Luxury? What’s that?

Daily Prompt: Luxurious

What’s the one luxury you can’t live without?

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Disclaimer: Due to the pathetic nature of this post, tears of pity for the author may be shed. Please have tissues on hand.

Luxury? What is that?

We pretty much live at poverty level with 5 kids. My husband is paid a fraction of what he should be making after 15 years of property management service with the company he works for. So, my idea of luxury probably isn’t what everyone else’s idea of luxury may be. I don’t think of luxury as fancy cars and expensive jewelry and the finer things in life. No, I consider luxury to be what others may just think of as standard living. I can’t pinpoint any one specific thing that I’d put above any others, though, so I’ll just list a few items that I consider to be luxuries.

Personal space. Now there’s a luxury. We live in a small 3 bedroom condo, which doesn’t seem bad in theory because we at least have a roof over our heads while many others don’t. It’s a nice place, too, so I’m not complaining about my home. It isn’t falling apart or run down or anything and it’s in a fairly decent area of the crime infested city we live in. However, when 3 teenage girls are crammed into a bedroom that isn’t even large enough to park a car in, it does become…problematic. The oldest is moving out next month, though, because she’ll be 18, so the 2 remaining girls will have a bit more space.

Then there’s food. Food is a luxury. This saddens me deeply, because I love to ingest food. What would I do for a Klondike Bar? Start selling off children or body parts because that’s about what it would take for me to get one.

We’re often forced to have small portions to make meals stretch, which often leads to whines and complaints from the kids because they’re still hungry after a meal. Well, of course they’re still hungry, they’re teenagers. They’d eat the furniture if it were deep fried and covered in ketchup.

We can’t afford decent food, either, because we’d have to take out a loan and put our vital organs up as collateral to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats. No, we can only afford the cheap, unhealthy junk. Our weekly meals consist of stuff like hamburger helper, macaroni and cheese, ramen, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and French fries. I can’t recall the last time any name brand items crossed our threshold, either. I have fantasies about Kraft macaroni and cheese, because that generic stuff, while not only a lovely shade of florescent orange when you mix in the powder, is like chewing on a dirty shoe. I stopped wondering why my intestines light up like a glow worm a long time ago, and assumed it must just be the generic macaroni and cheese.

Our kids are so sick of eating ramen for lunch every day (that isn’t an exaggeration), that they’ve started experimenting with different ways to make it. My daughter will boil it, microwave it, or sometimes fry it. She’ll mix it with teriyaki sauce, sugar, frozen vegetables, butter, or anything else she can think of to try. They have learned not to whine to my husband about how sick of it they are, though, after hearing, “You’ll eat anything if you’re hungry enough” any time that they do.

New clothing is a luxury, too. I have to admit, though, that it’s been nice working at a thrift store because we haven’t really had to worry about how we were going to get clothes for the kids. I’ll usually just tell them to bring in their outgrown items and exchange them for clothing that fits. We’ll be lost when we don’t have the thrift store helping us out with clothing anymore.

Now underwear, that junk is definitely a luxury. I’ve worn my sports bras right down to the point that they look like Swiss cheese. The elastic will be shot in my “drawahs” (that’s southern for underpants) and those suckers will be hanging to my knees before I finally get some new ones. Then my eyes light up like a kid on Christmas morning when I get that new pack of Fruit of the Looms.

Having a laptop and Internet to go with it is beyond luxury. It’s straight up extravagance. Lucy, my beloved laptop, is getting up there in years though. She’s an old girl as far as computers go. She’s like…5 or something. She’s a hand-me-down from my husband because he needed a new laptop for work. I’m happy to have her, though, she’s my baby. My husband has thought about cutting off the internet a few times to save money, but we don’t have cable, so if he did that we might actually be forced to…oh I don’t know…have conversations or spend time together and junk. How horrible would that be?

We do get to go on a cruise at least once a year compliments of my husband’s company. That’s a huge luxury for us. They take us every October, so that trip is coming up, too. I’m excited.

