Top Ten Worst Christmas Gifts in 2016

Now that Christmas has come and gone, I can turn my investigatory energies to more important obsessions  (other than politics) such as identifying 2016 strangest Christmas gifts. We teach our children that these gifts are made at the North Pole but we all know they come from China.  Rather than being produced by happy, elves dressed in green and red felt, paid with nothing but a smattering of magic dust and Christmas cookies, these items  are probably produced by abused child workers, violating ever American labor law and  paid by the piece rather than by the hour. This is why Americans are squabbling about the renewal of Asian-Pacific trade agreement and not a North Pole  agreement combining  fines for melting icebergs because of Santa’s unregulated energy use with a  tariff on flying sleighs bringing untaxed goods into the country.

sarah-palin-gunThe proposed North Pole agreement would be easy to enforce because Sara Palin could be appointed Nordic ambassador and provide enforcement services from her Alaskan front porch, pulverizing those pesky elves  with buck shot when they tried to slip into the US in search of our highly coveted minimum wage jobs on dairy farms and in  fast food joints.

I waited until after Christmas to release this list because I wanted to save my friends the agony or ecstasy of choosing the appropriate gift  for their worst enemy. P.S. I understand from Santa that President-Elect Trump got one of each item on the list in his stocking this year.  Trump was hoping for lumps of newly mined coal given his promises to restart America’s coal industry but Santa wanted to reward  Obama’s strategy to ban offshore drilling in the Artic and Atlantic so this year Santa handed out pinwheels with blades saying “Support alternative energy” to those who had been naughty.  Santa’s failure to leave all the naughty businessmen a sock full of coal may result in a coal shortage among billionaires, which could further the stock market’s zeal for fossil fuel but it is too early to tell.

Top Ten Worst Christmas Gifts in 2016

handrapants10.Handrapants: These fingerless gloves (designed to look like men’s tidy-whities) are a perfect gift for anyone with fixation on being touched by real human hands but still wanting to be able to engage in real world activities. I actually own a pair of fingerless gloves that I find quite handy (please excuse the pun) but they are suede with a gorgeous fur muff around the fingers.  The men’s brief design for fingers must meet  some sexual  fantasy of where the hands want to go.

wowwee9. WowWee: Chip is an interactive dog robot, programmable to a special watch (included). Chip will greet you at the door, follow you around, play with a programmed plastic ball and has a strange low woof for such a small dog. Chip doesn’t need to go outside, be fed, bark at guests, and tear up panties or the other assorted novel character traits of a real dog. He recharges himself during the night ready for the next day without having to be let outside or taken for a walk.

unicorn-farts-cotton-candy-38. Unicorn Farts: These are bags of cotton candy. As I understand the design concept, while you can’t see human farts but you can see people, in this case you can’t see unicorns but you can see and actually eat their farts. Clever indeed and to provide further incentive for purchasing these tasty treats 10% of the proceeds go to a children’s charity.

 

poop7. Poop Like a Champion: This is a cereal for those of us old enough to remember the advertisements for “Breakfast of Champions” Wheaties but now find our digestive system is a little slow. The advertisement for this cereal is “Number 1 high fiber cereal for number 2s”. Imagine going through all the effort to receive a  marketing bachelors degree  and your first job assignment is to create slogans for a cereal that provides the pinnacle of pooping performance. The cereal is currently sold out after a pre-Christmas rush (please don’t let you mind wander in the direction of that pun).  Kudos to that new marketing graduate, you exceeded everyone’s wildest dreams, possibly because of a constipated electorate in all the Blue states. But don’t despair, if you need an extra push in the bathroom, you can load up for the New Year with a 25% off coupon and emailing your name in to be wait listed.

