Looking At The Sun

dog photography, dogs, Healthy Living, Photographer
Charlie Brown on a recent woods walk.

How have you been? I hope that you are healthy. I’m sorry that I haven’t written in a while. We’re all fine, but for many months now, I’ve felt that I had nothing new to say. 

The calendar dates changed, my hair grew long, and we’ve aged a little. I was taking the same photos of the dogs on the couch and the cat at the window, so I put my camera down, even though I bought a fancy new one. I stopped researching dog-friendly hotels along road trip routes. The subzero cold weather during January froze out not only our outdoor activities but also zapped my creativity. I’ve felt like I’ve been living a never-ending loop of Groundhog Day.

This morning it was finally warm enough to take our full morning walk, and I realized that I no longer needed to bring a flashlight. The sun was just beginning to rise, turning the sky a vibrant pink. Last weekend, I picked up a camera, and finished a roll of film. I started the roll so long ago that I’ll be completely surprised when I receive my negatives. Pushing the shutter felt good. I’m crawling out of my hole, but I’m looking up at the sun so I don’t see my shadow.

A couple of days ago, I entered a few of my dog images to a juried show. Maybe they’ll pick me; maybe they won’t. I noted the irony of having someone choosing a photo of one of my rescue pups, dogs that I had once picked – or rather were matched with me– by the rescue organization. Dogs that the rescue organization had picked.

Anyway, part of the art show application process is always the inclusion of “The Artist’s Statement.” This short piece of writing isn’t supposed to be a biography but rather the artist’s thoughts or mindset concerning the piece. I stared at the entry form on the screen, my mind as blank as the form. A quick Google query on famous artist statements yielded interesting results, but my form was still unfilled. (See: https://proactivecreative.com/powerful-artist-statement-examples/)

What was I thinking when I plopped a purple wig on Linus before I snapped his photo?

“Peace, Out”: Linus, shot on medium format film in our backyard

Introspection ensued. At the time I took the photos, I had been spending most of my waking hours in zoom meetings. The outside world was turning golden and warm in late summer, with puffy clouds and bird songs. Inside, I was on a small laptop, holed up in my dark home office, dressed in a blazer, blouse, and a pair of golf shorts, staring at a screen of squares. I was simultaneously experiencing two versions of reality, but neither seemed real or normal.

As our dogs are a mirror of ourselves, Linus in the purple wig enjoying the breeze was my alter ego. He embodied where my head was. My hair had grown long again during the pandemic, but I wear it tied back at work. In one of the submitted photos, the purple hair is loose, with strands caught in the soft breeze. Linus’ eyes are nearly closed; his nose gently gathering the air’s scents. He looks serene.

In another photo I submitted, Linus is lying in the grass, again with the purple wig, and wearing an old pair of my sunglasses. He is looking straight at the camera. On social media, I captioned the photo “My new zoom look.”

“Groovy, Man”: Another shot of Linus, taken on medium format film

Through Linus, I could express my feelings in a way one can’t while dressed in a blazer. I was feeling confined, closed in my dark spare bedroom, captured in a small square on a small screen, and constrained by structured clothing. My hours working were often long and my schedule was unpredictable. I longed to be outside where I could relax and literally let my hair down. These photos were self-portraits of my thoughts. I wanted fresh air. I wanted serenity.

About my hair: During the pandemic, my blonde highlights grew out and my hair color is now a reddish light brown with occasional strands of silver. I don’t have plans to dye my hair purple, but maybe, once it becomes mostly grey, I might try sunrise pink.


dogs, Healthy Living
Linus and Lucy ready for re-entry.

Fayston, Vermont. Have you been out yet? Golden girl Lucy and I attended our first public event on the Fourth of July, a dog parade at Sugarbush Resort to benefit the Mad River Valley’s PAWSitive Pantry

Before the event, I was nervous at the idea of being around a lot of people. Yes, I’m vaccinated, but still I’m wary. I worried that most people at the event would be people I don’t know from places not nearby, thus a risk of exposure to COVID. But I told myself that the dog parade would be a fitting homecoming. I worked at Sugarbush for almost ten years. Over a year had passed since I had been to the base area because I didn’t ski last season. 

