Gandalf the Green

Gandalf the GreenThis is my dog Gandalf the Grey, and yes, he is covered in bullsh*t.  Real, fresh, soupy, green, straight-out-of-the-bull sh*t. I had seen him out rolling and cavorting in the field and thought “Ah, now, there’s a happy dog… nice”. I let him bounce around for a couple more minutes and then called him. He came on a dead run.

Oh lordy he was beyond ecstatic; grinning from ear to ear and tongue flapping in the breeze as he pounded home. “Mom! Mom! Look what I found! This is so cool!” He came nearer….I looked closer…..something was terribly wrong and I backed away from the green slime being flung off this fur as he spun around in his happydance. It was just then that I heard the bull bellow; so that was what all that rolling and frolicking in the field had been about. Happy dog my foot….he had found the mother lode of poo.

Keeping him at a safe distance (almost impossible; he wanted to share his good fortune with me), I started to laugh. He was all but completely covered and truly green; the photo just doesn’t do it justice. The really special part, though, was that he had managed to nearly fill one ear!

He pranced and radiated delight, I laughed until I could hardly stand up then I collected myself to get a dog bath ready. There was no way he was coming into the house; I would have to de-poo him on the driveway. He likes neither photo ops (hence the look on his face in the above shot) or baths (although he was reasonably cheerful while we created shamrock colored soapy bubbles) and once dried and inside, the magnitude of the twin indignities of photo and bath sank in and he sulked the rest of the night.

We made up over bacon (the maple kind?) the next morning.

What is it about poo that is so attractive to dogs? That is for sure going on the Questions For God After I Die list!


Gandalf the Grey (Ghost)

I am privileged to share my home with Pippintook, the cat and Gandalf the Grey, the Norwegian Elkhound. Gandalf is my boon companion; he is dignified yet playful, smart without being cocky, and gorgeous. He loves the snow (that must be the Norwegian part) and watching him roll and snuffle and luxuriate in it always makes me chuckle and Rebecca positively cracks up.

Gandalf the Grey (snow)

Gandalf and I have been close since his arrival many years ago and have bonded even more over the last year and a half. He has a knack for being that I came to appreciate soon after separating from my then-spouse. It was one of the first nights in my new apartment; I was grieving mightily and hanging on only by my toenails when I awoke to find him snuggled up beside me. I rested my hand on his soft fur and he laid there for a bit until I calmed down and went back to sleep. He was on his own bed as usual the next morning and has not slept on my bed before or since. Without a word he gave me immense comfort and I owe him big time for that one.

He is a hound and it is a wonder to watch him checking out all the smells when we are outside.  I guess all that sniffing and information gathering about who has been where doing what is comparable to me reading the paper or standing in line at the grocery store catching up on Brad and Angie. Not that they live in my neighborhood but you get the idea.

His nose is also his only fault. He can get so involved with tracking a fox or cat or whatever that he completely forgets himself along with everything else. When he is in “the zone” commands don’t register and I really think that he is not “not minding”, he is just oblivious. When my voice finally penetrates his consciousness he pops up happy and grinning as if to say “Wow! Did you smell THAT?”

The days I work we walk early. In the winter it is still deeply dark and very quiet and whatever light there is comes from the porch and street lights. With snow on the ground it is a bit surreal, and peaceful, too; the calm before the bustle of the day sets in and people are catching that last warm snooze before the alarm goes off in earnest. Gandalf usually waits for me on the front walk while I shut the door then I clip him into his extendable leash and off we go.

The other morning, however, I turned from the door and no Gandalf. Gone. Not a tinkle of dog tags or a “whuff” from him as he checked for scent under the snow. Nada.

I walked up the street in both directions doing the “whisper yell”. Anyone who has done that raise your hand… oxymoron for sure and I don’t think it actually works but what are you going to do if you can’t really holler? No sign of him. Great…..I’ve lost my dog…..

I wandered the area for another five minutes and was trying not to think of my morning dissolving into search and rescue mode when he materialized as a silhouette against the snow. Ears perky, tail wagging…..he had been on a field trip without a chaperone and had the smile to prove it. I never did figure out exactly where he went but I have a pretty good idea and he’s not going there again without me!

Note to self: longer walks would be good for both of us. Outside is a bonny place to be.

After the storm

Miss Cranky-pants

I have been in a post holiday funk for a couple of days. At least I think that’s what it is. The timing is right so that’s what I’m going to call it and I realize that I have no good reason but sometimes it just happens. Don’t get me wrong; I am so damn lucky to be where I am now but I guess this is the “compare and contrast” chapter to reinforce it. Perspective is helpful and right now I am too cranky to care so decided to share this with you, gentle reader. Yes, I brazenly stole that phrase from Charlotte Bronte…’s the kind of mood I’m in.

1. I have the unsupported and irrational suspicion that “everyone else” is having more fun than I am. This is whining and I freely admit it. I have no pride today. Al-Anon has a great saying about not comparing my insides to other people’s outsides. It helps to remember this but watching TV and endless commercials about finding your soulmate through this or that online dating service and the beautiful sitcom Cosby family fly in the face of that knowledge. Then I remember that people completely re-invent themselves for online dating sites (“Gosh, you look way older than your photo”), Bill Cosby can make me laugh so hard I can’t breathe and he is still keeping on after the tragedy of his son’s death. And also why I rarely watch commercial TV.

2. I am doing “all this” alone. No wait, I was doing it alone before and also dealing with the effects of living with an alcoholic who had access to our joint credit card. Scratch #2.

