Chilly Dog

Mindy T. Dog is one of those long-haired dogs my grandma would describe as “messy.”  My grandma always had one — a cocker mix of some kind — whose fur was curly, fine and copious, matted easily and could actually be a danger to them. This spring Mindy has had mats everywhere.

dogs 1

Bear, my friend’s dog, Coda, and Mindy pre-clip, Dusty in the Background

Mindy T. Dog was clipped for the first time on Tuesday. The groomer — Muddy Paws Dog Grooming — is a country groomer with a pen of sheep in the back yard, a small stall for horses, a hutch for rabbits, her own 4-H kids and a sweet little shed fitted up to groom dogs. None of the fancy-schmancy urban dog grooming paraphernalia of the city. The shed is perfectly set up for the work she does. Four crates to hold the dogs who are waiting, a high table for the dogs who are being groomed,  and a big horse trough for a bath tub. Everything is shiny, comfortable and dog friendly. I was astonished when my Australian shepherd from the burbs of San Diego reacted strongly to the sounds of the sheep bleating outside.

“Mindy,” I said, “you have instinct!”

There were two lambs, one of which had been adopted by the groomer’s daughter because its mom rejected it. ❤

When I went back to get Mindy, the groomer and her daughter had fallen in love with her. “She helped us!” said the groomer.

“She has a magical quality,” I said. “Mindy makes people happy. I don’t know how.”

“She was so easy to work with!”

The freshly denuded Mindy beamed at me from a fluffy face. She’d had a good time.

“She liked our treats!” The groomer cooks dog cookies.

“Great,” I said, not revealing that there has yet to be a treat made Mindy did not like. I was sent home with two small sample bags for Dusty and Bear.

Unfortunately for Mindy T. Dog it was the coldest day we’ve had in weeks, and there she was, naked to the world. When I got home I called my neighbor who knits and crochets to see if she had knit or crocheted a dog sweater lately, but no luck. There’s a sweater on the way — a good thing as snow is predicted to blanket the ground Saturday and temps are supposed to drop to 19 degrees. Winter DOESN’T let go easily in the San Luis Valley.

Meanwhile, Mindy is now proudly wearing my Dead Kennedys T-shirt.

Mindy D

Hanging On

In my Sunday hike in the Bluffs (Palmer Park) I noticed a lot of erosion. It’s been a wet winter, but one erosion channel was very disturbing. It was as wide as a one lane road.

I think what happened was a flash flood tore through there, upended a very large dead tree and the space held by the roots of that tree opened up the channel. The roots were amazing.

It doesn’t seem to take a lot for a tree to make it in the semi-arid land of the high plains of Colorado. The juniper that is “my tree” seems to have nothing to grow by, just looking at its roots, yet it’s been hanging on like that as long as I’ve known it and that’s 50 years. The branch that comes out from the top is three times larger than it was when I first met my tree. As a model for how to live life, I cannot imagine anyone better.


With Dusty T. Dog at my tree, November 2014


It’s a gray day in Heaven, but that’s all right with me. It makes me feel that I’m off the hook, so to speak, and I am happy to be off the hook. Snow and rain are in the forecast, Mindy is scheduled to get her first ever clip this afternoon — or shave in her case — and the house is a mess. The usual quotidian struggle.

A couple of years ago I was sure I was going to need at least one knee replaced. When I moved here I couldn’t walk very well, like hardly at all. Besides getting a stationary bike and riding it, walking the dogs and doing yoga, I went to the local hospital, found the orthopedic surgeon, and had the exam, x-rays and all. I was headed down the dark tunnel toward (my second) joint replacement. I followed through on the pre-op exams, failing the first time and having to redo the whole thing after a course of antibiotics. Meanwhile, my activities winter, spring and fall had paid off better than I knew and a trip to Colorado Springs and some walks with my friends showed me I was a whole lot better just from riding the Airdyne, doing yoga and walking the dogs. I bailed on the surgery. But, I’d paid a $1000 and change deposit on the surgery.

The hospital had my money and was NOT giving it back until my insurance paid them.

Yeah, well… There went $1000 down the drain. School of hard knocks kind of thing, lessons learned, etc.

While I was visiting in Colorado Springs this past weekend, my laptop starting acting weird. It’s 5 years old, and I’ve known for a while that it’s nearing its dark moment of planned obsolescence. The windows flickered when I was using Chrome and/or Firefox. Images weren’t loading properly. I thought my friend’s system might have been overloaded, but that was absurd. I called Apple and we shared my screen for a while and determined it was an issue with Chrome. Trash and re-install made no difference. I’m now using Safari, Apple’s browser. But I recognize the symptoms… I’m good for now and will be for who knows how long? A long time a short time, I don’t know.

