Sunday, July 31, 2011

Black Crowned Night Heron

These birds make me smile. They remind me of little old men. They hunker down, staring motionless into the water, waiting for a fish to swim by, and all evenly spaced about 100 ft apart around the perimeter of the pond. Just like a bunch of fishermen, sitting evenly spaced, poles clutched in their hands, waiting for that first bite. Nobody looks at each other. No one wants to break the spell.

Although this photo dates from last month, the herons were seen again this morning as the boys and I walked by. Mr. Big was eying them, possibly wondering if, in his guise as Pigeon Slayer, he could take one on. I am a mean old biddy, after all, who walks them before breakfast.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dogs and Rain

The rainy season is always welcome here in the desert, even if it does this to housekeeping efforts:

And I hate housekeeping! Mud puppies + thunderstorms = dirty house. But I love it anyway, the dogs, the mess--it doesn't matter. It's just mud.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Look What We Made

Mother of Mossy and I had only collaborated on one blanket for Project Linus, a pattern called Ship Ahoy. But I know that like me, she probably has tons of leftovers, so I suggested she make some squares and I'd join them-she hates joining. She designed her own rectangle and made me a few dozen in different colors. Here is the second joint effort--squares by MoM, join and edge by Mossy. I think it came out great.

This knit blanket used a bulky yarn similar to what the pattern called for, but came out far smaller (I have no idea why). But it's thick and squishy, so hopefully some child or baby will like it.

It's been way too hot here to work on blankets, although I did get one finished last week from some rust-colored ombre boucle that was on clearance at the store. I was hoping that would make a larger blanket than it did, but it's also soft and squishy (sorry, no photo yet; it's in the laundry queue).

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mr. Big Surveys the World

August 30, 2006

Wow, I have the TV cabinet and toy box in the exact same place, and it's five years later. Time to move furniture around and paint.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Shawl Madness

I have recently become obsessed with shawls. Needless to say, at 112 degrees Farenheit out here, there's no need to curl up under a cosy shawl. Unless it starts raining, and the temperature drops 20 degrees, and the air conditioning cools the house down too far. I made a shawl for myself over the new year holiday, and liked it so much, I made my sisters the same shawl. That was the second shawl I ever made (the first was crocheted, Eva's shawl for the pattern; this one was the triangular shawl off the Lion Brand website, if you want to know).

Then I made the mistake of starting to lurk online in the 11 shawls in 2011 forum on Ravelry. As my friend M says "Oh my starts and garters!" (Yes, she really wants to be the stereotypical librarian, even though she would argue against that accusation.) What gorgeousness! These expert knitters and crocheters are making gorgeous lace shawls that are works of art. They are way beyond my skill level, but they did inspire me. So here are two I've made in the past week. I'm working on a third lace-light shawl, and maybe, one day, will work my way up to one of these gorgeous, feather-light pieces that are gossamer thin and lacy.

By the way, the weekly tally now stands at PigeonSlayer 3, Birds 0  A baby mockingbird was the latest casualty (and yes, it was eaten. Ugh.).

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Canine Grief

I've been wanting to write about canine grief for a while now, and after reading the moving opinion in today's New York Times about Gus, the grieving polar bear in the Central Park Zoo, it may the right time. If I can do so without crying.

Mr. Big clearly grieved when Pupgirl died. When she was sick, the first week she was in the hospital, he lay not in his usual spot, but in a spot where he could face her usual spot. Was he looking for her? I think so, as he had never evinced any interest in facing that corner before. Mother of Mossy was visiting at the time, so I have an independent witness to this behavior. He was ecstatic when she came home. Two months elapsed before she went through another exploded lung episode. Another week in the hospital, home for one night, and then she died.

He didn't react the same way to the second hospital visit. Was it because he remembered that she had come home the first time, and he expected her to do so this time, too? Was it because he could sense what was happening in her body, and knew the outcome? He was with me when I released her spirit, and I made sure he sniffed her face to know she was gone.

His initial first day at home without her was nothing unusual, but he quickly became sad. Not morose, not depressed as he had been that first week in December. But quiet, losing weight, seeming worried. I kept him to their usual schedule, with walks every morning as usual, same food, same treats, but he didn't like this new normal. And he did seem even more clingy than he had when he first came into my home 9 years ago.

This went on for two months, and then he slowly started to be less clingy. He was still quiet, still unsure, but I could tell he was working through his readjustment to the new normal without our girl.

Four week later, CuddleMonster arrived, and Mr. Big is relieved. The best word to describe him is lighter. He has always been a little scared, unsure about life. Pupgirl was fearless and happy go lucky, sure everyone loved her and that life was fun and exciting. Mr. Big has always been cautious, deliberate. She was his security blanlet and life without her must have been terrifying, even when everything was familiar.

CuddleMonster is also happy-go-lucky and excited by everything in his new metrodog life. He's the same age Biggie was when he moved in, but their personalities are very different. His certainty has made Biggie's life easier, and the result is that Mr. Big is more relaxed, more confident. We went to a new park, with an equestrian center and a dog park and thousands of new smells and sights this morning, and he was interested, engaged, eager to sniff and mark, despite the heat and humidity.

The outcome of this latest dog adoption has been even better than I dared hope. Are they the best of friends? No, not yet, and they may not ever be best friends. But they are becoming friends. CuddleMonster is learning that Mr. Big is King, and he is only the Duke, and has no objection to that. Biggie has accepted another dog where His Girl should have been, and doesn't seem to mind that CuddleMonster is staking out his own parts of the house, and his own part of me. His is happier, which is all I ever wanted for him and all the Zoo.

Does Mr. Big remember Pupgirl? I think so. If dogs can remember which house used to have a barking dog even years after the family has moved, and which tree had a squirrel once, and at which corner he encountered a cat once, I cannot see how he could forget the dog with whom he lived 9.5 years. But canine grief, like canine lives, is shorter than ours, and perhaps their experiences of long-term processes like grief is foreshortened accordingly. What may take me months, if not years, if ever, to get over, seems to have abated for Mr. Big, and I am glad.

Nope, didn't get through this post without crying.