Archive for the ‘Homeland’ Category

Some back story: Since our adoption of Finley in February of 2009, Suz’s mother has been sporadically insistent upon us obtaining dog booties to prevent Fin’s feet from getting too hot/cold on the blue stones of the Holy City.  In its intent, the idea is probably a good one, as Fin has encountered a couple nagging blisters and booties may help.

But there have been issues.

#1.  I despise the word “booties.” Say it aloud to yourself right now. Booties. It’s an awful word.  There is no way around it.  I feel insanely dumb even enuciating it.

#2.  Finley, at least in part, belongs to me, a male specimen of human origin.  As far as I am concerned, men don’t dress their regal canine companions in anything more than a bandana.  No sunglasses, no sweaters, nothing.  But especially not booties.

In response to Sally’s requests, I have issued a resounding ‘no’ on numerous of occasions.

But I wasn’t exactly tight on phrasing my decision on what is and isn’t appropriate for Finley to (shudder) wear.  Sally picked up on the fact that I was particularly against booties.  She found a weakness in my position.  And she exploited it.

Fast forward.  I had arrived in Raleigh the day before New Year’s Eve with ogre in tow.  Within seemingly milliseconds of our arrival, Finley noticed a peculiar object under the Christmas tree.  It was a package mysteriously wrapped in both paper and a rope toy.  I’m pretty sure she immediately realized that the whole thing, including the box underneath, was for her, as if the rope didn’t give it away.  After a day of palpable anxiety resulting in several sniffs and nudges of the package, Finley had endured enough waiting.  She wanted the contents of the package.  She would have the contents of the package.

We found her under the dining room table carefully disassembling the paper cocoon that shielded the identity of her ultimate prize from her gaze.  And then, finally, she saw it.

There is a saying that “good things come to those who wait”, and that is probably particularly apt for this situation.  Inside the mystery box resided two pair of baby socks.  Not booties.  Socks.  A loophole had been found.  I peeled away the packaging as Finley eagerly attempted to figure out what type of fun she would soon be having with her gift.

As it turns out, the answer was “not a whole heck of a lot.”  Reluctantly, I placed the socks on her paws while non-verbially giving her a solemn look of “I’m sorry…I’m just..sorry.”  Turns out, she was too.  She was very sorry she had been so anxious to find out the contents of the package.

So there she sat in the middle of the living room, engulfed in some mixture of despondency, annoyance, and humiliation.  Baby socks nestled around her regal beast feet.  It was hard to watch.  But I learned something about my dog that day.  She doesn’t like dressing up.  She doesn’t like wearing ridiculous human things.  She knows better.  And that comforted me.


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This is one of those rare occurrences where I’ll let Suz’s lame placeholder title remain.

I’m not exactly sure what Suz’s uber-productive mentality when I’m in absentia says about our relationship.

Does my semi-slothlike presence hinder her naturally occurring sparks of ingenuity and creativity?

This girl makes lists when I’m gone.  Projects galore.  Baking to excess.

When I arrived in Raleigh after a visit to the Bluegrass on the 30th, her enthusiasm for all that she had accomplished in the days prior was palpable.  A light box had (nearly) been constructed, multiple parties had been hosted, and pounds of deliciousness concocted, simmered, and spiced.  Then I settle into the family home and we spend a day lounging around watching Mad Men.

Was it me?  Did I suck the life out of the room of this productive family?  Or was I welcome reprieve, a counterbalance?

Yeah, I’ll go with that for my own self esteem.

I’ll be making my return to Charleston this afternoon.  Hope you got your shot at partaking in Suzanne’s creativity while it lasted.

Perhaps changing this whole situation should have been my worthwhile New Year’s resolution.

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We have a (hopefully) pretty good post coming soon on the James Island County Park Christmas Lights, which will probably be the least negative group of paragraphs I have ever strung together in my life.

For now, I’m slightly hunkered down in Lexington, Kentucky with the mongrel, having departed our fair Holy City a day earlier than anticipated due to an impending deluge of freezing rain. Suz is manning the fort in Charleston, probably happy to be devoid of constant basketball games on TV and tumbleweeds of golden retriever hair traveling wispily along the floor like a scene out of some sort of more sinister Midwestern Dust Bowl.

So, in absence of anything of substance, here’s a photo of our dog with her moose.

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Remember on Thanksgiving when I said we were thankful for our relative health?

I think it’s safe to say we are even more thankful now.

A stomach bug bent on mass proliferation claimed nearly my entire family over the weekend, rendering us beyond useless and zombie-like in a scene that probably resembled something out of the Middle Ages.  I’ll spare you with the details.  Use that imagination of yours.

