Twenty Little Ralphie Things

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

2013-05-07 - An Afternoon at the Park - 0036

Dear Ralphie,

I love you so very much, my darling boy. If your atoms happen to bump up against those of Dad – or Jayne, Peedee, Kaylee, or Ozzy – tell them I said the same.

Miss you, little bear.

– Mom

2013-05-08 - A Picnic Under the Maple Tree - 0110

(More below the fold…)

Nineteen Little Ralphie Things

Monday, October 10th, 2016

2002-06-17 - RalphieAtTheGame-12

Oh, Ralphie.

Can you believe that fifteen years ago today we were celebrating your first birthday with us?

Last month was the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11. It’s silly and incidental, but my memories of that day will forever be bound up in you. I was on the phone scheduling an appointment with the dermatologist when I heard the news. We must have gotten into poison ivy while walking the trails next to our house, and I was covered in the stuff. Well, not covered by today’s standards, but by Fairport only semi-rural standards. (Egads, I didn’t know what “covered in poison ivy” meant back then, with one dog and limited green space.) Anyway, the news coverage and photos of search and rescue dogs? Always makes me think of you, and our first years together. Before we became a pack of two and three and five and finally seven.

Your dad and I miss you so much, buddy. Whenever we get a new foster, I wonder what you’d think of her. I picture you with Daisy’s curlicue tail, and we compare the size of Brutus’s paws to yours. (I think they’re nowhere near as big, fwiw.) Every time we find a new trail to explore, my heart shatters for a split second, on account of we’ll never be able to walk it with you.

I don’t want to get all depressive on your big day, though. So instead of saying I miss you (again!), I’ll just say thank you: for being the first in an era, my Other Boyfriend, by little Ralphie Bear. The very first dog I adopted on my own; the very first dog all my own. For being the leader of our little pack, for nearly twelve years. They were the best. You were the best.

Love you so, so much,

– Mom

2002-06-17 - Kelly&RalphieAtTheGame-11

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Senior Dogs Across America: Portraits of Man’s Best Old Friend, Nancy LeVine (2016)

Friday, August 12th, 2016

Old Dogs Rock (and so do Nancy LeVine’s Portraits!)

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: Schiffer Publishing provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)

An old dog’s eyes, milky white, are not so much going blind as they are being clouded by memory: every stick, every ball, the squirrel that got away – they’re all there. Nothing is forgotten. The day she swam across the lake, or chewed your mouthguard into a million pieces. Remember when she was lost for two days, and came home soaking wet, muddy, and with a bird’s feather – blue and white – somehow lodged beneath her collar? She remembers. They all do. Every word, every walk, every time you RUBBED their neck. The memories spill into their eyes, and eventually all they can see is the past.

– Daniel Wallace

Anyone who’s ever opened their home and their heart to a dog is sure to love Senior Dogs Across America: Portraits of Man’s Best Old Friend. Award-winning photographer Nancy LeVine traveled across America, photographing senior dogs in their natural habitats: in forever homes and animal sanctuaries; lounging on couches, riding along with their humans in tractors, and playing with their siblings, human and non; aging with dignity and wisdom and grace.

The eighty-six portraits included here promise to tug at the heartstrings – and make you hug your canine companion just a little bit tighter tonight. The dogs featured run the gamut: there are big dogs and little dogs; pit bulls, dachshunds, greyhounds, Chihuahuas, and mutts; and several tripods, a few one-eyed dogs, and one very big German Shepherd on wheels (hey, Abby!). There are even two Otises, both chocolate Labs by the look of ’em, living just a state apart in Washington and California. LeVine lovingly captures the spirit and personality of each of her subjects; while the book is rather short on words, each picture sings and shines and speaks volumes, dancing off the printed page and right into the reader’s heart.

(More below the fold…)

(Not-So-) Happy Ralphieversary!

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

X-Mas 2015 - In Memoriam (Ralphie) (cropped)

Oh, Ralphie. I miss you so much.

It’s been a tough three years since you left me. Kaylee followed you soon after, and then not a year later, Peedee was diagnosed with cancer. He put up a really good fight, but last November we had to say goodbye to him too. He was only thirteen. Thirteen! Of all you guys, I thought he’d live the longest.

