Party Dawg

When my children were small, we spent every other Christmas on the road to visit my in-laws in Florida.  Other years?  We were on the road to The Trailer Park by noon to celebrate with my family.  We agreed that as long as we had parents to visit, we would do this.

Thanksgiving was different.  His parents were too far away for a visit.  In my clan, we had time-shifted the meal to the Saturday after Thanksgiving due to issues with divorces, and the resultant logistical challenges.  Never mind that Mom had stopped making a meal* at home in the 1970’s, preferring to go out to eat at a local trough buffet restaurant.

When i asked my husband how he’d like to spend our ‘free’ holiday?  He said “At home. Watching football and drinking beer.”  When i asked my children how they’d like to spend our ‘free’ holiday?  They said “Making pizza and just hanging out…”

That’s exactly what we did.  We’d invite ‘stray’ friends over – those who didn’t have family in town.  i’d whip up some pizza dough, buy turkey pepperoni as the only nod to tradition, and we started having a great holiday at home.  Our way.

With the kids grown, and my move to the new place in 2008, i re-started the tradition. Among my friends there was a need for a holiday alternative, so “Thursday” became a thing – a non-traditional meal.  i stayed with the pizza theme, expanded the bar, and opened the doors.

The invite states “Those unable to be with family, those actively avoiding family, those without family, and those who have spent a day with their family and need respite care… Doors open at 6:00 pm, and friends are welcome to drop by until around midnight.”

Thirty or so came and went this year, bringing a variety of goodies to share.  The pool table was used and abused, with the theater room collecting the footballers.  Hot mulled wine, chilled dry cider punch, and a partially successful attempt at bacon-infused bourbon grounded the bar.  Gingerbread trifle, peanut butter pie, and gooey salted caramel chocolate bars appeared on my kitchen counter.  Guests learned to toss pizza dough, and assembled personal pizzas from a spread of toppings. We ate, laughed, and yakked through the night…

the drunk thinktank

Mr. Pickles, my senior dog, has had recent issues with bladder control. Studley was aware of this, and let him out several times to make sure he didn’t paint the carpet.

Around 10 pm, Mr. P took to intermittent barking.  This is usually due to random signals from the dog planet, but that night it was somehow more directed and urgent.  He’d stand next to someone and bark.  Not begging.  Not needing to go outside.  Not wanting attention.

So we kept taking him outside to make sure it wasn’t urinarily urgent.  i patted him and said “Pickles, shutthefuckup!” more than once.  He continued the intermittent barking or the next several hours.  As the last guests were preparing to leave around 1:30 am, he stayed nearby, and would occasionally launch a solid bark.

As i walked the last couple out, i took him for one last mercy break.  Back inside, i unhooked the leash, and he immediately trotted off to the bedroom.  i went into the kitchen to do the final sweep before bed.  Following my old pup shortly afterwards, i found him sprawled across the passenger side of my bed, snoring loudly.

The next day, Studley and i were doing the “Post-Party Analysis”.  i finally realized why Mr. Pickles had been barking.

daisyfae:  “i think i figured it out!  He wanted people to leave so he could go to bed!  He was trying to chase them away because it was past his bedtime!”

Studley:  You think?

daisyfae:  Yes!  This was the old dog equivalent of “Hey, you kids!  Get offa my lawn!”

get offa my lawn

* And we were thankful.  She couldn’t cook for shit…

Merry Christmas!

From Mr. Pickles, Huey Newton and their kitchen wench…

Merry Christmas 2012

It was quite simple, in theory.  But Mr. Pickles – despite his advanced age – refuses to surrender his dignity to the damned reindeer antlers i’ve been trying to put on him for years.

Huey?  Classy, cool and remarkably patient throughout the 2 minutes it took to snap all of these shots.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

Compare and Contrast

That’s what we’re told to do in the middle school years when writing an essay. Compare this to that. Show how they are the same. Show how they are different.

