Category Archives: Family

Delighted and Appalled

Dyson Animal Ball Series

This is the later version of the Dyson vacuum I have. I’ve had it for several years now. Each time I use it, I’m delighted – and appalled – at all that I empty out of the cannister.

I KNOW I should probably vacuum every day, particularly since we have two shedding dogs and two shedding cats (the fish don’t shed, thank goodness). The truth is that almost everything takes precedence over house cleaning.

I’ve been noticing that our carpeted stairs were needing attention. Today was the day. I used the battery-powered portable Dyson that hangs in its charging center in the pantry. I can use the top, along with a couple of attachments, to clean the stairway. There was a bunch of matted hair in the stair creases (is there a name for this, other than crease?).

I first used the whisk broom, vigorously attacking the creases. It worked well. Dog and cat hair was flying off the stairs onto the foyer carpet.

Amber was in the office, but noticed me when she heard the sound of the whisk broom. She came running and saw furballs flying in the air. She snapped one out of the air and ate it. She thought it was a FINE game and smiled at me, wagging her tail. I kept her amused the whole time I did the first part of the stair cleaning. I have no clue how many furballs she ate…

I’ve now finished vacuuming with the hand-held Dyson and the crevice tool, plus the stairs tool, and then the foyer and living room with the Animal Dyson. It looks much better now.

I’m still delighted at the way the vacuums work. Dyson makes really good products. But, I have to tell you, when I empty the cannisters, I’m also appalled at all the dust, dirt, furballs, etc. that were on our carpet before I started. I know I’m a lousy housekeeper. I’ve told you I’m a slob. But this is powerful evidence that I speak the truth. Thank goodness I have good equipment when I finally bestir myself to use it!

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Filed under Amazing Animals, Family, Housekeeping - Maintenance, I'm a slob

How Does One Teach A Puppy NOT to Eat the Flowers?

I took this picture of one of two purple hyacinths I planted last year that bloomed for the first time in the past two days. I’m just thrilled with it.


I told you, though, that my husband and I were working on the irrigation system most of the day yesterday. We had the two doggies out with us.  All was going well. Amber was being particularly good, not dive-bombing sweet Molly,



when I noticed that at SOME time while we were out Amber had decided to ‘taste’ the hyacinth. Now we have one good-looking one and the one in the picture above is about half gone… At least she didn’t pull it out by the roots!

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Filed under Amazing Animals, Challenges, Family



A wonderful combination of too much pulling, hauling and digging on the irrigation system with my husband yesterday and a night where I seemed to be looking at the clock each hour until right before the alarm went off are making me pretty worthless today.  I tried to curl up under my throw in my recliner after breakfast and initial chores were done, but aches and pains made me get up and take some Ibuprofen. “Getting old ain’t for sissies,” as Bette Davis wisely said.

Since I was up, I again noticed that the aquarium was still looking pretty sad. The too-large filter pump was in and working, but the top wouldn’t fit on the aquarium with that pump and the water looked cloudy. I decided that it was past time to do something about that.


An hour or so later, the aquarium is back together again . I took everything out, including the fish, siphoned all but an inch of the water out, scrubbed everything, put in the new, smaller filter pump with a new filter in it, put all the ‘stuff’ back in and then filled it up with specially treated water. Finally the fish were carefully scooped up, one by one, and put carefully back into the aquarium. The new filter is working nicely, the top now fits on the aquarium again, and the water is nice and clear Happy fish!



I stored the too-large pump and the filters that go with it, in case of another disaster. Keeping the sweet fish alive is the first priority.



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Filed under Amazing Animals, Family, Housekeeping - Maintenance

“Washing the Dog….”

“Washing the dog….   Just washing the dog….”

Molly is going through her awkward time of the year, where the weather is prime for digging up critters who hide under the grass in the yard and where she has needed the warmth of her fuzzy fur. Next week, instead of “Fuzzy Molly” we’ll have “Sleek Molly” who will have been sheared like a sheep. When she is sleek, she is much easier to keep clean, plus it’s very easy to grab any fleas and ticks who try to come into the house riding on her back.

She was SO awful, though, that I couldn’t stand it any longer. I put her in the sink and scrubbed her all over with tearless puppy shampoo (even though she’s 14 years old now.)  I always use puppy shampoo because I hate the idea of it stinging if the soap happens to get near her eyes.

She is thoroughly teed off with me now – first because I lessened her dignity by putting her in the sink and scrubbing her, and second, because even after three bath towels and my hair dryer, she’s still wet enough that I don’t want to take her out so she can roll in the grass.

She finally realized that she’s lost this round, so breathed a huge, dramatic sigh and is now trying to sleep in her bed.

Now we both have dog hair all over us, but we she looks better and we both definitely smell better.

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One Reason

I got up to refresh my coffee a minute ago. My husband was asleep in his chair, probably not remembering we need to leave for the dentist in about 10 minutes. This is what I found on the divider between the dining area and the kitchen. He had taken the doggies out and cut these to bring in while they were out.  He’s definitely a keeper, and this is only one of the many reasons why.

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Filed under Delightful Surprises, Family, Favorite Things, giving

Big Dog in Little Bed

We have a small dog bed at my feet under my computer counter area for Molly, so she can get some protection and rest from Amber when she needs it Molly spends a good bit of time here, lying down with a big sigh and going right to sleep.

