Friday, March 30, 2007

She runs with wolves

Someone said they heard George Carlin make the statement that to own a dog is to invest in a mini-tragedy. Never is this more true than when that beloved canine reaches the end of its life. Enter my old beautiful Siberian Husky, Pashka, who celebrates her 14th year with us, which makes her nearly 16 years old! How ironic that the week of this anniversary she took a turn for the worse, her unsteady back legs that usually trotted along gave out on her and she generally looked weak and pained. We were afraid that the vet would suggest we put her down but as he examined her he confirmed that although she can't see or hear well, her real problem is extreme arthritis in her back hips and spine. With medication she can be given a measure of relief and we feel maybe an extension of her life with us.
She's had perhaps one of the best winters of her life since we moved to Minnesota, being able to romp in the snow and walk on the frozen lakes--give her subzero weather, the colder the better. She continues to follow me from room to room, like she has these past 14 years and greets me with that one blue eye and one brown eye every morning. I'm just not ready to let her go and my fervent prayer is that she just doesn't wake up some morning.
The most striking observation we've made about this old girl is how very stoic and patient she is with her pain and discomfort--no moaning, whimpering or even growling and snapping in pain. And I've learned that her not showing pain and drawing attention to oneself is true pack behavior learned from her cousin the wolf. If anyone caught on that she was falling behind or in pain, she would be a prime target to be taken out by a member of the pack or a predator from without. All this is done in the name of keeping the pack strong. She's learned her lesson well.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Aw, you're such a nice boy.

I was sitting in one of the big stuffed chairs near the fireplace at the local Caribou, sipping coffee when I noticed a cute young guy take the chair next to me. He hooked himself up to his ipod, opened a textbook and started to read. I continued with my crossword, when I heard "happy birthday to you, happy birthday, deeeeere Mom, happy birthday to you." Out of the corner of my eye I saw that the guy next to me was singing into his cell phone, and rather loudly at that since he was still had his earbuds attached. He visited with his mom for awhile and I smiled at him when I left because he had made my day too!

Before moving here I heard more than once about "Minnesota nice." Lately I've been basking in its many forms. I'm still amazed that there's a definite lack of road rage; in fact, most drivers will wave you ahead of them, let you in when you signal to change lanes instead of speeding up, stop for pedestrians, and generally don't drive like bats out of hell. Now, I know there are exceptions but what I've been met with when expecting a defensive stance is just a kind of aloof patience.

So, yesterday I took my first knitting class ever. I've been knitting for a long time but most of what I know came from a little booklet I bought in Woolworth's in 1966 when I had a crush on Michael Nesmith of the Monkees. I was crazy to knit a cap like he wore--not sure why, because I'd never have worn it anyway. Who knows. . .Anyway, the class was in a small new knit shop called DoubleEwe, a very comfortable place where Kelly sells colorful all-natural fiber yarns. We were going to learn how to do the illusive cable stitch. These flowers greeted us on the table and the next two hours the six of us spent laughing and stitching. More Minnesota nice! I came away with some lovely Brown Sheep Nature Spun wool called Arctic Moss to make a nifty cable scarf. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Here's where the horns come in. . .

A bit of explanation is due. October last, moving to the Twin Cities, I left our home of 14 years behind in Chicago. Now I find myself in a small apartment complex with the added benefit that our living room opens up onto a marshy pond. Every day since then I've been looking out across the parking lot and I was rewarded with daily songs from chickadees and a devoted pair of cardinals. Exactly on the first day of spring I heard the first lovely notes from red-wing blackbirds who had just arrived, set down their luggage and sounded happy to be breathing their old familiar air again. As the pond water slowly warmed and the ice melted, the skies were filled with the constant circling and landing of pairs of Canada geese and mallard ducks and the daily slow passing of one lone blue heron. Days are now filled with the sounds of a horn section gone wrong, all music to my ears (pun intended).

Then I saw this on the roof of our three-story building.
This goose had taken the high ground to maintain his watch on their nest in the pond across the street. I was greeted by warning honks turning to threats. He disappeared before my eyes. . .then I heard a thump, thump, thumping like large hail falling. Next he was airborne and landing on the nest, all in an instant. He had used the flat roof for take-off, however galumphing it sounded.

And safety was once again restored to the land.

As a post script, please know that while I watch these events occur, I feel the constant nagging reality that we have shortchanged these wonderful creatures through our greed. We've taken and built and taken some more, all the while they persevere with their duties on the bit of space we've let them have. I'm learning that Minnesotans stay aware of this and continue to care.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Welcome to my world!

It was a balmy day in St. Paul today but I couldn't help looking back over my shoulder at what was happening on the multitude of lakes around my neighborhood just a few weeks ago. Ice fishing was all the rage and the lakes were dotted with little, colorful fishing huts. This is my very favorite. So long until next year.