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    Saturday, April 29, 2006

    Teresa's Book Reviews: Marley and Me

    The one moral to this story is that you should always listen to Connie Brockway. (As much as it pains me to admit it!) She warned me that if I read this book, I would be crying for WEEKS. Then my Uncle Buddy, a 6' 2" bastion of male machismo confessed that he had bawled like a baby when reading the end of the book. But I thought, "Hey, I watch ER every week! I'm tough! I can handle this!"

    So I picked up the book and started crying during the PREFACE. Okay, I'm lying, I actually started sniveling when I was looking at the puppy pictures of Marley on the inside front cover. Perhaps Kevin Bacon said it best in MY DOG SKIP--"A dog is just a heartbreak waiting to happen." Until they invent dogs with the 90-year life spans of parrots, we all know there can be only one ending to a great dog story. And MARLEY AND ME is truly a great dog story.

    But MARLEY AND ME won't just make you cry. It will make you smile and it will make you laugh out loud and it will make you wonder why you didn't think to write a book about your ill-behaved monster of a dog so you could warm the cockles of America and make a bazillion dollars. It will also make you remember all of those fine dogs who have blessed your own life through the years. Those with spirits so sweet they seemed almost human and those who ate your throw rugs, swallowed your diamond necklace, and dragged your Tampax out of the garbage for the neighbors to see.

    MARLEY AND ME is more than a story about a dog. It's a story about the young marriage of John and Jenny and the changes they go through as they add not only Marley, but three precious children to their lives. John Grogan is a columnist and former editor of Rodale's ORGANIC GARDENING magazine. His prose is fine and spare and made me reluctant to put the book down. I read it in two lazy Saturday and Sunday afternoons and yes, I read the ending with a box of Kleenex sitting on my chest and Connie's number on my speed dial.

    The true moral of Marley's story is that there is something fine and beautiful about loving something (and someone) who is imperfect. That perhaps more joy and delight can be found in embracing someone's flaws than in trying to "fix" them. And if nothing else, reading about Marley--a dog who was diagnosed as certifiably insane even by doggie standards--may make you appreciate your own dog (or especially your cat!) even more.

    Tuesday, April 25, 2006

    Can You Tell Which One is Teresa?

    Okay, I know some of you were a trifle bit skeptical when I admitted that I had a giant pink pig who helped me block out my love scenes so I thought it was time to introduce you to Petunia.

    Petunia once belonged to my roommate in nursing school. She was getting ready to take a one way trip to the city dump when--unable to bear the thought of her rooting through the garbage with her delicate little snout--I intervened. (Look at that face! Could YOU have let her go to the dump?) Despite my husband's insistence that she's old enough to manage on her own, she still lives in the bonus room over our garage.

    She used to earn her keep by tussling with my nieces and nephews when they were little, but now I call upon her for a much more important duty. If I'm writing a scene where my hero and heroine are facing each other, about to embrace, I use her to figure out exactly where his mean his nose...and his (paw? hoof?) would be. We also share the occasional waltz.

    You'll notice that Petunia looks better than I do in this pic because she freshened up her mascara and I didn't. She never could resist a photo op!