I Love Lucy Pie

I maxed out the photo storage on my iPhone, so last weekend I backed up pictures to my computer so I could delete them from my phone and make room for new ones. In the process of cleaning things up, I noticed I might be a little in love with my dog. I mean, who can blame me though, really? We took Lucy on a ride tonight and she experienced the Dairy Queen drive through. She was so cute! She tried to ask the girl at the window if they sold Frosty Paws there, but apparently they don’t speak dog at Dairy Queen. I was proud of Lucy for trying, none the less.

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Based on this collection of pictures, you might be tempted to believe that my dog is lazy and does nothing but sit on the furniture, sit on her people or sleep. Wrong. The iPhone camera simply can’t capture her energy without making her look like a fuzzy blur!

Finding Love Late in Life – A Cat Tale

… Or How to Make Two Cats Out of One

Tigger is our cat, sort of. He is really my parents’ cat, or used to be. He came to live with us when my parents went off to live in Arizona for the winter one year.

Mom and Dad had two cats back then, Tigger and Maxine. And they knew they couldn’t leave their poor babies alone in the house for a whole winter, even if I stopped by the house every other day to make sure there was plenty of food and water and that litter boxes were clean. We all knew this wouldn’t work so well because we’d tried it the first year. It wasn’t fun for the cats or for me.

So when my parents decided that they couldn’t keep their kitties any longer, you know what happened. No, they could not bear to surrender the cats to an animal rescue group. They wanted their babies where they might still visit them now and then. And then they appealed to their animal-loving children to “adopt” the cats.

There were two cat-adopting candidates among my parents’ four children. My brother, Jim was one of them. I was the other. I don’t remember that either of us was all that enthusiastic about this plan, but our sympathy for our parents and the cats was bigger than our resistance. Neither of us could say no to my parents’ request. I called Jim and said, “I’ll take Tigger if you’ll take Maxine.”

Maxine was a long-haired, arrogant cat and she ruled the roost when she lived in my parents’ home. And she had a bad habit of walking on the kitchen table and counter tops. I’m an animal lover, but I did not want any cat feet, cat butts or cat fur in any of the places where my food might be. I did not want Maxine.

Jim agreed to my proposal, I think because Tigger had no personality and he figured he and his family would at least get some entertainment out of this deal.

Tigger has always been skittish. He was very sickly as a kitten and my mom could not stand to see him suffer. She made countless visits to the vet and took every measure to bring Tigger back to health. The vet told her that Tigger was probably much younger than the pet shop had stated when he was purchased. He was probably too young to be taken from his mother. But my mom loved him up and gave him medications and finally, he began to thrive. But the damage was done. Tigger may have had a shy personality to begin with, but it was made worse by those days he was in poor health. He never really bonded much with people. He’d come out of hiding now and then for my parents and sometimes even sat on my dad’s lap. But if others came around, he was nowhere to be found. My nephew, Danny actually thought Tigger was a cat we’d all made up and told stories about. On the day Danny finally caught sight of Tigger, he exclaimed to my mom with utter surprise, “Nanna! You really do have a Tigger!”

So you can imagine how Tigger probably felt when he was adopted out to me and my family. Our cat, Holly was still alive back then and she was extremely curious about Tigger. But Tigger wanted nothing to do with her. Oh, how he howled and cried that first night he was here. For weeks, maybe even months, we might not have known that Tigger was in our house, except that we saw signs that he was eating and using the litter box. Eventually, he settled into a cautious level of comfort, learned to coexist with Holly, and spent most of his days hiding out under our beds, only prowling around at night when he was sure we were all asleep.

Tigger in his younger days

Tigger in his younger days

As the years went by, Tigger began to get a bit… naughty. He peed on any blanket or item of clothing left on the floor for any length of time. One time, he peed in my purse!  This went on for a while. We took him to the vet, but there was nothing physically wrong. We eventually realized that we were being punished, but for what reason, we could never figure out.  Holly was gone by then. Maybe he was protesting her departure. We talked to the vet and she offered some suggestions, but we never really found a solution. Tigger was getting pretty old by this point, so we considered it could just be an old age thing. And as angry and frustrated as we were by his behavior and our inability to change it, we didn’t have the heart to put him down either.

