Shenanigans and Tom, Destroyers of Worlds

I have two dogs. They are named Shenanigans and Tom Foolery. Shenanigans is mostly black, Tom is mostly grey. Their mother, Angel, was a stray who spent a couple of years living in the barn of a friend. Angel looked like a Great Pyrenees, rough coated Collie mix, and I think that’s what she was. Angel, and her puppies, have the Pyrenees polydactylism. (aka, extra toes.) Their father was a purebred Australian Blue Heeler. So, what do you get when you mix Blue Heeler, Collie, and a Great Pyrenees? This.
Tom Foolery and Shenanigans, front view.


Shenanigans and Tom Foolery, side view.


You may be thinking to yourself, these aren’t very good photos. Don’t you fancy yourself some kind of amateur photographer? Didn’t you used to take pictures for a living? Is this the best you can do? The answers are yes, yes, and yes. It’s the best I can do because whenever I bust out the camera, they start playing a game Evan and I have dubbed, Call of the Wild. Likeaso:


Call of the Wild often looks like this.


But more often it looks like this. Note who is in the lead (Shenanigans).


It goes without saying that people who love their children and/or pets will often see them in an overly favorable light. They think their child is the best/smartest/kindest/most creative/whatever. I’m no different. Except for one thing – I am actually right when I say that Shenanigans is the most athletic dog on the planet. She’s a true all-rounder, like Barry Bonds before the steroids. She can jump and she can run blazingly fast, but where she really reaches a supernatural level of ability is in her reflexes.

I submit as proof: one dead woodchuck, two dead rabbits, two dead field rats, countless dead squirrels and a handful of robins. ROBINS. Like, animals that can FLY AWAY. And these are all just animals who have happened to wander into the backyard. Essentially, if you cross into Shenanigans’ quarter acre piece of earth, you’re not likely to leave. And those are just the dead animals I know about it. Here’s the other thing about my dogs. They don’t just kill. They eat what they kill. All of the above are just the ones I managed to get a hold of before they finished them.

While Shenanigans is the star athlete of the two, Tom is the brains of the operation. (It’s very Pinky and The Brain, now that I’ve stopped to think about it. Shenanigans even drives Tom stark raving mad on a regular basis.) I submit this story as proof of Tom’s intelligence. On one blazingly hot August afternoon, I go outside to see what Evan’s doing in the shed. Shenanigans runs up, but not Tom. I instantly know something’s amiss, because this is literally the first time in three years that Tom hasn’t come running up to greet me. I ask Evan where Tom is. He says under the fig tree, because it’s so hot. “It’s not because it’s hot,” I say, “it’s because he’s got something dead under there.”

I call Tom and he’ll only come halfway to me. Tom is All Caps OBEDIENT, so now I’m certain he’s got something dead under there. Besides, he’s wiggling all over the place while saying, “Oh my gosh! Hi, so good to see you! Ha ha ha! Yeah, nothing to see under here! Nope, nothing! Ha ha ha! Nothing to look at here! No need to look! Ha ha ha!” I go in, expecting a squirrel. I find a woodchuck. Tom looks at it lovingly, and then turns to me. “Isn’t it the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?” Tom asks. “Yes, Tom,” I say. “It’s beautiful.”

I put Tom and Shenanigans into their kennel, where they both view the following: I disappear into the house. Come back with a black plastic bag. Disappear into the fig tree. Come out with a full plastic bag. Disappear to the side of the house. Return with no black plastic bag. I then set the dogs free.

Shenanigans runs straight to the tree. She will search it an additional 147 times over the course of the day. Tom goes straight to the deck, flops down, and enters into a depression. He never looked for that woodchuck. He knew it was gone.

What prompted this post was the murder of yet another rabbit last night. I went outside, found Tom on the deck. Shenanigans did not come running up. I know something is amiss. And then Tom starts in with the nervous laughter. “Ha ha ha! Good to see you! Good to see you! Ha ha ha! I haven’t done anything, just so you know. I’ve been on the deck the whole time. I didn’t do anything! Ha ha ha!” I look out in the darkness. The only thing I can see of Shenanigans is her white tail tip wagging. I flip on the floodlights. She has a rabbit. A really beautiful one, too. I’ve rarely seen such a large wild rabbit. I almost wondered if it was a domestic, and whether I’d find “Lost: Pet Rabbit” signs up around the neighborhood.

Shenanigans mournfully watches me bag up the partially eaten rabbit. When Tom comes too close she growls like she means it. This is HER good-bye moment. Not his.

