October 30th, 2013
For almost six months, we were down to six dogs. In my opinion, six was still too many but better than the eight to ten dogs that usually call our place home. Even John had commented that the smaller pack size was more manageable. Did I detect a slight change in his attitude toward dogs? Then one day about two months ago, John asked me if I’d noticed anything unusual about Ruby, the female we kept from the unfortunate and unplanned mating between his coon dog, Nikki, and his bird dog, Jack. As Ruby ran across the yard, the image was almost more than I could comprehend. “How did she get pregnant?” I yelled. John said, “She dug a hole under the fence, and I found her in Razor’s pen one day, but it didn’t seem like anything had happened.” I wondered to myself what he expected to see if something “had happened”…Razor smoking a cigarette and Ruby drinking champagne perhaps? Neither of us was happy about this turn of events, but there was nothing we could do but wait. Nikki only had three puppies when Ruby was born so maybe this would be a small litter as well.
We only had to wait a few weeks for the quantity question to be answered, and lucky number seven was the winner: four males and three females. Once again I tried to keep my distance, and once again the siren song puppies sing lured me into the pen. In spite of their unbelievable cuteness, I responded with a steely glare when John brought up the subject of keeping one. I simply asked which of his current dogs he planned to give away if he wanted to keep a puppy.
Fortunately we have found places for all of them. Our daughter is taking one and a co-worker is taking another. If we don’t find homes for the other five, they will go to a “no-kill” shelter. You would think that even though the thirteen dog total is temporary, John would have learned his lesson, but you would be wrong. On a recent trip to Wisconsin, one of his bear hunting buddies tried to give him a trail hound. I truly think that without my adamant refusal to consider the acquisition, he would have hauled number fourteen home. When it comes to dogs, John is never going to change.
April 30th, 2013
For a couple to experience long-term success in marriage, it’s critical that they share similar values and goals about the important things in life. John and I are the quintessential example of how opposites can co-exist as long as their views on money, religion, child rearing, and sex are compatible. Of those four areas, money has been the biggest challenge for us, but we have worked through most of our issues and arrived at a mutually acceptable place. At least that’s where I thought we were until John retired. For the last two years, it has become increasingly obvious that we are not on the same page. (more…)
April 19th, 2013
As a miscreant youth, I was often admonished to “act your age.” I’m not sure I ever followed those instructions as a child or as an adult, and I often wonder when I will start to FEEL my age. Except for those occasions when I really over- exert myself and an old softball injury creates problems with my left knee, I can’t point to any differences between today and 30 years ago. I don’t take any medication, and as long as the activity doesn’t require a lot of flexibility, you can count me in. I have discussed this with several of my friends, and they share my feelings on the subject. I certainly don’t look the same, and I hope I have gained some wisdom and insight over the years that guide my actions, but I still FEEL exactly the same. Unless I roller skate. (more…)
March 22nd, 2013
There should be a rule against losing two lifelong companions in three weeks, but I’ve never been one to complain about the unfairness we inevitably encounter in life. Champ was born about six months before Sis so it wasn’t totally unexpected that their deaths would be in fairly close proximity, but two dogs in three weeks. Give me a break!!! Champ’s eventual demise was very gradual over the last two or three years with the last few weeks of his life taking a steeper decline. I was struggling tremendously with his end-of-life decision so I consulted some websites on pet euthanasia. All of them said I would know when the time was right, and I should delay my decision until I was sure. They gave a few examples of what might create a “right time” scenario, and Champ didn’t seem to fit any of them. I should have had more faith in him because he let me know without a doubt when he could no longer answer the bell, and he went out like a true Champion. (more…)
March 1st, 2013
The recent heavy snows took a toll at our house. The sore muscles from shoveling the driveway numerous times to remove the 18+ inches of snow we received from back to back storms pales in comparison to the pain caused by the loss of our almost 16 year companion, Sis. So if you don’t believe pets become a part of your family, you can stop reading now. If you don’t think a devoted pet deserves a eulogy, this post isn’t for you. If you don’t think animals can teach people valuable lessons, just move along because there’s nothing to see here. If you think I can make this story humorous, you have more confidence in my writing skills than I do!
