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© Kelly Peacock Wright, 2014 gutenberg Copyright Hand Crafted in the U.S.A.
2nd of May

A battle of wills


Wanda

The single bark that has wakened me at 3 am five mornings in the last week sounded again this morning.  I never hesitate when I hear it and roll from bed, feel around in the dark for my sweater and pull it over my head just before heading down the stairs, feeling my way against the wall as I go.  I say nothing as I open the door of Wanda’s crate and hear her snuffling behind me as I head out to the chilly patio so she can take care of her business.  The night is quiet.  Stars glimmer in their places in a clear sky.  Even in winter, I can hear crickets in the distance.  I will admit I enjoy this aspect of a routine I want to keep from going any farther.  Getting up this early is not something I want to look forward to on a regular basis.

Wanda turned one yesterday, and it has been a mostly happy five months of getting to know her.  She’s a cheerful little dog and outside of her needing to be with me, near me, next to me every waking moment of the day, she’s very content.  There’s been a battle of wills, lately.  She’s fussy about what she eats and we’ve tried a few types of food, but she holds out until she has to finally empty her bowl, often late at night just before we’re ready to turn in.  So one of us waits up with her, like a parent would with a child who can’t sleep, until she asks to be let out.

Now that I’ve been taken hostage by this new routine, the other seems grand in comparison.  At this point, I’ve decided that picking up her dish by 6 pm has been a complete failure (the theory being that she either eats, or has to wait until the morning) and so it is back to the drawing board of letting the often full bowl of kibble sit there, just as it is at this very moment — untouched since I placed it there early this morning.  I will sheepishly confess that for the past two mornings, I’ve shredded some albacore over the kibble to encourage her to eat early in the day and be done with it, but she’s an expert at finding even the most minute piece of tuna and leaving the kibble to sit.  I swear she taunts me, and so I taunt her in return, holding back on the cherry tomatoes she loves, the chunks of fresh apple, and an occasional ice cube to chew on.  She has to eat the kibble.  Or else.

She’s curled up behind me right now, sleeping, not quite snoring — the second nap she’s had today and it’s just past noon.  After she woke me this morning, I insisted she get back in her crate and went back to bed until she woke me again just before 7 am.  I questioned this, thinking all she really wanted was to be on the sofa, wrapped in the blanket I keep there for chilly evenings.  I waited long enough to hear her warble, or chortle — it’s not a sound I’ve heard any other dog make — and donned my sweater again, opened her crate then went to the back door once more.  I tricked her this time, bringing the door just to after she went through it and waited quietly behind the blinds out of sight until she paced off in the dim light.  I could hear her out there, snuffling around and looking for the perfect spot, surprised that she really did have business to take care of.

Once inside, she waited just at the sofa after I’d taken my usual corner and had begun to tap around on the iPad.  I knew she wanted me to invite her up as I always do, but I didn’t.  Eventually, she walked away into the kitchen and back, stopping to heave a sigh just at my feet.  Giving in, I patted the sofa next to me and she jumped up waiting for the blanket she’s accustomed to before settling back to sleep, leaning heavily against my leg.

Often, I believe that this is why she barks at me in the night.  Of course she has to go outside, and I’m thankful she barks to let me know, but what she really enjoys is snuggling on the sofa.  On mornings when she barks much later — 5 am, for example — I will take my pillow downstairs and we’ll stay on the sofa together after her trip outside.  We’ll doze until the light coming through the blinds is bright enough to suggest it’s time to start the day.  Or better said — time for me to start my day.  Wanda usually stays on the sofa, wadded in the blanket and lost in doggy dreamland until just before noon.  You might be thinking that perhaps her crate is not warm, or comfortable, and I will tell you that if my mother had presented me with Wanda’s crate as a child, I would have chosen to sleep in it instead of my bed.  It’s pretty cushy.

