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New year, clean slate. January 6, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Our friend Ben has always been sorry to see the Christmas season give way to the new year, as it officially does today, Epiphany Sunday. Admittedly, our tree and decorations are still up, our Christmas music is still playing, and we’re still enjoying our annual DVD Scroogefest. Silence will insist (as she always does) that everything be taken down and stored before Valentine’s Day, but in the meantime, I’m enjoying every second of Christmases past and present.

However, Silence and I also acknowledge the arrival of a new year and the possibilities it presents. Our new year’s resolutions include getting ourselves and our cottage home, Hawk’s Haven, in shape. We hope to incorporate more macrobiotic-inspired vegan meals into our vegetarian repertoire, to hit the treadmill daily, wear our pedometers religiously and strive for that 10,000 steps a day goal, and to lift weights twice a day. And we plan to declutter fanatically, making sure we’ve boxed or bagged up something to take to Goodwill, our local library, our local DVD/CD exchange, or our local antiques or consignment shops every day.

January is special to us for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the opportunity for a fresh start. My beloved younger brother has a birthday in January. Silence and I just won $100 in the local lottery, which will give us the opportunity to enjoy and support our local farmers’ market. Yum! Silence already has big plans in that direction. And of course we have our resolutions to fulfill.

Do you have new year’s resolutions? If so, please share them with us.

Be it resolved. January 1, 2012

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Silence Dogood here. Yesterday, a friend and I went to scenic Jim Thorpe, PA, a wonderful, quirky shopping destination that in its previous life was a Victorian resort town nestled in the mountains. The town retains that Victorian flavor, so it’s positively Dickensian when lit up for Christmas.

I was on a yarn-buying mission, but once I’d gotten my yarn fix, we visited a few other favorite shops. At our last stop, the proprietor mentioned his one New Year’s resolution. Yikes! I realized that our friend Ben and I hadn’t even thought about making resolutions this year. It was New Year’s Eve, so there was no time to be lost.

Staggering into the house under a mountain of packages, I attempted to alert OFB to our lack of resolve:

Silence: “Ben! BEEENNNN!!!”

Our friend Ben (emerging rather furtively from the kitchen, still trailing a few crumbs): “Mmmmph?!” (catching sight of the packages) “Santa, is that you under there?”

Silence: “Grrrrrrrrrrr!!!”

OFB: “Oh, Silence! For a moment there I didn’t recognize you. But then I heard your sweet voice…”

Silence: “Shut up, Ben. Did you make any New Year’s resolutions?”

OFB: “Uh…”

Silence: “Me either. We’d better come up with at least one apiece, and pronto!”

OFB: “Here’s one for you: I resolve to buy no more yarn until I’ve knitted all of that.”

Silence: “GRRRRRRRR…”

OFB (hastily): “All right, here’s one for me: I resolve to win the lottery this year. Win early, win often!”

Silence (thinking this over): “Well, I guess I can’t argue with that resolution. Hurry up about it, won’t you?” (looks slyly at OFB) “Just think of all the yarn I could buy with that money…”

OFB (groans, slapping hand melodramatically over eyes): “Well, what’s your resolution then?”

Silence: “Um… I resolve that, when you win the lottery, we’ll take a train ride across Canada, take Route 66 to Santa Fe, go to Greece, Crete, and Normandy, head down to Provence and Tuscany for a little sunshine and a lot of good food, then finish up with Scotland, Wales and the Lake Country!”

OFB: “Excellent plan. With all that money, I’m sure taking our black German shepherd Shiloh with us will be no problem.”

Silence (picturing ravaged restaurants, overturned farm carts, stampeded livestock): “Right.”

OFB: “Whew, I’m glad we got that over with for another year. And by the way” (disappearing into the kitchen, followed by a loud pop, then returning with two goblets of Clover Hill Blackberry Sparkler) “Happy New Year, Silence!”

And a very happy New Year to each and every one of you! May all your resolutions be achievable and may all your dreams come true!

