Snow Dog

Snow dog

We had a sunny and cold Christmas this year instead of our normal wet or occasional white one. I had been hoping to play with Ellie in the snow since it was playing with Porter from next door in last year’s big snow that started me thinking it was time for us to adopt a dog, but no such luck.

On Tuesday, I checked the weather before heading up to Ridgefield and saw the rain was supposed to make a comeback in the afternoon. It didn’t rain but as I started my last trip around the auto tour at the end of the day, I had to smile at the few flakes that fell, hardly enough to call even a flurry, my first snowflakes of the season. The snow picked up as I drove around but it wasn’t until I got near the end that it was falling hard enough that I started to get a little concerned. After snapping some quick pics of baby nutria and a juvenile heron in the snow, I started for home.

Unfortunately our Subaru is in the shop this week and I was in a rental, so I was without four-wheel drive, but I got home without incident, the roads being fairly clear and getting into our driveway proved the biggest challenge. My timing proved fortuitous as the snow continued to fall through the evening and I just missed the worst of the traffic.

I took Ellie out to play in the snow as soon as I got home, either on our walk or with other dogs in the park or hedgehogging on a snow-covered turf in the backyard. She was having the time of her life and after a couple of hours of vigorous play we called it a night.

Both of us took it pretty easy the next day.

Silent Night

Our cat Sam under the Christmas tree lit only by the lights of the tree (with our cat Emma behind him)

Sam and Emma underneath the Christmas tree, a slightly calmer scene than yesterday. I was going to title yesterday’s post “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”, but since I recently got a nice new camera I couldn’t do it in good conscience. Today’s cameras really are remarkable. I took both of these pictures tonight, handheld, with the Christmas tree lights providing the only illumination. I decided to try the 7D at ISO 3200 and used the image stabilization in the lens to compensate for the slow shutter speed.

Our cats Sam and Emma asleep under the Christmas tree lit only by the lights of the tree

That’s Not the Way We Left the Tree, Em

Our black cat Emma walks away from the Christmas tree she knocked over in December 2009

There’s a reason I don’t put the ornaments on the tree right away.

I thought with another year of wisdom and experience the cats might be kinder to the tree. But yesterday we got home from work to find this carnage in the living room.

The investigation initially focused on two prime suspects, juvenile offenders with a past history of tree climbing, but the discovery of a clump of soft, black fur in the treetop has narrowed the focus. The accused did herself no favors when, as I righted the tree, she climbed back into it before I even had it upright again.

In her defense, the tree stand isn’t the best. It certainly wasn’t designed with the idea of a 10 lb. ornament hanging from the top.

Prodigy

A close-up of our dog Ellie squeaking her baby hedgedog dog toy as she lays on the hardwood of our living room in November 2009

We have all heard of child prodigies, young masters of piano, flute, or violin. Our five-year old prodigy is master of baby hedgehog, able to squeak out pieces of surprising length and complexity. In this case, with Christmas approaching, Ellie squeaks out a fine rendition of Joy to the World.

Unlike many five-year olds, however, ours doesn’t need any encouragement to practice. Several times this week when I’ve gotten home from work I’ve been pelted with baby hedgehog before I can even take off my coat.

The Running Dog

Our dog Ellie resting on her side on the hardwood floor in November 2009. Original: _MG_1402.cr2

While we’re on the subject of pathetic poses, this pose that I’ve dubbed The Running Dog is another Ellie favorite. I had been playing with the cats on the cat tree and she just wanted to be nearby, so she plopped down on the floor and waited quietly until we were finished. She’s sleeping beside me in the same pose at this very moment. Sam is curled up in my lap, Scout is beside us in a warm bed, and although I can’t see her, I’d bet my life that Emma is asleep under the Christmas tree.

No Go Ahead, Play with Scout, I Don’t Mind

our dog Ellie looks a little forlorn as she lays on the hardwood floor beside one of her baby hedgehog dog toys in November 2009

“I’ll just lay over here quietly until you finish. Take your time. I’m not bored at all. No please, don’t worry about me, I’m fine. Play with Scout, she deserves your time too.”

(LOUD SIGH)

“It’s a good thing baby hedgehog loves me …”

You might have noticed that this pose is an Ellie specialty. She carries the little hedgehogs all over the house to make sure she doesn’t miss a moment’s opportunity for hedgehoggery.

The Modern Dog

I don’t mind that Ellie keeps reserves in her bladder so that on our walks in the neighborhood she can leave little cryptic messages to the dogs that follow her. I don’t.

But does she have to call it tweeting?

Unboxing Day

Our cats Sam, Scout, and Emma underneath the Christmas tree in December 2009. Original: _MG_3177.cr2

Many parts of the former British Empire celebrate Boxing Day after Christmas, a day originally set aside to give gifts to the less wealthy parts of society. While we don’t celebrate Boxing Day here in the States, we do celebrate Unboxing Day in our home, a day set aside to unbox our artificial Christmas tree. This day will always be a day of joy and sadness for me, as it was not only one of Templeton’s favorite days of the year, it was also the day he died in 2007.

But it is also a day of joy, as the cats all love it, Emma especially. I brought the box down early this year but didn’t get the tree out for another week, and every day when I came home from work Emma would be sleeping beside the box. I’m not sure if the smell brought back pleasant memories or if she was trying to guilt me into putting the tree up.

I finally put it up last night, and before I even had the top assembled Emma was sleeping under the bottom branches. Sam was climbing in it before I had the branches spread out, and today it showed clear signs of cats tunneling upwards through the branches. We’ve had this tree throughout our married life but I don’t how much more of this kind of love it can take. Scout used to love to climb in it when she was younger, but being the resident genius she at least figured out how to climb up without leaving an evidence trail behind her.

Last night all three cats were under the tree, and I hoped to get some pictures but Emma woke up and came out to greet me so I didn’t have much time. Snuggle buddies Sam and Scout stayed put so I had a little more chance with them.

Our cats Sam and Scout under the Christmas tree in December 2009. Original: _MG_3188.cr2

56,307

With NaNoWriMo 2009 wrapping up, I’m going to call it a night. My final tally is 56,307 words, just barely eclipsing my total of four years ago.

In your face, 2005!

I hadn’t planned on writing that much after crossing the 50,000 threshold two days ago, and only a modest effort yesterday, but I had a lot of seat time on the MAX today and Ellie wasn’t hedgehogging me too much tonight, so that left more time for writing than usual. And then I thought it would be nice to get at least 55,000 words, and by then I was within shouting distance of my previous total, so …

I’ve got a backlog building of pictures to edit, as well as edited pictures to put online, so stay tuned. In addition to the recent pictures of Scout, there are pictures coming of Sam, Emma, and Ellie as I’ve tried to get at least one decent picture of the pets with the new camera.

There are also wildlife pictures to come, as I went to Ridgefield 3 out of the 4 days of the Thanksgiving break, and remembered to bring a battery for the new camera 2 out of 3 times! Did I see bald eagles? Great blue herons? Great white sharks?

You’ll have to tune in to find out!