Through all the things I’m lacking, though, I’m content. Contentment is being satisfied with what you have and not longing for more. I don’t sit around in misery all day and say, “I wish I had this or that”. I like my home. I like the things in it. Sure, the kitchen table is in rough shape, but I found a nice table runner at the dollar store. Problem solved. Man, have I learned to solve some problems over the years with nothing but spare change, too…

I don’t look at what other people are driving and long for something better, either. I like Bessie, my minivan with the wired on bumper from getting rear ended by a texting taxi driver. She’s a sturdy old gal. Now if I could just get my kids to stop thinking she’s a trash can and laundry hamper on wheels…

Sure I get frustrated sometimes if there’s a need that can’t be met financially. I haven’t been able to visit a doctor in years due to lack of insurance, which is hard because I’m getting older and problems that I’ve had for awhile are becoming more prominent. We just can’t afford insurance, though, and I don’t qualify for Medicaid. So, I suck it up and cope when I have a medical issue. Ibuprofin is one of my closest friends.

I’m sad for the kids more than anything because they’ve had to miss field trips, birthday parties, and other events due to our financial situation over the years. They’ve gone without birthday presents for as long as I can remember and have pretty meager Christmases sometimes because we just can’t afford to buy them luxurious things.

For the most part, they understand, though, and they don’t complain as often as they have reason to. I think they know that we do the best we can with what we’ve got.

We get by, and that’s what matters.

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Bathroom Tour

I wracked my brain today trying to come up with a good topic to write on since the daily prompt didn’t really appeal to me.

After careful thought and consideration, I decided to just keep it simple.

So, I’m going to take you, my adoring one and a half fans, on a virtual tour of my bathroom.

And right about now you’re thinking, “Your bathroom? Why would anybody want to see your bathroom?”

Well thanks for asking!

About a year and a half ago, I decided to turn one of my boring bathrooms into an aquarium! That’s right! An aquarium!

It was a 2 week project. I hand painted several different varieties of fish, including seahorses, a Jellyfish, a sea turtle, a crab, a ray, and more! I really enjoyed doing it and was even a little sad when the project was finally finished.

So without further ado, I bring you:

My bathroom.

Enjoy!

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Happenings in the Hood: Entitled Much?

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So there I was, still painting at 8:30 at night when I normally wrap up my work day no later than 6. There was a rush on this particular apartment, however. It needed to be move-in ready by tomorrow morning, so that meant a full day of getting to know brushes and rollers on a deeply personal level. I got a few phone numbers and a date next Tuesday.

Anyway, I was diligently plugging away at the last room that needed to be finished, the bathroom, so I could clearly see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I had just started thinking about rounding up some of the roaches so we could break into a can-can chorus line number and toss some confetti, when I heard a snarly, snappy voice come through the open kitchen window like a dark cloud rolling in to ruin my sunny day.

“Hey. You. Come here.”

I turned to peer through the bathroom doorway toward the kitchen at the perfect stranger that had just brazenly barked an order at me that I wouldn’t even tolerate from my immediate family.

There, at the open window, stood a dark skinned woman of about my height (short enough to walk under the bottom rung of a ladder without having to duck, in other words) possibly in her mid to late twenties, wearing nothing but a tiny bikini top, shower cap, and cut off shorts so small and tight that I could see pink…and curlies. She stabbed an angry finger at me, and reiterated her command.

“Yeah. you. Come here a minute.”

My first instinct was to place the hand that wasn’t currently holding a paintbrush on my hip, raise one eyebrow at her, and rather irritably say, “Excuse me?”  Being the non-confrontational person that I am, however, I put down my brush, wiped my paint smeared hands across the front of my t-shirt, and proceeded to take the dozen or so steps from bathroom to kitchen.

“Yes ma’am. What can I do for you?” I asked.

“Yeah. I live next door. I want my bedroom door painted. It’s just plain wood, but I want it painted. I pay to live here, so I paid good money for it to be painted, and it aint.”

Now… not only am I already there 2 and a half hours after my normal work day, busting hump to try and get this job finished, but I am contracted by the job.  I don’t blow my nose because a resident asked me to without clearing it with hubby-manager guy first.

Then there’s the other problem with her request; we normally don’t paint the doors to which she’s referring if they aren’t already white to begin with. They look quite nice in their natural wood color, so they don’t need to be painted. They shouldn’t be painted. She wishes to ruin a perfectly nice door.

