On patience

Spring is the hardest season to wait for. Especially here in the low-lying mountains of Virginia. Spring showed its lovely face for a few days back in March and then retreated. The sun has been rare for weeks and the high every day is barely over 40. This is depressing, but I am trying to be patient. (It is the worst.) However, this weekend promises better days! Tomorrow, it might even reach the 50s! And the Charlottesville Farmers’ Market is opening again. Anna and I are going to meet there, make brunch, and then take her German Shepherd for a walk around town. These are all nice things. See, Spring, don’t you want to come visit now? Doesn’t it sound pleasant here? It would be even pleasanter if you would grace us with your presence.

Waiting for spring is hard. Waiting for things in general has always been hard for me. Having freshly turned 23, I have decided that this will be The Year of Patience. The year of waiting for a dog. The year of waiting for life plans to materialize. The year of just waiting, not expecting anything, but waiting with contentment.

Something I’ve been doing that has helped increase my store of patience and contentment: Every night before I fall asleep, I write down something I’m thankful for on an index card. I’m saving them in a fat photo album. I started doing this on January 1, 2011, and plan to continue it until the year is over. It’s hard to be sad or anxious when you realize that you have literally hundreds of things to be thankful for.

Have a patient weekend. I will be trying!

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience…

Birthdays and dogs: Missing Emma

Today, as I turn 23, I am musing on dogs. Of course.

My dog obsession has reached nearly unsustainable levels. Just ask my sweet, patient husband. I talk about dogs all the time. I dream about them. Dogs are the first and last thing on my mind every day. It’s embarrassing and bordering on psychological mania, but I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO. (My boss, a fellow dog enthusiast, and I talked about it and mutually agreed that it would be in our company’s best interests if they blocked PetFinder for both of us.) We can’t have dogs in our current apartment and we’ve committed to living here until May 2012. I may not make it that long, but I am going to undergo a Year of Patience and Character-Building while I wait for my own dog.

I think a lot about our childhood dog, Emma. I picked her out of the litter, around my birthday, and I was responsible for choosing the breed (Australian Shepherd). We loved her a lot, but we also didn’t give her everything she needed. I have regrets. I was young and I didn’t give her enough attention. I also underestimated an Aussie’s need to have a job. I was too busy being 15 and worrying about boys and stuff. Her barking and herding were natural expressions of her breed heritage, but we saw these traits as nuisances and weren’t caring enough to give her appropriate channels for her energy. When we moved to our new house, my parents gave her away to family friends who lived on a farm. Emma, however, was allowed run around unchecked and was soon killed by a truck she was chasing. I wish she were still alive so I could re-adopt her now. In many ways, she was an exceptional dog. Her intelligence was remarkable and I still subjectively believe I haven’t seen a more beautiful dog in my life. She deserved better, and today, I just want her back.

So, please excuse me while I mull over my regrets and tear up at the last remaining pictures I have of her. I know. I have a problem. But look at her face! My sweet, crazy birthday dog.

Emma as a puppy.
Kelsey and Emma at our grandparent's house.
Sam and Emma were primarily family rivals for the position of the youngest child.
Dad was responsible for undoing all of the obedience training I had done with her.
She was really terrible about riding in the car. She started drooling and foaming and we had to give her Dramamine.
She was very happy, though.
Pride Week.
She did love family camping trips.
I always felt like she was one step ahead of me.
I named her Emma after the Austen novel. They were both unbelievably pretty and arrogant.
On squirrel patrol. Miss you, Em.

OK. Done with the self-indulgence. But I do miss her often. Anyone have any tips on how to stave off dog mania? I can’t keep living like this. Just ask Guion.

Monday Snax

First: HAPPY 19th BIRTHDAY, GRACE! You are, by far, the most accomplished and incredible 19-year-old I’ve ever met. I will never be as cool as you. Hope your migrant worker-life in New Zealand is still going well and that you will come back soon. Very soon. I feel like I’ve been living for a year without you already.

“Mmm, that’s what that veggie burger was missing: Some meat.”–Guion at lunch, after putting some bacon on his “garden vegetable” Boca burger. Cue eye-roll sequence.

I had a busy week, kids. Slim pickings with the Snax today. The links generally involve cute animals, though, so there’s that.

