Monday, December 20, 2010


We have no snow in Texas.  Well, at least in the Dallas area, there isn't.  In fact, I walked the dogs in a tank top today.  Now some of you might be thinking "How grand!".  No.  No, it isn't.  It's just wrong for December.

I remember dustings of snow, snow showers, snow flurries and all out nor'easters in Portland, ME.  Downtown, they'd issue a parking ban and everyone would have to rush and get their cars off the streets before the plows started their overnight work.  On those mornings, Matt would haul himself out of bed to recover the car parked blocks away near the waterfront.  Somehow, I was saved from this trek - he's a better snow driver than I am anyhow.  At least, that's how I justified it in my mind.

The snow and the cold weather was a part of each day.  You'd plan for it and get excited about discussing what storm might be blowing in with your friends and coworkers.  There would be plans made around the weather and the gear required for each day's events.  I had these special rubber attachments to the soles of my boots that had metal spirals and spikes.  These gave extra traction on the icy sidewalks and streets.  Snow chains for my feet!

There were days so cold that even Mainers stayed indoors.  The wind chill was far below zero and gusts would blow ice crystals into your face.  For these mornings I would wear sunglasses, (very important to keep eyes moist in the face of wind, and snowglare at a minimum), gloves, scarf, hat, long underwear, fleece, pants over long underwear, wool socks, boots, ski jacket.  And cell phone.  Always a cell phone.  You never know what can happen even in town in weather like that.

We lived near the water, a stone's throw from Casco Bay.  With the windows open, the foghorns from the closest lighthouse could be heard, guiding ships in through the fog.  We could smell the sea air every day.  Our apartment was located at the highest point in Portland, just under the Portland Observatory, so walking to it or away from it meant a hill in some form or other.  On these especially cold days, I knew I could walk Nyxie  safely.  With two dogs wary of other dogs, and one wary of all strangers, this is akin to going to the dog park in the rain!  I had the run of icy, residential Portland.  Arwen stayed behind, content to rest on her dog bed and be thankful for not being born in Siberia.   (She's an odd Sibe, who's never shown any excitement about the cold).  So Nyxie and I would walk down the center of each street, headed towards the waterfront.  The ice particles would swirl all around us and Nyxie's ears would flick at each icy onslaught.  Aside from the wind, she never showed any cold weather reluctance.  She would dance and jump at the end of the leash, diving into snow drifts and inspecting each white-covered shape.

Eastern Promenade is the road that faces Casco Bay.  Lined with stately New England mansions and B&B's, the view of the water is glorious.  The Bay sits across a vast expanse of snowy hills that lead to the dog beach, a small marina and a city park.  We'd reach this area and Nyxie would bound into the snow, headlong,  tongue lolling.  I would throw snow balls for her and she's lose them with a snowy CLOMP of her jaws, then spend a great amount of energy trying to dig them back out of the snow.  Snow-digging was magical to her!  Meanwhile, I would start to lose the feelings in my legs, my hands and my cheeks just below my sunglasses.  My L.L Bean boots were made for snow, but even they were struggling when Nyxie would shower them with powder.  She discovered that digging for my feet in the snow was a new game, and no matter where I'd jump to, she'd be a step behind me tossing snow with her great big paws until she found my red snow boots.  The walks back and forth from the Bay were lessons in walking manners.  I had her sit and wait at each block's end before crossing the street.  "What do good dogs do?", I'd ask.  And she would sit in answer, looking to me, all the while with what must have been a frozen doggie bottom.  I often wondered about that, but she never seemed to mind!

How I miss Portland, the people, the snow, the weather, and the ocean.  There's a palpable ache in my heart if I allow myself to think too long about my life there.  So I try and remember that although I loved it there, I can love it here, too.  Or at least like it.  I walked my dogs in a tank top today.  I suppose that's pretty cool in its on way.  But most importantly, I walked my dogs.  And wherever I am with them will be just fine.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I have an odd 1/2 day from work today and have been fairly excited at the prospect of a morning to myself to do myself kind of things - blog, read, maybe sleep a bit more.  The universe had other plans for me.  I woke to the fragrant odors of poo and 2 angelically sleeping dogs.  Hm.  I suspected Arwen as she had some loose stool last night and she's not very good at letting me know that she needs to go out in the middle of the night.  As I waited the 6 minutes until my alarm was set to go off, I started my day off worrying about Arwen and trying to remember if I had enough paper towels on hand for my impending cleanup task.

