Monday, August 28, 2006


I have had a career, raised a family, and keep a household running for most of my life. And while doing all of this, I felt forced to set aside a lot of other things I wanted to do. Things that fall into the guilt-ridden category of ‘an ultimate waste of time’. During all those years I did not read books, or paint, or write, or tat, or knit, or crochet. Always too much guilt. Always too much shame about engaging in such an ultimate waste of time when there was weeding that needed doing, laundry, housecleaning, baking, etc.

Well I’m here to tell you today that these things are NOT an ultimate waste of time. If you enjoy these things, do them. Not at the expense of your children but at the expense of less demands on yourself to be on top of everything else. And this is why.

Since I retired I am a happier person because of all the delightful books I have read. Scads of them. Too many to count. Last winter I did other ‘ultimate waste of time’ projects. I knit Hub two pairs of socks and Hub was tickled. And I was pleased as well. I blog, and that too is an ultimate waste of time but writing is something I must do and have long waited to do.

Hub is also doing ‘ultimate waste of time’ stuff. He pounded posts and fenced the woods even though we have only imaginary beasts to put into that fencing. He built gates and trails in the woods that he grooms regularly. He created a beautiful campsite with fire pits, a biffy, and camping stalls where only imaginary campers are likely to camp. The grandchildren and the little twins next door painted signs for him to put up on posts to mark the trails. We have signposts for ‘Forest Glen’, ‘Caragana Corridor’, and ‘Haunted Tipi Trail’ (there is an old tipi structure on this trail). In his imaginary world, in his ‘ultimate waste of time’ projects, Hub even put up a sign that says, ‘Pick-U-Park (Lots 1 – 35) though in reality if any campers did want to camp here (which is not likely to happen), his campsite has only four stalls.

Looking into some distant future, the archeologists are going to be quite confused some years hence when all this stuff sinks into the clay. Already our closest neighbors are very confused. They regularly pop over and ask ‘what we’re doing’ and with obvious concern, ‘why are you doing it?’ Somehow Hub’s response that he might get an ostrich or some other large beast only causes them greater concern. I expect any day now they will be popping over to ask, ‘What day is it? When were you born? What country do you live in?’ You know, stuff like that.

But I digress. What I really want to do is encourage anyone out there wrapped in painful guilt about doing this kind of stuff to lighten up. I am filled with regret that I didn’t do more of the things I wanted to do sooner. I am annoyed that I bought into the idea that this time-wasting stuff should be shelved until retirement.

Lately I have been tatting. It is fine work, exotic work, so lovely. And seriously, I don’t mean to maliciously wound crocheter’s feelings, but in truth when tatting is compared with crocheting, the comparison is like comparing fine calligraphy with smudged newsprint.

Lately I am tatting large lacy doilies that I hope to have laminated. Either as Victorian placemats for elegant teas at YD’s hoped for Tea House or as heirlooms of a lost art for each of my daughters. But I should have done this sooner. For one thing, it is hard to get the fine thread I need. And tatting shuttles are also impossible to find. But luckily for me, originally my mother taught me to tat with a stick. So if I can’t find another shuttle when I need one, I guess I can still go back to using a smooth stick ditched in a way that allows me to wind thread around it. Hub can make me one when he is less busy with supplying fine firewood for his imaginary campers.

But more than that, what has really sealed my regrets about setting aside all the things that I considered an ultimate waste of time was the ominous news from the Eye Doctor last week. I cannot have new glasses, not until I get surgery to correct cataract. How sad I am to think that after spending a lifetime shelving the things I was longing to do, just waiting to do, I may now have to give it all up. That I might be forced to set it all aside in favor of less detailed work like helping Hub build more fence and clear more brush?

Yesterday, I was forced to set aside a large tatted doily that is almost complete. I am on the very last round and that round is almost done. But my eyes are tired, exhausted, watering, and blurring. So now I am cutting old T-shirts into strips and crocheting rugs. Not what I want to do, not what I prefer to do, but what I am forced to do. This kind of work is large enough I can do it without my glasses and without eyestrain. The rugs are nice, they give me that good feeling that comes with resourceful recycling, but making rugs not what I want to do. I want to tat.