Happy Year of the Rabbit from Frances and Angela! The cutest Chinese New Year’s card I’ve ever received. (WXTCHOU)

There Was an NPR Story About That; Let Me Find It. Work it, American Eskimo Dog with the laptop. (Hipster Puppies)

These Corgis Are Really Good at Tetherball. Just because. (Best Week Ever)

Self-Portraits by Ari Gabel. Haunting and so interesting; I feel like there is a story lurking beneath each photograph. (Miss Moss)

Pratt Libraries Ex Libris Collection. Because, well, it’s our name, and because I always loved getting pretty bookplates when I was little, even though they’re fairly impractical things to spend money on. (Wolf Eyebrows)

Famous Authors and Their Animal Counterparts. These pairings are really great. Joan Didion? The perfect nightingale. And John Updike really does look just like that elephant. Any author/animal pairs you’d suggest? I’d like to nominate G.K. Chesterton as a walrus. (Flavorwire)

Monday Snax

With every day that passes, I become more and more excited that January is almost over. I know a lot of dearly beloved people who have January as their birth month, but I’m sorry, guys: It is by far the worst 31 days of the year. I will forgive it once it’s gone. However, the bright side of January is that it has given me ample time to read, drink tea, and–yes, I admit it, world!–watch “Lost” with my husband. He’s doing a pretty good job of convincing me that it’s addictive. We also bought a coffee table yesterday, which was pretty exciting, because I think it means we’re done with buying furniture for our apartment. Mainly because nothing else could possibly fit

Snax in a white bowl of pomegranate arils:

Sit. Stay. Parse. Good Girl! A Border Collie–who knows 1,000 words–teaches us about language. A quote from the article: “Chaser proved to be a diligent student. Unlike human children, she seems to love her drills and tests and is always asking for more. ‘She still demands four to five hours a day,’ Dr. Pilley said. ‘I’m 82, and I have to go to bed to get away from her.'” (New York Times)

Space Invaders: Why You Should Never, Ever Use Two Spaces after a Period. Slate Writer Farhard Manjoo, I LOVE YOU. FINALLY. Someone is talking about this! “What galls me about two-spacers isn’t just their numbers. It’s their certainty that they’re right. Over Thanksgiving dinner last year, I asked people what they considered to be the “correct” number of spaces between sentences. The diners included doctors, computer programmers, and other highly accomplished professionals. Everyone—everyone!—said it was proper to use two spaces.” Me too, same as me, I’m the same! Please. If you are a repeat space offender, read this article. Spread the word. (Slate)

Same Books, Three Ways. Cate’s excellent post about how she’s chosen to display her books as she’s moved. Beautiful! (The Charlotte)

Fashion of the Future. Probably the best video I’ve seen all week: Fashion designers from the 1930s predict what clothes we’ll be wearing in 2000. Totally amazing. (The Charlotte)

Life on a Farm. Brief thoughts from Grace as she begins her stint on a New Zealand farm. (Como Say What?)

Figure-Figure. Lovely pairings of photographs and paintings. (Miss Moss)

Look: Napping. I’ve never been one who was actually able to nap; I feel guilty for napping. But these photographs could almost change my mind. Everyone looks so peaceful. (Where the Lovely Things Are)

Morbid Curiosity Leading Many Voters to Support Palin. “A recent poll shows 62% of Americans say they don’t want to vote for Palin, but just kinda have to see what what would happen.” (The Onion)

Dogs in Ginza Wearing School Uniforms and Glasses. Japan, this is taking your little dog obsession too far; too far, I tell you! (Tokyo Times)

However, Since You Are Twelve… “We appreciate your interest in the Marine Corps. However, since you are twelve, you won’t be eligible to be a Marine for a while.” (Letters of Note)

New Game! Is it Etsy or Anthropologie? Hah. Loves it. And it can be very hard to tell. (Regretsy)

This Is the Brooklyn We Live In, This Is the Brooklyn I Remember. A beautiful post about growing up in New York City and then raising your own kids there. It makes me think about what a different life she and her daughters must lead, compared to those of who weren’t raised in the greatest metropolis. (Sweet Fine Day)

Postscript: Reynolds Price. A thoughtful eulogy for North Carolina writer Reynolds Price, who passed away last week. (The Book Bench)

7 Common Investing Mistakes. A place to start, at least. (Wise Bread)

Light Locations. Such a beautiful photographs of such peaceful, bright space. I want to create rooms like this in a house one day. (Ill Seen, Ill Said)

Bruce. I feel like there’s a great short story in this. (FOUND Magazine)

Wednesday Snax

Barely-there mountains

Because sometimes that’s just how it goes. It’s finally starting to feel like fall around here! Gigi and I had to scrape ice off the windshield yesterday morning. Our giant, unsightly gas furnace has also been roaring to life: literally. It wakes me up every morning, it’s so loud. I think it will preclude us from having any house guests for the winter. I don’t think you could get any sleep in the living room with that beast.

Belated snax, with a sprig of parsley:

Why Sisterly Chats Make People Happier. Apparently, all people who have sisters are happier than those who do not have them! Loves it. I’ve got two great ones, and I’m plenty happy, so I guess that proves it. (NY Times)

The Ballerina Project. Emily and Catherine, this is for you. A photographer takes gorgeous shots of ballerinas around New York City. I’m enamored. (The Ballerina Project)

A Week of Dresses. She’s just too fabulous. Grace, watch out, because when I come home for Thanksgiving, I am going to outright steal stuff from your enormous, inspiring wardrobe. (Como Say What?)

