Locked and Loaded



I’m pretty excited about THIS so I’m using lots of capital letters.

The iCPooch is REVOLUTIONARY.  This INTERACTIVE care device was invented by a 13 year old girl who had a dog that suffered from separation anxiety.  AND IT WORKS.  You can feed and talk to your dog when you are away.

Lock and load some treats in one of the four little trays that slide down a hopper.  Mine doesn’t stay clean long…usually there are bacon crumbles or cracker bits laying on the bottom.   Sync the feeder to your phone using the app.  (It was so easy even a 54 year old could do it.)

Now leave the room or leave the house or leave the state or leave the country.  When the spirit moves you, open the app to send a signal to DROP A TREAT!  There is a mechanical sound when the chute pops open and it took my dog 1.5 times to memorize it.   Works better than hearing aids.  She might not move when I call her from the next room, but let that chute sound off and BOOM.

Now here’s the best part…if you have a tablet laying around, you can opt to attach it to the front of the feeder to talk to your dog and see your dog on FaceTime.  SERIOUSLY.  YOU CAN CALL YOUR DOG ON THE PHONE.  Have her do tricks for you, too, sometimes, before releasing the treat.  I feel like I’m living in the future, in a Jetson’s cartoon.

iCPooch is fun for both of us and if you have a spare buck fifty laying around, get one.  It works on cats, too.  But I don’t like cats.  Not yet, anyway.  Everyone says I will when I get old.   I’m all about that pup, ’bout that pup, ’bout that pup…no kitties.

Here’s the website:



Conehead, the Barbarian


Zipping through open fields on a frosty winter morning, hunting Birdies in Michigan, is all fun and games until someone ends up sporting a cone. 

Miss Priss had been working those ditch rows for pheasants, racing for hours with the grace and agility of a pronghorn antelope–or maybe it was like the “seven lords a leaping,” ~you decide.

At times, she was only wild ears flopping and rapid-fire recon eyes with a heart that wouldn’t quit.  The switchgrass is so tall; she was essentially running blind and bursting up through it.  She made course corrections this way.  You don’t have to teach a dog to hunt, you have to teach a dog to listen and to obey.

All day, she cut right or left to the whistle and aligned herself with the shotgun and the man that would ultimately produce her prize.  Teamwork.  After a couple of productive hours, our son, Adam,  had six birds in the bag. 

 Good dog, good day. 

 Then there was the blood.  On the floor.  That night.   Diagnosis:  a torn front foot pad. 

We put a little bootie on her foot and added a blow up donut ring around her neck for “insurance.”  Everyone went to bed.  In the morning, the bootie was gone.  She ate it.

Next up, the cage muzzle.  We didn’t have one so I ran to two pet stores to find the best fit. This way, I thought, she could get around easily, heal up, and it would prevent  her licking the paw to death me from having bruised shins and calves (if we had to go nuclear with a cone).  I tied extra straps to it for “insurance” and confidently went to work.  I am an overachiever, after all.

When I came home, she was at the door with an angel face–but the devil is in the details:  she was dragging all the yarn, five miles of medical tape, and the muzzle from her collar.  The foot was inflamed,  raw meat was hanging off of it, and she crapped a blue bootie, too.   Next stop, the vet’s office.

Yes, Remi,

my industrious

German Shorthaired Pointer,

my liebling gummibärchen,

you have earned that cone of shame.




I Want to Be My Dog

June 2011 30275

Every day I love on my dog, Remi, and whisper sweet bits and encouragement into her ear.  Can you kiss a dog too much?  Then there are days when I cup her flabby cheeks in my hands, look into her eyes with pure adoration, and get rewarded with an audible “toot” and a nasal assault that makes me jump off the couch and run.

We begin and end each day the same way:  cuddled up under a mountain of blankies, stuck together like peas and carrots.  Now I’m not saying I’ve never sought revenge with the ‘ol Dutch Oven trick, but overall, we get by just fine.  Most mornings start out obnoxiously.  I play dead, hoping she will go back to sleep, and she escalates bad behaviors that begin with staring at me while I’m fake sleeping, pawing at my boobs (which generally gets me to at least move in an act of self-preservation) and ends up with her trying to sit on my head.  She knows no shame.

We go out to check and feed the chickens and goats.  This is when she takes a hot, steaming dump in the side yard, close enough to the pathway, that I get to smell it.  Then we go “running”.  She runs, I drive.  Once she has ticked a couple of miles, I can escape to run errands, drive tractors, or go to work.  If she even thinks I am leaving her behind, she cowers down at my back tires, pulling a Helen Keller, and doesn’t respond to any commands.  I have to go out there, tell her to knock it off, and give her a quick boot in the butt.

