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When I left work today I headed towards Herkimer County Humane Society.  I had a partial bag of dog food and three partial containers of treats that I hoped would go to good use.  Last night I visited the society’s website and ascertained that they were open till five.


The first person I ran into when I entered asked if she could help me.  I explained my sad purpose.  She expressed sympathy for my poor dog’s demise and said they would be happy to take the food.  I explained my second purpose, to walk a dog.  She took me into the reception room and got me a volunteer application to fill out.


When I turned in the form to another lady, my fears were confirmed.  I could not walk a dog that day.  The application must be approved by the board.  She also explained that when walking the dogs I must not let them interact with any other dogs or people, for safety reasons.


“But I can’t walk a dog today?” I said, probably sounding as forlorn as I felt.  The lady took pity on me and said I could take Snort out, just into the front yard.


Snort is a bulldog who had breaks in his back legs.  He was operated on and seems to be recovering nicely.  He had not been outside today, and my taking him out would give them a chance to clean his room.


Snort did not look like a dog recovering from surgery.  He wanted to jump and run.  I tried to get him to walk sedately.  At least I kept him from jumping or really taking off.  We made our way across the yard and back.  Some people saw us and said, “Oh, there’s Snort!”


“I’m not supposed to let him get close to people,” I said, keeping my distance.  Snort sat down on my feet and panted happily.  I petted him and told him he was a good dog.


“We’ve been following his progress on Facebook,”  one of the people told me.


I was happy to have spent a little time with Snort.  When I got home I told Steven of my experiences.


“Oh, yeah, I know Snort from Facebook,” Steven said.  Perhaps I need to spend more time on Facebook.


When I get my letter of approval from the Humane Society, I will go walk more dogs.



Be Kind to Animals, Hollywood

What is it with animals coming to bad ends in movies?

I recently wrote about What’s the Matter with Helen?, in which some very beautiful white rabbits suffered at the hands of a lunatic. I watched a movie yesterday in which a perfectly nice looking dog had an even shorter and more thankless role. And now I am looking at a movie where every third or fourth scene, I hear myself saying, “Nothing bad better happen to that cat!”

So far the worst thing that happened to the cat is a lady took away the yarn he or she was playing with. I only wrote my remark about nothing bad happening in the TV Journal once, but as I continued to repeat it, I thought to myself, hey, this could be a blog topic.

Many of us get more upset when bad things happen to animals than we get when bad things happen to people, especially in the movies. After all, animals are more defenseless and often more harmless. Most of them are a good deal less annoying than some people, especially in a work of fiction.

You know, now that I’m writing this, I believe I have touched on the topic before. My defense for repeating myself is: I think it was previously a remark in passing and now it is the topic of the post. Also, it is a topic that bears repeating. Who doesn’t love cats, dogs and beautiful white rabbits (or at least one of the three)?

Hollywood, apparently.

Sometimes it is movie shorthand for a really, really bad person. Ooh, look at them, they were mean to a dog! They can’t be any good AT ALL! Just in case the viewer was looking for socially redeeming characteristics. Now we know there are none to be found.

I still don’t like it. I just don’t LIKE to see bad things happen to good animals. I don’t particularly like it when characters I like die either, but at least I can comfort myself with the thought that actors like to play death scenes. I don’t know that any animals feel the same way.

I don’t think any Hollywood screenwriters are likely to heed my words and start writing movies where all the animals live happily ever after (humans can take their chances). But I wanted to express myself. Now I’ll go back to the movie I was viewing and check out what happens to that cat.

Neither Hide nor Hair of a Bear

I think I’ve written about sitting on my sister-in-law Ruby’s deck before, but I thought I would mention in again, because it was one of the highlights of this past weekend in Vermont.

Ruby’s house is situated at the bottom of a wooded mountain. There is usually plenty of wildlife to observe. This visit, however, the area immediately surrounding the deck was eerily empty during the daytime. The reason was the absence of bird feeders.

