Another Year of Liam Conversations

Last year’s post was the most popular of all time, and some of you have already asked when this year’s conversations will be posted. I’m guessing this will be a tradition for years to come. So, here it is: another year of Liam conversations. Merry Christmas!

liam conversations


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How Hurley Got His Middle Name

hurley lucky barry

Liam didn’t want a dog. Any time “dog” was mentioned, he’d wax poetic about his childhood pup, Lucky, and say that no other dog could ever live up to his first. Lucky was a Jack Russell terrier, saved from the shelter in Cork by a seven-year-old Liam and his older sister. They didn’t get permission before bringing the lucky dog home and springing him on the family. As is often the case, the rest of the household fell madly in love.

Lucky lived a life more luxurious than any of the kids, according to Liam. While Liam had to eat gross things like porridge or vegetables (remember, this story came from Liam himself – always take with a grain of salt), Lucky got sausages. While Liam was required to stay home and out of his mother’s hair, Lucky got to go to the English market every day. It was from that very English market that Lucky was snatched one day, and a heartbroken Liam grew up determined never to fall in love with another dog.

Well, as we all know, marriage is about compromise. A neighbor let slip that one of his friends needed to rehome a Jack Russell puppy, so I told him to bring the dog by for us to meet him. I knew, knew, knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Liam wouldn’t be able to resist a wriggly, sweet little puppy. And I was right. The dog was given a 24-hour trial period, during which we would try to avoid naming him. I already had a name picked out, of course.

The first morning we woke with the puppy in the house, Liam went to take him straight outside. After taking him from the cage, however, he though the dog might want to see me first thing. Unfortunately, the pup lost his bladder right outside the bedroom door. That was about when I started to stir. Then, the house alarm blared. In his haste, Liam had forgotten to disable it. I jumped from the bed, wide awake by that point, and ran to turn off the awful noise. The moment my foot hit that puddle of pee, I went down into the splits, and there I stayed, laughing so hard that I couldn’t move. Liam had to help me up when he got back inside.

After that, there was no question: we were keeping that puppy. He just needed a name. Liam’s choice? Lucky. I said no way. We couldn’t expect this poor puppy who’d already peed in the house to live up to the rosy memories Liam had of his childhood dog. Besides that, the sister who’d gone with Liam as a kid to adopt the lucky Lucky had named two subsequent dogs Lucky. The name was no longer original.

Liam finally agreed that Hurley was a fitting name, and after a week or so, we realized no other name would have suited him as well. Liam took our new baby for his first checkup at the vet. The vet tech asked for the dog’s name, and Liam, still a little miffed that he hadn’t gotten his way, grudgingly replied, “Hurley.”

“And his middle name?”

Well, Liam didn’t even know dogs could have middle names. Without hesitation, he blurted the first name that came to mind.

How a Husband Handles Heartbreak

I spend a lot of time telling stories about my husband that make people laugh. Fortunately, he’s fine with it. In fact, he kind of loves being “internet famous.” But this man is so much more than a laugh factory.

When Hurley nabbed a baby bird in our back yard last month, I figured the poor thing was dead. I shooed the dog away and ran back inside for some shoes and my glasses. With the ability to see properly, I could tell the little guy was probably injured, but I didn’t know how much. He could still hop around the yard, but the tree branches were out of his reach. Still, he was safe enough without the dog menacing his every move, so I left him to his parents.

Later, I ran to the car to grab something and found the little guy just underneath the driver’s side door. He didn’t move a muscle while I was there, so I left him again. The next time I let the dog out, I’d nearly forgotten the tiny bird. Hurley had not. Within moments, he was chasing the poor thing around the yard.

Liam and I decided to act. We snatched the dog back and put him inside the house. Then we set up a makeshift nest in the bottom of a cooler. The walls were too high for the bird to get out, which was reassurance for us that he wouldn’t inadvertently jump to his death on the hard ground or inside my dog’s mouth.

I visited the Walden’s Puddle website (a wildlife rescue near Nashville) and learned how to care for the injured bird until we could get an appointment to turn him over to smarter and more experienced people. Every hour, for twelve hours, I hand-fed the bird mushy cat food by tweezers.

