in my humble opinion

The dog ate my homework

By JONATHAN CHARLES FOX
Posted 12/2/20

That age-old excuse has existed since the first one-room schoolhouse was attended by the first student who had a mongrel at home to blame for not handing in his (or her) assignment on time. Of …

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in my humble opinion

The dog ate my homework

Posted

That age-old excuse has existed since the first one-room schoolhouse was attended by the first student who had a mongrel at home to blame for not handing in his (or her) assignment on time. Of course, Dharma the Wonder Dog (like her on Facebook!) is far from a mongrel—she’s a purebred Havanese, descended from a long line of incredible canines who originated in Cuba and are currently taking the world by storm. I’ve had dogs my entire life, but all were mixed breeds. As such, it was impossible to read up on what traits those pups might have, but there’s a wealth of information to be studied about Dharma and her kinfolk and their affinity for shredding paper.

In fact, the website www.havaneseworld.org has this to say about that: “Paper is a favorite toy for the Havanese, and this clever little breed will go out of their way to find it, even sniffing through the jackets of your guests. Toilet paper, which can give them hours of shredding pleasure, is a special treat. Toss her a roll, and your house will soon look like it’s been hit by Halloween pranksters.”

Dharma hasn’t outgrown this not-so-adorable habit and, even though she’s 11 years old (last Wednesday), I still have to be careful to not leave any kind of paper product within her reach. As a special treat, she is allowed access to “unwrap” birthday and Hanukkah gifts (don’t judge!). However, in the process, she shredded my invitation for the “Plugging-in Ceremony” at Bethel Woods for its “Peace, Love & Lights” display. In a scrap I rescued from her jaws, it was described as “this season’s best and brightest socially distant [drive-through] activity to enjoy with family and friends.”

After taking another look online, I gleaned a little bit more. “From the week of Thanksgiving until just after New Year’s Day,” the website informed me, “experience the Bethel Woods grounds from the comfort of your car: Just turn off your headlights and follow the magical glow. There is nothing else quite like this holiday light event in the area.”

As a special birthday present, I promised Dharma that she could drive while I stuck my head out the moon-roof to take photos, and off we went. When we arrived, I turned off the lights and scooted over to the passenger side after turning off the lights. Making sure that the dog would keep her paws at the “10-and-1” position, I cautioned her to “steer carefully” and not drive over the five mile-per-hour suggested speed limit. Would I recommend “Peace, Love & Lights” for your family and friends? Absolutely!

The route is over a mile in length and—as promised in the (now-shredded) info—highlights include “a spectacular 120-foot Twinkle Tunnel and themed areas, including Groovy Way (taking you on a trip back to ‘69 with custom displays), an Enchanted Forest highlighting our beautiful Sullivan Catskills, Snowflake Alley, Santa’s Workshop and so much more!” We had a blast, and Dharma felt special since her driving attracted quite a bit of attention, as well. Folks took pics of her as they admired the display and her driving prowess.

Complaining that the roads are “too twisty” (her words, not mine), I promised the dog that I would drive to Narrowsburg, NY the next day to check out Brandi Merolla’s Vintage Ornament Wreath Show, which debuted last weekend and is on display through January 4 at the Narrowsburg Union.

The paperwork (which my dog was not allowed to touch) stated, “Thirty years ago, Brandi began buying vintage Christmas ornaments at yard sales here in the region. Twenty years later, after amassing a huge collection of Shiny-Brite balls, old fashioned Santas, reindeer, knee-huggers and snowman ornaments, Merolla began assembling vintage elements in her wreaths, hearkening the nostalgia of holidays gone by [and]recycling all the while.”

“My show promises to take viewers of all ages away to happier times,” Merolla said. 

With titles like “Snowman Love,” “Deer fun with Pinks” and “Lamppost Friends,” the wreaths are very cool (IMHO), insanely colorful and whimsical, evoking nostalgic charm. Dharma wanted to reach out and play with the brightly colored balls lining the halls of the galleries at the Narrowsburg Union, but she was kept at arm’s length and leashed during our socially distanced visit.

In addition to Brandi’s amazing wreaths, the Narrowsburg Union offers a wide variety of services. It is currently a drop-off location for the Sullivan West Holiday Toy Drive, and it is hosting the Catskills Curated Holiday Market. More permanently, it is now home to newcomers Botanist Vegan Street Food. I might allow the dog to sample that, but she can’t have the paper cup!

For more information on the holiday events at both venues, visit www.bethelwoodscenter.org and www.narrowsburgunion.com.

Fun Fact: In 1937, Max Eckardt established Shiny Brite ornaments, working with the Corning Glass Company to mass-produce glass Christmas ornaments. The first Shiny Brite ornaments had the traditional metal cap and loop, with the hook attached to the loop, from which the ornament was hung from the tree.

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