Category Archives: Uncategorized

I’m a fish nonna!

I love my little fish pond out back with its waterfall and reeds and lily pads. Frogs hang out on the rocks ringing the water. I can hear their banjo-twanging calls at night in the spring, in particular, just beyond my bedroom window. The pond is one of the reasons why I fell in love with this little house.

AA frogs and fish

This photo is from last year. You can see some of my “original fish” hiding under the lily pads and one of the playful frogs is poking out of the water on the bottom right.

I’ve lived here for two winters and three summers now. In the winter the fish hibernate in the cold water. I run the waterfall all year to avoid the pond icing over, which would kill the fish by depriving them of oxygen. In the spring it’s like magic, seeing them awaken and start swimming around again! I believe the frogs hibernate, too. Pretty soon there’s a little family of them, as well.

The fish had become accustomed to me coming out around noon every day to sprinkle a little fish food on the water for them. It was their afternoon snack and my chance to interact with them a bit – as much as a person can actually exchange greetings with a fish, I suppose.

We were just getting into our summer routine and I noticed one day that two of the fish were chasing around a third, spotted fish I’d named Miss Kitty (calico cat, but a fish, right?). I was beginning to wonder if I’d guessed Miss Kitty’s gender correctly because it appeared that the two fish taking turns swimming right up in her business might have had love on their minds.

A day or two later, I wandered out with the dogs to deliver the afternoon snack and – the pond was empty. No fish, no frogs. Deserted. I was surprised, but thought they might have been spooked by a heron or other critter and were hiding in their fish caves (the people who put in the pond built in caves for exactly that purpose). At that time there were seven fish, but not one in sight.

When I hadn’t seen any fish in more than a week, I became worried. I had heard that a heron or raccoon or even a snake could wipe out a pond in no time at all. Had all my fish become some animal’s dinner? A couple of frogs were back, but after nearly four weeks – no fish. I felt terrible about it. Poor things.

I didn’t want to purchase new fish just to feed a predator, but after about six weeks, I decided to buy three new fish to see if they’d be safe after all that time. I tentatively released them into the pond and hoped for the best.

By this time, I had also begun bugging my son Chris, asking him if he’d please get into the pond and weed out some of the lily pads and reeds. There was so much greenery, it was hard to catch sight of the new kids, let alone try to entice them with fish snacks. It was a busy summer, and finally on Thursday, Chris got into the pond and got to work. We filled a yard waste trash can and a trash bag full of greenery.

Now, full disclosure, I had noticed after introducing the new fish to the pond that there seemed to be more than three in the mix. I realized that for whatever reason, some of the original fish had been hiding out for weeks!

fish 2 2017

And here are the fish who came over for a snack at noon today! You can only see one baby – the little black and silver spotted one near the two lighter fish in the center of the photo.

And by the time Chris finished cleaning the pond and the silt settled back to the bottom on the rocks, the clear water revealed not only five or six adult fish – but also THREE BABIES! It was like CHRISTMAS!

Since there are fewer adults than before, there’s no question that some varmint got some of my original fish family. But – they did not get Miss Kitty, and I think she is the Mama Fish of those three little ones. Is it possible that the fish that survived the incident early this summer stayed in the caves with Miss Kitty during her lying in period, or something? A combination of solidarity with the pregnant mama and fear of their attacker?

fish horizontal crop

There’s the baby orange one, too! The third one is silver, orange and black – hard to spot and wasn’t with the gang today.

We’ll never know. But I am delighted that I am now a Fish Nonna and that the happy little family is now swimming up to say hi and get a snack when they see me coming.

Oh, and the frogs seem content, as well.

Channeling Bob

I’d like to think that if my dad was still alive, and if he could have gotten his friends involved, he would have spent every morning and many afternoons of his retirement years on Facebook.

It would have taken a leap of faith on his part, but knowing Bob, he could have convinced his buddies to join him online. Bob and the guys would have exchanged jokes and funny memes, shared news about those damned politicians and pro golf tournaments and home remedies for achy joints. Time-sucker that Facebook is, he would have been wearing his blue and white-striped cotton pajamas and robe (in summer; same PJ’s with his maroon fleece robe in colder weather) in front of the computer until mid-afternoon. He’d get cleaned up and head out to play golf with the old guys on Wednesdays, but otherwise – after breakfast and reading the paper – Bob would have been surfing the web, immersed in social media. In his pajamas.

