The Poodle Who Was Gravely Ill

There are many reasons why I love my dad but this story is the most recent:

My dad sells antiques and has cases in a few antique shops where we live. Those who sell antiques are, well…an eclectic and eccentric bunch. It’s my belief that the “odd ball” to “normal” ratio is greater than in the general population. They are a fun group…but yeah, odd sums it up. As part of his contract with one of the shops my dad is required to put in “floor time” meaning he has to be in the store to answer questions, help customers, etc. On one particular day another antique dealer came into the shop with his wife to work on their case. They had their poodle with them. It was the husband’s habit to carry the dog in a baby sling much like this one:


While he tended to precious poodle, he would sit in a folding chair and direct his wife on how to display the merchandise in their case. At this point in the story, my gut reaction would have been “Screw you,” but maybe that’s why I’m not married. I wasn’t there, so I’ve had to use my imagination to fill in the blanks, but I picture him spoon feeding the poodle a medley of fresh veggies and foie gras , while sitting in a director’s chair, wearing a beret, enjoying a smoke from a long gilded cigarette holder, and stroking his pencil-thin mustache:


Dad was quite used to seeing the couple and had always assumed that there was something wrong with the dog. Otherwise it would just be madness. Dad had just finished with a customer and walked around the corner to see the poodle ambling around on his own and appearing to be in particularly good health.

“What the hell?! I thought that poodle was a cripple!”

To another employee, “Did you know that poodle can walk?”

“Of course he can walk.”

He was shocked. I’m not sure if he was more annoyed that the guy let his wife do all the work while he toted around his completely non-crippled dog or because he felt foolish that he had felt sympathy for said completely non-crippled dog. Or maybe it was that everyone else seemed to know the dog was not gravely ill.  I’m guessing it was probably a combination of all three.

“I never asked what was wrong with him. I didn’t want to be rude. But that sonofabitch has been carrying around a perfectly healthy dog for years! I always thought he was an invalid. The nerve!”

Ahhhh Dad…I love you.


Single Men Working at Gas Stations Looking for Love

Last week I was delving back into social networking after a hiatus for Lent. On signing into Facebook I was given the suggestion of  “liking” a dating service which seems to cater towards a pretty specific target audience: Single Cowboys Looking for Love. My first thought was “What the crap did I “like” to generate that suggestion?” My second though was “Meh...” The third was “Aww heck, why not?” I didn’t get that far though. I am assuming that I was to be the single women searching for a single cowboy, and that they did not in fact think I was a single cowboy, because that would break my heart. Although on a side note, I was using an on-line dating service several years ago and upon exhausting all of the single men in a 600 mile radius (no joke, I was matched with a man from Pittsburgh) the site matched me with a woman. It was like they were calling it quits for me, “Now Ms. Cutler, we don’t normally do this sort of thing, but have you considered switching teams? There just aren’t any more men!” I kid…not really.

Anyway, I stopped to get gas a couple of nights ago and the gas station attendant was workin’ it pretty hard. I don’t want to give a false impression that I am a man’s lady (is that a saying?) but this happens to me all the time; however, only at gas stations. I guess I’m doing something right; or maybe something wrong? I’ll let you be the judge. No make-up, hair a mess, wearing the bad glasses, still sporting the pajama bottoms? None of that seems to matter.  It’s like stepping into a marriage 15 years in the making, when nobody is trying anymore. The super lazy part of me says, “Hell yeah, I could get behind that.”  Don’t worry…I have not, and most likely never will, go on a date with a complete and random stranger. But it got me thinking about starting my own dating service: Single Men Working at Gas Stations Looking for Love. This is truly an untapped market and most likely a goldmine. A goldmine for what is all that remains to be seen.


Backing Up Over My Dignity

This is the story of how I backed up over my dignity and lost face. This is one of my more embarrassing moments, of which I have scores. I seriously doubt the person(s) involved will ever read this, but they were there and already know what happened so all embarrassment has rolled off by this point.

A few years ago I had a hopelessly unrequited and hopelessly ill-informed (but that’s another whole blog all by itself) crush on a man. I had been trying for weeks to get his attention. We were friends but it was a tense and terse relationship from the start, fraught with misunderstanding, fights, and me generally making an ass of myself. I had heard around the water cooler that he had started seeing someone.  It was pretty clear they were together but he had told me emphatically that they were not dating. Turns out that wasn’t true, but again that’s a story for another day; or a story put to rest with a shovel, a shotgun and a bottle of Jameson’s.

