I started cleaning yesterday. I hadn’t in about three weeks. Much as I love the final product, I hate the process with a passion. When I can get away with it such as when Hubby’s at his mom’s, I let it go as long as possible. I’m writing or making dog jewelry, thank you very much. Both shine brighter on my screen.

However, even I have my limits. When the carpet starts to turn white from accumulating dog fur, when sheets crawl down the stairs under their own power to the laundry room, it’s time. It becomes a question of which I hate more: the white fluff balls wandering about or the awkward waltz with the vacuum cleaner. The vacuum cleaner wins, or at least collaborates.

It’s not a take-the-house-apart cleaning, more like the cumulative weekly tidying that’s morphed into three weeks’ worth of dusting, de-cluttering, and vacuuming as well as a few strategic wipe-downs and swishes in the bathroom. The house feels better afterwards, and frankly, so do I. I finish off the tidying with a cedar-sage spray to dissipate any remaining bad energetic vibes or do a sage smudge with the range hood going. Otherwise, the smoke alarms make PSAs to the neighbors about my activities.

When I’m done, I have a cup of tea. I’ve accomplished something, maybe not something to impact the world’s woes, but in immediate circles, it’s made a small contribution to peace and order. A lot to be said about that.

Sunday Programme Thoughts

What is it about Sunday and TV from the UK? I watched the Fry and Laurie adaptation of “Jeeves and Wooster” on Sunday some years ago, and “Last of the Summer Wine” and most people’s gateway drug to British TV, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.”

I get urges to watch shows about Queen Elizabeth and her family on Sunday nights. Much of the time I’m watching my beloved “International Mystery” on MHz, but when possible or when the mystery in question is too gory for my taste, some tidbit for royal watchers provides the cherry on the weekend’s icing. Or a show about one of the great manor houses of nobility. This week’s fix will have to be delayed until Thursday when a new show about the rivalry between Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana will premier.

My darling Netflix is kind enough to provide options during dry seasons on PBS. I finally was able to watch “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” in its entirety earlier this year. It was produced in the late ’60’s when I was in first grade and, well, you know about that pesky bedtime issue.

“Downton Abbey” came late to me. Pleasant to see that it was worthy of the hype it’s generated. I watched on a Tuesday, stumbling into the kitchen with Daisy and Mrs. Patmore and company on a night when the mystery of evening on the other channel opened with a suspect using a chainsaw to carve up a victim. I changed the channel as fast as I could, and watched the genteel world unfold before me. (Note: I’m up to the point in season two where Matthew and Mary are trying to conceive, and Ethel is putting her life back together, and they’re all stumbling in the aftermath of Sybil’s–oh, if you’ve not watched it, I won’t spoil that for you.)

So with evening tea in hand, I shall take my place on the sofa, noble companion at my side, and step through the TV into a kinder, gentler world even if it’s just for a couple of hours.

Sorry, He’s Still a Dog

Warning: not for younger, more sensitive, or easily grossed-out readers

Despite the damp and chill, Oakley needed a walk yesterday morning. I lured him off the sofa and out the door with a bite-sized bisky. We went to the forest preserve with a paved trail since any place else would have been a mosh pit after the rains of the last couple of days.

We came to the area near the first stand of restored prairie. I saw something pink and slimy on the ground, but before I could divert Oakley, he wrapped his jaws around it. I had to squeeze his mouth open and dig it out of his throat with two fingers before he swallowed it.  Most of it, anyway. Not the last time I will have to make a dog spit something out, and it wasn’t the first.

While yesterday’s incident almost made me lose my breakfast, the worst was a couple of springs ago at the same forest preserve. A bird had met his fate beneath the wheels of a car on the paved road. His remains sat there for two days, sun-aged, tire-tenderized. I kept Oakley away from it on the first and second days. And finally on the third day, Oakley gave me a calculating sidelong glance as we approached it. Before I could tug him in the other direction, he swallowed it. Whole. Feathers and all. In one gulp. And looked at me to see if I were impressed.

I was too busy launching the histrionics concerning potential damage while trying not to lose my lunch, breakfast, and the previous day’s dinner.

