What’s it all about, Alfie?

December 18, 2013 | My Jottings

Yesterday was a full one and I’m thankful for a day at home today. It snowed another inch or two, adding to the beauty, and nothing seems more right than to hole up at home with a fire in the hearth, carols in the air and a husband who still tries to belt out some tunes in spite of his Parkinson’s-related voice difficulties.

For the first thirty years of our marriage, Michael was always singing or whistling. Mostly he sang worship songs as he worked, in a fine deep voice that somehow carried cheerfulness and worship all on the same sound waves. “Ooooohhh magnify the Loooorrrd, for Heeeee is worthy to be praaaaaised!” or “The steadfast love of the Looooord never ceases, His mercy never comes to an eeeeennnnnnd!” were just two of the many in his happy repertoire.

These days, for whatever strange reason, he’s singing some new songs. His voice is barely above a whisper now, but if he exerts great effort he can “belt” out a line or two that can be heard across the room, and these are the songs we hear most often:

“What’s it all about, Alfie?”

“Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to work we go.” From the movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

And from the movie My Fair Lady, “I could have danced all night.”

I miss the worship music, but it could be a lot worse, like if in his older years he started singing rap music. Or the twangiest country tunes. That would be hard to take.

So yesterday a lot of things were decided for Michael. At his neurology appointment they tweaked his meds, ordered an MRI to assess the pressures of his slightly too-large brain ventricles, ordered a workup with a urologist, scheduled a four hour neuro-psych test, and prescribed a wheelchair. He is still walking, but with quite a lot of difficulty and festinating (extremely rapid shuffling) most of the time, so even though it seems so sad to me, I think having the wheelchair here is the right thing.

On a lighter note, a person I follow on Instagram (if you’re on Instagram you can follow me at JulieBalm) who owns two Schnauzers recently posted a picture of the bottom of one of her dog’s paws. She said they smelled like Fritos. Then another person commented that yes, her Schnauzer’s paws smell like popcorn. Apparently this is a Schnauzer thing. So of course I had to scoop up Edith and Millie to sniff the bottom of their furry little feet, and guess what? Fritos! How is it that a dog can walk around outside in the grass and dirt and (for us) snow and cement, and their paws smell like Eau de Fritos was sprayed on them?

If you have a dog, have you ever smelled the bottom of their feet? I’d love to know if you have, and if so, what their feet smell like? Maybe you’d like to go take a sniff right now so you can come back to leave a comment so we can start gathering some serious data on this phenomenon.

Here’s a picture of Millie, and the pathetic look she gave me after I smelled her paws. Look at the way she’s milking the situation, lifting her little foot to rouse all the sympathy she possibly can. She put her ears down and looked at me as if to say, “Mom. I don’t like it when you do dat.”


This is the same dog who had the audacity to tinkle on our bed this morning. We’ve always suspected that behind all her quirkiness lurks a dog bent on revenge.

“You sniff my paws? I wet your bed.”

That’s all there is to it.

Send help. πŸ™‚


  1. Shari C. says:

    I am thinking of you and Michael…will continue to keep you both lifted up in my prayers. Even though I’ve never met Michael – ( …but I feel like I know him through your skillful writing πŸ™‚ ) it’s fun to picture him singing all those songs to you!
    God bless you today, Julie! Much love to you…xoxo Oh! …and yes! Hank, our aussie dog has “Fritio paws, too!!

  2. Just Julie says:

    Thank you again for your prayers Shari. Your pooch has Frito paws too!? Wow… I’d love to know the physiological reason behind this. A Frito gland in each paw?

  3. Ganeida says:

    Um, that’s some serious revenge thar, dog.

    Remembering you two always.

  4. Just Julie says:

    I’m thinking she might do well off the eastern coast of Australia… Ty friend. xo

  5. Ganeida says:

    Hah! Kirby is the last word in Revenge Cat. Millie would not do well with him. I’m sure, with that look, mummy will forgive her sooner rather than later. πŸ™‚

  6. Just Julie says:

    πŸ˜‰ xoxo

  7. sue raimo says:

    And to think that I might have lived the rest of my life without the knowledge of how a schnauzer’s paws smell! Julie, you continue to enrich my life in so many ways!

  8. Just Julie says:

    Hahaha Sue! Only the nicest kind of person would consider this info “enriching!” God be with you, dear friend. xoxo

  9. Susan A. Reed says:

    It has been awhile since I have taken the time to check your blog out. I am so sorry that Mike is declining with his disease. All I know is that the best is yet to come and we who love Jesus will be together in Heaven for eternity whre there will be no more pain, no more sickness. May God give you the strength and grace to do what God has called you to do. With love and prayers! ~Susan
    Give Mike a hug for me. You are a good wife!

  10. Just Julie says:

    Thank you for such kind, uplifting words, Susan. God bless you, my friend. xoxo

  11. carolyn says:

    The pioneer woman talks all the time about how her basset hound`s paws smell like fritos…so definitely not just a schnauzer thing!

  12. Just Julie says:

    Well, there you go. I didn’t know that! Okay, now that we know it’s a common dog thing, I’d like to know what’s behind it? Some kind of frito smelling gland in their paws? So fully and interesting! Love you dear dotter… xoxo

  13. Larry says:

    My Little Loving POKEY’s feet smell wonderful, and they get cleaned out every day when he does his little look at me, I am the Doggy of the house and the protector of the Eva estate routeen as he does his daily walk to check out what has been here the night before. He cleans his paws at least twice a day when he is doing the POKEY scratch dance throwing up leaves and grass every which way.

  14. Just Julie says:

    I miss the Noble Pokey! Maybe next year I’ll get to see him again… πŸ™‚ xoxo

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