Dachshund Chronicles:  Chapter 20

Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 20

Harley heard the doorbell and leaped up from her desk chair.  Racing to the front door, she called out, “I’ll get it!  I’ll get it!”

Yanking open the door, she expected to see Fluffy on the other side.  She didn’t manage to hide her disappointment very well when she saw that it was Harry instead.  “Oh,” she said glumly, “Hi, Harry.”  She noticed Prescott watching her from the kitchen door and immediately tried to recover.  “Happy Thanksgiving, Harry,” she added in a brighter tone.  She stepped aside to let Harry enter and noticed Roper standing in the front yard looking around.

“What’s Roper doing out there?” she asked Harry.  “Looking for turkeys?”  She chuckled at her own joke.

Harry giggled before answering, “I believe he’s looking for a butterscotch carpet.  He seems to be under the impression that his arrival would be a major media event.”  Harry cast a glance toward Roper before entering the Brownstone.

Harley shut the door. “We’ll just let him wander around for a while,” she said, shrugging.  “When Fluffy gets here, she’ll bring him inside.  In the meantime, do you want to come watch the replay of last week’s parade with B.H. and I?  It’s all that’s running on Under Dome TV today.”

Harry declined, saying he’d rather help Gordy and Prescott in the kitchen.  Harley told him she understood – she figured he must get pretty sick of all those parades.  And he had to put up with Roper’s constant planning meetings, too.  She shook her head and wandered into the den where B.H. was watching television.

“I thought Fluffy was here, B.H.,” she said quietly.  “But it turned out it was only Harry and Roper.  But Fluffy should be here soon, so be ready.”  B.H. nodded, then turned back to the parade.

“You like the parade?”  B.H. nodded eagerly. “I know you’ve only been here a short time, B.H., but you’ll get to be in plenty of them from now on.  Roper loves parades.  He has them several times a week.”  B.H. looked excited at the prospect.

A short time later, the doorbell rang again.  Harley ran to answer it, calling, “I’ll get it! I bet it’s Fluffy!”  She pulled the door open and saw Cookie – or at least she thought it was Cookie – standing on the porch.  Cookie, or whoever it was, was wearing a purple caftan with pale yellow fringe around the cuffs and hem.  It wore a silver headband over its forehead with some sort of stone set in the center.  Multiple beaded necklaces rattled and clanked around its neck, along with several bangle bracelets which jangled noisily when it lifted its paws in apparent greeting.

Harley stood in the door, blinking.  “Cookie?” she asked slowly.  “Is that you?”

The ‘entity’ shook its head.  “Uhhh.  Unnhh.  Uh.  Unnnn.  Uhhhn,” it said.

Harley nodded.  “Oookay.  Well, you sound like Cookie, but I can never understand what the heck she says, so that doesn’t help.  Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving, come on in.”  Harley motioned the new arrival inside and started to shut the door.

Roper scurried up the steps and through the door quickly. He looked around furtively and whispered to Harley, “Did you let Isis in?  I don’t think that’s a wise move, Harley.”

Harley looked at him in confusion.  “Who the heck is Isis?  What are you rambling about, Roper?  And where’s Fluffy?”

Roper wrung his paws.  “I saw Isis standing at the door.  Did you let her in?”

“Who is Isis, Roper?” Harley demanded.  “You saw Cookie at the door.  At least I think it was Cookie.  She said something, but I never can understand her.  I let her in because she was invited.  I don’t remember inviting anyone named Isis.”

“You’re going to be sorry, Harley,” Roper warned.  “Cookie has had some sort of mental break – she’s calling herself Isis and thinks she’s a cat!  Why am I the only one who ever seems to know about these situations??  Where’s Harry?  Did Harry come in?  Did he bring my mole waters?  I can’t find it in the car.”  Continuing to talk, Roper pranced down the hall, calling for Harry as went.

Harley shook her head in dismay.  “Sounds like Roper’s already had quite a bit of mole waters,” she said.  “And if he starts rattling on about Cookie being a cat, the Buffaloes will never take anything he has to say seriously.”  She smiled smugly.  “One more piece of my plan that is falling into place perfectly.  Now where is Fluffy?  I’m starving.”

She rejoined B.H. in the den and found that Roper and Harry were also present, watching the re-broadcast of last week’s Pre-Thanksgiving Parade.  They were seated at one end of the comfortable sofa and at the other end was Cookie.  But instead of watching the television, Cookie sat licking her paw and swiping it across her head, ears and face repeatedly.

Harley plopped down in the big chair where B.H. sat, nibbling on a piece of broccoli from the vegetable tray Prescott had thoughtfully placed on the table in the center of the room.  “What the heck is Cookie doing?” she asked B.H.  B.H. shrugged, his eyes never leaving the screen.

Harley leaned over and whispered to Roper, “Roper!  What is Cookie doing over there?  Looks like she spit-washing her face.”

Roper looked at Harley sourly.  “I told you – she thinks she’s a cat.  Calls herself Isis now and she’s going to go live in a yurt down by the Badger Docks.  You should pay more attention when people talk to you Harley.”

Harley began to get an ominous feeling in the pit of her stomach.  Watching Cookie ‘groom’ herself like a cat was making her feel nervous and worried.  What if she did something crazy and ruined dinner?  Or somehow revealed Harley’s plot to the Buffaloes?  That would be very, very bad.  Before she could work herself into a proper state of anxiety over the situation, though, the doorbell rang again.

Harley launched herself out of the den and to the front door with such eagerness that Prescott, who had come from the kitchen to answer the doorbell, gave her an odd look followed by a hump shake and some snuffling.

“I’ll just get that,” Harley said solicitously, “since I’m right here.”  She added quickly, “It’s probably Fluffy and I know she could use some help with all the food she brought to share with everyone.”  With one paw on the door handle, she waved Prescott away with the other, calling out, “B.H., come help me help Fluffy with her packages!”

