Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Brendan and I stopped by to see Holly and Mark on the 21st. Brendan left for Birmingham England on Sunday from Peoria. He was here for a month and we had a great time. Sorry to see him leave but happy for him and hoping he will thrive and prosper. Glad he was here to help me with Missy.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Couple of Items In the Journal-Star

You just never know what you'll read about in the paper. Here are a couple of clippings I found while going through my file of some stuff I saved. You might have to click on the clipping to enlarge it.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

One Week

Missy wasn't much of a dog. She was ungainly when running. It wasn't so much a run as a lopsided chugging. She also wasn't much of a looker. She had these tufts of hair coming out of her paws that made her look like some kind of canine leprechaun and her coat was a sprinkling of gray on black mixed with brown. Her tail and butt had a wispy mane that had to be cut every so often that made her look downright ridiculous. Her character also had some flaws. Her idea of adventure was a long nap. If asked to do something outside the routine she would handle the stress by relieving herself. Riding in the truck was a major emotional pull from her normalcy that evoked shivers and nervous salivating. She was a veritable spigot. I always used a towel for her to ride on, not to catch the hair but to sop all the drool. 12 years ago or so, did I mention she was a mutt of unknown origin or species, she wormed her way into our lives. And I mean literally. But I digress. Nancy and I (mostly me) had wanted a dog. With two small kids and a big house I wanted one for pleasure and company. Nancy wanted one for security and protection. We tried a couple dogs but generally our search was unsuccessful. One got off the leash and was run over (no one seemed really disturbed by it). One was so wild and dumb we took it back after a week or so. OK, we tried, did our best, and decided to forget the whole thing.

That is until Mackenzie wanted one. My previous attempts pretty much did me in: too much work, and trouble. Guess I got that out of my system so I decided: no more mutts. Kenze was around 11 or 12 and started working on her mother. Smart girl. Nancy could never say no to the kids, so one day, Kenzie got her Mother to go with her to the pound. I didn't know it yet, but we would soon be getting a new member of the family. It was Saturday if I remember correctly. I gave them both pleading reminders that I would NOT be the sole feeder/walker/poop cleaner of anything they brought home. I think I also gave them a final desperate “command” NOT to do what they were Hell-bent on doing. As they were pulling out of the driveway I was on the front steps, and according to family lore, weeping in defeat.

When the car pulled up after rescuing this prize, out bounded this year old scrawny Aussie Shepherd mutt with worms, irritable bowels and a seemingly skittish fright of large male humans. OK, so it didn't like me, that's OK because I didn't want you either. After we got the ground rules laid out with the ladies, such as who will feed it(Mackenzie said “I will.”), pick up after it (Mackenzie said “I will.”), bath it (Mackenzie said “I will.) and take it to the vets (Nancy said “I will”), I decided that my role in this will be minimal. That was akin to Captain Smith saying, “...what can that little iceberg do to this unsinkable ship?” Oh, and she had worms...bad.

This pathetic excuse for a dog was named “Missy” and it wasn't long before I was spending an awful lot of time with this mutt. I thought the name was too prissy. I envisioned this dog as a mighty hunter, a fierce defender of the family, a majestic reminder of the truly great dogs of history like Lassie, Rin-Tin-Tin and Old Yeller. She was de-wormed and began to display a good appetite, a trait that she sustained all of her life. It soon became apparent that we didn't own a hunter, defender or majestic Lassie. What we had was a very very nice dog who barked, or rather yodeled, at something and then came running to me for protection. Her motto was, “When In Doubt...Pee”. She didn't like car rides, adventure, or the mailman. Oh yes, she barked at the doorbell, strangers and the moon, but for the most part she was a peace-loving mutt who preferred food, naps and walks.

She was never put in dog-obedience because she didn't need it. Rarely straying from her yard she was self-taught and self-trained to stay close to home. Occasionally neighbors would tempt her with fish or other scrumptious canine cuisine, and off we would go trying to find her but for the most part she did her business and then sat on the front porch waiting to be let in.

The years passed and if I was on the main floor she was my shadow. I could only escape her if I went upstairs (she was too scared to navigate the steps, I guess), or down to the basement. She honed her particular behaviors (begging, yodeling, shedding) to an art. She was on a diet for years and also developed a heart problem that necessitated the reduction of strenuous exercise. We played tag, she fetched sticks, we played hide-and-seek, and seemed always to spoon with me when I watched TV on the floor.

