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Month: August 2001

Doggie Adaptations

In all of the adaptations we’ve had to make here in our country home, the most subtle one has affected our dogs. It’s subtle because its full import has taken this entire year to become obvious.

We have three dogs-city dogs, of course. The most citified is the little one, a six-pound toy with long hair. When we gained her from my son in late 1999, she wasn’t fond of investigating the back yard and her coat dictated frequent grooming. The other 2 dogs are actually hunting breeds, one, a beagle mix and the other, a golden retriever-basset hound mix (yes, I know that’s weird).

Once we moved out to the back of nowhere, the silence was wonderfully deafening at first. The dogs were quieter—there was less to bark at. No passing folks on foot, little motor traffic, no other dogs close by, no visitors to the door. I was thrilled but as time has gone on, they have adjusted and now find barking to be a great activity. Let one of us slam a door in the house or let the wind blow and all three dogs jump up ready to fend off intruders!

Other long dormant traits have made themselves known in the months since our move. One of the most shocking was what I call “the murder.” I had actually planned on writing a column about the incident without mentioning until the end that the perpetrator was a female dog, but along came the discovery of a body in the area and the subsequent arrest of a female suspect. Oh, well.

The tale involves an early morning altercation in the yard just after I let the dogs out. The noise was at first raucous and then I heard the high pitched shriek of what I thought might be one the hawks that dive bomb our yard rabbits. I looked outside and saw the big dog, the basset mix, hovering over something. Now you have to understand, Micky has the smallest brain and the largest heart of any dog either of us have ever owned. She hasn’t a mean bone in her body—she just wants to be loved

Well, my sweet, lovably dumb animal had a rabbit. It wasn’t dead so I removed it out of the pen in hopes it would hop away. It died.

I went back inside and immediately heard another outcry. Looking out again, I saw nothing. Later we found dead rabbit number 2, now sporting only 3 legs. I was astonished and slightly appalled.

My reaction was that of the usual response on TV to discovering one’s neighbor has been arrested: “She just couldn’t have done it, Mr. Reporter; she’s seemed to be such a nice person.” Micky has continued on being her sweet self and has never repeated her crime.

Just recently I discovered one of the reasons for the barking. I caught sight of a domesticated animal taunting our animals—my closest neighbor’s Maine coon cat. He was haughtily pacing in front of the pen. He must have been laughing at the foolishness of the idiot dogs barking away. He also sprayed my porch that week just under my living room windows. Whew! I like cats, but he better look out; I own a killer basset hound I could turn loose.

Our latest dog escapade has kept us amused and bemused for weeks now. The former owner of this house kept Labradors who have left us with man-sized holes. Our dogs, however, have never been diggers before now, so we have watched with great interest the sudden excavations taking place in our back yard.

Both the beagle and basset have dedicated much time and effort to tracking down whatever they thought was underneath the ground. We figured there was probably a mole or they were just bored and getting dumber. We’ve had to endure dirty noses, dirt clods between doggie toes and all the accompanying ick and litter involved. The beagle (smart alpha dog named Dusty) has been insisting on staying outside in all sorts of weather and she does like her creature comforts due to her arthritis.

Finally, she showed up at the door with a prize. We’ve had her bring in pecans and bury them and bones in the sofa or chair. This time she was waiting patiently to “bury” that which she would not eat—a mole! A very dead, cold, frozen mole. We relieved her of her prize immediately. The vet’s office tells me dogs and cats refuse to eat moles, that they aren’t considered palatable. Is that a relief? Danged if I know.

Hopefully, that is the end of the digging for this year. Hopefully, the crime level will remain low. Now, I just gotta figure out what to do about the little one, the princess, who has decided that the call of the wild (backyard) is the ultimate thrill and who keeps returning to the warmth and comfort of house and (our) bed, dragging smelly dirt and straw.

Oh, yes, we’re all adapting quite nicely to our country home. Does that mean I can revert to a simpler rusticity and quit housecleaning?

Boy, I hope so!

Pack Rats!

It truly is amazing what one can accumulate over the years. Before and since our move we have been sifting through our belongings in an effort to reduce the bulk and fit into our new home. This exercise has turned up some interesting, some ridiculous, some wonderful and some odd things.

One of my first goals was to get my husband to toss out some of his magazines. We have been toting these boxes of ancient Outdoor Sports, Guns and Ammo and Black Belt magazines around for years. We just keep putting the boxes up and he never ever reads those magazines again. So, when he agreed to sift through these boxes, I thought, “Hallelujah!”

In the weeks since, I have observed him doing just that. Well, I thought so anyway. He definitely has gone through each box. He definitely has been rereading articles because he keeps reading bits and pieces out loud to me. I have the sneaking suspicion, however, that not one magazine has hit the trash.

I, on the other hand, no longer keep magazines. I’ve been taking Better Homes and Gardens for thirty years. Back in the mid-eighties I finally went through them and clipped articles. They are filed in one of my filing cabinets by improvement area—garden, storage, decorating, windows, kitchens, etc. I’ve been patting myself on the back for that accomplishment for many years.

I only have 2 filing cabinets, but as we moved, I realized that there were all sorts of cardboard file boxes in the attic. I have dutifully checked all those boxes as well and can report that the three boxes of stationery (printed but never sold) will be donated to the Maxeys Woman’s Club for a fund raising effort. (Maybe someone will buy them for a good cause: I certainly couldn’t make a profit on them!)

I tossed out tax paperwork from 1992 to 1994 from two businesses and got rid of two more boxes. I finally burned that box of English 101 student essays that I have been carrying around for twenty years (I did use my students’ paragraphs at one time in a grammar book I wrote—about twenty years ago!)

I culled specific files of out-of-date materials from the career counseling box and from the writer’s box (a list of writers’ agents from 1982 really isn’t very helpful nowadays). I finally threw away my set of Décor picture framing magazines (guilty as charged—those I didn’t clip but, alas, kept whole).

I’ve definitely attempted to reduce our book collection. I gave an encyclopedia-type set to my granddaughter that dated from the ‘70s. I gave a full box to the Potter’s House. And then last weekend while unpacking some boxes, I was able to toss out 3 more books, including a second edition copy of Sound and Sense, a standard English text used in Georgia back in the 60’s and 70’s, because I had a third edition, also. Later I found that same text in Tommy’s room—he claims there’s an important poem in that book and he “might” check my third edition for it. Foiled again.

I’m going to break down that 386 and the old 486 computers for parts. I needed to use one of the 14″ monitors I had stuck away and found that both weren’t working any longer. More trash.

We’re still trying to sell that exercise bike I committed to five or six years ago. And now… now, we have extra things to sell as well that came with this house.

Of course, I still have pieces of lumber, tin, and plastic pipe, not to mention all the odd bits and pieces I inherited from Daddy’s workshop when he died. For some reason, his pack rat tendencies might have been passed on to me in that area.

Late Sunday I was sifting through paperwork in my office, working hard at organizing and cleaning up, when I found our greeting card stash. I’ve always kept the greeting cards Tommy and I exchange, but I hadn’t really looked at them like this before. Much to my delighted surprise, I discovered three-not two-three anniversary cards from Tommy—all identical, saying he would marry me again. He must have meant it! As I was chuckling over his self-claimed poor memory, I found 2 identical Valentine cards from me two years in a row. Oh, dear.

In our invitations for our frog/prince/princess theme wedding I wrote “Please, we are the prince and princess of pack rats: no gifts—we’ve got no space.” Was I right or what?

Let me see, I think this weekend I’m going to trash those extra picture frame pieces I hauled off when Danny Fullerton moved his shop down to Greensboro. I think.