Joyful running

Despite my website banner that declares me a “Writer…Runner…Birder,” I haven’t run much over the past five months. A combination of things (notably fatigue resulting from the multiple collective traumas we’re experiencing) has kept me from lacing up the running shoes. Today, I discovered the perfect way to ease back into my much-loved activity and this easy-peasy method requires only two things:
1) a dog
2) snow piles

It goes like this: you run until you spot a patch of relatively clean snow. Then you pause while your canine friend flops onto the snow, plows her nose and forehead through the white stuff (doing the “submarine”), and concludes by rolling on her back to joyfully kick her legs in the air. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Example of Emma’s preferred cooling-down method on hike.  June 12, 2019.

My soon-to-be patented method accomplishes two things:
1) it allows your heart rate to calm down so you’re not tempted to quit
2) it cools off the dog and feeds her enthusiasm for the running

Try it, you’ll like it!

Emma and I ran a total of 2.5 miles this afternoon, taking many, many snow breaks. It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t far, but we’re both feeling the good kind of tired that follows a workout.

Emma napping while I stretch, post-run.

Thankful Thursday

Today I am grateful for much, including:

  • My first walking boot-free day in which I walked about 1.5 miles in the neighborhood.
  • An overdue appointment with my behavioral optometrist who’s been taking care of my eyes for a looong time and who, as always, knew exactly what needed to be done to get me back on track.
  • Arriving home after my appointment to find Zippy putting lights in the yard.

Our somewhat haphazard display with bonus feature: Loki in the window.     Dec 2, 2021

  • Afterward, a nice visit with our neighbors and the beautiful and quite-large Rainbow Dash who put her paws on my shoulders to say Hello . . . without knocking me over!

Marcel Monday

Marcel loves to sit in this window at night so he can watch and stalk the moths attracted by the light. Last night he generously paused long enough for me to take a few portraits.

July 11, 2021

Right after I left the room to put away the camera, there was a kerfuffle. According to Zippy, Emma became agitated when Marcel clawed his way up the screen to get at a moth and for some reason, Marcel thought that was a good time to jump down to the floor where the agitated Emma-pup waited. In a flash, Marcel went from predator to prey. Fortunately, Zippy intervened and all was well in this animal kingdom.

Wonder if Marcel would’ve posed for me with such disdain if he’d known the indignity in his very, very near future.

Hot on the trails

This morning we opted to take our daily walk on the trails and headed out when it was a mild 70 degrees. I didn’t bring water because I didn’t think we’d need it. And at the time Zippy took this photo with his phone, Emma was still handling the heat pretty well. (Telltale sign: tongue flopped forward rather than dangling to the side.)

Emma and a clump of Blanketflower in Hayden Green Mountain Park. June 22, 2021

But by the time we’d walked about 2.5 miles and stepped back on a neighborhood street, Emma was done. She collapsed in a full sploot on a patch of shaded pavement. She absolutely did not want to move and I thought I might have to carry her home. There was precedent for this behavior and I most definitely should’ve known better.

Fortunately, the three of us did make it home without having to take turns carrying each other and, once inside, I immediately set my water holster next to my trail shoes. A pointed reminder in case I somehow (again) forget her overheated sploot. I owe it to my sweet little doggo to keep her hydrated.

Sunday Confessional: all birded out

I’ve about had all the bird drama I can stand for a while. There’s a scrub jay nest in our across-the-street neighbor’s pine tree and when Zippy and I returned from our run on Friday, we heard a cacophony in that yard. A fluffy white and gray cat (often seen roaming the neighborhood) was being dive-bombed by screeching scrub jays. Why? The cat had a fledgling in its mouth. I screamed and ran at the cat who dropped the baby bird and ran away. While Zippy stood guard over the stunned bird, I ran across the street to our house and looked up the closest bird rescue site. “Temporarily closed.”

I did a little more research and determined it would be okay to put on gloves to pick up the bird. So that’s what Zippy did and then placed the baby in a shoebox lined with an old t-shirt. We couldn’t spot the nest so he stuck the box up in the tree, wedged between branches, as the parents watched.

Adult Western/Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay, probably one of the parental units.   June 13, 2021

A while later, the cat returned and this time I kept following it. It crossed the street, nervously checking over its shoulder, again and again, to see if the angry woman had given up. When another neighbor told me where the cat lived, I went to that house. No answer. Throughout the day, Zippy and I checked out our windows to see if the cat had returned. We didn’t see it again.

