Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dog LOST Dog Found

When we went to bed Friday night, Emma was missing. We have two dogs, Emma, a standard poodle, and a yellow labrador retriever... Buckshot. Poodle - female: lab - male = she should be birthing highly lucrative Labradoodles, right? INCORRECT. Emma the poodle and Buckshot the Lab, have NEVER done the deed. Believe me, we have done everything to enhance the experience. The one who cannot figure it out is Buckshot, the lab. Emma is a freakin' genius.

Early on, Emma figured out how to open a door handle that was a lever. THEN she figured out - painstakingly - how to open a door knob. I have watched her do it. I could literally leave her here to open the door for a repairman, but she can't write a check. She can use her nose to flip up a gate latch, she can smush herself flat and get under any fence. Electric fence? not so terribly shocking to her. She can hurdle over a three foot barrier and wiggle through a six inch gap. In short, she does whatever she feels like.
She's nothing if not stylish. She hates collars, but is willing to wear a hot pink bandana and sunglasses. And when BigD rubs her on her little skinny tummy, she pees. Friday night, she was nowhere to be found.

Now...this is the part where I am supposed to talk about how our precious dog is like one of our children, and I don't know how I am going to break the news to the children, and how it's all going to be about life lessons, and ....

OK, not so much. Emma IS most definitely a part of our family, but the story didn't go down as scripted a la Lifetime. The home-dwelling big children spent hours IN THE CAR driving around looking for the dog - in the gutter - hoping to make sure she wasn't - you know - lying in the street. They were way more worried about telling ME that she was lying in the gutter than they were about finding her there.

Our Young Son put Buckshot on a leash and took him for a walk to see if he could beckon Emma from someone's backyard.
YS: OK, Buck, let's find Emma.
Buck: Great idea, another walk tonight!
YS: Find Emma, Buck. Where's Emma?
Buck: OH, look, garbage bags full of leaves. I like to lift my leg and innocculate every single bag of leaves I see. This could be a loooooonng walk, bud.
YS: Buck, come on, we're looking for Emma. Call her. Tell her to come home.
Buck: I am busy peeing on every single object in sight.

At 1 AM I got a direct report from Pretty Pretty Princess and BigB that there was no sight of Emma, living or dead, healthy or injured. They'd been driving around in the car for at least and half an hour. Probably drinking beer. ROOT BEER, I meant to say.

Buckshot is Emma's COMPANION, her LIFE PARTNER. She is his DOMINATRIX. Buck went calmly to bed in his kitchen crate - until we all went to bed. Then we heard this lonesome 'woof'...pause 30 seconds .... 'woof' -Translation from dog language "Hey, in here, in the dark kitchen! Emma is not in here, and if she doesn't have to go to bed now, then I don't have to, so come open the damn door." Point taken.

This morning, this is where the children take markers and poster board and put signs up all over the neighborhood, right? Not so much. PPP sleeping. BigB also sleeping. Early on, our Young Son had taken another drive, no Emma. We called the Emergency Vet - no black poodle. Casually, I said - "What about Craig's list?" Within about 45 seconds our Young Son says...."Yep, here it is..."

Craig's list: Found - very mellow black dog. Respond to identify. Cannot keep"

No kidding, if only you knew the depths of meaning in the phrase 'cannot keep'. When she wants out, she gets out. Also - right here - very mellow - not words I have ever used to identify Emma, but BLACK works.

So, I emailed back "We have lost our black poodle, messy cut, female, tall but not heavy."

Their response - "Not sure this is your dog - attached are pictures."
Indeed, it was our dog. Looking pretty raggedy after her night on the town. Our Young Son took over, got the address and went over to pick her up. They brought her out on a leash - and our Young Son describes it "She kind of pranced up to me...bye y'all, thanks for having me over to spend the night, see you another time. She spent the night with Huskies."

She came dashing into the house, excited to see what had happened while she was gone! NOW we are supposed to be all about the sweet reunion scene in which the children are fulfilled and delighted and we are all remorseful about how we ever let her get out in the first place and without a collar. Sorry - most still sleeping.

We didn't LET her get out - she does whatever she feels like. If she wants out, she finds a way out. She HATES collars and will soon wriggle out of the one that PPP and our Young Son bought for her today, in their wave of responsible pet ownership. Along with the little blue tag.

Someday a valiant soul will call us and tell us sadly that they found a collar with tag, but no dog. The DOG will be on the couch, snoozing, having shed her collar during another wild outing. Bless our sweet neighbors who tolerate her waywardness and just bring her home when she tries to join them on a walk.

Back to the homecoming. Emma had spent the night in a home with other dogs. Thus, she did not smell right to her LIFE PARTNER Buckshot. He tried to restore her proper smell. She didn't like it. Joyful reunion? Snarling and growling actually.

Young Son: I hope he doesn't pee on her to make her smell right.

