Friday, May 29, 2009

The “No Soliciting” Sign

How to Say No with Spirit and Sensitivity

My feelings and intent behind my homemade No Soliciting sign have changed over the years. In the ‘70s, when I was learning to let my inner rebel out from under wraps, I was too angry to argue about religion with anyone without exploding. I didn’t have much money to spare. I was a softie, an easy mark. The best defense was a good offense for someone who had a terrible time saying no. I had to find a sales resistance strategy, if I didn’t want my credit card debt to become even worse. Any door-to-door salesman who made me feel sorry for him was a sure-fire leak in my bank account. Not only that, I’ve always been a rather avid consumer. “Money burns a hole in your pocket,” my mom used to say. She never wondered where I learned this habit.

I’d become irate with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Who were they to preach to me? To assume I wasn’t saved or needed saving? I’d learned early on that arguing with them was futile. It wasn’t until the Latter Day Saints and Scientologists started coming to the door that I’d had enough. When saving my soul became multi-denominational effort, that’s when I invented the sign. Ironically, this was during the most godless era of my life.

In the early years of the sign, it only had the first sentence after Please No Soliciting, Religion and religious literature included. It was a barely polite way of saying, “Go away. I don’t want whatever you have to sell, including religion.” I wanted to rub it in their faces that they were treating God like mammon, no better than a vacuum cleaner or women’s cosmetics sold door-to-door. My hostility was barely veiled. And if they dared to ring my doorbell in spite of it, I’d point at the sign, fume, and ask them if they could read. If they dared get snippy back, I’d go ballistic.

When I was only 22, one salesman had called me a “spitfire,” and made no bones about the fact that it turned him on.

I used to laugh and internally deny when an old client of mine would accuse me, on occasion, of “mellowing” over the years that we knew each other. Those mellow moments were only glimmers of mellow yet to come. Looking back at my twenty something self from the wisdom years, I barely recognize that version of me as the same person I am now. I still have the sign, but the feeling behind it is completely different. So are some of the reasons for it.

First, I work at home. I honestly can’t afford the interruptions. Second, I’m on a “pay things off and save” campaign, so I’m not buying much. When you add house calls to save my soul on top of the sales people, mail carrier, UPS, FedEx, and other delivery services for the necessities I do buy, I’d spend my entire day trotting back and forth to the door. I’d get nothing done.

Besides, my soul is completely covered. In the intervening years, I’ve gotten God a lot—more spirituality than religion, although I’ve gotten some of that, too. I spent the entire thirty years since I first invented the sign working on that project. I honestly don’t think I need extra help. That sentiment hasn’t changed, although the spirit and reasons for the conclusion have changed a lot. I’ve looked at lots of religions and paths. I’ve done due diligence. I’ve learned to love and appreciate the good in all religions. I’ve grown into a mature, spiritual adult. I’ve made my conclusions and have allowed my journey to take me wherever it leads me with great results … including the irony of taking me back to where I began in my original faith for some desperately needed healing with religion in general.

What has changed is the hostility. I don’t have it anymore. The ‘70s, when the sign began, were difficult years of my own life. I wasn’t just angry with Jehovah’s Witnesses; I think I was secretly angry with God. My life wasn’t going well. I didn’t know what to do about it.

But when the hostility changed, that’s when I knew I had to edit the sign. That’s when I added the second sentence, Bless you for respecting our privacy and spiritual path. It’s my way of saying I bless yours and every spiritual path based on love; please bless mine. Live and let live.

I hadn’t made one of the signs for a while then the doorbell ringing was starting to irritate my husband a few months back. In its most recent incarnation, I added the Dove of Peace to the sign. Maybe it was my inner hippie, flashing back to the ‘70s where the sign began and the two-finger peace sign was the greeting of the day. I just want the stop at my door to be a blessing, even if I am too busy or budget committed to buy or talk.

By now, I even appreciate that people of certain religious denominations believe there’s only one path to salvation, and it’s their responsibility to go on missions--to proselytize and to introduce people to The Way. I still don’t have time or need for their calls, but now it’s not personal or a result of my diffuse anger and misery.

The other day, a very slight and rather nerdy looking man with thick glasses rang the bell. He was selling siding and other home fixit services. I listened to him politely. I wouldn’t say I was short with him, but I told him clearly; we’re unable to do anything now. However, “Please leave your brochure. I want it. We may be able to do something later.”

My husband asked me why I didn’t point out the sign.

