Friday, December 30, 2011

Hello, Hello baby; You called, I can't hear a thing....

And I have follow up on my Murphy's Cabin Christmas!

In the spirit of the season .... er the situation, I quote Lady Gaga (listen here while you read, or, better yet, watch the lovely "Afghanistan / Military" version, which is my favorite, here):

Lyrics | Telephone lyrics

Hello, hello, baby;
You called, I can't hear a thing.
I have got no service
in the club, you see, see…
Wha-Wha-What did you say?
Oh, you're breaking up on me…
Sorry, I cannot hear you,
I'm kinda busy.

K-kinda busy
K-kinda busy
Sorry, I cannot hear you, I'm kinda busy.

Just a second,
it's my favorite song they're gonna play
And I cannot text you with
a drink in my hand, eh…
You shoulda made some plans with me,
you knew that I was free.
And now you won't stop calling me;
I'm kinda busy.

Stop callin', stop callin',
I don't wanna think anymore!
I left my hand and my heart on the dance floor.
Stop callin', stop callin',
I don't wanna talk anymore!
I left my hand and my heart on the dance floor.

We're sorry… the number you have reached is not in service at this time.
Please check the number, or try your call again

So. Now that I have set the scene and provided the tools to understand the situation, here is the actual situation:

Mr. Nice Repairman telephoned me to let me know he had managed to fix my telephone. YAY!

Um, the not so yay?

Seems that yes indeed, someone hit the telephone line that stretched across the trail head and to my home. This time, not hard enough to knock the line down (which is why when I checked it, it "seemed" fine), but enough to stretch the line.

What is completely bizarre though is that there are two separate phone lines within that line -- the previous owners of the home had two different lines / numbers. Yet whenever whomever hit the main line, that managed to stretch to the breaking point just one line. My line.

Of course.

Yet, thankfully, due to the previous owners having had that second line, Mr. Nice Repairman was able to simply switch my number to the still working line. Unfortunately though, he pointed out that this line was also not in the best shape, and clearly if someone hit that main line overhead one more time, this line would likely give out too.

Oh, and as I pointed out last night, since I am a "drop down" line -- ie, my cabin is the only reason for that separate line down into the forest -- there is not a lot of reason and sense (economic of course) for the phone company to want to replace that line of their own volition.

Oh, and even better news? Although yes, the phone company is considering eventually extending DSL / high speed internet to the small town closest to me, because I am a "drop down" line, this actually would not impact me at all. I would have to request special service and effort to get the DSL at my cabin.

~ sigh ~

Well, at least I do have land line phone service again. As let's face it, my cell service is spotty and erratic at best, nonexistent at worst.... And while I have discovered texting is more reliable, er... possible -- even that sometimes fails...

So I suppose I should start memorizing the lyrics....

I can't hear a thing...
I have got no service...
Oh you're breaking up on me...
Sorry, I cannot hear you...

Oh, and, perhaps most important:
And I cannot text you with a drink in my hand....


Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Murphy's Cabin Christmas...

Tis the season to be merry....

Unless you live in a place named Murphy's Cabin.

Oh, I wish I could say that I had that lovely Christmas in the mountains and woods that one imagines when you look at the photograph of the cabin. You know, snow falling softly from a midnight blue sky, drifting quietly onto green pine trees, amidst twinkling Christmas lights, as you sit by the crackling fire, roasting chestnuts and singing Christmas carols....

Sadly.... No.

Of course, neither did I have an actual Murphy's Christmas. In fact, I chose not to spend Christmas at Murphy's at all. I instead went to the nearby ski resort, and had my family come visit the area and spend the holiday with me.

This was lovely .... There was a Christmas tree even! A very "old fashioned" tree, that ended up being our Syracuse Tree...

You may see why: they ran out of red velvet ribbon at my local Costco (!), and so I purchased the blue and what came closest to the red velvet in my mind. Seems I might be a bit color blind...

As yes, my brother, a proud Syracuse alumnus, took one look and said "Cool. A Syracuse Tree."

So orange and blue are the new colors of Christmas...

Of course, Murphy's Cabin does have an extended reach -- as I've mentioned in previous posts. After all, half of my family ended up sick (with my nephew being diagnosed with bronchitis even), and none of the skiers in the family got in more than one day of skiing. Oh, and I decided that I actually could handle staying up till morning and drinking for several days in a row, despite now being well past 19. Actually, it turns out that I can do such a thing -- I just now need recovery time....

