Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pistol and the Princess.

After my family's sweet dog Tractor died around this time last year, I mentally hemmed and hawed about what to do about getting my daddy another puppy. I mean, that solved the issue last time, right? So that's what he needed to get past this tragic loss: something else to focus on and love.

Until I realized that if I gave my parents a puppy, I was just giving them something that required a LOT of work, and that they might not quite be ready for yet.

So I waited.

My mom would report for a few months that she didn't think Daddy was ready. (Since my parents' dogs are always outside, and she's not really an animal person, our dogs are mainly his.) Then she started letting us know that maybe he was getting there -- they would occasionally go by the animal shelter, he wouldn't fall in love with one, but he would go back another time, etc.

One day this past spring, I checked in with my mom through email and she said my daddy was on his way to central Mississippi to pick a puppy out of a litter. I was shocked. I was thrilled! I called him and asked what were apparently too many questions about how he made the choice, because he admitted he couldn't make a decision, so he brought home two puppies with the thought he'd decide once he got to know them. He concluded with this statement while clearing his throat, "But don't tell your mother. I -- ahem -- wanted it to be a surprise."

I knew she'd be surprised, all right, but I didn't give it away.

When I met the puppies, I noticed that while they had fun playing together, there was a distinct difference. One puppy (who was black with tan markings) never stopped. In fact, when I tried to take solo pictures of her, they were all blurs. Too cute! The black and white puppy was a different story. She always wanted to be petted -- always. She loved the world stopping on a dime just for her, and she was all about being in the spotlight.

The black and white puppy had similar markings to our longtime dog Tractor, but her personality was also very...royal. Which is why I started calling her "Princess."

My daddy had been referring to the tan and black puppy as "Pistol," which was completely suitable, too. :-)

He finally decided to keep Pistol and found Princess a great home in Georgia, where she apparently lives inside, has baby gates, and wears pink tiaras. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, if it's your thing. It's just never been something I've been used to, and definitely isn't something my daddy would consider.)

So Pistol has been at my parents' since the spring now, and is, well, a pistol. :-) She is a mess, and "retrieves" things for them all the time -- including prizes from my mother's flowerbed and a solar light they'd embedded in the ground by the walkway 10 years ago.

She is a sweet puppy, even if she is a little ADD. Which, of course, I lobby that no one should be faulted for. Shiny objects are shiny objects, after all. :-)

I'm sure it's more frustrating to live with her than to just occasionally visit, since she is fond of digging, retrieving (things my dad forgot were ever in the yard), scratching, and jumping. But she's preciously sweet, and has definitely earned the nickname "Marley" (given by my daddy) with her antics!

And, as my mom says, "I've learned you either have flowerbeds or puppies. Right now we have a puppy."

So, meet Miss Pistol!

Grown-Up Christmas List

"Grown-Up Christmas List" became one of my favorite songs the very first time I heard Amy Grant sing it.

The version here is by Kelly Clarkson and includes lyrics, which are also pasted below:

Grown-Up Christmas List

Do you remember me?
I sat upon your knee;
I wrote to you
With childhood fantasies.

Well, I'm all grown-up now,
And still need help somehow
I'm not a child,
But my heart still can dream.

So here's my lifelong wish,
My grown-up Christmas list.
Not for myself,
But for a world in need.

No more lives torn apart,
That wars would never start,
And time would heal all hearts.
And everyone would have a friend,
And right would always win,
And love would never end.
This is my grown-up Christmas list.

As children we believed
The grandest sight to see
Was something lovely
Wrapped beneath our tree.

Well heaven surely knows
That packages and bows
Can never heal
A hurting human soul.

No more lives torn apart,
That wars would never start,
And time would heal all hearts.
And everyone would have a friend,
And right would always win,
And love would never end.
This is my grown-up Christmas list.

What is this illusion called the innocence of youth?
Maybe only in our blind belief can we ever find the truth.

No more lives torn apart,
That wars would never start,
And time would heal all hearts.
And everyone would have a friend,
And right would always win,
And love would never end,
This is my grown-up Christmas list.

This is my grown-up Christmas list.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

To Plan or Not To Plan...

I've never been much of a planner. (In my personal life, I mean. Professionally, it's not really an option. When doing PR, you sort of have to plan.)

My longtime and super wise friend Jane and I used to have joking discussions about her penchants to plan just about everything, and my penchant for playing it all by ear.

