Puppy Love

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Way back in the day teen heartthrob Donny Osmond crooned out his hit song Puppy Love. (Way before my timeI was but a youth…Ok, you caught me…it was my first 45 purchased with my birthday $ for my tenth birthday!)  Young girls went crazy for him and for that song in particular. Nowadays if you go see him in concert not much has changed, except for the fact that those “teens” are now middle-aged gals who transform back into their dreamy-eyed teeny-bopper selves when Donny teases the opening bars to that particular song.Image result for puppy love 45

Ahhh puppy love… that euphoric feeling of a first crush. A powerful sort of love reserved only for the very young.

Or  is  it?

(use your best Keith voice…)

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There is a type of joy that is akin to that happy “newly in love” feeling of youth. Don’t believe me? Just snuggle a puppy and you can’t help but feel it.

And they call it…

Puppy Love 

(I know quoting Donny’s lyrics was lame.)

Luckily this type of puppy love comes without the added baggage of teen angst and a broken heart. ūüíĒ

Previously, I’ve shared about the many pets I had  growing up and the tremendous blessing they were in my life. (Gimme Shelter Oct.2015)  To be accurate, I said some of my best friends were animals-and some of my family members were too! (Still the truth any way you slice it).Image result for faithful snoopy

 

Poster: Oriental Trading Co.

Horses, cows, cats, dogs-it’s all the same. Good day? Your pet is always there. Bad day? Your pet is always there. Mediocre day? You get my drift…. With happy spirits and unconditional love, pet family members have provided countless hours of companionship, comfort, and the best part-humor.

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Sylvester & Tweety

That’s not to say I haven’t done my share of complaining about my diva cat Jellybean, or rambunctious dogs that bark out trouble at every mailman, school kid, and squirrel. I’ve done that. Like Dr. Dolittle I talk to the animals-albeit sometimes in a caterwauling or barking tone of voice. ūüėľūüź∂  But pets being who they are, never respond in kind. (There’s that example of pets and unconditional love again.)

IMG_5830Bailey & Zoey BFF’S

Of course animals are a huge responsibility and it’s not all fun and games. Animals can be hard work–but as we all know, anything worthwhile is. And they give so much back, it really can’t be compared to what we do for them.

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BAILEY

This year has tested my puppy-love to the breaking point. In February our senior dog Bailey suffered a stroke and had to be put down on her 13th Birthday. She had exhibited all the old-age infirmities so we knew her time was limited, but it was so hard to let her go. As we returned home it felt different. Empty. Quiet. So many fun memories with our family revolved around her presence.

Her spirit was sorely missed in our home, and we grieved our loss. Luckily, Zoey our Maltipoo cheered us with her exuberant nature-even as she grieved her own loss. Spending time with Zoey helped us in our reminiscences about the two of them together. The doggy road trips, meandering walks and swims along the Boise river,  their silly canine hi-jinks. We were able to laugh and be grateful for the time we shared and the happy memories.zoey1

ZOEY

Mindful she was adjusting to a new normal, we took Zoey to the drive-in, on car rides, played hours of fetch, and tried to ease her loss even as she comforted ours.
Suddenly, last week we noticed a stumble here-a wobble there. Goofball. What was she up to? A day or so later a fall and some twitching. My daughter promptly took Zoey into the vet, where she on-cue exhibited no symptoms at all so the doc prescribed steroid therapy. Slight improvement and then more aggressive issues and rapid decline. Meds were changed, daily vet contact and still no answers. What was happening to Zoey?
Imagine our shock when one week after her first symptom we had to release her from this life by euthanasia. A mere 3 months after we had lost Bailey. Bailey to old age and a stroke, and Zoey-full of life and playful a week ago-seemingly to a brain tumor.
It’s nothing we could have imagined, and yet even in death we felt as if Bailey had gone on ahead to prepare us for the quick and unexpected demise of Zoey.

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Picture credits: Rescue Angels, Inc.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, All Dogs Go To Heaven…(ok, so I stole it from a movie-still true!) Today we feel the peace of sister dogs reunited, playing together in heavenly fields, chasing squirrels and freed from pain.

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Together Forever…

As raw as we feel, and even though we never want to go through this again (in theory), We know we happily will. Because having them in our lives was so worth it. One day soon this heartache will heal and we will adopt a new pet family member. In fact, we’re thinking maybe two. Sisters. Just like Bailey, Zoey, and all those beloved family pets that have gone on before. Why put yourself through it you ask?

 They call it Puppy Love. ūüźĺImage result for snoopy

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.