So I actually had to suppress my laughter at this woman that is all but snapping her fingers at me wanting me to step away from the job that I’ve already stayed late to finish, and go paint her bedroom door. Right now. At 8:30 at night. When most people are…oh I don’t know…at home in their jammies shoving fistfuls of popcorn into their faces while they watch some over-hyped reality show.

Even were I able to decide to take on the task myself, there’s no way on earth I’d have tackled that junk that late, and I was fairly put off that Princess Demanding-pants was expecting me to.  I was tired. My feet were killing me. A hot shower sounded be more appealing than a lifetime supply of chocolate.

Never mind, let’s not go that far.

I wanted to snap back with some snarky comment hurled at her in the same tone with which she was addressing me, but that’s just not who I am. I’m usually a doormat to the point that welcome will regularly appear in big letters across my forehead.

So, I responded with, “I’m sorry, but you’ll have to put in a work order for that tomorrow when the office is open, and then I’d be happy to do that for you.”

“No. I tried that before and it dint get done. I need it painted.”

She needs it painted?

What she needs is a lesson in manners.

“Well, I really can’t do that without permission, but the office opens at 8 and you’re welcome to…”

She grunted and mumbled something under her breath as she stomped away. I’m pretty sure I caught an expletive or 2 and quite possibly the “B” word somewhere in there.

I grabbed my brush and went back to work. I wanted to get out of there now more than ever.

I stewed over the encounter for a few more minutes as I wrapped up for the day.

I’ve seen small children behave with more tact.

I thought to myself, “What a pleasant woman, and what a fitting end to an already delightful day.”

I shouldn’t really be shocked, though. I’ve learned to expect nothing less out of many of my fellow Americans over the course of my lifetime.

Welcome to the land of the free, and the home of the entitled.

Salute.

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The Great Garbage Getaway

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This past Sunday, my daughter and I almost died…

Of laughter.

We were heading home from a nice, leisurely, after church lunch of fried chicken and fixin’s (that’s side dishes to you non-southern folk). Which brings up a good point; what is it about a Sunday church service that makes people in the south want to eat fried chicken afterward?

Anyway, we were heading home to sleep it off, naturally, because everything about a Sunday afternoon and a full belly scream nap time.

It was just my daughter and I in the minivan, because my son had ridden home with my husband. He leaves the house early every Sunday morning for praise and worship practice, so we take separate vehicles to church.

My husband and son were about 45 seconds ahead of us on the trip home, and had just parked and stepped out of the car to wait for us, so they were able to watch the following scene unfold.

We were pulling into our gated and very well kept condo community, as 2 African American gentlemen  that looked to be between the ages of 19 to 22 in a little gray sports car were pulling out.

Nothing unusual there, except that they were creeping along very slowly and one of them was dangling an overstuffed kitchen trash bag out the passenger side window.

I slowed to see what they were up to, as if I didn’t already know.

I locked eyes with the passenger as he watched me watching him. I was completely stopped by now right inside the entrance, but before reaching the gate, to see if the young man had the guts to make his next move, knowing full well that my eyes were now fixed intently upon him.

Sure enough, the car stopped about 40 yards from the exit to the complex. The passenger then flung open his door and quickly hopped out of the vehicle, with eyes on me the whole time, as he tossed his burden into the trees lining the property.

Our condo community has a trash compactor. A trash compactor that is easily accessible to all those that live within the community. A trash compactor that we, as residents, pay hugely inflated association fees to help maintain every month. There’s a second gate leading out to the main road right next to the compactor. So, had those 2  simply driven the extra few blocks to the compactor, they could have properly disposed of their trash and exited the complex via that particular gate, but nooo…

The guy then ran back toward the vehicle and hurled himself inside with Cheetah-like swiftness. The tires screeched as they pulled away, eager to be rid of my prying eyes as quickly as possible.

Now, I’m not some sort of tree-hugging, “go green” hippy with save the planet, save the vegetarians, save the dust bunnies bumper stickers that always buys organic, attends anti-global warming rallies, and recycles everything I can get my hands on. I am, however, that one idiot in this huge, selfish, and uncaring city that will chase a plastic bag or empty wrapper across the entire length of a parking lot just because I HATE to see someone else’s litter cluttering up the beauty of this world.

