Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I do my best thinking when I'm taking a walk

As I was taking the dogs for a walk this morning, I was thinking about how amazing it is that Lucie has turned into such a good little walker. For so many years she would pull so hard against the leash that she was walking upright on her two hind legs for most of the walk. We had to buy her a harness as she would just choke herself and retch repeatedly. We could not curb that behavior. She was such a terrible walker that not only did we stop walking her but Bobo as well, and that was wrong, because that boy sure did love his walks.

We used to walk Rufus by himself when we lived in Kent, and I told myself that Lucie didn't care as we left her standing by the door every day. When we made the big move out here, Julie and Andrew took the dogs in for several days to facilitate that move. Julie took Rufus and Lucie out multiple times a day and walked them around the apartment building. Lucie likes to walk now, she reported to me, and she is good at it. Better than Rufus, really. So I have taken to walking them both, and it's true, in her dotage, Lucie trots right along, stopping to sniff and mark many places, which Rufus eschews for the all-out pulling me along as I tell him repeatedly to stop. I am sure we entertain the neighbors as we make our rounds.

Lucie snores loudly behind my chair as I type this, and I know I will have to pick her up and carry her to another room when I am on to my next task. She doesn't see or hear well, but she still "swims" at Ben every day when he gets home from work, and she will endlessly flip Hezbollah (her little stuffed duck) off the chair in Ben's room as he tries to change his clothes. When we are out and about, Lucie is routinely mistaken for a puppy, and I guess that is what she will always be to us, as well. A little, brown, curly-haired puppy. I hope she stays that way for a long, long time. And I'll keep walking her just as long as she wants to do it.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

strikes and gutters

The success of our plantings this first year in Maryland has been pretty hit or miss. For some reason - maybe it's human nature - I tend to focus on the failures. Our big (read expensive) cherry tree died - twice. The nursery replaced it once free of charge, but now it's just a loss to us. We have subsequently decided that exact spot probably isn't a good place for a tree. The butterfly bush barely survived the torrents of rain that fell, and we don't know if it will make it through the fall and winter in its weakened condition.The tomatoes and peppers were fabulous while they lasted, but the excessive rains of late August and all of September, really, killed the plants dead. So our vegetable season was early, but short. Alas that I won't pick another cherry tomato and eat it fresh from the vine until next July!

Our potted plants did not fare well, either. The geraniums I planted and placed on the front steps were in poor soil, and I knew it. They didn't even struggle, really, and the leaves turned yellow right away and they stopped flowering. Ben saved them by re-potting them and putting them somewhere else, but we had no flowers in the front of the house all summer. The flowers I planted in the big concrete container looked great the day I planted them, and never after. One of them is blooming now - in October. When the violas were played out, I bought mums to replace them. It seemed like they were dying from the day Ben planted them. I don't know why.

That being said, our passion flower bloomed this year like never before, and the mandevilla looks positively tropical, with its glossy, dark green leaves and huge, bright pink flowers. My mail order roses are climbing the fence in record time, and haven't stopped growing since we planted them, I think. The willow we planted has loved the wet weather, needless to say, and yesterday I noticed that I have flowers blooming outside both of my bedroom windows. How nice is that?

So I will try to swallow my disappointment over this year's growing season, but it's a process, you know? First I have to be disappointed and pissed off, then, after a while, I will be able to say, okay, what worked and what didn't? What should we do differently next year? Because, after all, it is our first year here.