Today while I was typing, my chair was jostled and almost dumped (with me in it). When I recovered my balance, Amber was in Molly’s bed. I managed to get a couple of pictures before she decided to come out again (repeating the bull-in-a-china-shop move).


Amber doesn’t seem to realize (or care) that she is too big for this bed. She has one just across the room that is large enough for both dogs. Just a moment ago Molly was asleep in the bed and Amber pre-empted her, barging in and lying down on the bed, oblivious to the fact that Molly was sprawled out in it, asleep. Molly leaped up and left, and is now beside my feet on the floor, sleeping…  Amber’s back half is in the bed and her front is all the way out beside the back wheels of my chair. I have to be careful not to move or I’ll run over Amber’s ear!

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Traffic Director via Cathy Ruggiero


We definitely have a challenge in the Lewis household: going through doors.

It doesn’t SEEM as if it should be that difficult, does it?

Yesterday Molly barked to come inside.

Fuzzy Molly

I held the front porch door open for her.

(She is about 14 now. She has some trouble getting around and is mostly deaf, though she can hear me when I clap my hands or if she happens to be looking at me when I speak. She had trouble accepting Amber even when Amber only weighed 16 pounds when we first brought her home. Now Amber is 91 pounds (at last weigh-in) and is definitely a jealous, bumbling big, doofus puppy of little brain who wants to be in on all the action. )

So – I held the door open for Molly and invited her in. She didn’t hear me, but Amber did.

Amber at 1 year.

Amber trotted over to the door, bumping into me and wanting to go out. I said ‘no,’ and tried to get Molly in again. Molly heard me this time, but was intimidated to try to come IN while Amber was again trying to go OUT.

Combine this with two cats!


Smoke was outside, deciding she wanted to come in, ahead of Molly, but didn’t want to deal with Amber.


Abby decided that she wanted to go OUT, but didn’t want to deal with anyone, so sat there meowing loudly….

Molly wouldn’t come in. Amber wouldn’t go to her place. Smoke wouldn’t come in. Abby wouldn’t go out. I’m standing at the door – a now IRATE traffic director – totally frustrated with the lot of them. Only the fish escaped my wrath, since they didn’t say anything.

I finally shut the door and stormed into the living room where my husband sat placidly reading his kindle in his recliner, oblivious to the whole situation. I just sat down, asking him if he would let Molly in…. :0)



Filed under Amazing Animals, Challenges, Family

Thank You!

Thank you for all the birthday wishes yesterday. I had SUCH a nice day. You made me feel special and I’m truly grateful. I had lunch with my long time good friends and my husband, we finished getting the veggie planters ready, I planted onions, I ate some mashed potatoes with my dinner (YES! I DID! And I enjoyed every mouthful! :0) ) The only thing I didn’t do was get up to play in my art room. With any luck, I can make that happen today. THANK YOU for my special day!

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Filed under Family, Favorite Things, Friendship

“Fetch” or “Tug-of-War?”

My husband is asleep in his chair, snorking away, while I’m at the computer. All of a sudden, Amber shows up, trying to stuff her ball into my lap. Being a multi-tasking smart dog, she simultaneously lifts up with her head, making my left arm bounce up, over and over, off the keyboard. This is quite distracting, to say the least. Finally, she looks up at me with her beautiful, liquid, big brown eyes and my heart simply melts. Knowing she has manipulated me once again, she laughs and leads me to the door, impatiently waiting as I find my jacket and I am herded out to the front yard, accompanied also by Molly, our schnauzer/cocker spaniel extremely fuzzy white dog.

The biggest problem in all this is that I’m never sure what game it is that we’re playing. Amber wants me to throw the ball, but she doesn’t want to give it up. I finally throw the ball for her. She snaps it up on the run and returns to me. I try to get her to drop the ball into my hands. She doesn’t, of course. She runs around squeaking it madly, smiling with glee, around the ball, over and over. She wants me to play tug of war with it, but she has the advantage – teeth over fingers on a ball slimy with dog spit.

Finally, she gives it to me and I throw it across the yard as hard as I can. Molly knows to stay out of the way, having been run over many times, but she barks encouragement as she watches. Amber runs like a mad thing, snapping the ball up and running a victory lap or two around the yard, squeaking the ball and laughing. Then she comes to me and we go through the whole process again. For a time she doesn’t seem to need me there at all.  She teases me with the ball, then runs with it squeaking around the yard, drops it, grabs it up again, runs…..

I may never know what game we’re playing, but I don’t think it matters much. We play until one or both of us are tired. Then we all troop inside, I wash the ball and my hands, leaving the ball on the divider for the next time. Amber drinks a ton of water and collapses into a satisfied heap on her bed or by her dad’s foot.

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“What are You Doing Special for Your Birthday?”


We just got back from our Friday Lunch Bunch and errands. Linda and Kay helped me celebrate my birthday. I told them that I really appreciated the gifts, but that the REAL gift was their friendship. Linda asked me, “What are you doing special for your birthday?” I thought a minute, then smiled, saying, “Absolutely nothing. My whole life is a celebration.”

