Predictions are a Production

The Academy Awards are tonight!

I managed to see all the best picture nominees and most of the acting ones. Here are my predictions for some of the awards — decorated by fashion splashes not yet discussed during this awards season!

Best Supporting Actor

(Haven’t seen Tom Hanks in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, or Anthony Hopkins in The Two Popes).

Who I liked best: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.  I’ll be honest: this year has changed my opinion of Pitt. I never really paid attention to him before, although he stood out from the generically handsome slew of men in Hollywood in Inglourious Basterds. But this role seems, well, like who he is in real life. And after watching him in this, and in all the interviews and red carpet and award show appearances, he’s kinda hot. He’s sexy to me now, both as a hunka man and as an actor. Hoping for cool stuff from him in the future!

Who will win: Pitt. Easiest vote of the night. And he should have a cool, aw-shucks, ma’am, speech.

Fashions I liked from the BAFTA awards:

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Best Supporting Actress

(haven’t seen Kathy Bates in Ricard Jewell)

Who I liked best: Florence Pugh, Little Women. I have heard some folks say she shouldn’t win because she was so much older than her character in the book, and she was a British woman playing a thoroughly American role. I don’t really care about either of those things — and those were choices made by the casting director, not by her. From the minute we entered the theater, I realized this was a different, thoroughly modern Little Women, and she was perfect. She fleshed out Amy March in a way I’d never seen done before and made her a strong, complex woman, not just a spoiled brat.

Who will win: Laura Dern, Marriage Story. She was good, don’t get me wrong, but Best? Nah.

Fashions I didn’t like from the BAFTAs:

Best Actor:

(Haven’t seen Antonio Banderas in Pain and Glory or Jonathon Pryce in The Two Popes)

Who I liked best: Joaquin Phoenix in The Joker. He completely embodied the character and made him sympathetic. His performance gave dimension to an almost comical villain, and the film is more of a treatise on the plight of the poor and those with mental illness, and how the haves don’t always get what the have nots need or want. Phoenix was sad, and sweet, and gruesome and powerful and beyond impressive.

Who will win: Phoenix. A given.

Fashions I liked at the SAG awards:

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Best Actress:

Who I liked best: So many great performances here! But I have to say Renee Zelwegger as Judy Garland was heart wrenching and lovely. My number two choice would be Scarlett Johansson in Marriage Story. So nuanced! She was so good you could almost forget how stupid beautiful she is.

Who will win: Zellwegger

Fashions I didn’t like from the SAGs:

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Best Director: 

Who I liked best: All 5 deftly handled complex films with lots of different challenges. I wouldn’t be bothered by any of them winning, but I might have to say Bong Joon Ho for Parasite was the most impressive to me, followed by Sam Mendes for 1917.

Who will win: Most likely Mendes — although Hollywood does love itself enough to give it to Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Best Picture:

Which I liked best: I kind of feel like Parasite should win, with 1917 in second place.

Which will win: 1917 — or Once Upon a Time.

My biggest surprise prediction: Billie Eilish will debut her new James Bond song! And I can’t wait!

Time to go get cozy, and watch the show! See you soon!

 

Take your Fish on a Date

Whenever HWSNBN attend social events — company parties, dinner clubs, drinks with friends — people always have the same fascination. The same desire to know, to pick our brains.

“So…tell us about those date nights!”

We chuckle and look at each other. He sips his drink, and I start talking.

The three questions we get asked most:

  1. How does it work?
  2. How often do you do it?
  3. Where do you get the ideas?

So how do the date nights work?

Our date nights stemmed from a  conversation HWSNBN and I had in late August 2018. Singer Girl had just left for college, and the nest was empty. My husband of just weeks shy of 25 years looked at me and said: we are in a rut. He said he didn’t want us spending the rest of our days just going out to dinner and binge-watching Netflix shows. I agreed,. But I said I didn’t want this to be a one-sided thing, where I have to plan everything and then feel (whether rightly or wrongly) like the pressure is on me for us to have fun.

So we came up with a plan: we would take turns planning date nights. If it was my turn, I’d have it all planned out, with no input on the planning front from him — which meant he couldn’t veto what we were doing. The same goes for when it is his turn. That veto thing is the most important part of making these date nights work. How many of us come up with an idea for something to do on a Saturday night, but when we ask our significant other, they say “I don’t know, Nah. I’m not feeling it”?

If the other person doesn’t know what you are doing, they can’t kill the idea.

This also means that we get to do things we want to do — even if we know it wouldn’t be the other person’s first choice.

