Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

May your new year be filled with room to run and squirrels to bark at!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Is it bad having a little asphalt in your ears?

Google search terms that lead folks to A Little Brown Blog continue to amuse and sometimes perplex me. As I posted previously last March the information people are searching for is sometimes bark out loud funny - even if the humor is really only about missing punctuation (never trust a man who doesn't hunt teddy roosevelt). 

Here are some new highlights:
androgynous rower in a red shirt, possibly meant to be a woman in man's clothing
blog + awesome + mystery
chinese movie where there's a giant flying cat
crazy susan's chocolate chip cookie recipe
dacshund walking speed
decorating with prairie dogs
do dogs sense the presence of departed owners?
dog park fungus
is it bad having a little asphalt in your ears
mom said to put these panties on
monkey dogs banana bacon
never trust a man who doesn't hunt teddy roosevelt
what product dissolves dog poop
what's wrong with carmella
why people have poodle phobia

Amazon's Aunt Mildred Eco Tool

Amazon has just patented a new system for gift returns that allows gifts to be returned before they are even sent - poor Aunt Mildred. They say 30% of all gifts are returned and I know I am not the only pup who hates waiting in the car while my people stand in line at the post office. Not that we have an Aunt Mildred in our family, of course!

Soon people will be able to flag "high risk givers" like Aunt Mildred. Amazon will send an email alerting you to the threat of grouchy smurf lounge pants, a farting fanny bank, toilet mug, or mooning gnome.

With the click of your mouse you can covert any of these landfill items to a gift card, saving countless resources. I suppose the FedEx folks will be sad. Not to mention the gnome factory.

Better yet, they should allow you to donate your gift to a favorite charity like Homeward Bound Dog Rescue Minnesota.

Emily Post's great granddaughter says this gift return system is very impolite. I say burning through the world's resources to produce crap no one wants is even ruder.

OK, Boy#1 says he would love a farting fanny bank. And he says I drink out of the toilet all the time. Touché! Maybe a better example for him would be this page turner.

Or maybe 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Call of Duty: Road to Family Togetherness

Susan played Call of Duty: Black Ops for the first time with her boys. She will say I am a bad dog for sharing this private matter as she feels ashamed she lets her gentle-souled boys play such video games. She also knows that many mothers without modern day boys may judge her - she has seen the looks the neighbors throw over the fence watching them play with their big-ass nerf guns. She has thrown plenty of her own glares and tart words at her heavily-armed spawn as they combat crawl through her gardens.

I say a little dog park wrestling, chasing and gnawing is what keeps the pack civil.

Susan would rather they joined her playing Viva Pinata or Carcasonne. Although there is also a terrrible darkness to the totalitarian gardens of Viva Pinata and the conquering strategy of the abstract lands of Carcasonne. Heck, chess is nothing more than domination wrapped in cordiality.

Susan agreed to participate in Black Ops for a little family togetherness. It was that or go hide in her room for the rest of their tweenage/teenage years.

Honestly, I know Susan wanted to see what all the fuss is about. Was the game-play of a top-rated, first-person shooter really that much more compelling than other games, as her boys kept telling her? Would she be able to shoot people - rather than repel aliens, blow up jewels or feed pinata folk to other pinatas? Or worse, would she love it and have to eat crow?

It was a rough start. OMG, she was like a baby squirrel that fell out of its nest into a crocodile pond. And this was a friendly local multi-player foray- not a dog-eat-dog online forum. She made a pretty lame soldier  -- even for a Christmas newb (online label for folks who play for the first time after present-opening).

It doesn't help that Susan is very susceptible to motion sickness. She also has no sense of virtual direction and can't aim worth beans-- although must be said she was pretty heavily doped up on cold medication. She spent most of the time trapped in corners staring up-close at the textures of walls as she tried to navigate and find her family -- only to be constantly killed and sent away to re-spawn and start over. At least someone appreciates all the work that went into those textures.

In the end, she discovered she could hurl grenades (right bumper) and spray bullets (right trigger) to get some points -- OK, some "kills"-- and her boys were very proud of her. Things improved when someone showed her how to aim (left trigger). The family said it was great fun having Mom on the squad. And really, there is no higher compliment from tween and teen boys.

