Tuesday, October 4, 2011

it all began with a dog and a baby

One year ago, my blog was born with an illustration of a baby (The Baby) and a dog (our Ruby). Actually, its birthday was last month; but, like all things that end up on my calendar, it’s a crapshoot as to whether or not the notations in the little boxes are going to make their way into my memory. When I started blogging, I was at a place in my life where the daily grind of being home with an infant was beginning to grind me down. I missed illustrating and writing so terribly that it hurt. It had been many, many months since I had last been creative- my biggest creation having been The Baby. I had something in mind- I wanted to illustrate anecdotes about my family. I had a style in mind- I wanted the posts to be in a sort of graphic novel format. But, it was apparent from the first post, that it was going to go in a different direction. I am happy with what I have been able to accomplish through writing- in the very least, I have created a collection of stories for my children that hopefully will not be looked back upon as the root of their damaged adult psyche. And, I've been able to glean a much greater understanding of the human experience through my connection with other writers and readers.

In honor of my belated bloggy birthday, I am re-posting my very first post, Dog, What Every Woman Needs to Keep Her House Clean. It's rife with run-on sentences.
The baby has just turned 8 months old. She has been practicing self-feeding with finger foods for a few weeks now. Generic crispy rice cereal seems to please her greatly. I only use them when I need a few minutes to prepare her "real" meal. I sprinkle a bit of crispy rice on her tray and she busies herself with her little pinchy fingers- picking at the individual pieces with precision and bringing them to her mushy mouth. For every one in the mouth, ten get brushed to the floor. I've never worried about the stragglers. We've always had a dog or two underfoot to lap them up with relish (yes, sometimes there is relish on the floor). Today, the baby seemed disinterested. She has a new high chair-one that she can lean over-one where she has a terrific view of the dog. And, the game has begun of pinching the food bits off of her tray and nonchalantly, deliberately dropping them for our dog, Ruby, to catch. 

Today, Ruby, also, seemed dispassionate in helping the baby finish her pre-breakfast. Instead of sitting by the high chair- at the ready, she was laying on the living room rug reluctant to budge. I called her over and pointed at the crispy bits on the floor. She sniffed and backed off. The only other time Ruby refused meals or snacks was this past July when she was ill with a horrendous case of diarrhea and depression as she mourned the loss of her companion, Oscar. So, I turned to Ruby,"What is the matter, dear?" Ruby promptly crossed the threshhold to the kitchen and stood before her water bowl. Dry as a bone. I seem to remember seeing it in my periphery last night-less full than usual- as I went about washing and drying the parts to my evening shackle (I mean, my manual breast pump). I made a mental note to fill the bowl before bed. But then my brain farted and knocked itself out. And my poor dog went thirsty. I filled the bowl to the tip- top with cool, fresh water. And, apologized for my neglect. She stood lapping it up for two full minutes and then joined us in the dining room where she effortlessly swiped up the crispy bits with one sweep of her purple tongue. 

In that moment, I realized how very grateful I am for Ruby. Without her, I would actually have to use the broom that spends more time hanging in our kitchen closet than it does on the floor. But, she is so much more than a four-legged Hoover. I feel safe(r) knowing that she is around. For years, the Mr. worked from home. I never worried about armed robberies during the daytime because I knew that I could fend off the burglar while he snuck in the other room to phone the police. But now that my hands are so often tied with baby matters and there has been a recent wave of thievery in our quiet neighborhood, I know that my enfeebled arms have no muscle memory for fighting and my flaccid brain may forget the three simple digits to call for help. I rely on Ruby to be my first line of defense. By physical appearances she looks like something wild. Her muttiness has been construed as both an homage to Muppet Theatre and also something to be wary of. I am certain I have heard more than one stranger mumble,"We don't know what she is, or what she is capable of- we should probably cross to the other side of the street." She alerts me to the changes in the rhythm of our neighborhood. As much as I would love to believe that this Chow Chow/ something mix would protect me- viciously warding off whatever enemy breaches the peace of our home, I know that she would just wag her tail and fold in on herself at the slightest attention from a stranger, from even the evilest of interlopers. She would not hurt a fly, but her high pitched, excited whining, would let me know that a fly has entered the house. Maybe that alone would give me enough time to find the fly swatter-arming myself against the intruding insect before it has time to take stock in our valuables and poop on the bananas we leave out on top of the microwave. 

Having animals reside in your life is expensive to both the financial and emotional pocketbook. When we made the decision to put to sleep the senile creature who barked to go outside and then would forget why he was out there, who then would come in and poop on the floor, and would have intense anxiety attacks even if he thought we had left him alone making him go out of his mind enough to gnaw on the metal support posts in our basement- we felt the blow to our chests. It knocks the wind out of you to walk into the veterinarian's office with this animal who has spent 12 years in your home and to walk out alone( this time the poor Mr. took on the death duty) . I know we will experience that with Ruby, as well. I don't want to think about that now. Our relationship has been symbiotic- we rescued her from the probability of a short life due to abuse and neglect at the hands of her former owners, and I believe that every day she rescues us- possibly from the dangers that would enter our home if she was not here. But, most definitely, she has rescued me from an exhausting Cinderella life (pre-glass slipper)- constantly mopping, always sweeping. What more could I need from her?


  1. Happy Bloggiversary!

    What a great read. We had to put our lab down a few years back, after 12 years and being part of the family. I so get it.
    Now we have a silly black lab who likes to eat things. We love him dearly, and are happy to have a new vacuum cleaner in the house!

    Time sure flies when you are doing what you love, huh?

  2. Happy Anniversary!! I love your blog, your illustrations, your charm.
    So glad to visit!

  3. Jen and Kristen, thank you both so much! I love both of your writing- and I feel so fortunate that I've had these encounters with you. Your work has touched and enriched my life. Thank you.

  4. Congratulations on your bloggiversary : )
    I am sorry about your dog. I don't like death at all. : (

  5. Yay for Bloggiversaries! Yours is always one I can count on for a smile. . . and good grammar! Cheers!!!!

  6. Happy Blogiversary!

    I missed being a dog family for the longest time. When we finally adopted our wonder-mutt Tesla, I was delighted. I had visions of an effortlessly spotless floor. She does eat crumbs off the floor... but she also eats everything else - toys, paperwork, clothing. Her goat-like tendencies coupled with her shedding leave my floor just as messy as it was pre-dog, so it's a wash. (no pun intended)
    We do love her chewing, farting, barking self though.

  7. Hooray for your Bloggiversary!!!

    You are SUCH a gifted writer....loved reading this story of LOVE (and loss) of our favorite four legged friends.

  8. @Becky: Thank you. I'm with you- I don't care for death either. My 9 year old, Annalee, was expressing a concern recently for a shadow she felt at the back of her knees. I wonder if it is our Oscar still following her around, still shepherding her?

    @Rachel: I feel teh smae yaw abut yur bog :-) Seriously, I do enjoy your perspective of the world, of life, of literature, of little people (children, that is). You have a wonderful sense of humor. And a fabulous sense of style.

    @Kristy: You just reminded me of another reason why I love having the dog- since she does tend to fart a lot (probably due to all of her Hoover work)we can blame ALL noxious gas smells on her. "Seriously, it isn't me. It's the dog."

    @ Ashley: Thank you for your kind words. I love your photographs and how they capture how you are truly cherishing the little, happy moments in life with your family.

  9. loved all the run-on sentences. this was so sweet. and the description of oscar's panic attacks made me laugh out loud.