30 Days of Thanks – November 4

One of the things I love best about fall is the time change, when I can finally get back to what my body feels is the “real” time. I know it’s just a one-hour change but for some reason, I’ve never been able to fully adjust to daylight savings time, even when I was younger. Add in a little mid-life insomnia, and you have a recipe for some very grouchy mornings.

But now that the time has changed, I can wake up naturally and have a full morning. This morning, I was awake at 5:30 and started to feel grouchy about it (having wanted to sleep at least another hour) but then decided to roll with it and see where it took me. After a nice half hour of dog-assisted yoga, the Westies and I went on a one-mile walk. It was crisp and frosty but the sun was shining and it is a lovely day. We got home with time to spare, allowing me to listen to a podcast while making a nice omelet. All of that, and I still didn’t have to rush to work!

So today, I’m thankful for time changes, frosty mornings, and doggies who love me, even if they do interfere with proper posture while doing yoga.

How about you?

Chloe the Hunter

I don’t know if this really qualifies as a gratitude post but it’s too funny not to share. If you’re  frequent reader, you’ll know that I spend a lot of time on my own because my husband travels, and have as my constant companions a pair of Westie dogs.

Chuffy and Chloe, Hunters Extraordinaire

Chuffy and Chloe, Hunters Extraordinaire

They are great company, these dogs. They are big dogs packed in little bodies, with all the ferocity and charm that terriers always have. They’re so cute, in fact, and so smart that I sometimes forget that they’re actually dogs. Until last night, anyway.

My little boy Chuffy has always been quite the hunter and in fact has at least once taken down a full size rabbit. (Much to my dismay when I found him covered in gore and the remains of the rabbit all over the yard. He was very proud of himself).

His little sister Chloe, on the other hand, usually plays the role of cheerleader and is quite happy to stay on the deck while Chuffy does the fighting, although she’s happy to chase any rabbit that happens to come into the yard.

At night, our backyard is pretty dark because we have a big deck that blocks the light to the yard below. Because we back to open space, our neighborhood is filled with rabbits and coyotes. It’s not unheard of to have the occasional bear or mountain lion either. As a result, I’m not too keen on letting the dogs out after dark. But nature does call, so out they went. Chuffy came back first, and a few minutes later, there was a ruckus in the yard, as Chloe cornered something and proceeded to bark at it. Loudly.

“Great,” I think. Here I am, all alone, about to go save my dog from a coyote or a mountain lion or a bear or who knows what else. This is when a husband, son, or at least a working flashlight would come in handy, but I had none of the above. So, out I went, into the dark, to fetch the ferociously barking little dog and rescue her from whatever was trying to eat her.

Back inside, as both of our hearts started to pound less loudly, I began to wonder what it was that she had cornered. I saw no evidence of anything as big as a coyote or a mountain lion but I didn’t see a rabbit or a squirrel either. As for Chloe, she continued to bounce around the house as though hopped up on adrenaline from her encounter. (And given that she’s a Westie, ready to go back out. They were bred to chase vermin and have no fear).

This morning, as the dogs headed back out, I watched to make sure there were no critters in the yard. She trotted over and began to sniff heartily at the bottom of the drainage spout. At that moment, I realized that what I had “rescued” her from was likely a mouse that had taken shelter in the drainage spout to get away from the snarling, barking dog.

I’m grateful that it wasn’t a coyote, mountain lion, or bear. I’m equally grateful that no one was injured. I’m sure that whatever critter was in that drainage spout was very grateful when I pulled the dog back into the house. But I’m also a little embarrassed that I was scared (and yet brave) enough to go out and rescue her, thinking about what it could have been.

As for checking to see if it’s still in the drainpipe, that’s for a husband or adult son to look into. Remind me to take care of that flashlight one of these days.

Practicing Dogya

I am loving this time change. Seriously, you would not think it would have that much impact on a person but for some reason, when we turn the clocks back in the spring, my body never really adjusts and I have six months of difficulty getting out of bed in the morning. In the fall, we turn the clocks back and it’s as though my body just relaxes back into its natural rhythm. It’s lovely.

What that means is that rather than getting up exhausted and walking into walls for a while clutching my morning tea, I wake up naturally and ready to actually do something. Today, that meant yoga at 6 a.m.

I don’t do yoga often enough. I should do it more, because it always makes me feel much better all day. It unwrinkles the muscle kinks that I get from sitting at a desk for 8-10 hours a day, and it relaxes and calms me. I wouldn’t consider myself very good at it, and it’s not like I’m very formal with it. I’ve only ever had one class and have been using the same beginner DVD for years. But I have one yoga advantage others don’t – my practice is not so much yoga as dogya, which means yoga with Westies joining in.

That’s how it was this morning, as I tried to do triangle pose and scratch a Westie ear at the same time. Or when I was doing Downward Facing Dog (my least favorite pose) with an Upward Facing Dog licking my face. At one point, I just gave up and flopped on the mat to pet the pups, which is what they wanted in the first place.

Still, that was a great moment. You never feel quite so loved as at the bottom of a pile of kissy Westiness. At least I don’t.

So that’s what I’m grateful for today. That I’m well enough to do yoga again, and that I have these little puppy people trying to join in. What about you?

That Fabulous Face

In the words of Cole Porter,

My story is much too sad to be told,
But practically everything leaves me totally cold.
The exception I know is the case
When I’m out on a quiet spree,
Fighting vainly the old ennui,
And I suddenly turn and see your fabulous face.

I get no kick from champagne.
Mere alcohol doesn’t thrill me at all.
So tell me why should it be true
That I get a kick out of you?

So today, what I’m grateful for is this fabulous face. Who could not love him?

