Memories of a snowy school day


Happy snow day to everyone living in the Northeastern U.S. It’s been pouring down hard all day, and we’re enjoying time by the fire.

Of course, now that I’m retired from teaching, a snow day is a mixed blessing. I get the day all to myself…yay! But I get the day with no beautiful granddaughter…boo.

I was lying in bed this morning, watching the snow falling out my window. I was thinking back on past storms, past snowy memories. Thinking of the times I enjoyed the snow with my own kids and the kids in my classroom.

There is one particular school day memory that still makes me smile.

It had snowed hard the evening before, but the roads were clear by dawn, so school was open. It was the first significant snow of the winter, and everyone was talking about it when they arrived.

I was standing in my classroom, teaching math, I think. The kids were restless. Feet were tapping, pencils were being rolled on desks. They weren’t misbehaving, but their minds were clearly not on multiplying fractions. I tried to pep things up a bit with made up word problems using their names, but it didn’t help.

I caught one little boy sitting with his chin in his hand. His face was aimed at me, and he was sitting quietly in his seat. But his bright blue eyes kept cutting to the window.

I looked outside myself.

The sky was the same china blue as my student’s eyes. The sun was shining down on a scene of perfect, pristine, sparkling snow.

Our playground didn’t have a single footprint on it.

I glanced at the clock. Two hours until recess.

Without saying anything, I suddenly closed my math book and snapped off the Smartboard. The kids sat up straighter in surprise. Every eye was on me.

Were they in trouble? What was going on? Why would a fifth grade teacher suddenly stop teaching in the middle of a math lesson?

“OK, gang.” I said, reaching under my desk for my boots. “Get your coats and snow gear on, quickly. If we move fast, we can be the first ones to hit the playground.”

The sound and the sight of those 24 ten year olds bursting through the back doors and racing across the snow has stayed with me for the past 10 years, as clear as can be.

They were the embodiment of pure joy.

I just stood there in the sun, watching them jump and kick and roll in that perfect snow.

For a little while, I felt like the greatest teacher in the world. I felt like a hero.

I hope some of them remember that morning. I hope they remember what it felt like to let go and just give in to happiness.

I’m sure they all went on to eventually master fractions.

But I hope they remember that sometimes it’s important to drop the book and just get jump in the perfect snow.

 

Thank you, President Trump


I know, that headline made you a little sick to your stomach. I get it.

Can you imagine how hard that was for me to type?

But you see, I am channeling my inner optimist. Who is hiding these days. Hiding really, really well.

My inner optimist is hiding behind the evidence that points to us having elected a mentally ill, out of control despot.

It’s hiding behind the realization that our Congressional leaders don’t really care that the guy with his finger on the trigger is out of his mind. They’re too busy fighting the traditional Democrat-Republican game of “YOU’RE A DOODY PANTS” to try saving us all from nuclear holocaust.

So.

I’m trying to look on the bright side.

For example, I might as well eat that dish of ice cream since we’ll most likely be incinerated before I can die of heart disease. Also, if we go into a long nightmare of civil war and the grid goes down, its probably the fat people who will live the longest.

Also, there’s this little fact.

Whenever I get anxious, I clean things. When my kids were little, Paul used to be able to judge how well the day had gone based on how the house looked when he got home. If every surface was sparkling and there was a smell of Clorox in the air, he knew that one of the kids had gotten on my last nerve. He’d open the door, sniff, and ask, “Oh, oh. Who is it this time?”

He’s a therapist, so he explained to me that my desire to clean the house was a reflection of my feelings of helplessness. When my life felt out of control, I asserted my superiority over dust and grime.

If that’s true, then I really have to thank President Trump.

Over the last few weeks, I have found myself unconsciously organizing closets, sorting through old clothes and scrubbing things I didn’t even know I owned.

My granddaughter is 18 months old. This morning the two of us scrubbed the floors in every room of this house. I buy her all kinds of art supplies and books and toys in my effort to be a wonderful Nonni, but we spent an hour with me sweeping and her using the wet swiffer.