Our first planned date night was my choice, and we went mini-golfing at the Walker Art Museum in Minneapolis. that night, we also tried our first selfie. We are really bad at those and have pledged (well, one of us did) to do them every date night. We try to send them tt he kids, partly to let them know we still exist, partly to let them know we are doing ok (and partly to brag. Singer Girl has wistfully proclaimed she can’t wait to be 21 so she can hang out with us, as we seem to know where all the cool places are!).

How in the world do you find things to do?

We have done a lot:

Trapeze classes.

Plays.

Museums and galleries and art festivals

Countless amazing restaurants, bars, and breweries.

Scavenger hunts.

Pottery classes.

Inflatables courses. Pumpkin carving extravaganzas.

Lantern festivals.

And so much more!

It is super easy to find things to do. I have always been a list maker and a collector of information, so I have folders of ideas. I have a paper one, filled with articles I have cut out of papers and magazines. I also have a computer folder with things I have seen online. The internet is amazeballs for this sort of thing: once you start clicking on things, you get suggestions thrown at you left and right. I mean, all you have to do is think about something and you get targeted ads, right? Well, imagine what happens when you start actively looking for things to do.

If I can’t think of something new and timely, I search local calendars. My absolute fave Twin Cities one for kooky ideas is City Pages. I have signed up for their suggestions, as well as tons of others. Here are a few interesting ones:

Only in Your State

MSP Magazine

Eater Twin Cities

Thrillist

Sometimes you have to plan far in advance. I planned this Friday’s date about 3 months ago because I needed to buy tickets for something. I know he would’ve said no if I asked him, but afterward, he will say “I am glad we did this.”

How often do we manage to do date night?

Do we do it every weekend? No, but we try to. I have it on the calendar: Donni plans date night, HWSNBN plans date night, alternating weekends, so we know in advance who’s up to bat (yes, we’ve been to baseball games — and football, and soccer!).

Sometimes life gets in the way and conflicts inevitably arise. It is a lot harder to do when the kids are here, and, full disclosure, we are kind of glad when they go back from whence they came so we can get back to our adventures. We are also pretty busy socially in other ways, so sometimes we have to squeeze stuff in. The holidays are tough. His work travel can make it challenging.

But we can feel when it has been too long.

We start to go back to the boring, with not as much to talk about. Let’s face it: marriage is hard! We have been married 26 years this fall, and actually have known each other for 34 years. When you start out with someone, often the moments are somewhat stolen, and you fit the person into your life. They don’t know you, and you don’t know the, so every little factoid is fascinating (“you use toothpaste? I do too!”). Relationships are like fish: if you don’t keep swimming, they die.

HWSNBN sometimes says he feels like the date nights are a competition. I do not. I feel like they are a great way to learn more about ourselves and to do things that make each of us happy. Maybe I feel this way because I have always felt that pressure to make sure we had a good time, and now I feel it is shared equally.

One side benefit that we didn’t expect: all those people who ask us about date nights. I have people (often life-long Minnesotans who are younger than us) asking for suggestions. I think it’s so cool that we inspired folks to get off the couch and try new things.

Yes, it’s my turn this weekend. We will hit the road around 3pm and drive to an unknown destination (that’s another fun part: keeping it a secret as long as you can!). We have to be back by 930 the next morning, as we are booked solid: the Chilly Open for him in the morning, our Gourmet club Sat night, the Klondike Dog Derby Saturday and Sunday, and cramming as many movies in before we take the couch for the Oscars Sunday night.

And the couch will be okay then because we know that our next adventure is just a few days away! Happy dating to you all!

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

 

Argentina by way of Italy is a Delicious Trek

We visit a lot of new restaurants, so I thought I’d throw in a review here and there for ones we love. We visited Martina in December as part of a double date with folks I’d never met. HWSNBN works with him, and he thought we’d have fun together. So forts we trekked over to the Minnesota Landscape arboretum to ooh and ahh at the holiday light show. This was on my date night list already, so I was happy they chose that as a fun thing to do. Afterward, we went to dinner. It was awesome!

I expected a tiny, overcrowded restaurant and was pleasantly surprised! While the bar was jam-packed, the restaurant itself was open and light.  I also appreciate the combination of trendy and classic decor. Martina is like the love child a California fern bar and a millennial industrial hot spot. Green plants soften stark white walls, and weathered wood tempers exposed metal (I am obsessed with the copper water pitchers and want one NOW). Service was relaxed and friendly, starting with the lovely hostess (n a red blazer I also coveted). Bartenders weren’t as chatty, but let’s face it it was three people deep and no one could hear anyway. But their smiles were loud enough! Our server was great and didn’t look down his nose at his 50-plus customers, even if none of us have tattoos and the men were clean-shaven. That is not always the case in “hip” restaurants, lemme tell ya.

