Saturday, September 26, 2009

Signs of fall

I know fall is here when, at the farmer's market, which I've enjoyed going almost every Saturday since summer, there are pumpkins everywhere of all shapes and colors. More pumpkins even than produce.

Today, the morning dawned rainy and cool so my parents skipped the market and I went by myself after dropping off my mom at a nearby hair salon. I decided to buy my first pumpkin of the year and got the third one to the right in the photo below, warts and all, for only $4.

After stocking up at the market (mostly on baked goodies), I went to satisfy my Starbucks craving before returning to the salon to pick up my mom and when I returned to my parked car, there was a horse and buggy "parked" in front. I tried not to alarm the horse but then a grandmother brought her grandchild over to pet it and I wondered whether horses are like dogs, unpredictable, and if the grandmother wasn't being a little too free with someone else's working animal.

I've been told that the Amish don't like having their photographs taken, but hoping that doesn't apply to their horses and buggies, I snapped this picture because it was priceless. Along with the photos of the market, this one tells a good story of what it's like to live in these parts.

Meanwhile, my husband is away this weekend at another family funeral (there have been so many deaths in his family during the past few months that it belies the saying that lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place), and my parents are downstairs watching TV while I take some time to download photographs, check e-mail, and buy my niece (who's turning 15 next week!) a present online.

The fourth week of the semester ended yesterday and so far my classes are going well, I'm managing to keep on top of my work and I still find a little time to watch TV and read a few lines for fun now and then. My parents are now tentatively considering a departure date for mid-October and it'll be odd not having them since we've spent more time now with them here than we spent by ourselves when we moved in back in August. Lizzy, especially, will be heartbroken, because they cosset and spoil her so (especially my dad).

Despite the rain and the cold, I'm looking forward to fall, my favorite season, although it inevitably leads to winter. But I'm just going to take it, as always, one day at a time and hope and pray for the best, always.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Días sencillos

While my semester has taken off like a jet, and I'm a little surprised at how busy I am even when I'm purposefully limiting myself to only a very few specific activities and projects (in addition to teaching), the days at home mostly flow with a simple grace that feels like a blessing.

I think the feeling comes singularly from the fact that all of us inhabiting it are happy in this new home, and that we've settled into it like we had always waited to call a place like this our own. Darwin, especially, loves to perch himself at the highest point of the house, and play "lion surveying his savanna." Magellan, for her part, prefers a spot of sunlight on the carpet of my husband's office, where she spends most of her days.

Lizzy also has her perch, a new chair my mom and bought at a friend's tag sale for $5, and which my husband believes is hideous but which I really like. Lizzy and Darwin have both claimed the chair, however, and the dog specifically uses it to keep herself in alert to any potentially invading Amish horses that might come up and down the road in front of our house.

Meanwhile, most days my parents spend at their favorite pastime, reading, and they love to do it basking in the warm sun on the deck overlooking the yard and trees. When it's not a teaching day, we try to make at least one car trip out of the house so my dad gets some air, so to speak.

Today we went to the grocery store so I could get a Starbuck's decaf and to the drugstore so my mom could get some things she needed. The trip to the grocery store was doubly satisfying because my dad found the newest Dan Brown novel, which is now his reading project for the day (he does go through about a book a day these days, and I'm so glad that I have an ample library here after years of collecting books!).

These simple, uncomplicated days at home in the late summer, with my husband, my parents, and my furry children, feel like such a great blessing that, when I'm not in a hurry over some school-related something, I try to breathe them in, like perfume, so that I never forget them.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Let (barking?) dogs lie

Lizzy has a demonstrable hatred of horses. Each and every time that an Amish buggy rides up or down our road, Lizzy rushes to any window, door, gate, or whatever opening she has near and will bark incessantly until the clip-clop of the horses can no longer be heard. Her barking, however, begins way before (and ends way after) any of us can hear the horses coming or going because, as a dog, her hearing is so much better than ours, something that's not a plus in these situations.

Her hatred of horses has extended to barking at the television while, in an episode of "The Tudors," Henry VIII rode into the scene with a posse of friends, all on horseback. Lizzy, unfortunately, cannot distinguish between real and televised horses so her reaction is equally loud and distracting. My commands of "quiet" aren't very effective and my mom has taken to simply pressing her mouth shut until the offending horses are out of dog earshot.

Apart from her insane reaction toward horses, and her love for occasionally rubbing herself against her own poop or for getting all muddy by digging up a hole in her incessant search for chipmunks, Lizzy is quite adorable and has become the darling of her grandparents, who dote on her and give her way too much credit, my husband and I think.

While Lizzy still gets mopey after I leave, my husband says that because my parents are here and they pay so much attention to her, she doesn't miss me as much as she used to when it was just him and I in the house. In fact, Lizzy now has spent the same amount of time with the two of us as she has spent with the four of us and we agree that she'll sorely miss my parents once they return to Puerto Rico for the winter.

Tomorrow night Lizzy and I return to our obedience classes (we only have two more to go) and I don't think she's impressed her teacher with her willingness to obey me or anyone else. She has impressed the teacher with her cuteness but not with any of that bright intelligence my parents seem to notice in the dog. In fact, the teacher, who suggested to a couple who have a huge mastiff puppy that they should consider an advanced obedience class, turned to me and Lizzy and asked me is we'd like to do more obedience training. I don't think Lizzy is going to get any certificates of merit and I won't be surprised if she downright fails the darned class. But I can't fault her for having an anti-obedience spirit because that's probably where she and I are very similar.

Meanwhile, we have another creature that has joined our household, a tiny little frog that has now claimed the front yard water feature, which is supposed to look like a pond. My husband can't explain how the frog reached this pond, but the frog seems to be very content, sunning itself on the rocks and then spending much of the day in the water, waiting for unsuspecting insects to come along. My husband thinks that it might end up as a snack for the snakes that live under the ground cover around the pond, but I'm betting against that prediction, hoping that the snakes don't like frogs for dinner.

On the professional end, the semester is off and running, and even though this is only the second week of my easier semester, with only two classes to teach and about 22 students in total, I don't find time to do much of anything that's not school-related. I even had to return the second season of "The Tudors" to the public library, although (hopeful person that I am) I requested it again from a closer library and am hoping I can find the time to finish the second season before I run out of renewals.

In that same hopeful vein, I registered for a few quilting classes, one that will teach me to quilt a pillow case next week and another two subsequent workshops that will teach me to quilt Christmas stockings. That'll probably be it for my non-school ambitions this fall. That said, I should really go now and read for my class on Friday. ¡Buenas noches!