Monday, November 23, 2015

Playin' games with Becca

There comes a time in every big sister’s life when you are called upon to entertain your younger siblings. My turn came—well, my turn came a long time ago. But my turn came again just recently.

It started when Becca got bored. Fellers, when Becca is bored, my advice is to look out, because things get a little interesting. For some reason, I became her target of choice, and she came to me asking if I would do something with her.

First it was “Can you paint my fingernails for me?”

Ok, sure. So I painted her fingernails. If you’ve never had the honor/misfortune to paint her nails for her, you’re missing out. She’s very precise about what color she wants where, on what fingernail, and in what order.

Then it was, “Will you play Battleship with me?”

O-kay…sure. How long can a little old game of Battleship take?

An hour.

It wasn’t that she didn’t know how to play the game, because she did. The problem was she’d hit one of my ships, and then decide to shoot somewhere else before she sunk it. It took a lot of persuasion to convince her she had to shoot all my ships before she could win—I think she was planning on changing the rules on me before the end.

It also took her longer to find the co-ordinates for the place she wanted to shoot, or where I had shot so she could tell me if I had hit or missed.
A little brotherly advice from Nah.
Another complication was the fact that Becca is still a little hazy about her letter shapes. I had to give her some help. For example: “The A is pointy. B is two bumps and a line. The C is a circle with a hole…” That kind of thing.
"C is a circle with a hole." That one right there.
But we did get it figured out, and at long, long last the game of Battleship was finished.

I can’t remember who won. I think she did. Becca always wins.

After Battleship, I thought (for some ridiculous and completely unfounded reason) she’d be tired of playing games with me. Nope.

“Can we play Uno?”

Um…yeah. Okay, one quick game.
It turns out there is way more strategy involved in Uno than I had ever imagined.
Needless to say, she won.
After Uno, though, I had to put my foot down. It was fun, Becca, but I got things to do and places to be. Articles don’t write themselves.

I’m pretty sure she had no trouble getting someone else to take over where I left off.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Counter-mousing countermeasures

If I haven’t mentioned this before, it’s high time I do.

We have a cool Grandma.

No, seriously. She’s very cool. For one thing, she reads every blog post and newspaper article I put out there, which is what all the cool people do. (Right?) But for another thing, she also happens to have found a solution for counter-mousing.

If you haven't yet read my post on counter-mousing, you'd better do that now so you know what I'm talking about. So go THERE now, and come back when you're done. I'll wait.

……………

Waiting....

……………

Patiently waiting...

……………

OK, done waiting now! Back to what I was saying.

Shortly after I wrote my counter-mousing post, Grandma brought down a tray of bars for snack. This is something she does from time to time, and we like her bars very much. They’re usually different from what Mom makes, since Grandma doesn’t use the scoop-and-dump method. Mom’s bars are different every time, but Grandma’s are more reliable. 

On this particular occasion, though, Grandma had wrapped her tray in plastic and taped a note to the top. It was the note that was significant. Here, read it for yourself.
Don't tell me my Grandma doesn't know what's what.
If she hadn’t left that note, there would have been a fair bit of counter-mousing going on, and those bars would have been very nibbled around the edges by the time we were ready for snack. As it was, we just watched each other like hawks to make sure nobody else was counter-mousing when no one was looking.
You can almost feel the eyes on them.
Come snack time, those bars vanished in about fifteen minutes. We couldn't wait any longer.

And they were good bars, probably worth waiting until snack time for. But I’m still a firm believer in counter-mousing. If it hadn’t been for that note, I wouldn’t be making any promises.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Clan-size dogs

One of the characteristics of my family—beside the thirteen kids, of course—is that we've always had dogs around the place. Back in the day I used to share dog food with our Black Labrador/German Shepard-cross Spike. Good dog, good times. Not necessarily good dog food, though.

My dog food days are long past now (trust me!), but we still have dogs around. Our dogs have never been just any old dogs, though. We're not a poodle kind of family—our dogs are big dogs, and I mean big dogs. They're not quite Great Danes, but most of our dogs have weighed close to a hundred pounds.

Currently we have a pair of Great Pyrenees called Marley and Odin. To clear up any confusion right away, I want to point out that our Marley is not to be confused with the dog from the 2008 Marley & Me movie. We named our dog after Jacob Marley, the ghost with the big chain from A Christmas Carol.

Because we're classy that way. (Yeah, not so much.)

Marley and his pal Odin live outside like all our dogs have done. They're free to roam around the yard and even out to the woods behind our house where they collect ticks, burrs, and other clinging seeds. Afterward we have to brush out their long hair, which is a royal pain, but thankfully the dogs are fairly patient.
When he gets tired, he'll get up and walk away. No problem.
We've been lucky enough to always have dogs that don't mind being outside. Since many of us aren't consistent about closing doors, it's nice to know the dogs won't try and sneak inside when we're not looking. In fact, our dogs haven't the slightest inclination to enter the house. Sometimes during the winter when their drool is freezing to their lips and they have ice chunks in their pads, we'll bring them in to thaw out and dry off a bit. When we do, we have to drag them through the door. We've only had dogs come into the house voluntarily when they were really injured and needed stitches. Otherwise, they vastly prefer the great outdoors.

Except, that is, when there are guns going off.

Marley, the older of the two dogs, is particularly gun shy. The week before deer season opens is a hard one for him because we practice firing at targets in the yard. While we have the guns out, he doesn't care to get off the front porch. And if you happen to open the front door—ZOOM! He's inside!

This happened just the other day. I wasn't expecting him to come in after me, and he was all the way into the dining room before Skinny collared him. I think if we had let him, he would have crawled under the table and stayed there the rest of the afternoon. Skinny and I did manage to coax him back to the door, but eventually we just had to push him onto the porch to get him outside again.
Poor guy. He would really, really like to be inside right now.
You might be wondering why we don't let the dogs come inside. I know many people who have dogs only slightly smaller than ours that stay inside, but that's something we've never done. There are a couple reasons for that—besides the fact that we're not fond of dog hairs getting in everything.

First, we've always figured dogs are happier outside where they can run around, chew on bones, humble the cats, and do whatever else it is that dogs do. 

Second, there isn't room in the house right now for two gigantic dogs.

But more importantly, Marley and Odin serve a function on our place. Living in the country the way we do, especially since we started keeping chickens, there can be problems with night-prowling critters coming in from the woods. Two big dogs are a very effective deterrent to such unwanted visitors.

They also make door-to-door salesmen think two or three times before getting out of the car. And that can only be a good thing.

Basically, it isn't practical to keep them inside, and they're much happier where they are. Besides, check out those long coats. They were bred to live in the freezing cold! Minnesotan winters don't faze them at all.