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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Chilly Springtime

Everything is in bloom now, but it has been very cold out lately, especially in the mornings. Yesterday morning, Bow asked to go out, then immediately changed his mind.

Although the mornings are chilly, many of the afternoons are nice and warm. Both Bow and the dogs seem to enjoy those times out of doors.

Sometimes I am in with Bow, looking out at the dogs, and sometimes I am out with the dogs, looking in on Bow.

We did not have an Easter egg hunt this year. Bow is fourteen and too mature for that. But he did get some Easter treats, in moderation.

He tore the little box of Easter dots open with his mouth, then ate them one by one, a dreamy look on his face.

Sometimes Bow asks to be left alone. But he never words it that way. Yesterday after lunch, he kept motioning for me to go out to the front yard, taking my key and pointing at the door, but when I asked him what he wanted, he spelled out: "תנסי לצלם פרחים" -- "Try to take pictures of flowers." There was something decidedly condescending in the way he worded that. But I complied.

The pear blossoms yesterday

Bow is not interested in pictures of flowers. But he knows that I am. So there's theory of mind for you in practice. And, yes, there are times when a fourteen year old needs to be alone. I do understand.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Cowboy and the Carcass

There are things that go on very close to my house that I would never know about, unless somebody pointed them out. Yesterday, that somebody was Cowboy, the neighbors' dog. While my two dogs, Brownie and Leo, are confined to the fenced yard just behind the house, Cowboy is a free range dog who roams the neighborhood. I was out on my walk, mostly looking at flowers, when yesterday afternoon Cowboy came trotting from across the barbed wire fence and decided to join me. But he was not interested in flowers, and when I ventured into the woods to look at the rue anemones springing up everywhere, Cowboy drew my attention to a carcass lying in plain view, just on the other side of the fence.

It appeared to be what was left over from a dead deer, after someone had gutted its middle, leaving the bare ribs exposed, but with the head and legs still intact. Cowboy kept tugging on one of the legs.

After a little while, Cowboy managed to dislodge the leg and carry it away to wherever it is that he kept his spare bones.

I went about my business in the woods, inspecting the rue anemones.

Then I wandered out onto the lawn, opposite where the neighbor field is greenest, because it recently suffered a grass fire and has re-surged. Cowboy came running back over the green grass and under the barbed wire fence to see me.

"What did you do with that leg?" I asked him. "Did you eat it all?"

He seemed to understand my question and even made a sound as if he were trying to answer it. Then he yawned.

 A country dog's life is never dull, but Cowboy seems to take it all in stride.

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Clif Bar

The weather has been pleasantly spring-like, followed by chilly and cloudy.   This afternoon is warmer and sunny again, and Bow is enjoying his time in the outer pen.

We vary our routines in small ways, but just enough to make each day a little different. Today, Bow and I both tried a Clif Bar for the very first time. The illustration on the wrapper reminded me of "Cliff Hanger" a character from the children's literacy show, Between the Lions. 

This was suggested to me by a friend. I had never heard of these bars before, but I saw one last night when my daughter and I stopped at a gas station on our way to the movie theater to see Allegiant.  Since we shared some treats at the movies where Bow was not welcome, I thought it would only be fair that Bow and I should share this new food item together today. 

The candy bar boasts "healthy" ingredients and is not made from substances that are "genetically engineered". However, Bow is not really that concerned with that. He just wants to know: Does it taste good? I cut the bar in two, and Bow tried his half first.

Bow gave his approval for the Clif Bar, In fact, he wanted me to give him my half, too.

But I wanted to give it a try, too. So I did, and as I ate my part, Bow watched me intently. Bottom line: it tasted good. But at that price, we could have bought a pound of fresh red grapes. So I think it is not a good choice for us, economically speaking. 

However, it is always fun to try new things.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Grapes and Bees

Spring is definitely here. Yesterday afternoon it was eighty degrees out. In the grocery store, grapes are suddenly affordable again. Bow and I are taking advantage of the opportunity,

He was grunting with pleasure when he had his bunch of grapes for breakfast yesterday.

Bow also spent many hours outdoors on his bench, while I roamed the grounds spying all the sudden transformations that the warm weather has wrought.

The hyacinth by the front door is blooming.

The peach trees in the orchard have opened their blossoms. And no sooner had they bloomed, than they began to attract busy little bees.

Bees began to swarm by the fruit trees.

They seem to know exactly what flowers are available.