We got the mushroom compost that the good co-op people had ordered for me and some onion sets. We’ve just come in from mixing a while bunch of Mel’s Mix and we topped off the two brick tomato planters on the east side of our house.

I’m hot (even though it’s a really beautiful day), breathing a bit hard, and gulping some iced tea as I type. I’m going to rest awhile, and then go out and plant my onions.

When I come back in I’ll play in my art room awhile, working on a new theme for thank you notes, stationery, and note cards.

My friends and relatives have made me feel special today. How could one ask for a more special day than this?

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Filed under Attitude, Encouragement, Family, Friendship

Happy Birthday tooooooooo ME……….

My friends and relatives are making me feel very special today – feisty and sassy – though I’m definitely getting long-in-the-tooth.  The day has only begin and already I’ve been showered with cards in the mailbox and e-cards, songs and gifts. The very best gifts, though, are the people BEHIND all the attention I’m getting today. What a lucky, lucky lady I am!

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Filed under Are YOU also older than Dirt?, Attitude, Family, Friendship

One Year!

Today our 91-pound yellow Labrador Retriever ‘puppy,’ Amber, is one year old!


Amber at one year – 3/7/2018


I sang the birthday song to her, but she just sniffed my jeans pockets to see if I had any treats.

Our lives have really changed since we got her 10-1/2 months ago –

Amber has trained US more than we’ve trained HER. She has taught us to

  • always get up with an alarm clock, even on weekends, to take her outside
  • feed her twice a day, being careful to not upset her tummy
  • put probiotics in her food to help with her digestion
  • put drops in her water to help keep her teeth clean
  • allow her to walk right up into my husband’s chair during the evening for a good snuggle
  • make me jump out of MY chair when she looks expectant and get on the couch so she can snuggle with ME
  • keep treats in our pockets at all times
  • keep her shock collar and zapper charged up all the time (even though we mostly just need to warn her with some sound now)
  • keep her supplied with chewy and/or squeaky toys in every room
  • become a gated community, with gates at the office doorway, doorway between the dining area/kitchen and living room, and at the utility room doorway
  • respond to a loud, close bark to take her outside
  • accompany her when she goes outside so that she doesn’t eat anything that catches her eye
  • understand that all bets are off – training ‘gone’ when visitors are here
  • realize that she loves people and will get into the vehicles with the UPS, Fedex, or mail people
  • understand that anything left anywhere within reach is fair game for a good chewing and/or destroying
  • acknowledge that she is the center of our world, around whom all things are planned
  • realize that in an argument with a 91-pound puppy, be careful what you wish for

Amber is the proverbial bull-in-a-china shop. If your drink is on the table, she won’t usually bother it with her nose, but her wagging tail will get it every time. She’s a sneaky pete. If you wanted to eat something later, don’t leave it on the counter in the kitchen unless you have the gate closed. It WILL mysteriously disappear. A bounding dog is a strong signal to get out of the way….

An exhausting, wonderful start to what we hope will be a good, long relationship. We’ll be grateful if her brain someday catches up with her exuberance.  Happy Birthday, Amber!


Filed under Amazing Animals, Family


Nino Chakvetadze via Zen to Zany via Cathy Ruggiero

Hugs are one of my favorite things. They cure me of most ailments. They fill my heart. I guess one shouldn’t pick favorites, but I have to tell you that hugs from our son are the very best there are – anywhere. He draws me in, wraps his arms around me and squeezes – then squeezes harder if “I” don’t squeeze hard enough for HIM. Then he just holds me. It makes me cry. I try not to let him see. Whenever he comes to visit, he makes sure my hugs bucket is overflowing by the time he has to leave.



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Filed under Family, Favorite Things

Short, Powerful Stories – Take 1

“Today, I interviewed my grandmother for part of a research paper I’m working on for my Psychology class.

When I asked her to define success in her own words, she said;

“Success is when you look back at your life and the memories make you smile.”

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Filed under Family, Favorite Quotes, Short Powerful Stories

The Battle Over “OUT!”

We thought we were doing a good thing when we taught Amber to bark when she wanted to go out, or was outside and wanted to come in. Soon we realized we had created a monster who LOVES ordering us around. She just comes in and then barks to go out again – and loudly enough it hurts your ears! My husband thinks it’s hilarious when I’m concentrating at the computer and Amber comes up to me and then makes me jump straight up in the air out of my chair with a loud “WOOF!”

Since we have now ALSO learned that letting her out alone results in all kinds of things leaving the garage, the front porch, and other surrounding areas and showing up in the front yard – either in one piece or damaged beyond repair, we are now TAKING her out. It’s now 10:10 a.m. central time and she’s been out 4 times already.  This is a battle. We’re trying to get things done and we’re never sure if she REALLY needs to go out or is just pulling our leg. While it’s a problem concentrating or bringing something to completion, it’s also good in that it forces us to get up and moving. I’m also trying to play with her a bit while we’re out, taking a ball or something with me for her to retrieve. It’s good exercise because I make it a point to go out past the shop to my garden in one direction, and then all the way across the top of our part of the ridge line to my greenhouse and then back to the house. Just in CASE she doesn’t demand it on her own, we have an alarm set to remind us that we should go out again.

