Archive for March, 2011

Bailey, on the Occasion of his Seventh Birthday
March 25, 2011

Money will buy you a pretty good dog, but it won’t buy the wag of his tail.
–Josh Billings 

Bailey has always been my “puppy” compared to Shadow who was the elder dog. It’s unbelievable to me that Bailey is now seven years old, middle aged in dog years. He has definitely lost his puppy habits and just seems more “mature” in some respects. But in other respects, he just seems worried. Is it the absence of Shadow that has changed things? 

Or rather, is it the appearance of Lucas, that big, sweet lunk of a dog, who is living with us for the time being that is causing Bailey some angst? 

Bailey has always been so needy of affirmation, unlike Shadow, who was Mr. Confidence. I look at Bailey’s adorable little face, and can just read his eyes saying, “Do you love me? Do you really love me?” Of course, I do, dear puppy, of course I do. 

It makes me a little wistful to realize that he really isn’t a puppy any longer. It’s sort of like the fact that Donnie Ray isn’t a new car any longer, nine years later even though I consider him one, compared to Bert, who is all of fifteen. And just as DR now has a number of dings and chips in his paint, Bailey is starting to get some gray hairs around his muzzle and eyes. Oh, it just breaks my heart to see them!

We have a pretty established routine, day in and day out. The rest of the time? I think he mostly sleeps, but he does have his favorite spots to keep vigil over the front yard (watching our comings and goings) and over the back yard (watching for squirrels and possums). 

Wherever I am in the house, he is patiently at my feet, or rather ON my feet. I can’t move without disturbing him; he’ll shift his position and then heave a groaning sigh as if he is most put out with me for making him move. Getting out of bed in the morning, I have to be careful to not step on him. 

What concerns me most is that Bailey doesn’t seem to eat with gusto anymore; I sometimes have to coax him to eat enough. When Shadow was around, he got served first, and Bailey waited for his turn. He would always clean his bowl eagerly without being picky about what was offered him. Now? It’s as if he is suspicious of his food. 

If he doesn’t eat, I pick up his bowl, thinking he’ll be hungry enough the next day. Sometimes he is, sometimes he isn’t. And sometimes I’ll offer something new, just to see if boredom is the issue. So far, his weight seems fine, so I’m not too overly worried about this problem. Still… 

In his early years, I would say, “Let’s go for a walk!” and Shadow would get excited, and Bailey would likewise. Now when I say it, Bailey hesitates, as if he’s not sure if he wants to go. He often lags behind, until we get to the midpoint of the walk, and then he’s the proverbial horse going back to the barn! We generally race home once we get to our street; I think he likes being at home where he feels “safe”. 

Bailey does have some dog friends that he really enjoys visiting along the trail. But there are also some that he doesn’t like, and he especially dislikes it when they get in his face. Big dogs frighten him, a residual effect of when that Great Dane roughed him up 5 years ago. As sweet and gentle as Lucas is, Bailey just tenses up when he’s around. I hate that, because it would be way more fun if they were friends. He’s just so enormous! 

I noted the phenomenon of Bailey’s newfound “maturity” when we were recently at the Amazing Place (an Alzheimer’s Day Center where we visit monthly). He used to be SO silly while there, when Shadow was still around. Shadow would obediently do his tricks, while Bailey just made everyone laugh at his antics; he was rather a comic foil to his older “brother”. 

Now when we go there, Bailey sticks to me like glue, almost as if he is anxious about something. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I wonder if he somehow feels lost without the stability of Shadow’s presence? Is he “protecting me” from the other dogs? He just doesn’t seem as happy about being there anymore. Well, except for when I get the treats out for the folks to share with him… then all the dogs get happy!

Is he having anxiety attacks or doggie depression? How long does a dog mourn? What to do? Maybe get a dog therapist! What about the Dog Whisperer? 