Prescott gazed at her steadily for a long moment then started back to the kitchen.  Not before a speculative look entered his eyes, however.

B.H. arrived quickly at the door and Harley opened it wide, a welcoming smile on her snout.  Fluffy stood on the other side, arms full of containers from the Southside Café.  On either side of her, were Griff and Taffy, their small paws clutching carryout bags, also from the Café.  Harley stepped out of the way, allowing the three entrance.

“I was getting worried,” she said to Fluffy as she began taking containers and bags from them and handing them off to B.H. who scurried away to the dining room.  “You’re the last one here – what took so long?”

Fluffy glared at her and pointed to the twins, who were jumping excitedly around B.H.

“Oh,” Harley said.  “I guess I didn’t think about how hard it would be to run one little errand with the twins.  Next year, you can bring them by here first and then go get the food,” she decided.  Fluffy rolled her eyes, but carried the last of the food into the dining room, placing it where Harley and B.H. indicated.

At last, Gordy announced that dinner was ready and everyone filed into the dining room and took their assigned seats around the big table.  Once everyone was seated, Prescott looked expectantly at Harley, who stood and took out a piece of paper.  She began to read.

“We are gathered here today to partake of the bounty of giving and receiving,” she began.  “The receiving of the giving is the most important part of Thanksgiving, even though it’s called Thanksgiving and not Thanksreceiving.  Which it should be.  Because without the receiving, there can be no giving.  And when we receive that which is given, we give the gift of happiness which is then received by the person that is doing the giving.  And so the circle of giving and receiving is given and received again.  In order for there to be giving, there must be receiving.  And it is that receiving that is the giving back to the giver, who receives it. Let’s eat.”  She sat down, oblivious to the confused looks around the table.  “Pass the potatoes,” she added.

After a few minutes during which the assembled guests tried to assimilate Harley’s somewhat unorthodox speech, food began to make its way around the table.  Harley was thrilled that her plan was going perfectly – she took large helpings of the special foods and only tiny amounts of the vegetarian dishes, which she mixed together on her plate.  Prescott and Gordy were told that Fluffy’s contributions to the meal contained coconut and pineapple, which kept them from even smelling the dishes as they went around.  They ate, Harley ate, B.H. ate, Roper, Fluffy and Harry ate and Cookie/Isis licked  at the food on her plate, purring in contentment.

If Cookie’s bizarre actions bothered anyone during the meal, no one said anything about it.  Although there were a few tense moments when Harley thought Cookie was going to stick her tongue into the gravy boat.  In the end, Cookie simply turned her head away from it completely and went back to alternately licking her plate and her paws, eventually leaving the table and wandering off in the direction of the kitchen.  Harley saw Roper watch Cookie leave the room, then turn and whisper something to Harry.  She watched Harry shake his head emphatically and both of them turned back to their food.

Harley ate with gusto, stopping only to request more food.  And when she thought she wouldn’t be able to stuff another bite into her snout, Gordy announced it was time for dessert.  Harley employed her favorite power eating technique to prepare for the creamy, sweet pumpkin pie that would be appearing.  She focused on a single spot on the table in front of her.  She swallowed.  Focus, swallow.  Focus, swallow – don’t blink.  Swallow, swallow.  Her meal was staying put and she felt like she could eat more.

In addition to the pumpkin pies from Fluffy, there was the wheatberry soy pudding, some gluten free, almond butter and carob chip cookies, and a dish of something that looked like what Harley had left AG on her Monkey Romp this morning.  When asked, Gordy said it was a sugar-free mock-chocolate mousse.  Ick, thought Harley.

While Prescott dished up servings of the soy pudding and passed around the cookies, Harley waited impatiently for the pie.  Finally, Prescott took the knife and reached out to cut it into thick, sweet, creamy slices of heaven.  As the knife lowered to the pie’s surface, something jiggled in the custard filling.  Prescott pulled the knife back and leaned forward to see more closely.  The filling jiggled again, then began to crack and separate.  Prescott leaned back in alarm.  Harley jumped up from the table and watched in horror as the surface of the pie erupted, splattering everyone with bits of crust and filling.  A moaning sound emitted from the pie dish.  Something was in the pie!  Or, as Harley soon realized – someone was in the pie.

Cookie emerged from the ruined remains of the pie, moaning and swaying, covered in pumpkin custard, bits of crust and whipped cream globules hanging from her head and face.  She spun slowly, then faster and faster until she was swirling around the table, stepping in the leftovers of the other foods, flinging bits of pie in all directions.  All the while, she was chanting over and over, “Uhnnn uhnnn!  Unnn!  Uhhhh unnhh!”

No one could understand what she was saying.  Griff, Taffy and B.H. had been pushed under the table by their parents and Harley.  They cowered there, huddled together, waiting to be told it was safe to come out again.  Roper’s eyes were wide and terrified.  He was breathing shallowly and deeply, clutching Harry’s paw, making a high-pitched keening sound as he struggled not to Butterscotch.  Prescott and Gordy simply looked on in shock, unbelieving of what they were seeing.  Fluffy excused herself to the bathroom and raced away.  Harley sat, dumbfounded.  Eventually, she came back into herself enough to focus on what Cookie was saying.  She couldn’t make sense of it.  She banged her paw on the table loudly, startling everyone, even Cookie.

“That was my pie!” she raged.  “Who do you think  you are, you crazy poodle!  You’ve ruined Thanksgiving!!”

“Uhh unnn Uhnnnn uhh!” Cookie moaned loudly.

“Oh for crying out loud!” Harley yelled in exasperation.  “Roper!  What is she saying?”

Roper gulped mole waters from the tumbler Harry pressed into his paws.  He looked around, glassy-eyed, unsure of who was speaking to him.  Harry patted him reassuringly.

“Roper!” Harley repeated, out of patience.  “What is she saying?”

Roper blinked.  He drank another healthy amount from his glass before whispering in a trembling voice, “She says, ‘I am Isis, Queen Cat of the Realm.  All shall love me and despair.”