We’re having ‘discussions’ now about how many times it’s reasonable to take her out. Obviously, Amber would essentially enjoy being out most of the time. When it’s cold and wet outside with a gusty wind, we are less happy about staying out there with her for very long, telling her to ‘hurry up!’ and wanting to come right back in.

‘Discussions’ with a 91 pound lab puppy aren’t very productive…


Filed under Amazing Animals, Family

Are We Training HER or OURSELVES?

We’re slow learners, but we finally got the message – Amber cannot be trusted to go outside by herself until further notice. We also learned that we have to watch her like a hawk in the HOUSE, too, as she was chewing on a plug-in thingie for my husband’s computer this morning before we figured it out…

She LOVES to go outside by herself, but since the poor dog doesn’t have ANYTHING to play with, she has become more and more inventive about finding something to pass the time out there.

Yesterday we decided to get new welcome mats for the front door and the garage door to the house. I put the old ones we were replacing on the floor in the greenhouse where the weed barrier has become torn.

Soon we let Amber out. I went out a few minutes later to find BOTH new welcome mats in the front yard. The one from the front porch had a huge bite out of the top of it. The one we got to scrap our shoes on in the garage was in several pieces.

We put the shock collar on her, got the remote, and agreed that one of us will go out with her on a reasonable schedule. We SHOULD be playing with her and walking around anyway, so it’s just having to own up to our responsibility as owners of a loveable, rambunctious, destructive, energizer bunny type lab puppy.




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Filed under Amazing Animals, Family, life lessons

Milestones in Our Animal Family

It’s been rainy here off and on. Sweet, fuzzy Molly came in this morning from an outing with this piece of evergreen stuck in her hair. As you can readily see, one of the things I’ll need to put on my list is scrubbing her in the sink. She will be 13 years old the first part of March.


Amber, aka “Destructo Dog,” was 11 months old yesterday. People tell me that she will continue to grow and STILL act like a puppy (read getting into everything and destroying whatever she finds) until she is 2 years old.  Her saving grace is that she’s very affectionate. She got into my husband’s lap in his recliner last night, nuzzling his ear and making him laugh. When she straightened up and looked like she was planning to jump from my husband’s chair to mine, I leaped up and sat on the couch. She waited a split second for the ‘okay’ and jumped up, turned around once after kissing me, and sat with me for a good 10 minutes.

Abby was described as a “Lap Kitty” in the newspaper when she was put up for adoption. A couple found her meowing in a tree and decided to make her a part of their family. Their two Siamese cats disagreed – violently. We brought her home after having to stuff her into our carrier. It took at least a day with me sitting in the back bathroom with her before she warmed up.  We took her to the vet to get shots, be checked over, and spayed. We discovered she was pregnant. We had to make the decision to abort the kitties, since we’ve been awash in kittens before and had no interest in being so again. Abby is, indeed a lap kitty, moving from one of us to the other as wonderful places to sit whenever we sit still long enough.

This is our computer helper, Smoke, the newest addition to our cat family. We found her at the vet’s. I went up to her and put my finger on the outside of the cage. She walked right over and tried to nuzzle my finger. I was gone. I dreamed about her, named her in my dreams, couldn’t get her out of my head. We went back and adopted her. My husband remarked that – for a free cat – she sure cost a lot, after we got her shots and got her spayed. She is quite the hunter. I’m trying to convince her that moles, voles, and other ‘oles’ are preferable to birds, but I’m not at all sure she’s convinced. Even though she’s a lot younger, she is the head cat, with Abby deferring to her on whatever she’s decided she wants. She’s also a techno-kitty, loving to sit on the printer, the counter beside my computer screen, the table beside the counter, or in my lap as I type.

And finally, the fish –

I changed from a fish bowl to a larger fish bowl, and then finally to a 5 gallon aquarium. I bought 4 gold fish. One is a dark orange, two are bright orange, and one is basically white with one orange spot. (Guess what HIS name is…) The others don’t have names. They don’t say a lot, but they do respond when you put your finger up to the tank.

I feed them twice a day. When it’s time, I say, “Hi, Guys!) and they all swim to the front corner of the tank, in line vertically, very actively wagging their tails and staying in one place, if that makes any sense. As soon as I put food in, they move from the corner to gulp down the food.

So that is our wonderful animal family. We still miss Bambi, our sweet pit bull, but we picture him chewing on a huge rawhide bone, smiling happily at us around it.


Filed under Amazing Animals, Family

Destructo Dog

I let Amber and Molly in this morning and discovered a trail of drinking water bottles and labels all over the front yard. Amber had only been able to open one of them and get the label off another, but I cleaned up the yard and put the rest of the bottles that were in the open plastic wrapping into the garage fridge.

I talked to my husband about our closing the garage door to discourage her from rummaging around in there, but he rightly pointed out that she’ll go through the cat door when the door is closed…

Our front yard has become ‘discovery land’ since we adopted Amber last May. So far, I’ve gone out to find –

  • sticks of all shapes, sizes and lengths
  • old toys Amber found from previous dogs!
  • a full length metal shovel
  • my dust mop – with the mop part shredded all over the yard
  • the full drinking water bottles today
  • gourds I was storing to paint
  • buckets of all shapes and sizes, empty and full
  • rat catchers from the pest company
  • an entire rose bush we threw off the edge of the civilized part of the front yard
  • my decorative ducks from the front porch
  • a couple of small statues from the front porch
  • an entire planter full of demolished flowers from the front porch
  • a whole plant from one of the flower planters
  • HOLES dug here and there (we DID get her to quit digging in the two empty planters where we’ll plant new rose bushes this spring, thanks to an idea from my SIL

I THINK that’s the list so far. She’s very inventive and seems to be tireless in her efforts to collect things in the front yard. If she continues, my cleaning up after her may be the only form of exercise I need!


