For those of you who expect dog news — and only dog news — on this website, I apologize, but I thought I’d share this tale of how I, as a savvy consumer, got nearly an entire set of free kitchen knives for $1,678.
It was through a “game” (those are sarcastic quotes) called Kitchen Kaboodle. So much fun! (That’s a sarcastic exclamation point.)
In Kitchen Kaboodle shoppers at my grocery store — Lowes — were awarded stamps for their purchases that they could later redeem for kitchen knives.
Having no sharp kitchen knives, never being any good at sharpening them and always looking to save a buck, I jumped right in.
Lowes is a North Carolina-based grocery chain, not to be confused with the home improvement chain that uses an apostrophe in its name. Lowes grocery stores consider themselves a “community” (more sarcastic quotes). They reinvented themselves a year or so ago, revamping their outlets to look more like country stores, with lots of cracker barrels. But it was an upscaled kind of down-home feel, with higher prices, built-in coffee shops, never-ending wine selections, cooking classes and such.
They named the cash register lines after local roads, and clearly trained their employees to exude a cult-like howdy neighbor ambience. Employees are (with rare exception) that oozy kind of friendly you find in the south and never are convinced is sincere (even though it sometimes is).
Announcements over the public address system now begin, “Attention Lowes Community …” We’re no longer “shoppers” but instead we are friends … member of an extended family that reunites every week or so when our milk, bread or coffee run out.
That’s assuming the stamps survived the trip home. They are so small — about the size of a dime — they often didn’t.
I generally tossed the green and white stamps into one of my green and white plastic Lowe’s grocery bags, where they become all but invisible. Sometimes, after returning home and putting the groceries away, I have fished through 12 empty bags in search of them. Sometimes I found them later, adhered to my bologna in the refrigerator. Sometimes I never found them.
Given the game is probably most popular among older folks, Lowes could have made the stamps a little bigger. In addition to having trouble seeing them, and remembering where we put them, peeling them off the strips and putting them in the book can be challenging to those whose fingers have lost some of their dexterity.
(I would suggest they made it harder on purpose, but that is no way to speak about one’s community.)
As a child, after my mother convinced me how much fun it was, I would lick them (that couldn’t have been healthy) and stick them in the books until my body was totally saliva free.
In the 1960s, collecting the stamps was highly popular among otherwise bored suburban housewives. S&H claimed it issued three times more stamps than the U.S. Postal Service. Its reward catalog was the largest publication in the country.
It was a sticky way for a family to bond, and it wasn’t uncommon to find a stray green stamp stuck to your clothes or homework.
So maybe it was green stamp nostalgia that made me want to play Kitchen Kaboodle. More likely it was my love for getting things for free.
The kitchen knife set consisted of the following: Knife block, cutting board, sharpener, shears, steak knives and seven other knives.
It quickly became clear that — however hard I were to spend — I was not going to get the whole set.
As the deadline for collecting stamps approached (Feb. 12), I’d review how many stamps I had and lower my expectations, ruling out the cutting board, the shears, the sharpener, the steak knives and some of the others I didn’t see myself using much.
Bread knife? Bread already comes sliced, and I have an old and never-used one, anyway.
Slicing knife, for carving meats? It is rare that I, living alone, cook a big hunk of meat that needs slicing. I deemed it non-vital.
Santoku knife, with a scalloped blade? I have no idea what that is for, so it was easy to mark it off my list.
I didn’t foresee a need for the Chinese cleaver. But I had to have it.
The most expensive of the knives offered, at 80 stamps, it’s an impressive looking piece of cutlery that would allow me to hack through bones, and signify to visitors that I know my way around the kitchen.
In truth, I’m not a real sophisticated chef. I don’t make things like Peking duck. I could, I suppose, use the Chinese cleaver to cut up Chinese things, such as bok choy, but I don’t make bok choy.
In fact, I can’t remember ever having a need to cleave.
Still I wanted it, and I had to have the knife block, too, because it had a big slot into which the cleaver neatly fits.