IMG_5806

Dad and me, summer 2009.

That’s what I’m telling myself, anyway. It’s almost 11:30 am and I am – you guessed it – still in my nightie and robe, screwing around on the computer. I would like to blame it on some genetic gift from Dad that makes me such a procrastinator when it comes to showering and dressing for the day. Bob called it his ablutions. Sometime before lunch he’d put down the crossword puzzle and announce that it was “time to ablute.” A member of a generation that doesn’t see the need for daily showers, his ablutions included what we called a bird bath:  filling the sink with water and using a soapy washcloth to scrub then rinse off the stinky bits. He’d also lather up for a close shave and always exited the bathroom fragrant with the Bay Rum aftershave he used, I believe, for his entire adult life. I wish I’d thought to dab a little on his cheeks before his viewing.

I finally was about to get out of this chair and get in the shower when I thought of Bob. I looked down at my own maroon chenille robe (oh, how I love my cuddly robe and a cool morning!) and felt guilty for not having officially started my day yet. I can’t help feeling that nothing counts until I’m clean and dressed.

Am I obligated to do things that “count” by a certain hour of the day, or for a prescribed number of hours in total? Because I know this for sure – Bob did not feel guilty for one minute about spending most mornings reading and putzing around in his pajamas. He worked hard all of his life to enjoy the luxury of free time. To spend his time as he wished.

It feels odd to realize that Dad was several years younger than I am now when he retired and gradually created his morning routine.

I’ve worked hard. Do I “deserve” it, too? I can’t quite make myself believe it. Maybe that’s because retirement for women is different. I’m not fully retired yet, but what woman ever hangs up her virtual apron and says she’s retiring from the endless chores related to managing her home? Maybe some married people share those chores, but I am alone. Oh – and happy to be, so please don’t think I’m moaning about it! Plus, no one is around to say, “Seriously? It’s almost noon and you’re not dressed yet?”

So on that note, I’ll get in the shower as soon as I hit “publish.” I’ll get dressed and take the dogs for a walk. I’ll choose something lingering on my To Do list – and do it.

Two weeks ago was the eight-year anniversary of my father’s death.

I miss you, Bob. Channeling you this morning has made me smile.

 

 

 

Thoughts on this Saturday

First, I’d like to thank a number of neighbors who have rose bushes planted near the sidewalk in front of their homes. I stop to smell everyone’s roses each day when I walk the dogs. I am a cliche.

At least one pair of  large, handsome blue jays have claimed my yard as part of their territory. On the one hand, they are magnificent to see – bright sapphire with black and white markings. On the other hand, they are the meanest birds around. I’m afraid that they’re chasing away the nice birds. I actually found a dead cardinal floating in my little pond last week, if you can believe that. I’m not blaming the blue jays. But it was very sad.

And my last comment on birds: where are the hummingbirds? I have had my feeder up for two weeks, but no hummers have appeared. I changed the nectar Thursday because I didn’t want one to finally show up and go, “Eeuw! Stale nectar! I’m out of here!” I hope they will discover my feeder soon. I also hope the blue jays don’t scare them away.

Rich groomed Feb 2015

My sweet Richie. A Morkie? Maybe so!

I found a great Groupon deal for window washing, inside and out. Yesterday the young man who owns the company, Don, came to the front door and almost immediately asked what kind of dog Richie is. I explained that he’s a rescue and is some kind of terrier mix. Don said, well, my dog looks exactly like that! And his dog is a registered “Morkie.” This is not an AKC-recognized breed, but a mix of a Yorkie and Maltese that is recognized by some other organization that keeps track of specific mixed breeds, like Cockapoos and Goldendoodles, I suppose. I certainly see both breeds in Little Richard so, henceforth, he shall be known as a probable Morkie. He’s feeling fancier now, no doubt.

It was about 5:30 when Don and his helper arrived. These hard-working guys work twelve- to sixteen-hour days when weather permits! So, I took the boys with me and sat in one of my Adirondack chairs by the pond to read while they tackled the job on the house.