“I don’t know. I think he needed money, and sales work is not something he’s really comfortable with. I think he’s an introvert. I didn’t want him to feel rejected when it was difficult for him to do this kind of thing. I just felt for him.”

We learn. We live. We grow.

But some things never change or go out of style like compassion.

Thank God.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Humor: The 10 (Actually, 11) Commandments of Twitter

As someone into cool insights, I take them wherever I find them. They come in great books, out of the mouths of babes, and sometimes scrawled in the oddest places, like the graffiti on the bathroom stall.

Lately, one of my best sources of wisdom is the social networking site,
Twitter. Quotes, articles, shared learning—fun! Read my post on The Radical Virgo, “How the Signs Tweet,” if you’re a Twitter virgo/virgin for definitions and a few laughs that will catch you up on this bird lingo in a heartbeat. Meanwhile, an almost true story:

I was sitting in my computer chair, minding my own business, when I felt a big whoosh of air. A large voice that sounded like James Earl Jones said, “This is the Spirit of Twitter. Write this down.”

Being open both to channeling and to wisdom where ever I find it, I obeyed immediately. Here’s what he said:

1. I am thy social network, not thy god. If thou want to Facebook, LinkIn, MySpace, StumbleUpon—or whatever—have at it. Even if I were a god, I would not be a jealous one.

2. If thee tweet more than an hour a day, thou art worshiping a false idol. If you can’t cut down on your own, seek help. Suggestion: Someone out there, please invent Twitcorette gum.

3. Thou shalt not drop the name of Twitter in vain. Don’t be a show-off, dropping Twit terms outside the tweet stream like—well, a twit. Makes non-Twitterers feel out of it and unlikely to join the party. Be inclusive.

4. Take a day off from the Twitosphere at least once a week. Honor thy social networking Sabbath. See #2.

5. Honor thy mentors on Twitter. RT* and thank them often. Be a mentor to newbies. Help each other. (*Return tweet or forward their post.)

6. Thou shalt not killjoy. Rants, bummers, and other bursts of negativity do not belong here. Keep thy stream safe from destructive tidal waves.

7. Thou shalt not cheat on each other’s original ideas. Credit sources, whether quotes, forwards, or tweeps who gave you good advice or links.

8. Thou shalt not steal (hog) the tweet stream with 10-12 tweets in a row. Tweeple, please. Let’s do 3 max except in unusual circumstances. Serial tweeters on a daily basis are subject to unfollowing. This medium is meant for short-but-sweet. Put long posts on your blog or website and link.

9. Don’t badmouth tweeple. Leave twarma to higher powers. Unfollow and move on.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s clevers. You will learn in this global, anything-goes forum that many people are smarter, funnier, and wittier than thou. Instead of turning green, work your gray matter and discover another layer of your own creativity. Be inspired, not envious. Thou have it in you, too.

Finally, while 10 is usually the magic number, I’ve got one extra for you:

11. Judge ye not how thy neighbor uses Twitter. Everyone has different motivations. Quit complaining if not everyone you follow follows back. (See #9) Some tweeple actually want to read what their individual tweeps have to say, impossible when they number in the thousands. They prefer tweeps with ideas or issues in common. Conversely, selective followers: Live and let live when it comes to those who like to acquire followers in the tens of thousands, usually for business development purposes. There is room for everyone.

Just a few simple rules for playing nice and keeping the playground safe and wholesome.

The Word from On High from the All-Knowing Bird in the Sky.



Monday, May 18, 2009

Do Something Different Day

Seven years ago, I did something different. I gave myself a gift that keeps on giving. I catalyzed the creation of a small circle of like-minded women, similar in our spiritual outlook. We’re out to live life to the fullest and to bring more light into the world, starting with our own enlightenment. We wanted the intimacy of a support group and the spiritual inspiration of a church without the institutional factor or large size. The “founding mothers” weren't regular churchgoers at the time, although we were all brought up in traditional Christian faiths. We see the good in all beliefs, meditate and pray regularly, and always invite Spirit to guide us. We like to create ceremony and draw inspiration from the best of many traditions. Our invisible, potent partner and member: the Ultimate Light in His/Her many forms and facets.

Within our Magic Circle, one of our nicknames for our monthly meeting, we start by each sharing what’s happened since our last get-together over take-out— dinner picked up by one of us on the way. One member is single with a large, comfy home, so her house is our meeting place. The other components of our gatherings vary slightly, but usually they include prayers, meditation, and a spiritual education segment.