So this guy, this litterbug of epic proportions that chose to do his dirty work right before my eyes; he sparked an instant rage inside of me. That was it. He was going down!

“Oh no he didn’t!” I exclaimed, and whipped my minivan around to give chase so fast, that my son, watching from the parking lot, later told me, “I think you got some air on that take off, mom.”

We sped down the winding street after the little gray car that was now gaining ground faster than my big boat could keep up. “Faster, mom! We’re losing them!” my daughter screamed from the seat beside me. We must have been doing 80 down the twisting back road toward the main highway. The speed limit was 40. My foot jamming the accelerator to the floor, intent gaze on the car in front of us quickly speeding away, I yelled back, “I just want his plate number! Can you see his plate number?!” “Not yet, we have to get closer!”

Let me put this spectacle into perspective for you: 2 white girls, fresh out of church, in a minivan, chasing down 2 black men in a sports car…over trash. It was like a scene out of a Wayans Brothers movie. What were we hoping to gain here once we caught up to them? Was I even thinking that far ahead? And seriously, why were these 2 so afraid of a short, fat, white woman and a teenage girl in a minivan?

I didn’t care. I was a lioness in hot pursuit of my prey. I wanted rectification for the heinous crime that I had just witnessed. If I could just get his license plate number, the power would be mine! I could report him to the authorities! I was chasing these evil-doers in the name of truth, justice, and the American way!

Or, litterbugs just tick me off enough to be this stupid.

As the little car continued to speed ahead at a rate faster than our soccer mom-mobile, I began to lose hope that we would even catch up. I don’t think we’ll catch them,” I yelled to my daughter. To which she replied, “No mom, we’ve got this! Don’t give up!”

Sure enough, we were coming up to the stoplight for the main highway. It was red.

The 2 villains weren’t sure how to proceed as they approached the stoplight. They crossed into the right lane…they crossed back into the left. They were stuck. They tried to turn their car sideways across 2 lanes to block our view of the license plate. Too late. “Get the plate, get the plate!” I yelled, and screamed the now visible number out to my daughter just before the 2 geniuses realized that they could have hung a right down the service road and made a clean get away. Oops. Better luck next time, fellas.

Off they sped into the sunset. We waved goodbye. See ya, suckas!

“That was awesome!” my daughter exclaimed. “Go mom!” We fist bumped. “Next time we need to wear capes.” I said.

That brought to light the sheer ridiculousness of the whole situation. I looked at her. She looked at me. We laughed all the way back home.

“Well, what now?” I wondered

I called up a friend that owns a property management company in the city I live in. She convinced me that, even though I could call the police and report it as illegal dumping, they would likely do nothing. I could call the management company and let them know, but that would be the equivalent of calling my neighbor to ask why the power went out.

Instead, and because it just grated on my nerves so terribly, my husband and I went out to retrieve the bag of trash and properly dispose of it. It would seem that my efforts in chasing down the culprits and obtaining their license plate number were all in vain.

Or were they?

When we picked up the bag of trash, we clearly saw a piece of mail with a name and address on it plastered up against the thinly stretched plastic barely holding in the contents of the bulging bag. We made note of it. It happened to be a woman’s name on the piece of mail. We walked around the property and located the address. Our building faces it from across the little retention pond.

I surmised that mom must have asked son and son’s friend to take the trash out on their way to…wherever. Son decided to take the lazy way out of the task. I wonder if Mrs. Marie would like to know what really became of her trash.

Hmmm…perhaps a letter is in order?

To whom it may concern…

The Bad Place

Daily Prompt: Smell You Later

Humans have very strong scent memory. Tell us about a smell that transports you.

Yesterday, I traveled 30 years back in time to a place that I had never really wanted to revisit…

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There’s nothing particularly special or unusual about what I do during the week. It’s just your average blue collar job giving painted facelifts to aging and abused apartments. It was just your average Thursday morning, and I was in my average lazy mood.

