Thursday, January 20, 2011

That's MY Butter!

My mother is from a family of 10 children. She was 7th from the end of the line. Peach's mother, Marge, was two years older than she was and Kathy's mother, Barb, was four years younger. (In between my mother and Barb was our uncle Paul, who died a few years ago.)

The family was a Depression era family and my mother says she doesn't know how her mother managed to keep food on the table. They never went hungry, though there were times when the local grocer would have to sadly say that he couldn't extend any more credit until something had been paid on the bill.

My grandfather was a handyman and often had to accept goods instead of money, and sometimes never got paid at all. When the family moved to San Francisco from their country home, he had $2,000 owing from his customers,which was a chunk of change in those days.

My mother is fond of telling a story about herself and Marge. They had cleaned up the kitchen after dinner this one night and had gone to bed (they shared a bed). During the clean-up my mother noted that there was just a little bit of butter left, enough for one piece of toast. She never said anything about it, but decided she would get dressed quickly so she could have the butter for herself in the morning.

When they woke up, neither spoke to the other, but they were both rushing to get dressed and finally they ended up shouting at each other, "that's MY butter!" Both had been racing to be the first one into the kitchen so she could have the leftover butter.

She laughs about that story a lot.

I think of the story whenever I sit down at the table and look at the three faces at my knees begging.

Yeah, yeah, I know you shouldn't feed dogs from the table, but I don't give them a lot. Either they get one small bite each or I let them lick my plate. They know there is a pecking order. Sheila gets the first bite, Lizzie the second and Polly the last one. It's amazing how patient they are when they know there are three pieces to be doled out.

Lizzie and Polly are VERY food oriented, Sheila less so. She trusts that I won't let her be cheated so she doesn't leap on food (unless we're having lamb for dinner, which turns everybody crazy).

It used to be that only Lizzie and Polly would sit at my feet when I ate and when I finished, I would give them my plate to lick, which they would share. Then Sheila figured out what was going on. She'd come into the room as if she'd just discovered I was having an affair with another dog. She would have the silliest shocked look on her face. "You're feeding them and not ME?" So I started leaving the two dogs with the plate and sneaking into the kitchen to give Sheila her own dog treat. Everybody was happy.

Then the other two, first Polly, then Lizzie, figured out what was going on, so I could no longer sneak into the kitchen to give Sheila her treat. I'd have to give all 3 a treat.

The worst is when I have no "pieces" of anything to give them and let them lick the bowl. All three faces looking at me. Sheila giving me the eye, Lizzie and Polly ready to leap on the plate as soon as it gets put down. Sheila could easily bully her way to the plate and scare the others away, but she doesn't usually.

But tonight for some reason, I had two plates and put both down, figuring that it would solve problems because there would be twice the area of licking to go around, but instead it started a fight. Lizzie and Sheila growling at each other, each insisting 'that's my butter!"

Eventually, I didn't let either of them have anything and just put all the plates in the dishwasher, to the shock of all three dogs. "What? WHAT??? NOTHING for me???"

Too bad my grandmother didn't have that option available to her back in the 1920s!


Indigo said...

That's too funny Bev! Just this morning I was eating toast and I always give the last two bites to the dogs. This morning Josie grabbed her's first and while I was handing Maisy her bite Josie snatched it. It was a lot like Jaws, one big chomp and it was gone. I don't even thing that dogs chews her food.

jon said...

It looks like the dogs are having an intervention. What's up with that?

kathi said...

Too funny! If my husband and I each have a plate to give to one of the two dogs, they still look suspiciously over at the other plate because they think the other one is getting something they are not. The last pair of dogs would "share" and lick the same plate. This pair does not share well, so I taught them "take turns" and much to my shock, it worked.

Bev Sykes said...

I'm curious as to what "take turns" involves.