At dinner that first night, Susan admitted she now understood why they said it was a great game insofar as it was exciting and fun to play in a pack. And they grudgingly admitted that the realism of many of the locations/characters sometimes made them uncomfortable too. (The morality of video game subject matter is for another post.) But as I lay there watching for supper crumb showers to fall, I can say that for the first time, the family discussed Call of Duty intelligently and peacefully. It was a nice moment of family togetherness.

It made me want to have thumbs so I could join the squad too.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Post Christmas Musings

I love the holidays because my pack is happy and home. And I got a smokin' bone from my vegetarian Dave. He loves me.

For my non-Minnesotan readers, this year's Christmas was our snowiest ever. Weatherman Paul Douglas says:

"At least 4.6" fell at MSP International, bringing us close to 34" for December. Remarkable. Welcome to the snowiest December on record; modern-day statistics go back to 1891. Normal December snowfall? 10". Right."

And it is beautiful! Crisp blue skies today. The boys are out sledding. I am hoping for some extra walks. For now, I am removing the stuffing from my b-day present while Susan types.

If you are looking for some chuckles, invite yourself over to play with our new Xbox Kinect. Otherwise known as the Xbox KicktheCat -- ha ha ha! But honestly, what idiot animal would stroll into a zone where Dave is flailing around learning dance moves? My abs are more toned from laughing. Don't worry cat lovers, Stuart is fine. Just miffed.

For those of you just back from Pluto:

"Kinect brings games and entertainment to life in extraordinary new ways without using a controller. Imagine controlling movies and music with the wave of a hand or the sound of your voice. With Kinect, technology evaporates, letting the natural magic in all of us shine."

This is what Xbox says you will look like playing with your Kinect.
OMG, it is so much more hilarious looking than that.
Picture grownups dancing to Lady Gaga.
And we have a tiny living room full of furniture with a wood floor.
Very dangerous.
I suspect our medical deductible will be tapped out soon.
I will post real photos soon.

This was the Year of the Coaster at our house. Everyone got everyone coasters. Too funny. The furniture thanks everyone.

Susan remembers the Year of the Wine Kit back in the seventies. You could make buy a kit and make wine in your own home with some jugs, tubes and packets of yeast or some such thing. Sounds pretty nasty to me - but you have to remember Susan's folks were on a tight budget so Gallo gallons were the wine to beat. Susan and her sister knew that their mom had gotten a wine making kit for their dad. And their dad got the same winemaking kit for their mom. Much hilarity ensued at present-opening time.

I hope next year is the Year of Peanut Butter. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Peanut Butter Demon Dog

Yes, that is my tongue.
It doesn't quite reach to the bottom of a jumbo Skippy peanut butter jar.
But that doesn't mean I don't keep trying.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Wastebook 2010

There was much jubilation in our house today when it was discovered that one of Dave's projects WolfQuest made it onto the Republican's top 100 worst examples of government waste - #23, in fact. WolfQuest was right behind the Vidalia Onion Museum (#22) and trailed a salamander crossing project in Vermont (#15).

 Papyrus font always makes me smile and think of Daughter Number Three.
Senator Tom Coburn's Wastebook 2010 was no doubt meant to be a scathing review of government excess. But to me, it reads like a list of 100 Things I Definitely Want to See and Learn More About.

Now I want to visit the Neon Museum in Las Vegas (#3). If I am in DC, I wouldn't object to a potty stop at the newly renovated Marion Park dogpark (#32). I'd love to take a spin at the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum (#41) in New York. Who wouldn't want to stroll the new beachfront promenade in Pascagoula, MS (#74) or ride an electric bus in Maryland (#73)?

Thank you Senator Coburn for this wonderful list. Sometimes I wonder about my country. But this list reaffirms my belief that the USA is a fine place full of curiosity, compassion and culture.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rudolph the Regular Reindeer

Thanks to my friend Chris 
for pointing me to this video 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Art Hound Postcards and the Best Blizzard of 2010

Nothing says "I Love You" like Art Hound postcards.

At least that is what I am hoping since my Susan said no one except me wants a knuckle bone for Christmas. We are also working on other Art Hound craft items. Top secret until after the holidays - but I'll let you know if any of them turn out.