Filed under Amazing Animals, Challenges, Family

Defurminating the Dog

Amber is shedding like it’s spring around here. I’m vacuuming EVERY day now – an un-heard-of thing for me – and it’s not enough. We STILL have piles of white dog hair sailing around in the breezes all over everything. UGH.

We got out the “FURminator deShedding Tool for Dogs” today ( I call it the DE-furminator) and it took both of us to use it on her – one to hold her collar after we got her to sit on the proper side, and the other to use the tool, and both of us trying to corral the hair as it came off. We spent about 10 minutes today, getting a large pile of white dog hair off, but it seems to be something to which you can devote your life. There is always more! She’s a hair growing machine. We’re now thinking about gathering it up and making sweaters out of it – something we can sell on the Internet….

We’ve decided that we’ll do more every time we both have a minute and can gang up on her and see if we can get ahead of this. I refuse to vacuum more than once a day!


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Our son lives and works in Thailand. The touristy part of Thailand is in the southern part of the country, from Bangkok south. Northern Thailand is beautiful and much quieter, and he really likes it.

He thinks that it is only courteous to try to speak the language in the country you’re in. When he was in China, he took Mandarin lessons. Now he’s still taking Mandarin and is also taking Thai lessons. In fact, he recently told us he doubled his lessons in both and now feels he’s making good progress.

He has lived in Airbnbs and apartments. One of his big loves, though, is making music. He plays the guitar, drums, a little piano, and loves to create tracks of music for a song, making a track of each instrument and then merging them with his electronic gadgets. He can really lose himself in his music, but hasn’t been able to play the way he would like because it would bother his neighbors. He’s been on the lookout for a house to rent that is by itself a little, yet close enough to his work and his classes. He finally found a really gorgeous place and just moved in today. (He’s sleeping now after a really long day of moving in. There is 12 hours difference between us.)

Here are some pics he sent of his new rental house – (I am DROOLING!)










He’s going to use one room as a music room. He plans to start a YouTube channel and list some of his music there. I’m so happy for him and I can’t wait to hear what he creates!


Filed under Dreams, Family, opportunities, vicarious enjoyment

Good Morning!

“Catching Bubbles” – Jabbok Dawn


We missed the Blood Moon and the eclipse this morning. Abby, one of our cats who is supposed to go out at night, jumped up on our bed this morning (at 0-dark-thirty – but AFTER the eclipse) meowing to go out. I’ve hugged both Molly and Amber first thing this morning, so my clean tee is now covered in dog hair, and I feel good – that this day is ripe with possibilities.

Our son is in Thailand, living and working with some good friends also from the states. He is in the process of applying for a ‘wider’ passport which has more pages and more space for stamps. He is moving into a new rental HOUSE in Chiang Mai tomorrow, where he is far enough away from his neighbors that he can play his electric guitar, drums, and other music makers without bothering anyone. The longer walk to meet with his friends is a small price to pay to be able to fully enjoy creating. (I’ll post some pics of the house when he moves in.) He is taking classes in both Mandarin and Thai. He is living life in a beautiful place where he can work hard for clients they choose, play hard, meditate, and enjoy life.  We couldn’t be happier for him.  We communicate with him on an almost daily basis via a chat program, and sometimes on a program called which, like Skype, allows us to see each other as we visit.

We have an absolutely free schedule today. The day is wide open, waiting for us to decide how we will spend it. I love days where we don’t have a bunch of ‘have-to’s, appointments, pressing things that MUST be done today. My spirits soar on a day like this. :0)

I think I’ll fill this day with things I’ve been putting off with my emphasis lately on cleaning out and purging around here. Today I’ll –

  • change out the water in the aquarium, scrubbing it and its contents (except the fish) before filling it again and changing the filter.
  • I’ll do routine stuff, such as changing sheets, doing laundry, and vacuuming the unending supply of dog and cat hair
  • We’ll change the mailbox decoration today from the Cheshire Cat to a Cherub Holding a Valentine Heart for Valentine’s Day
  • I’ll work on repainting the jack-o-lantern mailbox decoration in the shop
  • I’ll choose my next clean out project from the wide array of possibilities around here
  • I’ll transfer my new celery plants to soil-filled pots and put them on the window sill
  • I’ll start a roast in the crock pot

Such is “Life-in-the-Fast-Lane” at the Lewises in Arkansas. Can you see us grinning?

Enjoy your day!



Filed under Arkansas, Attitude, Cherishing the Quiet Day, Dreams, Family

Death of a Dust Mop

Yesterday I wrote you that I finally cleaned out my cleaning closet, after some 30 years of stuffing more and more into it.