So Christmas was actually lovely.... and surprisingly, too short and not enough time with family and friends. And not enough time with loads and loads of dogs!

(A captive audience for a pizza slice held by my nephew...)

But never fear, Murphy's Cabin did ensure to make an appearance... We chose to "pop" over there for a hike one day, and I decided to check messages. Only to discover that my phone was dead. Totally, completely dead.

I check outside at the box where the phone line comes into the house. Yep. Dead. At least it's not inside the house -- and so won't cost me a repair bill. So a bright side, right?

Except that I call the phone company and put in a repair ticket -- and get a call back from the repair man who has made a trip to my home before.

Oh, did I not mention that the phone line has gone dead before? Yeah, my only "real" and "guaranteed" connection to the outside world is not exactly guaranteed it seems. Or at least when there are utility trucks around that happen to have tall portions. It seems these tall trucks have a habit of hitting the phone line that stretches across the trail head and drops down to my house, and knocking it down. On the last visit, Mr. Nice Repairman put a nice bright orange flag on the line. This seemed to work. Seemed.

Which means back to the present day and present story: Mr. Nice Repairman quizzed me about the problem. I proudly announced that I did, in fact, not only check the phone line outside the house, I also checked the phone line stretched across the trail head, and it seemed intact. Seemed.

Mr. Nice Repairman's response? If there was a problem with that line, I could be in trouble. As my house is the only home on that line -- it is a solitary drop-down line to my house alone. So if the line is broken or a problem, the phone company might be hard to convince to replace or repair it out of the goodness of their hearts.... IE: This could be a hefty repair bill.


I guess I have not repaired or replaced every single thing possible at Murphy's Cabin.

~ sigh ~

Merry Christmas Murphy's Cabin style!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Dog's Lament Part II...Or, An Owner's Lament...Or, Lessons Learned

Recently I wrote about A Dog's Lament (read here). I will admit that after writing that piece, I was hoping that some lessons would be learned. Of course, I had a very specific idea of what those lessons would be.....

(This may have something to do with my control issues, but that is an entirely different story and blog post....)

I -- naively, stupidly, do-gooderly (and yes, I am aware that is not a word) -- thought the dogs had learned not to bolt away and run off on their own. Unfortunately, it appears all they have learned is to compose a better lament (sort of).... And it appears all the lessons to be learned were and are mine...


In fact, the very next morning, I took both dogs out for their "first thing in the morning" potty break, and...both dogs proceeded to bolt again. A flash of fur, and poof. Gone. I called after them frantically. Nothing.  I decided there was nothing I could do but go inside and wait.
[First Lesson: Embrace the situation.]

So in I went, and opened up my computer. I started to surf the internet and start my work for the day. I waited. I kept an eye out the sliding glass door. I waited. I went to the front door and hollered out a few times. I waited. I worked and surfed some more. I waited.
[Second Lesson: Patience.]

Hours passed. Yes, that says hours. I realized that the sun would go behind the mountain shortly, and it would start getting dark. I realized clearly the sitting and waiting was not working.

So I got up, got in the car, and started slowly driving up the dirt mountain road / trail -- windows down, heat on high, calling and whistling every few seconds. I got a mile up the road and hit a wicked ice flow (water that has run down or across the road and frozen solid). I stopped. Called. Whistled. Turned around, and headed slowly back towards the house, hoping they would be sitting on the deck waiting for me. Nothing. Turned around again and headed back up the drive.

It was now nearly 2 pm, and the sun goes behind the mountain around 2:30 pm. They had been gone since 9:30 that morning.

At the top of the drive, I turned to head back up the road.

And, rounding the corner, heading straight towards me, is Hollow, at top speed. Grinning from ear to ear, hastily composing her lament as she ran. Ten feet behind her is Rilke, also at top speed, also grinning from ear to ear, somewhat belatedly composing his lament.
[Third Lesson: Laments are nothing but words.]

If I had any hope any lessons for the dogs would actually be learned after this misadventure -- and trust me, those hopes had already been dashed -- the next day proved exactly who was learning the lessons.

I decide the next day that clearly the lesson is that I need to start hiking up the road/trail itself, instead of avoiding it, as I had been doing. Previously I had been hiking down to a "no man's land" below my cabin, where I would cross the frozen creek and hike in the meadow area there, without fear of running into people, etc. Since the dogs kept bolting up the road, clearly that was where we should start hiking.
[Fourth Lesson: Repetition makes all messages clear.]

