Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Doggy Master

Harley likes to bring stuff to me to get treats. It started when he was a puppy and I would give him a treat when he gave up some inappropriate item he wanted to chew on. Within a few days he started bringing anything he found on the ground and demanding payment for it. It only took a few tries for him to learn that dog toys didn't pay well, but trash, especially small pieces of paper, paid best. Over the years he has brought me old bills, coins, and pieces of paper the size of a match head.

Every once in a while, I'll hear a rumbly kind of noise and look over and he'll be sitting there, his ears back, with something in his mouth, waiting for payment.

It's cute and it's funny and it helps keep my floors clean, but now he's added a new wrinkle.

Harley has a bed that he loves. It's a hooded dog bed that he's had for 2-3 years. For some reason, Scooter has decided she likes it all of a sudden, and she's been sneaking into it when he isn't looking. He is too much of a gentleman to kick her out, so he's come up with his own solution.

He brings me some bit of trash, but instead of a dog treat, he wants me to kick her out of his bed! I've become my dog's bouncer. I think it's astonishing that he's made the mental leap from "I bring you trash, you give me a treat" to "I bring you trash, you do me a favor."

Sometimes I look at this dog and swear he's an alien who, every once in a while, forgets himself and lets his real intelligence shine through. I just hope that when the aliens invade, he remembers all of the favors I've done for him and lets me serve him in the new world order.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ice Cream Pillow

What's an ice cream pillow? It's the extra pillow I keep on my bed just for the nights when I have ice cream for a bedtime snack. You didn't know that, but my cousin, Maria did. It's part of our code.

I love when language becomes code.  Those unusual, sometimes nonsensical, phrases that bind you because of shared experience.  There is a handful of people on this planet who remember the phrase "Spoons in the Heart" with a smile. It's our code. It reminds us of one wacky night watching a tearjerker movie and laughing for no reason other than the sheer joy of being together.

You see this kind of thing on a bigger scale all of the time. It's where slang is birthed. It comes from movies, music, TV and internet memes. Double rainbow all the way, anyone?  Some of them are tired and worn out at birth, but some live on.

I doubt that "Ice Cream Pillow" will become part of the national consciousness, but I'm ok with that.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Mom called and asked if I wouldn't mind helping her sort through her canned goods. She keeps them in the basement, in a cabinet. It's a good system, in theory. She doesn't have much room for excess food in the kitchen and the cabinet keeps everything neat and organized. However, over the last few years, her arthritis has made it tough for her to get the new cans downstairs or rotate the old ones upstairs for use. Over time, the supply in the basement has gotten older and older, and now it was time to toss out the unusable and unsafe food.

As I always do when there is work to be done, I called my cousin, Maria.  To sweeten the deal, and make it less of a chore, I suggested we do a family potluck after the work was finished.

Our family has a tradition of secret potlucks.  Everyone makes at least one dish, without telling anyone else what they are making.  Sometimes you end up with three salads and a dessert. Other times you have five desserts.  You can make anything you want, as long as you use a brand new recipe.

To make it even more fun, I suggested we shop for our supplies at Wegmans. In case you haven't heard of this place, it's the mecca of all grocery stores. I've never seen anything like it, outside of Berlin.  Everyone agreed to my plan, and we were off.

We picked up Maria at her job in the Annapolis mall and headed for Wegmans. We tried to have dinner at the sit-down restaurant, but it didn't work out. First, we were chased out of our table by the tidal wave of perfume coming from the overdressed lady who came in after we had been served our drinks. Then, our waitress forgot our order, not once, but twice.

After an hour of waiting, we asked if we could have a refill on our water, and then watched her wander back to the food prep area where she stood and chatted for ten minutes. She obviously had the attention span of a gnat.  We finally gave up and left to get some food from the salad/food bar.  We should have started there, after all, that's where the soda machines are that dispense over 100 flavors of soda, lemonade and water.  I love those machines.

We finished eating and grabbed our groceries. By the time we got home, it was after 9.  Maria and I stayed up until 1 am. She washed dishes and chatted while I made a cherry-raspberry pie and put together a seven-layer salad. (lettuce, spinach, bacon, red peppers, dill dressing, cheese and snap peas.)
Mom called in the morning to say that Sassy was sick, so while she took her to the vet, Dad and Maria and I got to work.  It took a couple of hours, but all of the cans from the early 1990s through 2009 were disposed of and the cabinet was reloaded with the remainder.

We finished just in time for lunch. We started with my salad, which was too heavy. I would use a lot more lettuce and less dressing next time.  The flavors were good, though. Then Maria served her stew, which she made with pork tenderloin, onions, garlic and green peppers. Yummy. Mom made meatball subs (double yummy) and Dad served deviled eggs he bought at the Amish market (cheating, but they tasted great.) Then we had my pie with ice cream and Dad's low-sugar devil's food cupcakes. We were all half-sick from too much food, but it made a huge chore into a family event.

Sassy is still not feeling well, by the way, but the vet told Mom not to worry. It was probably just something she ate. I know how she feels. Only in my case, it's not what I ate, it's how much!