Yes, I Know, it’s Another Animal Rant

My dog just asked me for a chewy bone.  While she didn’t actually say this in English, there was no doubt I heard her, loudly and clearly.  We all do it.  I know my goofy Jack Russell, Finn, speaks in a grammatically challenged, raspy voice.  I know my other, more cultured Russell, Matilda, sounds a lot like the Dowager from Downton Abby.

Like every dog owner, I see the bright (in Matilda’s case at least – Finn might not be called exactly bright) intelligence, willingness to obey, desire to please and need to be accepted and loved  I can’t imagine my household without these non-human counterparts.  This is probably what has led to my, um, animal abundance.

Image(Matilda and Finn on the boat.  Although it might look like Finn is bright, due to the lightbulb over his head, he is not, but he is snuggly and pretty.  Sometimes, that’s enough.)

Yes, I have a barn full of oddballs, living together in what is, mostly, harmony.  There is a distinct hierarchy to my barnyard that I could sit and watch, silently, for hours.  My largest, Gracie, is a horse who is nearing 30.  Bought when my daughter was a 5th grader, she is known as “bomb-proof”.  The perfect horse for a girl.  But in looking back as to why she has this personality, it’s sad to remember that before she came to me she had several other homes, where she had friends and formed families but was separated, over and over, and came, originally, from a rent-a-horse ranch.  She was most likely whipped, beaten and berated into submission.  Now, she’s too old to ride and views me with distain.  I can’t blame her.  People probably haven’t been that nice to her.  At this elderly stage of her life she shares her stall with pigs, chickens, donkeys, sheep and an emu.  It’s not the retirement home of her dreams.  I try to make up for it by making her golden years as stress free as possible and giving her senior feed that costs $18,000,000 per bag.

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(And no, I do not know why, when allowed to graze outside the pasture, both Gracie and Bethlehem will choose to stand in the one place there is no lush grass, the porch.)

The undisputed queen of the barn is a sheep I bought from the classifieds.  She was a whim, 13 years ago, and the first of my oddballs.  When I got to the farm selling sheep, I was disturbed to find out that “them was eatin’ sheep”.  I wish I could have taken them all.  Clementine is the most intelligent animal I’ve ever known.  Smarter than dogs, smarter than many children, she rules the roost.  No one eats without her permission and Gracie and my donkey Bethlehem (Not that brilliant as for years he wouldn’t walk across my black driveway, afraid he’d fall in.) vie for her affection.  We have long called her “My Pretty Pony” because when we had more horses, each would court her to stand underneath them, and be their little sidecar.  When one orders lamb at a restaurant, it has caused the terror, pain, and death of a creature who is smarter than one of my children when they were in kindergarten. (I won’t say which one.)

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(Clockwise: Clarence as a baby, Clementine shocked to be found in the kitchen, Clementine getting lots of love from me during her annual haircut, a most humiliating adventure)

The pigs each have such engaging personalities and the interactions between the distinct families of chickens could fill a sun drenched day with entertainment. I really can’t fathom, when I’m in there with them, the fact that one day, a long long time ago, someone said “hmmm, I’d like to kill and eat that”.  Blows my mind.  I wonder if dogs tasted like bacon if people would be so quick to torture and kill them?  Pigs are smarter than dogs, you know. My pigs are engaged in a constant battle over a certain blanket in the barn, whether due to its texture, its color or print is the object of their intense desire.  Mediating between them takes both me and Clementine.  We’ve decided on an odd day/even day schedule for sharing. No one is happy about this.


The reason I’m saying all this is because knowing the thoughts and feelings of these guys has caused me to spend my life worrying over dogs I see from my car, trapped in tiny pens wondering what crime they committed to be kept in a cell, cats freezing behind grocery stores, birds in tiny cages.  There is a family near me that keeps two big birds in a minuscule cage hanging by their garage no matter what the temperature.  It’s killing me.

The other night, a friend of The Boy’s called and asked if we were missing a pig.  As if my pigs, Babette and Orson, are going to leave their Little Mermaid sleeping bags and snug barn on a cold night.  I called my neighbor and asked if he was missing either of his two.  We laughed because we were having such an absurd conversation.  Nope, not his.  So we went on about our lives.  That night, in the dark of the night waking that happens to middle aged women, I began worrying.  Whose pig was it?  Where was she sleeping?  Was she cold? (Well, duh, she was cold!)  Pigs have IQs that rival that of children 3 – 5 years old.  Can you just imagine the sad and confused thoughts of your preschooler, lost and alone?  Pigs don’t like the dark.  They sleep at night, just like us.  They’re scared of everything that’s unfamiliar.  It’s a shame someone just put her out because she was no longer a cute little piglet.