On this particular night I was going to a friend’s house for a get-together. Several mutual friends had RSVP’d saying they would be there. As my luck would prove, it was to be an excruciatingly awkward evening with only the host, hostess, the Man, and the girlfriend-who-didn’t-exist. The smart part of my brain said ‘Run away! Run away! This can only get worse.’ But nooooo, as I am a glutton for anything that is bumbling, stumbling, lumbering and fumbling, I decided to nut up and power through. Let’s be clear that I have a love affair with awkward situations, as long as I am not the cause or victim. Wait…I guess that means I love social spasticism (yup, new word) only at the expense of others which kind of makes me a jerk. Sorry, digression over. We all sat around the dining room table as the Man loudly praised the non-girlfriend for how awesome she was, “I mean seriously guys! Isn’t she the awesomest EVER?! RAWR!”

Blechh. I went to the backyard to cry quietly over my cigarettes, and not-so-gently scold myself, “Pull it together woman!”

When I came back in we had moved the “party” to the living-room where I would spend the next two hours trying not to see the hand-holding three feet away from me on the couch. Asking the host “Are you sure they’re not together? They look pretty together,” I was told “No, no, no. Definitely not together. He said no, so it’s no.” In all honesty, what they were or weren’t was none of my business but 1) I HATE being lied to, even over something stupid and 2) crushing hard on someone can drive any sanity out of the brain right through the ears.

After the movie was over the Man and not-girlfriend left pretty quickly. I stayed to chat hoping that I had left ample time to avoid needing to interact with them in the drive-way. As I walked out, I saw the Man and the girlfriend-who-never-was kissing in front of my car. Again, I could have saved face and gone back inside but nooooooo. I just cleared my throat and began walking to my Scion. The Man pushed not-girlfriend off of him, which actually makes me laugh now, cause damn…that must have been hard to explain later. As in any emergency (real or perceived – emphasis on perceived), fight or flight kicked in. Fight was insane, duh, so I had no choice but to flee. I’m telling you, it seemed perfectly rational at the time. In my haste, I threw the car into reverse. I heard a crunch. Not a really loud crunch, more like a gentle crunch. I looked in the rear-view and found I had backed over the host’s neighbor’s 30-gallon plastic planter. And of course it was filled with about 20 gallons of dirt and 15 lbs of plant.

“Well I can’t get out now dammit! I have to just keep going!” as I threw the car back into drive to complete the k-turn.

“SCRAAAAAAAPE!” halfway down the street.

“I know! I’ll just go faster in order to lose the mansion-sized planter which is now embedded under my car!”



Chirp-chirp from my cell phone alerted me to a new text, “Um…I think you may have something under your car?” From who else but the Man himself, who happened to be driving behind me.

I’d like to think I responded with grace and aplomb, but that would be so uncharacteristic. It was probably more likely me shouting at the rear-view “Oh you think? You think?! No crap Sherlock!!!!”

I went to bed that night feeling lied-to and stupid, and woke with that always hopeful feeling of that-can’t-have-really-happened. I received a phone call from the host later that morning saying “Our neighbors found their planter busted up at the end of the road and tire marks on the front lawn. Do you know what happened?”

“Um…yeah. I happened.”


(this makes me feel better)

My Kind of Sin

Sin is comfortable. But not too much sin.  Just a little sin; and our kind of sin.  We seek out the company of others who are permissive of our particular brand of sin.

I grew up in the church. There are many blessings that come from a Christian upbringing, but a peculiar set of pit falls is often part of the package deal.  I learned that it is good to be respectable.  A good Christian girl does not wear skirts above the knee, or smoke, or drink (but you can’t openly judge those who drink, since the Bible does not forbid liquor, merely overindulging in liquor; but you shouldn’t if your super serious about God, just to be on the safe side.   And the really big sins, forget about it.  She’s friends with someone who has premarital sex??  That guy friend of her’s looks a little light in the loafers.  I saw her with some kids who use colorful language!  But he has spiked hair – spiked!!  What what what??!!  I was taught, whether intentionally or not, that some sins are not only not respectable, but those “sinners” are not worth my friendship. At least until they clean up their acts.  Thankfully none of this came from my parents, but it was the message I managed to absorb through years of churching and two different Christian schools.

