Monthly Archives: December 2011

Flea Circus!

It has been a particularly pup filled holiday season, beginning with my troublesome but adorable Shih Tzu puppy Teddy’s 1st birthday in September, which Joanie will admit, was completely excessive, marked with a full on five- alarm fire celebration- “Holy hell, Marge, would you look at this spread!”  One guest at the event, which by the way took place on the very last balmy summer evening on the patio at Farragut Gardens, commented to me later: “Joanie did you know that not one of the dogs at your party were over 8” tall?”  They each had party hats, custom created of course, and from what I hear the little creatures all had a blast.

Seems like dogs are stealthily creeping into what used to be a fairly canine free existence for Dear Paul and I.  In the last  few years we only had the occasional visit by three sweet little poodles, Lambie, Charlie and Barney and suddenly this year we now have regular visits from Oliver- a little caramel colored puffball of a Pekinese and of course dear “Teddy Rumpus”, or “T” or “TT” or “Monkey Dinks”  as I like to refer to him, who  lives with us now- as well as occasional visits from Chloe, pup of Dear Sister.  Chloe is a runner- a dog for whom an open door is an irresistible temptation… so she doesn’t get out to visit much.  Just like the old grandma in the birthday cards “She left the house and we have no idea where the hell she is!”

That said, it has been a lot of fun to have the pups around.  Nothing like a wrestling match on the down filled couch, right?  Trying to dig a hole in the couch cushions to bury a chew toy seems to be one of the basic tenets of Teddy’s life lately.  That and continuing to chew on the dining room chairs and snooze contentedly on our occupied bed, scratching his fleas and taking up more than his share of space.  We oversee him like doting parents, and have fallen in love with dogs, do you even believe it?  So, recently, when dogsitting for little Oliver, whose ears were all wet for the entire weekend because the Tedster was chewing on them, it was particularly upsetting when Dear Paul misplaced him…

As you may know, Dear Paul has the attention span (to quote David Sedaris because this is so good) of a common housefly.  Things happen.  Last week he volunteered to take little Ollie out for a potty break and promptly lost him!  I was at the time just getting out of the shower, and I noticed Paul on the patio, in his robe (naturally), hosing the patio down like the cousin in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation with the hose.  When I asked through the screen where Oliver was he looked at me blankly and said “Oh I don’t know- he was here a little while ago!”  Of course I promptly went into a rage about “How could you lose him, Paul!  He’s not EVEN OURS!  We will lose our manny!  (Oliver’s owner Jim is Teddy’s male nanny…)”

Needless to say, I threw on my robe, wrapped my wet head in a towel and grabbed the car keys, while Paul was otherwise engaged- getting ready, apparently.  He can wear the robe to Albertson’s but I guess dog hunting he can’t do in it… in any case I screeched down the road and found our little charge, panting and shaking on the front porch of his house, five or so blocks away.  I scooped him up, set him in the front seat and had him back to the house before Dear Paul had managed to pull on blue jeans.

These little furry people fill up places in our hearts that we didn’t even know existed, and I for one am thankful for our smiley little pup.  My good friend recently lost her wonderful and faithful companion of many years, and as I reflect on the year that has just passed, I am thankful for the 10 + years she had with her.  I know she will rest in the sweetest peace because she loved and was loved by a wonderful family.  All dogs go to heaven.  Of that I am totally convinced.

Happy New Year to the dearest of the dear.  Amen and good night.


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Joanie’s Christmas Gifts- or Not

Seems that Joanie has always been a bit off kilter when it comes to being the recipient of Christmas gifts.  Not that she hasn’t received wonderful gifts in her lifetime, mind you, but some in particular stand out in her memory:

Christmas 1958:  Joanie hears Mom and Dad yelling in the living room about Dad attempting to put together 6 bikes and 2 electric train sets.  Seems to her bourbon and cigarettes were involved.  Also tinsel.

