100 Happy Days: 37

Last Christmas David and Geri sent the dogs several toys. The dogs loved them–they loved them to pieces. And then they stopped loving them because they were just pieces. No more stuffing to remove, no more squeakers to squeak.

All that is except one dog. One dog still pounces on those toy pieces as if they’re the best thing ever. He prances around with them between his teeth, tosses them into the air, and catches them. He carries them in his mouth until they are saturated with dog slobber, lets them dry, and does it all over again. It’s Tim’s boy dog, Pollock, who still has enough puppy in him to appreciate all the things the other dogs shun. I call all his toy pieces “my precious” and scold Tim and Tom for throwing them away (as what sane person wouldn’t? But puppies aren’t meant to be sane. They’re meant to be cute. Pollock delivers.).

Today I was sweeping up the truckload of dust and dog hair that accumulates by the minute, and I had the nagging sense that I was overlooking something. As I swept everything into the dustpan, I could dimly make out two eyes staring at me.

Don’t worry, Pollock. Your precious went back in the toy box.

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Photo Friday, No. 405

Current Photo Friday theme: Portrait


This is Giles. He has a lot to think about.

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100 Happy Days: 36

After getting a recommendation from Rhonda, Jef With One F at Houston Press put The Deal in at number ten on Ten Best Novels Set in Houston. And I didn’t know a thing about it until Marika mentioned it. I have good friends.

It’s gratifying to see a nod to a novel in which Tim and I enjoyed celebrating Houston. Thank you!

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100 Happy Days: 35

It’s not that it makes me happy that the vet tech rigged up a SUPER Cone of Shame for Margot to keep her from aggravating her lick granuloma. It’s just that when we got home, it amuses me that the first tape I could get my hands on to secure the flap of the outer cone was priority mail tape. I regret that I will be unable to ship Margot to any of you, as I can’t do without her. However, you’re more than welcome to take on her I’m An Obsessive-Compulsive Dog vet bills.

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100 Happy Days: 34

Getting a postcard from friends having fun together makes a ram very happy.

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100 Happy Days: 33

These two make me happy every day. Upon meeting as youngsters, they became instant sisters. During their terrible twos, they destroyed things together. During adolescence and young adulthood, they played hard together. I’ve only heard them exchange harsh words once–twice if I count the time Margot mistakenly thought Guinness was another dog of whom she’s not fond. In middle age, they’d curl up together in bed or on the couch. In old age, they’re content to know the other one is there, to sleep in the same room, not necessarily touching. They’ve settled into being mostly placid senior dogs, though they can still show a lot of energy when it comes to food.

They’ve taught me so much. I know some of the lessons they still have to teach me will be hard ones, but that’s the way it should be. I just want them to be content. And I want to know why Margot has three beds piled up as if she’s playing Princess and the Pea, and Guinness is satisfied to stretch out on the cold tile.

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100 Happy Days: 32

National Ice Cream Day?!? Don’t mind if I do.


P.S. Look closely… You just saw your daily cow. You’re welcome.

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Button Sunday

The last few days have been mostly miserable in world and entertainment news, and you know I generally don’t focus on miserable things on this blog. There’s plenty of that to be found elsewhere, in the views of people smarter and stupider than I am.

But like a lot of people, occasionally I feel personally affected by a celebrity death, and I was saddened to wake up today and read that actor James Garner has died at age eighty-six. I think more than any other actor, he shaped my idea of what a leading man should be, and I know for sure that carried over into the kind of men I like to write, especially as romantic leads.

It begins, as so many stories do, with “I blame my mother.” I was a wee thing, and maybe it was a day that my mother had to take me to a doctor or something, and felt like we needed a treat, so she and I went to a matinee. In later years, we’d laugh together at the education I got when we watched The Americanization of Emily. I’ve never seen the movie again as an adult, but I vaguely remember lots of bedroom scenes in James Garner’s portrayal of a cowardly and reluctant war hero who wants to win the heart of Emily (played by Julie Andrews).

“It was Mary Poppins and Maverick!” my mother would always say in her own defense.

Whatever else impressionable me might have taken from that day, the movie began my lifelong adoration of James Garner. Though I had to see most of his early television work in syndication, including “Maverick,” I was an avid “Rockford Files” fan. But any time I saw his name on the credits of any TV show or movie, I knew I was in good hands–and that his leading ladies would be, too. What a list that includes, along with Andrews: Audrey Hepburn, Doris Day, Shirley MacLaine, Sally Field, Lauren Bacall, Gena Rowlands, Angie Dickinson, Elke Summer, Ellen Burstyn, Suzanne Pleshette, Natalie Wood, Lee Remick, Eva Marie Saint, Jodie Foster, Sandra Bullock. Whether he played romantic lead, friend, or father, he could blend tender, rugged, wry, and strong like nobody else. Along with his emotional range, he was as unafraid to play physical humor as to do his own stunts (a tendency that caused him a lot of injuries and physical pain).

He brought the same wry humor and daring to his screen interactions with his male costars, and unlike a lot of them, his movie masculinity didn’t translate to stories of bad behavior in his personal life. As both performer and person, he always appeared to be a gentleman. A leading man indeed. Rest in peace, James Garner.


This caricature was drawn by artist Pete Emslie on Garner’s birthday this year. You can see Emslie’s other birthday tributes to Garner on his blog.

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100 Happy Days: 31


There weren’t actually three fortunes in this one fortune cookie. Although I’ve heard that happens sometimes.

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100 Happy Days: 30

Today the Internet sent me on a wild goose chase for a piece of art I wanted to photograph. I think I may be able to see it in the middle of August, so I’ll put that on hold. But thinking about geese prompted me to visit Hermann Park to look at the ducks. I saw ducks and many other wonderful sights, but my favorite photo is this one. I’m no expert, but I think these are Shaolin Buddhist Monks. Because of them, I’ve been smiling all day.

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