Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Shady Places

Yes, it's still very humid here on the East Coast. But at least we're experiencing a momentary reprieve on temperatures. It's only 80 degrees as I write this (it's almost noon, EST) instead of the 90s by mid-day we've been experiencing. The humidity is still very high (approaching 80%), so it's sticky, but at least it's not as hot.

Still the dogs seem to want to stay in the shade (even on cloudy days like today). Though he still enjoys reclining under the umbrella, Baxter's favorite shady place these days is under the picnic table. We have a canopy over the picnic table, too, so he gets double-shade (shade from the canopy and from the table). It's cooler there.

And since we don't have central air conditioning, I suspect the cool spot beneath the table provides a sort of respite for Baxter, whose dark coat makes him absorb heat more than the other two.

Smart boy. He knows when he needs respite and seeks the shady places that provide it. If I had been as smart as he, I probably wouldn't be pre-diabetic now. If I'd taken time to seek rest and relief when life got too hot; if I'd reduced my stress; if I'd gotten enough sleep, more exercise, and eaten properly (which we ensure the dogs do); if I'd taken more time to guard my health, I suspect I would've avoided the Type 2 threat altogether.

But that's water under the bridge, as they say.

It's not too late, however, to learn from Baxter. And I am. Guarding my health, taking time for respite, finding shade in the heat of the day (both literally and figuratively)--these have become non-negotiables. It's okay, I'm finally learning, to relax in the shade when my body and mind need the relief.

As my doctor said last week, I don't have to be all things to all people (and all canines). What a freeing thought that is! It's okay to be less than perfect (I never was nor could be, though I pressured myself to be). It's okay to take a break now and then, to rest when I'm tired, and to take time for my health. The other stuff will always be there. And what needs to get done will.

That means I can rest in shady places now and then. Gee, I wonder if Baxter will leave room at the picnic table for me.

'Til next time.

Blogger Photo Posting

Okay, I just had to try the new blogger photo posting option (instead of using Picasa). Here's the Elsie squirt sound asleep in Daddy Don's arms. Oh, and yes, those are Ridge's feet on the far right of the picture (he's snuggled between the recliner and the end table next to Don): everybody has wanted to be near "Dad" since he came home.

I guess I'll have to post this to see how it comes out. Picasa (the previous method I used for picture posting) was fine, but the photos had to be posted separately from the blog entries. Now Blogger is allowing us to put photos in the blog entries, and for free no less.

If you use blogger and want more info on how to post images, just go to blogger images. It's easy to do, and it allows you to place your photos into your blog text according to one of three layout options (align left, align right, or center alignment). And you can choose your image to be one of three sizes (this is the medium size). I'll experiment with other photos in other posts.

Well, here the Elsie girl is snuggled on DH's lap; safe, secure, and thoroughly content. If she were anyone but Elsie, I might be jealous.

'Til next time,

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Yay! "Dad" is home!!!

Snickers peeks around the corner on the steps to see if the coast is clear (no dogs = a quick dash to the basement door). Posted by Hello

Is it Safe to Come Out?

Hello, all.

Sorry for my recent unannounced absence. Normally if I take a few days off from blogging, I'll let you know ahead of time.

This time, however, book deadlines (two all-nighters last week), my 21-year-old son's college orientation, and Don's return from Ireland kept me off-line for several days.

And to boot, Don seems to have picked up something on the flight home: 102-degree temps and nasty, painful chest cough. Dear hubby never gets sick and never takes sick days off from work, so the fact that he's in bed watching war movies and not at work today says something about how awful he feels.

But my book is done and submitted to my editor, hubby is home (for another tens days), and college orientations are done.

So, I'm back.

The kids (canine variety) are delighted that "dad" is home. They've all returned to their usual impish selves. Except, of course, during our heat wave again of the last two days (90+ temps and high humidity). Nobody wants to do much of anything except sleep in front of the fans. They don't even want to get into the pools.

This weekend will provide a nice respite. For the July 4th holiday we're taking the kids (canine) to my family's cottage up on a spring-fed, glacier-formed lake in Susquehannah county. They'll get to swim in the cool, deep waters, and romp on the mucky, lily-pad-filled shoreline. They'll come back exhausted, but the cottage is one of the few places they get to truly swim (other than the hunt club).

We'll be sure to take lots of pictures of them leaping from the dock and swmming for retrieving dummies so you can see them in action. It's sure to be a fun weekend.

I think we all need a weekend away.