No breakfast for them today - 24 hour fast.  This will not be a popular concept with the canine in this family.    I started the cleanup process, took Arwen out twice each time she pleaded to go out (both times were unfortunately quite goopily productive) and then dropped the kiddo off at school.  I drove straight home, forgetting to pick up more paper towels.  Frustration level rising.  More blotting, spraying, scrubbing.  Another foot away and I'd have been wiping the poo off the tile and not scrubbing carpet.  More frustration.  I heard the dogs romping in the other room until Nyxie came rushing in to me whining, as though she needed to go out urgently.

"Fine!  I'll just drop everything and take you out!", actually crossed my mind.  Now very frustrated.  Coat on, out we went, long wait to inspect the perimeter, sniff each blade of grass, and finally a little runny stool.  Hm.  Maybe they are both poorly of the tummy?  Frustration combined with worry now.  We went back inside and the girls started romping again.  But this time, just steps away from where I was cleaning.  I finally yelled, "ENOUGH!!" and they flattened as though I'd launched a grenade.  And to them, I suppose I had.
"I wonder what we did?  Our tummies are feeling better!  Yeah!"
" I stewed some more, but this time, my thoughts were drenched in guilt.

Instead of being joyful that my girls were feeling well enough to play, I was concentrating only on the fact that I was inconvenienced. They have hurt tummies and I am yelling at them for making my morning less than what I was hoping it would be.  I should have been rejoicing in the fact that I could take them out this am and give them the opportunity to get the ickiness out, rather than cleaning it up at the end of a long day.  They would have had to endure their own diarrhea in their crates for the hours we were away.

So now with the mess cleaned up and the poo wave seeming to have subsided, I will have to snuggle in with my girls and make up for my yelling outburst.  I know I am already forgiven, being that they are dogs and I am human.  They will snuggle in beside me and just enjoy our time together, not concerned about my morning's negative perspective, the need for forgiveness, or the paper towel shortage.  They are simply, and gracefully, dogs.  

Monday, December 6, 2010

Objects of Affection

My friend Robert sent me a text picture of his beautiful German Shorthair Pointer, Maggie, a few nights ago.  She is under a blankie with her paws wrapped around her Snoopy stuffed animal, one of Dad's favorites!  What a tender moment indeed.  This family is in need of peace this holiday season, with another of their canine pack ill.  The picture got me thinking about our own attachments, and what they signify in our lives.

When I was a young girl, I had many stuffed animals.  These were my toys of choice, valuing them above all others.  Some specific ones were even more valued, and I rarely parted ways with them if I could help it.  I assigned them feelings, clearly extensions of my own feelings.  I gave them "food" and "water" and lots of love.  Always treating them as though they were living, breathing beings needing care.  I had a great deal of empathy for them and was attached to them.  I remember my grandmother sewing me (by hand) a dress for my Monchichi doll (my absolute favorite) and then teaching me how to sew a second dress for her.  My father would tuck me into bed by "making them talk".  He would mimic their voices and they would show me the "Proper Way of Getting Into Bed".  Often I would foil his efforts and he would have to start over.  This was a fun game we played and I learned to look forward to bedtime.

As I grew, these stuffed animal attachments waned.  I brought home a hamster and then 2 cats of my very own that were far more interesting than any stuffed animal could ever be.  I was gentle and giving with these cats.  They could do no wrong in my eyes.  Were these the "stuffed animals" of my early childhood?  Was I already predisposed to loving animals from my earlier attachments?  Try not to laugh now - I still have 1 German Shepherd stuffie which I sleep with every night - "Puddles" as she remimds me of my 1st GSD, Tank,  that passed away years ago

The girls have favorite toys.  They will prance around with them and sometimes sleep with them, but mostly it's the waking hours that they'll seek them out.  Sometimes frozen in time, stuffed animal in her mouth, Nyxie will alert to some outside sound.  Her ears will cock and the fun of playtime is put on hold.  How heartwarming this is!  That split second between carefree fun and "PERIMETER ALERT!".

