You Know You’re Getting Old When…


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When you go to a funeral and take notes, that’s a sign that you’re on the downhill slope. Open casket? Um,no. Big gathering with food and songs? Yes, please!

When you look at your puppy and wonder if you’ll have time for another one. That’s a sign, too.

If you turn on a major news channel and the financial expert looks like he’s in fifth grade, you’re old.

You can also tell that you’re getting on in years when you wake up with sore legs and aching butt muscles because last night you danced to (count ’em) two songs at your brother’s birthday party.

When you realize that it’s worth the wait for an entire year just to get to the two weeks of lilac blossoms, you’ve gained the wisdom of age.

And if you plant a baby spruce tree, just a tiny sprout, and hope that someday someone will call it “majestic”, you know that you’re getting older.

When you suddenly move your tongue around to the place where they pulled out your bottom molar years ago, and you instantly understand the meaning of the idiom “long in the tooth,” that means you’re getting on.

And finally, if you look at the newspaper and the arts pages are filled with kids whose names you don’t recognize, you’re officially old.

Come to think of it, if you look at an actual newspaper, the kind that gets dropped on your doorstep, the kind that you fold and read with your morning coffee…well. If you do that, read a newspaper made of actual paper?

You guessed it, you’re old.

What did I leave out?

First World Problems


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I am such a first world, spoiled, entitled old lady.

Truly.

I should just shut up. I should accept the fact that I am truly privileged. Honestly, I have a great life! My complaints are pointless, self-serving, and unworthy of a progressive, open minded woman like me.

But, jeez.

I mean, like, come on.

See, my husband and I saved up for years to buy a hot tub. The first time we had put away enough money, our furnace keeled over and died. There went the money.

So we saved again, slowly, month by month. Our backs hurt, our shoulders were getting achy, our necks were stiff. We really, really wanted a hot tub…..

At last! We had saved enough! Woohooooo!

Then we realized we needed a new roof.

Sigh. No nice steamy soaks before bed for us.

We saved again.

And then it happened. Do you hear angels singing?  Well, I sure as hell did.

We got our hot tub. It was glorious. It was rejuvenating, hypnotizing, enthralling. It was every multisyllabic word I can find.

I love my hot tub with a devotion that I have previously  shown only to my husband and kids. And on an icy night when I’ve been shoveling, I’m pretty sure I’d pick the hot tub over any of them.

Don’t judge.

I work hard every day. I garden, I shop, I cook, I lift a toddler.  I deserve my nightly soak. Right?

I have had my starlit late night soakie pretty much every single night for seven years. Ahhhhhhhhhh.

Then. It happened.

Two weeks ago, we sprung a leak. Oh, the horror!!! We called Hottub Man, and shut off the power.

And we waited. And waited. You see, spring is pool season, and the hot tub/pool company is very, very busy. We called. No call back. We waited. We consoled ourselves with hot showers, but it wasn’t the same.

Let me take a little side trip here, and tell you that poor old Nonni has been pruning bushes and trees, burning brush, dividing perennials, tilling, composting, raking, planting. Which means that Nonni’s back hurts. Her knees hurt. Her big old backside hurts. And her right arm is like one big, giant toothache that will not go away.

This is where my first world, entitled self bursts out and smacks me right in the kisser.

I’ve been good for the past two long, painful, sad, hottubless weeks. I haven’t complained. That much. I have had boo-boos and ouchies, but I haven’t had a tantrum.  Not a real, kicking and screaming tantrum.

I have been a brave, brave Nonni. Dealing silently with my pain. Oh, poor me…

Today, at last, Hottub Man came. I groveled a bit, and he fixed the leak. Angels sang, yet again!  Hot Tub! Oh, glorious, pain relieving hot tub! How I love thee!

But the power has been off for two weeks. So Hottub Man turned it on again, took my check and said bye-bye.

And I have spent the last four hours doing this.

Lift the cover and peek into the hot tub. 68 degrees. Sigh.  Wait.

Peek. 70 degrees.

Wait. Drink wine. Wait. Peek. 76 degrees.

Walk around. Grumble. Eat olives and cheese. Drink more wine. Peek. 80 degrees.

It’s almost 7 pm. At this rate, achy old Nonni will have to stay up until midnight just to soak herself in that glorious water.