She seemed to enjoy it.

But honestly, I didn’t realize just how anxious our new administration was making me until tonight.

I found myself vacuuming the garage with a glass of wine in one hand.

Thanks, Mr. President!

When the mushroom cloud appears overhead, at least my house will look fabulous in that last eerie glow.

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Life with my Muslim family: A sick day


When I was only 17, I was a very healthy and hearty young woman. I was lean, but not skinny. I was rarely sick.

My body had some adjusting to do, though, when I left Massachusetts and flew to Kairouan, Tunisia, to spend the summer as an exchange student. The dryness of the air so near the desert was hard for me. I remember how I used to dream of drinking ice cold water. The water in our home and around the city was safe, but it was warmer than ours at home, and it always had a slightly salty taste to me. My skin was dry, my hair was dry, even my eyes felt dry.

My Tunisian family showed me how to treat my skin and my hair with olive oil, which was abundant in that olive growing land. They noticed my craving for water, and kept a supply of small, sweet watermelons on hand.

The food that we ate that summer was incredibly delicious. We ate a lot of chicken, of fish, and a lot of mutton. I love lamb and discovered that I love the rich taste of mutton even more. We ate loaves of dense, chewy bread that came in round loves with a crisp crust. We got it from the market every morning, fresh and incredibly delicious. In the very dry air of Tunisia, any leftover bread was very dry by its second day. Almost too hard to eat, unless we covered it with honey from the huge jar on our kitchen shelf, letting the sweetness seep into the bread for a few minutes before we ate it.

What a delicious memory!

The one problem that I had with the food, though, was that even for an Italian American like me, it was very, very spicy. I once roasted and peeled hot peppers with my Tunisian sisters, and even though we coated our fingers with olive oil, we all had blisters when we were finished.

The result of all that spice was that after three or four weeks in Kairouan, I was suffering from a bad bout of stomach distress. I wasn’t sick, really, but I had stomach pain and I spent a LOT of time in the bathroom.

One hot morning I was feeling the distress of what I’d eaten the day before. I don’t know if I complained, or if I just ate less breakfast than usual. In either case, I was sitting in our family’s living room with a book when Maman came in with a glass in her hand. It was filled with something brown and thick. There was ice in there.

Truthfully, it didn’t look great. But she held it out to me, and said in her lovely French, “This is wheat. It will make your stomach better. Drink it, my daughter.”

I took it with thanks, and then gave myself a tiny, tentative sip.

Even now, almost 40 years later, I can conjure up the taste. Honey, wheat, nuttiness, the cold, cold ice cubes.  I drank it all down, and felt better almost at once.

I don’t know what was in that glass, but it made me feel so much better. I’m sure that some of my relief came from the love and care that went into the mixing of that magic elixir.

Maman Barrak is gone now, and I’m not sure that I ever told her how wonderful that moment was. I hope that she knew then how much it meant to me. I hope that she knows it now.

My Tunisian Mom, my beautiful Muslim Mom, was a blessing to me in so many ways. This story is only one of those ways.

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When I lived with Muslims


I was only 17 years old, completely naive and completely sheltered. I signed up for the American Field Service exchange program, figuring that I’d spend a summer in Ireland or Austria or somewhere else that was fairly familiar.

When my acceptance and placement package arrived with the news that I would be moving in with the Barrak family of Kairouan, Tunisia, my reaction was a mix of panic and disbelief.

Where the hell was Tunisia? What would I be doing in a place like that? What were the people like? The food? The weather?

Luckily for me, AFS didn’t give me much time to back out. I read all that I could about the country, feeling somewhat calmed down when I saw that it was hot and dry in the summer, and that the beaches were gorgeous.

The Barrak family sent me letters, some in French and some in English. They were warm, welcoming, excited to meet me. I saw pictures of all of their beautiful, smiling faces and realized that I’d be moving in with a happy, healthy family. In fact, they sounded a lot like my own Italian American family. We had six kids, they had five. They were all fluent in three languages, which was way more than I could say with only my English and my shaky high school French.

