Monday, May 30, 2005

An epic struggle

Today we gave both our dogs baths, which always provides (a) a good stretch for the hamstrings, (b) a complete wipe-down of every surface in the bathroom, and (c) an interesting study in the philosophy and application of non-violent non-cooperation. Oh, and (d) clean dogs.

I'm not sure why the dogs hate baths so much, since they are both part Labrador and they love water. But somehow there is a difference between a swim in the lake, a stroll through a cool mountain stream, a wallow in a mud bog - and a bath. I mean, what's not to like? It's getting wet (which they like) and getting petted (which they like) all at the same time. We even use nice warm water, which empirical experimentation has shown they prefer to cold water. Nonetheless, the dogs clearly hate to be bathed and have evolved a philosophy of non-violent non-cooperation which would make Martin Luther King Jr. proud.

Here's how it goes. Setup: Remove all paper items from the bathroom. Collect extra towels, a tub of liver treats, and baby shampoo. Set up the hand-held showerhead-on-a-hose and prime it with warm water. Change into swimsuits.

Then, call the dogs while shaking the tub of liver treats, to see if we get a volunteer. If none arrive, drag a dog in and shut the door. Interestingly, both dogs will at that point voluntarily jump into the tub. It's unclear whether this is part of their philosophy of nonviolent resistence, or whether they are just whores for freeze-dried liver. But once they're in the tub we can pull the shower curtain closed and begin our well-practiced bathing ritual.

I take the front end and Enrico takes the back. We wet, lather, and rinse as quickly as we can, one person keeping a firm arm between dog and shower curtain at all times, and cooing a constant stream of soothing praise and reassurance. "Brave dog, the bravest dog ever! Such a good dog!"

The dog, meanwhile, tries a variety of resistance strategies. If they see an opening at the edge of the shower curtain, they may make a break for it; but ever since Toby brought the entire spring-loaded shower rod down upon himself, complete with curtain, he's shunned that strategy. They hang their tails and point their little noses downward in a practiced look of complete, put-upon persecution. They refuse to stand up, sitting in the soapy water and putting their hind end off-limits to our bathing efforts. They plant their little feet on top of our bare feet and dig their considerable toenails into our flesh as we struggle to maintain our balance on the slippery, soapy tub. They shake vigorously when they're covered with soap, and adamantly refuse to shake at the end of the bath when we actually want them to. They stubbornly wait until they are out of the tub to shake again, in order to throroughly drench the entire bathroom.

Nonetheless, we have this down to a science, and we always win. Once they're done, they stomp around the house, rubbing themselves dry on every available piece of furniture. They are of course not allowed to go outside until they dry - lest they roll their wet selves in the dirt - so the post-bath protest also features frequent whining at the back door, requesting the exit visa that they know full well is not forthcoming. Finally, they melodramatically settle down to the task of licking their fur clean of the terrible, terrible cleanliness that we have imposed on them.
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Meanwhile, one of us wipes down Every. Single. Surface. in the bathroom. Baths during The Season of Great Shedding are always a special treat, because while it has the beneficial effect of expediting the shedding process, it also leaves the bathroom thoroughly encrusted with a paste of dog fur.

But, then they are fluffy and oh so soft, and smell like baby shampoo, and it's all worth it.
Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Check, check, check

There are a lot of things to be done when one is leaving for a month. We are making very good progress.

  • Replace broken kitchen sink faucet - check.
  • Purchase Euros - check.
  • Photocopy passports in case of theft - check.
  • Compile all itineraries, reservations, driving directions, maps and contact info - check.
  • Pay and pre-pay bills - check.
  • Refill prescriptions and get really good sleeping pills - check.
  • Buy memory cards for digital camera - check.
  • Stock up on food bars, nuts, dried fruit and salmon jerky from Trader Joe's - check.
  • Return all library items - check.
  • Haircuts - check.
  • Paint toenails - check. (Just to be clear, that one's just for me, not Enrico.)
  • Arrange ride to airport - check.
  • Clean house - very close to check. (Oh, the irony that our house is never so clean as when we're about to hand it over it to a housesitter.)
Still to be done:
  • Bathe dogs. (For the benefit of the housesitter, not the dogs.)
  • Write grant proposal on behalf of the organization I volunteer for. (Yeah, I'm kind of letting this go to the last minute - butwhy should I change my tried & true ways now when so many of my best grant proposals have been written under pressure?)
  • Make monthly computer backup.
  • Buy reading material.
  • Get additional email storage space.
  • Stop newspaper.
  • Create deatiled housesitter instructions.
  • Do final round of laundry.
  • Pack.
Four days to go!!