A Tale of Two Christmases by daisyfae

For the Trailer Park Christmas, i was invited to the home of my brother, T, and his wife, K, on December 26th. Conveniently, i also scammed an invitation to drop by a family party with old friends later that evening – a mere five miles from my brother’s home. KMD and her brother, B, were friends of mine back in the teenaged years – and we’ve remained close over the past three decades. KMD hosted an extended family party, which i’ve crashed before – mostly when B has been in town for the holidays.

The Trailer Park event was fairly low-key. Starting around 2:00 pm, i was the last to arrive – slip-sliding to the door at 2:30*. Rather than prepare a formal meal, T and K opted for a spread of fruits, veggies, dips, breads and snacks – suitable for grazing. KMD, having prepared a more traditional family meal for Christmas day, had arranged a similar spread that evening. Within moments of my arrival, she let me know “I’m off duty tonight. Help yourself to whatever you’d like. Questions? Ask the under-aged staff**”.

Attending the Trailer Park fest was my mom, my oldest sister, S, her husband, J. DQ, and her two daughters, DQ, Jr (15 year-old) and DQ, III (3 year-old) were there, along with T, K, and their 10 year-old son, Little T. BJ, DQ’s husband, was working on renovations to Mom’s house. My daughter had to work, and The Boy was staying up north with his Dad. A fairly small gathering.

At the KMD gathering? Almost twenty-five people. Perhaps 8-10 young ‘uns (hard to count, because they were moving targets), another dozen ‘cousins’ and spouses (age range 30’s-50’s), and KMDs divorced Mom and Dad – along with Dad’s second wife. The beauty of this is that both parents can all be in the same household, seemingly without much discomfort.

With the Trailer Park Gang, there really aren’t many traditions observed, unless you count the ritualistic “Bashing of the Exes”. My brother didn’t waste much time poking sticks at his second wife and bemoaning the status of their three sons – and their varying drug addictions.

We also got an update on his second oldest daughter – who is only going to have to serve about five months for an assault conviction, stemming from a shoplifting incident in October. She’s apparently skating on the charges that were brought for her meth lab operation in her children’s bedroom, discovered when she was investigated for another series of thefts…

Over at KMD’s, the tradition is poker. This goes back to Grandma B, who loved to play cards with her children and grandchildren. It was clear they all missed Grandma B, who died in her 90’s just over a year ago, but it didn’t take long before the poker game got going in full swing.

An 8-seat “Dealer’s Choice” event, the cousins save up all manner of pocket change for the entire year in preparation to play. Empty seats are coveted early in the evening. Happy banter, mostly good-natured tweaking, and some cut-throat gamesmanship characterized the game early. Spectacular displays of creative obscenity came into play later.

Once the game got started, i wandered off to chat with KMD. Spent some time talking with the wife of one of the cousins, and she shared some of her “divorce family mash up” issues. Also some time with KMD’s mother – a sweet woman, who may be slightly more functional than my mother, but perhaps just as crazy.

Conversation with my Mom during the Trailer Park party centered on how Christmas used to be better, how the family has fallen apart, and her current living arrangements***.  Both women aren’t particularly happy with life, but Mom’s got her on ‘bitter’…

Happy children playing with new toys in both households! DQ, Jr. was sweet about all of the gifts she received. DQ, III was a happy, bouncy critter – mostly content to play with boxes and wrapping paper. Little T excitedly shared his new science kits with me, and eventually curled up in a corner with a set of books.

At the KMD place? Joyful children, dancing with the new Wii game, using Uncle B’s new iPad, and scurrying off into corners with this toy or that one. Although it wasn’t a textbook Norman Rockwell event – i was thrilled to see one cousin ask his 10-year old son “hey, where’s my vodka tonic?” The young man expertly mixed up a fresh drink, and delivered it to the poker table, receiving a hug and a smile for his efforts.

