Sassy Sue wows the bark park visitors with her catching and retrieving.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Sassy's Norman Rockwell Neighborhood

 I am Sassy Sue - and this is my Normal Rockwell world.

I had rescue roses on the altar for Reformation Sunday. The frost was coming, so I cut them before we had two nights at 20 degrees. Some buds had been nipped earlier, but the five-inch rain encouraged the plants to keep growing and blooming.

They looked forlorn on the altar, mostly closed from cold outside, waiting for their big day. Yesterday, the blooms were fully open and photogenic.

I knew who wanted them most, after the service was over. Our neighbor's daughter brought two vases back not long ago. "My mother finally gave up the last rose." That meant she kept them for a long, long time. So I dropped off the new bouquet Sunday afternoon and left some coupons, too.

On our cul-de-sac we can watch the neighbors park, visit with others, barbeque, and walk the dogs. Many connections remind me of the Norman Rockwell covers of the Saturday Evening Post, which we all enjoyed each week, growing up in the 1950s.

 After surgery this year, Chris' first walk was
to the neighborhood estate sale, which yielded a
 Bissel floor cleaner.


Mr. Gardener mowed my lawn for me, without being asked, when I only had a push mower during hot, sticky, allergy-friendly weather. I delivered his newspaper to his front door each morning, since the paid service lobbed it under his car or truck each day. Sassy always waits for me to grab it and toss it to the door on our morning walks. Neighbors had an informal meeting and decided to light up his widow's home better at night. Army Ranger Bob and I pooled some twirly lights and added a solar light, so the front is lit like the White House at night.

We have the Town Car for a little longer.
Sassy enjoys trips to Walmart and the Post Office,
but most of all to her friends at Lowe's.


Bob helped the mother of the four girls on the corner to arrange her yard sales. That is one place where we swap superfluous treasures, like a Bissel floor cleaner, a neat brass table, and so forth. We donate in the hopes of removing clutter and not seeing something we want in return.

Bob sold me a Voyager - and repaired it to the point where it was more like a new car than a 2002. For rainy nights, before his camper shell was bought, he borrowed the Voyager back for the big Sunday delivery to stores. I always hand him the keys and tell him, "Don't drive too fast, son."

Sassy and I often see the vet tech and her children walking their dogs. Sassy found their runaway dog hiding in a bush, once. Our neighbor's children give me their surplus pine needles, and I pay them for their labor. A thick layer of needles provided the start for the first Hosta garden in the back.

I also used the needles to provide an acid-soil bed for the Blueberry row, but since I was raising them for the squirrels, I delivered all the plants to our dentist's wife. She laughed with happiness because she had all her plants stolen before her move. She was starting over and thought, "I really need more Blueberries."

Across the street is our Laotian family. We met the son when we first moved in. He kept asking me two or three questions at a time. I said to him, "You sound like a cop." He said, "I am taking criminal justice. Yes, I plan on it. Why do you know my mother's name?"

Next to them is the painter, who donates five-gallon paint pails to me, every so often. They are perfectly clean and so handy for storing and carrying rainwater. Our dentist's mother got one, and so did another friend. The painter's children and extended family children play outside and love to run to Sassy for some petting. She also visits the children next door, who moved in recently. Sassy is neutral about adults, until they welcome her. Then she adds them to her list of flock members. The children are always her immediate interest and she goes to them at once, a bit too loud but always gentle.

On Joye Street lives Pat and her husband John. They assume we will stop and visit when we go by. Once Pat was too tired to get out of bed. She said, "I was in bed. I heard Sassy. I said hello Sassy. Have a nice day Sassy. But I could not get up."

There are other neighbors, too. One stopped us at Cracker Barrel and said, "You own Sassy. We see you walk by every day."


Monday, August 21, 2017

Sassy Updates


Sassy is doing well. She just had a good vet's appointment, where she proved to be very healthy. They are a little afraid of her, because she can make some very quick snapping motions, but she never bites. Sassy is so kindly that she cannot hold her fierce look long - it turns into a smile.

Everyone notices that smile. Sassy does have a habit of barking too loudly when excited about meeting someone. She even thinks that barking in the face of a cat is a warm and friendly gesture. Those who know her realize that all they have to do is say, "Come here, Sassy!" and she is all wiggles and happiness.

Her latest entertainment is to howl during new songs about her. She gets buggy eyed when I start to sing - not from pain, I hope - and howls for the chorus, with her muzzle in the air.

Sassy has a regular routine, which she expects to be followed:

  1. A sunrise morning walk and an afternoon walk. No excuses, except rain.
  2. Two meals a day, plus tidbits here and there.
  3. Night-time begins with a dab of ice-cream, which we call Frosty Paws, a cheap ice milk sold under that name for pets. She gets very little, but she expects it and makes a lot of noise until it is delivered with great fanfare.
  4. A treat has to follow the Frosty Paws. Normally it is a training bit of food or a little bacon flavored wafer. We though Frosty Paws would substitute for the treat, but she insists on both.
  5. She always has a lovey time before going to sleep. Sometimes she growls and demands it. At other times she comes forward on the bed and gives each of us a big hug. She smiles while we pet her and tell her what a good dog she has been.
  6. No animal videos are allowed on the computer, especially dog videos. No matter what I do, she spots them and barks them away. She tolerates graphics but growls at ones that do not please her.


 Sassy took Chris to an estate sale a block away.
That was Chris' first walk after her surgery.

Sassy attended the 50th Moline High Reunion, Class of 1966,
visiting with Toby, Guy, and the Country Style crowd.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

New Bird Spotted - And Sassy Does an Estate Sale

This young squirrel figured out how to balance on the
Jackson EZ Bird Swing and feed. He did not mind the camera.

This was too funny not to photograph. Readers can see some features of the bird feeding area:

  1. Two hanging bird-feeders, from Lowe's.
  2. Three children's swimming pools, which are bird-baths.
  3. The finch feeder is the green area under the squirrel tail.
  4. Two Butterfly Bushes are greening up. The large one is the waiting room for the birds and the elevator for the squirrels.
  5. The area is covered in cardboard and leaves, but the perimeter has such plants as Chaste Tree, Spice Bush, Gooseberry, Raspberries, and Beautyberry.
  6. One rain-barrel is positioned for the Butterfly bushes. They get the rain, then extra rain from the roof, then a bonus a few days later from the rain-barrel. Three other rain-barrels and four five-gallon paint buckets (totally clean) capture water. Last night's rain gave us two inches.
  7. There are smaller logs around the tiny Butterfly Bush. It may find its size this year.
  8. Larger stumps are planted in the yard. Birds adore having a place to perch and preen their feathers. They also like a watchtower for spotting food rustling in the leaf-mulch.
  9. Stumps and logs also attract toads and foster fungal growth in the soil.
  10. The massive green area is a planting of Elderberry, just behind the squirrel's body.
  11. The Wild Garden is in the back, with many features to screen the view and encourage the birds.

Our teen helper said, "You must have a lot of birds in your yard." Every time I open the back door, about twenty birds and several squirrels scatter.

The greatest pleasure is having an all-day display of birds eating at two windows. A male Cardinal is often eating, three feet away, no longer worried that I am watching him.

Chris took Sassy to the estate sale, with Sassy wearing her
new sweater. Both of them rocked their outfits.

The photography session was over when the doorbell rang. Our neighbor gave Sassy a dog-sweater, which Sassy was eager to wear. We trotted over to the estate sale to show it off. That was 1/2 block trek.

We visited with most of our neighbors on the block - and their relatives - during the Easter weekend.