I wrote a blog a while back about how I’ve grown to hate repetitive, routine household chores, like doing the laundry and washing the dishes. But things have changed. The Trump presidency has altered my perspective on a lot of things. Trump and his team have caused political whiplash and existential chaos, which, in turn, has increased my appreciation for the small things in life. Things like the belief in facts, the existence of truth and the joys of a shared reality, at least with my husband. Also, a renewed love of predictability, consistency and reliability – in people and in the world.

72-drying-dishes-081616_008.jpg August 16, 2016So my boring daily slog is suddenly comforting. It makes me feel secure. My husband’s predictabale routines now seem appealing and safe. Almost sexy. Chores are no longer frustrating necessities. Sorting socks is now a calming, Zen exercise. Fitting dishes into the slots in the dishwasher gives me a sense of success and accomplishment. These are the things in life I can count on. I am not helpless in my own home.

My chores also take me away, for a short time, from the onslaught of breaking news from Washington, DC. They give me moments of quiet before the next storm. I deeply appreciate them for the very repetitiveness that had turned me against them before. Boredom is now my friend. I see it as calmness and peace without the negative connotations I used to attribute to it. It’s the antidote to my PTSD – Perpetual Trump Shitstorm Distress!


I look forward to training my puppy. Sit! Stay! Come! Good girl! Repeat. No lump in my stomach, no sense of dread. No alternative facts or alternate reality. Just me and my dog agreeing that ‘sit’ means ‘put your butt on the floor’ and ‘stay’ means ‘don’t move until I tell you to.’ Boring, but reassuring and gratifying.

Remy & Lexi

Remy & Lexi

I appreciate my friends more, at least the ones who share my version of facts and reality. My daughter not calling me for weeks is now just something I can count on in an uncertain world. If I continue to focus on the small things in life that give me pleasure and comfort, I just may make it through the Trump years.


Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: February 19, 2017

My husband does some funny stuff. He carefully stacks up all the doggy toys then laughs hysterically when they all fall down. And he does it very carefully, making sure that each toy in carefully placed where he feels it belongs.




All of these make me laugh. But.The one that really makes me laugh are the ones Garry writes on the whiteboard on the refrigerator. These remind him what special goodies he needs to feed Bonnie and Gibbs.

Because it's important to know what you need to feed those furry people!

Because it’s important to know what you need to feed the furry people!



Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: February 12, 2017

It started snowing four or five days ago and hasn’t paused since. From what I can see of the forecast, it is going to snow, pretty much continuously, for at least a week. Maybe longer.

Strange kitchen companions

Strange kitchen companions

Winter kitchen scene

Winter kitchen scene

And it’s very cold. Which means nothing will melt between storms. Not that there’s much time between storms. One moves out, another moves in. We had about an hour of sun this morning before it started to snow again. Garry was outside shoveling. Now he’s out there shooting pictures. What a guy!

Garry with snow shovel

Garry with snow shovel

Hands in motion

Hands in motion

With Garry doing outdoor landscapes of ice and snow, I’ve been taking oddballs inside. You’d think the dogs would be outside hanging with Garry and the shovel, but nope. They are inside, catching 40 winks, the occasional biscuit, and staying where it’s warm and dry. I threw them out a while ago, but all they did was bark twice and make a u-turn back through the doggy door.

Starving Scotties suffering the bitter cold of winter

Starving Scotties suffering the bitter cold of winter

Clearly roughing it isn’t part of their current playbook.



Of course, it’s all about money. It’s always about money. The bottom line. The best offer. Fans? Audience? Who cares? Not the Westminster Kennel Club. Moving from the relative convenience and general availability of USA to FS-1 and a secondary National Geographics outlet (and streaming outlets we don’t have), many (maybe most) people won’t be able to see the show.

NOTE: The Agility Masters finals were Sunday night. Tonight is the second and final night of the show, including Best In Show. Fox is doing a pathetic job of it, but Fox does sports poorly. The dogs are great, even if (other than one woman who actually knows what she’s talking about) the reporters and commentator (male) are bad. Fox has a long contract withe Westminster Kennel Club, so if you’re stuck with Fox for the duration. If you love the dogs, try to get past the awful production.

Over the past couple of decades, Westminster and dog show viewership in general has been climbing. No longer just for people who own or show purebred dogs, the show has given millions of dog fanciers the opportunity to see how the various breeds should look, and learn a little about them. Gain some appreciation for their elegance, beauty, history, and the jobs they did in the past and do in the present.


Other than the toy group, most dogs were bred to perform real tasks and many still do, although they may do different things than they did in past centuries.

Terriers hunt. Mostly vermin like rats and mice, but also badgers and other larger critters that were considered pests to farmers. They don’t do much of that anymore, although give your Cairn a shot at a mouse or two and you might be surprised at what efficient hunters they really are. Unlike cats, terriers absolute revel in killing vermin. They don’t eat it. They just love the hunting and killing.



