the dark days

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 the latest news from our garden, which at this time of year is not really all that much. You may remember me from such posts as “My Walk At Dusk”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. You might be able to see what happened here last night.The weather has been really nice and so of course it had to get colder and snow. It only snowed about half an inch. The plastic on the Snowdrop Frame is sort of ugly and super-conspicuous, don’t you think? The guy I live with began to talk about getting a green tarp or something like that to cover the frame so that there wasn’t this white plastic thing in the garden. The frame doesn’t really need to be covered but it is anyway.

The snowdrops in there seem marginally happier than the ones out in the garden.

It isn’t really true that nothing happened; something happened, like it always does. The rest of the notebooks, which I mentioned a few posts ago, went up in smoke today. Along with a regular fire in the chiminea because it was so damp and you’re not supposed to just burn stuff. The guy I live with said that was it for the burning, after he was done, and also for the chiminea, which is so rusted now it’s become useless.

You can see it here, though I wasn’t looking at it. I guess it will just become an object now, because getting rid of it wouldn’t be easy at all. The chiminea was painted with anti-rust paint for years but in the last several years has been neglected, like a lot of other things, except for me, of course. The notebooks weren’t just burned, they were gone through before tossed into the fire. He said he was hoping that maybe there was a secret bank account number hidden in the notebooks. There wasn’t.

These fell out. They were posted on Facebook, too. I guess I knew that cats lived here when the guy I live with and his wife moved into the house in December of 1985, but these sketches were proof of that.

This is Mister Pipo (pronounced “peepo”); the guy I live with got him for Christmas in 1976. Imagine getting a cat for Christmas. Almost makes my blood curdle.This is New Kitty; the guy I live with got him a year or so later. He couldn’t think of a name and so decided to be clever. Both of the cats had to stay inside and the dogs got to go out, which the cats thought wasn’t fair at all, but the consequences of being an outside cat here can be unpleasant. We won’t talk about that any more, but if you read the rest of the post you may be able to figure things out.

To get to more pleasant things, if you don’t mind. This is a sketch of Flurry and Pooka, two purebred border collies who lived here, sleeping on the bed downstairs, done on December 13, 1995.I hear they were excellent companions, which doesn’t surprise me in the least.

The guy I live with has been sitting with me on the couch, in the evening, not doing anything else, just sitting with me, and that’s turned out to be so excellent that I hope we do it a lot.

He isn’t going to put up a tree. People keep saying to, and he keeps saying no. He said that sometimes people have good intentions, or that they just aren’t thinking things through, which is okay since it’s typical for people to be that way, but there isn’t going to be a tree in the house. There can be an imaginary tree, and I guess I can imagine that, and it would be okay. There’s a huge scrape mark on the ceiling anyway from the one time when he put up a tree and miscalculated its height. The lady of the house got mad at him for a few minutes.

He said people sometimes think they can relate to another person’s experiences, when they often can’t. One time at work he went to a conference where people talked about job stress, and some people said that everyone else had no idea what stress was, because they had the highest-stress job of all. The guy I live with, who had done that job, had also worked outside, and one day someone pulled a gun on him. Everyone agreed that he won the stress award that day.

He sometimes talks to a guy who walks his dog past our house and who lost his wife after a long illness. I get jealous when I see the guy I live with cuddle the dog, but he says not to worry. I still do. I guess no one can decide which is worse, watching someone go over a long period of time, or in just a few minutes, which is what happened here; the guy I live with was surrounded by paramedics and sheriff’s deputies. He said that both are bad, and that the way you get through these things, these really bad things, is from something inside you, and not from people telling you what to do or think or how to feel. Maybe you make a tiny little change.

I know this bunny has been on the kitchen table ever since his friend gave it to him. I tried to get it once but was told not to. It’s always in the same place. That’s a tiny change. It may seem trivial but it isn’t. The guy I live with said that where the apartment houses are now, there used to be a field, and the canal ran through it, and that one day Pooka jumped into the canal, not knowing that “canal” meant “full of water” and he got really scared, and never wanted to do that again, and no one ever forced him to. Instead they let Pooka do what made him feel safe, and good, and not try to make him do a high-dive into a pond or anything like that.

He also said that the days are getting shorter, which I thought was a bit unnerving and made me feel uncomfortable, until he said that in just a few days the days will start getting longer. So the days are getting shorter, but pretty soon they’ll start getting longer. He might be making this up.

I guess there is also a tendency to freak out about something called “the future”. I’m not sure what that refers to, and maybe I don’t want to know. He bought some pills which he said might help him with this.We’ll see if those help. It’ll be interesting to see if he can control his own mind. I say it’s highly unlikely. In the meantime, I do know that one of my important duties is to keep the guy I live with in the present. Not in the past or future. Like when I’m on my walk and I suddenly decide we need to go a different way.

Well, anyway. I’m sorry to be so serious for so long. We purebred border collies are mostly a lighthearted bunch (though the guy I live with said that Pooka was always super-serious).

It snowed, as I said before (a long time ago). The canal is empty but it has snow in it. (So I guess technically not empty, but maybe you know what I mean.) Some of the willows have an attractive red coloring to their twigs now.On our way back home, the guy I live with said something, and pointed the camera at the cottonwood. He took this picture as we started out on the walk, but I meant to show you which cottonwood. Even though there’s only one. Like to remind you. The one behind our house. (There’s a boxelder tree in front of the cottonwood.)So we walked over to the cottonwood and the guy I live with stared up into it. He said something because I got him all entwined in my leash since, according to him, I wasn’t paying attention, even though paying attention is the epitome of being a purebred border collie, but, you know, whatever.

