Archives for December 2013

30 December 2013

So, I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for a Polo and Clover update. All through the holidays, you’ve been wondering, “How are Megan’s dogs doing?”

Well, they got upstaged. By a little 4-pound, 10-week-old Shih Tzu -poodle mix named Ruby.

When we arrived at my brother’s house on Christmas Eve, my youngest niece was standing in the front yard, waiting for us, holding a little brown dog in her arms. At first, we couldn’t tell whether it was real or a stuffed animal. It was real all right. Enter Ruby.

Now, all dogs love my daughter, but little Ruby really, really, really loved her. Ruby spent most of Christmas Eve curled up asleep on my daughter’s lap. I never thought I’d live to see the day when my daughter’s affections wavered from Polo, but that day came.

Apparently, the elves brought Ruby a week before Christmas because they were worried she might be crushed on the sleigh. It’s nice that Santa has elves who are willing to take on extra delivery duties.

The funniest part about Ruby is that she joins a house with another dog — a full-grown Lab named Charlie. I don’t know what Charlie weighs, but it’s at least as much as I do. Both dogs are nearly identical colors of chocolate.

Today marks exactly one week since we saw Ruby, but she’s still in our thoughts. When my husband told our daughter there was a surprise for her—which ended up being unexpected babysitting money from a family member—her question was, “Are we getting a dog like Ruby?”

23 December 2013

I went to yoga the other day — my last one before Christmas because there are no classes next week (although Leigh kindly offered to come in if anyone wanted her to). It was my favorite class yet.

She had said it would be slower and quieter, and she used Christmas music again. I swear, I could do yoga to Leigh’s Christmas playlist year-round.

I was feeling pretty anxious before I went because, well, more of the same. Anyway, I played the “If I were strong, I would …” game, and decided that if I were strong today, I’d have my best yoga class ever. Which I did.

At the end, we were lieing quietly, breathing as “Still, Still, Still” played.

“It’s OK,” Leigh suddenly said. “It’s all going to be OK.”

And in my completely relaxed pose, tears were just falling out of my closed eyes. Because nothing feels like it’s OK, and nothing feels like its ever going to be OK again. But Leigh said it would, and she’s the one with all the yoga journals. So there.

We finished, and she wished us a Merry Christmas, and Cathy snuck over and handed Leigh a card everyone had signed.

“I was already crying, y’all. Now I’m gonna cry even more!” Leigh said.

I had no idea she needed her words as much as I did.

21 December 2013

Last night, I went to see “Sanders Family Christmas” at Fredericksburg Theater Company. I had worked the show the night before, so I knew I would enjoy the old-timey gospel music. Very “O, Brother Where Art Thou” kind of songs. But just like the songs in that movie affected me in unexpected ways, so did last night’s show.

The context is Christmas Eve, 1941, only 18 days after Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into World War II. The Sanders family is preparing to send off their son, Dennis, to join the Marines the day after Christmas. This will be their last time to sing together for a while.

So, in that context, they do a medley of war songs at the end of Act I: “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” “I Am on the Battlefield for my Lord,” “Keep on the Firing Line,” and “Hold Fast to the Right.” Normally, I’m one of those folks who gets a little ruffled about combining war and Christianity. But in the context of the story, it genuinely moved me. Because sometimes Christmas feels a little like a battle.

I still love Christmas — don’t get me wrong. But this year, well, war imagery seems appropriate. Sure, I’ll sing carols with gusto. Sometimes that is its own form of battling against the darkness of the season.

“Never run nor even lag behind,” admonishes one hymn. “There is work to do,” says another. And don’t even get me started on these lines: “And as long as His mercies permit me to live
 / And I shall never cease praying for you.”

 

18 December 2013

We bought a bunch of new ornaments for the tree this year, mostly from Dollar Tree, and included in those was a package of jingle bells.