So this blog is to prompt those who are younger than I, to go ahead and do those ‘ultimate waste of time’ things that bring such calm, peace, and enjoyment. Keep that artisan part of yourself honed and in good order at the expense of living room clutter, a bit of dust, or a few weeds in the garden.

After all, there are other things that are eating up the days of the dogged workers that just haven’t been sorted and properly labeled yet. Things like superfluous e-mail, gizmo orientations, computer stuff like virus cleansing, the unending cycle and volume of voice messaging, mundane conversation, painful socializing obligations, shopping for non-essentials, etc. etc.

All of them an ‘ultimate waste of time’!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


From my earliest childhood I have possessively guarded my fanciful interpretations for that which can neither be proved or disproved. I am that kind of dreamer. Hub is practical. And so sometimes Hub’s cool practicality collides with my idealistic notions. That’s what happened today.

Now we both got up to a stunningly beautiful day in both fanciful and practical terms. Bright sunshine. Verdant grass. Profuse flowers. Trees and shrubs looking their best. Fields golden with grain and hay-fields lavender with clover.

“Come to the deck,” Hub said. “Now take a good look. What could Heaven have that would be better than this?”

Now you must remember I had only just got up. Head still fuzzy with sleep. I mumbled “streets of gold?”

“Streets? How drab would urban construction be, compared to this? Gold pavement would be hard to walk on and slippery when wet. And how could one drive with that glare?” was Hub’s cool and practical response.

That meant I needed another comeback. It’s part of the essence of any decent husband-wife relationship to always have a tidy comeback no matter what. So I searched my limited references to Paradise (having never been there) and pulled out another random thought.

“The lion can lay down with the lamb?”

“We have that here,” was Hub’s reply. “Already there are many lions trained to be sensitive and congenial enough to lie down with lambs, if that’s what you want.”

At that point, as I gazed at the landscape, I felt myself rapidly slipping from a fanciful to a practical conclusion. The heaven-shattering conclusion that maybe heaven is located on the Mezzanine Floor. Looking at this perfection, why wouldn’t it be?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

# 176 PANDORA'S BOX (Intro)


We like to think that with our sophisticated language we can wrap any emotion, any reaction, any response, anticipated, or unanticipated, in words that will aptly describe that feeling. But that is so not true. I have been violated, and although I may try, and with all the Blogs I have written, I’ve had plenty of practice, I still don’t think words can carve for you exactly how I feel.

Even without the sexual connotation that we normally give it, ‘violation’ impacts on one’s soul in an unforgettable way. It is harsh. And, surprisingly, despite its harshness, I know of no simple proverb or parable that adequately describe how much it is like a sandpaper rub that continues day after day. But there is a legendary story that provides some sense of it. The story of Pandora’s Box.

As a child, and even yet, I find “Pandora’s Box” a fascinating story. The story of the sweetness of a little girl and her fascination with an artfully decorated and beautifully carved treasure box. It was a perfect world, made up of only wonder and sweet expectation, before her curiosity got the best of her.

Now when I first read that story, where was the suspense? I already knew – it was obvious, that when Pandora opened that box it would hold even more stunning beauty and wonder than it did when viewed from the outside. But I was so wrong. Just one tiny peek and Pandora was surrounded with a swarm of nastiness. Such nastiness that not only was Pandora’s world violated, but in the reading of it, I felt violated as well.

But all this is only reflection, to set the stage, for my next story. Pandora’s box has only subtle similarities to the horrors of the ‘violators’ that this week descended on me.

Keep reading. Following post – The nasties revealed.

# 176 (cont'd) PANDORA'S BOX II

The Nasties Revealed

My first feelings of utter violation came about ten years ago when I was gaily tripping down a sidewalk doing some last minute Christmas shopping. Humming under my breath “Oh Holy Night” with joy and internal reverence. Breathing in crisp winter air, feeling such happy anticipation of the Holiday Season. But then suddenly I found myself flat on my face on the sidewalk with smashed glasses, a scraped and bloodied face, and a broken nose. I was walking around the perimeter of a shopping complex when behind a spruce tree, in utter darkness, my foot caught on a four inch rise in the sidewalk that served as a door-sill to an unlit side-door. And that, my friends, was my first real sense of ‘violation’. It left me with physical pain, yes, but even worse was the emotional hurt. I felt as if someone had suddenly, for no reason, ripped and invaded my body and soul.