All of us are over 40—and half of us can add 20+ onto that number. Being women “of a certain age,” one member suggested that we read and discuss
The Second Half of Life: Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom by Angeles Arrien.

In case you don’t already know her,
Angeles Arrien, Ph.D., is a cultural anthropologist, an award-winning author, and consultant to many organizations and businesses. She lectures and conducts workshops worldwide, bridging cultural anthropology, psychology, and comparative religions. My favorite part of her work is how she takes the best of traditions among various indigenous cultures and suggests how we might apply their wisdom to modern living.

“The Second Half of Life” is a cornucopia of spiritual food. I can’t say enough about this gorgeous book, rich in imagery, wisdom, and suggested questions and activities for “stayin’ alive.” There’s one particular concept in the book that has been invaluable to me. I call it Do Something Different Day. It’s a way of celebrating your birthday—and yourself—once a month in addition to the big bang once a year.

In her discussion of The Silver Gate, Angeles talks about facing new experiences and the unknown and the importance of renewal to keep our souls alive. Why this hit home: I am a person with compulsive tendencies. I spend too much time chained to my computer like a fanatic. I barely see the light of day. Sometimes I feel like I need someone to throw a bucket of cold water on me, just so I get up and move! My love of ritual easily turns into the rut of senseless routine, without an occasional tweak by outside forces. Do Something Different Day is a tweak I anticipate with glee, knowing it’ll get me up--and up to something fun, more often than not.

The custom Angeles mentions—the one I call Do Something Different Day—is an ancient European one, practiced in parts of the Pyrenees Mountains in Spain. People are encouraged to celebrate their birth day each month of the year by doing something they have never done before. For example, if you were born on the 7th of any month, on the 7th of every month you Do Something Different.

As a Virgo who loves precision, I have always gotten a big kick out of going the extra fractional mile when reporting my age. While most people would say 49½ from the six-month mark on, I like to goof around and say 497/12. (I wish!) Little did I know the power of that one-twelfth fraction toward spiritual revitalization. Each twelfth of our birthday cycle can become a mini-retreat and change of perspective.

Since I spend most of my life at my computer, I have put Do Something Different Day in my electronic calendar reminders with enough advance warning to plan something new for myself. What a simple but profound practice.

In fact, I’ve started to create a Do Something Different Day planning list, a sort of mini-
Bucket List. On my upcoming birth day, the 22nd, I have plans to meet a dear friend for lunch; then, the Magic Circle meets later for dinner. Both dates are different from my normal routine—they only happen monthly or so—but I have done them before. What will I do that’s new? In-between, I’ll stop at a music store I’ve wanted to visit for years and just never made the time. I’m starting to get the urge to play the piano again. My husband and I have been threatening to try a guitar/piano duet sine 1997. I plan to find us sheet music so this hot duo can rehearse. Then, on another DSD Day, we can give our premier performance for the cats.

Your Something Different doesn’t have to be earth shattering or groundbreaking. It can be as simple as having a fancy flavored latte, a kind you’ve never tried before, instead of your usual cappuccino. You can drink it at Peets instead of Starbucks. Start with training wheels! Advance to a two-wheeler, a racing bike, and then maybe a unicycle.

Before you know it, you could be standing on your head, bungee jumping, or climbing Mt. Everest. Stretch yourself. At five-foot-nothing, I personally want that growth in both body and soul!


Photo Credit: VITALITY © Looby

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hot Flashbacks, Cool Lemonade Award

Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights has received a Lemonade Award! The Lemonade Award is for sites which show great attitude and/or gratitude, and this blog has just received one! Thank you, Dr. Deborah Bier of Concord Magazine Blog for giving me this honor on May 12, 2009:

Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights - our sister (and mentor) in punning

I am especially tickled to be recognized for my (OK, sometimes feeble) attempts to bring laughter to my readers and to lighten up the topics I talk about, especially since some of them are can be a bit on the heavy side. (Lighten “Up” is one of my favorite double entendres, since I think we’re closest to the divine when we’re laughing. In fact, I think a good belly laugh is heaven itself.)

Here are the “rules” for this award found online. You can be certain that I’ll follow them — but only if I feel like it and if it makes sense! Rules for the award:

~ Put the logo on your blog or post.
~ Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude! (Shorten the list and break the rule if ten doesn't work for you.)
~ Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
~ Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
~Nominate your favorites and link to this post.

