growing up, self-acceptance

Rewriting History

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“…contrary to what you may have heard or learned, the past is not done and it is not over, it’s still in process, which is another way of saying that when it’s critiqued, analyzed, it yields new information about itself. The past is already changing as it is being reexamined, as it is being listened to for deeper resonances. Actually it can be more liberating than any imagined future if you are willing to identify its evasions, its distortions, its lies, and are willing to unleash its secrets. “

Toni Morrison at Wellesley 2004

My mother spent a lot of time during the last years of her life sifting thru memories, looking for insight and clues to the meaning of events that had affected her; trying to understand, to make sense of it all.  I find myself doing the same thing these days – and am comforted by Toni Morrison’s commencement speech to Wellesley College 2004, where she rails against “adults being exoticized into eternal juvenilia” and “cultural vapidity” that appears to only have become more rampant in the past 13 years.  

I confess that in the past I’ve been quite critical of people who rewrite history; I’ve judged them as being guilty of denial, of being delusional, of sugarcoating reality. I used to wonder about this aspect of Christian Science when I was an active student – sure, it was helpful to reframe troubling scenarios in a more spiritual context, but wasn’t that cheating somehow?

I believed “what’s done is done” and there was no way to fix the mistakes I’d made in the past. But upon further reflection, I’m coming to see the wisdom of reframing what happened and the choices I’ve made. For one thing, it helps me to (re)view the past with compassion and kindness, towards myself and everyone else.  I now don’t think it’s too Pollyanna-ish to look for the benefits of any given scenario, and many things that happen can hold just such hidden blessings, if we’re patient and motivated to identify them.

Nobody has the exact memory that you have. What is now known is not all of what you are capable of knowing. You are your own stories and therefore free…

Toni Morrison @ Wellesley 2004

One of my biggest regrets was my relationship with an early boyfriend who turned out to be emotionally damaged and eventually became mentally ill. I met him when I was 17 and didn’t recognize the warning signs that anything was “off” about him. But over the few months we were seeing one another, I became alarmed at his fits of rage that erupted at random times for unknown reasons. The night he grabbed my arm violently leaving a nasty bruise, I knew that I had to break up with him. Initially he seemed to take it well, but then he began stalking me at school and broke into my home when my roommate and I were away. He’d become downright creepy, seemingly overnight. It wasn’t safe to love him any more.

The stalking continued without direct confrontation for 2½ years – I’d catch sight of his red scarf across the street or feel eyes on me when I was working in a practice room, but we never interacted. Then after I graduated, he disappeared, only to resurface a few years later by showing up unexpectedly and uninvited at my apartment door. The building doorman had to threaten to call the cops to get him to leave, and entreaties from both of my parents and their lawyers for him to stop stalking me were unsuccessful. I felt sufficiently scared at that point to take legal action to get him to leave me alone, which he managed to do for another few years.

But then he began writing letters. In spite of being reminded that 10 years had elapsed since the relationship had ended and being informed that I was now a married woman, he continued to send letters demanding me to return to him. Year after year after year, no matter where we moved, the letters would follow us. We contacted the Postal Inspectors and after they investigated and interviewed him, their legal advisors told us that he was disturbed and receiving psychiatric help, that he was harmless and should “get a pass”, to just discard the letters, since there was nothing they could do to get him to stop writing and sending them. So for many years, that’s what we did.

Over time the letters became more and more offensive, as he scribbled his rage and hateful comments on the exterior of the envelopes, making the most outrageous claims, (his version of rewriting history) and blaming me for everything bad that had ever happened to him. I began to think of the letters as “Hate Mail from Hartford” and saw myself as a victim as their delivery continued unabated. Some days I could handle it, but other times I felt overwhelmed and oppressed.

The toll this took was rather like Chinese water torture; while the mental dread was much worse than the actual pain inflicted, it also didn’t help that the authorities were dismissive of my complaints. After all, I was “only” receiving non-stop written verbal abuse from an obviously delusional man – how bad could it be, really? Compared to former boyfriends who went after their exes with guns and online revenge porn, nasty letters are pretty small potatoes.

Still, I wondered what the hell I had ever done to deserve this ceaseless abuse; as I recalled, I had treated him sweetly during the time we were dating. And I wasn’t cruel or insulting when I ended it; I had never made any promises of exclusivity or for a future together, and it just didn’t make sense to me that he was so fixated on a brief casual relationship that had ended so long ago.