Dogs are the same way. They fully believe us when we get them as puppies and tell them they’re our babies.  They don’t get it when we get tired of them one day and send them to the shelter.  I get so many entreaties to take dogs that people no longer want or “can no longer take care of”.  It happens with bunnies and chicks that are given as Easter pets too.  My heart can’t take what we as humans do to these little souls.

I’m not all that knowledgeable about birds.  Recently, a friend posted this story on Alex, an African Grey parrot.  I knew they were smart but had no idea they were thinking like this.  If you have time, this is a real eye opener. (  Yet, everyday, parrots die, imported or bred, insane because of their care.  Arrrgggh!

I’ve got no snappy, funny wrap up. I usually see things from a humorous angle but this has really been on my mind lately.  We’ve become a society that throws away our animals because they’re inconvenient.  We don’t take care of our elderly and our children are being raised by iPads and TV. I think we’ve stopped making connections altogether.


My point is, take in a stray, spay and neuter, leave notes in the mailboxes of assholes who are keeping dogs in the cold, in tiny pens.  My dad once stole a dog that was being mistreated.  That’s what I’m talking about.  Do something for those that can’t help themselves. Give up meat for a day a week, then two days, then maybe everyday. Rail against circuses and Sea World for taking these intelligent species, with family units, separating mothers from their children and beating them into doing tricks.  Elephants don’t naturally wear hats and carry poodles on their backs. They are whipped until they cry.

We wonder why children are mistreated, our elderly are disrespected, and people can be gunned down in theaters?  It’s because, down deep, at our very evil human core, we’ve forgotten to respect anything and everything that was given to us, by God, to care for.  Maybe today, or tomorrow, we can all put ourselves second, just for a day or two, and do something for someone smaller than us, who needs our help. It’s not that hard to show love to another species.


I’m sorry I continue to post animal rants every now and again instead of talking about shoes and wine  I have to do it or explode. It keeps me from committing crimes.

The Bittersweetness of Dogs


As a child, I was not allowed to watch Lassie.  Oh, at first it seemed like a perfect match, coming on after Disney on Sunday nights when my child mind was still filled with magic.  But, after a few episodes that left me sobbing in an uncontrollable tyke puddle on our multi-colored shag carpet, my mother, wisely, put an end to it.

It seems I can rationalize all evil in the world except for sad stories with animals.  To this day, The Goose will shout out “For crying out, DON’T LOOK” when we pass an animal dead on the road.

Yesterday, I played hooky from The Boy’s lacrosse game and, unwisely, watched Lassie.  I don’t know why, it was just on. Before I knew it, I was sitting on the edge of the bed, hooked.  By the time my son and his friend got home, I was a mess.

Trying to explain this caused typical guffaws of laughter from my family, but my son’s good buddy, inexplicably named Mad Dog, understood.  He had just lost his family dog last week.


Pulling up pictures of his friend, Lucy, in her last moments, brought sympathetic sighs from all of us.  It reminded me of all those little loves who I’ve lost.  Who, among us, hasn’t had to make that terrible decision to end the life of what we call a pet, but is really more like a fuzzy chunk of our heart?

I had a Golden Retriever, unimaginatively named Brandy, that I got when I was 11. I can still smell his puppy breath, see his wiggly little body wrapped in a beach towel and feel the disbelief that I was lucky enough to get him.  He went absolutely everywhere with me, from childhood through my teen years. He was a well known dog.  When I spoke to him, he talked loudly back in whines and barks that were just his frustrated way of saying “Damn this snout, I’ve got something to SAY!”

While Brandy was with me, I met The Goose, got married and moved three times.  We added Maddy, who we called our “first child” and she became Brandy’s bride, becoming the mother of 10 outstanding puppies whose new families sent home Christmas cards and update letters about their perfection. For eight years, they were our family, and when our friends bragged about their slobbery hairless babies, we boasted the fact that our kids could hold a treat on their nose until we told them to flip them into their mouth. All other Oskoshbgosh clad kids paled in comparison.


By the time I was 27, Brandy was skinny, lumpy and smelled like parmesan cheese gone bad.  Not once but twice did someone stop, ring my doorbell and sadly try to break the news that there was a dead dog in my yard.  Since he could no longer hear, I would walk over and touch his shoulder and his cloudy eyes would look up at me and he would wag knowing I was his constant and he was my always there.