I’m a parent.  I know from experience that children can be conditioned by routine.  I worked until 1 am when my oldest son was a baby, so he went to bed late, and slept late.  It has crossed my mind that Wanda loves the evening when my husband is home and we’re in the kitchen, talking about the day, and then ready to settle in to watch a show or two we’ve recorded.  She has been with me all day, so is more interested in my husband, and after all these months, still working hard to dominate him since I’m such a failure at tending her every whim.  She want to play ball, to climb on him, to drink from his hot tea cup.  She jumps from the sofa to the floor, pushing a slobbery rubber bone at one of us to tug on.  She has stored her energy up during the day for this time, to be a part of who we are, together with us each night.

It’s difficult when we want to go out, to leave her there alone with only Lizzie to taunt her through the fence that stretches across the midsection of our house.  It often feels like we’re leaving a child unattended instead of a dog.  I’m embarrassed to say I leave the TV on for her at times, knowing she’ll watch it.  I’ve caught her before, her big head moving to the action on the screen, mesmerized.

Sometimes when Wanda and I are up early, sitting in the dark together, I play videos for her on the iPad.  I find one of the many others have made of their bulldogs and turn the sound up enough for her to hear their snorting and snuffling, to see them playing together in a yard, or riding a skateboard, or jumping on a trampoline.  She understands and watches, occasionally sniffing around the back of the iPad to see whether she might find one of the dogs there.  It makes me wonder if she misses the dogs she spent the first seven months of her life with and whether she thinks being with a middle-aged woman who sits at a computer much of the day is a bad joke.

I do what I can both for myself and for her, to get up and go outside.  To throw the ball, to find where she’s allowed it to roll and can’t retrieve it herself — sometimes as many as ten times in as many minutes.  To brush her, talk to her, sing inane ditties to her, scratch just behind her ears, tolerate her obsession with the broom when I’m trying to sweep, toss cherry tomatoes into the air so she can claim at least one trick, and generally dote on her all day long.

I think she’s happy.  But she is not going to win the kibble war.  And I am not going to make admiring stars at 3 am something I look forward to.

Stay tuned.

Note:   I first wrote this in February thinking I’d let it sit a day or two before revisiting it and it’s now May.  I’ll excuse myself since I have been diligent in working on my book regardless of whether that can explain all the other lapses in time I’ve had writing here.  But I have won the kibble war after much trial and messy error and finally found the key to Wanda’s happiness each morning:  Greek yogurt & Brewer’s yeast. She enjoys that for breakfast, her jaw working, tongue fighting the saliva that seems to immediately appear when I mention “yogurt” each morning. Her plain, dry kibble sits there most of the day until she decides she’s hungry and she sleeps through the night every night in her cushy crate.

Score one for me.

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Categories:  Adjustments Love Peaflock
31st of October

What was I thinking? Round Two.


Last year as response to a request from a friend, I committed myself to 30 days of writing my first novel during National November Writing Month, lovingly referred to as NaNoWriMo.  Fifty-thousand words written in 30 days qualifies anyone as a winner and outside of being diligent enough to actually write those words, the resulting manuscript file must also be uploaded to qualify your effort.

Check to all of the above and I was a certified winner last year.  I wrote my 50,000+ words with only a few hitches in my giddy up:  we visited our son in San Francisco for Thanksgiving and were stuck there for two additional nights due to heavy fog up and down the coast.  We love San Francisco and visit frequently, but this was not one of our best travel memories.  Nevertheless, I did write during our delay, then after arriving home, pounded out the rest of the required word count.

Of course I wasn’t finished.

A quick flip through my notebook shows I was still working on December 7, then again on February 1, which dwindles to “thinking about writing” in March before finally outlining the rest of the book in June.