The second understanding of ‘violation’ came yesterday. I was in the front yard watering a potted petunia when suddenly I heard a hum in the distance as pure and defined as the hum of a jet at an airshow. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the flightpath. Straight ahead, full speed. Then a loud ‘smack’ as a Hornet (of the ‘insectia’, rather than the ‘militia’ kind), plowed into my left arm. His fuel tank exploded, flaming with searing heat the flesh of my arm. I dropped my watering can and scrambled out of there.

Now I have been on this earth for a half-century which is a long time, but despite that, this was my first unfortunate encounter with a hornet. And now I am worried. My family has a history of hornet-sting allergies. Serious allergies. The kind of allergy that made my sister’s throat swell until her chin met her chest in a straight line. Before she got to the Doctor people around her were taking evasive action to avoid what looked like a monster from another planet. Others in my family have suffered serious consequences when stung. So, it is possible, even likely, that for me, being stung could prove to be serious, even fatal.

But although I have been stung by other bees – honey bees, bumble bees, even something the local people call sweat bees (small black bees that look more like flies), I have never been stung by a hornet. Other bees don’t attack like this. In my experience, normally bees buzz about letting you know by a slight edge in their humming voices, that you are infringing on their territory. Giving you warning and a brief moment to gently back away. So I have never seen bees as a real threat. The ones that have bitten me were ones I stepped on in the grass or others that ended up trapped in part of my clothing. But for the most part, my past encounters with bees have been reasonably conciliatory considering what a gigantic beast I must be to them. But not this time. No conciliation in this particular circumstance.

Immediately I went to the Shop to tell Hub I had been stung and realizing my concern, like the Good Man he is, he escorted me quickly to the house and daubed the welt with vinegar and offered to apply some ice. I appreciated his sympathy but my bigger pain, my most enduring pain, was the sense of violation. How angry that bee was without just cause. How vengeful, and oh so vindictive.

The sting was now only a dull ache, but the emotional pain was still searing. I know that there is no quick fix for emotional pain. It can only heal with time, so I decided to retrieve my watering can and continue my day.

Scroll down to the next post about the violators’ return

# 176 (cont'd) PANDORA'S BOX III

The Violator’s Return

After a careful check from a distance and seeing no bees, I sauntered bravely across the grass and picked up my watering can. Immediately, two hornets jetted straight out of nowhere. No looping flight, or ominous buzz, just the swishing hum of a direct flight full speed ahead. One made a fiery crash into my cheek and another into my right arm. Communication clear. They were as angry as anything could be. Shared DNA with Killer Bees perhaps. Nevertheless, completely out of control.

I could hear and see others zipping straight for me. In my hurry to escape, I slipped on the wet grass and fell to the ground. That fall was probably my salvation as they criss-crossed in mass profusion above my head. Then half crouching, half-crawling I scurried away. When I was some distance from the plant, I looked back. And there, to my utter amazement, in the branch of the Mayday tree, the Mayday that I gaze out the window at every morning, the Mayday that shelters my potted plants, I saw a nest as big as a soccer ball no more than three feet from my pedestal planter. How did this construction happen without any awareness on my part?

So once my scrambling feet stopped slipping and gripped a bit of dry grass, I fairly flew back to the Shop to tell Hub. By now my emotions were even more wounded. Feeling abused, despised, and whipped. Hub assured me he would look after it and I went to the house to nurse my wounds and sorrow.

Shortly after I saw Hub approaching the nest. Head covered with a mesh insect helmet, dressed in coveralls and high-top boots and carrying a very long stick with a flaming rag on one end. With the extreme length of the stick he was able to stand well back as he ignited the paper nest. The fury was immediate but the jets were unable to discern where to attack or where to fire. When the wind rippled the leaves on the potted plant, they attacked it with total viciousness, their wings and bodies making loud ‘whacking’ noises as they plowed into it. Foolishly assuming that a pink petunia was the culprit responsible for the flames and smoke that destroyed their home.

