Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sweet Sixteen

Time just flies. My last post was in February. Oops...

Looking back my summer, it is nothing but Marilyn's Sweet Sixteen celebration! Yes, my baby is 16 years old now. Even she is 16, she is actually 112 years old in human age. In my country, we celebrate a long life. In fact, the 112th birthday is celebrated as Chin-ju (珍寿). Nonetheless, it is something to celebrate that a large breed like her turns 16. It's gotten to be very special.

I'd been thinking about her Sweet Sixteen since her 15th birthday. Her physical strength has been declined dramatically and her health hit some big bumps. Sometime I thought she might not make it to 16, but very very fortunately we got all extra special time all the way to her 16th birthday.

I was so much more excited about the celebration than Marilyn. I don't care for going to parties where many people are in general, but love to entertain and plan parties. I started designing the invitation in June. Most likely by my preference, its theme color was decided to blue. The blue of "Sweet Sixteen" is the color!!! Regardless, don't you think it looks great on her black coat?

We made a list of Marilyn's favorite human and doggy friends including all staff at the Barkery, her favorite doggie bakery, and her vets and their staff who good take care of her. We also extended the invitation to a couple of rescue dog parents Facebook groups which give Marilyn and me great support. All invitations were ready to send out right before the 4th of July. We waited the 4th weekend to pass, then sent them out.

Thinking of the party menu, drinks, decoration, favors, etc., etc. ... Prepping parties is so much fun! I could think of so many things. This time scrap booking paper came in very handy.

For human guests, we special-ordered M&Ms. They are awesome! Not only the print came out great, but it was very quick between placing the order and the delivery. The package was done very securely not to break the candies and keep them cool during the delivery. I was impressed.

Of course, favors for doggy guests.

And, our birthday girl needs to dress up. I made a sparkly caller for her. At Sweet Sixteen, she cannot wear a silly birthday hat this time.

Thanks to the Barkrey, they offered to donate Marilyn's birthday cake. What a great gift for Marilyn! Marilyn and her friends enjoyed it very much.


Let's the Celebration Begin!

Then, the big day came... The sign is out.

That morning, a mailman dropped off a box. That's a birthday gift for Marilyn from someone in Pennsylvania. Who would even imagine that happened? We know each other only online. We've never met in person. It was simply a wonderful wonderful surprise to us. "Marilyn look! You got a gift from Lola."

The decoration is done... right before the party started.

And, most importantly... the guests arrived.

Sweet Bella, a doggy guest.

The kids had fun...

Finally here is the birthday girl! ... with the proper attire.

Everybody's stomach was filled late afternoon. They forgot to leave room for desserts. The balloons are still up in the air.

"Happy Birthday Dear Marilyn~. Happy Birthday to you!"

Om nom nom... Her most active moment of the day.

When we checked Facebook that evening, we were completely shocked. This day, Marilyn got more than 100 posts and comments for birthday wishes. I felt very overwhelmed by them... of course in a great way. Someone even posted a video singing Happy Birthday for Marilyn with her dogs. Some made signs for her. It took me a whole day to check all of them. This is so amazing. We are very thankful for them. My old girl is very blessed. Here are some to share with you...

Here are more love for Marilyn...

I wanted the celebration to be special not only for her but also for other animals in need. So, Marilyn and I came up the idea to make the celebration a mini fundraising. We asked our guests some donation to some selected charities to help animals in need all over the world if they consider any gift for her. We greatly appreciate your contribution for ones who made the donation in honor of Marilyn. Thank you, thank you, and thank you!

Post Party... it's just not end peacefully. There is always something.

The following day, we were still in the mood of the celebration. I got chuckles here and there remembering what happened at the party while cleaning the yard and house.

While putting down the decoration, we could have fun like this.

Title: Afro Marilyn

"Mama, this is not cool!"
"Really? I think you look adorable!"
"Get this off from me NOW!"
"Relax Birthday Girl. Have some fun!"
"This is humiliation, not fun."

We dropped off some favors to some neighbors who didn't make it to the party that afternoon. Since we had so much food left, we had some neighbors over and hang out in the evening. Then, Chad started talking about the neighbors he visited that day.