When I became an adult (that word is debatable by those who know me well) I rebelled against much of the outward Christian culture I with which I had become so familiar. I exercised my freedoms. I bought short skirts. As a 22-year-old, I sneaked out of the house extra early and brought pants to change into for the ride home because I didn’t want to face accusing questions.  I got tattoos. I smoked (stupid, I know – not the point).  I became friends with the marginalized, even though they believed differently from me. But all of this happened only after I walked away from the church altogether for over two years.  I had become so confused about what was Christian and what was merely Christian culture.

As a teenager I felt schizophrenic in my Christianity.  Not bad enough for the bad kids and not holy enough for the good kids.  As much as I’d like to think I have grown tremendously from that awkward teenager, I am still very much the same in my comfort level of sin.  Professing Christians who sin “way more” than me are hypocrites, frauds, and liars.  But Christians who are really “good” are almost too good – fuddy duddies, buzz-kills, or (gasp) legalists lacking grace and mercy.  My view of other Christians is much like my driving – anyone going too fast is an irresponsible, reckless maniac; while anyone going too slow is a pain in the ass because they get in my way, and I have places to be!  My natural inclination is to be around people who sin “just the right amount.”  You’ll tolerate a bit of gossip, but not so much that it turns malicious? Perfect.  You’ll drink, but at least you won’t be as drunk as so-and-so? Great. You’ll be cynical but only slightly more or less cynical than me? I don’t want you too cynical because it gets kind of annoying; but I don’t want you too hopeful either, because that’s just gross.

So yes, if you haven’t figured it out by now, I am a fraud. And a coward. And a sinner. But I’m also a Christian.  I have spent many years comparing my sins to those around me, using my own internal sliding-sin-scale. If I am honest, I have not just “fallen” into sin, but jumped in, with both feet and waving my arms over my head.  I want to believe that God grades on a curve.  And thank Him that He doesn’t. My sin is not worse or better than the sin of anyone else. It’s all sin and it all grieves our Father.  He judges us against His own impossibly perfect law, but through the lens of His own perfect Son.  Perfection required. Perfection delivered.  This is too mysterious for me to grasp, and even this clarity I feel I have tonight will no doubt be hard to find tomorrow.

Romans 3:23
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

1 John 2:1-2
My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

Romans 6:1
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!


Toddler Whispering:101

I am a nanny. And I love my job.  I feel so fortunate to have a job that make me smile and laugh pretty much all day and I get paid to do it.  Hi five.  I was recently told by a good friend that I am the Toddler Whisperer.  The conversation went like this:

“The nanny litmus test is having two children under the age of 4 in an awesome toy-store, without destroying anything or having a temper-tantrum. Success.”

    • me – MB, I meant me not having a tantrum 🙂
    • JL – Please, I know I am lowly and unworthy, but will you teach me your ways? Pretty please?
    • me – Lol just lots of gentle reminding before we went in that we would NOT be buying any toys
    • JL – Kristin Leigh: Toddler Whisperer
    • me – Omg that is so funny cause I’ve been calling myself that in my head!
    • JL – Do you get to do the snappy Latin shush/snap/poke?! Do ya?????
    • um…yes (but don’t publicize that)

However learning toddler lingo can be an interesting experience with lots of misunderstanding so here’s the rundown:

balella – vanilla
bwown –
pink –
– because
chickennuggetandfwenchfwies – chicken nuggets and french fries
cwyingbaff – crying bath (where one cries throughout the entire bath)
Fweshbeeban – Fresh Beat Band (that one took awhile)
ishy – icky
lellow – yellow
shushi – tushy; and also sushi, which makes me think this child might need an anatomy lesson at some point, since she might think it’s all the same thing.
Shyberman – Spiderman
Tinkerella – Tinkerbell
weawy – really

And I’ve had some great conversations lately:

to mom – “H had to have a time-out today.”
Mom – “H, why did you have a time out?”
H – “Cubuzz I pushed him. I pushed him down. Hard.” Shaking her tiny head in shame.