Martina is known for its cocktails, so we ventured in that direction first. I was worried that mine (can’t remember the name) was gonna be nasty (my husband picked it for me) as the only liquor listed was vermouth, which I hate. But it was herbaceous and light and refreshing. He had the Mare, which actually was good for a giggle. He didn’t read what the asterisk signified on the menu (denotes a warning for those with shellfish warnings), so he was worried about what would be in it. We still don’t know what maritime essence is (don’t ask don’t tell), but he liked the drink a lot and the floating mini lilypads were frickin’ darling.

Dinner! First, we had an amazing wine from Cicada that went down super fast and easy and we would’ve ordered another bottle but two of the 3 drinkers were driving and the 3rd felt a solo bottle would be overkill. Settled for a delicious wine by the glass. Our server was able to steer us right which is always appreciated.

Apps: our table had the leek and gorgonzola empanadas (I could’ve made a meal on those) and grilled beef tongue bruschetta. I didn’t get to try that, mainly because it was gone before I could even say “may I try…”

Entrees were plate cleaners as well. Martina’s culinary focus is Italian influenced Argentinian, which is fascinating and oddly a lovely marriage. I had the chef’s take on cacio e pepe, created ravioli style versus with the traditional spaghetti. Each bite was a burst of silky cheesy peppery happiness. My husband had the prosciutto-wrapped cod, because he was fascinated to see how that flavor combo worked (he loved it). The others at the table had the special which was Argentinian-style beef tenderloin, and the grilled octopus which was a visual stunner, and, it’s consumer said, the best he’d ever had.

I left that night excited to come back and took the hostess’s card. I was hoping to arrange a night there for our dinner club but they don’t like to do large parties unless we reserve a whole room. Instead, this will be on our date night list for the future!

Martina: https://www.martinarestaurant.com/

And the Nominees Are…

So my dance card is shaping up for the next several weeks!

Oscar nominations were announced yesterday — of the 9 films nominated for Best Picture, I have seen 4, which is pretty good. I typed up my new “to-do list,” and was able to cross off at least one in each major category:

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My first plan is always to see all the Best Pic noms, then fill out the rest of the major categories. So that’s 11 movies minimum to see before the big show, which is on Feb 9th. This year I really want to attend one of those film fests where they show all the shorts, so gotta start looking for that.

Before I make my plan, I have to see which ones HWSNBN wants to watch with me. I assume he’ll say yes to the Joker, The Two Popes and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. He’d like 1917, but war movies have become very hard for us to watch since Sailor Boy joined the Navy. I’m on the fence as to whether he will want to join me for Marriage Story, Bombshell or Richard Jewell. The rest I know he will say thanks but no thanks, lol!

So if you really want to see one of these, let me know and we’ll get it on the calendar! This week I am focussing on stuff I can see online (new foster puppy, book club weekend, and big Secondhand Hounds event to plan for next week). But starting next week, if you want to find me, you’ll have to look in a darkened theater!

Oh — and as a quick goodbye, here are some looks that caught my eye at the Critics’ Choice Awards last night. Can you guess which ones I liked, and which ones, well, not so much?

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It’s (Fashion) Award Season Again!

It’s Awards Season, which means I will be obsessively doing two things: watching movies and posting about fashion. Today we cover the show that makes me think of boobs: the Golden Globes (really: what were they thinking when they picked that name?).

Before I start sharing pictures and thoughts and snarky comments and envious gushings, I want to remark on something I heard Howard Stern say on his show the other day. Mind you: I literally only heard a couple of sentences, so this is TOTALLy without context. Maybe he said more afterward, but I was rushing between appointments and I only heard this bit, so I can only comment on this.

He said that with very, very few exceptions, the women looked awful at the GGs. He said their stylists were doing them such a disservice by not flattering their bodies. He specifically mentioned that the bodies were hidden in material, that the ones that showed cleavage smashed their breasts in an unflattering way, and that they should have their hair loose, not pulled back, because so many have such gorgeous hair.

