Thursday, July 26, 2012


Despite being nearly four before Duncan learned he actually enjoyed swimming, he has not budged one inch on his distaste for sprinklers or the fountain at the park. He has gone well out of his way, even on the hottest, most brittle of summer days, to stay away from the tiniest bit of spray or mist from the big sprinklers that cast their rainbows in the mornings and evenings when the sun is low on the horizon. 

This morning, though, something changed. It was still cool and the shadows had only just begun to shorten when the sprinklers came on and caught us unaware. I expected Duncan to abandon his ball (and me) and run for cover as far away from moisture as possible, but instead he surprised me and sat right down in the middle of them, tilted his head back and smiled as he was soaked from nose to tail. After several minutes he managed to retrieve his ball only to want it thrown right back into the middle of the sprinklers. Surprised, I obliged and so we spent several long minutes enjoying the cool of the morning and the chik-chik-chik of the sprinklers washing back and forth over the grass, catching the sunlight and turning it silver as it rained down all around us.*

*Sadly, the video I have of Dunc running through the sprinklers would not load so you'll just have to use your imagination. It was wonderful. Maybe tomorrow...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

No Good Deed

The squirrel, like Jeffrey yesterday, did not know we were coming.

He was sitting on the patio picking at the last of the peanuts Jeffrey had tossed out that morning. He's a young thing, small and a bit wiry with a tail that hasn't quite bushed out yet and often gets chased away by the bigger squirrels and the bluejays who, judging by the cacophony of their calls, don't seem to like anyone, big or small. But Jeffrey, good-natured as he is, looks after him and always puts peanuts and corn out after the others have departed in the hopes of fattening him up before Fall arrives.

Duncan, who has learned that Jeffrey is the best sort of fellow (and by that I mean the kind of fellow who always has a store of treats on-hand), hurried ahead of me, darting into the low shrubs around Jeffrey's patio and waited for his newest best friend (read: treat dispenser) to appear. I paused a moment and waited but when Jeffrey didn't appear I stepped away and whistled for Roo to come along, which he didn't. He'd spotted the squirrel sitting on the rail and was waiting for it to make a move.

When it finally did, complete and utter pandemonium broke out. The squirrel jumped off the rail and ran back and forth across the patio just out of Duncan's reach. Dunc followed along, darting this way and that, refusing to to let the poor thing get by. So finally it did the only thing it could think of: it ran right through Jeffrey's open door and into the apartment.

Jeffrey, who had been sitting at his desk, jumped up and ran into the living room as the squirrel darted over his bare foot, leapt over the two cats and onto the kitchen counter where it knocked over a bowl, sent a jar of peanuts shattering to the floor, climbed atop the fridge where it knocked off a bag of cat food, then jumped down onto Jeffrey's desk. Papers flew, pens scattered, speakers were tipped over, chaos ensued. It finally settled on the window sill where it began to scratch helplessly against the glass, jumping up into the blinds, pulling them off the runner, then starting all over again. Duncan hurried to the window, barking and pawing to get in as the squirrel, inches away on the other side of the glass, tried to get out.

There was nothing I could do but watch (and yes, take a picture). I grabbed Duncan, put him on his leash and pulled him away while Jeffrey, laughing like a stoned Santa, tried to coax the squirrel out from behind his desk with a broom. The squirrel decided on one last course of action, which involved getting caught in all the computer wires and pulling them loose, then scampered back into the living room, out the door and up the closest tree where it immediately began screaming all sorts of unrepeatable obscenities at me. 

Jeffrey finally appeared, still laughing, out of breath and his face flushed red.

"That," he said, "was the best thing I've ever seen! You can't make this up!"

He's correct. Duncan's life writes itself.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

All Smiles

I can't say I blame Duncan one bit. After all, it is close to a hundred degrees and the air feels like hot sandpaper just opening the door and stepping out into it. The sidewalk is nearly impossible to stand on in my tennis shoes and poor Dunc does a little jogging dance from one foot back to the other whenever we hurry from the breezeway to the grass. 

The Run, with its maples and Lindens, is a blessedly shady spot, but relief from this heat is hard to find even there. It is the monsoon season in Denver, which means we get clouds and rain in the afternoons, which tends to cool things off a bit, and even though the clouds are already forming, Duncan was in no mood to wait. He hurried ahead of me to Jeffrey's patio where the squirrels and bluejays congregate for the ample food Jeffrey puts out for them. He's taken quite a fancy to Duncan and has started buying treats for Roo whenever we pass by. Duncan does his cute little dance. gives Jeffrey a high five, rolls over, does everything he know how to do to milk every last treat from the man.

