learning, music biz, self-acceptance

The Bumpy Road to New York

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I left the house while it was still dark, telling my half-asleep mother that I was headed “to the library” when she asked where I was going.  After hoofing it 2 miles to the Hartford train station, I bought a ticket and just… went! At 14, I was too afraid to explore much of anywhere once I got to Grand Central Station, but I DID make it across 42nd Street it to the Library, so I hadn’t been exactly lying.

Train to NYC! New York, New Haven & Hartford

I think my folks understood – they’d always had a yen for New York – the theaters, the museums, the glamour – New York had it all!  There honestly wasn’t any other place to be as far as they were concerned – witness that they both retired to Manhattan in their 50s and breathed their lasts there 20+/- years later.

So as soon as I’d graduated, that’s where I needed to go. I didn’t have a job lined up or money in the bank, so I temped for Kelly Girl that summer and saved my sheckels while calling and sending out resumes and cover letters to every company listed under “Music” in the NY Yellow Pages. At the end of the summer, finally a job offer appeared: librarian at E.B. Marks Music on West 50th Street, a company that published some of my teacher Hale Smith’s compositions. I’m pretty sure he put in a good word for me and I was SO grateful to finally have a MUSIC JOB in NEW YORK!

I got the idea of living in an office from my dad, who had camped out in a friend’s NY office while trying to break in to TV sketch writing a decade earlier. I think he may have lasted 10 days before he threw in the towel and returned to Hartford; he said he’d gotten lonely and missed us too much, but I always suspected that when the Big Apple didn’t greet him with open arms, he became discouraged and felt too old to be couch surfing and taking Marine baths in the sink instead of showering at home.

Dad had always advocated living within walking distance of one’s employment, so when I was offered the job in August of 1972, I figured that the small 2-room office on the 11th floor of the Ed Sullivan Building on 53rd and Broadway would be perfect! It was only $110/month, in a 24-hour building, so I could come and go whenever I wanted. The ladies’ room was across the hall, so I planned to join the YWCA 3 blocks south on 8th Ave and get in a daily swim (so virtuous!) before showering and strolling over to my job, thereby expediting both exercise AND personal hygiene!

And so the family helped move me and my earthly possessions (2 suitcases of clothes and a trunk full of music scores, LPs and stereo equipment) into my new office-home. Some voiced concern over the fact there was no kitchen, bath or furniture, but I had a hotpot, I’d packed a pillow and envisioned no problem sleeping on the carpeted floor, so… no worries!

The first few days were pretty uneventful. So what if the doorman looked at me a little strangely as I exited the building just as everyone else was entering each morning?!  It was Autumn In New York!! I was a bit lonely, I didn’t have a phone and since my salary was only $100/week ($77.50 after taxes!), entertainment and dining options were extremely limited. But I had my hotpot and my stereo and the commute to work was sure easy!

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My good friends Peter and Cathy were getting married on Labor Day, so I dressed and got ready to take the train up to Stratford that morning, only to find that I’d been LOCKED IN! I hadn’t anticipated that this being a national holiday, my 24-hour building was closed and I could not get out!  I panicked until I managed to locate a janitor to unlock the door and fortunately, he was there when I returned late that night. But I began to feel a little less confident in my choice of housing.

After a few days, the daily swims became less frequent – not just because I wasn’t that interested in swimming, but… I began to feel a bit too vulnerable stripping down every day in front of strange women, some of whom seemed a bit overly interested in my body!? –  wouldn’t a Marine bath do for today? (and tomorrow, maybe?  and even the next day?)  So much for my athletic exploits at the Y!

Every day the walls of my office-home moved in a little closer; each weeknight the cleaning lady would unlock and open my office door, waking me in the wee hours to empty the trash — it always surprised us both. And the sideward glances from the doorman were getting more pronounced every morning.