Am I overreacting? Perhaps so. But I can’t help but think there is SOMETHING I can do. If anyone has any suggestions, please do share them. I would love for my precious Bailey to be his old happy self again.   

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Mother of the Bride, Chapter 11
March 18, 2011

In this world, you get what you pay for. – Kurt Vonnegut 

As June 25 draws near, these journal chapters seem to come more and more frequently! 

Last week I chuckled about the young, modern brides who didn’t know what the very old fashioned concept of a “trousseau” was. I ended my blog post with the remark that I was dreading the thought of shopping for some new outfits for ME to wear to the wedding and all the other festivities involved. My friend Gail piped up on Facebook that I should go see “Bruno” at Neiman Marcus; she said that our friend, Karen recommended him and that he had helped a number of other mutual friends with their wedding attire.   

So I asked Karen about him. She said, “Bruno will be a blast to shop with! Call him to make an appointment. He will help you find just the right thing!” 

Regular pewperson readers know that I am not the type that haunts the “Couture Salon” at Neiman Marcus, so the concept of wandering into this alien world left me with a great deal of trepidation. However, both Karen and Gail are very no-nonsense types whom I trust to not steer me in the wrong direction. 

I called Bruno on Tuesday. Apparently Karen had alerted him that I would be calling, and he seemed genuinely delighted about the prospect of helping me. We talked about the fact that my usual attire is blue jeans, and that I had no interest in buying a dress that I would only wear once. 

He asked me about my preferences, my stature, size, coloring, etc. and told me to bring a pair of heels to wear as I tried on dresses. 

When I mentioned to him that I used to work for NM some 30-odd years ago, he latched onto that fact immediately. Come to find out, we both worked there at the same time, and the person who hired us both was none other than my friend Anthony, who was a classmate of mine at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College (yes, Anthony is a girl).

Well, Bruno immediately became animated. He said, “I LOVE Anthony! She was just here last week with her mother to purchase a suit for her son’s graduation!” What a small world it is. When I told Anthony about my appointment with Bruno, she said, “He is a wonderful/dear person… he will take very good care of you!” 

Add Anthony to the list of my friends who are no-nonsense types, and I began to think that going into the “Salon” may not be as scary as it might otherwise be without my “posse” backing me up. 

And so Shannon and I went to NM this week. I took a great deal of care with my attire and makeup, aiming for casual but tasteful. We didn’t exactly look like we were going to church, but at least we weren’t wearing our usual jeans and flip flops. Appearances do count for something in certain situations, and this was one of them. 

It’s been a long time since I’ve stepped foot in NM, and doing so brought back many memories. We made our way to the second floor and began wandering about, looking for styles that caught our eyes. The vast array of designer clothing made it an overwhelming task; clueless as I am, I had no idea where to even begin. Several women on the staff asked if they could help us find something, but I invoked the magic words, “Thanks, but we have an appointment with Bruno,” and they gracefully left us to browse about on our own. 

At the appointed time, we found him, and he was just as wonderful and dear as promised. He whisked us to the back where he had tucked away some things he thought I might want to look at, given what he knew about my size and coloring. Honestly, none were what I would have selected for myself, but Bruno had pegged me well. The very first dress I tried on was absolutely perfect. I told him we could just stop there, but of course, that’s no fun! 

As I tried on the others, he would go out and find more selections that he thought would suit me, and even some for Shannon. Bruno has an uncanny eye, and he knows his stock. He would make suggestions about alterations and accessories, and definitely recommends the perfect pair of shoes to go with these beautiful dresses. The shoes I had brought with me? He said they were too conservative, too low heeled and, heaven forbid,  they squeaked!! 

He sold me on the fact that while the mother of the bride doesn’t want to outshine the bride, she does play a very special part on her daughter’s wedding day, and she should be dressed well not only to reflect her important “status” but also to honor her daughter by looking her very best. 