Of course, things changed and it was August before I actually decided upon an ending I liked and started to write again — the end of August.  Another month or so passed before I realized I should probably get started again, but seriously this time.  It’s always serious, but more serious. The good news is I’ve been more productive this past month than I’ve been since last November.  “Productive” is definitely subjective but I did accomplish something:  I nudged myself over a big hurdle to begin the second part of the story.  Now I’m stuck again and finding every excuse to not sit down and deal with it.

Wanda is the best excuse because she’s like an infant, always needing attention.  But after nearly two months of new puppy parenthood, I’m onto myself and have caved.  She’s a dog, not an infant.  She’s cute, but she’s not that cute.  Yet I stall.

Welcome NaNoWriMo 2013 — the ultimate way to slam out the rest of the story.   WHEN I finish it at the end of November, I will be more than happy to let it sit a month, then tackle massive revisions in January with an iron clad plan.  I’ve kept notes along the way and have successfully avoided changing things to keep moving forward.  Let’s hope it will all make sense when the time comes.  It makes complete sense in my head.

As for the routine I mentioned last post?  I’m up for my walk most mornings during the week between 5:30 and 6:30.  Today was an ungodly 4:30, no thanks to Lizzie who was most likely harassing Wanda, asleep in her crate.  It always feels good to check off that walk.  Next is coffee & notebook review. It helps me get my brain ready to reread whatever I wrote the day before.  This part is not easy because everything seems to be a distraction.  But I like the way it feels — as long as a snorting, licking, gas-passing puppy doesn’t interfere.

What I’m surprised by is that after that, I can putz around the house and take care of things I’ve avoided.  The list stretches into oblivion.  After an hour, I’m ready to sit down and stare at the words on the screen, ignore the incessantly nagging voice in my head about how awful everything is, and move along with promises to stitch the words more perfectly later.

Somehow, Halloween just makes this all so bizarre.  I should have been done.  I could have been working on revisions.  I might have reordered the sequence of events.  But I will always feel that way about the aspects of my life, so why should writing a story be different?

Promises to myself:  1) It’s not about the word count — it’s about finishing; and 2) Stay true to the characters I’ve given life.

Time to finish so I can begin.

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21st of October

What routine?


A year ago January, I made a commitment to lose 50 lbs.  After five months of diligent progress, I successfully achieved a 25 lb. loss and was perfectly on schedule to make my goal, still 25 lbs. away.  But here I sit, probably 15 lbs. heavier, thinking about that and other aspects of my life which continually present challenges.

I understand challenge is a relative thing and will say to those quick to respond, I am not comparing my challenges with those beyond a person’s control.  I’m referring to my own internal challenges — those I have complete control of and responsibility for.

I’m horrible about maintaining my determination to finish.  It’s awful.  I think I’ve always had this annoying problem which manifests itself in bits and pieces of unfinished projects:  a wall papered room near completion except for the small patch behind the door left waiting for the perfect piece to be cut and applied; the baseboard behind the toilet in the newly remodeled bathroom left propped against the wall for need of a special cut; a package of presents brought home from a trip left sitting and gathering dust.  There are so many more examples.

I’m quick to admit this fault of mine which seems to have grown in recent years and make any number of self-deprecating comments to excuse myself.  My favorite is that I spent 20 years in a career requiring strict attention to a clock — planning and execution were of the utmost importance.  Once free of that lockstep routine, I allowed myself the luxury of avoiding any routine completely.  It seemed such a drudge to consider having one.

Keeping myself busy has never been something I’ve struggled with as long as it involves thought, and preferably creativity.  Running errands is not the kind of busy I’m interested in, hence the package waiting to be mailed.  The newly wall-papered room looks lovely, and no one will notice the unfinished patch behind the door, so why bother?  It’s more interesting to leave good enough alone to move on to the next project.  That baseboard in the bathroom?  It’s not my bathroom, so what does it matter?  I can get to that another time.

