Pug Zu = Griswold the Grizz Monster

For Christian’s birthday, I bought a doggy DNA kit. We got the results today and now we can answer the frequently asked question, “What kind of dog is he?”

Our little Grizz Monster is a Pug and Shih Tzu mix with some other mixed breeds in his ancestry.

His curly tail & fawn coloring are all pug, which we suspected. The Shih Tzu was a surprise even though people have asked if he was that or lhasa apso (they’re basically the same breed). We thought for sure terrier was in there. Perhaps that’s part of his mixed breed great grandparents.

We’ll never know that for sure. But what we do know is that he is perfect and loved.


Spring has Sprung!

Spring has finally sprung and Griswold is making sure I got the memo. The normally very non-morning boy stood over my face staring at me till I woke up yesterday morning. This is the first and only time in his life he’s ever done this.

When I had my 103-degree fever and slept for almost 72 hours straight, he lay with me, quiet and content the entire time. During a stay at the cabin last Christmas, I had tried and failed to convince him to wake up to go outside for three days in a row, so I made the bed around him and went on with my day till he decided to finally get up.  On the third day, I got his attention with a promise of a treat to which he merely poked his monkey face out from between two pillows (see photo).

The winter has been brutal. With the temperatures finally reaching into the low 60’s, Griswold must smell the trees, garbage and urine wafting through our open windows like a cartoon finger tempting him with pie. After a long week working on Christian’s new comedy special and producing his solo show, a long walk around Central Park is just what the doctor ordered for us both. And it was. Miles of walking with a nice break soaking up the sun at Bethesda Fountain had us both pooped.

This morning? He clawed at my leg, panted and whined, hopped in my lap only to hop back down and back again. He was acting like his skin was crawling, just itching to be outside! Are you kidding? Well, alrighty, let’s go out again. Today we walked all over Astoria Park, found a Geocache and I even ran a few laps around the track while he sat and watched. I’m not sure what tomorrow will bring, but it’s time for a trip to the cabin, I’d say.

My Fool’s Day

Turning 41 on a Tuesday can be pretty blah. If you looked at our day on paper, it probably was.

We slept till 10:30 and in between the rush of showering, dog walking, coffee and breakfast, I gave Christian (the birthday boy) his gifts:

1) A doggy DNA kit for our mutt Griswold,
2) Tickets to “Hedwig & the Angry Inch” starring Neil Patrick Harris, and
3) A neon sign from the set of his sitcom Are We There Yet? that an eagle-eyed photographer from the show snagged at a junk store and shipped to me from Connecticut.

Christian went to therapy and had an MRI for his knee & hip while I worked. Afterward, we took Grizzy to an empty dog park. Bummer. Grizzy was hankering for some play time. We were finally joined by a guy with a rambunctious puppy named Fliffy. Making small talk about our dogs, we asked Fliffy’s dad what breed Fliffy was (poodle, Wheaton terrier mix). He asked what Grizzy was. I said we didn’t know but that I got the doggy DNA kit for Christian’s birthday.

“Today’s your birthday?” the guy asked as he walked toward Christian with his hand extended to give a shake. “It’s mine, too.”

Weird! “Happy birthday, Fliffy’s dad!”

“What year? I’m 1973.”

WOW! WHOA! WEIRD! What are the odds?

Hungry, Christian, Grizzy & I left the park for LIC Bar. We ate Vietnamese food and drank beer in the rapidly diminishing afternoon sun followed by dessert at Monika’s Cafe Bar. We came home to swab Grizzy’s cheeks for DNA, watch TV and not much else.

Turning 41 on a Tuesday can be pretty blah. If you looked at our day on paper, it probably was.

Christian & Griswold

Yappy Hour Script

(Wo)Man’s Best Friend


Christian Finnegan & Kambri Crews

Originally performed by Christian, Kambri and Paquita in front of a live audience on “Yappy Hour” at UCB Theater on 11/1/10. And, yes, Paquita performed this exactly as scripted. Remarkable little girl.


SFX: Sexy music

Kambri is laying on a bearskin rug, wearing a nightgown,
pouring herself a glass of wine. She spritzes perfume on
herself.Paquita Yappy Hour
There is a knock at the door.

Come in!
I’ve been waiting for you.
Come to me, Paquita. Come to me now!

Paquita comes running in and leaps into Kambri’s arms.

Oh, I’ve waited so long. Kiss me,
you fool!

Kambri and Paquita kiss passionately.

No no stop! No need to rush. I want
to savor every moment of this. Have
some wine.