Here’s the problem:  the whole time I am away, I want to be back home with the dumb-dumb.  I want to feel her soft head against my cheek, hold her in my lap, or breathe in her incredible great smell.  Does anyone else love to smell their dog’s ears and paws?

Slo-Mo Run

Finally, I roll up the driveway and, there in the window glass,  I spy a white, wiggling body and an intent brown head staring at me with huge chocolate eyes.   She is saved. Each time.   That’s how dogs think–that you are leaving them forever.  There is a flurry of hugs and kisses and greetings in my Mommy sing-song voice followed up with a stop at the treat jar and fifty shades of fetch.

Reunited, we settle into evening routines.  Remi watches me cook, hoping I drop something, and I always do.  If it is summer time, we go out to the lake after dinner and she goes swimming. Mmmm…wet dog smell.   In the winter, we go for another run with the car.  In between, we go camping as much as we can and hike the north woods together.  She has a little plaid jacket to wear around the campfires on cool nights and a life jacket to wear when we are out fishing on the boat.  Then there are days when we paddle our canoe.  She is my Lieutenant Dan. 

Of course, Daddy is her hero.  She sees him 1/10th of her day, but as soon as he walks in the door, I’m reduced to douche bag status.  She hopes he is going bird hunting.  Every day.  Every time.  watch?v=3TB5p6D-V9s&feature=youtu.be

It dawned on me that Remi has the perfect life.  She even has a big chest and a little behind that would make Pamela Anderson jealous.  There are no little kids in our home to pull what is left of her tail, there’s an endless supply of love, holes to dig, fields to run, and lots of vacations.  In my next life, I want to be my dog!








The Lake Isle of Innisfree


I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:

Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;

And live alone in the bee-loud glade. 

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;

There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,

And evening full of the linnet’s wings.


I will arise and go now, for always night and day

I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;

While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,

I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

                                                                                  ~ W. B. Yeats, 1865 – 1939


I relate to this poet in that day or night, his mind is always on its way “home” to a quiet lake where he yearns to be.  Earlier today, Remi and I left civilization behind and braved the spring gusts to commune at  Walden’s Pond.  It is a four acre lake hidden on our farm.  There Remi dug holes until her white underbelly was camouflaged by dirt.  She splish-splashed her way along the frigid shore, hunting the plops that frogs make.

There I found a place to quiet my mind and marveled at the new life beginning to spring.  We found tiny buds sprouting on prickly bushes and delicate purple petals bursting past the marsh grasses up toward the sun.  Sadly, I found the remains of a yearling that did not survive the state record snowfall we suffered this year.  Even in death there is beauty in the woods  when considering that this deer, through flesh, blood and bone,  has given strength to other animals in the circle of life.

One day I will live the dream that is this poem, leaving behind schedules, conflicts, and scheduling conflicts! to live out my golden years in a bee-loud glade.  My canoe will rest on the bank and, under it, you’ll find my trusty fishing pole.

Spring Chickens

Coco is a stylish girl who likes to keep her feathers dusted.  She went all spread eagle on me and it was kind of embarrassing to stand there with a camera in my hand.  It was a dirty job, but I got the shot.  Not one to be shy, she recruited Nutmeg to watch.

The day started out with an April shower this morning and all the layers were huddled by the pop hole, peeking out every now and again to gather up the courage to make a run for the barn’s overhang.  There they know we keep extra snacks for just such a rainy day.

By one o’clock this afternoon, the sun began to shine and dried up all the rain so the itsy bitsy chickens strutted out in search of tasty bugs and wiggly worms, their favorite snacks.

Nemo, Margo, Nugget, Parsley, and Chick Norris (the orange Buff Orpington) were scritch-scratching away until the sun got really hot and then they gathered up Bonnie, Copper and Petal for a lazy afternoon of sunbathing.  In between all this clucking, rolling, searching, and resting, they managed to lay six brown speckled eggs and three shiny white ones.  What good girls!

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t love listening to my hens trill, squawk, chirp, or cluck out an alarm.  They are very social and engaging.   It’s not all sunshine and lollipops though…  Like. Today.  Bonnie plucked a pearl earring right out of my ear!  She was on my lap, getting some extra lovin’ and (possessed) decided to reach up and grab it.  It was in her beak and as she was just about to throw her head back to swallow it down, I grabbed her throat with one hand and extracted it with the other.   The post could have really hurt her insides!  Silly Girl.

Just when I think I’ve seen everything (after 20 years of poultry experience) there is always one more surprise!