Now don’t you feel sorry for me?  I mean, yes. This is most definitely a first world problem. But I have OUCHIES and BOO-BOOS!! And I want my hot tub!!!!

Excuse me. I need to peek.

Shit. 73 degrees.

I’ll be up all night if anyone needs me.

Homesteader Nonni


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You know, I really believe in eating local foods.

I do!

So when I found myself in my local grocery store, looking at $3.99 a pound dandelion greens, I was kind of amazed.

Amazed, as in, “What the hell is wrong with you people?”

Now, I grew up in a first generation Italian American family. We ate greens. Lots of greens. Including dandelion greens.

At no time in my life, ever, did anyone pay four bucks for a bunch of weeds.

So I went home from the store. I put away my “not a weed” foods and I had a quiet night.

The next day, though, I was out in my yard. My big, wild, just-one-step-shy-of-a-forest yard. What grass there is was populated by many, MANY dandelions. With big green leaves.

Suddenly, my inner homesteader emerged. My inner old Italian Nonni came out. I grabbed my weeding tool and I pulled up a HUGE bunch of weeds.

Weeds that are no doubt healthy, high in vitamin C and iron, and probably…maybe…delicious.

I was SO proud of my old Nonni self.

“Nonni,” I said to me, “If the grid goes down because of a storm, or a hack by the North Koreans or the Russians or the angry men in Anonymous, I’ll be ready!”

Sure. So, yeah. Not totally ready, but still. Wouldn’t it be so cool if Nonni could feed the family by cooking lawn weeds!

So I brought my big pile of dandelion greens into the kitchen. I was feeling pretty cool as I put them into a colander and started to wash them.  I’m pretty sure I was humming an Italian love song, like “O, Mio Babbino Caro“.

I rinsed the big pile of greens.

Then I saw that there was….ewww….a lot of dirt, clinging to the roots that I pulled out.

OK, no problem, Homesteader Nonni. You just put the whole pile into a pot of cold water, and you pull out each bunch and cut off the roots.

Then I noticed….uuuuuuh……what is that? A pine needle? A giant pile of pine needles?

Do not panic. A pioneer woman like me can pull out the pine needles. One at a time. Even when there are more than 10,000 pine needles.

So two hours after I started to clean my dandelion greens (Local! Organic! Sustainable! Available even in a Zombie apocalypse!), I found myself faced with a big colander filled with mostly dandelion greens.

I kept picking through them.

“CRAP!!!!! Is that a spider????!!!????”

Screeech! Panic! Run!

Come back slowly…peek at the blob with the legs….

Oh, haha!!!

It’s a dandelion bud. With little green spikes around its dandelion head. Cool!

I kept cleaning. I pulled out each skinny, wet, limp leaf. I washed off the dirt. And the pine needles.

Every nice clean piece went into a bowl. All was well….Until.

HOLY SHIT!!!!

THAT’S A SLUG!!!! UGH! EWWWWWWWW!

I dropped the leaf, jumped back 12 feet, turned in a circle, made a series of old Nonni gagging noises…..

A SLUG!

What if I ATE it? What if I cooked it? And didn’t know it and I ate it and it went into my stomach and I got super sick and nobody could figure out what was wrong and I got sicker and sicker and I ended up on “Mystery Diagnosis”and they never did figure it out and I died of eating a SLUG and my family never knew what killed me and I’d never get to see my grandson or watch my sons get married…..

After about 15 minutes and a quick glass of wine, I slowly approached the counter and the weeds delicious dandelion greens. I used a very long chopstick to poke the slug…..

Oh, haha! Look at that! It’s actually just a tiny curled up flower bud!  Silly me…..

Eventually, after several panic attacks and a lot of screeches, I had a clean bowl of dandelion greens.

I had saved myself 4 whole dollars as I single handedly managed a pile of weeds. I put them in a bowl, poured on some olive oil and salt, then I microwaved the bowl.

I sat down to eat my dinner of roasted chicken and fresh dandelion greens.

Gulp.

Sip the wine. Taste the chicken. Take a tiny bite of greens…..

Whoah!

Delicious. Fresh, bitter and sweet, salty, delicious.

And free.

So. If the Zombie apocalypse hits us during the growing season, come on by. I’ll make a wonderful, healthy, slug free dish of dandelion greens.

