My Puppy Has Acne

At eight months old, Walter is a teenager.  Walter is the bane of his elder brother’s existence.  Both he and Levi are Great Danes.

I don’t particularly like to spread stereotypes because they are often untrue and maligning.  However, I will say that Walter is the embodiment of every teenage stereotype there is….as long as we are talking about the negative stereotypes!

Here it goes:

 

Obstinate – You can yell NO till you are blue in the face.  If you use the old “squirt him in the face with water trick” he just blinks and licks his jowls.  He loves the taste of Bitter Apple.  Loud noises don’t phase him in the least.  If you slap his butt, it doesn’t even register.  The only thing that works is to get his nail clippers out.  He’ll back off then!  The nail clippers are his kryptonite.

Loud – If he doesn’t get his way, he will bark, and bark, and bark some more!  I have tried scolding.  I’ve tried ignoring.  The only thing that seems to work is to give Levi attention as soon as the barking starts.  Walter does not like that at all!  He wants to be the center of attention.

Eats us out of house and home – The boy can eat.  He will eat anything and everything. He’s a food magician.  Just like any teenage boy, he can make food disappear in an instant.

Fights for dominance – At eight months old, you wouldn’t think he would turn into a Tasmanian devil if Levi gets near his food bowl.  Oh, but he does!  He started challenging Levi from the time he was 2 months old.  Levi weighs at least 50 pounds more, but that doesn’t matter one bit.  Don’t even think about treats!  I now have to feed and give them treats separately.  He has the rebelliousness of a teenager like I have never seen.  Walter is going to be a force to be reckoned with!

Boisterous – You never have to wonder where Walter is.  He is always at the center of activity.  He’s a whirling dervish.  He’s the thunder and the lightning.  When he is trying to engage Levi in play he hops like a bunny on the floor, on the couch, and on us!  There is no limit to the energy of a teenager!

Besides all of that, he has the most obvious hallmark of an adolescent.  Much to my chagrin, Walter has acne!

Fishing Lures of a Certain Speed

My Dad was a great fisherman.  He not only enjoyed the act of fishing but also the research and acquisition of fishing gear. When I was small, I used to love poring over the catalogs with him trying to figure out what might land that big rainbow trout.

One day he turned a page in one of his catalogs and started to laugh.  When I asked what was so funny, he tried to change the topic.  I was not a child to be left out of a good joke so he finally gave in and said that fishing lures could have fast action or slow action.  I guess it was how fast they spin, I don’t remember that part.

What I do remember is that this particular lure was called  The Half-Fast Lure. Obviously, the lure wasn’t too slow or too fast.  I was probably seven or so and I didn’t understand why that was so funny.  Much to my mother’s chagrin, my Dad had to explain the concept of “half-assed” to me.  Anytime I hear that phrase I always think of my Dad and smile.

I Don’t Know What Date It Is!

All day I’ve been telling my WordPress friends that today is my one month anniversary on this site.  One of my most respected blogger friends Cheila asked me to send her a few of my post links.  When I started to review them, I realized that I did one of my favorite posts on March 18th:  “I”m a Morning Porcupine!” https://mainepaperpusher.wordpress.com/2017/03/18/im-a-morning-porcupine/

 

So to all of you whom I unintentionally lied to today, I hope you don’t think less of me.  I hate it when I don’t know what date it is!

I Suck at Tagging My Blog Posts

Tonight it occurred to me that I suck at tagging my blog posts.  So I went in and added tags to some of my previous blogs.  Then I realized that I hadn’t actually added tags, I’d added categories.  I now have categories on things like coffee and vomit and graveyards.  That last one is just a teaser on a post that’s coming up.

Then I realized that I hadn’t actually added tags, I’d added categories.  I now have categories on things like mud and vomit and graveyards.  That last one is just a teaser on a post that’s coming up.

I then I thought “geez, my posts are usually pretty weird anyway, why not have a mud category?”

So my dear readers, if you see some very odd categories out there, rest assured they are tags in category clothing.

At some point, I will probably go in and do a category to tag conversion.  I’m not sure though.  Having a category for Long-suffering husband seems about right.

Snippets

I’m sure other bloggers out there find that they have a small thing to relate.  Certainly not something big enough for a blog post.  It occurred to me that we are missing out if we don’t post the things that amuse us, even if they are short.  It could be a fun joke, an interesting memory or a quick observation.

In the spirit of this, I’m going to do a few of these snippets.  If people like them, I might make it a regular habit, along with my longer posts.  Let me know if you think this is a good idea.

Walter’s (W)retched Food Choices

I will preface this post with a disclaimer.  If you are even remotely offended or affected by the mention of revisiting one’s food, do not read on.  You have been warned!

Our Great Dane puppy Walter is known for his love of food.  He will chase Bill all over the house if there is a banana involved.  I’ve even seen him eat pickles.  He will defend his food bowl from Levi, an adult Great Dane,  with an intensity that is unparalleled.  I shouldn’t have been surprised to find that he likes forbidden food.

