I’m tiptoeing into a new project. And because I haven’t added anything to the draft in two days, I’m experiencing that panicked sensation of “what if the words don’t come today?”
What if I fail? What if today’s the day I’m exposed as the imposter I am?
Well, those feelings are exactly why I must get to work in order to disrupt that fear and show it to the door. To quote (in translation) Gabriel García Márquez:
“Necessity has the face of a dog.”
I must do what needs to be done. But, don’t worry, Emma. I’m fairly confident neither of us will be harmed during the writing of those words.
Lynx Pass Campground. July 14, 2022
Plants and animals
earth water and sky
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.
Baron & Emma at Cataract Creek Campground. September 29, 2021
One pup one adult
one chill the other bonkers
My handsome fella and his dog. Two happy campers.
Rifle Falls State Park. August 5, 2021
Happy happy birthday to you, Zippy! 🎂 🎉
Here’s wishing for many more such outings (minus the 🦟🦟).
Tracy and Emma Jean-Jean
An artist’s perspective: I shut my eyes in order to see. ~ Paul Gauguin
May 8, 2021
A dog’s perspective: I shut my eyes in order to better feel the breeze and smell the odors. ~ Emma Jean-Jean
A woman’s perspective: I shut my eyes in order to momentarily pretend all the horribleness in the world isn’t happening. ~ Tracy
Emma and I ran on the trails this morning. It was my first outdoor exercise in over a week because of the horrific air quality. While the morning’s AQI wasn’t Great, I just couldn’t take another treadmill session. Running outside felt like a reasonable trade-off between lung health and mental health. I brought water for us and we did a mellow 3-miles with me urging her on most of the way. Halfway through the run, she pooped. I scooped it into a rice cake bag, knotted it off, and tied the bag to her collar. It’s tricky enough holding her leash while trail-running (sudden stops and detours really increase the likelihood of wipe-outs) and adding a poop sack was more than I could handle. The good news is Emma didn’t really seem to notice. (I did feel like a bad human-friend once we got back on the streets and ran past people from the neighborhood, Emma’s poop sack swinging for all to see.)
When we returned home, I saw a missed call from Wildebeest. I called back and we ended up conversing for nearly two hours about all sorts of things. While talking, I took my camera outside and continued our conversation on speaker phone as I photographed the zillions of bees on the fern bush.
I eventually told Wildebeest what I was doing, knowing he might freak out or, at the least, get really twitchy and itchy. (When he was a teenager, he got stung by a bee while at outdoor camp and was taken to the nearest hospital where he was jabbed with an epi pen. As bee sting reactions go, his wasn’t uber-serious. Yes, his throat did close a bit but, in his words, he had plenty of time to get to the hospital.) Turned out, my announcement didn’t send him spiraling. However, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have waded into the fern bush with me to get close-up shots.
And I know for a fact he would’ve steered clear of this specimen:
Yikes. A quick online search for “red wasp” tells me this species isn’t even supposed to be in Colorado?? And I saw several of them on the bush??
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.
. . . shoot off fireworks.
Emma huddled on the bed. July 4, 2021
Emma and our entire household would love for nothing more than a neighborhood cease fire.
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.
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.
It’s been a rough week and I’m guessing there are others out there in need of a smile. Look no further than Zippy and Emma.
April 11, 2021
I’m not sure whether she’s got her tongue out at me/photographer or because Zippy is gripping her hind feet like he’s a pilot guiding a plane down for an emergency landing.
Doesn’t matter. Makes me smile.
I realize this photo seems artfully arranged: dog napping in patch of sunshine with dead geranium leaf angled above nose and the hint of a geranium bloom beyond Emma’s nostrils. Nope.
November 20, 2020
We’re just not good about sweeping up around here.
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.
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?)
As I stand here at my desk, revising a beloved manuscript (yet again), I’m feeling prickles of doubt about the direction I’ve taken. I’m wondering and worrying and feeling a bit shaky on my writer-legs. There’s one eternal question:
“Are you making things better or worse, Tracy?”
Muse-dog Emma on November 20, 2020.
I’d dearly love the answer to this question in the right-here-and-now. However, only time will tell. And only if I complete this revision. So, best get back to it.
. . . and I’ll blow your fence down.
Did the Big Bad Wolf pay us a visit last night? No. But we did have wind gusts strong enough to repeatedly slam a tree branch against the side of the house, causing our doggo much anxiety and me much grumpiness. I put a pillow over my head and eventually fell asleep.
December 23, 2020. Photo by Wildebeest
I was the last one awake and upright this morning. However, I was the first to notice something was not-right. Zippy and Wildebeest somehow both failed to see the fence was down. When I pointed it out to him, Zippy replied, “Oh, that’s probably why it took Emma so long to come back inside this morning. Guess she was out exploring.”
Fence companies are VERY busy right now. Zippy erected a temporary fence across the thirty-foot gap while we wait. It may be months. Prediction: Emma has several more adventures in her near future.
We woke to 8-9 inches of snow this morning after a high of 58 degrees yesterday. I should be used to Colorado’s swiftly-changing weather patterns and yet was still surprised to see that beautiful white blanket outside. We’re in desperate need of moisture so it was with happy hearts that Wildebeest and I shoveled all that heavy snow (although he might define the experience differently).
Zippy and I just walked Emma through the slushy streets of our neighborhood.
It was a bit chilly in the shade but nice in the sun. And those dry patches of pavement were especially welcome. This low-quality photo taken with my phone doesn’t do justice to how good it felt to be outside in the sunshine, breathing clean, crisp air.
ETA: Zippy sent me these photos right after I’d posted.
Emma & Marcel, November 13, 2020
everyone craves the sunshine
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.
State Forest State Park. June 12, 2019.
June 2019 seems like a lifetime ago (hell, February 2020 already feels like historical fiction), and I just spent time looking through photos from one of last summer’s camping/hiking trips. I remember how hot it was in the Bockman Campground when the sun rose in the sky and how happy our doggo was every time we came upon a patch of snow during our 8-mile hike. I remember waking up to a moose grazing next to our tent. I remember photographing this old building, thinking that with a little fixing up, it might make a nice place to spend my days.
We didn’t camp this summer. We’ve only hiked in the nearby open space. Until this country gets its collective act together, it seems I’ll have to make do with memories.