Saturday, April 15, 2006

Faithfulness rewarded

It probably was not lost to Toby. He probably knew right where he put it sometime last summer on a day when I didn't manage to intercept his trip outside with my boot. By the time the snow came, I gave up hope and replaced them.

Somewhere in my psyche there must have been a grain of faith because I didn't discard the remaining boot, the left boot, the one on the right in the photo.

Today the right boot came back. I walked around the house, and there it was between house and dog pen, as if it had just been brought outdoors in the mouth of a boot and rock loving dog.

It is not in bad shape, all things considered. It doesn't appear to be much worse for spending the winter outside under snow--a little algae, a little damp, but it does not seem to have been buried.

There must be a moral here somewhere, but for now I am just enjoying the surprise.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Beautiful girl

Ah, Oceans, it does not take much to get me to post pretty puppy pix. How are your girls (Cassie's sisters)?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Gal pals

Friday I got a message that the puppy was loose, so I came tearing up the hill. I found Miss Cassandra sitting regally at the top of the driveway, all her chest fur fluffed out. Chin level, she panned left and right and back again, scanning for likely intruders. Every molecule of her eight-month-old body screamed, “I’m in charge here.”

It’s a German Shepherd thing.

Digging under the gate is not so much a German Shepherd thing. Cassie’s accomplice was her best gal pal, Lola, who is an escape artist of retriever-ish extraction. Leap tall fences at a single bound—that’s Lola, formerly Sweet Pea, one of the puppies born at my house last year—although my six-foot dog fence foiled even her remarkable jumping capabilities. Undeterred, they went under.

It can be daunting having a smart dog, but I take comfort that I am smarter, sneakier and have the only set of car keys. I put concrete blocks in the holes they worked so hard to dig, and I don’t leave these two alone for long.

But, oh! it is a delight to watch them romp! They take turns rolling each other over, biting at legs, tail and snout. They part covered in doggy drool, but neither blood nor toothmarks appear. The noise Cass makes is remarkable, somewhere between a whine and a roar, something like a low flying jet both in decibels and in how it grates on human ears. I never knew a puppy could make that sound.

Here they are plotting escape. From right to left, it’s Cassie, Lola’s friend Amiga, Lola, and mournful old Toby, who can only take a little of the girls’ society.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Seeking society

A card-carrying introvert, I cherish my time alone. I need it. I crave time to let the many potential responses to colleagues, friends, neighbors and family—especially family—settle to the point that I am measured and calm in what I actually say. I conjure up a stunning variety of scenarios as I try to figure out what is “really” going on. There is no question that I am over-sensitive—my life experiences have led me to where I am, as yours, gentle reader, have led you, although we would all like to think that we can rise above such simplistic conditioning.

All that therapy, all that writing, and I am left with the irony that if I want to respond simply and authentically to another person, I have to spend a lot of time processing, thinking, mostly just musing about not only how I want to respond, but more basically, how I want to perceive the situation and my range of possible responses.

I do have friends and family, some more distant than I would prefer, but that is not in my control. And I understand that my social safety net of human connection is frayed as a result of moving three times in the last decade. Big moves, like divorces, take about three years to re-establish equilibrium. I do have a life, which has many, many satisfactions and much happiness, and I am blessed that I enjoy my own company.

But all that thinking, all that time alone—there is a sense in which it is unhealthy. There is nobody to pull me out of abstraction, nobody to say to me, “Just a cotton-pickin’ minute….you are way off base,” preferably in a loving and respectful tone. Oversensitive, doncha know.

So, I’m thinking I need to meet more people. Can you sense how my teeth are gritted when I say this? It is so much work for me! And yet, I know there is a payoff. Two decades ago, when I was first living in New York, a painfully shy bumpkin, I undertook to conquer my basic shyness by committing to talk to three new people a day. Anyone. The counter man in the coffee shop, people on the subway platform, the person sliding by on the opposite escalator (very safe, that one!) It worked. Very soon, I was talking up a storm to anyone and everyone. I ended up dating someone from the subway--one of my healthiest relationships with a very nice man.

Meeting more people in rural Vermont is tougher, but I refuse to believe it is impossible. Now past the magic three-year mark, I get invited to parties from time to time and I make a point of going. It is time to take up contradance again, and maybe some group hikes. The first step is getting out in the world more, since nobody is likely to come uninvited to my front door to bring me a fuller, brighter life.

The next step will be to pay attention. Again and again in my life, prospective friends and would-be lovers have stopped me, lectured me, whacked me silly to say, “Hey! You! I am trying to be friendly. Could you please notice my efforts?” Who knows how many interesting new people are circling even now, while I make my oblivious march through a good but solitary life?

Monday, April 03, 2006


A friend, Vermont born and bred, came by today to help me figure out how to fix the dishwasher. During the last subzero snap, it did a little snapping of its own, pouring water down through the kitchen floorboards into the cellar. Not a pretty sight.

I figured it had something to do with the cold, frozen lines popping free of connections. Maybe even, I mused, it was my own fault for filling that big hole with spray foam. I learned years ago that insulating old houses can be tricky, sometimes blocking warm air flow that kept pipes cozy. Not this time.

“Dear,” intoned my friend, the only man I know who can address me in such a way without being remotely flirtatious, “You have a rat.”

Oh, ick. This is not the pastoral haven I dreamt of in Brooklyn. There were rats there, big, honking, muscled ones, but I thought Vermont had only cute little mice. Maybe a skunk or a porcupine now and then, unpleasant rodents all. But rats?

Behind the dishwasher, the intruder had a superhighway from outdoors, and tasty hoses to chew. He got them all, the water supply hose, the squiggly little connector, and the drain hose—big holes bitten out of them. Over fifty dollars worth of parts, before I pay my friend for his time.

All the holes are filled now, with that trusty expanding foam. I think I will stock a couple extra cans and go on a rampage filling holes in cellar and utility room. A mouse or two or even twenty—I never minded sharing my warm house with them as long as they stayed off the kitchen counters and out of the drawers—but rats? No, thank you.