I have enjoyed doing whatever I want whenever I want for seven years now and know I’ve reached the point where having a routine matters, and not for the sake of having the routine.  I learned when I made the goal to lose weight that a routine not only helped me achieve the results I wanted, but it gave me something to look forward to as well.  To clarify, I am by nature, an optimist, so I genuinely look forward to each day.  But I’ve noticed that each day dwindles as I go about piddling with this and that, and when I look at the clock, it’s past noon and I question what I’ve accomplished.  That at the end of his very long day the MoH will arrive home and ask pleasantly, “How was your day?” to which I will always respond, “Fine, but I didn’t accomplish as much as I wanted to.”

I have no list.  No one would check it if I did.  I am the only one accountable for what I accomplish each day.  There will be no star on a chart if I complete one or even ten things I say I want to check off.  I am curiously unmotivated by extrinsic reward.  I make my efforts public.  I’ve had buddies for this and that.

In the end, I’m left with my drifty self realizing if I want to accomplish anything, I need a routine.  I need a habit.  A habit different than arising each day to think happily, “What do I feel like doing?”  It sounds lovely — and it is.

But…

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

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Categories:  Mundane Mondays
18th of September

On getting a puppy.


Wanda the Wunda Dog

Somehow, during the not so dog days of August this year, I thought it was time to get a dog.  I know how that sounds, but please know the two are not connected. Or perhaps they are, the humidity this summer as opposed to the dry heat we’re used to saturating my perspective on daily life.

It’s been nearly four years since our old Jones passed on, and as much as I would rather not admit to life being easier  since, can say it’s been different without her ever present self, devoted gaze, and soft muzzle nudging me to give her a pat.  She was such a sweet girl.

Puppy Mess

But I’m not a dog person.  I know people draw a line and stake their claim to whether they like dogs or cats, and although I’ve loved both, cats have been a part of my life far more than dogs.  I remember a dog named Cookie when we lived in Spain, then there were Misty and Greta when I was in Junior High.  They were more my sister’s dogs than anyone else.  Yogi, a beautiful pedigreed Doberman, was a part of our family after I’d had my first child — and he was lovely — but we were not the family for him and so he went to live with an older woman who needed company.

I don't want to gopher a walk.

Years went by before my youngest decided I needed a dog for my birthday, and so we adopted Jones, a mixed breed puppy who was found abandoned on a school playground, full of worms and advertised as a Chihuahua.  It’s no matter that she grew to be 60 pounds or so.  We were happy to have her be a part of our lives.  I know I was, at least after she outgrew puppyhood.  I still have furniture that bears the marks of her teething phase.

When my very best friend realized I’d brought home a puppy, she said, “Really?”  And I knew what she meant.  I’m sure I told her more than once how confined to a house a dog can leave you, their neediness requiring so much more thought than a cat’s might.  Oh, the time devoted to living with, being around, and training a puppy. I understood what she meant having observed her with her Maddy, a beautiful, large, highly spirited Golden Lab who accompanied us on all our morning walks — or dragged us, to be more accurate.  Maddy’s life did not end well and I know an experience like that doesn’t fade quickly.

Belly Rubs, Please?

I think at this point in my life I have no reason not to spend time with an animal who loves as intensely as a dog can.  Although I have three grown boys, not one has an inkling of a sparkle of the possibility of a grandchild in mind, and I’m perfectly fine with that.  But I also think that I need something to balance my time, or I’ll spend all day in my head weaving whatever it is I weave all day, every day, with seemingly little to show for it.  Besides, a dog is a perfect excuse to procrastinate doing whatever it is I promised myself I’d finish by October.

There can be so much less to look forward to each day than a puppy who lies at my feet, allowing me to softly run my toes over her smooth coat as she sleeps, occasionally waking when I stop, wondering what she’s done to cause it.

Scary Green Frog

I’ll save the ins and outs with her daily habits for another time.  Suffice it to say, they’re kicking my butt and reminding me of what it was like to have an infant in the house minus the sustaining energy of youth that accompanies such a life event.   But I’m determined to nudge our Wanda into a place she’ll be comfortable knowing she doesn’t have to be in charge, because I will be.  So far, she seems to appreciate that as long as it doesn’t have anything to do with dishtowels hanging from the rung on the oven door.

