Tuesday, October 31, 2006


I’m a Halloween curmudgeon.

I’ve been plotting how I’m going to avoid those annoying trick-or-treaters since 6:00 this morning. I figure I’ll get home from work around 6:00 p.m. and immediately take Dot on a long walk along 19th Street. It will be dark out but with the street lights I’ll be able to see the kids going door to door so I can take in some of the cute costumes without actually having to welcome them to my own home turf. By the time I get back to my house around 7:30, I’ll just turn out the porch light and keep most of my indoor lights off. CRAMUDGEON.

Why can’t I just get in the spirit of things and hand out candy? Primarily because I don’t think I’ll get a lot of kids, which means there would be too much left over candy for me to eat. And eat it, I would. I know I COULD get the less calorie offensive raisins or bubble gum to give away, but come on, the houses that gave away those things were always really lame.

Even when I was young, I was never as big a Halloween enthusiast as most kids. I had fun the year I was Laverne and my little brother was Fonzie. I was old enough that year to go with my friends and we covered lots of territory - I even remember one house up on Hauser Street was giving away full-sized Snickers bars! Total score. I do remember having fun carving pumpkins and roasting the seeds. It was usually cold in Montana on October 31, often times snowing. But all of the parents were great sports so we’d have to wear big coats and mittens over our costumes but we would go trick or treating in even the worst weather. When we moved to the country we didn’t go trick or treating much any more but I remember there was a Halloween carnival at Jim Darcy those years that was pretty fun.

Without a doubt, it was exciting getting all of that candy every year. But before we could eat anything, mom and dad always had to search through the loot for those inevitable razor blades in the apples or the poison-tinged popcorn balls. Did anyone really ever find these things or was this some kind of urban legend? Being a food addict from way back, I would usually have polished off all of the miniature Butterfingers before going to bed that night.

I don’t even remember Halloween during my teenage years. What in the heck was I doing? Steve and I were probably attending some musical, reading Hollywood magazines, or driving around the neighborhood while drinking Slurpees from 7-11, or I was at home handing out candy. NERD!

Later, in my early adult years, I lived in two cities with the biggest reputations for Halloween celebrations in the entire country – Boulder’s Mall Crawl on Pearl Street and the mob scene in Austin on Sixth Street. Never went to either of these in the combined 19 years I lived in these cities! NERD!

I’ve had friends – my adult friends – who LIVE for Halloween. They plan their costumes for months in advance, they throw elaborate theme parties, they rent all of the horror slasher flicks and they make sure their house is the ONE that all of the trick or treaters want to come to. I admire their dedication, their energy and their endless creativity. Whenever I would have to come up with a costume, I’d usually panic the night before when I realized I didn’t have a thing to wear and I’d end up wearing all black and painting whiskers on my face, calling myself a cat. NERD!

Actually, I think if I lived closer to Mason and Ruby I would love Halloween now, while they are little. Matt and Shana like to dress up and they have always made really clever, funny costumes. I’m sure they’ll pass that love on to the girls. Apparently it was Mason’s idea to be “space alien super heroes” this year. I’ll post a picture as soon as I get one. Her little costume was an original design and won the costume contest at her school. Ruby was the Green Hornet. Just typing that out cracks me up. The Green Hornet.

And for the record…the best Halloween candy of all time? You might expect me to say Butterfingers or Snickers or Peanut Butter Cups but I’ll surprise you all by saying it’s a tie between Smarties and Pixie Sticks. And while I haven’t had a Pixie Stick in probably 20 years, I promise you that I would love them as much today as I did when I was eight.

Monday, October 30, 2006

My Problem Child

“You see, your dog is a complete loser because her owner – YOU - are a complete loser and we don’t ever want to see you or your neurotic, socially retarded mutt here again, ever. And please don’t even bother trying to pay us for today. Put your crumpled dollar bills back in your raggedy purse and just consider it our contribution to the charity of pitiful and lost causes. Now turn around, go back to your ghetto neighborhood and never darken our doorway again. And you’re ugly.”

I’m not kidding! That’s what he said to me!

Okay, okay…maybe the actual words he used were more like, “I don’t think Dot enjoys it here – she’s not doggie daycare material”. But I’m telling you what he was REALLY saying.