Friday, May 27, 2005

New glasses

I picked up my new glasses yesterday - first new frames in 10 years. The prescription itself is only slightly different, but oh, how well I can see through them! Scratch-free lenses, anti-glare covering, no frame along the bottom to distract the peripheral vision...and a nice new hard-cover case to boot!

That case is the one problem, though. It makes a very satisfying loud SNAP when I close it, which freaks the dogs out. They are afraid of my eyeglasses case. Toby hangs his tail beneath his legs and slinks away when he sees it.

As if they are not already batshit crazy enough, these dogs.

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Ai, que calor!

Yesterday, it got up to 88 degrees here in Seattle. I am a person who likes hot weather, but I think that every year I've spent here has dropped my definition of "hot" by a degree or so.

When it gets over about 82 degrees here, you would think people are dying of heat exposure. "Oh, the heat! It's terrible." To be fair, due to our mild climate we don't generally have air conditioning. Oh, we have it in our office buildings and shopping malls and movie theaters, of course, but not usually in our homes or even our cars (though nowadays new cars seem to come with it no matter what). So, it is a drag to sleep in a hot house. But I used to laugh at my fellow Seattlites, and although I still love the heat more than most - I found myself acting a bit lethargic yesterday too.

The dogs, too, have trouble with the heat, increasingly so as they age. I saw our dog walker yesterday, and he repeated the refrain of the day - "it's so hot!" and said some of his larger, older dogs simply refused to walk. No way, I'm not goin' out in that. What, are you blind, I'm covered with fur! Drive me down to Lake Washington for a dip, and then maybe we can talk.

The warm weather has triggered the annual summer shedding season for our dogs, and fur is literally coming off of them in clumps, clouds, handfuls, sheets. Fur rolls through the house in tumbleweed-sized balls, collects on absolutely everything, tickles my nose and wakes me up at night. Every year I think, there must be something wrong with them, it's not possible to lose this much fur. As the days go by, I wonder - how is it that they're not bald yet, since we've removed enough fur to stuff a mattress already? With a blond dog and a black dog, it's impossible to wear clothing that doesn't show dog fur, and eventually I just give up on the lint brush. When it's hot, bits of fur stick to our sweaty skin and make us itch.

Ai, que calor.

Cousin Flora kicks into gear

We are officially less than a week away from Italy. And after several days of meandering through my daily life, not seeming to get a lot done - Cousin Flora is On The Job.

Yesterday, I created two neat little stacks of paper - one for Flora, one for Enrico - with all of the travel documents for Italy. Airline tickets, hotel reservations, car reservations, insurance policies, maps galore (LOVE Michelin online!), rental house agreement, calling card gives my heart a little thrill just to see it there, the potentiality of our overseas adventure in one tidy stack of paper.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Yin & Yang Dogs

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Word for the day: diluvial

Here in Seattle, we are on our third day of freakishly rainy weather. I know, you're thinking, doesn't it always rain out there by you people? And the answer is yes, sort of, but this is different. First of all, it doesn't rain consistently all year - we have wet periods and dry periods. And secondly, much of the year we get a lovely light mist, like we're vegetables in the produce section at the grocery store.

There's usually rain in the spring, but the last three days have alternated - hour by hour - between cheerful sun and menacing black clouds, between lashing winds and calm, all punctuated by periods of pouring, pounding, drenching sheets of rain. There have been thunderstorms too, which happen maybe once a year here and in many years not even that - somehow our topography just doesn't lend itself to lightning.

The weirdness isn't just the weather, it's the way it changes every hour. I arrive at a 12:00 meeting in pouring rain, but meet a friend at 2:30 to go running in gorgeous sunshine. I call my dogwalker at 1:00 to tell him I'm home and he's welcome to skip that day given the miserable rain, but he shows up at 2:00 and it's sunny.

It's good for our drought, of course, because all this rain is still, even at this late date, creating snow up in the mountains. But it's unnerving anyway. Thankfully, we have somebody else's canoe hanging in our carport in case we need to make a watery getaway.

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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Your mission, if you choose to accept it

Yes, I am heading out on a mission worthy of the ass-kicking prowess exhibited by my heros on Alias last night.

I am going to the U.S. Post Office to attempt to send bulk mail.

Any of you who have done this before? You know what I'm talking about. It's been over 15 years since my last bulk mail mission. A happy 15 years.