As stamp collecting time ran out, I made one last trip to the store, buying things I didn’t need at all, buying expensive brands instead of generic ones, looking around for something I could buy and later cleave. (I settled on green beans.)
Back home, I pasted and tallied things up — two full books of stamps, and five more, or 165 stamps.
I weighed my alternatives and made my final list. The knife block was 15 stamps plus an additional $15. I would get the chef’s knife, for 60 stamps, and the utility and paring knives, at 30 stamps apiece.
That left me with 30 stamps — not enough for the Chinese cleaver, unless I forked over an additional $13.00.
With $28 of cash money, and 165 stamps (gained from $1,650 in purchases over about four months), I sought redemption and, after only a little bit of confusion with all the math that had to be done at the cash register, achieved it.
Back home, I proudly inserted my new knives into the appropriate slots of my new knife block, where they sat for a week before one was required to cut an onion, at which point I nicked one of my fingers.
That led me back to the Lowes Community for some Band-Aids. After that, I decided I may hold off on using the Chinese cleaver — at least until Lowes adds a community emergency room.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 8th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bargains, chinese cleaver, cleaver, community, consumers, cutlery, green stamps, groceries, grocery, humor, kitchen kaboodle, knives, lowes, marketing, promotion, promotional games, redemption, s &H green stamps, saving, savvy, stores
The townhouse community in which I live is divided into bays.
On my bay — Bay 8 — there are 20 housing units. There are two or three children. And there are 27 dogs.
Every once in a while when the weather gets nice and the neighbors get coordinated, a dog party is scheduled — held at the bay’s dead end, right in front of my house.
Everybody brings beverages and appetizers and lawn chairs and their dogs.
And then the festivities begin.
With only a few exceptions, the dogs behaved exceptionally well.
One (not mine) got into the apple pie somebody brought. Another (mine) peed in the middle of the seating area. Otherwise, they behaved in an exemplary manner.
The humans did OK, too.
Based on their luxury cars, some neighbors assumed they were investors, who would buy the house and rent it. (Owner-occupied homes are preferred.) So there was some talk of sending all the dogs to that house to bark and poop and generally create a bad impression. (The dogs did not oblige.)
There were big dogs and small dogs, puppies and elderly dogs, the vast majority of them having come from shelters and rescues.
At least two of my neighbors have five dogs. They would bring one or two to the party at a time, return them to their houses, and then come back with more.
The plethora of pooches is one of the things that attracted me to the community, and Bay 8 in particular.
If ever a neighborhood needed a dog park, it is this one. There’s enough demand that the homeowner’s association recently gave the OK, at least unofficially, to letting people and their dogs use the fenced-in tennis courts, which are seldom used for tennis.
Everybody knows socialization is good for dogs, and good for humans. In communities like mine, where residents can often keep to themselves, dogs are probably the main way that people come together. And — though I’ve only been to one — dogs are far less boring and far more fun than homeowner’s association meetings.
If you’d like to see more photos of the dog party, you can check out the album I posted to the ohmidog! Facebook page.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 22nd, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bay of dogs, behavior, block, block party, community, dog, dogs, jinjja, neighborhood, neighbors, party, pets, sherwood west, socialization, socializing, townhomes, winston-salem
This could be the healthiest and least imbecilic fad to hit college campuses in a long, long time.
It’s a simple little idea — taking a photo of a dog who is out in public and posting it online — though the rules, which vary from one Dogspotting group to another, can get much more complex.
It strikes me as a much better use of time than PokéGo, in which people step out into nature and then ignore it while transfixed to their electronic devices, searching for creatures/objects/whatever that aren’t really there, other than virtually.
Dogspotting has been around, and has had an international following, since 2006, but in the past few years it has caught on as smartphones have evolved. Nationally, it now has more than 300,000 members.
At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, sophomore Emily Korest started a Facebook Dogspotting group earlier this month. It already has more than 500 members.
“If you miss your dog at home this is the group for you!” she wrote in a post, “A collective to inform on dog sightings, post cute pics of dogs, and for dog owners to let us know when we can hang out with their dogs.”
