I Could Use a Little Help

I’m asking if you’ve read My Everest and enjoyed it (or not) if you could leave a little review on Amazon and/or Goodreads, I’d be very grateful. I’m not trying to make money on this book, but I’d like it to have a high enough ranking that others who might enjoy it can find it. Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you!!

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37922936-my-everest

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/My-Everest-Thirty-Years-Hiking/dp/1975994337/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1518040162&sr=8-1&dpID=51v7eEpj8OL&preST=_SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=detail

Cover My Everest small

Snow Day for Bear

We ended up getting a decent amount yesterday, not so much I was stuck in the driveway, but enough for this, for which Bear has waited since October 9. One of my blogging pals, Tabby T. Cat, has described Bear very accurately as a “Blue-eyed Wonder Dog with a Snow Addiction.” Here it is in action.

 

It’s been a bewildering winter — very warm with virtually no snow. Considering that this is Colorado at 7600 feet you’d expect… Apparently it’s a “la Niña” year which means the snow has shifted to the north and we are high and dry down here. I can’t say it hasn’t been pleasant in its way, but as the Blue-Eyed Wonder Dog and I love snow, and the farmers need it, it’s been a little troubling. OH well. March is usually the snowiest month of winter and August is the wettest month of the year down here, so we still have hope.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/bewildered/

Dusty’s Bewildering Morning Moment

“I’m alone with her. Just me and my human. Oh joy!”

“Hi Dusty Boy, my sweet old boy.”

“Where is everyone? I’m so bewildered. Well, best not to look a gift human in the mouth. I think I’ll put my head on her knee. Oh, she’s scratching my ears and saying nice things to me.”

“Sweet Dusty T.”

“Oh dog, however this happened, I don’t care but IT’S THE BEST. I love my human. I’m so  lucky she found me. I’m going to get closer to her.”

“You’re such a good barky boy, Dusty.”

“Oh she’s scratching the other ear. Uh-oh, I smell Bear.”

“Good morning, Bear!”

“I don’t care. This time Bear isn’t going to push me to one side. Not this morning.”

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/bewildered/

Not a Good Day for Mindy

One of my dogs is sick and I don’t know which one. That’s a puzzle. I suspect one of those two, up there. Highest in my suspicion is the black and white one. Though I’m not really feeding them today, I did try to give her one of her favorite foods, a bit of banana, and though she took it in her mouth, she didn’t want to eat it. She did eat the spoonful of chicken and rice dog food I offered her. This matters because Mindy likes food a LOT. I hope she’s just manipulating me into cooking my special “Poor sick dog” chicken, rice and egg recipe. In the meantime, they’re all fasting, but I had to find out if she had an appetite.

She’s a little less frisky than usual, too. I plan to keep a close watch on her this morning and if I see anything scary, I’ll take her to the vet. Her eyes are clear, her gums are pink, she’s drinking water, her tummy is soft. For now I just have a sad little Aussie. ❤

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/puzzled/

Clear as Mud

My parents often said that Asians — particularly Chinese — were “inscrutable.” Of course, they said this without telling me the meaning of the word which is pretty damned inscrutable of them, but…

They were right. But within Chinese conventions, the Chinese were, the longer I lived there, less and less inscrutable. I think my parents’ perception was based on cultural conventions. For Chinese, direct eye-contact can be considered rude. You don’t say, “No” you say, “I’m busy” or some other formulaic excuse that everyone around you (except the lumbering American teachers) knows means, “No.” It took about three months for Chinese inscrutability to disappear leaving only one mysterious and wonderful ability — the ability to be in a crowded room with Chinese people and feel a sense of solitude. Good solitude, not alienation. The Chinese have a word for this and I cannot remember what it is 😦 It’s a real thing.

When it came to inscrutability, no one was more inscrutable (to me) than my own mom.