I got my shots (OUCH) and packed my bags and off I flew to another world.

I spent 12 weeks with my Tunisian family. I discovered that hard working, family loving Muslims are just like hard working, family loving Catholics. I learned that sometimes the teenagers rebelled against the parents’ limits, just like we did. I learned that when I didn’t feel well, my Tunisian Maman made me special foods and came to check on me, just like my American Mom did.

I discovered that olive trees are gorgeous, that couscous with lamb is beyond delicious, and that it feels cozy and safe to wear a sefsari when you walk around a city.

My summer in Tunisia changed my life. I am still in contact with the Barrak family, through the magic of Facebook. They are still upbeat, warm, loving and still stylishly beautiful (that’s where we have parted ways!)

The ban on Muslim immigration breaks my heart. It is wrong on so many levels. It is the most unAmerican thing that I can even begin to imagine.

I want to write about my time with my Tunisian family. I want to share some of my stories about being a naive American who landed in the middle of a Muslim country way back in 1973, when war was raging between Israel and Egypt and when terrorism hadn’t yet made us fear the world around us.

Stay tuned, please.

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Just five minutes


I remember when I was a kid, sometimes my Dad would lean his head back against the couch and say, “I’m not sleeping. I’m just resting my eyes.”

It used to infuriate me. My poor Dad! Father of six very active kids, full time businessman and do-it-yourselfer extraordinaire. He hardly ever rested.

But if we had a chance to spend time with him, we didn’t want him resting his eyes! It used to make me crazy.

Now of course, I completely understand the overwhelming need to “rest my eyes.”

I’m very, very lucky. I spend my days with my granddaughter, Ellie. At 18 months old, she still takes a good, long nap every day.

And she likes me to lie down with her.

Today was a pretty typical day, except that I was unusually tired. Last night I found myself overwhelmed with the fear of our mentally unstable President. I couldn’t get myself to relax and sleep.

I have fibromyalgia, too, and its flared up right now, so most of me hurt last night.

Anyway, I was really groggy today. I had a fun morning with Ellie in spite of my fatigue. We painted, we danced, sang and listened to our favorite band, Upstate Rubdown. We filled the birdfeeders, we played with the dogs, we swept the floor (don’t judge; she loves it.)

Finally, it was nap time.

Ellie and I put away her toys, chose a favorite stuffed animal (Floppy Puppy) and a book (Go Away, Big Green Monster!) and went into the guest room to nap.

Just like my dear old Dad, as soon as I put my head on the pillow, my eyes drifted closed. As usual, Ellie was less sleepy than her Nonni. I did what I often do.

I laid on my back, clasped my hands over my waist and let my eyelids close to the point where I could watch her, but she couldn’t see that I was awake. I thought I had outsmarted her.

Here is what I saw.

Ellie sat beside me, looking at my face. I saw her look around the room. She clasped her own hands together and I could see her lips moving as she sort of quietly mumbled to herself. Her gorgeous, silky brown curls were a halo around her head, with long pieces covering her eyes.

She raised her right hand and pushed the hair out of her eyes, then gave a deep sigh. Her head tilted to the right, and she frowned as she looked closely at my face. I didn’t move.

Ellie lifted her head, sighed again, and looked around the room. The bed has a raised bed rail, and I was lying between it and Ellie. She was sort of stuck. She plucked at her blue and white striped pants, then noticed her socks.

“Hockey!” she said loudly. That’s her version of “socks.” She looked straight at me, but I didn’t move. She deliberately pulled off one sock, still looking at my face. “Oh, Oh!” she cried.

I didn’t react. I’m good.

“More!” Ellie announced, and pulled off the other sock. She looked at me expectantly.

Nothing. I kept my eyes closed just to the point where I could still see her face.

She sighed.

She rested her chin on one hand, still looking at her unmoving Nonni. She touched my nose.

