After a Brief Intermission… Getting Back to Grandma’s Book

So, yeh, I’ve kinda had a hard time actually writing Grandma’s book this year (meaning academic calendar).  At first it was pure grief.  I couldn’t face it.  Then it was exhaustion.  Then it was other things like galivanting around in the Southern Hemisphere or editing an essay collection.  But the time has clearly come for me to face this writing project and get back in gear.

I was thinking that maybe the best approach would be to come up with some questions to ask The Last Living Relatives people. I mean, time’s a wastin’ so I gotta start somewhere, and I’m sure I’d enjoy the conversation, too.

Anyway, I decided to brainstorm a little in this post about what I need to find out.  If you readers think of anything else I should ask, please jump on in. 🙂  Also, if you have done this kind of research before and have suggestions on how to conduct the research, I’m all ears!

(1) Grandma’s first cousin, Delores:  I heard that her mom wrote letters to someone back in Sweden.  Does she know who it was?  Did anyone keep the letters from Sweden? (WOULDN’T THAT BE COOL?!!)  Does she remember hearing who her grandparents lived with when they first came to Minnesota?  Was it Uncle Carl?  Does she know anything about our mysterious Chicago relatives?  The ship’s manifest says the great-grandparents were to come from Sweden to Minn. via Chicago, but why?  Does she remember her cousins from Thief River (Grandma’s family) ever coming to visit? What were her aunts and uncles like, especially my grandma’s parents but also Aunt Anna, who played a big role in my great-grandparents’ early married life?

(2) First Cousin John: Who lived in Chicago? What was Uncle Carl like? Did he have any children?  Was his place the same spot as what later became Great-Grandpa’s or was it merely adjacent property? Did we ever find out what happened to Aunt Sophie?  Do any of her decendants survive? What ended up happening to Aunt Ricka, the one who moved to Beltrami and who sent for great-grandpa after her husband died?  Did she re-marry? Do we know what happened to her son, William?

(3) First Cousin Julene: What were the Aunts and Uncles like in terms of their personalities?  Who lived in Chicago?!!  (His family moved west early, so I’m not sure how much contact he really had with the midwesterners.  I’ll have to ask him more about that to see if the other questions I’m asking relatives might be able to be answered by him.)

(4) Grandma’s sister, Delores: What does she remember about the Norwegian relatives and their way of life in the old country?  Does she know if they were really fishermen?  Does she know what town they lived in (in case it doesn’t exist any longer, I need to find out what other small town it was near)?  Does she know who the Norwegians came to live with in Iowa before settling in Minnesota?  Does she know from which port they left Norway?  Does she know in which port they arrived in the US?  What relatives lived in Chicago?!!!!

(5) First cousin on the other side of the family, Marvin: same as above except no Chicago question for that side of the family!  Does he know if there was a sewing school in Crookston around the turn of the century?  We couldn’t find mention of it when I visited the archives there, but maybe he has a clue…?  Does he remember which families his grandparents and parents were friendly with?  What were the neighbors’ names?

Okay, so that ought get me started.  I’ll call them all this weekend and try to get in touch.  I’ll let y’all know if I find out something interesting.  Then it’s on to that manuscript.  Seriously.  I’m determined to get back to it now that I’ve almost cleared my plate of other obligations.  True, it kinda scares me.  I’m worried that it’ll be difficult emotionally to go back to it.  My heart still aches when I let myself think of Grandma more than a couple of minutes.

But, I must finish what she started.  She.  We. Me.

Dreaming of Grandma’s Teeth

I know I dreamt about Grandma last night. I awoke with the unmistakable feeling of her presence. But I can’t remember a thing about the dream. I hate that.

I mean, what’s the point of getting to see her if I can’t remember when I wake up? Ah, but it’s not as if I don’t have memories swirling about me during waking hours.