I don’t remember why I thought this was a good idea, but at one point, it occurred to me to lock Tigger into the laundry room in our lower level. I put a pet gate up across the doorway so he could see out, but he couldn’t get out. This was my temporary solution until we could figure out what to do. But as it turns out, Tigger loved being in his own place where people weren’t constantly coming and going and where the dog could not chase him. The gate was low enough that we could just step over it, and apparently it never occurred to Tigger to climb or jump over. This was working! Tigger seemed to feel safer. He did his business only in the litter box. He never liked being near windows or doors and going outside was always out of the question anyway. And no tough decisions had to be made.

It’s been a couple years now and Tigger continues to live in the laundry room. Sometimes I think it’s cruel to keep him there, but then I try to take him out and he panics, telling me he doesn’t want to be out. Why mess with a good thing?

Every morning when I wake up, Tigger comes out from his bed behind the furnace and meows at me for his treats. I give him a few and he even lets me pick him up and cuddle him a little bit. But never being one for too much attention, he always wanders back to one of his hiding spots pretty quickly.

Over the last winter, I noticed that Tigger’s fur was beginning to look and feel a little clumpy. He never let me investigate too much and the times I tried brushing him, the brush just passed over the clumps. I worried that there were cysts or something beneath the fur, but couldn’t seem to find anything of concern when he let me get close enough. We wondered about his health now and then, and quite honestly, figured he was probably in his final days. After all, he is something like 17 years old. Lately, Tigger’s been looking really bad. Last weekend, I thought I might try to sponge bathe him and get to the bottom of his mangy fur. I know. Strange idea. But for some reason, I was determined.

Much to my surprise, Tigger allowed me to sponge bathe him with warm water and a washcloth. It did nothing to alleviate the clumpy fur, but he seemed to be taking great pleasure in the warm water. I’m not sure how we managed it, but Kacey came to join me and kept Tigger distracted by scratching under his chin while I tried to figure out what was going on with his fur. I managed to pick apart a big clump and realized it was just a big, matted hard mass of fur.

The internet tells me this is common in some cats and the clumps are called mats. These occur when the undercoat loosens, but the outer “guard” fur keeps it from fully shedding. The mats can be uncomfortable, even painful and can sometimes get infected. I learned it was recommended to just cut these mats right off. In really bad cases, a vet will shave a cat in this condition. Tigger would never survive the panic of leaving this house, much less going outside and to the vet. Kacey and I took matters into our own hands.

Imagine how awful I felt as Tigger not only cooperated, but seemed to welcome me clipping, brushing and cutting his fur. I kept wishing I’d known sooner what was going on and that he needed help keeping groomed. I hadn’t realized he might have been in pain! I got the FurGoPet deshedder that we use on Lucy and I tried it on Tigger. It worked pretty well and mounds of fur came off of him, even though there still seemed to be more than enough attached to him. After we’d worked on him a long while, he seemed to breathe a huge sigh of relief. He needed more clean-up, but I figured he needed a break. Later on, I went to the pet store and bought the type of cat brush recommended for preventing mats. It was very wiry and I worried it would hurt Tigger, but the online information told me that most cats welcome these brushes, and even like to be brushed somewhat aggressively.

The next morning, I took the new brush to Tigger’s fur. Again, he welcomed my attention and just kept circling and purring as if to say, “Now get this spot. Now this one. Oh, yeah. Like that!”

20140602TiggerAnd the fur that came off of him! I could not believe how much fur just kept coming and coming and coming off of his body. As I brushed him and pulled the excess fur from the brush, I made a pile on the floor beside me. At one point, Tigger sniffed it curiously. It was a giant ball of cat fur. He probably thought it was another cat!

In the days since our marathon cat grooming session last weekend, Tigger now comes to greet anyone who comes near his space. He purrs and meows, asking anyone who’s willing to brush him more and more and more! And more fur keeps coming off of him. He actually looks and feels really good again, if you don’t mind a few patchy spots where I had to cut some really big mats.