I thought I’d sprayed myself pretty thoroughly with mosquito repellent before heading out back, but as often happens, the little bastards found patches of skin I’d missed. By bedtime I was scratching furiously at four or five spots where I’d been bitten. Mosquitoes love me. Maybe I should eat more garlic in the summer? If anyone can suggest an effective spray that doesn’t smell horrible, I need to buy something new. And if anyone has a suggestion for making the itching go away, I’m willing to try just about anything. I tend to scratch until I’ve removed a layer of skin and end up with scabs and scars and red marks that last all summer. Yuck.

I’d also like to know how to kill weeds. I really do try to stay away from Roundup (which isn’t foolproof, anyway), but by this time of year, there are weeds that are so disgusting and grow so quickly, I just can’t keep up. The previous owners of the house put in a lovely shade garden with a variety of hostas and other plants that is now being overrun by hateful weeds. When the weather is just a bit cooler, I need to slather myself in what will hopefully be a new, more effective mosquito repellent and get out there and yank that crap out. My poor back. Gardening really is not my thing.

orange-is-the-new-black-netflix

Some of the cast members from “Orange is the New Black.” I love this show. Photo from Den of Geek.

So last night, safely back inside and in front of the TV, I finished watching this season’s “Orange is the New Black.”  Man. What a powerful season! The actors are great, but what I’d really like to do is write a love letter to the writers and tell them how brilliant they are. I think I will.

And those are my Saturday thoughts.

Happy Father’s Day to the dads out there. If you still have yours, give him an extra hug from me. I miss mine. Love you, Bob.

 

Please share this post

I was having some deep thoughts (early SNL? Anyone?) about Facebook this morning and thought I’d share this idea with you. If you like it, would you share my post on your Facebook page? Read on and see what you think:

It occurred to me that while I love seeing Facebook posts about puppies and kitties and recipes and such, maybe we could join together and actually USE Facebook to help each other out. I’m not even going to speculate on how Facebook is using US. That’s another story.

What if, every time someone we know needs a hand, we were to share the story on our own pages? Here’s my first example:

My friend Karen is trying to sell her cottage on Lake Erie in Saybrook, Ohio. I’ve been there. It’s a really cute little place and Karen is a nice person. She moved to Las Vegas a few years ago to accept a job at a hospital there and to be near her daughter and grandchildren. If you’re reading this, you may know me, but not Karen, right? But what if you, by chance, have a contact who would love to buy that cottage? How cool would it be if you and I found someone to buy Karen’s place?

Karen's house

Then there’s my dear friend Kari who lives in Texas. Her husband’s dad is in Hospice and they need to find a home for his sweet dog, Samantha. I can’t help out because I already have two dogs and am in Ohio. But I have friends (hope you’re reading this!) who live in Texas who might know someone. I have other friends (hope you’re reading, too!) who have their own friends or relatives in Texas. If you share this on your page, maybe we all can help Kari’s family find a home for this senior dog who’s soon to lose her “dad.”

home for Sam

My final example is for my friend, Bonnie. Bonnie doesn’t need help, but I’d really love to support my dear and talented friend by spreading the word about her work. I LOVE her paintings. I saw her a couple weeks ago at her home in Cape Coral and bought one painting that’s now hanging in my living room.

Bonnie's show

Bonnie’s work is being featured in a gallery in Cape Coral and I’d like to spread the word. Do you have friends or family in the Cape Coral vicinity? Then maybe you’ll share this post so they’ll check out Bonnie’s paintings.

So that’s the idea. If you know someone who needs help or has something going on that you’d like to support, post it on your page. Then go one step further and ask people to repost. Let’s USE Facebook to help the people we care about, even when it’s a step or two or three removed. No judgement. You decide what you want to post, obviously. But maybe now you’ll think about it and consider helping your cousin’s friend’s neighbor. What have we got to lose by passing the word? I’m going to try to pay attention and do this more often.

Thanks for reading, and by the way – if you post this link on your page, you’re also supporting ME! Bloggers always love having more people following them. Writing makes me happy and people actually reading it now and then is the icing on the cake!

