Monday, December 31, 2012

" 2012 is Ringing in My Ears"

It is hard to know what to reflect on at the end of a year. I believe the milestones reveal themselves with the passage of time. With the exception of color blocking, it was ugly in the 1980's and its ugly in 2012. DEATH TO COLOR BLOCKING!

What about 2012 is ringing in my ears?

It was a year of exploration and change. I changed jobs and I took a head first dive into the world of writing. I joined a writing group, registered for a 9 week writing workshop and attended my first writers conference.

One of the highlights of the year, came in late summer when I strolled into the local dog shelter and found a tiny chihuahua curled into a ball, sharing space with two very large beagle pups. It was love at first sight and now Greta lives among the three dogs and one cat that is my family.

I treated myself to a good movie "Lincoln" ( Day-Lewis made the GOP sexy) a good book, " Gone Girl" ( sorry 50 Shades of Grey) and a good CD, "Unorthodox Jukebox" (Yes, I like Bruno Mars, do you have a problem with that?)

I voted on November 6, 2012 and enjoyed the summer olympics. I welcomed my nephew Felipe in February and got to know my second cousin Armando. I changed my dentist, passed a stress test and attended a civil union.

All in all it was a good, good year. I look forward to the next 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days. The laughter and merriment is fast approaching and the hour glass for 2013 yearns. Happy New Year, dear friends, now it's your turn!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The $50 Christmas Bet

A few years ago a good friend gave me a shelter dog. He was a rare mix of many breeds, most likely a long haired Dachshund and Pekinese. He conveniently came with a name (Buddy), lots of ticks and a nonfunctioning flea collar. My friend told me that if he didn't take him they were going to euthanize Buddy by the end of the day! Yeah, I bet they tell that to all the customers. Anyway, Buddy came home to me.

Buddy was an unknown entity and there was a distinct look in his eye that some would call crazy. What we soon found out was that he hated other dogs and they instantly hated him. Buddy was like the guy on the train without deodorant; instantly recognizable and a definite mood changer. Buddy was that guy for the canine set.
One day a co-worker, after hearing about the trial and tribulations of my life with Buddy, offered me a Christmas Day bet. He said that Buddy would be dead by Christmas day. I was insulted that he would think that my boy Buddy would perish through some fault of my own. He told me not to read into the bet just take it or leave it. I took it and the days and months ticked away.

On Christmas morning, I packed up the car and Buddy and headed to my mother's house. Only ten minutes into the ride, Buddy started signaling that he needed to go to the bathroom. Since it was early Christmas morning and no one was around. I pulled over onto a vacant lot under a set of elevated railroad tracks. I got out of the car looked around to make sure that there were no other dogs in sight. I opened the back door and told Buddy to get out and do his business. It was at that minute that I looked up and on the far side of the vacant lot, there stood a wiry old black dog. My reflex was to grab Buddy and scoop him up and back into the car, but he was way too fast for me, his sleek long body and short legs, were turbo charged when he caught a hint of another dog. He took off like a bolt of lightning and the other dog sensing danger ran toward the railroad tracks. I flew into a panic and ran after Buddy, screaming, come back, come back. The wiry old black dog ran on to the railroad tracks and Buddy was right behind, barking incessantly. I tried to keep up but I petered out and I could no longer see either dog and Buddy’s bark grew faint and finally went silent.

I felt defeated and I didn’t know what to do. I turned back and headed to my car. All the doors were ajar and the engine was running, Christmas music blared from the radio, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” I climbed into the driver’s seat and put my head in my hands. What a terrible Christmas! I lost my dog and I lost the 50 dollar Christmas bet! I had given Buddy up for dead; it was my punishment for taking the bet.

I began to think back to my childhood when my family traveled cross country in 1967. We drove from Philadelphia to San Francisco California with our very old Fox Terrier Tiny. One day we pulled over and let her out near a wooded area when she saw a rabbit and took off after it. My sister’s and I prayed to St. Anthony the patron saint of lost causes and to our delight, after several hours, waiting, Tiny returned to us. I thought if it worked before, it might work again. So, I folded my hands in front of my face and prayed to St. Anthony to return Buddy to me on that Christmas morning. I told St. Anthony that it was never about the 50 dollar bet, it was about the love I had for my dog. It was only a few minutes after I ended my prayer that I looked up toward the railroad tracks and I saw a tiny dog running hard and at full speed toward the car. I jumped out of the front seat and ran toward him as fast as my legs would carry me. I struggled up the steep incline toward the tracks and yelled, come on boy, come on Buddy! Let’s get back on the road to Grandma’s house. I scooped up his 26 pounds of fur and fury and tucked him in the back seat among all the wrapped presents. I was ecstatic and thankful that St. Anthony once again had answered my prayer.

Well, I never shared that story with my friend, I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he almost won a bet that I should have never taken. Buddy with all his imperfections lived to a ripe old age of 18. I thought it only right to mark his grave with a flat stone inscribed with the following sentiment. “A long time ago a good friend gave me a dog, and his name was Buddy.” Merry Christmas Everyone.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Funny Thing Happened While At the Diner

Next time you visit a diner sit at the counter, it is an amazing experience. You hear all the frustrations, celebrations, and general musings of women in transit, better known as the "waitress". Once in a blue moon you see a man doing this job, but he doesn't last long. Counter sitting fills up the senses, if you are eating alone, its a singular adventure.

I walk in the door and head straight for the counter, if the hostess tries to block me with her oversized menu she is dead. I survey the layout, usually two old Greek guys on the end watching soccer, friends of the owner most likely. Half way in on the far right two old guys, waiting for their early bird special, (which is offered all day).eating soup, mumbling something to each other. My goal is to sit in the middle with at least two chairs between the old greek guys on the end and the early bird old guys at the other end, that puts me smack in the middle, with a buffer zone. (By the way, doesn't matter what time of day, always old guys at the counter, the young guys that approach the counter just want take out.)

The hostess is now standing next to me shoving the oversized menu in my hand, I wave her off," I know what I want". "Okay" she says," no menu", (I am beginning to think she is paid per menu).  I look up to find the waitress, usually annoyed that someone is at her station, she has to work the counter and the tables and the counter is just more work for little payoff.

"Do you want to see a menu" she asks," No, I know what I want, can I get a baked potato" I ask, "yeah, if its after 3pm" is her retort,( HMMM the potatos come to work after 3pm) . "Well luckily it is after 3, I will take that baked potato and a hot tea"'. "You got it" she says, "you want any bread?", (HMMMM, the old bread basket, usually stale, and you know what I don't eat goes to the next table). "No bread, I'm good".

The glass of water is a staple, a grainy tumbler, filled to the rim, ice cold and tempting, I need at least three refills. Next comes the beverage, usually unsweetened ice tea, a sliver of lemon, hold the artificial sweetner. The cup of soup, usually lentil, comes in a bowl, with saltines. I scoop out 4 tablespoons and figure my salt intake has exceeded the daily limit. I push the rest to the edge to signal I am finished. I sit and wait.

My eyes widen with delight when my dinner is delivered. Little bowls full of food are strategically set down around the main course plate. The smells swirl about my nostrils and I grab my napkin and tuck it inside my shirt. What's the joke? If I was flat chested my shoes would be dirty! Anyway, my gaze shifts to the smorgasboard in front of me and I dig in.