He has gone from years of reclusiveness to finally welcoming the human touch. It’s kind of sad that it took him this long to accept our love, but better late than never, I guess. He purrs like never before and when you don’t brush and scratch fast enough, he butts his head against whatever body part he can reach. He still won’t sit on my lap. Probably never will. And I’m not sure he has much time left. He’s smaller than ever and really skinny. He seems a little arthritic – he walks like he has a stick up his butt. Actually, he’s always walked like that. He’s a weird cat.

But we love him. And we’re glad he’s finally accepting of our love!

Teeny Tiny Little Speck of Light at the End of the Tunnel

Not much new here. It’s still cold.

But when I opened the garage door to leave for work today, I heard the craziest thing. I heard a bird singing. It was like twenty below this morning. (That’s my estimate, which may be slightly exaggerated in comparison to reality. But in reality, it was definitely less than zero degrees this morning.) And this bird was not just chirping and peeping. It was singing. You never stop to think how pretty a bird’s song can be until you’ve gone months without hearing it. Maybe there’s hope for an end to this winter.

But in the meantime, it is still cold. And just like everyone else, I am sick to death of being cold. Being cold has a negative affect on me.

I have to admit that I’ve snoozed the alarm a few times, skipping exercise in favor of sleeping and snuggling under the pile of blankets for an extra hour. Just can’t help myself sometimes.

I haven’t used my camera like I said I was going to. There is little of interest to photograph inside this house, and I have no interest in spending time outside if I don’t have to.

I wear big, heavy sweatshirts whenever possible. And slippers over socks when hanging around the house. And Under Armour underneath my work clothes. I’m sick of it.

I haven’t done anything special, really. I did read a really good book, though. And of course, we’re closely following the Olympic events! And I passed the time one evening registering Lucy for a doggy photo contest. She could win what amounts to a doggy spa package and portrait session. But really I’ve probably just registered myself for a bunch of junk email. Still, I’m pretty sure she’s a shoe-in to win. She’s totally the cutest dog in the contest. Lucy would appreciate your vote, if you’re so inclined.

Vote for Lucy Pie. She'll make all your dreams come true.

Vote for Lucy Pie. She’ll make all your dreams come true.

So as you can see, I’m killing time as best I can while waiting out the deep freeze. The singing bird from this morning makes me feel hopeful… and alternately makes me wonder if the extended cold is just messing with my head. What bird is out singing in the arctic cold? It’s probably a good thing we booked a vacation. I hope southern Florida hasn’t completely succumbed to this miserable winter because I am seriously in need of some rays!

The Best of Canine Friends

It’s not easy to capture moments like these. If Lucy notices that I’ve stepped outside, she tends to come running, thinking I’m only there to play or offer a treat. But this time, I was very, very quiet and I caught them in action.

These two pups have proven that friendship can blossom and grow in spite of certain barriers. A little fence can’t keep Lucy and Gracie from enjoying each other’s company. I just wonder how long before Gracie figures out how to climb or jump right over to our side!

The next-door neighbors are early risers too. When I let Lucy out for the first time each morning, Gracie is usually already out in her own yard. As soon as the sound of a patio door can be heard sliding open and shut, the dogs race toward the fence that divides their yards. They greet each other with pure joy, tails whipping side to side, and they race each other up and down the yards along the fence as if it’s been weeks since they’ve been together.

There is often a stick involved in the dogs’ playtime. Lucy finds them under the massive pine tree in our yard, where Mark left a pile of sticks and brush last fall. Gracie? She has to work a little harder to find sticks in her yard. Actually, they’re not so hard to find. There’s just a little work involved in getting one. She goes to the row of shrubs that borders her back yard and grabs a branch in her teeth, biting, twisting and wrenching until one breaks off! I’m not sure how much will be left of the corner shrub come this spring!

Once a stick has been found, the dogs chase again, up and down the yards along the fence. If you listen closely to the video, you can hear Gracie dragging her stick across the chain-link, making a clickety-clanging sound. Sometimes one of them will figure out how to maneuver their stick through the fence so they can play tug of war. Gracie seems to share a bit more easily, passing sticks to Lucy generously. Gracie never seems to remember that once Lucy has the stick, it probably won’t be coming back to her. Still, there never comes a time when she’s not willing to share what she has with her friend.