A Little Known Fact

A Little Known Fact

During the Second World War, a lesser known but equally important war was being fought:  The Great Fabric War.  Irish textile manufacturer, Finnegan O’Fergus set out to create a synthetic fabric that would be more durable, flexible and cost-effective than cotton.  He determined that the common Irish potato was a perfect medium through which to develop this wonder fabric.  Through extensive experimentation with potato starches and their natural polyesters, he finally came up with a material which he called “Potaterylene.”  This miracle fiber was lightweight, durable, stain and water resistant and flexible. Knowing the value of his invention, O’Fergus set out for England and the patent office in London.  He was certain that his fortune was about to be made.  Until …

O’Fergus arrived at the Patent Office only a few minutes before closing.  He hurriedly handed over his application and corresponding notes, research and formulas for Potaterylene to Patent Clerk (and frustrated chemist) John Rex Whinfield.  Whinfield assured him the paperwork would be filed before the office closed on this Friday afternoon and O’Fergus left to find a quiet pub in which to celebrate his imminent success.

Whinfield, meanwhile, read over O’Fergus’s research and plotted to claim the discovery for himself.  He took the notes and formulas home for the weekend and, using them as a model, created his own fiber.  He substituted other plant cuticles for the potato polyesters and renamed the fabric “Terylene.”  Whinfield filed his own patent application the following Monday morning and *accidentally* mis-laid the application proffered by O’Fergus.

Terylene was hailed as one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century and Whinfleld became famous.  The DuPont Corporation purchased the formula for Terylene and the revolutionary fabric, renamed Dacron became a worldwide sensation.

O’Fergus petitioned the patent commission for many years afterward trying to prove that he had come up with the fiber first, but it was no use.  Thus, another opportunity for Irish notoriety was lost.

Dachshund Chronicles:  Chapter 20

Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 20

Thanksgiving day dawned grey and blustery.  Not that anyone in The Under Dome (besides Harley, who had already been out for her early morning Monkey Romp) would ever know the outside weather conditions:  Roper’s edict that nothing AG (Above Ground) ever enter the Kingdom ensured that no one dared venture a thought as to what weather conditions, economic woes or other current events might be occurring outside the protective cocoon Roper had spun around his home.  Nevertheless, the mood in The Under Dome was festive – everyone in Roper’s family and extended family was looking very forward to a traditional holiday celebration at Harley’s Brownstone.

While Gordy and Prescott toiled companionably in the kitchen, preparing a variety of low-fat, low- calorie, vegan foods, Harley and B.H. worked feverishly to bring their dream of a full-fat, full-calorie, meat-laden Thanksgiving feast to life.  Harley had made arrangements the previous day with both the Southside Café and Fluffy.  Since Roper always brought a separate vehicle to any family gathering, Fluffy promised she would stop at the Café and pick up the food Harley had pre-ordered the day before.  She would come in the front door, laden with containers of food, which the Café would have already labeled with a special marking.  Harley would immediately take the food into the dining room and place it at the end of the table where she and B.H. (and Fluffy, since that was part of the agreement Harley had made with her) would be sitting.  B.H. had been up early that morning, creating special place cards with a Thanksgiving theme to indicate where each guest would sit.  He had arranged them around the large table so that Gordy and Prescott, Harry, Roper and Cookie would be sitting at the opposite end as Harley and what she was referring to as her “Meat Crew.”

If the Buffaloes asked about the special foods Fluffy had “brought,” they would be told that she had added peanuts, pineapple or coconut to the dishes.  Since both Buffaloes suffered severe allergies to one or more of those ingredients, they would obviously bypass them, ensuring Harley and the “Meat Crew” complete and total ownership of the food.

Harley was delighted that the plan had come together so smoothly.  She could already taste the pumpkin pie, which was going to be so much more delicious than the wheatberry soy pudding Gordy had announced as being dessert.  Of course, she’d probably have to choke down a helping of that so as not to arouse suspicion and avoid hurting Gordy’s feelings.  But if she ate that first, she could purge the foul taste from her mouth with the creamy pie.

Satisfied that everything would go according to plan, she turned her attention to the blessing she was supposed to deliver before the meal.  Settling in at her desk, she worked on the speech, sipping tea and dreaming of turkey until the time Fluffy was set to arrive.

********

Roper had a bad feeling about this family dinner.  He said so to Harry as they rode together in Roper’s plushly appointed Vole-vo.  “I just have a terrible sense of forebowling, Harry,” he said as he sipped mole waters.  “I just know something is going to go wrong at this dinner.  Remember I told you Cookie has been acting strange, Harry?”

Harry nodded.

“Well,” Roper went on, “She came by my office yesterday afternoon and asked if I would help her apply for a building permit.  I asked her what she wanted to build and she got very secretive.  I finally got out of her that she wanted to build a house on the edge of town – over by the Badger Docks.  Only – and this is the really weird part, Harry – it’s not a house she wants to build.  It’s something she calls a yurt.  Have you ever heard of a yurt, Harry?”  Roper sipped his drink again and flapped his paw in the air.

Harry shook his head, “No, Sir.  I am not familiar with a yurt, Sir.  What is it?”

Roper sighed and shook his head.  “It’s some sort of big tent, Harry.  Cookie wants to build and live in a tent.  In my city.  It’s ridiculous, of course.  Which I told her.  But she started scratching at the floor and yowling – she sounded like some sort of wounded animal – and it scared me so bad that I told her I’d fix it and she could build whatever the heck she wanted wherever she wanted if only she’d get out of my office.”  Visibly shaken from describing the encounter, Roper drank deeply from his mole waters and took several deep shallow breaths.

Harry patted his shoulder and murmured words of comfort.  “Then what happened, Sir?”

