Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Plethora of Puppies (aka A Canine Country Christmas...)

Brillo meets Scruffy
The holidays are over and winter finally seems to be setting in. God and Mother Nature worked in tandem to create a little magic, and at the last minute we had a white Christmas to allay my children’s fears. We didn’t have enough snow for our “sliding after dark in pajamas” tradition, but there was enough snow to make the landscape (and the teenagers’ dispositions) sparkle and shine.

On Christmas Eve we invited family and some new friends to The F.A.R.M. for supper. Three years ago our oldest son Guy created a wonderful family tradition. He arrives ‘home’ early on Christmas Eve day and prepares the meal, which is a wonderful gift for his mother. I find I invite more guests when I’m not doing the cooking…
Guy with Saint and Scruffy on his shoulder, Lucy on the arm of the chair, and the long-suffering and good-natured Boone, who (with Brillo) had to put up with the 3 puppies
This year, there were 14 humans and 5 canines in our home on ‘the night before Christmas’. The Pease Wees, the newest members of our household, were joined by their cousin Boone, Guy’s sweet dog. Cousin Brillo, the Labradoodle, was in attendance too—arriving with my sister Chris and staying with us for a few days so Chris and her husband Chris could travel to Cleveland to visit Chris’ family. Meaning the family of the other Chris, since this Chris’ family is here. Of course, now that they’re married, Chris’ family is Chris’ family, too. Two Chrises. One family.

No problem.

Thank God for wine.

But I was talking about dogs and not how many Chrises were Christmasing with us. The fifth canine to round out our party was Lucy, my friend Patty’s 7 month old Jack Russell terror. Jack Russells are an active breed. Always moving. Always jumping. Wiggling. Burrowing. Terrier-izing.

I didn’t realize how mobile the little dog was. The kids and I had pushed all the living room furniture back to the walls to make room for the tables in the center of the floor. We sat on sofas and chairs and enjoyed Guy’s hors d’oeuvres and Patty’s homemade wine while staying out from under the cook’s feet. All of a sudden, Lucy jumped onto Chris (one of them) and continued bouncing over the top of everyone else, springing from one sofa (and lap) to the next chair (and lap) to the next sofa (and lap) without ever touching the floor. Round and round in a circle she went, over duck tenders and around pesto pizza and under homemade cheese-its. Jack Russels aren’t large dogs, but they are solid. And their feet are quite pointy. Sharp. Wicked picked, in fact! Our new friends were quite taken with the gymnastic abilities of Miss Lucy as she knocked food out of hands and drove air out of tummies. I’m sure we impressed these newcomers to the point of ‘no return’.

Thank God for wine.
Guy and Josie on the (new) sofa (see towel...) and Lucy, Boone and Brillo on Guy and Josie.
Wee puppies and not so wee puppies tested the patience of the adults—both human and canine—as they teased for snacks, darted in and out of harm’s way, and generally confirmed the rumor that The F.A.R.M. is a zoo.

Eventually, the house quieted. Most of our guests stuffed themselves with good food and fine wine… and went home. Remaining to hang stockings with us were Guy and Patty…and the 5 dogs.  Oh, yeah.... and the 3 cats.

Stevie and Scruffy (Stevie never touched her [he actually loves the Wees) but Scruffy has felt the claws of Josie's cat Curious before...I thought this expression of ANTICIPATION was hilarious.)
I have a very patient and long-suffering husband. He puts up with a lot. I’m the one whose friend gave me the Wees, causing our household to revert to a nursery again after years without puppies or small children. It is my life-long friend and my family members who bring dogs to our parties.

It’s my side of the family that brings wine.

The living room had been put to rights. The tables and chairs taken care of, the dishes washed and dried…We sat on sofas and in chairs chatting, winding down, relaxing in the glow of Christmas tree lights and candles. Steven and Eli were on the big (new) couch, Josie and I sat on the love seat, Patty was tipped back in the recliner, and Guy was propped in the armchair. Dogs were lounging by feet and in laps. Suddenly, Eli spoke.
"Dame Scruffy of Dingleberry Bog" (bottom) and "Saint Baxter of Soggy Bottom" (top)
“Lucy! LUCY! Papa!…you might wanna MOVE, Papa!”

Eli’s words sunk in at the same moment that Lucy’s pee soaked in. Steven jumped off the (new) couch, pulling the seat of his britches away from his…seat. Lucy bounded off the (new) cushion behind him–her task complete; her bladder empty. Pal Patty perked up. A seasoned dog owner, she’s attuned to the change in tenor of the mood in a room when a human realizes he has been piddled upon.

I could have sworn Ricky Ricardo was in my house. “Looo-cee!” was repeated several times as Patty ran for paper towels, Guy belly-laughed and Josie tittered, Eli breathed a sigh of relief that he’d been on the other end of the sofa, and Steven went to take a shower and change his clothes for the second time on Christmas Eve.

It was interesting to watch the ‘host’ Steven as he attempted to curb his tongue and his temper after ‘the incident’. Had one of the Wees done such a thing on our (new) couch—especially when Steven was sitting on/in it—we would have been witness to a much more colorful display of emotion. Choice words, facial contortions…it would have been a far more interesting show. But ‘host’ Steven loves friend Patty and he didn’t want to spoil the Christmas mood. And he didn’t. What a guy.

Our Canine Christmas was hectic, but truly enjoyable.

Five dogs. Two Chrises.

And wine.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Downeast Humor-Compliments of Tim Sample, the Harraseeket Inn and Friends of Maine's Mountains

The New Year has come and gone.  Already, 2012 is almost 'old hat'.  Martin Luther King Junior Day is a week away.  Ground Hog's Day... less than one month.  And St. Patrick's Day--one of those harbingers of Spring--is only 2 1/2 months from now.