The layers of snow in our yards seem to grow deeper by the day. I was walking in the yard yesterday. In places where the snow was not disturbed before I came along, it was over my knees! Lucy and Gracie have worn paths along their play area on each side. After a particularly heavy snowfall, Kacey went outside with the shovel to clear Lucy’s way again. The dogs often dig the snow away from their fence, as if thinking they might dig deep enough to tunnel underneath and finally be able to run in the same yard. They dig furiously with their paws and bury their faces in the snow. Lucy often forgets how cold it can be until one of her paws suddenly aches with cold. Then she’ll favor the aching foot and come limping to the door to come inside. Gracie seems a little more immune to the cold and at times like these, she’ll sit on her side of the fence watching sadly as Lucy goes back inside the warmth of her own house.

We’ve often joked with the neighbors that we should just cut a doggy-door in that fence so our “girls” can play together whenever they like.

Chasing the Light

The sun reflecting through a pair of glasses or bouncing off the face of a watch.

Light from the living room lamp casting shadows on the carpet.

The light beam of a flashlight racing around the floor.

Doesn’t matter which one. Lucy loves to chase light.

She’s smart. She knows how to ask someone to start the game. If you have glasses on your face, she sits and stares. She whines until you take them off, find a light source and create a spot of light on the floor for her to chase. If you have a flashlight? Same thing. When she finds shadows, she can entertain herself.

Considering the fact that she chews most doggie toys to a pulp, it’s the best form of entertainment we can offer her.

Dog People

One of the many things I love about my dog is the utter joy she experiences when she is reunited with the ones she loves. It doesn’t matter if we’ve been gone from the house and returned again, or if we’ve just been asleep for the night and are waking up for the day. Lucy Pie demonstrates such sheer joy at seeing our faces, she nearly crawls out of her skin. And if you know what’s good for you, you’ll steer clear of her tail on such occasions.

Mark worked the night shift last night. Lucy and I were just getting our day started when Mark came home this morning. She had already given me my morning kiss and had scratched my neck in an effort to, I think, hug me. Mark was understandably tired after a long night on the job and plopped into a living room chair to sit and chat with me for a few minutes before going to bed. Lucy couldn’t stand the idea of not being near him. She climbed right up on him and displayed her long-standing belief that she is too a lap dog.

006

007Last night, Mark and I were playing with Lucy in the family room. Lucy is the princess in this house and she knows it. Mark looked at her and asked, “Do you know how lucky you are, Dog? You were probably on your way to euthanasia until we came along and took you home.”

“We?” I asked. “What’s this ‘we’ business? I believe it was I who went in search of Lucy. I was the one who picked her out and had to convince you to let me bring her home!”

Scratching Lucy behind both ears and pulling her face to his, Mark explained, “That’s because I didn’t think I could love another dog after Shelby. But we got lucky. We’ve been lucky enough to have the two best dogs in the world. And we’ll never have another.”

“Um, yeah we will,” I corrected him.

He looked surprised. “You would be willing to take in another dog someday when Lucy’s not around?”

It seemed an odd conversation. I don’t want to think about a time when my Lucy is no longer around. But the reality is, I am pretty likely to outlive her. I thought about Mark’s question and realized that Shelby and Lucy have taught me what a joy it is to love a dog. As much as I hate to think about a day without Lucy, I can no longer imagine a life without a loving dog. I looked at Mark and answered without hesitation.

“Yep.”

Outsmarted?

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I would move “her” chair away from the windows, but the living room just isn’t big enough that I can keep the window side of the room free of furniture. Lucy loves to sit in her chair and watch the happenings out the front window. She gets really excited when other dogs pass by. The windows inevitably end up covered in nose and tongue prints. I had just cleaned them off while doing my Saturday round of household chores and decided to close the blinds on the two middle windows to keep Lucy off of them. She could still see out the outer windows, but since those are crank-outs and have screens, she wouldn’t be able to leave her mark on them.