Mr stern, I know your job is to be a shock jock. Frankly, until I started listening to you last year, I and the impression that you were a wretched sexist pig. I have since learned to enjoy your show, even if I do skip over certain parts (your interviews are s=awesome — your sidekicks are not my thing). I admire your animal advocacy and your obvious devotion to your wife. But about those comments:

Yeah, lots of the outfits were weird. I agree, and I will call folks on it. And many will disagree with my opinions, which is fine, because they are my opinions, and I am as entitled to them as you are. But I think you miss the point on the red carpet fashion.

The women re not necessarily dressing for you, or for other men. In my heart of hearts, I hope they are dressing for themselves. But I know they are dressing for other women. We do that. It’s why we spend so much time at Sephora when our men say they prefer us without makeup.

Some of the women are just trying to get press. Some are trying to project an image they have or one they want. Their appearances on these shows are more about business and brand than anything else. I will comment on people in this blog I have ever heard of, and that means they have succeeded. In some cases, I googled them, and learned about a project they were a part of, and maybe added it to my watch list.

That means their weird, boob crushing, severe hairstyle worked.

Just like your shock jock persona works for you.

Thanks, Mr. Stern, for letting me vent. Now: on with the fashion show.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Imma start with this one because it is gold. There ya go. I actually love this, and it ALMOST made my top 3. It’s elegant, but modern at the same time.

I am a big fan of color on the runway, and this year we got splashes all over the place!

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And there was a whole flock of ladies in red — all conducting trains:

On the other end of the spectrum were the ladies who went for classic black and white.

Greta Gerwig and Cynthia Erivo had the same idea: a black column dress with white framing the neck and face. Ervio’s was way better IMO. Gerwig’s severe horizontal neckline, with her tightly pulled back hair, only emphasized her broad shoulders. That may have been what she wanted, but I didn’t like it. Ervio’s, with the glittery movement and nipped waist, made the look more exciting and flattering.

 

Ruffles and bows and wannabe lingerie looks were all over the place as usual. We just can’t get away from the Little House on the Prairie influence. Pity (at least the flesh-colored gowns were absent from the lineup).

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As for the other ruffly bits…

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On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have the ladies who wore pants!

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Let’s turn to the menfolk on the carpet! Men’s fashions are fantastically, fabulously pushing the envelope lately, and I am here for it! From the classic:

To the “in a class by himself”:

Billy Porter

And everywhere in between!

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The couples:

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Before we move on to my faves and least faves, I want to mention two women who were on both lists depending on who was voting, If nothing else, they were very haute couture. Fashion is an art, after all!

My least favorite looks were some people’s favorites (and vice versa).

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The absolute worst was Jennifer Lopez. WTAF??? I included a picture of her from another gala that week, that she should have worn instead.

JLo

Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala, Arrivals, Convention Center, Palm Springs, USA - 02 Jan 2020

Some looks were SO CLOSE. They could have been amazing, but something felt lacking. Is it better to be safe, or to dare? (always dare)

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And my three favorite looks of the Golden Globes were…

Zoe Kravitz

Zoe Kravitz: this is how you mix quirky, formal, creative and classy!

Renee Zellweger

Renee Zellwegger: the color slays, the fit is wonderful, the style is cool

Zoey Deutch

Zoey Deutch: I would wear this out of all the looks. I LOVED IT!!!

 

As a parting gift, here is a slideshow of some of the best and worst looks from the Globes after-parties.  You guess which ones I liked and which ones, well, not so much.

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New Year, Old Habits

Before I lay out this year’s resolutions, let me see how I did on last years!

  1. Lose weight: I did great for a while, but now I am heavier than I was this time last year. Been back on Weight Watchers for 2 days now. Wish me luck. It worked before.
  2. Blog more regularly. Well, we know I didn’t do that, dammit.
  3. I did not take more bubble baths.
  4. I did not clean out the crap under the deck.
  5. I do think I was in more pictures, but not enough. I really suck at selfies, and no one in my family likes picture taking. We even asked friends to take our family pic at Christmas and failed to get it done. Ugh.
  6. I DID attend an event at First Avenue if not a concert. I’m gonna call this one a win!
  7. I used some of the gift cards we collected from auctions, but not all.
  8. I partially cleaned out the weird plastic junk bin.
  9. I did NOT tackle the scary mass of electrical cables.
  10. I did fight less with Singer Girl.
  11. I did NOT frame and hang the old family photos.

So. This year:

See above. Do that.

And:

  1. Print, frame and hang vacation pictures on our dining room wall.
  2. Purge and organize the attic (this one is tough, as I have to do it in either spring or fall so I don’t melt or freeze).
  3. Stop talking to HWSNBN through the dog.
  4. Purge and organize under the basement stairs.
  5. Take a trip with my mom.
  6. Create an address label database for my Christmas cards.