small_chihuahuas6.Wonderwoof:  This is an activity tracker bowtie for your dog.  You and your dog can begin a new healthy life style in the New Year. Designed in stylish colors such as baby blue, red, orange, teal, pink, black, grey and for an extra $9.95 you can add designer bands to match your outfits. Before Christmas a tracker was a $100.  Unfortunately, these guys didn’t sell out . You can now own one for $65.  If you live in a big city and hire a dog walker, these little gizmos are for you.  They are particularly helpful if you are paranoid imagining your highly paid dog-walker lazing around your high rise apartment sipping a latte from your cappuccino machine rather than out marching Fido around Central Park.  One dog walker in New York reports taking 40 or 50 dogs for walks 5 days a week, spending about 25 hours a week  and making about $110,000 a year.  Take that you lowly U of I graduate starting out at best around $45,000 as a professional in Idaho. My advice, if you need Wonderwoof for Fido, you should probably consider trading in your dog and getting WowWee for Valentine’s Day.

cockroach5.Giant Inflatable Cockroach: Almost 6 feet by 6 feet and a foot deep, this ugly guy can either scare people out of your highly sought after swimming pool or provide a lovely floatation device for someone large enough to cover most of it. The roach’s legs hang out in any possible scenario. I have to admit to an aversion to cockroaches of any size. When my husband went to medical school the only apartment he could afford was roach infested.  We had to buy dozens of tiny roach hotels to strategically place around the apartment in hopes one would stop by for a visit and be terminated.The Inflatable cockroach was judged the “best new inflatable toy for summer 2016″ suggesting to me that America needs to find new designers for pool toys.

toliet-bowl3:Toilet Bowl Dog and Cat Fountain: If your pets like to drink out of your toilet and this grosses you out, this gift is for you.  Shaped just like a toilet only smaller,  the tank provides fresh water on as-needed gravity basis.  Also works well for improving the self-image of height-challenged dogs, like dachshunds, which have always wanted to drink out of the toilet but couldn’t reach it.

creamed-possum2.Creamed Possum in a can for holiday dinner: This holiday treat is also sold out but may be available in time for the Super Bowl and Presidential Inauguration . A red neck staple, this tasty treat includes Canned Creamed Possum with Coon Fat Gravy, garnished with Sweet Potatoes! Guaranteed to be made with only the freshest road-kill available

 

1.Trump Matryoshka (Hand-crafter Russian nesting dolls): These dolls were a rush order after the election. On the largest doll is a likeness of Trump wearing a surprised expression and holding a sign “The Apprentice and you’re hired!”. Inside is Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson holding his 2013 Russian Friendship award and waving an ExxonMobil flag. Beneath Tillerson is President Trump’s strategic advisor, Stephen Bannon in a Prince of Darkness costume. All three larger dolls cover a tiny replica of Russian President Putin, wearing a Cheshire cat smile and holding a sign “Russia Wins!”. These dolls sold out quickly to the alt-right. Plans are to have them mass produced after the inauguration. Right wing enthusiasts are anticipating a juggernaut in sales in the New Year as part of the new administration’s focus on economic development and new trade alliances.

 

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Another Criminal Act

We have experienced another misdemeanor at Ashtree Way. This time the delicious, carefully wrapped, warmed corn bread from Whole Foods was stolen from my daughter’s desk, an off limits area  for dogs, even in our permissive home.  No crumbs have been found and the criminal would have gotten away without a trace, had I not found Violet, our rat terrier, trotting out of the office with plastic wrap in her jaws.  She looked extremely pleased with herself until I told her to “Drop it!” Then she mimicked the guilty, down-cast-eyed looked that seems to be genetically inbred into dogs so owners rather than the dog feel terrible.  I believe the plastic wrap in jaws condemns Violet.

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Evidence pulled from jaws of criminal

The problem with this theory is that the crime was more consistent with our other potential perpetrator, Shani, who was also in the house at the time.  Shani, our Sheltie, is the dog who gets on unattended tables.  I’ve seen her basking in the sun on the glass patio table outside on numerous occasions.  I know Shani is capable of an unthinkable theft of this nature despite her sweet demeanor, snatch and grab from high places is her specialty.

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Behind this sweet face is a snatch and grab artist.
When caught with hard evidence in her jaws, Violet was banished outside to reflect upon her crime while mindlessly chasing squirrels from tree to tree and barking aggressively. The crime of barking led to my husband tossing her back in the house where she smugly took up residence on my blanket while visions of corn bread made her fat and drowsy.