I tried to rise above it; to take the higher view, to forgive him and see him bathed in white light. Since I feared him and resented his pervasive presence in my life, I couldn’t bring myself to actually love him, but I prayed for his healing. For decades I had shredded his letters or tossed them into the trash. On the advice of a shaman, I’d even tried burning them at the mailbox, so as not to allow their negative energy into the house.  I marked them “Return To Sender” and “Refused” and sent them back, reasoning that this was his bad juju and I didn’t have to accept it – and then he stopped putting his return address on the envelopes, so I couldn’t even do that. I felt more and more trapped.

One day on the way from the mailbox to the trashcan I noticed he had progressed to making death threats, which alarmed me enough to recontact the police and the Postal Inspectors. But follow-up with them yielded disappointing results; restraining orders would prove ineffective and the USPS didn’t want to get any more involved with him.  Turns out there had been many complaints about him from many quarters, as he was still writing to psychiatrists, nurses and caregivers who had retired and even died. He’d been cagey in his assaults-by-mail to everyone who had ever tried to help him over the past 47 years and avoided breaking the law, at least to the extent that the district attorney didn’t consider it to be worth prosecuting him. He was intractable and adamantine in his conviction that he’d been “done wrong” by anyone he’d ever met (especially me!) and we were all apparently going to hear about it forever.

To have an apparently unsolvable problem like this is something I’d never wish on anyone.  But in the course of all this drama, recently a couple of things fell into place for me:

I made the decision to see his letters impersonally – as “junk mail” instead of “Hate Mail from Hartford”. No one rails at receiving junk mail, after all – it’s just a fact of life, like robocalls, spam in your email inbox and commercials on TV. You just toss it in the recycling pile (after blacking out any identifying information), just like you push the mute button when that annoying ad comes on for the umpteenth time in the middle of your favorite show. It’s nothing personal. No drama. That helped some.

And then I came across the following:

I have breathed my way through so many people I felt wronged by; through so many situations I couldn’t change. Sometimes while doing this I have breathed in acceptance and breathed out love. Sometimes I’ve breathed in gratitude and breathed out forgiveness. Sometimes I haven’t been able to muster anything beyond the breath itself, my mind forced bland with nothing but the desire to be free of sorrow and rage.”

– Cheryl Strayed in her book Tiny Beautiful Things

Reading this passage the other day is what finally unfroze my heart re. this guy who’s been stalking me all these years. I realized that because of his abuse, I’d been partially adopting his version of the story on some level, instead of fully embracing what I knew from my own experience to be true. I understand that it’s not safe to be in touch with him now, I have no interest in his circumstances and it’s not my job to fix him. But I did love him back in 1970, the best I knew how, until it became unsafe to do so. I don’t need to deny that I loved him then to feel safe now.

“Although you will never fully know or successfully manipulate the characters who surface or disrupt your plot, you can respect the ones who do by paying them close attention and doing them justice. The theme you choose may change or simply elude you, but being your own story means you can always choose the tone.”

Toni Morrison at Wellesley 2004

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romantic

My Disco Date with Frank

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Frank and I had only danced together once before in public – at the final gig our mutual friend Cindy was working as a go-go dancer in a Paterson, NJ bar. The inebriated patrons’ interest in Cindy’s provocative pink costume had waned by the last hour, and Frank and I had consumed maybe a few too many gin and tonics, so we decided to liven things up by joining Cindy atop the bar. After a few songs, Frank and I got sweaty and took off our shirts. As the patrons began to get a bit rowdy, the bartender got nervous and locked the doors (!?!) but we made it out of there alive, laughing all the way back to the Upper West Side on the bus at 3 AM; it was one of those adventures that seems a bit less risky in hindsight.

So I wasn’t prepared for the magical night Frank had planned for just the two of us a year later. Neither one of us was seeing anyone seriously and Frank wouldn’t tell me where we were going or what we were going to do – but since he was paying, I went along with the program.