Apparently Lucy felt that she couldn’t see as well out of those outer windows from the seat of her chair. She wanted to get closer. Maybe it’s a trick she remembers from the days when her “sister,” Bella was still around.

Still miss our little Bells so much...

Still miss our little Bells so much…

Lucy is a very smart dog. When she first joined the family, she very quickly learned to ding the bell we hung on the back door to let us know when she wants to go outside. She knows how to shake, speak and stay. I think she plays stupid with the command, Come! I keep trying, but always resort to, Whose here? or Treat! Only then will she come in from the back yard, unless of course, she wants to come in.

On Saturday, I was playing find the treat with Lucy. Just like Kacey taught her, she sat when I said sit. She stayed when I said stay. She watched intently as I walked down the hallway with her treat. She watched me go into Kacey’s bedroom and she stayed put while I placed the Milk Bone behind Kacey’s bedroom door. I then walked out of the room and straight back to Lucy’s side before saying, Go get it!

My brainiac dog ran down the hallway, past Kacey’s bedroom and into Jake’s bedroom. She sniffed around for a few seconds before going to Kacey’s room and finding the hidden treasure. I was cracking up as I told her, Good job! I don’t know if she just thinks that part of the game is to go sniff around other rooms before finding her prize, but regardless, she provided me great amusement!

Dog Possessed

Have I ever mentioned what an extreme animal lover my mom is? Always has been. Sometimes I think she likes her animals better than she likes her people. Sometimes I can completely understand that.

There are old pictures of my mom. One in particular stands out in my mind. It’s a black and white photograph of a young farm girl. She’s standing outside in the yard in a winter coat that reaches her knees. There’s snow on the ground and she’s wearing saggy tights and has winter boots on her feet. There’s a sweet smile on her face and in her arms, she’s holding a cat that’s nearly half the size of her.

There are stories of Mom and her chickens. There’s the picture of mom and the cat. But most often, there are the stories of Mom and her dogs. Another black and white photo comes to mind. Mom isn’t in that one, but three little Pekingese dogs are in it. One was named Penny. I remember that much. The other two dogs’ names are lost somewhere in the recesses of my memory.

Almost as soon as Mom and Dad were married, they had begun their family. We four kids came in quick succession and there were dogs right from the start too. I have no memories of him; I was that young or maybe not even born yet, but the first was Sugar Pooch. (Who names their dog Sugar Pooch? My parents, that’s who!) Then there was Neko. Neko I remember. He was a big, pretty Collie who thought he was little enough to wander around under the kitchen table while the family ate. (He wasn’t.) Our little house with a family of six people and a tiny yard proved to be too small for Neko. He was constantly in trouble. He needed space. Mom and Dad sent him to live with a cousin who had a farm.  I hated saying goodbye to Neko, but he was better off in his new wide-open space.

Kippy looked a LOT like this.

Kippy looked a LOT like this.

Sometime after Neko left us, around the time I was six years old and in Kindergarten, I came home to find that Mom had a new “baby.” His name was Kippy and he was a funny-looking little Pekingese dog. He had a smushy face and a curled, furry tail. He was really cute and Mom was head-over-heels for him. And Kippy soon showed that the feeling was mutual. He was fiercely loyal to my mom and was never far from her side. In fact, he was usually in her lap.

There are a few cute stories about Kippy, like the time my mom left her place at the kitchen table to answer the phone. She had just sat down to have a bowl of homemade vegetable soup. This was before cordless phones when a length of the phone cord dictated how far a person could move from the place where the phone was located. Mom finished her short conversation and turned to head back to her chair at the table where she saw Kippy, front paws on the table, happily licking up the last remnants of her soup.

Yeah… that was cute. But Kippy wasn’t always so cute. Like I said, he worshipped my mom. He was protective of her and barked viciously at anyone who dared to walk along the fence surrounding our front yard. And god forbid anyone come to the door! Kippy also felt inclined to show us kids who was in charge in Mom’s kitchen. We didn’t dare do our after dinner chores in stocking feet. Kippy hid under the open dishwasher door. If an unsuspecting kid tried to load the dishwasher minus shoes, Kippy would bite their toes. I know he drew blood from me on at least one occasion.