Perhaps…I saw her in my dream in her overstuffed recliner in the family room, and we rehashed our conversation about teeth. Once upon a time (for real), before I left town to head north for graduate school, we DID have such a conversation. It was then that I learned that she had not been to a dentist in quite some time. Hers had died, and she never replaced him.

I had a pretty good experience with my dentist at the time. I think the conversation might even have started because I had been to see him prior to my imminent departure. In any case, I suggested that Grandma go see him. “He’s very gentle and professional, Grandma. I’m sure he’ll do a great job for you!”

And she did go to him some months later. He complemented her on her fine teeth (she was in her 80s at the time and still had her own set of pearly whites). She replied, I’m sure, with the proud announcement of her Scandinavian heritage as the source of her strong teeth. Turns out she did need a bit of work, though. Her gums had receded and there were a few cavities. But he spaced treatment out over the course of a year and treated her with kid gloves. And she kept those teeth to her dying day. There they lay in her casket.

Wow. That sounds morbid.

It’s just that I was thinking about this blog and how I write about so many random things lately and not Grandma. Not her book. But then, life goes on. I have had life happening to me for months now! In any case, I was thinking before bed last night about my last post on my dental work and thinking, “This has absolutely no relation to Grandma.” And then, poof, up popped the image of Grandma in her chair and my dentist recommendation. So I’m thinking maybe I was dreaming about Grandma’s teeth…?

I don’t know. One thing’s for sure. All roads do seem to lead back to Grandma.

Hope Springs Eternal: Spring of Eternal Hope

To me, Easter is hope. Hope that loved ones live on in some way after we lose them. Hope that Spring will follow Winter. Hope that we are not doomed — love makes a difference.

I used to think of hope as a relatively naive emotion, a blind and Pollyanna-ish sentiment ill-founded in reality. At least I thought such on gloomy days when I had spent a little too much time reading the newspaper or listening to NPR. I went through a period last spring when I was studying global warming and felt as if we were all doomed — no way out, bleak future at best.

Since then, however, I have come to think of hope in another way, starting with a recognition of dire circumstances and emerging as a commitment to live as if we can make a difference Maybe all we can do will not be enough, but we do not ultimately know this for sure. Hope is looking the world’s and our own pain and problems in the face and daring to move forward anyway. Thus hope wears the look not of a fresh-faced cherub but of a wrinkled old woman who still insists on “puttin’ up peaches” for the winter.

Grandma’s mother was such a woman. On the day she died, she canned peaches all morning.

As a New Englander now, I must trust that Spring will come … eventually. I had occasion to assure a newcomer to our country of this fact yesterday. The couple whose wedding I attended in Peru joined my family and me for Easter yesterday. (He works here and brought his new wife to the US shortly after they were married in Lima.) What a time to arrive in America! January in this part of the country is frigid and bleak. When I told this woman that soon she would see an explosion of green everywhere, that New England is positively lush in springtime, to hang on and she will see a feast for the eyes — she looked dubious. It’s hard to imagine such a scene when one looks out the window at this moment.

I, myself, have been anxiously scanning the conservation land behind our house for the first signs of spring: budding skunk cabbage in the creek bed. Nothing yet. But I well remember how within a week of seeing those bright green leaves emerge, all the lawns will turn green and then the leaf and flower buds will appear on the trees. And we will have months of verdant foliage, ending in a blaze of bright hues months later in the fall.

Our new friend must take this on faith.

We all must.

Happy Spring, folks. The calendar says last Thursday spring arrived. I don’t believe everything I read, but I am determined to hope. Maybe this year I’ll even take up canning.

Other Words for Grief

“other words for grief” … These words arrested my attention as I scanned search terms folks used who found my blog. Other words. I wonder how much of what I am doing on this site is searching for the words.

