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It’s only an orchard if two trees count as an orchard, and I say they do. And it’s my blog, so I make the rules.

Busy weekend coming up, so I’ll say only that I hope to grab enough time to pick the remaining sour cherries from the–yes–orchard. Before the catbirds get them.

Oh, and that while I was up on the ladder picking cherries yesterday, I looked down just in time to see a thief making off with a few ripe fruits:

Crispin likes cherries

Happy weekend.

Blog surfing the other day took me to a wonderful site, Les Petits Bonhers de Miss T, having mostly to do with beautiful sewing and embroidery projects. For many of these she provides instructions and charts. And, it’s not like I’m looking for stuff to do, but I may have to dig out the old embroidery needles and some black and tan floss for these babies:

Being partial to airedales, I think one more stitch under the noses and a few black stitches along the back would turn them into wonderful ‘dales. Searching Miss T’s site, though, will turn up all kinds of wonderful things–scotty dogs, reindeer, teapots, even a few rather decorative toilets.

Besides, Miss T fits perfectly into the cat person/dog person theme–my French is a little rusty, but I’m pretty sure the note she has written over the cross stitch chart says that she’s 100 times more cat person than dog person. As I know all too well, those can easily become the proverbial famous last words . . . look out, Miss T (and thanks for the kind permission to link to your blog).

It has come to my attention that today is officially Take Your Dog to Work Day.

As a freelance writer, I work mostly from my desk in our home office. Or the picnic table in the back yard. Because of that, the dogs (and cats) are just about always at work with me. Unlike the guinea pigs, who, lazy buggers that they are, only want to hang around the water cooler.

Here, for instance, is Crispin, hard at work in his role as office support staff.

The pleading and frightened look on his face is there because I’ve just told him to come up with a business plan that will clean up the mess on the printer table (I’m not even going to show him the desk–he’d just go on strike). Don’t anyone tip him off to the fact that he’s only going to be paid in kibble.

We bug the dogs now and then because they aren’t making any money. Why can’t they be models whose pictures end up on biscuit boxes? Why don’t they win silver bowls and big checks in the dog shows (okay, maybe that one is because the closest we ever get to a dog show is to watch them on tv once in a while)? Why can’t they rescue children who have fallen into wells, perform search and rescue missions after an earthquake, work as companions for people with disabilities, or have their own tv shows?

I mean, all they do, pretty much, is to lay around here waiting for meals. And, okay, the cats keep the evil spirits away. Yeah, Dinah and Crispin do jump up to see where we’re going even if it’s just to the bathroom or to the fridge for more iced tea, and they do race out the door ahead of us and fan out along the path in our terribly danger-infested suburban back yard and watch us all the way down the walk to see that we’ve made it safely to our cars without being–oh, mauled by chipmunks, say, or hit by falling acorns.

But most of the time they just hang around here under my desk, or wait for crumbs to fall from the kitchen table, or run in crazy happy circles greeting kids when they get home from school or grown ups when we return from long hard expeditions to the grocery store, or give us adoring looks when we do even stupid things or just sidle up and give us little nose-touches to let us know they’re on the . . . oh, wait . . . job.

Never mind. Maybe it’s really Take Your People to Work day. Keep up the good work, dogs.

The pack leader and I headed up to the Farmington (Connecticut) antiques show today, as we do most years at about this time. There were lots of people there with their dogs (including a seriously handsome and well-behaved pair of schnauzers and an adorable boxer puppy), and we briefly felt guilty about not bringing Dinah or Crispin, but it was hot hot hot humid humid humid and about the time we broke down and bought overpriced (but medically necessary) Italian ices, we decided they were probably happier at home after all.

Besides the living and breathing dogs, we saw lots of dog collectibles, like these:


Clearly I have a weakness for terriers in general and airedales in particular. I get airdales. And who wouldn’t love an airedale on wheels? Actually, it’s probably a good thing they don’t have wheels. I can only imagine the roller derby hell speeding through my kitchen and living room if Dinah and Crispin were that mobile! And of course they’d have to have scary roller derby names, perhaps Dina-Myte and The Crispinator. And we’d have to have our identities changed and go into hiding.

Here’s the thing I don’t get, though. Collectibles. Collecting things. Ask the pack leader, who has filled much of the house with antique fly fishing rods. They’re lovely. They’re (sort of) useful. But would one or two, even 5 or 6, not be enough? Instead of, oh, 4 or 5 hundred? I guess I just don’t have the gene (though I fully appreciate that in lean years–and there have been a number of those), the fly rod trade has served us well.

I know there are people who collect dog stuff, either in general or specific to a breed to which they are partial. I have a pin of an airedale. And I once gave the pack leader an Airedale Pale Ale tee shirt he wears at the gym. But that’s as far as I can take it. Two airedales are in and of themselves a complete collection for me.

What about you–do you collect stuff related to dogs? What do you have, and what are you still looking for?