So we hike up the road/trail. I also figure that perhaps the problem was that our hikes were not long enough, and I was not tiring out the dogs enough. After all, they are quite young and uber-athletic dogs, so clearly they just need more exercise. So clearly an hour or so of general meandering is not quite enough. What they need is a robust hike straight up the mountain for at least an hour, covering at least 2.5 miles or more, and only then turning around and hiking back down the mountain. Right. At least 2 hours and at least 5 miles should do it.
[Fifth Lesson: People will believe anything if they convince themselves of it.]

Oh, and treats. Carrying treats -- extra meaty treats as a friend out west correctly encouraged me -- in my coat pocket at all times, provided judiciously to reinforce good behavior and listening. "Come." "Check in." "Hanging out with mom."
[Sixth Lesson: Bribery.]



And on the second day on the road/trail, at ~ 3 miles up the mountain, they both bolted. I hiked another half mile up. Paused. Called. Waited. Started hiking back down. Paused. Called. Waited. Thirty minutes later, they showed up, at full speed, grinning ear to ear, belatedly composing their laments.

And on the fourth day on the road/trail, after a 3+ mile hike up the mountain, with less than a mile to go towards home, right near where the road crosses the river, and another trail -- a more cross country ski focused trail -- forks off, they both bolted. I heard a "ooh ooh ooh" across the river from me, on the other trail, and figured they went to say hi to someone.

I kept hiking forward to the fork. Paused. Called. Waited. Started hiking back down. Paused. Called. Waited. Hiked back towards the river crossing and trail fork. Paused. Called. Waited. Chatted pleasantly with passing cross country skiers. Paused. Called. Waited. Half an hour passed.

I decided to start hiking home. Pleasantly informed all hikers and cross country skiers I passed that there were two dogs wandering about. Got home. An hour had passed. I went inside, pulled out my computer, and worked and surfed. Went to the door. Called. Waited. Went back inside. Two hours have passed.

The football game was supposed to start soon. I don't have television. I was supposed to be going to a friend's place to watch the game. The dogs were still out. Now they were really starting to inconvenience me. Now we have a problem. Went to the door. Called. Waited. Three hours have passed.

Showered. Found a message on my answering machine. Garbled nothingness. Clearly someone up the mountain telling me they had found the dogs. I traced the call, called them back. Proud voice telling me she and her friend had found my dog.

Um. Dog? Singular? Not two?

Crap. The rugrats had separated. Now we have a problem.

The cross country skiers who have found Hollow (!) say they are going to finish their efforts, then will turn around with her and meet me at the trail head. I'm grateful. Now I must find Rilke.

I get in my car. And start slowly driving up the dirt mountain road / trail -- windows down, heat on high, calling and whistling every few seconds. I run into several hikers and cross country skiers (who are not happy I'm in a car on the road -- I explain I am not happy I'm in a car on the road). I ask about Rilke. Nothing. I get a mile up the road and hit the wicked ice flow. I stop. Call. Whistle.

Hollow comes rounding the corner, at top speed, grinning from ear to ear. She is clearly not even  bothering to compose a lament anymore. She is just thinking "WOOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOO! What a ride!"

I jump out of the car, reach for the back door, and she is inside before I barely have the door open. She is still grinning. I swear I can hear her saying "damn fun. Damn fun."

The cross country skiers appear. I thank them, say I still need to find Rilke. They say Rilke was with them for a bit, but took off when they took this fork instead of staying on the road. I thank them again, get back in the car, turn around, and start slowly driving back down the road.

I get to the top of my drive, look down the road towards the trail head parking lot, and see Rilke standing in the middle of the area. He is grinning, and staring at the other cross country skiers packing their car. There is clearly no lament even in the recesses of his mind. Just a "damn fun."

Clearly my dogs are having more fun than me.
[Seventh Lesson: Collar cams.]

Yep. The lessons learned are that I need to embrace the situation with patience, understand dogs' speeches are as worthless as politicians', that Ronald Reagan was right when he said you must repeat things three times for people to hear them, that if you say something with confidence you'll even believe bullshit, that bribery is never a bad idea, and that if you can't beat 'em -- join 'em.


My new year's resolution is to buy collar cams for my dogs. Because if I'm not invited on the adventures, at least I can join them vicariously!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Transitions....Or on Relationships and Other Profound Crap

I have been thinking a lot about transitions lately. Mostly because of my own life and the many changes in it -- those that have occurred, are occurring, or will occur -- but also because of several conversations recently with dear friends about their own lives.

