Saturday, December 20, 2014

Tis the Season

Christmas is a mixed blessing for most people. Gives everyone a chance to get together with family and friends, kick back and have some fun. But it is also stressful, because you feel that you have to kick back and have some fun. So many people to see, so much to do.
Grand dog Riley

Grand dog Sophie

My brats


Nephew, Amos
My solution to the stress of the season? Hug a dog. Thankfully I will have that opportunity on various occasions.

Enjoy yourselves.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

It's a Dog's Life

Jake. Waiting for a paw massage. Waiting, mom.

Spoiled rotten brats
I teach an aquatic aerobics class two nights a week. My normal routine is to come home, let the dogs out (priorities!), and then take a shower. While I am in the shower, the dogs wait patiently in the bedroom.

I may have mentioned a time or two that the dogs are spoiled. Beyond belief. Yes, they are allowed on furniture and the beds. It's me and them in the house, and I don't mind. Last night as I exited the bathroom, Gracie jumped up and claimed the exact middle of the king size bed, curled up against the pillows. Jake, not wanting his sister to gain any momentum in the continuous competition for my affectations, claimed my spot next to the light. This is where I would sit to read.

I stood at the foot of the bed, took this shot with my phone, then asked the dogs if they were comfortable. They both put their heads down on pillows. I then went to the far right to read.

Dog lovers are strange and wonderful people. We will do just about anything to accommodate our dogs, to make them comfortable and loved. And the dogs know this, know how to work it.

I swear they plan this shit out ahead of time.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

alisaburke: exploring we will go

alisaburke: exploring we will go: A while back we made the promise to each other to always make time to seek adventure as a family ( you can read about it here ). Explorin...

I want to go to the Oregon coast.

I want to wander in that wilderness, looking out over the vast ocean, feeling the spray on my face.

These photos make me happy. They make me realize that I still have the desire to explore, even though walking is a problem.

What would you like to do?


Monday, December 15, 2014

Dog Stress

My right hand is rubbing behind her ear.
Yesterday I had the annual Dog Park People Cookie Exchange. My house is not big, but we all manage to fit into the living room and kitchen for food, conversation, and dog stories. And dogs. This year we had Yuki, a yorkie, join us with his mom, Becky, and 2 Weinheimers named Merlin and Kaiser with their mom, Joy.

So a quick recap: 5 dogs and 9 adults. No fights occurred among the humans, but Gracie and Jake got into it over God knows what. When you put that many dog owners together, it is a natural thing for everyone to use their "mom" voices and stop the fight. My poor Gracie was terrified. She immediately went into a complete down position, head resting on paws, her eyes darting around looking for me. Gracie is a social butterfly. She loves people, wants to sit on their laps (why yes, she did, thank you very much), be petted and loved, made to feel special. Jake has a few he will go to, but does feel very comfortable in this group.

After everyone left and I was done cleaning up the dishes and putting everything away, we sat on the bed to watch television. Gracie came up to my right. I took this photo with my phone. She needed to know we were cool, and that she wasn't in trouble. What you can't see is Jake to the left, laying on the pillows with his body tilted towards me, waiting for a belly rub.

I love these guys. A bunch.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Random Thoughts

Jake after a hard day at Puppy Playground
I follow a lot of blogs. Some from artists that I admire, some by fellow geeks about Firefly or Castle. Tumblr is loaded with unique photographs, and I usually go through my list in the mornings while sipping a mug of coffee. It relaxes me, but also has become a routine to get me ready for the day. I just plain like it.

One of the blogs this morning had a suggestion, and I would like to pass it along. Get a large jar or container, doesn't have to be fancy, and each time in the year 2015 when something good happens, jot a note to remind you of that event, and put it in the jar. At the end of the year, on New Year's Eve, sit down and read through the notes. Your very own year in review, but only the good things that will bring a smile to your face and heart.

Another blogger had a photo of a small plastic baggie, with a few items and a note. The blogger had been handed this baggie on a flight, prior to take-off by the parents of an infant. The note explained that this would be the first flight for the baby, and mom and dad didn't know how their little one would react. So the baggie contained 2 pair of ear plugs, and a few foil wrapped chocolates along with the apology if the baby cried. Mom and dad are going to be great parents.