Son #1 (the 21-year-old) may stay home and man the fort here since he's not comfortable in deep water anymore (he's had a couple of full-blown seizures in the water in recent years). But youngest son and a few of his friends are tagging along. It's sure to be a busy weekend.

And Don will be with us instead of in Ireland. The dogs and I are both immensely happy about his being here. We miss him when he's gone.

'Til next time,

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Buds: Baxter and Elsie (counter-clockwise from top left) romping, reclining, drinking, and resting rump-to-rump on the picnic table. Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 18, 2005

"Well, c'mon, Mom! We're waiting!" Posted by Hello


Whoever said canines cannot anticipate the future was sadly mistaken.

Every morning after breakfast, Baxter, Elsie, and Ridge trot out to the kitchen and sit down near the kitchen counters and wait. They're expecting to receive their "vitamins" (a routine hip flexibility supplement recommended for Labs).

It used to be that we had to jingle the glass jar containing the supplement, a sound that differs from the plastic human vitamin containers. If we opened the plastic containers to get out our human vitamins, the dogs remained indifferent; but if they heard the glass jar being opened, they'd come running.

Now they come before the glass jar jingles. The "know" what's coming.

They do the same thing if we bring suitcases down to load in the car or if we remove their leashes from the hooks by the door or if I jangle the car keys: they know something good is about to happen, and they anticipate it.

They seem to look forward to what's coming with eager expectation and optimism. They embrace life (routine and not-so-routine) with exuberance.

I wish I could be more like them. Sometimes I get weary and tired and anticipate the worst. Instead of looking forward to what's up ahead, I'd rather hide and hope it goes away (okay, the dogs do that when they enter the vet's office).

I wish I could embrace life with gusto the way they do: play more, love better, smile frequently, tease with abandon, notice and appreciate little things (like Elsie's preoccupation with all-things-flying, including moths), and anticipate the best. I wish I woke up each morning eager to engage the world.

Sometimes I do. But lately I don't; not so much anyway.

I think Don's (hubby's) travels are taking their toll. This two-weeks-per-month overseas is getting old. I know I have nothing to complain about compared to military wives whose loved ones are gone (and in danger) for months or years at a time, but I miss him. The canine kids do, too.

While the cool weather has helped Baxter, Elsie, and Ridge return to some semblance of normalcy (eating, going outside, playing, teasing, etc...), there's just a little bit less zip in their prances and a tad bit more sluggishness in their behavior when Don's away. They also need more attention from me (more petting, more snuggle time, more play).

I guess I'm allowed to miss my husband; he is after all my best friend. I guess that's the price of a solid, happy, fulfilling marriage; it's tough to be apart (okay: I'm feeling sorry for myself today--so indulge me).

Having the company of our canine kids helps, but it's not the same. Like Baxter, Elsie, and Ridge, it's far easier to embrace each day with eager optimism when Don is here. He will be soon.

Hurry home, Hon.

Okay. Now I'm done. No more pity party. ;o)

Carpe Diem.

'Til next time,

Friday, June 17, 2005

Elsie, our leaner (my legs and feet, Ridge's nose) Posted by Hello

Baxter, our leaper. Posted by Hello

Ridge, our groaner. Posted by Hello


I've been working on a book about criminal psychology and profiling (I'm a writer by trade). It's part of a forensics series, and it's amazing how the littlest details can identify the person who commits a crime. It isn't just "hard evidence" like DNA, fiber analysis, and fingerprint matches that identify criminals, but more subjective things as well: habits, styles, actions, mannerisms.

Someone once said that to learn about an artist you have to study his works; to know a criminal you have to study his crime (at least according to former FBI behavioral scientist John Douglas).

Why? Because crime scenes tell you about behavior, and behavior tells you about the person committing the crime. People have indiosyncrasies that are every bit as unique as fingerprints and iris scans.

I guess dogs are like people: they have indiosyncrisies, too. :o)

Ridge is our flip-0n-his-back groaner (something neither of the other two does). He's also our ever-so-gently-plant-his-paws-on-your-shoulders-to-give-you-a-kiss greeter.

Baxter is our lamb-like leaping gazelle (all four feet off the ground) when he's happy. He's also our kangaroo-hop-at-the-gate welcomer (vertically jumping on his back two feet).

Elsie is our flop-against-you leaner. She loves to touch.

When it comes to nuzzling, each has his style: Baxter is a head-on-the-knee kind of guy; Ridge curls up next to us, but doesn't need to touch; Elsie's an I-want-to-be-in-your-lap gal, and if she can't plop her full self in our laps, she plunk her body over both our feet.