Dogs, even misbehaving dogs, have a way of wheedling their way into your life and ultimately drilling a direct pipeline to your heart. When we got Violet from the Humane Society, she came with a hand-written note that said Violet was not capable of love and was not a lovable animal. Saturday, as Violet dragged her little butt outside, head down, tail between her legs (she is quite the drama queen), I thought about her previous two homes where she had faced complete rejection.  Violet is not an easy dog to live with but the same could be said for me, I am not always an easy person to live with.

Over the years, Violet and I have spent many hours curled up together on couches, scrunched under soft blankets watching TV or in bed taking naps.   Sometimes, the cats join us, sort of a muti-species event, everyone welcome. Violet acts as a small little heating pad; quiet, soft and warm  resting while the house is at peace.  The wildl barking, jump-up-on-you-no-matter-what, crazed terrorist  vanishes into thin air replaced by the beloved companion. Sunday with the gas fireplace humming, the Denver Broncos playing, and a slight drizzle spewing from gray clouds marking the arrival of fall, Violet had her head nuzzled on my leg while I rested with strep throat (Apparently strep isn’t just for kids).   As I stoked her velvety-soft little head,  I asked myself how could anyone think this dog was unlovable?

Repeat Offender

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Shani, second offense, misdeameanor for destruction of personal property

Over Labor Day, my Sheltie, Shani carried out a successful panty raid on my daughter’s slumber party (greatly angering my daughter).  Shani’s most recent offense was much closer to home. I have been working on paper mache hands for Ms. Bewitchingly Boo-tiful  described in last week’s blog.  I placed the hands outside on the three-feet-high fire pit to dry in the sun.  The height of the pit provides a convincing alibi for Violet, the rat terrior, nicknamed the Terrorist for her ability to shred anything in a matter of minutes.

When I came home to check on the drying progress, the hands were missing. I was mystified. At first, I thought the wind had blown the hands off the granite ledge. Afterall, what could be appealing to a dog about something made of flour, water, and paper, surely this combination does not emit a wafting odor tantalizing a dog’s olfactory lobes. But alas, the wind was not the culprit.  I wasn’t going to be given the gift of finding intact phalanges. My search through the yard  uncovered a few small remnants

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Remnants of paper mache hands found in yard.

I was very surprised that both hands were gone. I mean one good chew and yuck! But this is where the accomplice comes in. My rat terrier, Violet, gets great joy in tearing up anything. Shani has been very discriminating in her destructive tendencies,  limiting her tastes to extremely expensive Victoria  Secret panties. Violet will grab whatever is handy and shake it violently while growling and then shred the with her teeth. I vision the hand dismemberment as a two dog crime. The dog with superior height and  extremely long snout identified and retrieved the hands. The terrior gleefully shredded them as the sheltie ran in circles joyfully barking and egging Violet on.

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Violet, accomplice to crime. Armed with sharp teeth to annihilate  almost anything.

 

The crime set back the paper mache project three days:

  • One to recreate both hands.  I start with pipe cleaners and cardboard.
  • Two days for drying.
  • Two more days for painting and decorating.
  • Three days for Marine varnish to paint and dry
  • Final three days for varnish to cure.

 

All this has led me to develop the Pinocchio Theorem:

If you have a long nose, be careful it doesn’t lead you astray.

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How Barbie became Bewitchingly Boo-tiful

