Simple pleasures…

I think I chose the right time to move back home to Missouri ~ cold winters seem to be a thing of the past.  This year’s winter doesn’t even deserve to be called a winter.  It certainly doesn’t compare to the winters of my childhood when we had numerous snow days home from school, and my mom and I would walk the mile to Sloan’s store at Swiss (the precursor to the Swiss Meat & Sausage Co) where I always wanted, of all things on a cold day, a Fudgsicle.  It’s early January, and we are having spring weather with a high of 62 degrees today – this is either global warming at its finest, or a karmic force rewarding me for enduring the twenty-three snowy, gloomy winters I spent in Alaska!

My daily walk today turned into a stroll.  Normally I like to get my heartbeat up, and feel a little winded by the time I’m done, but today I just wanted to savor the warm sun and spend as much time outside as I could – maybe to avoid things I need to do and address.  My mind is full of thoughts and concerns as we go into the New Year – I’ve finished my MBA degree and now it’s time to find new employment – a task that seems both exciting and intimidating at the same time.  My husband, Mick, and I just purchased a foreclosed historic property in Hermann – an old brick building, circa 1850 – that we plan to renovate for additional visitor lodging along with our Grapevine Guest Suite cottage.  This, too, seems to be a challenging, as well as motivating, prospect.  Our plate is quite full of unrealized goals as we go into 2012, and when I wake in the mornings, I’m not sure whether to jump out of bed with enthusiasm or bury my head under the covers!

Recently I read a book titled Rules of Civility in which a single young woman named Katey, in the late 1930s, finds herself struggling at times to find her way in the world.  Katey relies on the only words of wisdom her father ever provided to her – regardless of how daunting the circumstances were for him, he knew that as long as when he woke each morning and he still looked forward to his first cup of coffee, then he could make it through any day.  “When a person loses the ability to take pleasure in the mundane, she has probably put herself in unnecessary danger” ~ Amor Towles. 

That line in the book resonated with me to the point that I had to write it down and keep it as a reminder.  For Katey, the main character, the pleasure came from reading Dickens.  For myself, at least today, my pleasure came from an ordinary walk on an uncommonly beautiful winter day.  Our neighbor’s dog, Sophie, joined me which forced me to slow down even more as she sniffed out her own mundane pleasures along the road. 

Our neighbor dog, Sophie, joining me on my walk.

Taking my time, and letting my mind drift away from some of my self-imposed pressures actually energized me.  It was anything but a waste of time.  As long as something as simple as a walk along a country road, watching a dog chase a squirrel up a tree, continues to bring me pleasure, well, then I think I’m ready to tackle whatever the year brings…Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

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A goodbye to Callie…

We lost our girl, Callie, this weekend.  After having several bouts with severe arthritis in her back legs, on Saturday her hind quarters became paralyzed.  So, after 13 delightful years with our best friend, Mick and I said goodbye to her.

As far as dogs go, Callie had quite an interesting life.  She came from a litter of 13, and was born in an old VW bus in a campground in Skagway, Alaska.  Her mother’s owner, Abby, was working in town for the summer and living in the bus, and her dog, Two Socks, had gotten pregnant.  I’m sure Abby was shocked to realize she would have to find homes for 13 puppies, but she carefully chose the homes, and we were one of the lucky recipients. 

Abby and all of us would have birthday parties for Callie and her siblings each summer, usually at the beach at Long Bay, with plenty of space to run around.  Beers for us, and hot dogs and meatloaf birthday cake for Callie, Jasmine, Blue Bear, Lucius, Hoss, Worm, et al.  Then we would take a group picture to commemorate the day.

When we moved to Haines, Alaska, we bought a house with large cathedral windows in the front overlooking the river and ocean inlet.  One of the first things we did was build a window seat there, and that became Callie’s domain.  People stopping by often commented that she must be the luckiest dog in the world with that view.  She kept an eye out for bears, emitting a low growl when she saw one.  She somehow knew not to bark and bring attention to herself, but still wanted to give us a warning.  Strangely enough, the only wild animal that actually scared her were the turkeys here in Missouri.  They always sent her running for cover!

Callie and I in the Redwoods

She was Mick’s constant companion when he was home from his job on the ferry, and especially after he retired.  They were inseparable.  Mick was very active at the community radio station when we lived in Haines, and Callie would lie on the floor of the on-air room while Mick did shows.  You could always recognize Mick’s truck before you saw him because Callie would be across his chest, hanging out the window with one paw slung casually over the rear-view mirror. 

When we left Alaska, we had our car packed with very little room to spare.  Callie was wedged in between coolers and boxes, but she took it all in stride, excitedly sniffing out the corners of a new motel room when we stopped for the night.  She saw a lot of the country – Seattle, the Oregon Coast, the California redwoods, even the Grand Canyon.  She was a hit there, posing for pictures with the other tourists.  After being on the road for a month and a half, the car had become home to her. Even after we got settled in Missouri, she would often want to get in the back seat of the Jeep for a nap.

On the road again: Callie on our journey from Alaska to Missouri

I have heard people say over the years that getting attached to your pet is just a heartbreak waiting to happen.  Losing Callie will be a heart ache for quite some time, but we don’t mind.  The companionship and love she gave us for all those years is worth it.