Nothing.

Suddenly, as if there was actually a lightbulb above her head, Ellie sat up straight. She wiggled a little bit closer to me, then suddenly leaned forward and planted a big smacking kiss right on my lips.

I burst out laughing, my eyes popped open, and I grabbed her around the waist.

“You win!” I said, and she giggled in victory.

Then she pushed my shoulder so that I’d lay back down. She grabbed her puppy under her right arm and rested her head on my chest. She immediately fell asleep, and so did I.

And here is what I’m thinking now, as I think back on this day.

If I had never had a single happy moment in my 60 years of life, those five minutes would have made my entire life worth it.

Ellie, you are pure joy.

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We Are Women, Hear Us Roar By The Millions.


I went to Washington to march on Saturday.

I drove in a packed car for 7 hours, hip to hip with other marchers. We were two 60 year old grandmothers, a 20 something man and woman, and a transgender teen.

We met up with others in Maryland; two more 60 year olds, our old friend and her husband, their two 30-ish daughters, and a few more people.

I was lucky enough to be with friends and with my two strong adult sons. I love and trust everyone who walked with me that day. We went into the Capitol city to express ourselves and to be heard. We listened, we cheered. Some of us wore pink pussycat hats. In the end we shuffled more than marched because of the density of the crowd.

At last we got back to the home of our hosts, and it was then that we discovered we’d had different reactions and different thoughts about what we had just experienced. The day left some of us uplifted, but it left others feeling hopeless.

And that was what made me stop and try to focus my thoughts.

Why did I go to such trouble? Why did I push my tired and already achy body to such lengths? Why did I put myself in the middle of a crowd of hundreds of thousands, knowing that it would (and did) scare the absolute hell out of me?

Today I finally figure out why I did it. Why I went down there.

I was scanning the headlines and I saw  that the new President just signed an order that is pretty routine every time we have a Republican President. That order says that no agencies overseas will get any money from us if they either provide or counsel women about abortions.

I stopped and re-read it. What the absolute hell.

So if a clinic in central Africa wants to keep women and children healthy and safe, they will not get any help from the richest country on earth if they even talk about safe abortion?

Suddenly I was absolutely enraged. I mean, hair on my arms standing up straight, heart pounding, ready to punch my veiny old fist through a wall enraged.

Because here we go. Again. The lives of women and children are completely meaningless in the eyes of these rich, privileged white men.

You already have 11 kids and no way to feed them? Tough shit, ladies. We won’t even talk to you about a safe way out for you, or for your living, breathing kids.

Now I know why I marched.

I marched even though I was afraid because I grew up believing that it was OK for men to say sexual things to me just because I was young and female. I hated, but didn’t complain about, cat calls, whistles, suggestions that strangers do things to me that I didn’t even understand.

I’ve been grabbed when I didn’t want to be. I’ve been kissed when I tried to wriggle away without “insulting” him. I’ve been the punch line of sexual jokes.

I marched because my daughter has been in a verbally abusive relationship. I marched because she was once slipped a date rape drug in a bar. Luckily, she was with protective and loving friends who saw her through it and she wasn’t hurt. But I marched because some men think its OK to do that to a woman.

I marched because I have a beautiful, smart, funny, loving granddaughter.

I marched because my daughter and I (and soon our little Ellie) understand that even in 2017 we shouldn’t walk on American streets alone after dark. Men can go wherever they want to go; we can’t.

We are women. Hear us roar.

We have just elected a man who brags about grabbing women by the pussy. He has had three wives, each one young and sexy. He’s made fun of women’s faces, of our bodies. He thinks he has the right to comment on our sexual attractiveness and to judge us by that one measure.

I marched because there’s an entire administration behind this guy. They accept him, his views, and his disgusting behaviors. They support him. They want to work for him.

I marched because damn it to hell and back again: OUR BODIES ARE NOT YOUR TOYS.