I was concerned for Lucy, too. I wasn’t sure how she’d react to a crowd after our confinement. Like her humans, she has been sequestered from other people – and other dogs – during the pandemic. However, Sugarbush’s New Year’s Eve dog parade was her first public outing as a puppy all those years ago. That year, my boss allowed me to leave work early to take her. He even made her a “staff” name tag.

I needn’t have worried. Lucy, true to her nature, loved every minute! Hands of all sizes reached out to pet her. Dogs sniffed their greetings and made her acquaintance without incident. She wagged enthusiastically the entire time. I loosened my grip on her leash and exhaled as small children gathered around her because Queen Lucy soaked up their adoration with gentleness and mutual affection. I swear she hugged them back. As we made our way over the parade route around the base lodge, I could feel my shoulders relax. My nervous smile became genuine.

Lucy at the Fourth of July Dog Parade, Sugarbush Resort

After we came home, Lucy drank a bowl of water then fell asleep, snoring loudly.

With Lucy as my guide, I learned that it’s o.k. to come out now. It’s time to celebrate each other and our community. Hugs feel good. When I returned to one of my favorite places, surrounded by dogs and a few familiar faces, I experienced a restorative homecoming. 

Then, it’s best to have a drink and take a nap.

Tiger Swallowtail in our yard. Yes, for symbolism here.

Shedding Season

dogs, Healthy Living
Lucy, Charlie Brown, and Linus

Fayston, Vermont (May 16, 2021) Although not yet coming out in tufts, my dogs Lucy, Charlie Brown, and Linus have begun their seasonal coat shedding. Like me swapping out the heavy down coat for a lighter one, then the puffy vest, then trading that for a sweatshirt for our morning walk as spring temperatures (finally) warm, the dogs blow coat progressively. They begin to shed on their backside first, then up to the neck, then clumps and tufts everywhere. I use a “furminator” brush to remove their winter undercoat. Linus’ expelled short blonde hair sticks to everything, and I take care to dress for work in my dark suit only moments before I leave the house, pulling the belt of my trench coat tight against airborne dog glitter. 

Charlie and Lucy are extra fluffy right now. Along with their winter hair, these two need to shed a couple of pounds gained from not as much exercise and an abundance of cookies during the winter months. We took our morning walk, and often an evening walk (totaling three to four miles a day) but still the cookies won. Soon, my work schedule will change and we can all play outside together more often. I don’t know that I gained any weight, but I definitely feel that my fitness level has dropped from sitting at a desk all day. So, another layer will be shed.

A couple of days ago, I shed one more thing: My mask. Our governor in Vermont lifted the mask wearing protocol for fully vaccinated people, following the newest CDC guidelines. I still carry a mask in my pocket. To be walking around without wearing a coat or a mask makes me feel lighter, yet exposed. I’m not worried about germs as I still keep my distance from others, but every wrinkle and spot on my face are now outed. I can’t wait to have bangs cut back into my hair so at least I’ll have some hair curtains to hide behind. My mask-less reentry into the world will be progressive like the dogs’ shedding – a little bit at first, then a bit more, until, eventually, I’ll feel comfortable hugging again. Well, maybe. I’ve never been much of a hugger. But, I’ll shed my social anxiety in increments of puffy layers as I blink in the warm sunshine, out for a walk with my less fluffy companions.

Seven Tips from a Winter Dog Walker

dogs, humor
Lucy catches a snowball after a recent walk. The snow bank is almost as tall as our shed!

Fayston, Vermont. The title “Fifty Shades of Grey” first belonged to Vermont winters, and the only thing steamy about them is a mug of hot tea held in both hands. By March, I escape to golf on TV and my toes long to be free of wool socks: In my dreams, I am putting barefoot wherever the PGA Tour is playing this week. I also recently dreamt about a squirrel who insisted on riding in my car as I was driving with all three dogs along. I’m pretty sure that was labby Linus’ dream that popped into my head because we’re all spending so much time together in our COVID confinement that our thoughts are intertwined.