We interrupt this blog for an important news update:

Mother and 5 babies doing well.

A few posts back, I wrote about how Dinah often seems to know when I’m coming home. She’ll plop herself down by the door to watch for me, not when I’m almost home, but when I’m just setting out for home, even if I’m over 100 miles away. I mentioned Rupert Sheldrake, who does research on this phenomenon.

Now your very own “dogs that know” story can become part of research history. I just read on Boing-Boing that researcher Alex Tsakiris is trolling for stories of other dogs who do this. Visit “Dogs who know” to find out how you can tell your own story of your dog’s connection to you and your travels–and read about other people’s experiences.

We’ve passed through the 10 days that count as spring in New England–those 10 mild and balmy days between weather that still periodically dips into the lower 30s and weather that is suddenly close to 100 degrees. Though it’s hot and we’re all scrambling to get the window units into the few rooms that positively demand air conditioning, it’s also dramatically, lushly beautiful, verdant and alive with trees in full leaf and vines and magnificent flowers–azaleas and iris and that pinky-orange-flowering umbrella-like tree with the peeling bark that we don’t know what it is but we love.

And there are birds. Many, many birds. We are fortunate enough to have a couple of acres of yard that include a stream, a pond, vegetation of all heights and densities, making it a little paradise for the birds. We have water birds–ducks and Canada geese (who somehow DO seem to have gotten the memo requiring them to stay in our neighbor’s yard where we can see them and appreciate their handsome plumage and their impossibly cute and fuzzy goslings, but where we don’t have to deal with their soil enrichments), herons and red-winged blackbirds, hawks and osprey, barn swallows, and all manner of song-birds.

Here’s where it gets interesting, because it isn’t just the human residents here who appreciate the presence of the birds. Nemo, for instance, whom you haven’t met yet, spends hours sitting in the windowsill over our bed, keeping careful track of the comings and goings of a pair of purple finches who inhabit a tangle of leafy vines that crawl up the chimney on that side of the house. She chirps softly at them in a gentle way that means, “If it weren’t for this damned screen between us, you two would be toast.”

When we disturb her voyeuristic activities gentle birdwatching, she rewards us with a fond look that clearly says, “Do you not have anything better to do than bother me?”

We do, of course. Right now we are very busy protecting these:

Protecting them from Dinah and Crispin, who have discovered this wren’s nest just at their eye-level, tucked into the frame of the office window that looks out onto the porch. We were tickled when the wrens began to build their nest their, anticipating the joy of being able to see up-close the building of the charming nest, the tiny nestled eggs, and the hungry young babies as they hatched.

Okay, first we gave them an “F” in nest-building–I’m telling you, they just flung sticks at the windowsill and however they happened to fall was okay with them. Then, at about the same time that we discovered (through quick peeks every few days when the parent wrens were away) these 5 amazing little eggs (about dime-sized), the dogs also discovered them, and it fell to us to keep them from eating the eggs. Fortunately, the pack leader cleverly hit upon an arrangement of boards (left over from a building project)–that, propped at just the right angle, blocks both the dogs’ view of the nest and their access to it, but leaves plenty of room for mama wren (who figured it out quickly) to fly in and out.

Of course, the neighbors may call the planning and zoning commission–our remodeling isn’t exactly something you might see in House Beautiful–but we think it’s a small price to pay for the safety of our new tenants.

When I’m not herding dogs, one of the things I do is study goju ryu karate. Yesterday evening as I was preparing for class, I went to return my freshly washed and dried gi to my gym bag, which I had left, unzipped, in the mudroom next to the washing machine. Here is what I found on the floor next to the bag:

Those of you who also study a martial art may detect, upon very close inspection, a scarcely noticeable bite-shaped hole in what had previously been a perfectly lovely karate belt. A brown belt. For which, not to put too fine a point on it, I worked pretty hard. As it happens, once the belt is properly tied around the waist of–oh, say–me, the bitten space falls precisely at the center of my back.

Curiously, forensic science brought to bear on the damaged item indicates that the bite is not inconsistent with the mouth–and teeth–of a small creature. Perhaps a dog. Perhaps a small airedale. If the jury will admit evidence on the previous behavioral history of–ahem–the smaller of two airedales who happened to be found loitering in the vicinity of the crime scene, one might assume not be able to rule out the possibility that this smaller airedale might be, as they say on TV, a ” person creature of interest” in the investigation into the belt’s destruction. Further investigation is warranted.

In the meantime, please let it also be noted that the business end of the belt itself is also worth examining:

The tip end of the belt is not the only thing missing. See the two stripes of highly official goju ryu electrical tape? This time yesterday there were three stripes, one of them only recently awarded.

I’ve been demoted. By my dog.


He is so shaggy. People are amazed when he gets up and they suddenly realize they have been talking to the wrong end. --Elizabeth Jones
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June 2008