Then I got curious about the word “grief.” Being an academic, I decided to start with what the Oxford English Dictionary offers as a definition. The OED is a historical dictionary; that is, it gives the history of a word and all of its various meanings throughout the time it has been used, including obsolete usages. In the case of “grief,” the entry began with a few obsolete definitions that I find tremendously interesting:

(1) Hardship, suffering; a kind, or cause, of hardship or suffering. (first used in 1225 A.D.)

(2) a. Hurt, harm, mischief or injury done or caused by another; damaged inflicted or suffered; molestation, trouble, offence.

b. A wrong or injury which is the subject of formal complaint or demand for redress

(3) Gravity, grievousness (of an offence).

(4) a. Feeling of offence; displeasure, anger.

b. Phrases: to take in (on, to) grief: to take offence at: see also AGRIEF. to take grief with (a person): to be displeased with. without grief: without being offended or annoyed; without grudging.

(5) a. A bodily injury or ailment; a morbid affection of any part of the body; a sore, wound; a blemish of the skin; a disease, sickness. CHECK OUT THIS EXAMPLE FROM 1398: “Somtyme the greyffes of the skynne come of a cause that is wythin.” (How true it is that at times what ails us comes from within and is not an external cause!)

b. The seat of disease; the diseased part; the sore place.

6. Physical pain or discomfort.

And finally with definition seven, we get to the modern usage, no longer obsolete:

(7) a. Mental pain, distress, or sorrow. In mod. use in a more limited sense: Deep or violent sorrow, caused by loss or trouble; a keen or bitter feeling of regret for something lost, remorse for something done, or sorrow for mishap to oneself or others.

Of the many examples cited of this usage throughout time, the one that tugs at my heart most is the following (I’ll paraphrase into modern English after the quote.)

1413 Pilgr. Sowle (Caxton 1483) IV. xx. 66 “How may myn eyen..Restreyne them for to shewen by wepyng Myn hertes greef.” In other words, how can I restrain my eyes from weeping my heart’s grief? As anyone overcome with grief can attest, restraint is difficult if not impossible at times.

Byron said in 1817, “Grief should be the instructor of the wise.” But what a price. What a price.

Grief Surfaces Once More

Just when I was good and distracted by my recent trip to Peru, wham! I wake up crying yesterday morning. How could Grandma be gone? In my dream it was inconceivable and yet so devastatingly true that she is dead that I broke down.

And yet, how can this level of intensity still be there after more than a year and a half? How can the loss still feel so fresh? Why does this passionate grief come back at certain times and not others? Grief is capricious.

It’s been a long time since I dreamt of Grandma. In this dream she was alive for part of the dream, riding in the back of a car that I was driving. My mom was in the car, too, and I was lost (literally). I was asking them to give me directions because I don’t know downtown Sacramento, CA. “This is your town,” I said to them both. But they didn’t tell me where to drive. I couldn’t see the face of either of them. I didn’t know where to go, so I kept on driving.

Later in the dream, Grandma was dead, and I was at her house. I just kept crying and hlding back screams. I was so angry. It was at this point that I realized that I was dreaming while I dreamt (you know that feeling), and I remember telling myself, go ahead and cry. So I did, and then I woke up.

The part that is hardest about the dream is that I never saw Grandma. She was there but unresponding — so not like her. I was angry, I think, because of this anomally. Where is she, I kept asking. Why won’t she speak?

Such things have a way of unsettling ones day.

More Random Thoughts After a Lazy Afternoon in Peru

Almost immediately upon publishing my last post, I felt the unfairness of leaving it there without a follow up on a more positive note.  Here is my coda, written tonight after an afternoon spent reading in my hotel room here in Casma.  When I am sick, I like to read.  So it was VERY helpful to me today to be able to spend some time reading a good novel all alone in my own world.  I didn´t even have any guilt about this break, as M. and JK. also chose to take the afternoon off!  We are all feeling done in by the heat, and there is no work we can do on a Sunday here.  No transportation to take us up to any villages until tomorrow. So here are five more words for you, with shorter explanations only becasue we are going to dinner soon….