“I have a couple friends who go to different colleges that have Dogspotting groups, and I just assumed that we had one and that I wasn’t in it and I realized we didn’t,” Korest told the Daily Tarheel.
“I just really like seeing dogs. I feel like we’re all really stressed — it’s midterm season — and every student deserves to have dogs in their lives.”
It’s not uncommon, when a new photo or video is posted of, say, a dog in The Pit, a gathering area outside the student union, for participating dog-loving students to stop what they’re doing and go meet it.
“I am more in it for actually seeing the dogs on campus,” Korest said. “I like the pictures a lot, but when somebody says, ‘There’s one in the Pit now,’ and I’m in Davis, I can just walk out and see the dog. That’s what I want.”
Nobody seems too interested in the game’s point system — one point for posting a photo, two more points if that dog is eating something — and the UNC group, unlike some others, has a pretty lax set of rules.
According to The Guardian, he came up with some rules and shared them on the comedy website SomethingAwful.com in 2006. The Facebook group was created in 2009.
“From the very beginning, Dogspotting was something that I thought was cool to share with people in a personal, real-life setting,” Savoia said. “It’s great that, despite the majority of it happening online, people are brought together by dogs.”
Of course, like any pursuit carried out by humans, over the Internet, it has the potential to abruptly turn mean, vicious, perverted or hazardous to one’s health.
At its core, though, it’s a pure and refreshing pursuit.
“I just love dogs,” sophomore Ryan Alderman, a member of the UNC group, explained. “Dogs are such pure, beautiful animals, and I love them so much. We don’t deserve them, and I like that other people feel the same way, and we can point them out and tell you where you can pet them. It’s just so sweet.”
(Photos from the Facebook page of UNC’s Dogspotting group)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 18th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, campus, chapel hill, community, dog, dog spotting, dogs, dogspotting, emily korest, facebook, fads, game, group, groups, pets, photographs, photos, post, social media, student, students, the pit, trends, unc, university of north carolina
A dog who ran off after a car accident in Alabama that killed her owner was found after a three-day search and driven more than 700 miles home to be reunited with the accident victim’s family in Arkansas.
Sgt. Jonathon Whaley and another officer were at the scene of the single-car accident that killed the driver and injured the passenger when they learned that the victim’s dog — a pit bull named Kai — had also been in the car, but ran off after the crash.
Police in Dothan, Alabama, said Mckenzie Amanda Grace Catron, a University of Arkansas student, was driving the car when it ran off the road and into a telephone pole last Saturday. Catron, 19, was pronounced dead at the scene. Her passenger, also 19, was rushed to an area hospital.
The two were on a spring break trip.
Once hearing from witnesses that there had been a dog in the car, too, Sgt. Whaley said, “We felt we needed to find the dog. We were going to do whatever we needed to do to reunite this dog with this family.”
Dozens of community members felt the same way, Fox 5 in Atlanta reported.
For days, police, firefighters and volunteers searched the area around the crash for Kai. They posted flyers, and started a Help Find Kai Facebook page, through which they stayed in touch with Catron’s family in Arkansas.
One of the volunteers was Benjamin Irwin, a Dothan attorney and animal lover. He and his wife offered a $1,000 reward to anyone who found the missing dog.
“We just really wanted this family to have this piece of their family back, something to help remember their daughter,” he told Al.com.
Irwin and another volunteer spotted her from afar.
Joined by others, they pursued her for more than a mile before capturing her in a shed.
“Over the city blocks and miles of both running and driving we found mutual friends who eventually jumped in and helped as well,” Irwin said. “Once our number was up to eight people we were able to get Kia to relax enough … to grab her collar.”
After Kai was taken to an area vet, Sgt. Whaley and his wife Ashley, offered to take her back to Catron’s family in Bentonville, Arkansas — a 12-hour drive.
Kai was reunited with Catron’s family Tuesday, and Kenzie Catron’s funeral was held Thursday.
No one collected the reward money, and Irwin said it would be donated to the animal shelter in Arkansas where Kai was originally adopted.