Everyone knows when that moment comes.  Our’s came on Christmas Eve and we had a vet kind enough to help us out.  It was the first tragedy of my young life.  I remember The Goose telling me it was just preparing me for worse things to come as we got older, and, sure enough, even in a life as wonderful as mine, there have been some heart-wrenching losses. Losing that dog, though, was like losing a brother, companion, son and friend all in one, just on a slightly smaller, hairier scale.

I’ve had some other dogs who I’ve loved just as much, and who surely occupied just as much of my heart, but none with the uncomplicated love that an 11 year old can give a dog.

And so, I’m sad for Mad Dog and his family.  It has caused me to observe my Matilda, who has been stiff and elderly since she was a puppy, with a worried eye.  She’s 9.  Because she’s my first small dog, I have great hopes that she’ll live even longer than Brandy’s span of 16 years, amazing for a big dog. I don’t ever want to have to sleep without her curled up behind my knees.  I have observed our Finn, shoe chewer extraordinaire, and pictured him elderly.  At least once a day I hear his Jack Russell feet pounding through the house, like he’s being chased by a demon, until at last, he finds me, puts his head on me and gazes as me as if to say, “I here, Mom.  Whew.  I here”. In my mind, he speaks in a voice that hasn’t quite mastered grammar.  It is too horrible to think of him getting old.

My dad had a terrible dog, Boo, who no one liked except my dad.  She loathed me with raw, exposed sibling rivalry.  When my dad was dying, Boo began failing.  She pined and wasted when he was in the hospital and died, just one day before my dad.  Although I cannot imagine a Heaven that contains that despicable hellion, I know, begrudgingly, that she was there, glossy and black, wagging her stump of a tail, joyful at my Dad’s arrival.  I don’t know how my Mom has reconciled the fact of Boo in their celestial home, but I know that for Dad, she makes his afterlife complete.


It’s hard to remember when a puppy has chewed up a favorite shoe that the unfairness of a dog’s love is that their lives are way too short.  It’s surely a cosmic mix-up that they can’t be our companions for life.  No one loves us more than our dogs, their love undiluted by our fallibilities.  They are children who never grow up, never get sassy, never know it all and never leave us.  Just our appearance through the door is a miracle to them every single time.

While I was reading books on Heaven not too long ago, I was so happy to read about tales of animals there told by those brought back from the brink.  When Brandy died, I had him cremated and found a beautiful antique box for his remains.  He sits, unobtrusively, on a chest in my foyer.  No one would know what the box was unless they stopped to read the poem there, which I think sums it all up:

I said to St. Peter, I’d rather stay here, outside the pearly gate.

I won’t be a nuisance, I won’t even bark.  I’ll be very patient and wait.

I’ll be here, chewing on a celestial bone,

no matter how long you may be.

I’d miss you so much if I went in alone;

it wouldn’t be Heaven for me.

Cough, Cough, Cough

I am: 


There are several phrases that I say all the time.  One of them is “I never get sick”.  This has been true for as long as I can remember.  I’ve only had one true illness, and even though it lasted months, and was scary as all heck, I’ve been super duper healthy for the rest of my life.  I haven’t had a fever since 4th grade.  While others suffer with allergies, insisting that the pollen must surely be bothering me, I glide through the seasons.  I might get a sniffle now and then, usually because I stupidly use the blower in the barn, breathing in airborn dust and poo, but I just deny it’s happening and it goes right away.  

This is why I am so incredibly pissed off and, yes, embarrassed to be lying here on day four of what has been intense misery on the part of myself and, probably for my family, due to my whiny need to share my feelings. 

ImageAs a vegetarian, I have somehow come to the conclusion that I cannot allow myself to appear weak in any way or someone will point the finger and say “Ah hah! She needs MEAT!”  While other kids suffered through numerous childhood maladies, I would not allow my kids to exhibit a symptom, lest their bad grandmother, again, point her carnivorous finger at my parenting.  Luckily, though, they stayed well for most of their childhoods, never having antibiotics, never coming home with green noses, until middle school, where their romantic antics caused them to swap germs with those kids from sicklier families. 

The last two years I have had several colds.  Once, because a man sneezed directly on me in the dairy isle.  I turned to the Goose, who lives in fear of germs, and said, well, now I’m infected, and it turned out that I was.  I got sick from something that ejected directly from another human’s nose.  It’s too horrible to think about. 