Normally Ruby stocks three or four bird feeders, which attract a variety of our feathered friends along with an assortment of squirrels and chipmunks. Our dog, Tabby, is especially fond of chasing the squirrels. She’ll chase birds too, in a pinch, but Ruby would prefer she didn’t do that.

Unfortunately, the bird feeders also attract bears. One was even bold enough to come up on the deck and eat some of the cat food that was there. We’ve never seen a bear on any of our visits. I would be scared of a bear. I’ve read several Readers’ Digest Drama in Real Life stories about bear attacks. It is never good for the people involved.

Ruby’s bear has never bothered any people that we know of. After the deck incident, however, she emptied the bird feeders in hopes the bear would go elsewhere. It seems to be working, because we say neither hide nor hair of any bear.

After dark we did enjoy seeing a few foxes. Ruby threw out some cookies to entice them to come a little closer. Soon a fat raccoon appeared. He was not as shy and began hogging all the cookies. Ruby told us he usually does so.

I wanted to encourage the foxes to get some cookies. “Go, foxes,” I said. “Go! Go! Go!” Tabby, who had been nicely staying on the deck with us, thought I mean her and started for the stairs. We quickly called her back.

I’ll say this for dogs: they are very patient with what can only appear to be people’s inconsistency. We encourage her to chase squirrels but not birds or foxes. When we yell, “Go! Go! Go!” we usually mean her. But apparently not always. It turned out I had confused my dog to no purpose, because the raccoon got all the cookies anyways, the fat, greedy thing.

We enjoyed two nights of hanging out on the deck, taking in the scene. When we got ready to head for home on Sunday, I left Ruby some of Tabby’s food for the foxes (like the bear, Tabby preferred to eat the cats’ food). I suppose the raccoon will get it, but perhaps the foxes will at least get a nibble before he shows up. I hope Ruby is ready with the camera in case the bear returns.

Luau, Limbo and Loving It!

Last night (Saturday), Steven and I attended the H.A.L.O. Chicken Barbeque and Luau Party at the Polish Home in Herkimer, NY. Today I am too tired to write a proper blog post about it!

H.A.L.O., which I have written about before, is Helping Animals Live Organization, a non-profit, no kill cat shelter based in Little Falls. I can’t possibly adopt a cat due to allergies, but I support their fundraisers whenever possible.

I had been looking forward to the Luau Party all week. For one thing, I knew there would be dancing and I love to dance. My only regret was that I could not find a grass skirt. I did find a large flower for my hair and some colorful leis. I also found a seashell necklace I’ve had for a while. We put on matching Hawaiian shirts and felt ready for the evening.

The chicken dinner part was quite tasty, but it was when the dancing started that the fun really began. Music was provided by Dave Silvers of Bug Country. He played a mix of country tunes and oldies, very danceable stuff. Steven did not want to be the first couple on the dance floor, but I talked him into it. As soon as we started boogeying down, though, he was as into it as I was.

I even won a limbo contest. True, there were only two contestants. But still, a win’s a win. I said that I bend over backwards for H.A.L.O.

We stayed till the very end and even helped put away the chairs and tables. Our reward was a cake left over from the dessert table.

“We take the cake!” I said.

We really had the best time. We met some nice people and supported a good cause. For more information about H.A.L.O., you can find them on Facebook.

Now that I’ve written this and read it to Steven, he says it is so a proper blog post. Phew!

I Try to Get Back on Track

It’s really not unusual to crash and burn after a run like the Boilermaker. In fact, I wrote it in my datebook: Sunday, run the Boilermaker; Monday, crash; Tuesday, burn. I was only half joking.

It seemed I had escaped that fate when I ran Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday the following week. And then it all fell apart. I woke up Sunday and said, “To hell with it! I run every Sunday of my life, this is my last day of vacation, I’m going to hang with my husband till he goes to work!” It was a very pleasant Sunday.