Next post below – surprising insights into the path of recourse.

# 176 (cont'd) PANDORA'S BOX IV

The Prosecution of Violators

So now the nest is gone. And as I reflect, I have to admit it was the largest bee’s nest I have ever seen. Beautiful and wondrous, like the exotic beauty of a Pandora’s box. And now that the pain of violation has weakened slightly, I feel that it IS a shame that the hornet’s nest was destroyed. Particularly after Hub told me about the architectural complexity of the honeycombs inside. It is a bloody shame. It is a shame that violation stirs such a need to fight back. That it stirs something so deeply emotional that it cannot heal without drastic recourse.

When one suffers physical pain, our first thought is to find healing through either a medical fix or monetary compensation. But when one suffers the pain of violation, I have realized that with that first flood of understanding, with that recognition of how deep it wounds, we are truly shocked. So shocked that we realize that there can’t be, and won’t be, a quick fix. And that, oddly enough, turns our thinking completely inside-out. Instead of drowning in self-pity we are motivated by the pain of violation to ensure this thing we have endured will never happen to anyone else.

So with Hub’s help, we have done that. You can now walk with security near my war-mongering pink petunia and loll in the shade of my Mayday tree.

And as for the shopping mall, and the incident with the doorsill, where I found myself flat on my face on the concrete, the property owners would admit no wrong-doing. But when I signed off the papers that said I would release them from any responsibility as long as it NEVER happened again, I now see that it will never happen again. The doorsill remains but it is now well-marked with reflective tape and even white posts and the side-door has a bright flood light overhead. That too, will never happen again.

Now I didn’t know where I was going when I started writing this but I am surprised where I have come. I have come to a realization that when we are physically hurt we want to fight back. To give back to the perpetrator as good or better than we got. But when it is that deeper, more painful, chronic and ongoing emotional pain, we back away from self-pity. When violated, we seek comfort with a recourse that will protect others from the same fate. And suddenly our concern for others is greater than our concern for self.

Returning to the story of “Pandora’s Box,” if you remember, there was one kindly creature that was left behind, trapped in the box. It long begged to be released before Pandora would risk releasing it. But that last was an entity that understood violation and so, when finally released, it showed a greater concern to heal and protect others than to heal itself.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


First off, for those that have been following along, the reflective red bag I placed near my most robust tomato plant didn’t fool any of the green tomatoes hanging there. They are still not ripe. Obviously, despite what researchers say, there is no innate sense of competitiveness in that tomato’s DNA.

I promised to let you know about that so having done so, I am going to move on to another discussion, also about tomatoes. I surveyed the yard today and, in doing so, noticed that the flowers in the front yard are declining. And many of the trees are changing color. And surprisingly the grass is already strewn with an abundance of yellow leaves. Normally these are signs of frost, but there has been no frost, so I can only assume that this dying off is due to a season marked by rapid growth and early maturity.

I then checked my bumper crop of ‘green’ tomatoes. None ripe yet even though many are as big around as a slice of bread.

Truth is, I have grown tomatoes for more years than I care to remember, and out of that exercise has come an anxious thought that is carved deep in my mind. Memories of urban-cowboy weathermen who know nothing about gardening, and for a certainty, have never seen a homegrown tomato on a vine. So with complete indifference, they make no mention of frost on the six o’clock news. Complete inattention to that small detail.

So then comes the eleven o’clock news and suddenly everything changes. It is now almost midnight and that is when they smugly announce with a certainty that in ‘outlying areas’, the clouds will clear before morning and the temp will dip to zero or lower. And so, for so many years, there I am out in the garden in my nightgown, with car lights directed into the tomato foliage and a flashlight trying to pick all my tomatoes. Hands freezing from the wetness of the dew, and shadows so deep that I can do nothing more than feel around for the tomatoes that need picking.

Well, no more. I may be a slow learner but I eventually catch on. This year I have already picked my biggest tomatoes. And why not? This is NOT going to be another one of those years where I am going to wait until a weatherman rises out of his apathy and makes a midnight announcement.