I think what I need to do is check in monthly on this, to keep myself accountable. I now have about 15 things on my list. That’s more than one per month.

Wish me luck.

 

Wait a Minute Mr. Postman!

Do you still write Christmas cards?

I do.

I love receiving them, of course, but I also find it fun to send them. I’m not sure why.

It can be a lot of work — typically I send out about 100 cards, and it’s ever so simple as buying a boxed set at the store. I mean, I’ve done that before, but I like to be creative.

For years my kids drew our Christmas cards, which was so much fun. Then they got too old (or too cool) for that, and we went to the photo card. I also do a letter some years. I try to keep it balanced, so it’s not too braggy or too whiny.

No letter this year, but I was stoked because I actually had a picture of the four of us. That doesn’t happen often, what with the kids living in different states. So I had fun designing a card this year — totally not a typical holiday card, but that’s ok. We’re not typical people.

I was frustrated with myself, however, because another year has passed without me putting our addresses into a label database. So I steamed a bit as I grabbed the old address book and starting hand-writing all 100 addresses.

But then I started to smile.

And I think I figured out why I like to do the cards.

As I wrote each person’s name down, I spent a minute or so reflecting on them. How did I know them? Have I seen them this year? What is it about them that makes me want to keep them in my postal life?

Every year I inevitably stop sending a card to someone or add new people. Sometimes I have to update an address, or, sadly, cross a name out of my book because we lost a person.

But no matter what, I realized that this tedious process I was dreading was actually pretty cool.

Maybe I’ll forget to make those labels again this year…

Thanks A Lot

(Meant to post this last week. What a shocker: my blog is late…)

In November I do “the Thankful Project.” That means that every day of the month I post on Facebook something I am thankful for. Some days it’s easy to come up with something that makes me genuinely grateful. Other days, its a struggle. But I think that’s the point of the exercise: no matter what is going on in your life, you need to know that there is good in your life.

Here’s a day to day account of this month’s project!

Thankful project day 1: HWSNBN is home from his European trip, and so tonight: we date!

Thankful project day 2: spending the day with my friend Anna learning travel secrets at the Thrifty Traveler University. My head is reeling with all the info, but I can’t wait to put it to use!

Thankful project day 3: In a few hours I will see my girlie!!! Been more than 2 months since I’ve seen Singer Girl!

Thankful project day 4: the amazing volunteers at Secondhand Hounds. Every week it seems I have a puppy party staffing crisis. But somehow, all the dogs, drivers and wranglers come together in the end. And I can breathe, even when a time Zone away!(I was visiting Singer Girl at school in Ann Arbor)

Thankful project day 6: that Singer Girl discovered this fascinating big school in such a cute little town! @uofmichigan #goblue #college #annarbor #thankfulproject @University of Michigan

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Thankful project day 7: Kate at Peak Life Clinic! Who knew getting voluntarily suck with dozens of little needles would make me feel so good? Headache? What headache?http://peaklifeclinic.com/?fbclid=IwAR1YVaK83QYe5YDXO60UBos4vDClXTXjQpYoFS2fP1f1mzysPjhf3CC9D4A

Thankful project day 8: that I am able to spend fun days with my mom! Thanks for planning our outing! (we went to a huge craft fair/Christmas boutique event at US Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings) 74365739_10220359545409009_362196215569317888_n

Thankful project day 9: tears and heartache. Today I said goodbye to the last of the sub pups. Stickball Special was my favorite from day one, and I’d be lying if I wasn’t a tiny bit grateful every time the vet said he needed more time before he could go to his forever home. So today I cried. And my heart hurts. But when I see the smile on his adopter’s face, I know it’s okay. Lots of highs fostering this group (like having folks call them fat when I know how hard we worked to feed them) and lows (I still miss sweet Phyllis). My heart hurts, but I am grateful for the opportunity to help them survive and thrive. @shhfostersmn #StickballSpecial #Styx #neonatal #givetothemaxday #adopted #yellowlab @ Lake Minnetonka 73224770_10220370101952916_7802760665390645248_o

Thankful project day 10: that I live in a place that has so much character and variety and fun (and that I have cool friends who want to explore it with me!). Today’s calories brought to you from @kegandcasemn , @truckparkusa, #cosettasstpaul #sundayfunday #thankfulproject #food #stpaul #minnevangelist @ Saint Paul, Minnesota 74915057_10220383104917982_5047409986750119936_o

Thankful project day 11: my dad, my son, my nephew, my father in law, my uncle, my brother in law, my grandfathers, and all my ancestors who have served in all the wars of this country. Thank you for your service. (Veterans’ Day post) 318417_2564603604658_1340499554_n

Thankful project day 12 (yesterday!): that I have found the Skipper salute community, where we hold each other’s hands while we hand over kleenex and pour the wine. This weekend I get to help make holiday care packages for military men and women deployed all over the globe through the valiant efforts of Semper Fi Flo. If you want to help, she is still accepting donations!

