Simply Too Cute


Sixty six shelter/rescue puppies will race back and forth between the gridirons and some will score as they take part in some friendly canine mayhem.  Once they literally poop out, more than 20 kittens will put on a feline half-time show.  Sideline reporter “Meep the Bird” will return to tweet live updates throughout the game.  Hold on to your lug nuts, it is time for the (epic) 10th Annual Puppy Bowl and Kitty Halftime Show!

If you won’t be among more than 100 million people in 198 countries watching the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos battle for the sterling silver Vince Lombardi Trophy, there’s another competition that I wholeHEARTedly recommend.   Gwamma and I are GUILTY of recording past bowl games and watching them together as a salve to hold us over until the next game.  Tune in on Sunday, Feb. 2 (Ground Hog Day!) at 3 pm (ET and PT) on the Animal Planet TV channel LIVE from Animal Planet Stadium.  Tailgating highlights from the barking lot high to follow.

Don’t miss a slice of  kitty halftime heaven during the Denver/Seattle Superbowl–switch over to Animal Planet, where Internet-famous feline Keyboard Cat will be tickling the ivories during the Kitty Halftime Show.  Another Interweb sensation, Lil’ Bub, is scheduled to perform but is “iffy” because he was just busted at the border for 2 kilos of catnip hidden in his suitcase.  The canine cop that busted him will be honored right before the game whistle blows.

Whoa. And if penguin cheerleaders and a parachuting cat aren’t enough to persuade you to touch that dial, then think about the hamster announcers, seated in the cockpit of the blimp, hovering over the field.

It’s an afternoon of scrappy puppies, their real time stats, and the potential for high-speed collisions, rollovers, and maybe even biting.  “Accidents” may happen in the end zone, but none of those boastful touchdown displays.

Puppy Bowl X brings viewers a loveable lineup full of terrier tackles, touchdowns, puppy penalties, fumbles and Fido first downs.  The referees ARE zebras.

To cool off, there will be some good shots of thirst quenching, overlapping tongues, and puppy feet tumbling into the water bowl, courtesy of the underwater puppy cam.

Among the starting lineup:

Twelve week-old Labrador Retriever/Sato mix Artemis, who “goes nuts for cat videos.”

Bernese Mountain Dog/Poodle mix Bach (14 weeks), who “thinks Mozart is overrated.”

Spaniel Cody (12 weeks), who “thinks fatherhood has mellowed Kanye.”

Bassett Hound Lily (13 weeks), who “tries not to step on her own ears.”

Siberian Husky Suri (14 weeks), who thinks “they should cut Miley Cyrus some slack.”

Nobody keeps score, but an MVP is named (that’s Most Valuable Puppy). If prior years are a guide, all will be quickly adopted from their shelters or rescue organizations. 

Hey, pass the popcorn.

Billie Bo-Beggins and the Bear


When Adam picked out an eight week old mini dachshund, a black and tan smooth coat, he thought only a German name would do.  Wilhelmina.  That quickly morphed into Willie.  This breed is notorious for mischief and since Willie, a two syllable name, sometimes took too long to say, her naughty name was shortened to  Bill!  (Get out of the garbage.)

Then Jennifer brought home an adorable mini dachshund of her own (because Willie was lonely and needed a friend, they come in collectable colors, AND, Mom,  it will be so fun).  Lola is a tan smooth coat with soft eyes and a sweet heart.  Lola was so stinking cute that her name quickly became Lola Bear.  When potty training proved difficult, Jennifer would say, “Where’s My Little Poopie Pants?”

Together, we have a pinto bean and a black bean. 

The little beans. The little beanie weenies.

One day the black bean had to be rushed to the hospital.  She couldn’t eat and she couldn’t poop and her sausage body was dragging on the floor.   She had a bowel obstruction.  X-rays showed a cute little thing stuck in her intestines that looked like a mouse with a long tail.  It turned out to be a $3,000  tampon.  From that day on, she was called “The Black Rat.”

The Black Rat has since perfected the art of sitting pretty.  For hours.  For As Long As It Takes to break all human resistance.  As soon as the fridge opens, a bag is rattled, or she smells anything, up she goes like a miniature T-Rex waving those little hands.   Her stage name is Billy Bo-Beggins.

Lola da Bear has been spotted recently in Chicago playdating with a young gent twice her size who sports a curly coat and a healthy appetite for humping legs.  Go, Polo, go.  You just go ahead and tire your bad self out.  That’s right, try and keep your tongue in your mouth.  Do you need a cigarette old boy?

