Weekendcoffee Adios

If we were having coffee today I’d sadly tell you that LadyBird, our dog, had passsd away. 

It’s actually been almost three weeks but it’s been a hard thing to share.  Thanks for the condolences. 

She was a big dog, about 100 pounds, so at over 15 years old it wasn’t unexpected. She had slowed down considerably the last few months and it was even worse in her last couple of weeks.  

We’ve started to get over the initial sudden shock of her passing. Now it is the little things. Like walking down the pet food aisle … we still have cats … and turning to the dog food and stopping mid-turn.  All the usually “going out” times are still a minor struggle, especially coming back from shopping or something when in the past taking her out would be the first thing on my mind when I got home (at her age she couldn’t wait too long between outings). 

I had some  “jingle bells” attached to her coller so I could hear her getting up, especially in the middle of the night. I keep expecting to hear them, but they aren’t there.  Feeding time is a totally different routine. I keep looking at the empty spot on the living room floor where she spent most of her time, expecting her to be there.  Even the cats avoided that spot for the longest time. 

These and dozens of other minor rememberences will linger, I know. The bigger ones will never go away. She was 100 pounds of pure love. 

I guess I’ll end with my favorite prayer which at first sounds like a joke but … well, it isn’t:   “Lord, help me to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.”

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Thomas Fenske is a writer, living in North Carolina.  More information on his novels and cookbook can be found at http://thefensk.com 

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Crazy Christmas Memories

I’m sure we all have them.  Crazy Christmas Memories, I mean.

christmas_tree_lot

My craziest goes back to Christmas 1970.  I’m always reminded of this by the movie Christmas Vacation.  I was a freshman at a college about an hour north of Houston.  Some Houston friends offered to come up and get me, but they had an ulterior motive.  They wanted a Christmas tree.  Now the area around Huntsville TX, where my school was located, is littered with all manner of evergreens, so it seemed like a fairly doable idea.  We pulled off the interstate and drove down a side road and found a suitable sapling, like one about nine feet tall.  Unlike the movie, my erstwhile friends did indeed bring an ax, or to be more accurate — a hatchet.  Working in the dark, and hacking away furiously before a car came, we all took turns and managed the down the tree, a scrub cedar.  It was at least somewhat Christmas tree shaped.

Ah, but what everybody forgot was … rope.  We were in a red VW beetle and we had nothing we could use to secure the tree.  The solution?  Everybody sacrificed their belts.  Somehow we got the tree tied to the top of the VW but I think we lost a foot off the tree by dragging the top along the highway.  It really did look like the car in the movie, except we didn’t have the roots.  It was completely draped over the car, with the tree-stump clearly visible from the windshield.

We did okay for about 30 minutes but eventually we had a minor problem caused by the wind shear and the weight of the tree and the drag caused by the … well, caused by us dragging part of the tree behind us.  The problem?  Well, all the belts snapped and we lost the tree on the highway.  It was rush hour, with tons of traffic, and our tree was rolling along in the lane behind us. We screeched to a halt and pulled over and ran back and somehow dragged the tree off the road without getting ourselves killed.

By some miracle, we managed to get enough strands of our broken belts wrapped around a few branches and we were able to again secure the tree. We continued on our way, but now we were less concerned with maintaining full highway speed.  A couple of us kept a firm grip on a branch on each side of the car as well.

Decorations were sparse that year, but we had a tree!   Actually, I’m surprised we didn’t end up arrested or dead.  Both options were a distinct possibility.  What were we thinking?  I think that answer is best represented this way:  NOT!