He also wouldn’t let us kids pass through the kitchen to go down the basement stairs. I remember trying to sneak past Kippy as he lay on the floor guarding the doorway to the basement. He snarled and barked and lunged at anyone trying to get by (except for Mom.) If we could get to the first step though, he was usually too lazy to chase us. It got so that when I knew I had to pass Kippy to go down the basement where my bedroom was, I’d go put on my winter boots. I laughed hysterically the first time I thought to do this. I put big, black snowmobile boots on my feet and let him attack the boots to his heart’s content. He couldn’t hurt my toes anymore!

Kippy’s favorite game was “tuck the kids in bed.” My sister and I shared a double bed. Mom would call down the stairs to let us know that Kippy was coming to tuck us in. We would squeal and hide under the blankets and Mom would come in carrying her baby, then set him down on the bed where he’d bounce around, snarling, trying to get the blankets off our heads.

Kippy scared the heck out of me. He had a nasty temper and only loved one person – my mom. He tolerated my dad, but he clearly felt he ranked above us kids in the family hierarchy. And clearly, my mom had some kind of twisted sense of humor to let her dog act so nasty to us kids. But believe it or not, Kippy provided many fond family memories. I remember being fed up with that vicious little ankle-biter more times than I can count, but when we tell childhood stories, they often involve Kippy.

Thankfully, not long after Kippy came along, Mom brought home a “sister” for him. She was another Pekingese named Tina. Tina was much nicer to us kids and never thought to bite our toes. Somehow, she made up for the fact that we had to put up with Kippy, a dog who often acted so possessed!

When I was thirteen, Kippy got sick with pancreatic cancer. It was my first real experience with losing a pet and really understanding that feeling of loss. I forgot all those years of feeling what a nuisance Kippy was. I forgot about his antagonistic demeanor and my bitten toes. Suddenly he was sick, weak and fading away. He didn’t scare us anymore, but we sure wished he could. Suddenly he let us kids pet him, kiss the soft top of his furry head and tell him we loved him. Suddenly he was gone and we were so heartbroken.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Abby often has stories on her blog that are prompted by the prompts at Mama Kat’s blog. Abby’s prompted writings often prompt me to remember a story. Today I read Abby’s story about her childhood fear of dogs, her response to Mama Kat’s promptSomething that scared you when you were young. Are you still afraid?  Abby’s fear-of-dogs story reminded me of when I was afraid of a dog and I decided to jump on the prompty bandwagon.

I was afraid of my family’s own dog!

We were at the lake

It seemed like my little vacation was never going to start. I was off work as of Wednesday, but because none of the kids could arrange their work schedules to be off any sooner than “early” on Friday, Mark and I decided not to leave until Friday either. There was much that could be accomplished at home in the meantime.

I spent most of Wednesday cleaning my parents’ house while it rained all day long, and then came home to do some cooking. On Thursday Mark and I finished the big “closet purge and reorganization” project, otherwise known as “nearly divorce court.” I had begun this enormous task the previous weekend and it ended leaving Mark and I feeling seriously fed up with each other. But the closets are clean and organized, the Goodwill has been well-stocked with everything we decided we could live without, and Mark and I are on speaking terms again. When Friday finally arrived, I planned to pack my bag for the weekend and make sure my own house was clean. (I hate going away and coming home to a dirty house. It must be cleaned before we go.)

My plans were slightly waylaid by the demise of the dryer on Friday morning. Mark did some investigating and quickly learned that it wasn’t worth the cost of replacing the motor. The dryer was very old and had been repaired many times. It already had more features that no longer functioned than ones that did. So a trip to the appliance store was squeezed in and I quickly picked out a new dryer. My only requirements were that it be large capacity and that the buzzer that signals the end of a dry-cycle could be turned off. (Day sleeper in the house!) I found one for a reasonable price and we were out the door within twenty-minutes with the promise of delivery for the following Tuesday.