Now I think we’re all inscrutable to each other a lot of the time. Along with cultural meaning, we have generational norms, gender norms, and individual perceptions, preoccupations, and who knows what else — we have individual paranoia mixed with the tendency to project things onto others. We have biological weirdness; we’re short, tall, fat, skinny, 12, 20, 50 and BEYOND. We have insoluble family problems. We have preferences and regionalities — truly, New York City is NOT the San Luis Valley. It just isn’t. We have different levels of education from different education systems. We have unconscious and conscious biases. We have ingrained religious and ethical belliefs even if we don’t practice a religion. We can have nearly identical political and philosophical beliefs and vote for candidates from the opposing parties. We don’t make sense. We know it, too. Laws, language, holidays, rituals, conventions — designed to make us more scrutable to each other, or so I think.

Add to this the fog that is tomorrow. We don’t know. All last summer I had this strange feeling that something was going to happen and I’d better hurry up and get my garage fixed, clear out stuff I didn’t want, put up a fence — it’s a pretty long list. I was anxious and felt like there was a gun at my head — OK a cap pistol, but I still didn’t want it to go off. And sure enough, at the end of the summer? My hip went south. I am pretty sure that was not new news for my body, but the messages sent to our brains from our bodies are sometimes inscrutable.

Fortunately, I live with dogs and they are not as inscrutable as people. If Bear hits me in the leg with her current favorite toy (right now it is a little, stuffed king) it means, “Play tug with me. When I let go, throw it so I can fetch.” What IS inscrutable is she ONLY plays fetch inside the house. I know her, so I understand. Inside there are no “messages” for her to read, while, outside, the world is full of important missives from various agents communicating all kinds of critical information that only Bear can understand.

So… I just don’t know. It’s all inscrutable. Even for the Central Scrutinizer.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/inscrutable/

Doggone Morning

“Argh. Why isn’t she up yet?”

“I don’t KNOW but I wish she’d HURRY!”

“Bear, Mindy, whine and whimper.”

“Why don’t YOU whine and whimper, Dusty?”

“I’m a guy. I can’t whine and whimper.”

“I’ve heard you whine and whimper plenty of times.”

“Shut up Mindy. Please?”

“You want me to tear up this little rug Mindy uses to get across the wood floor?”

“No, Bear, it doesn’t do any good. Our human can’t hear you, and she’s just pissed off when she sees you did that.”

“Good point. I hate it when she’s pissed off at me. I love her so much. She’s my human. I wish she’d get up and let us out, feed us and give us cookies, then I could look at her adoringly.”

“Good grief, Bear. But I agree. If she’d get up, let us out, make her coffee then I would get some COFFEE and I could look at her adoringly.”

 

IMG_1768

“You guys are silly.”

“You’re the worst, Mindy. You sit beside her on the sofa all the time.”

“Who sits beside WHOM?”

“Oh, Mindy. You just like to think you’re tough. Remember, you get groomed.

“So?”

“Bear and I don’t get groomed. That’s so…”

“Wait. Sssh. I heard her move.”

“Give me five minutes, guys.”

“Thank GOD.”

“No, thank Mindy and me. We whined and whimpered.”

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/tardy/

Cody O’Dog

A few times in my life, I have found myself in abusive romantic relationships. Go on, shake your head. I really did write “timeS.” Two were physically abusive (which goes along with psychological abuse) and one was pure sadistic sociopathic psychological manipulation.

It was during the third that I met Cody O’Dog.

I had recently had my first hip surgery. Before that, I had been obliged to have my sweet husky, Jasmine, put to sleep. She had lymphoma. I was in the middle of rehab, at a cross-roads, walking with two arm crutches and hoping soon to graduate to a cane.

The Evil X was still living with me (it would be a year before I’d eject him).

One evening, about a month after the surgery, I was going through Craiglist looking at dogs. One posting caught my attention. It had a simple headline: YOUR HUSKY. The woman who owned it was living in a battered women’s shelter in north San Diego County. The shelter had an agreement with an animal shelter to house residents’ animals for 3 months. For this dog, the three months were up.

My huskies — Jasmine and Lily — had come to me similarly. The woman who gave them to me had been forced to move into an apartment. Her ex-husband, who had been in jail for beating her, was coming out. She had to get out of “their” house and couldn’t take Jasmine and Lily. As I read the story under YOUR HUSKY, I thought, “That’s the right dog for me.”

He happened, also, to have gotten the attention of the amazing woman who ran a local husky rescue through which I had adopted Jasmine and Lily. She met me and the Evil X at the animal shelter.

