Look Up, Will You!

This is the time of year for majestic sunrises and sunsets.

I see them because I’m on the subway at those hours.  IMG_5728

While I’m busy clicking away, my traveling companions have their earbuds and electronic devises on.

They’re watching their shows, but missing a better one outside.

This phenomena even happens on a walk in the country. FullSizeRender

The trees are in full blossom, the creek is gurgling, the ravens are cawing in the trees, the squirrels are zooming across meadows full of wildflowers, and the hikers? They’re plugged into their music with heads down watching their feet.

Thank you technology.

You’ve made us blind.  We now prefer our inner landscape where there’s nothing to see because it’s dark in there.

If we can’t enjoy nature anymore, what makes us believe we can enjoy each other?

Calvin says, “That’s why you need a dog to watch so he doesn’t roll in that wonderful, foul smelling cow manure.” beagle

 

 

 

Not Here

While I love Christmas trees, and the more ornate the better, I won’t put one up at home. I used to when my children were young. Our cat perched herself in place of the angel, and the dog peed a few times until he was banned from the festivities, and left to howl in the backyard.

Today our children are grown and out of the house and Alf and I don’t really care to get involved with the untangling of lights, dusting off of ornaments and hunting for the perfect tree that doesn’t cost a paycheck.

Instead we put a wreath on the front door, full of color and flair of the season. This suggests there are Christmas decorations inside the house.  IMG_4714

You’d be wrong.

You wouldn’t see a jingle bell, or a poinsettia, or even hear Christmas music.

I do showcase the few Christmas cards we receive on a living room table. People don’t send them anymore. We get more of the email version with a series of pictures. It’s hard to put those out.

My neighbors next door shun the Christmas hoopla like a disease, too. Both our houses are shrouded in darkness. Meanwhile the rest of the neighborhood is ablaze with icicles dripping from eaves, twinkling reindeer on front lawns, and blinking trees in windows.

These are our Indian neighbors.

Calvin says, “I remember those episodes of howling in the back. They crushed the fun right out of my puppy heart.” beagle

 

 

 

 

 

Whatever It Takes

cropped-photo143.jpgA colleague at work decided to host an English tea party for all the women in the office. She draped the common room with streamers in pinks, yellows, soft greens, and lavender. The tablecloths were pink with white polka dots. Her finger foods included an English trifle, thumbprint cookies with a cherry jam center, cucumber and butter sandwiches without the crust, caramel pecan brownies, and lemon bars. Toward the end of the party, one woman disappeared and returned with a strawberry shortcake and candle in it. It turned out it was the organizer’s birthday.

“Oh, we had no idea,” said one co-worker with a furrowed brow.

“That’s okay. This way I got you all to come,” said the organizer.

Calvin says, “Clever. For my next birthday, I’ll invite all the neighborhood dogs for a bone barbecue. Tell me if they wouldn’t all come, well maybe not that boor Nigel, with a stomach that drags on the ground, who stays up barking all night believing he’s the neighborhood ninja defender.” beagle

Bringing Up Pup

I run into some of the same people every morning on my walk from the Civic Center subway station to the office. I walk on the same side of the street because it’s cleaner than the other side. I’m also a creature of habit. And so are a lot of people I’ve discovered.

For the past two months I’ve encountered a man walking his Welsh Corgi pup. The dog is so beautiful he looks fresh out of a dog fancy magazine. Just looking at him makes me smile. I can’t help it. Like the Queen, I’m a sucker for a Corgi. I love the breed.

At first the six-week old pup didn’t have a clue how to behave on a leash and dashed in all directions all over the street with part of the leash in his mouth. I stopped and told the owner what a gorgeous pup he had. He grunted.  Welsh pup

Every week in the mornings I’d see them together and every time the pup wriggled and mouthed his leash. Mastering a straight line wasn’t in his arsenal of behaviors. And why should it? He’s a herding dog, and if you must put him on the street, he’s going to herd people.

On my way home one afternoon I saw them. I stopped and petted the beast.

“You’ve made my day,” I said.

“I’m glad we could do that for you,” the man said with  zero expression.

This has continued for two months. Each week  the dog gets bigger and more confident on the leash. Gone are the zigzag walks, sort of, and the munching on the leash, but now he strains and pulls out in front of his owner. What can you expect in only eight weeks?

This morning on my way in, I saw them coming at me as I crossed the street. I smiled. But this time the man smiled back.

Now that made my day.

Calvin says, “I’m hurt. How could you? That mutt has no nose like mine, doesn’t bay, and lacks the character that I have. What are you saying by this?” beagle

 

 

Doctora Doolittle

Yesterday was my day for lost animals.