Part of our morning routine is a walk, except in the foulest of weather. During winter, I swear suiting up to go outside takes longer than the walk. In the mountains of Vermont, we still have several more weeks of snowy weather before Winter finally packs her bags and heads to the Southern Hemisphere. Here are a few of my tips to make it through to shorts weather:

  1. No sleeping in. Ever. Morning walk time is carefully choreographed in an unspoken understanding between neighbors to avoid reactive encounters. Stick to your assigned time or risk having to turn around.
  2. Save time and skip the morning dressing chills by sleeping in your long underwear. This also saves laundry water, especially if the same layers are worn multiple days. If you follow Tip #1, no one will see you or smell you anyway.
  3. Watch the weather forecast for footwear choice assistance. Choose footwear based on greater need for warmth or traction. Ice calls for the slightly insulated spiked hikers, but stupid cold requires the pack boots. (Removeable traction devices have broken by this point in the season.)
  4. Know what day the garbage collectors come. Garbage men carry dog treats. They come on our street on Mondays.
  5. Squirrels do NOT hibernate. See Tip #3; choose wisely.
  6. Clean muddy dogs with a round of snowball “fetch” when back at home. Keep towels by the door, too. You’re wearing Gore-Tex gloves anyway.
  7. Develop flexibility and core strength with de-booting yoga: Stand on one foot while trying to pull off a boot without stepping in a puddle of melting snow and while reaching for your slipper. Repeat with other side. Bonus move: Pull off one leg of snow pants while standing on one foot; repeat on other side. The entryway bench is covered with leashes, mittens, etc., thus providing yoga motivation.

Spring will be here soon. But first, we will have mud season, that glorious time when my blonde dogs turn spotted and brown and my brown dog smells like roses. After washing the dirty dogs, a mug of hot tea is bliss.

Lucy loves snowballs!

Chain Reaction

dog training, Wellness
May you greet every day with Christmas morning excitement.

Fayston, Vermont. The holiday season’s wishes of peace and goodwill have a different spin during a pandemic: How we treat others and how they feel as a result is highly contagious. I’ve found that the same holds true for my dogs.

Charlie Brown, my spanador foster fail, was never particularly brave, but he is always wagging and is super affectionate with just about everybody. However, in the last several months, he has become more fearful of other dogs that display reactive behavior. I trace this to my neighbors’ golden retrievers. Those dogs are never leashed and bark and snarl at us when we go by. They often follow us into the street. The youngest one has lunged at us. Hubs has spoken to their people; I’ve heard yelling at both dogs and humans by other neighbors out for a walk.

The neighbors with the reactive dogs are second homeowners, but with the pandemic, they have been here more often than not. Their dogs are not the only ones who raise their hair at us: The pandemic has brought more people and their dogs to my usually quiet street as folks move to the country.

Charlie starts barking when he sees unfriendly behavior from another dog. So far, he waits for the other dog to display before reacting. To break this chain, I have been redirecting him. I walk him out of view of the oncoming nasty encounter. We duck down a driveway or into the trees. I have Charlie and Lucy sit as I shower them with treats or dry dog food until the snappy passes. I’m teaching them “touch” where they must tap my hand to earn a treat. Distraction is working! I can now have them focus on me and my kibble pocket while in distant view of the passing would-be antagonist.

To paraphrase a tv preacher, Charlie let go of the conflict to find his peace and cookies. I haven’t been sleeping much lately, and “release your conflict to find your peace” was the phrase I first heard when I absently turned on the TV just before 4 am last Sunday. I don’t think I’ve ever watched tv church before, but this phrase made me sit down and listen. Like Charlie, I have been feeling anxious. I am bundled stiff in layers of sadness, loss, and frustration, topped off with an itchy cap of feelings that I been deceived and pushed around.

One of my anxiety layers is caused by common COVID confinement that keeps me from my family and from doing many things I enjoy. But underneath that, I am grieving for a friend who entered hospice care last month. She passed away earlier this week. Additionally, my office is undergoing a reorganization. Although I have been offered a spot while others will be unemployed come January, I have been demoted and must learn a new job, my third in five years, while finishing up my duties in my current position with a smile on my face.