Resolutions. December 31, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in Ben Franklin, wit and wisdom.
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Our friend Ben, Silence Dogood, and Richard Saunders, the bloggers here at Poor Richard’s Almanac, are in agreement about New Year’s resolutions: one apiece is plenty. But if you’re just going to have one, it damn well better count. These are our resolutions for 2011:

Our friend Ben: I’ve decided it’s time to write a fictional autobiography of our hero and blog mentor, Benjamin Franklin. That’s my resolution for 2011. It’s going to take tons of research, but wow, will it be fun. Let’s hope publishers and the reading public love it as I do!

Richard Saunders: I live on the East Coast, where Colonial and Revolutionary history took place, and history is my passion. But I’ve been really slackadaisical about going to historical sites and Colonial reenactments, and there’s no excuse for that. This year, my girlfriend Bridget and I have resolved to go to more historical sites, like Valley Forge and Jamestown, and to more Revolutionary reenactments like Washington’s Crossing. Maybe we’ll even manage to pull off Christmas at Williamsburg—America’s first capital—with OFB and Silence this year!  

Silence Dogood: Gee, I was going to say that my resolution for 2011 was to win the lottery. But with the guys getting all hifalutin and historical, I guess I’d better reconsider. So for 2011, my resolution is to learn more about Colonial and Federal-era cooking. Maybe our friend Ben and I won’t end up cooking our meals over an open fire, but I’ll bet I could make or adapt a bunch of Colonial-era favorite “receipts” and serve up a really yummy spread.

Your turn! What are your New Year’s resolutions?

And a happy, healthy, productive, prosperous New Year to all of you from our friend Ben, Richard Saunders, Silence Dogood, Shiloh, Linus, and, of course, from our hero and blog mentor, the great Dr. Franklin himself!

Shiloh’s resolutions. January 2, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in pets, wit and wisdom.
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                         My New Year’s Resolutions

                                     by Shiloh

Hi, I’m Pioneer Hawk’s Haven Shiloh von Shiloh Special, our friend Ben and Silence Dogood’s black German shepherd puppy. I just learned that people have an odd custom of drawing up New Year’s resolutions, and since this is my very first new year, I thought I’d draw up a few as well and see what I came up with. Let’s see…

* I resolve to chase the living squeak toys (Silence refers to them as “cats”) as often as possible. They like to play hide-and-seek with me, but since there are three of them, I can usually find at least one to chase through the house at top speed. If I catch one, I pin it to the ground with one paw and vigorously lick the back of its neck until it starts squeaking loudly. Silence enoys this game, too, since once she hears the squeaking she rushes into the room waving her arms and speaking very loudly. I’m always happy to brighten her day.

* I resolve to eat more rugs. I’ve only eaten six so far, and sadly, Silence and our friend Ben haven’t been replacing them lately. I actually enjoy the bare wood floors, since my feet make a very loud clacking noise when I run over them, and I think Silence and OFB enjoy this too, since they always start talking very animatedly after about half an hour of loud clacking. But I think they must miss rug-shopping, so I’ll try to see if I’ve missed any rugs just to give them an excuse to go out and buy something new.

* I resolve to get our friend Ben out of bed no fewer than twice a night to take me outside. He needs the exercise, and the fresh air is good for him.

* I resolve to play Silence’s favorite game more often. I love how much Silence enjoys this game. While she’s cooking or washing dishes with her back to me, I creep up very quietly behind her with my largest bone, then drop it on the floor, where it sounds just like a gun going off! Silence jumps straight up in the air, making an amusing high-pitched sound, then spins around with one hand clutching her chest and the other waving vigorously around. I try not to play this game more than a couple of times a week, since I want to make sure she forgets about it and enjoys the surprise every time. The game is also effective if she’s sitting down reading, but I don’t think she enjoys it so much, since she can’t jump as high when she’s sitting down.

This reminds me, I should tell you about my morning routine. What a lot of work! I get right to it at 6 a.m. every morning, gnawing loudly on my bone and dropping it with a thump onto the rug about every five minutes. Yes, it’s still dark, but hey, we’ve all been lying down for a long time by then and it’s boring! Time to get up. Not to mention that it keeps my teeth clean and sharp. After a half-hour of this, our friend Ben gets up, muttering furiously because he’s so happy to be starting his day. He takes me outside, we get the paper, then we come back in and he makes coffee. While he tries to read the sports section, I bring all the toys I can find and drop them on his feet. I know he’d rather be playing with me than reading some old paper, so I keep dropping toys on his feet, occasionally adding a gentle nip on his thigh if he seems to be forgetting.