Life is a constantly moving target of course -- one which is never easy to pin down or even understand. That much is obvious. But is anything else?

There is the ever popular quote:
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming WOO HOO what a ride!
-- Maxine (Cartoon)
Probably especially since it did originate in a cartoon (other versions come from Hunter S Thompson, Bill McKenna, etc), it is particularly profound and meaningful.

Yet, despite it's lovely thought, it can be hard to live up to that attitude -- especially in the midst of transitions, which are not always positive. Let's face it: change is difficult. Even if it is for the best, and truly a positive situation, it is still hard to leave the comfort of what we know, what we have always experienced, what we have come to think of as "what we are"....

The "Theory" (and yes, that's capitalized thankyouverymuch because I have articulated it formally and therefore it is a Formal Concept) that I have always held onto is one which I call "The Sliding Doors Theory".

Sadly, it is not a theory based upon some profound, deep, complicated literature or ancient philosophy. I, in fact, would actually prefer to not admit the "founding principles".... Well, especially due to their source, "founding principles" is a bit too strong.... More like the "tidbits of concepts that when mixed with large doses of alcohol mellowed into deep profound thoughts that eventually became founding principles for a theory of life"....

But yeah, that's a bit of a mouthful. So I suppose "founding principles" will have to work.

I'm still a bit embarrassed by the sources of the initial concepts, but....

~ahem~ ~ ahem~ ~cough~ ~ cough~

I was actually deeply moved by the concepts in the movie "Sliding Doors" with Gwyneth Paltrow (read more here) and one paragraph in "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert (read more here).

More information:

Yeah, I know. Hang my head in shame.

But in my own defense, I read the book when it was first published, so prior to the whole every one going gaga for it, the movie, the crap. And at the time, while I enjoyed it, and it was perfect timing for my own life (my wedding had just been called off), I did pointedly tell people that "this was not great literature that was going to be around in 100 years".

Ahem. See? Proof I actually do have taste.... 

And the movie was in a friend's collection of movies, so was a random chick-flick-and-wine-girls-night event.

Really. I have an excuse.

But more to the point...

The movie follows a simple but profound concept: the idea of how different our lives could be or would be if just the slightest thing changes. In this case, whether the heroine makes it through the closing doors of a subway car on her way home, or has them slam shut in her face.

In our lives, it could be anything -- small, little, insignificant. How different would our life be if we had made the light? If I had decided to take the Tunnel instead of the Pass, and so the car accident would have happened in front of me, not behind me....

And the book provided this insight regarding relationships:
"And please don't laugh at me now, but I think the reason it's so hard for me to get over this guy is because I seriously believed David was my soul mate."
"He probably was. Your problem is you don't understand what that word means. People think a soulmate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that's holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave. And thank God for it...."
So take these two thoughts, mix with copious amounts of alcohol (for this sort of thinking, I personally recommend wine), let sit and mellow, and then think....

In my own wine-induced philosophical musings, I came up with the following thoughts:

Life can be altered based upon the simplest differences -- differences that we may not appreciate at the time. It is not just that we may see the differences as negative, and not be able to see the big picture or the long term results (hence the old "hindsight is twenty twenty" saying) -- but that we may not even appreciate that some tiny tiny thing actually completely altered our future.

For this reason, it is important to always look forward, and not "wallow" so much in our pasts. Many of us have experienced traumas or horrors or difficulties. But they -- our past in its entirety -- does not actually dictate our future. As any tiny change, any simple shift, can completely adjust the path we are on.

Our yesterdays shaped us, but they do not control us.

In fact, the only thing that controls us is ourselves -- and we only control ourselves. We cannot control, change or alter others. But we can control, change and alter how we respond to others.

Speaking of "others" in our life, it is also important to treasure them for "what they are" -- not what we think they are..... Or should be.... Or what role we think they should play in our lives....

The idea is that people come into our lives for certain amounts of time -- it may be minutes, days, years or decades. And for that amount of time they may play THE.MOST.IMPORTANT.ROLE.EVER, period.

But then it all may just "end". A falling apart, a distancing, a death, a whatever. It may be nothing, it may be huge and dramatic. It may be a bang .... or a whisper. It does not matter.

But the "end" does not take away from the meaning they had while they were in our lives.

I believe strongly that the concept of "soul mates" is not just about lovers, but about friends, family, others. And I also believe that some people, some friends are incredibly important, critical.... EVERYTHING.

