Bless the Beasts & the Children

First thing every morning, I tell White Fang how much I love her. Wolves need that. They can’t decipher your words maybe, but they get the melody of it.

It’s like when you hear a Portuguese opera, or some speedy-lipped talk show guest (Anna Kendrick comes to mind, or that ditzy weirdo Kat Timpf). Their words are gibberish but you get the chord changes. You read the music of their minds.

“You’re goofy looking,” I coo to White Fang. “Those freckles, those eyes. But I love you. I love you to the sky and back.”

My wolf/dog tilts her head. She licks her lips. She thinks this is the moment we might finally kiss.

“Let’s go eat,” I tell her.

They say blue eyes stem from one long-ago genetic blunder, and that — though recessive — blue eyes took off from there.

So it is with White Fang. Evidently, she and I hail from the same freaky, freckly Norwegian tobogganist.

Know what else is recessive in our family? Brains.

White Fang stood out in a downpour the other morning. When I heard the rain thumping the roof, I checked on her, figuring she’d be curled up safe and dry on the covered porch.

Instead, I find her out in the yard, staring straight up at the rain, looking for God, wondering: Is this some sort of sacrament?

Ping, ping, ping, ping….

“Get in here!” I yelled from the door. “Who are you, Gene Kelly?”

White Fang doesn’t get the “Singin’ in the Rain” reference. See? Told you brains are a recessive trait with us. Fortunately, my kids have them. You see it in every little thing they do, the way their eyes twinkle, the way they push their eggs around with their toast.

Bless the beasts and the children…

Such a mush. I’m already collecting photos and clips for my granddaughter’s wedding video. I’m doing this on the sly, so that I’m free to choose the soundtrack myself. “House at Pooh Corner” will be one of the songs. “Red Solo Cup” another. I’m trying to think who might narrate the short video? Bittner? Anna Kendrick? Elmo?

FYI, for Halloween, Cakes dressed like Frida Kahlo, inspired by her own passion for Mexican Cubist painting. Or perhaps Catty Cakes just liked the pom-pon hat. Props to her sitter, Blanca, for the incredible outfit.

FYI (part 2) I still have Mike Ditka hair dye all over my shower. May never get it out of the grout. But no regrets. Go Bears!

Meanwhile, we’re staging an engagement party for Rapunzel this weekend. My drought-ravaged front yard looks like Gettysburg three days in: craters, foxholes …

But the backyard is lush and likeable enough.

We waited, of course, till cooler weather hit to have a garden party, hoping that’ll keep guests from lingering. As I told Rapunzel, 20 minutes is long enough for any party. Grab a drink, nosh a cannoli, shake a few hands and get the hell out.

We’re featuring the house specialty: bacon-wrapped bacon, with a big batch of bathtub hooch. Yum.

The forecast: Sunny skies and not a dry eye in the house. This is us, after all. Our family cries over touchdowns. We cry over home runs. We cry till we realize how ridiculous we must look, then laugh at ourselves, then cry some more.

It’s healthy!

Rapunzel is probably our most-accomplished crier – every single day since she was born. But its competitive. The lovely and patient older daughter tears up when Catty Cakes does a somersault.

Who wouldn’t?

Know who doesn’t cry much? Smartacus. He shed a lifetime of tears a few years ago. And after all that, every day, every moment seems a blessing.

Man, I dig him. Scatters his dirty socks everywhere, and when he eats, he leaves behind crumbs the size of boulders. Such a slob.

Yet, I love him. Isn’t that strange? I love Smartacus to the sky and back.

He’s the only son I’ve got, after all, though these new sons-in-law are sure beginning to stack up. Maybe because I’m giving away daughters like government cheese?

Honestly, I like that the fam is growing…the more the merrier.


For the record, I prefer a loud holiday house, like in a toothy Osmond TV special. My other holiday reference point: Tailgate parties at Lambeau, everyone a little blushy from the booze.

Drinking, noshing, hugging, laughing, leaving…

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8 thoughts on “Bless the Beasts & the Children

  1. And I know White Fang and WE love YOU to the sky and back too. Thanks for another delightful antidote to our universal election fatigue. What would we do without you?

  2. Great column, Chris. I love it when you write about Smarticus and your wolf-dog. Smarticus is the same age as my grandson Xavier. I have followed your tales of your son since he was small, since his antics parallel those of Xavier. Keep ‘em coming! Sounds as though you’ll never run out of material with those two around!!

  3. Such deep emotional honesty, like a flower opening up after a day and night of cold rain, when the sun comes up and out again. The luminous heat magnetizes a blossom’s most inner presence. It is as if it were reaching with its core for something, so it can be seen and touched. I credit Suzanne with some of this. Radiance begets radiance, as the gardeners are won’t to say. Love is in bloom, and everything is coming up roses—even dirty socks.

  4. Catty Cakes is the cutest Frida I’ve ever see. I wish you a wonderful engagement party and a delicious Thanksgiving!

  5. Once again this post is a cornucopia of good stuff. “She thinks this is the moment we might finally kiss.” I laughed out loud! Love the pics. Cakes takes the cake once again in cuteness. Absolutely precious. The engagement party will be lovely. Congratulations to Rapunzel! Good thing you’re not having it here. Tom Skilling told me it will be 36 degrees on Saturday. By the way House at Pooh Corner is a must for Cakes’ soundtrack. I LOVED that album (Loggins and Messina Sittin’ In) And Bless the Beasts and the Children is another great Carpenters song.

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