I don’t think I can tell doggo Charlie to turn his troubles over to God, but we are breaking the negativity chain by redirecting his attention to allow good thoughts to fill the space between his floppy ears. Focusing on positive interaction with me keeps him from reacting to another dog’s anxiety. Plus, I’ve met a neighbor who has offered friendly socialization with her happy young Labrador. Maybe we will start a new chain by inspiring local dog owners to work on training and socializing their dogs, but I’m realistic.

As for my emotional conflict, I mindfully attempt to let go of the negative thoughts. Like Charlie, I’ve found that cookies are a wonderful distraction tool, especially when paired with brisk long walks to work off the extra cookies. Talking to my family and friends also helps me release some of the negative emotions even though I can’t be with them. I know that my family members are healthy, and I look forward to seeing them in the new year, once we’re all vaccinated and travel is safe.

Further, I will honor my friend’s memory with the care I take to do my work, whatever that becomes. Memories of her sass will keep a smile on my face, or at least a bemused smirk. I know that I must also allow myself to miss her and feel sad sometimes. As for the recent office changes, I’d be worried about me if I wasn’t bothered. I am navigating the transition with practicality and some semblance of grace and humor.

Walking – literally putting one foot in front of the other – helps me focus on the present. By doing so, I won’t slip on the metaphorical or real ice as I wander back to peace, enabling me to radiate my calm vibes forward.

I highly recommend pocket cookies while embarking on a moving meditation with your dog. Take deep breaths; listen to the trees. Or, in my neck of the woods, hear the hum of snowmaking that vibrates across the valley and sing along.

 I wish you peace this holiday season and throughout the New Year.

About my photos in this post: Red shed images taken with my old Canon 7d; other images shot on 35mm film with an even older Canon AE-1 Program. Linus in the chair is on Kodak Portra 400 film; black and white photos of Charlie Brown and Alice the Cat are on Lomography Lady Grey.

Rear View Mirror Facing Forward: Tips for Creating Calendar Gifts

dogs, Holiday Gifts, photography
Linus, Charlie Brown, and Lucy went as a punk band for Howloween this year

Fayston, Vermont. As the Christmas decorations push out Halloween, I begin to work on my photo calendar gift that’s become a family tradition. When my son was young, the calendar featured twelve months of him. The grandparents loved it. The images not only chronicled his growth but also sparked memories of all the things we did the previous year. As he grew older, sometimes I added a baby picture: I did the “How It Started” and “How It’s Going” thing long before it became a social media thing, even before social media was a thing.

I thought I was finished with crafting calendars when my son graduated from high school, but, at the request of family, the tradition continues with my dogs as calendar subjects. Now my son receives a calendar, too.

The customized flip calendar is an appreciated and practical gift, especially for family members that I don’t see often, which is everybody this year. Even though I keep my personal calendar on my phone, the paper version hangs in the kitchen with car appointments and other goings-on that perhaps my household should be aware.

What follows are my tips for tackling the photo calendar project in time for gift-giving this year:

Gather your photo files. I begin this project by going through my photos from the past year and pulling potential images into a “calendar” folder on my computer. Some years I’ve been organized enough to create this folder in January, but not this year. I start with my “favorites” folder in iPhoto and also go through my Instagram feed, then find and copy the source file of the image – the unedited one – to the calendar folder. Sometimes I go back more than a year to mark a “gotcha” day or other memory.

Cull those favorites. Most printed calendars feature a horizontal or “landscape” orientated image, so vertical images that can’t be cropped to fit are out unless I leave a lot of white space on the sides of the page. I have learned the hard way that a single image for each month makes my life much easier, so in the end I’m looking for 12 photos. Cell photo photos work for calendars unless they are cropped too much. I’m looking for sharp focus, bright eyes, and a mood for the month. January doesn’t have to look like January in your calendar, but in mine, it does.

If I still don’t have a shot for a specific month, I found it helpful to search my photo files by month and year, then if still nothing, search by month alone. The month alone search is a diversionary memory trip that may induce watery eyes: When searching “May”, my results included a gazillion lacrosse games, two graduations, and generations of muddy dogs.