But that it all may end (suddenly or a long slow transition -- happily or painfully). And of course, no matter how "amicable" the ending, it often will be painful simply because they were that important to us.

Yet just because they were important to us during that time does not mean it should not end. It also -- and this is very important -- does not mean that they were not as important as we thought they were.

Just that they had a "purpose" (for lack of a better word) in our lives for that moment, that period of time. And now we have moved on from that purpose. Maybe, as the quote above says, we have "revealed the other layer of ourselves to ourselves" or "learned the lessons we needed to learn".... Whatever it is, they were an important part of our life, and always will be -- but that doesn't mean they have to be a constant part of our life....

The best way I can think to sum it up is: It's like when someone close to us dies -- we mourn, we despair of our loss, but we also must focus on celebrating what we had, what we learned and shared --- even if we'll never have that again....

And to me, the same is true of our pasts: we mourn, but we must also focus on what we learned.

Life is a constantly moving target, it is a journey, and it is about making the best of it, and of those who share the wild ride with us.... Transitions are never easy, but they are important -- and they are excuses to take a moment to learn even more about ourselves. 

Either that, or just add wine and mix well.......

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Dog's Lament

Last night, I sadly discovered that clearly poor Hollow had been abused in her prior life -- at least certainly hit.

Let me explain....

I went out late for their last potty break of the evening, sometime after 11:30 pm, close to midnight. We tromp in the frigid temperatures to the back area of the house where we do our potty breaks as usual, then tromp back to the front of the house to go inside.

I start walking up to the front of the house, while Rilke wanders on the drive a bit. This I don't actually mind since I'm cold and he still hasn't actually gone to the bathroom.

What I do mind? Hollow, who is on the deck next to me heading for the door, looks up, sees Rilke on the drive, and then bolts. Yep, full speed, no hesitating, no looking back, she is running as hard as she can straight up the driveway into the pitch black.


Doesn't matter I'm yelling at the top of my lungs. And of course, since she's off to the races, Rilke glances back at me once, and then starts scampering after her (as yes, he scampers.... especially in these cases where he has no idea what the hurry is, but is just chasing after in a "what're we doing now?!" excitement).

So they're both gone.

And it's late. It's cold. It is pitch black.

I check the clock inside and it's 11:44 pm.

I am not happy. I am worried, I'm pissed. I'm cold, I'm nervous.

I go back inside and pace by the door. As previous "wanderings" tend to mean that they will return, but on their own time and pace, and there is nothing I can do but ignore it till they show up at the front door.

But it's 11:46 pm's's's pitch black.... Oh. And I want to go to bed now.

Damn them.

I go outside, stand on the deck by the front door and start calling.... My voice echoes off the mountains... I worry for a moment I am waking every one up within a 30 mile vicinity.... I worry that I'm waking up the wildlife and alerting them that the buffet bar has just opened.... I worry that I'm doing nothing....

5 minutes.....  Tick. Tock..... 8 minutes.... Tick. Tock..... 10 minutes.... Tick. Tock.

Finally Hollow comes flying back down the driveway at top speed. Alone.

She hits the deck, and her ears are already back. I can imagine that she has spent the last minutes not just thinking "Woo hoo! That was fun!" but also composing her "Dog's Lament" of apology to me.

So an aside: Several weeks ago I saw a lovely little British film called "Dean Spanley". A typical British film -- quirky, funny, bizarre, fascinating, interesting. I have to admit that if I tell you the storyline you will probably say "no way in hell." But you should watch it. Amazing film. If you like quirky characters and storylines, love dogs and dog stories, and like stories of families, family problems and family renewals, you will love this film. (Read more here.)

Or see more:

Anyway, the reason for this tangent is that within the movie they discuss the "Dog's Lament" -- the deep apology, begging forgiveness for whatever trouble the dog just got it.... The Lament that is specifically composed as they are doing this trouble, figuring that the trouble is worth it.... so all they need to do is compose the best possible "Oh my master I am so so so so sorry...."

So Hollow hits the deck at virtually full speed....Her ears are back, and I can see the grin barely being covered by the prepared "Lament"....

But I am pissed. So I move quickly towards her to push her down on the deck immediately, with the intention of rolling her over on her back and showing my will through the standard dog alpha maneuver. She immediately cowers in the corner by the front door with a whimper -- I proceed with the roll over, talk to her sternly, and then put her inside.

I'm still waiting for Rilke, so I continue on the deck, starting to call again and whistle again (Rilke seems to respond better to whistles -- Hollow to calls), and start thinking through what just happened.