Some flowers, however, are more popular than others. For instance, though the new trees that were planted only last fall are also blooming, they do not attract any bees.

And although we might suppose that all the flowers growing on the same tree or bush are equal. no such equality is to be found in nature. Even on the forsythia bush, which is now in full bloom, some flowers just seem to stand out.

What is it about this particular bloom that makes it dance in front of me, as if shouting: "Look at me! Look at me! I am different from all the others!"

No two mountains have the same height and no two stalks of grain are equal, as the great Russian writer, Alexei Tolstoy, once wrote. (No, not the author of War and Peace. That was somebody else) There is no such thing as absolute, factual equality. Which brings me to my new book, Our Lady of Kaifeng: Courtyard of the Happy Way.  It has been published, and people all over the world are receiving copies even as I write.

Order from Amazon
My friend Julia just recently got her copy.

This is a good time to order my new book. And if you do, it will make it that much easier for me and Bow to buy more grapes to have for breakfast!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Time of Daffodils and Religious Tracts

It's that time of year. The single daffodil that survived the fire has bloomed. It seems a little lonely, but we are lucky to have it. Nature preserves hardy survivors even in the face of destruction.

It is possible to mark the seasons by the things that happen every year around this time. But sometimes Bow and I are taken off guard, even though in retrospect we realize that what just happened was perfectly predictable.

I thought the elephants were a nice touch

A little while ago, we got our annual visit from the local Jehovah's Witnesses. They are always very polite, and I am also very polite, but it bothers Bow that people just show up unannounced. So after they are gone, I  share the tract they leave with Bow and let him know they came by just to give it to us.

Bow looking at the invitation/tract
Bow was not really all that interested this year, merely glancing at the invitation to their Easter event.

I like how they try to modernize their message so that it sounds like a benefits package: "You will hear an explanation of how his death can benefit you and your family." Bow, however, by now is quite unimpressed with all these promises. I think maybe if they had invited us to an event where we get to hurl rocks at trees he would have been more excited.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Value of Things

Sometimes I run across things on my walk that strike me as beautiful -- found objects scattered across my path like gifts from above. Each of them tells a story, and sometimes the story is a sad one. Yesterday, not too far from a spent pine cone, a feather was waving in the breeze.

The feather was one of many scattered along my path, so I surmised that it spelled out the death of its owner.

Further down the path, I found the tip of a pine branch, with cones and needles still attached. Someone or some thing had cut it cleanly from its source, leaving a very decorative trinket lying on the ground.

Childishly, I took joy in these little treasures scattered across my path. I imagined that they held great value, and so I gathered them all up and presented them to Bow on my return.

Bow, however, is much more a grown up than I am. He took one look at my treasures and determined that they were not of any value whatever. One by one he returned them to me, even the feather. And then he spelled:  תני לי אוכל "Give me food."

I went and fixed his supper. A big red Jonathan apple is something Bow holds as valuable.

He understands the market value of a banana.

And he takes great joy in spooning out his plain yogurt.

Life is good as long as there is good food, companionship and fresh air. A little sunshine goes a very long way.

Everything else is quite secondary. Yes, Bow has magazines to read and videos to watch. He enjoys lounging in the outer pen, when the weather is fine. He takes interest in the games the dogs play. But he knows that there is no intrinsic value in a feather or a pine cone, and he thinks I am quite silly when I pretend there is. "Can you eat it?" he seems to ask. "Can you sell it? No. Then it's just nonsense."

Someday soon maybe I will grow up, too.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The First Spring Flowers

The snow did not stay for long. By Leap Day, it was quite nice out.

Bow enjoyed sunning on top of the bench in the outer pen, as well as a rare treat: a tangelo.

It was warm, it was nice, and at dusk you could hear both the birds and the coyotes.

The burnt field began to turn green.

It is nicer now that we are in the month of March. Bow sometimes asks for his blanket, but it is not because he is cold, and not because he needs a blanket.

Sometimes Bow is just reluctant to defy genre expectations and talk about something other than his blanket.

The sunrises have become especially lovely in the last few days -- even nicer than sunsets.

And today, we saw the very first flower bloom by the lagoon.

Its leaves had been singed by the fire, but this crocus pushed through undeterred.

The next flower getting ready to bloom beside the crocus is a daffodil. But a stray dandelion on the lawn has beat it to the punch, already open in bright yellow splendor.

Fair weather is not promised to us, of course. It may yet snow again. It certainly does seem about to storm.

But as far as the flowers are concerned, spring has sprung