Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dumpster dogs

I came home from the pet store a bit disgruntled the other day. No, it wasn’t because of their service. I was able to buy our guinea pig food with no issues.

“She tried to adopt a one-eyed dog, and the lady wouldn’t let her,” my daughter explained in answer to my husband’s quizzical look.

The look that crossed his face went beyond quizzical at that point.


“It was an adult dog that suffered from glaucoma and had to have its eye removed,” I snapped, as if to say, “Duh?”

“So, it would be blind in a few years,” he observed. “And you were trying to adopt this dog? I didn’t know we needed another dog.”

“No, I wasn’t trying to adopt it. I was just petting it!” I said a bit too defensively.

I caught the kids exchanging glances.

“She wanted that dog,” my son said. “You should have seen how red her face got when the lady said she couldn’t have it.”

“She was a sweet dog. I was just asking questions about her. I only asked for the lady’s information to be polite, but then she asked if I kept our dog inside, and I said, ‘No, but he has a two-story dog house that used to be our kids’ playhouse.’ I told her he even had his own front porch,” I said. “She had already said she kept the poor dog in a crate all day.”

“The lady told her she would not let anyone adopt dogs who kept them outside. She said she wanted them to be a part of the family,” my son blurted.

At which time, I could feel my face growing hot again. I would defy anyone to say our dog is not part of the family. He is so much a part of the family that he seems to think he is actually human and not a giant 130-pound chocolate lab who resembles a bear.

I couldn’t imagine keeping him in a crate all day. The only time he goes in a crate is when we head to the lake, and he rides in one in the back of the truck. As soon as we start packing the truck, he gets excited knowing the journey will end with a dip in a lake and a chance to chase jet skies and ever elusive ducks. At the end of our trips, we open the crate door to allow him to wearily jump back in, exhausted and ready for the ride home.

I have never seen a problem with keeping dogs outside in nice fenced-in back yard, especially dogs who don’t have a home to begin with. I guess it was the way I was raised.

We lived down the street from the dump. This meant there was never a time in my life when we didn’t have dogs. Back then, people would simply drop off their unwanted animals, from puppies to – more often than not – dogs who’d reached old age. Spotted brown mutts who were too tired to be any fun anymore, dogs with half tails and half ears and fur that would cause most people to cringe -- these were the dogs I loved.
Only once did we find them. Someone had cruelly filled a trash bag with puppies. More often than that, the dogs found us.

I remember one day waking up to a thunder of noise. My sister and I rushed outside to see not one, not two, but four grown dogs running down the hill from the dump. They ended up in our yard, and we kept them all, as we did any other mutt who wandered our way.

We would pet them and water them and give them horrible names like, “Pinestraw,” “New dog,” and even one my dad branded, “Too many.”

They may have been rejects to one family, but they were ours. We loved them. I’m not normally one to be sentimental about animals. After our last puppy, the runt of the litter – a mix between a blue-tick hound mom and a dumpster dog that lived at the recreation department – got hit by a car, I vowed in my childish mind that I wouldn’t get attached to another animal.

I’ve kept a pretty good defense, but something about petting the brown one-eyed dog at the store made me want to take her home, open that crate door and make her part of our family. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think she would have minded.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Boot giveway is underway until Jan. 15. Enter now for your chance to win.

Only two more days to enter to win a $150 gift card to Country Outfitter. My daugther looooves her new pair (above), courtesy of Country Outfitter. Find all the details here. Good luck!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Karate, the '70s and Lou Ann Delmonto

“Johnny said he knows karate,” my son said one day after school. “He’s only a brown belt. That’s not very good.”

“Um, you might want to take that seriously,” I said. “That’s one step away from a black belt, and you also better take purple belts or even orange belts seriously for that matter. Just take my word for it.”

At which point, my entire family turned to stare at me.

“You seem to know a lot about this,” my husband said.

“Well, I had a neighbor who knew karate – Lou Ann Delmonto,” I said. “And one day, I challenged her, and it did not go well.”

“You mean that skinny woman?” my husband asked. The day I met him he was actually at a table with that skinny woman, my childhood nemesis.

“Yes, and she was even skinnier as a girl,” I said, “but freakishly strong.”

By this point, my son was all ears.

“You mean she beat you up?” he asked.

“Well, no, not exactly,” I said, “but I do remember distinctly how her elbows, knees and feet hurt. She used a few karate moves on me.”

“Why did you challenge her?”

“Oh, she bragged all the time about doing karate,” I said, and she wore purple eye shadow when I wasn’t allowed to and had nice, tan skin year round in comparison to my ghastly pale complexion, I thought to myself. If I had thought a little harder, I would have added that she could also skate backwards.

“I remember that day distinctly because it was the day I got my swing set,” I said.

“You mean the one at Nana and Ben Daddy’s house?” my son asked.

“Yes, that very one,” I said.

He snickered and remarked how small it was, no offense.

“I was very proud to have a wooden swing set with a tire swing,” I said. I guess my pride was perhaps what gave me the courage to challenge Lou Ann.

“Did you end up in a ditch?” my son asked.

