that time of year

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, Mani the purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live with, and here to bring you up to date on the latest news from our garden. You may remember me from such posts as “For Whom The Bedclothes”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. I was wondering when I was going to get my dinner.17120701Here I am again, shortly after my dinner (which was excellent), wondering when I was going to get to go on my evening walk. It turned out to be as soon as the guy I live with put down the camera.17120705The weather here has changed a bit. It suddenly got colder a couple of days ago, after a bunch of wind. 17120702So gardening kind of stops here, especially when the guy I live with says it’s too chilly to go out and do anything. That doesn’t include my walks, fortunately.

There are lots of little cyclamen seedlings in the part of the garden where there are cyclamen. You can see that they’ve curled their leaves, some, in response to the cold. But still, this is encouraging.17120703

17120704He took these pictures before I went on my evening walk, to provide some sort of gardening interest, I guess.

Maybe you can see how chilly it is just by looking at this. This is the field behind our house, which is behind and to the right of the tree on the left. The foothills you see there, looking more or less south (say, towards Tucson), are not very high.17120709The foothills directly west of us are a bit higher, about 7800 feet (2377 meters). The guy I live with took a picture of them the day before when there was a pretty good sunset. That’s Mount Falcon on the right. Where they were going to build a “summer White House” back when Woodrow Wilson was president. But they didn’t.IMG_5595Anyway, the walk this evening was pretty nice, if a bit chilly.

I looked at things. For some reason the pictures of me turned out to be monumentally unfocused, but at least you can still tell it’s me, and that’s the important part.17120707If you didn’t know, we dogs like sniffing things as much as we do walking, and so it’s important that I check out whatever needs to be checked out as I’m walking. Sometimes this drives the guy I live with crazy. He’s all wanting to keep going, but I’m like, there’s something else here that I need to investigate. It is my walk, after all. And so he does let me linger.

For some reason this picture doesn’t have me in it, which I think is a shame, since it would have been so much better.17120708We walk by this office building and even when it’s getting dark there are lights on in some of the offices. The guy I live with used to work late into the night and he said that he liked seeing those lights on, thinking about people working late into the night.

He hasn’t worked for ten years but often thinks about this time of year, when he was working, and how it would be really, really cold and he’d be working, late into the night, all by himself, and then come home, and the house would be all decorated with lights, and there would be a tree, with lights, and even though the holidays were really hectic with driving back and forth constantly, visiting people, and most of the fun was sucked out of the holidays that way, with him only having the one day off and having to drive and drive all over town, there was still a little bit of time when he could sit on the couch with the purebred border collies who lived here at the time, and look at the lights on the tree, and there was this sense of quiet beauty, and he could feel pretty good about things, before he had to go back to work the next day.

And now all of that is gone.

The guy I live with’s friend lost her mom a couple of months ago and she asked him if he’d go with her to a “coping with the holidays” thing for people who lost loved ones, and he said he would, so they went, and I guess it was pretty good. One of the things he said was especially good was the person giving the class said that you would always be sad, just be able to live with the sadness more as time went by. The guy I live with can be pretty sad at this time of year, but he lives with it. And, of course, he lives with me, and I make everything much more delightful, as I imagine you know.

Well, what this is all leading up to is that he got to talking with a friend and eventually a Certain Subject came up, which I haven’t talked about before.

And what that is, is the unfinished novel and huge stack of poetry sitting downstairs. The guy I live with said he knew about it all along, because he would go downstairs and his wife would be writing in these notebooks.

He didn’t know what to do with all of it, and it just sat there.

His friend suggested that he burn it.

The guy I live with thought about this for a while and decided that it was one of the rare bits of advice that was actually good. Most of the advice people give to people who have lost loved ones is stupid beyond belief, or even hurtful, according to the guy I live with, but this was good. His wife never wanted him to read this, and he certainly wasn’t going to do that, or share it with anyone. So it was going to be burned. 17120711Of course, “not being a complete idiot”, he leafed through a bit of it, first. Not reading, just looking to see if there was anything other than writing there. Certainly not money.

This fell out.IMG_5693_edited-1That’s a picture of the late Pooka, whose named was really spelled “Pwcca” in the Gaelic way. He was the first purebred border collie to die, even though he was the second one who came to the house. The guy I live with’s wife was utterly devastated when Pooka died.

When he saw this he cried and cried. She really loved her “black-and-white boys”. The guy I live with constantly says she would have loved me, too, and maybe even more, because I’m different, and, of course, beyond totally excellent.

He showed it to his other friend, the one he goes to see all the time (I really like her, too) who likes Scottish things (the old Scottish poem around the border reads Down the rushy glen/ we daren’t go a-hunting/ for fear of little men/ up the airy mount.) She said it looked like a sketch for a sampler, which made perfect sense. It was probably going to be a memorial sampler.

He saved this and will probably have it framed.

A whole bunch of stuff was burned this evening. Technically I guess you’re not supposed to burn paper but the guy I live with said to say he was trying to start a fire in the chiminea.