People ask where the time goes. I know where it goes. Each day we get up and begin navigating the the course of the day to get the maximum pleasure while obeying all the rules of job, family and life's necessary obligations. If we are lucky we go to bed at night having won the fight with as few scars as possible. One day after another, fighting the small battles and usually navigating around the icebergs that float in our way. There is no big plan, no master scheme...just small everyday things that either give pleasure, or give pain. Missy was one of the small things that came into our lives and gave me pleasure. Her big brown soulful eyes, her herding me away from the others so she wouldn't have to share, her constant companionship and loyalty that made her pretty darn majestic after all.

“...As you got older you moved around more slowly. Then,

one day, old age finally took its toll. I knelt down and patted

you lying there, trying to make you young again. You just

looked up at me as if to say you were old and tired and after

all these years of not asking for anything, you had to ask me

one last favor.

With tears in my eyes I drove you one last time to the vet. One

last time you were lying next to me.

As the vet led you away, you stopped for an instant, turned

your head and looked at me as if to say, “Thank you for

taking care of me.”

I thought, “No. Thank you for taking care of me.”

Old Ann Landers Article

One last word of farewell, Dear Master. Whenever you visit

my grave, say to yourself with regret but also happiness in

your heart at the remembrance of my long happy life with you.

“Here lies one who loved us and whom we loved.” No matter

how deep my sleep, I shall hear you, and not all the power

of death can keep my spirit from wagging a grateful tail.

Eugene O'Neill

A friend stopped by the other day and he was feeling very

blue. “I had to put old Tuff down.” he explained. “It broke

my heart to do it. I'll never forget the way he looked at me.

But it was time and I think he knew it.”

Tuff was a good dog,” I agreed. “He lived a long time

for sure.”

“Fifteen years,” he replied. “Found him when he was a pup.

We had a lot of good times together. I'm sure gonna miss that


It was a soulful tale, told from the heart and made me want

to cry; 'bout a man and his dog, an' best friends and parting,

about having to say “good-bye”.

He wrapped old Tuff in a blanket, he said, and buried him

under a tree; on a hill overlooking a sunlit meadow, where

the wildflowers bloom in the spring.

Place became hallowed, a good dog lies here, 'though his

spirit still romps and plays; green be the grass above thee,

friend of my better days.

After a while he fell silent. And so we sat quietly. Lost in

dreams of times gone by, of dogs and long summer days.

Bill Campbell

Good bye, Missy, old friend, and thanks for everything.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

1996 - 2009

Today at 8:45 am Missy Marie, beloved member of the Blythe family for almost 13 years, passed away quietly in the loving arms of her buddy, Mike. Brendan also accompanied her for her last visit to the vet's.
While not particularly graceful, pretty or adventurous, Missy made up for these shortcomings by being loyal, loving, great company and eager to please. She enjoyed our attentions, walks, naps, supper and snacks. She supervised the raising of two kids while providing comfort, protection and committed companionship to us all. Indeed, she will be very sorely missed. I will be forever grateful she and Mackenzie locked eyes and hearts at the Shelter.

"She has had a fantastic life, with a
friend who adores her. No dog could have
been luckier with fate."

Nancy Blythe March 18

Thursday, March 19, 2009

This And That

Charles Manson is now just an old 74 year old who looks a bit like Albert Finney. Seems strange looking at him today how demonic, weird and murderous his short stay on the world scene was. Movies, books and the cultural lexicon was imbued with his image and words for a generation.

Went to Wal-Mart and Menards last weekend. Both have "greeters" when you come in who get paid for saying in a monotone "good morning, welcome to (insert store name)", and then another person saying, "thank you for shopping (insert store name)" when you leave. All the while I had to wait an average of 15 minutes to check out of the single check-out lane. Why not put these people at a register and actually do something useful?

Missy got a reprieve from the governor this morning. After a tough start to her week she is feeling better and actually played fetch with Mr. Humperdink yesterday. She seems to be smiling again.