This go-round, I am lucky enough to be sharing an illness with the Trophy Wife, who is a few days ahead of me and can point out what’s coming next.  We’ve spent days on the phone, diagraming our symptoms, whining about our heads and coughing.  Oh, the coughing.  It has caused me to banish the Goose to the guest room lest he sigh ONCE MORE because I cannot control it.  Last night, he came into our room for company and TV.  So angry at his unfeeling attitude was I that I finally just licked my finger and rubbed it on him, to which he shrieked, not unlike a frightened drag queen, “oh, yeah, cut the throat of the Golden Goose”.  I kid you not, those were his exact words.  Hopped up on Nyquil, I couldn’t quite get my facial expression to convey what I was feeling about it, but I’m not surprised by his response.  He’s a weenie. 


Being a man, however, even with me in my mother’s old bathrobe for comfort, strung out on various over the counter remedies, with dark circles, watery bleary eyes, hair that looks like an 80s rock video by accident, I am marginally sure I caught The Goose giving me “the look”, which only goes to show that a man really has no standards and will brave any danger just to get lucky. I don’t know if he got lucky or not, as I was well and truly knocked out by then, but I assume he felt sorry for me because when I woke up later, at least I was covered up and I thank him for it.

Sickness is disgusting all the way around.  In the old days, I would have at least gotten a satin bed jacket or caring nurse. When I have imagined getting sick, I have always thought I’d enjoy my time being quiet and lying around, which are not the norm for me. And, even though I have watched all three old Topper movies, which were wonderful, I find that I am swearing at my dogs, who cannot get their hot, hairy little bodies close enough to me, the cat, who has ignored me for 16 years and now wants to meow and slink around my head and that friggin pig, Babette, who just needs something all the time.  There really should be a place where people can go when they’re sick, an old fashioned sanatorium, with 1000 count sheets, lilies in vases, May breezes coming in through open windows and nurses who bring you omelets and champagne and schedule your massage. 


My family refuses to believe I’m down and out and I hear them wondering why no one has gone to the grocery store. They are lost. They’re calling me to bring them the shoes they left behind to their schools, necessitating makeup so as not to frighten the attendance secretary there. They need me to shop for dresses with them when all I can think about are my cool sheets and black and white movies on AMC.  

So, today I combed my hair, and dragged back into life.  I found a dress for Cricket, I cleaned up the house, and, oh, yeah, I sneezed on someone in the dressing room. 

Now I’m one of those people, just sharin’ the love. 





Downton Detox


It’s true that I’m not a fan of TV.  While others discuss what went on last night on The Bachelor, I just smile and nod, exactly the way I did in math class.  I have never seen Survivor and I don’t know anything about any Housewives, no matter from which city they hail.  

I do confess to liking The Big Bang Theory and I do occasionally snuggle on the sofa with my giant son when Modern Family comes on.  (Okay, he’s not really snuggling me, he just watches it from the sofa and I will squeeze in next to him, clinging to the very cording of the cushion to prevent him from becoming aware and telling me to move on.  You moms understand.)

I had heard of Downton Abbey, duh.  I just thought it was another mindless show people tuned in to watch.  Never have I been more wrong.  It is surely a brainwashing time machine, made to make our very existences look dingy in comparison.  

On Sunday I came home from church and took to the sofa like a dowager needing smelling salts.  The weather was horrid, the house was cold and The Goose had said something VERY unchristian in the car that had made me despise his very soul.  The laundry was done, there was no sun to run, I had finished every book in the house, and so, I tuned in, to season 1, episode 1.  

At 11:30 that night, I went to bed wealthy, beautiful and dreaming of picnics and ponies after finishing the season.  


In the morning, I waited for my valet to bring me something beautiful to wear.  Apparently, he was not available.  My lady’s maid did nothing to make my hair look any better, so I resorted to a ponytail.  My breakfast did not arrive on a tray and no one plumped up my pillows.  There was no fire in my fireplace and no one to warm up the house. I am sure my yogurt would have gone down a lot better from a porcelain bowl. 

I spoke kindly to both dogs, with an aristocratic British accent, even whilst plucking a no-no from underneath the piano.  They ignored me.  

No chauffeur was available to take me to the feed store, so I resorted to driving myself, in the pouring rain, and no footman told me the weather was unseasonably dreadful and produced a wrap for the car so I wouldn’t catch a chill.  At the store, I was asked to produce actual payment rather than just putting it on the house tab.  Horrors. 