Chad: I brought Lori the M&Ms and the popcorns.
Me: Popcorns? What popconrs?
Chad: The one wrapped up with the paw print paper.
Me: That's dog treats. I didn't make any popcorns.
Chad: I gave it to her saying that was popconrs.
Scott: Wait. So, you gave her the dog treats saying that was people food?
Me: That's right.
Scott: Does she have any dogs?
Me: No. She has only cats. OMG! This is so funny.
I was laughing so hard.
Scott: I hope she doesn't eat it.
Me: I don't think so. There are some dog bones in it. She would know.
Me: But... what made you think that was popcorns anyway?
Chad: I don't know.

Hum, I never imagined this would come. I can imagine Lori had a big laugh when she opened the wrap. And what made Chad think it was popcorns still remains as a mystery.

And I say it loud here that it is very clear WHO prepped the party!

Finally Marilyn has something to say...

Very good, Marilyn. That's my girl!

Monday, February 16, 2015

お腹の虫

日本でしか売られていないハーブティーが欲しかったから実家に配達してもらうようにして注文し両親にこっちに送ってもらうようにお願いしたところ、先日これまた大きな小包が届いた。封筒で送られるサイズだからそんなに送料かからないと思って頼んだのに…。明らかにハーブティー以外のものが95%。母の作ったクッキーや日本のお菓子がわんさか。お菓子の箱に紛れてこんなものが…。

”ん?”
一瞬思考が止まった後、色々な思いが猛スピードで頭を駆け巡る。
”これって…私に?”
”これって虫下しだよね?”
”ギョウ虫持ちだと思われてるってこと?まじ?”
”ギョウ虫の話とかしたことないのに…。”
”日本でアメリカではギョウ虫が流行ってるって報道されてるのだろうか?”
”もしかして日本でギョウ虫騒ぎがあって、念のために送ってくれたとか?”
”それともこれって暗に何かを意味してるのかな?虫下しの裏を読むのは難しすぎる…。”
”ただの冗談?日本でギョウ虫ネタとか流行ってたりして…”

どんなに考えを巡らしても答えが出ないしストレスとコレステロール 値に良くないので、実家に電話してみた。
母: はい、もしもし。
私: もしもし?わたし、ギョウ虫おらんよ。
母: あ、虫下し入ってた?買ってきたのに探してもないねーって思いよったんよ。ごめんねー、びっくりしたやろ?
私: うん、ギョウ虫おると思われてるのかなとか、いろんなこと考えたよ〜。
母:  ゴロウ(両親の犬)に飲ませようと思って買って、買い物から帰ってからテーブルの上に送るものとそうでないものを選り分けて送らないものの中に入れてたのに、その中に見つからんでね。お父さん、一緒に荷物に入れて送り出したみたい。間違えて送らんように選り分けたのにこの様やもんねー。年取ると大変よ〜。 そんな年取った親を遠距離に持つのも大変である。

実はこの手のトラブルは今回2度目。昨年末に送られてきたお正月用品の小包には数の子が2袋入っていた。一袋で私が食べるのには十分な量。数の子大好物だから今年はいっぱい送ってくれたんだぁ。親ってありがたいなぁ…。などとしみじみ思いながら
私: 数の子いっぱい送ってくれてありがとう。
母: あ、やっぱり2袋入ってた?どこになおしこんだのか、見つからんねーと思いよったんよ。
私: じゃ、これってお母さんたちの分。お正月の数の子ないの?
母:  ううん、また買えばいいから全然大丈夫。冷凍すれば、お正月が明けてしばらくしてからまた食べられるやろ? 前言撤回、ありがたいというよりとっても心配。二人だけで暮らしてて大丈夫なのだろうか?

2年前京都土産に父に今熊野神社のボケ封じのお札をあげたのに、あまりご利益がないのかそれともご利益あってこのさまなのか…。(ギョウ虫でない)お腹の虫が騒ぐところである。

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Be My Valentine

Marilyn was very excited as soon as she woke up on this Valentine's day. She woke me up at 5:30 "Let's go for a walk!" "Really? It's one hour early, plus it's still dark out." So, she waited till 6:30. "It's time!"