My theory about first born children, sex, and the inability to appreciate delayed gratification

The other night I was eating cookies when I started having deep thoughts about my lack of self-control. I’m confident there’s no need to point out the obvious connection. Let’s just say I find it hard to stop at a cookie or two and leave it at that for now, okay?

I started to wonder, why do I DO that? I know plenty of people who can walk away from a cookie. I know people who will have a sliver of cake for dessert and be satisfied. I know kids who can haul in a pillowcase full of candy on Halloween, and have it last until Christmas without their parents wrapping them into straitjackets as soon as they get home from school each day.

cookie monster

What made me and Cookie Monster the way we are and, better yet, is there anything or anybody else I can blame for it?

cookie home town buffet

You know skinny people just don’t eat here, right?

Is it genetic? I know there can be a tendency within families to be fat or thin, so there is likely some element of genetics in the picture. Is excessive eating learned behavior? Again, if the whole family is waddling down the line at the Home Town Buffet a couple times a week, it’s hard to be the odd one out opting for the salad bar.

Then I wondered if birth order could have anything to do with it. I am the eldest in a family with three children. While they have their battles with the scale, too, my younger brother and sister are far more successful at controlling themselves than I am. And growing up, I was the rebel, paving the way so their later escapades were viewed by my parents with far less alarm.

I was the wild child who liked sex, drugs, and rock and roll. And now I like cookies.

So here’s what I think happened, genetically. See if this makes sense to you, too.

wedding

My adorable parents on their wedding day. They were 21 years old. And they were hot. It’s only logical.

Back in the olden days when I was conceived, there was no reliable birth control. The Pill had not yet been invented and young women and girls everywhere were keeping their knees together if they didn’t want to start a family before the trip down the altar. This may come as a surprise to any younger readers, but single motherhood was much frowned upon in those days. And not only was there no daycare, but there were lots of places of business that wouldn’t even hire a pregnant woman. In some jobs, even a really great worker would be forced to leave as soon as she was visibly pregnant. Anyone who does not want to call herself a feminist today would do well to read a little history of what life was like for women as recently as 50 or 60 years ago. Seriously.

Anyhoo, my theory goes on to suggest that first born children born prior to the advent of The Pill were conceived in a virtual firestorm of NEW SEX by two young people who had almost exclusively kept it in their pants up to that point. These early attempts at sex were akin to trying to serve a decent spaghetti dinner without letting the sauce simmer for a few hours. Like getting heartburn after gobbling down a plate of rigatoni with raw sauce, this screwed with the genetic makeup of the baby. Imagine this:

cookie egg

Guess which egg’s going down the chute first?

From Mommy’s point of view:  It’s the big night. The cake was cut, the garter tossed, she’s in her bridal negligee and ready to find out what all the fuss is about. There’s been some serious fooling around up to this point, so Mommy is definitely up for it, though a little scared, too. Consequently, the egg supply is getting mixed signals. On the one hand, everyone’s saying, FINALLY. And on the other hand, the more sedate, cautious, and dare we say, intelligent eggs are holding back a little. “Let’s see how this one goes before we commit to any big changes,” they agree.

However, there is always one adventurous, slutty little egg. The one that’s been waiting for this moment and is wiggling her round little bottom and saying, “Come and get me, Big Boy!” Naturally, that’s the one that will be in the line of fire.

From Daddy’s point of view:  The swimmers are young, strong, profuse, and ready for action. And when things get going, there’s a lot of excitement discovering that there’s something that feels even better than a hand out there. Everybody’s excited, but it’s the most boisterous boys that dash to the front and, you guessed it, it’s the most reckless, rapid tadpole in the bunch who finds his mark on the bravest little egg.

And bingo! We have lift off and the first born is in the oven before you can light a Lucky and say, “Was that good for you?”

cookie clooneys

Oh, dear God. Who WOULDN’T rip off George’s tux? I mean, really.

Is it any surprise that the result of early, possibly inept, but exceedingly enthusiastic sex results in a child with excessive tendencies? I’m not saying that later babies are the result of duty sex, but let’s face it, chances are the early days of wild monkey copulation have cooled down at least a little bit. I mean, even Brad and Angelina probably have comfortable sex by now. George isn’t likely to tear off Amal’s designer duds (or vice versa). After the birth of North West, do Kanye and Kim still perform sexual stunts on motorcycles? I doubt it.