Art Hound postcards

If I was famous, I would become an entrepreneur and fill Boy#1 and Boy#2's college funds to the brim. I might harness the new economy like that couple Daughter Number Three blogged about a week or so ago.They made a cool Star Wars alphabet book and put it online for free viewing. Then, if you wanted to, you could make a donation to their baby's college fund. For donations over $15, they would send a printed booklet of the alphabet book as a thank you. Pretty cool way to keep it all tax free and not get George Lucas all huffy. Apparently, it was a wild success. As the dad Brandon writes

"Holy cow, internet. A ginormous thanks to everyone who donated to Tycho's college fund during our December donation drive! Due to a crazy overwhelming volume of donations, we've achieved our goal at lightspeed, and have closed the donation drive far ahead of schedule."

But since I am just a dog lacking opposable thumbs or an income stream, I'll stick to what I do best - snuggling and letting my boys rub my belly.

But why all this time for crafting? Why the Best Blizzard of 2010, of course. Two - count 'em - two snow days to keep my Susan and the boys at home baking, crafting, playing video games and even getting caught up on laundry. Not that I give a hoot about laundry or video games. But I get great company so I having been howling "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!"

This is the Blizzard of 2010 in progress.
I am over by the tree hoping a squirrelsicle falls.

When all was said and done, it was a foot and half of snow.
I do miss lounging on the deck chair.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chocolate Tofu Pudding

I know, I know. Dogs can't eat chocolate -- so how is it that I recommend all these chocolate delights? Because they make my people soooo happy! And fat - especially with a dollop of whipped cream. And happy, fat people are 80% more likely to take me for a walk. (Boy#1 reminds me that 85.8% of statistics are just made up.) So I say, bring on the chocolate desserts.

This pudding recipe is fabulous because it doesn't require cooking. Just whirr it up in a blender. It is best chilled and saves in the fridge nicely. My family says this pudding is silky smooth and you would never know you are eating tofu. It can count as protein if you eat too many vegetables and not enough meat, like half my family does. Well...they do eat enough cheese to keep a family dairy farm in business...but I digress.

Chocolate Tofu Pudding
Chocolate Tofu Pudding
2 twelve-ounce packages Mori-Nu Silken Firm Tofu or Mori-Nu Lite Silken Form Tofu
1/4 cup white sugar
1-2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5.25 ounces (half a bag) of melted Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Premium Baking Chips (or other melted chocolate)

Melt the chocolate in a microwave or double boiler. Put all the ingredients in a blender- or in a mixing bowl and use a hand blender. Blend until smooth. Chill for best flavor. Dollop of whipped cream is optional. Long dog walk after dinner is a must.

Stick to good chocolate, I am told.
Lite Tofu is tasty... but requires less dog-walking, so I don't support it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Serious Walk

Ballard Street by Jerry Van Amerongen
Ballard Street

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Carmella of the North

We woke up this morning to a glorious snowfall and brilliant blue skies. It really was a perfect six inches. Fluffy, easy to shovel (I am told) and arriving on an unscheduled Saturday morning. 

It fell steadily last night with no wind or ice -- although the news was still excited as ever. But I have noticed that as soon as any weather pattern moves in, every media outlet buzzes with dire predictions. Snownamis. Snowmageddon. "Whatever happened to snowfalls?" my Susan grouses every time.

Boy#2 (age 11) has a theory that human beings are wired deeply for stress. Back in the cave days, they had lots of things to worry about. "Now," Boy#2 muses, "we worry about little things like they are big things. Like homework. Or we make up stuff to worry about. Like zombie apocalypses." I think the weather is often that way for people. I also think people yearn for weather events that let them cancel all obligations without guilt and give them permission to just snuggle in for a few days.

This snowfall was hardly that. But it did get folks out with common purpose. They fired up their snowblowers, shovels and neighborly good will to clear the walks and roads so everyone could get on with their weekends. And it looks gorgeous!

My sultry Kentucky days are but a dim memory. I've been in Minnesota long enough now that I believe that I am true northern dog now. 

The trick is to keep moving.

This is my neighbor Johann. He is built for the North. 
I am built for jumping.
My Susan is six feet tall.
So you can see the power of the springs in my legs.
 All this is not to say that I don't love summer best of all.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Teddy was Tense

Ballard Street by Jerry Van Amerongen
Ballard Street

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Vivid Imagination

Ballard Street by Jerry Van Amerongen
Ballard Street


We often drive by this sign. 
It gives a chuckle every time.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mississippi Moment

We finally got out for a decent walk today. Susan's stomach flu is but a distant memory - although she says stir fry will not make an another appearance for awhile. The long weekend means the whole family is home which is heaven. The thermometer got back up near freezing, the sun came out and the wind died down so we headed out for some air. 

