April is for Showers

Tonight the rain is tapping on the windows, but the weatherman predicts that it will soon turn to snow. All of this strange weather doesn’t bother Lila at all. On Saturday, she greeted the snow by rubbing both sides of her face in the white stuff, and then she got down and rolled over on her back and wiggled around in an unusual dance. It looked as if she was embracing the snow.

When she chased the tennis ball, some of the piles of snow at the park looked to be solid, but underneath were hidden puddles. Though her sturdy paws fell through, it didn’t scare Lila one bit. She just crunched through them and ran into other puddles as big as ponds. Even though the rain has melted some of the snow, the new snow will make it even harder for spring to appear.

I wonder if Lila misses the smells of spring like I do. Maybe Lila noticed little shoots of green grass that are trying to poke through the ground. Maybe she can smell the nests of rabbits if she tried. I miss the sight of daffodils that should be blooming and swaying in the wind and the shock of purple crocuses that we only see for a short time before rabbits eat them gone. The clouds keep greeting us day after day still sputtering snowflakes our way.

If only I could think like a dog when I see whatever the day has to offer and embrace it all no matter what. With each new day a dog still plays.

It makes me wonder if Mother Nature forgot that April is for showers of rain, not of snow.

Don’t knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while. ~Kin Hubbard


The Painted Garden

One of the first signs of spring in Minneapolis is the Macy’s Flower Show which takes place in the 8th Floor Auditorium of Macy’s downtown store.  Every year all the colors are such a welcome sight for those of us who have been surrounded by white, drab snow.

This year the theme is the Painted Garden which celebrates India and the southern regions of Asia.   Every color ever imagined can be found here in the beautifully designed creations, and the fragrant flowers remind us that spring will soon be here!

The free event is being held from March 24 through April 7.  Most of the flowers looked great yesterday, but don’t wait too long because the hyacinths were starting to look a little tired.













Flowers don’t worry about how they’re going to bloom.  They just open up and turn toward the light and that makes them beautiful.  ~Jim Carrey

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Easter!

Too Many Dogs!

Bernese Mountain Dog.  Photo Courtesy of

“Want to come with us to the dog park?” I asked Katie.  The words “dog” and “park” are just a couple sounds that make Lila’s ears perk up.

“The dog park stinks,” said Katie.  Not only did Lila’s ears bounce again at the sounds of those words, so did she.

“Plus, I need coffee.”   Luckily, there is a Caribou Coffee on the way.

“We can get coffee on the way!”  I said.  Lila and I can count the number of times Katie has been to the dog park on one paw.  We were happy to have the company.

Lila continued to jump up every once in a while as she watched us search for our sunglasses, hats, mittens and boots.

Lila went straight to the van after I opened the garage door.  When we arrived at the coffee shop, we had to leave Lila alone for a few minutes.  I try not to leave her alone in the van, but she handled the short abandonment very well and the inside of the van was intact after we got back.

Lila started her whiney cry as we got closer to the park.

“What’s the matter?”  Katie asked.  “Is she always like this?”

“Yes, she’s excited.”  The closer we get to the park, the louder the whining gets.

“It’s crowded,” said Katie.

I opened the door, and instructed Lila to go to the gate.  I’ve learned to just let Lila find her way by herself once we arrive.  The times I’ve tried to leash her up and hold her back have not been very good on my sciatic nerve.

Lila barked at the gate as if she were instructing me to hurry.

“I’m coming,” I said while I watched her jump, almost as high as the top of the gate.

“Did you see that lab jump?” a lady commented to her friend.  People are always amazed.

Lila ran fast towards the pink tennis ball after I chucked it across the park.  Even though we haven’t had any snow for a while, the snow at the dog park is still a bright white, all except for the little yellow spots that can be seen here and there.  We followed Lila along the worn away path.

“Do those boots have any sort of grip on the bottom?”  I asked Katie as I looked at her Uggs.  It seemed as if I could walk faster with my unfashionable boots that didn’t slide about.

“No, they’re kind of hard to walk in on the snow,” said Katie.

Lila still does not drop the ball for me, but when other dogs greeted Lila she abandoned the ball and forgot where she left it.  I was able to grab it quick, and Lila noticed right away.

“Don’t even try to keep up, Howie,” a man said to his little dog.  Howie and the man watched Lila run after the tennis ball.

It was nice to be outside and enjoying the day.  All the hustle and bustle of the holidays didn’t leave much time for me to be outside with the dog.  The sunny, blue sky and the white snow made the dog park seem fresh and clean.  One of the joys of winter is that the usual bad smells are frozen.