Remarkably, as bloodthirsty as my dogs are, they are incredibly wonderful cat babysitters. They love our cats with a devotion that’s so sweet it’s almost sad. They have the herding blood in them deep, and pretty much the only time I can get a photo of Shenanigans that isn’t blurry is when she’s at watch over her flock of cats.


Shenanigans, purebred American Catherder.


Tom likes the cats just fine, but Shenanigans worships them, with a keen maternal instinct. She knows it is of utmost importance that they never get near the road, and she endeavors to keep them out of the front yard. The other day, Spooky bolted the length of the backyard, headed for the front. A young cat in their prime can move astonishingly fast, and she had the jump on Shenanigans. Shenanigans set after her, looking for all the world like a wild dog in Africa about to take down a gazelle. I tensed, wondering if I was about to watch the horrific murder of my beloved pet by my other beloved pet. Shenanigans caught up with Spooky and in a haze of dust, came to sliding stop immediately in front of her, making a roadblock of her own body. Spooky collided with her, and then clutched the ground. Shenanigans wagged her tail and nuzzled Spooky. I could practically hear her say, “Don’t go out there, little miss! It’s dangerous! Now go on inside, and let mommy disembowel some more rodents.”

Quote of the Day!

Frequently, whilst out with friends, I will declare something the “Quote of the Night.” As we’ve not yet reached night today, I don’t know if the night will have a Quote of the Day, but the afternoon definitely did.

Many of you know that I act as driver to one Ursula M. Flower, aged 89, to her doctor appointments, occasionally to the grocery store, and also to CVS, that latter location about 52 times a week. I know the CVS well, my friends.

Ursula, who insists that I call her Grandma, and who, thanks to her shortness, everyone simply assumes is my Grandma, is a regimented woman. She eats the same salad every day – iceberg lettuce/roma tomato/hothouse cucumber with cucumber ranch dressing. She also drinks 4 oz of red wine every evening, strictly for medicinal purposes, doncha know. And once every so often, she likes a Mich Ultra. I guess she digs those rollerblading-at-lunch commercials.

Once, when coming out of surgery, the nurse told her she could have no alcohol for twenty-four hours. Ursula complained bitterly. The nurse thought she was joking. I was like, “Nope, girlfriend likes her evening wine.” It was great seeing the surprise on the nurse’s face. Ursula quickly, and vehemently, insisted that it was STRICTLY FOR MEDICINAL PURPOSES ONLY. IT’S ONLY FOUR OUNCES. IT’S GOOD FOR YOUR HEART. GOSH. EVERYONE KNOWS THAT.

Anyway. Today, I set off to Grandma’s house, such that I might take her to the chiropractor. I called her, to let her know I was on my way. It was then that we had the following conversation:

Holla! Me and Grandma Ursula at the liquor store, getting me a liquor!

URSULA: After going to Jason’s, could you take me to the liquor store? (NOTE: The chiropractor’s name is Jason Robeson. I call him Dr. Robeson. Ursula calls him Jason. Presumably because she’s 89.)

ME: (?!?) Sure, Grandma – what for?

URSULA: I’m going to go visit my friend, and she likes sherry, so I want to bring her some sherry.

ME: Sure, Grandma, that’s no problem.

URSULA: I thought maybe I’d get myself some gin, too. Maybe even some vodka.

ME: (?!?!?!?!?!?!?) Sounds good!

URSULA: Are you sure that’s okay? Are you sure you have time?

ME: Of course! It’s no problem!

URSULA: Okay, well, if you take me to the liquor store, I’ll get you a liquor.

ME: (Brain explodes with joy) HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! THAT’S A DEAL, GRANDMA!!!!

If you take me to the liquor store, I will get you a liquor.

You can’t make that up, ladies and gentlemen. That’s pure, distilled joy, in word form, right there.

For the record, I picked out a bottle of white wine on sale. 8 bucks, normally 12. Quite a fine tip, if I do say so myself. Although – and this is a true story – after the chiropractor and the liquor store, she did say, “Oh, and can you take me to CVS?” I, of course, gladly drove her to the CVS. I really want my own private room there, with a cot. That would improve my quality of life significantly.

In the meantime, I am compensated by such things as eight dollar bottles of pinot, and the sentence, “If you take me to the liquor store, I will buy you a liquor.”