Some similarities, some differences. The biggest difference is seeing the awkwardness in my own clan, and the over-arching tendency to constantly pick old family scabs and gnaw on ancient bones. Knowing KMD’s family for so many years, i am quite aware that there is a fair ration of dysfunction there – no one tries to hide it. But the love, comfort, and genuine joy at being together, is tangible.

Unlike my clan, KMD’s people don’t seem revel in the old trash.… Maybe that’s something i can work on with my folks for the coming year… Or i can continue to push for formal adoption.

info on the Dysfunctional Family Circus found here.

* Perhaps due to the gentle hangover i carried from the day before – watching movies in footie pajamas, while doing my best to rotate the stock in my liquor cabinet with some friends…

** That would be her two delightful children, who worked their magic helping out at my garage sale a few years back.

*** After DQ’s clan, and my sister S left, Mom went on to complain about how she has to hide food because it all gets eaten if she leaves it out. She complained about a few other things, too. We noted that she is in no imminent danger of wasting away, and suggested perhaps her own mini-fridge – with a lock – until her new place is finished. She THEN launched into a rant about how we shouldn’t judge DQ’s family – that caring for her has been a hardship on their family. i just shrugged and said “OK…”


There are probably a million reasons why Halloween has started to suck hard over the past decade.  But suck it does…

i still dress up, play, and use the holiday as an excuse to fart around with reckless abandon.  It’s not as though i really need an excuse, mind you.  The degree of commercialized contrivance has simply trumped everything i used to love about it.

Starting with Beggar’s Night.  That’s when children are encouraged to dress up, wander their own neighborhoods collecting treats in the dark!  My memories of Beggar’s Night are at the top of my childhood “Top Ten”. 

We would plan our costumes for a month.  Even as children, we weren’t big fans of the store-bought variety – with the hard plastic masks that were not only uncomfortable, but impossible to see through.  In hindsight, we never came up with any particularly brilliant costumes, but it didn’t matter.  They were ours.

The “Route Planning” would start about a week before the big event.  We would be turned loose for two entire hours – after dark – and were limited by time and suburban geography as to how much turf we could cover.  We’d draw maps of the neighborhood, identifying the shortest routes to cover maximum territory.  The goal?  Fill at least half a pillow case with loot.

With warnings from the parental units not to eat anything until it had been brought home and inspected for razor blades, tampering and whatnot, we generally ignored that shit, and ate the stuff we knew would be confiscated while we were on the road.  Forty years ago, there were still sweet old broads who would make popcorn balls and caramel apples for trick-or-treaters! 

We were daredevils.   If Granny wanted to poison us, we’d take our chances!

Halloween sleep overs?  The best!  Listing to scary records, haunting the laundry room, and telling ghost stories until we were all shitting our collective shorts.  One year, in the throes of the seasonal frenzy, we made a rather serious decorating faux pas which had lasting impact on a local family basement.  We ran out of scotch tape to hang the ghost and goblin drawings, and we thought it a brilliant plan to use Elmer’s Glue instead.  The parents were pissed, but patient, as it took us a couple of weeks to finish scrubbing all that crap off the walls.

Now?  Whether it’s “Fear of Child Abduction” or “Fear of Stranger Poison” or “Fear of The Devil” or “Fear of Things We Can’t Control”, we’ve sucked that joy from our kids.  Churches hold “Trunk or Treat” – good God People decorate trunks of automobiles and hand out candy to children in the church parking lot.  Whooptie Fucking Doo.

Oh, and there are Harvest Festivals!  More neo-religious influence trying to squash the pagan spirits and keep our babies out of hell.  No ghosties and goblins or devils or witches!  Pumpkins and inflatable bouncy castles and handing out pencils with bible sayings on them at the MegaChurch…  Again, Whooptie Fucking Doo.

