. Kellogg is south of Wabasha and north of Winona on Highway 61. BiR, you must have been there, possibly even posted about it, and I missed it. This hidden jewel is well worth a day trip with children, grandchildren, or nostalgic boomers. I haven’t been there for several years, but now that I’m thinking about it, I’ll have to make the trek soon.

Where do you go for a day trip?

 

The Lesson from Cuba

Today’s post comes to us from Crystal Bay.

My son, Steve, along with his girlfriend, sister, and best friend, all returned from Cuba three days ago. He said that the trip was life-changing and overwhelming. Unfortunately, all four suffered “Montezuma’s Revenge”, and were violently ill the last day and are still sick. Imagine a 12-hour flight while being sick from both ends?

It’s worth noting here that it hurt my feelings that I wasn’t invited. He’d told me that I’m not physically strong enough to endure 15 hours a day hiking and walking. When he shared the horrific illnesses they all suffered, my exclusion from this adventure quickly felt like dodging a cannon ball.

Steve and his girlfriend, Lani, went to Cuba to film an episode for their hopefully upcoming reality cable series. My daughter graduated with her BSN a month ago, so this was his graduation gift to her.

He said that he’s never met a more loving, kind, happy population in his life. He joined a little band on the street and played guitar with them as they sang and danced.  He told me that Cuba doesn’t have toilet paper or even toilet lids!  He shared the surreal beauty of the architecture, plant like, and generosity of the Cuban people.  I asked how they could be so happy given that they live under a dictatorship. He replied; “You wouldn’t know it. In fact, these people are far happier under a dictatorship than we are under a democracy.”

This leads me to the most “life-changing” part of his adventure. He spoke of meeting people from every corner of the world and, without exception, the very first thing out of their mouths was; “Why did you put a man like Trump in office?” Every single one. They shared how Trump’s impact on their own country has been devastating because it’s unleashed extremists, racists, bigots to gain traction and threatens to endanger their own democracies. Steve and the others were stunned by learning how foreigners around the globe are now viewing the United States, and how our president has the power to damage so many nations abroad. “It’s like a cancer, Mom”.

He, Lani, Mary, and Sully found themselves profusely apologizing and saying, “This is not who we are as a people – please know this”. It’s a very sad day when my own children have to apologize for being Americans.

What do you think kids studying this era in 20 years from now will be reading?