Their idiosyncrisies tell us about who they are: Baxter's our exuberant, out-going, full-of-enthusiasm for anything adolescent; Ridge is our faithful, independent-but-neurotic old man; and Elsie is our affectionate, gentle soul.

Each acts differently; each possesses an individual personality.

I used to wonder when I heard that shepherds knew each sheep by name. How can they distinguish between 100 or 200 or 500 sheep? They all look the same to me.

But I suspect that each, like in other species, has its own little character when it's born--a part of which remains for a lifetime.

Kinda like dogs. Just like kids. Exactly like people.

Each one is different. Each is unique.

I celebrate, giggle over, and appreciate the differences I see in our canine kids. Perhaps I should work harder at doing the same with my human friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintences.

'Til next time,

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Elsie, my office helper. :o) Posted by Hello

My Helpers

When my children (as in human kids) were small, I always had "helpers." Throwing laundry into the washer, folding clothes, running the vaccuum, loading the dishwasher, weeding flowerbeds--you name it, no matter what I did I had a helper by my side.

Then my children grew up. Oh, they'll help when I ask, but they're not particularly interested in what I do anymore, and that's as it should be. It's time for them to be working their ways out of the nest.

I thought I was done with "helpers." I was wrong.

Now I have canine helpers. Let see...hmmm...Baxter pounces on the broom head whenever I sweep. I guess he thinks he can push it more effectively. Sweet boy. How nice of him to assist me.

Ridge follows me around on the deck when I water the plants (as do the other two). I guess he wants to be sure my plants don't die and that I water sufficiently. How kind of him to be so concerned. :o)

They all love to help load the dishwasher. Who needs water when you have three lab tongues!

They all bark at the vacuum cleaner, too. I suppose they're just trying to encourage the little-vaccuum-that-could to try harder. I never knew dogs were such selfless encouragers! And you know what? I think that little vaccuum does work harder when the canine kids are around!

And then there's Elsie. She likes to "help" me write. She sits by my side in the office (when I let her) silently cheering me on.


I have so much help these days, I just don't know what to do with myself!

Now, if I really want to get something done...well...that's another story.

'Til next time,

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Ridge, Baxter, and Elsie love Daddy Don. :o) Posted by Hello

They Love Their Dad

Poor kids. Daddy Don is away again in Ireland. I can't tell if the dogs' sluggishness is heat related or if they just miss their "dad." It's probably both.

Don has a different relationship with Baxter, Elsie, and Ridge than I. He's the alpha male in our pack--no question about it. They respect him. But they also love him and play with him. He's their primary trainer and field buddy. They romp in the woods with him. They retrieve for him. They run with him and obey him. They even sit for him when he clips their toenails (well, sort of).

Don is trainer, disciplinarian, leader, and wrassling buddy all wrapped up into one. He's the primary source of leadership and all things fun. He was that way with our human kids, too.

Then there's me--the old softy. I cater to the kids (human and canine). I comfort them and sooth their anxieties. I listen and coddle. I spoil and indulge (although I can discipline effectively when I need to). And I play, too, just not the way Daddy Don does. When it comes to disobedience, I'm probably far too patient, but then again, everyone in my house knows I have an incrediably high tolerance for inappropriate behavior. That can be good and bad.

Don and I balance each other well. And in both cases, the kids (human and canine) know they're loved and secure. Life at our house is predictable--no ugly or scary inconsistencies--just the normal everyday routine of provision, discipline, love, and play. And I think we're all happier and better adjusted for it.

I'm glad for our predictability and routine. It provides a sort of security knowing that Don will come home, that the canine kids will be there, that the human kids will come and go. No, we cannot control unforseen events (tragic or otherwise), but our ordinary days are filled with the security of a routine (not boring) home life.

When I read about neglected dogs or abandoned children, I wish more families could experience stablility, routine, love, and faithfulness--even in little things. We've truly been blessed, and I'm thankful.

'Til next time,

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

It's even too hot for pool time. Posted by Hello

It's 90+ degrees and humid. Blech! Posted by Hello

Heat Wave

It's only mid-June and we (including the canine kids) have had enough of the triple H weather that's been lingering in the Northeast since early last week: Hazy, Hot, and Humid.

Today the heat index is supposed to be 105 degrees (heat plus humidity). Temps in the 90s all day plus high humidity make for lazy days and irritability. It's just too early in the season for a heat wave (especially for those of us who do not have central air conditioning). None of us has had time to acclimate.

