Thursday, December 31, 2009

Oti's Ornament

Each of our dogs has a Christmas ornament. I like to hang these ornaments close together and remember the wonderful times we shared with our beloved pets.

Last year our Westport family gave us a dog ornament that resembled Cooper with his yellow coloring and silky ears. This year, we received Oti's ornament - a dark red dog hugging a bone. Oti LOVES bones, so this is a perfect ornament for him!

Jeff had said before Xmas, we need to get an ornament for Oti. It seems that our Westport family has ESP.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christopher Dodd is in the Top 10

Well, top 10 of the most corrupt politicians:

Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT): This marks two years in a row for Senator Dodd, who made the 2008 "Ten Most Corrupt" list for his corrupt relationship with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and for accepting preferential treatment and loan terms from Countrywide Financial, a scandal which still dogs him. In 2009, the scandals kept coming for the Connecticut Democrat. In 2009, Judicial Watch filed a Senate ethics complaint against Dodd for undervaluing a property he owns in Ireland on his Senate Financial Disclosure forms. Judicial Watch's complaint forced Dodd to amend the forms. However, press reports suggest the property to this day remains undervalued. Judicial Watch also alleges in the complaint that Dodd obtained a sweetheart deal for the property in exchange for his assistance in obtaining a presidential pardon (during the Clinton administration) and other favors for a long-time friend and business associate. The false financial disclosure forms were part of the cover-up. Dodd remains the head the Senate Banking Committee.

Christmas In Ice

When in Fairbanks, we stopped by to see Santa at North Pole, Alaska. This year, BP sponsored an ice carving event called Christmas in Ice. Here are some of my favorite images.

The temperature at night was -36°, so there is no need to worry about the ice melting.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Broken Signal

Our dog trainer calls Otis a signaler. This is a term for a dog that alerts the pack to danger or something new in their area by barking.

Oti is a big dog with a deep, loud bark. This sweet boy can sound fierce when agitated.

When driving home from the kennel, Oti whined but the sound was so muted you could barely hear him.

Later in the day, Coop and Oti received their Xmas gifts. Oti got excited and tried to bark, but all that came out was a strangled cough. It seems our signaler is hoarse from all the barking at the kennel.

Coop on the other hand is still as loud as ever!

I can picture Oti barking as the other dogs in their wing entered and left the kennel. Since the big dogs all get to play together, I am sure there was a joyous chorus during this time.

Monday, December 28, 2009


Our Alaska vacation started and ended in Anchorage. When we arrived, fresh snow lay thick on the trees. The blue and silver lights proudly announced that Christmas was near.

Anchorage was the largest city that we visited with 280,000 residents. While in Anchorage we ate at some wonderful restaurants. Humpy's had incredible king crab legs and burgers, the Glacier Brewhouse had great beer and steak and crab, and Club Paris had great prime rib/steak.

We visited the Anchorage Museum. The Alaska Gallery had very interesting displays of Alaska history and the Chugach Gallery allowed breathtaking views of the Chugach Mountains.

We attended mass at Holy Family Cathedral. This small church was packed on Xmas Eve. The priest was both a philosopher and theologian. His sermon will not be forgotten. The Gregorian chants were unique and something I had never heard during Midnight Mass.

Many thanks to John for showing us around while we were in town.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Cookies

When we arrived home and picked up the mail, there was a package from Portland, Maine.

Before Oti joined our pack, he was previously adopted by Bobbi. Sadly, Bobbi could not keep Otis and he ended up with Linda F (Danny's foster Mom).

Bobbi sent Oti and Cooper a box of homemade dog biscuits. These biscuits in the shapes of stars, trees and bones smelled so good, I was tempted to try one. The second the dogs smelled the tin, their tails began to wag and they gobbled up these treats.

I always thought that I was a good Mom, but Bobbi and her homemade dog biscuits have me beat.

Coop and Oti say "THANK YOU".

Saturday, December 26, 2009

We're Back

Our Alaska vacation has flown by and we are now back in Wilton.

We were extremely lucky that we had no delays in any of our flights. That is a miracle considering that our trip encompassed 8 flights and 2 blizzards occurred. Getting exit row seating for all legs of the trip was also a bonus.

While in Alaska we visited Anchorage, Fairbanks and Bettles. When we arrived in Anchorage, my first thought was it is cold and dark in this town. At 4:30 pm, it was pitch black and the sun did not rise until 10:15 am. The temperature was 0°, which was quite warm compared to the -27° which greeted us in Fairbanks. The anticipated -40° temps in Bettles never materialized; it was a balmy 5°.