We think Buckshot did not pee on Emma (though that IS his technique for proper odor restoration when she goes to her hair stylist), however she DID turn on her Dominatrix mode with her own unique "I love you and you are mine" misconception of dog-mating that she uses to subdue the lab who weighs twice as much as she does. She has a woefully misplaced concept of dog-mating. Thus, no labra-doodle$.

Emma is absolutely the dog of our Young Son's childhood. I got her - from what I now realize was a PUPPY MILL - naivete at its best - in the spring of a particularly difficult second grade year for our YS. Not difficult because he struggled with the work, but difficult because he finished the whole week's worth of work by lunch on Monday. So he was bored. Harry Potter I and II in alternating weeks while the rest of his class was 'doing work.'

I brought Emma home on impulse - how one ends up impulsively in a trailer at a puppy-mill farm in Mississippi is probably another story. I picked her up and she sat on my hip like a 2 year old. I was hooked, since my baby was no longer a two-year old. Emma and YS love each other. She has a tendency to NIP when challenged - and her favorite food is a whole loaf of bread. Thus, the day The Sophisticate tried to retrieve a whole loaf of bread from the floor, Emma NIPPED - OK, she might have sort of bitten, and it left a bruise. SMALL bruise. In short, she's hard headed. Emma is.

But she's our hard headed nutsy dog. I'm not ready for the dog of our Young Son's childhood to be just a bunch of stories. I want her in the crate at night with our dumb-as-a-brick Lab.
Because SHE'S the only one who can manage him.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bird of paradise

The question is...when you are the mother of the groom, do you REALLY have to be quiet, wear beige and do as you're told? Answer....Let's ask my buddy Molly, who has done it with fire and style.

Molly is like a Bird of Paradise - that remarkable unfolding flower. The more she opens up, the more color and passion you see. And she doesn't hesitate to share that fire.

Molly is ALL about the PEOPLE. That right there makes a good hostess. Also a good mother, sister, wife...and for me, friend.

A few years ago I met Molly and her daughter -remarkably named Molly - when young Molly got married. I helped them plan her late spring wedding. It was a fine affair, and fun was had by all. Molly remembers that there was an air conditioning problem that day - and a vivid memory we share is that my husband worked so hard that his dress shirt was soaked with sweat. Also, our Young Son was about 10, and worked as hard as his Dad. I pray that's not the most vivid memory of that wedding day....just the most vivid memory she shares with me. Not only was it a beautiful day, and a lovely gathering, but the planning was fun. I really love both Mollies.

Molly has one daughter and two sons.( And someone else in that picture. I can still count.) And what was the likelihood of TWO of her children, neither natives of my hometown, marrying here? Slim.
Young Molly did what brides do... babies, then she moved out of town, so.... our paths not to cross again, perhaps? Probable by statistics.

Not so, my friend. Her son found himself a local bride, and Molly called in the early stages of planning HER party. Some call it a Rehearsal Dinner - but in Molly's case, we will call it wedding-eve love-bash. Plus. Plus + plus.

Molly knows exactly what she wants when she sees it. So, we investigated a lot of places...but she didn't see 'it'. Then we found it, but it didn't look right. She wanted fall colors, lamb chops, no visible beer bottles, and no gourds or pumpkins. She repeatedly told me "You know what I want." Yes, indeed I did.
When I asked her if she wanted some music, she said "There'll be so many people talking . . . We don't need music. We have each other."

How then can one plan a party when someone is in one town and the party is in another? Good question. E-mail. Telephone. Text. Starbucks. Trust.

Sample monthly exchange, June through October:
Molly: I haven't heard from you. Are we OK?
Me: We're good! How do you feel?
Molly: I'm fine if you're fine.
Me: We're in great shape.
Molly:No gourds, no pumpkins.
Me: Right, no gourds, no pumpkins.
So we had a party. I did my part which was the rich fall colors, no pumpkins, no gourds, lambchops and no visible beer bottles. She did her part which was PEOPLE. Everytime I looked up, I saw her at a table leaned over and talking to someone. I looked up later, and saw her at another table, then another, and another. The music of conversation and laughter carried the evening.

These things make her a genuine southern hostess (I guess it could be a non-southern hostess, but with a south-Mississippi home, and a deep allegiance to Ole Miss, let the 'southern' stand):

She greeted each guest at each table and had a conversation. Not a passing hello, a conversation.

She did NOT make strangers sit together. Tables were friends and family.

Molly made sure that her guests had fun, but had fun left for the next day - the wedding.

She went back to the kitchen to meet the caterers and servers and thanked each of them.

It was a family party, and everyone had a responsibility, everyone. It was NOT "The Molly Show." That takes some planning, and most of all, confidence in those people you know the best. Grace in action. Molly in action.