I waited all day for cook to bring me something warm and delicious for lunch, but, after sitting alone in the dining room for a half an hour, decided to eat peanut butter on Ritz. 

This afternoon, as I was washing out the garage where my swine and the dogs had made muddy tracks, and the back door, that the pig had belligerently thrown her angry countenance against, repeatedly, until it was splintered and muddy, I thought to myself, huh, well this just sucks. 

This is the danger with anything period and English.  The Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, Rosamund Pilcher, for heaven’s sake.  They leave me feeling tacky and poor, with a bad accent and the make-up of a hussy.  Suddenly, my house feels small and dark and my family is horrendous.  It will take me days to recover from my Downton induced delusions unless I do actually awaken, in a country hospital, and this murky, shabby, cloud filled day has all just been a bad dream that came from a fall from my mount.   

Well, I must be off as I have to hurry and dress for dinner.  Ta!


10 Things that Confuse Me Today


  1. Why a dog will stand and bark for 20 minutes at a napkin ring that has rolled under the table in the dining room until I come and tell him it’s okay, I see it.  Then it is, apparently, fine. 
  2. Why the Goose can drink six Mountain Dews a day, a sleeve of cookies and three giant meals and remain slim while I exist on two celery sticks, one saltine and one chardonnay.  Seems downright unchivalrous. 
  3. Why people are interested in celebrities.  I don’t get it.  When I have been forced to watch TMZ, I don’t know anyone except Donny Osmond and Cher.  How do people keep up with these HoneyJerseyHousewifyboo people and WHY? Isn’t life interesting enough right outside our doors, if not quite as trashy? 
  4. Why anyone enjoys Christmas at all.  It seems like a big ol’ mess to me.  
  5. Why a woman, with H1N1, a throbbing ovarian cyst and a mortal shaving injury can still do six loads of laundry, find tights that match her daughter’s outfit, mentally located her teen aged son anywhere in the cosmos at any given second, run five miles, uphill, and still keep her home smelling like lemons while a man can sneeze and take to the bed, moaning and crying for soup like he enjoyed, from a dented, discounted can, when he lived with his mother, and no one even questions it. 
  6. Why someone can’t find an earth changing use for those “silk” ficus trees from the eighties.  Everyone had one, some had two.  No one has them now.  There must be a giant “silk” ficus forest somewhere.  Could they be used in prisons?  I think this is a thought for our representatives. 
  7. Why do we continually allow everyone to think for us?  My car tells me when and how to back up, my appliances tell me what they’re thinking, 20/20 tells me how large my meal from McDonalds should be, my government tells me everything else.  My inner rebellious princess is getting pretty tired of it all.  Am I normal? Isn’t anyone else feeling like they want to be a little, I don’t know, deviant?  I may have to roll someone or something. Graffiti anyone? 
  8. Why do strangers sometimes call me “hon”.  Sounds snippy, I know, but it makes me really cranky.  The Goose gets nervous when a waitress directs a “hon” toward me.  My gentleman neighbor calls me “little princess” and I’m good with that.  “Hon”, however, makes me want to snap my gum and order chili and black coffee from a woman named Flo.  I just don’t like it. 
  9. Gravity.  I include this for my daughter, who worries about me and my Dekalb County education.  As evidenced in a conversation with her recently,  “gravity, it just don’t make sense”. 
  10. How is it a house that looked sparkly and clean in the morning can look like a crack house by 6:30 in the evening?  In a direct link to number 9, is it possible there are small gravity deposits under the floor and on the bench in the mudroom, under the counters, under every surface within 30 feet of the door that would cause people to throw down their mail, books, scarves, jackets, cups still full of red colored drinks, shoes, bras (!?!) or anything they wanted out of their cars and LEAVE them there until   they are put away.  Bowls and plates of food, NEXT TO THE SINK!  Does anyone every wonder how they get put away?  People today are too soft, brought up with fairy tales and elves. I think family members need to be sat down and told the truth about the chore fairy, shown a picture of her haggard self, low on botox and hair color, pajamas held up by one remaining strand of elastic, swollen eyes from wine and salty food consumption.  Show them the real truth, the crime scene photos, the haggard mess the chore fairy has become, and maybe, just maybe, we can save the chore fairy.  Every time a cup is placed in the dishwasher, a chore fairy loses a wrinkle.  I do believe, I do. 



I’m not a huge whiner.  I said whiner, not winer.  That’s a whole different issue.  I am a person who, usually, sees the glass as half full.  Again, not the wine glass, that’s a different issue.

