Saturday, February 26, 2011

Love in a Day

I fell in love today. Totally, head-over-heels in love with the sweetest dog ever.

Her name is Gretchen, a 2-year old dachshund. At the adoption store she climbed into my lap first thing and stayed there for three hours. Occasionally she'd get up, lick my face, turn around, and curl into a perfect circle. She greeted everyone with a lick of the hand and a non-stop tail wag.

If she'd managed to get out of my lap for more than 5-minutes I was going to call Husband to come down to meet her. I was completely serious. She flirted and charmed her sweet way into my heart and I was a goner.

She was so charming that four groups met her in the Get Acquainted Room and before I could talk myself into actually bringing her home, she had found the luckiest new dog owners in the world. A sweet mom and her three kids, all of whom were equally in love with her.

They were very nice people and I'm sure Gretchen will have a great life with them. But I felt like they didn't deserve her, I did. It's the one really selfish time I've had as an animal volunteer.

I actually cried when she left, but the family gave me a minute to say goodbye and she curled into my lap and licked my face one last time.

I know I'm responsible for her finding this home. I answered their questions and showed her off for at least 30-minutes, and I'm so happy to have found a loving family for this sweet girl. But I think I'm going to regret not taking her myself for a very long time.

Of course Cipher (The World's Most Amazing Cat, Screw You if You Don't Agree tm) would freak out to have a new doggie little sister. And that's the one thing that really kept me from calling Husband. He said he was glad I didn't call -- he has less willpower than I and would have agreed probably sight unseen.

But tonight I am a little sad. She is a truly special girl. Immediately sweet and friendly to all. Calm (almost Zen) and incredibly loving. The way she warmed my lap and my heart, the way she buried her nose in my shoulder when she got tired, the sweet and trusting look her her eyes -- she was a total heart stealer.

It's honestly the hardest day I've had in the years I've been volunteering. Just thinking of her now makes me tear up (of course I've also been awake since 10 am yesterday). Part of me hopes this family's cat will hate Gretchen, that they'll return her and I can snap her up. Part of hates that tiny bit of envy that should be so happy for her.

But all of me is a bit sad. Because I fell in love today. But it was not, alas, to be.
Coolest History Lesson Ever!
The mega-talented (and, frankly adorable) Lin-Manuel Miranda (Tony winning writer/composer of In the Heights) performed at a poetry slam at the White House. His Alexander Hamilton hip-hop jam is pure magic. I've watched it half a dozen times and each time it blows me away.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Baby It's Cold Outside

Those of you who live in New Hampshire or Quebec feel no sympathy for my thin Northern California blood. But I'm freezing. You have to expect cold if you live in Maine. San Francisco is not known for it's frigid climate. But we're in the middle of rain and cold and possibly even snow. Yes, snow. Not dusting the hills, but at sea level. We're not talking about a blizzard, obviously, but for those of us used to 60, 47 is really cold.

This is such an odd event that it's top story on the news. Forget unrest in Libya, we're all about the snow. The potential of a quarter inch of snow has become the chief topic of conversation. It takes so little to amuse and interest us.

Tomorrow I'm doing an adoption event which, of course, means I'll be outside walking little peeing dogs in the rain and cold. (I sincerely hope the Pee King of Northern California isn't part of the rota).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Book Group Part Deux

Last night's group did not disappoint. We were evenly split on our opinion of The Thirteenth Tale by Dianne Setterfield. I, Husband, and Mama D found it flawed. The Foreigner, the Lurker, and the Actor all found it a good rainy-day read.

But since many of you seem interested in our picks, I'd like to share with you some of our favorites. These were either universally loved or the majority of the group really liked them.

As mentioned yesterday, I highly recommend Shadow of the EInd by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It's a thumping good read. A page-turning literary thriller with compelling characters and a captivating plot. It was one of the favorite books we've read and absolutely wonderful.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. A sweet, charming, delightful read about an eccentric family and their lives and loves in a falling-down castle in England. It's a gentle and warm book that's perfect for a cozy read on a rainy day.

A contemporary mystery set in a charming French village, Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker is a delightful read. The characters are delightful (and, thankfully, a sequel has just been released!) and the mystery well -planned and executed. It's a well-written story full of delicious food and words. Get out the brie and baguette, pour yourself a glass of red wine, and settle in for a good read.

Not a book group read but a new discovery by me is Louise Penny, a Canadian author of wild talent and scope. She has a series featuring Chief Inspector Gamache of the Surete du Quebec. The first book in the series is Still Life and it's wonderful. Set in the southern Quebec village of Three Pines you'll be introduced to the quirky characters in the town. You must start with the first and read them in order because there is a continuing story that builds through the series. Her last book actually made me cry is was so beautifully written. Almost poetic at times and yet never lets the mystery side of things down. Absolutely great stuff.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Third Monday of the Month
For nearly 15 years my book group has met in my living room to eat cheese and cookies and to talk about books, life, and friendship. These are some of the people I love most in the world, and the regular chance to see them once a month makes me happier than I can say.

We've been together through thick (Gravity's Rainbow by Pynchon) and thin (anything other than Gravity's Rainbow). And whether the book delights or appalls, the discussion never fails to entertain.

I love it. I love everything about it. Here are our few rules:

* We only read fiction. Within that broad distinction we've read everything from mysteries to romances, sci-fi to westerns, classics to new so-called masterpieces.
* It can't be part of a series. Everything must be a self-contained book. (We broke this rule once to read the first two Harry Potter novels).
* It has to be something busy people can easily read in a month. We've occasionally read longer books over a two-month period, but for the most part we make sure it's something we can finish.

That's about it. We take turns choosing the books, so we're each on the hot seat once or twice a year to select what we read. And that's probably my favorite part of it all. My friends are all fascinating, intelligent people so over the years they've exposed me to many authors I wouldn't pick up on my own.

And our group is diverse. There have been members who have come and gone (due to death or moving away) but we've always been a mixed blend. Male and female. Gay and straight. Religious and atheist. We have had conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats. We have people who have grown up in wealth and privilege, and people who have grown up on welfare. We're culturally diverse as well. And this diversity makes for wonderful discussions.

There have been some books we've universally hated (each year we give The Bellow Award for our least favorite book -- named in honor of the atrociously dull Humboldt's Gift by Saul Bellow) and books we've universally loved (check out Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Luis Zafron). Mostly we have a nice divide -- enough for a good debate.

There have been some books where we've only found an hour's worth of talk, and we spend the second hour catching up as friends. And those meetings are just as enjoyable as those where we spend the entire two hours debating characters, plot, writing styles, and symbolism.

Sometimes people don't finish the book and they just "come for the cheese." And there have definitely been a few books where the reason people didn't finish wasn't because they ran out of time, but because the book sucked. But it's been a hell of a lot of fun. Going back over the list of titles we've read there are certainly some I cannot recall and yet there are others that I will never forget.

I know several members of my book group check this blog occasionally. And I just want to thank them for all the years of discussions, friendship, and cheese. I love you all.