One of the things I put out as trash was a dust mop similar to the one above. I hardly ever use it because I’m fighting pet hair, and the dust mop just makes it swirl around in pretty circles and fall to the floor again. I put it in the garage next to the trash can for my husband to add to the burn barrel, maybe cutting the handle off for use elsewhere.

I just found what is left of the mop in the front yard. There were a gazillion neon yellow ‘hairs’ all over the yard where Amber had pulled them out of the mop head, chewed on them a bit, and then spit them out. I picked up the majority, but I didn’t get down on hands and knees. Maybe the rake will help later, when it warms up a bit more.


Today has been a character-building day for me so far.


Sweet Molly, who is now 13, had accidents in two places overnight. She almost never has accidents, but she IS getting on in years. I cleaned those up and am trying to get her outside, whether she asks to go or not, to see if she can control things better.


THEN Abby gave her breakfast back on the kitchen floor while I was concentrating on getting my first cup of coffee for the day.

Hopefully, things will tame down a bit as the day goes on.


Filed under Amazing Animals, Challenges, Family

Amber’s Horizons are Widening

THING ONE:  This may not look like much, but Amber has been afraid of stairs. Since we live in a two-story house with a basement, this has been a challenge for her. It isn’t that she NEEDS to go up and down stairs at our house; in fact, we think it would be better if she didn’t. She WANTS to, though, even though we keep the doors shut on the rooms upstairs, even when we’re IN them during the day, and even though there is no reason for her to go down into the basement, she WANTS to. She has been really intimidated by the prospect, and finally overcame her fear, adding going up and down stairs to her skill set. Here she is – at the top of the stairs – feeling victorious. I was at the bottom of the stairs, having just come down. She really didn’t want to listen to my request that she come down. I left her there and went into the office. Since she wants to be with people more than even the victory of the stairs, she soon joined me.

THING TWO: For some reason we cannot figure out yet, Amber seems to want to bring everything that is now in the garage out into the front yard. She has brought a few plastic buckets and things, bringing them into the front yard and chewing on them. Yesterday it was one of our big shovels! It is all metal, so she didn’t want to chew on the handle or something like that. I have no clue even how she got it. We usually keep most of our tools on nails on the wall. Maybe the shovel was just propped up in the corner of the garage….

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Instead of having to play “Pick Up Sticks” this morning, I actually found one of our long, metal SHOVELS in the front yard, plus the part of a mop bucket where you put the mop to squeeze out the excess water, plus a rectangular bin – all from the garage. Apparently, the garage is Amber’s new playground, complete with toy storage area…

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We only had a few errands to run this morning so we asked Amber, “Do you want to go in the CAR?” She grinned and said, “WOOOF!” and started herding us to the door.

She is getting her ‘car legs’ now, crashing into the backs of our seats and falling down less and less. We put the windows down half way on either side of the back seat and she spends her time going from one side to stick her face out to the other. When we get close to town, she vocalizes more, whining as she smells more people, places, and animals.

She waited for us at Yeager’s, and then got to get out of the car with the no-pull collar and leash, at the vet’s. We said we were going to ‘weigh her,’ which we did. (91 lbs), but what we were really doing was seeing if our walking her every day at home was bearing fruit. She did NOT pull on the leash much as we went into the vet’s. (Last time, she almost pulled my husband down at least three times – really scaring us.) This time we went in and told her to ‘sit’ on the scales. She did! She waited patiently for us to say, “Good Dog!”  We took her over to say “Hi” to the receptionist. She just wagged her tail happily and licked her, (NOT rushing around like a mad thing and trying to jump.)  She met a young dachshund (I think) who was in her owner’s arms in a blanket. They were sitting on the bench as we went in. She politely sniffed the dog, wagged her tail, and we left. SUCCESS!

We went a couple more places where Amber waited for us in the car. She seemed to have a really good time.

We’ll continue to walk her on the leash daily, and we’ll put the no-pull collar on her whenever we have Carla and her doggies over for a play date or we go out in public, but there is night and day difference between the way she acted a couple of weeks ago and today!


Not all problems have been solved, however. After playing “pick-up-sticks” with the collection she had gathered in the yard this morning, I found two plastic bins plus a lid that she had discovered in the garage and decided to bring out to the front yard to chew on. She chewed one of the handles off, but the chewed bins are still usable, I guess. :0(



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We’ve Definitely Created a Monster…

This photo shows where the doggies usually are – under my computer area or beside my computer chair. They do go over and bug my husband, but he is mostly able to ignore them and they come back to me.  (Amber is on the left and Sweet Molly is on the dog bed on the right.)


We’ve been working on teaching Amber to bark when she wants to go out, and again, when she wants to come in. It took several weeks to get this across to her. When she realized what we wanted her to do, she would ‘bite the air’ silently, over and over, looking at us. It seems weird that we would have to TEACH a dog to bark, but that’s exactly what we were doing.

We finally have achieved our goal and Amber loves it. I’m concentrating on the computer and she comes and sits beside me. I may absently pet her, or ignore her, trying to do something that requires my attention on the screen. Suddenly, there is a sharp, LOUD “WOOOOF!” With me jumping straight up in the air, saying a ripe word or two on the way down, Amber is already halfway to the door. She LOVES being outside, so as soon as she comes in, she barks to go back out again.  She is also barking at ‘something,’ while out on the front porch. She is facing away from the door when we get up and look out the peephole in the door, so it’s obviously not an asking to come in. We refuse to let her sit outside and bark continuously, so after we get up a few times, we insist she come in…

How do you explain to a puppy that the “new trick” is not a license to drive us nuts?