My fantasy league is holding a draft next Wednesday evening. It is a pretty fun night with many old faces, some who have been in the league since its inception. We'll meet at Crappy's, have a little beer, some wings, and with calculators and cheat sheets get down to business. Has it been 8 or 9 years now? Made a pre-draft trade with Matt of the Expos. My Miggy Cabrera, one of baseballs absolute best, for his Jose Reyes, a Met (my team) with speed. This is a fun deal that happened quick and helps both teams. Matt may not know it yet, but he's got a really strong team. Not as good as mine but close.

Evidently the Army doesn't teach picking up after yourself.

Speaking of the Army, Brendan has been bat-like: sleeps during the day and comes out at night. Spends time with his buddies all night then creeps home at daybreak. Glad he is able to unwind and have some fun before he leaves.

Brendan also helped me put in a sump pump last weekend. He was a lot of help and he seems a bit handy, obviously inheriting that trait from his mother.

I don't like bassaball. never have and it makes no difference who is playing it, I don't like it. Then why have I committed $15.00 to March madness bracket and some blind drawing at work? Peer pressure? Greed? I picked Memphis over Pittsburgh. My ignorance shows, doesn't it?

The neighbors and I went bike riding last weekend. Little chilly but great to get out, went to Orion, and Crabby's in Coal Valley. Changed the oil and all set for the summer.

Almost done with the Soprano's DVD marathon. Been watching an hour a night and now have just a few episodes left. Generally pretty good, and will miss it when I finish.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Missy and Mr. Mallard

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I'm Bad...I Got A Kindle!

I have been living a life of somewhat forced frugality lately. Watching the dimes and making sure I don't every dollar counts. This is due in part to the economy and a current financial situation that calls for maximum awareness and minimal extravagance. That is why I cannot explain my recent purchase of the Amazon Kindle. It is an amazing devise that downloads books.

Reasons for purchase:
1. Lack of space for library
2. Books at half price
3. Library card from Galesburg is expiring soon
4. Great for traveling or times when waiting is unavoidable
5. Just plain "cool" factor

Batteries last for a week before needing recharged, downloading takes a minute, you can also get magazines and newspapers. I also did the requisite "wait-a-month-before-buying" routine and decided I still wanted it. It is obscenely expensive, so frugality goes into high gear from here on out.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Guys At Home and Play in BFE

Last Sunday was cold and rainy so Brendan and I had a Lonesome Dove marathon. I love that flick and although i couldn't find my copy, Neighbor Tim had one. First time Brendan had seen it and liked it.

Today was warm and sunshiny so we slipped over to Burlington to Catfish Bend Casino. I came out about even with the slots and Brendan lost at Blackjack. It was fun, since I hadn't been to one in years. It had been so long I didn't know you fed the machines with cash and cashed out with paper slips that you feed into machines. No more buckets of coins.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Nice Try

Found this in the Peoria paper yesterday. This guy sure gave it a good legal try. Inventive, clever and original, but alas, doomed.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Belgian Kid Saluting Canadian Troops

Have a look at this lone Belgian boy, who obviously has more respect and
appreciation for our men and women in uniform than many adults, waiting to
salute the Canadian contingent returning from a memorial service.

His smart snap to attention, his crisp salute, as the troops return the
gesture with an 'Eyes Right', normally reserved as a show of respect for
high-ranking officers and dignitaries in the reviewing stand.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Your Yearly Dementia Test

Your Yearly Dementia Test

It's that time of year to take our annual senior citizen test.

Exercise of the brain is as important as exercise of the muscles.
As we grow older, it's important to keep mentally alert.
If you don't use it, you lose it!
Below is a very private way to gauge your loss or non loss of intelligence.

Take the test presented here to determine if you're losing it or not.
The spaces below are so you don't see the answers until you've made your answer.

OK, relax, clear your mind and begin.

1. What do you put in a toaster?

Answer: 'bread.'
If you said 'toast,' give up now and do something else.
Try not to hurt yourself.
If you said, bread, go to Question 2.

2. Say 'silk ' five times. Now spell 'silk.' What do cows drink?

Answer: Cows drink water.
If you said 'milk,' don't attempt the next question.
Your brain is over stressed and may even overheat.
Content yourself with reading a more appropriate literature such asGood Housekeeping. However, if you said 'water', proceed to question 3.