****WARNING: This blog post is probably better left unread by parental units; also possibly Becky Boydston. Just know, this is definitely a PG-13 sort of a blog post. Thank you for your understanding. ****

So! Whitney Houston would have you believe that the greatest love of all is crack, and/or loving oneself. I humbly suggest that the greatest love of all has been exhibited today by Smoove D and Smoove D’s special lady friend Claiborne, who have given me a gift the likes of which will never be surpassed.

They have OFFICIALLY entered a phrase into the lexicon, a phrase partially popularized by yours truly. Now, credit where credit is due – I didn’t invent this phrase. It came into being on DO NOT GO THERE. Unless you like crude, racist, insensitive, vicious humor. I actually don’t much care for Maddox, the guy who runs the site. That said, he is in possession of a certain sort of brilliance. He’s kinda like Charlie Sheen, except he’s been Charlie Sheen since the late 90’s, full bore tiger’s blood for more than a decade.

As it so happens, Maddox once took on women’s fashions. This is what he had to say about baby doll dresses:

As it turns out, R.I.P. my boner is a really useful phrase. For example, at our New Year’s Eve party, everything was hoppin’ along, and then the music shifted at midnight to Auld Lang Syne, a particularly mournful version of it, and wow, man – R.I.P my boner.

As you can imagine, life offers too many R.I.P. my boner moments. Moments where high hopes and good times are dashed against the jagged rocks of reality. Fortunately, the act of saying, “R.I.P. my boner” at the moment of disappointment can help restore those good times even as threaten to fade away. This has been my experience, in any case.

And so, in honor of the many good times restored by this very useful phrase, Smoove D and his lady friend set forth to institutionalize the awesomeness that is R.I.P my boner.

And they did so – with gusto.



A Book that Needs to Happen

Recently, I told a young friend of mine about the glorious heyday of the Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey books. I loved those books. I assume most of y’all are familiar with them, but in case you missed them, they were short and sweet, with one deep thought per page. For example:

“To me, clowns aren’t funny. In fact, they’re kinda scary. I’ve wondered where this started, and I think it goes back to the time I went to the circus and a clown killed my dad.”


“I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they’d never expect it.”

I could go on and on. I don’t know why those books, and books like them, have gone out of vogue. After all, our attention spans have only gotten shorter. I think they need to make a comeback, and I know the perfect vehicle to bring them back. And no, the answer is not Charlie Sheen. The answer is:

Mike Tyson loves pigeons. For serious.


Some quotes from Iron Mike:

“I’m a dreamer. I have to dream and reach for the stars, and if I miss a star then I grab a handful of clouds.”

“I paid a worker at New York’s zoo to re-open it just for me and Robin. When we got to the gorilla cage there was one big silverback gorilla in there just bullying all the other gorillas. They were so powerful but their eyes were like an innocent infant. I offered the attendant $10,000 to open the cage and let me smash that silverback’s snotbox! He declined.”

“My main objective is to be professional but to kill him.”

“Fear is your best friend or your worst enemy. It’s like fire. If you can control it, it can cook for you; it can heat your house. If you can’t control it, it will burn everything around you and destroy you. If you can control your fear, it makes you more alert, like a deer coming across the lawn.”

“My power is discombobulatingly devastating. I could feel his muscle tissues collapse under my force. It’s ludicrous these mortals even attempt to enter my realm.”

“I feel like sometimes that I was born, that I’m not meant for this society because everyone here is a f**king hypocrite. Everybody says they believe in God but they don’t do God’s work. Everybody counteracts what God is really about. If Jesus was here, do you think Jesus would show me any love? Do you think Jesus would love me? I’m a Muslim, but do you think Jesus would love me … I think Jesus would have a drink with me and discuss … why you acting like that? Now, he would be cool. He would talk to me. No Christian ever did that and said in the name of Jesus even … They’d throw me in jail and write bad articles about me and then go to church on Sunday and say Jesus is a wonderful man and he’s coming back to save us. But they don’t understand that when he comes back, that these crazy greedy capitalistic men are gonna kill him again.”

“All praise is to Allah, I’ll fight any man, any animal, if Jesus were here I’d fight him too.”

“I’m the most irresponsible person in the world. The reason I’m like that is because, at 21, you all gave me $50 or $100 million, and I didn’t know what to do. I’m from the ghetto. I don’t know how to act. One day I’m in a dope house robbing somebody. The next thing I know, ‘You’re the heavyweight champion of the world.’ … Who am I? What am I? I don’t even know who I am. I’m just a dumb child. I’m being abused. I’m being robbed by lawyers. I think I have more money than I do. I’m just a dumb pugnacious fool. I’m just a fool who thinks I’m someone. And you tell me I should be responsible?”

