I sent change of address cards, and if you didn’t get one, it’s probably because I don’t have your address. It’s all email or text now, anyway. You know, back when my kids were little, I’d sacrifice the daylight of a whole day to stage a seemingly spontaneous holiday picture. I’d dress them in matching flannel shirts and try to gather them into a group, waiting for that perfect combination of kid-ness and cute-ness, in the presence of decent lighting. It wasn’t easy when the days were as short as they were in Seattle in early December. And I had film in my camera, so it was not possible to know right away whether I’d gotten a usable shot or not. Back then, I sent holiday cards to a long list, over 100, including my friends, relatives, neighbors, and friends of my parents. The list of change of address cards I sent out this November was less than 40 names.
A friend whose kids are in their 20s still gets them to sit for an Xmas photo every year. Every year for the past four years I’ve been like, no way will she get them to do it this year, and then, blammo, she does. And their smiles last year were slightly less ironic than the year before. My kids aren’t all on the same coast, so I have no hope of being able to make it happen this year; I’m not sure when was the last time I got a picture of them all together. I think instead of feeling sad about that, I will put Xmas bows on my pets and pose them in front of the tree for a photo. They will enjoy it. It might be old dog Cherry’s last Xmas anyway.
In response to our change of address cards, I got an actual, handwritten letter in the mail from one friend, and an email from the son of an old neighbor in Seattle. The old neighbor’s son was sad to report that our neighbor died in August. I have written about this neighbor before, because she was the one who so keenly reminded me what a bad neighbor I was sometimes. She was 88, and had a massive stroke.
Here in Bedhead Hills, the dogs are still learning the boundaries of our mostly wooded property. I’ve only let them out the door unleashed a few times; Captain got skunked in October, and a few nights ago he came back to the wrong door, so I was calling out into the dusk and he was barking to be let in, but we were doing it in different doorways. So, I leash them up and go out with them, and when time permits, I try, after walking them on leashes, to take them around so they can practice seeing where our boundaries are.
Yesterday, after a long walk, we took the little path into the woods on our property. We got tangled in the thorny bushes, and I unclipped their leashes. My timing was perfectly wrong. Though our yard is below a steep embankment on that side, the dogs saw a woman and her dog walking by, and charged up the hill, bursting out of the bushes and ambushing the pair on the road. The woman screamed with surprise and snatched up her little white dog; it was barking furiously. I shouted and shouted at my dogs; Captain came back cowering. Cherry, who doesn’t hear anymore, didn’t bother coming back down the embankment at all. She trotted around down the driveway and headed towards the house. So much for introducing myself to the neighbors. I don’t suppose she heard me screaming, “SORRY!” at the top of my lungs.
Captain has never been very good at anything but the most basic obedience, and with Cherry no longer offering him the model of nearly perfect sits, stays, and comes, I’m going to have to go back to daily drills with him. I don’t know how we’ll conquer his desire to chase deer or greet people who walk by with dogs, without having to risk him running into the road. He is fun to work with, though, because of his sweet and cheerful outlook, and he doesn’t get bored as long as treats are involved.

They have their own agendas

Early last January, when we still lived on a big farm, far from the busy road, I let the two dogs out to go potty on a snowy day and Captain did not come back. Because I envisioned the skunk he was tracking or the herd of deer he was chasing, a half an hour passed before I got worried. Was he lost? Had he chased the deer too far to find his way back? Ten more minutes passed. Had someone taken him? My imagination ran away with scenarios: he is a hunting dog, so maybe he’d been stolen. Or what if he’d been dog-napped? I concocted a tale of how it was the revenge of my Twitter troll, trying to threaten and intimidate us. Could she have figured out where I lived? The longer he was gone, the more outlandish my ideas became about what had happened to my dog.
I got in the car and drove slowly down our long, frozen driveway, calling out the window into the cold. I drove to a neighboring farm where our housesitter said the dog had gone once to play with one of the dogs who lives there. As my tires crunched in my steady ascent of the long, straight driveway with snow banked high on both sides, four separate texts arrived on my phone at once:
“He’s back.”
“He’s back.”
“He’s back.”
“Where are you?”
The narrowness of the drive meant I had to go all the way to the top to turn around, or back out the way I came. I backed out the whole way.

What I Dreamed Last Night #1

Maybe it wasn’t last night (it was this morning), but I dreamed the relentlessly ringing alarm of the phone of my husband, the Relentless Troubleshooter, was actually a notification from his truck tires that the warrantee was almost used up.  Whether the warrantee of those truck tires is used up is not something I know, you understand, and does not appear on the Official-List-of-Things-I-Am-Responsible-For. 
I want to tell you, though, about the dream I had about my friend, F___. Mind you, her name is not really F___, but for the purposes of this telling it will have to do.
Two nights ago I dreamed about my friend F___. She was back living with The Badgers, and The Badger Daughter was her roommateThe Badger Daughter roommate was a nurse for a Jug Band. She wore one of those dusky blue, old fashioned nurses’ uniforms to work, complete with a tiny starched white hat pinned to the top of her hair. One night the Jug Band was opening for David Bowie, and my friend F___ was invited along. 

Now in this dream, it was not 1960s David Bowie, nor was it 1970s David Bowie, nor was it 1980s David Bowie. It was more like 2030s David Bowie: very old, very frail, and very wrinkled and spotty. Yet he retained his switched
on zeal. My friend F___ and David Bowie struck up a conversation backstage, and it turned out that they shared a love of polka music, card games, and puns. They could not resist each other, and spent the night together. The startling revelation that my friend was pregnant with David Bowie’s baby woke me up.
Let’s get this straight: a magical entity did not put the baby there, David Bowie and my friend F___ did it together. Babies are created by a biological process which requires no intervention by magical entities. You might have learned about it in health class in 5th grade.  I know this to be true, even in a wacky dream world where a Jug Band has a nurse.