My Cosmo dog coat still stinks but it does work. Most people tossed salt out for the ice which really burns my paws. But I suppose if Susan breaks a hip on the ice then our walks would be pretty lame. This is the season of my three-legged hop which makes people stare - but I need to rotate paws to warm them up. Sometimes Susan warms them up for me and picks out the ice, which is nice of her. I don't want to make a fuss or I am afraid someone will try dog boots on me again. Not funny.

We made it down to the river. There's a nice path leading down to the shore from East River Road. The traffic drone all but disappears when you drop down behind the bluff and you see the river from a different perspective. Usually the mighty Mississippi is a grand, distant scene of barges and bridges. In the winter, down on the shore, it is glistening ice, dark water, chuckling ducks, and dripping ice falls. We sat down on a bench by an open spot of water to watch the ducks and geese.

There were dozens of mallards and Canadian geese hanging out and enjoying the afternoon. The water looks calm but ducks and geese zoom downstream and paddle hard to go the other way. Once they saw I was on a leash they went back to their business. 

All of a sudden they hollered QUACK QUACK QUACK and bald eagle swooped down on a batch of them. It wheeled around and made another dive at one young lady. She dove underwater at the last second. The eagle flapped away empty-taloned. It made me glad I'm not a toy breed!

See that black buoy behind me?
That is near the spot where the eagle almost grabbed a duck. QUACK!
We headed back up the bluffs to the city, dinner and a toasty warm house.

Friday, November 26, 2010

American Gothic Reimagined

As I was working on American Gothic with Dog, I enjoyed seeing the endless parodies of Grant Wood's painting. I suppose the Mona Lisa has been spoofed more but she is just not as funny. Here are some of my favorites - most chosen in honor of the interests of my beloved Boy#1 and Boy#2.

Check out lots more Art Masterpieces Redone in Lego
the M. C. Escher works are way cool.
Modern Americans...well, from the 1990's...
If Alderaan hadn't gotten toasted and the Both Sides of the Force lived in harmony. credit
What can I say?  Zombies are always funny!

Google Logo Gone to the Dogs

Daughter Number Three's post Google Logos: Squashed Bugs and Flag Conspiracies got me thinking about the logo Google will be using on International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day which is always February 23. I took a little time to work up a logo that works for me. I included not one but two of my favorite treat vessels: the Kong Classic.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

American Gothic with Dog

click on image to enlarge
American Gothic with Dog was painted by Grant Wood in 1930. Wood decided to paint the house and "the kind of people and dog I fancied should live in that house." The painting shows a grim-faced man beside his daughter and their equally stern dog. The pitchfork symbolizes hard labor. The flowers over the woman's right shoulder suggest domesticity. The intense gaze of the working dog tells the viewer this family has no time for playing fetch or rubbing dog tummies.

Wood's models were his dentist, his sister and his barber's dog. In real-life the dog Carmella was a happy-go-lucky hound. But Wood achieved the intensity of the dog's stare by strapping sausage links to his head while he painted.

More Art Hound (by artist)
Grant Wood's American Gothic
More American Gothic parodies

Monday, November 22, 2010

Very Good Dog Today

Ballard Street by Jerry Van Amerongen
Ballard Street

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Good Day to Stay In

I have grown fonder of winter, once the shock of being shipped north in late fall wore off. The house is cozy, baked goods appear more often and it is fun to dash in the fresh snow. But a coating of glare ice is no one's fun. I have four legs and I can't stand up on the sidewalks today. My morning walk was understandably short. And although Boy#1 and I chuckled watching people fall over, it wasn't so funny when it was us.

So unless the freezing rain can produce some squirrelcicles, pronto -- I give today's weather a loud, rude raspberry.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Cold Night to Be Lost

Today, Susan went grocery shopping and as she was carrying them into the house, a tall, young husky followed her in. And who wouldn't follow a bag of groceries?

I admit I was pretty alarmed to have a stranger appear on my porch and I expressed myself clearly. Then, she let him in MY backyard! To make matters worse, she walked him all around the neighborhood with MY leash and then put him into MY car.

He seems to be gone now. But I can still smell him. If I met him at the dogpark, I might think he was a pretty nice fellow. But I am not so sure that I want to share my house with another dog. It is mine, after all.