Pictures of happy young Peedee, with his huge goofy grin, still make me cry. Pictures of you two (or three!) together are even worse. Sometimes I wish I believed in heaven, or an afterlife. Images of you guys snuggled together, running through fields and chewing on Kongs stuffed with peanut butter, taking care of one another in my absence, sure would help. But the past is a kind of comfort too. Everything that made you you is gone, dispersed into the atmosphere to form new creatures, but your memory will always live on in my heart. Some days it’s not nearly enough; and yet it kind of has to be.

2008-03-12 - Dogs Outside - 0028

And now we’re going through the same thing with Jayne. She had surgery, and then chemo, but she’s having a much harder time with it than Peedee did. We got some really bad news this morning. Things aren’t looking good. Probably we should stop scheduling vet appointments on anniversaries and birthdays. It was on the two-year anniversary of Kaylee’s death that Peedee got his death sentence. And we found about Jayne’s possible cancer on Rennie’s birthday. Sigh. How am I supposed to deal with that?

I wish I could bottle that feeling of nervous excitement I felt fifteen years ago. There’s nothing quite like welcoming a new dog into your home; knowing that you’re about to meet your new best friend and constant shadow. The love of your goddamn life. I’d give anything to go back there and do it all again. All this pain and heartache is worth it … though in times like these, it can be so, so easy to lose sight of that.

I wish this was a happier letter, but it is what it is. I miss you so fucking much, my little bear. You may be gone, but I keep you alive every single day.

P.S. It kinda sorta breaks my heart that I don’t have any new photos to add to these posts; instead I just have to keep repurposing old ones.

2016-07-14 - Ralphie's Adoption Day

###

Previous years: 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2011 | 2008

Some anniversaries just suck ass.

Friday, May 6th, 2016

It was three years ago today that we had to start saying our goodbyes to Ralphie. He was in renal failure and, after several days in the hospital, wasn’t showing any signs of improvement … we were able to give him a few awesome last days, at least, filled with treats and tummy rubs and afternoons sunbathing at the park. He was tired but happy, and basked in the attention we lavished on him. He died at home, three days later, on my 35th birthday.

Two days later we found out that Kaylee was sick too; also from renal failure, in a crazy-making coincidence. She passed away a few weeks later, on May 21st. It was a surprise – she had a stroke and lapsed into a coma – but also not, because though we were treating her, or trying to anyway, it was a struggle. I wish Kaylee’s last days had been as wonderful as Ralphie’s; she deserved that much, and more (so much more!). I try not to think of them too much.

It was two years later, to the very day, that we learned of Peedee’s relapse; that the cancer had stopped responding to the chemo and the best we could hope for was two good months, three if we were super-lucky. He lived six months and two days, almost all of them healthy (relatively speaking) and happy and spoiled rotten. God, how I miss his goofy smile and stupid pink tongue and soft, pink fur. His bark and excitability and spirit. His intellect and empathy. I could use his shoulder for a good cry right now, I tell you what.

I’ve been missing Kaylee and Ralphie and Peedee so, so much this week and month. I wish I could strike May from the calendar and never think of it again. But I can’t so instead I’m gonna watch this Heinz commercial on repeat because it makes me grin like a weirdo every time it plays on the tv. Also, standing in the receiving line of a wiener dog stampede is how I’d like to go out. (Though none of these guys is nearly as cute as my Ralphie Bear.) Someone make this happen please.

2011-02-21 - Dogs! - 0057

Oh, bother.

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

2015-12-16 - Mags Eeyore - 0057 [flickr]

Since losing Peedee exactly one month ago today, the mood has been pretty morose around here. “Not in the holiday spirit” is kind of an understatement: I didn’t even realize that it was Thanksgiving until ~6PM the night of; I did the bare minimum in terms of Christmas decorating (the requisite tree + a few childhood items and every dog-themed decoration I own; I may have been several weeks late, but I got it done in record time – three hours instead of the usual three days!); and the only gifts I managed to buy were for the dogs. For a hot second, I actually considered skipping the annual holiday cards entirely: TOO. MUCH. WORK.