Who knew it would be so brutally hot Monday and Tuesday? Um, I guess we all knew since it had been extremely hot the whole previous week and it was all over the weather reports, which I did in fact see. Wednesday we had some relief, enough to go for a nice walk with Tabby (I wrote a blog post about it; we heard Fritz’s Polka Band). Thursday we had a wine tasting. Friday I was determined to run.

Of course I tried to talk myself out of it. I had taken five days off, how big of a difference would it make if it were six? It really wasn’t much cooler. Steven and I had evening plans; maybe it would be better to take the dog for a long walk. Et cetera (my computer is underlining that, but the dictionary says it is correct).

Well, I went for the run. I debated in my head for three or four blocks about running hills. None at all? Valley Health? Up to Herkimer County Community College (HCCC)? I finally decided on the Unknown Park. It’s a minor hill into the park, then I could run down the forest path and come out on the back road to HCCC. If I felt really ambitious I could go on up that hill. I didn’t seriously expect myself to do any such thing.

I could hear bagpipes and had no idea where they were coming from. It was the oddest thing how the sound echoed. I thought it was down Henry Street. Then I thought it was coming from a house on German Street. The sound faded then got louder. I turned into the park and could hear it loud and clear.

Soon I saw a car parked off to the side, on a path I’ve never gone on, because it’s not really much of a path. I looked over and thought I saw a person standing near some trees. Had that person driven all the way out here to practice? I thought about running closer to check it out, but I didn’t knew who it was or why they were there. You often hear bagpipes at funerals (lovely, mournful sound). Suppose there were people I couldn’t see having some sort of a memorial service? Or if it was the lone player, playing a solitary tribute. I ran on.

Eventually I came to where you run across a little footbridge into a picnic area and onto the forest path. Eek! There was a critter on the footbridge! I couldn’t tell if it was a woodchuck or a beaver or what. I didn’t get much closer. I turned around and ran the other way. I don’t mess with wildlife.

As I ran away, I wondered if I should mention in the blog that I turned tail and ran at the sight of a woodchuck. I’m not afraid of a woodchuck, but I realize that as soon as I say that, many people are going to disbelieve me. In fact, anyone who is right now giving me the “you’re full of shit” look, wipe that look right off your face! I hate that look! I don’t think there is anything wrong with giving a wild animal a wide berth. I believe they prefer it that way. Anyways, you don’t know if it might be rabid or have babies nearby, which can make the gentlest animal turn fierce.

I don’t know why I’m sitting here defending myself anyways. I saw the animal, I turned around. Point and laugh if you must.

The bagpiper was still playing when I ran by. She played Taps and Happy Birthday, so I think that means she was rehearsing. I think it was a girl. I didn’t want to stare.

It was a short run, but at least I did it. Note to self: don’t take five days off again.

Helping the Kitties

I’ve blogged about the Helping Animals Live Organization (H.A.L.O.), the no-kill, non-profit cat rescue based in Little Falls, NY. I briefly stopped by their last fundraiser on Saturday, so I thought I’d give them another shout out.

I had actually wanted to attend the fundraiser. It was a spaghetti dinner and sock hop. I asked on their Facebook page if people were dressing in ’50s styles and had even gone to the thrift store looking for a skirt I could put a poodle on (didn’t find one). Alas, Steven had to work.

The next fundraiser, also being publicized via Facebook, is a Chinese Auction. My favorite kind! I asked if they would like one of my afghans and maybe a few handmade scarves. They would. I emailed a lady named Sandy to arrange pick up. She said if I was at the sock hop, I could just bring the stuff then. It seemed the easiest thing just to drive over to the VFW in Mohawk, where the fundraiser was taking place.

The parking lot looked full till I was already past it on a one-way street (of course). I went around the block. Of course, few blocks in these villages are a straightforward square. I turned right and drove. I wondered if I would be writing a blog post about getting lost in Mohawk, a very small village I drive through almost every day of my life. No, two more right hand turns and I was where I thought I should be. The roads to get there were just a little longer than expected. I parked in front of the VFW and went in.