This is as good a picture as he could get, what with being entangled in the leash and all.The first owl of the season. It just looked at us. I know I’ve heard some hooting lately, and the guy I live with said we’ll hear more as the weeks go on. The guy I live with said they won’t try to grab me, which was a relief. I just hope they don’t keep me awake at night. 

Until next time, then.




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14 Responses to the dark days

  1. tonytomeo says:

    I wish there were a good reply I could make to your post. I have lost several people, and some relatively recently. (I just wrote about two of them.) I can tell you that no one gets it. I know it is difficult for a pure bred border collie who has made a career of service to the guy you live with to understand. But really; no one gets it. Trying to get it can be trivializing and even hurtful. If I compare any two of my losses, I know that each one is unique. Trying to compare any one of them to a loss of someone else is impossible and unfair. Therefore, I will say nothing more about it. I know you are doing a good job.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; the guy I live with says you’re right. Totally. The world is full of people who offer advice. Of course they don’t read this blog; maybe they should. The blog started becoming a real downer when the guy I live with did it by himself which is why he had Chess take over the blog, so there won’t be a whole lot of super-serious posts, what with me being so light-hearted and living totally in the present (except around dinner time), but this was on his mind and there isn’t much of anything else to talk about at this time of year. Except snowdrops and paperwhites. I guess I’ll have to read up on paperwhites because there are things happening in the room upstairs.

  2. Rosie46 says:

    Mani – what a very important job you have, especially over the next few weeks, helping the guy you live with get through these days when It is very dark indeed (and that’s only outside!) I am sure you are up to the task.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks. Keeping the guy I live with in the present moment is my most important job. Though not to the extent that he forgets to go out and bring back food and biscuits for me, of course. He does tend to forget things and so I also have to be the one doing all the reminding around here.

  3. Thinking of you, Mani, and the guy you live with. It’ll be good when we get past the darkest day.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; it’s really not as dark here as the guy I live with makes it out to be. So far, anyway. It snowed and got really cold last night but this morning it’s sunny and warm. That does help a lot.

  4. Barb K says:

    The thoughts of the person you live with, while sad sometimes, are filled with wisdom and understanding. And probably many years of difficult thoughts. They help me with my sadness. So…were you hurrying home in that last picture Mani? It has that fast look. After the 21st I think we get about 11 more minutes of daylight each week until June 21st, but I think I read somewhere that the change is not equal each day. For example, right after the winter equinox we only get about a minute per day. Fascinating, right?

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; I guess my tummy clock won’t be too affected when dinner time rolls around. I think that last picture just wasn’t in focus. That happens a lot. Sometimes we do have to hurry home, like if I hear a loud noise. We purebred border collies do not like loud noises. And there have been firecrackers here lately. But other than that my walks are pretty leisurely, and I get to do almost as much sniffing as I want. The guy I live with did have to tell me about all the sad things which have happened here, so things would make more sense.

  5. Okay, here’s the thing, Mani, your guy you live with is doing some difficult processing the likes of which I know little about and at a difficult, dark time of year. Some may say — well, really who cares about what some may say. I do like to see photos of you, and willows turning reddish, and snow filling an empty canal, and owls in trees giving off regard. But somewhere around the moment the equinox ticks on over to the light, could you maybe give the guy you live with a slight nip on the posterior – not an act I usually advocate, but Circumstances – or an extra high, strong, *unexpected* velociraptor leap so as to startle and rattle the brain waves into new channels.
    I look forward to reading about your research into paperwhites. Mine have been showing in the garden since October.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with has been reading up on adding alcohol to the paperwhite water. This is apparently a real thing. To keep them from falling over. Something like gin or vodka, neither of which we have here. He said he might go to the liquor store and buy a bottle of Everclear and tell the person it was for paperwhites, and wait for the reaction. Or nothing of the kind will happen, and the paperwhites will still flower as usual. It’s not supposed to snow much or get really cold for the next week and so it will be sunny and things might not be too bad, though there was an issue with the car starting this morning. (It was looked at today by someone who knows stuff.) So probably there won’t be any reason to chomp the guy I live with unless getting a new battery doesn’t solve the problem with “our metal friend” (the one that takes me to Day Care and brings me home).

  6. I am also looking forward to getting past the shortest day. Ahhh Spring is just around the corner. I looked it up and it said what? Oh that must be wrong. Anyhow, don’t worry Mani, Jack the rat terrier also hates the long dark days of Winter and RAIN! Why don’t they have a doggie umbrella that could strap on the dogs back somehow? Until then I guess he is stuck walking under my umbrella. Poor guy. Border Collies are much tougher.
    Anyhow, I enjoy reading about your adventures so much so keep up the good work writing! I will share with Jack and he will give you a high five paws up!
    Owls are one of my favorite birds! I can’t wait to see which tree they choose this year for their nest. So much to look forward to coming soon!!!!

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks, yes, I am super tough. About most things. I do like going for walks when there’s snow and it’s really cold.

      • Cindee says:

        My Grand dogs are huskies. They love the cold weather. It is to hot in the Summer here for them but they just lay near a cooler vent. Jack likes to lay out on the gravel driveway in the 100+ temps. He loves the Summer.(-:

      • paridevita says:

        We purebred border collies do not like hot weather. The guy I live with talks about getting something called “an air conditioner” all the time, but nothing has ever happened.

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