Select a printer and calendar design. Options abound. I’ve tried several print sites, but I’ve used Nation’s Photo Lab most recently. Last year, they messed up my order, but reprinted for free in plenty of time for me to ship for Christmas delivery. In the early years, I used Snapfish and Shutterfly because their tools for creating are easy to use and their prices are low, but I found that the photo quality wasn’t as high. Even drugstore chains and Staples will print calendars, so look online for promotions and coupons. Do a web search for “photo calendar” for websites for printers and reviews.

All the companies offer a variety of designs where most of the design decisions are made for you, so all that’s needed is a photo upload. Read the site’s directions, tips, and specifications before you choose your calendar design. Browse through the site’s styles to find one you like and make note of its title and color scheme, if it has one.

One year I chose a scrap book theme, but I found myself swapping many of the pre-fab backgrounds and trims. Each month required multiple photos. This project took me weeks to complete. I was up late. Many nights. I don’t have that much time, so I now opt for one image per month and a simple, clean layout – no backgrounds, frames, or clutter. The end result puts the emphasis on my images, not the design.

Edit photos. Now that the shell is chosen, I know what size my photos need to be and what color scheme works best in the image with the calendar design. Most of the print companies let you crop and resize photos as you create your calendar, but I like to do this ahead of time to minimize surprises when the calendar is printed. The print site’s programs will even tell you if your image file size is too small to print well. That said, I will adjust lighting and shadows before I upload into the calendar product. Even hitting “enhance” or the magic wand on your iPhone will improve the results. I use Photoshop, but the editing can be done on your smartphone. (Scroll back through my blog to see my previous posts about photographing dogs and editing photos!)

Before and After cropping for an 8.5 x 11 inch calendar (I cropped out Mt. Ellen, but don’t worry, she appears in other months):

Upload photos into print site and choose calendar product. Before I begin customizing my selected calendar design, I create a new gallery on the printer’s site by uploading images to a new gallery (folder), then pull the images from my calendar gallery as I create the calendar product, rather than uploading one image at a time into the calendar product, month by month. Creating a gallery folder saves some time. That said, sometimes I change my mind after I’ve added an image onto the calendar page, and must I return to my original folder on my computer to find a different image.

Begin calendar assembly. After all photos are loaded in my gallery folder, I select my calendar product, its size (my mom likes it to fit inside her cupboard door), and double check to make sure I’m creating something for the coming – not current – year. Then, and only then, do I begin customizing my calendar by pulling images from the gallery folder into the calendar pages. If you want to add birthdays, anniversaries, or other celebrations (I add silly holidays like “Squirrel Appreciation Day”), type those in on the appropriate days.

Ready to customize!

Review, edit, save, repeat. I save my project, then I let it sit. I review my work, make changes, then save. I revert to my editor role and check my work again, looking for typos, incorrect dates for events I’ve added, and photo alignment issues. When I’m done tinkering, and I have received a good promo code, I add the calendar to my cart. I usually complete the order in November so I have plenty of time to ship – and to bake cookies.

Be sure to check your printed calendar before you send it off to its recipients. If something’s not right, ask the printer for a reprint. The printer wants you to be happy, but if it’s your fault (a typo on a family birthday you added), you likely have to pay for it to be reprinted.

Please let me know how your calendar turned out! If a calendar seems like too big of a project, the photo printers offer many other gift products, from the ubiquitous mug to ornaments and home products. Or perhaps have a print made of your favorite fur-iend to give as a gift to yourself.


cats, dogs, Healthy Living, pets

Fayston, Vermont. When I want the dogs to stop barking, I use the “Enough” command. Lucy generally obeys, but Linus and Charlie also need to “Come” and “Sit”. Lately, I’ve found I’ve been telling myself “Enough,” too.

I’ve been feeling a lack of motivation, no mojo, burn out. I’m taking fewer photographs and deleting most of what I shoot. When it comes to cooking dinner, I can’t even. The news of wildfires, hurricanes, civil unrest, unemployment, bleak economic numbers, and the recent report of RGB’s death have me turning off the news and away from social media. The pandemic has me staying away from people I love and places I want to go.

I’ve had enough. 