After a fifteen minute commute, I arrived at the run-down property that my husband manages. It’s not his fault that it’s in such disrepair; he does his best with what he has. The outside of place hasn’t been painted in over fifteen years, and though I offered to do the job for much less than any of the other commercial painters, the economy still won’t allow for any major renovations right now. The wooden privacy fence surrounding the property has either been pulled down in several places by the local class-cutting high school students looking for a place to hide out, or it has simply rotted away. The pool fence is being eaten away by rust. Most of the fenced in enclosures that house the air conditioning units have been destroyed by the local kids on their summer vacation. Many of the window screens have been torn up or ripped out. Several of the decorative shutters have fallen off. The parking lot needs to be resurfaced. The list goes on and on, but there’s just no money to have any of it repaired or replaced.  I tell my husband that he’s been demoted from property manager to slum lord, but he’s just too optimistic to accept it.

The insides of the places aren’t much better. I’ve come to realize that because of the deteriorating conditions outside, most of the residents aren’t motivated enough to take care of the inside, either. The apartment that I’m currently working in has a thick layer of nicotine on everything, torn up carpets with thick greasy stains all over them, and roaches as abundant as the stars.

I sat on the couch in my husband’s office for awhile, taking my sweet time nibbling at a microwaved breakfast sandwich, and trying to devise new ways to stall the inevitable. Eventually, though, I had to face the facts; 402 wasn’t going to paint itself, and I needed the money. So, I summoned up enough energy to haul my lazy rear end up of the sofa, grabbed my roller and brushes out of the refrigerator (that’s a nice little painter trick so that you don’t have to rinse them out at the end of every day), and toddled off to earn my dollar fifty and a small fry.

After fighting with the door for a moment because it’s one of those that you have to pull on in order for the key to properly turn in the lock, I finally managed to work it open and step inside. That same familiar nicotine smell ran to the threshold and greeted me, though it was admittedly not as strong as before due to the fresh coat of paint on several of the walls. I had already seen enough of this particular apartment to last a lifetime, though, so I decided to waste no more time getting started. I set my painting paraphernalia on the kitchen counter, grabbed my angled trim brush, popped open the 5 gallon bucket of white, and knelt down in a far corner of the living room to get started.

I had been avoiding that particular corner with good reason. I knew what those thick brown and yellow stains covering that matted patch of carpet were from. Sure enough, as I squatted down, my nasal passages were instantly assaulted by an all too familiar odor. Ooo, that smell. Can’t you smell that smell?

That memory smell. The one that sent a cold chill up my spine the second that my nostrils caught the first pungent whiff.

Animal urine…

I was instantly transported out of the ‘now’ to find myself gazing into the ‘way back when’.

Christmas time and a week or two of summer vacation in which I went with my parents to “The Cabin up North”, were really the only times of the year that I was made to visit my grandfather as a child. I couldn’t have been more thankful for that fact.

He was a crotchety old man. The kind that you see in the movies or on TV, waving a fist in the air on his front porch yelling “stay off my lawn!” at the neighborhood kids playing outside. I never saw him smile; at least, not in any of my childhood memories.

I was admittedly afraid of him, as would be any happy-go lucky, pig-tailed little girl whose attempts at fun were met with stern and foreboding glares and admonitions that little girls don’t behave in such a manner. Don’t run around the dogs. Don’t play around the dogs. Don’t raise your voice around the dogs. Don’t have fun around the dogs. Don’t be a child around the dogs…

The dogs.

My grandfather had 4 of them. Four Daschunds. These were NOT your average cute, cuddly little sausage dogs, either. No, these dogs were spawned directly out of the 10th pit of hell. They could not have been scarier had they had multiple heads and breathed fire. You could not make any sudden movements around these dogs, like running, or they’d tear into you faster than you could scream. You could not be loud around these dogs, for loud noises set them off and you could possibly lose a limb. There was one in particular, Schnapps, that was the meanest one of the bunch. You couldn’t even look at him, or he would growl and lunge at your face.

They behaved that way due mostly in part to the fact that they were spoiled rotten. They were the kings and queens of their castle. So much so, that they weren’t even made to go outside to go to the bathroom. There was a dog door in the kitchen that they NEVER used. They had corners of certain rooms that they had claimed as their toilets, and because of this, my grandfather’s house always smelled very strongly of animal urine. You really didn’t want to play in any of the rooms, either, unless you had to, because you’d have to dodge doggy land mines.