OMG, we were at Trude Heller’s nightclub in Greenwich Village!!  First there was a delicious dinner – I’m not sure what it WAS (we’re talking 40+ years ago, folks!) but it was scrumptious, as was Frank’s company (as always!). When the floorshow began, I was totally delighted by “the band” – The Manhattan Transfer – a group I’d never heard OF, let alone HEARD! And after their set, the mirrored ball descended and it was Disco Time!  Frank and I hit the floor, along with everyone else in the club. I wasn’t yet familiar with all of the songs; “Rock The Boat”“Rock Your Baby”“Come & Get Your Love”“Love Train”“The Love I Lost”“Never Can Say Goodbye”“Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love”…  but I have never forgotten them since that night.

Probably because there wasn’t any sexual agenda between us, Frank has always been one of my most affectionate, tender and supportive friends – a man I truly treasure. Which is not to say I don’t have romantic feelings for him – how could I not? Frank IS “as charming as a prince could ever be”! And he treated me to “A Lovely Night”

 

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growing up, Home

House Of Hate!

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“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Leo TolstoyAnna Karenina, Chapter 1, first line

Our family lived in garden apartments most of the time I was growing up – little 2 or 3 bedroom places on 2 floors, with ivy on the outside walls, trees and grass in the front and back yards that someone else mowed and tended to, and casement windows that leaked like a sieve when winter came. After a bleak 4-year sojourn as homeowners in Cicero, NY, my mother appreciated finding friends among some of the more educated and sophisticated women she met once we were left suburbia and my dad really liked the fact that he didn’t have to rely on his somewhat temperamental jalopies to get to work – he could take the city bus to his office in downtown Albany and in Hartford, he could easily walk to his job from our apartment.

We kids also enjoyed the more cosmopolitan environment and watched with interest as new neighbors moved in from time to time.  Dr. Bill and Harriet Miller were next-door neighbors and their daughter Shirley became my best friend until we moved from NY state to Connecticut.   At one point Hazel and Roy lived next door – they were a Chinese couple who liked us and even invited us over for a real homemade Chinese dinner once!

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Then came Marrrge & Bob – a couple from Scotland who brrrristled whenever we encountered them. We couldn’t figure out what the trouble was until one day Marrrge came over and screamed repeatedly at us that ours was “a house of HATE!”  We were so stunned to hear her opinion and couldn’t fathom what would make her think that?  We LOVED each other!!  Sure, we made a lot of noise bounding up and down the stairs which were directly on the other side of the wall from THEIR stairs – and we hollered and teased each other, like kids will do.  We had 2 adults and 4 kids packed into 1000 square feet and we WERE a bit rowdy from time to time.  But HATE?  Marrrge and Bob moved away shortly thereafter and we just laughed at how mistaken they were about our loving family.

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Decades later Mark and I rented a spacious luxury 2 bedroom place on the Gold Coast of Chicago – just the 2 of us, with our dog Dunkel. Each floor had just 2 apartments. The first night at 3 AM we were awakened by yelling, screaming and crockery breaking from the apartment across the hall.  When we asked the doorman what was going on, no one seemed to know.  Eruptions occurred on a fairly regular basis and poor little Dunkel would just shudder, like he did when thunderstorms rolled in from Lake Michigan.

It wasn’t just fights that woke us; the man would throw the family’s trash down the chute in the middle of the night and more than once I spied him doing so au naturelle. One night he locked his wife, dressed only in her nightgown, outside in the hall and wouldn’t let her back in, no matter how she pleaded and begged. These folks acted like they were the only people on the planet, totally oblivious to the disruption they caused. We later found out that the father was high up in the police force, so domestic disturbance calls never made it past the thin blue line.  Apparently most of the other residents had assumed that the noise was coming from OUR apartment, since we were known to be musicians, and we all know how rowdy and disruptive THEY are!!?

We never found out what, if any, mitigating circumstances were in play in that household.  I wonder how Marrrge and Bob would have handled being their neighbors!?

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growing up, music biz, romantic, self-acceptance

My Romances

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My initial plan was to become a brilliant concert pianist, marry Van Cliburn and live happily ever after. I figured that since we both had naturally curly hair and loved Chopin, it was a perfect match. But before that, I was going to EXPERIENCE LIFE!  Which meant, being a child of the 60s and 70s, that I would have many lovers and flirt outrageously with Johnny Carson, just like Eva Gabor and all the other glamorous women guests on the Tonight Show.

