Sunday, July 30, 2006

Water baby

So much younger than her brothers under the skin, puppy Cassandra is almost an only child. I am very conscious of what I want her life to be like, and how her life enhances mine. But after knowing many German Shepherds in my life, I am startled that this one unique and particular girl likes to swim.

I now find myself slowing down at water crossings, looking for likely spots for a puppy to have a refreshing dip. The many possibilities are keeping us both occupied in this otherwise dreary summer. This hopeful exploration is one of the things I need from Cassie, and she needs from me the results: places to go where dogs can splash in contentment, maybe swim alongside a canoe or kayak for a few minutes before the otter imitation fails.

Cassie needs from me exercise (channel the Dog Whisperer chanting Exercise-Discipline-Affection), as I need all three from my interaction with her. It is a happy bond that gets us both out to revel into the Vermont sunshine.

On this day when the puppy turned one year old, we skipped a day of painting and went on a field trip to Dog Mountain. Three ponds! Trails for hiking, Stephen Huneck’s dog art, and the Dog Chapel. I took a step into the Dog Chapel, but could not stay, so overwhelmed the small space was with grief and remembrance.

Toby and Cassie had the right response, I think. They took a brief stroll around, sniffed everything and headed right back out into the sunshine. There was a golden retriever to chase, and something smelly that required a roll in the wildflowers with all eight legs in the air.

Dogs are masters of the moment.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

O guru of paint

O guru of paint, I am most grateful for the loan of your ladders and the plank that spans from one to another. I am learning to scrape from that plank, learning to ignore the bounce.

O guru of paint, I used to wonder how I would recognize boards that need to be replaced. Particularly after you told me that with plenty of caulk and spackle, my aged clapboards would last “as long as you want them to.” But today as my scraper plunged deep into what looked like a board, dislodging black mold and green gunk, I could see that even I do indeed know them when I see them. That board needs replacing, as does the one with a big hole full of dry rot, covered over by a thin veneer of masonite, now a red flad signaling all kinds of things that should never have been hidden thus. It is good the former owner has moved away, far away, as I unearth these hidden treasures.

O guru of paint, I thank you for guidance. Is it lead? Am I poisoning myself? “Well, it probably is. Just don’t sand much. Scrape and keep moving.”

O guru of paint, I thank you for power washing. What a lot of old paint that removes! I honestly did not expect so much.

O guru, that tall gable above the porch roof. While I understand your concept of a plank on the roof line, another two by four upright and a couple of screws, I must confess that I do not yet believe. Perhaps another few days bouncing on the scaffold, a day or two caulking from a stable position on the porch roof, and I will be ready to call you for further guidance as I reach for the upper peak.

It’s a step by step process, painting a house, and some of it has to do with building one’s nerve, or remembering the nerve one once had. I used to paint from tall ladders, not happily it is true, but step by step I will do what I can, then call for help.