In my neighborhood, here in God’s Waiting Room, there are no trick or treaters.  Zero.  There are maybe two or three kids who live here in the suitable age range, but if i were them, i wouldn’t want to knock on the doors here either.  If you’re lucky, you might score a Metamucil biscuit or some grapes…

Adults have further jacked up Halloween.  Costume shops make it easy to just buy “persona du jour” off the rack.  For us gals, it’s an excuse to be skanky*.  For the gents?  Seems to be a lot of cross-dressing.  Any fantasy will do, and if you don’t have one?  The racks at the Halloween Megastore can help you find one.

Nothing is as much fun as it was when we were kids.  At least that’s how it seems.  Probably because i’m now a crabby old fart.  Makes me wonder, though, if the current generation will look back on their childhoods with the same sweet memories.

* Again, i don’t need an excuse.  For the charity party i went to last night, my daughter had the good sense to stop me as i headed out and say “Jesus, Mom!  Is that all you’re wearing?  Can you cover those up a bit?” before loaning me a tube top to add a strategic layer to my costume…

Surviving “Slug Week”: A Primer

That week between Christmas and New Year – purgatory on the calendar.  We are recovering from an overdose of sugar, sweets and exposure to extended family.  With the start of a new year literally just around the corner, we know we’re going to try to get ourselves right with our bodies.  But not just yet… We need transition.  Gentle movement away from mindless gluttony and sloth –  toward our newfound resolve of sacrifice, or at least moderation.
“Slug Week”
i  always work the week between the holidays, for a wide variety of reasons.  i  prefer to take my vacation when the sun is shining, not when faced with 18 hours of darkness and massive frigidity.  It’s also generally very quiet at work.  Most folks are gone, and those that are working are either in “fuck off” mode, or sleeping politely at their desks.  In either case, no one is sending me work, and i’m just fine with that.  No one notices if i show up late, then leave early to make up for it.
Despite all these wonderful things, a few tips are in order.  A list of suggestions for Slug Week.  Making the transition from “reckless self-abuse and gluttony” to “positive outlook for becoming the best person i can be” must be somewhat gradual.  Holiday recovery is not for pussies. 
DO bring all of your leftover junk food into the office.  Pack up the rum balls, shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate and even the partially emptied tubs of frosting leftover in the fridge.  By New Year’s Day, there should be nothing decadent left in your house.
DON’T sit at the Admin Desk and eat the shit you just brought in to work.  It was for THEM, dumbass.
DO continue with your exercise regimen during Slug Week.  It will help you kick-start your January fitness routine.
DON’T leave your sweaty gym clothes in your car overnight, when it’s going to be ball-numbingly cold.  Putting on a frozen running bra can stop your heart, or as a minimum, wake you up.  We can’t have that.  Transitions must be gradual…
DO start watching your calories.  Slimfast, or other meal replacements, can come in handy.  Bonus tip:  i keep a can in my car, so it is convenient – even when i’m on the run.  And this time of year? It’s always chilled!
DON’T mix a Slimfast with Bailey’s Irish Cream for lunch.  Drink the Bailey’s straight to cut calories. 
DO use the quiet time in the office to knock out a few things that have languished on your “To Do” list for months.  Take advantage of the abandoned workplace to do your most creative thinking…
DON’T bother even pretending to try the item above.  i  tell myself that i’m going to write that tech report, or knock out the big bad spreadsheet, or generate a new process description, or some such bullshit every year.  Invariably, i end up reading newspapers online, yakking with my equally sluggardly colleagues, or simply fighting to stay awake for six hours.  Skip the guilt.  Instead, go here and play games.  These are unlikely to be blocked by your IT department.  It’s NORAD!  What’s more important than National Defense?

Happy Slug Week!  Get out there in those sweat pants and baggy shirts and start thinking about preparing for getting ready to kinda start getting shit done next week…

No Parenting Awards: Holiday Edition

Scores and highlights from a very pleasant four-day weekend…

– Vegetative:  At least two full days of just getting “jammied-up” and expending the least amount of energy possible.  Two half-hearted trips to the gym (Thursday and Saturday) for a couple hours of cardio, but other than that?  Fuck it.  i’m eating cookies and fudge.  Really enjoyed the down time, playing pool and darts with my children and friends.  We watched movies until our eyeballs damn near fell out.  Perfect holiday.