~Josh Billings

Guardians of the Galaxy

My sweet little granddaughter Claire is taking her first baby-steps towards toddler-hood.¬†My¬†exuberant grandson Bridger recites his colors, the ABC’s, and memorizes story books. As much as it is a joy to watch them grow and learn and accomplish, it’s bittersweet, too. ¬†They are growing up way¬†too fast!¬† I need more time in this chapter.

Ahh…Rites of passage.¬† Milestones we all mark. First by looking forward to-and then by checking the box when we’ve achieved the thing we set out to do.IMG_5441

One of my favorite to-do’s growing up was Drivers Ed.¬† Probably a highlight for most people.¬† In Idaho where I grew up, you could take drivers ed at 14.¬† Yup.¬†14!!!¬† Exciting for me back in the day, but terrifying when my own kiddos turned fourteen and I realized just how young that really was for such a huge responsibility. Lucky for me, the roads I grew up on were back roads and farm roads, so other than staying on my own side when¬†the occasional car or¬†tractor went down the opposite side there wasn’t a whole lot of skill involved.¬† And my school was less than a mile away, so that was a plus.¬† Night driving was a big no-no…although I’m not sure why 14 year olds could drive during the day at all, let alone night time shenanigans.

My cool friend got her license over the summer, so drove to 9th grade like a boss!  I took the in-school version and was randomly selected for second semester drivers ed, so I was not a happy camper.  The day finally came though and I was ready to go.

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I really looked like that at 14…

For some reason, in my family my brother got to practice driving with my dad over the years, so by the time he was ready to learn he already knew!  Not so with the girls in our family.  It was cold turkey all the way.  Our school had a driving range-(not the golf kind-the car kind)- and the teacher had a two-way walkie system where he directed us from his ivory tower, while we navigated the painted-on roadways, complete with stop, yield, merge, and the dreaded parallel parking spaces. Very futuristic for back then!

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Our class went alphabetically, and as¬†it turned out all the other drivers in my group were boys.¬†Which turned out to be a good and a bad thing.¬† Good, because they wanted¬† the “cool” cars¬†with manual transmissions, and they were very gentlemanly and gave me the automatic.¬†Bad because I may have zipped around the course in the only automatic car, but on testing day had to drive a stick.¬† I tried to fake it-but its hard to fake¬† leaping through intersections, killing the car, popping the clutch, and then¬†leaping some more. It was grim, and I had those dumb boys in the back seat being extra helpful with their “Find ’em don’t grind ’em…” gear comments. Suffice it to say I got a “D”.¬† Oh, and just for giggles my mother worked at the City Hall which doubled as the DMV, so I couldn’t even sneak it past her.

Luckily I am book-smart and aced the written exam with a perfect score. License with a side-view picture?  YES, please!

Well once I ticked off that achievement, I shifted gears. (See what I did there?)IMG_5444

Now I couldn’t wait till I had a car. I had thought my license was the gateway to all kinds of freedom.¬† But when you have cars that belong to the entire¬†family, you don’t get to actually drive them very often.¬† And so began the¬†cajoling that goes with manipulating the old parents into buying a car just¬†to shut¬†me up.

Except for the fact that my¬†parents didn’t fall for it.¬†

Just when I was starting to despair, my¬†grandma and grandpa came along and changed everything!¬† They called and said they had an extra car they didn’t need and wanted to give it to us so that the “grands” would have a car.¬†We couldn’t believe our luck.¬†My grandma didn’t drive, my grandpa drove everywhere and everybody knew¬†he was in love with his Chevy El Camino, so by deduction¬†I knew which car it was.¬† The VW!!! Oh happy day!¬† It wasn’t a VW bug, which would have been my first pick, but it was a VW, and an¬†adorable sparkly red car, even though it wasn’t new.image

His only caveat was…no car unless we visited him in Oregon to pick it up.¬†Ok, so a mini-vacation AND a car.¬† This was getting better and better.¬†And so we headed one state over to get our first set of wheels.¬† My dad even let us take turns driving the Oldsmobile on the trip over! This was going to be great.

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We got to Grandpa’s house and there she sat.¬† Gleaming in the sunlight.¬† Did we have the best grandparents or what? The El Camino was there too, just like an old friend.¬† My grandparents rushed out to greet us, as all good grandparents do, and we all hugged our hellos.

Grandpa, sensing we were antsy about the car, didn’t make us wait.¬† As we fawned over the VW, he dropped a bombshell.¬† “That’s not the car for you.”¬† Wait. What? We stared at him as he continued, “Come around the back, kids.¬† That’s where your car is!—Sillies, the VW is your grandmas car.”¬† I had never seen my grandma drive.¬† That didn’t mean that she couldn’t drive just that she didn’t. ¬†(Hand¬†to forehead smack.)

