Butterfly, Snow

I love butterfly bushes, especially the ones with deep-purple, almost black flowers. I had to move this one to a slope where it would get more sun, and I’m glad I did. I had a bad turn when the temperature plummeted, until I looked them up and realized they are, in fact, evergreens.

When the snow came, it decked the leaves in melting glitter, now mostly gone. It’s beautiful just the same. And spring is coming.

Sweet Georgia Trundles

It’s pretty difficult, being Trundles.

His day begins when I unzip his crate, where he is warm and secure. It is the place he loves most in the world, like the spot in front of a full bowl of kibble and The Big Hoomin’s Bed. he loves his crate so much that it takes a whole ritual to get him out of it, which includes me opening the curtains, making my bed, and finally, a couple renditions of his special Good Morning Song, which is modeled loosely on a Singing in the Rain number.

Sometimes it takes a full two renditions before he will consent to resurrect, all while Miss B takes turns trying to nose him out of the crate and trying to stick her nose in my mouth since I’m making strange monkey noises.

When he’s finally ready, he staggers down the hall after me, and has to be shown where the back door is. It’s the only time he’ll go down the stairs alone, because by then his bladder has awakened and is providing impetus.

Then there’s pointing him at his food bowl, and standing in my prescribed spot between the two dogs while they sniff the kibble offering. If I don’t stand there, Odd may decide to wander away and Miss B might try to stuff herself with both bowls and sick up undigested food which she’ll proceed to guard, since she just wants Odd not to have it. Once they’re both snout-down and busy, though, i am allowed to make myself some coffee and attempt my own brekkie. Then, when they’re done, he’ll sit by the back door and burp-bark, because he knows something comes next but has forgotten entirely what.

That “something” is his daily walkie, up to the top of the street or down to the bottom if he’s feeling frisky, which is about two days a week. Every other day it’s the shorter slog up to the top, and often, just getting the leashes on both of them is a chore in and of itself. Trundles insists on wrapping the leash around my legs to achieve a sort of required tension on it, so he knows I haven’t vanished. B, of course, divides her time between attempting to boss me and actually bossing him, with a soup├žon of straining at the leash whenever there’s the prospect of another dog in the area.

And, of course, Odd stops every few steps, wondering what the hell he’s doing outside, and looks to me for guidance. Some days, like today, he requires constant verbal encouragement and direction. So, I’ve started singing–but I have to find the song he’ll move for.

Today, it was Sweet Georgia Brown.

Now, I am no chanteuse, despite being in choir all through high school and bellowing along with the radio at the slightest provocation. Passers-by often stop and watch, bemused, as I wrangle a bulldog and an Australian shepherd along with accompaniment, followed by the Mad Tortie, who goes along on Trundles’s walkies because she is of the opinion he won’t be able to find his way home alone. (I am certain she’s right.) “Is that your cat?” they ask, or “You walk them every day?”

Thankfully, none of them mention my singing.

Anyway, once I have dragged both dogs back through our gate, I can take off collar (for Odd) and harness (for Miss B) and retreat inside while both prance just inside the fence, discovering the backyard anew. Trundles takes the additional step of unburdening his colon, since the activity has aided his peristalsis wonderfully. Then, Miss B herds him up the stairs, and he trots inside, suddenly convinced that he needs another breakfast since he performed such difficult feats as making it to the stop sign.

I often make myself more coffee while Miss B tries to hip-check me in the direction of the hall, and Odd dances attendance, burp-barking again and eager to get to either another breakfast (if I can be persuaded) or to my office (which he dimly recognizes as the next step in the day’s many rituals). Finally, when I am settled in front of the glowing box that somehow produces the majority of my career (my desktop, thank you), Odd’s real morning work begins. He must settle, either in his Fancy Dog Bed or (less comfortably) up against my TBR, and embark upon the First Nap of the Day. He is settled on his fancy bed while I type this, blinking slowly, and next will come his snores, about as musical as my walk-prompting. That’s a busy morning for a bulldog, and we’re not even talking about the afternoon naps or the after-dinner romps, or what it takes to get him back in his crate at the end of the day.

No wonder he’s exhausted.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

It’s back to school time. The Little Prince (who is not so little, anymore, being fully as tall as me) has his schedule, his supplies, and today was the last piece of the puzzle–clothes. Schedule flexibility is a working writer’s friend–I can only imagine the zoo the stores must have been the last weekend day before OMG FIRST DAY OF EDUMACATION.

This year the Prince is in high school, and right glad to be out of middle school. Both he and the Princess firmly consider middle school the very worst, though I’ve cautioned the Prince not to decide until both are over. Still, I am hoping the thought that the worst is behind him will ease the transition.

So this week is about adjusting to school hours again, though I don’t have to drag my weary self from bed to drive him like I did for elementary. (Like, when his school actually BURNED DOWN, omg.) It’s bittersweet, the little markers of your kids growing up. Like the liberation that happens when you can say, “Get in the car and put on your seat belt,” and there’s no monkeying about with carseat, booster seat, or anything else. Just a check to make sure they’re buckled, and away you go.

This is the first year I won’t have to get up when the kids do at all. I’m not sure quite what to do with myself, really. Technically I suppose I could go back to my night-bird schedule, which is what my body’s really built for. I’m happiest when I resurrect a little after noon, settle to work around 2pm, and go to bed around 3am-ish. It’s been decades of working against my biorhythms, and I used to long for the day of freedom.

Unfortunately, the dogs are on a set schedule too. So…yeah. Probably not ever going to be able to sleep when my body really wants to.

So. Both kids have smartphones, and their own lives. After so many years of guarding every breath they take, it leaves one a bit at sea. The only help is that the process is gradual, it doesn’t hit you all at once. Or, after a long sea change, you look up and notice they’re…if not adult, then damn close, and the shape of the person they always were and the one they are going to become have gradually overlapped. Wonder of wonders, they actually seem to like hanging out with their mother, even when it’s not the obligatory evening dinner. That’s the best thing of all, when your children can stand you.

I’m sure I’ll cry on the first day of school. I always do. Don’t tell anyone, though. I have a reputation to maintain.

photo by: Alan Smythee

Alas, Bandit

So, yesterday, our remaining cavy, Bandit, didn’t eat his salad for breakfast. Normally he devours his greens with a good will, but…yeah. There were a couple other disturbing signs, which led to a vet visit and the decision to let him go painlessly. They go quickly, once they’ve decided to, and he was never quite the same after his buddy Critic passed.

We knew he’d go, and sooner than any of the other animals, but it’s still sad. I console myself with the fact that he had a good life, in his gigantic condominium full of toys and snacks and hiding places.

The week’s been awful. I’m glad it’s over now. Hug your furry friends for me, if you have ’em.

Over and out.

Crumble

When your daughter’s best friend comes home unexpectedly from college, and goes blackberry picking, and generously leaves you a zillion blackberries, there is nothing left to do but make a crumble. I was a little worried, because I just eyeballed the ingredients instead of measuring them. But it vanished over the course of an afternoon, so I guess I didn’t do too badly. *dabs at lips with napkin*

I hope your summer is full of such delights, my friends.