–  Going to hell:  If there was a hell, i’d have reserved seating.  As would my children.  The Boy picked up a lovely decorative item for me, which looked like a tombstone when wrapped.  Making a rookie religious holiday error, he pasted the “R.I.P. Jebus” tag on it.  i had to explain he was born on Christmas, and died on Easter… Regardless, it made a fine addition under the tree.

– Retaliation:  Not to be outdone, The Girl crafted a pretty brilliant response in the style of wrapping for The Boy’s gift.  We’d gotten him pool cues.  Naturally, they lend themselves to a suitably blasphemous holiday wrappage.  This was mildly complicated by the fact that i attempted to wrap them on Christmas Eve.  After damn near a half bottle of single malt scotch had disappeared into my gullet.  But wrapped it was….

– Trailer Park Christmas:  Wasn’t horrible.  Best part was visiting with my niece, JS* and her partner RE.  They enjoyed the “pimped out rollator” i’d prepared for Mom.  RE had some fabulous additional suggestions.  Her first question was “Did you get her a matching helmet?”  A “Dukes of Hazzard” horn, undercarriage neon, tubthumpin’ bass speakers and spinner rims… perhaps something i can add next year.  Mom liked it, plus the bag of home made treats i brought her…  Will continue the war-gaming in January, but for now?  A holiday truce…

* JS is technically a “step-niece”.  She is the only daughter of my sister, S’s second husband, G – from his first marriage.  The “skinny transvestite stoner” dude who commited suicide in a deer stand, after first killing his fucking dog.  Yeah.  But despite the obvious challenges of her life, JS is a loving young woman!  Amazingly, the “trailer park” clan is the most stable influence she’s had in her life, and she considers us her family.  She and her partner, RE, rescue cats – and may well have successfully pawned one off on me…

Time Traveling

daisyfae at 7:  [bouncing up and down beside my sister’s bed] “C’mon!  Get up!  GET UP!  He’s been here!  It’s CHRISTMAS!”  i remember when i still believed in Santa Claus.  My friends were skeptics, but i wanted him to be real, so i resisted.  i didn’t give it up until my older brother spilled the beans a year later – leading my two older sisters to bark at him for being such an asshole. 

At seven, i remember getting a “Chatty Cathy” talking doll from Santa.  It scared the living shit out of me.  “i don’t want it!  There’s a SCARECROW inside it!”  Mom orchestrated the ritual overindulgence – only stockings could be opened on Christmas morning, and we could investigate the “Santa Gifts”, unwrapped presents for each of us under the tree. 

She wanted Christmas to last, so we had to have nutritious breakfast first – often a treat of Strawberry PopTarts.  One of us would be an elf, and presents were distributed in piles to each of us in the cramped living room.  As Maestro, she then instructed us on which gifts to open – one at a time, waiting so that we could see others open their gifts.  Directed chaos.  i was happy.
daisyfae at 16:  [slogging down the hallway, looking for coffee] My older sister and brother were already married with babies.  These marriages were already showing signs of implosion, but it was cool to have little kids around for the holidays.  Mom’s orchestrated ritual continued, but didn’t start before sunrise – my older siblings showed up later in the day, sugar-buzzed and over-stimulated children in tow.  Stockings?  Treats and plastic toys were replaced by deodorant and lip balm, but they were still overflowing. 

It was during the teen years that i finally let my sister, T,  know i’d figured out that “lesbian” thing, and that my best friend, JW, was gay too.  The gift i left for her under the tree was a pile of 35mm film*.  But the day before, i’d given her a couple of books – “Rubyfruit Jungle” by Rita Mae Brown and “The Front Runner” by Patricia Nell Warren. Good teen gay-lit, given to me by my friend JW.  It was a turning point for us as sisters.
daisyfae at 21:[waking up in a strange bed, alone] It was my first Christmas away from home.  i’d been living with EJ for a couple years, and agreed to make the “parent trek” to Florida.  My first dinner with his family was memorable.  It was so quiet i could hear myself chewing!  A sound i’d never heard before at a family dinners because my clan yelled, threw dinner rolls and argued everything from music to philosophy over meals.  His parents were very sweet. 