Thankful project day 13: I am FINALLY getting around to getting the Spooktacular pics published! (this referenced my Halloween Party blog post)

Thankful project day 14: thanks to everyone who has donated today to their favorite charities! Give to the Max Day is THE BIGGEST day of the year for many. It certainly is for Secondhand Hounds! What happens today determines the course of the next year — who we can save. We have a benefactor who has pledged to match your donations, so please contribute something. ANYTHING will help! Donate before midnight tonight!

Thankful project day 15: yesterday I kinda chilled, as the day before had been pretty darn crazy! Two puppy parties, and lots of online stalking watching the G2theMax numbers changing.  At the end, we did it. Actually, YOU did it! Secondhand Hounds brought in $400,000 in donations! That. Is Amazing. Every dollar will count — whether it’s $10 to microchip a dog, or $5000 to save a sick litter of puppies with parvo or distemper (we have THREE such litters right now, two with parvo, one with distemper. So far we have lost about six puppies, but we are working hard to save the rest. Vaccinate your pets, people!!!). Thank you to all!

Thankful project day 16: Stevie Nicks! Happy gotcha day, Miss Stevie. The Stevester has been with us officially for one year today, and we couldn’t be more grateful. She is still a bit of a hot mess at times (some people have dogs who defend their homes against strangers. Ours pees.). And yet again we find ourselves dog proofing when we leave the house — but not against food, as we did for Penny Torres, but for anything miss neurotic can destroy during her fear we won’t return. Like tissues. Or baking soda. Or scrub brushes. But she is bombproof with puppies, a hilarious goofball, and makes coming home a joy. I recommend everyone feather their empty nest with a touch of fur! 75486070_10220434757809272_3258653513529425920_o

Thankful project day 17: cooking. I am grateful that having food is a given for me and those I love. I am grateful that I get joy from cooking. I am grateful that I have people with whom to share a meal. Tonight’s meal includes wild rice given to me as a gift from the lovely gal who adopted my last foster. Food brings us together! 74188269_10220449173729661_555894013643718656_n

Thankful project day 18: the Power of 100. This amazing group of like-minded women meets quarterly to choose a locally-based charity to support. Each time three people present worthy options and the group votes who to support. After many tries on my part, they picked the neonatal program at Secondhand Hounds.

Some folks have questioned why I kept presenting. Well, every time I got up and spoke, a few people stopped me afterwards. Either to hand me a separate check, or to ask questions. I met wonderful women who were genuinely I trigger about fostering, adoption, rescue, and how they could help. So yes: the meant is amazing. But the chance to bring awareness is invaluable.

If you would like to learn more about the Power of 100, come with me next time! It’s a fun, quick, casual gathering, and the group has donated more than $100,000 to local charities!

 

Thankful project day 19: going clubbing in my 50s. Wine club, meet book club. #thankful #thankfulproject #bookclub #wineclub @pejuwinery #pinotnoir @calmereestatewinery @annpatchett #thedutchhouse #wine

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Thankful project day 20 (yesterday): Etsy! I can shop online and still support small business people!!

Thankful project day 21: the moments I have left with my dad. 75081232_10220484626055947_3101722198876880896_n

 

Thankful project day 22: a quiet night at home. Dinner will likely be popcorn and wine, and I’m okay with that. Busy (but fun) weeks ahead!

Thankful project day 23: new friends who enjoy doing fun things! @mn_arb #lights #holiday #doubledatenight #tistheseason @ Minnesota Landscape Arboretum 76911049_10220512657756722_2248418798249967616_o

Thankful project day 24: that my brother Trevor found Sarah and married her 6 years ago today. She’s a keeper. Him? Jury’s still out. Happy anniversary you crazy kids!

Thankful project day 25: bubble baths, books, and wine! (yeah, I’ve mentioned 2 of the 3 of those before. But I am on my third book since that post, and well, like more than that bottles of wine since then)

Thankful project day 26 (again, a day late): the girl is home! And thank goodness Singer Girl arrived before the storm!