Luckily, no adverse effects came about. The incident passed as nature intended, feathers and all.

Despite Oakley’s otherwise elegant and refined tastes (i.e. he won’t touch chunk-style canned tuna, but will happy dance for solid pack or grilled tuna steak), he still is a dog.

Even Orion was not immune to the call of the wild. The day he nailed a baby bunny, I had to make him spit it out and clean up what was left of it, chanting “he’s a dog; he can’t help it” to myself.

Dogs are related to coyotes and wolves and, well, they eat stuff they find lying around based on instincts. The best a guardian can do is keep a sharp eye out for these delicacies, and remember that no matter how refined the preferences, no matter how they find the best part of the sofa or how well they tolerate clothes, you are still dealing with a dog.

Monday, Monday…

I’m not feeling very coherent today. Yesterday was cool and rainy. Oakley, sensible fellow that he is, slept the better part of yesterday. We paid for it with a 2 AM potty run. I wasn’t able to get back to sleep very well, so I’m dragging a bit.

Today he’s going for his bimonthly spa treatments at a new groomer’s. She is a handler at his newest day care place, and so far, they like each other. I’m sure they still will after the bath-ears-nails-routine.

Thoughts in the food department are equally incoherent. Root veggies are on my mind. My local friendly organic farmers had their last farm stand yesterday. Carrots, real big chunky ones, ended up in my bag. Not sure if they will be eaten or photographed. They look like the ones Bugs Bunny chomps as he counters Elmer Fudd.

Squash, too, is on my mind. I’m thinking about the butternut squash curry with tofu my beloved late local pan-Asian made. Time to do some research and make some myself.

A Tuesday State of Mind

Yes, Gentle Friends, it’s Tuesday. And I am grateful for it.

Unless something catastrophic happens in the next couple of days, I will be celebrating one birthday more than my mother had when she was on this side. I feel as if I have broken an unintended curse laid on me by well meaning but ignorant relatives who expected me to be her all over again and fill the deep shadow left by her departure. Yes, I look like her. Yes, I inherited her spiritual streak, her love for animals, and when all is said and done, I hope that I will be remembered for being as compassionate and tolerant as she was, even just a fraction of such.

Over and over again, the relatives on her side chanted, “You’re just like your mother.” At the least, irritating and a factor in why I went away to school. At the most, wondering if I had value beyond being a shrine to her while struggling with the great fear in my soul of dying unexpectedly as she had in what are supposed to be the best years of my life. For many years, part of me wondered if I would make it to that magic day that marked a year beyond what she had in this life.

Mom was one of the estimated thirty percent of people with cardiovascular disease who didn’t know they had it until they have a fatal heart attack. The smoking, the stress of dealing with my dad’s four heart attacks in nine months, and the high-estrogen birth control pills to hold menopausal symptoms at bay conspired against her.

I did learn from her, though. I smoked one experimental cigarette, and that was it. I went off The Pill to another form of contraception. I meditate and exercise to control stress, and do acupuncture to control the midlife lady issues. In addition, I’m on track to get back to a healthy weight.

So some hours out from the start of the next trip around the sun, I feel pretty confident that I will be here for many years to come.

First Goal Met

It’s weigh in day at Weight Watchers for me. Not a bad thing. I met my first weight loss goal: down 5% of my original body weight. So my next goal is to take my weight down another 5%. You’ll sleep better if you don’t know what I weighed at the beginning, or what I weigh now.

Breaking the weight into 5% increments makes it a task less daunting psychologically, especially when you have as much to lose as I do.

If you’ve done jigsaw puzzles, longterm weight goals are kind of like that. If you look at the thousand pieces, your hair will ignite. If you break the puzzle into smaller segments: putting together the frame, then one corner, then another, and finally the middle, it tightens the focus on the doable interim goals and keeps a person motivated.

In terms of actual weight loss, it wan’t what I’d hoped for, but the number had gone down, so I’m not too worried. I need more water, less salt and a little more exercise.

Still, I deserved something, so I bought myself some flowers. Pretty, and if push comes to shove, no points unless I dip them in salad dressing.