Their house was perfect, uncluttered and understated.  i found myself missing the chaotic Christmas mornings of my childhood.  Just a little bit… Returning to the homestead for a Christmas visit the next week, i was comforted when i dumped out my Christmas stocking to find travel-sized toothpaste, shampoos and deodorant, along with candy and a smattering of cheap plastic crap.
daisyfae at 30:  [dragging ass outta bed as my young children tumble excitedly down the stairs, after i’d been up until 2am assembling kid toys]  We kept some of the same rules – no presents opened until we were all there, but stockings and “Santa Gifts” were fair game.  Breakfast of cookies and milk was perfectly acceptable.   i was in my “Super Working Mom” phase, and generally exhausted myself the weeks before Christmas with shopping, baking, decorating and wrapping – but i truly enjoyed it! 

The downside was always the travel.  My husband and i agreed – “As long as we have parents to visit, we will travel on Christmas.”  And so we did.  Never mind the fact that we never went ANYWHERE when we were young, our parents expected to see us for the holidays. 

Every other year we went wherever his folks were – usually Florida.  Palm trees with twinkie lights, Santa wearing shorts.  Waking up in strange beds on Christmas morning – for us and our children.  Typically driving 16 hours, we’d always have to anticipate weather challenges – dodging ice storms in the mountains of Tennessee. 

Alternate years?  Home for Christmas morning, but on the road to The Trailer Park by noon for the family visit.  Mom had taken the “directed chaos” to an entirely new level – attempting to pull off the same “one-at-a-time” gift opening ritual with a crowd now numbering close to 20, and in a living room more cluttered (and far less organized) than the interior of the International Space Station.  We returned home reeking of cigarette smoke, hauling trash bags of mostly “off target” gifts and generally very crabby.
daisyfae at 47: [bouncing up and down beside my children’s beds] “C’mon!  Get up!  GET UP!  He’s been here!  It’s CHRISTMAS!” Not an over-abundance of gifts, but they are thoughtful.  Sometimes disgusting, but thoughtful.  Santa still shows up, reliably delivering ‘scratch off’ lottery tickets in the stockings.  We just hang out.  We eat junk food, watch movies, drink and nap.  Friends drop in to eat junk food, watch movies, drink and nap.  “Dog Wrasslin’” is the sport du jour.  i am happy.
It’s just another day, but it’s an annual pinning point.  Tripping us backwards through the joyful, the broken and empty.  The sweet and the bittersweet. 

The New Year has us looking forward…. but Christmas makes us time travelers.

* i worked at Photo Bug and used my employee discount to buy gifts for all of my friends with cameras.  Like a FotoMat, it was a drive-up photo-processing facility.  We shipped film out and promised “next-day” service.  It causes me great pain, but i have been COMPLETELY unable to find photographic evidence of a Photo Buggery.  A 15’ x 15’ box with windows in a parking lot, and a 5’ tall smiling bee on the roof, spinning merrily while holding a camera.  Surely someone, somewhere, has a picture?!?

Pinning Points

Every November, i have the same argument: “Put up the damn Christmas tree!”  This is followed immediately by “What’s the point?”  Sometimes, i have this argument out loud.  By myself.  For several minutes… Because it amuses me.

Never one to go overboard with decorating, i’ve always kept the holiday stuff at a reasonable level. Never put out more than i could take down on a cold, January afternoon. As the kids grew, there were a few standards they wanted to see – the “mouse countdown” calendar, Santa’s Marching Band, and of course, the random collection of weird shit on our tree. 