Chivalry.  Hospitality. Ingenuity. Friendliness. Hope.

Chivalry. I have been quite astounded at the chivalry of our Peruvian grad students, M and R.  They drop everything if they see you need help and do all they can to make us gringos comfortable. M ran (literally) back to a restaurant where we had lunch today to look for JK´s hat, which ended up being in her daypack after all.  R always carries my stuff, even when I can handle it.  These guys are true gentlemen. They look after us so well!

Hospitality.  In Huacuy, in the middle of nowhere at 7,000 ft., Fonso asked me if we wanted lunch.  We were trying to do a quick install there of a vaccine fridge (with solar panels) but such things are never quick.  He mentioned arroz, so I figured it´d be a little rice and that´s it.  Instead, an hour later Fonso came back and told us the meal was ready.  He had prepared not only rice but an onion salad common in Peru and a main dish made with ¨Anchovies¨which are really large sardines stewed in a sauce of tomatoes and spices.  He showed us the can of anchovies, and it was a food subsidy can, not for resale.  In other words the equivalent of our government-dispensed cheese. He was sharing with us his government issue food.

Ingenuity.  Every time I turn around, I hear a story about some Peruvians who figure their way out of a jam using ingenious methods.  They know, so often, better than we how to do something.  We give them carefully drawn plans for a pump house and they make it in a way that it will ACTUALLY work!   They know how to do much with little.  Reminds me of what Grandma told me of her family on the homestead.

Friendliness. The internet cafe guy, Roberto, I think is his name, came running down the street the day we arrived back in Casma and gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek.  He is the one I wrote about earlier who was speaking to me and whom I did not understand.  We had such a nice chat that first day after I was done blogging and was waiting for mi amigos, that I became HIS amiga.  Every time I come here, the women at the kiosks on the sidewalk yell to Roberto that his Amiga is here!

Hope. Yes, hope springs eternal in Peru. Hope that living conditions will get better.  Hope that the gringos will be able to do the impossible and possilbe alike.  (No pressure there.)  Hope that if they keep working, they can make a life for themselves filled with health and love and all good things.

Amazing how spending the afternoon reading helped me change my attitude so completely….  I was reading (and finished) Thornton Wilder´s The Bridge of San Luis Rey, which takes place in Peru. And I will say right now that it is an excellent book, well deserving of its Pulitzer Prize. It´s short, so I was able to finish the whole thing.  And it deals with themes I care about: love and grief, big questions like why certain things happen to certain people.  Reading it today gave me the larger perspective I needed.

My compadres are ready to go eat now, so I will just leave you with one quote from the end of the book: ¨But soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left the earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten.  But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them.  Even memory is not necessary for love.  There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.¨

Words and Grief: Tennyson’s Wisdom

For a long while I’ve been meaning to write a little about how an old poem has helped me in dealing with my new grief. A new blogger friend of mine reminded me, coincidentally, of Alfred Tennyson’s great poem, In Memoriam, written after the unexpected death of his best friend, whose life was cut short in its prime. The poem is really a series of shorter poems, each numbered. My favorite, I think, is number 5:

I sometimes hold it half a sin
To put in words the grief I feel:
For words, like Nature, half reveal
And half conceal the Soul within.

But, for the unquiet heart and brain,
A use in measured language lies;
The sad mechanic exercise,
Like dull narcotics, numbing pain.

In words, like weeds, I’ll wrap me o’er,
Like coarsest clothes against the cold;
But the large grief which these enfold
Is given in outline and no more.

What Tennyson means by “weeds,” by the way, is garments. We wrap ourselves in words like we wrap ourselves in clothing to keep out the cold. But our grief cannot be fully covered — only expressed in outline form through our words.

Over the last four months since I started blogging, I’ve found other sites where folks used words to help themselves grieve: Mariel’s Garden, The Price of Love, Dying Man’s Daily Journal, etc. Always, I find these sites moving. We try to express…the pain…the memories…the anger…the sadness. Words are inadequate, yes, but they help us like a “narcotic,” deadening some of the pain at least sometimes.