If you haven't done this before - think of the final scene in the first Harry Potter book, where our heros must use their wits and wiles to neutralize a 3-headed guard dog, get past strangulating vines, snatch a tiny flying thing out of thin air while zooming around on a broom, defeat life-sized murderous chess pieces in a battle of intellect and strategy, and then prove that their hearts and intentions are pure. It's kind of like that.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Why have I not been blogging?

Good question! One that I'm sure is keeping the four of you who read my blog up at night. (Ok, I think to be honest there might be five of you.)

I dunno! I have decided that my life is like a menu at a Chinese restaurant. Much as I may aspire to include a reasonable balance of activities for health, intellectual and spiritual development, social interaction, productive societal contribution, and practical life maintenance - it seems that I can never manage to maintain all of these things. I'm not talking about the classic problem of the overcommitted life here - no, my schedule is not currently stretched to the breaking point, and after all, I have no kids to transport to soccer practice.

Rather, it's like a Chinese menu, and I can only have 2 items from column A, 3 items from column B, etc. etc. So - fall off the running wagon last week? Do a bunch of volunteer work. Start running again this week? Stop blogging.

Life has always seemed to go this way. I understand there will always be trade-offs; I don't think I have unreasonable expectations of myself as Superwoman. I understand that I am the classic Introvert, in the Meyers-Briggs sense that I rejuvenate my energy by being alone, and that certain kinds of activities extract a price - too many social items from Column B requires loner time with absolutely no commitments from Column C. And attending to exercise and diet and mental health also creates energy and space for more activity. I understand all that.

But still, it's amazing how often I think - hey, I'm doing better about cooking healthy food! And then I realize I haven't read a book in a month, or my house is a mess, or I've stopped walking my dogs.

Well NOW how am I supposed to work?

The Black Dog, taking refuge from a very rare Pacific Northwest thunderstorm. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Miscellaneous Shellfish

Kudos, to:

  • Enrico, for installing a new kitchen faucet with absolutely no glitches.
  • My friend Beth, for losing 30 pounds.
  • The young robins who apparently survived their departure from the nest in our carport.
Gratitude, for:
  • A kitchen faucet that works.
  • The rain that is keeping my pretty flowers alive in Eden.
  • The beautiful music that we heard at St. James Cathedral on Saturday night performed by Seattle ProMusica.
Vow for the week:
  • I hereby swear off all stupid computer games.
  • I will keep running because I feel better when I run, even if it's raining.
  • I will not leave all of the remaining arrangements for our Italy trip to the last week.
That is all.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Seeking the magic formula

Walking my dogs this morning, I was thinking about our upcoming trip to Italy and what I want to do professionally afterwards. Keep consulting? If so, how do I want to “market” myself and my services? Look for a job, either full or part time? A friend of mine who just started a new job after taking some time off of work was telling me that she likes her job and the organization and the people she works with, but she's chafing under the rigidity of full-time employment at one place. "It's crazy," she said, "but I find myself resenting that these people actually expect me to come to work every day, all day, on their schedule." I know exactly what she means, that's how I feel when I contemplate full-time employment. We agreed that this attitude is a little worrisome, in terms of our ability to live in the real world.

As I was reviewing my experiences of the past couple years and thinking about what I want next, it occurred to me that since I bit the bullet and walked away from full-time employment about 21 months ago, I have spent roughly one-third of that time not working at all for money; one-third of it working (vigorously) full-time; and one-third of it doing consulting projects, with work load ranging widely, as self-employment tends to do. And I decided that this is an extremely civilized way to structure one’s life: one-third working hard, one-third working not at all, and one-third somewhere in between.

When I do the math, there are some important requisites for both of us to work within this magical formula. For Enrico to follow the Formula of Thirds, he would go from full-time to half-time employment, because that's what the thirds work out to: one third full-time + one-third half time = half time for the year. To make that work, between us we’d need to make maybe 25-40% more money than we would have over the past couple years if Enrico had been half time. But I want to believe there’s a way to make it work, maybe spread over longer time periods and with some tweaks. Of course the variation in work load probably requires self-employment, or perhaps a job on the academic year. And self-employment isn't for everybody.

But still, it's food for thought.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Why is it so hard to be good?

I'm on the board of a small organization that is re-birthing itself after nearly dying. The Treasurer of this board is a bookkeeper, which is good, but through a combination of extremely difficult personal circumstances, she has missed every board meeting this year, and has done none of the Treasurely duties except for signing checks - which she does only because our bookkeeper lives a few blocks from her and brings the checks to the woman's house.