Recently, I was making soup and he was pestering me.  As a side note, I will wait a few minutes for those who know me to return from their shock at such news.  I am notorious for not cooking.  The microwave is my most-used cooking tool.  So if everyone is back with us, I’ll return to Walter’s tale.

I had just cut an onion and as I held it up, I told Walter (yes I talk to my dogs) that this wasn’t good for him and to stay away.  I thought I was holding it well out of his reach, but he leapt up and licked it!  Then he wanted more!  I was petrified because onions, in large quantities, can be lethal to dogs.  The last thing I needed was an onion hound.

A few days later, he got hold of one of Bill’s chocolate bars.  Now Bill doesn’t eat milk chocolate like a normal person.  Bill has to eat the darkest of chocolate.  The 77% cocoa chocolate.  He says it has more health benefits.  It is also much more likely to kill a puppy.

Keep in mind that Walter had pushed his way into the pantry where there are innumerable yummy treats for a dog.  Not only are there authorized dog treats, but also snacks like pita chips and granola bars sitting right there ready to be snagged.  Did he go for those?  Of course not!  He dug behind the granola bars to the very back of an 18″ deep shelf to grab a chocolate bar.

When we found Walter had consumed 2/3rds of a very large bar, there wasn’t a lot of time to waste.  My plans for that evening did not include trying to make Walter barf, but there we were.  Hydrogen peroxide is supposed to help in that endeavor, so I tried to pour it down his gullet.  Nope, he wasn’t going to let that happen!  I can’t say that I blame him.  Then I figured,  let’s see just how much he loves his food.  I took his regular kibble and poured the hydrogen peroxide over it till it was floating.  He lapped it up.  Then we followed him.  Puke Patrol commenced.

Again, I will reiterate my disclaimer, this is where things get gross and messy!

Bill was posted inside and I was outside.  Walter headed for the dog door, made it out onto his little deck and almost down the stairs to his kennel before he upchucked the kibble along with some of the offending chocolate.  Yay Walter!  Going outside to throw up is an endearing trait in a dog.  Unfortunately, that’s not the end of the story.   For the next half hour, I was running between vomit sites.   I swore he retched up more than his own body weight.  Since he weighs about a hundred pounds, that’s a lot of barf!  I ended up taking two dustpans and scraping the stuff from the surface with one pan into the other for disposal.   There weren’t enough paper towels in the world.

He then headed inside.  This wasn’t good.  Before he was done, he had “decorated” the kitchen floor, the floor in front of his dog door, and best of all…the living room floor.  He didn’t get any of the rugs, but our living room floor is made of old pine boards that are painted.  These are common in houses that are 150 years old.  The bad thing about wide pine boards is that they expand and contract depending on the season.  In the winter, when it is very dry, the cracks between the boards widen a bit.  A nice crevice for regurgitated chocolate.  It was a mess.  I couldn’t believe my stupidity in not locking the door to the living room before he could get in there.  *slaps forehead!*

Once he was done, and he was obviously a very empty puppy, I knew he’d survive.  After a cleaning marathon that I don’t even want to think about now, I had to figure out a new place for Bill’s chocolate stash.  Then I had this great realization.  If I ate the chocolate then Walter would never get it!  Win/win!

Football Cake

This was my birthday cake this past January.  There are any number of questions that might pop into your head once given this information:

Question:  Why did they even make a football cake?  Answer:  It was close to the time of the Superbowl.

Question:  Why is there a blue stripe around the bottom?  Answer:  I can only guess that it’s there because blue is one of the colors for the New England Patriots.

Question:  Am I a big football fan and that’s why I got a football cake for my birthday?  Answer:  I’m not and it isn’t.

This was all very curious.  You see, a cake is the one thing I want for my birthday.  I allow myself to have cake in this house once a year and my birthday is the perfect excuse. Bill’s job is to get the cake.  Bill hates picking out things for me, and especially something I look forward to so much.  You can imagine that it was with some trepidation that he brought home a football cake.

I didn’t have to say anything, he had his reasoning all mapped out:

  1.  It wasn’t too big and it wasn’t too small.
  2. It was unusual.
  3. It was timely because of the Superbowl, even though I’m not a football fan.

I was thoroughly amused by this cake, but I wasn’t going to let him know it till I got to the bottom of the real story.   I figured it was the last cake they had left.  No, he assured me, they had plenty of cakes.  He restated his three reasons.  I knew there had to be more.  Don’t ask me why I had to know what it was, but curiosity got the better of me.

I must have had a skeptical look on my face because he then told me that the real reason why I ended up with a football cake for my birthday was because of the color of the frosting.

Now I was stumped.  Why brown?  Come to find out, he couldn’t stand the thought of me eating the artificial food coloring on the other cakes.  Once I understood the real reason I got a football cake instead of a typical birthday cake, I decided to have a little fun.