After subsisting on instant cocoa, fruit and sandwiches for a week, I knew I needed to find a real apartment with a real bed, a real bathroom and a real kitchen with a refrigerator and stove – even if that meant dealing with roommates and having to take the subway. I asked around at work and was told about some affordable places in the East Village which turned out to be so rugged on the outside, I never rang the doorbell to even see the inside!  Then I applied to a real estate company that didn’t have any places I could afford but who wound up wanting to sublet my office in the Ed Sullivan Building.

So after 2 weeks of office-living, I moved for a week to a cheap hotel on West 112th Street where I had my first encounter with cockroaches. Then, knowing of my plight, Hale Smith’s wonderful wife Juanita put me in touch with a woman she worked with at the U.N. who needed a roommate for her Riverside Drive apartment at 125th Street. While  I could no longer walk to work, it was SO nice to have an actual BED to sleep in, not just a pillow on the floor!

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Riverside Drive at 125th Street – thank you, Juanita!!  🙂

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learning, music biz, self-acceptance

Starting Over

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The past week I’ve been working on some lyrics for a dear friend who wants to perform an Ivan Lins song but doesn’t like the English “translation” provided by the Bergmans.  It’s been a wonderful project for me, since I’m stretching and working muscles I haven’t worked seriously for almost 4 years – finding JUST the right words to convey the mixed emotions of beginning anew without resorting to clichéd old images. It’s a challenge and extremely gratifying to find the most elegant turn of phrase that also fits well with the music.

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Reworking material has never been my strong suit; I watched my dad endlessly reworking his plays and was made to read this version and then that version – as if my opinion actually mattered. I don’t have a lot of patience with the process of rewrites, even if I can perceive the improvements. (It is a bit more gratifying when you’re in the driver’s seat and making those changes on your own work, however!)

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Rewriting your own life is another matter. I came across this blog post today:

Learning From Failure In the Classroom

and was struck with the author’s willingness to really look at what wasn’t working and how he might remedy that.

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Being open to revision is a skill set I’m still working on, and it takes a great deal of patience and humility to fully grok where I’m falling down on the job and take steps to amend my path. It’s worth it, though. The best stories are those of eventual triumph over unimaginable odds:

My Big Fat Finished Marathon

to which I can only say, “Yeah!!!”  🙂

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music biz

Breakfast in Burbank

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We’d met Michael at a film scoring class at UCLA Extension and when we met his wife Patty, it was love at first sight; they were talented songwriters, about our age, utterly charming, bright, funny and fun-to-be-with! After a 3-hour lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, we were sure we’d finally made new friends, an accomplishment which had proven more difficult than we’d anticpated in Los Angeles. While Hollywood is loaded with creative artsy types, there can be a cut-throat quality to many relationships, since there’s always many more talented people than employment opportunities.

It was a blast to talk shop and play songs for each other but after the honeymoon period (a week or two?), it became evident that they didn’t feel the same enthusiasm for our friendship, as they became more and more difficult to reach, didn’t return phone calls and weren’t available to get together to socialize. We suspected that they had figured out that we didn’t have connections that could help their careers and so their interest flagged.

Well, it happens. In Hollywood, it happens a lot. In this dog-eat-dog world, it probably happens in many other industries besides Entertainment. So while we were saddened, we dealt with our disappointment.

As the months went by we began to make some inroads in the biz; scoring cartoons for Hanna-Barbera and creating music cues for General Hospital, as well as a commissioned piece for trumpet & percussion and an underscore for a stage drama, Sea Marks.

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Michael and Patty were also doing well, and when they invited us to a party to celebrate the premiere of their new Disney cartoon show one Saturday at 7:30 AM, we looked forward to seeing them again.

The place was PACKED – there must have been close to 100 people stuffed in their Burbank bungalow, so it was difficult to reach the coffee/OJ/bacon&eggs bar and impossible to locate our hosts! The guests cooed about Michael and Patty’s new theme song, and then in very short order went on to boast about their own career activites. Each attempt we made to engage with the other guests got shut down as they drew instant conclusions whether we were worth talking to based on if we could help their careers. After an hour of this, we decided to head home and spied our hosts bidding adieu to another guest. We thanked Michael for the hospitality and congratulated them on the show and were almost out the door when Patty asked, “well, what have you two been up to lately?”