Just do NOT ask me to deal with fiddlehead ferns.

Ewwwwwww!

 

 

My name is…


I’ve been thinking about names lately. My daughter and her husband are going to have their second child soon. We know that it will be a little boy, and they have settled on a name for him.

He will be named for a well loved Great Grampa who died a few months ago. It’s perfect, right?

But I’ve been thinking about how names sound, and the impression that they give. I’ve been thinking about names that sound like a person you’d trust. And names that make you shake your head and wonder if those parents hated that kid.

As a confirmed lefty, I’ve been doing my part to support the Our Revolution movement. That’s the next step in the Bernie Sanders movement, if you don’t know. Very vibrant, very interesting group, and I’m happy to help! So I’ve been doing some data entry for them.

Which means that I have been seeing some amazing names.

I won’t use any real ones here, of course, but to young parents everywhere, let me just say that before you slap a monicker on that adorable little bundle, THINK about how that name will read in 30 years when some old lady is putting it into a data base.

Some names inspire trust. I would want my doctor to be named “Michael Hampshire.” Solid, not too flashy, unpretentious. “Jennifer Worth.”  Yup. She can do my cardiac surgery, for sure.

Other names make me want to write a short story that involves a diner, a lonely waitress and a quietly insane fry-cook. “Sarah Bluette” and “Jace Pratchett” fit right in there, don’t you think?

Then there are the names that you know Mom and Dad chose because they were so adorable and original! They did not picture the kids in sixth grade making fun of little “Sharley McRoggle” or “Kerreigh Koyne.”

And some names make me just feel humble. The names that ring of truth and strength. Names that are unapologetically ethnic or racially proud. Names that mean, “I am not going to melt into the pot, no sir. I intend to be the spice in your potato soup.” Names that are spelled originally or names that hark back to older generations. “Karim” is a personal favorite of mine. “Sasha” or “LiYu” or “Epiphania” or “Dougal” or “Shaquan.”

My mom’s name is Vincenza, but she is known as Zena. That’s very cool.

Our names are, in some odd ways, our destiny.

I was aware of this when I was at the Woman’s March in DC not long ago. I was with my High School friend, Karen. As we moved through the surging crowds to get onto the Metro, we heard a voice calling, “Karen! Over here!” We both turned, of course, and we saw a woman our age, waving to her friend.

All the Karens in the US, it seems, were born between 1952 and 1958. You’re not going to find a Karen in kindergarten, although you might very well find a “Helen,” an “Alice” or an “Ed.”

When I was naming my own kids, I was careful. Paul and I thought about how the names sounded. We like the ‘th’ sound, it turns out. We have Katharine, Matthew and Timothy in our family. But we were also thinking of nicknames.

Being named Paul and Karen meant that we didn’t have a lot of nicknames. There’s not much you can do with the labels we got at birth.

We wanted our kids to have some flexibility. If they became businesspeople or lawyers or politicians, those full names would work. If they became teachers, or coaches or athletes, they’d have cool nicknames. Katie, Matty, Timmy.

Naturally, all three of them now go by Kate, Matt and Tim.

Still. A lot of thought went into those names. A lot.

Yours truly,

“Boots” aka “Karen” aka Kira aka Karima and now known as Nonni.

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Panic in puppyland


It’s so damn hard to be a good doggie Momma.

I’m very good with human children. I can usually tell when one is sick, or hurt, or coming down with a cold. A few times in my classroom teaching days, I was able to tell that a kid had a fever before the kid even complained.

But dogs are different. They don’t cry when they hurt and they don’t say, “Nonni, up!” when they are needy. You just have to try to figure it out, right?

Sometimes you can guess what’s going on, something not so much.

Take this morning, for example.

We were in our living room, bright and early, talking about the foot of heavy wet snow we’ll be getting today. We were making sure we are prepared in case the power goes out.

I was feeling anxious. I despise the cold, the snow, the sleet….especially when they come in the spring. I was also anxious about my daughter driving to work in the bad weather, six months pregnant and getting over bronchitis. I was worried about my granddaughter Ellie, who has had a cough all week.

And our old dog, Tucker the Wolf King, has been struggling with his back and spine and hips. He’s been in pain.

At least puppy Lennie seemed fine, and full of his usual energy.