So my theory, as you can see, is that first born children, like me, have a genetic reason for having trouble with relating to delayed gratification. I want what I want NOW. Back in the day, I was a girl who didn’t even want to say no. I was a girl who was up for one more drink before we closed down the bar (and then went off on the back of someone’s motorcycle to continue the party at someone’s place). I was the girl who graduated from college and took a job teaching in Australia a month later because I wanted to have an adventure.

I am thinking not only of myself but of numerous firstborn friends of my generation who were right there with me closing the bar and riding on motorcycles in our youth. I’m not saying only the firstborns were recklessly opting for crazy fun over caution, but – you know who you are, my buddies. Oh, yeah.

cookie duggar

Okay, this is mean. I know. I feel sorry for his wife. What a douche bag.

What will happen to all the wild firstborns now that couples are mostly having all their early sexcapades long before they think about making babies? Will we have to watch out for the babies born to super conservative religious cults? Oh, my gosh! Is that the explanation for Muslim extremists? And what about that molesting, sex-crazy Duggar guy? Isn’t he his parent’s oldest child? Those Duggar grandchildren may turn out to be hell on wheels, too, if my theory holds true.

Once I was a wild child. Now I can’t stop eating cookies. If the Pill had been available a generation earlier, I’d probably be wearing a size eight. It’s only logical.

 

 

I hate Oprah

The only thing the amazing Oprah Winfrey and I have in common is the ongoing quest to fit into a “normal” clothing size. To forever turn our backs on Lane Bryant and fit into a Chico’s size two (well, maybe shopping at Chico’s isn’t exactly a goal for Oprah). To eat our cake without wearing it later on our thighs. To . . . .

Well, maybe we have a few other things in common. We both like books. We’ve both lived in Santa Barbara, albeit at different elevations (literally). We both look good in red. We’re both entrepreneurs, even if she has been a wee bit more successful and made a little more money at it than I have. I’m running out of similarities here, folks.

But damn it, Oprah! Weight Watchers? You couldn’t leave it at joining up, counting points, and seeing how that worked out for you? Oh, no. No. You had to go buy a big honking chunk of the company. And now you want to know if I’m ready to come join you. See? She knows my name and everything.

Oprah

Well, I’m not biting, Oprah. Fuck, no. And who told you I was fat and needed a weight loss program, anyway? I’ve bought the books you recommended and I even subscribed to your magazine for a time, but don’t you dare show up in my mailbox inviting me to go on another damned diet with you. Hell to the no.

Here’s the thing: I was happy for you when you strutted on set in your skinny jeans pulling a wagon load of fat. “You go, girl!” I said. I’ve commiserated with your ups and downs on the scale. I’m with you, O. I can relate.

I’ve seen pictures of you running without makeup, all sweaty and still a little chubby in the trainer Bob Green days. (And hasn’t he made a pretty penny on helping you lose weight that one time? I’ve got his first book as evidence. Yeah, he helped me for a couple weeks, too.) I’ve actually been WORKING all these years that you were on television so I rarely had time to watch your show, but I was as impressed by your accomplishments and good intentions as the next guy.

But I draw the line with you buying Weight Watchers, Oprah. I don’t know why, but that really pisses me off.

So we’ve got the adorable Valerie Bertinelli and crazy Kirstie Alley for Jenny Craig (although I don’t think either of them BOUGHT Jenny Craig, for Pete’s sake). There’s all that Biggest Loser stuff. A new gym opening up near me is having one of the winner/losers at their grand opening. Like I care. Put me in a controlled situation at some California ranch with someone doling out my food and making me exercise all day and I guess I’ll lose some serious pounds, too. Not to say they don’t work hard and suffer for it. I get that. But still. Did you ever wonder if Biggest Loser pays their mortgages and other bills while they’re on the show for weeks at a time?

And now we’ve got Oprah wanting me to deposit more money into her quatrillion dollar bank account by joining her at Weight Watchers. Like we’re going to exchange recipes and diet tips while we wait in line to get weighed at a meeting. Bite me, Oprah. You’ve got enough money without taking some of mine.