For some reason, Silence doesn’t join us right away. But after about half an hour of fun and games, I start feeling really hungry, and then it’s time to wake her up. I sit outside the bedroom door and whine loudly, following this with a loud burst of piteous crying. Then I stand on my hind legs and pound on the door with my front paws. You’re right, this is a lot of work, but it only takes a couple of minutes and produces excellent results. Silence comes running to the door, and then she comes out and makes my breakfast and gives me my morning treats. Speaking of which…

* I resolve to beg for even more people-food treats at every meal. To get them, I apply separate techniques. In the case of our friend Ben, I sidle up as close to him as possible while he’s eating, giving him The Look. If this proves ineffective, I place my head on his thigh, still applying The Look. If even this tactic fails, I stand up with my paws on his thigh and my head at his eye level, all the while giving him The Look and drooling as necessary to drive my point home. With Silence, I use an entirely different tactic. I sit quietly a nice distance from her and tilt my head with the quizzical expression she seems to find irresistible. Hey, I say, whatever works. I also play another of Silence’s favorite games during mealtimes, chasing one or more of the living squeak toys under the table while Silence and our friend Ben are trying to eat. Silence especially enjoys this if I manage to bump the table so that everything on it bounces up and down. I know she appreciates it because she starts shrieking with delight. It was extra-fun when there were lit candles on the table, but recently I’ve noticed that Silence and OFB have stopped lighting the candles when they eat. No doubt they’re trying to economize.

* I resolve to escape as often as possible while our friend Ben and I are out feeding the chickens and OFB is a bit distracted. I can run over to the neighbors’ yard and furiously chase their little cockapoo Ollie around and around the yard. Ollie could use the exercise, and not only does he love this, the neighbors do, too: They always come running out of the house right away so they can watch us. Or I can run over to the neighbor’s on the other side, and, if he’s left the deck door ajar, run into his house to say hello to his old golden retriever, Jackson. For some reason, Jackson doesn’t seem to appreciate this—I clearly need to work on his social skills!—but the neighbor loves it. I can tell because he always comes rushing up, waving his arms and talking. Our friend Ben enjoys it, too: Whenever he comes to get me, he’s waving his arms and talking nonstop in a very loud, excited voice. Even Silence gets in on the act: When OFB comes back with me to our house, Silence starts waving her arms and speaking to him in that same loud, excited voice. For some reason, he doesn’t seem to be having quite as much fun at that point.

* I resolve to continue eviscerating my toys. This is actually a public service for Silence. After I’ve finished shredding the stuffing from each toy and spreading it all over the living room, I amble into her home office with just enough stuffing hanging out of my mouth to give her the hint that instant action is called for. I know that it’s my duty to give her something useful to do, like picking up the endless shreds of stuffing for the next half-hour, rather than sitting too long in front of her computer. I’ve heard that it’s bad for your eyes.  

* I resolve to keep biting off my leashes. This is a new trick I just learned last week. Using my ultra-sharp teeth, I make a single surgically precise cut straight across the leash just beyond the spot where it forms a loop. First, I bit off my baby leash. Then Silence put on a quite snazzy leash that she told our friend Ben was very expensive. The three of us took a trip into town, and when we came home and OFB opened the door to let me out, he saw that I’d bitten off this leash as well. He was quite proud of my skill—he couldn’t stop talking about it—and Silence started talking about getting me a new metal leash.  I’m not sure what that is, but it sounds like it could be quite noisy, so I’m sure we’ll all love it, especially once I figure out how to thrash it around so it makes an incredible racket. 