Rilke finally shows up... Also full speed down the highway, also a big grin on his face that is barely disguised by his clearly in-process-of-being-composed lament.

He gets the same treatment -- an attempt to flip him over on his back, hold him down and talk to him sternly. He, on the other hand, resists the flipping over -- and that strikes me. And, while I am maneuvering him onto his back, I notice a wet spot on the deck, right by the door....

I put Rilke inside. Hollow is still at the door with her ears back. I stare at the spot.

She was so scared she had peed.... That is heartbreaking. That is beyond heartbreaking. I go inside.

Her clearly well-composed lament is on her lips, as I step in the door, she scooches up to me, keeping her butt on the floor, her head low, her ears back, and pushes against me. I can virtually hear her: "Oh my master, my master, I am so so sorry.... I deserve it all, for I disobeyed you my master...." It is heartbreaking actually....

I give them both "home treats" and think how sad it is that some people think that dogs do not understand.....

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wind in Dry Grass

It has been unusually cold in the mountains the last few weeks. The kind of cold where your face freezes solid within moments of stepping outside, and you stop being able to feel, well, anything. In fact, you stop being able to think, speak, or even sniffle.

If you've ever seen the wonderful movie, "Biloxi Blues" with Matthew Broderick, you may remember the scene of "It's like Africa hot." If not, you may view just that snippet here.

And the contrarian that I am, I have been obsessed with that quote during this time.... "It never got this cold in DC (my hometown).... It's like Antarctica cold.... Polar bears couldn't take this kind of cold."

If you're curious exactly how cold it is to be so cold that Polar bears couldn't take it, well..... We're talking highs in the single digits (if I was lucky) and lows in the double digits -- the negative double digits. And of course I'm not even including wind chill, because that would just make you weep ....

But don't cry for me Argentina (Patti is always the best)....because I have something new to help keep me warm:
Ummmm.... Yes?
Yup, that purty little thang has joined my family....

Welcome "Hollow".

She's a dog I adopted from the Humane Society of the next county over. They guesstimated that she was a husky, and around 2 years old. Friends have mentioned she could be an American Indian dog too -- a breed I had never heard of previously, but certainly could be possible. Either way, my vet says she's certainly older than a year, but definitely younger than two years old.

And that's about all I know!

Well, besides the fact that she's sweet, very strong (both physically and in her will!), and quite a wanderer. Yet she does seem to have already figured out to check in with "mom" (at least occasionally), and that the cabin is pretty damn good home.
Can't you see I'm trying to sleep here?
She's also figured out that she adores her brother, though is constantly beating up on him too -- especially since they are clearly still working out "alpha" among the two of them.

Of course, the scrapper that Rilke is, he's been fighting back toe to toe -- or paw to paw. Here, he's holding his own in a "fight" over a stick....
Leashed version....

Off leash version....

Even more cute? Rilke used to be a huge wanderer, and now he tends to stick closer to me during walks, and look worriedly for Hollow when she disappears for too long....
Which way did she go...?
You can't really see Hollow, but she is actually down the hill where Rilke is staring....

Of course, I must admit that most people have questioned my choice of the name "Hollow".

It is also in honor of my mother, the late artist Karen Laub-Novak. One of her other favorite poets was T.S. Eliot, and she did a beautiful series of prints on his poem "Ash Wednesday", images of which you can find on her Facebook Fan page. She and I both adored Eliot, and both were deeply moved by another of his poems, "The Hollow Men". As usual, that's another profound and complicated poem, with a number of meanings. It is haunting read aloud, and just as haunting simply read.... But it has always resonated with me, and with my mother.

I personally always especially loved the first stanza:
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us—if at all—not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.
Deep, sad, depressing, powerful, moving.... It is hard to explain. And so while I realize the word "hollow" might mean empty -- there is a great deal of meaning to me when I say that word, and when I think of this poem....

If her name at all makes others want to learn more about this poem, about TS Eliot, or even about my mother, than I figure that just adds to the meaning and depth of her name....

In the meantime, it is actually very lyrical to be calling "Hollllllllllllllllllll-low" "Hollllllllllllllllll-low" when she has disappeared for too long.

And of course, she and Rilke also do a great job of keeping me warm on cold nights, and make very good pillows.....
Just waiting for you.....
Just insert me in the corner there, between the two of them, under that beautiful green blanket knitted by my amazing Aunt Annie....