A lady at the door directed me to Sandy. She was very happy with the donations and disappointed I was not staying for the sock hop.

“I remember you were asking were people dressing up,” she said. I told her of my unsuccessful search for a skirt, and the lady I had first spoken to stood up to show me her awesome pink poodle skirt.

I explained that my husband was working, but I would probably attend the Chinese Auction, “That I can go to by myself; dinner and a dance I want a date for.” Sandy agreed.

The Chinese Auction is March 11 at Silverado, Marginal Road, Herkimer, NY. Bidding is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with drawing immediately afterward. Many local businesses have donated goods and/or gift certificates. H.A.L.O. has been posting the various donations on Facebook as they come in. Their page also has some fun pictures of the sock hop. Look up H.A.L.O. (with the periods) to like them on Facebook. Or you can visit their website:

Humane Society Santas

The best thing I did yesterday was go to the Open House and Indoor Garage Sale at Herkimer County Humane Society in Mohawk, for a few reasons.

To do the story justice, I must first tell a story of my past. Growing up, I remember having a beautiful stuffed Santa Claus that was always out at Christmas time and only at Christmas time. When I was quite small, I remember playing with him like the rest of our dolls and stuffed toys. As we got older, Mom started putting him on a higher shelf, “Because he’s old.” I believe Mom and Dad had originally purchased him for my oldest sister, Victoria, at her first Christmas (the only one she didn’t have to share), but it soon became a family decoration. And when Vicki moved away, she did not get to take him with her.

When Steven, then boyfriend now husband, began to spend his Christmases with my family, he fell in love with the Santa Clause. It became a recurring joke that Steven was going to hide Santa Claus in his suitcase and leave all his clothes behind. Not a fair trade. We always looked for just such a Santa Claus but never found quite the right one. Eventually Steven bought me a very nice stuffed Santa Claus which I love. But Mom’s Santa is still the best.

Fast forward to December 2011. Steven had to work, but I always want to support the Humane Society as well as feed my addiction to buying other people’s junk (that’s what we call a win-win situation). As I drove out, I was pleased to see that lots of people were supporting the Humane Society. I knew many people were picking up pictures of their pets with Santa, taken at an earlier fundraiser which Steven and I sadly missed. I finally parked in the Parking Area near the canal trail. That way I was facing back into town, and it was only a short walk down the highway to the Humane Society.

A couple of volunteers were dressed as elves, and Santa was present. I made my way through the crowd to where the garage sale was. They were doing a booming business! People were nicely letting each other through. You often run into more politeness at these fundraisers than you do at normal retail establishments.

The first thing I found was a basket of ceramic Santas. We have a few similar Santas. They stand about 5 inches tall and usually have a year printed on the base and sometimes a country. I could see there was more than one layer, and they wanted $10 for the basket. I figured even if I found some duplicates with what we already had, it was a good buy and we could always use the duplicates for presents for others. I picked up the basket, turned around and then I saw him.

An old fashioned stuffed Santa. He was not exactly like my Mom’s, but he was beautiful. Obviously of the same era and in very good condition. $5. I was in love. I picked him up, then I picked up a ceramic church with a place for a tea light. Perfect for my Christmas village which I did not set up this year but intend to set up in 2012. I got in the long, slow line. I checked out some other things as I stood there. Luckily I remembered we do not need any Christmas mugs, because they have a lot of them. A Yul Brenner as the King in The King and I caught my eye, but my arms were full. A volunteer was trying to sell a couple of artificial trees for $10 apiece. If I had not already purchased a tree, I might have been tempted (when I got home and smelled my tree, I was glad).

A fellow ahead of me had $45.50 worth of stuff, but the lady rounded it to $45.

“I’m not so bad,” I mused to the lady behind me.

“No, you’re not,” she said. She had found a tree skirt as she stood in line, which I wish I had seen first. As I often say, you snooze you lose.