I get sad in the winter, though.  I am NOT a Christmas lover.  I loathe it.  I hate the mess, the drama, the sugary foods, tacky sweaters and the color red in general.  It just makes me grouchy.  The gloomy weather, though, makes me downright sad.

I’ve always been this way.  My mother, the True Southern Lady, recognized this and used to take me out of school to ride through the country on a sunny day so I could absorb a sliver of vitamin D.  Today, I take more than 35,000 units of D and still can’t stay on top of the blahs.  A week like this last one leaves me clinging to the Goose as he leaves for work, begging him to stay in bed and watch sappy movies. It forces me to rest my head on my children and expect them to tell me I am the center of their world.  It prompts me and my dog, Matilda, to gaze balefully at each other and sigh.  She gets it.

I know that exercise is a great remedy for what ails me so, considering the rain today, I dragged myself to the gym and listened to inappropriate music designed to further damage my aged ears.  I felt better.  Much better!  Then I came home.

Home should be a clean and serene place.  An oasis.  Today I came home to two bored dogs and a pig loose in the house.  Babette has rounded a corner to become a friendly and sweet pig.  She’s a jumping pig and launches herself onto my white sofa several times a day.  I have an entire stack of snout cleaning towels in my laundry room.  She had rooted up most of the yard, removed all my pansies and decorative cabbages and turned over two garden statues. Still, I love that little swine.

The thing about pigs is, they are hungry, and they are smart.  They oink about it about once every three seconds, rhythmically, loudly and with a passion.  They hear the most covert opening of a Kit Kat bar in the kitchen, no matter how hard one hides.  In all the years my dogs have lived with me they have never entertained the notion that they could find food in the house and feed themselves. Today, Babette learned to open the cabinets and serve herself.  She then helped out her friends, the dogs, and together, they devoured some Apple Jacks, several Kit Kat bars, chips, drink mix, pet treats (which I am thinking were pork flavored and I shudder at the cannibalistic implications), some oatmeal pies, unpopped popcorn and some straws. She even gnawed through the prune container.  That’s dedication.  She was straining the elastic on her pink harness when I arrived home, fat and swollen, but is even now trying other cabinets to see what treasures they hold.  The dogs have named her their messiah and are in awe of her ingenuity.

So, I no longer have time to be sad and gloomy. This house looks like a set for a scary movie.  The Goose says I love any emergency in which something must be cleaned or repaired.  He once dropped a can of latex paint in the kitchen and just stood there and said “Go to it!  You know you love it.” and it’s true. I just need a mission, no matter how lame.  We all do.  So I’ll get to it now, turn on all the lights, turn up some of the kids loud music with lyrics that make me blush and clean up for when my family comes back in from the world and tracks mud right back across the floor. Days like today cause me to want to sniff my coconut oil furniture polish and dream of summer.  Image


ImageSo I’m lying here, enjoying Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin and relishing the fact that I’m not out walking little kids around door to door, freezing and trying to balance a flashlight, a two grubby little hands and a wine glass.  Really, I’m just happy about the missing the cold.  It’s a little sad to see that my mommy Halloween packed up it’s candy bag and left years ago.  (This is where I’ll thank you, Cricket, not to bring up the fact that I sometimes let your dad take you and I stayed home to man the door with my friends and cocktails!)

I don’t understand those folks who claim to hate Halloween.  I can’t even begin to address those who believe it’s evil.  I grew up Baptist, my mother was perfect and thought Halloween was just fine and I’m sure she got that information directly from God.  I went to Christian school and I know that NOWHERE does it say “thou shalt not dress as a Power Ranger and collect candy”.  

Why, in the world, would anyone not want to put on a costume?  I’ve frequently been known to whip on an old prom dress or glittery majorette costume just for Friday night cocktail hour.  It just makes things more fun.  The other day I had on a gown with a 6 ft. train and walked several times around the kitchen and considered it a good floor cleaning. 

The Goose refuses to dress up.  Twice, I’ve had him in a Halloween costume.  When we were first married and he still could be moved by “a look”, I made him a Jolly Green Giant costume by dying a pair of long underwear green and making him a leaf dress to wear over it.  I then covered him with green paint and went with him as Sprout.  We went to a party at his boss’ house.  Just this weekend I was reminiscing with his boss and he had the audacity to bring up the fact that there were parts of his house with traces of green paint, on carpets and walls for years.  I am assuming he was commenting on our exuberant dancing and the Goose’s “nap” on the carpet sometime in the wee hours.  I wish I still had a picture of it. 