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It didn’t work out exactly like that. My first boyfriend was the head usher at the Allyn movie theatre in downtown Hartford. Wayne lived in another part of town, went to a different high school and was very cute. We would sneak up to the balcony on breaks for closed-mouth kisses and while it was new and exciting, I wasn’t really interested in HIM.  I knew I liked being liked but that was about it. The one time he dropped by my house on his bike, out of uniform… well, it was a real disappointment.  (it was a VERY snappy uniform!!)  When I was fired from that first job, it was a relief that I wouldn’t have to see him any more.

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The vibes coming from our parents had always been such that, even tho nothing was said overtly, we knew we weren’t encouraged to date.  That may have been due to the troubles brewing in their own relationship, or my mother’s terror of our becoming pregnant (and trapped!) or my dad’s unwillingness to see us grow up, or some combination thereof. My dad warned us that “most men see women as meat – something to be pursued, used and disposed of”- a rather unsavory picture of romance for a teenage girl. Still, sexual freedom was in the air and I felt urge to get GOING already as I had devoured all those magazines and read Helen Gurley Brown’s SEX & THE SINGLE GIRL cover to cover.

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I’d had crushes – all unrequited, of course – on the handsome but somewhat dim boy in German class, the substitute teachers who looked SO much like Freddie of Freddie & The Dreamers, Paul McCartney and let’s not forget Van Cliburn!  And I’d held hands with the accompanist and kissed a singer from the InterHigh Choir on a concert tour to D.C. There was some smooching with a fellow cashier at Korvette’s – but nothing serious – nobody even got to 2nd base. Boys were so FOREIGN and they stayed that way for me through high school.

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Once I’d moved away to college, there was more freedom to meet with boys but dating per se had somehow disappeared. My girlfriends who came of age in the 70s agree: in the musician/artist crowds we ran with, NOBODY actually went out on dates!  You’d meet someone interesting, flirt, and… sometimes it was almost like shaking hands, it was so casual. From age 18 to 27, I think I may have gone out on no more than a half dozen actual DATES. We didn’t call it a “hookup” or a “booty call”, but for those of us who weren’t in a serious relationship, that’s essentially what it was.

I had always been drawn to musicians – especially those who could really PLAY. It didn’t matter whether they were married or not – in fact, I was more comfortable if they were already spoken for, because I had no intention of letting anything as trivial as sex derail my career ambitions. I wasn’t tuned-in enough to attempt to parlay my affections for career advancement – not that I entertained any idea of “the purity of being in love” – but it just struck me as cheesy. Looking back now, I’m not sure whether I missed some great opportunities or whether it really would have been cheesy!?

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I bumbled along through the 70s, never committing to anyone. There were many months at a time when I had no gentlemen callers, even though I rarely played hard-to-get. A lot of time I was mighty lonely. Instead of building connections in the music industry while I was Gil Evans’ copyist, I distracted myself by flirting with his band. Mostly I was judicious and paid attention to my own radar, so I didn’t wind up with many head cases, but I still have plenty of memories that make me cringe to this day, when I was shamed by lovers who somehow felt justified to put me down, criticizing the body they had just enjoyed. In my experience, the sexual revolution did very little to remedy the double standard.

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I was confused in many of my relationships – frequently mistaking my interest in men as sexual in nature, when what I really wanted was their friendship and camaraderie.  I loved how they played music, their enthusiasm for life, their creativity, their energy… and in many instances, it would have been a travesty to muddle my admiration and affection for them with sex. And yet I did, all too often. The smart ones talked me out of it and I wasn’t too difficult to dissuade – I don’t want to be around anyone who doesn’t want to be around me.

There were certain mileposts of progress – when I turned down a last-minute visit from a gorgeous, brilliant saxophonist because he called after midnight after months of hearing nothing from him – and when I realized that I could actively choose who I wanted to be with and not wait around to be noticed. It wasn’t exactly liberated, but felt like baby steps towards sexual self-esteem.

Romantic moments that actually made me swoon were few and far between, and generally weren’t sexual so much as warm and affectionate; the composition student who held my hand during a string quartet recital or listening with a friend to jazz piano at a NYC club while drinking one too many gin and tonics.  Being actually SEEN as a person – and knowing that whoever is seeing you is LIKING you!?  To me, that’s the gold.  All the other stuff is posturing.

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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 waked 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 protestations.

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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Tinkerbelle

Kaiser

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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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