H – “A don’t like the Muppets. A, why you don’t like the Muppets?”
“A, why you don’t like the Muppets? why? why? why?”
A – “Listen, that’s just the way it is. Some kids like the Muppets and some don’t.”

me – “A, I want you to get in bed for a rest.”
A (standing against the wall) – “I can’t, I’m stuck.”
me – “Hmmm.”

me -“Guys, it’s time for dinner.”
A – “We can’t; we have to take Havasham to buy her car.”
me – “Who’s Havasham?”
A – “My friend. Don’t worry, she’s imaginary.”
me – “Great. Tell her it’s time for dinner.”

me – “H, did you wipe after going potty?”
H – “Yep, I wipe my shushi (see above) with Dolly’s hair.”
Blehhh. Forever. Cause Dirty Dolly’s nasty hair accidentally wound up in my mouth earlier in the week.

me – “E, I want you to come and sit down over here for the story.”
E continues playing.
I, looks at me and says – “Boy, that kid is weawy annoying.”
me – “I, that’s not nice; but yes. He is.”

me – “H, do you want some fruit with your lunch?”
H – “Fruit? So I can poop?”
Me – long awkward silence.  “Sure.”

Stay tuned. I’m sure I will have more to add to my toddler to grown-up translation guide shortly.

*this one’s for you JL


I am a freak magnet.  So far I have failed to pinpoint why, but I have an uncanny ability to attract the freaks no matter where I go.  School, work, gas station, super market. Everywhere.  Maybe it’s because it takes me a split second longer than it takes most people to realize that something is wrong; that there is a very good reason the strange old man is not only by himself but talking to himself.  The other day I met this guy in the super market:

He was with his wife, sister, nurse, what have you, and she stepped away for a minute.  I was looking at frozen waffles in the refrigerated section when it happened.  He spoke.  “I was supposed to do something but now I don’t remember.”

At first I thought he might have had me confused with his patron and just kept shopping.

Then it began. “Excuse me.”
“Excuse me.”
“Excuse me.”
“Excuse me.”
“Excuse me.”

So I tried to slip away and he followed me.  Thankfully he was slower than me, but as I tried to escape, I slipped out of my moccasin.  The faster I tried to put it back on, the more it refused.

“Excuse me!”
“Excuse me!”

I felt like I was in a horror movie and the slowly moving dimwitted zombie was approaching faster than I could run.  This time I got away unscathed but I haven’t always been so fortunate.  Like the time the elderly woman told me “You’re a real snappy dresser, you know that?”  (although I actually kind of liked that one) or the gas station attendant who wanted to take me dancing.  Or the middle aged man in Wendy’s who jabbed his finger at the tattoo on the back of my neck and asked me “What gives you the right to wear that Scripture?  I bet you didn’t even know anyone who was killed in the Lockerbie Bombing.”  Nope, I don’t but why again are you touching my neck weirdo?

No matter how many “How long would you last in a zombie apocalypse?” quizzes I take on Facebook, clearly I would die early.  I would probably try to engage the zombies in some meaningful conversation while they were eating my brains.  Note to self:  invest in better footwear that promotes a speedy getaway.


It’s Coming Up Roses

I had my first day back at clinicals today and I had almost forgotten how much I love it.  And why I’ve worked so hard.  And why I’m willing to see and do such “disgusting” things.  Because I love the people I get to meet.

I had a 92-year-old patient today.  She came in for bi-lateral foot x-rays and to put it mildly, she was a hot mess.  She was in good shape, I imagine, for 92 years old; but she is suffering the ravages of old age and a long life.  Her entire calf was bruised just from wearing compression socks, her feet were nearly crippled from arthritis, and she may lose parts or all of her foot, but she barely complained.  Most of what she complained about, was not her physical state, but how much her world has changed since she was born on January 1st 1920.  She was more upset by the amount of people who can’t seem to walk around without a cell phone glued to the side of their face, then the fact that she can’t walk.  “They all walk around, with those stupid machines, trying to be more snazzy than everyone else.”  Yep…snazzy.  I admit, I cringed when she said that.

But most of what she said was encouraging.  She told me that she had been married for 70 years. SEVENTY years.  That’s more than twice as long as I’ve been alive.  And her only words of advice were “If you find love, hold on to it. Cause that’s all you have.”  I might not have “love” in the typical sense, but I am learning to find it in unusual places.  To pick it up, treasure it, and pocket some for later.

Thank you Rose for making my day and reminding me of what’s important.