Thankful project day 27: (I posted a link to my blog post, “Merry Thanksvgivmas”)

Thankful project day 28: the Melly-dallys and their infinite hospitality. Thank you, Mike, Erika, Lucy, Joey and Paige for another fun, delicious Thanksgiving. Fat and happy, signing off!

Thankful project day 29: When you are ready to snuggle in for the night before 7pm, and Netflix drops an almost 4 hour movie that you’ve been excited to see. I mean, I know we’ll never finish it in one sitting, but at least we have a fighting chance to get it more than halfway done! (NOTE: we watched “The Irishman.” So good!)

Thankful project day 30: the tree is up, and my girl Is home for one last night. It has been an emotional few days, and I will miss her again when she is gone.

We all need to concentrate on what we have in this life, and not worry so much about what we lack. I am thankful for all of you!

Merry Thanksgivmas!

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This is my entry hall table, and the display symbolizes how I feel about this time of the season.

Torn between two lovers, eatin’ lots of food…

Oh wait. That’s not how the song goes. But it’s kind of appropriate.

Thanksgiving falls stressfully close to Christmas this year. So while I am excited that my daughter is home for a few days (and making pies in the other room with a childhood friend right now. Mama joys!), it’s kind of like a pressure cooker holiday season.

Like my table, Christmas is wedging itself into Thanksgiving.  The Poinsettia is like every store, throwing holiday cheer in my face whether I want it to or not. The Amaryllis are laying in wait, politely taking their time. But, like Christmas, I know when they arrive, they will be unavoidable and require my total attention.

Meanwhile, the guest book lies waiting for all the happy, busy voices that will come and go in the next few weeks!

I love Christmas. I really do. And yes: I have started my shopping, but mainly because I hate feeling pressured at the end. And yes, I have poinsettias all over already, but that’s because last weekend the cheerleaders dropped them off (and the choir brought wreaths and garland, and the boy scouts delivered my holiday pots).

A holiday purist, the tree will not be purchased or put up until after Thanksgiving. And yes, it will be a real tree. And yes, I will be cleaning up needles for weeks. And yes, I will be okay with it, you fake tree aficionados! HWSNBN and I will do half the tree decorating soon, as I can’t stare at a naked tree for long. Bt we will do the bulk of the decorations — namely the ornaments with memories — until after the kids arrive. Yes: both of them! Sailor Boy and Singer Girl will both be here for the holiday. Woot woot!

I know I am not the only one who feels stretched and pulled like a pair of leggings after that second helping of pie. In the evenings between December 1 and 25, I already have 14 evening commitments. I am looking forward to them all individually, but maybe not collectively?

But for the next 48 hours, it’s Thanksgiving, and I will be thankful for everything. I won’t complain about the family dramas, because I am glad to have a family. I won’t complain about eating too much, because I have food. I won’t complain about the dishes or the driving or the too-tight clothes the next day or the weather or anything. Because: I am thankful.

So to all of you who find the line blurred as well this year, whichever side you straddle:

Gobble gobble, ho ho ho! I hope you enjoy everything as much as sanely possible. I’ll think of you all tomorrow between Cranberry Margaritas!

A Puppy is Much More than a Sandwich

So I said goodbye to the last of the Sub pups last week. They lived with me for almost three months — three months of laughter and tears and hopes and fears. They were not my first fosters, nor will they be my last, but I wanted to share them with you all on this very important day.

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Today is Give to the Max Day (donate now at https://www.givemn.org/organization/Secondhand-Hounds). It is the single most important day all year for Secondhand Hounds and thousands of other charities. What we raise today will determine the course of the next year: will we be able to save the broken, the sick, the doomed?  It depends, really, on you.

If not for the donations of others, I wouldn’t have met the Sub Pups. They were born July 7th to a breeder mama. There were seven in her yellow lab litter and five had cleft palates. That means they could not eat, not by nursing mama or drinking from a bottle. Historically, breeders often chose to euthanize imperfect puppies. Yes, it seems heartless, but breeding is a business first and foremost, and there is no way a breeder is going to sell a “defective” puppy for full price. Not to mention get back the man-hours and dollars it takes to treat them.

Rescue is about a lot of things, but it is definitely NOT about making money.

So Secondhand Hounds created the Neonatal division, and the coordinator, Teri, has worked hard to let breeders and their veterinarians know that there is another option: surrender the animals to us, and we will do our best to fix them and get them homes. This wonderful breeder agreed to let us help, and we took four of the puppies.