By that time, we'll have cabin fever.  We'll be sick of the cold, the snow, the short days and the long nights.  We will have had our fill of shoveling and plowing, of filling the woodbox and taking out the ashes and splitting kindling.  We will long for humidity.  Warmth.  Dry floors.  Cool tempers.

Please join Friends of Maine's Mountains as we work to raise money for a good cause while also working to dispel the winter blues.  Maine's premier Maine humorist, Tim Sample, is performing a live show to benefit FMM on Saturday, March 17th.  I hope to see you there!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Bucket List

Karen’s Log:

Star Date--New Year’s Eve.

Two Thousand Eleven.

Lexington Township, Maine… somewhere on the 45th North Parallel…Earth…Milky Way Galaxy.

The crew is restless. Edgy. Almost…pains in my @$$.

The new year—2012—begins in just a few minutes. And…everyone wonders….

What will the year hold? Will the world end on December 21st, as many people believe? Will concern about that possible happenstance change the way any of us live our lives?

And if so… how?

Well, I (Karen Louise Bessey Pease, a.k.a. Kazza, Kaz, Mama, Mum, Sweetie and Honey) for one, intend to create a “Bucket List”.

For those of you who don’t know what I mean by “Bucket List”; it’s simple. A “Bucket List” is a list of things which you hope to do, say, accomplish, experience or survive before you “Kick the Bucket”.

Yes. It’s a list of things you want to do before you die. But making lists is easy. I also intend to start checking off some of the items!

 think I’ve led a life which has been relatively unselfish. I’ve asked very little of others unless I was willing to give in equal measure; and when I had to ask at all, I tried to repay their generosity with something “in kind”. It’s always been a matter of pride, I guess. I don’t like feeling like I am indebted to anyone.

But there’s no way a Bucket List can be completely unselfish or philanthropic. Not really. After all, it is a compilation of things I want to do–not things I want for others. Yes, sure…I want world peace. But if I’ve got less than 12 months left on this planet, it’s beyond my ability to make “world peace” happen. Realistically—wouldn’t that be a complete waste of time? Especially since—when the world ends of December 21st–all those warring factions are destined to go up in smoke right alongside me?

And really… how boring would it be if we had world peace? It’s unrealistic. It’s against all things natural. Take a good look at this planet. How many sentient beings live in harmony with other sentient beings? It’s a dog-eat-dog world.

So. Even though I truly don’t believe the Mayan Calendar is the be-all, end-all…. Still, I’ll use this opportunity to write a first draft of my bucket list. It will undergo changes and revisions, sure. Life is like that. Nothing is set in stone. But this list will be a start. Something for me to refer to–and aspire to follow.

BUCKET LIST (not necessarily in the order of importance…):

#1: Pay off the mortgage on my homestead. I would love (LOVE) to gift my husband with the security of knowing that—no matter what befalls us—we would not lose our home, a place which gives him such peace and satisfaction.

#2: Have a novel make the New York Times Best Sellers’ List—mostly so that I could afford to pay off the mortgage and give my husband that security.

#3: Get a pilot’s license. I’d prefer to learn how to fly a chopper, but with only a few months to devote to the prospect, I’ll settle for learning to fly an airplane. I’ve been told it is easier and cheaper.

#4: Meet my friend and co-author, Saint. That’s all. I just wanna stare at him across a table and tell him how he’s enriched my life over the last few years. Also… I’d like to show him what good care I’m taking of the puppies he gifted me for my 48th birthday.

#5: Spend 4 months in Australia…riding cross-country on motorcycles with my pal Larry and visiting all the Aussie friends I’ve made in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. That would be the ultimate vacation, and a dream come true.

#6: Sail on the ocean. A schooner, windjammer, clipper…catamaran or sailboat. I just want to feel the sea breeze, ride the swells, be at the mercy of (and try to conquer) the power and might of the ocean.

#7: Since this is my fantasy, I’d like to add this: Hundreds of Maine citizens have been working their buns off in an attempt to bring common sense to the energy policies of this state. Friends of mine have suffered health problems caused by improperly sited wind turbines. They’ve suffered loss of property value and quality of life, as well. I would love to be able to witness the citizens of Maine taking control of this issue and creating an atmosphere where common sense, science, economics and EMPATHY govern our energy plan.

#8: World Pease. I mean…“peace”, of course.  And learn to ski. Maybe. 

#9: It would be really cool if I could write something which would change people’s lives for the better. I would love to know that my thoughts and words had a positive impact on others. (It would also be great if that ‘writing’ made me a good chunk of change, so that I could pay off the mortgage and give my family that wonderful kind of security…See #’s 1 and 2 on my Bucket List.)

#10: Climb Mt. Katahdin. And (I’m really reaching, here—but it’s my fantasy!) not see a single wind turbine from the summit.

Now that I’m on a roll, I can think of a dozen other “wants” for my list, but I’ll settle for ten. If I could accomplish just half of my goals, I’d be completely content to vaporize along with the rest of you on December 21, 2012.

In truth, a Bucket List is something we all should have... something we should create and then strive to fulfill. I don’t believe the world will end next December. But I know for a fact that no one–not a single one of us–knows when we will die. It might be tomorrow or 50 years from now. We should live like there is no “tomorrow”–even while responsibly planning for it.

World Peace? Hah! I can’t even get my teenagers to quit sniping at and sparring with each other!

But I am going to make it a point to work towards the goals on my Bucket List. I’ll fly an airplane. Meet Saint. Tour Australia. Write a Best Seller. And give my family some peace of mind and security.

Next year—THIS year—will be great.

Happy New Year. Happy 2012.