So we quickly reeled off our then-current credits; the cartoons, the soap opera, the theatrical play score, the premiere of our piece at the International Percussive Arts Society national convention…  and watched, astonished, as dozens of folks who hadn’t deigned to give us the time of day a moment before were now suddenly crowding around, asking who was our contact on this project and who should they call to get in on that project… it was wild! Instant popularity!

As we drove home, Mark got a great idea for a new business: the Resumé T-shirt! Imagine all of your credits, skills, accomplishments and contact info printed right up front, so that everyone could immediately see whether you were even worth talking to!  What time you (and everyone else!) would save!!  Of course, that’s an 80s idea – today we all have websites!

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Limericks!

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It was Mike’s 40th birthday and the surprise party invitation specified NO GIFTS – instead we were requested to write a dirty limerick in honor of the birthday boy – “the filthier, the better”. What fun! We anticipated hearing everyone else’s poetry at the party, then got inspired and couldn’t seem to stop writing our own – no less than 14 smutty gems, which we printed up into a little pamphlet just for the occasion!

My husband had met Mike while working one summer at Disneyland and they’d become best friends. When I met Mike 6 years later, I immediately adored him – in all regards, he was terrific; a great sense of humor, a superb musician, friendly, confident, ambitious, upbeat – he radiated warmth and positivity like the sun! He was a swinging drummer and played percussion equally well – his license plate read “MR TIMPS” and he’d been making real headway in his career in the studio scene. He was also VERY popular with the ladies and always a blast to hang out with since he enjoyed so many things, like the L.A. Dodgers, burgers and malts, listening to new music…  so it was easy to come up with line after line singing his praises.

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When Mike had initially brought his bride-to-be over to our midtown apartment, it was obvious she didn’t like us very much – she sort of sneered at everything and, as a sales rep for a book publisher, told us in no uncertain terms how poorly we were running our jingle company. Well, if Mike loved her, that was good enough for us! And we DID make every effort to engender her friendship, though it was an uphill battle.

We were especially intrigued by this party invitation since five years previous we had received a Dear John letter out-of-nowhere, informing us that Mike and his wife would no longer be friends with us because we were so fat, they were afraid we would soon die and they didn’t want to be around to watch anything like that, so… Sayonara, baby!  The timing of this letter couldn’t have been worse, since we were going through a regrouping period of our lives, having just lost a cherished father as well as our jingle company dreams and were reeling from grief on both the personal and professional fronts. We had never contacted Mike and his wife after receiving that letter and so we wondered if perhaps they had reconsidered their decision to kick us to the curb and now might want to be friendly again?

When we got to the party, we saw a HUGE pile of gifts from all of the other guests on a table… and somewhat sheepishly added our nicely printed booklet of limericks to the pile. After the candles had been blown out, it was presents-opening time and we watched Mike open his lavish gifts (none of which contained limericks, of course!)… until he got to ours! He was speechless. WE were speechless. Everyone was speechless. Then “they all moved away from us on the Group W bench”, as Arlo Guthrie said in his song “Alice’s Restaurant”.

We’d been set up, and the limericks were the final nails in the coffin of this friendship. We beat a hasty retreat and drove home, and that was that.

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But here, for your delectation, 20 years after the fact, are a few of the less smutty birthday limericks created for the occasion:

Rome  AllegNonTrop

piatti     PiattiLim

Perc.   drumsticks_by_crystalcracker-d3lc5di

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Little Gold Chevette

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I didn’t learn to drive until I was 25. I always figured that I’d never need to, since I moved to NYC after college and planned on living in Manhattan for the rest of my life. Having a car in New York was an impediment and extremely expensive, unless your idea of a good time was driving around the block for hours looking for a parking space that would only be good for a day or two when you’d have to repeat the process all over again.  My friend Rick Cummins called this “walking the car”, like “walking the dog” only a lot more time consuming with none of the canine companionship benefits!