Suzanne found a couple of silver linings in her misery:  she “lost every calorie [she] gained over the holiday” and she was able to finish an entire book in two days without feeling too guilty about it.

Me?  No silver lining.  Wish it never happened.  Nothing good came of it.  Suzanne is crazy to find anything positive in it.  Insane even.

But you don’t care about us.  “What about Finley? How did she cope?!?!”, you ask.

Well, she coped famously, thanks in large part to the new addition to the family, Macie, my parents’ 8-week old Peekapoo.

Finley wasn’t sure what to make of Macie at first.  Her confusion was blatant in every expression, every action.  I’m not sure if she even believed Macie was a living breathing mini-hound at first and was instead just another plush toy to lacerate, behead, and eventually dismember like her countless other victims.  After she figured this stuff out, she still had no idea how to actually interact with the puppy, let alone play with it (her ultimate goal in all endeavors in life).

Circumstances didn’t afford her much time to think.  Devoid of human interaction and spoiling due to what amounted to the bubonic plague, she had no choice but to decipher the temperament and behavior of her new family member.  She succeeded, of course, and now can add Macie to her contact list of friends.  And she has something more to look forward to at Christmas time.

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This guy never got much opportunity to seize the spotlight in our house.

At first, he was surrounded by a macabre group of vampires, tombstones, and spooky pumpkins.  Then the Santa Clauses arrived, followed swiftly by Christmas trees and assorted holiday season decorations.

But he never once complained, squawked, or gobbled about his plight.  He stood steadfastly amidst the schizophrenic seasonal homages.  For that, we are thankful and his perseverance has paid off in the form of his very own post.

Today, we are thankful for many things.

We are thankful for our families and the support and love they demonstrate to us each and every day.

We are thankful for our relative health (although I am trying to kick a wicked poopy cold right now).

In that vein, we are thankful to still possess all of our limbs and most of our epidermis despite being dragged down the street at breakneck speeds by an ogre dog.

We are thankful that the house has not been literally chewed off its foundation by an ogre dog.

We are thankful to have not been served with charges of involuntary manslaughter because our ogre dog jumped on someone and licked them to death.

And I guess, ultimately, we are thankful for that ogre dog, who alternates between the persona of Marmaduke’s protegé and the lovable sweet Finley, a now 10.5 month old golden retriever who has more than enriched our lives with her ridiculousness.

But she’s still not getting food from the table today.

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Since Saturday was a “cold” 58 degrees and I had deprived Suzanne of her requisite film experiences for the past few months (the last film we saw in the theater was Night at the Museum 2, if that tells you anything), we ventured to Citadel 16 to take in Secretariat, Disney’s account of that most famous of thoroughbreds.  If you don’t know who Secretariat was and what he accomplished, please kindly punch yourself in the throat.

Moving away from the Bluegrass has definitely increased my fondness for the culture of horse racing and, although predictably cheesy at parts, the film satisfied that bit of me that yearns to experience this integral portion of my Kentucky-dom more often.  Plus, the part of Secretariat’s trainer, Lucien Laurin, is played by the wondrously weird John Malkovich, who I always enjoy for his effortless, intimately conversational delivery of lines that makes it seem like his scenes are being caught by candid camera.

In the spirit of Secretariat, and since Keeneland strangely served as the backdrop for the climactic Belmont Park race in the film, here are a few more photographs from our late-October trip to Keeneland.

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Keeneland Race Course, Lexington, KY

It had been almost three years since I had made it to a fall meet at Keeneland Race Course, one of the most beautiful thoroughbred tracks in the country that many will recognize for its prominent setting roles in Seabiscuit and Secretariat, and to a lesser extent, Dreamer.

Show of hands:  who here actually Dreamer?  Two people?  That’s what I thought.

Keeneland is America’s bucolic thoroughbred track.  A long lunch at Wallace Station prevented us from too much tailgating, as most of our friends were inside the structure when we arrived, but we were able to enjoy a frosty beverage at the final turn for one race and snapped some pretty decent photographs.

October weekends in the Kentucky fall can sometimes come with a double whammy of fun on certain Saturdays when the crisp air beckons a home football game as well as Keeneland’s fall meet.  The weekend we were in Lexington, it was a triple whammy:  Big Blue Madness harkened in the college basketball season best time of the year on Friday, a day before the football Cats took down South Carolina on the gridiron and two days before a lovely afternoon with friends at a Bluegrass icon.

Can I go back, please?

*As a side note, uber-klutz Suzanne busted her computer, rendering many Keeneland photos unrecoverable for the short term.  A new computer is forthcoming into her wobbly-handed clutches, meaning more photos from the track may be in store soon.

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