I remember the Christmas it happened. The Christmas that I first broke the rules. I was 8 years old. Perhaps even younger, but for some reason, my mind always reverts back to that particular age when I travel once again to the long ago and far away.

We were gathered at my grandfather’s house to exchange gifts and enjoy a holiday meal. I was “playing” in the guestroom, if you could even call it playing, with my grandfather’s wife’s grandson, Joey. In truth, it was more like we were sitting on the sofa watching TV and trying not to draw attention to ourselves.

We were kids, though, and boring TV quickly turned into some childish game that resulted in me running down the hallway. My feet had barely hit the cold, hard floor before Schnapps was hard on my heels and had his teeth sunk into the leg of my pants and the flesh within. He tore my corduroys, the ones that my beloved grandma had made for me. They were tan and had a monkey patch on the back pocket. The tears immediately started flowing, and to make matters worse, here came the grandwarden around the corner. He surveyed the scene. He didn’t really care whether or not I was hurt, he just started yelling at me because I had upset his precious dog.

He then wanted me to try to calm the vicious beast and make friends with it. “Just talk to him, just talk to him…” He’d say. I didn’t want to come within talking distance of that dog. I wanted nothing to do with Schnapps, or my grandfather, who seemingly cared nothing for me.

Every Christmas trip to grandpa’s house thereafter was just some nightmare that I had to live through. At least during the summer trips to the cabin I could hideout in the loft where my grandfather and his evil beasts wouldn’t venture, or I’d spend my time outside on the dock watching the ships roll through the channel, highlighting each new ship that I saw in my special book.

Gramps is long gone, and so is Schnapps. This still doesn’t change the fact that a filthy carpet ripe with animal urine takes me back. Back to a place that I’d never otherwise go.

Daily Prompt: Life After Blogs

Daily Prompt: Life After Blogs

Your life without a computer: what does it look like?

If you’ve been following along with my rambling lately, you’ll know that I’m currently twelve-hundred-and-something miles from home visiting my parents in the lovely state of Michigan. Not only do they have a nice, spacious house in the country, but they also have a cabin on a quiet little lake in some backwoods Podunk town that you might miss entirely if you blinked while passing through. We’ll be spending the rest of the week here, at their little home away from home, where Internet access is extremely limited. As a matter of fact, I’m eating into my mom’s Mifi data plan just to share this with you, my adoring fans.  All 2 of you.

So what does MY life without a computer look like? Well, this pretty much sums it up:

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I’ve found a wonderful spot…

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…A very special spot…

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…a beautiful spot…

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…An ideal spot…

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…for the catch of the day.

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The Water Lilies love it…

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…Bella loves it…

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…John and Debbie love it…

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…even Ray Darr loves it!…

…and the escape from civilization isn’t really breaking my heart.

Crazy Defined

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THIS in my father. My father and his entourage. My parents happen to be the equivalent of your average crazy cat lady with their animal collecting, except they collect…Collies. Full-fledged, bona fide Lassie dogs. They have 5 of their own right now, and they also participate in a collie rescue program where they foster unwanted collies until they can be adopted by worthy families. There can be up to 7 of them in their house at any given time.

I grew up with a house full of Collies, so I’ve never known a different way of life at my parent’s house. Since I’m an only child, my parents had me convinced that these hairy, slobbery 4 legged beasts were really my brothers and sisters until I was about 12. This is probably why I love to have my hair stroked and petted now.

My favorite childhood collies out of the many that have passed through my life in the 38 years since my birth were Jaica, Mica, and Nick. We had them all within the same time frame, and my parents thought that having 3 collies at once was really pushing the limits of sanity back then. That must make them certifiably straight jacket and padded room crazy now because they’ve expanded their brood to 5 plus the occasional extra.

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Jaica (left), Mica (middle), and Nick as a puppy (right)

Jaica, or “Jake Break” as she was called by my father, was a schizophrenic nutball of a critter. She was scared of her own shadow. I’ve found out over the years that most female collies are. She ran away for 2 weeks once because she heard a gunshot while she was outside. We put up lost dog flyers, and several people spotted her, but she’d run from them in fear. My mom was driving home from town one day when she spotted her crossing the street and called to her. It took her a minute or 2 to recognize my mom, but she eventually came to her. I was so happy to see her when she got home, that I ran to her and hugged her tight, and we fell on the floor in a big bundle of arms, legs, and fur. The fur was mostly mine. Yep, she was nuts, but I loved her. She would sleep with me every night, and she was the best cuddler. She had some wicked dog breath, though.