Is it “half a sin” to try to use words to help us grieve? We can’t do justice to the lost loved one nor to our own feelings. Yet, I think Tennyson sees that writing is necessary for him, despite its inadequacy as a medium for healing. And as for me, I think this blog has helped me work through some of my pain at the loss of my beloved grandmother and writing partner. I wanted to take the opportunity to thank those of you who have offered me support here. Your words have wrapped me up against the cold.

Thank you.

Christmas without Grandma: Eating my Way through Grief

This year was the second Christmas without Grandma. I didn’t fall apart like last year, when we decorated the tree. I didn’t get all sniffly when I prepared the lefse and rommegröt. I didn’t feel particularly glum when I cooked Grandma’s Swedish meatballs.

But I ate. A lot.

Even so, I did not go off the Weight Watchers plan. I just lucked out because I started the program back in October on a Tuesday, so my week ends on Monday night. Christmas Eve was Monday night, and, as always, I had barely eated into my 35 extra points for that week. So enjoying a second helping of meatballs, multiple lefse, and rommegröt, a handful (only one!) of M & Ms and a glass of wine, only put me 18 points down out of my 35. Then the week “ended.”

Christmas Day I got 35 more points. Yippee! I used up 16 of my 35 for the week on Christma Day and night. The day after Christmas there was still lefse calling to me, but I only used 6 of the 35. You see, the feasting was abating. 🙂 Of course, that leaves me little room for New Years Eve (which will fall on the last day of this “week”), but that holiday isn’t very important to me, and I’m not a big drinker, so I think I’ll make it through without going outside my points total.

The last time I did Weight Watchers, I was so “good” during the holidays, only eating minimally of high points foods. And I felt horribly deprived. Ugh. That approach was clearly not sustainable. I’m looking for a different path. Eat basically what I want on select days of the year when food matters to me, and then work doubly hard to lose what I gain right away instead of letting the weight creep up.

Truth be told, I needed to eat through my grief this year. The food of Christmas spells comfort to me, it stirs memories of unconditional love and vast quantities of assurance and hope. I miss Grandma, and eating “her food” with near abandon, helped me to feel her near me again.

What I did do “right” was NOT eat filler stuff that I normally would consume just because it was in front of me. I ate the things I really loved, and I stopped when I was full. But when I got a little hungry again, I ate more of the good stuff instead of counting and waiting and apportioning my pleasure to small doses per day.

Now, one of the down sides to having a week that starts on Tuesday is that my regular Weight Watchers meeting time is on Tuesdays and thus is cancelled for two weeks because of Christmas and New Years. I coud go to some other meeting, but I am pretty busy getting ready for my Peru trip and doing holiday things, and I prefer to stick with the group leader and members I know. So I’ve decided that I’ll go and weigh in, at least, on the day before I leave for Peru, Jan. 3. That way I’ll know how my strategy worked this holiday season, and I’ll also have a way to find out what happens to my weight on the trip. (I’m curious if I’ll lose weight when not trying — merely because of the conditions we’ll be under in rural Peru.) Anyway…

Did eating help me deal with my grief? Yes.

Do I still have a problem with eating? Yes.

Do I need to get back to eating fewer points per day? Yes.

AM I doing that? Yes. Well, after I finish those last four lefse, that is….

Christmas Gifts: Singing at the V.A. Hospital

Last night my son and I visited the local Veterans Administration Hospital to give a holiday concert with others from church. So cliche … but I cried, I laughed, I counted my blessings.

Driving to the church to meet up with folks to carpool to the V.A., I was dead beat. It’s been a long and weary week, and I had a grumpy kid in the back seat. We chowed down on a quick bite to eat at church, and I had to rip the kid away from his pals, who were all playing tag and having a good ole time running around the Common Room. “I don’t want to go to the concert, Mom!”