She thanked the bartender for the 'no-visible-beer-bottle' thing.
She did not make her young granddaughter come to the wedding eve party, or for that matter walk down the aisle the next day.

More important that baby-girl's memories of the night were the hazy, fond memories of a little girl at a really crazy party, than that she was shown-off in her total adorableness, which speaks for itself.

Molly made sure our Young Son ate. She let her son take home some left-overs.

She told every single guest good-bye as they left. Hugged most. Even if she didn't know them.

She served fried oysters, because you know...they're south Mississippi oyster-types. Case closed.
If you want to have a party - take some pointers from Molly. It's all about the people. A wedding eve love-bash it was. With fried oysters and a bird of paradise.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Home-style Wedding Love

The love story that continues to inspire is the love story of families. Family love stories yield tales told and retold, at the next family wedding, around the Thanksgiving table, as the Christmas decorations are hung, and even sometimes, out of the blue, when you just walk into the kitchen and remember THAT NIGHT.

As I went through the invitations for the luscious winter wedding that's just around the corner, I was wondering who in the WORLD are . . . Well, what do you know, it's my lovely JUNE bride, only now...Mr. and Mrs.
This time last year we were deep in the process of ordering her wedding dress - which turned out to be a marathon road trip for MOB and me. It was awesome - 15 hours in the car talking, and shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue. What's not to like? Does anybody want to take a trip to buy a wedding dress? With me as your guide? Because I am FIERCE at that. Not kidding.

My June bride honored her parents by wanting nothing more than a wedding reception at her home. The first question her father asked me when we commenced planning 10 months out was "Are you seriously thinking we can put 300 people in my backyard?" Actually, 350ish, but who's counting?
So this gracious family opened their HOME to their guests - every single guest. THAT's a love story worth talking about.

This Mom is a meticulous homemaker and planner. She is a gracious hostess who loves to have her friends in her home. She is organized and thorough in ways I could only dream about. She thinks about things from so many angles that it could make me dizzy. COULD make me dizzy. Did not ACTUALLY make me dizzy. But she let me help her. What an honor! No pressure, either.

DAD is also incredibly meticulous and cautious and generous. He made sure we had plans A, B and C - and then a backup plan for each. (Note that he is WEARING a shirt, yet has another shirt in his hand... always a backup) He made me stretch my thinking in novel and often alarming ways. He also made fresh pesto from home-grown basil in the fall, froze and pulled it out to serve at the wedding. Seriously - a menu item was Dad's pesto on bruschetta.

I've done a lot of weddings, so FIRSTS are hard to come by - but that was a first. I dream about that pesto. I crave that pesto. I want that pesto....

SO....August, September...December -
buy the dress.....plan, plan, ...just so you know, by this point in the planning, I already knew where the Diet Cokes are kept, AND even more critical, this gracious family ALWAYS has limes cut for me, since - you know - what's a Diet Coke without a real lime? a party for another wedding. NO. BIG. DEAL.

April and May - - the invitation-frenzy in which the list is revisited as if it were a new and different document... JUNE wedding.

Plan, plan, replan, unplan, de-plan, overplan. Mother was concerned that I had the plans and the contacts and I might possibly get hit by a bus, and the wedding would somehow not come together. I actually have my own plans B and C, just for the bus-type contingency , but also, luckily did NOT get killed by a bus.

AND the week is here, when one must essentially turn a home into a country club/dormitory/gift shop/commercial kitchen/parking lot. Also, continue to live there. Not much to ask.
Since we were into CONTINGENCY plans, we had a tent wedged into the backyard. Not actually wedged, just fit into every available square inch. In case it rained that day.

Rehearsal night brings a drastic thunderstorm, along with a loss of power. All over town. Thunderstorm with high winds. NOT. A. PROB. LEM. We have a contingency plan, called a TENT. Often after a thunderstorm we will get a little cool down. Outside wedding reception + cool down = a good thing in my mind.

THIS night, the thunderstorm was not just a little summer affair, it was huge, long, loud, windy and damaging. Strong enough to possibly blow a tent into a pool, and then pile the tables and chairs all over it. The power out all over the city. When the power is out in the summer, it's not JUST the lights, it's the air conditioning. Also the fans.

Oh, yeah. Tent in the pool. Trees in the street. We would need a plan for that. Our Young Son had one.

BUT the tent was NOT in the pool! Morning dawned bright and clear and clean and this mom and dad had been up since REALLY early out in the yard picking up the trash from the storm, and neighbors stopped by to help! Neighbor love.

It got a little muddy - does anyone but me remember the mud? And the plywood we used to cover the walkway. Also, that Dad obsessively watched out the kitchen window to insure that no tire ruts were etched into the mud along the street in the front yard? Anybody? I remember that part, because we had to move a lot of cars. Problem solved by a line of luminaria and valet parking.