But then I took a vacation to California the summer of 1977 and I KNEW that I’d have to learn drive at some point, since L.A. is a car culture place even more so than the rest of our country. So I wound up at the Automobile Club of America, with supplementary driving practice from ever-patient friends. (Thank you again, Jim Suitor and Rick Cummins!) And eventually I got my license. No car, but I was street legal.

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Not owning a car, I didn’t have many opportunities to exercise my new skills while living in New York.  My dear friend Mara Purl let me drive her Ford Pinto to Baltimore and back – in fact, we were going to share the costs of the car until it got damaged while “safely” parked in a city lot.  I rented a car for special trips on occasion and my mom let me drive her Fiat Spider when I’d visit her in New Haven, but a lot of time went by when I wasn’t behind the wheel.

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Then Jim Cantin took a road tour gig and asked us to look after his car while he was out of town. He kept it parked in a lot ½ mile away and we needed to dust the snow off and turn the engine over every week, but it was SO cool to be able to escape the city!! We took Jim’s car to Connecticut to visit friends and family and for a premiere of our YOGURT VARIATIONS with the New Britain Symphony, to Long Island to see my teacher Hale Smith – the freedom to get around without using public transportation…. bliss!

Even maintenance was an adventure; since the closest Chevrolet dealership was on Staten Island, we got a ride on the ferry to get the side mirror replaced (another parking garage mishap when the attendant was moving the car around).

But the most fun was grocery shopping trips to Paterson, NJ.  Our pockets bulging with coupons and a list a mile long, we’d hop in the Chevette, cross the bridge that Chris Christie made famous and before too long be at PathMark, home of huge bargains (and double coupons!)  We’d fill the oversized cart with tons of non-perishables, stocking up on canned food, TP and paper towels like the end of the world was coming. It was always an adventure to be in a real, honest-to-God suburban supermarket after squeezing thru NYC bodegas and tiny grocery stores. The variety! The new products! The SPACE!!!

At the end of several hours’ shopping, the trunk and back seat of the Chevette would be so crammed full of stuff, we could barely see anything in the rearview mirror. With the double coupons and lower NJ prices, a $200 grocery bill would be slashed to $80 some times!  (These are early 1980s prices I’m talking here!)  Being an inveterate bargain hunter, this thrilled me no end.

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Jim has always known how to live; he was the only person I knew in NY who had both a clothes washer and dryer in his apartment – he’d found them at a yard sale, fixed what was broken and… voila! Truly civilized city living!  Jim is amazingly talented in many areas; in addition to his prodigious skills as a musician, vocal coach and songwriter, he’s a skilled woodworker, designer, collector, teacher, computer expert, piano rebuilder, photo restorer… there’s very little that Jim can’t do.

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He’s also very generous. Thanks again, Jim, for letting us take care of the Little Gold Chevette!

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Gifts That Keep On Giving… and Giving BACK

I’m of the opinion that some of the BEST gifts you can get (AND give!) are practical things such as kitchen utensils, pots, and the like.  Back in the mid-70s one of my songwriting collaborators moved to L.A. from NYC and gave me a bunch of kitchen stuff she didn’t want to move out west:  a food mill that I somehow lost track of, a DANDY slotted spoon and 2 pieces of square Corning Ware with one glass top that fit them both.  I still use the slotted spoon, even though the handle broke off at the end, and I use the Corning Ware every time I make something bake-able, like zucchini-lasagna or chicken divan – that I can bake one for “now” and put the other one in the freezer for “later”.

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And I think kindly of Sally every time I use these items – which is pretty much every day. I think, “bless her heart!  Sally gave me this nice slotted spoon I’m using at this very minute – which I’ve had for… 35+ years!  SHE thought its number was up, but I keep using it every day!!”  (note: they don’t make spoons like that any more – I’ve bought plenty of slotted spoons over the years, thinking, “I’ll just get rid of that beat-up, ratty-lookin’ spoon of Sally’s and replace it with THIS shiny new beauty!” – only to have the new spoon fall apart, not FEEL right, or whatever.  Back to Sally’s I go.)