“Tough. We’re goin,” I grumbled, adding, in a pathetic attempt to put on a happy front, “Oh, it’ll be fun!!”

So we drove two and a half miles through the frozen, dark streets to the hospital. Once there we felt awkward and just stood around the recreation room waiting for the concert while the more outgoing parishioners mingled with the vets. There weren’t enough seats, so my five foot tall ten-year-old sat on my lap. He’s a little heavy for that kind of thing, but it was so cozy and nostalgic holding him like that for so long. Then the music began.

After a few opening numbers and a couple of readings, we sang Silent Night. That’s when I saw a gentleman in a bright blue sweater off to the right in the front row. He had taken out a handkerchief and was dabbing at his eyes. The woman next to him got out her hankie. Then I lost it. And darn, no hankie! It was such a quiet moment, though, all of us together singing an old tune like that. Made me feel like I was a part of something bigger. I missed my dead Grandma and my other family members far away in California. I knew these patients missed their loved ones, too. Yet … silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.

Then during Hark the Herald Angels Sing the guy stretched out flat on a gurney in the far corner of the room began laughing. An odd laugh, not connected to anything in particular. He just would burst forth wth a hardy ha ha ha ha and then stop. I remembered what our little friend from church who rode to the concert with us had warned my son. “Some of these people don’t have brains that work right. But don’t be scared of them. They really like us coming to sing for them!” Smart kid.

Later, when the Religious Education Director was reciting The Night Before Christmas and got to the part when it says Santa laughed and had a belly that shook like a bowl full of jelly…she waved to the man on the gurney (cause let’s face it — we were all waiting for him to come in on cue), but he wasn’t about to laugh when expected 🙂 The entire room burst into hysterics. Then the man laughed after the next line and the Assistant Minister, who was sitting next to him, patted him nicely on the knee.

I gotta say that although this man’s laugh was disconcerting at first, after a while I grew to appreciate the way it broke through everything, interrupting us, reminding us of the importance of mirth. Joy to the World. Here, here! I saw him after the concert, and he was smiling widely at everyone. Then another man flagged me down and tried to give me his “canteen voucher books” — he was so filled with gratitude that he wanted to give back something, and that was what he had. I just smiled and said he should keep them. Moving across the room a little further, I was grabbed on the elbow by a man a man who whispered in my ear, “Angels came to me last night and told me that God was blessing every one of you coming here tonight.”

Indeed. I believe in God. I believe in love and that is what God is to me. And I saw God last night at the V.A. Crying, laughing, loving.

Dogga Ate Little Bo Peep: Letting Go of the Past

My dog ate Little Bo Peep. And Butcher Bear. Then she waited a day and ate Green Dove of Peace, for good measure. Monster! Bad, bad, bad dog!

I arrived home the other night to find my husband’s sad face greeting me at the door (no, he is not congenitally sad — this was a special case). “What’s wrong?” I queried as soon as I saw him.

“…” Big breath. “The dog ate an ornament…,” he said, waiting for my reaction. Our Christmas tree is decorated each year with ornaments I’ve collected over the course of my whole life, my mother having given my sister and me an ornament each year when we were kids. Many, if not most, of the ornaments on the tree have stories that go along with them.

WHICH ornament?” I began to rush into the living room.

“A bear that was some kinda cook or something…” he trailed off.

“Oh!” I relaxed. “Is that all? I don’t care about Butcher Bear a bit.” No story. No big deal. See?

We walked over to where the remains of the “ornament” were gathered on the table. “OOOOOO NOOOO! Little Boo Peep!! BAD DOG! Little Bo PEEP! BAAAAAAD DOGGGGG!”

