Category Archives: Stories

Stuck!!

I know we’ve had “kindness of strangers” stories before, but here is another.

Took Guinevere to her doggie class Monday night.  The school is built on a hill and there are two parking areas, one up top that we’ve been warned is occasionally ticketed and the one that goes down the hill in the back.  I have always parked down the hill.

It was only about an inch of snow and I wasn’t very worried until I got down to the bottom of the hill and turned around to get into my favorite parking spot and slid a bit.  So I thought maybe I should park up top, just in case.  Now, you should know , I don’t have great tires, but I don’t have a great need for them, living on a well-plowed county road and surrounded by other well-plowed thoroughfares (50th, Crosstown, 35W, 100).  But this was one of those times when I needed better tires;  I could not get back up the hill.

There is a spot off the parking lot, behind a bank of garages and I thought “I’ll zip in there and when I come out I can get a little speed to get me up the hill”.  If I had really looked at the area I was about to enter, I would not have done this. It clearly hadn’t been plowed since the LAST snow – once I was back there, I could not get out.  And to add insult to injury, for some reason I did not have any gloves in my pocket.

In between the two halves of the class I tried shoveling out and did get the car moved closer to the parking lot, but then got stuck again.  When I went back inside and started to call AAA, Terry (one of the instructors) said “Let’s go take a look.”  He and John (who I had never met) came out, attached a big strap to the back of my car and basically pulled me out of the snow and all the way to the top of the driveway backwards.  I was able to park up top and finish doggie class!

I have a thank you card design in mind and I think I will deliver them with zucchini bread next Monday night.

What the last kindness you’ve received (or given)?

Declaring a Moratorium

This is probably petty, but I have decided that I will never again eat shrimp.  I made a similar declaration about carrots when I was so short that I could walk under the kitchen table without stooping.  I remember it with absolute clarity.  I was standing  under the kitchen table, facing the east wall of the kitchen which bordered on the back yard, when  I made the decision. I must have been 2 or 3 years old. I remember saying to myself  “I’m not going to eat carrots  anymore.”. There was no precipitating event. I just decided that I and cooked carrots would part ways.  I think I was just exercising autonomy  and independence at the time, and I remember refusing cooked carrots for many years. Then, sometime in Grade 2 I just decided to eat them again. I was fortunate that no one ever insisted that I eat anything I didn’t want to eat,  and I was encouraged to cook for myself at  an early age. I love cooked carrots now.

I dislike the taste, texture, smell, and harvesting practices of shrimp, especially the harvesting practices.   They are so destructive  to the environment.  Most people I know love shrimp, but I do not.  I do not think I will change my mind about this. There many other fish in the sea.

What are some irrevocable decisions you have made? What moratoriums have you declared? What fish do you like or not like. 

Rhianny-Boo

Almost 15 years ago, we had been dog-less for several months (after the death of Tristan, who was crazy, I need a bit of breathing space). Then that summer, YA and both decided it was time.  We debated and debated about whether to get an Irish Setter or a Samoyed, although we both wanted to try for rescue dogs.  There were two rescue organizations that had good reputations, one was Play it Again Sammies in Wisconsin and Save our Setters in Tennessee; we filled out the paperwork (miles of it) with both and said we would see who came up first, a Sammy or a Setter.

Rhiannon was about a year old and had actually been found in Alabama. After a few weeks of posted notices, no one had claimed her so she went to the rescue organization in Tennessee. Even though I was technically waiting to be approved, when I saw her photo on the SOS site, I called them and after a couple more phone calls, they agreed that we might be a good fit for her.  A volunteer drove her from Tennessee to Chicago and then another volunteer from Madison, drove to Chicago to get her.  Then YA and I drove to Madison on a Saturday morning to pick her up.  Except for that photo online, sight unseen.

The volunteer didn’t want us to come to her house so we met in the parking lot behind a steak house on Highway 94. I felt a little like somebody was going to show up wearing a big overcoat, whip open the coat and say “pssst, you wanna buy a watch?  Or an Irish Setter?”  My first words on seeing her were “Oh, she’s so little.”  In fact, over the years, many folks have assumed she is not a setter because of her size.

But that little body held a huge Irish Setter mentality. All toys were hers; she didn’t destroy them or even play with them much, but they were hers.  She would pick up a toy or lay down near one and none of the other dogs (or cats)  were allowed to have it.  All food was hers; over the years we had to move the trash totally out of the kitchen onto the back porch and also to lock the organic recycling.  She could open ANY trash container, including our current one that opens with a motion detector.  Food left on the counter was completely hers – just a month ago, she ate half a recipe of ginger cookie dough while it was waiting to be set on cookie sheets.  All dog beds were hers.  For the last few years, there have been two dog beds in my room, a red one and a blue one, same make and model.  If Gwen or Nimue laid on one of the beds, Rhiannon would get up and move over to the taken bed, shoving the inhabitant out.  Once she laid right on top of Nimue before the kitty could get out of the way.

And stubborn. Oh my stubborn.  Despite having passed two dog training classes, “come” was optional in her world, as well as “stay”.  Only if it suited her.  We have a dog gate to keep her out of the kitty box, a dog gate to keep her upstairs at night, dog gate to keep her in the breakfast room during parties (she once took a cookie right out of the hand of a toddler.)  And although every single treat I ever gave her over the years was accompanied by a stern “gentle”, she never mastered the art.  Grabbing was her thing.