So I think kindly of Sally.  Just as I think kindly of my friend Larry practically every single day.  “BOY, do I like having these Rubbermaid containers!  What a great friend Larry was to give them to me. They’re the PERFECT size for these  (fill-in-the-blank) leftovers.”  (Leftovers ARE my second favorite thing for dinner – second only to Reservations!  Sometimes they’re FIRST, OVER Reservations, because you don’t have to leave the house – just reheat what you’ve already got!)

I have few regrets in life – but one is that, after loaning a friend in Chicago an extra 1-quart Revere-ware saucepan with lid I had, when he was getting settled in to his first place and learning to cook, I took it back when he moved to North Carolina.  I don’t know WHAT I was thinking – I didn’t really NEED the damned pan – he’d had it for YEARS and I never missed it, but when he asked if I wanted it back, I said, “yes” – and now it sits collecting dust at the back of my pantry.  I NEVER use it.  And judging from the shape it was in when I got it back, I’m pretty sure he used it a LOT.  Just think of all the good vibes I forfeited from my lack of foresight!  He could have been blessing MY heart all this time!

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Memorial Dogs

I don’t want to be irreverent and I know that Memorial Day is for remembering those soldiers and sailors lost in battle, but it occurred to me to take this time to remember the 7 lovely schnauzers who shared our lives from 1982 to 2010. We’ve scanned photos of our first dog, Dunkel – who we got from a backyard breeder on Staten Island, back when we lived in midtown Manhattan.  We met him at 6 weeks old and took him home the following week, since he was the runt of the litter and had been bottle-fed for a while. His breeder didn’t understand the importance to us that he NOT get his ears cropped, but it sure meant a lot to us –  he was a musicians’ dog, after all!!  He was the most wonderful ball of fluff when we brought him home, renting a car so that the trip would be peaceful for him.  As it turned out, he fit perfectly in the pocket of my coat and we carried him home from getting his puppy shots at the vet that way while riding the subway.

Here’s tiny Dunkel, as we first met him.

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Dunkel didn’t make a peep for the first few weeks we had him – no barking, no growling, nothing! Then one day he heard a siren going right by our building and the most unearthly howl arose from him – we were astonished!  He had a VOICE!
Mark usually took him for his before-bedtime walks in midtown and would invariably encounter ladies-of-the-night who would fall in love with Dunkel, thus he came in every evening smelling of Tabu, Shalimar and Joy perfume!
We took him on his first visit to Grandma and Grandpa in Tucson that first Christmas and he loved following his Uncle Max, sniffing around the yard without a leash!!  (big stuff for a city dog!!)  He liked going to the beach in Santa Monica, too, altho it was VERY cold and we kept him leashed the entire time.

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After the winter was over, it was time for Dunkel’s first haircut. We’d trimmed his feet and ear canals all along, but had a groomer come to our apartment for a REAL thorough haircut! Dunkel’s ears, which had always flopped over naturally, immediately found the air!!  We were shocked and the groomer volunteered to tape them down, so that they’d flop again – but you can see from the photo we took of the less-than-an-hour time he was like that, that Dunkel did NOT like his newly-liberated ears being set like that!  Life is too short, we figured, for our boy to be so unhappy.  We decided to let the fur outside his ears grow, and it took a while, but eventually the weight of the fur gave his ears a bit of a flap.

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Dunkel was an excellent snuggle-boy. Here he is, taking a nap with Dad (Mark), sitting nicely with his cousin David, and also with his Grandma Betty, who loved him dearly.  Of all our dogs, he was by far her favorite – when we brought him up to New Haven to visit, she tried to “steal” him by hiding him in the clothes hamper. We called and called but he didn’t make a peep – guess there weren’t any sirens going by that day!?

