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Black dog

Saturday, Zuzu turned 2.

Zuzu models her new pink bandana with little monkeys on it. She’s not too sure about the camera, but she still hoots like a chimp at times, so the scarf motif is appropriate.

She’s the black dog of our two shepherds, and that’s how people on the street refer to her, but she’s nowhere near as black as dearly departed Toby (nor is she nearly as big-legged). But she is as big-hearted.

Sure, at 2 she’s a 90-pound puppy who’s scared of her shadow but will bowl me over to dart out the doggie door to see why Tess is barking. She’s the 90-pound puppy who lets the babies use her for a stepladder and Jude use her for a pillow. She stays chill when the babygirls poke her in the ears or eyes or pull her tail.

She hops on our bed whenever she feels like it and will barely make room for the grownups to get in. She’s irritating, irrepressible and irresistible. We love her to pieces. Some day she’ll make a fine adult dog.

Her big day, of course, was cause for celebration and a family get-together. Any excuse will do, but we do love our doggies. We made pumpkin frozen yogurt in my parents’ old ice cream freezer, of which I now have custody. Mother says they probably got it in 1961. Still works like a champ. 

The dogs were super-excited about the frozen yogurt and got their own servings and the babies’ leftovers. They also got chew bones and Zuzu got a new squeaky toy, which Tess insisted on opening for her. Aunt Cathy got her a hot-pink bandana, too.

The dogs and babies wore party hats, at least for a while, and Jude and my great-nephew Nathan blew those annoying birthday kazoo-like/horn thingies and sang Happy Birthday to Zu. It was a madcap madhouse for a while.

The birthday girl snitches Sylvia’s leftovers from lunch.

Tess is a party-hat wearer from way back.

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Hey, hey, what can I do?

I’ve been a bad Lolly-diarist lately – life keeps getting away from me. That, plus some crazy hand tendonitis (or whatever it is) has kept me from writing like I should. But, hey, hey, what can I do but start again? I’ll be true. Oh–yeah–oh–ye-ah.

(First, a note to my children: Remember when we saw Page & Plant in 1995 at Barton Coliseum? Can you believe it’s been 17 years?)

Anyway, tomorrow I’m going to get back to the hair episodes, including the one time a haircut made me cry. Sunday I’ll explain how we ended up staying in a castle in Italy. One step at a time gets you back on track, right?

But today, just a note about some of the things that have been keeping me busy.

Jude and I had a sleepover the other night. John was still in Washington, so it was just the four of us, Jude, Tess, Zuzu and me. Tess and Jude slept together all night in the sleeper sofa bed. She always takes her guardianship seriously, but she even allowed cuddle time since Jude’s such a grown up boy now.

Anyway, we watched Boris Karloff’s The Mummy.  Jude dug it, and I dug watching him.

In the opening scene, I recognized something I hadn’t before and said, “Hey, that’s Petra!” Of course ever-curious Jude asked what Petra was, and I explained that it was an ancient city in Jordan, yada, yada. (I also ran to get my iPad to confirm it was Petra. Can’t be wrong when teaching a 6-year-old.)

Later in the movie the characters were talking about being in Egypt, and Jude turned to me and said, “Hey, they said Egypt. You said Petra is in Jordan.”

Smart kid. I explained how the movie was really shot in Petra, Utah and Hollywood. He was cool with that, just wanted to know the facts.

The Mummy is, of course, a fiction movie about a dead man walking.

But sometimes dead men walking aren’t fictional. Last night Julia and I went to hear Ray Krone speak at the Clinton School – what a story and what a guy. He was at one time a “dead man walking,” when he was wrongly imprisoned for a murder he didn’t commit and sentenced first to death, then to life.

In Maricopa County in Arizona, an especially bad place to be on death row.

Fortunately, DNA evidence finally prevailed, and now he’s a motivational speaker and member of Witness to Innocence. You can read his story and about the project here. No matter how you feel about the death penalty, you’ll be moved. I cried hearing him tell it. Again, what a guy.

His Clinton School talk will show up here, though it’s not posted yet. If you’ve never been to a Clinton School lecture/talk/panel discussion, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s a joy to live in a city with such fabulous free entertainment/edification opportunities. Thank you, Bill. Thank you, Skip and Nikolai.

That’s all right, mama

I’m trying to take lessons about life from my dogs.They really have the best ideas. Every day is the best day, everything is exciting. Beds are for relaxing on (hah, that won’t happen for me, but one can aspire), sidewalks are for walking and the sun if for basking in. Things are really all right.

Tess and Zuzu know how to have fun.

Life if good! Life is great! Everything is wonderful. Live in the present. Stay in the now. C’mon, Mom, let’s play!!

Zuzu has learned to unplug my laptop if I’m working too hard. Pay attention to me, to me, to me. Let’s play, let’s play, let’s play.

Can’t always do that, in the real world, especially with papers and midterms breathing down your neck, but it’s a great thing to aspire to.