(Photos: From the Help Find Kai Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 25th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accident, alabama, car, community, dog, dothan, facebook, found, help find kai, jonathon whaley, kai, killed, lost, mckenzie catron, pit bull, pitbull, returned, reunion, reward, search, spring break, student, university of arkansas
A homeowner’s association at Paradise Lakes Resort doesn’t have weight limits when it comes to human residents, and we guess that’s a good thing — even though the condo community is a clothing-optional one.
But the association’s rules run a little stricter for dogs, including one that bans any dogs over 25 pounds — apparently even when it’s a guide dog that belongs to a legally blind resident of the nudist community.
By now you’ve probably guessed that this can only be happening in Florida, specifically in Lutz, where a homeowner’s association has told Sharon Fowler she needs to get rid of her black Labrador, Laura, or move out, according to a lawsuit.
Fowler filed a lawsuit against the association last year. It was dismissed by one judge, but now that dismissal has been overturned by an appeals court, and Fowler has renewed her fight to keep the dog she says she can’t get around without.
“She helps me to get around curbs and obstacles,” Fowler told the Tampa Bay Times. “She’s 100 percent necessary to me. She’s my lifeline.”
According to a lawsuit filed last year, Fowler received a letter from the association telling her to get rid of the dog or move out.
The association said the dog violated their weight limits — something that wasn’t pointed out when Fowler filled out an application, disclosing the dog’s weight, when she moved in.
Even when Fowler provided documentation of her disability, the association did not withdraw the notice of the violations, according to the lawsuit.
“I felt demeaned, and I felt degraded,” Fowler said. “I’ve never felt so degraded.”
Her lawsuit seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages for mental anguish.
“It’s the principle of the fact,” Fowler’s husband, Craig, said. “The board needs to know they cannot bully us around.”
Fowler says she has been told to only walk the dog in specific areas, and stay out of the way of pedestrians. She’s also been told her dog is out of control, which she says is not the case.
“My dog is a highly trained service animal,” she said.
“Paradise Lakes Resort does not discriminate against any person with physical disabilities and does not prevent any person with service animals from visiting the resort,” owner Jerry Buchanan said.
Fowler’s accusations were directed at a homeowners condominium association not connected with the resort.
Fowler says she has a rare autoimmune disease called leukocytoclastic vasculitis, which has already affected her sight and could affect her hearing.
She doesn’t want to move because she has learned her way around Paradise Lakes, and appreciates being able to live in a clothing optional community.
(Photo: Fowler and Laura; by Brendan Fitterer / Tampa Bay Times)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 28th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, assistance dogs, association, black lab, blind, clothing, clothing optional, community, condo, dog, dogs, florida, guide dog, lab, labrador, laura, lawsuit, legally blind, lutz, nudist colony, nudists, nudity, paradise lakes resort, pets, rules, service dogs, weight limits
John Steinbeck would have loved Slab City.
It wasn’t on his route. It’s rarely on anybody’s. But on an abandoned military base in the desert of southeastern California, there are some highly colorful characters among the snowbirds and squatters who call it home, for now.
Dubbed “the last free place,” Slab City is a collection of loners, losers and lovers, of the freewheeling and the freeloading, of people on the run or simply on vacation, of vagabonds and vagrants, of the rebellious and the rebounding, of dreamers and drifters.
It is full of tumbleweeds — and many of them are human.
Steinbeck — between his compassion for the destitute, his distaste for bureaucracy, his sense of social justice and his love of a good story — would have found the barren desert fertile ground.
Here’s how another author, Jon Krakauer, described it in his book, “Into the Wild:”
“The Slabs functions as the seasonal capital of a teeming itinerant society — a tolerant, rubber-tired culture comprising the retired, the exiled, the destitute, the perpetually unemployed. Its constituents are men and women and children of all ages, folks on the dodge from collection agencies, relationships gone sour, the law or the IRS, Ohio winters, the middle-class grind.”
