Halloween Hiatus

lotte-lying-downOur Great Dane Lotte loved Halloween. Even before the doorbell rang, the sounds of children running toward our house would propel her toward the door where she would sit and wait. “Oooh, that’s the house with the big dog!” the children would exclaim. I’d open the door and tiny hands would reach inside to pat Lotte’s giant head and scratch her long ears before reaching into the candy basket I extended to them. And then they’d race on to the next house and Lotte would flop down on a space on the floor until the next group approached.

I’m not doing Halloween this year because Lotte died six months ago, and I just don’t have it in me to explain mortality to little children reveling in their sugar-induced excitement. I’ll turn the lights off and hide out. (Lotte’s demise is explained in the final chapter of Great Dane in the Morning on this website.)

Rather than people hiding behind the curtains in the dark, a new method for advertising whether or not you’re dispensing candy has been offered this year by someone on our neighborhood’s online Nextdoor social network. They’ve put up a map of the neighborhood showing which homes are planning to participate. I picture kids and their parents, smart phones glowing in the dark, making their way from house to house. I’ll still be hiding, however, just in case not everyone gets the message.

When we lived in New Jersey, the nation’s most densely populated state, crowds of trick-or-treaters would come for hours, and we tried to maintain good humor about it even into the late night when older kids came, some without even a pretense of having a costume. So one year, when friends suggested we join them in dinner out on Halloween, we were tempted. “We go after 8 o’clock,” they said, “after all the cute little kids with their cute costumes have gone home to bed. Then we turn out the lights and leave.” I was skeptical. “Don’t you worry about your windows getting soaped or toilet paper being draped in your shrubbery?” I asked. “That’s what happens on Mischief Night, the night before,” they reminded me. “We’ve never had a problem.” So we tried it once and then it became a tradition: Turn off the lights, escape to a restaurant.

But I won’t be going out this year, just staying inside as far from the front door as I can in hopes of not hearing, “Oooh, that’s the house with the big dog!”

Just too sad.

Hellos & Goodbyes

Lotte's face“April is the cruelest month” wrote T.S. Eliot in “The Waste Land,” his monumental poem considered by many the greatest of the 20th century. It’s full of contradictory thoughts such as lilacs emerging from the dead ground after winter. The line kept reverberating in my mind while I missed the first of my self-imposed goal to post at least two pieces on my blog since starting this website.

Four separate groups of out-of-town friends visited during April, and it was fun, even as we fitted them in between the days in a calendar chock-a-block full of medical appointments. But then at the month’s end came the painful decision to euthanize our wonderful, beautiful Great Dane Lotte, probably the last in a long line of nine of these majestic dogs we have known and loved over the years.

The details appear as an ending to Great Dane in the Morning, my as yet unpublished book that you can read here if you like.

And now to get caught up in May.

Morning Does Not Become Us

????????????????????????????????????A friend sent this video of a Great Dane puppy reluctant to rise up from the comfort of his owners’ bed. She said it made her think of us because, I assume, that has always been our dog breed of choice. I’m not sure if she also knows that reluctance to wake up in the morning is a trait I share with that puppy.

I’ve written before about our current Great Dane Lotte and how she stays in her bed until I drag myself out of my own bed across the room. As I make my slow way up the stairs to the living room, she similarly hauls herself up behind me, eventually flopping down again on the floor and going back to sleep. It’s something I’d also like to do most mornings but don’t. There are the papers to read and the email to check and, in a while, a dog to be fed and walked. But getting to that point is, for me, hard. One of my daughters told her high school friends, “My mother gets up at 5, but she wakes up at 10.”

A few years back, at a sorority reunion – older women trying to relive their college years – I came down the steps the first morning to the cacophony of many women’s voices, bright and chipper-sounding and made my way in silence to the coffee machine. I found a corner to sit, just me and my coffee cup, but a woman came up and tried to start a conversation. I grunted. Another woman, my roommate when we lived in this sorority house, told my interlocutor, “Don’t try to talk to her until she’s had her coffee.” My roommate from long ago remembered! I was touched.

In the early days of our marriage, and indeed for many years, Ed would bring me coffee in bed, a lovely perk of marriage, I thought. He’d bring his own coffee and the papers and we’d sit in bed drinking coffee and reading the papers, even on work mornings. I wonder what became of that practice and when it ended. Perhaps when we bought reading chairs and designated part of the living room “the library.”

Medical experts are now saying that teenagers need to sleep longer in the morning and some schools are trying to accommodate by starting classes later. That leads me to think, once again, I was born in the wrong time. Or else, disturbing thought, that I’ve never actually grown up.


[Photo: “Shameless,” pewter sculpture by Louise Peterson

My Dog Is GREA-A-A-T!

Quality Times

“That’s a GREA-A-A-T Dane!” the smiling young man said as we passed on the street, doing a perfect imitation of Tony the Tiger from the Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes® commercials. “Thank you!” I called after him.

That was a new one for my 140-pound dog. Walking Lotte around the neighborhood, I hear all sorts of comments. Lots of horse-related ones: “Nice horse you got there.” “Got a saddle for that thing?” One day recently when Lotte was being particularly lethargic and trailing behind me, a guy offered “Your horse is following you.” A while back we passed a group of Latino workmen on break outside a construction site. “Chihuahua” one called out. “Grande Chihuahua,” I replied, thereby exhausting my entire Spanish vocabulary. (What is someone who studied French for six years doing in a city that is more than 36 percent Spanish-speaking?)

Some folks call her Marmaduke. “Lady Marmaduke,” I remind them. Children sometimes make reference to Scooby-Do. “Hi Big Guy,” a person might say. “Girl!” I tell them. “Oh sorry about that.” It’s okay. I understand that people naturally assume a dog this big just must be male. Occasionally I tell them it’s a lazy person’s dog: You don’t have to bend down to pet her.

Lotte is our ninth Great Dane. There are several reasons for this: We have been at it for a long time, Great Danes are not long-lived, and we are people who like consistency (all but one of our cars in 54 years have been Volkswagens).

“Of course you’ll get another Great Dane,” our New York daughter said when we were ready for a new dog. “It’s part of your image.” Well, at least it gives us identity. When we run into people unaccompanied by our dog and are greeted by blank stares, we can always remind them, “The people with the Great Dane.” “Oh yes,” they’ll reply. It’s a comfort to know we’re not complete ciphers.

If you’d like to know more about Great Danes and why anyone would own nine of them, I’ve put my book Great Dane in the Morning up on this website . It’s the story, with pictures, of each and every one of them. They were all GREA-A-A-T!

Sculpture: “Quality Times” by Louise Peterson