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When Your House Guest Has Four Feet

When Your House Guest Has Four Feet

My husband and I enthusiastically offered to keep my sister-in- law’s dog at our house while she and her
husband attended a wedding further North.

Mollie is a Shetland Sheepdog. I think technically she’s considered a Blue Merle, but she’s white with
markings on her head and cute as hell. She looks like a cotton ball on very tiny legs. She’s also very
ladylike which is a sharp contrast to our 18-month- old Boston Terrier, Beans. They’re the Beauty and the
Beast of the K9 world with a large dose of hyperactivity thrown in. We found ourselves yelling at Beans
more than usual simply because of the contrast in styles.

This translated into pretty much every doglike behavior. When Mollie drinks, her little pink tongue juts
out quickly and quietly with not a drop left on the floor to show her efforts. Beans sticks his whole face
into the bowl, slurps loudly, and trails water all over the house. Sometimes he wipes his face on the cat’s
head, which is hilarious! Oddly enough the “Cat From Hell” doesn’t seem to care.

When we let the dogs outside to do their business, Beans took off like a bat outta hell and popped a
squat almost immediately. Mollie delicately worked her way down the stairs and was immediately
assaulted by Beans who apparently wanted to help. We started taking them out separately in deference
to Mollie’s feminine sensibilities. We also fed them separately. This was not because the dogs have poor
mat manners but because the CFH always horns in.

Beans wanted to play non-stop. He loves to share a tug toy with anything that moves and was constantly
offering Molly the other end of a rubber ring, which she declined. Beans has amazingly strong jaws and
can tug with a great deal of force, in fact I don’t even play tug with him. Mollie preferred sitting on our
laps and looking pretty, understandably so. But there was an incredibly sweet moment near the end of
the visit when Mollie went into her crate, came out with a fuzzy toy, and offered one end to Beans.
Beans gently took the other end and played “tug” on Mollie’s terms. Beans may be obnoxious but
apparently, he’s not stupid. Maybe that’s why my husband and I are so goofy in love with this dog.

With guest pets, much like children, there is always the issue of different homes, different rules. Mollie
is fed treats; which Beans is not. Mollie barks a lot more than Beans. During Mollie’s visit, Beans’ default
was, “when in doubt bark with the other dog because there must be something going on that I don’t
know about.” This created the effect of Beans hoping around, barking his fool head off, with a confused
look on his face.

Mollie’s people came back for her on Sunday night and I’m sure she was glad to see them. She’ll be back
for Thanksgiving and I’d like to think Beans and the CFH will be glad to see her. I’m not so sure about
Mollie, but I hope she enjoys the change of pace if nothing else.

Thank you for visiting.


Bunco, the ultimate hostess experience

Tomorrow night marks the first game of the 21st year of our Bunco group. For the uninitiated this is a simple dice game played in multiples of four with a minimum of 12 players. Most established groups are made up of women who meet once a month with members taking turns hosting. Our group started in my old neighborhood where about half of the players still live. The hostess provides everything, the house, the food, the booze (white wine by the gallon), and boobie prize. We begin the evening with a half hour of socializing before we begin play. This half hour has begun to stretch, much like our middles.

I try to host once every other year and find it utterly exhausting! By the time the first player shows up I’m spent. How some of these women can be so gracious after working, cleaning, and cooking for a crowd of all females, is beyond me. By the time I get around to scaring up a boobie prize it’s likely to be a disembodied Barbie head . Most of the ladies go around the house finding new things they don’t want, stuff like that purple powder room set your mother-in-law gave you for Christmas last year.

When we started in 1997 all of us had at least one child at home, most of us worked outside the home, were married, had some post high school education, and we’re relatively healthy. Sounds like a pretty homogeneous group. But over the years we’ve come to accept and appreciate the profound differences among us.

We have varying degrees of liberals who roll the dice alongside staunch conservatives. Several of the women are deeply religious while others are not. We didn’t go into the group knowing about these differences but discovered them over the years and many glasses of wine. We have vastly different interests outside of Bunco. If I go to hell it will be a holiday bazaar held at a NASCAR race where the only thing to drink is cheap Rose. However this would be the ultimate vacation spot for some of my Bunco cohort. I’m sure they feel equally uninterested in my hobbies like doing crossword puzzles and staring out the window.

Despite our differences, in more than 20 years, there has not been a single major falling out among us. Can you imagine? If you multiply 16 women by 160 games (we take a break in the summer) you get 2,560 opportunities for someone to get bitchy, nasty, or catty. But as far as I know this has never happened to an extent where it seriously affected the group. That’s pretty impressive. United Nations take note!

Perhaps it’s what we’ve been through together that creates this amazing sense of tolerance for different perspectives. We’ve had births, deaths, divorces, unemployment, empty nests, unexpectedly refilled nests, relocation, and illness. Some of us have experienced profound difficulties that don’t even fall into a category. One woman lost two siblings in as many years.

But no matter what’s going on, we all come back to the table once a month and roll those dice. I guess it’s hard—al beit REALLY corney—not to look at our Bunco game as a microcosm of life. You go out there and do your best, get beaten up, have victories, and have defeats. If you’re lucky, you have a supportive family to come home to at the end of the struggle. I think maybe that’s the role my Bunco group plays in our lives. A family more stable than the chaotic environment that surrounds us.

We refer to the woman who started our group as “Bunco Mama.” I can see some of you rolling your eyes at the saccharine reference, but we do think of her as they head of our clan. This woman has been through more challenges over the past twenty years than Jobe. Yet she continues to treat this group as a priority. Everyone should have a Bunco Mama in their lives, even if they don’t play Bunco.

So here’s to 21 more years of rolling along with the FoxHead Bunco Group.