It is easy at this time of year to be a bit kinder towards our fellow travelers in life. My hope is that I can extend that feeling for all seasons.

Have a great day.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


It has been said that humans do not like change. We seem to adapt to a routine, making minor adjustments as we proceed through life. Perhaps this is true, certainly not for everyone, but I have discovered that dogs are creatures of habit far more than humans.

On the old car that was totaled, I folded down the back seats and spread a quilt out for the spoiled brats. Gracie always went to the rear window, sat down, and gazed out on what we just passed. Jake was in the front of the space, his butt on the top of the folded seats, his front paws on the console. His job was to navigate, commenting on anyone standing at a bus stop, walking, or riding a bike. The dogs had grown accustomed to the 2012 Escape. It was theirs. They liked it.

Grace did not want to enter the rental car, which was a Chrysler sedan. It meant she had to share the back seat with her brother. This was just not in her realm of thought, so she shook, put on the brakes, and generally gave me a rough time whenever I wanted to take them somewhere in the past two weeks.

I returned the rental yesterday, and picked up the 2014 Escape SE. I like it. No, let's correct that. I LOVE it. It is bigger, heavier than the older car because it's the newer body style. Has more snazzy elements that I don't completely understand yet, but we'll get there. After returning home and eating dinner, I turned on the light in the garage, invited the dogs out there, and folded down the back seats to spread out sheets and a clean quilt. As I backed out of the car, I glanced down at the dogs. They were both sitting there, looking up. "Not our car, mom", was the impression I got. Jake is going to have to stretch just a bit to rest his butt on the seat with his front paws on the console. The rear seat on this car has more room. Gracie will still be able to gaze out the back window as we travel, so I think she'll be happy. But what I found curious was after I put their quilt in the car, neither dog made any attempt to get in the back. The silent message was that they wanted the 2012 car back. Yeah, babies, I know. 

Life goes on.

Monday, December 8, 2014

We miss you, John

34 years ago today I was getting ready for work. At the time I worked in downtown Chicago for Time Life Books. My best friend Pat called to tell me that John Lennon had been assassinated in New York. I was 33 years old, preparing for our wedding, and suddenly felt like reality was a dream.

We were all 15 and 16 when the Beatles invaded America. There is little doubt it was indeed an invasion. The four mop top lads were everywhere, on television, in the newspapers, magazines, all over the radio. I think at one point they had 5 songs in the top 10 in Chicago. My friends and I were completely blown away, Beatlemaniacs to the core. I owned every album as soon as it was released, every single, and attended all 3 of the Chicago Beatle concerts.

It is hard to explain to someone who didn't live through that era what the 1960's were like, what we felt. As baby boomers, we grew up with the imminent threat of nuclear war, the turmoil of early civil rights conflicts, and the election of the first Roman Catholic president. We listened as adults discussed that Nixon had lost to Kennedy in the election because of the televised debates, where Richard Nixon refused make-up, and the tanned, vibrant John F Kennedy represented a new American image. We sat in school on that horrible November day while principals announced that the President was dead, saw our teachers openly weep, and ask for prayers for the young widow and children.

In December, 1964 the Chicago stations started to play "I Want To Hold Your Hand", which was a hit in Britain and rapidly caught fire in the US. Kids wanted to smile, wanted to dance, wanted to forget about the hell of politics and the escalating war in Vietnam. We wanted to have fun again. The Beatles provided the permission. And, as a generation, we listened.

John Lennon could be sarcastic, at times edging on cruel with his remarks, but honest. Always honest. His lyrics hit home immediately. Fans learned how to distinguish between the songs composed primarily by John vs. Paul. We devoured every grain of information about the Beatles as a group, and about our individual favorite.

When the Beatles split up as a group, I was an adult, in the working world, and not inclined to follow them as individuals. I didn't like Yoko. Still don't. Most Beatle fans feel the same way. But the four men were still in the world, still existing, and there was always a tiny hope that the band would unite to perform one more time. Just one. On December 8, 1980 all of that hope was destroyed. Who knows what would have happened, what dreams could have been fulfilled. What incredible music could have been created.

Paul McCartney recently spoke publicly, for the first time, calling Mark Chapman the "jerk of all jerks" for murdering John Lennon. May you rot, Mark Chapman. You didn't just murder a brilliant musician, husband, father, and friend, you murdered a portion of our youth.