Unseasonably warm Saturday in Vermont. Combating global warming freakout with a sunny driveway nap, cuddling my 3 year old and Pippa the corgi. Sunday is for novel-in-progress editing!
We were eating pancakes on the porch this morning and, looking at this scene, I thought: this is it, this is how I want to remember my life. This is the real, the magical in the mundane, our particular brand of domestic bliss. Domestic chaos.
Observed: the ratty prayer flags overhead, Z throwing bananas and hooting about pancakes in her antique "transformer" highchair, two dogs begging (and one rooting through weeds underneath the porch), two cats hanging around hoping for handouts and one yanging behind a screen door. F has just picked a pink lily, the kind that have been growing by our front porch for years and always remind me of Bo's mother. Scarlet roses for the backdrop, a bin of our own raspberries on the table, a jar of maple syrup made by our friends.
I'm always interested, when writing about families, in what their domestic mode is, what their particular brand of chaos is
There's a book to promote, a novel to write, and two classes to teach - but there are also two spring babies to celebrate. We threw a backyard shindig complete with 4 miniature ponies for Frasier and Zephyr's joint birthday party.
The minis were awesome. Lucy, Fred, Ed, and Tiny Tim were kind and docile, and jumped out of their trailer ready to eat grass. They let toddlers pull them around on leashes, and all was calm except for a moment when Lucy sauntered off into the backyard. The boys joined her, and when they realized they were all loose, they began sprinting in circles, kicking up little clouds of dust. It was funny, and then we got nervous, and then they were corralled and we could laugh.
So yes. Miniature horses can stampede.
I hope we get to add one to the farm soon. Don't you love the picture above where you can't even tell which end is which on the mini? Glorious manes.
We have a really old horse named Whispy. Most people think her name is Whisky, but she's sweeter than that. Whispy is pushing 40. Seriously. She's remarkable. A little arthritic, but still boss of the pasture.
She came to the Dogtor's family when he was young. She was a bit of a rescue, not well taken care of, and already too arthritic to ride.
I wasn't raised as a Horse Person, but I'm quite in love with Whispy. She's so friendly that she hovers, which used to get my adrenaline going a little, but now I love her. I love her smell, her impatience with the goats, her kindness with my kids. I can feel a little horse fever brewing....
Here's a video of a much-needed grooming session with Old Whisp, who is wooly and getting rid of her winter coat. She's making her that-feels-good face, flipping her upper lip. Her eyes are full of wisdom - just look. And she also wants the hens to shut up, I think.
Z just wants to get out of the stroller and eat stuff. F, as usual, is full of opinions, and starts the video off with a pronouncement that "We have a LOT of things to do."
It isn't easy to tell when it's time to put a dog down. First of all, your love is in the way.
But the week before I left for my southern book tour, we realized that our first dog, Captain Nemo, was failing. He was incontinent, his back end was atrophied. I didn't realize how bad things had gotten until after he was gone. We looked back at the old photographs - his strong body, long stride - and knew it was time to say goodbye.
I wanted to write about this a few weeks ago, but I couldn't. I needed to hold onto it a few days myself. Nemo was gentle, soulful, fun-loving, a dog that loved people. He had been present nearly every day of my adult life.
This is how it happened: we put the kids to bed. The Dogtor brought home two bacon cheeseburgers, and he and Nemo ate them together. Nemo was bewildered by his good luck - I only wish he could have eaten the burger more slowly. But I will never stop wishing for more time with him.
We adopted Nemo the day we returned from our honeymoon. He was probably five. He had a goofy dog smile and loose hips. He acted as if he had never seen water before. He used to do 360s down our hallway when the leash came out.
And we talked about all of those things that night.
We sat down on the kitchen floor, the three of us, the way it had been ten years ago when there were no other dogs, no kids, and we talked. We cried. We delayed, looked for other things to do, to say. And then the Dogtor gave Nemo a sedative, and we held him as he lost consciousness, fell into a deep sleep. I watched the lids of his eyes sag, heard his breath deepen. I hugged him, kept his head in my lap. We administered the euthanasia solution, and waited for his heart to stop.
It was a privilege, a hard one, to do this ourselves. My husband is good at his job, even when his heart is broken.
We carried Nemo out to the backyard, to a corner where other good dogs rest, and buried him underneath a full moon.
I still call for him outside, look for his food bowl in the mornings, and miss the sound of his restless legs kicking the wood bin as he dreamed his way through the night. He was a good dog, a very good dog.
This, according to the Dogtor, is Bebe Z playing peek-a-boo with our mean cat Greta, by burying her face on Monsieur Scooty Beag's back end. Hmmm. The things that happen while Mama is on book tour.
And yeah - that's my tough girl in Carhartt overalls!
Lots of updates in the pipeline, but re-uniting with the bebes and grading papers comes first.
Hi guys -
I'm travelling in the homeland this week! We flew to North Carolina with the girls on Friday. I'm reading at FlyLeaf Books in Chapel Hill tonight, then Quail Ridge in Raleigh tomorrow. I'm jazzed! The sun is warm and the people are friendly.
Here's my favorite photo so far - me in my friend's kitchen with their guinea pig! Love. (You know what I also love? That super-cool, original Craftsman kitchen booth behind me. Swoon!)
Greta the Gray is our legendary houselion. She is vicious and intense, once pulling out her own catheter after her spay surgery. Veterinarian friends fear her. She growls at herself in dark corners and likely has feline hyperesthesia (symptoms include twitchy skin, self-directed aggression, and hallucinations). Greta is medicated, and despite her, um, limitations in the charm department, we love her. And sometimes she loves us.
But the only being she loves unconditionally is Captain Nemo, our very old, and sharply declining, lab mix. Now that he is unable to get up easily, he tolerates her love.
Make sure your volume is on to hear her purring as she dives into his face.
Monsieur Scooty Beags + our hen Ssssudio. Yes that's a Phil Collins-inspired name, and NO, you do not ever want to know what Scoots has just eaten in the yard. The Dogtor says Scoots suffers from "dietary indiscretion." For shame.
Barn duty while wearing Bebe Z. Compost is tossed, goats in dog collars go crazy. Chickens want in. Bebe Z and I offer meaningless commentary.