The things I’ve been calling updates are not actually updates at all. They are things that I should have included with my original column and have forgotten until those columns have gone to press.  

The reason I have to do this is that I’m an absent-minded old coot. So here are some of those things.

Neighbors: When we brought Jason home, we didn’t know how Suzie, our giant terrripoo, would react, so we kept her away from him. We forgot for a minute, and Susie jumped up and gave him a lick, and then laid down by him. She had claimed him. 

Mrs. Meisner, our next door neighbor stopped in and held the baby. She asked us “Why is your dog staring at me like that?” and we had to tell her she was holding Suzie’s baby.

Mrs. Meisner dropped her fire insurance because it cost too much. Murphy’s Law worked fine, of course, so immediately she had a fire that gutted the house. Her sons managed to fix it up somewhat, but they couldn’t restore it completely.

The house then went to Gene Clemens. He was 18, and just married to Rhonda. He worked on the house some more, and they had Sarah, Chris and Brittany there.

My garage was my workshop, so I had to build a carport to park my car in. I was working in there one day and sneezed. I heard a little voice from the other side of the wall: “God bless you, Mr. Johnson.” It was six-year-old Chris.

When Chris was about 8 he wanted a guitar. Rhonda bought him a toy one, and wondered if it was good enough to learn on. I had an old guitar hanging in my basement, and gave her that for Chris.
He is playing and singing at the Thirsty Pagan on Tuesday evenings now. I went to see him one night. He has a better guitar now, of course, but he said he still has the guitar I gave him. (He’s very good, by the way.)

Gene and Joel got to be good friends, and Gene was Best Man at both of Joel’s weddings. The second was at Disney World in Florida, so that was major.

Gene was fixing small engines of every kind in his back yard. We shared a driveway, so he kept it cleared out in the winter until he moved to Highway 33, where he put up Gene’s Marine.

After I moved to my new house, he and Joel spent one afternoon and a case of beer to put the snowblower attachment on my lawn tractor. I decided to leave it as a snowblower for the first few years. 

Sports: I said the Lynx were the only professional sport team that could win the big games. That was true when they were champions, but not so much this year – they’re in last place, I think.

Sylvia Fowles is retiring after this year, so they have some major rebuilding to do.

Ray Poirier: In the 1980s, someone gave Ray a banjo, and he begged me to tune it for him. We went to his apartment so I could look at it. I had a 5-stringer, but this was a 4-string. I knew he would never be able to play it, but I tried to tune the 4 strings to an open chord, so at least he would be able to strum on it.  

Groceries: Evaporated milk has surprised me a couple of times. I used to make coffee every morning, so I usually had 1/2 and 1/2 on hand. When I quit making the coffee every day the creamer soured, so I decided to stick to evaporated milk.

I went to the refrigerator the first day and grabbed the evaporated milk can. It was very heavy, but nothing came out. I poked a toothpick in the holes, and still nothing. I used the can opener and found the milk was solid. I have often left evaporated milk in the fridge for long periods, but this is the first time I had it turn solid.

The other surprise I had was when I opened a can that was in my cupboard, and it had soured in the closed can.

Dogs: My alpha female Sissy died a few weeks ago. She suffered terribly the last day, but I couldn’t help her. The vets are still on their pandemic protocol so they insist on making an appointment, and of course they don’t take emergencies. Sissy had chronic liver disease – I don’t know if that was the problem. It was like she had eaten rat poison.

I didn’t realize how much of my workload was caused by her until she was gone. I am left with the three little ones.

I have had Riley since he was a pup in 2005. He looks like his chihuahua father, but he has the temperament of his poodle mother. Chihuahuas can be a little nippy, but Riley loves everybody. He’s totally blind now, and has one lame back leg. He’s little and black and he always wants to be near me, so I have to be careful to not kick him or step on him. I usually use my walker around the house because I sometimes have to pick up my foot to nudge him aside.

I have a small 3-step stair so the dogs can get on the bed. It isn’t a problem for the a shi tsus, but Riley has to be very careful, and spends a lot of time arranging himself on the top step so he can make the final jump up. The other dogs love to stretch out just above the top step, so I have to move them out of the way, or Riley will fall back down the stairs. 

Once he is up, the other dogs lose interest in laying above the steps. Cookie curls up on a pillow near my head, and Stormy will snuggle up to me.

Riley loves my blanket – actually, I think he regards it as HIS blanket, so he wraps himself up in it. When he wants to get down he feels around for the corner and jumps from there. I have to keep his landing zone clear, and he depends on that.

I began splitting up a can of dog food in the morning. The first day, Riley gobbled up his bowl, went over to Stormy and barked to scare Stormy away. Then he stole Stormy’s bowl.

The next day, he gobbled up his bowl again, but when he started looking around, Stormy picked up his bowl and brought it in the dining room.

I have papers on Stormy, so I know he’s full blooded shi tsu. Cookie has shi tsu blood but her head is much smaller in proportion to her body compared to Stormy, so she is part something else.