Almost five weeks old, the puppies are cavorting, snarfing up well soaked puppy food, and pooping more every day. They are smart little critters and they know what newspapers are for. When I step into the pen, they come over to chew my shoelaces and try to climb my legs. I try to pick up each one every day, and truly I don’t know who is the cutest puppy.
Is it Snowflake, until recently the chunkiest puppy, now growing a respectable fur ruff? Or Pig, named for the white shawl on his back, but now looking as if he has lived up to his name and become really piggy? How about Daisy, the little girl who squeals every time she is picked up, but was one of the first with a fierce little “woof!”
Violet, who is smaller but otherwise looks just like Snowflake and Daisy, has a winning personality and a soft, quizzical face—some days Violet is my favorite. Many days, the favorite is Cherry, a reddish brown plush honey with dark ears and enviable poise. Don’t forget Baby Blue, a smallish, quiet young dog dressed in stylish taupe shading to dark chocolate brown.
The black ones are beginning to look like their pretty mom, especially Curly Jack who always has an enthusiastic greeting. Mr. Greenjeans inherited a little of Nell’s curly coat and much of her nose, but in GJ’s case a white splash down the long nose emphasizes its prominence. His long front stockings complete his ensemble. Last born, always sweet tempered, little black Sweet Pea looks like a plush stuffed animal. When she and Curly Jack were sick last weekend, their very limpness got them favorite puppy status.
Now all are fit and sassy again. I bought them a package of wiffle golf balls at the Dollar Store. It took a only a few minutes for them to learn how to jump on them so they shoot across the room and how to gnaw them. Entertaining, these wiffle balls, even if a brother’s ear is more interesting to chew.
Next week the photographers are coming to capture puppy fun for the next North Country Animal League newsletter. The shelter director asked if I thought they would be able to get a photo of Nell and all nine babies posed, all looking appealing for potential adoptive parents…then realized what an impossibility she had proposed.
The other day the classic movie You Can’t Take It With You was on TV. It’s how I have always envisioned my life, and this week it’s pretty close to how my house looks. I took an hour out from tending puppies this evening to create a bonnet and shawl for Ted’s skit at the Rotary Christmas party. The shawl is easy, the bonnet a bit more of a challenge, but a little fabric, a little lace, and they only have to work for a stage view.
Also stacked around my living room are my curtains, in process for many months, as well as three other sewing projects and a couple of knitting projects. The curtain rod project had a breakthrough thanks to the miracle of the one-inch sheetrock screw, the moral equivalent of whacking a project into submission, so now the curtain rods are installed, not perfectly, but well enough.
Draped on the loveseat to my left is a large dog, while on the loveseat to my right is…a large dog.. His hips seem to be bothering the old boy this winter, so it’s aspirin and a downy perch for Max—I now wheedle to get him up from the hard, cold floor onto the furniture. Toby will always choose to be up high as a maneuver for dominance.
Around the corner in the dining room, Christmas gifts, some of them handmade, await wrapping. My dining room table, its finish marred by past encounters with a dog who liked to climb, is protected from further damage by a small, roughly tied quilt that I started with visiting Nell in mind but decided to keep for a more permanent bed for creaky Max.
Turn one more corner into the kitchen, which is big enough to accommodate all my food adventures. One wall is graced with two multiple antique bread pans, the only item I ever found large enough to accommodate my vast spice collection. A counter showcases jars of my current obsession—preserved lemons and limes pickled with cayenne pepper. The very last of my summer tomatoes have ripened on another counter, where they keep company with the pots of herbs that sat on the front step all summer. Open the cabinets and you will find part of my collection of herb vinegars and pickles of green tomato or baby onion or shallot, all from my summer garden. They don’t all fit in the kitchen, though, so the rest are in the bathroom linen closet, but otherwise the bathroom is relatively “normal.”
Tam finds my house somehow disturbing. She sees the unfinished walls in the stairwell, the staples not yet completely removed from when I ripped up hideous carpet, the door shredded by visiting Miss Nell’s attempts to escape her offspring. I see freshly painted living room walls in a restful blue-green, fourteen-inch maple floor boards, and the warm flicker from my new little stove that is now the focal point of a restful room. Finished is in the eye of the beholder, as is evident when I visit Tam’s beautiful new slipper tub that has sat, unplumbed, in her bathroom for the last several months. We could compete for the centerfold in an as yet unlaunched magazine to be dubbed Unfinished Home.
Personally, I think being finished, like being tidy, is overrated. It’s not that I set out to have an eccentric household. Rather I leap from one enthusiasm to another, and since my twenties when I accepted that it is my lot to do so, I have been happy to live this way.
Oh, piffle. Wiffle balls. Puppy poop. This may need some re-thinking. Not every enthusiasm is a success.