There really are no bad dogs.  The best ones can be naughty and entertaining and frustrating and hilarious and goofy and totally endearing all at the same time.  The smartest ones answer to any name you call them within earshot of a cellophane wrapper being twisted but feign utter deafness when a squirrel cuts loose and they give chase.

In the end, we nickname these rats to save face–to justify our continuing to love such cute, naughty little devils who are only too happy to humiliate us in public.

Hold on, I hear my dog.  Hey, Remi!  Get out of that toilet bowl.  Rem-Tard!!!!!

I said  S T O P   D R I N K I N G   O U T   O F   T H E   T O I L E T.

Oh, wait, Daddy’s home…you go give daddy kisses–lots of wet doggie kisses.

We love daddy.


Do You Have Your Father’s Will?

A while back I wrote about my father’s passing in 2007  in a story titled, “Now You Know” and promised in Paul Harvey fashion to tell readers, “The rest of the story.”

My father was respected and was the clear leader of our family, the “Godfather” if you will.  Whenever crisis struck,  he  was  the voice of reason and solution–if not absolution.   This story, however, concerns my father’s Last Will and Testament, an item he and Mother mailed to me over fourteen years ago for safe keeping. It is an item I literally kept in my floor safe, unopened.   I couldn’t stomach opening it, reading it, or even handling the envelope.  I don’t care who gets what.  What I want is my parents forever.   The Will sat there for years among insurance policies, birth and stock certificates, and bars of gold.   Okay, one gold coin.

From the day the document arrived in my mailbox until the day my father died, I let it sit there safe in the safe, year after year, in denial that I would ever have to open it.    On March 20, 2007 in the last hour of the winter season, not willing to fight through spring and all the new-life bullshit associated with spring, my dad took the last breath of a full and complete life.

A few days later, my mother called asking me for my copy of “the will”  because she couldn’t find hers. 

The dial on the safe clicked left, three times around, and then right, two times around, and left again, one time around, until landing on the final number.  With a click, the heavy door handle released and I pulled the lead five foot high and eight inch thick door open.  Knowing right where the will was kept, I reached in; my cell phone was wedged between my shoulder and ear, telling Mother to hold on, “I got this.”  Surprisingly, I couldn’t find it.  I would have to snearch around some more and call her back, telling her not to worry and assuring her that I know I have it.

After an eternity, I started pulling out every document, one at a time–along with all the ammo, guns, gold, okay one gold coin, old tax returns, insurance policies, and junk, becoming desperate as the clock ticked.  I know I have never touched or moved it.  In the end, it simply wasn’t there and, inexplicably lost.   I had to call Mother back and tell her this without any sensible explanation.  In the meantime, she told me that she had located her copy.  Disaster avoided, and, just as well with me, because I never ever wanted to open that envelope anyway.

Jump from March to August that year.  I was early.  Mother was due up north in a few hours so I thought I would kill some time by doing paperwork.  We were meeting in Crystal Falls, Michigan, a place so dear to our hearts–having spent every summer of our lives there fishing on the Michigamme Reservoir.  Mother, barely 17 years my senior, and I did a lot of growing up there.   This was the place, these were the waters, where we were spreading his ashes.

Father taught me to tie a hook, clean a fish, and start an outboard motor here.  He taught me to poop in the woods when I was three years old, run a chainsaw when I was twelve years old, and net a fish as soon as I was trustworthy.  Way Dam Resort is hallowed ground for generations of Ashbauchers.  My grandfather discovered the spot in the 1940′s and took his son, who in turn, took his family including his only daughter–me–and his son, Woody.  Our children and their children swim in the orange, upper peninsula iron stained waters, catch crawdads at night using a flashlight, and bait hooks–five generations.

That year, waiting, I dumped my everyday briefcase on the bed in our cabin and expected to see business bills, statements, and lists.  Then it happened.  My father’s will dropped out, face up on top of the pile; a white envelope with the word “WILL” on the front of it in his unique southpaw handwriting.   I broke down.

There are some things in this world that can not be explained.  This is one of them.  This is a true and exact description of events.   That year “up north” I did not tell Mother what happened because it was too raw, too unreal, and unreconciled in my mind.  I didn’t want to upset her or accept the fact that I was just wishful or certifiably crazy.

To this day I have not opened that envelope and it is back in my safe where it belongs.  

When supernatural things like this happen to ordinary people–people who are not expecting anything extraordinary, they (me) have to believe it in spite of the impossibility.