But then Kate and Ellie arrived, and Lennie went into fits of excitement. He started his usual jumping up on Kate routine, running in circles, wagging his tail furiously. Everyone was talking at once, “Lennie, down!” “Ellie, let’s take your hat off.” “Can you leave early today?” The Wolf King was barking and Lennie was squealing.

It was your basic morning bedlam.

Suddenly, I looked over at the pup, and saw that he was having some kind of terrible back spasm. We had seen this happen to him a couple of times in the past, but it was never this severe. His back end was hunched and sort of curled forward, and his whole back end was sort of pumping forward and back, really fast.

He looked very uncomfortable.

Now, let me digress for a minute. Tucker, with his arthritic spine, sometimes makes the almost same motion, but with less vigor. His vet told us that it happens to Tuck when his back muscles go into a spasm. I massage his spine and his spasm goes away.

So, I grabbed little pumping Lennie and tried to massage along his spine. It didn’t help a bit. When I let go of his collar, the little guy started frantically licking at his private parts, or what’s left of them. He was neutered before we got him, we were told.

He kept on sort of nipping at himself and turning in circles and that back end just kept on pumping.

“Oh, no!” I said it out loud. “He’s in real pain! Oh, poor baby!”

Paul joined in and so did Kate. We all thought Lennie was suffering from some terrible crazy muscle spasm or seizure or something. We were so worried!

We all looked at him and his pumping backside.  He started to bite the tip of his tail and run in circles.

I grabbed him as he raced past me, and decided I should check his undercarriage.

Holy hard as a rock, Batman, the little guy’s niblets were like steel.

This is the part where I have to confess to complete idiocy, but at least my husband and daughter are as dumb as I am.

At the base of his fully erect little doggy rocket, there was a huge, hard, round mass, about the size of a golf ball.

Did I mention that he’s been “fixed”? You know, altered. Neutered. Deballified. There should not be a big, hard, round mass where his testicles used to be, I thought.

“He has a tumor!!!!” Was my first comment. Or maybe my second, after I quickly pulled my hand away from his altogethers.

We called the vet. Paul got dressed in a hurry to take him in. I cuddled the poor little boy, feeling overwhelmed with worry. As I stroked his neck, I noticed that he seemed to be slowly relaxing and feeling just fine.

The little rocket went back into its socket, and the golf ball disappeared.

Huh.

So. Paul took the pup to the vet, who examined him thoroughly and calmly announced that what we has witnessed was a “natural hormonal response to excitement.”

The little guy got kind of worked up from all the joy of greeting Kate and Ellie.

The vet suggested that we find a way to get him some doggy playdates so he’ll learn how to control himself a little.

Ewwww.

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He looks pretty relaxed in this shot…

Conquering the Wolf King


The Wolf King is aloof. He is regal. He needs no man.

Oh, OK. He needs man, or woman, to get the kibble out and to gently mix in the carefully cooked chicken livers. Sure. And, yeah, fine, he needs man, or woman, to let him out in the morning so he can do his royal doody.

Still.

The Wolf King is the ruler of his domain. He does not rely on any human for emotional support.

And yet.

Today the little one in our house was sick. She had a bad cough, a stuffy nose, a little bit of a fever. She was OK for most of the morning, but by lunchtime, she was really droopy.

WomanWhoFeedsMe put away the toys and handed Little Girl her favorite stuffed Floppy Puppy. They went down the long, dark hall into the nap room. The Wolf King watched them go.

He stayed in the living room. That hall is really long. And dark. He laid his royal nose on his powerful paws. He started to doze.

And then he heard it.

Little Girl was crying. The Wolf King lifted his head.

She was making that choky sobbing noise that he hated so much. There were words in her choking cry. He tilted his head to the right, and then to the left. What was she saying?

“Huck” she coughed. “Hucky..” she choked. He heard the sound of WomanWhoFeedsMe, gently cooing, trying to calm the little girl.

The Wolf King rose slowly to his feet. His back hurt. His back legs were shaky and his spine was making creaky noises.

He took one step toward the long, scary hall.

“Tuck…Tucky….hhum!”

He heard it. He heard the sound of Little Girl, calling his name. She was telling him to “come.”

The Wolf King gave one soft whine. Really?, he was asking. You really want me to walk all the way down that hall?

