A Christmas Surprise – 12 days of xmas #2

 

In a different house a few years later, when I was about 6 my brother Alan and my sister Kathy and I would wake even before the first light on Christmas morning. Apparently it was a habit by then because our parents were used to it and gave up trying to keep us in bed. But this particular Christmas when we got up and started ripping open packages and squealing they called down for us to take it to the basement. Not as bad as it sounds, as the basement was refinished and was a fun place to be.

So, like little soldiers, we grabbed our loot and made our way down to the basement. We argued and played and laughed. But then we heard a sound. It seemed to be coming from the laundry room. It sounded like a baby or something. So we, en masse moved toward the laundry room a little afraid and a little excited. It was dark and none of us were tall enough to reach the light switch so we stood like a little frozen statues and listened.

Why yes indeed, there was a little crying going on and it came from a box in the corner. We looked at each other and squealed like little baby pigs because we all KNEW what that sound was. We seemed to transport to the box across the room and lifted the flap. A puppy! A beautiful gray and black, little German Shepard puppy!

We carried the box to the rec room and oohed and ahed. I’m not sure but I think I managed to get her into my arms before the other kids could even think of it. Her fur was like velvet and she licked my nose. There isn’t anything in the world that a kid loves more than to have a puppy lick their face. She had that wonderful, sweet puppy smell and the tiniest little bark which would send us into a choir of giggles.

Somehow, Dad had managed to sneak down to the basement without our seeing or hearing him. And we might never have noticed him it if weren’t for all those blaring lights off his home movie camera – do you remember those? The kind that could now classify as headlights for a compact car?

We danced and mugged for the camera. Put her down on the floor and got her to chase after us and bark her adorable bark, wag her little tail. I loved this puppy like I never loved anything before. I wanted her to be all mine but I knew she was ours. (I was so bossy even as a little kid – duh!)

“What’s her name, Daddy?” I asked.

“Queeny,” he said without hesitation.

I grinned from ear to ear because I remembered. Our first dog was named Queenie and it seemed so fitting that our new puppy would continue to carry the mantle of that wonderful name.

Of course, Queenie promptly peed and pooped on the tile floor and we had our first Christmas joy of cleaning up after her. Eeeeooooowww, we all said, our noses wrinkling in horror. But who could mind really when you had the best Christmas present ever?

I remember later in the day my dad taking Queenie out in the backyard, immediately beginning the house training – and watching the tiny little fuzzball trot along behind my dad, the snow practically swallowing her up so that all you saw was a bobbing head and waggy tail.

And my heart swelled up because I knew it was Dad who had campaigned for the dog in our behalf – Mom wasn’t so hot on pets at the time, the mess, the work, the feeding, etc. And I knew he probably had to campaign hard and long for her to say yes. I just hope that she felt it was worth it after seeing the joy in her children’s faces and hearts. I know I sure thought so.

WC

The Twelve Days of Christmas

I’ve always loved the song, The Twelve Days of Christmas and I thought it would be fun to use it as a theme for the 2nd half of my month of Christmas posts. We all have fond and not so fond Christmas memories and sometimes they make good stories (even the miserable ones), especially if you’re drinking really good and heavily spiked eggnog.

But my twelve days of Christmas aren’t about pear trees, milking maids or golden rings – mine are my twelve most memorable Christmases. Some are sweet, some a little sad and some are pretty funny.

Many of my memories are snatches of this or that. Like my sister’s habit of opening my presents after she got bored with hers and then running into my room to tell me what I got. Of course I made her go back and rewrap them but for sure, the surprise was gone once I saw the packages.

Or my mother’s habit of getting into a snit with my dad just as we were sitting down to Christmas dinner.

Or the fact that for years Mom hid the presents in the cubby hole in her room and we would check it out daily for weeks before Christmas. The only mystery was who was getting what. You’d think she would have chosen a different hiding place once in a while.

Or the forced photos standing before the tree showing off your presents.

The smell of turkey and the taste of perfect gravy oozing on home made mashed potatoes, my aunt’s Christmas aspic made of lime jello, walnuts, carrots and raisens oh and her pumpkin bread.

Falling asleep at the window trying to stay awake to see if there really was a Santa Claus. And the joy I felt when it snowed on Christmas Eve because I knew that meant that it was really going to be a perfect White Christmas.

Christmas trees and Christmas lights. School Christmas concerts – countless favorite Christmas songs and movies. These are all the things that I think of when I think of Christmas.

So prepare yourselves folks, I’m walking down memory lane for the next few days and I hope you don’t mind strolling along with me.

