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.