Christmas 1960:  Joanie discovers a wonderful cache of gifts while furtively digging in the Christmas bags in the basement of her home, and happens to pull out a beautiful yellow organza dress!  Oh how perfect!  Her dream dress!  You can only imagine her dismay on Christmas morning when alas, the dress was for her little sister Janis.  Not only was the beautiful angelic dress for Janis but hers (oh Good Lord) was red corduroy… Joanie vows to never ever ever peek again.

Christmas 1970:  Was this the year that they collectively decided to wrap the entire bookshelf of Reader’s Digests in aluminum foil?  Mom was such a good sport! She loved that about her!  That may have been the same year that they received the Beatles White album and the boys (her brothers) shot the bb gun at the white cat while they turned the music up on the stereo and scared her.

New Year’s Eve 1970:  Her boyfriend ( and Dax and Jessica’s future father) schreeching up her Mom’s road in his Camaro at 11:59, with perfume and a musical jewelry box and leaping out of his car to kiss her in the moonlight.  Oh that was a great New Year’s Eve.  Mom had no idea, being fast asleep in her bed… She still has the jewelry box.  Wishes she still had Jess.

Christmas 1972:  Can anyone say Crock Pot ?

Ok she now havs a mental block.  She has no idea where those years went!

Skip to the year 1984:  Dear Paul appears at her bedside with a bejeweled pearl casque.  How lovely!  Later that year he proposed at the Manchester boat launch and presents her with a delightful diamond ring that she wears to this day and one that her dear Mom thought was “Way too big and too many diamonds, Joanie!”

Christmas 1988:  Hmmm don’t remember.

Christmas 1999:  Dear Paul tells her that her Christmas gift is the ramp of the boat launch where he proposed.  They were dismantling the boat launch for a newer version and he couldn’t bear to see it go.  Gotta give him 10 points for sentimentality.

Christmas 2000:  Dear Paul lost her gift that year and found it in July.  A blue platter- lovely but a bit late.

Christmas 2001-2010:  Lots of interesting gifts- like the time that she had selected a diamond and sapphire bracelet from her late friend Steve’s jewelry store and asked him to tell Paul about it.  He did.  He told Paul “It’s 8 big ones, Paul.” And Paul dutifully met him at the ferry dock with $800.00, only to be told it was $8,000.00. Dear Old Paul, instead of going ahead and buying it for her, instead, in his “holiday depression” about the bracelet, bought himself a Cadillac Fleetwood to assuage his remorse.  You can only imagine her reaction, when, at the end of the Christmas Day, full of gifts and food and drink and fun, she finally asked him if he indeed had no present f or her.  “Oh no hon, I couldn’t afford the bracelet!”

Christmas 2002 I think:  Ahhh- She had survived the “I bought myself a new Cadillac but couldn’t afford to buy you anything honey” Christmas, and she had once again unwisely selected a piece of jewelry, thinking that there was no way she would lose out this year.  Steve assured her that he would save the diamond cross pendant for her so that she could once again direct Dear Paul to the purchasing counter so she was not worried.  She even went to the store to make sure that he hadn’t sold it only to be told that inadvertently it had been!  OH NO now what???

You can only imagine the next Christmas morning as Paul pulled out a small box, wrapped in old paper and a used bow.  You could feel the tension in the living room among all those present as he presented it to her.  The tension was thick in the air as the Universe knew this was now or never as far as Joanie and the Paul presents were concerned…  and as Joanie unwrapped the small box and unearthed the diamond cross pendant from its wrappings, all at once all was right with the world.

Merry Christmas to my dearest of the dear.  Amen and good night.

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Wine and Rat Traps

Wine and rat traps- life in this semi-rural waterfront town can be quite interesting- one minute Joanie is polishing the sterling and ironing the linens for a pre-wedding dinner party 0n the terrace and the next minute she is hearing ominous scratching noises from the attic.  Rats!

Her Dear Paul, ever the cost-conscious entrepreneur, is absolutely convinced that “a few more candy bars should do it!”- meaning the extra strength rat killer bars he gets at the local feed store down the road should finish them off.  He has even begun nailing the bars down in the attic because some of the greedy beasts actually pick them up and haul them off to who know where up there!

