Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas To All....

We are having a blustery and wet Christmas morning (I have beaten everyone else up, as usual).  I guess it won't be a white Christmas - there was a slight chance.  Our weather has been so nice, and mild, up to this point, that my plants and animals were confused.  Our apricot tree had buds on it - in November, mind you - and we still were getting zucchini, basil, and tomatoes from the garden up until a week ago (I know, I know, it's a blessing, but really, nobody wants to eat that much zucchini).  And one of the chickens actually started molting (she looks horrible - very comical and entertaining for the rest of us).
As I sit here and wait for the pitter patter of feet (no longer little, for I wear the smallest shoes of all of us now), I will perhaps listen to some of my favorite Christmas songs, since I am the first one to the CD player.  Bear in mind, I have extremely eclectic tastes in music. I noticed this year that although I love these songs more than all others, I can't actually sing them, because they put a lump in my throat.  I think I'm a sucker for deep lyrics and originality of sound.  First, I love "What Child Is This" (even though I have a vague memory of being forced at about age 5 to sing it with my parents up in front of the whole church - I'm sure that was worth the price of admission!), especially verses 2 and 3, and my favorite version is by Roberta Flack from the "My Christmas" CD.  I admit that the first time I heard it, I thought, "Oh my, what has she done to this song?", but now I just love it, maybe because those meaningful lyrics are easy to hear and understand.  I also love the second verse of 'O, Holy Night' : "Truly he taught us to love one another.  His law is love and His gospel is peace.  Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother, and in His name all oppression shall cease."  I'm teary just writing the words!  But my very very favorite Christmas song is an obscure song that is never played on the radio.  In fact, it is the lone 'mellow' song on a punk rock Christmas CD called "Happy Christmas, volume 2" (I was shocked to discover there was more than one!).  The song is called 'Peace Child' by The Normals.  It is a kind of re-writing of 'O Come, O Come, Emanuel'.  It talks about "the kingdom that cradles the broken" and everyone being invited to the dance, because "heaven is full of us peasants".  Yes, I torture my family with these songs every December (and sometimes beyond).  Can you imagine the delight if I could learn to play them myself on the piano or guitar?  Why, I could play them all year....hmmm....not a bad idea.  Maybe I should go now.
Well, although it looks like our Christmas will be wet, we will still spend it enjoying each other, and thinking about all of our amazing family and friends.  Really, I am related to some extraordinary people, and have some very cool friends.  So if you are reading this to keep up with the Pappas Family, have a WONDERFUL Christmas.  I suppose I'll go put some music on.....

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Smart Dumb Dog

Don't get me wrong - I love my dog.  Max is big and black and loud, and he scares strangers who come to the house (Perfect!  No salespeople ever come through the gate).  He is my running buddy - he's gone with me rain, shine, cold, hot, 2 miles, 5 miles.  When my neighbors' goats escaped the yard and began wandering down the road, Max rounded them up and herded them back - apparently by instinct (I never taught him that!).  One day at the beach, he got in front of a pit-bullish-type dog that was heading for Jason.  We adopted this dog from the pound, and I consider it one of the best deals ever.  He doesn't chew or dig up the yard, or require professional grooming, and he doesn't even poop in the grass (and we have a lot of grass!) - he always goes in the dirt way back by the fence.  He has been trained with relative ease to 'sit', 'shake hands', to leave the cat and chickens alone (the fact that he doesn't go after the chickens is quite major in Garden Farms, where it seems like everyone's dog has eaten one of everyone else's chickens), and most recently, Jason taught Max to lie down as if dead when one points at him and says, "Bang!"  He keeps critters out of the yard and has caught several squirrels and gophers (this is why Jamey likes him).
So it was confusing the other Sunday when Jason and I got home and there was a dog-head-sized hole in the picket fence.  And Max was sitting on the other side of it.  Our guess is that he panicked when he heard some distant gunshots (hey, it happens in my neighborhood...).  Perhaps the most puzzling thing, though, is that there is actually an opening in the fence about a foot to the right of where the dog went through.  It would be like me, leaving my room by going through a wall (using my head!) instead of the doorway just to the right.  So we stood and looked dumbfounded at the hole, wondering how a dog so smart could do such an utterly dumb thing, wishing that one person had been home to see it happening.  
And the debate among us continues: is he smart? Or is he truly a dumb, dumb dog?