holidays

The Nurse Dog

The holidays mean a two week vacation and usually Izzy loves that I’m home.  This time, he liked it even more because he got to cuddle with me constantly, because I’ve been sick.  That’s also the reason for the lag in blog posts.  That said, he did have a good time on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day with my daughter’s two dogs. They were in the kitchen (my grandson loves to grab at them, so no need to tempt them).   Here’s a pic to make up for my silence.  Izzy’s lying on the floor next to Gordon, a Cockapoo, and Wilson (a Rat Terrier mix) is sitting in the background.

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Holidays from a Dog’s Point of View

When Izzy and I walk our neighborhoods in our small town in North Carolina, most of the time the only things we need to worry about are other animals — skunks, raccoons, cats that tease Izzy unmercifully, and dogs (most are friendly, but there is that one Nasty Dog . . .).  During the winter months, however, we also need to worry about . . . da da da duhhhhh . . . Horrendous Holiday Decorations.

Right after Thanksgiving, the decorations started going up.  I always put my tree up the day of Thanksgiving, so Izzy’s used to seeing strange sparkly things in our living room, lights that blink, boxes that sing jingles, and packages that he can’t quite reach but would love to rip up.  But seeing strange things on our walks, well that’s just simply and totally unacceptable to Mr. Izzy.

The day after Thanksgiving, he had to put up with our own doorway.  His red eyes are an indication of his confusion about this sparkly gold and silver thing that suddenly impedes his way in and out of the front door.

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And our next door neighbor followed suit with a door that Izzy likes quite a bit.  It’s tastefully done and doesn’t scare him at all.

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Around the corner, one of the local attorneys has a particularly lovely house and always an elegant display.  This one is far enough from the street that Izzy doesn’t notice it (it’s one of those houses that’s not on his radar anyway, because they don’t have any furry animals he can greet during our forays around the neighborhood).

 

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But there are others that he DOES notice, and the most obvious of them all is the house that was decorated so completely for Halloween.  This house is home to an incredibly aggressive Chihuahua that has attacked both Izzy and me.  We’ve run past the house many times in our attempt to get away from the little bugger.  

The people who own the house have outdone themselves for Christmas, putting up so many blow-up figures and flashing lights and moving wire figures that I can’t possibly get them all in one photo. On the roof, there’s a penguin popping out of an igloo, three moving polar bears, and a Mickey Mouse Santa; on the lawn, there are at least 8 wire reindeer of various sizes and shapes, a sparkly Cinderella type sleigh and horse (replete with a plastic Santa stuck in the seat), a plastic 8-piece nativity set (the shepherd boy has a missing nose), and various Christmas trees, as well as an 8′ tall blow up Santa and matching Snowman.  At one point, they had a wire figure of a moose alit with lights next to the Chihuaha’s pen.  (Izzy looked at it, then back at me, as if to say, “What does a moose have to do with Christmas?”) but they removed that one.   And I noticed when we walked at 6 AM this morning that they’ve just added a small wire pig dressed in a Santa outfit at the end of the walkway.  This one is close enough to the sidewalk that Izzy cautiously stretched out his whole body until he was nose-to-nose with the brightly lit pig (that’s, ironically, the same size as he is).  When he realized after tense moments of hyper-active sniffing that the figure wasn’t real and was utterly ridiculous on top of that (the question remains:  what does a pig have to do with Christmas?), he pee’d on it.  That’s a dog for you.

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Holidays in the ‘Hood

In our neighborhood, we know who lives in every house (I know the humans, Izzy knows the animals) and have begun to learn their habits.  The old guy with the pit bull-mix that doesn’t like Izzy walks Main Street around 6 PM.  If we’re there at the same time, we have to walk on separate sides of the street, because he can’t quite control his young, angry dog.  (It’s not his fault.  The dog came from a home where he was tied outside in the back yard all the time, and he’s frustrated.  I think the dog could use a LOT of exercise, but the old man can barely do the walks down Main Street a couple of times a day, never mind run with the dog to get rid of some of his aggressive energy).  On Main Street, the artsy couple walks their two dogs very early and when we didn’t see them one day, I wondered why.  We found out the next day that the older dog had passed away.  And two houses down from us, the Spanish teacher at the community school takes out his dachshund at the same time that Izzy and I make our second walk before I leave for work.  They have a sniff every weekday morning, then happily trot away.  When I heard the dachshund barking every day over the Thanksgiving holidays and didn’t see the teacher’s car, I started to worry, but it was okay.  He was just away for the holiday.