Being the only other person on the board with nonprofit financial management experience, I have become the de facto Treasurer. With neither request nor acknowledgement from the actual Treasurer, mind you - but I was ok with this because I heard that her personal situation really was quite awful. So I have spent numerous hours photocopying financial statements, reviewing the accounting records before each board meeting in order to answer questions for the board, spending countless irritating hours at our bank and running around with forms to get account signors changed, and - at the request of the board president - drafting a set of fiscal policies. Which, after three months of review time by the board, we passed last month.

I dutifully send the policies out to the full board, in response to which the Treasurer today sent me a long, virulently angry email about the fact that we did all this without consulting her, and how, boy, if "being Treasurer means nothing more than signing checks," she might was well just resign.

Now, I read this and felt empathy. I realized I could have noticed that she hadn't been present for any board meetings and reached out to talk to her about the fiscal policies. I responded with an apology for that, and a long explanation of my reasoning for the many things she found objectionable in my policies. I didn't feel angry - after all, her outburst, while largely groundless, was most likely an extension of her stress, and did me no actual harm whatsoever.

But then, as the day wore on, I found myself getting irritated. I thought - if you're pissed about doing nothing but signing checks - well, that's because you abdicated all the other parts of the job, not because I sat awake at night secretly thinking of how to steal the momentous prestige and power of being the Treasurer of a tiny and nearly bankrupt nonprofit. I have another large job, chair of the fundraising committee, which requires plenty of my time already. If she doesn't like the way I'm doing her job, then she could start doing it herself. In my head, I began composeing the clever email or tirade that I could to deliver to her, and be completely in the right.

I am disappointed with myself for thinking these things. Even though they are all "fair" in a certain sense, they are unnecessary and uncharitable. If she had undermined me in front of colleagues in a way that might harm me professionally, then yes, I would probably have to respond. But this doesn't matter at all; some fence-mending may be required, that's all.

Why is it so hard to turn the other cheek sometimes, even when it costs nothing? Why is it so satisfying to be right, even when it gains nothing? It makes me pessimistic for things like, you know, world peace.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Blogging in Eden

I am blogging from my patio. I love wireless! I'm sitting here, on a new deck chair I just bought today, and I am connected to the Internet. I have tried to make our little patio as comfortable as possible, and indeed when it is fully set up it is like an entire house-outside-our-house. With a grill (kitchen), table and chairs (dining room), deck chairs (living room) and hammock (bedroom). I run an extension cord for a boom box, for music. I plant lovely flowers all around and call it Eden. And now this year we even have the Internet out here!

Ok, now I'm going to work from Eden for a while.

Is that a new head you're sprouting?

Yesterday, a friend of mine -we'll call her Mary to protect the innocent - called me from an east coast airport asking if I could fetch her and her daughter, let's say, Bianca, from the airport that evening. "We would take a cab," Mary explained, "but Bianca seems to have caught the stomach flu from my friend's son where we were staying. It's not going to be a pretty day."

So, I went to the airport, where I found them at baggage claim. Bianca, who is 8, was sitting cross-legged on the floor, looking like a zombie. Jaw slack, eyes sunken and blank, shoulders drooping. She looked so very sad and fragile.

As we drove to their house, I heard the most indescribable noises coming from the back seat. A loud, deep, belchy-wretching sound. "Oh dear," I said in alarm, "is that Bianca making that noise?"

"Yeah," said Mary, "she's been doing that on and off all day. Don't worry, there's nothing in her stomach, and in any case she has a barf bag from the plane."

I thought Mary seemed surprisingly nonchallant about this, and though I appreciated her thoughtfulness about my car's upholstery, that actually wasn't my biggest worry. Bianca was sitting right behind me so I couldn't actually see her, and the noise was getting louder and more frequent. Imagine the troll in Harry Potter trying to cough up an enormous hair-ball. "No, seriously," I said, "surely it's not possible for an 8-year-old body to make that sound?"

Mary laughed and admitted that she planned to call her friend whose son was the index case for this awful bug, "to find out what happens next, you know, what course I should expect it to take."

BWWWAAAARCHCHCGLGLGLGX, I heard from the back seat.

What happens next? Like, is she going to grow a new head from that belly? Transmutate into something unearthly? Begin channeling the voice of a long-dead spirit being? 'Cause, I'm starting to think I've got something out of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in my back seat.

