Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Lizzy's and Chiquita's adoptive sibling relationship didn't start well.

The first day Chiquita was in the house, she rushed to Lizzy's bowl at din-din time (Lizzy being served first because she is Top Dog) and was quickly nipped by the spaniel, a nip that would've been nothing to another dog but that left the then-2.2 lbs Chiquita a bit mauled, with tooth marks on her face and skull.

Chiquita thus learned not only to never rush Lizzy's bowl while Lizzy was eating but also to stay away from the larger dog (who pretty much outweighs her by 26 lbs). Recently, however, there have been small rapprochements as Lizzy tries to learn to play with Chiquita without stomping on her. And, tonight, they shared the dog bed for a little while.

That is progress, indeed! I think Lizzy is slowly realizing that her position as Top Dog isn't threatened by the Chihuahua, who today weighed 3.8 lbs at the vet's, where we went for her vaccinations.

As a mother who wants to see her furry children get along, the shared-bed moment was a small victory.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Charging windmills

Sometimes, the monsters that assail us are more a creation of our own heads than actual ones. Chiquita's greatest foe? My foot, which she loves to bite.

Friday, August 27, 2010


You'd think that a dog that weighs 3.5 lbs would be terrified to walk and run on the trails that Lizzy and I like to walk on but you'd be wrong.

Chiquita loves our nearby trails and now that the horseflies have abated we took both dogs out last evening for a walk and to get a glimpse of the space station as the sun set and illuminated it hovering, like a slow-moving shooting star, on the darkening sky.

That was the first time, ever, that Chiquita was on the trails (she appears to have been rescued from an animal hoarder who kept her in a kennel) and instead of preferring to be carried she insisted on taking on the trails on her own, doing everything she could to keep up with her adoptive sister, who is much bigger and faster than she is.

Chiquita may be tiny but what she lacks in size she makes up in spirit and it's wonderful to see her, more and more, developing into a self-assured dog who thinks of herself as being bigger than she really is.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I simply adore sunflowers and these, brought to me yesterday by my erstwhile dissertation advisor, who came to dinner after a long-time-no-see, are simply breathtaking.

Like a sunflower in late summer's full bloom, life at my small college on the hill resumes this week with the start of a new academic year, but I am on a research leave this semester so I won't be walking into any classrooms to teach until after the new calendar year has begun.

I really appreciate the opportunity to be on leave, however difficult it is to persuade students that this time is not to be devoted to them but to figure out my place in the world now that my father isn't in it, and to finish what needs to get done to secure that my pre-tenure review goes smoothly next semester.

The ability to devote a largely uninterrupted semester to my scholarship is quite exciting and allows me to carefully develop a long-term plan, including more thoroughly sketching my plans for developing a book.

However, after beginning my prospectus and feeling tired after simply recounting what I've done during these past two years, I think the time is come for me to sit back a little and enjoy the work already accomplished rather than always feeding my ambitious and workaholic hungers. As Dr. S has said to me, in light of her own experience, the track for tenure is a marathon, not a sprint. For two years, I've been sprinting to stay ahead so now it's a good time to stay the course but maintain a saner pace.

"Why do you do all this?" Dr. S recently asked, encouraging me to think about the possible answers and to ponder their significance and impact on my life.

I've been considering the question and can honestly say that a part of my ambition is ingrained, something I learned from my parents, especially my father who, before falling ill, and despite being retired, always had one project or another in the works, be it a new book, an essay, a conference, a meeting, a class. Even at the end, after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he was thinking of a class he would've liked to design and had fully outlined what would have been a great book about his travels around the world as an electoral observer for the Carter Center in Atlanta.

Honestly, I don't know how to do nothing. I mean, I can lounge around with the best of them for a while, don't get me wrong. But I always have to have a mission, a project, something that makes me feel like I'm contributing to a larger cause.

That said, I'm not sure why I'm always trying to do more and more and more when enough is enough. That I'm still trying to figure out. I'm way past the time when I need to prove myself to anyone else so what it is, exactly, that drives me now?

"Driven," someone said when asked to describe me with a word, and I was shocked. And this was a few years ago, when I was still in graduate school. I am driven, and I am proud of it, but, as Dr. S has encouraged me to do, I want to figure out what am I driving to (other than the obvious achievement of tenure and recognition in my field) and why.

Most importantly, I want to answer my own question: "When will you know that you've arrived?"

Friday, August 20, 2010

A grandmother's gift

This is the bedroom set that my grandmother left me and which we had to store in Puerto Rico for more than a year. We finally had it shipped to Ohio and it now graces the smaller guest bedroom of our house. She also gave me the bedspread, many years ago, and you can imagine the kind of woman she was when you see how white and pristine it still is!

The armoire was, by far, the heaviest item but once my husband took off the mirror doors he was able to bring it upstairs with a friend's help. The vanity also had a mirror but it was too old and stained to keep so my hubby is going to try to find a new one that fits the frame. I can remember vividly my grandmother sitting on the small stool (which also needs repaired because the lattice-like wooden slats on its seat are broken), applying make up or perfume. The vanity still has her sweet flowery smell.

This chest of drawers (notice how it still shines after more than 70 years!) has special significance, too. My grandfather, who died in the late 1970s, used to keep my favorite bubblegum in the top drawer, which he would give me as a sweet reward. I remember that I was too small to reach the drawer so the anticipation was always great as to what it contained. Of course, my grandfather is now gone and I can open the top drawer with no effort, but the lovely memories remain (and I swear I can still smell the bubblegum inside!).

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Face off

Among the funniest occurrences around here these days is when Chiquita and Hamlet face off in a mock battle to the death. Their leaps and bounds and their running around like wild horses are simply hilarious. A simple blessing of joy, indeed.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Comings and goings

One of the highlights of summer is riding the motorcycle with my husband. We mostly like to visit peach and apple orchards, or go for ice cream at the nearby Velvet factory, or just go for long rides with no aim in mind, passing endless rows of corn.

Now that my husband has new saddlebags we've even gone to two department stores to get, first, a quilt and, later, a pillow, and been able to transport both back home.

As August reaches it mid point, the summer is inevitably moving toward its end but, thankfully, there's still plenty left to enjoy.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The ride so far

My husband's book is now in print and available. For more information, go to http://www.theridesofar.com/

Woo hoo!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Chiquita and Happy

No words needed.