I realize that I write this from a place of privilege. My family members are safe and healthy; my house and my car are paid for and not under threat of natural disaster; I have plenty of food; and I have a job that pays well enough – there’s that word again – and provides health care benefits.

And yet I feel overwhelmed. Lately I’ve been working long hours, and that adds to my fatigue. To re-center, I express gratitude for all that I have, every day. I take time for yoga breathing and stretching. Movement helps shake me out of my stupor, and I have ready walking companions in my dogs. Even a short walk does us all good. 

The problem is that Charlie Brown is a sniffer, not a walker. Charlie doesn’t just stop and smell the roses, he interrogates each petal. His deep sniff everything approach is annoyingly slow when I want to move. To him, however, simply walking is boring. His analytical sniffing shows me that if I slow down and focus on the details, routine tasks become more interesting. Instead of counting how many miles we walk, I listen for the different bird songs I hear. I note the progression of foliage color.

I’ve applied this detail-centric lesson to my photography by taking out my macro lens and stalking butterflies. I also returned to a back-to-basics approach and shot in full manual mode. I blew through several rolls of film. Let’s hope I have a few good shots.

Lucy photobombs my kitten shots… When I give Lucy extra attention, Charlie sulks. Linus just snores.

Further, I have a new subject in the form of kitten Alice. Sleeping kitty photos are adorable. Doggo Lucy is jealous. Lucy photobombs my kitten shots. She becomes upset if I bring Linus or Charlie outside for a few snaps without her. When I give Lucy extra attention, Charlie sulks. Linus just snores. 

Even with a fresh subject, still I am shooting less. I am working a lot, so I have less time. But I also question the relevance of my pet and butterfly photos when so much of the world is ill, angry, hungry, and broke. It doesn’t feel like I’m doing enough. 

Applying Charlie’s sniff-the-small-stuff approach, success for me is now measured in tiny victories: Did I press the shutter today? “Yes” is a win. Did I eat a meal and not a Clif bar? “Yes” is a win.

Last weekend, I drove 50 minutes to South Burlington to drop off a couple of rolls of film for developing, then, masked up, I went next door into Michael’s for a picture frame. I immediately became sidetracked by the Halloween displays. I bought a bright purple wig for Linus. I forgot the frame. But I did find a spark of creativity. Probably not what the Michael’s marketing team had in mind, but I had been thinking about photographing my dogs in silly wigs for months. 

Driving to the store was a win. Bringing home the wig was winning the tournament quarterfinals. The next day, I coasted through the semifinals by photographing Linus in the wig. He will do anything for a cookie. I need to find a black Joan Jett wig for Lucy to take home the trophy. But even if I only have silly photos of Linus, it will be enough.

“What art offers is space – a certain breathing room for the spirit.” – John Updike

Funny Looking Dog

cats, pets
Kitten Alice. (There’s a fly on the window.)

Fayston, Vermont. What happens when a life-long dog person adopts a kitten? The kitten fetches better than the dogs. Well, except for golden girl Lucy, who is the top fetcher in all the land.

In June, we adopted a tiny grey meowing fuzz ball from Central Valley Humane Society. From the first day, our kitten greeted us whenever we walked in the room. We kept her in a bathroom at first, but now she has the second floor to roam. She is constantly sneaking downstairs, so I am kitten proofing. The dogs wait for admission to my bedroom so they can play together.

Eventually, we settled on the name “Alice” for the kitten but we also call her “Beans” (she has extra toes), and sometimes “Stinky.” I won’t go into detail why on that last one.

I’ve enjoyed having something tiny in the house again, but it is a little work. Not that I mind. I have extra time because of COVID restrictions. Playtime entertains me as much as her. I have become “crafty.” I cut holes in a cardboard box that arrived with my new golf shoes to create the “Expensive Cat Toy.” I saved a larger box to make a cat-stle. I also crocheted a taco cat toy from my ever multiplying yarn stash. It was with the “flying” taco that Alice the kitten learned to fetch.

I’ve made several yarn tacos. The first one went with her to the vet but didn’t make it home. So I made another, only to find the original one in her carrying case after her next trip to the vet 10 days later. They kept the toy and returned it! Our thoughtful vet’s office is Valley Animal Hospital, Dr. Roy Hadden, in Waitsfield, Vermont.