My daughter had once remarked that all my childhood stories ended in the ditch to which my son asked, “What’s a ditch?”

Kids these days.

“Was that the only fight you got into?” my very curious son asked.

“Well, there was another one with the boy next door,” I said. “He teased me about my bike over and over until I finally had enough and jumped off it (It didn’t have brakes, was rusted and came from the dumpster down the street), and the next thing I know, he and I were fighting in the ditch.”

“Did you win that one?” he asked.

I don’t recall if I did. I do recall wishing an adult would please come out and break us up. The 1970s was a different era. Adults did not interfere with kid business. Disputes were settled in the yard while adults went about the business of being adults. Play dates were not arranged. Your options consisted of whoever lived on your street. Lessons were learned the hard way as were trophies earned.

Our days were spent outdoors. If my sister and I stayed in, mom would assign chores, plus we didn’t have air conditioning, so it was not to our advantage. Our animals were loved deeply but lived outside. We ate dinner together every night at 5. Kids were never allowed to have steak or shrimp, and we’d never so much as seen a crab leg. Mom fried everything in lard that she kept in a jar in the cabinet. We didn’t have snacks that I can recall, other than ice cream at night. Summer days were long, and we were happy – when we weren’t fighting in the ditch, that is.

“Someday, son, I’ll tell you the rest of the story of me and Lou Ann Delmonto and the rest of my childhood gang,” I said, suddenly feeling nostalgic, “but for now, we’d better sign you for karate lessons, just in case.”

(Disclaimer: I would never endorse violence, and my son has learned by observation to do as I say not as I do.)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Good enough

When my oldest daughter was little, she was so exhausting to play with. She had an active imagination, and pretending with her was like performing a Shakespearean play. You’d better know your lines.

She knew exactly what she wanted you to say and when to say it, and it was not just a mere word or two. There were entire soliloquies to memorize. Looking back on it, it was very cute. I can still picture her as a 3-year-old girl, head full of thick blond wavy hair, pointing her little finger at me and gently instructing me on what I was supposed to say.

As an adult, I wonder if I tend to be like my little girl. Somehow, I expect people to say exactly what I want them to say. As a child, I spent a lot of time lost in my day dreams. I can recall long conversations, entirely imagined. Sometimes I was the reporter doing the interviewing, but more often than not, I was the celebrity, telling the world my secret to success. In my mind, I was graceful, beautiful and never stumbled over a word. I was also a famous writer, and everyone wanted to be like me – but I was humble about it.

Today, as I write this, I am none of those things.

“What are your resolutions?” my son asked earnestly on New Year’s Eve.

Knowing I had not made any, I quickly said, “Oh, to exercise more.”

My son gave me a look, a look that showed disappointment, a look that showed he knew I had not put any thought into it, a look that said, “Is that all you got?”

And that look made me feel ashamed.

So, here I sit a few days into the New Year and think about the person I really want to be.
I know Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage,” and if you watch any reality TV, that seems to be true, but the truth is I am not the playwright, nor the director, nor the producer nor even an actor. Other people are not for me to control like a 3-year-old playing out an imaginary scene. Words they say are their words, not mine.

I used to think a new year meant I had to reinvent myself – change my hair, whiten my teeth, get in shape, read more, work more, cook more, more, more, more. And, I had to do it all perfectly, not better, but perfectly.

Today, I’ve realized that life is not perfect. People are not perfect. I am not perfect. In fact, I don’t even know what that word means anymore, other than it’s no longer the standard for me.

This year, my resolution is to be me and to accept who I am – a clumsy ordinary person who often mispronounces words and mixes metaphors, a person who still spends a great deal of time day dreaming, a person who still hopes of writing a novel, a person who is still a work in progress and has lots to learn every single day.

And, for this year, that’s good enough.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Kick off the new year with a new pair of boots!

In case you haven't heard, it's a new year, and what better way to start it off than with a new pair of boots. Make it a free new pair of boots, and 2013 will be off to an awesome start.

Thanks to Country Outfitter and a thoughtful husband, my daughter and I were able to do just that - and you can, too. Since our taste may vary, Country Outfitter and I are giving away a $150 gift certificate for boots of your choice.

My daughter chose these because they can be worn anywhere, anytime. So far, she's worn them to see the Nutcracker at The Fox theatre, church on Sunday and even around the house in her warm ups.

My husband surprised me with my own pair of black, lizard skin boots with brown heels. I never would have picked them out myself, but I love how stylish and versatile they are. See what you think of these.

To enter, simply click here 

IMPORTANT: To be considered for the giveaway you MUST enter
your email. You will be giving your email to Country Outfitter, who will occasionally send you marketing messages. You are welcome to opt out at any time. For an additional entry, just leave a comment below letting me know you entered - and since it's New Year's - I would love to hear one of your resolutions. Mine is to wear my boots more. Must be a U.S. resident and 18 years or older to enter. Contest runs Jan.1-15.

Disclosure: CountryOut´Čütter, a retailer of women's cowboy boots, sent me the Damiana cowboy boots to have my daughter review.