There was no teeming when Ace and I rolled through on Thanksgiving; likely, most residents were inside enjoying the same big dinners people in real houses have. We spent most of our time — after driving around the community of RV’s, campers, trailers and live-in school buses — trying to coax what appeared to be an abandoned Chihuahua, laying on a huge pile of help-yourself clothing, into taking a treat.
Slab City is named after the concrete slabs and pylons that remain from the days that the land was part of a World War II Marine barracks, called Camp Dunlap. After it shut down, some servicemen remained, and others — seeing it as a place where one could both be free and live free — arrived.
It’s estimated that several thousand campers use the site during the winter months. Several hundred people live there year-round — tolerating the brutally hot summers in exchange for free rent. There is no charge to park a rolling home in Slab City. There’s also no electricity, no running water and no toilets, portable or otherwise.
To Imperial County, and the state of California, it has been a thorn in the side, but at the same time — because of the tourists it and neighboring Salvation Mountain attract — it contributes to the economy of surrounding towns.
At one point, the state considered turning it into an official state camping area, and charging fees, but because it includes Salvation Mountain — one man’s unauthorized monument to God — that was seen as too much of a link between church and state.
Instead, the county and state seem to be taking a hands-off approach — not kicking anybody off the land, but not going so far as to supply even portable toilets.
Meanwhile, Slab City has managed to cement itself into American culture.
In addition to appearing in the book and subsequent movie, “Into the Wild,” Slab City served as a setting for one of Sue Grafton’s mystery novels, “G is for Gumshoe.” The Shooter Jennings music video, “Fourth of July,” was partially shot there, and British photographer Leon Diaper focused on it for his documentary series, “The Last Free Place.”
At the same time, it has evolved into a community, with its own social organizations — people that get together in real life, as opposed to on the internet. It’s not all peace and harmony. Conflicts arise between the year-round permanent residents, and those just passing through, especially those passer-throughers prone to leaving their garbage behind.
Some think it needs more rules; others say that’s the sort of thing — like taxes and rent and police — that they came there to get away from.
It’s a fascinating little social experiment — every bit as unplanned as the formation of the nearby Salton Sea, and every bit as impromptu as Salvation Mountain, which we’ll tell you about tomorrow.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 28th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: america, animals, california, camp dunlap, campers, campground, community, dogs, free, into the wild, john steinbeck, jon krakauer, military base, pets, popular culture, road trip, rv, salton sea, salvation mountain, slab city, the last free place, trailers, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, travels with charley, unauthorized
When word spreads that Ace is visiting, as it inevitably does, she’s always one of the first to drop by – eager to reconnect with her canine friend.
“Where is that beautiful dog?” she’ll ask me if she sees me without Ace – as she did over the weekend in the dining hall. “Is he asking about me? I’m sure he must be wondering where I am. He wants me to come by and see him, doesn’t he?”
After Sunday “dinner,” which, this being the south, is served at lunchtime, Jo dropped by, knocking quietly on my mother’s door. Ace ran to it and, as soon as I opened it, commenced to snuggling with Jo, taking a seat so that he might more easily be petted and, when she momentarily stopped, reaching out for her with his paw.
While we told you last week about Arbor Acre’s ducks, and the blue heron couple nesting there, there’s one more form of wildlife we forgot to mention — a species Ace’s friend Jo apparently had an up close and personal experience with last week.
She was sitting on her couch Saturday morning when a housekeeper noticed something moving beneath her sheets. Moving the bedding around, the housekeeper found a frog – which apparently had spent the night under the sheets with Jo.
“We always called them hoppy toads,” Jo explained. After a few minutes of excitement, the housekeeper managed to corral the frog and usher it back outside. No one has the slightest idea how it might have gotten in.
“I didn’t get a chance to kiss it,” she said. “I’ll never know if he was my prince.”
Posted by John Woestendiek August 17th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, animals, arbor acres, community, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, elderly, frog, kiss, north carolina, ohmidog!, pets, prince, retirement, road trip, senior, seniors, toad, travel, traveling with dogs, wildlife, winston-salem