I used to think my spontanaeity was part of my charm.

Lately, I wonder if that was the case, or if it was just, well, ill-planned. Or irresponsible. Or fun for that moment, but not now.

Are you a planner? Either way, has your mode benefited you? I seriously want to hear. I feel if I'm at a stage of life where I'm questioning my own wisdom (or lack thereof) in this area, then I need to feel out what there is to know about it.

So speak up, please. If you don't chime in, who will?

Five Things I'm Grateful For.

Five things I'm thankful for right now are:

1. Christmas! I love this time of year. :-)

2. Blissful boredom.  The days when drama dictated my emotions, my schedule, and my relationships were sadly not that long ago. And I couldn't be happier to be as far away from that mode as possible.

3. Health. I'm more than grateful for the good health I have, the better health I can work toward, and the modern-day options that we have to make our lives richer in the best ways.

4. Nan. My grandmother has been cracking me up for 34 years straight, and I'm grateful she's still at it. Even if I do disappoint her on a regular basis by being happily single and childless. ;-)

5. Tradition. In a world of unpredictability, it's increasingly nice to have things I can count on happening.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Farewell, Sweet Tractor.

Just after Thanksgiving last year, our family's precious, longtime doggie died.

Tractor was loyal, sweet, fun and energetic (up until a couple of years ago, at least). To boot, she was a trick-lovin', squirrel-chasin', talkative loyalist to my Daddy, most of all, since he saved her life as a little bitty puppy.

Even though Tractor was getting older and obviously not as spry as she had been in years past, it was still pretty hard to hear the news that she was gone.

Since my nephew started talking, he would refer to her as Tractor the Dog, because he also carries a huge fascination for my Daddy's machinery-type tractors, and talks about them a good bit. Have to keep those hugely fun things straight, you know. :-)

Another fun Tractor memory was getting to gauge expressions when I told her name, and the origin of her name, and the looks I received when I said, "Oh, yeah, and she's a girl."

Tractor came to our family uniquely -- just after my childhood dog, Spunky, died. And I mean literally just after. My daddy woke up really early one rainy, dreary, Saturday morning to go bury Spunky in the back field, and apparently Tractor came up to him out of the woods while he was digging Spunky's grave. He had no interest in the malnourished, not-so-pretty wormy puppy, but as he tells it, she looked him in the eye, and that impressed him. He told her if she could stay on the back of the tractor (bushhog), she could come home with him & he'd find her a family.

It probably goes without saying that she fell off several times on the way home. And that although we were all still really attached to Spunky, it didn't take us very long to be charmed by sweet Tractor, with her eager-to-please willingness and sweet tilt of the head.

There were ups and downs that, like with anything, I think we've chosen to forget. Tractor in my mom's flowerbeds...a lot. Tractor chewing up wires under the body of a van my daddy was working on. Tractor torturizing a kitten till it finally gave up and ran away.

But that special, sweet dog who came to us in the most unusual way also holds the most unique place in our hearts. She worshipped (and trotted on) the ground my daddy walked on. She talked to me every time I came home -- especially  when I rubbed the sweet spot behind her ears. She went crazy when she smelled my shampoo in my mom's grocery bag, or when my parents would say my name around her.

A very precious puppy, indeed.
My mom did a great job of letting my sister and me know she had died. It was a work day, and we received an emal titled "Tractor's Reward." I just knew she'd gotten another squirrel or learned some new trick, but my mom detailed in the email that Tractor's reward was her good, faithful life, and her peaceful, not-too-invasive death (in my mom's words, of course). 

I held it together ok until my work friends & I walked to B&N for coffee. Then I burst into tears and choked out, "Tractor died."  They were so sweet and understanding -- we probably all know how hard it is to imagine the loss of a loyal, furry friend.

So I started writing this post a year ago, but decided to wait until I was more emotionally stable to finish it up. I do miss that sweet puppy -- she went from an unhealthy, mangy puppy to a fun, loveable dog who above all, was loyal to my daddy. She loved to learn, and in the process made us laugh a lot.

My parents have gotten a new dog now (post to come later), and while she's not Tractor, she is equally sweet and eager to please.

So a really belated farewell, Tractor. You were a good, sweet puppy, and you were a constant in my life during a crucial coming-of-age time when I needed it most.

Much love from one of the redheads. :-)