* I resolve to bark as loudly as possible when I see another dog, since it would be very rude not to say hello. I especially resolve to bark at top volume in an enclosed space, such as the car or house, since otherwise the dog might not realize that I’m there. Our friend Ben and Silence really enjoy this when we’re in the car: They put their hands over their ears and turn around, making all sorts of funny noises and looking totally ridiculous. But much as I appreciate their attempts to amuse me, unfortunately, this distracts me from my greetings, so I have to ignore them and bark louder than ever to let the dog in question know that I’m not ignoring him or her.

* I resolve to help Silence play with her toys. Silence has a collection of very small toys that she keeps on the top tier of the three-tiered structure where the living squeak toys like to sleep. I know that she puts them up there as a sort of hide-and-seek game so that I’ll enjoy finding them, but unfortunately, I do tend to forget them now and then when they’re up there. Once I remember them, of course, I take them all down and scatter them throughout the house so Silence can enjoy finding them. Occasionally one of the living squeak toys tries to play with them, but I immediately remove them, since they’re Silence’s toys and I know she’d be most distressed if she thought they were being abused. I know she’ll soon replace them on the top tier of the structure and we can begin the game again. It’s not my favorite game, but I love Silence, and it’s really the least I can do.

Well, I guess that’s about it. Looks like another busy, productive, happy year coming up!

           Your friend,

                       Shiloh

A New Year’s resolution worth making. January 1, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in Ben Franklin, wit and wisdom.
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It’s me, Richard Saunders of Poor Richard’s Almanac fame, here today to talk about a New Year’s resolution that would benefit every American citizen. As you all know, I’m a history buff, especially addicted to Colonial and early American history. I propose that we all resolve to learn more about our own history this year.

I was prompted to think of this resolution while reading an article in our local paper called “Without history, America is doomed” by Paul Carpenter. (You can read the complete article online at www.themorningcall.com.) The article provided some results of a study by the Lexington Institute, a Washington, D.C. think tank, on Americans’ knowledge of American history. I quote:

“More than a third of Americans could not pick the century in which the American Revolution began. Only 42 percent were aware that the nation is a republic. Three-quarters of high school students did not know that the first 10 amendments to the Constitution are known as the Bill of Rights. A third of Americans thought the Civil War came before the American Revolution and more than a third had no idea which country was hit by atomic bombs at the end of World War II. More than half of high school seniors thought Germany, Italy and Japan were U.S. allies in that war.”

Yikes! The Civil War preceded the Revolutionary War?!! And beyond this study, I’ll bet few of us could name all our presidents in chronological (or any other) order, or even all 50 states, much less state capitals. I wonder how many people know the name of the only man to sign all four major documents of the emerging American republic? (Yes, it was our hero and blog mentor, Benjamin Franklin. And the documents were the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Paris, the Alliance with France, and the U.S. Constitution, in case you were wondering.)

But it’s not too late to learn. Good history books make for entertaining reading, and history programs and movies, from “1776” to the acclaimed series on John Adams, make good viewing. I suggest a trip to your local library or bookstore where you can actually look at the books and DVDs to see which appeal most to you in terms of style and content. Used book stores are also great resources for hard-to-find history books, and for films and programs, there’s always Netflix.

I’m sure all of us could use some brushing up on our knowledge of American and world history. My knowledge of 20th-century history is appalling. I checked with fellow blog contributors our friend Ben and Silence Dogood, and though they could answer all the Lexington Study’s questions without difficulty, they also confessed to big gaps in their knowledge of history.

Silence revealed that she was seriously geographically challenged and has yet to manage to name all 50 states, even though she tries about twice a year, much less the Seven Seas, American Possessions, or all the countries on pretty much any continent beyond North America. “I thought for years that the Philippines were off the coast of South America,” she confessed. “It was so humiliating.”

Our friend Ben notes that pretty much all modern history is a mystery to him. “I could tell you all about Iceland during the time of the Icelandic Sagas (about 1000 A.D.), or about Minoan Crete,” OFB says. “But ask me about modern Iceland or, say, Holland, or the Eisenhower or George H. W. Bush administrations, and d’oh!!!”

OFB and Silence agreed to add reading up on history to their New Year’s resolutions. I’m certainly up for it. What about you?

             Sincerely,

                       R.S.