As a Bernese mountain dog came running towards us on its way to Lila, Katie commented on how she liked the smaller dogs.  Another lab joined us all at the park and had somehow gotten Lila’s pink tennis ball.  For a minute I had a hard time telling the two labs apart.

“Ricky, that’s not yours,” I heard a lady say.  Ricky dropped the ball, ran and jumped up to lick a lady on her face.  I remembered back to the day when Lila used to do that to practically everyone she met.  Ricky made Lila look like a good girl!

“Can we go now?” Katie asked.  “There are just too many dogs here!”  Lila was ready to go too.  We went on our way, Katie still holding her Caribou coffee cup in her hand.

Snow Brightens Up the Gloom!

This morning when I let Lila outside, we were greeted by the freshly fallen snow that covered the dull and brown grass. Lila happily licked the ground getting a mouthful of the wet, cold stuff. Her big strides around the tree sadly made her leash wrap up to limit her “freedom.” I found my boots and went outside to get her. Lila dashed inside and watched me as I unraveled the leash. My footsteps and her paw prints marked up the once untouched blanket of snow.

Inside, Lila looked up at us as if to wonder why we were busy huddling over papers: Dad with the newspaper, Laura with photos and me with a cookbook searching for a mint cookie recipe that can be made quickly. Lila looked as if she couldn’t understand us. Why didn’t we want to go outside and play in the snow?

So I pulled on all the things I needed to keep me warm and cozy. When I opened the door to the garage, Lila bolted towards the van, the only vehicle around right now where Lila is allowed to enter. After I opened the large door to the garage, we were on our way. As I backed up, the tires crunched down the snow in the driveway. I was thankful that the streets had already been plowed.

As we got closer to the dog park, Lila started her usual whining and bouncing about. Sometimes her ears twitched to the sounds of the Christmas music coming from the dashboard. After we arrived, we noticed many other canine and human friends. People were hunched over with parka hoods trying to keep the flying snow out of their eyes. The snow was piling up on their shoulders and hoods making them look like walking snowmen.

20121209_102007The Outskirts of the Dog Park

The friendly dogs waited by the gate ready to greet Lila. Lila barked and jumped so high that she could almost go over the fence. When I got the gate open, Lila greeted a couple of dogs and anxiously looked at me because she wanted me to chuck the Chuck-It.  She whined at me again, but so did Rex. Rex, a smaller black dog, that looked to be part pit bull, was ready for me to chuck the tennis ball too.

“Ok, ready?” I asked. Now four anxious eyes looked up at me. I knew Lila could outrun Rex. I chucked the ball, and they ran. Lila was in the lead and got the ball. Oops, Lila dropped the ball. Rex got it. Lila came back to me, still all smiles, but without a ball.

“Oops,” I said, as I saw Rex run off, lay down with the ball in between his front paws licking away at whatever disgusting things might be stuck to it. Rex stood up, shook his head back and forth, just the way Lila does, and as if to say, “I got it!” Rex with the ball made Rex happy.

20121209_102156Lila Running and Searching

“Go find another ball, Lila.” Lila ran to the usual spots, but today it was more difficult for her with all the fresh snow masking what she can usually sniff out right way. I followed her, and could not see one either. We circled around the park a couple more times enjoying the wintry wonderland still without a ball in sight and Rex still clinging onto the one I threw.

20121209_102109Everything Smells Like Snow Today!

“I’m going to go get a ball from the van,” I told Lila. She sat down close to the gate and waited patiently, her eyes following me the entire time. I found one, grabbed it with the Chuck-It, and Lila bounced about again, as if she were a ball. Just as I was about to chuck it, Rex greeted us again, our first ball lost or forgotten. I thought about how pit bulls can get a bad rap, but Rex was a fine dog that just wanted to play.

I threw the ball, and Lila ran off fast, got it and held it tight this time. Rex went away to mind his own business. As I walked around the park again, Lila ran back and forth swinging her head from side to side, happy to have the tennis ball. The next time I looked, the ball was gone, but she did not complain. She ran in the snow following the other dogs around. One time I lost sight of her, and she came back to me from behind having run around the entire park by herself and all out of breath.

20121209_102127Lila Running to Show Off the Tennis Ball

All the dogs seemed to be happier with the welcomed change of scenery. Last year, we didn’t get enough snow to run around and lose things in. This winter is turning out to be different, so far. The snow brightened up the gloom and made for some happy dogs and humans who had fun just playing in the snow.

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!