I’ve had the pleasure of bringing four dogs into my life. Each has been unique, and although I gave them each a home and family, they have all given me so much in return. Dogs have the ability to enjoy the moment with wild abandon. To get down and dirty when necessary. To lie spread eagle in mixed company. To lick the body parts we humans won’t even name aloud.
They can change your mood in the swipe of a tail. Make you feel it’s all going to be all right with a chin on your knee. Shake up an awkward silence in a room full of stuffy people. Abort an ugly argument by bringing you a wet toy. Get you up and going when you desperately need to move but want to stay plastered to the sofa with that “I must go for a walk” look. Dogs can look right into your heart and melt it. They can listen intently to your problems and solve them with a few blinks. And who among us has not had a serious conversation with the dog at some point?
They rely on us as much as we rely on them, giving us a sense of purpose. They are not judgmental or ashamed of us. They are filled with unconditional love, and set a wonderful example for us humans.
We all have our Thanksgiving memories to cherish. As children, we look forward to the super-sized, special meal. And as we get older, we watch our loved ones prepare the meal, picking up tips for when it will be our turn to prepare our own Thanksgiving meal.
When I was young, Grams always gave me the impression that a turkey took at least twelve hours to cook. She would rise at the crack of dawn, or before, and start shuffling around in the kitchen. By the time I got up, I was met with the sight of her wrestling the stuffing into the gaping carcass.
Once the turkey was in the oven, she began the other dishes. A huge pot of potatoes on the stove, sweet potatoes going into the oven, and the good old green bean casserole being thrown together. And last, but not least, the cracking open of the can of jellied cranberry sauce, plopped into a dish with no attempt to hide its can-shaped appearance.
The carving of the bird never went well, even though it had now cooked three times longer than it should have. Grams would call Dad to carve, but then proceed to tell him just how it should be done. She’d finally just take the knife from him, eventually resorting to using her hands to tear it apart. If that wasn’t appetizing, I don’t know what was!
Although I don’t make the Thanksgiving meal like my Grams used to, I did learn some things from her. Remember to remove the innards from the bird BEFORE cooking. A turkey does not need to cook for TWELVE HOURS. If you must resort to using your hands to carve the turkey, wash them first and DON’T lick your fingers as you work. Bon appetit!
Adolescence is ugly. No getting around it. Hormones beginning to rage, coming into your budding body, a roller coaster of emotions, and being forced into all sorts of new experiences. Being thrown into classes at a new middle school with kids you never saw before. Learning locker combinations, following class schedules, finding your way around a much larger school. Trying to find a friendly face in the cafeteria so you didn’t have to sit alone. Taking off your clothes in front of others in the locker room. Just lots of joyful experiences!
The experience of swimming in gym class at my middle school was one of the most awful that I can remember. First, there was the trauma of public disrobing, at an age when what you had, or didn’t have, really mattered. Wanting to check out what everyone else had without remaining naked long enough for anyone to see yours. Then there was the required shower, on an ancient tiled floor that always felt slippery for some reason, and would have never passed my mother’s cleanliness standards.
The pool tiles felt rough and slimy on your feet, and holding onto the sides where the overflow drains were was hardly an option. Usually you’d get a mouth or nose full of highly chlorinated water at some point, and God knows what else.
After the swim, there was the second disrobing to rinse your suit in some mysterious disinfectant, and wring it in the ancient wringer. It was a sweet, sickly smell, unlike any other. Using your tiny bleached towel, you swipe away most of the water, and nervously wrench your training bra and panties on, and finally your clothing, all of it sticking to your wet skin. And what do you talk about while your’e so exposed? NOTHING! ‘Cause you’re trying to do all of this as fast as you can to get dressed and out of there! You just focus on the sound of the shower running and locker doors slamming, and hope it’s over soon.
To this day, I hate having to use a locker room, and am flooded with these visions every time!