Best Birthday Prez Ever

A couple of weeks ago it was my birthday. My present from my eldest granddaughter was a card she made herself. She knows about my various artistic practices such as writing a daily haiku and doing a daily drawing. (See my blog post from May 29th, titled Practice)

So for my birthday card she wrote two haiku of her own and two daily draws. Both haiku and one of the draws are about me! (The other draw reflects her dislike of getting up in the morning.)

Here they are. I hope you will agree with me that my granddaughter is talented, interesting, and totally loveable.




GardnersToday my haiku is from November 25th of my book A Haiku Book of Days for Gardeners, Tree-Huggers, and Other Nature Lovers, one of a 7-book series. The topic for today is: “Legacy”

where will the earth be
when your little granddaughter
becomes a grandma?

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

You can purchase this book on Amazon here.

The Consequences of Children’s Literature

My passion for stroies started earlyHere’s another story from a “Making History” class participant. We were discussing arts and entertainment in the 1940s, and she wrote about reading Little Toot by Hardie Gramatky, a 1939 classic children’s book about a courageous little tugboat, to her four year old son. It became his favorite book, and he demanded that she read it nearly every night for over a year. “I guess it’s true that literature has great power,” she said, “because he was fascinated by boats from then on. In fact he made them his life’s work – he’s now the captain of a ferry boat.”

As you can see from the photo on this page, my mom read to me, too. The Poky Little Puppy, which is about a puppy who learns how and when to dig holes under fences, did not have as dramatic an effect on me. Or did it? I do like to dig holes under the fences too, only they are metaphorical holes and fences. What’s behind those fences people erect to keep others from finding out the truths they’d rather keep hidden? I know how to dig the right holes … Ghostwriters are like that.

What did your Mom or Dad read to you when you were young? How did that book affect you? Or … what are you reading to your children or grandchildren right now? Leave a comment and share.

The Little Toot story and many more are in my book “Making History: how to remember, record, interpret & share the events of your life”, based on the classes I’ve been teaching since 2000. Memoir writers, biographers, historians, genealogists, fiction writers, and more, have found this book extremely useful to bring color and life to their books and family histories. Check out sample chapters and reviews on my website. Or buy the book here.

Alex Terrgi for President

My dogAlex Terrgi here. The other day my human’s 10-year-old granddaughter E came over to our house. She was wearing a shirt that said “My Dog For President.” (E lives with two dogs.) My human disagreed with her shirt. She said “I think Alex would make the best dog president.” E tried to say that either one of her two dogs would be a better president than me, but my human pointed out that one of E’s dogs is nearly 14 years old and does nothing but sleep, and the other is not even six months old and does nothing but jump and yip and chase. I had to agree. Would you want a president who slept all the time? Even worse would be a president who got excited about every little thing and either bit it or ran away from it.

“You know why Alex would be a good president?” added my human. “It’s because he is creative in getting what he wants, and mainly because he always comes from a place of love.”

I think that coming from Love is the best qualification for president there is. But never mind trying to get me to run, because I don’t want the job. Way too much work.

Ghostwriting for a Dog:  Pet Girl Gone

Dog blogAlex Terrgi here. If you read my blog posts (and if you don’t, why don’t you? I’m always interesting!) you might remember that I’ve had my own pet girl living in my house. (Her parents have been living here too, but they are not my pets.) My pet girl is my human’s granddaughter and is the best little girl in the whole world, and even if you have a wonderful granddaughter too, I know my pet girl is better than yours. She plays with me, and pets me, and gives me treats, and lets me sleep on her, and lets me watch TV with her, and throws the ball for me, and laughs at my jokes, and tells me her secrets, and she even lets me play with her squeaky stuffed animals sometimes.

Then … tragedy struck. My pet girl’s parents bought a new house and moved into it – taking my pet girl with them! Now if I want to see my pet girl I have to make my human take me to visit at her house, or I have to wait until my pet girl comes to visit me (and her grandmother) at our house. This is seriously wrong. The point of having a pet girl is that you live in the same house and do a lot of stuff together.

I am sad now. Sometimes I moan in my sleep because I am dreaming about how my pet girl is gone. When I’m awake I sit in front of the TV and wish she was here with me, laughing at Dog with a Blog. (I like this show for obvious reasons.) Or I look out the window and hope to see her jumping out of her car as it pulls into our driveway. I wait and wait and wait very patiently but it doesn’t happen often enough. (This should happen at least once a day, and preferably more.)

I still love my human and will never leave her, but I wish she had more power over my pet girl so she could make her come back here. I think grandparents should have more say.

The Cat is still here, but The Cat just doesn’t cut it.

Haiku Friday: Grandchildren

HistoriansToday my haiku is from March 13th of my new book A Haiku Book of Days for Historians, Storytellers, and Other Guardians of Truth, one of a 7-book series. The haiku topic for today is “Grandchildren”:

grandchildren are born
knowing the way to your heart
and they don’t give it back

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

You can purchase this book on Amazon here.

Compost: Rules for Grandmothers

know the rulesI had another idea for a book one day, while I was hanging out with my three young grandchildren. Nobody tells you how to be a good grandmother, you know – you have to make it up as you go along, or try to remember how your own grandparents did it forty/fifty-some years ago, or how your parents were with your kids twenty/thirty-some years ago. Wouldn’t it be handy, I said to my grandchildren, if there were such a thing as the “Grandmother’s Big Book of Rules” that all grandparents could follow? They thought this was such a great idea that they volunteered some rules of their own for grandparents. I haven’t written the book yet, but I just may incorporate their ideas. Here are some of them – what do you think? From my 8-year-old granddaughter (clearly the leader of the pack):

  • When your grandchildren are staying with you, you must let them stay up until midnight and have a party and watch any movie they want on On Demand.
  • You must forget all their parents’ rules.
  • If your grandchildren tell you a secret, keep it secret and don’t blab it to their mother.
  • Do a chicken dance and let your grandchildren video it and then put it up on YouTube.
  • Make sure you have plenty of mango juice and chocolate ice cream bars in your refrigerator.

