Saturday, April 29, 2017

Unconditional Love

There are kids we bring into the world, and "kids" who just find their way into our lives. I have had both. The kids I bought into this world were born six years apart...does that tell you anything? Over the years, we'e had a dog here or there, the kind of "kid" who wasn't desired, wasn't asked into our home, but nonetheless, made their way in and straight to our hearts.

The longest running of those fur-babies was a motley little peekapoo named Coco. He was about a year old when he began breaking free from the side of a house several blocks over in our neighborhood and somehow made his way to our house. We put a sign up at the subdivision entrance, and the neighbors came and picked up the dog. Turns out the little girl in the home when to school with our son, Joe. Time after time, the mutt continued to show up at our house, and we'd load him up in the car and drive him back home.

One day he showed up, covered in mud, which he promptly shook all over my kitchen floor. After hosing him off and wrapping him in a towel, I once again drove him home, both kids in the car. The dog's owner, the lady of the house, wasn't excited to see him. Instead, she put her hands on her hips and said, "do you want to just keep that dog?" My kids squealed with delight, screaming "yes, yes, yeeessss!!!!" "Tell you what," she said, "give me fifty bucks to cover the shots he's already had and he's yours." Before I really thought it through, Coco was ours. He lived with us 15 years before going out one night, never to return. He was blind, deaf and he limped. The vet said that old dogs will go build a "nest" of sorts, covering themselves up with leaves and pine straw before curling up to die. Our hearts were broken.

Not long before Coco left us, Roxie entered our hearts.

Joe used his high school graduation money to buy her from a "friend." He said she was full-blooded boxer. The vet said otherwise, advising us she was approximately six months old, probably mixed with a pit bull, and she had mange. Much money, a destroyed couch, countless shoes, computer and phone cords later, Roxie ended up being the love of my life. She is ten years old now, but she is still full of life, probably because of our latest acquisition, Paco the Chiweenie (part chihuahua/part dauchsund).

Paco was found at the Country Cub of Jackson. Seemed he hung out there all day Memorial Day before last, and at the end of the day, no one claimed him. Larry brought him home and we made every effort to find his owners. Days and weeks went by, and it became apparent he was ours. Roxie was not very welcoming to the new pup, but she learned to love him. That's a good thing, because Paco really loves her.

Paco loves to get his vitamin D each day...until the lilies came up, he loved to lay in this pot
So, now that my nest is empty of my children, we do coexist with two of the funniest, sweetest pups I can imagine. Their personalities are both hilarious. Roxie is neurotic about everything, barks at the UPS and FedEx guys like she'd tear them apart if she could just get past that front door, and she wants to talk more than any dog I've ever seen. She is very vocal about many things. Paco can turn from the sweetest love bug to Cujo in no time, baring and gnashing teeth, but back to his loving ways as soon as soon as I start rubbing those radar ears. They love us unconditionally, we we love them back. Our nest isn't so empty afterall...

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Getting old rocks!

I used to dread old age. The word "old" just had a negative connotation. That was, until I got old.

I don't think of myself as being old, even though I will turn 60 on August 4 of this year (mark your calendars!). I still think and feel the same way I did at 30, 40 and 50. I love to do the things I always have, which includes having lots of fun whenever possible. But every now and then, I look in the mirror and see my mother looking back at me. Not that it's a bad thing, but it is often an unexpected thing. Because in my mind, I look the way I did decades ago.

My father recently turned 90.

That's a significant milestone, I suppose, since the average lifespan of an American male is 76.4 years. (In case you're wondering, the life expectancy of a woman is 81.2 years.) So, my dad has cheated death for 13.6 years. He is very tech-saavy and has both an iPhone and and iPad in addition to his fancy touch-screen Dell desktop computer. He loves Facebook and recently took a Facebook quiz that tells how long you'll live. He proudly announced he'd live to see age 99. Why not?!

Last weekend Larry and I went to a music festival in the Mississippi Delta (Clarksdale, to be exact). It was the tenth annual Juke Joint Festival, but it was our first time to attend. My experience with music festivals is that they are crowded with lots of lines to stand in for everything from refreshments to restrooms. I have been to my share of festivals over the years, but I guess it was that small part of me that was feeling a little bit old that resisted when I was asked by my friend Jonni Webb if Larry and I would like to go to the Juke Joint Festival this year. She and her fella, Tom Pittman, attended last year for the first time. Jonni (a potter, look up her work at and they had a blast. We relented and made hotel reservations months ago and when the weekend came, we packed up and drove the two and a half hours north through the cotton fields to Clarksdale.

Good thing we did! We had a wonderful weekend! Not really knowing what to expect, our expectations weren't that high. Even if they had been, the festival would have exceeded them! I'm not going to give every detail, but suffice it to say we heard some fantastic music by some amazingly talented musicians, saw some wonderful artwork, ate some delicious food in the most unexpected places, and had an overall great time. (The liberal use of adjectives should give a good indication of how much we enjoyed ourselves!) Most of the musicians were older, as well, with the exception of a cutie from Columbia, South America, Carlos Elliott, Jr, who I hope is the future of the Blues.

One of the things that struck me the most was the plethora of old people in attendance. By old, I mean people in their 50s, 60s and 70s  and beyond--not what I had expected to find at a music festival. I saw more men with long gray pony tails and women who, despite their wrinkles and silver hair, seemed so in their own skin. People weren't dressed to impress, because the fashion police weren't anywhere near Clarksdale. It was refreshing and relaxing to be around those folks. And even though I'm pushing 60, it took me a day or two to realize I'M ONE OF THOSE FOLKS!

I would be afraid to take that Facebook quiz, fearful that I might not like what it says (as if it means anything anyway...). But I can see hanging out in the many music venues at the Juke Joint Festival at the age of 99, listening to Blues artists who may just be pushing the same age, assuming their hard-living ways haven't caught up with them. If this is what being old looks like, I'm all in!

P.S. And then there was this...

While we missed the monkeys riding dogs (a reason to go back next year...) I did pick the winner at the pig races!