To the person missing a handsome, blue-eyed husky who couldn't be bothered to buy him tags or microchip him - he is waiting for you at the Humane Society on Beulah Ave. in St. Paul. In five days, he will be up for adoption and will certainly be chosen right away. Susan says he was very sweet and can sit and shake paws. Humph.

Lost dog #11917801
UPDATE: Dave and I went out later in the evening for a VERY CHILLY walk and heard some young guys calling, "LOKI!  LOKI!" So we asked them if they were missing a husky -- which indeed they were. And boy, were they lucky they ran into us because they were supposed to be dogsitting and had no idea that one would contact animal control aka the Animal Humane Society to be reunited with a lost pet.

For the record, the Humane Society has a great lost, found and stray posting system online to help reunite people with their loved ones. Loki was posted within the hour. So, if you ever find a wandering pet you can drop it off, no questions asked other than where you found him/her. They hold the animal for five days and then put it up for adoption (if it is adoptable). For $75, they will tell you how it all turns out and give you dibs on adoption after the five days.

But here is a funny thing: Now that I think about it, I DID meet this dog Loki at the dogpark a few weeks ago and we had a great time. I knew he looked familiar through the porch window. So, if we meet this Loki again at the dogpark with his real owner, do we mention they should consider other, more reliable options for dogsitting? Do you think those young men will have mentioned to the owner that they almost lost that beautiful dog for good on a cold winter night? Hmmm...I think not.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Ballard Street by Jerry Van Amerongen
Ballard Street

Monday, November 15, 2010

Loss of Hope

Ballard Street by Jerry Van Amerongen
Ballard Street

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

This weekend is my third birthday. My family decided my birthday would be on the first weekend of November -- that's when they adopted me two years ago. Works for me.

To celebrate, I got extra treats, a new stuffy to lick (such a fine line between licking, gumming and full-on shredding...sigh), and lots of backscratching. Susan decided to use her extra hour of daylight savings to accompany me on a trot, first thing out of bed.

Happy Birthday to Me!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Susan Barked (and wagged her tail)

As noted previously, my Susan attended an open house to check out the final draft of the St. Paul Parks & Rec's plan for the future. She came back home, told me all about it and sent in her feedback. What a good girl!

Dear Parks & Rec,

I had the pleasure of attending the open house at Hillcrest last Wednesday for the Parks & Rec Plan. I appreciate the low key atmosphere you created to share the plan and provide opportunities for discussion. I look forward to seeing it move forward as we better address the changing needs for our Parks & Rec system.

A robust,freely accessible parks and rec program is the sign of a healthy, vibrant urban community. My family includes two adults, two teenage boys and an active dog and we are heavy users of the metro parks and rec centers.

We are fortunate to live right near Aldine Park. Over the 14 years we have lived here, we have visited the tiny park several times a day on our dog walks, to play on the playground (when my boys were younger), to throw frisbees and baseballs, join pick-up softball, skate and even do school projects (moon observations). I believe having open spaces in urban neighborhoods is essential and this park played a key role in why we bought a house where we did. I was pleased to see that park location "gaps" have been identified in the Parks & Rec Plan and that new parks will be added so everyone has easy access to a neighborhood park.

My family also uses the Jimmy Lee rec center for swimming, walking on the indoor track and the fitness center. We love the improvements. We hope the fields are cleaned up and reopened to serve the neighborhood soon.

I love the move to make our city parks more natural. Urbanites need a connection to nature. Prairie plantings, rain gardens and other sustainable practices are good for the world.

I do not support public fields like Dunning getting turned over to private managers if this means fences, advertising and limited availability. Public parks should be readily available to everyone. We need more sandlots for kids and casual groups not shiny, groomed fields reserved for the few. OK, shiny and groomed for everyone would be my first choice.

I support adding more dog parks - both smaller social areas and larger areas where people and dogs off-leash can roam and be out in nature. Different-size dog areas serve different purposes and I hope that planners understand the need to balance these. Merely adding a little fenced yard to a park like Newell to fill the "add a dog park quota" would be a shame. I hope to see a large area a la Battle Creek Dog Park included in the plans along the river down by Hidden Falls and Crosby Farm. A Newell dog park would be sweet too, of course. 

As a new dog owner and new to off -leash dog parks, I was quite surprised to discover that dog parks are great social gathering places for people too. The amount of community you find for yourself while your dog rips around is amazing. Our twice-weekly outings to Battle Creek or Arkwright have become a pleasant social part of our week. I meet and talk with diverse types of folks that I would never meet in my normal nose-to-the-ground routine. In this highly divided, classist world we live in, dogs are an amazing social icebreaker and glue.