My life is rarely boring, but these days, it is even less so.  I’m even realizing with my Mac downstairs to keep an ever vigilant eye on Wanda, that I actually don’t have a valid reason to not get my writing done.

Stay tuned.

 

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Categories:  Adjustments Learning Peaflock
23rd of August

Fridays and What Ifs


I missed yesterday’s writing, but it should count that I spent a good amount of time discussing writing with a friend — someone who is also working on his first novel.  And the entire experience left me remembering how much I used to profess that thinking is the most important aspect of writing.  Of course, that doesn’t make much sense if I never actually sit down to write after that thought, so here I am.  Processing.  And I’ll do that through this weekend considering my novel, moving things around, adjusting bits of my character’s life — bits of ideas that only come with letting writing sit for a while.  Letting it sit for as long as I have is probably not a good thing, but that will change in a few days.

Why not get back to it today?

I’m on the melancholy side of things today, and it’s Friday.  Isn’t Friday another one of those ideas that is ingrained in us?  It represents an early start to the weekend, probably making up for what Sunday afternoon feels like.  But I have no reason to be caught up in it.  Every day can be Friday if I’d like.   So I’ll snap out of it, get organized, and move along.

I’ll be productive, work hard, and try to do a better job of building in some time to do things I normally wouldn’t do.  Things out of the house I have so much difficulty prying myself out of unless we actually have something planned or a destination in mind.  I’m not exactly a live life on the edge type of person, so I’m thinking what I might do doesn’t involve skydiving or hang gliding.  But I haven’t been in the ocean this year unless the up to my shins measure if valid.

I’ll have to brave a swim suit and that’s never something I look forward to.  I’ll see.

I’ve never had a pedicure because the whole idea of it makes me grossly uncomfortable, but maybe.  Just maybe.

Honestly, the most decadent thing I can think of doing right now is take a nap.  Or sit on the beach by myself and dig my toes in the sand.  Read a trashy novel that isn’t written like most are — badly.

But the kitchen awaits.  Laundry awaits.  I should clean bathrooms.  I should finish a post at that blog that shall not be named in this place.

It’s gorgeous outside today.

Perfect, actually.

What if I just got in the car and drove?  Have you ever wanted to do that without a thought to where you might go?

I do all the time.

I have for years.

Happy Friday.

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Categories:  Fridays Plans & Schemes
21st of August

Kickstarting a new routine


 

Mid-week taking stock of things reveals I’m here and for the third day in a row, writing.  And clearly, writing here means I’m not writing my book, but it’s not going anywhere.  It will be much better waiting for me to establish a routine — even a glimmer of one before I sit down to finish it.

It goes like this:  wake, coffee, check in only briefly with the world — just a peek.  Write, review, go for a walk, clean toilets and other housely things, then revise.  Food is involved at some point because unfortunately it has to be but I’d like if it just went away.

It’s a time consuming creative drain for me always vying for my attention.  For example right now on the kitchen counter downstairs, there is chicken waiting for the slow cooker and tonight’s dinner.  Curried chicken.  I imagine how fabulous it will smell as it cooks, pungent aroma making its way upstairs, buoyed by the breeze coming in from the patio doors.  I love curried chicken.

There is also broccoli for a casserole I thought I would make and freeze.  I never do that, but I think it would help me stay with my routine.  And there are pluots and plums destined for a tart which we don’t need, but they were so pretty sitting there and I had to buy them.  They’ll be beautiful in a still life shot as well, guaranteeing at least a few hours of blissful distraction from everything — especially a routine.

There are zucchini and Italian sausage — one to stuff and the other to stuff with.  Tomatoes and asparagus, mushrooms…it’s all there waiting for someone to do something with it.