I refuse, refuse, refuse to go back in time to a place where Ellie might have to deal with a bunch of men telling her that they can grab her, force her to have sex, but deny her birth control or abortion.

THAT was the reality that I grew up with. That was my youth.

And I am NOT going to sit back and take a return to those days.

I didn’t march to change the world. I didn’t march, this time, to end the oligarchy or to upset capitalism, although I’ve marched for those reasons in the past.

No. This time it was personal for me and for millions of other women. We will not accept or respect or obey or honor a President who thinks he can put his slimy hands on any female body, just because he wants to.

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Image by Karen Shiebler

DeVos Vote Delayed: Contact Your Senators!


This is great news, from a great education writer.

Diane Ravitch's blog

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions delayed its vote on Betsy zdeVos from January 24 to January 31.

Maybe a few senators became indecisive when they saw how uninformed she was about the Department of Education, federal laws, and policies.

Maybe they were shocked to hear to hear her say that it was up to state’s to decide whether to comply with the federal law that protects the rights of students with disabilities.

Maybe they were surprised that she lied about being a member of her mother’s extremist, homophobic foundation for the past 14 years.

Maybe they hope to get a report on her financial conflicts of interest before approving her.

Maybe the two Republicans on the committee she hasn’t given money to are wavering.

Whatever the reason, the hearing demonstrated that she is unqualified for the job. She knows nothing other than  that she wants to…

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A lesson I keep needing to relearn.


I had one of those days yesterday, and it ran into this morning. I think every middle aged woman in America will understand what I mean.

Maybe other people feel this way, too, but I don’t know. I don’t know if men feel like this. Or if young Moms do.

I don’t know if women in other countries feel this way.

But I know that my fellow late middle aged women friends will be nodding their heads and saying, “Yup.”

The problem that I was overwhelmed with yesterday was the crushing sense of responsibility that women in my generation feel.

By the late afternoon yesterday, I was feeling that I absolutely had to do something to fight back against Donald Trump. I’m already going to the March next week, but that didn’t feel like it was enough. I write for LiberalAmerica every day, but I didn’t think it was enough to keep calling out the idiocy of our incoming President.

I was upset because my writing wasn’t perfect. While taking care of my 18 month old granddaughter and a puppy and an old hound dog, I had written three articles about the Trump transition. But the mistakes that I made weighed on my mind.

I was upset that hadn’t written and published perfectly. What must everyone at LA think of me???

And while I was trying to write, to make some money because I retired way before I should have, even though I retired partly to take care of my grandchild, I worried that I wasn’t doing enough for that grandchild.

I hadn’t taken her outside for three days! OK, it was pouring rain and 35 degrees and the yard was full of frozen slush. But I know that kids need fresh air. And I was failing.

And I kept getting frustrated with the puppy. Who was acting just like… a puppy. He wanted to eat shoes. He wanted to grab Ellie’s stuffed animal out of her arms and run around the living room. He was driving me nuts. I was not a good puppy mommy.

I was sure that I wasn’t writing enough. I wasn’t writing and publishing well enough. I wasn’t giving Ellie enough attention. I was short tempered with the puppy.

Even though I vacuum every day and dust every week, I was sure the house was dirty. I only baked home made bread with Ellie once a week. I hadn’t made cookies with her for three weeks.

I felt awful. I felt overwhelmed. I felt that I just. couldn’t. do. any. more.

Then I went onto Facebook. Where I read a post that absolutely melted my heart and gave me a strong slap in the face. In all the right ways.

You see, the town where I taught for 22 years is in the middle of a terrible crisis. Children are killing themselves in what feels like an epidemic of hopelessness.

And that has added to my sense of failure. Some of the children who have died were once in my care. While I know that it is the height of arrogance to believe that one elementary school teacher could have made a difference, I still have felt that I’ve failed.

So this morning, when I read this post, I was struggling to greet the day. I was sure that I wasn’t up to the challenges ahead of me.

But.

The full post is here. You really should read it, no matter who you are or where you live.