Here are my own 10 blog nominees for this prestigious award in no particular order of affection. (I love them all!) Hope I’ll inspire you to play and post yours. Who says David Letterman gets the only Top 10?

1. Vibration Magazine - An 10-year-old ezine turned blog on flower essences. If you don’t already know about this form of “emotional first aid,” click and be amazed. Done with the same touch of humor, wherever possible, that Deborah Bier and her sidekick Donna Cunningham often accuse me of--or award me for. For brilliance in the field of flower remedies, visual bouquet, and petal power.

2. Pop Art Diva - A retro baby boomer pop culture blog by one of the most creative individuals I have ever met, peppered with wit and irreverence. For sharing how she squeezes lemonade out of her life experiences, sometimes with video how-to’s and musical score!

3. The Feisty Side of Fifty - Talk about attitude! A forum for sharing “mature magnificence.” For wit about the wisdom years and great resources to navigate them. Eileen Williams has such a fun blog, twentysomethings might lie about their age to get in.

4. Joy Frequencies - Just one of Susannah’s inspiring blogs, this one is my read when I need an upper. For being an oasis of inspiration and beauty.

5. Martini Diva - It’s Pop Art Diva in one of her other personas. This time she’s making drinks! Her recipes rock, tantalize tastebuds and her free recipe cards are gorgeous and make great gifts. For pouring creativity into a glass and inspiring others to garnish every aspect of life with their talents.

6. Lady Lynn’s Boutique - I have always loved jewelry and the connection to the Earth it brings to the wearer. Lynn’s site “rocks” with many offerings made from semi-precious stones and more. For offering gorgeous jewelry and great gifts at a very reasonable price, presented with love and flourish.

7. Women Over 40 Rock! - A collection of blog posts that are smart, witty, informative and passionate. For creating a rock concert out of women’s diverse life experiences and sharing the great music that comes from knowing the score.

8. Inner Sanctuary - Leslie Smith’s blog is full of spiritual substance and soul food for thought and stellar guests. For creating a virtual spiritual retreat that inspires and rejuvenates.

9. Baby Boomer Knowledge Center - If you were born between 1946 and 1964, you’ll find this site full of versatile blog posts to be the go-to site for the concerns of your generation. For variety in spicing up the senior discount years.

10. My Itchy Travel Feet - I don’t just love Donna Hull’s blog; I love her two-line travelogues on Twitter. Donna specializes in travel for baby boomers. For offering real and vicarious travel with a personal touch.

Blogs are an awful lot like those lemonade stands we cobbled together as kids. We start out as rookies; we hail down passing cars, and pretty soon the initial pity purchases turn into true followers.

Blog on, winners, and thanks for bringing true refreshment to the world.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Reconstruction Zone!

Countdown to June 17 …

… More Details and First Post on the New, Widened Road

Dear Cool Insighters,

I can’t wait another day—much less another month—to share my plans to refocus the Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights blog toward spirituality, women’s issues, and especially the development of our intuitive gifts as guidance, that thing some people call “women’s intuition.”

The shift will take some behind-the-scenes planning, like a new blog slogan and some site reorganization. The same types of posts about better living through insight will continue, just more on intuition and spiritual guidance—topics you’ve already seen here. This transformation is compliments of a loud cosmic hint, the same guidance I plan to talk more about from now on and to help you learn to see and hear as much as possible in your own lives. I had a huge aha moment that this is the true core of my book that this blog was created to complement.

Boomers: I’ll keep a recurring “cool saging” feature for the generation I’m proud to be a part of. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’m a founding member of
Boomer Authority on Twitter. I have volunteered to monitor posts on the topic of spirituality. As you can see, that’s a blend of both the old and new blog emphasis. I’m at the stage of life where, having really lived, Auntie Mame style I’ve learned a lot. My age or stage isn’t as important as the epiphanies and tools I’ve found that have helped me live a rich life and keep on beat with my passions and purpose. My toolbox is what I really want to pass onto you. The tools work whether you’re 20 or 120.

Meanwhile, stay tuned! Join me in anticipating our expanded audience: women of all ages and men who what to “play the symbols,” too.


PS – Your comments are welcome on this post or one-on-one:


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Introducing Boomer Authority!

A Twitter-based Question-and-Answer Resource for Baby Boomers

Gain access to a community of over 80 professionals and organizations for free timely advice!

Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights, with dozens of other professionals and the Baby Boomer [Knowledge Center]™, is contributing to the improvement of communications and relationships between professionals and the baby boomer consumer we are trying to help, with a new initiative called @BoomerAuthority. Direct access: Boomer Authority.