“Well, after that she calmed down but said she wanted the permit by Friday.  I said, ‘But Cookie, tomorrow is a holiday!  I can’t possibly guarantee a building permit on Friday!’  And she looked at me with this terrifying expression on her face and she said – I’m not kidding you, Harry, I thought she was going to lunge at me and tear my throat out!  I was so scared, Harry!  I don’t know what I would have done if she’d attacked me – I mean, I could Butterscotch but that wouldn’t protect me from her vicious claws.  And I wasn’t even near my desk – see, she’d followed me into my office and cornered me right by the door – and I couldn’t get to my panic button to call a Vole Squad or anything!  I didn’t even have my whistle!”  Roper began taking more deep shallow breaths in an effort to calm himself.

Harry refilled Roper’s drink.  “What did she say, Sir?” he prompted.  Harry noticed they were near Harley’s house and he was anxious to get the story out of Roper so he would have an idea what to expect from the day.

Roper’s glazed expression cleared and he looked at Harry expectantly.  “What did who say, Harry?”  He sipped calmly from his drink.

“Cookie, Sir.  What did Cookie say, Sir?”

“Oh, yes, Cookie.  She said, ‘I am Isis.  Cookie is no more.  Isis will rule.  Isis is all.’  Then she purred and left the office.  I was petrified, Harry!  I’ll tell you, I got on the phone to the building department and got that permit right away.  I’m going to give it to her today.  I’m also going to tell her she’s fired as the children’s nanny and  my Director of Under Dome Security.  Actually, I was kind of hoping you’d do that for me, Harry.  You have such a way with people.  Also, I don’t want to do it.  She really scares the Butterscotch out of me!  And, on a side note, we’ll be needing to appoint a new D.U.D.S on Friday.”

Roper drank more mole waters and settled back into his car seat.  The vole chauffeur buzzed a short time later, announcing they had reached the Brownstone.

“Oh, we’re here, Harry.  Well, great.  I’ll just give you the building permit and let you take care of Cookie.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it, Harry.  And, after all, if she mauls you, we’ve got the clones in reserve so we can either fix you up or replace you completely!  It’s a win win for everyone, isn’t it?”  Roper tittered.

Harry looked at him for a long moment before answering.  “Yes, Sir.  Certainly a win win, Sir.  Good to know you have a plan, Sir,” he said with a touch of sarcasm.

Harry’s tone was completely lost on Roper as he began to primp and fuss over his outfit.  “I really hope everyone notices my special Thanksgiving suit, Harry.  What am I saying?  Of course they’ll love it! It’s one of the best holiday ensembles Jose has ever put together!  Don’t you agree?”

Harry sighed resignedly.  “Yes, Sir.  It’s quite a look, Sir.”  Taking the permit from Roper, he exited the Vole-vo, holding the door for Roper.

As Roper exited the car, he looked around expectantly.  “Where’s the butterscotch carpet, Harry?”

A Public Service Announcement From Georgie

A Public Service Announcement From Georgie

It is raining and cool in my portion of the world again today.  This time of year generally brings warm sunbeams in which I can bask, but this year, I’m experiencing a decided lack of bask-worthy options.  Because of this unseasonably cool, wet weather, I am in great need of a Nook.  In this old photo, I am warming myself in front of a lovely Nook.

This picture was taken a few years ago … when my Daddy and Mama Dog cared about me.  About the time new furniture started appearing in my family room, my precious Nook disappeared.  I heard Daddy Dog tell Mama Dog that the “heating element” had “gone out” on my Nook and was a “fire hazard.”  Pffft.  What nonsense!  What followed were two or three years of frigid winters – without a Nook.  I say two or three because I can’t tell exactly.  When you’re so terribly cold, it’s hard to keep track of linear time.  Anyway, I was without a Nook and it was dreadful.

Then, one day, after one of their extended shopping trips in the “City,” I saw Daddy Dog carry a box boasting a picture of a Nook into the house, then disappear into the basement.  It never materialized in the family room.

Now.  I’ve been to the basement.  The Big Kid carried me down one chilly afternoon to snuggle in his chair and watch television. (I believe it was a dachshund-mentary on the American Revolutionary War, on which subject I have a tremendous amount of knowledge.)  I realized the basement was not, in fact, a repository for cats (despite noises emanating from there which would indicate otherwise).   It was actually pretty plush:  The Big Kid and Little Blonde Girl have bedrooms down there and they have clearly nested.  There are comfy chairs with pillows and blankets, twinkle lights (which really make me look fabulous), and … an enormous Nook!  Big Kid was quick to point out that this wasn’t an actual Nook, but a furnace that heated the entire house.  But it certainly looked like a Nook.  Anyway, I determined the basement was a safe zone for a small dachshund and have returned many times to explore on my own.

On one such exploration, I discovered the mysterious vanishing Nook … in its box, hidden away in a dark corner of the storage room.  Why on Earth was it not upstairs where I could have access to its comforting, healing warmth??  I immediately questioned the Mama Dog, but her response was most unsatisfactory.  She gave me some gobbledy-gook about there not being space in the family room for a Nook, and that maybe when the house was remodeled the Nook would be installed.  Pffftt.  She tried to appease me by making a new soft blanket for the Family Bed.  But I’m not that easy.  Then she tried to further explain that she had only purchased a new Nook because it was on sale and she got such a great deal on it that she couldn’t possibly pass it by.  She was saving it for later, she said.  PFFFTT!  She hates me and wants me to die.

So here I am today, during one of the coldest spring seasons in history … freezing, shivering, suffering because “there’s not space for the Nook at this time.”  Ridiculous.   Hateful.  Mean.  I have tried in vain, with plaintive, baleful looks and general snubbery, to express my extreme displeasure over this untenable Nook situation.  But Mama Dog is standing firm – no Nook until the house is remodeled.  Pfft.