And so our little family is quite cozy, despite the ridiculous cold spell.....

Monday, December 5, 2011

Vex, Vexing, Vexed....

Random thoughts, comments, questions.... all with one thing in common, they annoy me.

Why do dogs seem to think that they must wake you up on their schedule? I mean seriously. Exactly why does Hollow need to stand on top of me and start licking my face at exactly 8 am every morning.... Okay, I guess I should be grateful that this is an hour and a half later than the time she originally started waking me up (yes, at 6:30 am), and it does appear that I'm gaining about 15 minutes every couple of days, but really. I.Work.From.Home. There is no need for an alarm most days. The saying is you cannot teach an OLD dog new tricks -- and Hollow is most definitely not an old dog....


Why did it take me more than a year to realize that I could do my work on the water system withOUT having to clean the filters immediately, but could instead put in new filters, leaving the old filters to be cleaned (inside, in the warmth!) once the water sytem was turned back on? Again, seriously? For months I had been dragging the hose outside, along with a bucket, 3 filters and 3 filter casings. And then spending an hour outside, in all types of weather, every two weeks..... I'm sorry, I am not even blond any more -- and was only a "real" blond for exactly 2 years of my life (and yes, I do mean the first two years of my life -- and gosh was I adorable!).... So why did it never occur to me before this week's filter cleaning that I could simply take out the old filters, rinse out the casings, install new filters, turn the water system back on, and walk up the stairs, into the kitchen, and wash those filters out in the comfort of my own home. A frickin' year???? I swear, I have only streaks of real blond left. Only streaks!
(God bless me -- what if I were 100% real blond? Would it have taken me a decade???)

Dogs do not appreciate the wisdom, wit and way of life of Dorothy Parker. This is their loss.

The corollary: Having dogs does not allow you the ability to emulate the wisdom, wit and way of life of Dorothy Parker. This is your loss.
After all, a proper Dottie Day (ie, a day dedicated to drinking a slow but constant amount of alcohol while exchanging witticisms with any one willing or able to listen and parry back) is all about doing nothing but Dorothy Parker actions. Dorothy Parker actions do not include hikes, potty breaks and especially both on very very cold days....

Why do people love to draw up lists about the differences between cat people and dog people? I have owned and loved both (and would still own both, but I'm pretty sure that as often as friends joke about my smaller dog, Rilke, being "bear bait", kitties out here would definitely be.... Let's just say I have decided not to open up a convenience store in the mountains, which means kitties will not be happening.... Sadly....), so what does that make me?

And yes, I can actually hear, right now, my brother say "Confused?"

Why is it that older brothers think they are so much smarter? And funnier? And better? And why is that they are so often right?

(And that better be worth a damn good Christmas present!)

I once had a dream of being "The Cat Lady", and am actually rather sad I probably won't accomplish this. Which is both pathetic and vexing and a moment for mourning.

Why is it that if you are able to see the license plate of the car that just cut you off / did something stupid / almost killed you, it is inevitably from Maryland?

Seriously. Even out here -- across country -- the first time I almost got forced off the road by a crazy driver, as the car sped past, the first thing I noticed was that it was a Maryland license plate. At least I got a good chuckle from my near-death experience thanks to that!

It's not the heat, it's the humidity. True. If you have ever been in Washington, DC, in August or in San Antonio, TX, in June, you will know exactly what I mean. (And I pick those months solely for example, and because those are my experiences, and it is my experiences that count here. So there.)

We have a corollary here in Colorado: It's not the temperature, it's the amount of sun.
After all, the temperature can read 25 degrees and you can be in fleece. Or it can read 45 and you can be bundled up in every bit of winter wear you own. It all depends upon if the sun is out. Seriously. The other week, I wore sweat pants, a short sleeved shirt and a fleece jacket on a hike, and it was 24 degrees when I left the house. And I was hot. Had to take off my hat and gloves mid-hike.

Of course, when an actual cold front moves in, and it doesn't get above single digits in the day, the sun is certainly one hell of a help, but it does not keep your snot from freezing. And that feels pretty damn funky.

Just sayin'...

Has an unwritten rule that I may have alcohol -- or I may have ice cream. But not together. Unless it's my secret recipe for Vodka Ice Cream (a certain Ann in Virginia should remember *exactly* what I am talking about -- and if she doesn't I hearby sick Beyonce the Metal Chicken on her).

And yes, I do understand this is a list of things that vex me, and an unwritten rule of my own making should therefore not make this list, because after all I can simply change that rule as it is my rule. But it would not be a rule then, would it?