Mark, Kacey and Connor headed for the lake not long after our visit to the appliance store. Brad and Heather left Fargo not long afterwards and began their drive to the cabin. I worked on the remaining laundry at home, shuttling loads over to my parents’ house to use their dryer. I finished cleaning, baked cookies and packed my bags. I checked the house over to make sure it was in good shape to be unattended for the weekend, double checked my packing to make sure I had everything I needed, and when Jake still wasn’t home from work, I went to the gas station to fill up the gas tank and get a car wash. Jake finally came home, about an hour and a half later than he had hoped, and he, Lucy and I hit the road just in time for the Friday afternoon rush hour.

The first hour of our drive was frustrating, but then the road opened up and we were really on our way. Jake had insisted on driving, so I got to kick back and relax in the passenger seat, helping navigate now and then. We talked, sang along to our favorite country songs, and enjoyed the scenery while Lucy alternately slept in the back seat or watched the scenery pass by out the windows. We made a stop at McDonald’s for some food and  to let Lucy out to stretch her legs and attend to other business. We finally made it to the cabin by 8:30 Friday night where everyone else was waiting for us.

And I was so exhausted that I was in bed and sleeping by ten o’clock!

We were all up early on Saturday morning, thanks to two dogs who were not only excited to be together, but to be in a place so full of new things to explore. I swear, Lucy and Dakotah were like a couple of toddlers, running from one place to the next and investigating every new taste and smell. And we, their people… we played right into it and catered to the dogs’ every whim. What can I say? They make us laugh and they reward us with complete adoration. How can we help ourselves?

The weather was beautiful and we spent much time sitting down on the new dock. The kids fished for hours and for once, the fish were biting. The dogs were fascinated by the water and the way the waves lapped up to the dock, by the fish that were being pulled from the lake and just happy to hang out with their people. Lucy still can’t be trusted not to run off, so we kept her on a leash whenever we were outside. But on the dock, she could be off leash as she quickly proved she wouldn’t leave it if any one of her people were there.

Dakotah practiced retrieving her “dummy” from the water. Heather would throw it into the lake and Dakotah would launch herself in after it, grasping it in her mouth and returning it to Heather. Lucy was fascinated and she clearly wanted a chance to give this dummy thing a try. Seeing as how she’s had very little exposure to water (except for her pool on the deck,) we took it easy at first. Heather threw the dummy just off the shore and Lucy would jump in and grab it and proudly walk it back to Heather on shore. After several attempts, Mark suggested that Heather challenge Lucy and make her swim for it. So the dummy was thrown a little further this time and Lucy heaved herself into the lake and began to walk out to the dummy. When the water became deeper than Lucy was tall… she went under water!

We all gasped, momentarily panicked, although anyone of us could have hopped in and grabbed her. But just as quickly, Lucy turned around, resurfaced and looked at us as if to say, “Where did the bottom go?”

We all cooed at her and patted her wet head and told her what a brave girl she was. Then Brad suddenly remembered something. “Oh, yeah,” he said! “I forgot that I had to teach Dakotah how to swim her first time! I’ll go put my swim trunks in and show Lucy how it’s done.” Before long, Brad was in the water, with Lucy in his arms. She was none too keen on going back in, but she let Brad hold her up in the water and within seconds, her little paws were paddling and she swam herself back to shore. We all cheered like the bunch of dog-loving doofuses that we are and I swear I saw Lucy smiling from ear to ear!

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When it was too dark to fish on the dock and the mosquitoes threatened to eat us alive, we’d head back to the cabin and watch funny movies that we’ve all seen a million times and we’d say the lines right along with the characters and crack ourselves up all over again. We slept at night on the ancient mattresses with dogs wandering from room to room all night long, unable to decide which people they wanted to snooze with. But we didn’t mind about the mattresses and the dogs, because we were at the lake, where everything slows down and there’s very little that has to be done at any specific time.

In the mornings we ate big breakfasts, like pancakes and eggs and French toast. For dinner, we grilled steaks over charcoal and buttterflied them for steak sandwiches which we ate with Swiss cheese, sautéed mushrooms, onions and steak sauce. Everything tastes better when you’re not watching the clock and you’ve got nowhere else to go and most importantly, you’re sharing a meal with the people you love.