Our first terrier, a little Norwich Terrier Champion named Divot, was a mighty huntress and while she was young enough, no mouse survived in our house. She’d kill them in a nanosecond and pile them like cord wood at my feet. Someone told me she did that because she felt I had insufficient hunting skills and needed to supply me with meat for the lean days. Personally, I think she was just letting me know how good she was.

She would also, when opportunity hopped, hunt frogs. She didn’t care for water, but she developed a real taste for frog and would brave the wet to catch and eat two or three wriggling frogs plucked from the shallows of a pond. There’s no accounting for taste.

Bishop, the Australian Shepherd

Bishop, the Australian Shepherd

Most of our “protector” dogs were originally herders. Sheep, mostly, but some cattle, too. Little dogs were and are used to herd cattle by nipping at their heels. The bigger herding breeds like collies, German and Belgian shepherds and many other similar breeds, are sheep herders. They are now used for many other things, like protecting their human flocks, and for the police and military. The big guarding breeds — Dobermans, , mastiffs and other mastiff breeds, including the much maligned pit bull varieties — were bred to guard. And guard they will, even without special training. It’s in their DNA.

Other breeds, like labs and Golden Retrievers, spaniels, pointers, and setters, were gun dogs and hunting companions. They retrieve that which the hunter shoots, or tell the hunter where (and what) to shoot … although these days, mostly, they hang out in front of the fire being among the most pettable and friendly of canines.

Griffin, the PBGV

Griffin, the PBGV — French scent hound specializing in peanut butter sandwiches — or rabbits.

Hounds are the nosiest dogs. Some, like bloodhounds, can follow even the faintest scent. Hounds are single-minded and shockingly smart. Some are sight hounds. Greyhounds and wolfhounds see their prey (they are far-sighted) and run it down. Others smaller hounds often live in packs — beagles, coonhounds, foxhounds, harriers.

Many are happy working alone. Some hounds will trail anything while others specialize in rabbits or vermin or whatever else they are trained to track. The thing they have in common is the instinct to chase or trail — or both. Even if it turns out they are tracking down your trash (they can always find it, trust me). They also do not object to a comfy sofa and anything you are willing to let them eat. Anything. At. All.

Toys dogs, were born for love. They adore people and want to be with them. While they may also retain guarding, herding, or hunting instincts, they are very good at one thing: loving you. You want love? They have love in abundance and are compact and seriously cute.

All of this is because I love watching the dog show. We aren’t looking to buy a dog or even adopt another one. The two Scottish Terriers — Bonnie and Gibbs — are plenty of dog for us. But I love watching these gorgeous dogs in perfect condition strut their stuff.

Bonnie the Brave

Bonnie the Brave

For all who believe show dogs are cruelly forced into the ring, you’re wrong.

A dog that doesn’t love being shown won’t be a good show dog. Great show dogs love the applause. They love attention. They are not shy. Divot had attitude. She knew she was The Best. She would tell you: “Just follow my lead and don’t get in my way.” She’d flirt with judges and strut her stuff … and win. Then she’d go home. hunt for mice and take a nice long nap on the sofa. One thing doesn’t exclude the other.

Westminster is the only major dog show in the U.S. that gets real TV coverage. By moving it to obscure cable channels not available to many people, they’ve effectively excluded a big chunk of their existing audience, and eliminated potential new viewers. Sounds self-defeating to me.

This was my Superbowl. How could they do this to me? To us? Unfair! Your honor, I object!


Welcome to Serendipity’s First Entry to Evil Squirrel’s Nest’s 4th Annual Contest of Whatever

Story by Garry Armstrong

Photography by Marilyn Armstrong

A cautionary tale for lovers of stuffed, furry toys – and dawgz!

No one wants to talk about that dreadful, dark day in history. It was a day of senseless violence — as opposed to those many other more sensible violent periods. The massacre was perpetrated on an innocent, unsuspecting civilian population. The blemish on our national reverence for furry creatures with embedded squeakers can never be erased.

Squirrel was the first -- but hardly the last -- casualty.

Squirrel was the first — but hardly the last — casualty.

We treasure stories about children playing with teddy bears. We sing lullabies about cuddly, soft animals who live in the sense memories of our innocent kid years.

We should have seen it coming

We should have seen it coming

But, now there’s a darker, more murky chapter. It’s about our Scotties, Bonnie and Gibbs. A bloody chapter about the ambush at Furry Toys Pass!!

There’s no forgetting the innocence of the furry victims. Mr. Rabbit, the Hedge Hog brothers. Cousin Squirrel, and Yellow Beaky Kid. They lived their lives in quiet solitude, in a hidden valley that promised safety from marauding Scotties.

Bonnie has broken through! Security breached! Alarms sounding!