You might be thinking, “Oh, he was just trying to make a sale,” but I believe Bruno made a really good point. With his many years of experience, he knows his business and has a good feel for his customers’ sensibilities. He is also very protective of his reputation as one who makes women look very good. He counts on his happy customers to refer their friends to him. 

One thing I really appreciated was the fact that Bruno picked styles that were reasonably priced facsimiles of  “designer” dresses that would cost thousands more. For the price of one of those, we each selected several. Bruno also allowed me to take two dresses out “on loan” so that I might get Joel’s opinion. That’s trust, and that’s customer service. 

The end of the story is that what I was dreading ended up being both painless and a great deal of fun, all thanks to Bruno! You get what you pay for? I had forgotten what Neiman Marcus is all about. He exemplifies their focus on great service, and because of his total attention to us today, I’m not sure I will ever look elsewhere for fine dresses. 

Postscript: The next day when I returned with the loaned dresses, he had me put on the one I selected, just to make sure it fit properly and needed no other attention. Then he took me downstairs and found the right pair of shoes. I think he wanted to make sure I didn’t squeak down the aisle… Thanks, Bruno!

Mother of the Bride, Chapter 10
March 11, 2011

Trousseau? What the heck is a trousseau?Caroline 

Since the last journal entry (https://pewperson.wordpress.com/2011/01/28/mother-of-the-bride-chapter-9/), we have been steadily checking items off our list. After shopping elsewhere to become educated in the language and pricing of wedding invitations, we visited our stationer of choice and made some decisions. Bucking the recent trend to have a multi-layered, fancy invitation, we’re going the classic route with a modern twist to it, elegant and simple. While there, Shannon stocked up on personalized note cards, as well, with the thought that she will be writing many, many thank you notes in the near future. 

To kill time between our early appointment at the stationer and our subsequent lunch date, we browsed at Bering’s for guest book options. Bering’s is a really cool Houston institution, a “hardware store”, where you can purchase fine gift items and house wares and then go buy a new sprinkler, door mat, some nails, cleaning supplies, dog food and maybe some paint and drawer pulls all in the same trip. We did enjoy browsing for china, crystal and gift items for the home, with an eye towards registering there. That’s the fun part! 

Our lunch date? We met our amazing friend, Rob, who is the organist and artist in residence at our church, and visited about the music for the ceremony, outlining Shannon’s idea for the bridal procession. He enjoys a challenge, and I think he actually likes a bride who knows her music and wants to do something a little different from the usual. It will be fun to watch this piece evolve and know that it will be unique to Shannon and Kat’s wedding. 

Rob took notes on the logistics of the ceremony, and will be thinking about appropriate selections to fit the flow. He said he had a specific recessional in mind that was very grand. It’s going to be awesome! 

That same day, we came home to find a confirmation of the reception band; what a relief to know that this item has been checked off our list! 

Friends are now offering to host functions to celebrate Shannon and Kat; we have been judicious about this so as not to overwhelm anyone. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. And we sure don’t want to run out of thank you notes before it’s all over! 

This weekend is our dear friend Elizabeth’s wedding, so we have been really focused on getting her married off. Tonight we hosted the mani/pedi party, and a good time was had by all! 

Next week is Shannon’s spring break from her teaching job. Once we have recovered from the weekend’s festivities, we will turn our attention to our list of “things yet to do” and our goal is to take action on each item. 

As we were making this list, I mentioned that we needed to attend to Shannon’s “trousseau”. She said, “um, my what?” I said, “your trousseau! You know, your new clothes, undergarments, nightwear and such.” She looked at me like I was an alien from another planet. And I felt like some antiquated creature from the 19th century!

At a bridal shower last weekend for yet another bride, we “old ladies” laughed about this same subject, and the bride to be (this one named Caroline) said she had the same conversation with HER mom. “Trousseau? What the heck is a trousseau?” Then she spoke of a line of lingerie called “Commando” (something about no panty lines), and all we moms were thinking, “how lovely!” 