In conclusion, let me warn each and every one of you that if there’s a Nook in your home, appreciate it.  Lie in front of it as often as possible, even though the threat of over plush-ing looms near.  Do not, even for a moment, take it for granted for a Nook is a precious thing and fleeting in its warmth.  If you do not have access to a Nook, seek out a hot blanket, a powerful sunbeam or even one of those furnace-thingies.  I do not know how much longer I will be able to survive to tell my tale of woe in this Dachshund Spring.  But until I am silenced forever by the cold, I will continue to promote Nook Neutrality.  Stay warm and thank you for your support.

Dachshund Chronicles:  Chapter 19

Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 19

Harley and B.H. sat at the kitchen table, each with a mug of gravy and a small plate of cheese.  While B.H. nibbled his cheese politely, Harley crammed all the pieces into her snout and chewed loudly.  Gordy, chopping vegetables at the counter, looked over his hump at her and snuffled loudly.  Harley swallowed her food and wiped her snout with the back of her paw.  “Sorry,” she mumbled to Gordy.  “It’s been a long time since I ate lunch and I’m pretty hungry.  When’s supper, anyway?” she asked in a surly tone.

Turning back to his vegetables, Gordy snuffled and pointed a hoof towards the oven where something was baking.  Harley thought it smelled like meatloaf, one of her favorites.  But she was positive that the loaf would not be made of meat – nothing ever was when the Buffaloes made it.

She shared a look with B.H. then asked, “Is that your famous meatless meatloaf I’m smelling, Gordy?”  She rolled her eyes behind his back and B.H. giggled.

Without turning around, Gordy snuffled and nodded his big shaggy head in the affirmative.

“Well, that’s good,” Harley said in a falsely cheerful voice.  She pantomimed putting her paw down her throat and gagging.  B.H. giggled again.

Gordy turned around and fixed his large brown eyes on the pair.  Harley sat looking innocently at him while B.H. tried, unsuccessfully, to contain his giggles.  Snuffling in irritation, Gordy shooed them both out of the kitchen.

“Well that’s a fine how-do-you-do,” Harley grumbled as they left the room.  “I don’t know why you can’t just let me eat what I want!” she shouted over her shoulder.  Gordy pointed his hoof at the kitchen door and snuffled.  “Well I think it tastes like card board!” she responded.

Turning to B.H. she whispered, “They think they’re so smart, feeding me vegetarian crap.  But I’m not going to let them ruin Thanksgiving, B.H.  We’re going to have real Thanksgiving turkey with dressing and gravy and mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie and Prescott and Gordy can put their pressed tofu turkey mold where the hump don’t shine.”  B.H. nodded encouragingly.  “Come on, B.H.,” Harley said decisively.  “We’ve got work to do.”

Harley walked quickly to her study, B.H. close behind her.  She shut the door behind him and motioned for him to take a seat in front of her desk.  She settled herself into the chair on the other side and then leaned forward to speak intently to B.H..

“Here’s what we’re going to do, B.H.,” she said.  “Gordy and Prescott have a vegetable-heavy Thanksgiving meal planned out.  There won’t be any meat in the turkey, no fat in the gravy and I’ll bet you they’re going to try to put some weird dessert in place of the pumpkin pie.  Last year, it was gluten-free flan.  Blech.”  She shuddered at the memory.  B.H. looked scared.

Harley continued.  “This year there’s going to be meat feast!”  Her eyes took on a gleam of meat lust that burned intensely. “I’m going to call the Southside Café and have them cater a real meat meal.  I know it will be expensive, since Roper pushes the grub-based diet, but it’s going to be worth it.”  She rubbed her paws together.  “Oh, B.H.,” she cried gleefully.  “Just wait until you taste that first bite of juicy, tender turkey!  It will bedivine!”

B.H. bounced excitedly in his chair and clapped his small paws happily.

“Now,” Harley said, leaning back in her chair, tapping her paw on the desk as if to aid her thinking process.  “What’s the best way to trick the Buffaloes into not noticing the real meal we’re eating while they gnaw away on their grassy knolls?”

“You know, B.H.,” she said after a moment.  “We’re so lucky that Grandma and Grandpa decided to go spend Thanksgiving with Chatauqua and Alan.  Grandma is too  shrewd to ever have the turkey wool pulled over her eyes.”  B.H. nodded sagely.  “But Gordy and Prescott are pretty gullible so this should be easy peasey nice and cheesey.”  B.H. nodded again.

“Back to the plan,” Harley said.  “I think it’s best if we let them prepare the whole meal.  After all, they’ll have to eat something.”  She tapped her paw on her chin thoughtfully.  “Our biggest worry, believe it or not, is going to be Roper.  He’s going to notice that we’re eating real turkey and stuff and he just can’t keep his mouth shut.  He’ll say something stupid, alert the Buffaloes and then it will all be over.”  She pointed her paw at B.H.  “We can’t let that happen, B.H.  There’s too much at stake.”

She paused in her plotting and went to the small kitchenette in the corner of her office.  “Would you like some tea, B.H.?” she asked politely.  “Tea helps me think.”  B.H. nodded.  “I have some really good blends,” she offered.  “This one’s my favorite – beef and apple – it’s decaffeinated so it won’t keep you up all night.”  She heated a kettle of water on the small hot plate, then prepared two cups of the pungent tea.

Handing a cup to B.H., she warned, “It’s very hot, B.H., so be careful.”  B.H. nodded and carefully took the cup into his small paws, sipping tentatively at the steaming brew.  He looked at Harley and smiled his approval.

She arranged herself comfortably behind her desk once again and resumed the conversation.  “You see, B.H.,” she sipped from her own mug.  “All we have to do is get Roper all looped up on mole waters and he won’t have the mental juice to say anything.  At least not anything the Buffaloes will take seriously.  They think he’s a complete poncey poof at best.  If he starts babbling about turkey and dressing and meat – they’ll ignore it and assume he’s a rambling nitwit.”

B.H. slurped his tea noisily.