He saved this too. This is the late Chess, when he was super little. He was on the bed upstairs, but before the soft Pottery Barn sheets were acquired.17120712His nose “eventually filled in”, which was a relief to hear. The guy I live with said he called him “Piglet Lips” when Chess was really little, because he looked like a piglet. And then later he called him “Piglitty” even though his nose had filled it. There were even Piglitty songs. I sometimes get to hear them on my walks. Any song featuring purebred border collies is high quality, if you didn’t know.

So that’s what’s been going on. Not much gardening. The guy I live with says we won’t have a tree this year, even though people tell him he should, because he knows that’s not what he wants, and anyway, having a tree in the house sounds kind of scary.

I do notice that certain things I’ve never seen before get set out, little things, here and there, which is interesting, at least for a while.

Well, so anyway, after all this, guess what happened tonight? 17120710I thought it was promising, but the guy I live with said it was supposed to warm up and get nice again.

I know this has been a really rambling and possibly sentimental post. It’s “that time of year”, according to the guy I live with. Sometimes he knows stuff.

I guess I’ll let you go, with another not-hugely-in-focus picture of me. In fact this one is so unfocused it made me wonder, until the guy I live with claimed that it gave the impression of great speed. 17120706

Until next time, then.


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22 Responses to that time of year

  1. lifecameos says:

    Mani it is good that the guy you live with has you to keep him company at this time of year.

  2. tonytomeo says:

    Well Mani, this is a busy time of year for you. You are very fortunate to be a dog. Not many people are qualified for the type of work you do, especially at times such as this. Unfortunately, your job will probably never be quite finished. I know you will do your best.

  3. Astrid Bowlby says:

    Dear Mani and the guy you live with,
    I just want to say thanks for your posts. I laugh a little. I cry a little. I appreciate them and read every one.
    Kindest regards,

  4. Rosie46 says:

    Mani – the guy you live with must be very glad you look out for him like you do “at that time of year”. I get a bit sad sometimes too and I just love reading your posts even if I stay a long way from where you do in Scotland.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; the guy I live with said that the first two purebred border collies who lived here had what you might call “official names” in Scottish Gaelic. (There’s a dictionary upstairs.)
      I have a Sanskrit name, which is pretty weird. He calls me “The Noodle”, though, as in “naughty noodle”, which is what the other purebred border collies were called when they were naughty. Which I hardly ever am, of course.

  5. Oh Mani,

    Tell the guy you live with that I feel him right in my heart. And I thinking burning the journals was perfect. I had a huge stack of my own, and I’ve recently been shredding them. They aren’t the kind of thing for others eyes. Tell him it’s the right thing–along with keeping a few of the drawings and mementos…

    Enjoy those walks.

    Patricia C.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks. The guy I live with burned some stuff (a stack of paper six inches thick) last night (trying to start a fire of course) and said that as the sheets went in his eyes of course fell on some of the verse and he hesitated, the way you might, and then went ahead with it.
      He said that the spirals on the notebooks wouldn’t burn so he’ll have to spend a whole bunch of time unspiralling them. Fortunately this isn’t something I can do. (I could have shredded them completely when I was little, naturally.)

  6. That sampler was an excellent find, and the burning a good solution. Thinking of you both!

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; there’s more to burn, so fires to pretend to light, in the chiminea, which by the way has rusted so much that he has to be careful. The snow melted and it didn’t even freeze last night, by the way.

  7. Barb K says:

    This post made me cry. But an okay kind of crying, a we’re all in this together kind of crying.

  8. ks says:

    It’s hard to let go of stuff sometimes. I lost someone too, and what I have kept are the things he made for me (potting bench, garden chairs and so on) but when they start to fall apart I have to say goodbye and get rid of them. I’m glad the guy you live with decided to say goodbye to the papers. I hope you will show us a photo of the framed sampler design.Make sure you nag the guy you live with to make that happen.

  9. Dear sweet Mani, if you looked at me all squinty-eyed as in that first photo you’d get your supper darn quick. And if you looked at me with those huge just-short-of-pleading googly eyes I’d go fetch the leash darn quick. I know you exercise your demeanors as part of your duty to keep the guy you live with focused on the present and living in the now. The past is a good place too, but sometimes private stuff not meant for other eyes, even beloved other eyes, must be put to the torch.
    Speaking of, your sunset makes the hills look afire. We have lots of ash and smoke swirling around here just now.
    The cartoon for the sampler and the photo of young Chess came near to undoing me. Good thing we have you around, Mani, barking at squirrels.
    Late-night lights in a dark world are meant just exactly to brighten this Season. A good pot of chili helps too.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; I had some “eating issues” last year which have definitely been resolved. I get Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream dry food, with a couple of spoonfuls of canned on top. I really like salmon. The guy I live with says something about my after-dinner breath which of course I completely ignore. I get an Ark Natural to brush my teeth and that makes everything better. I like them, too. Yes, we’ve seen the pictures of the fires. The guy I live with says they’re terrifying.

  10. Tears here for the memories, the sampler sketch, and the photo of young Chess, and the feelings about burning the papers.

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