Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Has TV Gone To The Dogs?

It was 11pm on Saturday night and I couldn't sleep.  Having insomnia for most of my life, I've learned to deal with it by watching tv and trying to bore myself to sleep.  On this night, the programming was even lamer than usual and I was having a really hard time finding something worth being bored over.  As I surfed through the hundreds of cable channels, I came across one which stopped me in my tracks.  I was, and still am, positively dumbfounded.

dog, canine, tv, television

I understand the whole goal of creating a tv channel is to load the programming with so many hit shows, advertisers are climbing over each other to get a spot of air time, but really?  As consumers became more electronically motivated and tv networks made more and more money off of advertising revenue, tv programming expanded with new channels.

For years men have cringed when they've walked into their man-caves to discover their wives watching HGTV, TLC, and Food Network.  I have heard more than one man moan in agony "Ah geez honey!  You're lowering my testosterone watching this stuff!". 

As television programming evolved and new niches were discovered, the channel line-up grew.  Men who have complained so bitterly about having to watch couples house hunt or compete against other couples doing home renovations, are now watching shows geared towards their interests.  Everything from car repair, to hunting, to even popular chefs teaching men to become their own grill masters, have popped up on a number of new tv channels.

All of this I can understand.  I get it.  Different strokes for different folks. Men complained, networks listened.  But this newest channel has me really wondering if tv hasn't gone a bit too far over the edge into weirdness.  What is this channel I'm talking about?

DOGTV.  Yes, you read that right.  It's a channel geared directly toward your pooch.  I about howled when I read the programming description:  "Evening Relaxation. Scientifically designed content to keep your dog calm and relaxed.".  And the subscription to this channel costs $4.99/month.  So as society has yelled and screamed about reducing "screen time" for children, we are now gearing it toward the family pet?

So, since health professionals have made a giant push to get kids out from in front of the television and into fresh air, we are now supposed to put our dogs in front of the tv?  And if our nation's children have become increasingly heavier because of a sedentary lifestyle, does this mean our dogs are going to start getting pudgier around the middle too?

I am envisioning a person trying to walk a Dachsund that's had a bit too much tv.  The poor pooch is already genetically disposed with minimal belly clearance from the ground.  Sitting in front of a tv all day could be the difference between the dog going for a walk with its owner and the owner having to roll it around the neighborhood.

I don't watch much tv anymore because I haven't found any shows which interest me.  I rarely even watch the evening news.  I can now understand why.  Television programming has clearly gone to the dogs.

Written by Christie Bielss

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ghostly Encounters - The Squeal-quel

Friday the 13th...... a full moon.......... a coyote howls in the distance........ you hear the sound of footsteps in the dark.  The hair on the back of your neck stands up and causes your heart to skip a beat.  Your ears strain for even the faintest of noise.  Your eyes stare into the pitch black darkness trying to catch a glimpse of any shadow that moves........ and you wonder if you're brave enough to get out of bed to turn on a light.  Is it an apparition or your imagination???

ghost, apparition, spirit

About a month ago I wrote about the odd night-time occurrences we have been experiencing in our home here.  It hasn't been our first encounter with the strange and unusual though.  My parents lived in a house several years back which had some rather..... puzzling... things happen as well.

When my parents moved into their home, my mother being the rather meticulous unpacker, would only allow one box to be unpacked at a time so she could carefully choose the spot where each item was to be placed.  (Yes, it took a while to unpack.)  The house had a built-in glass display cabinet, which was the perfect place of distinction for her china figurines.  She carefully chose the perfect spot in the cabinet for each one of her treasures.

After they finished unpacking and settled in, some odd things began happening.  It started out innocent enough one morning.  She and my dad woke up to find her favorite china figurine, a rather large piece, moved from the display cabinet.

Now I'm not talking about having been moved an inch or two, or even swapping places in the cabinet with another piece.  This piece was actually removed from the cabinet in the formal living room and placed on a sofa table in the family room quite some distance away.  My parents blamed each other as my mother put the figurine back in the display cabinet.

This happened multiple times over the course of the next 6 months or so.  My mom was sure my dad was doing it as some form of prank since it always happened at night after she'd gone to bed.  After many months of this happening, my mom finally had had enough.  She really read the riot act to my father over his prank and told him to knock it off.

He looked at her quite astounded and said he thought she'd been doing it.  He gave her his word he wasn't touching the piece.  She still didn't quite believe him....... until my dad, a commercial airline pilot, left to go on an overseas trip.

The second morning after he'd been gone, my mother awoke to the figurine moved from the living room cabinet to the sofa table in the family room.  It didn't take long before I was on the receiving end of an early morning telephone call from my rather disconcerted mother.   "I think we have a ghost in this house......... and I don't think it likes my decorating.".

When dad got home from his trip, mom told him about it happening again while he was away.  He laughed and told her that maybe she should just leave the figurine where the ghost moved it.

As time went by they got used to things being moved every now and again.   They decided there was really nothing to get too worked up over ....... until several months later.  My dad was again on another trip when I got a somewhat frantic phone call from my mom that the ice maker to the refrigerator quit working.