You may say what you will about vine-ripened tomatoes. Yes, I agree, nothing can surpass the nectar of vine-ripened fruit. But when I compare a store-bought tomato with a home-grown tomato, picked at it’s greenest, we both know which will taste better. Even if that green tomato is ripened in a brown paper bag (or warm pig dung), it will still taste better than store-bought tomatoes treated with a dose of radiation that makes them as tasteless as corrugated cardboard.

And so I have already picked my biggest tomatoes. The small ones remain in the garden. They may rot, they may mold, they may wizen, or they may thrive and ripen. But, at least, when the news comes to expect frost, I will be far less offended, far less anxious, and I will be happy because when I dash out there in my nightgown and direct the car headlights on my garden, it will be a quick pick.

Friday, August 11, 2006


Today I did something I haven’t done for years. I made eight jars of yellow bean mustard pickles. Now I have no idea what even sparked this occasion. It’s not that I was ever too crazy about yellow bean mustard pickles. But still, the more I thought about them, the more I began to recall how a dab of these pickles managed to so easily (almost carelessly), knock up the blandest plate of food a comfortable notch with their bittersweet ambivalence.

And so I picked the beans and went on a hunt for jars. Divorce, separation, and ultimate physical or emotional distancing are a malady in today’s world. But even with so many personal relationships that fail, and sock relationships that fail, jars and lids are the experts in relinquishing relationships. What irks me most is a jar will pretend it can match a lid and a lid pretend it will match a jar until we’re right down to the wire. Sterilized jar, sterilized lid, contents hot and bubbly, and then, and only then, does the battle ensue between the thread of the lid and the thread of the jar. The lid will easily thread its way down to the last millimeter of space and there it will stop. Stubbornly refusing to press its rubbery softness gently against the jar so that the heat can weld them together. Every time I curse them and wonder why I get these primeval provisional urges to engage in this heated battlefield.

But I digress. So now, with jars and lids checked for relationship stability, sterilized, and ready to go, I begin to assemble the ingredients for the pickles. Now what I need and don’t have is a cup of dry mustard. I have no more than a tablespoon. And you know how much I loathe the dreaded trip to town. It is not going to happen. Somehow these pickles are going to be made even if I have to gather red ants or pine beetles and grind them for ‘hotness’. Like the neighbor says, “Recipes? Never sweat it. They are just meant to be rough outlines.”

So I raid the spice cupboard. I label spices when I buy them with the date. Nothing can ruin the delicacy of a spiced dish like old putrid spices. But lo and behold I find two large jars of whole mustard seeds, labeled June 2006 and June 2006. (Oh, the infirmity of an aging mind).

I gaze at the contents of the two jars and find myself recalling something about faith only needing to be as big as a mustard seed. And recalling seeing a delicate little necklace with nothing more for a pendant than a mustard seed encased in a small ball of clear glass. There is some magic within the heart of each of these golden blond seeds. I draw from them faith that I can make mustard pickles without powdered mustard. Faith, no bigger than a mustard seed, but that is all the faith I need.

I gaze on my mortar and pestle and know that grinding mustard seeds in there would be like smashing rocks in the gravel-pit with nothing more than a bit of steel pipe. What if I add coarse salt crystals? That usually works like a charm for grinding other spices. But mustard seeds are so hard and circular, I can tell they are going to be obstinate as beach sand. Really, sometimes I think they should sell concave rocks and stones like are used to grind grains in third-world countries. On a gluten-free diet? Need rice flour? No one can afford it at current prices but if you throw a handful of rice into my rock, I’ll have some for you in no time.

But I have no concave rock and matching stone so out comes the coffee-grinder. This I must do in secret. Hub would shudder if he knew what I was doing with my coffee-grinder. But a couple quick surges and that mustard seed turned to the finest powder. I put a bit through a small screen to see what chaff was present. Very little. Certainly not enough to warrant sifting the rest of it.

Now we are a society that has moved into foods with a bit of kick-ass hotness. The ground mustard seed when I tasted it seemed to be less pungent than dry mustard. So I doubled the amount and added a generous pinch of cayenne.

We now have mustard pickles. Delicious mustard pickles with fresh spices. Yum.

