Monday, February 26, 2007

Time Rolls On

It's that time of year.

The air is LOADED with fragrance, which I am able to enjoy for the second year in 20, favor of the prescription drug "Astelin."

Astelin is my bosom buddy.

The orchards are rich in bloom, and the temps are moderate -- in the high 50's. What the harvest will be like, I don't know. It's warm enough for the bees to work the orchards, but it's been really rainy. And dim.

Do the bees go around in little black and yellow rain gear with flashlights?
A month ago, when ice was thick on the swimming pool, I kept telling myself, "Another month, and it will be Spring, and the almonds will be in bloom.

And now they are.

It's a bittersweet Spring, though. I just talked to my mother, who is due to be 82 this July. She was in good spirits, but recounted to me two different and rather disturbing tales.

Her weather has been below freezing, with snow and freezing rain befouling their town. She told me that she was still chilled through because she had decided to walk "out the road" to get some medical maintenance supplies this morning.

"Where did you have to walk, Mom?"

"Oh, I can't remember, but they didn't have what I needed, so I had to walk somewhere else. And then they sent me to another place. My goodness, I haven't had to walk beside the road for a long, long time."

Okay, I know that town, and the places you might have to walk along side the road ... are not places that you want to walk along side the road on the narrow gravel berms.

And the places that you might go for medical supplies are far, far apart.

"And oh, I was so embarrassed. I fell, just the next house up the street. I didn't even know I fell, I just found myself on the sidewalk. Must have been a soft, soft landing."

Now, is it melodrama? Or ...

Then she told me she missed Mass yesterday morning. "I was out in the country," she said. "I went out there to meditate, and was all the way to Thompsontown (45 minutes away), and by the time I got back, I was late for Mass. But I didn't know if I dreamed it, or if it really happened."

I don't know, either.

But my question is: what was my sister doing while Ma got lost in the country, or while she walked all over town?

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Worst of Spring Weather

Sunny and 66 degrees F. Feels like 34.

I saw more people in hoods and hats and heavy coats today than I've seen all winter, I think. Baby carriages had polyester fleece throws across them, and even inside stores, people were wearing sweaters.

During the summer, if I wake up and see that it's above 60 degrees in the house, I puff and pace in my shorts and tank top and turn on fans to keep the temperatures down as long as possible. But on days like today, I'm wearing fake polyester wool and my feet are colder than they have been since the Great Freeze of January. Today's weather condition was The Wind.

If not for the steady 20 mph wind out of the north today, I'd have been wearing shorts and sunning myself. As it was, I was shivering and shuddering all day, listening to the wind hoot around the window seals, feeling the buffets of the wind on the car while I was driving.

The sun was hot
but the air was not.

I hate days like this far more than foggy ones, rainy ones, sleety ones, scorching ones.

And something just hit the front of the house with an unnatural *thump*.


Monday, February 12, 2007

They Do This All Day Long

Sebastian has grown A LOT since his last photo on this blog.

He weighs over 40 pounds, and has lost almost all of his nasty sharp puppy teeth. And he love him big brother Howie.

I was watching them one day (when Sebastian was much smaller.) Howie was just starting to let Sebastian maul his ruff in play, and in a tender moment, Howie gently bit Sebastian's little legs and chest and neck. More like tasting him than actually biting ...

Of course that's escalated into slapdowns and body blocks now, and leaping through the air to pounce. Howie has a favorite wresting position -- on the ground. From beneath, as Sebastian buries his face in Howie's loose neck fur, Howie can bring those powerful hindquarters to bear and kick him across the room.

In the second picture, Howie pre-empts the neck bite by grabbing Sebastian's shiny black cheek, and shoving him out of the way, as Sebastian has rudely stepped on Howie's inviolate stripes.

Note the hind leg poised to give Sebastian a ripping good kick.

Their teeth-showing always makes me laugh. Howie's face stripes make his snarl look like he has wrinkles all the way up past his eyes, and Sebastian's fangs aren't all the way out yet -- so he looks like he's showing a poorly-made set of dentures.

After the boot across the room, Howie leaps to his feet and laughs at Sebastian over his shoulder. Sebastian, as you can tell from the expression, is ready and on his way to the next pounce.

Catching them on camera when they're playing like this is hard. Most of the images are blurred. Right after this, the dogs met in a chest slam, both of them standing on their hind legs. I was safely wedged in the laundry room out of harm's way; all too often they try to include me in their tussles. I appreciate the inclusion, but I have no desire to be knocked down and trampled.

The dogs snort and snap and the wrestling match is accompanied by the sound track of Howie growling. Babe (God rest his great soul) taught Howie all about growling. Every now and then I hear Sebastian trying a growl on for size, expecially when they're playing tug of war with a toy. It's only a matter of time before it's going to sound like a Wookiee bar fight again.

The next pounce comes within seconds. Howie falls down and begins kicking, while Sebastian tries to swallow his throat. The other benefit to Howie's strategy appears to be that he can bite Sebastian's legs and make the littler dog hop and lose his balance.

Sebastian's ears flop around, sometimes balancing just right so that they stand up, with the tips tipping over backwards. Kind of a drunken fruit bat look.

I'm wondering if Sebastian is actually going to end up being the larger dog when he's fully grown. I kind of doubt that he'll be the faster of the two, though, and that may be Howie's saving grace. When Howie is winning at the wrestling game, he gets so thrilled that he "gets the gallops" and, wild-eyed, starts running at full speed through the house, from the front door to the fireplace in the back, skidding to a spinning halt only to arch his back and leap madly in the opposite direction. At times like those, EVERYBODY gets out of his way, because what Howie may lack in size, he will more than make up for in velocity. Sebastian plasters himself against the side of the couch and tries not to attract attention.

Another kick across the room, and they pause to catch their breath. Howie rolls onto his chest and looks to see if Sebastian has one more round left in him for this event. If not, they'll both take a nap and rest up for the next bout.

Howie had a big day today, going to the supermarket with me and having a walk around the noisy, scary parking lot when I was done shopping. He's okay with another tackle, but he'd just as soon opt for the nap now.

Fat chance, Howie. The pup is ready to bring it on again.