Sunday, February 28, 2010


It is not unusual for us to look toward the end of our fenced-in yard and see deer, but it is a rare sight to see a single, female wild turkey at the deer's feeding area, as happened this morning.

She was there for a little while, scratching at the ground, picking up the corn and nuts and other seed that we put out for the deer. The crows also have started hanging out in that area, often right along the deer themselves.

Lizzy noticed her and started barking and the bird must have heard her across the yard even through the closed glass doors and windows because she thought better of the stop at the free salad bar and scrambled toward the woods.

Story has it that Benjamin Franklin didn't want the eagle as the U.S. national symbol, proposing instead the wild turkey because of its intelligence and despite its evident homeliness. Since we moved in last July, we've seen rafters of the wild turkeys hanging around this area. But this is the first time we've had a single visitor and we wondered how she'd gotten separated from her group.

At least February is now done (finally!), earning the infamous distinction of the being the snowiest of its kind in Ohio history. Perhaps now that March is upon us the weather gods will be kinder and stop dumping snow and buffeting us with frigid temperatures. Here's to hoping.

Vampire Weekend - 'Horchata'

My friends Marisa and Bryan recommended this and I finally got a chance to hear it. I love the group's name and I love horchata (the actual Mexican drink made with rice flour and cinnamon). Enjoy!

Just another Sunday

Sunday morning at our house:

Hamlet is yowling downstairs for some unknown reason.

Lizzy refuses her breakfast, opting instead for searching for cat poop in all three litter boxes (which I've already cleared).

Magellan is honing her claws to better eviscerate us with them.

And Darwin is smelling the walls to see where he wants to pee next.

Happy Sunday everyone!

P.S. February is over today, let's celebrate that, at least.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


The recent thaw enabled me to take Lizzy out on our morning walk, which has been interrupted for almost a month because of the weather. The trails were rough, but passable on the crunchy snow, and she had a blast trying to eat another creature's poop (which I had to pry twice from her mouth), rolling on some smell on the snow, digging into a hole made by a small creature, and pulling at the leash like she wanted to run the Iditarod.

Here, in a momentary lull, she stopped to listen to a Pileated hammering against a tree. The promise of sun as it reflected on the snow made the walk a very nice way to start the morning, even if Lizzy turned it into more of a workout than I would've wanted.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Someone needs to go on a diet...

No, this isn't some circus bear. This is Hamlet. Yes, the scrawny cat that came to us in October is now a huge, fat, bossy, noisy, dirty, endlessly hungry monster. I'm ready to give him away! (Not really, of course.)

Fogged up!

Today, the seasonable temperatures and all that snow on the ground combined to create a very spooky afternoon in which the fog settled, like a blanket, over everything.

Believe in miracles

A year ago, the doctors believed my father had only a few months to live. Today, he celebrates his 73rd birthday.

Such are the not-so-small miracles that give me faith.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Snow dog

Poor Lizzy. Her walks are not fun anymore, and neither are her strolls in the back yard, because she has to wade through snow that is literally taller than she is.

For the first time since we got her in July, Lizzy's cabin fever manifested itself in destructive behavior: she chewed up my night-time reading book, The Little Stranger, and nearly tore it apart, and, worse, she got my husband's free-lancing check and bit off the corners. He called the bank and they told him they'd have to see the check to know if it was still usable. My husband was not pleased, at all.

My husband titled the picture above: "Will a cabin fever addled dog play with anything?"

And this is how poor Lizzy ends up her play moments: covered in icicles that might weigh twice her own weight. Because her coat isn't impermeable, the ice sticks to it like gum and we (well, mostly my husband when I'm at school) have to dry her off with a towel each and every time she comes in to get the icicles off. Not a fun job for anyone involved.

Lizzy and I are asking the same question: When, oh when, will this endless winter end?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Buried in snow: Take 5?

This is the view form the front of my house right now. This is about the fifth snow storm in the past month or so that we've had in Ohio so far, and winter isn't remotely over. My husband and I are both ready to start running for the hills, screaming. That's how sick and tired of this winter we both are.

In the photo below, can you find the driveway and the walkway my husband so painstakingly shoveled last week? No? Neither can we.

My husband just saw a Carolina wren at our feeder, and read that they are fragile birds who tend to have a hard time when there's lots of snow and very cold winters. Immediately, I asked my husband to rush out and put out more bird feed, including pulverized insect stuff that wrens like. We're going to help the wren make it through. She's not going to perish, no way. Not on our watch.