Yesterday (Saturday) morning, just as Wildebeest and I returned from walking Emma, there was another raucous uproar in the neighbor’s yard. This time, the fluffy white cat sat calmly (no bird in mouth) as the parent jays dive-bombed it. Again, I ran  at the cat and chased it away. After another no-answer when I rang the cat’s home doorbell, I went home and wrote a very civil note, explaining the situation and asking that the cat be kept inside.

We haven’t seen the cat at all today. I did, however, see the fledgling on the ground presumably after testing its wings again. It seemed fine. Fast forward six hours. As I sat reading, I heard yelling and yelping. I ran outside and heard the next-door neighbor say “baby bird.”

This time, the unfortunate little fledgling had the bad luck to end up in Rainbow‘s yard.

Rainbow frolicking on December 18, 2021

The good news is that when Rainbow’s human yelled for her to drop the bird, Rainbow listened.** Zippy again donned the gloves, caught the baby who was much more feisty this time, set it in another box I’d prepared, and wedged it in the tree as the parents watched.

I’ve never wanted to be able to fly (possibly related to my fear of heights), but I’m wishing very, very hard for that little scrub jay to soar overhead. The sooner the better.

** Especially good news in light of the fact our neighbor believes she inadvertently adopted a “serial killer” when she adopted Rainbow. Recent victims include a chicken and a prairie dog.

Mixed messages

Emma is a dog of contradictions. She’s small and lovable. Those floppy ears that bounce with each step always induce smiles as we walk the neighborhood. Her big brown eyes ooze emotion. Looking at her, you’d never guess Emma can instantaneously transform into a rage-aholic.

May 8, 2021

I took this photo yesterday moments after she’d gone bonkers when someone dared to walk two dogs past our home. Check out the raised ridge along her spine. Emma flashed me this innocent expression, trying to play it cool and pretend she hadn’t just erupted. But I’ve got photographic proof.

The hackles tell the whole story.

Emma Jean Snow Queen

I spent most of the day reading in bed as my response to the second vaccine dose. The electrolytes and ibuprofen worked wonders and I rallied late afternoon to walk in the sunshine with Zippy and Emma. In shady parts of the neighborhood, there were still piles of snow left from the plows and our exuberant doggo took every opportunity to “submarine” in those piles, roll around on her back, or perform a combination of both. It never failed to bring a smile and I regret not getting pics.

April 16, 2021

This shot from earlier in the week will have to suffice. Take this backyard energy and crank it up about five notches to get an idea of Emma’s happiness level today.

Emma sees the future

I took this photo exactly one year ago and I’m now wondering if Emma closed her eyes because she saw into the future.

Maybe Emma sensed that one year later we’d be on Day 12 of a mold issue/odor issue in our pantry during a stretch of brutally cold weather. Maybe she knew the mold mitigation company would have to come out to treat the problem a second time. Maybe our sweet Emma couldn’t bear to see what was coming.

Maybe or maybe not. But if Emma really was that damned clairvoyant, I wish she’d given us a heads-up on the improperly mounted chimney cap that was gonna cause major condensation problems.

Twofer Tuesday: tuckered hikers edition

Emma and I just returned from a sunny and warm excursion in the open space. We hiked up the mountain as fast as we could and then ran down. Well, we did some running. My short-legged companion doesn’t like the heat and slowed to a walk multiple times. At one point, she even did her signature “goin’ on strike” move.  She stopped and dug in to pull the leash taut, then flopped on her belly with pink tongue hanging out.

I’d already offered her water from my cupped hand when we were at the top of the mountain, which she refused. So when she was on her belly, I tried another approach: pouring water in front of her. Instead of lapping it with her tongue, she ignored it. Silly dog, refusing libation when hot and thirsty. Well, I wasn’t willing to take no for an answer and pried her jaws open to pour water in her mouth.

Worked like a charm! Emma got up and ran almost the entire way back to the street. Such a good doggo.

(Note: Zippy took the photo with the camera still set for shooting the Brown Creeper in low light even though Emma and I were in bright, bright light. I salvaged the photo via a filter. Artsy, no?)

Twofer Tuesday: bee tales

Yesterday, Zippy told Wildebeest a story from when we lived in Alaska (before Wildebeest was born). It was a summer night, and Zippy and our dog Packy were out in our large yard where there was a pile of branches and grass clippings left by the previous owners. (We, being basically lazy people, had left it there with the rationale that it provided wildlife habitat). Zippy noticed something white in the branches, something he thought was a volleyball.

