Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Really Good Girl

This was last year's Christmas card ....

Christmas Eve was always my favorite night of the whole year! As we get older, that night changes from time to time – perhaps New Year's Eve or Halloween – but when you're a kid, it's Christmas Eve! I would go to bed all nervous and jittery and wake up excited to find the evidence of my goodness under the tree.
In the evening, I would take a nice long bath, and believe me, I could spend hours upon hours in the bathtub when I was little. They would have to drag me out of there all shriveled and shivering and sutff me into a new pair of pajamas (another favorite thing about Christmas Eve) and when my teeth stopped chattering, we would have a treat before bed. On the evening news, the weather man would announce that radar had spotted Santa's sleigh somewhere over … Canada? “What?!” My eyes would grow into huge orbs as I looked at my grandpa for confirmation. We lived in South Dakota and even I knew how close that is to Canada! “You heard the man! You better get your little self to bed!”, my grandpa warned.
So I would scurry off to bed, unable to sleep for all the nervousness. Who could sleep? I had a year's worth of inventory to take on my Goodness Levels.
Was I good enough for a puppy? I don't think so.
Good enough for one of those wagons with a fence around it (perfect for carting around puppies)? I doubt it, and anyway, since I wasn't really good enough for a puppy, the wagon idea was kind of moot. Was I good enough for the Sunshine Family? You know, I think I actually was that good! Yes, I was!
And that went on and on all night. The visions I had were rarely of sugarplums. No, no! My visions were much grander than that!
And it's still like that for me. I still want an over-the-top Christmas. I want the fantasy … the magic. The Hallmark commercial. I still go to bed nervous and wake up disappointed that Santa and his elves have apparently, once again, put me on the naughty list.
This year, I promise to be different. I won't do that to myself. I won't expect a puppy under the tree, which is okay because I already have a puppy and I couldn't love her any more if jolly ol' Saint Nick had placed her in my arms himself (although, how adorable would Puzzle be bounding out of a brightly wrapped box with a big red bow around her neck on Christmas morning?!)
And since Cher probably never did tell God to tell Santa to tell Jerry that I really have been a good girl this year, the one little thing I want for Christmas – a BMW convertible – probably won't be waiting for me (although how adorable would that look in my driveway with a big red bow around it on Christmas morning?!)
So I will put myself to bed on Christmas Eve in my new pajamas with my three loveable dogs and my charming husband and keep my visions to sugarplums (honestly, though, I am not even sure I know what a sugarplum is …. ) and I will be content on Christmas morning knowing that my home is filled with laughter and wagging tails and warm cookies and good health and amazing friends and a family that remains close in spite of the miles between us and … and … and …
and … maybe Santa will bring me just one little surprise … ?!
I really have been a good girl this year!

Monday, November 28, 2011

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

I wrote this last Christmas but never posted ....

Long before Jim Carrey offered up his version, and even before, believe it or not, it aired on television in 1966 (narrated by Boris Karloff, no less), Dr.Seuss wrote a beautiful little Christmas tale published in 1957 called, How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
And I just read it aloud to my three border collies. That is the magic of Dr.Seuss: the rhythm and rhyming is impeccable! My dogs were enthralled. One cannot help reading the tale with a delightful pace and animation in one's voice. It's the way it was meant to be. And I had three little dogs tipping their heads from side to side like Lassie, as I read the story of how the Grinch's heart grew three sizes that day.
I cannot remember a time when I was not deeply in-love with the storytelling genius of Dr.Seuss. In fact, when the singers sang of Rudolph the Red Nosed reindeer, "You'll go down in his story", I was absolutely positive they were talking about Dr. Seuss. And I thought, "Wow, Rudolph! That's pretty good! If you go down in HIS story, you really are something special!" Because there was no greater storyteller in all the land than Dr. Seuss, let's give him a hand.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas is the time-honored tale of a very nasty, cave-dwelling, creepy creature who hated Christmas and had the geographic misfortune of living three thousand feet above the happiest place on earth, Who-ville. And every Who down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot. So the Grinch concocted an evil plan to steal Christmas from Who-ville in an attempt to turn their happy singing into sad, sad boo-hooing.
But his plan backfired and the Whos sang much louder ... and ... merrier. He had stolen everything from them and they were still singing and rejoicing. And the Grinch then realized (the most glorious realization any one of us could have),
"It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes or bags!"
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
"Maybe Christmas ... perhaps ... means a little bit more!"
I think my own heart grew three sizes today, and perhaps, I believe, I like it better that way.

Merry Christmas!