But my kiddos aren’t getting any younger, and I’m afraid that we don’t have that many more Christmases together. For all I know, this could even be someone’s last. (Knock on wood; I can’t handle any more bad news for at least another year or two. Preferably twenty.) And how shitty would I feel in retrospect if I decided to hell with Christmas this year? (Worst human mother in the world type shitty, more or less.)

So I decided to power through with an impromptu Winnie the Pooh theme, and who cares if I’m a little late? (Dear friends and relatives: Your cards will be late this year. Don’t think it’s because you got bumped from my list, or that I only sent you a card after receiving yours. I am just moving like molasses on account of my depression and apathy.)

The theme was inspired by the dread I felt as the holiday season approached: “Oh, bother.” And then I thought, hey, wouldn’t it be adorable to dress Jayne – mopey, doe-eyed, sad sack Jayne – up as Eeeyore, Eeeyore being what would really should have named her in the first place? (Jayne Cobb the girl ain’t.) And simply title it “Oh, bother.” The sentiment is apropos, but also still hella cute.

To wit:

X-Mas 2015 - Oh Bother (Main)

(Click on the image to embiggen. They look better in the larger sizes, I swear!)

But of course I couldn’t begin and end with Jayne; for the supporting cast, I bought an Eeyore hat online (stuffing the top with newspaper, so the adult size would kinda sorta fit on their tinny lil’ goggie heads) and took some pictures that I’d planned on making into “outtake” cards. But I’ll be damned if the outtake didn’t turn out better than the original!

X-Mas 2015 - Smallest Things (Main)

(All the quotes, by the by, are Pooh-based. I like saying that – “Pooh” – because it reminds me of Peedee. Pooh, Pooh, Poo!)

So everyone will, in point o’ facts, be getting two cards this year, to make up for their tardiness. Win/win.

I also made a series of “in memoriam” pseudo-cards just for me. Normally I’d say “just for funsies,” except I was bawling my eyes out the whole time I worked on them. Damn you, A. A. Milne, and your lovely, life-affirming, friendship-celebrating one-liners.

(More below the fold…)

Eighteen Little Ralphie Things

Saturday, October 10th, 2015

2008-10-19 - Kelly & the Dogs - 0011

Oh, Ralphie. I loved the fuck out of you. Still do.

You were my first dog and my reddest dog. My laziest (initially) and most active (once you discovered digging and went all MMA with it). Terribly sweet but not interested in taking any shit from the newcomers. You adored Peedee (once you got used to his annoying puppy-ness, that it) and loved Rennie. You made them your siblings, and then all but ignored Kaylee and Jayne (and later Mags and Finnick). You were head over heels for Shadow, but when we returned to New York for a visit, it was all about Copper.

You were a man of contradictions and complex layers. You also liked to eat poo and dug holes with your mouth. Go figure.

2002-12-31 - SneakyRalphie-0014

I love all of you, and not just because you were my first (though that does afford you a special place in ye ole cockles). Shane wants to adopt another wiener dog, eventually, but I’m not so sure. (Unless we get a pair and name them Sam and Dean Wienerchester. That is an opportunity I simply cannot pass up.) You’re one of a kind, forever and always.

I still miss you like crazy, but for the first time since you passed, this annual birthday post has brought a smile to my lips instead of tears to my eyes. Rereading previous years’ posts, searching through old pictures for just the right one, adding one more Thing to mark your eighteenth year…it hurts a little, but it’s a good hurt. The price of having known and loved you for four thousand, three hundred and seventeen days. I’d say we made out pretty good, don’t you think?

Until next year, my Ralphie Bear.

Sunday Afternoon

(More below the fold…)

Who Wore It Better?: Mom’s Bikini Top

Friday, July 31st, 2015

Earlier this week we played an impromptu round of dress-up, and Peedee ended up in my old blue and white Wal-Mart bikini top (which, incidentally, has been stored in the dogs’ costume box for the last decade or two). This is the same top Ralphie sported in the infamous “sexy beast” birthday card.

So who wore it better?

Ralphie

2004-08-06 - RalphieBikini-006 (original)

2004-08-06 - RalphieBikini-003

or Peedee?