Well, last week her granddaughter Cassie May announced “Grandma there’s something upstairs!  I hear it scratching!”  This occurred as she was watching a dvd at Joanie’s house.  Well, that did it!  She has put up with various sounds over the years as ones tend to do when living in an old house, but now not only did she have scratching, she also had thumping, smells AND flies!  Even her troublesome pup Teddy can hear them!

So, Joanie got online and made contact with the apparent (self appointed) guru  of rat trappers- Jeff of the Rat Patrol.  Jeff would be only so happy to come out to the house for a full inspection and diagnosis for a mere $300.00, and she would have been happy to pay it.  Turns out Jeff is actually from Tacoma, a ways away, and did come out, only to poke around with Paul in various and sundry places to announce “Oh yes Ma’am, it’s rats all right but it will be hideously expensive for you to hire me to trap them since I have to come so far over here…”  So, Dear Paul of course is delighted, because not only can he save money, one of his life’s ongoing goals- and can go back to his “candy bar” cure, but for Joanie, she thinks traps are in order.  Good thing her sister Janis has a whole pile of them, and- bonus- a son that happens to excel in rat trapping!

So, Sister arrives early Sunday evening, armed with wine and rat traps.  Which reminds Joanie of another story she will tell one day soon about the time  her other sister and she drowned a rat in a garbage can one hot sunny day after one too many gin and tonics… they don’t think the kids have ever recovered from that one.   I’ll keep you posted.   Amen and good night.

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Bread Bags and Snowfalls

As my brothers and sister and I were growing up- not all that long ago- it wasn’t as if we were neglected or doing without.  We had hand sewn holiday dresses each year for Easter and Christmas, and new underpants, undershirts, socks and shoes.  Sometimes matching coats, hats and even muffs if we were particularly lucky!  Remind me to scan photos for you all- so cute.

As well as I remember the holidays, I remember the winters even more.  Our house was pretty warm as I recall, but not toasty.  We slept upstairs in what today I would call the attic, but I don’t remember ever being cold.  Funny how we forget- right?  My sister Janis and Mary Ann and I slept in one room, and my sister Kaye had her own little area, and my brothers- good grief I cannot remember where they slept!  Somewhere downstairs I bet.

In any case, as soon as the first snowflake fell we would instantaneously be catapulted from our beds, rushing to find our “snow clothes” – whatever those were!  Usually a coat, a scarf for the girls and a hat of some sort for the boys, followed by much anguish and gnashing of teeth about boots.  Seems to me each year not only did we not have boots- those things you would wear with socks, but the plastic over the shoe things- more like galoshes really.  And generally speaking we never had any that fit.  We would throw little fits and sometimes tantrums and eventually Mom would put down her cigarette and her Reader’s Digest Condensed book, and go rummage in the kitchen for plastic bread bags and rubber bands.  She would line us up, sit us down and find the right amount of bags for each of us.  Our boots!  Hallelujeh!

From that point on it was every man for him or herself.  We would locate old dusty sleds in the basement and Dad would yell, and then we would brave the cows in Mr. Beam’s field, and sled down the big hill, time after time, until finally Mom would come out and ring the bell on the porch and we would be forced to come in and thaw out.  I am confident that we were hypothermic, but in those days there was nothing that a hot bath would not cure.  I agree with Mom’s theory to this day in fact.  Give me a hot bath anytime and I can promise you I will feel better soon.

One year that I remember very clearly was the year that Mom and Dad had a New Year’s Eve party, and although we were supposed to be in bed, the majority of us watched the party from the cracks in our bedrooom doors.  There was much cigarette smoking and laughter and piano playing, and I remember the ladies in their wonderful glittery dresses and high heels and glasses filled with ice.  As the New Year approached, a number of the ladies joined our fathers out in the snowy driveway where they giddily stepped into Dad’s plastic rowboat, sequins, cigarettes, drinks and all and launched themselves down Mr. Beam’s hill, past the cows and into the future.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to my dear friends, the dearest of the dear.  Amen and good night.


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