While innocently reading my email, I opened a challenge from the Idaho Botanical Gardens to create scarecrows for their annual scarecrow crawl the first weekend in October.   Since retiring last year, I have been expanding my craft activities.  This email literally shouted at me, “Do it! Make a paper mache scarecrow!”  The Botanical Garden Theme was Idaho history and I immediately thought to make Sara Palin.  Ms. Palin attended the University of Idaho so met the Idaho history criteria.  But farther down in the rules, it stated scarecrows would not be allowed that had any political theme or were derogatory.  I don’t have an expansive enough imagination to link scare crow, Palin and paper mache into any type of positive image. I immediately rejected the Palin concept and moved on to a scarecrow witch.  I thought I could handle dressing some type of large doll and making a paper mache face and hands.  The real challenge was getting the doll to stand up on a pole. The entry materials warned that the scarecrows would have to last seven weeks through potentially vile weather including rain, wind and hail.  The apparatus to support the doll had to be substantial.  Fortunately, I have a friend who does wood working and agreed to help me suspend the doll once decorated.  So my entry went in as “Bewitching”.  As the project grew in scope and scariness, I later added Boo-tiful. My final entry was the Bewitching Ms. Boo-tiful!

I researched online “big dolls”. I discovered there are many variations of inappropriate life-sized sex toys.  I also discovered much to my delight that Mattel makes a My Size Barbie which stands over 3 feet tall, the perfect form to make a paper mache witch. I ordered my used Barbie princess on EBay. The big doll came in a golf clubs box. The shipping cost more than the doll.   My daughter, Kayla, informed me she didn’t like large dolls and didn’t want the doll in the house.  So when Barbie arrived, I invited her to sit with us for dinner a few nights in my son’s seat (he’s away at college).

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Kayla was incensed to have Barbie sitting across the table at meal (this just proves that I am fundamentally a wicked mother).

I had planned on dressing Barbie in a black plastic garbage bag because of the weather concerns. I had years of 4-H many moons ago so I felt I would be able to sew a credible dress from a plastic bag.  However, I discovered at Wal-Mart that My Size Barbie fits perfectly into size 2 toddler clothes.  I bought her black hot pants, silver Lycra leggings, little tiny, black leather boots and a black lace shirt.  A black cape, red wig, Halloween socks, black children’s mittens all came from the Dollar Store; as did glittery orange and black spiders and a flying bat.  I ordered online a child’s witch’s broom for the cross bar of the scarecrow along with child’s witch’s hat.  The broom arrived all bent up with the straw broken but it was too much bother to return so I taped on the little pieces of straw with black masking tape.  I learned on this project that masking tape is a cure all for all sorts of production problems.  When we had a week of rain as the project was coming together, I cut an orange cape out of an old plastic table cloth to keep downpours off Ms. Boo-tiful’s back (only the best for my witchy fiend).

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Barbie dressed for Halloween

 

Ms. Boo-tiful’s face and hands were the reason I started this wacky project to begin with. I wanted another venue for my paper mache crafting. The big concern was how to keep paper mache from dissolving when it has to be outside for seven weeks.  Of course, the internet is full of advice on how to sustain paper mache.  My favorite video was a research project conducted in England by a man who made paper mache creatures out of balloons, coated them with different varnishes  and placed them outside to see which if any of the balloon people could survived England’s’ notorious wet climate. Regular varnish vanished into a caved in puddle of cardboard within a week but the balloon man coated with marine varnish (used on boats and quite expensive) made it through England’s winter looking largely the same only a little more yellow with age.  Ms. Boo-tiful’s face and hands were coated four times with marine varnish and left to cure 4 days.  Hopefully, this keeps her together through October.

The most enjoyable part of the project was assembly. My friend, Henry Reents, mounted Ms. Boo-tiful on a 4 foot pvc pipe using a large toggle bolt in the back.  Her broom stick was also screwed into the CVP pipe.  Her paper mache hands were screwed into the broom.  She is wired at the waist to the PVC pipe.  Her wig is screwed on and her hat is held in place with push pins Henry pounded into place with a hammer.  We spent two delightful afternoons assembling Ms. Boo-itful.  We found ourselves giggling evilly together as Henry continued to put screws and wires into the transformed Barbie.  Who knew creating the perfect witch could be such devilish fun.