When I woke the next morning, I ran out to check on the bird first thing. Liam wasn’t far behind. My heart skipped a beat when the bird jumped up to greet us—or probably to escape, but I’m sentimental. Liam brought out the cat food mush and herded Hurley into the yard so I could get the bird fed. I couldn’t believe he’d made it through the night! We just had to keep him alive until 4:30 for our appointment with Walden’s Puddle.

Every hour, I fed the bird, but then we had to leave him alone for a bit. We timed our trip to the wildlife sanctuary perfectly. When I rushed through the house to grab the cooler for our trip, I was so excited that we’d saved this bird. Until I reached the cooler and found that our tiny new friend had slipped away while we weren’t looking.

His little body lay limp on the nest we’d made, his bright eyes once filled with trust now glazed. Just thirty minutes away from salvation, he’d given up. He didn’t know, of course, that we were working hard to keep him alive so that he could be healed at the hands of wildlife experts.

The first tears slipped out as I ran back to tell Liam we’d lost the bird. I expected him to think I was silly for crying. It was just a bird, right? Instead, that funny man of mine took my hand and led me back to the cooler where we stood in silence for just a few moments.

Then he grabbed a shovel and dug a small grave next to Rosie, and we laid the little guy to rest. As I cried, Liam just held me. Before we walked away, he said a short prayer. That bird wasn’t our pet and never could have been, but Liam gave him a final resting place of honor. And he’d never admit it, but I saw him shed a tear or two, as well.

And that’s how a good, loving, respectful husband handles heartbreak.

I wrote this just after we lost our little friend but waited until now to post for reasons I can’t really explain. Mostly, I couldn’t proofread without crying. :-\

Plaid Pajama Pants and Black Forest Gateau: A Wedding Story

There is no end to the stories I could tell about our wedding day. The “proposal,” the snow, the plaid pajama pants in our photos… Really, the day was magical in that Liam-magic sort of way. Today, for our 9th anniversary, I’ll share another.

For this story, I have to tell the punch line first. Then I’ll explain. Because every joke is better when you have to explain it, right?

Last night, before drifting off to sleep, Liam asked me, “Do you know what should have been happening at this time nine years ago?”

I thought long and hard, coming up with stuff like, “We should have been going to different houses to sleep,” or, “We should have thrown those plaid pajama pants away.”

Over and over, he shook his head. Finally, he took pity and said, “My groom’s cake should have been in the oven.”

See, we had a small, quick wedding. The cakes were a bit of an afterthought, one supplied by my parents just so we’d have at least a few traditional things here and there. There was a small bride’s cake with two layers, and then there was Liam’s requested Black Forest Gateau. Yes, he always calls it gateau.

After the short wedding and the drive through the snow to the mountains for our tiny, tiny, tiny reception, we dug into the champagne (in dollar-store flutes) and cake. Liam totally bypassed the bride’s cake and attacked the chocolate and cherries.

And then he made this face. Not the face that says, “Ewwwwwww.” Rather, I think, the face that says, “I don’t know exactly how to make Black Forest Gateau, but I don’t think this is it.”

He struggled through a few more bites and then switched to the other cake. Later, he said the gateau was way too moist for his liking. I tried a bit and agreed. It was kind of…gummy. But we took it home with us anyway and put in the fridge like we might consider eating another piece.

Then I got the great idea that I might heat it up and eat it like a cherry-chocolate cobbler with some ice cream. I stuck the bowl of “cobbler” in the microwave and two minutes later pulled out a big, fluffy piece of Black Forest Gateau.

The baker had seriously forgotten to bake our cake. And Liam has never, ever let me forget it.

Bibliocast: Favorite Reads of 2014 and What I’m Excited About for 2015

Don Theo invited me back to the Biblio Circus Bibliocast yesterday, where I talked about my favorite reads of 2014 and the books I’m looking forward to in 2015. I’m a big fan of indie and small press authors, so we explored Brigid Kemmerer’s Elemental Series, Elizabeth Hunter’s Irin Chronicles, Kate SeRine’s Transplanted Tales, Emma Trevayne’s Coda Series, and Carol Oates’s Shades Series.

Check Out Books Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Biblio Circus Show on BlogTalkRadio