The darkness in Anchorage was nothing compared to days in the Arctic Circle. We celebrated the winter solstice in a town where the sun never rose. The sun never broke above the horizon and the only light was an orange band where the sun should be. Day and night blends together, outside activities begin at noon and end by 3:30. Headlamps are an essential.

In spite of freezing temperatures and sparse daylight, Alaska is beautiful. Flying into Bettles was breathtaking, snow covered mountains and frozen rivers snake throughout the landscape. The snow hangs heavy on the trees like vanilla frosting on a cupcake.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

To all our friends and family we wish you a wonderful Christmas! We know that we are blessed by having you in our lives.

Cooper and Otis send greetings to all their four footed friends in Maine and Connecticut.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

When I was a child, Christmas Eve was a magical time. Our tree, with its glass ornaments was always beautiful, but seemed to take on a special glow on this day. Trying to sleep at night was nearly impossible. Surely if I stayed awake I would hear the reindeer on the roof ?

Now, Christmas Eve is a time for reflection. Our tradition is to attend Midnight Mass, no matter where we are. On rare occasions, we exit the church to find snow falling. As the snowflakes sparkle in the moonlight, the possibility of peace on earth hangs in the air.

We may be far from home, but the same moon that shines on Cooper and Otis in Connecticut lights our path in Alaska, connecting us.

I located a church in Anchorage that will be celebrating Mass at midnight. I have no doubt that this will be a Christmas Eve that will not be forgotten.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Winter Solstice!

To My Democrat Friends:
Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2010, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere . Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wish.

To My Republican Friends:
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ 2010

Saturday, December 19, 2009


When Jeff's sporting clays friends hear of our trip to Alaska, they ask "Are you going hunting ?"

Jeff's response of "No, we are going to see the Northern Lights" is usually met with silence.

I told Jeff that he should say we are hunting the rare Aurora Borealis. That might generate more excitement.

Photo: Roman Krochuk

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Slowly, ever so slowly the amaryllis is growing. We now have green leaves, but there is not a sign of a flower yet.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Brain Freeze

Otis is prone to ear infections. We know this, because Oti's ears are very thick and the insides are misshapen.

I noticed that Oti was scratching at his ear. When I looked, Oti's ear was extremely dirty, even though Jeff cleaned them a few days earlier.

I reached into the refrig and pulled out the ear drops. I went over to Oti and placed 3 drops in his ear. Oti began to yelp and rubbed his head along the carpet.

I realized that the cold drops in his ear canal must have been painful. I left the drops out on the counter to warm. However, when it was time for today's medication Oti would not come over to me.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

NPR on the rise and fall of Chris Dodd

Friday, December 11, 2009

Snow II

Oti did not show much interest in the snow this weekend. We had a heavier storm during the week and ended up with about an inch accumulation in the yard.

When we walked Oti in the morning, he just slogged thru the snow. I thought that Oti was not a snow lover.

However, that evening I let Oti out in the back yard. Oti put his head down and grazed on the snow. He walked back and forth, never lifting his head. Maybe Oti does like snow after all.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Is Chris Dodd Unelectable?

Some seem to think so. From the Courant:

"[I]t is increasingly clear to both independent analysts and Democratic leaders that Dodd is just too badly damaged to have a decent shot at getting re-elected, almost regardless of who wins the Republican nomination. Democrats have given Dodd time to attempt to repair his problems, but nothing appears to have helped enough to salvage his position,'' Duffy writes.

The publication has moved the Connecticut Senate race from "toss up" to "leans Republican.''

UPDATE: Colleen Flanagan, spokeswoman for state Democrats, dismissed the Cook Report ratings change as inside-the-beltway political handicapping.

"It's no secret what the Washington smart guys think about this race,'' she said in an email after the Courant asked for a comment. "But it just doesn't matter what they think. They don't vote in Connecticut and they don't really understand Chris Dodd's decades of service and the relationship he's built with folks here by delivering for them time and again."

Yet, the depth of Dodd' troubles are clear to many in Connecticut, where once heretical whispers that the state's senior senator step aside in favor of the immense popular Attorney General Richard Blumenthal or perhaps U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, have grown louder.

