Saturday, December 25, 2010

'Tis the Season

It seems strange.  Other states are getting a pounding of snow and rain.  My cousin, Sue, wrote to tell me that Charlotte, North Carolina, is getting its second white Christmas in recorded history.  My friend, Harold, reported seeing Noah's Ark floating past his house in Palm Springs, California.  Currently, it is colder in Houston than it is here in Denver and it's only 33 degrees in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Here in Denver, we are having one of the mildest and driest seasons in years.  Despite our daughter's ritual snow dances and loud renditions of "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow", we've only had a couple of dustings so far this fall.  The weather has stayed obstinately warm.  There have been no school closings and my snow boots have remained in the closet, gathering spider webs.  

We've had an interesting challenge because of the weather.  Our ducks and geese think that it is spring and the males have become interested in fulfilling their role in procreation.  The problem is that our male duck, Louis, is madly in love with our female goose, Madeline.  Augustus, our male goose, has been casting his eyes on our female duck, Thelma.  If the weather doesn't cool them down soon, we'll have to take them aside for a lesson in basic biology.  Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

I love the whole Christmas season, so it's not hard to get into the spirit, even without the snow.  It took a little longer this year.  We were in the second week of Advent and lighting two candles each night before I had our wreath made.  Now, it's Christmas Day.  All is quiet, mostly because everyone's in bed, except for me.  Sometimes, I tell my family, I can be well rested or sane.  I can't be both.  I need some time to myself. 

The time between Christmas and Epiphany is a time to look back and look forward.  Where have I been and where do I go from here?  Most days, the answers to these questions are simple.  I've been in bed.  Now I'm up and going into the kitchen to make tea.  If, however, I have some time to myself over the next twelve days, I'll ponder this question a little more. 

'Tis the season!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gifts for Animal Lovers

Since my blog is in the top 1.5 million blogs on the internet and is read religiously by at least 4 people, two of which aren't even members of my family, I thought I would use my influence to suggest Christmas gifts for the animal lovers on your list:

1.  Hamsters - Their names are Pip and Squeak and I promised to provide foster care for them till they find their permanent home. 

2.  A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron.  The highest praise for this book comes from his daughter, who told me, "Sometimes my dad writes something good."  This wonderful book, about a dog who lives numerous lives, reincarnating until he can find his purpose in life, is filled with Bruce's gentle humor and his obvious love of animals.  No one was surprised when it made the New York Times and the LA Times best seller lists.  It was only natural to hear that Dreamworks Studios is turning this into a movie.

3.  Hamsters - Did I mention that they're free?

4.  Enslaved by Ducks and Fowl Weather both by Bob Tarte.  The first book had us laughing and remembering similar adventures on our urban farm.  Bob and his wife, Linda, began accumulating animals shortly after they were married.  Before long, Bob found himself setting up pens for ducks and geese, hand-feeding parrots, rescuing baby robins, and nursing an injured turkey.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.  As Bob says, "Try living with a parrot and you may end up on Zoloft, too."  The second book is on my wish list.  (hint, hint)

5.  Hamsters - Call soon and I'll throw in the hamster race car and race track.

6.  A St. Nicholas Story by Terri Reinhart and illustrated by Patrick Reinhart.  The classic story of the fiercest little animal in the forest who meets up with St. Nicholas.  The year I first told this story to my kindergarten children, I had a number of fierce, grumpy little pine martens in the class.  The usual St. Nicholas story wouldn't do.  I didn't write down the story for another year.  Within a couple of years, I learned that my little story had been shared around the world and had even been performed as a puppet show. 
I'm excited and pleased to announce that it is now available in Dutch and Swedish (soon) and available as an app for Android  Soon it will also be available for iPhone and iPad!

7.  Don't forget the hamsters. 


Christmas Bunny

I think I overdosed my husband on animals early in our marriage.  It wasn't intentional; some things just happen.  It was really Chris who started the whole thing, anyway.  He once had a blue and white parakeet and he suggested that perhaps we could get another one.  Pitou joined our household early on and started off a long line of pets that would include:  another parakeet, dogs, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, rats, cats, ducks, geese, goats, and a donkey.

It's not surprising that Chris eventually put his foot down and set some limits on our pets.  "No more dogs and no cats," he informs me on a regular basis, just in case I come across a puppy or kitten that is irresistible.  He hasn't mentioned other animals.  This leave room for some creative pet possibilities.

Georgia, the lovely young woman who works with a local rescue organization, knows she can't call us to foster dogs or cats.  I let her know we'd be willing to help out with other animals, if she ever, possibly, once in a great while, needed that.  To my dismay, we were immediately offered the opportunity to foster a couple of llamas.  We have a nice big yard, but it's not that big, so I put the word out to everyone I knew who had land and experience with animals, including the entire list of Alpaca breeders in the state. I trust someone gave them a home.

A couple of weeks later, I agreed to take the three roosters that the municipal animal shelter was anxious to have taken off their hands.  Before we could take them, however, a rooster rescue group had sprung them from their prison, offering them a life free from the possibility of ever ending up as rooster noodle soup.  I immediately pictured little old ladies taking their pet roosters for walks and hand feeding them bits of cookies.
It was quiet on the animal front for a long time.  Then, two days ago, Georgia contacted me again.  This time, there was a rabbit and a couple of hamsters that needed homes.  Fortunately, Chris and just finished reading the book, Enslaved by Ducks, by Bob Tarte.  Chris agreed that we could adopt the rabbit and I suspect that he was grateful I wasn't suggesting adding a parrot or a turkey to our family.

We already have two rabbits, Bunnicula and Carrot, and they are 9 and 10 years old.  Another one  wouldn't be much trouble.  We'll foster the hamsters until we find a home for them, which I'm sure , will be very, very soon; not more than a day or two.

The rabbit's name is Inky, which poses a problem as we have a niece, Ingrid, who goes by that nickname, and our son's cat is Enkidu, or Enky for short.  We're not up for the energy it takes to deal with all that confusion, so we'll change her name to Binky.  Binky is an honorable name.  We borrow it from the Terry Pratchett "Discworld" novels.  I always loved the character of Death in these books. Death is much less foreboding when pictured as the tall, skeletal being with a permanent grin, a love for cats, and a horse named Binky.

The hamsters' names are Pip and Squeak, by the way.  If anyone in interested, call right away.  Now.  If you call before Christmas, I'll throw in our old (but in perfect condition) hamster racetrack and race car.  What a deal!