Wendell Ashbaucher of Bluffton, IN


In the early 20th century, childhood deaths were common place in rural America and parents had to accept that some of their offspring would not survive.  Influenza and farming accidents claimed many lives in those days.  There were no antibiotics.  Polio, measles and mumps were prolific.  Farmers set their own broken bones and horses pulled the plows until they dropped dead in the field.  Women baked bread, sewed for the family, made do, and tended large gardens full of cucumbers to be pickled, beets, turnips, carrots, potatoes and onions.   Underground root cellars were thus filled and wheat that was threshed in July was ground into flour to bake breads, pie crusts and pancakes.   There was a pig in the pen, a hen house filled with layers and fryers, and a cow for milk.  Beef cattle and Percherons were rotated on pastures.

Nancy Mabel Waugh, my great grandmother.

My great-grandma (Nancy Mabel Waugh) was born in 1892 .  She lived on such an Indiana farm in the early 1900′s with her first husband, my great-grandfather, Wilhelm (William Edward) Ashbaucher.  They were third generation settlers, at the brink of American ingenuity and prosperity.  Henry Ford’s Model T was just rolling off the assembly line.  Soon to follow would be Edison’s electric light bulb, indoor plumbing, and radio sets which could miraculously broadcast a Yankee’s baseball game or one of Jack Dempsey’s fights.  Charles Lindbergh was learning to fly.

World War l was raging the year my grandfather, James William Ashbaucher, was born: 1917.  By November, 1918, the war to end all wars would be over.

My whole life, I was told that Grandpa had a big brother,  Will, who died one evening after being kicked in the head by a horse.  He was seven years old.   I was only six years old the first time I remember hearing the story.  It has always bothered me:   this little Will-boy who died without having had a chance to make his mark on the world.  I have always loved him.

Children of Nancy Mabel Waugh, my grandpa and his sister, Martha 1950′s

As I grew up, I would think about Will’s life on the farm.   He was the only big brother my grandpa ever had and he certainly tagged along after him.  By age 3, Grandpa was reaching under hen bellies to gather eggs while Will swept the hen house floor and freshened the nests.  Both boys shared an oval, metal bath tub in the kitchen on Saturday nights.  My great-grandma would heat the water on a stove top and both boys would strip down and get a good scrubbing.  My Grandpa wore Will’s hand-me-downs until 1926.  He was four years old then–the year that Wendell Waugh Ashbaucher “Will” was injured by the horse and killed.

Grandpa Place, living in town.

Four years later, unexpectedly at age 38, their father (my great-grandfather) died too:  leaving behind the farm, his wife (my great-grandma), and their two young children, my grandpa and, by then, a baby sister named Martha.  That’s when my great-grandma’s world fell apart.  She couldn’t care for her children and so sent them to live with two other families (temporarily) as she sold the farm, the livestock, the tools, and equipment.  Martha was cared for in town and fared well.  My grandpa, at age 4 or 5, went to live on another farm.  He never spoke of that time, but it is generally understood that he  had a hard life because the family was cruel.   Great-grandma moved to town and grieved.  Eventually she remarried a man named Glen Place, who was a railroad engineer, and brought the children back home to live with them.  Grandpa Glen was much loved by all and worked for the Nickel Plate Railroad.

  Today Grandma Place is buried between both husbands.  She died in 1971.

As a young girl growing up in Chicago, Grandma Place would come to visit.  She was very old by the 1960′s, but would push me on a back yard swing.  Later we would share some vanilla ice cream that my grandpa would hand crank in the cool of the shaded porch.  She played a wicked game of pinochle, wore lots of perfume, and her eyes twinkled.  She was a round, big hipped woman with frosty white hair and saggy, baggy cheeks that hung down.  She was soft and beautiful.   Once, she sewed me a dolly blanket from scraps and mailed it as a Christmas surprise. Now, when I get the patchwork blanket down from the shelf and look at the stitches she lovingly placed, precisely-spaced in rows, I wonder…

I wonder how she bore the loss of a child and a husband.  I wonder if she thought of them in the twilight hours of her life as she pieced together my blanket.  I hope making the blanket gave her comfort.  I can not touch the blanket without thinking of how she overcame all that sorrow.  She went on to live a happy, retired life in sunny Florida where she rode a three wheeled bicycle and enjoyed the sun’s heat and shine by the pool.  Later, Martha would join her.

One hundred years later, in 2013, my cousin, Sandy, and I were camping near Bluffton and on a lark I said, “Hey, why don’t we find out where the cemetery is and see if we can find any Ashbauchers.”   We googled it and discovered that there were four cemeteries nearby.   By divine intervention, we picked the right one, Fairview Cemetery.



My secret hope was to find Wendell.   I wanted to tell him (my great-uncle!) that he was not forgotten and that I loved his little brother, my grandpa, with all of my heart.


To be Continued….




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