We put our coats on, then I opened the door. It was freezing. The air was sharp and clear. The sky was beautiful with salmon pink and orange gradation. Since the side walks had been cleared, she decided to walk down the side walk instead of going to the doggy path in the back yard. We walked the side walk between the snow banks. Then, we noticed another wall up front. She didn't want to turn around. There were few cars on the road. So, we walked down the edge of the road. Clear morning air always feel good.

Once we came back, she got breakfast, and I had coffee. Then, I prepped for our Valentine's day visit. These were for her people friends who always give her treats. They are a little "thank you" to them from Marilyn.

She had something for her doggy friends, too.

After her breakfast, she just couldn't wait to get out. She came to me "Let's go!" every 5 minutes. When I opened the car door, she hopped right in.

The first stop was the vet. She had some checkups there. Of course, she brought them one of her Valentine's day treats. They are always so good to her. She wanted to say "thank you." The second stop was her "the other" family. We stopped by her "the other" mom's flower shop. They were busy with men who were picking up Valentine's day flowers. So, we did quick-hi.

On the way home, we stopped by a pet supply store. Marilyn picked up her own Valentine's day gift from me. There were so many treats in the store. Marilyn sniffed all treats her snout could reach. She was particularly excited with this one. There were two flavor, this beefy one and cheese and bacon. I hold both flavor in each hand and had her pick. She tried to take a bite of the beefy flavor. We saw the winner. But, how come the cheese and bacon one didn't win? Come on, it's bacon!

At the store, she gave a kiss to a gentle man. "Oh, now I'm in a big trouble." though he was having a big smile on him. He told us he has a German Shepard. I can picture his dog was sniffing all over him when he got home. "Did you spend time with other dogs? How dare you!"

Past 2:00, it started snowing. We headed to our Be My Velentine stroll. The first stop was Shirley's. We had a little chat. Marilyn got cookies and a bag of jerky. Oh no, this was supposed to be expressing her "thank you", not "more treat please!"

We were walking down the quiet street. Nobody was out side, just us. Then, a car came from the behind us. That was Marie, Sammy's mom. "Hi, Marilyn!" "Oh, we are going to stop by when we get there." "Are you walking all the way?" "Yeah, she needs to use her legs." "Uh right. I hear you. Then, see you later."

On the way to Sammy's, we stopped by Lorri's. As soon as she saw her house, Marilyn went straight to the door. Then, Marilyn got more cookies. Alas! Did I mention she doesn't have a dog, but has dog cookies all the time? Lorri showed me the bags of deer and turkey food picked up by her daughter that morning. She also feeds stray cats in the neighborhood. She is like St. Francis, just a sweet sweet lady.

Once we left Lori's, Marilyn was ready to go home. "Hey, we've got to go see Sammy. Let's go." She was not so happy. Snow was getting her. But, we walked down a little farther to Sammy's. When we got their drive way, the door opened "Come on. Come in." Sammy jumped out the door and got so excited seeing Marilyn. Marilyn garve Sammy a Velentine's day treat and a coat which is a little small to her. Sammy tried on her new coat. The red corduroy looked so cute on her light brown fur. Marie was more excited with it than Sammy was. Again, Marilyn got more cookies there.

Then, we went to Neil and Denise's. Their dog, Cosmo, was Marilyn's boyfriend. He went over the rainbow bridge two years ago. He was a sweet boy. After Cosmo was gone, they still enjoy Marilyn as a company. Marilyn loves to go over their house, and they love it. Whenever we walk by their house, she tries to stop by. Neil have a big smile on his face whenever I tell him that "Good. That's good."

Finally, we started heading home. We had a one more stop to make. That's Sammy and Kannya's. This is another house she goes straight to the door whenever we walk by their house. This day was not an exception. I knocked the door. Olga didn't seem to be home. We hang the treat on the door knob, and went home. Marilyn was disappointed not seeing them. 5 minutes later, we found out that Olga was at our house to drop off a Valentine's day gift for us when we were knocking her door. How funny is that!

Snow kept falling down over night. This morning, it was a quite challenge to her to go out to release herself. The snow is light and fluffy, but it was easily on her height. She doesn't like to swim in the snow. "Mama, I did it! I'm a good girl."(Translated "Give me a treat!")