Following Dodd's lousy showing in a Quinnipiac University poll last month, the Courant spoke with more than a dozen Democratic party activists and left-leaning bloggers. While few were willing go on the record, they all spoke of their fears that Dodd wouldn't be able turn things around by election day, 2010 and many privately expressed their hopes that he would step aside for the overall benefit of the party.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Monday, December 07, 2009

Snow cones

Snow fell all Saturday afternoon and evening but most melted as it touched the ground. When I woke up Sunday morning, we had a few spotty areas in the grass where snow and ice had accumulated.

On our morning walk, Coop raced to the first piece of snow and began to chew on it. We took another step forward and Coop stopped to grab some more ice to chew. After a minute or two of this I pulled Coop's leash to hurry him along.

Coop loves ice cubes, so I am not surprised by his love of snow. Oti showed no interest in the snow. Oti wanted to get back inside for breakfast.

I had forgotten that while Coop may not be distracted by sunlight and shadows during the winter, fresh snow was another matter.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Poor Tiger

Winter Wonderland

Falling snow set a perfect stage for the Norwalk Community Chorale's Winter Wonderland concert.

The NCC has performed free holiday concerts for 49 years. This is the first time that we attended an event at the Norwalk Concert Hall. The venue was surprisingly large, but empty seats were tough to find. I knew we had stumbled onto something good, if so many people were attending.

The concert was fantastic. I was impressed by how beautifully the group sang. I enjoyed hearing songs that are not radio standards. There was a Xmas carol sing-along, which the audience gladly embraced.

I know that the Chorale spent months practicing for this one night. Congratulations to all their members on a job well done! We will definitely attend next year, if we are in town.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Bon Jovi

I have been a big fan of the band Bon Jovi for a long time (20+ years). However, I have never been to a Bon Jovi concert.

When I heard that the band would be playing in NJ in May, I considered buying tickets. The only thing that made me hesitate was the drive and traffic involved in a trip to the Meadowlands.

I know that Bon Jovi is getting older (as am I) and the number of opportunities to see them may be limited. Last night I heard that the band was coming to Mohegan Sun. I have never been to Mohegan Sun, but knew it was closer than NJ.

It turns out that that pre-sale rickets were on sale yesterday. I raced to the TicketMaster website and ordered 2 seats. Now, I just have to wait for March to arrive.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


Poor Cooper always gets blamed for digging in the flower pots on the deck. This is because Coop is always the dog that I catch in the act....until today.

It was such a beautiful sunny day, I put both dogs on the deck to play. As I vacuumed, I heard them barking and racing around.

When I went into the kitchen and looked out, there was Oti with both front paws in a flower pot and his head buried in the dirt. I yelled No!

Oti wandered to the door, with dirt covering his head. He pressed his nose to the glass and seemed to smile. I couldn't help but laugh.

I guess that both dogs like to dig!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


I received a catalog from White Flower Farm, which showed amaryllis grown in a vase, without dirt. If you do this, the bulb will only last for one year. It cannot be replanted.

I was intrigued. I have grown potted amaryllis before and had limited success with getting them to bloom after the first year.

The photos showed stunning centerpieces. However, at $25 a bulb, I did not want to experiment. I read on the internet that you may have limited success in this endeavor.

I bought a $5 bulb at Stop and Shop and decided to "plant" it on glass pebbles. I am hoping that it will grow and not rot. Jeff's comment was that if it blooms we will probably be away!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Where NOT to go

We headed out to Cabela's in Hartford at 7:30 am on Saturday. We wanted to get some winter gear for our upcoming trip to Alaska. The store opened at 8:00 and we were hoping to beat the crowds.

Cabela's is directly across from Rentschler Field, U Conn's football stadium. Jeff and I always joke that we would not want to visit Cabela's on game day. (Can you see where this is headed....)

We were about 2 miles from Cabela's when orange cones suddenly appeared, creating a new traffic pattern. As we continued along, Jeff said, "I wonder if the football team is playing today". I said even if they are, it is 8:30 am and the game would start at noon. This should not be a problem.

As we approached Cabela's, we saw the flashing lights of multiple police cars and lines of cars trying to get to the stadium. The police had rerouted all the traffic and blocked the road that leads into Cabela's.

We asked a cop what to do - we wanted to get to Cabela's. The cop sighed and said, I guess you have to go around (.... the cones and into oncoming traffic ). If getting in was fun, imagine the adventure getting out. All the outbound lanes of the stadium road are turned into inbound lanes before the game. The police had to stop 5 lanes of traffic, so we could exit.

