Monday, December 17, 2007

Natasha, R.I.P.

So my friend Chicago Meg, who is now ex-Chicago Meg because she moved here a few months ago, lost her dog Natasha yesterday to a sudden illness of some mysterious sort, combined with an un-helpful emergency pet ER lady. Natasha was a very sweet dog, half Springer Spaniel, half Retriever. I think I have that right. I don't have many pictures of her, but here's one, from when we all spent some time in Gulf Shores, Alabama late last winter. She discovered a dolphin on the beach and was determined to smell it. I'm glad she got to have a month on the beach late in life; as a water-ish dog, she quite loved it. I am holding my own elderly dogs a tiny bit closer tonight.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Animal Farm

Well, Mom and Dad are here. With their English Setter, Sadie. Keep in mind that we already have FIVE pets - the two dogs, Bernie & Madeline and the three cats, Eleanor, Buster and Fanny. AND I'm dog-sitting for my boss' dog, Georgia. So let's review: four people + seven animals. People, that's not a's an episode of Fear Factor.

This is Georgia, the dog who is on loan for a week. She is a teacup poodle and I certainly don't have any trouble figuring out why. That is a nickel sitting next to her so you can get a sense of scale. TINY. She is an unbelievably low-maintenance dog and I LOVE HER but maybe I love her because I know she is going away on Sunday, back to her parents' house. I'll be sad.

This is Buster the cat (AKA Fat Ass or Big Boy) and Madeline the dog. Madeline has several aliases: Madge, Modge Podge, Miss Louise and Miss Bunny. Madeline is sixteen, so this is usually how you see her. She is half standard poodle, half chow but we never ever see the evil chow personality, just the poodle one. Sister Meg thinks Madeline is maybe, um, retarded because she's almost preternaturally calm at all times. Like I'm talking Sunny von Bulow calm. For example, she is scared to death of Buster, so she clearly has no idea that he's napping right next to her. If she woke up right now, she'd die of a heart attack on the spot. But she is also kind of our perfect dog, the one who makes almost no mistakes and when she does, she comes and gets us and apologizes before we even know what it is she did. Sixteen is old so we are preparing for the inevitable but that will be a rough week, I can tell you right now.

This is Burns. AKA Bernie, Mr Burns, Bernice or Bernina, depending on the wine consumption. Mine, not his. He is also sixteen and he shows no signs of giving up the ghost anytime soon. He is a mystery dog; even the vet said "I don't know what that thing is" and then he also said he could live ten more years. I almost punched the vet in the face when he said that. Burns is a handful. I say that but mean something much less nice, like when people say "bless your heart" what it really means is you are one big fat hot mess. For Christmas, I am giving Burns a bag and a map to the river.

This is Eleanor the fancy cat, AKA Miss Ellie, Miss Lavish or Senorita Bigface, and Sadie, Mom and Dad's English Setter. You can get a good idea of just how smart Sadie is from this picture where you can easily see that she is pointing a sleeping cat. Good job, Copernicus! The cats have her befuddled. She stares at them for hours and then when they slightly move, she runs away like there's a dogcatcher headed her way.

I do not have a recent photo of Fanny, but she is the oldest member of the family, at seventeen years old. A grey tabby cat. Alternate names: Fan, Phalange, Fanette and Miss Petunia. She is pretty much the alpha animal in the house; even crazy Burns refuses to engage her. She sleeps 23.9 hours a day. I'll add a pic as soon as I can.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Not Enough Liquor in the World

Oh, Christmas at the Strongs. It's like visiting crazy people at the asylum. And also? It's like going to the world's most unsuccessful AA meeting. This year - for the first time in three years - the younguns and the oldens will be celebrating together. Mom and Dad are driving across America, from California to Tennessee as we speak. It's like some nutty reverse-Grapes-of-Wrath re-enactment, with the Joads in a pickup truck full of wine, smuggling it back into moonshine country. Five cases, I hear! Woooooo! MY PARENTS WILL BE HERE FOR A MONTH (see my upcoming blog myparentsaremakingmewant to, so I think it's safe to say that if you need me, I'll be at the liquor store. Sister Meg has the tree all gussied up. She collects a particular kind of ornament, so that's all that's allowed on the fake-white-pre-lit tree. I used to be a big fan of a real tree, though I will say this white thing really does show off her ornament investment. The cats have been hanging out beneath it in a supercute cat way; I'll add a pic when I can get one.

There are some of you who have inquired about this year's wrapping concept. It took me a while to figure it out - past years have been pink and brown, or light blue and tan, or whatever. This year is black and white and kelly green. Not Christmas green - kelly green. Preppie green. Mixed with various black and white combinations. The secret is: look in the regular gift wrap aisle, not the Christmas one. I'll upload a picture as soon as I charge my camera. So, like April.