After 15 great years, filled with treats, walks and lots of spoiling, Rhiannon has gone onto that big dog park in the great beyond. She’d been struggling for a month or so and really went downhill the last couple of weeks.  My feeling has always been that I don’t spoil my animals for years to let them suffer at the end; over the weekend it was clear that she had finished her journey and it was time for me to let her go.  All of her “queen-of-the-world” attitude aside, I will miss her gentle eyes and beautiful red fur.

Any good animal stories to cheer me up today?

RIP Terry Jones

Amid all the insanity this week, the saddest news to me is the passing of Terry Jones.

I discovered Monty Python when I was in high school. This was before the television show but I had all their record albums.  One of favorites was Eric the Half a Bee:

Another favorite was An Elk:

By the time I got to Carleton, the television show was airing on Sunday nights and I was a founding member of the 4th Burton Penguin Society:

We got together every Sunday night to watch the show and drink Fosters (do not ask me why we thought we needed to drink Australian beer while watching an English comedy show – I don’t remember at all). All of us in the “club” had a small ceramic penguin; I still have mine and keep in my studio

When Monty Python and the Holy Grail came out, I laughed until I cried and went back to the theatre three times in the next couple of weeks. I have it on DVD but it loses a bit on the small screen, especially the moose credits at the beginning.  YA doesn’t even begin to understand the appeal of Monty Python.  But I loved the irreverence, the silliness, the fun graphics and the craziness of some of the sketches.  This was a great team.  It was sad to lose Graham Chapman too soon and now Terry Jones.  I gave all the record albums to tim last year because I didn’t have a turntable anymore, but I am enjoying the tv shows that are running these days and, of course, you can find a lot of it on youtube, but it’s not quite the same as crowding around a small black and white tv set in a dorm room on 4th Burton, seeing them for the first time.

Who has made you laugh over the years?

 

It’s Movie Time

Photo Credit:  Wikimedia Commons

One of my close friends, Pat, is an Oscars fan. As soon as the list of nominees comes out every year, she works hard to make sure she has seen all the nominees (in the best picture category – not every category) before the Oscars.  I’ve been getting updates since the list came out of what she’s seen.  She has a pretty good track record; most years she manages to see them all by the time of the ceremony.

I’m the opposite, since I rarely go to the movies. In fact, this year, I have only seen one nominee – Klaus, an animated Christmas film which I didn’t have to leave the house to see as it was a Netflix release (it was very good).  Reviews are not usually worth my notice; if I want to see something, I see it, not matter what the reviewers say.  I can’t ever recall a time when I left a movie screening saying “gosh, I should have listened to the reviews.”

Every now and then I do look, including the Doctor Doolittle reviews this month.  There is always a certain amount of trepidation on my part when Hollywood decides to tackle a beloved book, especially a beloved children’s book.  I’ve seen the trailers and I know that the movie bears very little resemblance to the book.  While I can’t stomach this in, say, Wrinkle in Time (one of my favorite books of all time), it may not be a deal breaker for Doctor Doolittle or even Little Women.  Both have been made into movies multiples times so I feel like the water is already completely muddied.  The newest Doolittle venture has not gotten great reviews but I don’t think that will stop me.  Dare I admit that Robert Downey Jr. is the main reason I will probably go see this movie this weekend?

Do you have an actor/actress who will entice you to see a film? Or one who will keep you out of the movie theatre?

Space Discovery

Photo credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech

For all space geeks, the news this week is that a high school student, on his third day of interning at NASA, discovered a planet. For all Star Wars geeks, it turns out that it’s not just your ordinary planet, but a very rare circumbinary planet with two suns, like Tatooine, the planet where Luke Skywalker grew up.

He made the discovered this past July at the very beginning of his internship; he and other astronomers have spent the last six months confirming the find. The planet is now called TOI 1338b and looks to be almost 7 times bigger than Earth.

Apparently not only are circumbinary planets rare, they are even rarer to find since the way that most planets are confirmed don’t work due to timing of the planet passing in front of its stars.   So this is quite an auspicious start for the high-schooler who has said that he does intend to continue his studies in astronomy and astrophysics.

If you could be known as the discoverer of something, what would it be?

Abundance of Socks

When I was getting dressed yesterday, I pulled open my sock drawer (although it’s a huge bin actually) and found a new pair of socks laying on top of the others.

Now I know for a fact that these socks belonged to YA: when she was laid up with her broken foot, I did all her laundry, including sock sorting. I really liked them and I may even have said that if she ever gets tired of them, I would take them.

I have way too many socks. Socks are like cookie cutters and flip flops in my view… as long as you don’t have a anything exactly the same, why not add to your collection.  I have enough socks that I have them sorted out, with the holiday red/green socks in a separate section.  This is why my sock drawer is the same size as my t-shirt drawer.

This overabundance of socks is something I recognize, in fact I told YA NOT to get me socks for Solstice this year. I really just don’t need more.

So why am I happily wearing the adopted socks today? They are comfy and warm and I love the pattern.  Do I need any other reason?

What do you have too many of?