All of you who love “It’s a Wonderful Life” will recognize this line: “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.” That’s what I thought about as I hung the bells on our tree.

This morning when I went to plug in the tree, I heard a bell jingle three times. I’m sure I hit one of the six. There are two of them I could easily have jostled.

But what if it wasn’t me? What if we have our own personal Clarence (let’s call him Ralph) who has been shadowing us, trying valiantly to earn his wings.

What if he just did?

17 December 2013

For all these years, Polo (the short-haired dog) has been the one that wants to go outside. Guess what? It’s been hot for all these years. This December, when we’re actually having an entire month of cold weather, she stays curled up on the Lazy Boy in my son’s room for hours at a time.

Clover (the long-haired dog) wants to go outside as long as it’s sunny. She can do freezing and sunny all day. She just doesn’t like rain or sleet or wintry mix.

They’re both willing to walk, though, first thing, no matter what.

14 December 2013

Well, I haven’t actually seen the new Disney movie “Frozen,” but I have bought the song “Let it Go.” It’s Idina Menzel! She’s belting it out as if she were back on Broadway and not in a recording studio. It’s not even the words to the song—it’s just that it’s a perfectly constructed show tune. And I’m a girl who loves show tunes.

I could listen to Menzel’s So-Mi-Do’s all day long. Instead of singing, “I will rise like the break of dawn,” that woman could be singing, “I am hungry for buttered corn!” and I’d still be singing along.

I learned about the song from one of my favorite podcasts, “Pop Culture Happy Hour,” and may I say that Glen Weldon’s observation about this song was so right on and so funny that I almost fell off the EFX machine. (More at http://n.pr/18ZBarX.) When the podcast was over, I bought the song while still on the EFX and have been listening to it almost nonstop ever since.

This, people, is why we need show tunes. Because a song can grab you like an icy blast, and you don’t even know why. You just have to sing along.

P.S. Courtesy of YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moSFlvxnbgk.

 

13 December 2013

Today, I am feeling especially grateful for my grandmother. (Hi, Nannie!) She is 99 10/12 years old, and the woman knows her way around an iPad.

Recently, I called Nannie because I had some bad news I knew she’d want to know. I was scared to call. Who wants to be the bearer of bad news? But she surprised me, just like she surprises every doctor she meets with her spunk.

“Oh, honey. And you having to go through this without your mother!”

She is the first person to mention that connection, one I think about nearly every day. So, there we were on the phone, just boo-hooing.

Just want to say I love you, Nannie. Thanks for your prayers.

 

12 December 2013

I need a hug, so I pick up Clover. She’s the huggable one. She knows how to snuggle, how to let her body go limp into yours. She’ll never be the first one to break an embrace.

Polo, on the other hand, is about the least huggable dog I’ve ever known. She likes to be petted, especially with a foot. She likes to lay near you. But when you pick her up, she just hangs there.

But Polo does love me. I know she does.

11 December 2013

“Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die,

Take him and cut him out in little stars,”  

from Romeo and Juliet, Act III, Scene II (graciously brought to my attention by Every Day Poems)

 

I have already been taken and cut out in little stars,

but I’m still alive. I still shine.

Sometimes I twinkle as if to say, “See how I love you!”

but I can’t keep away the clouds, the wintry mix.

Look up. I am there. You just can’t see me.

8 December 2013

(In case you missed it at The Writer’s Almanac on December 6, Mary Oliver’s poem “I Looked Up” inspired this.)

 

LOCH VALE

 

My love for you is like a mountain lake — hidden

though not inaccessible. Harder

to reach in winter when I need snowshoes

and poles to make the trek.

 

Once when I was avoiding you, I set a course

up a new trail but the snow

distracted me forced me up a gorge

straight to you. Waiting there

 

was a Steller’s jay, his black crest peeking out

from a ponderosa pine. I think Mary Oliver

sent him. She knew that I needed that burst

of blue wings, telling me not to be afraid.