The weekend, of course came to an end much too quickly. The kids wished out loud that the weekend could go just a little bit longer. It just wasn’t long enough. I felt the very same way and proposed that we start planning now for next year. And let’s make it a whole week next time. There was a chorus of agreement as we hugged Brad and Heather goodbye and headed back home.

Vacations are just never quite long enough. Guess that’s why we love them so much.

A Week of Rain

SperryKacey had a birthday a couple of weeks ago. When asked what she wanted for her gift, she said shoes. She’d had her eye on a particular pair for quite a while. We had to order them online to get the exact style she was looking for. When they were delivered to our front door a few days later, she squealed in delight.

The weather has been full of rain. The new shoes sit in their box on Kacey’s bedroom floor, not yet worn. She says that she has wanted these shoes for so long that she refuses to take a chance on getting them wet and ruining them. She’s sprayed them three times with waterproofer. Still, she’s taking no chances until things start to dry out.

All week long, the skies have been gray. The sun comes out here and there, but mostly its dull skies, thick clouds and rain. The wind blows endlessly, tree branches swaying side to side, back and forth. Pink crab apple tree blossoms past their prime  float away in the wind, dropping like snow onto the pavement. When I open the patio door to let Lucy out in the mornings, the wooden deck and backyard grass are still soaked from the nighttime rains.

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Today there was bright sunshine streaming down from a sky that felt heavy. The wind refused to die down. After noon, weather reports warned of heavy storms in nearby areas.  I worried about Lucy at home all alone. Poor dog  is afraid of thunder! But by the time I got home from work, the sun was still shining, the wind was still blowing, and the heavy stoneware vase on the front step was laying on its side, shattered. I salvaged the decorative branches that had filled it and tucked them away in the garage. I scooped up the landscaping rocks that had added weight to the vase and tossed them back into the front garden, then picked up all the broken pieces and dumped them in the trash barrel.

Kacey came home from work as I was wandering the back yard with Lucy, tossing her ball, patting her head, and asking her why she keeps sneaking into the tomato garden. (She offered no reasonable explanation.) I joined Kacey up on the deck and we watched big puffs of clouds clump together and sail across the sky, moved along by the persistent wind. I asked, “Tacos for dinner?” She said, “Yeah, that sounds good.”

I chopped onions and tomato at the kitchen counter while the ground beef defrosted in the microwave. Kacey sat at the table and chatted with me while I got the fixings ready. The kitchen radio was tuned in to the Country station and we sang along. Baby you’re a song… You make me wanna roll my windows down … and cruise…  We got a little loud and too late, remembered we had slid the patio door open to let in some fresh air. I wondered if the neighbors had heard us from where they sat out on their deck. They probably think we’re weird. Oh well.

I heard about Kacey’s work adventures while I fried the meat at the stove. Lucy scratched the screen door to go out and then remembering she missed her people, scratched it again to come in. Kacey absently reached for the door and accommodated Lucy each time. Darn dog is wearing holes in that screen.

I was putting the taco seasoning into the ground beef when there came a frantic plea from the dog to be let back in. Kacey slid the door open once more and said, “Hey, it’s raining out!” But the sun was still shining brilliantly. Lucy doesn’t like to be rained on, but Kace and I stepped outside to marvel at the sunshower that was happening in our neighborhood. It was a quick, little shower and by the time we sat down to our taco dinner, the sky had turned threatening.

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The heavy rain came then, splattering off the canvas canopy on the deck and forcing us to crank shut the living room windows. Lucy warily watched the drops pelting off the deck. The rain was keeping her away from her playground and she wasn’t happy. It was over though, by the time we cleaned up dinner. There were still some interesting looking clouds up in the sky, but the worst of it was over. I realized then how green all the yards are. The grass is lush, the trees are full. And there was a hint of a rainbow to the east.

006bThe weekend is here. There’s more rain in the forecast for Saturday, but Sunday holds the promise of sunshine. Finally, maybe, a nice day to enjoy being outside and celebrating spring! And maybe Kacey can finally wear her new shoes!