My friend, Alice spoke fondly of her trousseau slips that had been embroidered with her new monogram. Does anyone even wear slips anymore? I can just see these girls asking, “What’s a slip?” 

Speaking of trousseaus, another important item to think about is what the heck I am going to wear! Faithful pewperson readers know that my favorite store is Academy (hey! Is that where they sell that Commando underwear?). Something tells me that I won’t find any mother of the bride sort of attire there. And so I’ll have to go to the dreaded “mall”.

 *shudder* 

Joel is in for it. I warned him.

Go Texan!
March 4, 2011

We can’t all be heroes because someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by. – Will Rogers 

Springtime in Houston comes early, and with it comes the annual Livestock Show and Rodeo that commences with various trail rides into town. The riders meet up and spend the night in Memorial Park, then kick off the three week western extravaganza with a Rodeo Parade downtown the following day. 

About 10 years ago, I forgot about steering clear of the trail riders and found myself on Memorial Drive in the park. Traffic was down to one lane to allow the horses and riders access to the others. I had Shadow in the car with me, and the sun roof was open. 

We came to a stop alongside a cowboy atop his horse; a passenger in the car could have reached out and patted the horse. Well, Shadow was my passenger in the front seat, and he had never seen a horse before. He took one look at it and exploded with barking, startling not only me, but also the horse, which reared up in fright. Thankfully the cowboy hung on, but I don’t think he was very happy with us. He was probably thinking, “**** city dog!!” Just to be sure Shadow didn’t repeat his little stunt, I shut the sun roof. 

This particular day when the riders arrive in Houston is called “Go Texan Day”, and folks are encouraged to wear their western attire to work or school. At Shannon’s school, they had their own rodeo “parade”, and dressed in their finest cowboy duds, her students  proudly rode their handmade stick horses through the halls. They were made with wrapping paper rolls, stuffed socks with button eyes, felt ears and a yarn mane. We think they looked pretty good! 

Wait, little buckeroo, you’ve got the wrong end of the horse!!

  There you go… Yippee ti yi yo!!

Founded in the 1930’s, the annual cowboy celebration used to be called the “Fat Stock Show and Rodeo” and was held in the Sam Houston Coliseum, now the site of the Hobby Center. Tradition was for musicians to perform following the rodeo-ing, and back in the day, they had such stars as Roy Rogers and Gene Autry as the featured artists. The thinking was to have country western artists at a rodeo, which makes sense to me! 

After the Astrodome was built in 1965, the show moved there, and with all the extra space, it just kept growing and growing, adding more exposition space and a carnival. We used to go pretty regularly to the livestock exposition when Shannon was small, mostly to look at all the animals waiting for their turn to be judged (and of course ride the rides, play the games and win prizes!). Her favorite animals? The sweet bunnies, all destined for a stew pot somewhere, I am certain. Don’t tell her, ok? 

Now the exposition includes so much more, with competitions for such things as art and wine, in addition to the usual livestock related events. There is a LOT to see and do. 

In 2003, the whole shebang moved next door to the newer Reliant Stadium, which made it even bigger than ever before. Performing artists now include modern country western artists, but also the likes of ZZ Top, and KISS, with flash and glam galore.   

It’s been a long time since we have actually purchased tickets to attend the rodeo, but we’ve been invited a number of times, and always enjoy the spectacle. My favorite part is at the very beginning, when the spot lit ladies on horseback gallop into the darkened arena carrying oversized American and Texas flags streaming above them. In my opinion, that and the barrel racing and calf scramble are the most fun to watch. 

All in all, it is a HUGE production, quite a money maker, and all for a good cause. The current Livestock Show and Rodeo is light years removed from what it used to be in the 1930’s, but then again, so is Houston! We do have fun celebrating our Texas heritage for a few weeks a year, and then it’s back to living in the cosmopolitan city that we call home. 

Guess I’ll go rustle up my cowboy boots from the back of the closet and practice my two stepping! See you at the rodeo…