The Bone Burier

It’s interesting how dogs can be different.

IMG_0656Penny never met a rawhide bone that she didn’t want to immediately devour.  She would take it to a corner of the room, plop down, and use her paws and teeth to tear the bone to shreds and then consume it, with relish.  You didn’t know what Penny liked more — the pleasure of using her teeth to rip the bone apart or the full belly that she felt from gobbling down the wet and disgusting shards of rawhide after the destruction was complete.

Kasey’s beagle instinct, however, is completely different.  When you give her a bone she wants to go outside and bury it — right now.  And she wants to do it in secret, too.  Only Kasey can know where all of the bones are buried, and if she sees you spying on her she’ll grab the bone and pick a new spot, away from prying eyes.  Kasey seems to get multiple joys out of the experience, too.  She is a ferocious digger and likes nothing better than to put those claws to work sending clods of dirt flying.  And when the bone is safely tucked away she has the satisfaction of knowing that another bone is under the ground, secure and ready for later retrieval.

Interestingly, I’m not sure that Kasey ever digs up the buried bones.  She seems to get her enjoyment primarily from the burial job well done.

The Rain, Again

The rain, in Spain, falls again, and again, and again.

I’m as much a fan of My Fair Lady as anyone.  In fact, I’m as much a fan of rain as anyone this side of a farmer.  I enjoy the gentle patter of raindrops on the roof.  I like to see things nice and green, and I know that rain is what makes that possible.

IMG_5904But for God’s sake!  Enough is enough!  In central Ohio we have had gray skies and rain, for weeks now.  Our backyard is so lush and green it looks like the tropics.  And while those of us who live in the Midwest know that we have to endure the constant overcast during the winter months, we expect to be compensated by some blue skies and bright sunshine when summer arrives.  We want to be able to wear shorts and expose our flesh to the sun’s warming rays.  We want to sit outside in the clear, rather than remaining huddled indoors or under umbrellas, looking expectantly at the skies.

But not this summer, not so far.  I’ve come to hate looking at my iPhone weather app, and seeing either the dreaded cloud with lightning icon or the cloud with rain icon, day after day.  Will we ever see the unadorned yellow sun icon again?

Hanging With The DAR

 I’m staying at a downtown Washington, D.C. hotel and the D.A.R. — the Daughters of the American Revolution — is in the house, big time.  The group has flooded the Nation’s Capital for an annual conference.  According to a pleasant woman in the elevator, 3,500 of the D.A.R. members are here.  Yesterday all of them seemingly were genteelly and graciously  packed, cheek to jowl, into the atrium lobby of my hotel.

Two observations about the D.A.R.  First, this is a group that really, really likes the American flag.  From the little decorations on the lobby desk that featured Old Glory and the D.A.R. flag, to the red, white, and blue themes of many outfits, to the little jeweled and spangled pins sported by some members, flag references were everywhere.

Second, the D.A.R. must be one of the top national consumers of ribbons and medals.  The ribbons — which surprisingly seem to come in red, white and blue — are worn just below the shoulder on one side, and the medals are pinned on the other.  The medals are actual metal, too.  

According to my fellow elevator riders, at least some of the medals show how many relatives and ancestors were D.A.R. members.  That is pretty awesome, because some of the very well-coiffed ladies had phalanxes of medals tugging at their blouses that made them look like Soviet era generals atop Lenin’s tomb for the May Day parade.  One woman had to walk around with one hand daintily but firmly pressed against her collar bone to keep her astonishingly vast and undoubtedly heavy medals board from ripping her blouse to shreds.  Every one of her female ancestors must have been a D.A.R. member — maybe back to the Revolution itself.

Modern Hotel Technology

 It’s pathetic, but true:  our lives have devolved to the brutal basics of the constant search for electrical outlets.  “Omigod!  My iPhone is down to 78 percent!  Where can I plug in? ”  And  we mutter and curse if wherever we are doesn’t have multiple charging stations at the ready.
Which is why you have to give the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C. credit.  They’ve built outlets into the bed frame, for God’s sake!  So charge up while you slumber, compadres!  And then tomorrow charge some more.

Solving Family Mysteries, One Keystroke At A Time

It’s a legendary family story.  When Grandma and Grandpa Neal traveled to Ireland in the ’70s, they decided to take a carriage ride.  As the grizzled Irish driver was struggling to help my grandmother — a portly woman — into the carriage, he muttered: “You’re beef to the heels like a Mullingar heifer!”

Grandma, who had a wonderful sense of humor, thought it was one of the funniest comments ever — so of course we grandkids did, too.  But the driver’s jibe had an air of mystery and an almost lyrical quality that stuck with me.  A heifer was a cow, or course, but what, precisely, was a Mullingar heifer?

In those days, it would have taken forever to find out.  I suppose I could have gone to the reference section of the library, spoken to a severe-looking woman who probably would have been suspicious of my purported interest in Irish cattle, and with her assistance possibly located a massive book about bovine breeds that was available only in the library of the Ohio State University School of Veterinary Medicine.  It was too much work to satisfy a bit of idle curiosity, obviously, so I didn’t even try.

But then the internet was invented!  (Thanks, Al Gore!)  So when I was thinking with a chuckle of the Irishman’s comment the other day, I entered “Mullingar heifer” into the little box on Google, and lo and behold, I not only found pictures of the mysterious creature, one of which I’ve now posted here, but also learned that “beef to the heels like a Mullingar heifer” is a traditional Irish colloquialism typically used in connection with ladies with stout legs.  The latter discovery was a bit of a letdown, because for years I had been giving the Irish driver credit for coming up with a deft, original witticism.

Now that I’ve solved that decades-old mystery, it’s time to find the true origins of Mom’s exhortation to “put a little elbow grease into it!”

Ezekiel’s Run

We’re in the doldrums here, where the football fans among us are pining for some gridiron activity.  It seems only fair to recall one of the many magical moments in Ohio State’s run to the National Championship last year — Ezekiel Elliott’s back-breaking 85-yard gallop to a clinching touchdown against Alabama.  I love this clip because it neatly contrasts the delirious Ohio State fans versus the deflated Crimson Tide faithful who are seeing their boys go down to defeat.

We’re about two months away from serious talk about college football, folks, but I hope this will Tide you over.

Disposable

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In a hotel room, you always get a sad half cup.  A measly, generic shot of Joe to start your work day.

No actual china or stoneware coffee cup for you, my friend!  No, you’ll sip your brew from a paper cup that immediately gets stained by coffee splatter and looks like something you’d find in a bus station trash can.  It’s temporary and disposable, just like you.  Sure, we call you a “guest,” but we both know that in a few hours you’ll be gone, scrubbed clean from this room like you never stayed here.  So you’ll make do with this cheap paper cup, won’t you?

It’s not exactly an inspiring way to start the travel work day, but sometimes it’s better to be slapped with the harsh realities of the world before you go too far down the road.