This afternoon, though, Jeffrey wasn't expecting us. He was standing on his patio watching his two cats lurk their way through the long grass on the golf course side of the fence, a chocolate popsicle melting down his hand. Duncan appeared out of nowhere and didn't wait a moment for Jeffrey to offer a treat. He merely jumped up, latched onto the popsicle and bit it in half, his tongue lapping up the drippings as he went. Jeffrey didn't even have time to react and by the time I got there was laughing hysterically, a perfectly clean popsicle stick clutched in his hand.

"I am so sorry," I apologized.

"It's okay," he laughed and held out his hand for Dunc to clean up. "It's chocolate-flavored, but don't worry, there's not an ounce of chocolate in it. He should be just fine."

I could only shake my head at Dunc, who was all smiles for the rest of the walk.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Duncan made a discovery in the bushes outside Jeffrey's apartment this morning.

And his discovery looks none too happy for it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Murder and Mayhem

(AP, Littleton, Colorado)

Terror has returned to this small community once again.

Shortly after dawn this morning, Mayor Curt awoke to find one of its long term residents, Frog, brutally disfigured and disemboweled in the living room. Rogers alerted authorities but after viewing the crime scene, none seemed optimistic about solving the crime.

"It's no wonder," Rogers was quoted as saying. "Two years ago Percy the Penguin suffered a similar fate , being ripped limb from limb. The poor soul never recovered and has been in intensive care ever since." Bah-Bah, our pacifist sheep, was pushed from a balcony and found dead the next morning. Authorities have long suspected that Bah-Bah was pushed as a means of silencing him before he could reveal the identity of Percy's atacker.

Clues to these crimes have been scarce, as Officer Bobster the Lobster, chief detective on the scene reported. "Whoever is committing these atrocities is doing them under cover of darkness while the locals are asleep. No eyewitnesses, no fingerprints, no nuthin'."

The only link between the three victims is their good friend and trusted playmate, Duncan "Roo" Rogers, who claims to have been in bed asleep at the time of the murder. A source close to Mr. Roo says he is beside himself with grief and is too shocked to leave bed and make a statement at this time.

Whether or not Duncan "Roo" is a suspect, Officer Bobster will not say. Rather, he and other members of the police force urge anyone with any information to come forward.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Fly in the Parlor

Two months ago, when Spring was new and each day felt like an unexpected gift, something to be explored and savored sweetly and with a lazy diligence, I didn't mind the spider webs. They were small things, trifles, barely perceptible as we passed under the budding trees. The spiders were tiny then, barely seen and their webs were little more than a breeze, catching on the scruff of my cheek or the point of my elbow, a tickle that could be brushed away with the back of my hand. But now, like the summer, they have grown bloated and thick, heavy as a thunder cloud, as troubling as lightning.

This morning near the end of our walk, after we'd circled the property, played a quick game of fetch in the park, Duncan and I were headed home when he led me through the wide, grassy area between several of the buildings, thick with trees and low shrubs, where the grass grows tall and squirrels and bunnies hide, leaving only the tips of their tails or translucent ears––golden in the sunlight––visible. He'd spotted a rabbit, small and new and quick to startle, and pulled hard on his leash as it darted under the low boughs of a tall spruce. Dunc followed, dragging me between the sharp needles and the soft leaves of a tall shrub growing next to it. I cried out as he pulled me forward where I could clearly see the thick silver threads of an enormous web, feet wide and as intricately built as lace, glistening with dew, shimmering in the early sun, waiting for me, everything that the playful strands of Spring were not.

There was little I could but close my eyes and mouth as it pulled taut across my nose, then my cheeks, wrapped around my head, catching on my shoulders and tearing––something I could actually hear!––as I passed through it. I felt it catch in my hair, its frayed ends alighting on my shoulders and back. I groaned loudly and pulled Dunc, who'd stepped under the thing, away from the bush he was frantically nosing his way into, across the parking lot toward home where I spent the next five minutes patting myself down, running my fingers through my hair, wiping my face, changing shirts and dancing the heebie jeebies while he watched and waited patiently for his breakfast to be served.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Right Way to Live

When I Am Among the Trees
When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness,
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine."
(Mary Oliver)

There is a moment, late in a summer's day, not long before the sun sets, when the shadows have grown so long they are like a blanket pulled across the world, when the light through the trees is an overwhelming gold, so vibrant it can be felt, when the birdsong is softening and lulls the crickets and night creatures awake, urging them to join the chorus, when the tips of the tallest, flowering blades of grass catch the precious light among their budding tips and carry it proudly, like lanterns held aloft, that is my favorite time to take Duncan for a walk down The Run to The Glen.

The voice of the trees is a soothing whisper and the cool air rising up from the grass is as rejuvenating as lemonade. Neither of us is in a hurry, which is the best way to walk, and step softly around the brilliantly illuminated wings of the insects which rise up and dance around our ankles before settling down among the thick blades of grass as we pass. The traffic dies down long enough for dinner and the spin of the world seems to relax and stop so that the night is frozen, caught in amber, captured forever in my memory as another perfect evening, the kind I will walk through in dreams many times long days from now.