John had a couple of hunting dogs before Sis came along. He had an extremely athletic Brittany spaniel with an amazing nose for birds whose hyperactivity forced John to learn all about electronic training collars just to gain a small measure of control. He also had a German shorthair who couldn’t begin to find as many birds as the Brittany when they were hunting, but his unmitigated devotion to John was nothing short of amazing.
Lesson learned: Even extremely willful creatures can be taught, but you must first get their attention, and determination and sacrifice can overcome a lack of natural talent.
February 20th, 2013
If you Google the word “accident-prone,” you don’t get John’s picture as the top hit, even though its inclusion would solidify the site’s reputation as the top search engine. Rather, you are directed to www.thefreedictionary.com/accident-prone where you find the following definition: Having or susceptible to having a greater than average number of accidents or mishaps. With or without that site’s confirmation, by anyone’s definition, John is an accident looking for a place to happen most of the time.
January 25th, 2013
I recently announced to my co-workers that next year will be my last year as the director of the ESSDACK Learning Centers. I made the news public well in advance because I think that reduces angst and facilitates the transition for the new person. I have found such an awesome replacement that my main concern now is the short amount of time that will elapse before the staff is saying, “Terri who?” As a result of my announcement, I have had numerous e-mails and phone calls wishing me well and expressing surprise and displeasure regarding my early retirement. To those who were caught off guard by my decision, I simply reminded them of all John’s exploits that indicate he shouldn’t be home, or really anywhere, unsupervised.
January 8th, 2013
John’s lack of handyman skills coupled with a strong tendency toward procrastination result in many small chores going undone for long periods of time (Getting Around to It). Occasionally he will fix something in a relatively short amount of time which is what happened last week when the handle on the screen door broke. In less than a week, he had made his repairs, but with John in charge, a speedy repair doesn’t necessarily mean he achieved the desired result. In fact, you never know what to expect when you live with a Hillbilly Handyman.
John’s ability to create unique solutions to a variety of problems is well-known among family and friends. He wanted a portable fire pit we could move to different locations, but he deemed the commercial chimineas he found over-priced and/or poorly constructed. The Hillbilly Handyman solution was to cut the end off a discarded propane tank and weld legs to it that he made from abandoned oilfield pipes. It is very functional if not entirely aesthetically pleasing, and we have used it quite a bit since he made it three years ago.
December 20th, 2012
I know I don’t need to keep saying this, but life with John is a constant adventure. Whether he’s tipping over backhoes or boiling traps in a metal tub in the front yard, he never ceases to surprise me. However, you might think the house in general and the bathroom specifically would be a relatively safe haven. And you would be wrong. With John around, you should ALWAYS expect the unexpected.
I don’t have data to support this belief, but I imagine that showering protocol is pretty much universal. You turn on the water, wait for the desired water temperature, and engage whatever device forces the water from the faucet through the shower head. When you are finished, you reverse the process by disengaging the shower head and turning off the water. I’m flexible enough to accept those who shut the water off first and then disengage the shower head. What I can’t abide is anyone who shuts off the water without changing the flow back through the faucet.
December 11th, 2012
As our population ages, scientists and medical professionals constantly conduct research focused on the health problems that arise later in life. This growing body of information has Baby Boomers better prepared for their golden years than any previous generation. However, one serious condition that has received less than its share of attention is SHS—Snoring Husband Syndrome. The sleeping partners who have to endure SHS often think they would do anything to make it stop, but that may not be entirely true.
According to the independent research I have conducted (in our office), SHS affects close to 100% of the male population over the age of 50. However, the effects of SHS are more devastating for family members, particularly spouses, than the millions of men who suffer from the condition. Men generally report bruising of the ribs and legs along with alienation of affection as the most common symptoms of SHS. Sleep deprivation, bruised knuckles, sore feet, and latent aggression are the most common complaints from women.
John is not a stereotypical snorer. He doesn’t rattle the windows, and his nasal reverberations don’t sound like a small engine running in the next room. However, what he lacks in volume, he more than makes up for with variety. At times he will exhibit what I call “the classic,” a rumble in the back of his throat caused by the vibration of soft tissue when he inhales. Other times the noise is a simple puff of air that sounds like the word, “Poo.” Another variation sounds like I am sleeping next to Darth Vader. Regardless of the “tune” that he plays, most nights I end up sleep deprived.