And this community makes for good stewardship of the land. Dog people police each other - subtly and directly - to clean-up, learn/practice dog park etiquette and support each other to socialize the dogs (and people). You couldn't ask for a better model of how a diverse bunch of citizens can use a public area in heavy concentrations (and there is a LOT of traffic) with very little oversight.

I would be interested in being involved in the parks planning process -- perhaps for the riverfront, if you are looking for someone who loves cross-country skiing, hiking, dog parks, playgrounds, picnicking, biking and just getting out in nature. I am intrigued by all the puzzle pieces that the multiple perspectives and interests bring to the table. I applaud all your efforts for coming up with lots of possible solutions!

Bravo, Parks & Rec!


Good girl! What a good girl! Susan gets a treat!
credit and recipe Truffle Tarts

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bark, If You Love Parks

Needing to wash away the bitter taste left by last night's election results, my Susan is heading out tonight to attend an information open house on the final draft for St. Paul's Parks and Rec’s new system plan.

She wants to speak up for us about more off-leash dog areas - although all aspects of public parks are pretty appealing. From community gardens to disc golf to hiking paths through natural areas, a robust parks and recreation system speaks well of the livability of any urban area. What I know: people and dogs are happy in parks.
Battle Creek Off-Leash Dog Park south social area
Dogs aren't invited to hearings. Dog owners aren't very vocal as a group. So dogs and dog owners aren't really seen as key players in park planning, despite our huge numbers as regular users of citywide parks and paths. But thanks to the hard work of a few persistent dog owners, the new system plan states:

"More off leash dog area are needed. Off leash dog areas are recommended for Lilydale, portions of Newell or Marydale Park, Downtown (Landmark Plaza and Mears Park- small dog “relief ” areas; Pedro Park and or Lower Landing – small to mid-size dog park), Central Corridor and along the Mississippi River."

Battle Creek Off-Leash Dog Park
Even you can't make a information open house, read the system plan and let St. Paul government hear your feedback. Good government only works when everyone speaks up -- not just the haters and the yappy dogs.

Public Viewing of Draft - Community Open Houses
A draft of the System Plan will be brought to the community in November. Residents will have an opportunity to see the results of work that was done following the community meetings and comprehensive analysis that was completed over the spring/summer months.

Anyone may attend any of the five planned community meetings. Attendees will be able to share comments about what they think of the plan, and following the completion of all the meetings, the plan may be tweaked prior to a final draft being presented at the Parks and Recreation Commission meeting on December 8 and to City Council in January 2011.

All open houses will be held from 7 PM – 9 PM. The dates and locations for the open houses are:
  • November 3 - Hillcrest Recreation Center, 1978 Ford Parkway
  • November 8 - Phalen Recreation Center, 1000 East Wheelock Parkway
  • November 9 - Wellstone Community Center/El Rio Vista Recreation Center, 179 Robie Street East
  • November 15 - Oxford Community Center/Jimmy Lee Recreation Center, 270 Lexington Parkway North
  • November 18 - North Dale Recreation Center, 1414 St. Albans Street North

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Floor Whisperer

In a previous post, I wrote of my first experience with dog daycare. But I neglected to explain why I had to be off premises for the day -- and indeed the next day as well. 

It all seemed to start with that unnerving cleaning and moving of possessions. The fridge wasn't the only one hit. Dusty shelves were cleared, drawers removed, and places were scrubbed that probably haven't seen soap since Queen Victoria played fetch with her dog Dash. I kept a low profile, to be safe. 

When I came home from daycare that first day, the kitchen door was shut for the first time since I took up residence. The little brown dog was banned from the best room in the house. 

Mysterious smells of fresh wood wafted under the door. I sensed a presence - or the lingering scent of a visitor now departed. I was perplexed, to say the least. 

Then I remembered a stranger named Bob.

Bob had visited a month or so ago. I remember him well because he was invited in - rather than chased off like other clipboard-wielding folks who knock on our door. Bob started exploring the house like a hound. Seriously, he had his nose to the ground like the best of us -- scanning rooms, peering into corners, cocking his head in contemplation. 

"Tell me about this." he said gesturing to the living room floor. I studied the empty floor. What did he see? 