Do I sound bitter? Oh, my goodness. If you knew how much I’ve spent on weight loss programs over the last, oh, FORTY PLUS YEARS – you’d be a wee bit touchy yourself. Am I slim and lovely? Hell, no. First I was a fat little kid. Then I was a chubby teenager. I had brief periods of being semi-slim when I was in the market for a husband (and later for a new husband), but none of those frogs turned into princes and constant dieting gets OLD. So then I was middle-aged and fat. And now I am almost old (depends who’s asking) and still fat. Do you see a trend here?

These days I am trying to exercise more. I am trying to eat a little bit more healthily. My goal to keep traveling (without needing a seat belt extender) and having fun until I’m at least 80. But am I going to pay Weight Watchers and Oprah to help me lose maybe 20 pounds that I’d probably pack right back on as soon as I’m sick of counting points?

Hell, no. I may be stupid, but I’m not delusional.

Now, do I really hate Oprah? Of course not. I’ve certainly never met the woman and I simply don’t believe in hating anyone, as a rule of thumb. My sister is doing well with Weight Watchers, so I know it works for some people. Maybe it will even work for Oprah. What do I know?

I think I’ve been a Weight Watchers member six or seven times, at least, over the last 30 years or so. I always lost some weight. Well, except for that time I never went back after signing up once again, then immediately hated everyone and everything about the first meeting. Not my tribe.

Even at more congenial meetings, showing up every week to get weighed and motivated made me a little bit crazy. I am so competitive (read old blog post about what a sore loser I am), that if I didn’t lose what I thought I deserved to lose at the weekly weigh-in, I’d be so furious, I’d go out and eat crap after the meeting. Don’t bother pointing out that no one is hurt by that but myself. Duh. What I finally admitted to myself is that I don’t play well with others when it comes to dieting because I want to be the winner every single damn week and I’ll be irrationally angry if I’m not. I’m an asshole. I maybe need a twelve step program for maniacally competitive assholes – not a group diet program.

So what’s the point of this rant? Absolutely nothing. I just felt like it. And maybe it entertained you.

Do you have a diet story to share? Are you fed up with lining the pockets of every entity that sells diet books and diet meetings and diet foods and diet pills and even weight loss surgery and, well, you-name-it? Do you own everything from an old Suzanne Somers thigh-master to a comprehensive video and DVD library including favorites like “Buns of Steel” and  Richard Simmons’ “Sweatin’ with the Oldies” and “Yoga for the Rest of Us” (read: for the Old and/or Fat)?

Hell, if I had all that money back, I could take a year off to explore Europe, and guess what? Every time I travel there, I lose weight while eating pretty much whatever I want. All that walking and exploring burns off the pasta and gelato like magic.

So instead of joining another weight loss program or buying a home gym, put that money in the bank and save it until you have enough cash to treat yourself to a fun, active trip somewhere wonderful. That is my diet advice to you. And it’s free. You’re welcome.

Just a girl and her dog

People sometimes say when you rescue a dog, you don’t know what problems you might be taking on. Personally, while I see their point, I do think reducing a dog to his past experience is only half the story. Just like people, there’s the nature vs. nurture element. Maybe the rescue had a rough beginning, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a sweetheart of a soul just waiting to curl up on your lap.

Case in point:  Slate. My friend Carol rescued Slate when he was four or five years old, I think. I know he’s nine now and has been with her at least four years. And Carol will be the first to tell you that this boy is still trouble . . . but only in an irresistibly endearing way. Or, endearing to big-hearted Carol, anyway.

You see, Carol and Slate are a love story. After losing her beloved Dewey (Carol’s a retired librarian, so don’t you love the name?), who she had raised from puppyhood, she wasn’t sure any pet could ever take Dewey’s place. Dewey was a princess of a Wheaten terrier. Silky, sassy, sweet – but definitely the ruler of the roost.

We all were surprised when Carol met Slate at the local dog shelter a few months later and decided to take him home. First, she lives in a small condo. Perfect for Carol and little Dewey – but Slate was 70-plus pounds of dog sporting an overgrown coat of 60’s shag carpet.

Slate and Barkley

Imagine Sesame Street’s Barkley in charcoal gray and that’s Slate.