I was really surprised that Cabela's would allow the police to block entry onto their store, especially during the Xmas shopping season. I asked one of the clerks and she said the locals know to avoid the store on game day. Lesson learned.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Lexi

As we were driving around this weekend, Jeff said "You know your car is out of warranty". I gave him a blank look. "It's now 3 years old".

I wondered if that could possibly be correct. After all, the Lexus only has 18,000 miles on it.

Turns out Jeff was right. Time really does fly by. I guess that explains why I have been getting letters from Lexus, asking if I wanted to trade in my car. Give up Lexi, never !

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lets go out, I'm buyin!

I had tossed my wallet on the bed and Otis decided he was going to take us all out to dinner with his new found fortune (about $3).

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Turkeys, Turkeys Everywhere

One thing I love about Long Island is that the residents embrace the season.

I have never seen so many turkeys adorning front lawns. Everywhere I looked, there was another turkey proudly announcing Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 27, 2009


Thanksgiving on Long Island was a beautiful sunny day around 55 degrees.

My Mom has a large fenced yard and the dogs were in heaven. Once their leashes were unhooked they were off and running. Both dogs raced back and forth chasing tennis balls and each other.

Coop had no interest in joining the festivities inside. It was clear that he knew winter was coming and soon such warm cheerful days would be memories. The sparkle in Coop's eye and his waving tail reflected his complete happiness.

Oti, on the other hand, wanted to be in the middle of the action. Once Jeff and I went inside, Oti raced to the back door and whined to be let in. With a house full of people, Oti made the "pet me" rounds. When dinner came, Oti stretched out under the table and waited for crumbs to drop.

By the time we got home, both dogs were exhausted. Their 6 pm dinner became an 8 pm snack. Oti's snoring attests to a fun filled day.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

We want to wish all our family and friends a VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Coop and Oti wish Carol and the play group a tail wagging Thanksgiving.

May we all take time to reflect on our many blessings. As we gather around the dinner table, let's not forget to pray for the soldiers who are far from home.

One Xmas, we went to a church in Ilion, NY. The priest asked for donations to support their basic needs pantry and for items like soap and toilet paper. I remember thinking, how can people not have toilet paper ?

The request for such small everyday items has haunted me. The priest's words serve as a reminder that we have an abundence of things to be thankful for. Good health, a nice home, good jobs, friends, family, food, heat, clothes and a million other things. His words also remind me that because we have been blessed, we should help those with less.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I read a news article today that said there is an animal shelter in Indiana that euthanizes 600 animals a month.

I was stunned and sickened to read this. That is one shelter. Multiply 600 by the number of shelters around the country and the total deaths is astounding.

I look at Cooper and Otis and think how they are two of the few lucky animals who find a new home.

With Thanksgiving approaching, Coop and Oti want to say they are thankful for Sunshine Golden Retriever Rescue and especially Linda F and Linda P.

To all the volunteers across the US who roll up their sleeves to help, instead of just giving polite lip service to change, thank you!

To companies like IAMS who are sponsoring a pet adoption drive with a goal of 1.5 million adoptions, thank you!

Linda F calls Coop a little miracle. The truth is that this miracle exists because of the chain of wonderful, kind hearted volunteers which stretches from Alabama to Maine.

Monday, November 23, 2009


I have been looking for a pair of winter boots for Alaska. I have several pair of LL Bean boots and hiking boots, but nothing insulated for -25° temperatures.

I have stopped at a local store several times, but they did not have any winter boots in stock yet.

While we were out Christmas shopping, we stopped at Dick's Sporting Goods. To my surprise, I saw a pair of blue Sorel boots. I had never heard of Sorel, but Jeff with his cold North Country experience said Sorel is a good boot manufacturer.

I decide to try the boots on. When we went to find what sizes were in stock, it turned out the boots were only in the kids/youth section. Jeff said, "It looks like you are out of luck". I picked up the display boot (which was larger than my sneaker)and said, "Let me try". Did I mention there was a super sale on the boots ?

It turns out that the child's boot was too big. After I put a -40° wool sock over my normal sock, the boot fit correctly.

Needless to say, I bought the boots. When I got home, I looked up Sorel and the one complaint people had about this type of boot was it runs SMALL. I couldn't help but laugh. I always thought I had average size feet, but who knows ?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Salon Day

With the holidays (and pictures) coming, a day of beauty was needed for all. I headed off on Saturday morning to get my hair done.

