This is the final installment of a multi-part story. Please click on the article to view full, then click the series link in the area above in order to read the whole story.
When I went off to college most of my interaction with Ruby stopped. I was far away from her. She loved my mom and was fulfilled in her inner-dog. I would see her from time to time, and she was always as happy as a dog could be for us to visit. She was also always eager to prove that she knew all of her old tricks.
She was never one to spend a lot of time outside and never one to wander away from home. Some dogs are always trying to dig their way under the fence, or jump over it—but not Ruby. She preferred a warm couch to the great outdoors. This makes it very strange that she got out of the yard one day while I was away at college. Continue reading →
This is part 4 of a multi-part story. Please click on the article to view full, then click the series link in the area above in order to read the whole story.
Ruby made it through her bout with the disease. The virus took a lot out of her, but she survived, and she eventually returned to the same pup we’d known before. There was no doubt that she loved us, in an emotional and committed way. There was also no doubt that we loved her and would never give her away again.
As her strength returned, I decided that all of her innate talent should not go to waste. I taught her commands in triplicate, English, German (which I was learning in high school), and hand signals. She learned all of this effortlessly. If I told her to stay, or held up my hand fingers up- palm facing her, she would stay for as long as I left her. Sometimes something would happen and she’d forget, but not usually. If I got distracted and left her there, sometimes I’d find her hours later asleep in the same spot. Continue reading →
This is part 3 of a multi-part story. Please click on the article to view full, then click the series link in the area above in order to read the whole story.
Weeks later, one of the women called us and told my mom that they just couldn’t keep Ruby anymore. She said that it was all just too much for them to handle. I suspect that I’ll never quite know the truth of the matter. Had my mom called them? Had Ruby just refused to acclimate and accept them as a substitute family? Had they just decided that a dog just wasn’t right for them? In hindsight, I’m sure they were more cat people. Or could it be that they knew something that they didn’t want to deal with? I’ll never know. Continue reading →
This is part 2 of a multi-part story. Please click on the article to view full, then click the series link in the area above in order to read the whole story.
Ruby quickly became an indispensable part of the family. She would crawl on top of my back and fall asleep as I lied on the carpet watching TV each night. She would also wake up shortly before I would and start scratching at my door to get in. My mom would usually get to her before that and would lift her onto my bed. Ruby would wake me up by repeatedly licking my face.
When she grew big enough, she would jump onto my bed herself and wake me up in the same manner. Or, she’d just jump repeatedly at the side of the bed making a whining noise until I noticed her. This mostly happened when I was lying too close to the edge for her to get up there. Continue reading →
When I was about 8 years old I spent all of the paper-route money that I’d saved up on a red wiener-dog puppy. We named the dachshund Cassie, and she quickly became part of the family. She was everything a wiener-dog is. She was loyal and strong-willed, loud, and heat-seeking. She would wake up every morning at about 7:30, just 5 minutes before the pool equipment came on, begging to be let outside. She would then spend the next hour chasing the automatic sweeper around the pool barking. The neighbors must have hated us and we’d tell her to shut up, but she didn’t care. It was her game, but truly she did despise that thing. But this little essay isn’t about Cassie. Continue reading →
The other day I got one of those junk mail pieces offering me “up to” $8,800 for my old Honda Accord. It was in fake handwriting font, with FINAL NOTICE in Stencil font on the bottom, complete with slight Gaussian blur and acid wash to make it look like someone used a red ink rubber stamp to let me know that it was that serious. Apparently, they are reallyin need of 9 year old Honda Accords. They are at the hight of demand. If you go in say, “I want a brand new Pilot Premium,” they will say, “Why would you want that, when you could drive a 2005 used Accord?”
The best part was the fake check and stub it was all printed on. It had a realistic-looking customer ID # and Account number section below a pretend perforation line, and a check at the top. Where you would write the amount tendered on the check was written “up to $8,800.”† It was all signed by someone named Yuni Chen.
Realizing it has been several years since my infamous “lost pet” incident, I thought it was time to have some fun. So I wrote Yuni a letter in response. I have included it below.
I’ve been saving this little goodie for a month and had forgotten about it, when I just saw it in my inbox.
I was on the Drudge Report a few months ago when I saw this obvious typo below. Drudge doesn’t make these very often, so it was fun.
I’m not entirely sure what “car urine” is, but it must be that small puddle of water that appears under your car in the summer after you’ve been running your air conditioner. I never tried to smell it, though.
Back when I used to watch Saturday Night Live (before the Jamie Foxx episode that permanently changed my mind), there was a skit that for some reason I still can’t stop laughing about. The episode was being hosted by Bryan Cranston, and near the end of the episode where they put the skits that just aren’t very good, he is joined by Fred Armisen in a skit called the Bjelland Brothers. The skit centers around a song with the lyrics, “I sent a bottle of sparkling apple juice to your house. Did you get it?” But, rather than describing it to you in detail, I’ll just embed it below. Give it a chance…it’ll grow on ya.
So after watching this and having the song in my head, I realized that the chords were really easy, and the next week in youth group, I started by playing this song and getting the kids to sing along. I doubt that any of the had any idea what this was, but they thought it was funny. Just like a good shampoo (lather, rinse, repeat) I’ve done it occasionally since, and the teens always think it’s fun. I doubt that hardly any of them still have any idea what it is from.
As anyone who ever reads this already knows, I recently left youth ministry. My teens showered me with love in ways that I still can’t put words to. The most powerful for me are never little trinkets or gift cards (although I do like those), but the teens that tell me how something I did affected their lives, or when they go the extra mile to make me something, or do something creative to honor me. All of the ways in which they’ve touched my life through the years I’ve known them, and even more as I’ve left will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Tonight I cleaned the last vestiges of clutter from my old office at church. It was bitter-sweet. Now there is nothing tangible that ties me back to that building. As I left, I looked back into my office with a touch of sadness. After a large part of a decade, it is no longer my place.
When I got home, I carried boxes of books and other office stuff from my car into my home office. As I carried the last box in, I looked down and saw this on my doorstep.
I have been slowly remodeling my home to bring it up to a more modern look. This is a long process, both because of time and money constraints. Less involved than the famous Great Wall of Ryan project, I just completed the Informal Dining Room. Here is a list of things we did, with before and after pictures below.
Took all the wallpaper off. It was floor to ceiling before, with a dark blue on the bottom and an ivory with small blue flowers on top.
Removed popcorn from the ceiling.
Removed styrofoam medallion from the ceiling relief and styrofoam crown modeling from that same area.
Re-stained the chair-rails, doorways, and baseboards to match what we did last year in the living room. It was a honey-oak color, and now is a Red Mahogany.
Painted the walls to match the living room paint scheme.
Painted the ceiling relief top a deep red color for contrast and depth.