The author is the mother of a young adult who grew up in that town where I taught for so long, and where my daughter is now a teacher. She is the mom of a child who struggled with mental illness.

Basically, what she wrote was that we all need to take a big step back from our desire for perfection. She wrote that kids should break some rules. They should seek out some fun when they can.

She wrote that we should all accept our best and just move on.

I read her post.

I looked at my puppy. I looked at my sweet, beloved little grandchild.

We all went outside for an hour and got soaked, muddy, dirty and tired.

It was fantastic.

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Ellie in the puddle. The puppy is in the woods. The old dog was inside snoring.

This is NOT the behavior of a rational adult.


 

I am unable to tear my eyes away from Donald Trump’s Twitter vomiting.

Its like seeing a terrible natural disaster;  you are horrified. You are filled with disbelief.

And yet.

You cannot look away.

I log on in the morning, and I cringe. I see the kind of vindictive, petty, immature ego stroking bullshit that the President-elect sends out to the world.

To be honest, if I had a 14 year old who spent his time tweeting nasty lies about other people just to make himself feel good, I’d take away his devices and get him into therapy.

Things like this:

I mean…I am a student of American history. I understand the vital importance of a free press in a democratic society. So that whole “dishonest media” line scares me.

Then there is the obvious lunacy of referring to a non-existent wall between us and our Mexican neighbors as “The Great Wall.” All you can think when you see this is, “Seriously, dude? You are comparing your proposed, unplanned, maybe its only a metaphor, border wall, or fence, or something to one of the great achievements of human history?”

The mind boggles.

I decided today that I should look at the tweets of other world leaders. You know, just to see if any of them are as…I don’t know….creepy as the ones from Trump.

I started with Obama. I scrolled through about 8 weeks of his tweets. This one pretty much sums him up:

It gets his point across, and it certainly supports his political aspirations, but when you compare it to Trump’s. Well. It looks so professional.

Next I went to Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. I wondered what he was tweeting these days.

How about these:

I tried, I did! I tried to find something self-serving, something snarky, something mean spirited or vindictive. Nothing. Rien. And may I add that Mr. Trudeau tweets in both English and French…

Then I went to Germany. Surely Angela Merkel would have something as inane and self focused as our own Big Orange Menace.

That was interesting. Mostly the German Chancellor retweets other people. When she does send her own tweets, they mostly look like this:

It says, “Thank you for your trust! Chancellor of Germany.”

Not exactly the same level of self serving ego stroking that we are seeing from Mr. Trump.

So.

OK.

Surely Vladimir Putin is just as obnoxious as his neon-headed puppet. I checked his Twitter feed, too.

This one caught my eye pretty quickly.

But this one was in there, too.

I spent a lot of time on Putin’s feed. I couldn’t find one single tweet that called any of his opponents nasty names. I couldn’t find one that made it look like Putin was responsible for everything good in the world.

I tried.

I did. I tried to find one single world leader who was as immature, as self-absorbed, as mentally unstable as Donald Trump. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t find anyone in the role of world leader who came close to the obvious personality disorder that we see in Donald Trump.

So here is my question:  Who can take center stage to name the very deep mental illness that our future President is exhibiting? There are no psychologists or psychiatrists on Capitol Hill (I checked.) But can’t someone point out the obvious?

This guy is sick. He is NOT rational. He is clearly NOT able to put the needs of the United States before his pathological need to be admired.

There must be someone in the mental health field who can step onto the national stage and call a spade a spade. Whether the issue is Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder or something else, the truth is obvious.

Mentally healthy adults do NOT use Twitter to attack those who disagree with them. Mentally healthy adults to NOT use Twitter or other social media outlets to continually point out their own successes and attributes.

They just don’t.

The United States of America is about to swear in a delusional, mentally ill President.

Who is going to save us?

 

The Wolf King Reborn


I am the Wolf King.

Or at least, I used to be the Wolf King.

Lately I’ve been The Old Dog Who Can Hardly Get Down The Stairs.