@BoomerAuthority is a free service on Twitter that advocates the rapid shift in the way marketers of products and professionals selling services reach you, the baby boomer consumer, from one-way communication to one of listening and individual response. Through Twitter, @BoomerAuthority connects you to qualified professionals who will first listen and then help you with your question.

How to Use @BoomerAuthority on Twitter:

When you need help with an issue, have a question, seek an opinion, or simply want a recommendation:

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3. A knowledgeable member from the Boomer Authority community with the expertise you are looking for, or with an answer to the specific question you have, will respond directly via your preferred method of response. Basically, you’re requesting qualified members of the Boomer Authority community for help.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Other Mothers

Have you ever noticed how some of the best “moms” on earth couldn’t—or didn’t—have biological children? I was raised by one. Here’s an irony that proves you can “inherit” something by adoption: I am one, too.

My mom’s “barrenness” was the lingering wound of her lifetime. What an ugly, archaic word. No wonder she felt terrible about it. I’m not sure “infertility” is any better. Is there really a neutral word?

Mom was Italian-American, a culture built around children and family. I was adopted back in the days when my origins were kept secret—even from me. I know my parents meant well, despite the damage “hiding myself” would ultimately do. They didn’t want people to treat me differently. I also think there was a strong measure of self-protection. Mom didn’t want to be booted out of the Mother’s Club, even in someone else’s mind, or worst of all, her own.

If you’ve ever witnessed a good adoption, or another form of people raising children that are not of their body, you know that bonding often has little to do with genetics. Children are born of relationships that are not biological (hopefully!). Two unrelated people bond, and from this strong merger, their children are created, a bit of both of them. If it weren’t for the non-bio relationship, given our incest taboo, there wouldn’t be any children of the biological kind.

Dad didn’t tell mom for a long time that the aftermath of an infection she incurred, followed by an operation to remove a scarred fallopian tube and ovary on opposite sides, meant that she could never have children. Mom was squeamish to begin with and barely had an eighth-grade education. She wasn’t big on understanding or focusing on medical details. She did not question the years of trying without success or relate them to this event. Dad could not bear to tell her; her dreams were dashed. They were already raising my brother, a nephew adopted within the family. He was much older than I was, and Mom still longed for “children of her own.”

One of the most poignant chapters of my memoir recounts the day, at 18, when I told my parents I had known for 10 years that I was adopted. Mom’s was wistful, talking about her sorrow that she could never get pregnant. “But if we had been able to have kids of our own, we wouldn’t have you, baby.” I’ll never forget how she beamed and how he held my hand.

However you perceive Ultimate Creativity, Spirit often brings us family in forms way more imaginative than biology alone—which you have to admit, is one of the most innovative and amazing processes in the universe. My children have come in nieces, nephews, and fur kids and an assortment of other special relationships with younger humans and animals of all ages.

“It makes me sad that some kids missed having you for a mother,” my husband once said when the subject came up. It wasn’t in the cards, and it was nearly as big a heartbreaker for me as it was for my mom. But that never stopped me from nurturing, adoring children, and applying that mom energy in other ways. Abundantly. It’s probably the “damming” of that energy that causes non-biological moms to let it spill over into their other nurturing relationships.

I have a unique vantage point for viewing motherhood. One of my moms abandoned me; the other one smothered me. I had a lot to overcome, and finding my birth mom in my late thirties was the beginning of deep healing for my original mom and me. Out of respect for the mom that raised me, I couldn’t even admit to myself that I had needed to know my birth mom till my adoptive mom was gone.

Ultimately, I got to merge my two moms in my mind and heart and to see how nature and nurture both influenced my life. I became close to my birth mom, too. Our families merged and love one another. But frankly, I will always feel closest to the mom who “did the job.” When I found out at the tender age of eight that I was adopted and tried to process that blow, I could not believe I was not of my mom’s body.

Closeness—perhaps best represented by when we hug—is a desire to merge in a body-and-soul way with another person. Mother and child in pregnancy represent the most physical form of this merger.

Yet, as I have lost loved ones, I have learned that no matter how sweet, the physical bond has certain limits. Now I can conjure all my loved ones in my mind and heart, any time of day or night. It’s the only way I have access to them. I did that sometimes when they were “in a body,” but not nearly as often. Why connect in mind/spirit when I could get a hug and their physical presence?