The other family tradition?  Once the tree is assembled and decorated, we must stand beside it and say “It’s the most beautiful Christmas tree ever.  Just like last year…”  The kids often delivered this line in monotone, with corresponding eye-roll. 

The tree itself? For the past 15 years, it’s usually been the same artificial tree – assembled branch by branch. It looks good, but never as nice as the real ones we’ve murdered purchased from time to time.  And it seems that i am always near tears when i’m putting it up, or taking it down. 

So why the fuck do i do this?

Holidays provide easy “pinning points” in our lives.  i mean, you don’t sit there on some random May 15th and say “damn, i remember May 15th from four years ago…”.  It just doesn’t work that way.  So when that damn tree is put up, or comes down, i am overcome by memories of over two decades of tree assembly or deconstruction.  And all of the emotions that were present at the time.

Every year i tell myself “Fuck it.  Don’t do it.”  But i give in… and it usually feels right after it’s up.  Sometimes i tell myself it’s for the kids.  Although they say it doesn’t matter whether there’s a tree or not, i suspect it represents a pinning point for them as well.  Sometimes it’s just because i’m not ready to become one of those people who drags out a small, fiber optic tree and says “Voila!”  That’s so my Mother…

This morning.  Removing the ornaments.  Smiling at the goofy shit* we’ve had on the tree for years.  Groaning at the hideously ugly** ornaments Mom has given me – which i dutifully place on the back of the tree.  Branch by branch.  Moment by moment.  Year after year.  Stuffing the scratchy synthetic wires into the large cardboard box that will sit unnoticed on a shelf in my garage for the next 11 months.  Carefully taped shut to keep out spiders.

Remembering the tree assembly from 2006.  Knowing at the time it would be the last holiday we would be spending together as a foursome – a pseudo-family***.  Having a ridiculous fever of unknown origin**** but plugging through it anyway…  The Girl was sailing through Europe during her Semester at Sea.  The Boy and his girlfriend lending me a hand as i wheeled around the tree in a rolling desk chair to conserve energy…

Flashing forward to an unknown future.  Knowing that choices i’ve made in my personal life are far-reaching.  And will bring moments of darkness, along with the freedom i crave.  Letting this knowledge wash over me like a scalding shower.  Branch by branch.  Moment by moment.  Blasting through year after year.  Tossing aside the idea of getting a gigantic 12′ pre-lit artificial tree for next year.  It wouldn’t be the same…

Pinning points.  Our lives woven around them.  Sometimes a beautiful tapestry.  Sometimes ragged, uneven web…

image sourced from:

* the traditional first ornament is a miniature 6-pack of beer.  we’ve got an alien spaceship, painted pine cones, holographic glasses… silliness abounds…

** she gives each of us two gold-plated “collector” ornaments each year.  Some of them are hideous – including the gold-plated mini-van.  Seriously.  A mini-van?  it’s like the people who have to come up with new ornaments for the series are sitting around saying “Holy Fuck.  We’re out of Christmas shit.  Let’s start doing cars…”.

*** Our divorce was final in August of 2006, but it was quite amicable.  We agreed to spend that holiday together to soften the transition.  The Girl was 20, and The Boy was 17…

**** At the time, the doc thought it might be malaria (after a meet-up with The Girl in Vietnam and Cambodia).  It was only mono that i contracted in the Cambodian jungle, but i didn’t get that diagnosis until early December.  Around the time i was diagnosed with breast cancer…  Sucky month, eh?


i’m not much on ‘glurge’.  and i’m not much on ‘sports glurge’ in particular…

but this one got me…  maybe it’s the bottle of wine i consumed with a pal tonight.  maybe it’s the christmas spirit.  hell, maybe it’s just the fact that i don’t want to leave a post about dog poo up for christmas…

redemptive nuggets of humanity are out there… and sometimes, you can find* them in the sports pages…

Hope.  It’s not all that hard when you think about it. 