Now the dogs and I are chillaxing at home before we take a walk. Gotta get those priorities straight.

The best time is now. The best time is now. The best time is now …

A very merry unbirthday to Zu and 2

When my personal children were little, we had several Disney soundtracks on LP (that’s vinyl for any hipsters who might be reading this) — as well as Mickey Mouse’s Mousercise, which we did daily, after Mama got her time to do Jane Fonda’s original workout, also on LP. You had to stop mid-workout and turn it over. But that’s another story for another day. This is about unbirthdays — which comes from one of our favorite songs on the Alice in Wonderland soundtrack, “A Very Merry Unbirthday!” I’ve been hearing it in my head for several days now.

For this is a big unbirthday week for us — or mini-birthdays. Whatever you want to call them, Zuzu is 9 months old today, Little Miss Sunshine (also known as Annabelle) turned an unfathomable 6 months Monday and Sweetness in Miniature, Sylvia Frances, will be 1 month tomorrow. And she’s actually not so mini anymore; just like her cousin Annabelle, she’s on track to be 10 pounds at 1 month.

In German Shepherd years, 9 months is the Terrible Twos. For big little Zuzu, though, it’s more the freakazoid, “I’m suddenly scared of cameras — but not the vacuum!” years. Human ankles, feet and forearms are chew toys, and her hot-pink Gaiam time-out meditation mat is a challenge: Just how many strips can she tear it into? But we really can’t complain; she’s never chewed a shoe and only once nibbled on a chair (and Tess had done it first, so it was already damaged), and she can entertain herself by throwing, then chasing a ball. She loves everybody, but most especially her boy, our grandson, Jude. They have a fort in the bamboo and major-league fun.

Zuzu is currently scared of cameras, so she had to be caught off guard for this photo.

An eight-day week of three-dog nights

Grandparental duties don’t just apply to human children. We often keep our four-legged grandkids when the kiddos travel.And instead of just stepping over dog toys, we often find ourselves stepping over dogs who have turned into wind-up toys.

But at the Lollypop house, things have been hopping – we’re keeping granddog Wrigley for a week. Since the last time Wrigley and Zuzu spent any real time together, Zuzu has probably tripled in size. (Tess and Wrigley have had some big-girl private play dates.) Wrigley was taken aback at first and cowered in dismay, but Zuzu just wanted to play, which translated into an almost 24-hour barkfest (except for nap- and bedtime) — the higher-pitched, ever-so-annoying, “Please play, please play, please play” hysterical barking that makes you scream, or want to.

When Wrigley’d have enough, she’d growl, then Tess the enforcer would jump in. This happened, oh, probably 42 times the first day and a half.

Tess looks like a princess, but she can be quite the behavior cop.

By now, it’s annoying for a different reason. Oversize Zuzu (pushing 80 pounds at 8 months) and 25-pound Wrigley play until they crash, and Tess mostly ignores them, unless they all run outside (doggy doors are lifesavers) to bark at some potential danger Tess has sensed or to run like maniacs (all three of them) around the backyard. The young girls mostly play under my feet or around my legs — the snapping and growling becomes almost background noise after awhile. Almost.

Zuzu swats Wrigs squarely on top of the head, so Wrigley bites Zuzu’s face. They think this is fun. Girly they are not. Fortunately, they do nap a lot. And by Sunday afternoon, they’re having a blast most of the time. Tess is digging the break from having her ankles eaten constantly. (Zuzu’s in the terrible 8- to 12-months, which are basically the Terrible Twos in dog years.)

But sleeping through three-dog nights is an adventure, too. Wrigley, as always, sleeps with us, under the covers. She’s a cozy little space heater (which John finds a bit problematic in the heat, but it’s her routine — and Zuzu-free safety zone). About 2 a.m., Zuzu, who usually sleeps on our feet at the end of the bed, decides to claim her spot. Fortunately Tess prefers to sleep en guarde in the living room these days and stays put.

Until 5 a.m., when for some reason she decides to poke me in the face. I tell her, “No, it’s the weekend. I can sleep.” (Actually, I never get up at 5 these days, so I don’t know what Tess was thinking.) A bit later, I wake up to Tess and Zuzu staring me in the face, kind of like horses looking over a fence.

I tell them, “No,” shut my eyes and try to doze off. It’s hard enough to sleep when you’re being watched, but suddenly Wrigley comes flying out from under the covers, pins me by my hair, and sticks her nose in my left ear, which she starts licking wildly. They all think it’s quite amusing.

We won’t discuss what happens when she tackles John’s head.

Oh, well. Up before 7 on the weekend never killed anyone. But it can make you pretty grumpy, until the third cup of coffee or so.

Tonight’s the third try — strike or charm remains to be seen. But we’ll make it through. Eight days a week, we love them.

Zuzu and Wrigley take a break from a wrestling match.