“Oh. Er, I guess she ate two ornaments, huh? … I already let her know how we feel about this infraction, honey. You don’t need to yell at her…”

The heads of Bear and Bo stared at me from a tangle of wires, a one-inch square piece of pink gingham, a couple of plastic hands with teeth marks puncturing them, a little twisted brown paper, and a teaspoon of fluffy white stuffing. How could you let your stupid dog eat us? Are you some kind of idiot, leaving a young dog alone with our tree? Why didn’t you at least hang us a little higher, lady?

I sifted through the remants. Wait a minute. Where is Bo Peep’s sheep? Ew. Gross. She must have swallowed it whole. Plus a large quantity of gingham, not to mention stuffing.

“Man, she ate A LOT. Great. Now she’s going to get sick with some intestinal blockage, and we’ll have to take her to the emergency room … AGAIN!”

“Yeh, $1,400 last time. I haven’t forgotten.” Clearly my husband was way ahead of me in the imagining repercussions department.

What can I say, though, really? Our dog is a year and a half. She’s a terrier. Bad combination. Add in that she was mad at my husband for coming home and then going down into the basement instead of showering her with undivided and unlimited affection and adoration. We should have been more careful, I guess. But frankly, it’s just that it seemed like she was getting to be a lot more trustworthy the last several months. The ornaments, those nice soft “dog toys,” in her eyes, hanging right at her level, were just too tempting, apparently.

So, I took Bo Peep’s head, to which the hanging string was still attached, and placed her high up in the tree. And I chuckled. She looks rather fearsome for having been such a prissy person before. I was reminded yet again about how when bad things happen sometimes, they may be unpleasant at the time but they make pretty good stories down the road. I was already writing the story of Headless Peep….

Besides, I have been practicing the art of letting go. I’ve had to say goodbye to Grandma over and over again the last year and a half. I’ve had to let myself grieve and to let go of grief and try to embrace a grandma-less world. This sentimental ornament was a link to childhood and simpler times, and I had to let it go, too. Sure, just two years ago my son and I wrote a Christmas poem about Bo Peep herding her rabbit (a farmer rabbit ornament that happened to be Boo’s neighbor that year on a single branch.) Sure, I’d had Little Boo Peep since I was about four years old, and yes, it was probably one of my favorites. (Though truth be told I always liked my sister’s BLUE Bo Peep better than my PINK one anyway.) It’s not as if my precious blue ceramic gingerbread girl had not already been broken in half. No. Bo was not the first childhood keepsake casualty. Just the first to suffer such a violent and gruesome demise.

My anger drained away, and I grew a little more concerned about Peep’s Sheep upsetting the dog’s digestive track. But that all came out all right in the end, too. (Hardy har har.)

Then yesterday afternoon, after driving home from grocery shopping, slogging through a wicked bad snowstorm that ended up dumping a foot of snow on us by ten p.m. last night, I walked into the house and was greeted by the dog. With a green dove’s wind sticking out of her mouth.

“AAARGH!” I scooped up the dog, ripped the wing out of her mouth, and whisked her down to the basement where she was shut into her crate for the next hour. Every once in a while, she yipped timidly from down there. But I had groceries to put away, snow shovelling to supervise (my son just got his very own snow shovel yesterday and didn’t know how to use it properly). Honestly, I also felt like I needed to regain my equanimity before I wanted to see that animal again. After all, I knew it was yet again my fault, but I needed time to feel that way, too.

Eventually I let the pup out of the crate, after surveying the damage to the bird of peace and finding that, though irreparable, our dog had not, at least, eaten enough for us to be worried about vet bills again. I was surprised, actually, that she had found this ornament, which I had missed when rearranging stuff the other day. I had thought that I had removed all temptations from the lower branches. Ah, well, the best laid plans, eh…?

From here on out this season, dogga must be supervised or crated at all times, apparently. I think this is what she wanted. Well, the supervision part, at least. She’d rather be with us all the time, well, okay, with my HUSBAND at least. He is her be-all-end-all.

And me? Well, I’m just the lady who provides chew toys…