When it was my turn I resisted the cookies and cupcakes they also had for sale. For one thing, my arms were full. After I paid and made my way toward the exit, I saw… another stuffed Santa. This one not as big, a similar age, equally beautiful, $2.

“I didn’t see him!” I carefully put down the ceramic Santas and opened my purse. I caught one volunteer’s eye and handed her the $2. “Please don’t make me wait in line again, he’s $2, I didn’t see him before.” She graciously accepted my payment.

A man standing nearby offered to help me carry my stuff to my truck. I thought it was very nice of him, especially as I was not parked close by. He was fine with it.

“If I would have bought cookies, I’d give you one,” I told him. Being a fundraiser, it did not seem appropriate to offer a tip. He told me he had to watch his sugar intake anyways. I’m sure the real Santa was watching and gave him more nice points.

When I got home I found the basket contained 20 ceramic Santas, not one a duplicate of those we already have. Steven was predictably delighted with the stuffed Santas. It was altogether a great experience. I helped the Humane Society to the tune of $18 (OK, not a princely sum; we do what we can), and our Christmas decorations are enhanced for years to come.

The Herkimer County Humane Society facebook page reminds us that every day really open house. Stop in and meet some nice animals. You’ll be glad you did.

Saturday Morning Walk

Other Saturdays I have gone running in the morning and then blogged about my run. Today I walked to the bank with Tabby, so my post will be about that.

I had a couple of checks I wanted to deposit in my Mad Money account at First Source Federal Credit Union here in Herkimer. I like that bank, because they are dog friendly. They don’t mind if Tabby comes in with me; in fact, they usually give her a treat. I thought they opened at eight, so we set out accordingly. I figured if I was wrong and they didn’t open till nine, I could get two walks in.

It was cold! Our thermometer said thirty-one degrees, and I believed it. The grass was stiff with last night’s heavy frost. I slipped on a little ice in the driveway and told myself I’d better watch it. I quickly put on the headband I had put in my pocket in case I needed it. I was wearing a jacket large enough to pull the sleeves down over my hands. Tabby did not seem to mind the temperature, but then she has a built in fur coat. I kept telling myself, wait till February. Then when it gets to be thirty-one degrees, we’ll be rejoicing in the warm weather. Perspective is a wonderful thing.

We saw a young person wearing pajama bottoms walking a large dog on the other side of the street. I could not tell if it was a young man or a young woman, because he or she was bundled up in a coat and hat, and the pajama bottoms were gender neutral. I mentally deplored again the fashion of wearing pajamas in public. Then again, maybe the person had just rolled out of bed and did not want to make their dog wait for its morning business meeting. Anyways, who am I to judge other people’s clothing? Especially when you consider some of my crazy old lady outfits. Tabby and the other dog regarded each other suspiciously but did not bark. Good dogs.

Tabby did her business, and as we continued toward the bank I kept an eye out for a trash can. You would think some of these businesses would have one by the door. At last I found one. I did not want to carry Tabby’s poop into the bank. I carried it into the post office once, set it down to transact my business and forgot it. I went back to get it and apologized, but how embarrassing. And pretty gross for other people.

After I made my deposit and Tabby got her treat, we went home by a different route. We saw a pug I know across the street but did not get near enough to pet him. He looked at us rather interestedly but kept walking, pausing of course to sniff or poop. Closer to home I got to pet two sweet shih tzu looking dogs (I’m never sure about breeds; I ought to get a book). Tabby touched noses with them but was more interested in heading home.

I have at least one more walk in mind for later today, as well as a couple other Mohawk Valley adventures. This morning’s stroll was a pleasant way to start my day.

Walk, Don’t Run

The headline is from a sign at work. They’re all about safety there.

I ran three days in a row, that is, three out of my four days off. Then I went back to work for ten hours (sweet overtime). I was tired. Of course, every time I don’t run just because I’m tired, I regret it the next day. It rains, or my back hurts, or something else comes up, and then I’m two days without running. That said, I just could not get myself into sports bras and out the door.

