Tuesday, November 14, 2017

I need a little Christmas

Here’s how it started. First, I smiled when a friend emailed just past Halloween that she’d like to have a few girls over for cocktails but needed to apologize and warn us that her Christmas decorations were already up. Then, my husband and I were driving down the street and saw a yard with two lovely, lighted reindeer standing next to a huge pumpkin.  I commented, “I know the stores already have their holiday decorations up, but this is quite possibly the earliest I’ve seen a yard decorated.” It was November 7th.
Next, I laughed when I saw a Facebook cartoon depicting a turkey proclaiming that November belongs to turkeys—not elves—and got a kick out of an indignant letter to Miss Manners in the Sunday paper.  The writer wanted Miss Manners to back her up in declaring that decorating for Christmas this early is just plain wrong.  Wisely, Miss Manners said it was not for her nor the reader to make that decision.

There I sat, someone who’s never decorated until after Thanksgiving, suddenly considering joining the early decorating contingent. Ever since I’d received the email from my friend, the urge to decorate had been growing, and my spontaneous search for a Santa hat only made it worse. I wanted to take a holiday photo to send out and had to drag out all my decorations in search of the hat.  I never did find the hat, but I did find myself thinking, “Gee, these boxes are spread all over the guest room now, so why not commence decorating?”

The only thing holding me back was knowing the housekeepers were coming the next week, and I always prefer to decorate a clean house.  After they left, however, all bets were off. 

Because we finally succumbed to getting an artificial tree a few years ago, keeping a tree alive for six weeks wasn’t an issue. I was having a hard time coming up with a good reason not to go for it.  After all, I’m like a child when it comes to Christmas. I love the decorations, the baking, and especially the music. 

Fortunately for my husband,  when I play my collection of Christmas CDs in my office all day long for weeks on end, he doesn’t have to hear them. In years past, he’s had to listen to them at least on Saturday and Sunday mornings with his coffee and newspaper. He’d still have to do that, except that our ancient stereo bit the dust this year. That means I can no longer pile five CDs in the CD player and put them on repeat. 

I have loads of “Christmas music with no words,” as my sister calls it—Mannheim Steamroller, Windham Hill, George Winston—and can easily listen to those peaceful sounds nonstop.  Of course, I also have plenty of traditional Christmas collections with Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams, and even Perry Como. 

It was thinking of the music that did it. I could hear the song “I need a little Christmas”  playing in my head, except the words were, “I need a little magic, a little joy, a little counterbalance to the nightly news.”  And that, my friends, is how it came to pass that our tree went up November 14th

Please send comments to inkpenn119@gmail.com

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Princess Puddin's search for snuggle spots

When the weather begins to cool here in Hotlanta, the door to the screened porch stays open most of the day, and I stay out there watching the birds.  That means when it’s time to close up for the evening, my parents must check to be sure I’m not out there snoozing. Heaven forbid Princess Puddin’ spend a night on the porch. When they don’t find me there or in one of my usual indoor spots, the great Puddin’ search begins.

Last week I bamboozled them when I decided to look for cold weather snuggle spots in the great room. When the temps are warm, I can be found in plain sight stretched out on the wood floor or atop Mum's recliner, where I can swish my tail across her face while I look out the front door. For cooler temps, I need new spots.

If the mood strikes, I may recline on one of the couches, and I may even curl up in one of the kitty beds perfectly positioned in the middle of each one. Frankly, I much prefer to lie between the kitty bed and the couch pillows, though Mum is never happy with that scenario. “Puddin’,” she fusses as she picks me up and places me in a round fleece bed, “Why can’t you get in your bed?” She doesn’t seem to understand the attraction of lying on a clean couch cushion, and she’s none too pleased when I hop right back onto the couch.

I know all about couches and kitty beds, so I did my Goldilocks act to find additional snuggle spots. Mum says a girl can never have too many shoes; I say a kitty can never have too many snuggle spots. 

The first one I tried was a kitty size basket next to the hearth. I spent lots of time there last winter when the wood burning stove was going. It’s nice and toasty, and it’s ideally positioned so I can lift my head to see Mum, Dad, and Lord Banjo. When I know that all is well, I drop my pretty kitty face back into snooze position for another few hours, unless of course I notice someone head for the kitchen or deduce that Mum is going to her office, where the kitty treats are hidden.

