Wednesday, January 25, 2012

While I Was Working

Someone raided the toy box, which is supposed to be locked up tight when we're gone. I might have to rethink that.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

An Evening Interrupted

It was a Saturday night bath like any good Saturday night bath: a steaming hot tub, a tall glass of ice water sitting nearby, beads of water sweating down its sides, a good book on the Kindle and nowhere to go. The cats usually hover around the edge, staring down at the water and me relaxing in it as though perplexed as to why I'd do such a silly thing, occasionally dipping a curious paw into my glass or battling at the water with quick, furious jabs, but last night they were absent, leaving me in peace. I hadn't been in very long before I decided to put the Kindle down and close my eyes to listen to the soft drip of the water from the faucet. The serenity was shattered quite unexpectedly by the poke of a cold nose against my temple, a great heave immediately followed by a splash and Duncan's sudden appearance in the middle of my relaxing soak. His wet tail slapped me in the face as he turned around to face me and give me a quick lick on the nose, his eyes bright and wide, a smile on his face as he stood right on top of me in the belly deep water.

It was all the signal I needed, so first thing this morning Roo got a bath all to himself, with me helping with the scrubbing and rinsing and toweling while Ken snapped a few blurry pictures of the now sorry-looking dog. He truly doesn't mind the tub, despite the woeful look on his face. After a walk in the snow he typically marches straight to the bathroom and climbs in the tub so I can rinse the ice that's been embedded out from under the pads of his feet. And nothing beats a good toweling off as he stretches and moans and pushes himself against me. He is not a dog who dislikes a bath.

Maybe he'll think twice next time about sending such a clear message, though.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Old and New

January is a tiring time. The end of the year brings so much reflections on our blessings and the challenges we have faced, but January is daunting. Stepping out and walking through the park each day with Duncan sometimes feels like pulling that big book off the shelf, the one I've been meaning to get to but have ignored over and over. The pages are white and heavy and unfamiliar and it just seems to take so long to discover the joy of the characters and language and voice of the author. January is that big empty page and the whole year looms ahead waiting to be written. And as we walk I worry that perhaps I've told the same stories one too many times, that they're tired and couldn't possibly be of any interest to anyone.

But then I watch Duncan run across the wide fields, stirring up the countless geese which have taken to ground, polluting our grass with their strange footprints and their green leavings. I stand back and watch his exuberance and listen to the geese cackle at his sudden rush, then the heavy beat of their wings as they take flight, and I think, "This is a story I don't mind visiting again and again. It is beautiful and remarkable and his delight is worth another thousand words. I could tell it over and over again. And it would still be new."

Sunday, January 8, 2012

This January Morning

Everything the same; everything distinct. (Chien-ju)

There are few things that mean as much to me as a morning walk after an evening snow with Duncan, when the world is still silent and the blanket still smooth, the sky bright and high and his joy unquenchable. I am not a churchgoing fellow but on mornings like this, when every branch and blade, when even the fading red and browns of the bricks or the warping wood of a park bench are breathtaking in their purity, I can understand why others believe in God. I choose to believe in the beauty of this world and that is salvation enough for me. It is easy when the sun, still new to the morning, barely caresses the uppermost branches of the cottonwoods and the snow, settled and sleepy, stirs and dances its way earthward, quilting the ground around the fat trunk with its impression. How can I not when the flitting flakes shimmer in the sun like snow-pixies around the inquisitive head of my curious Golden boy?

There is much to be grateful for, and even more for which to be in awe. Perhaps someday, on a January morning such as this, we will walk together and Duncan will show you things that will make you believe in magic again.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Change of Scenery

I have been struggling not just with words lately but with Duncan as well.

It seems, despite the glorious weather and the plethora of geese which have invaded and polluted our park, cackling and taunting and begging to be chased from their green poop roosts on the ground and back into the air, Duncan and I are both suffering through the winter doldrums. And we have somehow fallen out of sync.

It has been a frustrating couple of weeks for both of us. We sit on the couch sighing and staring at one another, tripping around each other whenever we move, walking aimlessly unaware of each other. And for Duncan there has been downright defiance. He's always been attracted to the green Tootsie Roll droppings of the geese and each year it seems I need to break him of his habit of slurping them up each chance he gets, but this year it's been particularly difficult. Sometimes he stares at me while he inhales them and refuses to come when called. I've resorted to temporarily using his prong collar but even that seems to have no effect. He's fine when he's on it but after a few days of retraining he reverts right back to his rebellious ways, a look on his face that I read as willful impudence. I have rewarded him when he's done as I wish and scolded him when he doesn't. And he doesn't seem to care either way. There have been treats and games and trips to the dog park, afternoons spent chasing the geese away, long cuddles at night, but neither of us seem to have our hearts in it.

And so we've been silent, watching the sun stay longer in the sky and waiting for the changes that this new year is certain to bring. Ken and I are discussing finding a house we can rent, one with a yard for Roo, more centrally located, saving us both long commutes and giving us more time at home with Duncan and the cats. A change of scenery might be just what the doctor ordered.