After her breakfast, she started bored. I heard "Booooo." from behind me. Yes, that's a cabin fever.

The snow reached the porch already. It's still coming down. It's very windy out. Hopefully we don't lose power and Marilyn's sanity.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Never Have Enough Snow

This is from two weekends ago. Marilyn is sitting in the middle of the snow path to connect her and her besties, Sammy and Kannya. Olga, their mom, told me when they come down the path, Kennya always looks for Marilyn in our yard. When Marilyn walks down the path, she looks up Olga's deck to see if Sammy and Kannya are there. Then, she walks straight to their door. Marilyn tries to visit them. It is almost their routine to see each other everyday. It is very interesting to see how they care about each other.

Chad has been plowing this path so many times since the last week of January. The snow banks have been getting taller and taller. Now, they are much taller than these dogs.

Not just this doggy path, the side walk's snow banks are even taller. Dogs must feel like walking in a maze. For dog owners, they works as guard rails to protect our pooches from traffic. Marilyn seems to like those walls since she doesn't get distracted and it is clear where she is suppose to go... straight ahead. In the first winter she joined us, we had a big snow storm. I took her to a park. Everything was covered with snow and there was no path. Then, she got confused. She didn't know where she was supposed to go after all her familiar things were buried in the snow. She was just staring at clean flat white space. Some dogs would jump into it and make their own path as they desire. She seems to prefer a defined structure.

Speaking of confusion, it seems she has been having a hard time to figure out where she's suppose to make a turn.

Last week, we were on a regular morning walk. It was not dark. We were following her route marked as the dotted line. All of sudden, she started walking down the neighbor's drive way. I thought she found something to sniff. I waited on the street. Once she felt a pressure on her leash, she turned around her head and looked at me "What are you doing? Let's go." Then, I realized she was thinking she was following her route which was a little further down from the drive way. The snow was taller than her. Her weakened eye sight by aging was not helping her either. "Marilyn, you cannot go down there. This is somebody's yard. Come back here." She still didn't realize she made a wrong turn. She was unhappy thinking I told her she couldn't go her regular route. She stood there for a while to express her resistance. Then, she slowly walked back to me. We were back on the track and hit another corner. Marilyn finally realized she had made a wrong turn. She made a turn even more confidently this time, and was back to happy self again.

A couple days later, we were on an evening walk. It was getting dark, but still enough light to recognize everything. This time, she made a turn at one block early. It was good she was still on a street instead of somebody's property, except the street was dead end. She was confidently walking down the street. All of sudden, the road was cut off. The poor girl was confused and looked at me. "Honey, you made a wrong turn." She turned around and got back on her route.

Left is a view from my eye height. Right is a view from Marilyn's eye height.

I wonder all dogs in New England are having a difficult time and boring walks with the same white walls all the way.

Wednesday, February 3rd

It was a beautiful day with clear blue sky after the snow storm. A great thing to live in a suburb is cleaning up snow is much quicker than Boston. Only problem place is a parking of a train station. Snow is pushed away to the edges of the parking which means spots along the edges are occupied by the snow. This means less spots are available. Here, a parking spot war begins. Even if you get to the train station 10-15 minutes earlier, there is still no guarantee for your spot. Once the parking gets full, there is no other parking you can go. You screwed. This hasn't been a fun situation at all.

Boston takes much longer to clean up. Once we have a big snow storm, the city is not people friendly at all. Side walks are slippery with snow and ice. It is not rare you need to crime up a snow bank to cross a street. Drains on streets are covered with snow. There is no escape to melted snow. It makes huge dark slushy paddles at every corners where usually people cross streets. Snow boots or rain boots are must-have. We just do what we've got to do to deal with the situation.

I went out during the lunch break. Here is a winter wonder land!



The paths in Boston Common seemed to be cleared by noon time.

Some people were enjoying ice skating at the Frog Pond.

The old brick buildings look beautiful in the snow.



Not so safe for pedestrians. It must be hard to get around after dark. This is a busy road.

The city is trying their best to clean up, but it's just too much snow.