Once I determined that snuggle spot was still in good shape, I found a new perch in a basket of comfy throws hidden at the end of a couch.  It took Mum a while to find me, I guess because I’ve never before settled there. Mum doesn't give up easily, though, so my new spot was soon discovered. I’ve gone back to it a few times, but I’m not yet sure it’s a keeper. 

Next up was the large metal log holder on the hearth.  For some reason, it's decorated with rabbits on its side.  "Why rabbits?" I've asked, but I've yet to get an answer. "Mum," I've meowed, "It would be way better to have kitties on it, or even dogs," but again--no response.

The large oval container is usually filled with lumpy, uncomfortable logs, so I've never tried it out. Right now, it’s filled with newspapers and some fun brown packing paper. I do love packing paper, especially the big twisted pieces that come in the Amazon boxes that seem to arrive daily. When a box full of twisted paper stays in the kitchen a few days, I burrow deep into it and purr. Other times, I take to shredding the paper with my kitty teeth.  Bet you didn’t know that shredding paper is one of my many talents.
Mum's Lap

It turns out the log holder is not a good hiding spot because it shakes, rattles, and rolls when I climb in, and Mum hears the metal against the stone hearth. Okay, Okay, it doesn't really roll. No matter, it’s hard to sneak into a snuggle spot when it’s noisy. Still, it was fun to try it out, and I got to shred lots of paper. 

For now, I've deemed my two comfy baskets, my kitty beds, and Mum and Dad’s laps the best cold weather choices. But a gal can always change her mind, right?

Please send fan mail to Lord Banjo and Princess Puddin' to inkpenn119@gmail.com

Friday, October 13, 2017

Lord Banjo's Delivery Service #2

I had a ball delivering books with Mum on our first outing, but wait ‘til you hear about the next day.  Day two, the Royal Dad hoisted me into the back of the SUV, and he and Mum drove me to Buckhead.  For you non-Atlantans, that’s one of the ritzy parts of town.

Once again, Mum dressed me in my royal robe and crown and grabbed a stack of my books. I heard Mum and Dad mention barking, something that’s taboo at the Royal Abode. Their dislike of barking is unfortunate, given that low, throaty barking is a distinctive trait of Great Pyrenees. Was their perspective perhaps changing? I was still trying to understand what was up when we parked at Bark Fifth Avenue. Whoa! What a place!

Oddly enough, it isn’t about barking. It’s an upscale, fancy schmancy doggie boutique and spa. Some might call it frou-frou, but as a Royal Pooch with discriminating taste, I saw plenty of outfits, accessories, and treats that I’d happily take home.  I wonder whether the shop keeps a Holiday Wish List for discerning clients.  I’d sign up in a heartbeat.  I heard Dad pointing out a lovely, lavender suit to Mum. Lavender isn’t quite royal purple, but I agree with Dad that I would look stunning in it.

Talk about stunning: I am officially in love with Ashley, the proprietress.  The only thing about her that perplexes me is that she’s quite tall yet has two Chihuahuas.  Why have munchkins, when you could have a super-size Royal Pooch like me? I think she needs to become my Auntie Ashley and learn all about my Great Pyrenees lineage and how special we GPs are.  Don’t get me wrong; munchkins are quite cute as playmates, but I’m partial to dogs more my size.

Ashley assured me that the stylish outfits I admired are also available in sizes for statuesque dogs, and I’m angling for another visit so I can spend more time perusing the suit and collar selection. I didn’t see any crowns, but I could use a new one of those too. Mum has promised that we can also surf the Bark Fifth Avenue online shop to stay up to the minute on the latest fashions.

I’m sure it was meeting me live and in person that prompted Auntie Ashley to take a few extra books and to make plans for packaging my book for the holiday season.  “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch” is now available in the Bark Fifth Avenue online shop too. The best news of the day was that I am signed up to make a special guest appearance in December. Well, yes, Mum is invited too since it’s a book signing, but you know I’m the celebrity in this duo.

Do you love your doggies as much as the Royal Parents love me?  Of course, you do. Then be sure to visit Bark Fifth Avenue so your pups can experience high-end doggie couture and luxury grooming services.  Hmmm, I wonder whether Auntie Ashley would consider opening a branch in France—Bark Parisienne? I can think of someone who would be the perfect ambassador, being descended from French royalty and all.

Please send fan mail to Lord Banjo at inkpenn119@gmail.com