Ms. Boo-tiful went out to the Idaho Botanical Gardens on Thursday, September 29th.  The Garden provided a rebar pipe in the ground and I just popped Ms. Boo-tiful on it.   Sue and Henry Reents and my husband and I went out to see her at the Botanical Harvest Festival on Sunday.  It was a beautiful fall day. There was music, arts and crafts booths, food vendors, and a beer garden. The place was packed with little children, running wildly about.  A couple accidently tumbled into us as we strolled.  There were 16 scarecrows entered in the Scarecrow Crawl. They were eclectic group and ranging from objects made by kindergarteners to gorgeous displays from Boise’s largest family-owned garden shop. After viewing Ms. Boo-itful who truly is a fantastical, scary, scarecrow, we spent time sitting in the shade watching all the activities.  The Harvest festival is a “must do” for families in Boise the fall.

Ms. Boo-itful has to be removed between November 1 and 3. At that time, I’ll get to see up close how the marine varnish worked.  I will hazard a guess now that she will be frightening indeed after being out in the Idaho fall weather for six weeks.

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Ms. Bewitchingly Boo-tiful and me

Are we having fun yet?

“Happiness is there for the taking–and making “ Oprah

When was the last time you did something just because it was fun?   I was out to dinner last weekend with my husband, long-term friends and a new couple (guests of our friends).  The female newcomer was also recently retired. She shared with us that she was giving  up bocce ball because she was too competitive. She couldn’t sleep worrying about matches. Her angst over games  had started interfering with her marriage. The bocce team she and her husband participated on won the city championship this year.  They brought home a gold medal to join a room of gold medals from previous years.  In other words,  bocce was a shared activity at which both she and her husband excelled but her competitive spirit had taken away the fun. Unable to harness her competitive ways, she chose to quit the sport.

Also, this week I  received an email from a disgruntled parent about my daughter’s coed soccer team. The parent didn’t feel our volunteer coach was providing adequate guidance and we weren’t winning enough games.  To be accurate, I don’t think the team has won any games.  I was astonished to receive this email because I feel fortunate to have a “volunteer” coach. The team can’t play without a regular coach and the rest of us are either too old, too unschooled at soccer, or too busy with work to volunteer. Independent of the notion of complaining about a volunteer when the rest of us hid in corners when asked to help out, co-ed soccer is to be played for “fun”.  Unlike club or school soccer, co-ed is intended to provide an opportunity for young men and women to interact on the field and learn to play nicely together.  My daughter has been attending practices regularly, even though she can’t play because of a major injury last spring.  She goes because she has fun.

Many years ago on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, my husband and I were driving from Disney Land to Sacramento for a traditional family celebration.  We had driven for four hours with two little kids in the backseat whining all the way and we hadn’t even inched half-way across Los Angeles because of the holiday traffic.  My husband, Pete, looked at me and said, “Are we having fun yet?” The answer was a clear, “No!” But we were certainly trying hard to get to “Yes!”

We all have the human capacity to pursue fun for the pure joy of emotional escape. We know the heady feeling of spontaneous laughter and the calming quiet of rest after an exhilarating day. But we seldom ask ourselves are we having fun?     We execute our careers successfully moving towards clear goals.  We strategize about which people to meet and  network with to get ahead.  We  watch and play games to win.  We make bucket lists of what we want to accomplish before we die.  We carefully plot out expensive trips to foriegn locales. But we infrequently say to each other let’s just be silly.  Let’s have fun.

My son, Scott, excels at having a good time.  This summer he entered a pinewood derby race at a local pub “just for fun”.  He brought home the small cardboard  box with a chunk of wood and four wheels the night before the race and transformed it into the “Weenie Wagon” with a few hours effort.

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Scott and the Weenie Wagon

My husband, Scott’s friends, and I all went downtown to see the big event.  When we got there, I learned I could buy a pre-made red car, “Robin Red” for $10.  Scott’s best friend from grade school, Daniel, piloted my vehicle.  Both cars won one heat and then we were up against each other.  The “Weenie Wagon” with it’s outrageous design beat out my more traditionally styled racer (no wonder it was so cheap). The Weenie Wagon went down to defeat in the next heat.  But spending a glorious night in Boise outside racing cars with young men was FUN!  Later, Scott won the award for most creative vehicle name and a $100 gift card much to our delight (Good Karma runs on the male side of our family).