That would be me.

So Wednesdays should be wordless as that unknown blogger once long ago decreed allowing life to be taken care of at least one day a week.  It will allow me to share some of my photography while I am busy in the kitchen preparing food that will get us by for a few days while I write.

On Monday, I begin again.  I finish what I began last November.  I think I’m ready.

Here’s to Not So Wordless Wednesdays!

<alt img="Lilac"/>

Photo:  Taken in the tiny Bavarian village of Rottenbuch on the way to Fussen, Germany,  June 2013

 

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20th of August

The Last Summer Vacation


It seems no matter where I am on the web right now, someone somewhere is headed Back-to-School.  Mothers are sad summer is over (or secretly not), healthy lunches are discussed (or those not so healthy tsk-tsked over), and teachers are settling in with yet another year’s classroom full of children.  The smell of crayons and freshly sharpened pencils waft through the streets.

It’s ingrained in us, isn’t it?  Going back to school each year — a season in and of itself barely resembling what it once was:  a simple returning to class after work was done on a family farm.  I have always wondered exactly what portion of the country’s population was actually affected by that.  Did most of America live on farms? It doesn’t make sense, but I’m on a bird walk trying to escape the real point of my thoughts today.

My youngest son, who has been home all summer, will be headed back to school like seemingly everyone else this week.  He’ll have a duffle bag and case for his laptop instead of a backpack and lunch box, and will be dropped off at the curb at the airport instead of a bus stop or school playground to wait for the morning bell.  His dad will do the honors — he always does.  And I will stay at home, my eye on the clock waiting for just the right moment to look out the front windows for the plane headed north I know he is on.  I’ll watch it until I can’t see it any longer, and then I’ll go about the business of reacquainting myself with a house that has one less person in it again.

When I asked my son about whether he was excited for the new semester to begin, he said yes, that he was, and then paused.  “My very last summer vacation,” he said looking at me with an expression I understood, remembering my own thoughts of those milestones in life.  What I didn’t tell him was that this summer also marked my own last summer vacation — the one a parent experiences if she’s lucky enough to be at home instead of at work.  I was at work or school — sometimes both for most of my three boys’ summer vacations and the memories are tinged with stress.  Because I was not at home, I had to find a place for them — someone to watch them, a camp, something until they were old enough to take care of themselves.

It’s been a luxury the past many years to enjoy my youngest son’s company when he comes home during the summer.  He’s a quiet young man — someone easy to be around.  When he isn’t out with friends, in the evenings after his dad comes home, we eat dinner together and often watch television later, chatting about nothing in particular.  Just enjoying the time.  It’s great company, and I’ll miss it.

I know many parents have had to refluff the empty nest they once mourned because the economy hasn’t quite welcomed their bright and shiny college graduates.  I also know that the once welcomed company of an adult child on summer break can lose its polish after the reality sets in that life expects certain things of us once we’re adults, and camping out at Mom & Dad’s waiting for a job to knock on the door probably isn’t the best plan.  But I realized something myself this summer — something not too different from the familiar perspective with which I raised my children.

They are going to make their own best choices about their lives in their own time.  I know so many who would immediately disagree with me for believing that.  My oldest son would be one.  He’s told me he wishes he’d not had the freedom to make those choices, yet of my three children, he was the one who most diligently managed himself in school.

I could have spent this summer cracking the whip and nagging my youngest about whether he’d gotten an internship, or summer job.  Or I might have done a search for leads on both, then pointed him in the right direction before pushing him out the door.  It is completely in my nature to want to do those things, but that behavior is completely contrary to what I believe.  They have to make their own way.  Isn’t that what we do in our own lives?  Make our own way?

I have, and part of making my own way has been to enjoy the time I’ve had with my youngest on this very last of our summer vacations.

Here is to whatever is next along the way and to a life that makes time for a summer vacation.

 

 

 

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