It must be very nerve-wracking to be a parent sometimes.

Empty nest

They're gone already, the baby robins. They're here for such a short time before they learn to spread their wings and fly. I'm always amazed at how fast they grow - from blind, pinkie-sized little things to goodly-sized birds within a few weeks. Enrico says there's lots of protein in worms, I guess that's the trick.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Tremble before me, ye mites

Today I am determined to accomplish a thorough Spring Cleaning. Given how much free time I have, there is just no excuse for the coating of dust that currently covers everything, the things that tumble out of every storage compartment in the house when opened, the books heaped up on every bookshelf willy-nilly. No excuse.

The bed linens will be laundered in hot water to kill dust mites. An old toothbrush will cleanse the dining room frame of the mold that accumulated there, in the constantly sweating aluminum frames during the damp winter months (tip: NEVER install metal window frames in the Pacific Northwest unless you're looking to construct a permanent in-house science experiment). Much as I have appreciated the scientific value of watching the spider in the window sill above my desk, as she traps houseflies and sucks the blood from their little heads - she's going to have to move on. Our book collection WILL once again fit within the confines of our current bookshelf space, and all extraneous tomes will go to the church's used book sale.

I know it will only be a temporary victory - the dust mites and the mold and the books will reproduce and come back - but today, victory WILL be mine.

Friday, May 06, 2005

This is not an ad for Trader Joe's

I love Trader Joe's. Seriously, Enrico sometimes worries that the Trader Joe's people have gotten to me in my sleep at some point and implanted a computer chip in my head, or my butt, or wherever They implant computer chips, to make me love their products. I have scoffed at this suggestion of nefarious doings by the nice people of Trader Joe's; I have argued that they simply have darned good stuff at darned good prices.

As I understand the Trader Joe's business model, they make it their business to find really good products, and they carefully select certain items to be sold under the Trader Joe's label. Sometimes they buy things in large quantities from little producers, getting big discounts and bringing undiscovered treasures to the attention of a broader world. Anyway, I don't know exactly how it works, all I know is that I love their stuff. Especially the pre-prepared things - the frozen pizzas! The faux chicken potstickers! The pineapple salsa! But there's also the imported Irish cheese! The insanely cheap organic salad greens! The phosphate-free laundry detergent sold for one third the cost charged by my local food co-op! The $4 wine!

So I have confidently defended Trader Joe's from any and all accusations of subtle mind control techniques, until yesterday, when I bought a tub of mint cookies from them which are absolutely, positively, the best mint cookies I have ever eaten - and I'm a big mint cookie fan. They might even be the best thing I've ever eaten, period. So good, that a little nagging suspicion has taken hold in my mind that they might, in fact, be part of a brilliant plot for world domination. Which, to fair, doesn't necessarily mean an evil plot for world domination. Maybe Trader Joe's just wants to dominate the world to bring their superior standards of quality to all of the planet's people.

But in any event, I'm going to have to find that doctor from the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and have him erase all memory of these cookies.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Springtime musings

When I was a kid, on a fairly regular basis I would find myself stopped dead in my tracks by the question: Who am I? Not like, what do I want to be when I grow up, or what kind of person do I want to be. No, I mean the more literal: What is this consciousness peering out of my eyes? Why is it in this body? How is it that my fingers are moving right now just because I want them to move?

This quizzical descent into my own little zen koan could happen any time, but I associate it particularly with springtime. I can remember walking home from school when the snow was melting and the weather first got warm enough to unzip my winter coat, thinking, wow! I am looking out of my eyes. How cool is that? Something about the vividness of spring, the sense of stirring life.

I can remember this sensation from a very young age all the way into my teens, but at some point, as an adult, I realized it scarcely visited me any more. While I still entertain existential questions, I can rarely reproduce the visceral sense of surreality that once held me entranced, unable to think about anything but the existence peering out of my own eyes.

A couple years ago, for reasons I no longer remember, I attended a Rosh Hoshana service, which ended with a rousing - almost ecstatic - song. The lyrics were repeated faster and faster, to whirling dancing and beating drums - lyrics that basically boiled down to this: I am alive! But who is this aliveness I AM? Is it not the holy blessed One?