Thank you for visiting.

facebook…welcome to my cyber sofa

After graduating from college, establishing a career, and starting a family, I often wondered what had happened to certain acquaintances. You tend to keep in touch with close friends and relatives. But often people you truly appreciate and enjoy slip away from your life almost unnoticed. I remember wishing I had a magical book that would allow me to catch up with their lives. Then came….do I have to say its name? Facebook.

People approach social media from different perspectives based on age, gender, culture, purpose, and availability of time. With FB in particular, there is also the desire for connection with the past and future.

Some people are afraid of it. One relative told me, “Oh, I’m not going near FB, it gets you in too much trouble!” This illustrates the idea that it takes away your control of your own information, and to a certain degree I guess that’s true.

I look at FB as my living room on the internet. It’s my choice to invite people in and to treat them appropriately as guests. If someone is rude, hurtful, or hateful they are not invited back. I chose what information to put out there about myself. I don’t appreciate others supplying information about me via FB. It’s too easy to misinterpret details or get them wrong. By the same token, if you’re not ready to go public about something, don’t put it on FB. You can’t expect the receiver to understand the information is a secret. It’s just not realistic and you have no one to blame but yourself. There are plenty of avenues for the exchange of private or sensitive information, including messaging and private groups.

Here are my basic rules:

f Don’t say anything to me on Facebook you wouldn’t say to me in my own home as an invited guest.

f Don’t come behind my comments on someone else’s page with nasty remarks.

f Don’t criticize me or anyone else on my page. While I like a healthy exchange of ideas, FB is not my preferred vehicle for heated discussion.

f Don’t friend me for the sole purpose of selling me something. I understand FB is a great marketing tool—I use it to push out this blog (which is not monetized.) But when it becomes painfully evident a request has nothing to do with me as a person and everything to do with me as a potential customer, its hurtful.

f Politics and politicians are fair game. But their supporters and detractors are not. Please don’t call someone an idiot because they support a certain candidate, party, or policy. They may indeed BE an idiot. But it’s just not a nice thing to say to a guest sitting on my cyber sofa.

f Please don’t badger me about my use of social media. I may not use it to the extent that you do and that’s OK. There have been many occasions when someone in real time will demand, “Didn’t you see my post?!”

f By the same token, don’t feel the need to apologize to me for not engaging with me on social media. I understand that some people enjoy my blog and others don’t. One woman said to me, “I only scan blogs looking for recipes. I’m not interested in the writing.” And that’s OK.

All in all, FB has enhanced my life. It put me back in touch with some great people, helped me plan events, and provided some amazing information and entertainment. So bring on the babies, the vacation pics, the cat videos, the dog videos, the funny videos, the profound posters, the job updates, the health concerns, and the DIY projects!

Thank you for visiting.

The Early Bird…is Just Obnoxious!

Many years ago during a television interview with the actress Bonnie Hunt, she said her family used the “Door Bell” method of housekeeping. You don’t bother to clean until the doorbell rings. While I don’t personally subscribe to this method, I do appreciate it.

I feel strongly about guests showing up early. I am strongly against it. Unless you’re having a medical emergency—in which case you should probably go to the hospital first—please don’t come to my house or event one second ahead of the stated time.

I was reminded of this concept several times in the last couple of weeks. I went to a baby shower in Jersey where half the guests showed up early. What is that all about? Is it a Jersey thing? The baby Grandma was rushing around trying to put the finishing touches on a lovely venue and was forced to entertain at least two dozen people ahead of schedule. Another friend of mine was hosting house guests who gleefully texted they’d hit the road sooner than expected and would be hours early. What! For God sakes, take the scenic route! Yet another acquaintance works weddings. She told me about an event just last weekend when many of the guests arrived at the reception venue half an hour early and actually banged on the doors. When she did let them in several people demanded mixed drinks even before the bar was set up.

For those of you who don’t get it, here’s the deal. Most of us mortals don’t keep a spotless house and must prepare for visitors. I take pride in presenting a clean home or well prepared venue. My mother used to say it should look like a stage set when folks walk in and then everything can go to hell. This prep takes a certain amount of time and scheduling because I have other stuff going on. Some of us also have pets so it doesn’t make sense to start cleaning a moment too soon because all will be re-fuzzed within minutes. When I’m done cleaning and prepping food, I like to enjoy a glass of wine while I prep myself. If you show up early, I miss the one part of party prep I enjoy.

Many people will say, “I thought you might need help so I came early”. If I need help, believe me I’ll ask for it in advance. I’ve never been accused of martyrdom. If you volunteer and I politely decline, I’m not being polite, I really don’t want you early. No one is that helpful. Some people will assume their bond with the hosts is strong enough that it doesn’t matter if they show up early and just hang out. Unless you’re still in the womb, there is no bond strong enough for an early arrival.

I realize I’m a little crazy about time. I worked in the television news business for many years where every second was accounted for. Time really WAS money! The only exception was 16 years ago when the clock stopped and we threw revenue to the wind in order to supply a platform for our community to grieve.

My family tells me this television-time perspective has left me with an unhealthy attitude toward punctuality on both ends of the punctal spectrum. OK, I can live with that.

Do you mind people showing up early? Don’t you cherish those last few moments when you can look around your house and admire your work while sipping Prosecco and applying mascara? In my husband’s case, it’s drinking beer and watching whatever sport is on TV (sorry son, I know you hate stereotypes but it’s true.)

Thank you for visiting, and not a moment too soon.

Be a Port in the Storm

Be a Port in the Storm

If you’re warm, safe, and dry there is simply no reason not to give.

1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669).

Marcia, if you’re out there, I hope you and your loved ones are safe.


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