humble

We always lived in humble homes. In Urbana, we moved into a small two-bedroom apartment – one half of a duplex. A small horde of college guys occupied the other side. As a rambunctious pre-teen this was ideal. Their rituals like building cans of beer as high as possible fascinated me. It was kind of an early, drunken form of Jenga.

The guys were nice though, and always treated me well. Mom was in school and worked late, so I was often on my own, and those guys were there to help in a pinch. She had picked this location specifically for its proximity to my grade school. I walked the block to school, and back home each weekday.

We lived there for three years. My cat used my bedroom window as his escape route for nightly hunting excursions. The aged oak tree in the front yard was my favorite jungle gym. I could scramble up the low, wide truck, into the awaiting branches, and easily lounge in the tree arms with a good book.

In the evening before bed-time mom would make hot minty tea for me, or “more milk” – a soporific drink consisting of warmed milk, vanilla extract, and honey.

We never had much in the way of money, so pretty much everything we owned was thrift store, hand-me-down, or home-made. My single bed was some dime store find, with simple sheets most likely found in a dark cupboard at my grandparents house, threadbare, and awkwardly patterned. She would draw a magic circle around my bed to protect me from the heebie-jeebies, kiss me on the forehead, and tuck me into bed.

I wonder if that kind of comfort is unique to childhood? That particular lack of future worry and that security of knowing your parent is in the next room, just in case the magic circle doesn’t keep everything bad away.

other critters

After Alyosha died last June, I was resolved to not have another larger dog for a long time. Turns out “long time” is around five months.

I started thinking about adopting a “dog-sized-dog” again. (shhh, don’t tell Pugsly that she isn’t a big dog) That’s a big decision and we weren’t quite ready to take the plunge.

Fostering critters is a great way to be helpful, but you also get the benefits of having doggie or kitty company without the long-term responsibility. Fostering critters is something I am quite familiar with so I decided to look to getting back into it.

The Yavapai Humane Society had a number of dogs they were looking to find foster homes.

Our first foster was a smaller Australian Shepherd named “Buddy”. He’d been an owner-surrender and responded to that name.

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Buddy was high-energy, as Aussies usually are. A friend of mine had recently lost his old doggie fell in love with Buddy and adopted him quickly!

After Buddy left, I got Wiggles. She was a stray who had already been through a lot of trauma. She arrived at the Humane Society with a large abscess on the side of her face. At first they thought it was caused by an impacted tooth and did surgery to fix that. However, the abscess didn’t go away. They found a number of thorns embedded deep in her ear canal. After a couple more surgeries they were able to clear those out. She was one sad pup.

They had shaved half her face for the surgeries, so she was one pathetic funny looking pup. Wiggles spent most of her time with me recovering. Once she was off the pain meds, she perked up and loved going on walks. I was even able to get her to the groomer!

Wiggles already had a line waiting of potential adopters, so once she was recovered enough to go, she went quickly.

Moss was the next dog to come stay with us. He was wonderful, except that he has separation anxiety.

After just a couple of days with us, he had to go back to the shelter. He needs someone to be with him and teach him that he won’t be abandoned.

Freyja was an emergency pick-up, requested from a pug rescue in Phoenix. She is a great example of why I don’t foster puppies. Whoa. Non-stop whirling dervish pup energy. She even has a devilish look!

She had been adopted and given up three times already in her eleven months on this earth, and no one had bothered to train her. She peed and pooped on everything (well, floors and carpet – not the bed, thankfully). Luckily, I only had her for three days before delivering her to the rescue organization in Phoenix. Whew.

The Verde Valley Humane Society posted on their Facebook page asking for an emergency foster for an old, small, blind dog. He had been a stray, and ended up at the shelter. The original foster mom had to have surgery and was worried she’d trip over this little guy, so they needed to find a foster quickly. As you can imagine, he had difficulty getting around the shelter.

His name was Elf and it suited him perfectly. A little, spritely pup, he may have been old, and blind, but he was nimble and perky.

Elf was one of those dogs that cause foster parents to become “foster failures”. A “foster failure” is when the dog gets adopted by the foster people. He has an indomitable spirit and does not let his disability slow him down, except when it came to getting down off of things like chairs and beds. He even liked my motorcycle.

I was very close to keeping this little guy. He stayed with us for about a month, when a women saw his picture on the shelter website and fell for him. She has a shy four-year old daughter and once they all got settled in Elfs new home, the little girl and Elf became inseparable. What better outcome could have happened?

We are between foster dogs now, and I know that we are getting closer to being ready to adopt. Pugsly can ride along on the back of my bike, and my dream of having a sidecar rig and traveling around with my big dog is getting closer.

precognition

I lost my grandma’s necklace today. It was silver and lovely. She let me borrow it for an evening out last time I visited her. It came home with me in my bag and when I asked her about sending it back, she told me to keep it. It’s one of my few pieces of jewelry, and when I wear it, it reminds me of my grandma. She is in her mid-90’s and amazing. Nothing fazes her. When I have a bad day, I try to channel her and let whatever is bothering me roll off my shoulders.

Earlier today I had a feeling that I would lose that necklace today. I ran my fingers across its bumpy texture and considered taking it off. The feeling was fleeting and I turned my attention back to my work at hand.

I know the moment it left my neck, not consciously, but there was a slight difference. It happened when I left work, as I was walking across the parking lot I lifted my work i.d. lanyard off over my head. I didn’t know it at the time, but as I drove away down the highway, I realized the loss.

As I reached up to my now bare neck, I flashed to that earlier feeling. Even though I was sad at the loss, I chuckled at my lack of listening to myself. I knew!

This feeling has happened to me before. Enough times that it’s familiar, but not often enough for me to have practice holding on to it. I don’t understand “precognition,” but it happens to enough people that it has a word, a dictionary definition even.

Perhaps one of these days, I’ll have enough clarity to hold on to that moment and act on it. I’ve been able to do that in the past, but the feelings happen more often that clarity.

I still hold hope that my grandma’s necklace turns up. It is a small, symbolic connection to a wonderful woman who won’t be around too very much longer, and I will hold on to her however I can.