Now truth is, you’re not likely to find a recipe for mustard bean pickles in a modern-day recipe book or even pickled beets. They are about as archaic as dinosaurs. But still, no one can deny, they do have a tang that works as a delightful condiment with plain fare. And for others, they take one back to the joy of the smells and tastes of their youth. Going on that little trek has definitely made today’s conquest well worth the effort.

So what’s your take on mustard bean pickles? Do you still make them? Do you relish them, enjoy them? Or have you ever even tasted them? And for those who browse gourmet aisles, have you ever seen them in the shops?

And in conclusion, I have to ask one more question. “Do your jars and lids match up?”

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

# 173 MAD TALK

In this kind of heat my head is in a fug. I couldn’t have a lucid thought even if the fug were sucked out of my skull and replaced with the finest, purest crystal, minus the lead. But maybe it’s worth a try. And, on second thought, let’s include the lead. Lead might be good.

Isn’t it a hallucinatory poison that drives people mad? And a little madness can be entertaining. The mystery of madness is that historically the facts are there. It can, and often does, reveal truths that would be otherwise undiscovered. But the best thing about a little bit of madness is the way it can help us accept without sadness, without discouragement, without foreboding, the madness that surrounds us in our everyday lives.

I think I’ll eat a pencil, watch a bit of news and talk to you again in a few days. If I gobble up my pencil lead and because of it believe that globally things are not as dire as they seem, I will write some really uplifting humorous stuff. And oh, we will laugh.

We’ll sit together in the garden in the shade and I will LMAO, and you will LYAO too. It will be such fun to return to real foolishness and a devil-may-care attitude. Not caring what other people think.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


I've always tended to believe that religious-minded people have a greater generosity of spirit. More grace, charity, forgiveness, and so on.

But it just so happens that despite their self-proclaimed generous gifts of charity, forgiveness, grace, and tolerance, most of the Godly people I have met, sneer at the ideas that animals have a soul and the foolish ‘heathens’ who believe that kind of crap. They are convinced that scriptures support a belief that it is the human soul, rather than higher intelligence, that separate us from Beasts. In their catechism, because of the souls within, people live and die with hope of an afterlife, but beasts live and die with no such redemption. And because of this stance on souls, they tend to feel that time spent with critters is ill-spent. To them, living is earth-time that they are obliged to dedicate to the righteous mandate of preaching and saving human souls.

This thinking might be sound. I can’t prove it isn’t, but at the same time I can’t prove it is. And either way is really of no matter because this chat is not about whether there is paradise for souls, but rather it is about how we see the world because of our beliefs. The perception that creatures are soulless radically determines how these same pious people treat animals in the here and now. The watershed effect of the ‘soulless’ label is little or no respect for animal rights. Because animals are soulless, and therefore outside the realm of righteousness, they harbor a bigoted, rather uncharitable way of thinking about critters. They just can’t wrap their heads around the fact that animals are capable of giving love and loyalty, of feeling remorse, and demonstrating in their own subtle ways, feelings of appreciation, joy, and security. That beasts have all these emotions, albeit expressed in different ways, and critters can and do fully appreciate being honored in life, and mourned in death.

Unfortunately, it has been my experience, that if you long for someone to comfort you when you lose a pet, stay away from those religious church-goers. Their charity, affection, respect, is not very elastic. It just can’t reach into the corner or wrap around the warp that makes the rest of us link to the warm little souls of animals as our closest confidants and companions.

Though the pious may respect the basic needs of critters, because they are part of God’s creation, at the same time, they refuse to subtract from their ‘righteous errands’ the time needed to form any real kinship with them.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Hub’s Robin Family

Several weeks ago Hub was pruning a half-dead tree in the back yard when he discovered a bird’s nest with one egg in it no more than three feet off the ground. He immediately stopped pruning and was quite concerned that perhaps the nest would now be visible to predator birds. That concern led him to watch over that nest like an old mother hen.