Paquita drinks from Kambri’s wine glass.

And can I offer you some…cheese?

Paquita perks up.

I knew you’d like that. But I’m
going to make you earn it, baby.
Let me take a look at you!

Kambri gets Paquita to “go around” and “roll over” a few
times, periodically feeding her cheese.

The way you move, it’s so sexy.
It’s like your some kind
of…animal! Not like my husband,
that pathetic little worm!
But he’s out of town on business,
which means we have the whole night
to ourselves. Isn’t that wonderful,
darling? High five!

Kambri and Paquita high five.

Enough with all these games. I want
you. But I need to know you want me
too! I need you to speak! Speak!
Paquita barks.

Oh, I can’t take all of this sexual
tension. Take me! Ravage me! Let’s
make our own gravy!!

Paquita starts humping Kambri’s arm. Kambri begins writhing
in sexual extasy.

Yes! Yes! Give it to me, my little

Honey, I’m home!

Christian enters, wearing his jacket and carrying a

Great news! I was able to close the
Mortensen deal, so I took an
earlier flight…

Christian stops, in shock. Paquita and Kambri continue their revelry, unaware.

Paquita Yappy Hour 3


Kambri snaps out of it and clutches Paquita to her chest.

Christian? What are you doing home?
What is the meaning of this? My wife?

Nothing! I mean, Paquita just came
by to…I mean…

I knew something was going on!
After all I’ve done for you, this
is how you thank me? By two-timing
me with this little bitch?

She’s twice the man you’ll ever be!
Yeah, that’s right–Paquita is my
lover. And she does things to me
you could never dream of? Don’t
you, Paquita honey?

Kambri and Paquita kiss.

Stop it! Stop it! I can’t take this

Yeah, well what are you gonna do
about it? Ha ha ha! What a loser!
Right, Paquita?

Kambri cackles while she and Paquita high five and kiss.

I can’t take it…can’t take it…

Christian slowly pulls out a gun (his hand). Kambri notices
and is mortified.

KAMBRIPaquita Yappy Hour 2
Christian…? Where did you get
that? What are you doing?

I’m a loser, huh?

Christian, don’t! DON’T!

If I can’t have you, no one will!
Die, you canine-loving whore!!!

Christian points his finger at Kambri and “shoots” her



Kambri writhes as if being shot.

(With her dying breath,)
Unh…unh…Good dog, Paquita.
Kambri dies.


And you. You happy now, Paquita?
Was it worth it? Ruining my life,
just for a little bit of cheese?

Christian dangles a baggy of cheese. Paquita runs over.

Look at you! Even now, it’s all you
can think about! You were supposed
to be my best friend! Well fine,
eat up.

Christian tosses her a morsel of cheese.

Consider it your last meal…bitch.
Christian pulls out his “gun”, stoops down and…


Paquita plays dead. Christian keeps his gun on her for a few seconds, then looks away. Paquita gets up.

Oh, still alive, are you? BANG!

Paquita again plays dead. Again, she eventually gets up.


Paquita dies in Kambri’s arms.


Rest in Peace, My Sweet Paquita

Twelve years ago on July 3rd, I met my best friend. Today, I buried her.

Over the last few weeks her health declined rapidly. By Sunday, I knew she was living out her last full day with me, so we spent the night on my fire escape watching the sun set over Manhattan. Nothing makes her happier than the blazing sun shining on her.

Thankfully she survived the night so that Christian could see her before she passed. He flew home Monday morning after a weekend at the Tampa Improv and we drove her to the vet. The doctor brought her fever down and gave her pain medication, so when it was time to say goodbye she was excited to see us and performed a few tricks, gave us kisses and high fives. She even did her pièce de résistance and played dead unaware of the bittersweet irony.

After her heart stopped, Christian and I gave her more kisses and let Griswold smell her. Then I wrapped her in my favorite black wrap that went with me everywhere I went, just like Paquita. I arranged her in the box with her cradling her favorite blue fuzzy toy and gave her one last kiss on her button nose.

We drove her to the cabin this morning and buried her under a tree. The Rock House was the place that made her excited the moment we turned into the driveway and smile wide for hours after she hopped out of the car. It was almost too much, like letting a kid run loose at an amusement park. She had all the woods and sunshine a girl could want; a place where she was free and happy. I had always promised her I would give her a better place to live out her retirement years than our Queens apartment. I’m so glad I made good on that. These last two and a half years were her happiest.

Over the years she gave people so much joy and laughter with her crazy smart tricks and ability to perform no matter what the setting including live comedy shows and a TV taping in front of a studio audience of 400 people screaming and clapping for her. Cheering because, damn, that bitch deserved it.