Image by Tidy from Pixabay

He proceeded to poke at the “volleyball” with a stick. (I know, I know. Who arms themselves with a stick when approaching a piece of sports equipment?)

Well, you can guess what happened. BEES!

Zippy yelled, “Run, Packy! Run!” The bees swarmed them as they ran to the safety of the house.*

As I listened to his story, a memory tickled my brain. And then I remembered: Have I Got a Story for You. Read it and weep (with laughter).

*Zippy wasn’t stung and as far as we know, no stingers penetrated Packy’s thick fur.

Listen up: bird & dog tale

August 22, 2020

Over the past several years, my partner has bemoaned the scarcity of magpies in our yard. We’d see them throughout the neighborhood, but they weren’t spending much time in our yard anymore. We missed their raucous energy.

Then one day last month (which just happened to be our wedding anniversary), we noticed a whole bunch of magpies in our neighbors’ backyard, their trees, and on the fence between us. We’d hit the magpie jackpot! But why?

Rainbow peering through the fence at magpies frolicking in our bird bath. August 15, 2020

 

Well, according to our neighbor, when he came home that day to find his yard filled with magpies, he was equally puzzled. Then he went to feed his dog and couldn’t find the nearly-full bag of chow, which was also a puzzle. So he stepped out in the yard and pieced together the sequence of events. His doggo had dragged the bag of food into the yard, scattering the kibble everywhere. The smart corvids had quickly found the treasure.

They also immediately found our bath and took turns tidying up.

August 15, 2020

And as a sign of their appreciation for the use of our facilities, they began leaving gifts for us on the deck rail and tucked away on the steps.
       

The best news is they’re still hanging around and we’re treated to magpie sightings every day.

Four Black-billed Magpies. August 15, 2020

We salute you, Rainbow Dash. Pure genius.

Who’s a good girl?

Emma. September 14, 2020

Here’s my happy doggo to perk up anyone in need of perking (not to be confused with twerking, although, if twerking makes you feel better, by all means do that!)  The photographic quality is low and Emma’s smile is slightly blurred, but the emotions shine through.

As Charles M. Schulz famously wrote, happiness is a warm puppy.

Hello, spreadsheet!

I’m gearing up to do another round of revisions on my middle grade novel and realized it would be helpful to have a chapter breakdown of the latest version. Enter the spreadsheet! While I do love being organized and having all that information in one place (chapter, POV, setting/day/time, summary, page #s, revision ideas), I’m not exactly oozing enthusiasm right now. Not, say, like this pup.

Pixabay.com

But when I went in search of a free image of a spreadsheet, this smiling doggo was on the home page and I challenge anyone to resist that face.

I’m sure we can all just visualize a spreadsheet.

One happy dog

I just hit SEND on the 44,000-word middle-grade manuscript I’ve been revising. I sent it to two readers who haven’t seen it before which means fresh eyes/fresh insights. Woot! Hitting SEND also means this project is no longer my concern (temporarily, but still!) and that I’m free to be and do as I please for the next week or so.

Right now, I’m feeling like this doggo that walked past my house this morning.

Unknown happy dog. June 28, 2020.

Woof!

Thankful Thursday: Zebu edition

Zebu and Emma. December 30, 2019.

Today is Zebu’s birthday. He is 24 (and so much more). He’s living here as he works from home, saving up money in preparation for a move to Seattle in the next several months. I’m grateful for our solid relationship and the laughter we share. He’s a master of puns and makes me cringe/crack-up on a daily basis, and it’s going to be a major adjustment when he moves out. In the meanwhile, I’m enjoying his company while I can (as is Emma).

Happy Birthday, son o’ mine.

Note: I just downloaded new photo editing software and am facing a steep learning curve. 🙂

Meet my neighbor

Yes, it’s snowing again in Colorado. At this point in the year, I’d prefer the sunshine and warmer temperatures we’ve had the past week or so, but this storm has it perks. Exhibit A: looking out my window at Rainbow.

Rainbow Dash (so-named in honor of My Little Pony)

As I write this, she’s still out there, content to let the snow accumulate on her beautiful, thick fur.

Busted

Emma. February 2020.

The dog is a reflection of your energy, of your behavior.   ~ Cesar Millan

It’s true. Emma’s expression accurately reflects my energy level this windy Monday.

So, sue me.