Dog’s Coat Gathers and Stores Sunbeams!

This morning while walking with Lila, I was happy to see the soft baby blue color of the sky. Only a few white and gray wispy clouds floated about. The air felt warmer than the day before, yet the wind was stronger.

The street was clear of ice and snow, so it was easy-going until we got to the icy wooden bridge. I guess I can’t expect the city to put chemicals that erode things on a wooden bridge, but when my 70-pound dog started pulling me across the ice, I started to get a little nervous.

After we made it safely across the bridge, Lila found some things to sniff while we moseyed around the clear path. The wind wasn’t moving us along any faster than usual. I didn’t pay much attention to the walkers ahead of us. I was making a point of enjoying the fresh air that held a tint of spring, and I silently thanked myself for wearing a hat and sunglasses.

Lila, the more observant one, noticed who was ahead of us. She walked faster and faster, pulling me along, while I wondered why, and then I recognized the black beret hat and red jacket of our neighbor, Carl. Carl was walking with Ollie. Ollie, a labradoodle puppy, would not move along as he should, and he stood there waiting for us. Lila and Ollie said their hellos in the usual manner with Lila very easily showing Ollie who rules. Ollie hopped up to give Lila a kiss on her cheek, and Lila mimicked the gesture by jumping up to Carl’s face.

“No, down,” I said while Carl put up his arm to protect himself from slobbering dog kisses.

We chatted for a little while about the cuteness of our dogs, when Lila started pulling me along.

“Why don’t you go ahead of us?” Carl said, as he dug some sort of rock or tree part out of Ollie’s mouth. “You are much faster than we are. This dog is always eating something.”

“Lila is always chewing on something too, but she has a bigger digestive system,” I said.

“Ollie held onto a sock for three days before throwing it up.”

“Good thing he got rid of it,” I said. “It’s such a nice day, isn’t it? A little windy though.” We continued on our way along the path.

“Yes, it’s brisk,” said Carl.

“See you later,” we both chimed.

As Lila and I circled around and got closer to the playground, we noticed a boy and a dog playing on the equipment.

“Willie,” the boy yelled. “Come back here.” Willie, a little black and gray poodle mix, was running straight towards us and getting Lila all riled up. Lila pulled the leash, but I held her tight. She looked up at me as if to say, “Why does that dog get to run around, and I don’t?”

Willie listened to the boy, and went back briefly, but then came back a couple more times. Each time, I held on tight. We marched on our way and left Willie and the boy behind.

As we got closer to home, the smell of cooking bacon wafted through the air. I couldn’t tell where the smell was coming from. Since Lila wanted to stay outside in the front yard, I knew that the smell was not coming from our house.

Lila laid down in a white pile of very cold snow, settling down to watch over the neighborhood. Seeing her in the snow gave me the shivers.  Lila never appears to be cold, and it makes me wonder if her fur coat has the ability to gather up and store sunbeams.  It must because she is only in a hurry to get inside if it is for a treat or her dinner.

This post is part of the Saturday morning blog hop.  To get your link, click here.


It’s Nice to Get Noticed!

The nice and unusually warm weather that we are having this winter in Minnesota made me want to take Lila for an extra long walk today.  Lila has a habit of watching me as I get ready.  She pants and follows me around the house as I try to find all the items I need to stay warm.  She looks at me as if she is thinking, “What is taking you so long?”  Well, I need a lot of stuff!

Even though it was a balmy 30 degrees outside, I still wore two pairs of sweats.  I put on a stylish crocheted black hat, my lighter-weight gray jacket, my purple knitted scarf, black boots and sunglasses.  Other necessities were put in my pockets:  a plastic bag for Lila droppings, cell phone and key.  I put Lila’s gentle leader on much to her chagrin, clipped on her leash, and away we went.  “Finally,” Lila seemed to say.

The sun was a welcomed sight as it has been hiding behind clouds for many days making us feel as if we lived in a bog.

Lila headed towards the small park.

“No, Lila, this way,” I said.  “We are going to the big park!”

Lila always does a hop as she turns the other way while wagging her tail when she finds out that we are going to the big park.  She knows that the big park takes a lot longer and has many different smells.  

Many people were out enjoying the day.  It seemed as if we all had a touch of spring fever.  That thought struck even more true as I heard what I thought was a bunch of kids yelling at us from a truck that was passing by.