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Robin Red goes against Weenie Wagon on a beautiful night in downtown Boise.

Also, this week I received a picture of Scott’s new hair do.  He moved from a man bun described in a blog this summer to a bird’s nest.  He texted that several freshman have opted for similar hair cuts.  You know the old saying “Birds of a feather flock together.”  When I opened the my son’s text it made me LOL.

In retirement, I am trying out new activities and undertaking lots of silly ventures.  I get asked a lot “Why are you doing THAT?”  My answer is, “For fun”.

I am finding out where my joy resides.  I am taking Robert Louis Stevenson’s advice and giving joy “a voice”. This week I might soak in the sun, smell the coffee, listen to the rain, read a good book, play with pets, visit friends or go to a movie. My one promise to myself is to have fun.

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Balloons rising over Boise at the Boise Balloon Festival. A great way to greet the day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dead Ends

Recently, my sister encouraged me to start streaming a series on Acorn TV entitled “800 Words”. The star of the show, George Turner (played by Erik Turner) is a writer who turns out weekly columns of exactly 800 words. He originally lived in Sydney, Australia.  On a whim, George sells his house, buys a new home sight-unseen in Weld, New Zealand, and moves he and his two teenage children overseas. The rationale behind the move is that in a place he cherished as a child on family vacations maybe he and his children can find solace and eventually heal from the sudden accidental death of his wife.

The show is a human interest comedy so not surprisingly in the first episode his decision, which everyone including himself questions, is fraught with humorous accidental encounters, snarky real estate deals, natural disasters and extreme bullying of his teens  as they try to get acclimated to a new school.  George has unwittingly bought the wrong house in  need of massive repairs without the promised view. The rental car is destroyed by a random piece of art, resulting in a major community event.  George insults the entire village by writing about how Weld is a “dead end”.  George rescues himself only by attending a community gathering and stumbling through a message about his dead wife and how a dead end can serve as a new beginning.

The theme of dead ends providing new directions reminded me of a stickie note, I keep posted on my computer.  “The farthest road to take is the road back to yesterday.” Our antecedents no matter how accomplished, guilt riddenaumatic and/or regretful are behind us never to be recovered.

In this week’s Bible Study, the irretrievably of the past reached out from the Old Testament story of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Lot’s wife is ordered not to look back at Sodom as she and Lot escape destruction.  Yet even with a stern warning from God, she can’t comply. Because of her backward glance, Lot’s wife is turned to stone, symbolic retribution, a rock stuck in the proverbial “hard place” unable to choose the future. Part of the human condition  is to cling to traditional patterns and past habits.

Rationally, we know we can’t recreate or return to “Happy Days.” But emotionally, moving forward when faced with life’s challenges may be the hardest calling each of us faces.  Alcoholics are asked to give up drinking and this may mean giving up friends and changing life patterns, such as transitioning from socializing in bars to extreme sports and regular meetings.Women in violent relationships may need to flee their homes in the dark of night with their children and nothing else to a shelter and uncertain future hoping to find safety.  Refugees cram into small boats sailing to  unknown places that promise a better future. The boat may capsize. Too many foreigners may have come before.  The welcoming vision may transform into  a nightmare of fences with barb wire surrounding camps.  Life’s journey is thwart with the possibility of dead ends and the siren call to return to what one knows, no matter how intolerable.

Human progress can be traced to those who are able to see what appears to be a dead end as a culdesac, a bend in the road, an opportunity to move in new untried directions.The miracle of human creativity is our ability to seek new directions when all seems hopeless. We have created a term for this ability, “resiliency”, the ability to overcome adversity and move on. We do not have to remain rooted in one place  emotionally like a stone or spin wildly out of control as if we were clinging to a rubber raft launched on white water without any  oars or life jacket. We can make choices even bad ones and recover. We can’t go back but we can stride forward in an uncertain world with a hopeful heart.

Does this dog look like a criminal to you?

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Shani, the guilty party!