Cassie, the Silken Windhound, as Virginia Woolf. The New Yorker featured people who dressed their dogs up as authors/literary characters. This dog actually LOOKS like Woolf; it’s eerie. (Also, I know more information about dog breeds than anyone should ever know, but I’d never heard of a Silken Windhound before. That’s because some crazy lady invented them! It’s probably the most dramatic breed name ever.)

Sad and Sadder Clown. I’m very impressed with this childhood photograph reenactment. Even the T-shirts are perfect! (Young Me Now Me)

High Five. (J.Hecht, if you’re reading this, now is the time to look away. There may or may not be a whale here.) THE COOLEST. Looking at this picture, I realize that I’ve always wanted to do this. (Cute Overload)

Help I’m Bored. Guion and I probably looked at these little problem-solvers for about half an hour the other day. Wildly entertaining. “Help I Hate My Roommate” is especially pointed. (Help I’m Bored)

You & I. What sweet pictures of life with his kids. I want to take photos like this one day. I also like his description: “No words are needed.” Indeed! (Cristian Ordonez)

Square. I don’t know how he does it, but I love every single photograph that comes out of Brian Ferry’s camera. (Brian Ferry)

The One Commandment. I mean, I’m going to keep posting Kate Beaton’s comics until someone tells me to stop. And even then I probably won’t. (Hark, A Vagrant!)

Dracula. See? I told you. (Hark, A Vagrant!)

Van Gogh tilt-shift. I have no idea how this works, but it’s absolutely mesmerizing: somehow taking photographs of famous paintings to make them look 3D?? (A Cup of Jo)

Sumimasen. The Japanese do pretty much rule the world in the realm of adorable packaging. This little blog demonstrates this. (Sumimasen Doozo)

A Carrying Case for Doughnuts and a Lollipop. This is absolutely something Liz Lemon would want and use. (Tokyo Mango)

Animal nostalgia

Yesterday I probably spent a good two hours researching small animals I could be allowed to own in our apartment. I love animals. Guion thinks I want a pet because I’m dissatisfied with our marriage, but that is not the case at all. This is how this conversation went last night. Not kidding:

G: Am I not enough for you? Is our marriage so terrible that you must get a pet to lavish your affection on instead?
A: No, no, no, stop being stupid. That’s not it at all. You know very well that I love animals. I love them! Not being able to have an animal is like me telling you that… that… you’re not allowed to listen to music anymore!
G: What? No. Terrible comparison. You looked at animal pictures all day, and now you want one. It would be like me sitting on the Internet all day and then insisting on having a concubine.
A: A CONCUBINE. Really. That’s the BEST analogy you can come up with!?
G: No. But I need an argument.

Whatever.

So, this is the list I came up with (with links to the cutest ones on the Interwebs, in case you don’t know what I’m talking about):

Holland lop rabbit
Budgie
Zebra finch
Betta fish (This is actually our own Saul Bellow, with Grace imitating him)

Hm. The very interesting thing about this list is the fact that these are all animals I owned when I was a child.

We had a darling dwarf Holland lop named Spencer; to this day, the four of us still swear that he knew how to play hide-and-seek with us.

I had two beautiful budgerigars named Monet and Renoir (I was a pretentious 12-year-old), who drove me crazy even though I had begged for them for my birthday. I prayed one night that they would die, and a week later, off went Renoir. Monet stuck it out for a few more months, until he died of a broken heart, I surmised. I still feel guilty about this.

Kelsey got a Zebra finch named Sprite for some reason or another. He also died rather ceremoniously: apparently got all puffed up one day after we got back from church and we literally watched him keel right over. Sad. We were not the best at keeping birds alive.

And that brings us to the betta ownership. I had one named Napoleon for a while, and now we have Saul Bellow, the sole survivor of my unethical idea for a party decoration (fish in giant glass vases on the table! With names of important 2009 celebrities!). He has grown to be quite handsome and Mother swears that he recognizes her when she walks in. We let her pretend this.

As far as dogs and cats are concerned, I just want another Australian Shepherd, like our gorgeous, highly intelligent and highly neurotic Emma. And I’m not even remotely interested in a cat. Why? Probably because I never had one growing up. Unjust, I know. But true.

So we stand at cross purposes. Guion really doesn’t want an animal in the house; I feel the desperate need for one. A rabbit is my top choice, but Guion insists that they smell (which is only partially true). We also don’t have a pleasant yard for it to graze in. A budgie was my next choice. They are clever and companionable and they like to be scratched and carried around on your finger. But they are messy. And occasionally loud.

I guess we’ll just get a betta then. Ho hum. At least it’s something alive.

Anyone else feel this way? Do you own the same animals you did as a child? Do you wish you had the same pets you did growing up? Am I the only one who lives in this dangerous state of animal nostalgia?