At first I thought, “Gosh, no one has hooted and hollered at me like that for years.  They must really like the looks of my ensemble, sweatpants and all!”  But then, as they passed, I noticed that it was two little yippity dogs barking out the driver’s side window.  I guess it wasn’t me that they were barking at, but at my beautiful dog who seemed to puff up as she was striding along besides me.

Oh, well, it’s still nice to get noticed!

This is part of the Saturday morning blog hop.  To get your link, click here.

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

“Dad, I was wondering if you could help me get a Christmas tree,” I asked.  It was my first Christmas in the duplex.  My first Christmas in my own place, not living in my childhood home with Mom and Dad any more.

Of course, Dad said yes.

Dad came over early Saturday morning.  We were going to go downtown to the Farmer’s Market where we used to get all of our “real” trees before Mom decided that we needed to have an artificial tree.  Mom thought it was best to get an artificial tree because it was easier, it did not cost as much, and it was less hazardous.   Right about the time I got a stuffed Snoopy for Christmas was about the time we got an artificial tree.  No matter how annoying my younger self got or how much I begged, we never got a real tree in that house ever again.

Now that I had my own little rented place, I was ready to get a real tree.

Dad was all bundled up with his dogged ear cap and chopper gloves keeping him warm.  The collar of his coat stood high to block out the cold.  The newly fallen snow swirled around in the wind and was piled in drifts around the house.

After I pulled on my boots, wrapped myself up in my black pea coat, and put on my black woolen cap, off we went in Dad’s car.

It was a short trip to the Farmer’s Market.  We passed the large, old houses on Fremont Avenue.  They towered high on each side of the street and broke up the grayness of the sky.  When we arrived, we traipsed along the snowy paths, and I saw the tree that I liked almost right away.  It was just a little taller than me, and it had very sturdy branches with plenty of needles.

We told the man that we liked that tree, and Dad paid for it, which was a surprise.  I was ready to pay, but was glad to be a kid with a Dad who wanted to pay for my first Christmas tree.

Mom had sent the old tree stand over with Dad.  When we got back to the duplex, we put the tree in the corner of the dining room in front of the bay window, so that its soon-to-be lights could be seen from the street by passersby.  I made sure there was plenty of water.  As the tree started to thaw out, it let off a piney smell that emanated throughout the entire place.

Dad wished me luck, and I thanked him before he left for home.

I put up the lights, I strung popcorn, and dangled the strings on each branch.  I placed golden bulbs evenly amongst the branches.

Days went by.  I noticed that the tips of the branches were starting to turn brown, the piney smell had faded way too fast and that the tree was not drinking any water.  Whenever I walked through the dining room, some needles would fall.  The needles clinked as they fell on the golden bulbs and the lights, and made a perfect circle beneath the tree on the wooden floor.  I wondered what was wrong.

I talked to Dad and Mom about it.  They didn’t know either.  We dubbed that tree the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree.  Sadly, all the needles were gone before Christmas.  I did not dare plug in the lights.  The bare branches held a wilted popcorn string.  The golden bulbs were the only thing that sparkled.  I felt like Linus without my blanket, I was so upset.

A few days after Christmas, I quickly gave up on my dream of ever having a real tree again, and I went to Frank’s and bought an artificial tree for half price.

Many years went by with time spent with that artificial Christmas tree.  I dragged that tree into the house that I lived in with my husband.  Then, the kids got to know that fake tree too.  Nobody really liked it, except my Mom.

Right about the time that our youngest child, Matthew, got a stuffed Snoopy for Christmas was about the time when Laura, our oldest child, started asking if we could get a real tree.  I thought back to my Charlie Brown Christmas tree.  I didn’t know if I had it in me to go through the anguish of another sad tree shedding its needles one by one right before my eyes and ears.

The asking and prodding multiplied among our three children.  Over and over I heard, “Can we get a real tree?”  That question brought back many memories of my young whining self – that little girl who always wanted a real Christmas tree because it makes Christmas more real.

So off we went early one Saturday morning.  We shuffled along the paths and found a beautiful tree.  We told the man what tree we liked.  I watched him saw off the bottom of the trunk.  It was so that the tree could drink water.  That is when I realized that was what we forgot to do before my dear old Dad and I left the Farmer’s Market!  It had been so long since we had gotten a real tree, that Dad and I forgot to saw off the bottom.

Good grief.  I felt like such a blockhead!