3. I am struggling with the fact that there are people who probably believe untrue things that have been said about me. I have faults enough for which I should be held accountable so why do I care about fabrications? I don’t know; it’s none of my business what others think of me and I’m learning not to care, actually. Baby steps. To paraphrase Plato, “Live your life in such a way that if someone were to say something really bad about you, no one would believe it”. And the ones who do believe it might just be jealous…..after all, the stories make me sound much more dramatic and adventurous than I really am! (See #1. I am so vanilla.)

4. I have to clean the house. This means I am going to have to take the tree down today and I would rather be playing music or running or painting or or or. Gandalf the Grey (my dog) was groomed yesterday so that will decrease the pet hair load. Have you noticed how there is no dust in space? Seriously, think about it. When was the last time you saw a protective coating of fine particulate matter in Star Trek or Star Wars or in the hallways of Deep Space Nine? I used to think it was because there were only droids and humans and slobbery reptilian creatures but then I remembered Tribbles and Chewbacca. No dust bunnies there! What gives? Oh, wait….science fiction.

5. I love movies. I love the stories and the scenery and the oh-so-wonderful special effects. But I must confess that part of my unsettledness is quite possibly due to having seen The Hobbit once and Les Miserables twice in the last week. Peter Jackson has done a spectacular job with Tolkien’s stories and I am considering remodeling my house into a hobbit hole. And some of those dwarves….if they were taller I would consider dating them. But not the one who braided his eyebrows. Men with purpose and honor and strength and….oh, wait…..fantasy. Gotcha. (I am related to many such men, either by birth or by marriage but the dating pool here looks like the Serengeti at the end of the dry season. If you are reading this and you really are a man with purpose, honor, etc, I don’t mean you. Call me later and we’ll talk).

Well….then, there’s Hugh and Russell and the music of Les Miserables. That was one sad story! Bad stuff had happened or was going to happen to almost everyone in it, but it was sad in a good way and I thank the writers for the Thenardiers! (If you don’t know what I mean by that, go see the movie; Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen….I won’t say more). I am still humming the tunes. There was some serious sh** going down in that tale but I loved it…..and you know why? (1) Great music (2) Opportunities to laugh showed up in the oddest places and (3) It all worked out in the end.

So, so simple! The Recipe to help turn the corner and not let pissiness infect my life and waste my days…..all I need is my own soundtrack with some great lyrics (new appreciation for people who write music), to enjoy comic relief (it’s usually in there somewhere) and to remember that it will all work out in the end, (whatever that means).

“All will be well and all will be well and all manner of thing will be well”. Julian of Norwich had it right. I wonder if she had music in her head when she said those words? And to manage to arrive at that place in her life, I bet she had a quirky sense of humor, too.





The Christmas Sock Part 2


The expectant sock hung there, visible proof that the mental pat on the back earlier that day was prematurely delivered. Santa is supposed to know whose socks are where. After all, Twinkle was home at her apartment so why shouldn’t her sock be there, too? Never mind that we hadn’t done it that way in previous years; whatever Rebecca‘s reasoning,Twinkle’s new sock at her own apartment had seemed like a good idea at the time.

At this point my mind was paddling madly trying to stay afloat in the face of incontrovertible evidence that we had a SantaFAIL on our hands.

“Ummm, well……Santa…..came to my house first……and……he knew you were there and he only saw your sock…..that must be why he put the cat treats for Twinkle in your sock! He knew you would give them to her and he didn’t think he needed to stop at your place.”

“But they were the wrong kind. She only eats salmon flavor”. Rebecca’s thinking is so concrete she has this ability to point out the obvious. Keeps me grounded, it does.

“Ummm, yes…..perhaps the elf got confused about which treats went to which cat.”  When in doubt, blame the elf.

There was some acceptance of this reasoning but I saw a flicker of disappointment in her eyes as we moved on to making plans for the next couple of days and when Rebecca would return to my house.  I could have let this whole episode go; my explanations all seemed plausible enough and we could start over next year but this was just not a satisfying end to an otherwise Great Christmas. How could this elf redeem herself?

When I was younger I lived in Europe for a time and Christmas was celebrated for the full twelve days. Trolls and elves ruled the season and gifts were given throughout. There was the answer……Christmas is a season, not a day! Salmon treats, a festive gift bag (half price by now!) and the appropriate note from Santa were prepared. When the kids were little Santa used to leave them notes thanking them for the snacks on Christmas Eve so a letter would not be unusual. Rebecca would be over later that day; where to leave this second offering? It needed to be somewhere quite obvious and I needed to be nowhere near when she found it. I filled the bag, slipped in the note from Santa, hung it on the front door and left to run errands.

Returning a couple of hours later I found the gift bag and its contents laid out on the kitchen counter. Rebecca was beaming. When I had left the house I mentally checked off the SantaFail as “handled” and had been so busy I had actually forgotten about it. This is good because it made it possible for me to be totally surprised at this scene in my kitchen. This same trait also enables me to hide my own Easter eggs, genuinely laugh at jokes being told for the umpteenth time and to be otherwise easily entertained. I consider it a strength.

Rebecca handed me the note; “I haven’t gotten a letter from Santa for a long time! He has nice handwriting. I can’t read cursive”. I read the note to her and she grinned. She got into her back pack and produced Twinkle’s new Christmas sock. “This needs to stay at your house for Christmas next year!”

Elf: 1, SantaFail: 0