YOUR HUSKY was a very large, very beautiful, purebred husky who had once belonged to some movie star and then to the couple. They had used him for breeding with a low-content wolf who was about to be adopted, a sweet girly dog of only 3 years. YOUR HUSKY was said to be three, but he was much older. His name was Cody. He was to belong to the Evil X. The Evil X walked him, but the dog ignored him; his eyes were on me. “You try,” said the EX his extremely fragile and flammable ego in ashes. If the Evil X hadn’t been in public, the dog would’ve gotten yelled at and yanked around.

That was the first time after the surgery that I dropped one crutch and walked. The dog was on my left, my crutch on my right. As we walked around the little park that was part of the animal shelter, the dog watched me and matched all my steps. I knew immediately that he was a spectacular dog. If you know huskies, you know that’s NOT what they do. Their attention, even when they are well-trained, is not usually on a human but on the trail, on the bushes, on possible prey, on their job.

“I want him,” I said. “He’s a very wonderful dog.”

“Really?” said the Evil X. He wouldn’t have known, anyway. The only dog he’d ever had was a Shiba Inu who bit him. (Smart dog.)

“OK,” said the rescue person. “I’ll set that up for you. The shelter has to approve your application and his owner has to approve, but I know she will. I know you two have been in contact. He’s scheduled to be put down day after tomorrow, so I hope we can do all this in time.”

Cody was put back in his cage. That night he went into a health crisis. He refused to get up off the floor and he refused to eat or drink. They took him to the emergency vet who found nothing wrong with him. Everything was done to get him to rally, but he didn’t want to. He’d been in a cage in a shelter for 3 months. I also believe he’d found the person he wanted to belong to, and when he didn’t go home with me, he gave up.

I got the OK to adopt him and we went to get him from the emergency vet, knowing it might not work. We brought him home. He still wouldn’t eat or drink. I cooked him scrambled eggs and rice and fed him from my hand for a few days. The EX — with whom I did not share a room — put a bed for Cody in his room. Little by little, Cody began to regain himself. The only problem he had was Dusty T. Dog, another male between him and his person, me. There were some fights for dominance, which Dusty never tried to win, and, ultimately, I just kept them apart. They were amenable to that so it was (mostly) OK.

Siberian huskies are very special dogs because of their long history of being bred by the Chukchi people of Siberia specifically for pulling sleds and living with people. They were not bred to be watchdogs, but to be helpers to any person. They are friendly and naturally affectionate. They are also very independent because they needed to be able to think for themselves in an emergency. They were bred to be babysitters and they really LOVE little kids. All of my huskies have instinctively cared for the kids who have shown up at my house, but Cody, in particular.

The Evil X’s daughter, Heather, came to visit with her 3 month old son. As soon as Cody heard the baby’s sounds, he was alert, ready to work. The cooing and gurgling and crying evoked an instinctive response from Cody O’Dog. Wherever that baby was, Cody was there, too. It was astonishing to watch. When Heather nursed, Cody lay at her feet. When she changed the little guy’s diapers, Cody watched from close up to be sure she did it right (and possibly to clean up 🙂 ). When the baby slept, Cody kept an eye on him. At first Heather was nervous. Here was a big, wolfie looking dog obsessed with her baby, but soon she understood what Cody felt his job to be. When the little boy got to be three years old, he started bringing home dogs. I think Cody is the reason why.

When things finally began to come to a head between the Evil X and me, Cody was there. One afternoon we were having an altercation in which the Evil X stood too close to me, towering over me, yelling at me. Cody stood up on his hind legs and wedged himself between us. I took the message from that and Cody began sleeping in my room. I called him my “knight in furry armor.”

The Evil X left and our lives changed for the better. Cody and Dusty still had an occasional fracas, but no one was ever badly hurt. They happened at entry points — going in or out of the dog run, in or out of the door. Cody stayed with me whenever I was home. He was a strong, very peaceful, fierce, sweet Gary Cooper of a dog. He was the “good guy.”

In 2010 he traveled with me to Colorado Springs for my 40th high school reunion. It was a road trip. I got him a special cover for the back seat and off we went. It was quite a journey.