I had coffee instead. Then turned on the computer intending to make my blog post. Then started thinking about my poor dog, who had been so happy to see me come home and who I was ignoring to be on the silly computer. The least I could do was take that pooch for a walk.

It was a lovely afternoon for a walk. Gloomy but not raining. I love gloomy days. I admired the trees’ bare branches against the grey sky. I always think deciduous trees are the real artists of nature. Every season they offer something different to admire.

I let Tabby pull me where she wanted to go. Down German Street towards Main. There are some cool older buildings on Main Street before you get into the downtown area. For example, the former Masonic Temple that now houses a tanning business. And of course, the Historic Four Corners. I noticed a wreath hung over the front door of the 1834 Jail and a Christmas Tree in the window. Very nice. Tabby pulled me through the little park near Basloe Library, and I was reminded about their book sale. Maybe I could check that out for a blog post later in the week.

I realized we were headed home after that. Tabby knows the neighborhood and had definite ideas about how long she wants to walk. My only concern was to keep her from jaywalking as we got closer to our street.

As we walked down our street, I saw a man walk, stop, then walk some more. It was almost dark by now, so it took me a minute to see the small animal frisking behind him. We caught up to them as we got to our house. The small animal was a tiny chihuahua. When she saw Tabby, she stopped and waited curiously. The dogs sniffed each other, but when I went to pet the chihuahua, Tabby barked and the other dog ran away. Her person picked her up and I petted her.

I said how cute she was and asked how old, and if it was a she or a he. The man said he thought she was about two. He had rescued her in California, where apparently she had just been dropped off in traffic.

“Sometimes they breed them and all they want is the puppies,” he said. Isn’t that just awful? She was a very sweet dog and so little. The man told me he had brought her back to New York thinking to give her to his grandkids, but they could not have a dog in their apartment.

“What, this cute little dog couldn’t hurt any apartment! Well, she’s lucky she has you,” I said.

“Oh, I just love her,” he replied.

We wished each other good night, and Tabby and I went inside. I hope we see that cute little dog again. I had missed my run, but the walk was nice.

Helping HALO

Saturday, despite the bad cold I’ve been complaining about for the last three or four posts, I accompanied Steven to the HALO Trash to Treasure Sale. I wanted to help the kitty cats, and I love to find treasures amongst other people’s trash.

I’ve blogged about HALO before, but it bears repeating. HALO is the Helping Animals Live Organization, a no kill, no cage, not for profit cat rescue based in Little Falls. They hold a number of fundraisers throughout the year, most memorably the HALO Hoedown at Silverado in Herkimer, which I believe I also blogged about.

The Trash to Treasure Sale was held in the Polish Home on South Washington Street in Herkimer. Entrance to the sale was through the back door, so no sneaking to the bar for a beer on my way through. That was OK; I was there to treasure hunt. The sale ran from 9 am to 4 pm, and we arrived shortly after three (I was moving slowly due to the above mentioned cold). As we walked through the door, a lady announced that everything was half price, books and stuffed toys free.

“Oh, they shouldn’t have told me that,” said a lady perusing the books. “I love to read!”

I love to read too, but I did not see much to tempt me (effects of the cold?). Then I saw The Frugal Gourmet Cooks With Wine. I love to cook with wine! Of course, the Frugal Gourmet probably puts it in the food. I’ve been meaning to try that.

Then I found an Oneida pizza tin in practically new condition. Steven found a couple of Santa Clauses and snowmen (can’t have too many of either of those). We also chose some pretty tins. We love to put Christmas presents in tins. When the lady added up our purchases, it came to a very attractive total.

A poster board was on display showing photos of some sweet cats and kittens. They need foster and adoptive homes for cats. I can’t have a cat in my house, because I am deathly allergic. But I support what HALO does, so I try to help as best I can, by spending money at their fundraisers and by giving them a little publicity in my humble blog. Um, I hope the second one helps.

For more information on HALO, visit their website at, or you can like them on Facebook.