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My Jaica

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Poor Jaica. I tormented that dog.

Mica, “Mr. Mica-phone” as my dad later dubbed him, and Mikey to me, was my buddy as a kid. He was trained to go into my room, jump onto my bed, and lay across me to wake me up on Saturday mornings. There was no sleeping in with him around. We’d play house. He was quite the hairy husband.  We’d play office. He was my boss, I was his secretary. We’d try to play barbies, but he wasn’t very adept at upholding his end of the relationship as Ken. So, I’d use him as a barbie, and dress him up in beads, purses, dresses, and hats. My dad came downstairs to yell at me once for something that I had done, saw Mica in full ‘bag lady’ regalia, and laughed all the way back up the stairs after he had forgotten whatever atrocity I had committed. Mikey tolerated it like a trooper, too. I once dressed him up in a white T-shirt and a bow tie, put Jaica in my favorite dress, and held a wedding ceremony for the 2 of them. It was a teary-eyed, beautiful moment.

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The Infamous Wedding Picture

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Mica. I tormented him, too.

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Mica loved car rides.

Nick, a.k.a “Nickymeister Burger Bear”, as was his ‘Nick name’, will always hold a special place in my heart because he was discovered by me. I was Christmas shopping at the mall with my friends and decided to go into the puppy store, where I stumbled upon 2 of the cutest little collie pups I’d ever seen. I went home and told my parents that evening, and we went back up to the mall to see them. By that time, one puppy was already gone, and there sat Nick, staring up at us with his big, forlorn ‘please love me’ eyes. We didn’t stand a chance at that point. We went home with a bundle of fluffy collie pup, complete with hernia that had to be removed by the vet. He kept us all up howling that first night, and several nights after that, and I remember my dad saying, “Maybe we made a mistake?” Not my darling Nicky! We all grew to love Nick quickly, though, even as obnoxious as he was. He developed into a huge ball of fur with the shortest, stumpiest legs that I’ve ever seen on a collie. Nick, our Christmas dog. That’s how he got his name. Saint Nick. I miss him so much.

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Me and my Nicky

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Nicky and Dad.

My parents refer to their current herd of hairballs as “The Bears”. There’s Malibu, a.k.a “Boo”. We say that she ‘can’t hold her licker’, and your toes are fair game. There’s Bella, or “Bells” as my father calls her, and she, like my beloved Jaica, is afraid of her own shadow. Then there’s Savannah. She’s deaf and blind, has seizures, and her hind legs don’t work the best, but she’s my mom’s favorite so they do all that they can to make her comfortable in her old age. There’s Wyatt, or “Erpster” as my dad has dubbed him, (he happens to have a nickname for almost every dog that’s ever passed through their home, if you haven’t noticed by now.) Wyatt is a grumpy old man, and king of his domain. Then let’s not forget Gus, the skinny escape artist that’s a favorite among all of the grandkids, and the reason that the chain link fence surrounding the yard is now lined with an electric wire on the top. There’s nothing that can contain Gus, he’s pushed his way out of a screen window before in his efforts to be free.

These days, as my parents have grown older and softer, the collies have gotten considerably more spoiled than the ones they had when I was growing up. Most of them are fat enough to feed a starving family of 7 for a month. I call them couches with legs. They weren’t allowed on the beds without special dog blankets when I was young, and that rule went out the window years ago. My dad feeds them from his plate, too, so “no people food” is a foreign concept to this batch of furballs.

There isn’t anything that my parents wouldn’t do for their dogs. They spend top dollar on the best food, frequent vet trips, treats, toys, and medications to keep the whole herd happier and healthier than your average wet-nosed companions.

I could be jealous of my 4 legged siblings, getting all that special love and attention, but nah. I have a life of my own now, and the thundering herd not only keeps my parents busy in their senior years, but they’re all just too cute for animosity. To each their own, I suppose, and for mom and dad, with the wall to wall canine carpet, ‘Crazy in Colliewood’ is just the story of their lives.

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How do my parents even sleep at night?!