Reality TV. Period.
Okay, except maybe America's Got Talent, because when I have tv, that show is my secret love....
So I suppose I need to "amend" that "period" -- which should not surprise most of my friends since I seem to be literally (literally!) incapable of answering questions, emails, etc in single word answers. Let's face it. I answer in essays, and always will.
So my amendment: Reality TV about people's lives, not those shows that are competitions. I will make exceptions for some of those.

Procrastination is an art form.
Okay, that's both a vexation and a truth.
I have serious attention and procrastination issues. Heck, the blog was started as a way to procrastinate from my paying work, and now I find myself procrastinating from posting on the blog!
But I have also found that one can find a certain beauty and a required skill and talent for procrastination. Anyone can play a game or mindlessly shop or browse, only a few people can actually educate themselves on completely random facts that are utterly useless until that one moment in a million years where they come up in the middle of a conversation and you are the only one who has the answer.
Now that's a talent. A skill! A veritable treasure trove of resume highlights!
Yeah, okay, maybe not... But it does seem to have made me pretty memorable among my friends.
(I think.)

I do actually say "supposably".
And if you need to look that up, you should be vexed too.
But I wear my Joey from Friends badge proudly.

Why do people seem to have such a hard time just listening? Including myself?
(I comment as I "dominate" the conversation through my list....)

How can one both crave solitude and hate the loneliness at the same time? Is this similar to the fact that if I keep junk food in the house, I usually don't want it, but as soon as I have nothing left, I suddenly am desperate for some?
(And yes, roommates have always hated me for this....)

Why do people seem to think that no one can see inside their car when they are driving?
Dude, seriously -- I do actually see you picking your nose -- that is not a one-way mirrored window.
(Oooh, but wouldn't that be a great idea???)

Why has no one invented a "Heelys" hiking shoe with a small ice pick instead of a rolling ball? Or pop-out micro spikes?

Why is it sometimes easier to keep in touch with friends who live across country, not in "seeing" distance, than it is to keep in touch with people across town?

If there is such a thing as reincarnation, can I be reincarnated as one of my own pets?

How come every single time I call a business since I moved to the cabin, I need to have a 30 minute discussion with them over whether I "exist". Seriously. I did not call for an existential debate. I have enough doubts about my existence, sanity, and value as it is. I do not need a company that I have an account with to add to those insecurities. I promise I exist. After all, I do seem to manage to pay your bill every month.
I pay, therefore I am?

Why are dogs so demanding about following their routine?
And on that nice circular reference, I will have to come back to this list as the dogs need to go out. Again. On their terms. And it's freezing outside (I'm talking negative digits baby -- and that's not even counting wind chill).

Why do dogs not seem to care that it's frickin' freezing?

~ sigh ~

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Murphy's Hokey Pokey

It's been a while.... I'd like to say I've been busy, but in reality, I think I've just been stumped. Both literally (tripped over a big one the other day) and figuratively.

At first I thought I was doing the classic "two steps forward, one step back". Of course, that would mean that I was at least making some small amount of progress. And that was the key -- progress has seemed non-existent.

So in reality, I realized I was actually doing the hokey pokey. You know, the song and dance?

Sample instructions might be:
You put your [right leg] in,
You put your [right leg] out;
You put your [right leg] in,
And you shake it all about.
You do the hokey pokey,
And you turn yourself around.
That's what it's all about!
If it helps, please try this.

As, well, that's the simple truth. I have not been making actual progress (that is, there was no actual step forward accomplished despite any steps backwards), I seemed to be pretty well standing in place.

Even better than that, I seemed to be turning myself all around, and let's throw in a few "shaking it all about"....

And no, no shaking of my booty. As that would have been a positive. Just general shaking. Think of a bad dancer trying to get their groove on. Yeah, more like that.

I have not quite decided what to do about this state of affairs.

Do I embrace it? Do I wake up every morning and dance my little arse off in a lovely little hokey pokey?

Do I fight against it? Do I fling myself against the wall any time I find myself putting hands or feet forward and shaking all about?

Obviously I'm still thinking about that....

(But yes, I have tried a few shaky-shakyies, and a few wall-flingings... both have their pros and cons.... Yes, I have done Pro and Con charts -- have we not established I am anal .... errrrr, "particular"? -- but no, you will not see them.)

Though in the meantime, if you spot a person in the middle of the woods, shaking "it" all about and turning themselves around -- well.....