We sidled around to the back and our eyes widened. Not in awe. In horror. We had inherited what appeared to be a land yacht. In celadon.  After anticipating the VW this was a shocker. Most certainly not even a distant relation to a V-Dub. A Galaxy 500. It sounded more like a bowling ball name than a car.  And the color looked like a bowling ball too. A dirty one. If you squinted, you could tell it had been sparkly once upon a time-just like I had wanted. Only not red. More like faded metallic grasshopper.  Mercy.

The Land Yacht

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With my mom and dad giving us the evil eye,image

we quickly composed ourselves and thanked them profusely.

We had a good visit and back-burnered our feelings about the car. On the ride home though, all bets were off, and we voiced our not-so-polite opinions with my dad as ringleader.

That poor old¬†car had seen better days for sure.¬† It’s not that we weren’t grateful.¬† It was just this car was a jalopy.¬†A beater, a crate, a¬†clunker.¬† A beast of a car.¬†So embarrassing!¬†We soon found out the car had more than its share of foibles.¬† For one thing the drivers side window didn’t roll up all the way.¬†(I was greeted by a front seat full of snow on more than one occasion.) ¬†It was a moody starter.¬† As in, it may or may not start on any given day.¬†The seat had one position—waaayyyy back, which made reaching the pedals a challenge.¬† Oh, and the car belched smoke and did the shimmy-shimmy shake when the ignition was turned off…there is that.

On the plus side, at least it wasn’t a stick-shift. And the velvety interior was pristine. And I could haul all my friends to drill team in the mornings.¬†¬†On the days¬†it started.¬† One day it broke down in the snow just feet from the schools entrance.¬†We all piled out, as busses of kids¬†roared¬†past and¬†mocked. ¬†That was particularly humiliating.¬†Another day it decided reverse wasn’t its thing anymore.¬† It was mortifying. But cute boys pushed¬†us out so there was a bonus in that.¬† From then on I had to park in a pull-thru space where no reversing was required.¬†I had been getting away with parking in the teachers lot up against the building because no one would ever think a kid would drive that big ‘ol car. Busted!

That car provided me, (and countless others) with hours of awkward and frustrating moments. But I grew to love those moments and to laugh with and at them. And by default, I grew to love the car as well. IMG_5445

A few years after high school, it was with real sadness that I agreed to let my brother put down that old car in a demolition derby for charity. But a fitting end for the old girl. She was quite well-known in the community by then!

Nowadays, that¬†Galaxy 500¬†that was the bane of my existence in 1980¬†is considered a classic, and worth a boatload of money.¬† Looking back I wouldn’t trade¬†it for the red VW, or any other car either.¬†Unwittingly my¬†¬†grandparent’s generosity¬†provided me¬†with some of my best memories of high school. The funniest ones for sure!¬† And¬†cherry on top?¬†¬†We¬†were the Guardians of the Galaxy way before it was cool.

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~We Don’t Remember Days, We Remember Moments~

Cesare Pavese

 

 

 

 

 

A Christmas Snapshot…1992

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Anticipation.

It’s the stuff of Christmas! Part excitement/part wonder- with a good dose of anxiety mixed in. (Naughty? Nice? Did Santa see that?)

Back in the day, (yeah, we‚Äôre going there again…) there used to be a ketchup commercial where the glass-bottled ketchup was tilted precariously above a tasty burger. During the duration of the commercial, everyone waited for the first drop of ketchup to slowly plop out, while Carly Simon sang her famous tune Anticipation. And I do mean s-l-o-w-l-y‚Ķ If you‚Äôve ever used ketchup from a glass bottle (which is way cooler than its more convenient cousin, ketchup in a plastic container) then you know the secret why they invented the plastic squeeze bottle in the first place!

Glass may be retro-cool, but that ketchup took forever! Anticipation, indeed. After that commercial, any time we had to wait-or make someone else wait, (always more fun!) we would sing ‚ÄúAnticipation,‚ÄĚ as a joke.anticipation-7

Anticipation is more than just waiting, it is defined as ‚Äúa feeling of excitement about something that is going to happen, or the act of looking forward.‚ÄĚ Merriam Webster online also offers up a second definition, ‚Äúthe use of money before it is available.‚ÄĚ I had never heard that particular definition before, but unfortunately, I have lived it!

So begins the tale of Christmas, anticipation, & me-or rather, us.