I'm glad that I haven't grown out of my attachments to animals.  It is part of my foundation, my fabric.  My Objects of Affection are very much real, and alive and I am thankful for them.

And after all this, I forgot to add the picture of Maggie with her Snoopy!!!  Here she is:

Editor's Apology

Breaking News:

I wanted to apologize to all my bloggie friends out there today.  Over the past day or so, I've come to realize that I wasn't "following" many of you properly through FriendConnect as I thought I was.  Somehow, anything technological seems to escape my keen eye for details, further reinforcing the fact that I will never be rich from a career in technology.  I love hearing from everyone in my daily FriendConnect feed and I read your blogs religiously.  I think I was somehow not signed in properly to my Google, FriendConnect, Yahoo, Blogger, Etsy, Facebook, etc accounts.  (Damn, I managed to confuse myself yet again.)  For those of you whose blogs I've not posted much on,  I'm very sorry.  I spend a great deal of my time and energy being technologically confounded, getting in my own way and trying to think of things that will make my life harder.

And now, back to our regular scheduled blog...  

Saturday, December 4, 2010


As a little reminder of how amazing our canine companions are, I'd like to share this video.  I found it on a website that's my guilty pleasure - Loldogs

It's a bit long, but worth a look.  I'm impressed that someone (WyUtahMed) took the time to create this tribute to pups that highlights some magnificent stunts!  At the end of it all, think about your own pup and all the little things about her that make her truly awesome.  Happy Weekend!

Friday, December 3, 2010


Hope is a forward-looking longing.  A moment to seek something beyond ourselves and to see it in a positive light.  I have the feeling that this coming year will bring change.  And I have hope that this change will be good, long-overdue change.  My blogs have been few and far between as of late, a symptom of my mood, I'm afraid.  Every time I've sat at this computer and decided to blog, I've had writer's block.  Not for a lack of trying, but nothing noteworthy has really happened.  Or so I've felt.  The routine has been monotonous and I've felt in a rut.  The girls have been doing fine, same routines as always, the kiddo's been mostly good and the job's the job.  So why discuss hope now?

I can't pinpoint exactly how things have already changed, although I know there's been a turning away from negativity.  There've been moments of despair and frustration, particularly involving Matty's work, T's behavior and the ever-heavy financial burdens that never seem to improve significantly.  All of these things, along with the negativity of several particular individuals has weighed heavily on me as of late.  What I've realized just recently is that it's not these influences that have become louder, but the amount of volume I've allowed them to have in my universe.

Each day, Arwen eats first.  A nod to her queen-bee status.  She is the Elder, the Deserving, the First.  Nyxie can't help but voice her displeasure.  She'll whine softly from the other room, impatiently awaiting her chance at yummies.  Arwen's focus is like an arrow knocked on me.  There exists nothing in her world save the singular (yet complicated) act of creating and serving her dinner.  Her blue eyes trained on me, watching my every move. There exists no whining, she is the only dog on the planet.  What I see in those ice blue eyes is hope and focus.  She has a goal and she will not stop until it's won.  Poor Nyxie in the other room, seemingly forgotten.  But she's far from forgotten.  Arwen is quite aware of her and if I were to bring Nyxie into the room, Arwen would shoulder her away and let her know in no uncertain terms that she is in the way!

There are goals that I've formed for the coming year.  Spiritual, professional and financial.  Like Arwen, I must have this singular focus.  There will be distractions, there might be negativity, but how much of this do I allow in?  Can I keep my eyes forward and shoulder away intrusions?  A born leader, Arwen's a great example.  Even the whining from the next room can be ignored.  I am looking forward, with the hope and focus of a Husky at dinnertime.