Several years ago, when he had become immune to “the look”, Cricket asked him to dress up and he did, briefly, wear a pair of fairy wings while downing some beers.  Fifteen minutes, tops. I DO have a picture of this, but am not allowed to post it lest the Goose’s business associates realize he has a fun side and a family.  

When the kids were little, we would become so overcome in the costume isle that I couldn’t say no and we would go home with a 2nd mortgage’s worth of costumes that required a change every hour.  As Shep wore his for some part of everyday for two years, I felt I got my money’s worth. The child wore a batman cape and frog boots for two solid years, ever day.  Everywhere.  The costumes, the pumpkin candy holders, the nip in the air, neighbors, wine.  I loved Halloween with little kids. I loved Halloween as a child.  I really liked it as a teenager (except for the two month’s worth of trouble I was in afterwards…sorry, Mom and sorry to my date for all the throw up in his car.  I mean, really, you make a drink that tastes like peppermint schnapps and expect kids to know when to say when? Seems like some kind of conspiracy to me!)

You know what else is great about Halloween?  Parties.  Parties where everyone dresses up, there’s lots of good stuff to eat and drink and, best of all, NO GIFTS!  There is absolutely no stress about what to take and give.  No wrapping, shopping, guessing if what you’ve brought is adequate.  I love that.  You just throw back a shot or two, put on a wig and, voila, good times.  My love, the Trophy Wife and her husband, Big Poppy have a party that beats all others.  In years past I have misbehaved to the extent that my children and husband have chastised me greatly for weeks.  This year, I was SO good that I remember all parts of it and it was fantastic.  

Wrapping up, Halloween is good and bad.  On the surface, it’s fun, but  it’s the sneaky little holiday that makes us think the oncoming winter is going to be okay.  By Black Friday, most of us realize we’ve been duped and are already longing for spring.  So it’s a good thing to give this scary night it’s homage.  Now, it’s November, though, and I can’t help but think of the ugly woman with her make-up off on the morning after.  Things just look bleak and scary with just the cold and the talk of the election.  Ugh!  Somebody hand me a fluffy dress, quick!


Insanity of the Four Legged Kiind


My daughter, Cricket, is a psychology major.  She feels this qualifies her to diagnose everyone and everything around.  It seems like all things heretofore considered “quirky” now come with a monogram.  By this, I mean initials, ADD, OCD, PTSD, ED and other letters joined together in unholy unions I cannot hope to decipher.  I see that look in her eyes sometimes and have to shut her down quickly before she pops some lettered identification on the multi-colored floral bubble I’ve created around myself.  I KNOW I have, well, let’s call them whimsies, eccentricities, foibles, but I’m comfortable that way.

I’m not the only oddball around our house, though.  Working with animals I’ve discovered that they all have their little idiosyncrasies as well.  My Jack Russells are freaks extraordinaire.  Perhaps it’s because they’re small dogs.  I’ve never had small dogs before these and I don’t remember my labs having neurotic fears and crazies.  They didn’t come preprogrammed with these neurosis, though, and I guess there is only our environment to blame.

Matilda has been leery of brooms and mops since babyhood.  Just walking by the pantry causes her to pick up speed and the whites of her eyes to show.  The vacuum causes a full panic.  She can hear the noise of the wheels coming out of the closet from two miles away. Once, she got into the barn and ate up 13 chickens and a peacock.  My anger was such that I put her in her basket and surrounded her with brooms, mops and the vacuum for 20 minutes.  I feel bad about this because I know it has caused some permanent damage.  She fears moths, puppets and band-aids.  Band-aids?  Once, someone lost a band-aid in our house and upon spotting it, she began to moan and cry with the intensity of a tornado alarm.  I have no comment on the fact that there was a band-aid laying on my floor.  I can’t think about that.

A while back I attended something that necessitated having a “my name is _____” sticker.  When I got home, I popped it on Matilda’s head. This caused her to stay frozen for the entire time she wore the sticker.  She neither sat nor turned her head.  One can only imagine the fun this has caused around my house.

The strangest problem, though, is the straw.  The sight of a straw emerging from a drink will cause her to run like she’s being chased by Satan.  If a straw is produced in the car, she will crawl as far into the 2” space under the seat as she can thrust her stiff and portly little body.  She has spent a lot of time in the car with teenaged boys and I feel this is what’s sent her into full on doggy insanity.  She takes to the bed like Scarlet O’Hara now at the slightest provocation, flopping down in mental exhaustion.