Do you remember Barkley from Sesame Street? That was Slate – but, yes, in a slate shade of gray. He had a reputation for chasing cars and mailmen, as well as an inexplicable fury toward runners. When the doorbell rings, Slate throws himself at the front door, howling in warning to anyone who dares threaten his domain and precious Carol. He lived with several owners before being left at the pound by an exasperated elderly couple who couldn’t deal with his shenanigans on their farm.

Oh, he can be a handful.

slate in grass

Sweet Slate

But conversely, once convinced of your good intentions, Slate wants to show you his toys and happily accepts scratches behind the ears. He’s a big baby who is delighted to be your friend, and Carol, his rescuer, his hero, is obviously the love of his life.

And like any swain, Slate wants to be with Carol at all times. In fact, he has been known to go to extremes when prevented from being by her side. One day recently Carol decided to tackle cleaning out her garage while her cleaning lady was working in the house. The woman knows and is comfortable with Slate, so the dog stayed inside while Carol worked in the garage.

Slate knew Carol was nearby, yet unreachable, and apparently tried to find ways to escape the confines of the condo to search for her. His first stop was her bedroom, where his pawing at the window resulted in a hole in the sheers. Carol came inside, reprimanded Slate for his bad behavior, and closed him in the guest bedroom (where Slate actually sleeps) and returned to the garage.

When the cleaning lady moved upstairs to work on the bedrooms she heard clattering and whining behind the guest room door. Not only had Slate torn a hole large enough in the lace curtains to get half his body through it, but he was wrapped – and trapped – in the fabric and the curtain rod was bent in a V from his attempts to escape. Both women regret not having grabbed a phone to take a picture before rescuing the dog from his dilemma.

Slate and gate

Slate on the WRONG SIDE of the baby gate, next to the scary vacuum cleaner.

Slate usually excels at escaping from confinement. When Carol put up a baby gate, backed up by the scary vacuum cleaner, at the top of the stairs to keep Slate out of the living room, she did think to pull out her camera phone when she discovered him on the OTHER side of the gate when she got home.

As much as Slate hates being away from Carol, probably the worst possible situation in his life is when there are loud noises, like thunder or fireworks. That’s pretty common with dogs, but what makes it inadvertently amusing with Slate is this big dog’s ability to be exceptionally agile in the face of fear.

A thunderstorm in the middle of the night last summer sent Slate flying onto Carol’s bedside table. She woke to find him sitting with his head under the lampshade, yet somehow not disturbing a small tray displaying beach glass on the same surface.

If the frightening noises occur when he’s in the living room, Slate’s favorite safe place is perched on the narrow top of the back of the couch. Now, that makes sense for a cat or (in my house) maybe small dogs, but when Slate stands on the back of the couch, it’s kind of like seeing a calf or small pony hovering over the living room. I’m not even quite sure how he manages it, but he does, and must find some degree of comfort from that precarious position.

Probably my favorite story about Slate, though, is his bedtime routine. Every night Carol invites him to jump on the bed with her and he is happy to cuddle – for a while. After about ten minutes or so, he’s ready to claim his own space in the guest bedroom, but apparently he’s reluctant to hurt Carol’s feelings. If she is staying awake reading for a while, he may eventually slink quietly off the bed and out of the room, looking guiltily at Carol (you know how dogs can get that guilty look, right?) as he creeps away. But it’s clear that he feels bad about leaving Carol alone.

Carol and Slate - puppy love

Carol and Slate – puppy love

In respect for his sensitive feelings, Carol now closes her eyes and pretends to sleep so Slate can amble off to his own room without remorse. As she peeks under lowered lids, she watches him quietly jump down and trot off to his own room with nary a backward glance. With Carol safely asleep, Slate seems to believe that he can put down the mantle of responsibility for his mom and their home until the morning.

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Me with Mick Jagger (left) and Little Richard. This is actually the day Mick and I met and rescued Richie. Mick looks skeptical.

I’ve only rescued dogs. Never raised a puppy. I’m not sure I’d have the patience to do so, frankly. But I can testify that the love I have for my boys, and that Carol has for Slate, is a joy, and a gift to both human and animal. So Happy New Year to Slate, to my Mick Jagger and Little Richard, and to all who rescue these sweet animals and welcome them into your hearts and lives.

The Boys say, “Woof” to that.