It’s funny how things like this happen in bunches.

I came into the office to discover a yellow cockatiel in the kitchen peering out of its cage. As the story goes, he flew onto the front steps over the weekend and one of our co-workers, who lives up the street, discovered him, rushed to the store for a cage and food, and is now caring for it until she can find its owner. He’s well socialized and beautiful. Somebody loved him. Did he fly in from the surrounding neighborhood or from Mexico? He’s not talking and so we’ll never know.

When I got home that evening Alf announced he’d found a lost kitten. He was sitting on top of our backyard fence making loud cries for its mother. If you want to see me spring into action this is it. We scooped him up and walked over to our neighbors who have several cats. The kitten was not theirs, and no, they didn’t want it. We brought it home, fed it some tuna, and tried to calm the little thing down. He was shaking from fright from nose to tail. The rest of the evening I was on the phone talking with friends and marketing the heck out of the little thing. Nothing worked. Every one stood their ground while I tugged at their heart strings. IMG_3147

We kept him overnight and this morning Alf returned him to the fence. We’re hoping the mamma cat will come around looking for him and they’ll be reunited and I can go back to a good night’s sleep again.

That’s in a perfect world.

Calvin says, “Hey, you didn’t consult me about this. It stinks. He’ll consume your attention and affections. And don’t count on me to cat-sit. I’ll be sulking.”  beagle

All About Dogs

Today is National Dog Day.

It made me remember the dogs in my life.

I was raised with my grandmother’s four Pekineses, and that made me one of the pack.

When we moved away, my mother bought a French poodle we named Jolie, whom we adored. He was a mass of brown curls with brown eyes and a pink tongue.

As I got older and we had grass we had a Collie and then a Doberman.

When I got married we had a succession of cats. Pretzels, the stray. Eternity, the Siamese mix, and Zoe, the Russian Blue. Pretzels died of cancer. Zoe walked out one day and moved into another couple’s home. Eternity stuck with us through a cross-country move, the birth of two children, and neighborhood feline bullies. calvin3

When our son was twelve, he wanted a dog. We told him he’d have to research the breed and give a report describing why he had chosen that particular one. To help him we took him to a dog show. He fell in love with the beagles. We chatted with the breeders and decided the handsomest dogs came from a breeder in Napa. Who wouldn’t want a beagle from wine country? And so Calvin came into our lives and changed us forever.

He flunked training school. We attempted off-leash episodes only to regret it when he caught the whiff of a scent. He loved to eat. He’d bay at police sirens. He’d get fox tails up his nose, which meant visits to the vet’s for surgery. When he developed a chronic neck problem we took him to the chiropractor for treatments.

Everybody in the neighborhood loved Calvin. He was our goodwill, fun loving, expensive ambassador.

Calvin says, “But aren’t you glad for the adventure?” beagle

A Walk on the Wildside

I’m allergic to exercise.

If I can use an excuse, I will.

But this week Alf talked me into a hike.

He promised there would be lots of trees, a gurgling creek and I’d be kept busy with the camera.

You have to know, I don’t do hikes. The best I can do is a walk around my neighborhood.

I reluctantly agreed.

The minute I stepped out of the car I knew it would be okay.

The weather was cool – that’s a big plus – it wasn’t crowded – another plus – and it wasn’t uphill – that was huge. I don’t do hills either.

So off we went through an iron gate and into magnificent scenery. The blue of the sky hurt your eyes it was so vibrant. The trees showed off tender green leaves and white blossoms. The creek ran the entire trail singing it’s song by the side of the path.

IMG_0427An added bonus was the parade of dogs enjoying the walk alongside their owners. We saw French Bulldogs, Labs, Border Collies, Boston Terriers, German Shepherds, and an assortment of well-loved and well-worn mutts.

We found out you can’t let a French Bulldog off-leash because he won’t obey.

We noticed the Boston Terriers were on leash, too.

The other breeds were well behaved and would come when called.

That’s what you need on a hike, otherwise the area would be populated with dogs along with the cows and horses and in no time you’d have a howling wilderness.

IMG_0341We almost crushed a baby rattle snake wiggling it’s way across the path to the other side. Alf found a stick and picked it up, but quickly he jumped back. Small didn’t matter. That thing was coming after him. He dropped it to the ground, took a deep breath, and tried again. This time he was able to dump it into the tall grass and saved its life.

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All in all, I enjoyed myself.

Alf was relieved.

It made him hope I’d be willing to try another hike.

Maybe in another 10 years.

Calvin says, “Those French Bulldogs have character, like Beagles. Obeying is boring.” beagle