Friday, October 26, 2012


Today's post is written by my dog Molly.

Oh my gosh it was the most awesome best super coolest thing that ever ever happened to me. I call it "the night I finally caught an animal in my mouth."

I'm not saying I've NEVER caught anything but well, okay, I've never caught anything.

Every day I try. I really do. There's this squirrel that lives out on the woodpile and if I can get Mom to open the door at just the right time I can scare the crap out of that thing, chasing it through the yard while it chatters and yells at me up top of the fence. But I can't catch it. It's too fast.

Mom always says, "Go get her! Go get your squirrel friend," she thinks that's really funny. But I never catch her.

Once I caught a delicious dead thing from behind the shed. I took it to Mom but she did not like it and screamed and made me drop it. She called it a mold or something. Dad just went out and took it away so I did not even have a chance to grab it by the neck and rip it to shreds the way I practice on all my stuffed toys.

But that night, last August, I caught a big black thing with two white lines on its back and it was ALIVE!

I almost didn't get the chance. Mom quit letting me out after dark unless I'm on a leash for some reason late this summer. I heard her tell my human brother and sisters I couldn't go out after dark. I don't know why. I'm not scared. And I see great in the dark. But she said it was a bad idea.

So I just waited until she was having one of those drinks Dad makes her in a triangle-shaped glass. After she has one of those she kind of forgets things. It worked. I waited until Dad something real funny and she laughed and then I asked real politely to go outside. She got up and opened up the door to let me out like she did not even remember she just told the kids not to do that an hour before.

I took off like a shot to the back of the yard where all the animals hide at night. Mom started screaming then but nothing could have stopped me. She was screaming "Molly, NOOOOOOO. SKUUUUUNKKKKK!!"

I could see it out by the back bushes. Kind of fluffy and pretty. All tempting with it's big black and white tail. I caught it easy. It was not fast at all and it couldn't jump up on the fence like that squirrel does.

I had it in my mouth so of course I took it right to Mom on the patio. My plan was to shake the hell out of it, break it's neck, then tear it's throat open! I don't know what I would do after that, but I practice doing that ALL the time on stuffed animals and I knew it was just what I was supposed to do with that thing. It was all wiggly in my mouth and I liked that even more. Those dumb stuffed animals don't move when I grab them at all!

But then something really weird happened. Some kind of yellow, stinky wet stuff got all over me! I have NO idea where it came from, but it was so smelly and so yucky I had to drop the stripey animal I finally caught. That stuff (it was yellow and got in my eyes and on my neck!) must have come down out of the tree I was standing next to. Or maybe Mom threw it at me or something to get me to drop the stripey live animal. I don't know but it was NASTY!

Mom was screaming. Dad was screaming. Man were they excited and proud of me to finally have caught a real live animal IN MY MOUTH!

But because of that really weird spray thing that came from nowhere I had to go in right then and take a bath. A really long bath. Then mom gave me another bath. Then Lilly gave me a bath. Then they made me sleep in the bathroom all night. I didn't want to sleep in the bathroom but I could tell everyone was kind of mad about the smelly yellow stuff so I didn't complain.

The next day I went looking for my stripey friend but I have not seen it since then. Maybe it moved to someone else's backyard. I wish it would come back. I would LOVE to catch it again. IN MY MOUTH.

I had to have about eleventy dozen more baths and you know what I still smell a little like that weird tree smell or whatever. And it's been weeks now. I don't mind the smell anymore because it reminds me of the best night of my life ever. The night I finally caught something LIVE IN MY MOUTH!

And I can tell you too, if I EVER get the chance to catch another stripey thing in my mouth LIVE, I will totally try it again. 

Because that was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


If you think the family portrait is hard to pull-off just try the intergenerational one. Here are the Ludwig kids and their Rahn cousins with Grandma and Grandpa Ludwig, summer of 1998. 
The baby is Lilly. L to R: Atticus, Grace, Sarah, Brian, and Michael

"I don't see you on the schedule," I said frowning at my list of names.

It was church-directory picture-taking week last month and I had offered to help register families as they came in all shiny and well-combed and neat.  I was talking to a long-time parishioner so I was confused as to why her family's label was missing.

She waved my concern away, "Oh that's because we were here earlier in the week and it didn't go well. The boys had a meltdown, my husband complained, and I ended up in tears so we had to just leave."

Ah, the family portrait. Good times.

If you want to see a middle-aged mom roll her eyes, just ask her about the last time she tried to get her family together for a formal photo.

As every mother knows, it is exceedingly challenging to wrangle all the members of your family for this seemingly simple task. Whether you are dealing with colicky babies, cranky toddlers, or busy, busy, teenagers, it is a Sisyphean chore to get them all in one spot at one time looking well-dressed and well-groomed and not crying.

I don't know why we even try.

Yes I do. It's because one of our jobs is to curate an archive of the family history and a formal family portrait every few years is a big part of the exhibit.

When the kids were little I went for the old dress-em-all-alike look which involved weeks of scouring Target for similar outfits. What a colossal waste of time.

Even after making sure I had something that fit each and every one of us (sometime this process took so long someone outgrew something) and finding a time when no one was napping and dad was home, I would still meet with resistance from the crowd.

Really? Is it so much to ask that you people put the outfit on that I laid out for you on your bed and go smile at the camera for half an hour?

"Do I have to go get my picture taken! I don't wanna. I don't wanna wear jeans and a black t-shirt like everyone else," the whining would begin. The kids were worse.

So in recent years I've adopted the "I don't care what you're wearing, just comb your hair and let's go" policy. Which you think would take care of all the problems and resistance but no, just as you get to this point, the kids will be teenagers and have all kinds of school and after-school activities to conflict with a scheduled photo time.

This year I rescheduled our time slot three times to accommodate the work-choir-horseback riding commitments of my brood. I wasn't quite ready to adopt my friend Laura's policy-- "I just scheduled a time and figured it was like dinner on any given night--whoever shows up is in."

This time around I was introduced to a new wrinkle in the whole process--with kids headed off to college it is even less likely you will be able to pull off a complete family portrait.

Mom friends told me their college children had expressed disbelief and even outrage that they would not be in the church directory. One mom said she had a different shot of the family taken and submitted it to accommodate their college kid. Another one submitted their college student's picture separately.

So as we four who were once five stood fake smiling I said a little sadly, "This is weird without Atticus."

But Grace was more pragmatic, "This is who we are now. Let's just take the picture."

Which I think is the perfect sentiment of any formal family picture and a gentle reminder of the ever-changing nature of family.

This is who we are now.