Surely there is a right way to live, and when I am with Duncan on nights such as this, I'm certain I have found it.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

My Precious Family

We have been sixteen years in the making, this little family of mine. When I first met Ken he already had Ashley and Nikki, our first Goldens, but soon after I moved in we ventured down to Morton Grove Animal Hospital to adopt Pip and Winnie. Six years later, shortly after coming to Denver Olive joined our family. And then two years after that we added Duncan, who I have spent so many hours writing about.

There is a part of me that feels guilty for not writing more about the others, especially these days, but let's be honest, cats simply don't do as much as dogs. Perhaps they do, but in a different way. Olive would never lead me around the lake to point out a perfect sunflower and Pip would scamper away and hide at the mere suggestion. Only Winnie would be game, but it would be slow as she'd pause far more often than Roo, to roll her cheeks against the warm sidewalk and show her pristine white belly to the sun. She has always been the gentlest of our children but also the most assertive and adventurous. She has stood up to Duncan when he and Pip have played too hard and she certainly won't tolerate Olive's aloof, semi-feral attitude for one moment. She's quick to cuddle, claiming her special spot on my hip each time I settle down long enough for her to notice, but is spirited enough to join me in the shower every morning.

She's my precious Bean and it has been incredibly difficult these past two weeks knowing that she'll soon be leaving us.

The day after I returned from New York we were given the bad news that Winnie Mouse has cancer, untreatable and nasty. We were told we may have a few weeks left to spend with her but no one knows for sure. So the days that followed have been spent playing with her outside, cuddling with her whenever she wants, feeding her special meals, watching her lay in puddles of sunlight, a content smile on her face. Not a moment is being wasted until the time comes for her to embark on her next adventure.

Please think good thoughts for my precious family. And most especially for my little Bean. She is more my girl than Duncan is my boy. I love her with all my heart.

Monday, July 2, 2012


It has been a busy couple of weeks and I'm only now getting around to sorting through photos of my trip to Upstate New York last week. I meant to do this sooner but life kept being life and things kept coming up.

You may recall that Henry and Thomas, sons of my friend April, were the winners of the Magic Feather Contest. April was kind enough to send some photos of the day they received their prizes. I wanted to share them here because the boys are so darn cute and because this makes me very happy. 

Thanks, kiddo, for brightening my day. I'm glad they enjoyed their prizes. I love you. Be careful.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Life with Duncan

(I'm late to the meme but I couldn't resist)

The Goose

After the sun had set and the cool air seemed to rise up from the grass and hills of the park, Duncan and I ventured out for our first truly enjoyable walk of the day. It has been hot here, very hot, and the air has been tinged with the faint, warm scent of smoke from the fires burning to across the Front Range, especially the big ones to the north and south of us. Mornings have been pleasant but the heat comes too soon and we often find ourselves resting in the shade under one of the big elms at the park, rolling in the grass until we're nice and wet. But last night the park cooled quickly so we took a long, meandering stroll across the soccer fields, through the baseball diamonds and up the hillside overlooking the upper park and the lake, whose level has dropped off from the lack of rain and the searing temperatures.

We were coming down the hillside to investigate the shady spot in the tall grass where the bunnies roost when a man, perhaps in his early thirties, stepped away from his small gathering under the picnic shelter. I assume he'd been drinking for the light wobble in his step and the words I could see him mouthing to himself as he trudges away from his group. He stepped around the line of port-a-potties which have been set up for the girls' softball tournament, and which, under the relentless heat of the day, have begun to smell horrific, like steaming clouds of radioactive green chemicals. I couldn't blame him for choosing to step into the line of tall shrubs rather than open one of those florescent blue doors and step inside.

Duncan saw him too, and no sooner had the man unbuttoned his fly and started watering the bushes, than Roo took off toward him, his propeller tail swishing gaily through the air above him.

"Roo!" I called and hurried after him, uncertain of how close I should actually get to the man, especially in his vulnerable state.

The man evidently didn't hear me and he certainly never saw what was coming. There was nothing I could do to stop Dunc from coming up the hill behind the man and sticking his cool, moist nose squarely against the man's thigh, who cried out, jumped, turned quickly and sprayed a wide arc across the shrubs and all down the front of his khaki cargo shorts.

"Sorry about that," I winced. He turned his back to me and continued about his business while Roo took a seat and waited for the attention he thought he deserved.

"No problems, man," he said, finishing up. "I'd give him a pat but I think I should get washed up first." He gestured at the front of his shorts and held his hands up high in front of him.

Apparently a flying goose isn't the only one Duncan enjoys.