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(Actually, Teri climbed out of bed, made some coffee, hopped in her car and drove hours to get them. Then she snuggled them into the incubator plugged into her car and warming in the passenger seat. She also had to pull over and feed them every 2-3 hours. They were just hours old).

And how did she feed them? Well, since conventional methods don’t work for cleft babies, she (and, later, me) had to insert a tube down their throat and into their stomach and syringe-feed them through that tube. And no: you can’t buy puppy formula at the store. Teri had to figure out her own formula through trial and error (it’s a lot of goat’s milk and Greek yogurt!)

The sandwich shop Jersey Mike’s had run a wonderful fundraiser for us, so they had been given naming rights, and the Sub Pups were born: Jersey Mike, Big Kahuna, Stickball Special (aka Styx) and Philly Cheesesteak (aka Phyllis, the lone girl).

In some ways they were the perfect fosters: they never made a sound. They slept through the night. In fact, they slept ALL THE TIME. I guess that was partly because they were puppies, and partly because they weren’t all that healthy. At the time I got them, they were transitioning to solid food. It’s a challenging time with any puppy (or human infant!), but even more so for a cleft baby. Every time they tried to eat, it would go up through the hole in the roof of their mouths and they would sneeze and couch and it would be yucky out their noses. So we had to get them on solid food asap, and away from mushy baby food.

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I still supplemented them with tube feedings, and every day I weighed them, panicking when they lost an ounce, celebrating at every milestone: they all came in under two pounds, so that first 2 pounder was huge for me!

So they did the puppy thing. They ate.

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(they drank out of what I called a rabbit water bottle so as to not choke on water)

They learned to play!

 

And they slept.

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When they were all diagnosed with pneumonia, we weren’t surprised. It happens. It’s pretty common with cleft palates, as any fluids they consume can easily travel into the lungs. So we started treating them, and we thought they were all getting better.

But not Phyllis.

Little Philly Cheesesteak started craning her neck — like a turtle. I showed it to Teri, and our founder, Rachel, and they decided she needed to go to the emergency vet.

I never saw her again.

Philly Cheesesteak didn’t make it.

The sweet little girlie, the littlest one. She looked like an absolute toy. The vets tried for days, but ultimately she passed in her sleep.

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Phyllis was the first foster I have lost. I grieve her all the time, but I know that I did all I could. That SHH did all it could. And I had three little yellow boys who needed me, so it was time to get re-focused.

I was nebulizing them. I was giving them steam showers. I gave meds several times a day. I did chest percussion treatment to loosen the phlegm. And they began to grow.

From day one I followed the Secondhand Hounds protocol, socializing them and exposing them to sounds and surfaces and textures.

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They met friends!

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And they went places!

Soon it was time to start talking adoption!

Mike was the first to find his people.

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His new name is Winston, and he is being spoiled quite nicely, thank you!

Then Big Kahuna moved on and was renamed, Barney.

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Both Winston and Barney have cat siblings, and are doing just fine with that!

Styx had to be with me longer, as his lungs just wouldn’t clear up. We sent him to a specialist, who vacuumed his lungs and did a culture and we changed medicines. Two weeks later his x rays were much better, so I started contacting potential adopters. Two weeks after that, he was able to go home.

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Now Mr. Styx got to keep his name. It works well with the resident cat’s name, Skittles. But one kitty isn’t his only furry sibling!

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Styx is an office dog now, who has his own cubicle and gets plenty of love!

When the pups are 6 months old, they will have surgery to correct their cleft palates. If all goes well, they should live the lives of normal, happy, loved dogs. But Secondhand Hounds has bills to pay. When we are done, we will have spent more than $10,000 on their care. We will not recoup that cost from adoption fees. We rely on your donations.

So consider donating, please. Because there are hundreds of animals we want to save. So far, in 10 years, SHH has saved more than 10,000 cats and dogs. Every day we hear of another one that needs help — a dog found starving and abused, a cat who had a litter by the side of the road, a breeder pup born with hydrocephaly, an animal abandoned because it was old and now needs hospice care. We have a donor who is willing to match all donations on Give to the Max Day dollar for dollar. So please: get that donation in NOW! https://www.givemn.org/organization/Secondhand-Hounds

In the meantime, here are a few more cute pics to remind you of where your money goes!

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That link for donation again is https://www.givemn.org/organization/Secondhand-Hounds

 

THANK YOU!

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