Love at First Bark by Julie Klam

Exactly 19 days ago, I boarded a plane for New Orleans with my friend, Julie Klam's, new book under my arm. (She is my friend! I can prove it on Facebook!) I read Julie's first book, You had Me at Woof! last year and reviewed it for a little online newspaper. (You can find it under Dog-Eared or type the title in the handy "search" feature in the upper left corner.) I was excited to read Love at First Bark.
It's an easy read, even for the slowest of readers such as myself, and I was able to get to get about 100 pages in before I started the waterworks! I was sitting next to a, we'll politely say portly, gentleman who was sharing my armrest and a good portion of my seat and feeling irritated, but I quickly lost myself in Julie's adventures in dog rescue and began the tears for her dogs ... the dogs she rescued, the dogs she tried to rescue, the dogs she loved and lost and the dogs who are still there pooping and peeing on her rugs. I cried for the whole lot of them!
I enjoyed a lovely mini vacation in the Big Easy! I laughed and laughed and bought a few masks and laughed and laughed and drank a few hurricanes and laughed .... I resisted the temptation to buy the I Got Bourbon Faced on Shit Street t-shirt, but came home with one of Willie Nelson flipping off the world! Ha! (I just ruined my dad's Christmas present.)
I was treated to Julie's wonderful chapter on New Orleans on my plane ride home! It was amazing reading Julie's adventures in the city I was just leaving.
And I cried some more.
I don't honestly mind public weeping if it's for a good cause.
This time I cried for the Pickle Jar Puppy and wanted to kindly ask the pilot to turn around so I could go back and get her. (I wish I would have done that.)
Julie Klam tells a wonderful story and possesses one of my favorite qualities in people: the ability to laugh at oneself! Once again, after reading her tales, I wanted to rescue another dog. Although I already had three mixed up rescue pooches, I could make room for another, right? She has such a delightful way of expressing how so many of us feel about dogs. They need us and we need them. Period. And I thoroughly enjoy reading the lengths so many fine folks will go to to help our friends in need.
I went directly to work upon landing and missing my dogs was the only thing that kept me awake for a very long shift. Three happy pups met me at the door and I slept a baby's slumber with my companions by my side.
The very next day, however, my sweet Allie's little body finally gave out on her and we lost her the following day. While crying for Julie's dogs and the rescue dogs and all the little souls out there who need our help .... I had no idea I would soon be crying for my own little angel.
We are devastated and depressed at our house. Wednesday, Allie's biological half sister, is mopey and lethargic. Puzzle, the puppy, is confused and tender. Our house is dark and different.
But I will say again: the sadness and grief we are feeling are worth it. I would not trade this for anything because Allie brought us so much pleasure and love and laughter. She made our home warm. I miss her with all my heart, but I am so incredibly thankful for each and every minute of our nearly eleven years together.
Adopt a dog. Read Julie Klam's books. Hug your furry friends! And weep if you need to ...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rest in Peace, Allie Precious

December 2, 2000 - November 17, 2011
A beautiful angel who loved to run and play ....
you will be forever missed ...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I am the Son and Heir

Remember that song?
The one that forced your barstool to eject you upon hearing the very first note?
The one that flung you toward the dance floor like your ass was on fire and your smooth dance moves were the only extinguisher?
That song was written and recorded just for you. That song made you feel alive. That song was yours! You owned it! And no other interpretive dance could truly depict the emotion of that song like your interpretive dance.
And you could dance the whole song without spilling a single drop of your beer …. or stopping to catch your breath …. or grabbing your thigh in agony ….
No wonder we were so skinny back then! We had five hours of aerobic exercise six nights a week!
But that song! Ahhhh, that was a great song!
Remember that song?
Yeah, well I heard it on the easy listening station in my car last night.

No, I wasn't listening to the easy listening station! I was scanning the dial, heard the first note of that song and wanted to pull over, get out, and dance! Imagine my horror when I heard the Delilah-esque dj telling me I was listening to Soft Hits 104.7!

Soft Hits. Now that's funny!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Best

There is a church in Old Town that I pass on my way to work. On Sunday mornings, I see distinguished gentlemen in tailored suits laughing and waving and clapping each other on the back. Military men in full dress uniforms, medals gleaming in the morning sun. And shining women with smiles as big as their hats.

I want to join them! I want to be them.

And I know without knowing that if the light would only wait thirty minutes or so before turning green, I would hear the most glorious songs of angels spilling out of that little church ...

And I, too, would raise my hands to heaven.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Boys on 7th Ave

It truly is amazing how I know all the words to sooooooo many songs. I can't remember whether or not I ate breakfast this morning, but I can sing full albums in their entirety even if I haven't heard them in 30+ years.
So I really cracked myself up tonight while I was singing along with Simon & Garfunkel at the top of my lungs in my car on the way home! My WHOLE life, I thought the boxer took some comfort from the BOYS on Seventh Avenue.
And I remember thinking, even as a little kid, "Wow. That's so honest, man."

Asking only workman's wages
I come looking for a job
But I get no offers,
Just a come-on from the whores on Seventh Avenue
I do declare, there were times when I was so lonesome
I took some comfort there
... la la la

Well, I still like Simon & Garfunkel. I'm probably gonna continue to sing it my way, though. Like how the Rocket Man keeps burnin' all the shoes off everyone, even after I found out he was burnin' out his fuse up here alone. I mean, it just works better my way!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

We the Animals by Justin Torres

Some people believe in destiny. Fate. That our lives are predestined and we have few choices in the matter.
I don't know if I do.
I believe we are all faced with a series of choices and then faced with a series of consequences based on those choices. And each choice we choose presents a new set of choices and we go through life making choices and living with consequences.
I believe each of our choices stems from the choices of others.
And so on and so on.
I think that's life.
Maybe not.
I believe there are people who believe they have too few choices and I believe there are people who believe they have too many.
And sometimes I get caught up in these circles of thought and I make myself dizzy. Sticky with the webs I spin.
Some people settle into the life presented to them and some choose to make changes.
And this book made me think about these things more than ever.
“We the Animals” is an amazingly raw, heartfelt debut novel by Justin Torres.
It was edgy and deep.
This brutally honest book was so moving, I almost literally could not put it down. I completely enjoyed his writing style which was somehow revealing and emotional and vague all at the same time. I loved that this small book could absolutely cut me to the bone without ever being overly descriptive or gratuitous. The author compelled me to relate to a life that did not parallel mine in any way whatsoever. (Perhaps a little!)
I am actually slightly jealous of Mr. Torres and strangely proud of him, as well.
I loved this book unashamedly and positively cannot wait for his next novel.