Best. Gift. Ever.

yes.  another puppy.  that's the ticket...

yes**. another puppy. that's the ticket...

* i found it here.  cool guy… has a cow…

** image sourced here.  mesmerizing…

Death-Wish, Doggie Style

Is it possible for a dog to have suicidal tendencies?  Perhaps.  There’s a case from The Trailer Park where a miserable Pekingese hung himself on my sisters basement stairs, but that’s a story for another day… This one falls, unfortunately, in the category of “current events”.

Mr. Pickles has once again survived an attempt at “Death by Chocolate”.  Last christmas, after The Girl stayed up all night baking a double batch of Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscotti, we were faced with a morning mystery.  While at work, i received a call from The Irate Girl, asking if i’d put away some of the biscotti she’d left on the counter.  Negatory… But somehow about half of it was gone.  The half that was on the edge of the kitchen counter…

Seeing a large brown animal, sporting a suspicious belly lump, skulking under the kitchen table, she deduced that Mr. P had helped himself to some chocolatey goodness when no one was looking… Fortunately, he is a large pup, and the chocolate was dilute enough, that he only had a serious bout of ‘doggie drizzlies’, with no need for veterinarial follow up… 

Chocolate can be deadly for dogs.  A few years ago, we had to hospitalize our smaller, yet more ferocious dog, Turbo, when she ferreted out the 2lb box of dark chocolate truffles, beautifully wrapped and under the tree*.  Not only was she tweaking like a cokehead, she’d either heaved or shat approximately 2lbs of chocolate-colored lugubrious secretions all over my kilim rug.  Which went directly to the dumpster…

After my holiday baking frenzy on Sunday, i’d carefully placed all potential hazards out of reach.  Most on the kitchen bar, but one tray of Chocolate-Peppermint Brownie Thingies** on the counter next to the sink.  Counter tops in this kitchen are a bit higher than the old one, so i didn’t think they were at risk…

Returning home around midnight from a holiday pub run, i found Mr. P slinking around the kitchen… looking guilty.

Guilty Brown Dog

Exhibit A: Guilty Brown Dog

And shortly thereafter, spied the half-empty tray of choco-peppermint death nuggets…

Mint Chocolate Drizzlies... which perhaps should be renamed...

Exhibit B: Mint Chocolate Drizzlies... which perhaps should be renamed...

Despite being five pints gone, i was able to do the math and make the connection… He wasn’t tweaking, so i reloaded his water bowl and hoped that the dilute levels of chocolate in his large brown body wouldn’t be toxic.  i then proceeded to yell at him, as he cowered in the corner.  The really cool thing about dogs?  You don’t need to hit them.  It’s overkill.  With just my voice, i got the little junkie to sit in the corner like the only subservient wormboy at a sadists convention.  Where he stayed even after i left the room.

i left him to stew as i got ready for bed, eventually “made up” with him, and he hopped up and snored on the adjacent pillow as if nothing was wrong.  Which it wasn’t.  Until i got up this morning.  And smelled it… wafting up from downstairs…

In the theater room.  In a perfect nautilus arc, which is his signature.  A choco-poo slime trail on the carpet, just inside the door.  Not, mind you, on the indestructible vinyl plank flooring*** i’d just had installed in the billiards room.  A mere two feet away… yes, he had to walk farther to get to the carpet. 

The mutt defies death yet again – barely.  Big critter can handle his chocolate.  The Girl didn’t kill him last year, and i didn’t take him down this year. Yet.


* Will never forget the call from a twisted, sarcastic veterinarian, who had just pumped Turbo full of emetic (Ipecac) to make her cac.  His words: “Just wanted you to know, we found the cherry…”.  Ewwww….

** They sound better than they taste…

*** i chose this stuff for it’s indestructibility.  Guaranteed to be waterproof, i’ve already tested it, and certified it “beer-proof”.  The Boy has also provided a testimonial that it’s impervious to blood, and perhaps a few other body fluids…