We carry our mothers in our minds, anyway, sometimes admonishing us, sometimes cheering us on. The most important thing we can know about nurture is that it is limitless, it is without form, it is love in its purest sense …

… it comes from the heart and soul, even if we often use—and crave—our bodies to express it.


Photo: Mom and me, 1948

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Dogs: Back to Basics

I was born and raised a dog person, but in my twenties, I converted to cats and never went back for nearly three decades. That is, until 1998, when I got Bear as part of the package deal in my second marriage. What is it about “man’s best friend” that can melt even the hardest heart with a cold, wet nose?

For one thing, dogs bring you back to basics in a hot second. You have to walk them, they poop, and no matter how you maneuver, you always end up down-wind from the steaming pile. If your head is in the clouds or you’re otherwise self-involved, a dog will bring you down to earth before you can say red, the color you’ll blush as Fido displays to your dinner guests his ever-present manhood. (Make that doghood). Bodily functions and sex without repression … yes, dogs are earthy, and they keep us honest. They need more care than some babies, but it’s a small price to pay for devotion.

Dogs reflect us. There are those who swear we look like our dogs as we age. (I refuse to look like a Labrador, no matter how handsome Bear was in his prime. The parts I don’t want to resemble? Panting, the dog breath, the extra yard of tongue that didn’t fit in his mouth … and did I mention acting like a baboon and giving monkeys a bad name?)

What does your dog—or your favorite breed—say about you? I used to fantasize about having a St. Bernard, back in the days when I wanted to save the world on a white charger--or at least a potential avalanche victim from dying without a drink. I was raised with boxers—protective, patient, funny.

As I was growing up, our family pooches were Duchess and Lady, whose regal names did not match their pug faces and less-than-Miss Mannerly behavior. Dutch once flew down an open staircase to our summer (basement) kitchen and landed in the middle of the table in a platter of pasta. My sides are still splitting from watching her try to regain her footing in that slippery spaghetti.

Lady pounced on the parakeet’s cage on New Year’s Eve while my folks were celebrating with the neighbors next door. While Lady didn’t nab him (Pete was found trembling under the newspaper in his cage), the poor little guy never said, “Lady, come here” again. In fact, he didn’t talk for weeks. This was OK by me. The little twit was starting to grate on my nerves. We could have renamed him RePete, the way he was stuck in the groove of his scratched Hartz Mountain training record: Hello, hello, baby. Pretty baby, want a kiss? Smack, smack, smack? I could barely blame Lady for wanting to shut him up.

Except for these rare occasions when they contemplate murder, dogs are therapeutic. Labs make great service animals to people with visual or other physical challenges. While I could only ever image Bear as a seeing-eye dog to Mr. Magoo, he served in other ways. He was our comic relief during one of the most stressful times of our lives. I thought my beloved was nuts when he said he had to have a puppy, just as we were getting together. I had two cats! I had an inkling our merger would take place faster than he did. I was right. Poor Darrin, one of the tabby brothers, hid out for two days after his first encounter with a beast six times his size. Eventually, we had 100 percent peaceful coexistence between species.

Purrs on Earth and Good Woofs to All is great any time of year, but our pooch gave us something even better--laughter. He acted so goofy during our worst crises or stressful transitions. Integrating two long-time single people into a couple that involved total uprooting one of us was no picnic, especially carting the Bear from Texas to California. Once landed, Bear made himself at home restyling my shoes, munching my underwear for snacks, or mouthing a chewy like a stogie, perfecting his Groucho Marx impression. How could we be grouchy ourselves?

Bear brought us back to basics, all right. The basics were compulsive routine, companionship, love, and lunacy. Who could live without any one of them?

Homework: Go to a pet store or dog shelter, press your nose against the glass like you did when you were a kid, and notice who and what appeals to you in a pile of assorted pups. Make a donation to a dog rescue organization. Sing "How Much Is That Doggy in the Window." If you like the answer, take him or her home—and don’t forget to spay or neuter.

Fixing your dog won’t do a thing for his proclivities when company comes over. But it will help guarantee that there are just enough people to go around for these four-legged love teachers who worm their way into our houses and wag their way into our hearts.


Photo: Bear as Groucho Barks. See Bear as Groucho and read more of his doggone humor in a previous post, It Runs Downhill.

My Favorite Dogs with Blogs or Websites

The Pixelator (aka: Pixel), my god-dog
The Adventures of Traveling Bob
Aspen the Yorkie