Snow Angels to the Rescue

One Saturday morning last winter, just as snowflakes were starting to fall on existing heaps of snow and ice, our son drove off to work. The moment I knew his shift was over was the moment I anxiously started to wait for him to arrive home. The snow was piling up all around our house inch by inch making the outdoors a blur of white. 

My cell phone rang.

“Where are you?” I asked.

“Mom, don’t freak out,” Matt said. “I’m stuck.”

“Where are you?” I repeated.

“I’m just over by Caribou. I was getting off the exit from the highway, and I got stuck in the snow. Wait, how does Dad know where I am?”

“What?” I said.

“Dad just pulled up behind me. How did he know I was here?”

“Dad just left to go see if he could make it to the grocery store.”

I heard Dad talking to Matt. I was so glad they were together.

There was so much snow that even Dad decided that it was not wise to try to make it to the grocery store.  After Dad got on the highway and saw how bad it was, he took the first exit to come back home. Just as he was exiting the highway, he saw the family car stuck in the snow with Matt inside talking to me.

While I nervously changed the bedding to pass the time, I hoped they would both be home soon. Even though I knew they were just a few blocks away with snow dumping down on them, the sooner they were home, the better I would feel.

“So what happened?” I asked, after they got home.

“A guy helped us push the car out of the snow,” Dad said.

That wasn’t all who helped us.  How strange that Dad got there just in time to help Matt.

Thanks Snow Angels for coming to the rescue!  I pray that you will please keep watch over all our loved ones this coming winter!


The dustiness covered what footsteps we might have left behind. Parched tan stalks towered over our heads while hiding dried cobs of corn. A shadowy trail was cast by the softening afternoon sun of autumn as earthy scents enveloped us.  Following others on this adventure, we wondered if our map was truly showing us the way.

The meticulously plowed course patterned the United States of America.  Each destination awarded informational facts that taught us something new or had us remembering something we thought we had forgotten. Winding and venturing through this reproduction of our country in one afternoon amazed us!

To learn more about USA’s largest corn maze, click here.

This post was inspired by RemembeRed.  The writing prompt was to conjure something:  An object, a person, a feeling, a color, a season – whatever you like, in 100 words.

Northern Minnesota Dog Moves to The Suburbs

All our family knows about Lila’s past life is that she came to the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley from a coalition shelter up in northern Minnesota.  I was surprised that we couldn’t learn more about Lila’s background.  I didn’t really think there would be much difference in a dog that came from northern Minnesota.

As we were leaving the Golden Valley Animal Humane Society on the day of Lila’s adoption, Lila jumped back when see saw the large, bronze statue of St. Francis.  St. Francis welcomes visitors with one hand outstretched towards a bronze dog with a bronze bird perched on his shoulder.  Lila relaxed and the bounce returned to her step when she realized that the looming statue was not alive.  We decided that this was Lila’s first encounter with a large statue either in or outside of northern Minnesota.

When we opened the door to our mini-van, we expected Lila to hop right in and find a comfortable seat, but she would not budge.  We pushed her rear, we snapped our fingers in front of her face, we talked in very sweet voices, but she would not move one inch.  My daughter, Laura, lifted Lila up and placed all 60 pounds of dog behind the front passenger’s seat.  As we drove away, Lila stood on the floor of the van and looked out the side window occasionally.  Lila was not intrigued by the passing scenery but was mostly trying to concentrate on which leg to stand on so that she would not fall over in the moving vehicle.  We decided that Lila was not a dog that got to go for rides in northern Minnesota.

After arriving home, Lila christened our front yard with a big surprise that we were glad did not happen inside the house.   When we took her for a walk, she looked up at the airplanes that flew overhead as if she had never seen such a thing before.  She also watched each car as it drove by.  I like to watch her ears as they twitch at each different sound.  We decided that there were many new sounds for Lila to get used to now that she doesn’t live in northern Minnesota.

As we were getting ready for bed, we thought Lila would want to be with the rest of the family during the night and join us upstairs.  Some silly suburban dwellers let dogs sleep in their bedrooms.  When Laura went upstairs, Lila got confused and went to look down the basement steps to see if she could find Laura there.  We tried to get Lila to climb the steps, but we soon realized that stairs were something she never tackled before.  Again all our cajoling did not work, and Lila slept on the main floor that first night, and she still sleeps there today.  We decided that Lila is used to sleeping alone because that is what she must have done when she lived in northern Minnesota.

