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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?

Winter Attitude

Most of the people I know are thrilled to get a few days of above freezing temperatures at this time of year. Not me.  I chose this climate.  My family visited relatives in northern Wisconsin quite often when I was a child and I always knew I wanted to live here.  I chose a college because it was in Minnesota and after wasband finished grad school in Milwaukee, we headed to Minneapolis even though neither of us had jobs yet.

I don’t mind the cold – until I lose my winter attitude. Once we have some warmer weather, my body decides that it’s ready for spring, a return to shorter sleeves and flip flops.  Then the cold weather DOES get to me.  So even if it’s 35 degrees out, I’m still wearing my gloves and big knitted scarf and pretending Mother Nature is still bringing on the chill.  Once my body has made that transition, there is no going back!

How do you handle the last weeks of winter?

 

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?

Turn of Phrase

On this date in the year 600, Pope Gregory the Great decreed that the proper thing to say when someone sneezed was “God bless you”. I told this to a friend, a practicing  Catholic, who said ” Who died and put him in charge!? Why are we still listening to him? We should find something new to say!” I was at a loss for her being somewhat offended by Pope Gregory, but I found her response delightful.

What are some of your favorite (or not so favorite turns of phrase)?  Make up a new one if you can.

 

Everything Old is New Again

Husband read this to me the other night. It is from Ron Chernow’s biography of Ulysses S. Grant. He is describing a 19th century railroad baron. Remind you of anyone we know?

With his handsome blond mustache, bloated frame, and  diamond rings, the flashy Jim Fisk was the antithesis of the saturnine Gould. The son of a Vermont peddler, he collected prostitutes and chorus girls no less promiscuously than he bought railroads and steamships and exulted in the attention his flamboyance aroused. Such was his roguish charm that people were captivated even as they were horrified by his total lack of scruples. As George Templeton Strong sketched him: ‘Illiterate, vulgar, unprincipled, profligate, always making himself conspicuously ridiculous by some piece of flagrant ostentation, he was, nevertheless, freehanded with his stolen money, and possessed, moreover, a certain magnetism of geniality that attracted to him people who were not particular about the decency of their associates ‘.   Chernow, R. (2017),  p 673.  Grant. Penguin Press: New York.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  What trends from the past would you like to see again?

Faulty Sidewalks

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Rivertown.

A couple of weeks ago our neighbor, while out walking her dog, went down on glare ice – that sort of fall where you are suddenly flat on your back staring at the sky, and don’t know how the he** you got there. This was worse than usual though, as she cracked her skull on the ice. Pamela actually passed out for a bit; there was a lot of bleeding, a trip to the ER, and a concussion. She’s almost back to normal now, but is taking an afternoon nap (which is tricky at work), and was told she must not hit her head again. Just saw her (carefully) walking the dog for the first time today.

Traveling on foot is particularly treacherous in this season, due to a lot of melting and freezing. And here in Winona, we keep getting a new dusting of snow, which is fine in some places but hides the ice in others. I fell last week after a concert, because of an uneven sidewalk that wasn’t really visible – “just” went down on my knees, but was OK mostly.

Have you had any really bad falls, either out- or indoors?

Got any tips for prevention?

Carnival

Today is Shrove Tuesday, when all our sins are forgiven, and when we need to eat pancakes and all the cream  before Lent. Husband and I celebrated early and had Norwegian waffles on Saturday.  Shrove  is the past tense of shrive, which means to confess one’s sins, repent, and be forgiven and absolved. Pancakes are powerful. Germans eat pastries called Fastnachts for the same effect.

We visited Montreal several summers and stayed in the Old Port. There we purchased carnival masks made in Venice in a lovely book store near the Notre Dame  cathedral.  We tried to find Renaissance Commedia dell’arte masks instead of the  fantastical masks you can find in more commercial venues.  We managed to get a zanni mask. A zanni is a servant who sometimes has a long  nose. The longer his nose, the more ignorant he is. The mask reminds me of a plague mask. His name is the derivation of our English word “zany”.

A couple of Harlequin (Arlechinno) masks. He is another zanni, but with a shorter nose. He is a somewhat clever servant character:

 

And two Columbine (Columbina) masks.  She is Harlequin’s love interest and a very perky, very clever servant.

 

Our local Catholic School district has  a major fund raiser they call Mardi Gras every year in February. It involves games, entertainment, and lots of good food. It is open to the community and region.  People are most unhappy since the new bishop in Bismarck decided a couple of years ago that all the money raised had to be sent to the diocese, and he would decide how much of the money should get sent back to the local Catholic schools and how much would be used for diocesan expenses.  Sounds like a perfect Commedia plot.  I am sure the clever servants would get all the money back, further any thwarted love interests, and show the bishop to be a fool.

What does the word carnival mean to you?  What is the appeal wearing a mask? What kind of mask would you like to wear?