Driving home I decided a new laptop was in order. I accepted the need to use my Apple Rewards Credit Card (grrrr) and was ready to order a computer. I arrived home with this in mind. Last time my laptop (my favorite one ever, the most beautiful computer I’ve owned or seen — a 2007 MacBook Pro with a 17 inch screen) reached the end of its life, it died completely taking the first draft of The Brothers Path and various other wonders with it. I wanted to avoid that and have a chance to transfer data to a new machine.


MacBook Pro from 2007 ❤

Once at home, I got my mail. There among the eBay jeans and a bill from the electrician was a check for $1000 from the hospital. My insurance had finally come through. It was very nearly enough to pay for a new laptop.

There are no Apple stores closer than 2 hours away. Not a problem! Apple is happy to deliver it to me for free. Sometime tomorrow a nice FedEx guy is going to appear and hand me a very beautifully designed white box and I’ll begin the process of customizing the keyboard of a new computer.  My new laptop is basically the same as my soon-to-be old laptop. Many of the bells and whistles Apple has added to the MacBook Pro are meaningless to me. Essentially, I need a typewriter with Internet. 🙂

The Strange Familiar Place

I was in Colorado Springs for a few days, and yesterday was my friend’s birthday. We celebrated at a German restaurant (he’s Swiss) where there actually have good bratwurst. Not as good as St. Gallen bratwurst or the little weisswurst I ate in Munich, but very good. Nonetheless, I had chicken.

We also took a hike up to my “tree”.

My tree

Pikes Peak in the background, my tree in the foreground

It’s located in a place that was my hiking sanctuary when I was in high school. Now that Colorado Springs has more than doubled in population, and this geologic outcrop is no longer the northern edge of the city, the Bluffs (now known as Palmer Park) is full of people, parking their cars where no cars should be. And there are a ton of mountain bikers. I love mountain biking, but too many mountain bikes cause erosion.

What can I do about this? Zip. Nada. Nothing. Niente. Zero.

So I just enjoyed that I was there, climbing familiar rocks and hanging out with my friends. I was also aware of how nature quietly persists and decided that was a good strategy for me, too.


Top picture: Sand Lily Above: Astragalus (milk vetch)

When Dogs Get Avid

Overall, my dogs are pretty calm. But they have their passions. Bear, as everyone knows, avidly loves snow. Mindy loves food. Dusty T. Dog loves me. Right now we’re visiting my friend in Colorado Springs who also has three dogs — two of them equal one Dusty. It seems like I brought up a herd of small horses to hang out with her dogs.  All six of them bark with passionate avidity at the mailman and the trash man and anyone who walks by with dogs.

Dog Avidness is pretty avid and can be scary. It can be accompanied with bared teeth and loud barks. Bear is currently perched on the highest spot in the living room watching for enemies outside.

All six of these guys are avid about rawhide chews, running out the dog-door at my friend’s house, and playing with each other.

Dusty’s Harmonious Memories

When I had a bunch of Siberian huskies they, naturally, loves to howl at the right times. They knew when those times were. A siren, coyotes in the distance, Eminem (yeah, truly), and once the Evil X. The thing is, they find a pitch and they all howl in harmony.

Lily and Cheyenne

Cheyenne T. Wolf (front) Lily T. Wolf (back)

Dusty T. Dog really wanted to be like his husky sisters/moms and from the time he was a puppy, he tried to howl with them. He did pretty good for a dog of undetermined parentage but certainly not husky.

Sometimes now I’ll play a video of huskies howling, or wolves, and sometimes I’ll just hit a howl pitch, and Dusty will tip back his head, make a “howl” mouth and do his best. We howl together for old times sake, saying “We remember you!” to our huskies in Husky Heaven.

This is Cheyenney T. Wolf’s favorite howl along song by Eminem.

My Friend, Spike

I’d like you to meet Spike.

Coast Horned Lizard - Mission Creek 1


Spike is a California Coastal horned lizard. Hiking in the coastal chaparral of San Diego, I often caught a glimpse of Spike, and I think I picked him up once or twice. I like him a LOT. As you can see, he’s not easy to see (ha ha). That’s because Spike has a lot of predators, including scorpions. Spike is a furtive little fellow out of necessity. In different places — depending on the color of the dirt and the kinds of rocks about, Spike might have slightly different coloration.

I named all of them Spike. It was fun to be hiking along, catch sight of him on the edge of the bushes, and say, “Hi, Spike! Be careful out there!” Once I even picked up a tiny baby Spike. He was one of the cutest little critters I’ve ever seen.

Buying $100 Jeans for $15 on eBay: the Holy Grail

Ah, fashion. What a strange world you are.