What can I say? Time goes on, and arthritis hits hard.

For the past few weeks, I have had to contend with the humiliating prospect of a young pup, constantly jumping up to nip my ears or grab my collar. Always trying to get me to jump and play.

Annoying little fool. I have gone along with him as often as I could, but sometimes I just wanted to smack him. I have barked and growled at him so much that my royal voice is getting really creaky.

Today was a sunny day, and the air was crisp and cold. The yard was filled with fresh white snow, and birds filled our feeders.

The puppy, so foolishly named “Lennie,” was whining to go out. Woman Who Feeds Me made those sickening little cooing noises at him, and soon he was wearing his blaze orange collar.

I stood, slowly and regally. I do not beg to go outside.

But I don’t say “no”, either. I waited, aloof and calm, as the Woman Who Feeds Me put on my bra…. I mean, my Wolf King harness.

We headed out into the cold.

For a few minutes, I walked calmly alongside the Woman. The small, annoying puppy ran in circles around us, barking and yipping and racing in and out of the woods.

After a while, I noticed that my leash seemed very lax. I was able to wander away from the Woman Who Feeds Me without feeling the tug of the leash. Hmm.

Suddenly, a truck pulled into our driveway.  Somewhere, deep in my brain, I remembered that I am the Wolf King; the protector of our castle.  I began to bark. I ran toward the truck.

A though went zinging through my head.

“Hey! I’m running, and there’s no leash.” I glanced back at Woman Who Feeds Me.

Sure enough, she looked guilty.

“Tucker, come!” she called. She held out a tiny cookie.

One. Tiny. Cookie.

Ordinarily, I would walk on hot coals to get one of those cookies. But now. Now the cold wind was rushing through the woods. The smells of deer and moose and birds and fox came wafting toward me. I lifted my head. I sniffed.

I looked back at Woman Who Feeds Me. Her hand was out. Her voice sounded stressed.

I looked forward, toward the woods. I saw the puppy, running free, racing in circles.

“Tucker?”

My old eyes met the worried eyes of my Mistress.

“Adios!” I barked. And I raced like the wind away from the yard and into the woods.

Oh, OK. Mostly I didn’t really race. I sort of lumbered. And limped a bit. But I still went into the woods with the puppy dancing around me.

It was glorious. It was heaven. It was freedom, remembered from a time long ago.

It. Was. The. Best.

After a while, Woman Who Feeds Me, Annoying Puppy, Poopie Baby and Young Woman With Treats all went back inside the house. They called me to come.

But I would not be tempted back inside.

No. The Wolf King decided to sit outside of the house. Resting in the deep snow. With freezing ice pellets sticking to my niblets.

My back was aching like you read about, what with all the running through the woods, jumping over fallen trees, avoiding puppy kisses, and climbing over snowbanks.

I kind of wanted to go inside. Back to the fire. And the heat. And the cookies.

And the couch.

But I remained firm. I stayed out for hours.

I was so proud of my freedom and my strength.

Eventually, as I dozed with my paws held over my half frozen nose, I smelled the intoxicating aroma of cooking chicken livers. The window to the living room had been opened, and the simmering pot placed on the ledge.

“Oh, Woman Who Feeds Me,” I howled. “Have you no shame?”

She was trying to lure me back in.

But I would NOT be moved.

I stood erect ( except for my bendy spine and my splayed-out back legs.) “NO!” I barked with royal strength. “No! I will not yield to the liver! I am the Wolf King and I am FREE!”

I lasted a full four minutes before my aching back, my shaking legs, my frozen niblets and my empty belly got the better of me.

OK. So I came back in.

I got all warm. I ate my liver. I let the Woman and the Baby cuddle me.

I came back in.

But really? I only did it because I could hear that puppy whining for me to come back home to him.

I can’t resist the little goof when he gets all kissy like that.

But don’t be fooled.

If they drop that leash again, I’ll be off.

The Wolf King will be back. You can count on it.

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Still as handsome as you ever were.