2015-07-29 - Playing Dressup - 0024 [flickr]

2015-07-29 - Playing Dressup - 0028 [flickr]

My vote goes to Ralphie. While Peedee is indeed a fine specimen, he lacks Ralphie’s wide chest and ample bosom (singular). See how the extra fabric gathers and flaps around his midsection? SO unattractive. His stylist really should have pinned that back with safety pins or something.

♥♥ It’s Ralphie’s Gotcha Day! ♥♥

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

To Ralphie

Fourteen years almost to the minute.

Instead of doing the melancholy, “where did the time go!?!” thing, here are four of my favorite Ralphie stories from the early days. If these anecdotes seem a little crude, just know that one of Ralphie’s nicknames was Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

  • His first few months with us, Ralphie did a brief stint as a panty thief. His penchant for my dirty skivvies was gross enough, but also really frustrating: I’ve always had trouble finding undies that fit properly and are comfortable, and here he was, ruining them all. And the damnedest thing is, to this day I still have no idea how he got his fix. I had a mesh fabric laundry bag at the time, and he could have made quick work of it if he’d wanted. But there wasn’t a single hole or chew mark on it!

    2002-09-27 - RalphieBone-0002

    Incidentally, he liked to stash them under the bed, in the same place he hoarded his half-chewed rawhides. Like I said, gross.

  • During trips home, Ralphie became sexually fixated on my parents’ dog Copper – who he tried repeatedly to hump, despite the comical size disparity. It was like watching a barnacle cling determinedly to the stern of a ship.

    2003-11-28 - Mike&Dogs-018

    Incidentally, Copper often tried to hump (a very horrified) Peedee.

    2006-09-19 - DogTimesFive-0090

  • When he was upset with me – maybe I went on a walk without him, or just had to pop out to run some errands – he’d poop in the house to signal his displeasure. But always in a slightly out-of-the-way spot, like the library or behind the bathroom door. Often I wouldn’t find it until hours later, and omg the cleanup.

    2008-02-23 - Patio Poop - 0001 [modified bathroom - 4x6 300dpi]

    Incidentally, a picture of “patio poop” was the best I could do by way of illustration.

  • He was usually pretty trustworthy around food, except for this one time I foolishly left an Amy’s pizza on the coffee table. Probably I ran into the bathroom for a contact emergency. Anyway, I come out just in time to see Ralphie hightailing it around the corner with a quarter of the pizza stuffed in his mouth.

    2009-12-01 - Ralphie Pizza - 0006

    Incidentally, yes – because I know you all are wondering! – I did finish that pizza. You know I did.

    Sunday Afternoon (original)

    Happy trails, little guy. I still think about you all the time. (*hoof hoof*)

  • Willie Nelson, a fourteen-year-old best friend, and an old dog’s bucket list?

    Monday, June 29th, 2015

    A sneak preview for all our Facebook friends. Enjoy the story of a Subaru Impreza owner taking his loyal, old dog on one more amazing trip. Also, show us how you #MakeADogsDay.

    Posted by Subaru of America, Inc. on Sunday, June 28, 2015

    Subaru, you have effective destroyed me for the rest of the day.

    (The “old girlfriend” one hits me especially hard, since fourteen years on I still feel like a complete shit for taking Ralphie away from Shadow.)

    Book Review: Scarlett Undercover, Jennifer Latham (2015)

    Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

    A BAMF WOC protagonist, smart & snappy dialogue, & a one-eyed rescue dog – what more do you need?

    four out of five stars

    (Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley.)

    The funny thing was, I’d always been a skeptic when it came to Qadar. I didn’t like the idea that everything was already set, that no matter what choices I made, my path through life had been mapped out a long time ago. But ever since Gemma had showed up at my door, fate had yanked the steering wheel from my hands and hit the gas pedal hard. This case wasn’t just about some rich kid getting messed up by a cult. It was about old devils and new ones. It was about my faith. My family. About me.

    In the wake of their parents’ tragic and untimely deaths, sisters Reem and Scarlett adopt different means of coping with their grief and anger. Reem decides to become a doctor, with the ultimate goal of opening a clinic that caters to Muslim women. Perhaps if Las Almas had already had one such practice, her Ummi might have sought treatment for the cancer destroying her brain before it was too late to do anything but watch her waste away. Reem also becomes more devout in her religion, taking up the hijabs worn by her Ummi, and encourages her younger sister to partake in daily prayers.