I was having some work done at my house last week and I didn’t want Dot to be underfoot of the workmen, so I thought I’d take her to doggie daycare. I’d been curious about the Canine Social Club near my office so I gave them a call, listened to their sales pitch, completed the very detailed application form and got there early to drop Dot off.

The thing I found most appealing about this place is that they let the dogs run free. They don’t cage them up all day and only take them out for 15 minutes every few hours to stretch their legs. They are separated by size and they get to run with their pack. They have a huge grassy yard, toys, people to play with, water features for swimming and all sorts of other great sounding activities. When they want to nap there are fabulous beds and hammocks and cots and bean bags. There is also a big play room inside with mirrors and music and more toys. Totally fun stuff.

I knew Dot would be nervous at first. She’s always nervous with first-time experiences. But who isn’t? Whether it’s the vet or the kennel or the groomer, she always gets over her fear once she’s used to something and I’ve actually always been proud of Dot for her ability to adapt. I have a feeling the first three months of her life, before I got her, were pretty rough and she didn’t get a lot of support. She just had to figure things out and survive on her own. And that trait remains with her today, three years later.

So yes, she’s definitely quirky, and yes, she can sometimes be stubborn, but I’ve always considered her fairly well-adjusted.

Well apparently she did NOT adjust well to doggie daycare! She hated it. I guess she was scared the entire time, snapped at the other dogs that came near her, cowered in the corner and basically pulled a grand mal freaker of Great Dane proportions. Poor thing. I guess the closest thing to a “pack” she’d ever experienced was when we kept mom and dad’s two cats for a month and there were the three of them romping around the house.

So when I came to pick her up I was so saddened to see that they had to go get Dot from the “separating” room where she had been put away from the other dogs. Then that absolutely snooty jerk of a guy told me that Dot wasn’t “doggie daycare material” and I went into defensive mother posturing immediately. How can they call themselves animal enthusiasts if they aren’t even willing to work with my little dog for more than one day? Can’t they see by the look on her adorable face that she’s the sweetest, funniest dog in the whole wide world? How dare they judge her without giving her a chance!

And with my hackles raised, I “humanized” the whole thing and took it deeply personal. Like there was something wrong with my little dog because she isn’t a pure breed like the other dogs that were there. Like this was some kind of commentary on my dog-ownership/mothering skills. Like these snoots in the rich neighborhood were judging us because we live in a non-Nichols Hills zip code. Like they weren’t even willing to work with her because she was so hopeless.

It was so humiliating and hurtful! And then when they wouldn’t accept my payment for the day, it – their PITY – was more than I could handle.

Of course later mom and dad reminded me that Humphrey (our basset hound) had been banned from not one, but TWO kennels in his lifetime, but that didn’t do much to console me because, honestly, Humprey DESERVED to be banned. Let’s just say that he was a persistent barker. My feelings were hurt because people were judging my little Dot, and she didn’t deserve it!

Thank goodness I finally checked myself and put a screeching halt to my whole downward emotional spiral when I realized how crazy it was for me to be acting like this. I was being absolutely neurotic. Maybe Dot really didn't want to be there and they were right – she just isn’t doggie daycare material. There are worse things.

They say pets take on the traits of the owners, so is it any wonder that Dot got kicked out of school for being an anti-social paranoid?

So I’m over it. I even think it’s kind of funny, now. I’m going to feel good about leaving the Dotopotamus at home during the day, knowing that she enjoys being the queen of her own castle and she can run with her own pack of “big boys” (our term for her stuffed toys).

And, for the record, I think it’s a totally normal, caring pet-owner reaction to stick hat pins into my voo doo doll that I’ve recently dubbed the “Jackass from the Canine Social Club”.

Yep, it’s probably a good thing that I don’t have children…

Friday, October 27, 2006


I’ve been missing the Dotopotmus these least couple of weeks, but for the life of me I haven’t been inspired to write about one single thing.

Every idea I have ends up sounding ridiculous. What I think might be funny just sounds silly. I’ve been mentally lazy. Creatively barren.