“That just leaves the issue of sneaking in the real food and mixing it in with the Buffaloes’ “healthy” meal.”  She took out a note pad and began making notes, a pen held firmly in her Do Claw’s grasp.  “I think I can get Fluffy to help us.  I’ll have her stop at the Café, pick up the food and bring it here, disguised as her contribution to the meal.  The Buffaloes are kind of scared of Fluffy so they’ll never question her.  Then, we mark our food with some kind of secret symbol so we know which food to eat, we let the Buffaloes eat hay and everyone is happy.”  She dusted her paws together.  “Mission accomplished,” she declared smugly.

“Thanks for your help, B.H.,” she said warmly.  “This is going to be the best Thanksgiving ever.”  She smiled at the little vole, who slurped his tea, then grinned back at her.

The View From the Family Bed

The View From the Family Bed

Occasionally, I take a day away from The Family Bed to run errands, attend workshops & meetings, or maybe even grab a latte with my Spirit Guide.  Even though I love my work, I sometimes just need a break, you know?  I try not to take these ‘holidays’ very often:  Many of my Companions are very fragile, emotionally and mentally, so I hesitate to leave them unsupervised for any length of time.  You never know when a Companion’s anxiety will overflow and cause  the others to meltdown.

Once, I went to the post office to receive delivery of a batch of carpet samples.  We were re-decorating Candace’s tunnel and I felt like a more lively carpet would encourage her to make it all the way from one end to the other.  Anyway, in the short time I was gone, Hobart the Holiday Hedgehog had started an intense debate on religion with Emrys the Elephant (who currently practices Judaism, but was born into a family of Vodou practitioners).  The fervor of the discussion was apparently fueled by the half pot of hazelnut espresso someone found in the kitchen.  Upon my return to The Family Bed, I found Emrys, trunk knotted in three places, and Hobart wrestling on a table in the cafeteria.  As Hobart stood atop the clearly distressed Emrys, the other Companions circled the table, chanting for Hobart to deliver “The People’s Elbow.”   Clearly, the Companions had been watching more wrestling than I had realized – and I’m pretty certain Bachmann was responsible for that.  He’s always mucking about in my Hulu account.  By the time I was able to disperse the Companions and calm both Hobart and Emrys, it was late in the evening and I had not only missed my supper, but the Entertainment Tonight, as well, which is one of my favorite programs.  I learn a great deal about dealing with fragile egos, emotions and personalities by observing celebrities in their natural habitat.  It’s like a primate documentary with spray tans.

So, as I said, I try to stick pretty close to home.  I’ve tried leaving one particular Companion in charge for the time I’ll be gone, but that never works out well.  Invariably, whichever Companion is chosen quickly devolves into a power-hungry megalomaniac.  For example, once, I left Marshall the Mammoth in charge.  He’d had an especially productive week in therapy and was feeling quite relaxed and calm.  I was only leaving the Bed for a few minutes to supervise the Daddy Dog as he transferred meat from the grill to the kitchen and I felt the responsibility would be a great confidence booster for Marshall.  When I got back, Marshall was calling himself “Marshall Law.” He had moved all the ambulatory members of The Family Bed into the storm shelter and was wielding Breakfast in Bed Chewy like a club in the doorway, shouting “Remember the Alamo!”  sigh

This morning, I had an important meeting with my Spirit Guide.  She’s been working very hard for the past several months on getting me fitted for a prosthetic thumb and finger – her own invention – called The Do-Claw.  She says I’m a perfect candidate and that the Do-Claw will allow me to provide even more for my Companions.  I was gone for about a half hour.  And when I returned, this was what greeted me:

ItsJustSomePancakes.com - View From the Family Bed
ItsJustSomePancakes.com – View From the Family Bed

Apparently, Bachmann began taunting Je m’appelle Claude about who is the better aquatic creature and fisticuffs ensued.  Here, I’m told by Claude’s close friend and fellow crustacean, LeVergne the Lobster, that Claude is performing his signature move on Bachmann.  It’s called the “Crab Rangoon,” and it appears to have been quite successful in getting that porky-mouthed beaver to shut his tree hole.  For once.

Dachshund Chronicles:  Chapter 18

Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 18

“Thanksgiving is coming up soon,” Roper mentioned casually to Harry as they lunched at the Southside Café.  “I’m sure Harley is going to want to host some kind of family thing at her Brownstone and I just don’t know if I want to go,” he said.  “So much noise and she always has those weird foods that the Buffaloes put out,” he added, sipping mole waters from a crystal goblet.  “It’s terribly stressful.”

Harry nodded.  “Yes, Sir.  Stressful Sir.”

“And have you noticed how strangely Cookie has been acting lately?”  Roper carefully nibbled at his grub casserole.  “It’s like she’s not herself, and whatever it is she’s trying to be is very disturbing.”  He sipped again from the goblet and nodded his head at Harry.  “Yesterday, I passed her on the street and she was wearing the most repulsive outfit.  I think it was a caftan.”  Shuddering, he went on.  “And when I said, ‘Hello, Cookie’, she just stared at me and I swear, Harry, I heard her purr!  She actually purred!  It was bizarre.  I mean, bizarre, even for Cookie.”  He shook his head and ate more casserole.

“Yes, Sir.  Bizarre, Sir.  Very strange indeed, Sir.”  Harry ate a bite of his salad and chewed thoughtfully, listening to Roper’s observations with careful consideration.  “Go on, Sir.”

“Well,” warming to his subject, Roper leaned forward and spoke intently.  “A few days ago, I caught her talking to herself in the hallway outside my office.  She seemed to be holding a conversation of some type with someone she called ‘Isis’.  I asked her who she was talking to, and she got really quiet and said no one.  Then, she sort of growled at me, which is nothing unusual, but then – she smiled.  It was super scary!”  Roper drank quickly from his mole waters and realizing the glass was empty, he gestured to the waiter for a refill.  Turning back to Harry, he said, “Harley always invites her to family events and I have a bad feeling about her being there this Thanksgiving.  She’s unpredictable on a good day and I have a feeling most of Cookie’s good days are behind her.”