    Meanwhile, Scarlett is still reeling from her Abbi’s murder several years previous. After years of acting out – culminating in an arrest for hot-wiring a Lexus in ninth grade – Detective Emmet Morales takes an active role in her upbringing. The then-beat cop who handled the notification for her Abbi’s case, Emmet becomes an adopted member of Scarlett’s family, even standing in as a pallbearer at her Ummi’s funeral. He puts Scarlett to work, starting with easy cases: seeing if liquor stores will sell to an underage girl, scouting for pickpockets in tourist traps. When she demonstrates a knack for the “gumshoe,” the real fun begins. Understandably bored at school, Scarlett graduates early – by two years – and opens her own P.I. business.

    (More below the fold…)

    Merry X-Mas 2014: The Lung Cancer Awareness ed.

    Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

    That was the theme, anyway, to celebrate Peedee being cancer-free for seven months and counting. (He still has to get an x-ray every three months to be sure, but the six-month mark was the milestone. As far as the vets are concerned, the boy is DTF. Down to frolic! Or something.)

    But in the end I was pressed for time, what with the dreary, cloudy weather; the constant comings and going of the roofers, whipping the dogs into frenzy upon frenzy; and the arrival of our newest foster, Tiny Terror; and anyway the white ribbons Shane got at Michael’s were floppy and flimsy and I couldn’t twist a decent awareness ribbon, let alone find a way to attach them to the dogs’ persons, so I just threw holiday ribbons and headbands on everyone and called it a day.

    Luckily both the dogs and the weather cooperated for a grand total of two hours one Monday afternoon, and I was able to knock this bad girl out in all of eight hours, start to finish.

    2014 X-Mas Card (front)

    Click through to embiggen.
    ——————————

    For the back, I used an old picture of Kaylee and Ralphie for the background – although this may be the last year they’re included in this way, seeing as I only have a few photos of just the two of them together.

    2014 X-Mas Card (back)

    I didn’t do any outtakes this year, but after the jump are a few of my favorite shots (including one of Peedee sporting his Lung Cancer Awareness Ribbon on his satellite dish of an ear; this represents my very best effort at making the theme work, I swear to you), along with some of this year’s decorations.

    (More below the fold…)

    Seventeen Little Ralphie Things

    Friday, October 10th, 2014

    2007-04-12 - Doggie Dirt Pile - 0007 [1024x768]

    April 2007. Ralphie in his element.
    ——————————

    Oh, Ralphie. Last year I was so convinced that he’d live to see sixteen. He was so healthy, especially for a senior dog, right up until those last few weeks.

    Seventeen, on the other hand? Seventeen would have been a stretch, even by Ralphie standards. Still, a girl can dream. Today would have been the day. Happy birthday, old friend.

    So let me tell you about Ralphie. We adopted him while we were still living in New York; he hailed from Indiana, and found his way to us by way of the Wiener Dog Parade. He was a fat fucking banana who loved his pit bull friend Shadow and frequently was a star guest at my younger brother’s baseball games. He dropped a ton of lbs. after we moved to Kansas, where he discovered his true passion: digging for critters (and occasionally catching a hapless one or two). Digging is like Tae Bo for dogs, I tell you what. We got him a dog friend, Peedee; and when Ralphie tired of Peedee after exactly two days of dealing with his puppyfied nonsense, we adopted Peedee his own playmate (that would be Rennie!). He was tolerant of the dogs who came later – Kaylee & Jayne and Mags & Finnick – but Ralphie, Peedee, and Rennie formed their own little clique. But he was my little boyfriend first and foremost.

    He took the loss of one eye with incredible grace; the loss of his eyesight, a little less so. Still, he was happy and active and a totally stubborn d-bag right up until the end. His last days were pretty awesome, all things considered. He got the kind of exit we all should wish for. A little piece of him lives in my heart, forever.

    2007-04-06 - Lazy Dogday Friday - 0020 [1024x768]

    2007-04-06 - Lazy Dogday Friday - 0019 [1024x768]

    Deep conversations followed by sloppy kisses
    ——————————

    When I decided to extend these “little things” birthday lists postmortem, I was afraid that I’d run out of items to keep them going. But with Ralphie, as was the case with Kaylee, I was quickly reminded that this isn’t the case; if anything, there are so many things I love and remember and love to remember about them that I should be able to continue the tradition for at least another twenty years. Assuming that this blog (or blogs, period) are still around then.