That blue stripe around the bottom of the cake was VERY blue.  The intensity of that blue cannot be understated.  So I took some of the blue, smeared it on my lips and went to find Bill.  Let me tell you, Blue Man Group had nothing on me.  My lips were so blue I looked positively cyanotic!

Bill took one look at me and his eyes widened unbelievably.   I could tell he thought I was going to keel over from artificial-food-coloring poisoning any minute now.  I gave him my very best Smurf smile and calmly told him that the blue part was the best because you never know what they might put in brown frosting!

Mud Season or the Logger’s Lament

It’s mud season in Maine.

If you don’t live in this area,  you may be scratching your head and saying “What on earth is mud season?” My state of Maine is in the very northeastern point of the US.  We jut up into Canada like a crooked finger.  We are in the north and the north is cold much of the time.  There’s an old Maine saying that describes a year here as 11 months of winter and one month of rough sledding.  That’s an exaggeration, but we do have a long winter with a lot of snow!

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When the weather starts to get warmer, we have a season that most places do not.  We have mud season.  Mud season occurs when the snows start to melt and the frost works it’s way out of the ground.  Mud season is such a part of a rural Mainer’s life that some of us call it our fifth season!

Mud season changes our habits.  We avoid dirt roads and try to figure out which paved roads will have the fewest frost heaves.  Yes, we still have a few dirt roads around here.  Many of the folks in this neck of the woods make their living cutting trees, hauling trees, or making paper out of trees.  We have a lot of trees.

Procuring those trees is a business that requires some heavy equipment.  One of those machines is called a skidder.  In Maine, that’s pronounced skiddah, but we’ll address the peculiarities of my regional dialect another time.  A skidder is used to bring the cut trees out of the woods where they can be loaded on trucks.

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Above you see a skidder that was used to haul trees out of our woodlot.  Notice that it’s winter when the ground is frozen.  This brings us back to mud season.   During that time of pre-Spring, the skidders are idle.  It is next to impossible to get in the woods to haul trees out.  The poor skidders would be up to their headlights in mud.  So no skidding in mud season.

The fact that you can’t use a skidder during mud season is just as well because even if you could cut the trees and get them out of the woods, you would be hard-pressed to get them to their destination.  Many of the roads around here are “posted.”  This means that heavy trucks are forbidden until the roads become more stable.  As the frost comes out of the ground the pavement rises and falls.  These tar undulations are frost heaves.  If the pavement breaks and a crater is formed, that’s a pothole.  We are plagued by both and only the car mechanics are happy about it.

All of this means that log trucks, more commonly known as pulp trucks around here, can’t move over the back roads.  It is precisely those back roads that lead to the woods. Sigh…no skidding and no pulp trucking; that means no log cutting.

The life of a logger, also known as a lumberjack, is a hard one in mud season.  With little work, it’s hard to get by.  In case you are wondering what a pulp truck looks like, here is a very bad picture of one.  I took it as it was passing by my bedroom window leaving my driveway.  At least it will give you an idea of what they look like.

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That orange thing you see at the top is a mechanical arm that swings around and grabs the logs to lift them into position on the truck.  These trucks are a very common sight here.

You might wonder why they call these trucks “pulp” trucks.  You see the largest local business is a pulp and paper mill.  Paper is made from ground-up wood. If you take that wood and add water, it becomes a fibrous liquid called pulp.  So the wood on these trucks is headed for the pulp mill.  Here is a picture of the local pulp mill, along with the power plant that runs the place.

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Again, the picture is not wonderful as I took it from a window in the paper mill where I once worked.  Interestingly, the mill is owned by a South African company called Sappi.  Sappi is one of the biggest paper producers in the world and our mill was once the largest.  Now you see why wood is such an important part of our local economy.

Next time you pick up a glossy catalog, or a magazine like Vogue or Elle, think of our mill and the logs that come out of big tracts of forest or little woodlots like ours.  Think of the loggers and skidders and pulp trucks.  Think about how the weather affects every aspect of that process.  Think about mud season.

So there we have it!  Mud season affects local life in a big way, but when you smell the first mud of the season, you know that it is also the harbinger of Spring.

Hummus and Bombs

With the news full of war and hatred, it is hard to believe we belong to the same species.  We let religion, race, geography, and class divide us.  The world is full of “us vs. them.”

The news may reflect what heads of state want us to believe, but I’m not buying it.  People are people.  If you dig down beneath the rhetoric, most people would get along if it weren’t for their leaders telling them that they shouldn’t.

I have a channel, a sort of chat room.  It is a gathering place to talk about anything and everything.  A few years ago I was amused to find two of my friends arguing about who made the best hummus.  One of them was from Lebanon and the other was from Israel.  It was a good-natured ribbing they gave each other.

A few weeks later they were talking about their current situation.  Their countries were bombing each other and they were typing from bomb shelters.  The Israeli posted a video of a bomb coming down near his house just before he headed for the shelter.  Their countries were killing each other.  Yet they were still friends.