“Tucky…hum!”

He gave a sigh. He shook himself, from head to tail. He walked down the hall, really slowly. Past the dark, scary doorways, over the creepy scary reflections of light. He moved forward.

He would not be afraid.

Little Girl needed him. She WANTED him. He would not fail in his duty.

The Wolf King made his way to the nap room. He walked to the bed and rested his chin on the mattress.

“Tucky!!!” Little Girl cried, coughed and reached out one small hand to touch his warm head. “Tucky.”

“mmmmm,” the Wolf King answered as he lowered himself slowly to the floor beside her bed.

“Tucky…” she murmured as she curled into the arms of WomanWhoFeedsMe. She fell asleep.

So did he.

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Mutual admiration…

Off The Main Page


In my effort to reinvent myself after my mommy years disappeared, I started this blog.

In my effort to keep improving myself after my teaching years were taken away from me, I started to write for some online sites. I’m trying to get to the point where I can call myself a professional writer. A freelancer. A place where I can sit at a bar in the Caribbean and casually say, “Oh, me? I’m a writer” as I sip my rum drink.

Well. I might not make that last part, but I really am doing my best to make a small living by writing.

With that in mind, small blog following, I have a favor to ask. Can you check out these two sties, and see what you think? If you like them, hoorah! If not, thanks for looking.

The first is LiberalAmerica. Obviously, we have a decidedly leftish approach to the day’s news. If you want to hear from like minded writers, and want a site that aggregates big news stories and included lots of links to more news, please come and check us out. We are absolutely 100% REAL news; we make nothing up, ever. We double and triple check our sources and we always link back to the sites where we get our information.

The second site is a place to read funny, silly, heartwarming, interesting and for the most part not very political news. Its called Off The Main Page. I’ve written about goat yoga, local restaurants, dead cats, a camel camera and a giant space ravioli. Just to name a few.

Come by and check us out. Share if you like what you read!

A nonni’s gotta make a living, right? Even if she’s not at a bar in the Caribbean.

 

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What can I say? A woman can dream.

Food is love


The idea that food equals love is not an original one. Years ago I had a friend, a teacher colleague, who used to talk about her own nuclear family growing up. They were Italians, like my own family, and her Mom raised her, as mine did, with the idea that feeding people is a way to show that you love them.

I totally live that way.

One of my favorite hobbies now that I’m retired is going through old, old cookbooks and reading about the delicacies of the past. I’ve been collecting old cookbooks that I read the way other people read a novel.

One of my favorites was a wedding gift to my Mother, given to her in 1950. The book was first published in 1901. It has tips on things like making a roast chicken. Step one? Kill the chicken.

Anyway, I was thinking today about the whole cultural idea of food as a show of love. And I think that feeding a hungry person is absolutely an act of love.

In my 61 years on this earth, I have brought food to friends who are grieving, family who are sick, friends and family who are celebrating milestones. I have made soup for fellow grad students on a snowy night. I’ve brought muffins to school on the morning after terrible and shocking events like 9/11.

And I’ve learned, slowly, to accept tortellini soup when I was the one in need. I loved it when a friend at school gave me a gift of lasagna for Christmas when I was a working mother of three little children.

So in the past few weeks, as Ellie has had her first bad cold and ear infections, I found myself thinking about “food is love” once again.She had the chills; I made her ginger lemon tea. Not from a tea bag. With actual grated ginger and lemon and honey.

I made soup. I had frozen chicken stock, made after we had eaten our locally raised, organic, sustainable birds. I cooked down the carcasses, peeled off all the meat, froze it into small cubes. Which I then cooked with garlic (antibiotic properties), onion, carrots, the herbs I dried from last summer……

It was good. She like it. She ate it. No biggie.

Except that I felt fabulous. I felt like Nonni of the year.

Why? I didn’t make her better; she still had to take her antibiotics and her nose drops. She still had her fevers and her chills.

But I COOKED for her. I showed her how much I love her. I gained a totally false but somehow satisfying sense of control over the microbes of the universe.

It was great.

Today Ellie and I roasted a big pan of beef bones, which we then put into a stock pot with veggies and spice.

It’s simmering on the stove right now. Just waiting for the next cold or flu to hit someone I love.

Food. Is. Love.

That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

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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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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.