Over Labor Day, my beloved Sheltie, Shani, raided the teenage girls’ bathroom and bedroom at our cabin. While she is usually sweet and shy, when left to her own devices her nose can get her in trouble. In this case, she destroyed a variety of feminine hygiene products. Five teenage girls and one bathroom provided a wild array of new scents and textures to explore.  The pièce de ré·sis·tance of the crime was that when snorting through the bedroom clothing left on the floor, the only underwear Shani chose to destroy was my daughter’s very expensive Victoria Secret panties. My daughter, Kayla, does not like the word “panties” but one must call a spade a spade. In this case, Shani’s panty raid was restricted to her owner. Upon reflection “panty” as a descriptor of the little, tiny swaths of  brightly colored lace, nylon, and spandex Kayla wears is generous.  When I was a teenager, my mother would have described these itty, bitty pieces of fabric as  “obscene” or cut them in half and used them as hankies, no wonder Shani put her nose in it.  Victoria Secret has a new term for them “cheekies or cheeckini” presenting in seductive colors such as “purple rapture,””neon nectar”  and  “Bella Donna Pink.”  Cheeky indeed! in all the many senses of the word.But I digress from the action in order that you might better understand the impulses of the perpetrator, just look at that long, soft nose and inquiring eyes designed to hunt out the single most tasteful, skimpiest,  fragile, exquisitely expensive garment among many.

I was alerted to the crime when we all came home from dinner and I heard screaming and shouting upstairs. Over the balcony, reverberated, “GROSS!” “SHANI!” “Who left the doors open?” This query was from my daughter searching for the co-conspirator so she wouldn’t have to help clean up the mess. I, of course, was Shani’s defender and blamed the entire incident on the girls. Dogs will be dogs. Leaving attractive nuisances available for sniffing, thus enticing a dog’s olfactory lobe is bound to lead to chewing and wanton destruction.

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The accusers

I must admit that Shani once rooted around in my laundry basket. But I wear cheap cotton panties from ShopKo (the Bridget Jones memorialized as big panties, meaning full coverage in Bridget Jones Diary). One bite was all Shani could muster, though there was plenty of material, probably gave her that dry, cotton mouth taste.

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A single bite is all ShopKo panties is worth

I salute Shani for a valiant effort not to make me feel totally without appeal. The single bite suggests that one taste was all it took for her to take my cheap underwear off her list of chewable delights.

My daughter is always talking about how much better her dogs will be trained than ours when she leaves the house and gets a dog of her own. I am sure this is true.

My first dog when I was single was also a Sheltie, named Ginger Rogers because she loved to dance. I participated in a dog training class with my boss at the time, Dr. Cohen, who owned a big red setter. Ginger would prance gaily around the ring, sit, stand, lay and come when called. Dr. Cohen told me he’d never seen a better trained dog. But of course, since I was single, I had lots of time to work with the dog.  We went everywhere together and had a very strong bond.

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Ginger, my first dog and constant companion

I have learned over the years that children change everything including dog training. Our next sheltie was Sparky. We got her when Kayla was little and Scott was in second grade. We all loved Sparky. But I remember eating dinner  at the kitchen counter and saying to Kayla, “We don’t feed the dog at the table.” Kayla said, “Mommy, I don’t feed dog.” Just then Sparky ran under my feet with what looked like a cup of cooked spaghetti on her head. When I asked Kayla how the spaghetti got there. She said, “Fell off spoon. I don’t feed Sparky.”

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Sparky with Kayla, Scott and I. Training dogs with young children is more difficult.

Dogs are one of the great joys of my life. Unlike teenage girls, they thrive on your attention and don’t push you away.  Shelties are bred to watch sheep, so they love their home and  guard their yards, no demands of freedom from them.  A homebody when Shani gets out of the back yard (infrequently), she runs around to the front door and waits for us to let us in. Unlike my daughter pushing hard to bust free of the confines of home, Shani is contented to stay with us always.

I don’t like to think of a time when I might not be able to care for a pet of my own.  My dogs are not my whole life, but over the years and through a number of dog lives, dogs have certainly helped make my life whole.

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Kayla and Shani.Forgiveness and Reconciliation are words to live by