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The Joy of Raising a Lab

Amber at 10 months

Today has been a challenging day for the parents of a 10 month old lab ‘puppy.’

She LOVES the cold weather we’re having.  She comes to sit beside me as I’m working on the computer. Then she starts ‘talking’ to me, saying something like, “Hmmmm!” If I look at her and say, “What do you want, Amber?” she says, “WOOOF!!!” – making me jump straight up in my chair. She actually hurts my ears! We wanted her to bark when she wanted to go out and when she wants to come back in again, but I think we’ve created a monster. How to you ‘explain’ to a 10-month-old-lab-with-small-brain that barking ONCE to go out is good. When you’ve gone out, and come back in again, you need to wait at least awhile before repeating the process?

It’s noon and so far, she’s been out 5 times!  The first time I let her in, I saw she had been busy collecting sticks again. I put on my coat, hat, gloves, and muffler (I feel like a kindergartner getting ready to go out and play in the snow), and cleaned up the yard.

The second time, I saw ‘something’ I couldn’t identify in the yard. I donned all my gear again and went out to discover that Amber had brought the cats’ water bowl and bottle out into the front yard and had been chewing on them. :0(   I picked them up, brought them into the house, washed the bowl and water bottle and refilled them. I took them back out into the garage to find that, before taking them out into the yard, she had played, “Let’s splash all the water out onto the floor!” Since it’s 15 degrees outside right now, I took the broom and swept the water out as best I could, warning my husband to be careful if he went out into the garage, watching for thin patches of ice on the floor.

The next times were more ordinary, without much destruction, but she would stay in 30 seconds, come over to me and say, “WOOOOF!!!” – piercing my eardrums – to go right back out again.

My husband just finished playing “fetch the frog” with her. That lasted for a good 5 minutes or so before she came over and said, “WOOOOOF!!!” again.

By the way, this cute rubber frog is a “Thumbs UP” list frog, as far as we’re concerned.



When we first got it, It’s made of soft rubber and squeaks. I thought it was really cute, but wouldn’t last long. I was wrong! It has lasted for about 3 months so far. She just loves it. She finally ate off one of the eyeballs, so it’s a one-eyed frog now, but seems to have many hours left in it.  (sorry. I just tried to find the toy on the net so I could give you a URL for it, but I guess it’s been discontinued.)

Footnote – It may be that I’m paying for past sins or something, but one of our CATS just pulled over the laundry basket that was sitting on the stairs, scattering the clean, folded clothes and throwing some socks over the side…..



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No Ice!

It has been really cold for Arkansas already this winter. Our ‘worst’ month is usually February, and it has snowed on my birthday in March. Usually, though, we have a cold snap and then Indian Summer type weather through January. I think I mentioned before that last year I was still harvesting lettuce in January…

We have had no ice, though, and I’m very grateful. That’s the only thing that truly paralyzes us. We live on top of a ridge line. Our driveway is steep, 650 feet or so down to the road that runs in front of the house. It becomes a ski slope in the winter. We can navigate it down and up again if it snows because of the snow tires on the truck. Ice is another story. Not only does the ice make it impossible for us to go out, it breaks the branches of the trees. We still haven’t fully recovered from the damage from an ice storm in 2000!

That said, our 90 pound,  10-month-old lab puppy, Amber, LOVES this weather. She finally isn’t panting from being too hot. Her coat is very thick and she seems to grin all the time she’s outside. When it’s seriously cold, we don’t let her stay out long because she’s a huge dog with very little brain at this point, but we try to let her out often. When it warms up to our high of 36 today, I’ll take her out for her no-pull collar training session on the leash for the day – Day Three.

The fact that it’s too cold to be comfortable outside has helped in my efforts to declutter our house. Religiously every 30 years or so I go through the stuff in our house, taking everything out of an area, cleaning, donating what we think someone else might be able to use, throwing out what should have been thrown out years ago, and then reorganizing what goes back in. Yesterday it was our “coat, hat, muffler, and glove area” in the utility room and back bathroom. Today it will be the front hall closet.

So far, I’ve kept my promise of filling an EXTRA big trash bag to put out for the trash people each week. I’m piling things up for donations to our local library and the Veterans Thrift Store in Fort Smith before the end of this month. My goal is to have donations each month, but if I don’t make it, the goal still stands and will remind me that I have much more to do. I’m trying not to be overwhelmed by how MANY areas in our house are crying out for my attention!

Though I don’t enjoy going through things and cleaning, I DO enjoy each area when it’s finished. I like the feeling of accomplishment, the cleaner, more organized area, the feel that I’m getting better control of our ‘stuff,’ and the happy feeling that I’m sharing things that we have enjoyed with others.

I hope you’re having a happy Saturday. Stay warm and enjoy your day!