    (More below the fold…)

    Mighty Dog

    Monday, July 14th, 2014

    Thirteen years ago tonight, we saw Ralphie for the first time.

    He was from Indiana, and we were living in Rochester at the time, so we didn’t even have a chance to meet him before the adoption was finalized. I just knew he was the dog for us. I can’t explain how, really; we went through one or two other possibilities before we settled on him. We just knew. I fell in love with him instantly, across five hundred or so miles.

    There was a wiener dog parade happening in Ohio that weekend, so one DRNA volunteer drove him from Indiana to Ohio, where she was met by Lela and her husband, who brought him to New York. We met them that night at their home in Jamestown. I remember that one of the other dogs in the car nipped the husband on the face en route. I tried not to stare; the injury kind of looked like a cleft palate. Lela seemed wistful to be giving up the most well-behaved dog only hours after having acquired him. Well behaved, for a wiener dog.

    I wasn’t long out of my parents’ house when we adopted Ralphie – I remember thinking that the rescue was crazy to give this shiny new young couple a dog, just like that – but I found myself longing for a dog pretty much from the moment the last box was moved in and unpacked. There was Shadow, of course, and she’d always be my girl (well, my mom’s girl mostly, but she had more than enough love to go around, in spite of the hell that certain members of my species had put her through). I just wanted a dog of my very own so very badly. The first of many, I hoped. And already we’ve loved more dogs than many people manage in their entire adulthoods: Peedee, O-Ren, Kaylee, Jayne, Mags and Finnick. We’ve been lucky in that sense. All the lost and pain of the last fourteen months…I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

    Ralphie was the beginning. Special. My little boyfriend.

    I wish I had more pictures of our first days and months together. I went hunting around on my hard drive this morning, and the earliest photos I could find are really atrocious scans, lacking even a firm date. Just: summer, 2001. This makes me sad. Wistful.

    The top one I named Mighty Dog.

    2001-Summer - Ralphie'MightyDog'

    2001-Summer - Kelly&Ralphie-0001

    He looks so proud and formidable, don’t you think?

    Apparently I got my first digital camera some time in November, because that’s when the pictures really start to pick up. Still, they’re pretty sparse compared to present day.

    Fast-forwarding a few years, I’m shocked to see that I didn’t take a single picture of Peedee’s homecoming. The earliest ones are a few days post-adoption. I guess we were too busy making sure the guys got on well? Even with O-Ren, we only have a few photos taken that first day. To be fair, she was recovering from kennel cough and looked all kinds of pathetic. Still.

    Compare that to Kaylee and Jayne, or Mags and Finnick, of whose special days I have literally hundreds of photos. And not just from the first day: the first weeks and months. All day, every day. First meets, first eats, first baths. I’m a little camera-crazy, actually. Probably in no small part because I regret not having so many other memories locked down, immortalized in pixels and bytes.

    But there’s no going back, just forward.

    I miss you, little bear. I’m glad you didn’t let us change your name. You’ll forever be our Ralphie, through and through.

    One small seed

    Friday, May 9th, 2014

    To Ralphie

    We give our dead
    To the orchards
    And the groves.
    We give our dead
    To life.

    Death
    Is a great Change –
    Is life’s greatest Change.
    We honor our beloved dead.
    As we mix their essence with the earth,
    We remember them,
    And within us,
    They live.

    – Octavia Butler, Parable of the Talents

    So this is Christmas…

    Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

    I almost didn’t bother decorating this year – I was just feeling too damn depressed. But then I figured that I’d be even more bummed without all the shiny happy tinsels and ribbons and be-pirated stuffed animals brightening up the bleak winter landscape. (There’s a reason I leave the decorations up through February, people!) Plus I knew I’d regret skipping the holiday cards further down the line; some of my favorite pictures of the dogs are from our x-mas photo sessions (see, e.g., Kaylee in her shindig dress and Ralphie the pizza poo). So X-Mas came to the Garbato-Brady household after all!

    fsmas card 2013 - tis the season

    For this year’s cards, I decided to keep it simple: instead of complicated outfits, I opted for ribbons taped to dog collars. My original idea was to photograph everyone in pairs and, long story short, I have no freaking clue how I was able to get Ralphie, Peedee, and Rennie to sit still (AT THE SAME TIME!!!) for our very first card. No one was having it, and I think the treats meant as bribery actually made things worse – everyone seemed to be competing with their partners for the noms. The good news is that everyone made it on the card – even Lemmy, who spent most of his photo time chewing on the ribbon strings.

