Category Archives: Friendships

Puppies and Love (or seriously? you ate that?)

I’ve been struggling all week with what to write about. All that comes to mind is the vomiting dog. So be it.

Last Sunday I did not have to work. For a Pediatrician in flu season that is a big deal. On top of that I woke up early while the kids slept in. I let the puppy out, fed him, made coffee and let him out again. I got the papers from the driveway and proceeded to do the very, very uncommon thing for me, and go back to bed. I curled up with my coffee and started to read. Ah.
I heard the rustling but chose to ignore it.
So about the dog, it all starts about 2 years ago when a stray puppy poodlish thing showed up on our door step one night. Cute and without anyone to claim him he became ours. Now, I had never owned a dog before. I had owned mice, cats, gerbils, fish, an octopus, guinea pigs, many cats and 6 darn chickens. No dogs. They were nice but honestly, I did not understand them. Then “Percy” showed up. He was as much a pain as he was fabulous. Who knew how great a dog’s love could make you feel? It did not matter how hard the rest of life seemed, it did not matter how rough the day was, Percy was there at the door wagging, licking, sneezing in joy to greet us. He healed us and, one day, suddenly and wrenchingly he was gone.
Last summer a sweet friend offered us a chance to own a dog again. The financial cost was more than I was able to bite off. She arranged to have it lowered. The emotional risk felt huge. How could we love again? But, after much midnight thought and loads of dinnertime conversations with my kids we all decided to take the leap again. We now have wagging, licking, happy 4 month old  “Zeus”. He is jet black with soulful eyes and he is here teaching us all to trust again. Which brings this rubber band story back to the rustling sounds.
I was in bed enjoying some article about the terms “husband” and “wife” and looking forward to reading about the latest travel recommendations when I finally decided it was time to see what was going on below me. Good decision made too late. Zeus had by then devoured 1.5 pounds of dry rice with a side of corn meal.
The vet advised that I administer a chaser of hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. I did, Zeus didn’t. We looked at each other. He licked me. I threw the ball. We waited. Then the vomiting started. After an hour of cleaning up puppy-brewed risotto I heard my 13 year old wake up. She had been feeling ill the night before and now, suddenly felt rather queasy. So I ran a bowl up to her bedside while thinking to myself “Seriously?” She sleeps with one of the cats, a sweet, timid kitty who loves her more than Friskies. As I hugged my girlie and held the bowl, the tortoiseshell kitty on her bed started retching. I moved the cat to the floor just in time.
I mopped up the rice. The girl used her bowl. The dog? Well, he cleaned up after the cat.
The paper remained unread.
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Real Friends Would Iron For Me

I am fortunate to have a wonderful group of women as friends. They form several overlapping and intermingling groups. My “birthday group” – six women who meet for dinner on the six birthdays. (Well really five, one gets slighted every year since her birthday is on 12/29; somehow we are all so relieved to have survived the holiday season and all of its joyful work, that we can never quite coordinate to meet on her day. She’s awfully sweet about it and teams up with our January birthday.) My book group, together since early 2000 with many additions and departures but with a core that has stayed from the beginning. I have a group from when our kids were all at the same parent-cooperative preschool. Our families meet for dinners, holidays, camping and gather to each others arms in times (too many lately) of loss.  My bunko group. Bunko? Really? Well, we haven’t actually played for years. We evolved instead, to host nice dinners monthly for each other. Then when that began to seem like an unnecessary amount of work added to our already too-busy lives, we started “Bunko-lite” meant to be just drinks and dessert. Last night, we had even better – just went out to a local pub! Perfect.

So, I do have two or three dear, close male friends. One recently asked me what all these women talk about when we get together. Men? Kids? Jobs? Sex (he said hopefully)? Hmmm… what do we talk about?

So, last night…. We did talk about men some. Sex was mentioned. Our kids too of course. And our parents, jobs, puppies and in-laws. But what captivated our attention? Ironing.

One wonderful woman, a skilled R.N. by training and super-mom by love, was telling us about how she had been inspired by my recent blog post How the Grinch Got it Right to let some things go. Like ironing the sheets. Ironing the sheets?! We giggled over that and decided that must be a nurse-thing since my mother does the same at times (and they both miter their corners nicely also). Then we all joined in the laughter as another friend told us about her son showing her an iron he had found in the closet once and asking what it was. A few of us remembered a comment one friend’s grandmother made: “I’d rather whore than iron” – a comment that has stuck firmly in my mind; it has such earthy wisdom about it. One gal then volunteered with a twinkle in her eye, that sometimes as she flat irons her hair, she touches up her shirt as well! We all liked that time-saving, practical,  modern-mom tip. Another remembered that her family had an ironing lady when she was a child. When I asked the friend next to me if she was an ironer she responded simply “no”. Ah, why would she… her husband irons. And cleans. (now that is a man to talk about).

I have ironed. I was able to say proudly, that in fact I ironed last month. And, almost exactly four years before that. I ironed while watching Obama’s inauguration and this year, while watching the election returns. Generally though, I subscribe to Erma Bombeck’s theory:

My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.

Erma Bombeck was also wise about the value of friendships. As she suggested, I have friends who would tell me to eat dessert, never defend a husband who gets me an electric skillet for my birthday and who will definitely tell me that

they saw my old boyfriend and he is a priest.

I have friends who have brought me countless dinners when needed, cared for my children and held me while I cried. But, darn them, I just can’t get them to come over and iron!

How the Grinch Got it Right

I told my friend yesterday that I feel like The Grinch. Why does everyone feel compelled to fit their yearly entertaining into December? Why do we leave March so unattended to? What’s wrong with wine parties in say, September?

I have, no doubt been feeling enormously blue for each of our recent last Decembers. Life has conspired to make me so and, I have given in. Then, tonight I went to a lovely party thrown by a friend with far, far more than me to feel blue about. She confided that she almost did not hold her annual December party because she felt so weighed down by life’s challenges. Then she turned to herself (figuratively) and decided that perhaps that very ‘weight’ was exactly why she should after all, have 30 or so loud, chatty women drink wine at her house.
We chatted about mom-things. Moms-of-teens things: proms, colleges, careers (for us), exercise. Who looked good. Who had a nice sweater. We mentioned how stressful December is with its cards and cooking. One friend warmly told me to let the (damned) cards go; that the year she did so she stood 3 inches taller from the lightening of her load! I left feeling supported and calm.
I did not leave giving up on the (damn) cards though. The gathering (yet another in the many) made me see something. Our holidays can be hard for many. For me, change has made them difficult. For some, loss makes them lonely. Perhaps a wise person somewhere, someday, saw that filling the month with parties and cards gets us through if we are brave enough to be present and take part of them.
Maybe there is something to this insanity of cards and socializing after all,

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

― Dr. SeussHow the Grinch Stole Christmas