From my 6-year-old grandson (I had daughters, so my first experience in dealing with a boy child):

  • When your grandchildren come to stay, make up fun activities like building a catapult which flings cake all over the room.
  • Help your grandchildren build a ship or make a troll out of a rock. Be sure you have plenty of porcupine quills on hand.
  • Don’t let the sun burn your grandchildren, but don’t put sunscreen in their eyes.
  • Always have the right kinds of snacks on hand. They have to be the right snacks. Ask Mommy if you don’t know what the right kinds are. Then buy them.

From my 3-year-old granddaughter (a sensitive but loud little creature):

  • Remember to wear your hair in a ponytail, and then let your granddaughter take the ponytail out and comb your hair to get the pingles out. Don’t cry.
  • Always have Hello Kitty bandaids in the bathroom so we can wear as many as we want.
  • Wear the bracelet we make from the Jewelry Kit you have in your cupboard, because it will make your skin happy.

No, you can’t have my grandchildren. I’m keeping them forever.

Ghostwriting for a Dog: Gifts from the Highchair

Goody Beagle here. Have I told you why I love human babies? My human’s newest grandchild is just a little over a year old, and she is wonderful because she’s just like all human babies – she’s both messy and generous with her food.

She is just the right height for me and Alex to lick her face and hands and clothes while she’s toddling around the floor, and there is always some leftover food there. She doesn’t care – in fact I think she likes our licks.

Even better – she has learned how to share her food with Alex and me. Sometimes she hands us her cookies and laughs when we gobble them up – we are always careful when we take them out of her hands – both Alex and I know that biting a baby is absolutely taboo.

My favorite time to hang around the baby is when she is sitting in her high chair eating her lunch or dinner. She often – and I mean like every time she sits there – drops food on the floor. Sometimes she does it by accident because babies are clumsy, but now she’s learned how to throw food on the floor on purpose, when she doesn’t want any more or doesn’t like whatever it is. We always like whatever it is!

So now you know why I am a fan of babies.

My human and I are still working on my next book. If you missed my first book, it’s called Dog Park Diary and is available on Amazon.

Compost: Writing for Real

Do you want to write real? Down to the bones and the blood, past all the fakery and pretense? Well of course you do, most writers are truth seekers.

But sometimes this isn’t easy. Words by their very nature are not the truth – they are second-hand removals from the truth. They are descriptions of the truth.

When I want to practice writing “real” I will write a short piece about children. The younger the better, preferably at the stage when they’ve just become verbal, say three or so. Three year olds have no filters. They see the world in ways that you have forgotten, because they haven’t been around long enough to know how things “should be.”

Here’s what I scribbled after spending some time with my grandson Desmond a couple of months ago, when he was almost three:

One time when Desmond stayed at my house, I gave him a kiwi fruit for lunch. He called it a green strawberry and asked me if it was sick. I said no, it was a kiwi and he laughed because he said kiwi sounded like what the birds say.

I peeled the kiwi and he picked up the skin and asked, why does the kiwi wear a coat? Then he asked where I got the kiwi, and I said I bought it at the grocery store but maybe the grocery store got it from a farm in New Zealand or Australia, countries a long way away where the kiwis and the kangaroos are. That got his attention because Desmond likes to jump like a kangaroo.

He asked me to tie a scarf around his waist so it hung down his butt and he pretended he had a long tail like a kangaroo. Then I said, but Desmond, kangaroos have very big feet too, which gave him the idea of putting on my shoes so he’d have big feet and a tail.

He hopped over to the table where his peeled and sliced kiwi fruit was waiting for him, and he at last consented to eat it. His verdict: he prefers his strawberries red, but he likes being a kangaroo.

Compost: What Age Really Means

Two days before my birthday this year, I happened to be taking care of my 3-year-old grandson Desmond, at his house. This was one of those birthdays that makes you feel that age is not just creeping up on you, it’s already here, staring you in the face. It would be fair to say that I was feeling a little down.

As soon as I came in the door, my grandson runs up to me. Zippy energy is coming off him in waves. He’s wriggling all over.

“Grandma!” he says, trying to lower his voice so his mother, busy getting ready to leave for work, will not hear him betraying the secret she’s told him not to share.

“It’s your birthday!” he says in a thrilled whisper.

I smile and nod because it’s impossible not to. “Yes it is my birthday,” I agree.

He leans in closer, to make sure I hear him. “We’re having dessert! It’s …” (voice lowered even more, but delivered with dramatic punch) chocolate ice cream!”

I’m now giggling. “Oh, I like chocolate ice cream,” I say.

“And with candles on top!” He leans against my knees and his hands grip me with excitement. His grin nearly splits his face in half.

“How fun,” I say, and infected by his enthusiasm, I really mean it. “But Grandma’s pretty old, Des,” I say, without a trace of self-pity. “I don’t know if we can fit all those candles on the ice cream.”

This does not faze him at all. “Then we’ll need LOTS of ice cream!” he shrieks, no longer caring if his mother hears him or not. He spreads his arms wide and his eyes grow huge with delight.

Aged or not, I can still recognize wisdom when I hear it. My mood and my attitude have been healed, which often happens when I’m around my grandson Desmond.

All getting older means is that you get to have more ice cream.