I found some jeans I like a few years ago and I bought two pair.  Damn, if they haven’t worn out. One pair of them, anyway, shot to hell. The other I’m saving “for good.” I like them, and I still wear them, knees poking out and so on, but I know the truth. I’m a 65 year old woman and the shredded jeans look isn’t cool on me. I actually don’t think it looks good even on Kim Kardassian. In fact maybe especially not on Kim Kardassian.

So I went to the catalog (new edition) from which I bought them. Found the “same” ones. Ordered them. Hang the price, I love these jeans. They arrived. I put them on. They turned out to be baggy, shapeless high waters (on me that’s saying something; I have short legs — these were cut for small fry). Definitely NOT the jeans I love. But I kept them because, well, I needed jeans. It’s not a style that works with punk rock t-shirts. I’m not sure it’s a style at all.

Jeans today often have spandex. After a day or two the spandex had spanded and I could take off these jeans without opening them.

“That means they’re too big,” said my friend. Nothing gets past her.

Then I — on a whim — went on eBay. These jeans I loved were an old model. Maybe???

I’d like to end this story on a happy note, to say, “I found them on eBay for a fraction of the price” because that’s what all of us what to hear, but I haven’t found them, not that I’m sure of. Maybe. A pair that LOOKS like them is headed to me in the mail. $15.


Mosey Along

“Hard to find a good chuckle these days.”


“Oh, life’s gotten very serious. I can’t believe I was anxious about the returns in an obscure election in Georgia. Sure wish that guy had won and there didn’t need to be a runoff.”


“And I’m not even a Democrat.”

“No. You want some coffee?”

“Had mine, thanks.”

“I miss the Far Side.”

“Me too. Those were good for a chuckle.”


“Back in 1986, I had a party up in the Cuyamaca Mountains based on the Far Side. That very comic up there. Potluck picnic followed by a mosey.”

“How did it work?”

“I’m not sure my friends in California understood the idea of a mosey. They thought it would be more organized, but I tried to explain that in a real mosey — as opposed to a cartoon mosey — people just go where they want. They mosey over to that tree, they mosey down to the lake, they mosey over to the road, they mosey over to their car with a picnic basket. Moseying is more a way of life than a race, but yeah, in the comic, it’s a race.”

“I hope everyone had a good time.”

“They did. Everyone was happy to be up in the mountains anyway. They wanted it to be an annual event, but we only did it once. Well, I got to get out there and mosey back and forth across the lawn with the mower.”

“Again? You did that last week!”

“Yeah. I’m starting to remember why I don’t like summer all that much. You have housework and yard work. In winter, you just shovel the walks once in a while.”


Most earth pigments tend to be opaque, literally like “looking into dirt” because that’s what they are, dirt. They can be thinned so they seem transparent — watercolors make use of earth pigments but in particles so fine and watered down so well, that paper or other layers of colors show through. Mineral pigments and some modern chemical pigments are often transparent by their nature. Some pigments made from stones — Ultramarine blue was made from Lapis Lazuli — retain a magical reflective ability even when they’re ground to powder.

I stopped painting sometime last year. I’ve tried to figure out why, and finally came to understand it. Basically, it’s other people.

I can’t remember not drawing or not painting. I have done both those things since I was a little kid. But, as I got older, and more interested in it, my mother became vehement about not wanting me to be an artist. “I just want you to be happy,” she said. “Artists are not happy people.”

Now I know that people are either happy or they are not. Just because one is an artist, doesn’t mean they’re on the verge of schizophrenia or suicide. There have always been more happy artists than unhappy artists, but because of our twisted mentalities, we humans build cults around romantic misery — van Gogh, Jim Morrison, etc. Plenty of artists — most artists — just do their work, earn the wage, and live their lives as respected members of the community. Before cameras, being an artist was a respected trade. Humans have always wanted — and created — images of their world.

When I moved to Monte Vista right after retiring, I immediately joined the local artist group and became a member of the fledgling art co-op. I’ve written about both experiences in other places and have moved on, but the painting thing? I’ve done one painting since I left these organizations. It was a pretty good painting, acrylic, the person who owns it loves it, but…

The Princess and the Hens

The Princess and the Hens

To be an artist, you need a thick skin. I don’t have one. I have several artist friends with whom I have a mutually constructive relationship, but being in an organization in a small town with local artists? What a nightmare that turned out to be. I know art has always been competitive — look at Michelangelo and Leonardo, competing against each other and several other very fine artists — but in a milieu like this one where no one’s life depends on it, and no one’s work is really that good, it seems stupid.

I’m hoping to return to the place where my work is personal to me, and the sounds of these strident voices (“I hate realistic art!” “Why would anyone paint landscapes!”) have faded far enough into the distance that I will want to paint again. Why? Well, as you can see, I have a lot of paint…