WC

Dear Santa…

 

Dear Santa,

I have been a very good girl this year. I have :

1. been paying down my credit card debt

2. not called in sick to work nearly as much as I wanted to.

3. only flipped off the most egregious idiots on the road

4. not killed roomie (despite any number of reasons I could have).

5. not killed either of my bosses (despite any number of reasons I could  have).

6. pretended to be happy to see people when I’m not.

7. been polite to Democrats (well sorta)

8. stopped discussing (arguing) politics with my sister.

9. made people laugh with my inane meanderings on my blog.

10. baked brownies for someone other than me.

11. not screamed at anyone at AT&T this week.

12. not slapped any stupid people lately, despite intense temptation.

13. only taunted 3 telemarketers this week.

14. bought a bunch of stupid shit for my friends which I have wrapped nicely for the holiday gift swap.

In exchange for all my goodness I would like (love):

1. job security (at least until mid-January).

2. two more years of my car running without major difficulties.

3. being discovered so I can get on the best seller’s list.

4. wealth and fame (or debt free with a small amount of disposable income).

5. the trick to teaching my dog how to talk (it would be a sure money maker).

6. the trick to getting roomie not to talk (it would be a sure sanity maker).

7. the secret to eliminating cellulite without taking pills or going under the knife.

8. my big fat ass, to be round and cute instead of what it is.

9.  7 calorie-free days per year so I can gorge on all the major holidays.

10. the secret to reversing gravity especially as regards my ass and my boobs.

11. you to manufacture the perfect bra and keep me in endless supply.

12. a maid (for obvious reasons)

13. the winning lotto numbers (just me and no one else, please).

14. Oh, and world peace.

Sincerely,

Writer Chick 😉

What do you want from Santa this year?

Giving Thanks

 

I’m off to Santa Barbara for a long overdue reunion with dear friends. But I wanted to leave this for you to read. It was a bit of a surprise to me as I had no idea that the origins of Thanksgiving did not center around the pilgrims.

Enjoy yourselves, eat hearty and good. Look around and feel gratitude for all the many things large and small that give your life meaning. Hold those you love close and tell them you love them. And say a prayer for those you can not hug.

Happy Thanksgiving. I will see you in a few days.

WC

Happy Birthday Pinky!

I saw Zelda for dinner the other night and she informed me my presence was requested for Pinky’s big day – his 39th birthday (well not really 39 but after a while you find an age you like and settle there).

The gang was going to be there. The gang being me, Zelda, Margarita (who makes killer magaritas), PG, Chief (a king among chefs), Skip (Margarita’s significant other and a killer griller) and The Kid ( Pinky’s son at least in spirit). While we hang with other friends as well, we seem to be the core group. The main herd. The alpha majors and minors.

So, it’s Sunday afternoon and I’m thinking some cheese and crackers a little sparkling water, possibly margaritas because Margarita can’t not make them and a cute little cake. Then home we go.

So we all arrive on time (a historical happening to be sure) which flustered Margarita and grabbed the cocktail parphenalia. Cheese and crackers appeared, sparkling water appeared, much hustle and bustle went on in the kitchen. And though we all offered to help we ended up sitting around the livingroom, munching crackers and chewing the fat.

We talked about PG’s dad, politics and the future plans for the ‘christmas movie’ (now a tradition) that we would be participating in for Zelda’s mom. (That’s a whole other post.)

Soon enough the incredible scent of amazing food began to waft through the air. Skip and Margarita’s beagles started a sniff fest and we humans did a poor imitation of same. Next thing we knew we were seated at the art deco table on the patio and eyeing steaks the size of Omaha.

We oohed and ahed and Skip beamed. Margarita excitedly explained about a couple of wines they’d discovered and they were good.

We ate and ate and then we ate some more. Thick steaks, grilled to perfection, secretly amazing string beans with herbs, grilled potatoes that melted in your mouth…it was poetry in motion.

As most of us were screaming uncle and pushing our plates aside (with ample scraps for the beagles) The Kid was scarfing up to beat the band. I’m not sure but there may not have even been a bone left on the plate. He passed on the green beans but went crazy on the potatoes and steak and I think I even saw him eyeing Chief’s steak since there was plenty left and a doggie bag in his future.

Then the conversation modules began. Zelda started talking about the nifty new back-fixing equipment she had bought. Stretching and squeezing and traction things. Ultra sound, no sound, nice sound – it was all greek to me.

Pinky, happy with a full belly took a nap with his eyes open. Yes, Pinky does have that special talent. You see, we rib him about napping at all our soires so now he can do it sitting upright with his eyes open. No lie. The Kid just kept eating and eating and eating.