During the holidays, certain houses decorate over the Thanksgiving weekend (I’m one of them) while others don’t decorate at all.  Izzy watches them out the window, patrolling the couch to make sure that no one puts any extra decorations on our lawn.  

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And when we walk the neighborhood, we check out the sights that we see along the way.  The yellow Victorian house that had such wild decorations for the Halloween holiday has now put out their figures and lights for the Christmas celebration.  But one of them seems oddly out of sync with the others.

In the middle of the lawn, in front of the sparkly horse and Cinderella-type carriage that the folks used as their focal point last year, stood a life-size brown wire moose.  A moose.  Izzy looked at it, then looked at me, then peered back at the moose again, as if to say, “What the hell does that have to do with Christmas?”  I started laughing.  I’m thinking the same thing.

That’s what holidays are like in my ‘hood.

A moose.

Damn.

Single Baby Boomer with Dog Celebrates Thanksgiving with NaNoWriMo

For the past couple of days, every time I walked Izzy, it was cold and raining, and he didn’t want to poop.  Seriously.  That’s been my biggest problem for the last 48 hours.  We’d go out around the block, he’d stop and look, pee on his bushes, stop and look again, shoot me a sad “woe is me” puppy eye, sit down (seriously, Izzy???  It’s raining!), sniff a little, then look at the rushing water in the gutter, look up at me again, and consider that he didn’t want to jump it.  And wet leaves?  Lordie, they’re poison!  Who wants to walk through wet leaves and lower their butt to the ground to do their thing.  Not Mr. Izzy.  No way.  Sigh.

So, instead of our usual five walks a day, it’s been more like seven, and each time, I stand there, shivering, saying, “Good boy, Izzy.  Now, poop!  C’mon, Izzy, you can do it.”  And each time, he didn’t.  Until the second walk this morning, and by that time, I was already late for work, and he knew I was getting itchy — and irritated.  But at least it’s done, and I can relax.

I seem to remember going through the same thing last year at this time.  It was raining and cold.  I wasn’t excited about going out for walks and neither was Izzy.  It was our first year living in Roxboro, our first Thanksgiving together, my first holiday alone.  Ever.  This year makes two.  Second year living here, our second Thanksgiving together, my second Thanksgiving alone.  My savior?  Writing!

I’m convinced whoever conceived of National Novel Writing Month must have been single and hating facing the holidays alone.  The best way to get through them was to keep extraordinarily busy.  “Oh, I have an idea!  Why don’t I write a novel during November?  Commit to at least 50K words on the page, then I can take December to do some rewriting (or finish the novel) and by January, I’ll have a bright and shiny new story to start sending out to agents and editors.”

It works.  

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Last year, I sat at my desk over the long Thanksgiving weekend and almost finished the first draft of a novel (I’m not dumb enough to send something that new out in January; I’m going to do another rewrite of it in February and March, which means the novel will have gone through at least three-four drafts before it hits an agent’s/editor’s desk), and I certainly felt better that I had survived the holiday — and was productive doing so.

This year, I’m rewriting a novel that was originally part of my dissertation.  This one has gone through enormous structural changes, so even though I’m not committing 50K NEW words during this NaNoWriMo, I feel like I’m writing something even more valuable to me:  a polished manuscript.  This one might be ready in January or February.  Depends on what my reader says when she finishes it over the Christmas holidays.

I’m sure I’m not the only Baby Boomer with a dog who’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving alone.  Though most of my single friends are escaping to the warmth of a family member or friend’s house to share the turkey and the gossip and the silly jokes Aunt Milly never understands, there are plenty of us who’ll be huddled over a laptop, our favorite canine (or feline) faithfully keeping us company and making us take breaks from the writing to walk the cold, rainy streets.  

Here’s to those of us who are celebrating Thanksgiving with our animals!  Cheers to all those wagging tails and warm noses.  I give thanks to them for keeping us all sane — and far from lonely.