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Dunkel was well-traveled – moving from NYC to Chicago when he was one, moving to Los Angeles when he was two, moving back to Chicago when he was 4 – with additional trips to Minnesota, Arizona, Connecticut – he got around!

Dunkel’s 5th birthday at Grandpa Millard and Grandma Marian’s house?  Any excuse for cake!!

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Lounging by the pool…

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Back in Chicago, when it got cold, Dunkel would bury himself in pillows to stay toasty warm

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Dunkel was talented and would perform a lot of tricks for just one treat
But he was also a little spoiled – once he was housebroken, he was invited to sleep in bed with us.

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Not every day was perfect, and sometimes Dunkel would get tired of posing for photos…

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Dunkel adjusted great when we added a little sister to our family – he liked Gretel a lot. Here they are enjoying the sun together on the sofa.

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Dunkel was patient when illness happened – he had to have emergency surgery when he was 5 and special eye drops several times/day the last years of his life.  We love to remember him as a sweet soul who made us so happy while he was here.

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We were so happy with Dunkel that after moving to L.A. we decided we were ready for another schnauzer puppy.  Mark’s mom looked for us in Tucson, since there were a few reputable breeders there, and the next thing we knew, we were driving to Tucson to pick up Gretel Garbo, who was named that because her mother was Miss Molly Hollywood.

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Of course, since it was our anniversary and we were at Mark’s folks’ house, there was CAKE!!  (none for Dunkel or Gretel, tho!)

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At 11 weeks, Gretel was a bit older than Dunkel had been when we got him, so she had already developed quite a personality! On the drive back to L.A., a semi truck driver turned over his engine and startled her, and boy, did she give HIM a good barking-at!
Later that year we moved back to Chicago and Gretel tried to keep an eye on both of us, no matter where we were in the house, so her spot was parked on the carpeted stairs.

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This was okay until the day she fell asleep and rolled over, THRU the stairs, falling more than 6’ on her back. She was okay but never hung out on the stairs again!
Dunkel got along great with his little sister – altho when we tried to teach her tricks and put him in the other room, he was so busy actually OBEYING commands that we always laughed and Gretel never DID get good at performing-for-treats!

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Gretel cleaned up really well once we gave her a haircut.

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Mark’s parents were so enthralled with Gretel that they decided to get a little girl schnauzer from the same breeder when their boy Max passed on at 15 years old. When we went to visit again the next year to meet Tina, they pulled a “fast one” and introduced us to Tinkerbelle, her sister, who was a MUCH younger puppy!  Here’s Tinkerbelle giving me a kiss!

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The three girls were so cute together!!

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One Christmas we received as a gift a hand-crocheted doll hat which I thought looked really good on Gretel – what do you think?

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She put up with the photo-shoot but didn’t want to wear it in the Easter Parade!  She knew how pretty she was, tho, and would pose for photos at any time!

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Gretel got along with practically everyone – here we are posing with Pete, a Chicago friend.

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When we went back to visit Mark’s folks (and Tina and Tinkerbelle), Gretel was a bit aloof from her half-sister and cousin.

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Tina and Tinkerbelle were a bit protective of THEIR bed, too… “it’s okay for you to visit, but the pillows are OURS!”

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Everything went back to normal when we got home, tho.

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We let Gretel and Dunkel’s coats grow pretty long during those cold Chicago winters.

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One cold night before Christmas, Gretel heard a would-be-burglar trying to break in at our back door and woke us up to warn us!  Not everyone knows that in addition to her great beauty, Gretel had a talent that not every dog possesses – because of her superior hearing, she was an excellent sound engineer!

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Mostly she loved going on walks – afterwards, she and Dunkel looked like this. (nice tongues, eh?)

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After we lost Dunkel (he had a congenital kidney condition that finally caught up with him), we wanted another brother for Gretel. She was actually enjoying being an Only Dog, but we didn’t see that, and so… KAISER!!

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He was SO tiny compared to Gretel – and she was okay with that, since she got to boss him around… at least for a little while!

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The following year was a different story!