Harry nodded in agreement and they ate in silence for a few moments.  Uncomfortable with the lack of conversation, Roper spoke again.  “So, do you think I should go to Thanksgiving?  Or should I hang out in my Little Texas Soft Cave?” he asked.

Harry chose that moment to fill his mouth with salad and sat, chewing and staring at Roper, allowing him time to answer his own question.

“Yes, you’re right, of course, Harry,” Roper said.  “You’re always right, Harry.  How is it you always know exactly what I need to hear?  You’re just a wonder, Harry.  I’ll go to the Thanksgiving dinner.”  He shook his paw at Harry and added, “But I want you to be on standby with the Vole-vo, just in case things get out of hand.  I want to be able to make a quick getaway in the event of anything potentially dangerous.”

After receiving assurances from Harry that he would be perfunctorily removed from any potentially dangerous situation, Roper finished his meal and called for the check.

Later, when they were settled back into Roper’s office, Harry received a text on his VDA, which caused him to rush out, muttering excuses.  Roper poured himself a drink and relaxed into his chair.  Picking up a remote control from the desk top, he pushed a button and the soothing sounds of Little Texas filled the room.  “Ahhh,” Roper sighed contentedly, sipping his mole waters.  “Nothing like a little Little Texas to melt your troubles away.”  Tapping his hind foot in rhythm with the music, he closed his eyes and drifted peacefully off to sleep.

He was jolted awake some time later by Harry’s rather frantic shakes.  “Sir.  Sir!”  Harry cried.  “Sir, I’m sorry Sir, but you must wake up, Sir!”  Harry sounded alarmed, which immediately alarmed Roper.

“What?  What?  What is it?” Roper squeaked, panicked.  He sat up in his chair too suddenly and it rolled away from the desk where Roper’s feet were propped.  He began to slide from the seat and scrabbled his front claws at the arm trying to gain purchase.  Eyes wheeling, he tried to focus on Harry, who was trying to stop the chair’s movement and prevent Roper from spilling to the floor.

“Sir!” Harry said sharply, trying to stop Roper’s obvious panic attack.  “Sir, you need to stop squirming, Sir.  I’ve got the chair, Sir.  It’s not moving, Sir.  You can relax, Sir.”  He patted Roper’s shoulder reassuringly.  “Are you alright, Sir?  You were talking and moaning in your sleep, Sir.  You were thrashing around and I was worried that you were having a nightmare, Sir.  Is everything okay?  Do you need medical attention, Sir?”  Harry continued to pat Roper’s shoulder, and began to look around for the ever-present tumbler of mole waters.

“What?”  Roper looked around, disoriented.  “What did you say?  Harry?  Is that you Harry?  I can’t see you, Harry!  I’m blind!  Oh no!  I’m blind, Harry!”  Roper began to whimper and cry.  “Oh, Harry,” he wailed.  “I’ll never get to see your beautiful face again!  I’ll never get to see my beautiful face again!”  He dropped his face into his paws in despair, then began to grope at his face.  “Harry!” he cried.  “What’s wrong with my face??”  He continued to paw at his eyes, snout and chin.  “I’m blind and maimed!” he moaned.  “And I was so lovely …” he sobbed.

Harry discreetly moved close to Roper and gently removed the night mask covering his eyes.  “Sir,” he said gently. “Sir, it’s just your mask, Sir.  It must have slipped down over your eyes when you were struggling in the chair, Sir.  It’s fine, Sir.  Your face is fine, Sir.  Can you see me now, Sir? Here’s your mole waters, Sir.  Take a drink, Sir.”

“Oh,” Roper gulped, “Oh, thank you, Harry!”  Roper drank again. “Yes, I can see you, Harry!  You’ve never looked more wonderful!”  He stared into the mirror Harry had handed him.  “Ooohhh, Harry … I’ve never looked more wonderful, don’t you think?” he preened.

Harry nodded in agreement.  “Absolutely, Sir.  You look amazing, Sir.  Panic and fear look very well on you, Sir.”

“I know, Harry,” Roper said confidently.  “I know.

The View From the Family Bed

The View From the Family Bed

When I opened The Family Bed Education, Rehabilitation and Training Center, it was with the particular goal of providing a nurturing, enriching environment in which to instruct my Companions.  Over the years, I have trained countless Companions – shaping them into upstanding, productive members of society.  Many of them have gone on to careers in the Arts, Politics, Finance, and Sports Medicine.  A few have moved into the arena of Community Organizing and Activism, but one has to expect a certain number of failures in any educational setting, I suppose.   Still, overall, I enjoy my work and feel the FBERTC is a successful institution.

Probably the most rewarding part of my day, however, is the work I do with the more disadvantaged members of the Family Bed.  Some of my companions suffer from developmental challenges.  Some are behaviorally dysfunctional.  And some are just porky-mouthed. (You know of whom I speak – Bachmann.)

image

One of my toughest cases is Ernst …  He’s an Eggplant.  And though he’s very sweet, there are clearly many problems which I must help him overcome. For example,  I’m constantly reminding Ernst to use his words because when he gets overly excited he just grunts and points.  I believe his issue stems from being left on the vine over-long … I’ve consulted many experts and they agree with my diagnosis.

I work with Ernst on a bi-weekly basis but we often nap together.  I have found, through my work in the Family Bed, that napping is a great way to build trust and promote inter-companion communication.  I do nap with other Companions, both within and without the confines of the Family Bed, as each individual case may demand.  In this photo, Ernst and I are napping on the couch in the family room.  The elevated position gives Ernst a feeling of empowerment, and also serves to protect him from the prying eyes and often cruel taunts of some of the other Companions. Notice his serene countenance.  Plus, Ernst is quite cuddly and I look especially lovely next to his plush purple exterior.

In many ways, Ernst is my biggest success story.  Since I first began to train Ernst, his vocabulary has expanded by over 12 words.  Additionally, he no longer spits as a greeting.  And while there are numerous issues yet to be resolved – his need to announce bodily functions, for example – I firmly believe that I can help Ernst become the Eggplant he has always longed to be.

