Saturday, November 25, 2006

Nicky's Story

Just to be clear, this is Nicky writing. Mum and Dad are out Christmas shopping, so I thought I would take the opportunity to blog for the first time. Mum did mention to you at one point that I might make an appearance here. As you can tell from all the pictures, I've made more than an appearance. I may as well be the star!

As Mum mentioned in an earlier post, I adopted her when I was a mature pup. I decided to adopt Mum because I needed a family, after so many years on the road, and she seemed pretty nice. It's turned out quite well. A warm bed, a comfy chair, a walk almost every day, and the occasional scrambled egg. I've adapted quite well to domestication.

If you want to read about all my adventures, you can buy my new book Sheep. It's actually written by Valerie Hobbs, but Ms. Hobbs captured the essence of all the misadventures of my young life. (She's a very talented writer!) Just click here to have a look! The ending is fictionalized, but I'm sure you can understand my desire not to risk losing my anonymity. The paparazzi and all! Anyway, living with a pastor is almost like living with a shepherd ... and herding a congregation is kind of like herding sheep... except I get in trouble when I nip at their heels!

Friday, November 24, 2006

El Guapo

Meet El Guapo ~ our Thanksgiving Turkey. Since he didn't get a Presidential pardon, he had the honor of being the center of our feast. Doesn't he look great? You can probably tell that we didn't cook him! We had the pleasure of spending Thanksgiving with our friends, Jake and Stephanie (yes ~ the same ones who ran the big race in the morning) in their new home.

Since the race, along with all the festivities and fundraisers that accompany it, is such a big part of our community, we have opted not to travel for the past three Thanksgivings. We miss our families, but feel very much at home with El Guapo and his crew. This year Jake's parents, brother and grandparents came for Thanksgiving. The table was beautiful (as you can see) and the food was delicious.

To represent our family traditions, we brought several side dishes to share. Lime pear salad and pea salad from my side. Cherry bread from Gary's side. And green bean casserole for good measure. Everyone got plenty to eat. And the pies that Jake's grandma brought were superb. We even brought a little 'doggy bag' home to Nicky! Thanks to Jake and Stephanie for inviting us to be part of such a special day.... And thanks to El Guapo for the ultimate sacrifice!

So as a follow up from my last post, you can see how our Thanksgiving day did improve. As you can tell from the picture, we warmed up and dried off (although my hair is still a little flat!) I hope you all have friends that are as good to you as Jake and Stephanie are to us. And I pray you all had a blessed Thanksgiving!

Rainy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving day here in southern New England was pretty much a wash out. This made for a quite uncomfortable beginning to the holiday! The town where we live hosts a 5 mile race every year which attracts over 12,000 runners, not counting spectators. Since the race route goes right by the church, we take advantage of the opportunity to make some money to support Youth Missions and our after school program. We were standing out in the rain at 7:00am to rent out the spaces in our church parking lot. At $5 a space, we raised over $2,000, which is great for our Youth Mission Fund. It made for some pretty soaked volunteers, though! I have to admit that I wimped out. At 8:15am I decided I needed to go in and 'prepare' for our 9:00am Prayer Service. (Sorry Stephanie) By the time I went back out to the parking lot, I was dry and warm and everyone else was miserable.

The rain ruined any hopes that Gary and I had of walking the race route ourselves. Gary did make an attempt, but decided against it after standing in the soaking rain for 15 minutes just waiting for the race to step off. My most heartfelt admiration for our friends that did participate in the race - Stephanie, Jake, Norman, Loren, Marnie, Shelia.... Way to Go!

Nicky was bummed out by the rain as well. It meant no Thanksgiving Day walk for him. Here is a cute picture of him getting dried off after coming in from the back yard. It was a good thing for all of us that Thanksgiving improved markedly after the soggy beginning.... I'll write more about that later today!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

It's a date!

Sensing that I was more than a little stressed, last Friday night my wonderfully thoughtful husband took me out on a date! "The Queen" was not a movie that Gary was particularly interested in seeing, but he gladly drove several towns over through rush hour traffic so we could see it together. Popcorn and soda at the movie, plus a Friendly's Fribble and chicken quesadilla rounded out the evening. It wasn't fancy, but it was certainly special. It is surprising how easy it is to forget to do those little things together!

As for the movie, I thought it was quite well done. Of course much of it was based on speculation about what the Queen and Royal Family might have been thinking, saying, or doing in the days following Princess Diana's death. Helen Mirren was wonderful as she transformed herself into the Queen. It's hard to believe she is the same actress who was the ring leader in 'Calendar Girls!' The best part of the movie, though, was the little corgi dogs that faithfully followed the Queen around wherever she went! Watch out Nicky...

I would recommend seeing the movie.... and I would definitely recommend going out on a date! Don't forget to treat yourself and your loved one, spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend every once in a while. (Especially during this hectic holiday season) It doesn't have to be fancy... it just has to be fun. And, believe me, it can do you a world of good.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Remembering Gram

November 11th would have been my Gram's 89th birthday. Wow... 89 sounds so old, yet I always thought she would live forever. Sledding with me at the Grove. Walking Twinkie in all sorts of ice and snow. Surviving cancer, heart attack and a stroke. When I was a child I thought she was invincible.

It has been almost two years since her death. In some ways it seems a lot longer than that, but in other ways it feels like just yesterday. This time of year I remember how she would tie red bows on the low hanging branches around the campground... a special holiday treat for those entering the Grove. I also remember making peanut butter cups together to give to the neighbors for Christmas.... our own recipe! They weren't pretty, but they were delicious.

My relationship with Gram certainly wasn't perfect. She used to bug the heck out of me sometimes... and I'm sure I bugged the heck out of her too! But I would say that my relationship with Gram was genuine. And I think that is the most important thing about any relationship. That it be genuine.

Because of this, while I do miss her, there really isn't anything I regret... anything I wish I had said or done. And I look forward to that day when I can sit next to her at God's heavenly banquet... and maybe even share some homemade peanut butter cups!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Happy Birthday to Gary

Yes, it has been a while since I have 'blogged.' I have decided not to make a big deal of it, though. No excuses. No trying to play catch-up. I will just move ahead from this moment! My attempt to live in the 'now.'

Our most recent exciting happening is Gary's Birthday. On Wednesday he turned ~ don't be mad at me for telling everyone, Gary ~ 38! We celebrated with ice-cream cake, presents and dinner at Vinny'T's. Here is a picture of Gary and his cake. Life has been so busy lately that it was a joy to just be able to spend a whole evening together, with no Commissions meetings, Wonderful Wednesdays programs, late work nights or studying to do. Gary had some nice birthday calls and messages ~ and was even serenaded on the answering machine with "Happy Birthday to you!" Once by Ben in Arabic!

Nicky and I tried our best to carry a tune while singing Happy Birthday ~ me in English, Nicky in dog. Unfortunately we don't sing at the same pitch... and I think his 'woofing' was more about getting a piece of ice-cream cake than about genuine well-wishes for his 'Dad.' Lucky for him, he got a few bites of mine. It isn't really a birthday until the dog gets ice-cream all over his face!

With all the festivities over, today is a day of rest, followed by an evening of Christmas shopping. The storage room is already piled with gifts. The cards are done. The wrapping paper is at the ready. Peace, Good-will, and many excuses to celebrate, to all!