    Ralphie and Kaylee were even represented on the back of the card…though only those who know us will pick up the meaning.

    2013 message label

    I still couldn’t help but make a second card with the paired pictures, though. At first it was just for my own benefit, but I decided to print them up and mail them out as well. Actually I think everyone looks okay save for Jayne and Lemmy. Those two did NOT want to have anything to do with each other.

    fsmas card 2013 - silent night

    And then of course we have the individual “outtake” cards. I didn’t have a theme to speak of, so I just went with Supernatural quotes. Totally irrelevant, but totally hilarious.

    (More below the fold…)

    Book Review: For Every Dog An Angel, Christine Davis (2004)

    Friday, November 1st, 2013

    For anyone who’s ever loved and lost a canine companion.

    five out of five stars

    I lost my two oldest dogs, Ralphie and Kaylee, in May of this year. Though I live with five other dogs – nothing to sniff at! – my home feels so unbelievably empty without them here. Ralphie was my first rescue dog; he lived with my husband and me for nearly twelve years before his passing. And Kaylee…well, she was something special. I don’t know if I believe in the idea of one “forever” dog – it’s too depressing to think that I’ll never love another creature the way I did (do!) her – but she was certainly my favorite. Five months later, and not a moment passes in which I don’t miss them both something awful.

    Anyway, I was treating myself to a few science fiction books when I stumbled upon For Every Dog An Angel on my Amazon wishlist. It’s been there for years – I think I first heard of author Christine Davis via a Dogs Deserve Better newsletter – but only in my grief did I feel compelled to buy it. I’m so glad I did, too. For such a simple little book, it proved surprisingly cathartic.

    (More below the fold…)

    Sixteen Great Big Ralphie Things

    Thursday, October 10th, 2013

    2004-08-06 - RalphieBikini-006

    Right back at ya, stud.
    ——————————

    Oh, Ralphie. I really thought you’d be here. I was convinced, right up until those last few days, that you’d live to see your sixteenth birthday – and beyond. You were so damn healthy and active, so full of life. What the hell did I know? Other than that I loved you with all my heart, that is. My little guy.

    It’s been five months, and you’re still always on my mind. Rambling around in my chest, right alongside Kaylee. I still keep a running list of all the things I love about you – the things (so many things!) I want never to forget. I’d call them “Little Ralphie Things,” only they don’t seem so little anymore. As with Kaylee, I’ll add to this list every year until I run out. In other words, never.

    Happy birthday, bud. I’m gnawing on a piece of fruit leather for you.

    2001-Summer - Kelly&Ralphie-0001

    Ralphie kisses in the summer of ’01.
    ——————————

     

    Sixteen Little Great Big Ralphie Things

  • That beautiful red fur. (I wish my hair was that color!)

    2003-10-10 - RalphieBDay-006

  • His musk. “Ralphie stink.” eau de Ralphie.

    2009-12-01 - Ralphie Pizza - 0006

  • My Other Boyfriend ™.

    2002-09-02 - WhiteLake-Day04Shot139 - Hiking-Kelly&Ralphie

  • How he tears up chunks of dirt by mouth when he’s digging (and especially excited).

    2011-04-13 - Ralphie & Rennie Digging - 0026

  • Always insisting on licking my hands when I’m trying to use the keyboard.

    2012-05-27 - Patio Office - 0012

  • Ears!

    2006-09-24 - RevisitingFairport-0044

  • His prematurely white snout.

    2007-02-04 - Opening X-Mas Presents - 0118

  • Stubborn, just like mom.

    2007-12-05 - Cpt Ralphie's Booty - 0022

  • Panty-chewing underwear thief!