I am really struck by these lyrics, for several reasons. I appreciate the subtle elegance of the words, which are few and simple yet can contain many layers of meaning. "Holy blessed One," for example, which a monotheist could understand to be God, while a Buddhist or pantheist could hear it as the great Oneness of life that flows through all. And, "who is this aliveness I AM?" perhaps a play on the Hebrew God's famously mysterious response - "I AM THAT I AM" - when Moses asked His name.* So much packed into those few lyrics. I also loved the vivid expression of joy - I am alive! - inspiring in a people so persecuted, and then immediately followed by questioning, curiosity. But mostly, I remember being taken back immediately to that childhood feeling, and thinking, that's it! This song, heard in such an unlikely place (since I'm not Jewish) is expressing my exact experience! Who is this aliveness I am? Who is this peering out of my eyes?

* And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?
And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. (Exodus 3.13-14, King James Bible)

Springtime picture

The baby robins in our carport. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Week Three!

In my goal to run the Victoria half-marthon, I have nearly completed my preliminary training goal of running the flat, 2.5-mile park loop by my house 3 times a week for 3 weeks. In the spirit of "a journey of 10,000 miles begins with a single step," that seemed like a good start. I've started taking Toby with me.

Even back when Toby first came to live with us, we noticed that he has this really goofy-looking gait. It's as if his front end and back end each have their own agenda, his back end moving slightly faster and giving him a most silly and uncoordinated look.

When we'd had him six months, having gone through all the major obedience work including the all-important "Come!", we let him off leash for the first time at an expansive, open beach on the Oregon coast. Once he understood that he really was free to go, he took off like a shot, a blurr of golden fur. "Well," said Enrico, finally breaking our stunned silence, "I guess he's just a 78 RPM dog living in a 33 RPM world."

Indeed, it turned out Toby was not at all uncoordinated. Quite the opposite, his comical gait comes not from lack of athleticism but from being forced to spend most of his time moving at what is, for him, an unnaturally slow speed. He hits a natural stride only at high velocity. As our friend Daniel said admiringly, seeing Toby let loose in the woods for the first time, "It's like his front legs exist only to keep his chin from hitting the ground!" - so powerfully do those back legs dig forward and push off, like a racing greyhound. And he's not just fast, he's athletic. Watching him hurdle fallen logs and forrest creeks like a thundering steeplechase horse, or descend mountain switchbacks with the powerful speed and precise athleticism of an Olympic skier - he is truly poetry in motion.

Posted by Hello

As a result, Toby and I have never really been running partners. He could never find a comfortable pace with me, and as a lifelong runner I empathized, knowing the awkward and out-of-synch feeling of not being able to fall into stride with a running partner. But now, with the dogs slowing down, it appears Toby and I may at last get the pleasure of running together. I'm still a little slow for him, but he's not tripping over himself any more, and as my fitness improves I think the gap between us will narrow.

He does great, except at the part of the park inhabited by the rabbits set free by people who no longer want them as pets. There's quite a little Watership Down community going at Seward Park, and every time Toby sees it, you can see the little primal part of his brain going, Oh, man, I don't know what that furry thing is, but we WANTS it, Precious, we wants to CHASE IT UNTIL IT DROPS FROM EXHAUSTION AND THEN WE SNAPS ITS JUICY NECK.

So the first time I took him out in this new running partnership, I went without any of the leash accessories designed to prevent his 70-pound body from dragging my 120-pound body like a tin can on the back of a "just married" car. And when we got to the Rabbit District, he went beserk, lunging and whining and then howling at the one little black bunny. As I desperately tried to redirect him, I saw a woman several yards behind me, stopped with her dog, as if waiting for me and my crazed animal to move ahead to a safe distance. And I thought, just you wait, lady; the primal little part of your dog's brain isn't going to react any better when it sees the precious bunny. That was before I realized her dog was a Norwegian Elkhound, and the primal part of its brain wasn't going to get worked up over anything less than, well, an elk. So I hauled my baying dog onward as best I could.

But now I know to be prepared for the Bunny District, so I think Toby and I will do just fine together in this new endeavor.

A friend in need is a friend indeed

Recently, my sister had a most terrible cold which left her thoroughly miserable. Enrico is now stricken with a cold, but nothing takes the edge off a cold quite like loyal company. I think my sister needs some dogs, she might not be sick so often.

Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Ain't she fierce?

Enrico scared by a bear! Posted by Hello

The paperwork is here!

The final paperwork for our Italian villa arrived in the mail today, from Italy of course. It confirms everything and gives us final little details like the owner's phone number and directions to the house, which includes charming instructions like: "In the proximity of a forking, don't follow the indications for Orvieto but turn right towards Castel Viscardo."

Four weeks from Thursday, we take off! It's too exciting for words.