“I’m on the Zoloft to keep from killing y’all.”

“I’m just a dark guy from a den of iniquity. A dark shadowy figure from the bowels of iniquity. I wish I could be Mike who gets an endorsement deal. But you can’t make a lie and a truth go together. This country wasn’t built on moral fiber. This country was built on rape, slavery, murder, degradation and affiliation with crime.”

“Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.”

“I never saw my mother happy with me and proud of me for doing something: She only knew me as being a wild kid running the streets, coming home with new clothes that she knew I didn’t pay for. I never got a chance to talk to her or know about her. Professionally, it has no effect, but it’s crushing emotionally and personally.”

Ahhh…Mike Tyson. He’s got a strange sort of wisdom about him, but the surprising thing is, it’s a genuine sort of wisdom. I’d buy that book. Fo’ reals.

Ego Boost

So, I had an uncharacteristically angsty week there! It’s almost as if I grew up in the Seattle area during the age of Nirvana. I was seriously about twenty minutes from putting on some flannel and writing horrendously bad haikus about my shoulder. Something like: Shoulder, you failed me/Abandoned to the elastic/Band of therapy. Or perhaps, Mortality looms/Age cripples youth, crumbling away/Hello, elastic band.

It’s true, yo. Physical therapy really does make mad use of that elastic band. On the plus side, my physical therapist sounds exactly like J. Lo and looks like her, too. So if I close my eyes, it’s like J. Lo’s there. And if I open them it’s still kinda like J. Lo’s there. So entertaining!

Anyway, during the angst, I realized I hadn’t planned anything for dinner one night, which made me veer dangerously toward the flannel. (I was teetering on the edge, it wasn’t taking much at that point.) I remembered the free dinner I’d won from McGee’s, so I asked Evan if he was cool with driving all the way to Anderson. (This is no more than a half an hour, but when you live in Pendleton/Clemson any drive longer than ten minutes becomes so far. When I first arrived from LA I was like, ???? Anderson is right down the road??? But now I, too, have realized just how far away it is.)

McGee's Irish Pub in far away Anderson, SC

Anyway, point is, Evan agrees to the trek, and we set sail for Anderson, intent on collecting our free dinner. I’m still angsty, but content in the knowledge that a server and a cook will be taking care of feeding me. Sometimes, on particularly overwhelmed days, that’s a big deal.

Evan and I are, in many ways, like very old people. We eat lunch really early and we eat dinner even earlier. So, when we arrive, it’s just us and a handful of the aged. One older lady in particular is obviously a character. She’s in our section and she could’ve easily been included in the cast of Steel Magnolias. Hardcore Southern drawl, funny, a little nuts. At one point I turn, and she yells across the restaurant, “You’re the girl from story night!”

“Why, yes I am,” I say. The lady proceeds to tell her friends about me and my epic win, and she keeps using the phrase, “This girl wouldn’t quit!” I don’t really know what that means, but she appeared to be using it as a compliment, so, hey, I’ll take it. After basking in the warm glow of her nice words, and with a full belly, I suddenly realized, “Hey, I won a contest! I am a contest winner! I am fine! Life is good! Who cares whether my shoulder doesn’t work quite as well as it once did?”

And y’all, I didn’t get into it much before, but it was a pretty awesome win. You get instant feedback, as the crowd judges you. Each table has a score sheet, and as soon as the performer is done, each table raises their card. McGee’s has 25 tables. After my bit was over, I looked out into the crowd, and I’m not even going to front – it was pretty wicked cool to see 24 “10’s” out there. One table in the back gave me a “9.” One of my competitors was sitting at it.

Even more wicked cool was the incredible group of people who came out to support me. It was a beautiful case of worlds colliding. My parents meeting horse friends meeting gym friends meeting book trailer friends meeting work buddies meeting my writing group sisters meeting friends so old they’re more like family. 17 people showed up to cheer me on, and they were LOUD. It was helluva a lot of love and support.

I am a profoundly lucky human being. I am surrounded by wonderful people. I have a wonderful family and wonderful friends. They not only let me be me, they encourage it. I don’t know how many people can say that, but I know it’s not enough.

Thanks to Lisa (writing group sister) and Julia (horsey soul mate) my stand-up routine made it on to YouTube. If’n you’d like to check it out: Here it is.