Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Joan: Acute Cute

She helps me load the wet clothes to the dryer. She helps me take the dry clothes out of the dryer. She would love to sort the dirty clothes to the proper hampers, but I draw the line at that.

Joan Maria loves retail adventures. Tractor Supply for horse feed, Trader Joe's for cheddar cheese and lettuce, Target for paper products, Lowe's for hardware -- any of those are her cup of tea. The sights! The sounds! The free samples!

She hangs around in the kitchen when we're cooking, using her own personal language to explain when she wants to taste or eat. She has started trying to say "Up" to be picked up to see what's going on in the pans on the stove. She knows where all her favorite foods are kept, be it freezer or pantry or fridge.

When in my studio, she has certain things that are "hers" to play with: a big coffee can (which may either be a drum or a repository, or a ballistic missile to roll down the driveway onto the street) and two rolls of masking tape from beneath my work table. In this picture, she was taking the lid off the can, adding the two tapes, putting the lid on. Over and over again.

Which was cute in itself.

But her mother, hoping to secure my early demise, put Joan's hair into two wispy pigtails.

Death by cuteness, that's how I'm going to go.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Yuck for Lent

I've said for years that if you don't decide on a path for Lent, the Powers That Be will choose one for you. I guess I wasn't clear enough about my path; I thought I'd sing a hymn a day, do some religious reading. But instead I was sent a variety of flu that my autumn inoculation apparently didn't cover. So this first week of Lent has been spent largely on pondering the Jesuit way of approaching life: you should neither want to die nor live, but accept what is given you.

I didn't really want to die, but this flu certainly did put a dent in wanting to keep on living like that.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

The Winter Garden

I got a bit of a late start last autumn with my winter garden; I really should get stuff started in the beginning of October, but at that time I was still harvesting tomatoes and zucchinis. Nevertheless, the beginning of November still gave me enough time to get some greens in, and snow peas.

In the most successful planter (the one that got regular water and had no roaming cats taking a crap in it) I had snow peas, then a row of delicious red-leaf lettuce, and a double row of spinach.

We've had plenty of peas for sides of stir-fried veggies, and enough spinach for salads; I'm the only one who eats the dark lettuce, but I don't mind. A recent storm knocked my peas off their trellis, so the extra string was necessary to prop them up.

The chard and the seed onions didn't work out so well -- those were the ones that needed to go into the garden earlier. That was the planter that the cats got into, until I took twine and strung a criss-cross pattern across the top.

Soon it will be time to switch over to the summer planting, which will be tomatoes without rhyme or reason, and zukes again, and corn. And some cucumbers.

(And more tomatoes.)

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Farewell, Faithful Hound

Sebastian's all-too-short life ended today, unexpectedly, unfairly, inexplicably. He had to be put to sleep after a week of illness: we and the vet thought it was gastroenteritis, that he had eaten something that disagreed with him, and that in a few days he'd be back to his hungry happy old self. Unfortunately we were wrong. His kidneys just stopped functioning. And now he's gone.

He was John my son-in-law's dog. When John would have nightmares of battlefields and wake disoriented, Sebastian was there on the bed beside him to lick his face; if John thought he heard something odd in the night, Sebastian was his key to what was real and what was dream-farts. When the pain from John's back sent him to lie in bed, Sebastian was always glad to climb onto the bed and snuggle against his daddy. And watch him, waiting for John to open his eyes so that he could sneak a lick on John's eyeballs.

He was Lillian's dog. He was her first puppy, her playmate in the pool (for hours at a time), her warm pet to share a couch with while she listened to music or watched videos on her tablet. He was her trainer on how to be a dog owner, how to walk with a dog on a leash.

He was Alex's dog. All the dogs she had in her life before were my dogs, Bernie's dogs. Sebastian was her first doggy clay to train, and what a perfect gentleman she made of him. She taught him to heel, to sit, to lie down; she taught him to fetch and release a toy, to pick up any object and put it in John's hand so that he wouldn't have to bend as often. He was her Good Little Dog.

He was our dog, too. From the time he was a puppy, one of his favorite things was to shove himself between people's legs. I'd tickle him in the ribs when he did that, and he would stomp and huff with pleasure. He would climb into Bernie's lap for close-up cuddling. He was once even a Peek of the Week on the Piker Press, and later I used his eyes for part of the illustration for Kimberly Zeidner's story, "Paradoxica."

Sebastian, you've left a big hole in our household, and we will miss you so much.