Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Trick or Treat

As a child, growing up in suburban Framingham, back in the ‘70s, going “Trick or Treating” for Halloween was a much anticipated event. When we were little, my Mom would take us to the old Woolworth’s 5 and 10 to pick out a costume. These costumes were invariably made of fabric that was cheap, shiny, and thin, and they were usually accompanied by a plastic mask guaranteed to make your face sweat. We thought they were wonderful. As we got older, we started to make our own costumes. My favorite costume was the year that I dressed as a giant Hershey’s Kiss; my best friend Lisa accompanied me dressed as a giant Hershey’s Bar. We made quite a pair! My costume involved quite a lot of tin foil, and the only design flaw was that I used a large hula hoop to make the bottom round—I couldn’t sit down and I couldn’t fit through any of the neighbor’s doorways!

Each Halloween, we’d make our way through the neighborhood filling our pillowcases with candy. Sometimes the treats we received were less than desirable. Our neighbor the dentist gave out toothbrushes, the hippie neighbor gave out apples (we threw them away) and our neighbor the banker gave out shiny new pennies. Once we returned from our carefully negotiated six block rendezvous, guaranteed to maximize our returns, my two brothers and I would gather at the dining room table and empty our bags. Then the candy trading would begin. My favorite candies were (and still are) Junior Mints and plain M&Ms, my brother Jeff was partial to Hershey Bars and my little brother Gary liked the bubble gum and LifeSavers. My Mom would give each of us a large glass jar to store our holdings and if we were diligent, we could usually make our candy last until Christmas.

As an adult I still enjoy Halloween. Since I don’t have human children, every year I dress up my two pugs, Romeo and Elvis, and parade them in costume through the neighborhood. In past  years, they’ve dressed up as pumpkins, hot dogs and skeletons. Both pugs are good–natured and happily submit to my machinations. They enjoy the attention from all of the neighborhood children. Although we don’t trick or treat for candy, our neighbor Bobby always has dog cookies ready and our neighbor Clara is always good for a piece of cheese.

What was your favorite Halloween costume? Do you have a favorite Halloween memory? What is your favorite Halloween candy? What are your children (or dogs) dressing up as this year for Halloween?

This post was originally published in October 2011, in the pre-LarryPug days. LarryPug also enjoys wearing a costume and going trick or treating.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

What Goes Around

“Tell me a story about the old days,” my nephew Ben will ask me. So I tell him about ancient times, before the Internet was invented, when people used to read books and newspapers for information.

“Tell me another one,” he asks. So I tell him about the telephone before cellular phones were introduced. We had a rotary dial phone that used to hang on the kitchen wall and Grandma Phyllis would only make long distance calls on Saturday because they were really, really expensive. Grandpa Alan was excited to own one of the first telephone answering machines because in pre-historic times if you weren’t home when someone called you on the telephone, they had to call you back later. Ben is absorbed.

“Anything else?” he asks. So I start to tell him about how his Dad and I used to listen to music on records. My favorite album was the movie soundtrack, Saturday Night Fever by the Bee Gees. It was a double album and I saved up my baby sitting money to buy it.

“But wait, Aunt Nancy,” my nephew cries out, “I know what records are!”

That’s right, people. In case you didn’t get the memo, vinyl is back. Although my husband’s beloved Tower Records is long gone, you can go to Barnes & Noble and buy records again (they’re located next to that other antiquated section—books made of paper).

Audiophiles can’t agree if the listening experience of a record is superior to that a computer-generated MP3 file, but there’s no argument with statistics. Vinyl records are a burgeoning industry again. What’s even more interesting to me is that vinyl records are being embraced by younger artists, such as Taylor Swift, alongside traditional recording stars such as Bob Dylan.

Some say it’s a love for nostalgia, or retromania, others claim to embrace the warm and fuzzy sounds or the immersive feelings that an album creates. According to music commentator, Simon Reynolds, in an article in Newsweek magazine, “…collecting is actually an intrinsic part of the vinyl record’s allure. An LP is an object and one that comes with a certain ‘ritual’ behavior, from the opening of the sleeve and the gentle handling of the disc, to the aesthetic qualities of the cover and the inner sleeve designs with its artwork (often considered to be art and diminished on the smaller CD case) and printed lyrics.”

My husband and I haven’t dug our record player out of the basement yet, but maybe I’ll go downstairs and see if I can find my old Bee Gees’ albums… and my leg warmers. Because everything old is new again.

How about you? Have you bought any “new vinyl” lately? Or did you never give it up? What was the first album, (tape, CD, MP3 file) that you bought?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Old Friends

Recently, Elvis, my black pug, celebrated his 13th birthday. Elvis is the same age as my nephew Benny. However, while Ben is in the throes of puberty and starting to think about PSATs, Elvis is the dog-equivalent of a 91-year old man, although, he’s in good shape for a canine senior citizen. While he’s got arthritis and his black paws and muzzle have gone silver, he can still make a run for it if you’re holding a cookie.

Elvis’ pug brother Romeo will turn 14 in December. Romeo has not fared as well in the canine-aging process. He’s extremely deaf, he’s lost most of his teeth, and I sometimes find him standing in the kitchen wondering where he’s supposed to be. Romeo often reminds me of my elderly father. They both spend most of their day taking a nap, they’re always happy to see you, and they never say “no” to a snack.

When I take the Pug Boys for a walk, people often stop us to pet them. They are always surprised when I tell them how old Romeo and Elvis are. Invariably their next question is, “Well, how long do they live?” I find this question offensive, although I’m sure they don’t mean it that way. After all, when people find out that my Dad is 85, they don’t ask about his life expectancy! Neither the Pug Boys, nor my Dad, come with an actuarial table, so we’ll just to hope for the best. In a perfect world, they will all live to be 100!

My senior pugs still greet me with enthusiasm when I return home from work, but it is sad to watch them slow down. Several of my friends also have senior pets, enough that we could probably form a senior pet support group. My friend Joannie recently spent a small fortune treating her 11-year old Boston Terrier for glaucoma, sadly without a good prognosis, and my friend Eleanor just had a cancerous lump removed from her senior Scottie’s lip. My co-worker Jen has an elderly cat with asthma, who she treats with a pet-sized inhaler. My neighbor Frank just had a funeral for his beloved cat, who passed away at age 21. He buried her in his back yard under a rosebush.

Sadly, escalating medical costs are often a reason why elderly pets come into rescue because their owners can no longer afford to take care of them.

It is indisputable that our pets are an integral part of our families. Do you have a senior pet? Do they require special care?