Birthday cake, ice cream and espresso magically appeared, seeming to appear out of nowhere. Perfect. More oohs and ahs.

At my end of the table, me, PG and Chief talked blogging, writing, politics, conspiracy theories, movies and masterpieces. Now, I suppose this is probably boring you by now because nothing really remarkable happened nor did any major catastrophe befall us. It was just a bunch of friends eating really good food, celebrating the birthday of a friend, having really good conversation.

I can’t remember the last time I had such a good time and such good talk. It was fun, interesting and entertaining. I learned a lot of things I didn’t know about my friends and it was just one of those precious times when everything and everyone jelled. Truly a kind of magic moment among friends. A truly satisfying get together that makes you thankful for having such people in your life and having a life that includes them.

Since it was a school night, the evening ended all too soon. And before I knew it, I was back in Zelda’s big fricking truck (she calls him Chomp) being the ‘bobble’ passenger and we were headed home.

It was the best day I’ve had in recent memory – not for any particularly earth shattering reason – but for the simple pleasure of spending an evening with friends.

I would wish that everyone would have such evenings in their lives. Where the worry and trouble of the world doesn’t interfere, where the day to day grind never enters your mind and where you go home whistling.

WC

The E-Factor -Why the Left Hate GW

(I wrote this piece shortly before the 2004 election – and it seemed fitting to post it today. In the re-reading, I find I have not fundamentally changed my mind about this piece or the man. WC) 

Since the 2000 Election I have puzzled on why the Left so abhors George W. Bush and everything for which he stands. Whatever the action, cause, purpose, bill, law, candidate, issue or position, if George W. Bush likes it, they hate it. Historically, the Left and the Right have always been at odds and are often on opposite ends of issues – but this is not the normal, run of the mill, animus on display. This appears to be real, genuine hatred, and I’ve been asking myself, why? What makes George W. Bush the devil incarnate to those on the other side of the aisle? What makes thousands rally to the site of the Republican Convention to not just protest, but to display unadulterated vitriol toward our President?

It wasn’t until the last night of the convention and after the President’s acceptance speech that it hit me. I watched the speech on ABC and Peter Jennings, George Stephanopolis and others were the commentators after the speech. While I can’t remember precisely what they said – the essence was ‘wow.’ They were visibly touched, moved and impressed by the President’s speech – particularly the last six paragraphs. One of their convention reporters said that it was not just the President’s words that had so moved those present but something more – a palpable connection. He said that the people in that room clearly felt an emotional connection to the President.

“Ah,” I said to myself. “Emotional connection – the E-factor.” That non-quantitative quality that cannot be learned, bottled, transplanted, manufactured or faked. George W. Bush for all his faults (his swagger, his bluntness, his ‘cowboy’ ways) connects with people emotionally. Even avowed political opposers have said he’s charming, funny, down to earth and a really nice guy. They like him. They really like him. Remember that hug between Tom Daschle and the President shortly after 9/11?

Ironically, Bill Clinton had that same quality. He connected on an emotional level with his audience and the American people – so much so that they voted him into office not once, but twice. Despite all of his mistakes, faux pas, scandals and outrageous behavior, Clinton supporters could not be swayed to turn away from him. He was, after all, America’s ‘First Black President.’ He did, after all, ‘feel our pain.’ And understood us, as no American president ever had. He worried about us as no American president ever had. And, he was going to take care of us as no American president ever had. His foibles, were just that. Not scandals, not outrages, not immoral acts – just boys being boys. Just private matters. They didn’t affect how he led the country. Every good thing that happened during his administration was very, very good. And every bad thing that happened was merely a lapse in judgment, a small mistake or indiscretion. Bill Clinton could lead us anywhere because of this incredible ability to feel for and connect with the ‘every-man.’

The Left was delighted because Bill’s special talent had led them into the White house. The babyboomers of the Viet Nam era were finally ‘in charge.’ They were going to show everyone how to do it better. Prove that their ideologies from those days gone by of protests and antiwar activities were the enlightened way. The right way. They were going to prove that their utopian visions from the sixties would be the ultimate reality of the nineties. Socialism would out.

Then along came George W. Bush. It wasn’t bad enough that Clinton couldn’t run again and they had only Al Gore to offer as his replacement. But now they had a loudmouthed, straight-shooting, swaggering cowboy galloping toward the White house. He would ruin everything they’d spent eight years building. He was going to make a mockery of all their hard work of moving the American mind-set to the politically-correct mode. Yes, he was scary indeed. Terrifying, in fact.