So after that, every day he went out in the back yard with his big old beat up brown Australian cattleman hat on and stood quietly by to observe the nest. It was a robin’s nest. Initially when he went out there both birds flew away protesting loudly and the male moved to the power line where he continued to swoop down threateningly and scream protests. To prove he was a friend Hub started going to the garden, digging earthworms and placing them on a bare patch of dirt near the tree. Over two days he did this often, always moving slowly and standing still and quiet for long periods of time. And in a short period of time the birds began to realize he was not a threat. He continued doing this until the egg hatched.

Hub kept checking on the baby and before he was convinced it was ready to fly, it was gone. Hub was pained. Again he endured the sorrow and guilt that the nest was too exposed, he had a hand in that, and that was why the baby was gone.

The next day when Hub and I went for our usual dog-walk in the woods I kept hearing bird sounds close behind me. We had gone down the trail close to half a mile when the sounds seemed so close that I turned and looked up in the tree behind me. I mentioned to Hub that I kept hearing bird sounds close by. Hub looked and guess what was up in a tree no more than a few feet from us? One of Hub’s robins. Hub was wearing his big old hat and I could only think the robins had imprinted that hat in their heads and because he always gave them worms they were trailing the signature hat as we moved down the trail.

Despite the adult birds’ affection, Hub still remained more negative than positive about the fate of the baby robin. More often sad than upbeat about it. Willing himself to believe the baby was okay but still deeply convinced that because of him some harm had befallen it. But then only this morning while standing at the sink I looked out the window and three birds were hopping past in a triangle formation looking for earth worms in the wet grass from yesterday’s downpour. Two fairly large birds followed by one small one. I looked closer. It was a Mama and a Papa and a Baby robin. Oh Joy! Everyone is okay. They have all survived and this morning baby robin is happily participating in a seminar on Earthworm Location and Retrieval.

I was always under the impression that when a young bird flies the nest, they don’t come back. Guess that’s not the case. Obviously they hang out with Mom and Dad until they complete their education.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


No Supper

Little dog is very old. Her once large bright eyes are now rather diminished in size. I am mindful that she may not live much longer. She is the best little dog. Hub and I love her dearly. She hasn’t got an aggressive bone in her body and she never barks at people, even strangers.

Generally before dinner you will find Old Dog in her favorite spot behind the easy chair. That is where she is when I call her for her daily meal. But for three nights now, I have called her for supper but she wouldn’t come. The first night when she didn’t come, I relented and put her bowl on the rug behind the easy chair and that’s where she ate it. The next night, not wanting this to become a habit, I refused to do that. Instead I went to the livingroom, showed her the bowl, encouraged her to smell it (it even had fresh-cooked hamburger in it), but still she refused to come to her usual spot in the kitchen to eat. So no dinner that night. I covered her dish with Saran-wrap and put it in the fridge.

Meanwhile I put my other dog’s dish out on the deck as I always do. Dough-Gee is a weird dog. He does not eat when I feed him, he eats when he thinks it is time to eat. So often his supper is put out on the deck, and when he doesn’t eat it, I put it up (rather then leave it on the deck where birds can steal it, and insects walk about in it). Later I will set it out again and eventually he will eat it, but in his own good time.

So last night I put out his dinner and went to check about ten minutes later to see if he had eaten. He hadn’t touched it but there was Old Dog, about to start scoffing down Dough-Gee’s food. I only asked, I didn’t yell,

“Old Dog, what are you doing?”

Old Dog ripped her head out of Dough-Gee’s dish and dived under the deck like a dog that is regularly beaten. She hadn’t time to eat anything so later when she was resting behind the easy chair I tried to get her to come to the kitchen and eat but she would not move.

This morning, Old Dog sat by my feet and looked at me dolefully and I knew the message was, “I’m hungry”. So I offered her the food I prepared the night before. I was cleaning the kitchen floor so I put her dish out on the deck. She fell to eating, but so slowly, so half-heartedly. I looked out the window. I saw her little dog face, drooping with dejection, with those sensitive tears in her eyes, as she slowly ate and reviewed the events of the previous night. “Last night I had to go to bed without my supper. She wouldn’t let me eat. She must not love me anymore. What did I do to be treated like that?”

Yeh, I can see she’s hurting, but meanwhile I’m hurting too. Thinking to myself. ‘This sappy way of thinking, this animal-softness bullshit has got to stop.’