When there was a thunderstorm, Lila stood next to the house and appeared to have a knowing look on her face like she knew that thunderstorms are something that just happen and there is nothing that can be done to stop them.  She didn’t get scared and want to be in the house like some dogs do.  We decided that she was used to being outside during storms when she lived in northern Minnesota.

We were so excited to get to know our dog, and we were anxiously awaiting to become better friends.  Since Lila developed kennel cough a few days after she came home, she was very lethargic and rested for many days.  She did not want to play or go for long walks with us.  When we got her to stay outside for a little bit, we thought it was a little strange that she liked to sit on or hide under the bushes.  We decided that Lila took naps in bushes when she lived in northern Minnesota.

When we give her little milkbone treats, she happily eats some of them and then hides the others.  We can tell that she is going to bury a bone when she just holds the bone in her mouth with a very serious and intent look on her face.  After making it known that she needs to go outside, Lila very carefully digs a hole, places the bone inside, and covers up the hole with the top of her nose.  She is very neat with her method of burying bones.  So neat, that we have not seen her retrieve any of them.  We decided that Lila used this trick when she lived in northern Minnesota.

The first time Lila noticed her reflection in a mirror, she barked at what she thought was another dog.  It seems as if the television is a new invention to her also.  We decided that Lila spent most of her time outside when she lived in northern Minnesota.

I wonder does she miss where she used to live?  Did she get to be off her leash all the time and wander about northern Minnesota?  Did she have her own dog house to hang out in?  Were there other animals around her there?  Does she wonder why we put her on a leash and tie her up all the time?  Does she wonder why we go with her when she does her daily duties, and why we always carry around plastic bags?

We decided that Lila likes this new beginning, and all the love she is getting, even though she is no longer living in northern Minnesota.

This is part of the Saturday morning blog hop.  To link up to other blog posts, click here.

I Like Your Outfit!

Last winter, I had an encounter with a woman who I never met before who was wearing the exact same style of blouse that as I was.  We both looked at each other in the eyes, then at each other’s blouses, and we slightly turned around and looked at each other like we were going to start a wrestling match.  Thankfully, we broke the trance and silently continued to walk off in opposite directions.

This reminded me of other times when other people noticed that we were wearing a similar item of clothing.  During the late 1970s, when cute dressy clothes were hard to find, I was a guest at a wedding reception in northern Minnesota.  A lady who I never met before approached me wearing a smirk on her face and a very familiar dress, the same dress that I was wearing.  This dress was not very flattering.  The fabric was white with small pastel flowers and a stringy-type belt that did not enhance the waistline.

“I went all the way to Minneapolis to buy this dress.  I didn’t want to see anyone else wearing what I was wearing,” she said to me in a very crabby voice.

“Oh” was about all I could say to her.  What could I say?  That I was glad I did not make a roundtrip for a total of eight hours to buy an ugly dress even though I was wearing it?  What did she want me to do?  Remove my dress?  Thankfully, she walked away while firmly stomping her heels.

Another memorable day that occurred later in the 1980s was when a co-worker commented on the dress that I was wearing.  I liked my dress – it enhanced the waistline.  Apparently my co-worker liked my dress too.  She asked me where I bought it.

“Penney’s,” I said proudly, feeling like I was receiving a very nice compliment.  You can image my surprise when I saw her wearing that dress just two days later at our place of employment.  Do you think I said anything to her?  No, but I bet she was surprised at the look on my face.  I think she thought she was paying me a huge compliment by going out and buying my dress, but I didn’t see it that way.  After she saw my expression, she had that same silly smirk attached to her face – the smirk that was on the Wedding Reception Lady.

Could it be that I might be slightly immune to being shocked at seeing other people wearing the same thing as me because I wore a school uniform for eight years of my life?  From 1st grade to 5th grade, the girls at St. Austin’s wore green and blue plaid jumpers.   A red ribbon tie with a button-hole ensured that our white blouses were buttoned at the very top button.  Blue knee highs adorned our legs.  We eagerly awaited being in 6th through 8th grade because we would no long have to wear jumpers:  We graduated to skirts of the same plaid material.  The skirts could be rolled up at the waistband to show off  a little part of our legs above the knee that had been hiding under jumpers for many years.

I have learned that it helps ease the tension in these types of situations by smiling, approaching the person and saying “I like your outfit!”  It is much better than getting an ugly smirk on your face, stomping your feet and getting mad when you find out that someone else has your good sense of style.