P.S. I also bought two bags of apples today and we're going to cut those up and put them out for the deer as soon as the snow stops... next week?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day sweet

My husband's surprise for me on Valentine's Day. ¡Feliz Día de la Amistad y del Amor!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Life around here these days

These are the shoes I wear most of the time these days. While Ohio usually gets about 20 inches of snow a year, 2010 has already dumped more than 30 inches on us and counting. February, which at least is a few days shorter than January, hasn't been much better, perhaps even worse, than its predecessor. Snowy and hard, as the meteorologist said today on TV.

Someone who's taking this bad winter in stride is Magellan, who insists that the clothes dryer is her personal warming spot. Because it's the warmest place in the house, Magellan doesn't miss the opportunity to climb into the dryer after I've removed dried clothes so she can appease her Caribbean blood, which, like me, absolutely hates this Uber-cold weather.

Another one taking this terrible winter in good spirits is Pepper, Lizzy's best friend. At least once or twice a week, we bring her over so that the dogs have a play date and they both love their time together.

Pepper, however, has the advantage of her Labrador blood, which means her hair is totally impermeable and, after a quick drying, she looks just like she did when she walked in the door. But, poor Lizzy, with her non-impermeable Brittany fuzz, walks in covered in icicles and has to be dried vigorously each and every time to remove the chunks of ice that cling to her like ornaments.

The funniest thing is that Lizzy and Pepper don't seem to mind the snow and will romp and chase each other and wrestle as if they were playing in perfect weather. The sight of their glee is enough to improve on the wintriest day.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


This morning, after sleeping in until past 8 a.m. (Oh, how I love the weekends!), I got Lizzy into the car with some difficulty, since she is the first dog I've ever met who hates the car (although, come to think of it, Geni didn't like car rides, either) and we drove less than a mile to check on Pepper, whose house sitter had to go away last night on a short trip.

I leashed Pepper and took them both for a walk on the same road that I used to walk with Rusty and Geni on almost every morning and almost every night for the last two years of their lives. The memories were bittersweet, especially seeing what good friends Lizzy and Pepper are. They endure each others' foibles and they enjoy each others' company. Just like Rusty and Geni used to do. Although those two were more like an old marriage than old friends.

Dogs are pack animals and it's always more fun to walk two dogs than only one, I've realized. They have more fun together and, as a result, the walk tends to be more pleasant and, in Lizzy's case, less hectic because she wants to be the one who leads by example, something she has no incentive to do when she's walking by herself.

Another thing that never ceases to impress me is how flexible some dogs can be. Rusty was the least flexible dog I've ever met, ever anxious about and unfriendly to strangers. But Pepper is one of the most accommodating dogs and she doesn't seem to be moping because her entire family has vanished (they're all on a ship in the middle of the Pacific headed for Japan). Instead, she loves to come over and play with Lizzy and she likes their walks together, too.

There's much to be learned from dogs, as I've said before in these pages. Not only can they turn a walk in the snow into the greatest of all adventures, but I like that "come what may, I'm going to take it in the best way possible" attitude. It's a good reminder to live in the moment and to not obsess about the past or worry about the future. I like studying Canine Philosophy 101.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Shoveling out from under a foot of snow!

My husband is a dear.

Inside, last night

Who said opposites cannot be bosom buddies?

The Blizzard of 2010

And it's still snowing!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A surfeit of cats!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Small domestic joys

There is something to be said for achieving the age, the moment in life, whatever it is, when it's the small domestic joys -- Lizzy and Hamlet napping together in the sofa while I watch "Emma" on PBS, my husband working nearby in his office with Magellan on his lap, and Darwin trying to get in some kind of trouble somewhere in the house -- that give me the most pleasure.

Of course, my profession, my scholarship, my family, and my friendships contribute a lot of happiness and wonderful challenges to my life, but it's those home-bound moments that make me feel most whole, most fortunate.

Today, while she was doing my hair, the hair stylist was telling me about how she's a single mother, raising two teenagers with no support from their father, whom she divorced when they were little. She now works full-time in the salon and attends a technical college during her early mornings and late nights so she can fulfill the pre-requisites to get into a nursing program.

"Good for you!" I said, admiring her purpose and verve.

"Some women complain that they don't have time for themselves," she said. "I have no idea what that is!"

I've worked, and still work, very hard for everything I have in my life. But there's nothing like a good reality check, like connecting with someone else who toils a lot harder for a lot less, to provide a humbling perspective that helps us be grateful for everything in our lives, including (most importantly) those things we might want but don't have.

Even the challenges and problems we face (having too much to do is a blessing compared to those who have been laid off and have no job prospects) are part of the privileges we are given.

For a long time now I've known that life isn't a dress rehearsal. And that while you might get a second chance, you should never count on a third one. That's why I want to be present in every moment of my life, and I want every minute to count. I may not remember every second I live, but my purpose is to squeeze the very last drop of joy I can until my life is perfumed with it.