Elsie in particular doesn't seem to tolerate the heat well. Baxter and Ridge, other than panting and drinking more, don't show signs of noticing the heat; they're still rambunctious and want to play and will run around the yard. Elsie, on the other hand, doesn't even want to go outside (remarkable for our outdoor girl). She just wants to stretch out on the floor and do nothing. She's stopped eating, too.

She's worrying me a bit. She's just not herself. I think it truly is the heat, but I'll keep an eye on her just in case. I suppose I should remember that this is her first full summer (she's only 10 months old), and that even humans get sluggish in this kind of heat. We should expect no less from our canine friends. Elsie's coat also differs from Ridge's and Baxter's, so she may not be as heat tolerant.

She does, however, like ice cubes. I've been handing out ice cubes like crazy (good thing we have an ice maker). At least that way I'll know she says hydrated.

It's still cooler in the house than outside, largely because we run a whole-house fan all night with the windows open, then we turn off the fan and close the windows in the heat of the day. We then use small room fans to circulate the cooler air. That's where Elsie seems to like to hang out these days. There, or at the base of my office door (my office has a room air conditioner) where she gets the cooler breeze. She'd love to hang out in the office with me (and she will when she gets older), but for now she gets into too much trouble.

We're supposed to get a break on the heat late this week. Then, we'll see how Elsie responds.

Hopefully her recent sluggishness is just weather related. I certainly hope she's not pregnant (how could she be?).

'Til next time,

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Baxter can't be outside without knowing what's happening inside. Posted by Hello

Baxter's picnic table perch, outside looking in. Posted by Hello

Baxter's face at the window Posted by Hello

Faces at the Window

Since the weather has been so warm, and since we don't have central air conditioning, Baxter and Elsie have been spending more time outdoors, usually most of the morning and late afternoon and evenings when it's cool.

Ridge still prefers the indoors unless he's training or going for a walk/run. I think the openness of our backyard overwhelms him, especially after spending the two years before coming to live us in an enclosed kennel. He's happy sleeping and panting on the cool brick floor of our family room.

Baxter and Elsie prefer the outdoors. Elsie would stay outside 24/7 if we allowed her. She's content to lounge on the welcome mat beneath the back door or to sprawl under the shade-giving umbrella after swirling her nose in the kiddie pool.

Baxter is more restless. As much as he loves the outdoors and being with Elsie, Baxter can't seem to stay outdoors without at least checking on what's happening inside. Poor conflicted Boos. He'll snooze beneath the pin oak or hang out under the picnic table only so long. Then he seems compelled to check on us indoor folks.

So what's his solution?

He jumps up on the picnic table and peers inside the family room window. He has the best view that way (smart boy). He stands outside looking in just to make sure we're all okay or that he's not missing something.

That's all well and good, but I wish I'd had some warning about his new investigative behavior. I was carrying a load of laundry to the laundry room when I happened to walk by the window through which Baxter peered. Imagine my surprise to see two glistening brown eyes and giant black head staring at me through the window! I nearly dropped the laundry basket. As it was I thought my heart stopped for a moment.

As a kid I watched too many horror movies that contained images of vicious stalkers and malevolent strangers staring through windows at unsuspecting prey. I always had this fear of faces at the window outside looking in. They unnerved me.

Maybe it's the scary movies I absorbed as a child. Or maybe I was like the returned-from-Neverland Peter Pan crying at the nursery window as he watched his parents cooing over their new baby boy; I didn't want to be the one left out, trapped forever outside looking in.

Whatever it is, I didn't like faces in the window.

Then came Baxter. Now I have to laugh. Every time I see his eager face smiling and drooling at the window, I giggle. I have to smile.

There's nothing threatening about that face. And he is, after all, just checking up on us. A face at the window, I'm learning, is nothing to fear.

Thanks, Boos, for the lesson. And for making me smile once again.

'Til next time,

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Elsie and the hose sprayer. Posted by Hello

Elsie tries to eat spraying water. Posted by Hello

Hose 1; Dogs 0

In the contest between canines and water hose, the hose won by a nose.

It's hot here in southeastern PA. Today it's supposed to hit 90 degrees (F), and the humidity (blech) is rising. After a delightfully cool spring, I suppose it's time for summer weather.

So lately I've been filling the new, splashy yellow kiddy pools for the dogs. We replaced the old blue ones after the canine kids chewed on their rims and bottoms while they were empty. Silly us. How could we have not predicted such behavior!