Our first stop was a dreadful Motel 6 outside of Cedar City Utah. The room had a nasty vibe, AND I had been driving so long that the room was moving. I went to bed, nervous and apprehensive. The next thing I knew, Cody was up on the bed with me — something that had never happened before — and he was panting, gently, making the bed shake as a baby’s cradle might rock.

We arrived at our destination. I was staying with my niece’ 90 year old grandma who was famous for disliking dogs. But, she had liked my dog Molly when we’d passed through in 1999, so I thought she’d be OK with Cody. She fell in love with him. Cody’s calm presence made her happy. When she’d work in the kitchen, Cody just hung out while she talked to him.

“This is a dog,” she said to the daughter who was then living at home, “Not your little yappy things you have to fuss over all the time.”

During our stay, I took Cody up to see my tree.

Me and Cody and my tree

A day or so after the reunion, Cody and I got back in the car and drove to Caspar, Wyoming on our way to visit my Aunt Jo and Aunt Dickie in Billings, Montana. We stayed at a great motel next to the river and had a long walk that evening before turning in. The next day we got to Billings.

My Aunt Jo and Uncle Hank were astonished at Cody’s size. We went out to the back yard to talk and Cody lay on the grass enjoying the cool, but, in his husky way he was also vigilant.

“Is that what he does?” asked my aunt. “Just lie there? He’s so big!”

“Well, he’ll be up in a flash if there’s a reason.”

Just then an immense red squirrel came over the back fence. Cody was up. Noticing the dog who was NOT supposed to be there, the squirrel made a leap for the front fence.  Cody caught it in the air, rang its neck, and gave it to me. Unfortunately, the squirrel wasn’t quite dead so I had to finish it off. My aunt and I took the squirrel’s body out where some scavengers could reap the benefits.

Cody especially loved my Uncle Hank, and if he had a human counterpart, it would have been my uncle. One afternoon my Aunt Jo and I came home from lunch with Aunt Dickie to find Hank and Cody sleeping on the living room floor, back to back.

The morning we left, I loaded Cody O’Dog into the back seat. Uncle Hank came out to say good-bye to Cody. He bent down and put his arms around my dog, said, “You take care of Martha Ann,” and hugged him. We pulled out and as I drove away, I saw my uncle in the rearview mirror, standing in front of the garage, saluting us. He died the following summer.

Things got back to normal at home for the next year and a half. Life was school, grading, driving and then, in April 2012, Cody started losing weight and having seizures. He went downhill very quickly. On the day he died, it snowed, strange not only for Southern California but for April.

The last little walk of Cody’s life was in the falling snow.

I called a mobile vet because there was no way I could get my 85 pound dog into my car. When she came we laid Cody on the floor in my office, and I laid down beside him. She put an IV in his leg that carried a tranquilizer. I wrapped my arm over my Knight in Furry Armor, and told him he was very ill, that I loved him and that it was OK if he left me. Within seconds of the tranquilizer hitting him, he was dead.

“I think he was just waiting for you to tell him it was OK. I haven’t even given him the shot yet.”

If there’s a Heaven, Cody is sharing it with Uncle Hank. I see them in a well-equipped wood shop where Hank is making things and Cody is lying on the floor. After a bit, they take a long walk and then come home for supper. ❤

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/evoke/

Where I Live

Today Mindy got groomed. My groomer has a small farm. Really small. She lives in a mobile home across from my vet. In the backyard are a couple of sheds. One is for storing bikes on one end and a pony on the other. The other is her really pretty grooming studio. There are pens for sheep and the goat. It’s far and away from any urban grooming set up like you might see at Petco or something. She LOVES animals and she has two great kids who help out.

Mindy loves to go there and they love Mindy. “She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body,” says the groomer. “She’s the most cooperative dog; she seems to know what you need and helps you.” Mindy is 10 or 11; she has bad hips. I don’t like brushing her because I’m afraid I’ll hurt her, so it’s great I have found Muddy Paws.

Mindy the groomed

“Aren’t I pretty?”