I would say the winners in the city were kids. School is off. They were heading to Boston Common for sledding with their dad.


We didn't lose power, water or gas. Only thing we had a problem that week was a trash collection. None of us thought this was coming. In fact, we'd never had this problem before. The collection for the week prier was cancelled due to the snow storm. Then, another storm hit on our trash collection day again. We had trash for two weeks waiting to get picked up. But, the sides of the road got built up snow from plowing. It was not easy for trash collectors to work on the top of catching up with two weeks amount of trash. People complained to DPW. They were working even after dark to catch up in the freezing temperature. A little empathy, compassion and appreciation would be nice especially we all know this is out of our hand and they were trying their best.

Monday, February 9th — Snow Day

Another big snow storm came. The Governor declared a state of emergency. We stayed home. Marilyn refused to go outside as soon as she saw the snow from the porch. By the evening, the lattice below the porch was completely covered with the snow. And, snow kept falling down.

My asparagus patch was deep under the snow blanket.

I spent a day finishing up a couple more pillow covers for my Etsy shop and getting ready for Marilyn's Valentine's Day give away. I found these cute Valentine's Day cards. You can simply download it.

After cleaned up the drive way, Marilyn finally agreed to go for a walk. Snow fell down on her black coat. You can actually see the snow flakes. It's pretty cool.

We walked down the quiet street. We saw Bruce came out from his back yard. Marilyn was walking toward him to say hi. Then, we heard barking. That was Sammy, Marilyn's friend. She is a mixed dog from Puerto Rico. This is another Sammy. Marilyn has two Sammy friends. She noticed Marilyn was there and started barking. So, Mallie, Sammy's mom, brought her out. As soon as she saw us, Mallie said "It's so cold out. Are you crazy all the way waling down here?" Sammy was so excited to see Marilyn and running around like a crazy. I guess we all crazy there.

The snow is taller than a car. This is happening most of corners on streets. I get very nervous to make turns. It's hard to see if cars are coming or not. Yes, driving is a quite challenge.


Tuesday, February 10th — Another Snow Day

All trains were canceled. I got another snow day.

Marilyn and I went a morning walk. When we walked by Lorri's house, we saw big birds were having breakfast in her back yard. At least a dozen of wild turkeys. Some were not in the picture. It's hard to see, but some are on the branches. It seem they are the watches while the ones on the ground are eating. As we approached her house, they started alarming. I saw Lorri in the evening. She told me there are over 50 of them come and go her back yard. And, she is feeding them to help them to get through the winter.

These big birds have big feet! They are a half the size of my feet.

I love big dogs, but no so much big birds. I prefer small ones. He was in my yard this morning. Once he showed up, two females came. He might be a bachelor?

After breakfast, I went outside to clean up the porch and the path to the drive way. Marilyn decided to join me, but as soon as we got outside, she took me to the garage. I opened the garage door since she likes to hang out in the garage. Once I started working, she came back on the porch watching me working. When I finished, she took me to the garage again. This time, she stands at the back door of my car where she usually hops into. She was telling me to go for a ride. To find out she really wanted to do that, I opened the door. She hopped right in. "Oh well, I guess we are going."

We went to see her "the other" mom. When we got there, we saw her, Laurel, Emmet, her husband, Molly, one of their daughter, Laurel's bother and mom. They are all very good to Marilyn. She is adopted by them, and they spoil her. She is a very lucky dog to have two families.

Next stop was her favorite shop, Barkery. We saw Kristi, the owner. Marilyn was so excited to see her. Of course, Kristi gave her some yummy Barkery cookies. Marilyn chowed them down quickly. She also said hello to the staff working in the kitchen. We picked up some Valentine's Day gift for her friends.

For her two legs friends, I'm going to bake madeleines. They are the people who always spoil her a lot.


This is our fun New England winter with snow and dog cabin fever. We also enjoy warm mulled apple cider and hot chocolate.

Whenever I run into neighbors, they say "Enough! I cannot wait spring comes." A neighbor seems to be missing summer a lot.

The mother Nature however doesn't think we have enough snow yet. More snow storms are coming over this weekend. It is expected that we're having one foot of snow.