Before Melissa went to Deerfield this morning, we drove over to dog beach to let the girls run around for a bit. We’re at the beginning of what’s shaping up to be a genuine stretch of warmth around these parts, and N&N seemed happy to be free of coats, leashes, and frankly their constant proximity to us.
That last point is rather striking when you think about it; sure, they’re animals and likely don’t have the whole “self-awareness” thing like we do. That said, they’re living the rest of their entire lives just a few feet away from us: sleeping, eating, or at the end of a six-foot leash. Now, we can leave them whenever we please… but maybe there’s something about being all alone once in a while that appeals to dogs, too.
We push our way through the second chain link gate at the entrance to the beach, piled high with sand on both sides from lack of use over the winter. The sound of the leash clicking as it unhooks from their collars is the girls’ permission to run as far and as fast as they want. It’s a powerful signal for them, and rarely do they pass up the opportunity.
We’ll throw a tennis ball, for instance, and rather than bring it back to repeat the sequence Nina will instead trot to the far end of the beach and plop herself down in the wet sand – as if to say, “Ha! Alone at last…”
Nell behaves similarly. It’s all we can do to tire her out by throwing balls or encouraging her to chase the other dogs, because after one or two sprints, she too will jog to the far end of the beach and then turn left, up into the small sand dunes. There she wanders through overgrown prairie grass, which is ignored by the maintenance crew. She lets it brush against her stomach and pays no attention to our whistling, hollering and commands to come back. I know she can hear us; her ears flick as she hears her name. But she is overwhelmed in that little world… endlessly examining the sand, the wildflowers, the tiny shells and driftwood.
They should get to feel that way once in a while.
While painting the family room windows last week while Melissa was out of town, I wondered how many other noxious fumes I could fill the house with. So I brought up the original delivery and feed boards from our letterpress in the
garage studio (darn it!) and gave them a few coats of gloss varnish with a foam brush.
The wood is riddled with deep crevices – which is either charming, or evidence they ought to be replaced – depending on how you look at things like that. Regardless, practicality dictated that they needed to be sealed to keep dirt and ink from eventually getting on the paper that sits there after its journey through the press.
They now have a shiny new skin that should last for years to come… and in their role as the first impression for anyone standing before the press, I think they do their job admirably.
Above, the smaller delivery board (for blank paper) and feed board (for the printed stack) in their original state. Below, a detail of the hardware and the second coat of gloss varnish drying.
There’s a silent but unmistakable race that happens each morning in our house. The course stretches 20 feet – from bedroom to family room, and the finish line is to park yourself in the spot warm sunshine on the floor. But that’s hardly the end of the story…
If Nina wins, she’ll eventually – reluctantly – get up for a drink or to eat breakfast, as Nell swoops in and flings herself down as if to put an exclamation point on her newly claimed territory. Coming in after a walk around the block begins another round of “musical beds”, where Nell might get to the warm spot first. But when the afternoon snack of peanut butter-covered rawhides are introduced, the bed-swapping madness resumes; both dogs are on their feet again, quietly stealing each other’s treats, running back to the sunshine-soaked bed or whisking their loot to distant corners of the house to be chewed in private.
As evening approaches – the last strains of sunlight finally turns deep magenta, creeping up the wall to disappear for the night – the battle ends. The girls once again have the whole house to share, and each finds a creative new spot to sprawl out on for the night. There’s nothing to compete for now, and so they both save their energy for morning.
After all, it’s just a dozen hours ’til the race begins again.