There was nothing there.

It was then that I realized that Bob was some kind of psychic. He must sense a presence from the other side -- right at the edge of our living room. My hackles rose. Was there spirit in the living room next to my favorite TV nap spot? I always thought that draft came from the chimney.

"Oh..." said Susan blushing. "We move the chair back and forth to watch TV." Huh?

Bob's expression stayed completely neutral, but I could sense his bottled tension. "Stop by the shop and get some chair pads." would chair pads help banish a spirit? I've watched "Ghostbusters" with the boys plenty of times and there were never any pads involved.  
Bob resembles Peter Venkman only a little.
But I think they are in the same line of work.
I trotted after them as they went upstairs. Bob stopped on the threshold of Boy#2's room.

"That's strange," Bob said, frowning slightly. Bob was staring at another blank spot on the floor. My hackles rose again and a growl rose in my throat. I prepared to make a break for it. "You have water damage. That is a very strange spot to have water damage. What happened there?"

"Uh...where? I don't see it," Susan said, worry furrowing her brow. 

Oh my gods, I thought, a water spirit lives next to my kennel!

Bob doesn't look at all like
the Ghost Whisperer.
But I think they would have
plenty to talk about.
"Right there. You can see the boards are cupped with the moisture." Bob walked over to the spot and laid his hand on it. "Feel it... Can't you feel it?"
Bob looks nothing like either of these gentlemen.
But he seemed to read the floor's morphology like a trained phrenologist.
I leaned closer and sniffed. I could smell a whiff of dampness. Susan reached out tentatively and touched the spot on the wood floor. I wanted to drag her away, Lassie-style. Don't touch the ectoplasm, Susan! 

"Oh, dear," she said, "But what could possibly cause water damage in the middle of the bedroom? There aren't any pipes under there." And no, that spot wasn't my fault. I pee outside...mostly.

"Well, I can't work on that until it dries out," said Bob. "You'll have to track down the source. Maybe it was a one-time event." 

Geez, I hope so! I sleep a foot away. In a locked box.

Bob went back downstairs and looked around the kitchen some more, measuring it and taking notes. "This is a pretty straight-forward job. There won't be a lot of mess," he said. "And I have a brand new machine on order. It will trap almost all the dust." He handed Susan an estimate of costs and put us on his schedule. "I should only take a few days. You won't have to move out." 

I wonder if that's what they told Mrs. MacNeil in the Exorcist.

The Exorcist also took several days, as I recall.
Bob went away and I forgot all about his visit. A month later, I was at doggy daycare. And when I came home, the kitchen door was shut.

"Let's just peek," Susan said to Boy#2. They opened the door and peered in. Bob had gone home for the night but he'd left his equipment behind.

This machine appeared to be used to suck up the spirits. It looked very powerful. So powerful it seemed to have vaporized all the varnish off the floor as it worked. It was attached to another machine (see below) with a big black hose. 

This giant vacuum apparently trapped and stored the evil spirits. I gave it a wide berth. I hoped Bob had taken the day's worth of ghosts back to his storage facility. There didn't appear to be any paranormal activity in the tank.

The petite machine must be for the little guys - or the faster ones that try to hide in corners. Or maybe it was used to clean up the last bits of ectoplasm. It reminded me of a bot on MST3K. 

Mike and his bot buddies,
Mystery Science Theater 3000
Bob came on Monday and left on Wednesday. He worked alone. He said he didn't like having to supervise other folks. Being a floor whisperer must be lonely work.

Bob not only removed the spirits, he left behind gleaming floors that look like new. I guess ghostbusting is hard on the floors so he had to refinish them.  They look pretty good.

Bob also put in a new grate. Maybe that was how they were getting in. I assume he sealed up any doors to the underworld. No "Amityville Horror" here!

Susan also painted the whole kitchen and replaced the warm window shades - I guess you can never get that exorcism smell out. She even refinished the kitchen table and chairs.

They also bought a new stove even though the other one wasn't that old. I think the range was where the demons were living. It often possessed my Susan and made her burn things and spew bad words. The electronics were always haywire and the knobs kept spontaneously melting. I think they replaced them all at least three times. The new appliance seems spirit-free. So far.

All in all, Susan seems pretty pleased with Bob's services. Our kitchen is more cheerful and homey. It makes Susan happy. And a happy Susan means more baked goods for all. 

If you need a floor whisperer, you know who to call