When I picked Mindy up we talked about what people talk about in an agricultural community. I didn’t grow up here. I never farmed anything or raised any stock, but I like it. I would have liked doing it if I’d been plopped down in that world. I’d have been happy. I know that because I was always happy in Montana with my family and their borderline farms. I am happier here than I’ve been ever in my life.

In a farming community, you talk about the weather and it’s NOT small talk. We’re having the driest winter Colorado has seen in 30 years. It was 56 degrees this afternoon; for reference, on this day last year, it got up to 12. That’s normal for January.

This is nuts.

“I don’t know what to think,” I said. “I like the cold and snow, but it’s kind of nice not having to worry about it.”

“I know what you mean. By now, usually, I don’t have any grooming business but I’m booked solid.”

“Last January I wouldn’t have brought Mindy. It was 20 below!”

“It’s strange,” she said. “This weather is good for the loggers, but the farmers? We got a lot of rain in the summer.”

“Seven inches extra for last year,” I said.

“That’s a whole year of moisture,” she nodded. “I think we’re going to have another one of those wet summers. That’s bad. I’m lambing now and we’re good, but next year, if we have another wet summer, hay is going to be sky high.”

“And the potatoes,” I said. “That was a little iffy last summer.”

“Yeah, it was. I don’t know what to wish for. I guess it depends on your work.”

And work depends on the land and the weather. I like that so much. I like those imperatives so much more than some arcane discussion about teaching methods or what degree I have or how I manage a classroom. I know farming (and everything else that happens here) isn’t easy for a lot of people and a lot of people are having a hard time, but  man. When nature is your partner there’s a lot different kind of negotiation and if you lose your job, it’s not because some dumbass boss doesn’t like you.

While Mindy was being groomed, Bear and I walked for a mile and a half along the river. It’s mostly frozen, here and there the unfrozen channel surfaces, but sections of it are like a mirror. We found the femur of a deceased large mammal — probably a deer — a little bit of fur hanging on, but mostly cleaned off completely.

Femur

 

Animals that walk along the river during other times of day include bears, coyotes, foxes, stray dogs, a cougar, badgers — and human hunters. Who knows how that femur came to be beside the trail and it wasn’t saying anything. I think Bear has some idea, but she’s not saying, either.

 

Nothing’s Quite as Yummy as Rawhide and Coffee in the Morning

Bear and I have our treats first thing in the morning. Who knows what the day will bring, right?

After years and years of indulging my coffee tastes (for both flavor and nostalgic reasons) with Lavazza (which I love) and the ridiculously expensive Illy, I picked up a bag of this at the local IGA grocery (where, by the way, you can by immense bags of dried red chiles).

image

This incredibly good coffee. It’s roasted in Pueblo, Colorado, by two young guys, brothers, inventors of the world’s first solar coffee roaster. Yeah, really. It’s richly flavored (as intense as any Lavazza dark roast), very smooth, low in acid (it seems) and just generally delicious.

The rawhide has now been chewed, the coffee has been drunk. It’s time to move on to the adventures of the Schneebelis in the semi-friendly land of the Palatine dukes. Right.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/treat/

Quotidian Notice, 4.5.1a — Bidness as Usual, Again…

I just want to wake up some morning, look at the news and NOT see something completely wack and absurd coming out of the Twittering “mouth” of the whatever that is occupying the White House. I say this without even being a liberal. I don’t ‘understand why anyone complains about His Grossness being at Mar-a-Lago playing golf.

In other news, I’ve resolved the question of the protagonist of my novel-in-progress. I think I knew all along, I just had reservations because I just don’t much like the guy. BUT what makes him unlikeable to ME is the same thing that makes him an interesting, compelling, character, so I am slogging along, trying to balance the background information my readers  need while (hopefully) writing an interesting story and creating, replicating a world. Always the problem of someone who writes historical fiction. It is not always fun. (What? Not always fun?)

Fortunately, I have my assistants to keep me on the right track and remind me that the really important stuff is feeding them, cleaning up the yard after them, taking them for a walk and generally arranging my life for their convenience. 😉

Mindy T

Mindy T.,

Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog

Polar Bear Yeti T. AND

Dusty

Dusty T. Dog

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/reservation/