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Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Amazing Animals, Family, Housekeeping - Maintenance, I'm a slob, Mother Nature, Organizing/DeCluttering

No Pull Collar – Day Two

Yesterday we learned the hard way that a now 90-pound ‘puppy’ on a leash HAS to mind. She almost pulled my husband down three times between the car and the vet’s yesterday. It really scared us that we basically lucked out, not being injured by our happy-go-lucky puppy. We came home, dug out the no-pull collar, put it on Amber, attached her to the leash, and headed outside for a walk.

The no-pull collar is designed for the DOG to control whether he or she gets shocked or not. If the dog is obedient and doesn’t pull hard on the leash, there are no shocks. If he or she pulls on the leash, a shock is produced, continuing for a couple of seconds if he or she continues to pull. The dog quickly learns not to pull.

At first Amber was rambunctious and got shocked a lot. I decided that we had the shock value up too high, so my husband lowered it, and we continued our walk. We were all tense, since Amber got really upset at the beginning (this, after she paid NO attention to the regular shock collar at the vet’s). She got shocked once more when she tried to chase one of our cats; but otherwise, we felt the first training walk was a success.

When we came home from errands and Lunch Bunch today, we put the no-pull collar on and attached her to the leash. She hunched down and didn’t want to go out. I felt awful, but determined that we get this under control. We HAVE to be able to control her even when she’s excited, meeting people, other animals,being treated at the vet, etc. We don’t want to be pulled down and dragged by our dog. So I grimly insisted she come with me, my husband following along behind.

She walked as if she were on eggs, clearly associating the no-pull collar with the shocks yesterday. Her tail was between her legs. I was tearing up, gritting my teeth, hoping she would be successful. We walked out to the shop, and she did really well. We gave her a treat and then started back toward the house. She wanted to go back inside, but I told her we were going to walk around the house. When we got to the far side of the house, I continued to walk with Amber and my husband hung back, so she would have to decide whether to continue with me or risk getting shocked by insisting she go to him. Happily, she continued with me. I kept the lead short, so we basically walked side by side. I stopped a couple of times, waited, and then continued to walk. As we walked her attitude improved dramatically. It’s as if she had to re-learn that SHE was in control of whether she was shocked or not. Her tail came up and her step became happier.

We finished the walk, brought her inside. took the collar off, and gave her a big hug, words of praise, and another small treat. I’m hopeful that, as the days of daily walks with no shocks pile up, she’ll adapt to the collar without any more problem. We’ll give this a couple of weeks and then try going to the vet’s again…

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Eye Opener

I spent half an hour today playing ‘pick-up-sticks’ that Amber had collected. We then did one of her favorite things – letting her ride in the car! We went to the vet’s office in order to weigh our ‘baby’ on the large set of scales there.

We discovered that our 10 month old ‘baby’ lab weighs 90 pounds!

We had armed ourselves with her shock collar and the remote in order to be able to control her. The eye opener was that my husband was almost not able to handle her! She got excited at all the strange sounds and smells in and around the vet’s office and would not listen to anything we said, and ALSO wasn’t reacting to the shock collar!

We got her in and out again safely, but we were both really impressed by the fact that this could have been a real problem, resulting in injury to one or both of us, plus problems inside the vet’s office.

We decided then and there we were going to start TODAY – starting over with our leash training – walking her on a SHORT leash – the ‘no-pull’ one that we had put away – around the yard once a day. (This shocks her when she pulls.) We actually found out that we needed to turn the shock down, which we did, but my husband and I walked all around the yard with her for about 20 minutes. She was shocked several times at first, but then calmed down and was more cooperative, only getting shocked again when she saw one of our cats and started to run after her.

In addition to the daily walks with the no-pull leash, we plan to go back to the vet’s twice a month as part of this training. It’s important that she also get socialization plus training-while-excited practice by going to the vet’s and having to obey us. She wanted SO badly to greet the main receptionist that she wouldn’t even sit! We hope that the daily training at home and the twice a month trips to the vet’s office will get her to the point where it isn’t SUCH a big deal that she forgets all she’s been taught!

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Cold Front and Riches

The Owl Report via Cathy Ruggiero -peace-thatwastheothernameforhome-Kathleen Norris-illus-Johanna Wright

A cold front is due this afternoon. It’s 60 degrees F (!) outside right now. By mid afternoon, it’s supposed to be freezing with “wintry mix” and trickle-the-water-in-the-sinks time tonight through the middle of next week, at least.

Happily, we’re rich in books around here. I already told you that

  • I bought and read the 44 books in the J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts “In Death” series with the strong female detective, Eve Dallas.  When I finished those, I switched to re-reading
  • The 40 Robert B. Parker “Spenser” series books. When I finished those recently, I found that book # 45 in the “In Death” series had finally come out in paperback, so I bought and finished that a couple of days ago. (#46 in the series, “Dark in Death,”  comes out in hardback sometime this year, but I’ll have to wait quite awhile before IT comes out in paperback)
  • Now I’m happily re-reading the Robert B. Parker “Jesse Stone” series. There are 9 books in this series by the author. Several other authors are trying to carry on each of the series, but I’ve tried a few and they are just a pale imitation.

So the weather can do what it will. We have hot apple cider for my husband and coffee for me, two dogs, two cats, 4 fish, comfortable recliners and throws, and lots of books to enjoy!


Filed under Family, Mother Nature, Reading is FUNdamental