So out come the new pools, just in time for our coming heat wave.

Elsie hasn't figured out the pool-filling process yet, though. She's not sure about the hose. Baxter and Ridge gently and skillfully sip from the hose while the pool is filling--a skill they learned after many snoot fulls last summer. Elsie hasn't mastered their technique.

Time after time, the Elsie Squirt pushes her whole snout into the spray only to get another nose full. After a few head shakes and sneezes, she's back at it again.

You'd think she'd learn: face + hose sprayer = nose full. But she doesn't seem to care. She just goes back for more.

Either she has an incredibly high tolerance for water-in-the-nose discomfort or she's a glutton for punishment. Either that or she's oblivious to the cost of water-in-the-face fun. I suspect it's the latter.

Why does she do it to herself? Silly girl.

Again, she reminds me of me. :o)

Why do I go back again and again to behaviors I know will come with a cost: not getting enough sleep, overbooking my schedule, spreading myself too thin? I guess, like Elsie, I hope to learn to manage it all in time. But sometimes my life feels like I'm drinking from a fire hydrant: too much force; not enough me.

After too many years of overwhelming snout fulls, this spring I finally decided to cut the water off at its source--to turn the water pressure down a bit. I've fulfilled all my speaking engagements and am not booking any more for at least a year; I've cut my freelance writing back to one contract at a time; I've limited my volunteer activities to one church responsibility and one for my son's high school marching band. I've also lessened my expectations for keeping my house in order (so what if laundry doesn't get folded every time!).

And, I'll tell you, I feel like I'm sipping from a gentle stream. It's so refreshing. I should have done this a long time ago.

Thanks, Elsie, for the reminder that it's okay to slow the stream; it spares me the discomfort of blasting-in-your-face pressure. It allow me to relax and enjoy the sun.

Elsie may have lost the contest between her and the hose, but in my contest with pressure, I'm finally winning. And it feels good.

'Til next time,

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Shoes are something we find in Elsie's wake. Posted by Hello

Elsie's wake (after one hour) Posted by Hello

Elsie's Wake; Our Wakes

Elsie may look like she's growing up, and she may act like she's growing up, but she still displays kid-like tendencies (in both the child-like and goat-like senses of the word).

She continues to leave a trail of her chewing adventures wherever she goes. Take the deck, for example (see photo above).

Last week I let Elsie and Baxter outside to play so I could get some work done in the office. An hour later, here's what I found on the deck (remember, this is Elsie's work in only an hour):
  • three bones
  • one whole Nylabone chew
  • one tiny piece of a blue-nibbed dental chew
  • one narrow rope
  • one red Kong toy (from which the narrow rope had been removed)
  • one multicolored, large-gauge knotted rope tug (which is quickly becoming floss)
  • three pieces of shredded outdoor electrical wiring (which had not been plugged in)
  • three arborvite branches (she's still making a den under the arborvite tree)
  • several twigs
  • a few pieces of wood-chip mulch
And that's only what you can see in the picture. :o)

At least she's not dragging our dirty laundry all over the lawn anymore (I've learned to lock the back door when she's out so she can't get to the laundry room).

Sweet Elsie Girl. Gotta love her. She's growing up, but she's still an imp.

Sounds like human kids, too. :o) They grow up, but they retain who they are at heart. And they retain a few less-than-desirable habits, too (instead of twigs and bones, human kids leave soda cans, candy wrappers, cracker boxes, and chip bags in their wakes).

The same could be said for us, I suppose. We grow up. We assume adult responsibilities, we act and look like grown-ups. But, inside we feel like we did when we were young.

Truth be told, I'm a month shy of forty-five and I feel no different inside than I did when I was fifteen. My 82-year-old mother tells me she feels similarly. Certainly we've matured, but we've retained the essence of who we are.

There's something about the spirit (or soul) that lasts; it's unfazed by our changing bodies. We act as though our bodies are everything (just look at the rise in plastic surgeries in the country), but our bodies don't last. Only our spirits do.

If that's the case, perhaps we should focus less on the external (like material things, wrinkles, clothes, hair styles, money, reputations, images) and more on the internal (attitudes, thought processes, character traits, forgiveness, love, gentleness, etc.). If we did, like Elsie, we might then leave only chewed-up things in our wakes (which really don't matter) instead of chewed-up people (which do).

Elsie's left a lot of chewed-up things behind her; but she's never left a chewed-up person (literally or figuratively). When it comes to how she treats people, her interior is in tact.