Back on July 13, 2003, I wrote this:

The best thing about Paquita is that I always have a friend willing to join me . . .

for however far . . .

for however long.

Well, it seems we’ve gone the distance and our time is up. Goodbye to my smart, funny, adventurous little Paquita. Thank you for being my friend.

Sign from Above

Before I went to bed last night, I considered what I might do today. I thought of starting yoga or meditation, saying to Christian, “I need to clear my mind. I need an open heart and eyes to feel and see.”

I privately, sheepishly declared to myself, “What is right for me? What should I be doing? I need a sign from above!”

I woke to a peaceful, breezy cool day at the Rock House. I spent much of the day researching a new hobby and helping Christian chainsaw some trees. My only “chores” were to drop Christian off at the bus station and pick up a few things at the market. After I returned home, I was on the patio putting my seedlings to bed for the night. That’s when I heard a commotion in the woods behind the outbuilding. I quickly made sure the dogs were secure then wandered to where the sound was. It had been a heavy thump with some thrashing about of leaves followed by silence. If it were deer, I would have seen and/or heard them run away. That’s when I noticed five very large birds circling very low by our outbuilding.

Bird of Prey Quill One or more must’ve attacked something. I was so glad I had made Paquita take cover. I’d read just yesterday about how Bald Eagles, which can be spotted all over these parts, can carry about 4 pounds. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t try to lift her up and drop her from a height that could kill her. As I marveled at their cunning hunting skills and how low they were flying, this feather floated down to earth.

As I picked it up, I laughed. “A quill?! So I should write?!”

I did ask for a sign from above. Ask and you shall receive, regardless if you like the answer.

The calamus, the hollow shaft of the feather that attaches it to the bird’s skin*, was still wet with a little bit of flesh around it as though it had been ripped out from the bird’s body. Creepy! Weird! COOL!

It measures at 18 inches long (!!!) and is almost perfect except for a teensy, weensy missing nick at the top. As much as I love my little parakeet Dinah, her feathers aren’t nearly this fascinating. The dogs sniffed at it for a full five minutes, but if it moved, they jumped back as if they’d touched an electric wire.

I never did meditate today. As for tomorrow? Tomorrow I’ll wash the dishes and craft a quill pen out of my feather.

And write.

*Yes, I did look that up and will quiz you on it later.

Christmas on the Rocks

We usually head out of the country for Christmas (check out last year’s epic trip to Peru), but 2011 is a different sort of year for us.

Almost one year ago we bought our first home (the “Rock House”) and just weeks after that we welcomed into our lives a rescued mutt (the “Griswold”).

Since it’s our first Christmas at the Rock House and Griswold’s first Christmas EVER we are doing it up right. Christmas tree erecting, wood fire burning, vinyl records spinning, meals crock-potting, fresh orange juicing, cookie baking, movie watching, Scrabble and Monopoly playing…it doesn’t get much better than this.

Day two had my boys cuddled up doing crosswords and staring out of the Rock House window at anything that moved. Guess who was doing what.

Our tree has no decorations and we aren’t exchanging gifts, unless you count the rolling pin Christian bought me yesterday.*

But really who cares?

We’re together and warm and happy and this year has been one rife with gifts that can’t be bought. I hope this season is equally blessed for you and yours and that 2012 brings good tidings to us all!

*Oh, I’m totally counting that and will use it in an argument years from now when he has forgotten that I asked for him to buy a rolling pin while running errands so I could make him sugar cookies.

Wiping Up

Ah! The halcyon days of autumn at the Rock House! I want to scoop them up and smother them in a jar filled with nail polish remover to preserve them until they’re dust-covered, crumbly exoskeletons.

I spent a lovely week in October partaking in the three Rs: Running, Reading and Relaxing. One evening, while watching La Vie en Rose, Griswold came cowering into the living room and hid behind the recliner. His tucked-under tail, panicked pace and look of mortification on his face could only mean one thing:

There was poop stuck in his butt.

I know I’m projecting human emotion on an animal, but he looked downright humiliated as I came to his rescue. Picture the saddest doe eyes, tiny whimpers, and a tail thumping quickly while still carefully covering the crime scene.

Watching a French film –subtitles and all– while sipping a rich Malbec made me feel oh so chic. Needing to pause said movie to wipe and cut away feces from my dog’s rear end reminded me that I am not. None of us are. As they say, everybody poops.

Another thing this experience taught me: My scissors are painfully dull.