In talking to friends, I hear all their weird dog stories with interest. Dog lovers can talk about their doggie loves and their quirks for hours.  We adore our dog children.  They never talk back like our human ones, they never grow up, never move away and never miss a chance to snuggle behind our knees under the covers.  I will sooner drop big money on a fancy collar than give lunch money to my son.  It seems this companion species that shares our lives and our beds is as weird as we are.  Can it only be a matter of time until someone’s daughter is attending college for dog psychology and our pups become as medicated and as diagnosed as the rest of us?

The Beagle Incident

A word about my husband, the Golden Goose.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned that he is referred to this because this is how he refers to himself.  The Golden Goose leaves the animal stuff up to me.  That’s not to say he doesn’t have a kind heart, he’s just unable to immerse himself in chaos. Lord knows he grew up in chaos, but that’s just an unfair poke at my mother-in-law’s housekeeping.  We once had a fight of such epic proportions that one of us could have easily ended up snuffed and buried in a shallow grave over something a dog I brought home did.

Let me digress, I brought home a stray dog one time we named Orlando.  This dog was so dumb he wouldn’t even acknowledge anyone when they were speaking.  I would have though he was deaf, but he jumped at noises.  I talked and cooed endlessly to him the first few days trying to build a bridge but he wasn’t having it.  Only months later, when having the house painted, did we figure it all out.  Our painter, who was of hispanic origin, yelled to his co-worker in spanish and the dog bolted awake and ran over with great interest.  He proceeded to follow their conversations for days, shadowing them and gazing with longing at them when they were on their ladders.  Apparently, he was a spanish speaking dog.  Orlando was accidently left in the Golden Goose’s office where he then chewed up an item that I still don’t feel comfortable naming.  The item itself, purchased by the Goose, was of a decorative and, I believe, cruel nature and had been the subject of angry and demonstrative discussion between us.  Thus, it resided in his office and was pointedly ignored by me.  This item, however, was quite pricy and apparently delicious as Orlando devoured a good portion of it.  Thus began what is know in my marriage as “the time of the _______ (insert horrible item’s name here) incident”.  The Golden Goose was so angry that even the sight of Orlando caused his veins to pop out in his neck and he developed a whistle when he breathed deeply.  Luckily, I was able to relocate him to a bilingual home.

This was all to preface that he should have known better.  The Golden Goose, who does have a heart, called me from the golf course, the only known safe place for a sport, and declared that he was bringing home a dog.  I really didn’t want another dog but since I have over 100 animals myself, who was I to argue?  The dog in question was a beagle.  The Goose had a beagle as a child and I suppose this is what prompted his largess.  All was well until bedtime.  The dog whined and cajoled until he was allowed, newly washed and cleaned, into our bed with our two Jack Russells.  The problem was that he wouldn’t stay on the foot of the bed.  I must emit an animal pheromone because he kept wriggling up to my head.  Even I can only go so far on the first date.  So, the Goose put him in a crate where he began to howl a blood curdling howl that only a hound can emit.  I mean it was LOUD.  I think this is where it breaks down.  Sleep deprived, the Goose stumbled back to bed where he informed me that he had placed the crate in the BACK SEAT OF HIS CAR.  It was a cool night and he would be comfortable there.  I informed him that there was about a 4” hole in the corner of the crate then.  The Goose shot back a snappy retort and I just let sleeping dogs lie. In the morning, I went to free the dog.  You know when, in cartoons, a character sees something so impressive that their eyes telescope in and out of their sockets making an ahooooga sound?  Uh huh.  I did that.  The dog had shoved his nose through the hole and eaten the back seat of the Goose’s upscale truck for men who want to say they drive a truck but really want a luxury car inside.  The seat.  He had eaten it.  He seemed none the worse for wear for this.  Upon informing the Goose of this, the dog was secured in the Goose’s office while the Goose had a tantrum that wove such a tapestry of obscenities throughout the universe that I’m sure Satan and his minions laughed with glee. I don’t know why I didn’t speak up about the wisdom of putting him in the office, that very same office,  but I’m sure the memory of “the incident” was still lurking in my mind.  In 10 minutes the dog had eaten the seagrass carpet off the stairs, jumped onto the desk and destroyed paperwork and made not one but two no-nos.  A call was made to Beagle rescue where he was placed that night.  During the night at his new home, he was left for an hour while his new owners went out to dinner.  They left him lounging on the sofa. I guess he was still hungry.