But if I truly want to make writing a part of my daily life, the only way that is ever going to happen is if I actually…

So, to force my own hand, I’m participating in NaBloPoMo. National Blog Posting Month. I’m committing to posting SOMETHING on the Dotopotamus every day for the entire month of November. Whether it be stories, pictures, ramblings or obscenities, I want to put something out there every day.

Nothing would make me happier than if all of my friends and family did this same thing. Reading the blogs from those I know is a real joy.

So as the official NaBloPoMo logo so eloquently and latinly says…blog or die.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Goodby World Goodby

I feel as if the wind has been knocked out of my sails after the passing of my wonderful grandmother, Mom Jo, who died last week. She is one of the most important people in my life and I miss her. In spirit, Mom Jo has been gone for a few years thanks to the evil workings of Alzheimer’s but, while it was selfish on my part, it was still comforting knowing she was there. I could still see her and touch her and love on her and occasionally get her to laugh.

But last week when I got the call that Mom Jo had taken a turn for the worst my selfishness totally dissipated when I was telling her “good by”. I left her side that day filled with sadness but also feeling peaceful that the end of her journey was near. I loved her too much to ask her to fight and struggle to stay in this cold, cruel world for one more minute longer than she absolutely had to. Those ten hours I was with her and my mom is a time that I will treasure and never forget. Watching Mom Jo reach out during her labored, tense sleep with such other-worldly animation gave me hope that her guides were right there waiting for her and telling her not to be afraid. For some reason I’m fixated in hoping that is was her papa who was there to get her. She loved him so much.

Two days after I saw her, she died. My mom was right there with her every step of the way and thinking about my mother being there to watch her mother draw her final breath brings me great joy and great pain all at the same time. I’m so glad that Mom Jo waited for mom to return from Colorado.

The funeral was really wonderful and thanks to the great coordinating efforts of my mom, most everyone had a part. It was a real celebration of Mom Jo’s life with singing and stories and funny memories. My dad delivered an incredible eulogy – incredible not because it was so profound, but incredible because he got everything just right in a very genuine, warm and loving way. There wasn’t one thing contrived or exaggerated about his remarks and everyone remarked on how good it was. My hope is that dad wrote it down because I would love to read it from time to time.

The four grandchildren were pall bearers and during the service we told our favorite Mom Jo stories. It was hard for me and for the other three too, but our deliveries felt right and good for our distinct personalities. Mom picked great Southern Gospel standards for everyone to sing and she and my uncle sang solos in the song “Precious Memories” that were absolutely beautiful and soul stirring. As many times as I’ve heard her sing, there is a quality about my mom’s voice that will absolutely blow you away. My equally talented brother and sister-in-law opened “Amazing Grace” as a duet and they sounded like rock stars. Rock stars sweetly singing at a funeral.

My friend Beth put it best when I was telling her about the funeral. She said, “Lori…your family….you all are SHOW PEOPLE”. Amen, sister, and Mom Jo was the ringleader of us all. I wish everyone could hear the magic that was her music. As biased as I admit I am, I truly believe she was the greatest gospel piano player that ever lived. She achieved a certain level of fame – or should I say infamy – for her talent and every bit of it was deserved. Awesome.

Lots of people attended the service, which is great considering that Mom Jo has literally outlived all of her friends, save one, who, at age 98, made the trip and was at the funeral. Many of Mom Jo’s students, admirers, and friends of my mom and uncle were present.

The one police officer of Cisco, Texas stopped traffic to make way for the funeral procession (another reason to love small towns) and we couldn’t have asked for a nicer afternoon for a graveside service. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.

Over the course of those few days there was lots of food, flowers, chaos, family, visitors, coming and going…but best of all, Mom Jo’s two great grandchildren, one being her namesake, were running and playing and laughing. It felt good to feel like the circle of life was spinning around just like it is supposed too.

After all of the emotion and celebration and busyness of last week is over I’ve felt really disconnected this week. How is life supposed to go on after you lose someone you love? I guess it just does. It just takes awhile to feel right again.

Someday I’m going to write down a few of my favorite Mom Jo stories because they are priceless to me but until then this entry is my simple little way to honor a unique and wonderful person who has meant the world to me.

Ruby Jo Pounds Webb Lewis. Born September 17, 1912. Died October 5, 2006. Rest in peace, Mom Jo.