But worse than his Right Wing ideologies he had the one thing they knew they couldn’t fight. That same, special quality possessed by their idol, Bill Clinton. They saw it from the very beginning. People all over the country connected with George W. Bush. Their eyes glistened with heartfelt tears when he spoke of family values, a belief in God, patriotism and the American way. W possessed the secret weapon the Left believed to be their exclusive territory. Worse still, he used it all wrong. While Bill felt our pain, W felt our joy. Bill wanted to take care of us, but W wanted to help us help ourselves. Bill promised to be responsible for us but W expected us to be responsible for ourselves. Bill promised to spend our money wisely but W gave us our money back. Bill said we should think about it first but W said they were going to hear from us. Bill talked to our enemies but W blew them out of the water.

Two men with the same talent but very different messages. Two men with the same connection to the American people but with very different visions for them. Two men with the same incredible persuasion but on opposite sides of the aisle. Why does the Left really hate George W. Bush? Because he can and does do what Bill Clinton did but so much better and toward a better end.

Poster Girl

Sorry guys, I don’t usually post two videos in one week but I just had to post this one.

It’s from Aussie singer Beccy Cole who is singing “Poster Girl” in response to some of her fans who disagree with her supporting the Diggers, the Australian soldiers fighting in Afghanistan.

Really makes me tear up.

WC

Lucky – My Hero

Recent discussions with a friend about family has got me thinking and I wanted to talk a little bit about mine:

He was the first man in my life. He was gruff and sarcastic. He was wise and funny. He was my hero – my dad.

I don’t know if I was exactly the apple of his eye, but he only called me Babe. And if I’m not mistaken none of my other siblings got sips of his beer either.

His name was John but everybody called him Lucky because when he was young he missed by seconds being beaned by a 50 lb block of ice. Way back then, he delivered ice for ‘ice boxes’ and when he parked his truck on a 45 degree hill and jumped out, that block of ice clunked into the driver’s seat.

He claimed to have been an original hell’s angel who siphoned gas from tractors with his buddies while they were growing up in Pennsylvania. He also played in a country-western band, wrote for a small newspaper, repaired tv’s and apparently had a couple of brawls in bars when he was young, hence some missing teeth.

Though by the time we met he was just Daddy. The guy who loved black coffee, wheaties and Hillbilly Bread (yes there really was such a thing). The guy who ate every ‘experiment’ in food that I prepared while I was learning to cook. No matter how nasty he would smile and say, “it’s good, Babe.” Even that horrible chop suey that tasted like salt and grease.

We rarely disagreed on anything and I was constantly being told by my mother that I was just like him. A compliment of the highest order in my world. In fact, when I beat up Claudia Dick (yep, that really was here name) and she scratched the hell outta my face he said: “Does she look worse than you?”

“Oh yeah,” said I.

He smiled and told me to go play.

On summer nights, after we were supposed to be sleeping – Mr Softie the ice cream truck would roll down our street. We could hear his little song playing from the truck’s speakers. The screen door would open and close. The truck would stop. And a few minutes later, we’d hear him going off again – looking for late night ice cream consumers.

Not long after, Dad would open the door to our room and say, “Girls, are you awake?” And of course we were. “Come down here.” And of course we did. And there’d be two giant chocolate ice cream cones waiting for us. We’d sit in the dark livingroom watching tv and eating our cones with our dad. He’d say ‘don’t tell your brothers and don’t tell your mother.” Our lips were sealed.

When I left to move to California my mother was very upset. Perhaps even angry with me. She didn’t want me to go and I felt so guilty. But Dad said, “you have to follow your dreams, honey. You just don’t have anything in your life without them.”

Even though we lived 3,000 miles apart, we always remained close. Whenever something worried him that he saw on the news, he called to see if I was okay. If there was an earthquake he was on the phone to me within seconds of it. He visited many times and was the consumate tourist and we always had a blast. And no matter how old I was, I was always his little girl.

The day he died was simply the worst day of my life. Though it’s been many years, I still miss him completely. Whenever anything good happens I always want to call him and tell him about it. Whenever something bad happens I want to call him and talk to him about it. And then I remember….I can’t.

I think about him everyday. I thank God that I had him in my life. He will always be my first and best hero.

WC

Keep on Truckin’ Baby!

Court Reporter Chick sent me these pics today. Trucker John Holmgren of Shafer, Minnesota has made his rig a tribute to the 9/11 victims.

Rumor has it he has been pulled over often by troopers who want to have their picture taken with the truck.

Just when you think people don’t care, you see something like this. Bless your heart, John.

WC