Dachshund Chronicles:  Chapter 17

Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 17

The following morning, Harley awoke early, expecting to have to go get B.H. out of bed. After Harry had left the previous afternoon, Harley and the Buffaloes had given the little vole a tour of the Brownstone, prepared a celebratory welcome home meal and then played Jenga late into the evening. She supposed B.H. would be worn out from his big day and would sleep in that morning.

Instead, she found him in the kitchen, sitting at the table with a small cup of gravy in his paws. He looked up from the newspaper he was reading when Harley entered the room and nodded a greeting.

“Well,” Harley looked surprised. “I didn’t expect you to be up so early, B.H. Did you sleep well?” When B.H. nodded vigorously, she crossed the room and saw the gravy pot was finished percolating. She took her favorite mug from the cabinet and poured herself a steaming cup. Inhaling the aroma deeply, she turned back to B.H. “I guess you’re eager to get started on the day, then?” Another excited nod from the vole.

Harley took a sip from her mug. “Ahh,” she said. “There’s nothing quite like that first taste of gravy in the morning, is there, B.H.?” She licked her snout and took another gulp. B.H. did the same, sighing happily as he swallowed the thick brew.

They were both on their third cup when Gordy and Prescott entered the kitchen a bit later. After much Buffalo snuffling and hump shaking, Harley grudgingly consented to eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. “Although I really think we get all the nutrition we need from a hearty cup of gravy,” she grumbled quietly to B.H. B.H. nodded solemnly.

Satisfied, Prescott set two bowls of pale, jiggly oatmeal on the table in front of Harley and B.H. and gazed at them steadily until each picked up their spoon and began to eat. “Mmmm,” Harley said dryly, “It’s so delicious – I can’t believe it’s real food.” B.H. snickered into his own spoon. Prescott glared at both of them, then turned back to the stove to serve himself. Gordy sat in one of the vacant chairs, a container of Swedish yogurt in one hoof and cup of Oolong tea in the other. He watched impassively as Harley and B.H. continued to eat the oatmeal, then nodded in approval when they had taken the last bites.

“I guess we better get going,” Harley declared suddenly, practically leaping out of her chair. “Big day, today, you know. Have to get ole B.H. here up to speed on his duties and what-not.” She made a big production of pulling B.H.’s chair out and shooing him out of the kitchen. “Meetings, appearances, lectures – yessir, my day is jam-packed.” She continued rambling as she bustled B.H. down the hall, grabbing her messenger bag and stuffing papers in it as she went. She handed B.H. a bag identical to her own, about a quarter of the size, then snatched up her scarf, gloves and ‘Do Claw’. “Quick, B.H., go get your coat and boots on. If we hurry, we can get out of here and stop at the South Side Cafe for a real breakfast before the Buffaloes leave the house for work. They’ll never know,” she whispered urgently. B.H. nodded quickly and rushed to his room to get his winter gear. Harley tossed a few more items into her bag and met B.H. on his way up to the front door.

“Good job, B.H.,” she said. “Let’s get out of here before they try to send a sack lunch with us!” She adjusted the vole’s small coat collar and buttoned up the top button before shouting toward the kitchen, “We’re leaving! See you tonight! Might be late – don’t fix supper!” Without waiting for a reply, she and her new assistant went out the door and moved quickly down the street toward freedom … and breakfast.

Georgie Speaks

Georgie Speaks

 

In all my years of study and scholarly pursuits, I have yet to find a satisfactory explanation for the existence of cats. Or fat-free cheese.

Truth be told, I’ve really never understood the human fascination with fat-free anything.  As any dachshund can tell you, the flavor is in the fat.  And if there’s no flavor … well, I’d probably eat it anyway, but I’d enjoy it much more if it was full of fatty goodness.

You know, cats don’t have a lot of fat.  It’s a little known fact that cat meat is very lean.  Not that I’ve ever eaten a cat.  But I hear things.  And my Buffalo Spirit Guide used to have a cat named Chauncey and she told me that he was the stringy-est, most non-fat animal in her menagerie.  And I believe her because, well, she’s a Spirit Guide and they don’t lie.  So maybe there’s some kind of correlation between the purpose-less-ness of cats and fat-free cheese.  It only makes sense, doesn’t it?

Let’s examine the facts, shall we?  1. Fat-free cheese is not real cheese.  Fact.  2. Cats are lean.   Fact.  (My exhaustive research has sussed out that 83.6% of the cats I’ve seen on Facebook or other social media are approximately 12.6 pounds or less.  I’d consider that to be quite lean, and seeing as how I am a mere 15 pounds myself, I know something about being lean.  But since we’re talking about lean cats and their fake-osity rather than svelte, haunchy dachshunds who are obviously real, we’ll put that aside for the moment)   Therefore, I would postulate that lean cats are not, in fact, real.   Furthermore, since it’s been well-established through a series of rigorous tests that all cats are lean … well, the obvious conclusion we come to is that all cats are not real.

Now, the real question becomes are lean cats not real cats?  Or (and this is where my superior deductive skills come into play) are lean cats not real cheese?  Ha!  I believe now we have the basis for a solid debate, my friends.

I’m already writing my speech for the Nobel committee.  Or perhaps the Book Prize awards ceremony.  Or the USDA.  Maybe even the Grammys.  It’s such an intriguing discussion for every aspect of society.  Just remember, you read it here first.  Or perhaps I should just be quietly content knowing I’ve sparked what could be the most important conversation in decades?  After all, I’m a modest dachshund – not a glory hound.

Ah.  Well.  After such deep thinking, I believe it’s time for me to take a nap.  But before I go, I’d like to reiterate that I have never, will never, and do not currently support eating cat meat.  Or any other fat-free food.  Like fat-free cheese.  Although they could be one in the same.  Good day, and thank you for your support.