3. If a red house is made from red bricks
and a blue house is made from blue bricks
and a pink house is made from pink bricks
And a black house is made from black bricks,
What is a green house made from?

Answer: Greenhouses are made from glass.
If you said 'green bricks,' why are you still reading these???
If you said 'glass,' go on to Question 4.

4. It's twenty years ago, and a plane is flying at 20,000 feet over Germany (If you will recall, Germany at the time was politically divided into West Germany and East Germany .) Anyway, during the flight, two engines fail.. The pilot, realizing that the last remaining engine is also failing, decides on a crash landing procedure. Unfortunately the engine fails before he can do so and the plane fatally crashes smack in the middle of 'no man's land' between East Germany and West Germany Where would you bury the survivors? East Germany, West Germany, or no man's land'?

Answer: You don't bury survivors.
If you said ANYTHING else, you're a dunce and you must stop.
If you said, 'You don't bury survivors', proceed to the next question

5. Without using a calculator - You are driving a bus from London to Milford Haven in Wales . In London , 17 people get on the bus. In Reading , six people get off the bus and nine people get on. In Swindon , two people get off and four get on. In Cardiff , 11 people get off and 16 people get on. In Swansea , three people get off and five people get on. In Carmathen, six people get off and three get on. You then arrive at Milford Haven. What was the name of the bus driver?

Answer: Oh, for crying out loud!
Don't you remember your own name?
It was YOU!!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

For My Marine Biking Buddy in BFE

A guy was driving around the back woods of Tennessee and he saw a sign in front of

a broken down shanty-style house: 'Talking Dog for Sale '

He rings the bell and the owner appears and tells him the dog is in the backyard.

The guy goes into the back yard and sees a nice looking Beagle sitting there.

'You talk?' he asks.

'Yep,' the Beagle replies.

After the guy recovers from the shock of hearing a dog talk, he says 'So, what's your story?'

The Beagle looks up and says, 'Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young.

I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA and they had me sworn into the toughest

branch of the armed services...the United States Marines You know one of their nicknames is

'The Devil Dogs.'

In no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies

and world leaders; because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping. I was one of

their most valuable spies for eight years running, but the jetting around really tired me out,

and I knew I wasn't getting any younger. So, I decided to settle down.

I retired from the Corps (8 dog years is 56 Corps years) and signed up for a job at the airport

to do some undercover security, wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered

some incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals. I got married, had a mess of puppies,

and now I'm just retired.'

The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog.

'Ten dollars,' the guy says.

'Ten dollars? This dog is amazing! Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?'

'Because he's such a bullshitter ... He never did any of that cr@p! He was in the Navy!'

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

New Baby In BFE

Chris, BFE resident, deer hunter and wrangler of wayward women (state correctional officer), yesterday purchased a new Harley-Davidson cycle. I am not that free with my praise of Harleys since I am a Kawasaki guy, but it really is a good looking bike. It is a non-chromed black and pewter looking cycle that simply looks mean and menacing. He will be able to join the BFE Wild Bunch this summer during our weekend cruises.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Goodbye Lake Littlejohn

Yesterday I went to Victoria to get my boat from Lake Littlejohn. I will try to sell it and the motor. After having been a member for some 10-12 years, I have decided to quit my membership at the Littlejohn Conservation Club south of Victoria. It was a great area for fishing, and became my place of solitude. With some 20 some individual lakes, a hiking path, beach and swimming area, and shooting range it was a great place to go. I usually went early in the morning as the sun came up and hardly ever caught anything. I had a boat and cool trolling motor and just spent time cruising on Long Lake. Sure I'd throw a worm in or some other twinkling, swirling, brightly colored gizmo, but it was the ambiance, not the number of fish caught that was the allure.
This was the place where little Bustle-Butt and I went to have fun. He drove my boat there once, and we went swimming and allowed Grandma to join us another time. The quiet, the serenity, the nature was every bit as fulfilling to the soul as any church.
However, I had not been there for some time. Last year, after moving to BFE, the drive over there was too much as I became increasingly skittish about the amount of miles on the truck. The year before Bustle-Butt had moved away to Canada and the joy was lost.
It was a fun time, and I am sorry to see it go, and sorrier for the reasons for letting go.