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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Owning an Irish setter means...



…learning to love winter almost as much as the breed does.

…never having blueberry muffins on a Sunday morning with your coffee, unless your dog is outside and out of scent.

…coming home from work to a joyfully prancing “pony” who acts like you’ve been gone a month.

…seeing utensils and catfood cans licked clean and scattered around the house.

…having stuffed animals, kongs, bones, squeaky toys, and balls scattered throughout your house.

…witnessing the small white crystalline snowflakes melt on your dog’s ginger-colored muzzle in the house, and wondering if an artist could ever catch anything so sublime.

…giving up your favorite couch to your dog, because she’s so cute when she curls up there and you don’t want to disturb her, so you go to the less comfortable couch and make do, or simply kick her off.

…walking every single day of your life, and hoping you never get sick, or if you do, having an alternative dog walker.

…planning your free time around your dog’s walking schedule.

…spending a lot of money and comparison shopping on ice traction gizmos for boots.

…noticing what other dog owners use for their boots, and not being shy about asking how they work and where they got them. (REI makes a hardy pair, I hear. I’m eager to check them out!)

…teaching your dog the “wait” command, even though most times it seems futile.

…getting into the exuberance of life most Irish setters have and loving it.

…getting used to your dog hopping on tables because she’s used to grooming tables. (What? I thought you wanted to groom me?)

…getting into the meditation that comes with grooming her beautiful long coat, seeing the lustrous shine after stripping dead hairs and brushing until there are no more tangles.

…reserving hours at a time to give her a bath at least once a month, brushing her until her coat is dry.

…never having to say you’re sorry you ever got her.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Cover the Hurt Until We Are All Healed


My sister gave us a soft fur-like blanket for Christmas this year. It has a chinchilla softness to it, and it’s very cozy while on the couch reading. I love it. Thanks again, Jen!

I think of that soft blanket when I think of the families whose children and loved ones were murdered yesterday. I hope there’s a soft, pure, comforting blanket that God can send these families. I hope this blanket is thick enough and strong enough to cover their hurt and pain and anger, embracing them with protection and love and understanding. It needs to send pulsating love and tenderness, 24-7, for the rest of their time here on Earth.  It needs to be strong to absorb the rage and the tears I’m sure they are feeling and like a hurricane that comes from nowhere, will be bowled over by in the coming years. It needs a lightness about it, to bring back astounding memories of their children’s love and the special times they had with them. This lightness should be resilient enough to carry them over the dark times near Christmas this year and fly them through the skies every year hence. It needs God’s grace to withstand more sorrow sure to come in this hard world. I wish this blanket to cover these families and I wish this blanket to cover the world and heal everyone at this sorrowful time. Santa, are you listening? This is what I want for Christmas. Tell God.

Singer and Dakota, our precious pets, give us much love and comfort and we are spending extra time giving them the love back. I can’t even yell at Singer, who is so smart, she found a way to maneuver past a heavy rain stick we are using to barricade Dakota’s food. I found the plate licked clean (Dakota always leaves a little bit of food on his plate—perhaps for Singer?) wedged underneath the log. And it is heavy and loud if it falls off the stove. We were hoping the sound of hundreds of little pebbles rushing through the maze inside the log, intended to sound like deafening rain, would scare her. After all, she hates thunderstorms, we reasoned. But no such luck. I just looked at her open and trusting face and couldn’t even scold her. She just licked the plate, after all.

Take care everyone. I send love and good wishes to all during this sad holiday season. And President Obama, ban assault weapons!!!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Kitchen Witch


Females have long owned the kitchen. For thousands of years, women have stood possessively around fires stirring pots while all eyes circled around her. Men would look furtively towards their meals bubbling over firelight, casting hungry glances at the females who guarded the meat as if they themselves had hurled the spears into the hearts. Women ultimately owned the quarry of the hunt, not the men. Queens of sustenance, they drove the men to wait passively until fed.

So why am I surprised that Singer has been stalking and surveying the kitchen? Saylor was my little housewife-in-training. She always watched me in the kitchen, preparing the meals. She noted the smells politely and watched hungrily when I lifted the savory roasts from their pans, the steam filling the room. Her head swiveled from the stove to the counter to the table. She would gobble up the tasty morsel tossed to her and wait for the next piece. Maybe it was because she was so well-fed, she never begged too much while the food was so plentiful. Sorry for her food allergies, I prepared each meal for her with bits of Cheerios, oatmeal, canned dog food (prescription) and her regular dog food. She was overweight, yes, but happy with her food courses. And content to just watch me in the kitchen.

But Singer, she’s something else. We have barricaded Dakota’s eating area but she still finds ways to paw around it and move the cat food to the floor. She does this when we are at work, so I make sure Dakota eats his food before we leave. Then if he doesn’t finish, the dish is moved up to the refrigerator. And nothing is left on the counter or oven to cool! I should know this by now, having left a pan of brownies to cool one day last summer and coming home to find the empty pan in the corner, licked clean. I spent a frantic night trying to make her throw up, but she was fine. The next day, the vet’s office called me to see if she was okay. Singer never showed any sign of getting sick, not even queasy. Now Singer gathers spoons that have dished out cat food from the sink and lovingly licks them clean, leaving them in my path to the bedroom. That’s all she gets, and she wants me to know it. She wants me to find them. She knows they have to go in the dish washer, but she's also telling me how deprived she feels.

This morning she was especially sneaky. I made cinnamon buns and left them on the stove to cool, and went back to the living room to read the paper with my coffee. I called her and she obediently came in the living room. Dakota took his place on my lap, I threw a lamb ear to Singer, knowing she was jealous of the attention. But she just sniffed it and gave me a passive look. Then, while I was deep into my reading, she sneaked off to the kitchen and I heard her. “Singer!” But she took too long coming back, and she was chomping on something delicious when she finally came, not looking at me. “You knew I couldn’t get out to the kitchen fast enough with Dakota on my lap, you little witch!” She doesn’t like to be scolded. She laid down at my feet. A few minutes later, she tried to sneak back, there were some more cinnamon buns left, after all. “SINGER!” She stopped short at the threshold and meekly took her place on the couch.

Jeff came in. “I heard you were a bad girly—counter cruising,” he told her in a soft voice. She was curled up into a tight ball on the couch and didn’t move. He kissed her head. “Even though you’re a bad girly, we still love you.”