Once upon a time our little family of five moved from Chicago to Pennsylvania. Because we were young and crazy, we moved when I was nine months pregnant, and our fourth baby came a few weeks later on December 5th.  It was a busy time. We were financially strapped, my husband was learning his new job, we had one car, and cherry on top-Pennsylvania seemed to miss the snow day and slid right into a snow year! Oh, and Christmas was coming with all that entails, there is that. Plus we were on one side of the country, and our family was way out west.  We were feeling overwhelmed and wondering if we had made the right decision. Although joyful, those early years can be rough.

But help was on the horizon. That particular year, my mom surprised us by calling and telling us she was going to be making our Christmas ‚Äúextra special‚ÄĚ that year. She and my dad knew it had been a transitional time, and said not to count on other years being as special, but that this year‚Äôs gift was a one-time thing.

Oh, were we excited! And so, with visions of a big fat check with more than one zero, we anticipated the holiday with glee!

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(& Receiving!)

Finally, after all the challenges of the past few months, we would be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the holidays. We ticked off the days advent-style…stringing popcorn and cranberries, making ginger men, cutting down the tree, sipping hot cocoa, and sledding. We decorated, baked, wrapped, and anticipated Santa’s arrival and my parent’s generosity. I don’t know who was more excited for Christmas to come that year-the kiddos or us!

Oh yes, Christmas Cheer was alive and well in the Williamson household!elf

(Or you could skip the carols & give some Christmas Cash!

That spreads Christmas cheer too, I hear!)

¬†‚ÄėTwas the night before Christmas, and all I could think was‚Ķ Would it really be bad form to get up before the little people in our household? We concluded it would definitely be very Grinchy to do that, so we waited them out.¬†Eventually,¬†we heard them stirring.

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Christmas morning had finally come!

We scrambled out of bed, shoved past our children on the stairs, rushed the Christmas tree, and tore into the colorful wrapping paper‚Ķknowing smiles on our faces. Imagine our surprise when out spilled a framed 8 x 10 of my folks, then a couple of 5 x 7‚Äôs and then‚Ķyou guessed it‚Ķwallets! Wait!¬† What was this?¬† Photos?¬†And more photos?¬† What about the Christmas “Special Surprise?” The “once in a blue moon” gifting? Maybe it’s in the card-but no…(This was turning out to be a jelly-of-the-month club kick-in-the-pants for sure).

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¬†After our initial shock and awe, we noticed that our kids saw something in those pictures that we in our greed had¬†missed. They were busy oohing and ahhing over the pictures, ‚ÄúLook it‚Äôs Grandma and Grandpa!‚Ä̬† We noticed it was a ‚Äúposed‚ÄĚ picture, and my parents had never, ever taken a picture together like that. At¬†least not since 1958…and that was for their wedding picture.¬† Their Christmas Eve wedding picture.¬†Yup, they were married on Christmas Eve same as my grandparents. I felt awful, and it wasn’t just the fudge with hot chocolate chaser I’d downed that made my tummy lurch. I was glad Santa had already visited or I would have surely had enough coal to fuel my winter.

 They had gotten professional pictures done to commemorate a special anniversary, and to help the grandkids that lived so far away from them remember.

Arghh…I felt so selfish.¬†What a scrooge I was!

¬†I’m ashamed to say it took us¬†longer than it should have to share completely in¬†the sweet enthusiasm our¬†little children¬†displayed over those pictures.

 Oh, and speaking of displays…after that Christmas we had framed pictures on our bookcases, askew on our end tables, 2 x 3’s by each kids bed, and showcased in our wallets. It felt some days as if their eyes were staring at us accusingly from the frames.

The funny thing was, it really was the best gift ever, because we really enjoyed the holiday season to it’s fullest that year.

 Since we perceived the financial pressure to be off, our focus leading up to Christmas was entirely on our little family, and celebrating each day.

We spent quality time doing and being and not hustling and bustling.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

 

We never did fess up our dashed expectations to our parents, (although we did ask the sibs what they got-just out of curiosity, of course), and I‚Äôm still ashamed to admit I was so mercenary about anticipating Christmas cash. That year we learned an important lesson; that ‚Äúspecial‚ÄĚ gifts aren‚Äôt about $$$, and that we had interpreted their idea of ‚Äúextra special‚ÄĚ to fit what we thought would be¬†“special.”¬† We still laugh about that memory and call it the gift that keeps on giving.

And as for me?

I decided right then to  separate the expectation part from the something is going to happen part of anticipation.

My four young kiddos taught me a treasured lesson that year.

Christmas magic is indeed found in the little snapshots.

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