To make your own magic taco, find the free pattern on Ravelry by searching the free patterns for “cat toys.” I also found a few other cat toy patterns I want to try: A doughnut and a small fish are on my list.

While the dogs are enthusiastically trying to be best friends, I am learning to speak cat. Alice follows me around (unless she’s sleeping). Of course a dog person has a FOMO kitty – and another shadow.

Happy International Cat Day!

Front Porch Portrait, Linus, Charlie Brown, and Lucy
Charlie Brown
Parallel ridge lines: Alice carries her taco in front of Mt. Ellen.
Alice emerges from The Expensive Cat Toy


dogs, vermont

Linus, in the back, with Charlie Brown and Lucy

FAYSTON, VERMONT. The “wait” command is a struggle for Linus, my lab/hound mix. He should be named “Hoover” as he quickly sucks up any crumb that drops on the floor. At feeding time, I have him sit. We are working on the “wait” command so that I can put the bowl down before he inhales his meal.

Charlie the spanador learned “wait” almost immediately. Goldie Lucy is not as patient as Charlie, but she has learned to wait, begrudgingly. Linus continues to make slow progress.

Vermont’s “stay home” order is posing a “wait” challenge to my household. Our change to grocery shopping for the week instead of on a whim was an adjustment, and it means that sometimes we are out of bananas as we accumulate a list.

Sugarbush’s abrupt closure then ban on uphill travel grounded – like a privileged but nonetheless punished teenager kind of grounded – my husband. His metaphorical keys were taken away because he was found guilty by association. He now divides his time between restless puttering and Netflix. He and his coworkers have exchanged many texts about when they can return to work. With some restrictions on outdoor construction just lifted, his wait is over soon.

I am 110% an introvert, so the stay home order has been highly restorative. I have been going into the office a few hours each week and done some work from home, but I’ve had more free time. It’s been glorious.

Since the start of the self-confinement order about a month ago, I read several books, started and finished knitting a sweater, and took so many long walks with the dogs that my resting heartrate has dropped 9 bpm. (It was in the high 50’s; now in the high 40’s, so I’m basically dead. The dogs are happy-tired.) I also cooked enough food to feed the entire neighborhood. In our first week of confinement, hubby banned me from the kitchen for 24 hours after I cooked a huge casserole of baked ziti that we ate for days.

Despite being content at home, I’m also struggling with “wait.” I long to see color return to the landscape, to see yellow flowers and green grass and blue sky and (distant) black bear cubs and orange efts … I’m waiting for spring.

Puppy Is A State Of Mind

My supervisors, Linus and Charlie Brown, and Pumpkin Dog Treats

Fayston, Vermont. Happy National Puppy Day! It’s also wagmorevt’s 5th anniversary. My dogs and I are a bit grayer, but I am grateful for their puppy enthusiasm and their mature affection.

In my last post, I shared a dog cookie recipe that my dogs enjoy. One of my readers wrote that her dog doesn’t like peanut butter, so I went back to my files and found the pumpkin biscuit recipe I previously shared waaay back when. The recipe is adaptable: mash in some banana or applesauce for more fruit. So, for Rhodie:

Pumpkin Dog Treats

2 eggs

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

2 tablespoons powdered milk

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 1/2 cups brown rice flour or whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together eggs and pumpkin; mix in dry ingredients.

Roll out dough and cut with your favorite shape. Bake 20 minutes, then flip over each cookie. Continue baking 20 minutes more. Watch carefully, though – if you make the cookies thin then they will cook faster.

Cool completely.

I have been working from home most days, so I’m in my kitchen a lot lately. My “coworkers” are a big help with the dishes.

Five years is a long time in dog years

I learned that two friends lost their dogs last week. One of them, Nina, was featured in one of my earliest posts. The other, Milo, belonged to my friend who owns Product Think Tank, a shop here in Waitsfield where my greeting cards were first sold. My heart aches for their people. Hugs to you.

On this National Puppy Day, I’m thinking of all the dogs who wagged my way.

Social distancing