Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy anniversary!

Ten years ago today I flew to Montreal to meet Veronique and Oskar! I spent the evening at Veronique's little house in the country, surrounded by four adult and three puppy Briards -- it was an amazing experience.

The next day we drove back to the airport (poor Oskar got sick in the car on the way) and Oskar and I began our longtime friendship.

He's about 14 weeks in the photo above, here, just 5 weeks!

And now he's ten years old, a little bit slower but no less dear to me.

Happy anniversary, Oskar!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Giving Thanks

It's been a full month since I've posted. During this period a number of things happened to me, with me, about me, because of me. Not unlike the reader's days, I am certain. Nothing compelled me to write, however, until tonight. I contemplate Thanksgiving's arrival. We enter a time of reflection and remembrance, a time to appreciate. I realize I have photos to share and stories to tell. Read on.

Without doubt, the most dramatic happening of the past month was when I fell off the roof. Simply saying those words brings a wry smile to my lips -- how tough am I, I fell off the roof! Another take on the incident might be "how stupid is she, to go on the roof with no adult supervision!" But go I did, the painting had already taken all summer and the weather was clear for only a few more days. The section of wall above the entry roof was not large -- five safe minutes were all that was required. And I nearly, almost made it. If only it weren't for that split second where one's weight shifts from the roof to the ladder. That one infinitesimal moment where the Big Mo' glides one's hindquarters from the shingle to the step. Barely an inhale. And in that moment the ladder slipped, taking me with it on a quick drop to horizontal. The photo does not do justice to the colors that bloomed on my shins. Huge bumps remain beneath the skin along the path where the ladder hit, and should they connect with a chair, or the floor if I kneel, there is pain. But the worst harm was to my ego. How tough am I?!

The reason for the painting rush, of course, was threatened snow. November is, after all, the beginning of winter in southwest Michigan. No one questions it. First is bow season, then firearms, and right around the same time, snow. If you look carefully at my car, you will see two things that say much about me. Somehow the snow felt it was important for them to be visible.

Ulani enjoyed the snowfall immensely. Oskar, now 10 years old, not so much. He waited for me to shovel a path through the snow to the barn before he would venture out, preferring not to delve waist-deep into the freezing mess. I reminded him of his first winter, in Chicago. The snow that year formed deep drifts against the fences between our small backyard and those of the neighbors. Oskar and I played "fort" -- he dug trenches behind the drifts, then I tossed snowballs and he dodged them in the trenches. It was a terrific game, greatly enjoyed on both sides. Once I shoveled the paths this year, he played a version of bumper bowl with me, chasing the yellow squeaky ball down the path a few times. Then he was happiest to come inside, get a towel-down, and jump up on the couch, feet warmly beneath his belly, for a rest.

The next morning, as the sun rose red above the trees, we ventured out to play again. For this time we spend together, I am grateful.