    2001-Summer - Ralphie'MightyDog'

  • Trying to hump dogs three times his size.

    2003-11-28 - Mike&Dogs-002

  • How he only plays with toys when another dog shows an interest in them. What a jerk!

    2006-09-19 - DogTimesFive-0051

  • The superhair that used to grow under his armpit.

    2011-02-21 - Dogs! - 0024

    (I’m afraid we plucked it to death!)

  • Paws like paddles.

    2011-09-11 - Another Afternoon Sunbathing - 0126

  • Ralphie + Shadow 4ever!

    DogJoy Cover 2

  • Nighttime snuggles.

    2003-02-12 - RalphieKellyBed03

  • Digging for squirrels in trees. (2013)

    2007-08-26 - Dogs Outside - 0050

    Wrong direction, goober!

  •  

    Y is for Yoga Cookies

    Saturday, September 28th, 2013

    Y is for Yoga Cookies [Chloe's Kitchen] (0017)

    Rolling the dough for these cookies, I was reminded of the scene in Firefly when, upon trying repeatedly and unsuccessfully to sneak a bite of her Ice Planet, River Tam infamously complains: “My food is problematic.”

    null

    So named because Chloe frequently enjoys them as a post-workout snack, the Yoga Cookies from Chloe’s Kitchen are as tasty as they are a pain in the ass to make. The components can be separated into two parts: the dough proper, and all the extra add-ins (rolled oats, walnuts, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, and raisins – replaced here with dried cranberries because yum), which the dough is supposed to bind together.

    Problem is, there wasn’t nearly enough dough to properly perform this most important task. Assembling all these delicious bits into cohesive cookies was difficult at best, and progressively more so the further I got into the process. The last two cookies were so unstable that I dared not try to flatten them, lest they crumble back into their individual parts. And at the end of the day, I was left with enough bits to form one more cookie, but not nearly enough dough to hold it all together.

    Y is for Yoga Cookies [Chloe's Kitchen] (0001)

    Instead, I sprinkled the leftovers – which resembled uncooked granola – onto a bowl of strawberries. Spoiler alert: it was ridiculously good. So much so that I’m thinking about turning this into a granola recipe!

    The cookies stabilized a bit once they were cooked, but not enough that I could easily handle them without pieces of walnuts and flakes of coconut breaking free left and right. Still, they’re damn good cookies, and I think I’d like to give this recipe another go. Next time I plan on either increasing the dough by 50% or cutting down on the rolled oats by a like amount – I think that ought to do the trick.

    Y is for Yoga Cookies [Chloe's Kitchen] (0020)

    Since these are a yoga-themed snack, I really wanted to photograph them with my “downward dog” (really play bow) rat terrier figurine, but he was a little too big for this project. Instead I used one of my many (many many many) dachshund trinkets, who conveniently comes equipped with baskets to carry all your vegan goodies. He’s not performing any yoga pose that I know of – in fact, that arched back looks so unnatural that I suspect a real dachshund back might snap if stretched that way! – but he’ll have to do.

    Y is for Yoga Cookies [Chloe's Kitchen] (0025)

    Incidentally, my ratio of dachshund to rat terrier figurines is so skewed that it’s actually a little comical, considering I’ve only been owned by one dachshund in my life – compared to six rat terriers.* Rat terrier nicknacks just aren’t that common, whereas dachshunds might be the single most popular breed for collectibles. Wiener dogs are hilarious, yo! Everyone loves a sausage doggeh.

    * Now that Ralphie’s gone we really look like breed snobs, but really it’s just because terriers are so common (and thus commonly abandoned) in the Midwest. You can’t throw a homemade biscuit in the pound without being trampled by a pack of ’em, I tell you what. Mags and Finnick are the only two who we adopted specifically because of their looks – and that was because of Mags’s resemblance to dear Kaylee, not her “charming” rat terrier personality per se.

    Y is for Yoga Cookies [Chloe's Kitchen] (0022)

     
    null
     

    That time that Ralphie managed to dig himself under the back steps in Stilwell and got stuck there.

    Sunday, August 25th, 2013

    2005-05-03 - RalphieUnderSteps-0010 [1024x768]

    2005-05-03 - RalphieUnderSteps-0012

    Memories.