That Fabulous Face

He’s my friend, my constant companion, and my office assistant, taking proud place on the left-hand side of the desk (and sometimes on the keyboard, if he wants to go out and I’m taking too long). His sister is equally adorable and they really are the light of my life most days.

What are you grateful for today?

Halloween Terrors…I Mean Terriers

Believe it or not, October has snuck away and today is Halloween. (I’m still trying to figure out where August went, but I guess that’s kind of water under the bridge at this point).

There have been lots of Halloween-themed shows on, and they are wide ranging – from Food Network-style competition shows with candy, cake and pumpkin carving to traditional Halloween favorites like “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” That’s my personal favorite, to such an extent that I own it on DVD and will be watching it tonight after the trick-or-treaters (hopefully) take all this candy off my hands.

The funny thing about Halloween in our household is the dog’s reaction. As you probably know, if you follow the blog, my house is run by a pair of West Highland White Terriers (Westies as they are commonly known). They rule the roost but are beneficent rulers and at least let us sit on the furniture, provided we are willing to let them sit in our laps. Intelligent creatures, these Westies, they even watch TV, if by “watching,” you mean waiting for an animal to appear and then charging at the TV barking furiously.

The other morning I was sitting with my tea flipping through channels when I came across this adorable PBS kids show called “Peg + Cat.” This is not something you’d expect a 40-something to be watching, but it’s charming and the music was good. (And let’s face it, I’m not that bright before I’ve had my caffeine).  During the show, Peg and Cat are getting ready to celebrate Halloween so of course there are costumes. This is when I learned that not only are Westies smart enough to know a cat when they see it on TV, they also know a cartoon cat, even when it’s dressed as a fire hydrant. Much barking ensued and eventually was put down by the evil menace of the water bottle.

Here’s the video in case you need a sample:

Peg + Cat

Tonight will be interesting. Last year we had over 100 trick or treaters and eventually ran out of candy. (That would be good; no one around here needs to eat the 5 pounds of chocolate we bought at Costco). I’ll make soup, as I have done every year since my kids were toddlers. And after the neighborhood is quiet and the kids have gone home to gorge on candy, I’ll sit down to watch my old friend Charlie Brown while Linus sits in the pumpkin patch waiting for the arrival of the Great Pumpkin.

Here’s to wishing you a happy Halloween. I hope you find your great pumpkin too.

Mardee

P.S. Tomorrow is the first day of November. It’s All Saints’ Day for those of you who celebrate. It’s also the start of 30 Days of Thanks, which we celebrate here on the blog. It will be more of a challenge for me this year because it’s been a tough year but I’m going to try to do it – and write a post about gratitude every day. If you’re a blogger, please feel free to join me. If you’re not, feel free to play along on Facebook or the other social media outlet of your choice.

Awestruck

Ever have one of those moments that just stops you in your tracks? I had one of those this morning. I guess I wax a bit more poetic during the season of Lent but my Sunday School kids have me filling up a gratitude jar and this morning is definitely going in it.

You see, I stayed up a bit too late last night watching one of those restaurant rescue shows. I don’t know why I like these shows. While I like to eat in restaurants, a life of food service would not be for me. So when the alarm went off this morning, even the Westies weren’t too keen on getting up. But, get up we did and headed downstairs to what is always my very first destination – the coffee maker.

The doggies wanted to go out first, so I headed to the patio door and that is when I saw it, and was awestruck.

You see, Colorado is known for picturesque beauty. We have gorgeous sunrises, but the main living area of our house faces west and frankly, we just don’t spend that much time looking to the east so we usually miss them. (But we enjoy daily sunsets which are equally lovely).  It must have been a trick of the light this morning because facing west, the entire hillside was lit up with golden light. It was a transitory moment, too. Just as I thought to go for the camera, the clouds moved in and the moment was gone.

Maybe there’s a lesson in that though. In the days when we all have a camera-phone in our pocket and we digitally record every interesting moment, this particular day will live on only in my memory. That makes it a bit harder to share, but it does mean that for the one moment, I was really experiencing it – not through the lens of a camera, but real. Direct. Intense. And then it was gone.

A lot of moments of life are like that – real life passes us by while we are busy checking Facebook on our cell phones. (This is not an accusation – I’m as guilty as anyone). What I will take from this is that I need to put down the phone, put away the camera and the computer, and fully experience life every now and then. It’s good for the soul.

Now to go put this in the gratitude jar. Happy Thursday everyone.

Self-Knowledge and Puppy Buying

It’s funny how, as we grow older, we come to know ourselves better. When I was young, I was so certain I knew everything about everything and there was nothing new to learn (sorry Mom). Nowadays, though, I like to think myself much more self-aware. I probably still have my blind spots but I’m getting better at spotting trends and figuring myself out.

This morning, out of the blue, I had the strongest urge to get a puppy. Not another Westie (oddly, because I adore Westies) but a black Labrador.  Fluffy and cute with a fat tummy and the requisite pee spots all over my house.  So, I thought, that’s kind of a weird thing to suddenly want, especially when you already have two dogs who are mostly potty trained and both people in the house travel for a living.

I set about thinking it through, to see if I could figure it out. And eventually it dawned on me. Each time one of my kids moved out, I had this sudden, puppy-shaped hole in my heart. Transference, I guess. So what is today’s puppy buying urge created by? My daughter and her boyfriend, who have been living with us, both are settled in jobs, have found a darling apartment and will be moving out on Saturday.

So, clearly, the last thing I need three weeks before Christmas (and with a business trip next week, no less), is a puppy. Nor do I think my husband would approve. Dog lover that he is, he is much better than I am at knowing our limits. So, I guess I’ll not get a puppy today. Perhaps I’ll just find some video clips on YouTube and hug a Westie. Hopefully that will take care of it until the urge passes.