This was a problem.  They were about to host a pretty good sized party and a broken ice maker would pose a huge problem.  My husband and I quickly drove over and worked on the ice maker and could find nothing wrong. 

We tried to pull the refrigerator away from the wall, but this was an older style refrigerator and it was a beast.  Even with the 3 of us, we couldn't budge it.  There was no help for it, mom was going to have to call in a repairman.

The repairmen arrived the very next morning and checked everything we had already gone over.  It took 3 very strong men, and a lot of huffing and puffing, to move that refrigerator out from the wall.  What they discovered was very unnerving.

Someone (or something) had completely turned off the water supply line to the ice maker.  The repairmen all said there was no way my dad could have done that by himself.  They also dispelled the notion that maybe it was never turned on properly and had, by a fluke, worked all these months.  Nope, it wasn't possible they said.  Apparently the spook of this house didn't like parties.

When my dad got home from his trip, we told him what happened.  He agreed that something other-worldly was happening here and admitted to not telling about other odd occurrences which had been happening in the house.  

Apparently, he had been hearing a cat meowing in the garage on and off for a number of weeks.  He had been out to investigate multiple times in an effort to shoo away the four-legged foe before it could get into anything.  He had looked everywhere and tried to follow the sound of its cries, but he never could find it or evidence it was ever in the garage.

And then came the night of the party.  That's when we found out that one of the previous owners of the home had been crazy about her cat.  As in creepy-crazy.  While she was away on a trip, she instructed her pet sitter that if anything should happen to her cat, they were to place the animal's remains in the garage freezer so she could take care of it when she returned.

We also learned the house was the woman's favorite home and she had not wanted to move away.  And the story got even weirder when they said she committed suicide after being forced to move out of state and that her one wish was to be able to go back to her favorite home......... and we're all guessing she did.

It wasn't long after that when my parents decided that moving out to the country would be a fine idea..........

Written by Christie Bielss

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

When Nature Calls

Maybe it is from my childhood years of being a tomboy, or maybe it's just a genetic trait, but I love being out amongst nature.  Whether it's looking at snow-capped mountain tops, ocean waves rolling in at high-tide, or a bird cleaning itself in a bird bath, I love it all.

hiking, trails, nature

Tree branches sway in a gentle breeze like nature's ballet and calm my nerves faster than a day at the spa.  Tree leaves dance on soft drafts of air with movements so graceful they are mesmerizing.  The sun's ray shining through the leaves and branches of a tree are enchanting and cause me to search for a fairy dancing around in the glittery light.

The quiet pattering of rain drops on the roof and the low murmuring rolls of thunder are calming to my soul.  The stillness of a gentle rain is so peaceful you can almost feel it nurturing the trees, plants, and earth with its life giving force.  I love sitting outside on a porch swing watching the rain transform nature into deep beautiful colors right before my eyes.

I marvel at birds who are able to sing beautiful songs they compose themselves.  With a song in their heart, they sing with great abandon as the sun breaks the horizon in the morning.  I'm also envious of their ability to soar with wings spread wide on updrafts of wind with seemingly carefree abandon.

With boundless energy, squirrels chase each other around the yard.  Watching them is almost like being at the circus, without the creepy clowns.  Their feisty personalities allow them to run at breakneck speed and fling themselves from tree to tree with little fear of falling.  They seem to enjoy teasing each other with their crazy acrobatic moves.

But, when those squirrels start digging in my flowerbeds and flower pots, or try to chew a hole in the side of my house to get in the attic, my love of nature ends and my own redheaded nature comes out.  Chasing after them with a broom, or winging a bb close by their furry little bodies, will generally get them to reconsider their current activity.

When those two options fail, I send out our dog.  While last year we were surprised that our dog had no problem sharing our yard with squirrels, this year she apparently isn't feeling that same love.  Last fall, the squirrels taunted her mercilessly by dropping acorns on her head while she sunned herself in the grass and she seems to still be harboring a grudge against them.

This year she's decided they are just a bunch of bushy-tailed tree rats who are invaders of her territory.  Being a mixture of Border Collie, Italian Greyhound, and Jack Russell Terrier, she is a lightning fast runner.  Without reducing her speed, can cut corners with great skill and she can jump vertically up a tree a good distance, much to the dismay of the squirrels.

The first time she took off after one of the squirrels, it was like watching a cartoon.  The squirrel had a look on its face of "EEK! What the *#@*?!!!", while our dog had quite the Clint Eastwood determined look of "Go ahead, make my day.".  The squirrel, in complete shock and running for its life, had to make several laps around our yard in ever-widening circles before it was able to jump up a tree.  The squirrel quickly scampered high up into the tree while our dog plopped herself back down in the grass, happy in the knowledge that she'd made her territory secure......... and gotten even just a smidge.

There are so many different aspects of nature which can appeal to just about every personality.  Turn off the tv and the cell phone, and get up from the computer.  Go sit outside, take a walk, go to the park, or open a window.  Enjoy what's been put before you and allow it to restore and rejuvenate you.  And don't forget the bug spray because while there are many enjoyable and lovely parts of nature, fly and mosquito bites are not one of them.

Written by Christie Bielss