I love the moments where so much lies ahead. It's a midsummer evening ripe with possibilities, antcipation of family and friends, heavy with memories for the taking.

Everybody ready? Sun shining, photos taken....and, at last ....time to go to the church

Is it just me, but is that sort of like the very first time you put your baby in the carseat? When it takes a LOT of hands, and a lot of thought, and it's such a CAREFUL process.
And suddenly, it's a party! Candles, music, laughing, hugging, dancing, chatter.

I imagine there were a few people who were taking pointers for their OWN upcoming wedding. There is almost ALWAYS someone who falls in love at a wedding. Someone who meets someone REALLY cute, who sees someone and a conversation starts....

I love the part where the parents - the hosts - do their hosting thing. This family greeted and hugged and danced and talked and hugged more.

Father of the bride? took the microphone from the band and said a blessing for the marriage and the food. In the tent in his backyard.

Mother of the bride? Danced with her brother like nobody's business. They were gracious and cordial and gave their guests the run of the house, the yard, the driveway,the shower, the patio, anywhere and everywhere. They LITERALLY opened their home to their guests - that's a LOT of LOVE.
High school friends - yep, gathered together in the living room for a picture, just like this group of girls has done on so many occasions. If nothing else, when you graduate from THIS girls school, you know how to line up as a group and get a photo. They know who is tall and stands in the back and how to huddle in so everyone is in the picture. This pose looks a lot like their Kindergarten class photo. Not so much. Nobody was wearing a silk dress and heels in Kindergarten.

Then, it's over as fast as a thunderstorm and with as much energy expended. It took 9 months to plan, we were about 3 deep on back-up plans and contingency plans on EVERY. SINGLE. FACET. It took about 16 hours to set up, and it takes about 30 minutes to break down on the night of the party - with another 3 hours to follow the next day or two. Does anybody know that math on that equation?

I do - the answer is INFINITY. Always. Forever. As well-worn as phrase is, this wedding journey was about 'making memories' in the grandest way.
No matter what happens at that kitchen island, it will ALWAYS be the place where the beautiful antipasto bar was.

No matter how much WORK is done on the desk in the study, the definitive picture of the study is a wedding day picture, and the definitive use of the desk is the day it was turned into a bar.

There was the whole episode of the groomsmen who left his phone on the bus....he thought...the bus company was called, located the phone on the floor of the bus, and we had a cab bring it to the reception. Our Young Son was the point person on that, waiting in the side yard with the valet parking guys to pay the cabdriver, retrieve the phone and find the guy it belonged to. And yes, that worked out perfectly, as if it had been choreographed since March. (Don't tell, but actually I have had to do just that thing before-only we were looking for a person, so it was choreographed 4 years ago, but the illusion of spontaneous, on-the-fly improvisation works well for me.
Those very cool greenish-bluish bottles are vintage bottles, from Mom's own collection. Mom's bottles - they are on the kitchen table now, but remember that we used them at the wedding? Where did we get THAT MANY bottles? That, my friends, is HOME-STYLE wedding.
As many times as you look at a single picture, it calls up a story. June bride's cousin was married a few weeks later, thus memories to cherish and build on. Forever, cousins married that hot summer, just weeks apart.

Hey, Brother, who by the way is a champ at tying the elusive perfect bow tie ...."do you remember the night after the wedding when the back of your truck was filled with wedding trash bags, and the boys drove around til they found a dumpster behind some grocery store? Two trips! And you didn't even have to haul the trash away.....who did? Oh, yeah, those two guys."

Remember the BAND!!!! It was awesome, because the people from the band were long time church friends, so they not only entertained, but sat at the kitchen table, had their own dinner and wedding visits. Church family love.

Stories around the Thanksgiving table? Tablecloths?"Remember that we had plans for a sheer white overlay over the burlap cloths at the wedding, to make it more wedding-ish? Remember that we pulled every single white overlay, because the plain burlap was just so...RIGHT? Did we PLAN that?"

Christmas lights? "Remember all the twinkly lights that night? It looked like the Magic Kingdom. It WAS the Magic Kingdom" Love stories every one.

Family dinner in the dining room? Remember the wedding cake? The orchids in the chandelier? And feeding each other the cake? Carrot cake, cream cheese icing.

SO....back to the contingency plans. We DID have a plan B and a plan C. It was a hot summer night after a big storm. All over the city the power was out. At each of the other locations we considered for this wedding - country clubs and public venues were our PLAN B - the power was out. The weddings that took place at those locations - our plans B and C - took place in the dark. Also the HEAT. Club food was prepared in the dark, without the benefit of refrigeration or stoves. If we had gone with Plan B, the country club plan, we would have been in a mess. As with most things, there's no place like home.

Home is where the love is.

P.S. The pictures. Yes, the really, really clear and awesome pictures - courtesy of Mr. Zanone. The others - Facebook snags, my little P+S, etc.