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Kaiser lived up to his name – he DOMINATED!! He was somewhat fear-aggressive, so we took him and Gretel to obedience school where he did very well, but never truly got over the fear-aggression completely. He was very friendly and easy-going, UNLESS someone tried to pick him up!  Then he’d gurgle and kinda-growl – not in a threatening way, but just to let you know that he wasn’t enjoying this very much!  He stopped as soon as you put him down. We’d forgotten about this until we unearthed an old VHS videotape we’d made, where we’d picked him up to be in the picture, and there it was… Kaiser’s vocal protestation.

At the end of 1993 we adopted Tina and Tinkerbelle when Mark’s mom passed on. They were adorable girls and it was SO much fun to have a schnauzer quartet!!

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By this time we were doing all our own grooming, altho you’d never know it by these pix:

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He was an all-round athlete – he loved the snow

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he loved playing ball – everything from pingpong to fetching tennis balls to basketball was for him!

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One time he disappeared in the backyard and we couldn’t figure out WHERE he was hiding. We called and called. Finally we remembered, got out the basketball and only had to bounce it ONCE, and he magically reappeared from behind the shed!  🙂

Kaiser and Gretel were good friends and made a really cute couple together.

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but with the addition of Gretel’s half-sister and cousin, it got to be a full couch!

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Unfortunately, Tinkerbelle wasn’t as hardy as the rest, so at one point, we were down to 3.

G&K&T-90s

T&K&GHoliday

We all went along for a few more years, but by February 2000, both Gretel and Tina were losing ground steadily – and even Kaiser, who had been totally healthy for the first 8 years of his life, developed diabetes and internal growths that had to be surgically removed. We lost both girls within one month, in addition to Kaiser’s diagnosis and were in a state of shock.

K-after surgery1

Kaiser’s surgery was only a partial success. He had a relatively quick recovery but the incision in his side never did heal. We changed bandages a few times every day, since the wound continued to ooze the rest of his life. (another 18 months).

He was always patient through all of this, even allowing us to pick him up without his mumbling-growling protestation!  He would wait as long as necessary for his clean-up and bandages, with no problem, especially if there was a tennis ball nearby for him to chew on.

K-aftersurgery2

After Kaiser got sick, he was a bit lonely without his sisters, so we looked for a canine companion and found the perfect one in Gustav!  We fell in love with Gustav right away and he got along GREAT with Kaiser, who was truly overjoyed to have a “guy” to hang out with after all those years surrounded by feminine energy!  There’s a lot of info and pictures at this link:  http://www.marilynharris.com/bestfriends5.html  and also this link:  http://www.marilynharris.com/bestfriends6.html – but my favorites have always been these:

G&KFetch

fetch is always more fun when there’s another guy playing, too!

K&Gwait4ball

waiting for Dad to throw the ball again!

We found Liesel thru the same rescue organization where we’d found Gustav.  She’d been surrendered by her owner who hadn’t been able to walk her, so she had a bit of a weight problem.

LieselOW

But she sure loved to go for walks once we suited her up!  Sure, she was a bit pudgy, but underneath she was strong and had real MUSCLE! Even tho she was blind, she loved to take the lead everywhere. Fortunately, she was good at taking verbal cues.

Unlike any other dogs we’ve had, Liesel was also extremely clear on the concept of ridding the homestead of interlopers – one spring she dispatched a half dozen wild felines in our backyard before we could stop her! She was so proud – she brought them right to the back door to show us!

From the start, she and Gustav were like 2 peas in a pod and really good buddies!

BookendsG&L

They cuddled together a lot, and not just for photo ops!

SeriousG&L

Both Gustav and Liesel got along well with Oskar, who’s still with us – and the 3 of them made the transition to being Arizona dogs with ease – they sure didn’t miss dealing with FLEAS, which are not a problem here in the desert.

It’s been fun to reminisce about our pups who are gone-but-not-forgotten. They each brought something special to the party and we feel grateful to have shared in their lives.  They’ve certainly enriched ours!

 

 

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