Jeff took the dogs to the dog wash. The dogs definitely needed a bath before spending Thanksgiving at Grandma's house.

The dogs look and smell fantastic. Cooper continues to amaze me - could this be the same throw away dog that no one cared about ?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It must be Christmas

Christmas is here - at least commercially....

Jeff heard the first Xmas carol on the radio tonight.

Our mailbox is stuffed with the black Friday ads.

I could not resist the beautiful poinsettia plants at Costco. For $16, how can you go wrong ?

Today the Wilton postal workers will collect food for the needy when they deliver your mail. I am hoping that everyone takes the time to put out a few items for those who have so much less than we do.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

-27 °

The temperature in Bettles, Alaska is -27°

It is still Fall. What will the Winter Solstice bring ?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


When we were walking in Wilton Center, we saw a woman headed towards us with her 2 year old daughter. When the little girl saw Coop and Oti she yelled and began running towards us.

The Mom grabbed her arm and said, "No, wait". I purposely took Coop to the right and Jeff approached with Oti. Oti is so big that his head was higher then the child's head.

The little girl rubbed Oti and began to squeal and jump up and down. Oti was unphased and leaned in against the Mom who bent down and petted him.

I give Oti bonus points. I know Oti likes kids, but when the girl yelled and jumped, I thought he might get nervous. Instead, Oti never blinked. I do believe Oti's past life involved kids.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Christoper Dodd is the chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs which is in charge of "reforming" the Financial System.

One of Dodd's cornerstones to financial reform is the "Say-on-Pay" provision of the bill. In theory, the shareholders of a company will get a "say" on the "pay" packages of the executives. Since the shareholders are the ultimate owners of the company anyway, his theory is that the shareholders will punish the executives for poor performance.

Lets forget for a minute that Christoper Dodd has never actually run a business. Lets also forget for a minute that he's been in the ivory towers of Washington for the last 34 years and has no clue about how business runs (unless you count participation in Countrywide sweetheart deals as "business" experience).

Of course, if Christoper Dodd did run a public company, he would understand that the majority of shareholders are institutional investors and not individual investors. Mutual Funds, Index Funds, Hedge Funds, Pension Funds, and other institutional investors comprise more than 50% of all shareholders. These institutional investors hold stock in many companies. The institutional investor hasn't shown any interest in the past about day-to-day management of the company.

So Dodd wants to put this rule in place and nobody will care. That's constructive use of his time and our tax money. It's time for Connecticut "Say-on-Pay" for Mr. Dodd and adjust his compensation to zero in 2010.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pet Me

We spent Saturday at Van Cortland Park in Bronx, NY watching our niece's cross-country race. After the race, she spent the night at our home.

Oti was in heaven. Catherine loves dogs and Oti sensed this. Oti spent most of the night next to Cat and she happily petted him. As soon as her hand stopped, he would nudge her as if to say, "Don't stop!".

Coop would wander over every once and a while to also get some love.

When we went to sleep at night, Oti paced by the door for a few minutes. He wanted to be in the guest room, not with us. Maybe this Daddy's boy has a soft spot for young ladies.

Cat said she thinks Oti came from a family with kids. This may be true, because he really enjoyed playing with our nephews.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bohemia Bobcats

A couple weekends ago we had the chance to watch our niece's Soccer game. Going into the game, the Bohemia Bobcats (Yellow/Blue) were tied in the standings with the team from Kings Park (Maroon). In the first five minutes, Bobcat number 30 took a kick from the corner and it went into the goal!

A few minutes later, the girl on the left was getting ready to eat a soccer ball delivered from Ms. Rebecca.

The game ended in a 1-1 tie, but was a hard fought contest. These U12 girls really mix it up on the field.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


A few weeks ago, some trees came down in the yard during a storm.

The cleanup process is still continuing. The first weekend, Jeff began to cut up the trees. The second weekend was spent finishing the blocking and cutting off the limbs. I helped Jeff carry the blocks into the driveway and pile the branches together.

Last weekend we rented a wood splitter and now we have enough firewood for several winters. After the splitting, Jeff had the joy of stacking the wood.

We still need to rent a chipper for the limbs. However, we have other plans this weekend. I just hope the snow holds off for a few more weeks, so we have time to finish this task.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Just Passing Through

Returning from our morning walk, we spied some visitors to our pond. Fortunately we still had some corn from the Springtime visit and promptly threw out some food for our guests.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

Cooper and Otis want to remind you to think of our Veterans today.