Bonnie has broken through! Security breached! Alarms sounding!

Security was heightened as new members joined the furry family.  But the Scotties had a mole who leaked information to them about what should have been The Safe House. Danger was near. No one fully appreciated the depth of the Wrath of the Scotties.

With fang and claw, Gibbs is first to attack!

With fang and claw, Gibbs is first to attack!

Deception was a key part to Bonnie and Gibbs game plan. They appeared quiet and serene, maybe nothing but biscuits on their mind. We were lulled into a false sense of security. The Furry Kids were left alone and vulnerable in the pass that led to a box canyon and the badlands.

it's a trap, a trick, a feint!

it’s a trap, a trick, a feint!

In a flash, Bonnie and Gibbs made their move!! We couldn’t believe what happened. Mr. Squirrel!! The Hedge Hogs, The Soggy Doggy and Yellow Beaky Kid — all snatched in cruel jaws before we could move to save them. We couldn’t keep up with Bonnie and Gibbs as they swooped in for their prey.

Back up troops were too far away. Bonnie and Gibbs had taken over Furry Toys Pass!!

We’re now waiting for a dispatch from Reuters to see if  Bonnie and Gibbs will consider a diplomatic trade-off for the lives of their furry hostages. The Scotties are adamant in their demands. They want a huge payoff. BIG biscuits, none of those wimpy, small brittle things that melt in their paws.

Garry tried negotiations, but the Scottish Terrorists remain obdurate!

Garry tried negotiations, but the Scottish Terrorists remain obdurate!

We’re not sure if we can save the furry kids. Too many treaties have been broken, too many treats consumed. Too many casualties with holes in their furry bodies, squeakers mashed to groans. Too much hours spent stitching and mending. Too many colors of thread needed — and too many needles.

The Old Man was right about those Scotties. They are bad.

Bad to the Bone!!


WARNING: The images in this post are graphic! They may be disturbing to … well … everybody.

I didn’t want to write this blog. But last week Garry posted MASSACRE AT FURRY TOY PASS.   It made me realize if he was brave enough to tell the truth, I guess I should do the same.

Dogs are Man’s Best Friends. We all know that. We love them. They love us back.

They help the blind.

They serve in the military.

They rescue us in times of disaster.

And they’re just so damn cute!

But there’s another side to this story. A dark side.  A side seen only by the victims. Yes, dogs are man’s best friend. But what if you’re not a man? What if you’re… a dog toy?

Our oldest dog, Lexi, has dozens of toys.

Only one is shown here

Only one is shown here

She’s had them for years. Then, about two months ago, we got Remy.



One of the first things she noticed was the big pile of doggie toys in the family room.


She took each one out and threw it in the air and chased after it.

She did this all day until they’d all been thrown and chased. They were all over the room. At the end of her first day she fell asleep surrounded by all of her new friends.


New friends

It was so damn

But then the next day came. I thought I’d heard odd sounds throughout the night. Ripping sounds. Tearing sounds. I assumed I was just imaging things. But then I went downstairs, there it was. The carnage!



They were everywhere. Strewn all over the floor.

More Carnage!

More Carnage!

Eviscerated husks lying there in limp testimony to an indifferent world, an uncaring universe. Victims of a monster who seems to take joy in vivisecting “animals of cloth”.

Carnage Close Up Shot

Carnage Close Up Shot

And the stuffing! God the stuffing! It was everywhere! The floor.

The Stuffing

The Stuffing

The couch.


More Stuffing

And places that made no sense!



How the hell did it get in the microwave? I put in a cup of coffee!


Ellin and I both tried to deny it. Ignore it. Pretend it didn’t happen. But like I said. It was everywhere!


In the end we had to face the horror.

In retrospect we should have seen it coming. Lexie left most of the toys alone except for one. Blue Dog.


It was her first toy and she took it with her everywhere. But as the months and years went by Blue Dog would lose a leg, or two legs. Or a nose.


Ellin would patiently sew them back on. We thought it an act of kindness. Looking back, maybe we were enablers.

Strangely, the massacre only lasted a couple of days. Then it stopped. I don’t know why. Maybe they realized what they had done. What the cost was to them and to humanity.


What Have I Done?

Who am I kidding? It’s probably because we haven’t bought them any new toys. We shouldn’t. They’re monsters. Slayers.


But they’re just so damn cute.


As days go, this has been a very mellow one. I finally got a decent night’s sleep. And it’s pretty warm, a bright clear day with a lovely winter pale yellow sun almost adding color to the otherwise rather gray landscape. The last days of January without snow is almost a world with the pause button pressed.


The dogs know how to deal with such a day. They are good that way.

Yellow late afternoon light on two lazy little dogs

Yellow late afternoon light on two lazy little dogs

Now, I’m going off to wash my hair, then cook a little supper.