Three more things happened of this magnitude that I am saving for another day.  But I will tell you, friend, that once all doubt left my mind–once pure acceptance was in my heart– the incidences stopped.





marbles brick 9










I’ve been falsely accused of fixating on things and then collecting them.  My adult children are stone cold meanies every time the subject comes up.  They forget that I’m the one who made them hot chocolate and Mickey Mouse pancakes.  It was me who kissed their boo-boos and foreheads goodnight.  Admittedly, my antique marble collection did get a little out of hand, but they are so shiny and pretty and I needed to build up my positive feedbacks on ebay.   These orbs were traded in the school yards  of yesteryear.   So what if I have two tackle boxes that weigh about 75 pounds each and several multi-level displays.  They are my marbles and no one is getting my aces, bloodies, or ringers.

Once I gave in to having a single compulsive collection, the kids had a field day accusing me of other hidden collections that only they know about because I keep them in drawers, away from my husband.

My motto:   He is on a need to know basis, and he doesn’t need to know.

Playing cards is one of my favorite things to do so collecting every vintage Ace of Spade card is only natural.   One time, in band camp on ebay, I ran across old canceled stock certificates from the Pennsylvania Rail Road, B & O Railroad and other Monoply properties and was captivated by the fine artwork that old certificates had.  Now my collection is about 150 certificates, all alphabetized and they proudly represent Americana.


Hey, that’s 150 positive feedbacks.  Cha-ching.

Then there’s the vintage food crate labels for oranges, apples, blueberries and other fruit and vegetables.  I had the idea once to wallpaper an entire room with them and so started my massive collection.  Now I just flip through them and admire the colors, subjects, and simplicity that represents a time, long ago.  Don’t get me started on Smoky the Bear. 

My collecting has morphed into NOT having to actually have the physical thing I adore, but a picture of the thing that attracts me.  This week I’m spending time on the Internet collecting historical Michigan logging photos and pictures of woodpeckers in a folder.  Woodpeckers are my favorite bird.  I saw my first pileated woodpecker this year and almost pooped my pants.



The bottom line that I tell my children antagonists is,

“You should hope to grow up like me. 

I go exploring every day!”



Salmon Pursuit


GO BIG OR GO HOME;  We Are In It To Win It

My son, Adam, will be featured on six episodes of Pursuit TV next year, participating in salmon fishing tournaments in the Great Lakes region where the stakes are high, 12′ waves are real, and men smell like onion armpit after a day of battle on the water.  Captain Adam will have a camera crew on board to film all the action on his boat, “The Pole Dancer”, a 32 foot Boston Whaler.  There will be close ups and monologues and lots of fishing frenzy as he fights harder to survive the competition than the fish.   Mother Nature will be up to her old tricks, there will be mechanical conundrums to solve, and 300′ lines to track where the unexpected is expected.   He is already growing a nasty beard so he can be a real shrimpin’ boat capt’n.  Damn you, Duck Dynasty!

We upped the fear factor by trading our old, red Ford F-350 pick up truck for a dual axle F-350 4X4 Diesel King Ranch with all the trimmings.  First impressions are everything and the thing is obnoxious.  When this tricked out baby rolls into the marina to dump his boat, the other fisherman should hit their knees and pray or  just throw their gear overboard and call it a day.  Some may pee their pants.  That’s the goal, anyway.

Keep your fingers crossed that the fish are biting, the skies are calm, and everyone in the tournaments gets lucky a time or two…on or off the water!




Facts of Life


Whittled away by cancer, he keeps a white bed sheet over his head, like a ghost, so that no one will discover him in bed, dead.  He hasn’t eaten in days; he just can’t anymore.  His daughter arrives at the care facility and gently whispers to the tiny sheet in the bed, “Dad, wake up.  I’m here.”  He whispers, “So I ain’t dead yet?”  “Nope, you’re not that lucky,” she says.  He pops down the blanket, looks at her and says, “This is bullshit.  Why ain’t I dead yet?”  They both smile.  She kisses the hollow in his cheek.  And so begins another day.  And so it goes; this dance.  His journey.

When it is over they will both only remember the good times.  She will think back to their summers together, floating in an aluminum boat.  She is wearing her big straw hat and watching him catch fish after fish with a simple hook and a couple of crawlers.  Chihuahua!   Her mind will drift to Disney World, a month ago, when they were both Goofy.   He will be right beside her as she dreams.

Oh, time…sweet time….the double edged sword.

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