The day after the election, we set off to meet Edna and Brandy as usual. It had snowed in the night, and then frozen, so the ground was treacherous. To add to the hazardous conditions, we were joined by an ownerless trio of canines, made up of two unruly mongrels that we’d met before with a large German shepherd in tow. Fortunately, all three dogs were friendly, but large and boisterous, so it proved quite the walk. Snow plus a pack of five! Max had such a puzzled expression on his face. His brain was on overload trying to figure out who was the leader of the pack. Gary Gibson was right about Max’s alpha-male attitude. Whenever he met another male dog, Max would test for dominance. He accepted it graciously if the other dog asserted leadership, but he had to know who was in charge.
Between watching her feet and making sure the dogs didn’t take her out at the knees, Edna, predictably, sounded off about the election. She was very annoyed about the ultimate outcome, but as I pointed out to her, everyone was more disappointed than I was. In fact, I wasn’t disappointed at all, merely relieved. Edna had far more of the spirit to make a politician than I ever did. She was quite prepared to take on difficult people. I’ll never forget the day we ran into ‘Mr. Chow’, a particularly obnoxious walker with an equally obnoxious dog. ‘Mr. Chow’ laid into Edna because Brandy was unleashed, even though she was nowhere near his dog. Edna promptly told him to ‘dry up and stick his head down a toilet.’ What headlines I could have made if I’d used that turn of phrase at an all-candidates meeting!
After-effects from the election continued to interrupt my days. Many people would call, assuming I could help with local issues. A particularly disturbing incident occurred when I received a strange note ending with a string of x’s. I felt disconcerted. I was even more uneasy when a few phone calls turned up the fact that the letter writer was a schizophrenic who was known to have violent outbursts and had fixations on dark-eyed brunettes. Never was I so glad that I had my feisty Max to keep me company.
However, with the election over, life became a mad dash to Christmas, but what fun that was. Shopping, writing letters, wrapping presents, cleaning silver, booking and rehearsing shows—all were a joy after the strain of politics. We had more time for visits to my parents and they were glad to see us back to normal too. On our first post-election visit, Big Max took little Max round the block so many times that, once back in the house, Max Junior jumped into my lap for shelter. Totally overdosed on walkies.
Max liked the fall. He enjoyed the cooler weather, and he was very interested in the new acquisitions that began to appear in the house. My birthday came and went, along with a gift of some weights for my morning exercises. Max found these fascinating. He thought I’d been given giant chew toys, though he was not so impressed when he tried to get his teeth around them. He was very interested, too, when a box of antique Pelham marionettes arrived from my old friend, Jennifer Guttridge Milne, who had heard about Elwoodettes and decided to donate the puppets we played with as children. These Max was not allowed to test his teeth on. As December approached and the girls became more hyper, the anticipation in the air was too much for Max and he started to be naughty too. It was no use issuing warnings not to pout, cry or shout; everyone was just too excited about Christmas.
Amid all these preparations, I was struggling to find a focal point for a Christmas song. I’d written a script for a half-hour show, which we were creating with a view to performing for the Burnaby Village Museum the following year. Babes in the Wood was fun, but it was too long and cumbersome for private gigs, and it was becoming obvious that we needed shorter shows for special occasions. However, the song eluded me, and I finally gave up and concentrated on the tasks at hand. One of these was the holiday decorating marathon.
Our family always decorated the house on the first weekend in December. This practice dated back to the days of Hugh’s parents and our first dog, Beanie, when we used to make a special trip to the Sunshine Coast to cut our tree. This event was even immortalized one year by a Sun photographer when the newspaper did a story on family traditions. Since our house is more than 100 years old, it is full of nooks and crannies that lend themselves to ornamentation, so a lot of trees and garlands go into this endeavor.
Max, of course, new to this tradition, was ecstatic. My diary records that we tackled the job, ‘un-helped by a very excited and naughty Max who kept stealing decorations, including Hugh’s ship-in-a-bottle which he crunched into smithereens.’ After dinner, we sat around and admired the tree, but Max lay on guard all evening. His wolf-mask expression was easy to read: “My tree! My presents!” Katie became most indignant, for Max growled at her whenever she tried to look at her present. So much for trying to peel back the paper and take a peek. Santa wasn’t the only one who was watching.