Can the same be said for us? What do we leave in our wakes?

'Til next time,

Friday, June 03, 2005

Elsie, the wonder tongue! I have never seen a dog, male or female regardless of breed, with a tongue as long as Elsie's (check out picture on bottom right of collage above). Posted by Hello

Ridge is Fine

Ridge is back to his old self again. I'm glad. And relieved. He seems no worse for wear.

And the rest of the crew seems much more normal now, too (Elsie's heat is finally over). Life for them is status quo.

Now I've got to get my work schedule back to normal. Between my recent food poisoning episode, my college-age daughter's move from DE to MD, Ridge's tooth adventures, Elsie's heat, my daughter's hard drive crash, my oldest son's college visitations (and acceptance!), my youngest son's end-of-his-junior-year-prep-for-senior-year paperwork, my husband's monthly trips to Ireland, the wrapping up of my speaking engagements, my mother's car problems and adventures, routine doctor visits and blood work,, well, my regular schedule went by the wayside weeks ago.

Ahhhh. It's June. I can revert to a regular schedule once again. :o) I can even set regular office hours once more. Good thing, too, or I'd never get any work done.

That's the plan anyway. We'll see what life holds.

In the meantime I thought you'd enjoy pics of Elsie's wonder tongue. It's a good representation of the way she "laps" up life.

'Til next time,

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Poor Ridge. Look closely at his nose: its smooshed into the cushion. But he's sound asleep, and doesn't even notice. At least for now while he's still working off the effects of his root canal sedation. Posted by Hello

Ridge is sleeping here, too, with his head drooping off of the couch. His nose is wedged into the throw pillow, but he still seems oblivious. Ah, the wonders of sedation! Posted by Hello

Ridge Update

Ridge is home and doing fine. He's still a bit woozy (walks like a drunken sailor). And he sleeps most of the time. Pain meds and antibiotics are managing his post-root-canal trauma just fine.

Back in April, when they tried to perform the root canal on the tooth Ridge snapped off, Ridge's tooth wouldn't stop bleeding. So the docs put a temporary filling and cap on the tooth to let it settle down. They said they'd finish the job in two months. Yesterday was the root canal completion.

Now all we have to do is fork out another $800 for the permanent crown (yet to come).

Ridge seems fine. His mouth and tooth are functional. You wouldn't even know he broke the upper canine tooth. But if we hadn't done anything, he would've lived in pain or been susceptible to infection. So....

He's SO sweet when he's sedated. :o) He just wants to snuggle and sleep. But that's not our Ridge; not the real Ridge. And I'd miss him in the long run if he stayed this way.

The hiatus is nice, but I can't wait for Ridge to be himself again.

He will be soon.

'Til next time,

Ridge sleeping off the effects of yesterday's general anesthesia. He had part 2 of his root canal done on the tooth he broke back in April. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Ridge, still sedated, after his last trip to the dentist. We'll see how he is later today. Posted by Hello

Ridge Returns to the Dentist

Ridge goes to the doggie dentist again today for his second round of drilling and capping on the tooth he broke two months ago.

I suspect he'll come home sedated (heavily this time, unlike his recent impulse-controlling adventures with Benedryl).

Poor boy.

He could barely stand up when he came home last time. And his face was sooooo droopy he almost looked like a Shar-Pei.

When Don and Ridge left this morning Elsie and Baxter, of course, went wild with jealousy ("Ridge gets to go in the car with Dad, and we don't!"). If only they knew what awaited Ridge at the other end of his ride.

Humans are like that, aren't we? We envy other people's experiences, circumstances, successes, lives, jobs, relationships, and things. But we don't consider the downsides that come with the very things over which we're jealous. Like Elsie and Baxter, we only know what we see. We don't even consider what we cannot see.

If only we really knew. We might not be jealous at all. We might even learn to be content with what we've been given. Our lives might not look so bad after all.

Everyone has downsides to their lives. There's no such thing as a greener pasture. Not really. Oh sure, we can always find ways to improve our circumstances or ways in which we'd like to see our lives change. But the point is this: every greener pasture has its weeds and fences, no matter how green.

And if we can't deal with the weeds and fences we have (big or small), how can we expect to better cope with others'?

When Ridge comes home later today, Elsie and Baxter will undoubtedly shower him with concern and affection, their momentary jealousy long forgotten.

These two crazy critters have much to teach us about short jealousy memories and long lavish concern for others. They know how to put things behind them. They've learned to be content. They know how to love.

Do we?

'Til next time,