Vestiges of summer

Edie baby
Dog life.

Are the dogs happy? I wonder this frequently. It’s a question that is more applicable to Pyrrha, because Eden—as you can see from the photo above—is always ready for action, which gives off the appearance of constant verve and joy. The corollary to Eden’s constant need for play, however, is that I believe she is often mentally and physically frustrated, because we cannot keep up with her and her playful demands. Very often, if denied her request to play, she will fix you with a look that says, in no uncertain terms, Screw you, old ladyI’ll make my own fun. And then she tries to destroy something in the vicinity (the door, a forgotten shoe, a pillow, et hoc genus omne).

Pyrrha, on the other hand, is happy about 50% of the time, by my best estimate. Owing to her deep-seated anxiety and psychosis, her qualifications for happiness are strict and precise. Pyrrha is happy when she is eating food, begging for food, or sitting in close proximity to food. She is happy when she is playing with Eden or with other dogs. She is happy when I come home and when she can see me at all times. She is happy when Alex is petting her. That’s about it.

Surviving twoFumiko and Mayumi are recovering after their sister’s murder. For about a week after Chiye’s death, they refused to peck around in the open and instead would spend the entire day in cramped darkness underneath the shed. I don’t blame them for feeling this way. Once you know that death can swoop down from the blue sky, you start treading a little more carefully outdoors (I daresay our hens understand what a bit of what it must be like to live in a country terrorized by US drone strikes). But as of this week, they have resumed parts of their normal routine, and it brings me joy to see them puttering around the garden again. Our illusion of farm peace is shattered, however, and we wait with bated breath every day for the next assassination.

If you ask me about my family, be prepared for an earful that borders on excessive, gleeful boasting. I love them all so much. I want to talk about them for days.

It’s time to take the calligraphy business a bit more seriously. By way of a small step in that direction, I now have an Instagram account dedicated solely to my work: @bluestockingcalligraphy. Follow along.

New favorite things:

  • This face oil
  • Tailoring clothes
  • Concord grapes (got the best little bunch from this local farm, via Relay)
  • Using an iron for once in my life
  • Homemade granola (thanks for the inspiration, Tara!)
  • Seinfeld

What's going on?What do the dogs want? What fulfills their most desperate desires? Can we ever truly know?

Questions and answers

Wednesday afternoon | Abby Farson Pratt

What is your favorite website?

Goodreads, by far. By far! Life would be a bleak, formless void without Goodreads. It is the only acceptable form of social media (besides Instagram).

What makes you happy these days?

Not being on Facebook. Not ever reading any online comments, ever. Ever, ever, ever. That might be my only life rule: Never Read the Comments. Also: Guion, clean floors, dogs when they are sweet, iris seedlings from a mystery friend, books, our church.

How can we stop the terrorists?

Stop talking about them on Facebook would be a start. That’s what they want you to do…

Why does your hair often look ratty?

This is the Lord’s business, apparently, as the Lord has not yet given me a solution. As my mother, from whom I received my hair type, likes to remind me, “This is just the way it’s going to be for us. Because of our hair, we have to dress like hippies. We will always look like hippies.”

What is your favorite food currently?

It’s a tie between avocadoes and watermelons, straight from the fridge. May summer never end!

Which dog do you love more?

It depends on the day and which one is barking like an idiot at the moment.

How do you decide what to read next?

I have a system that waxes and wanes between order and impulse. The order is that I stockpile all of the books I own but haven’t read in my nightstand cubbies, and then I judiciously select a new title once I’ve finished a book (I try not to read more than five books at a time). The impulse is that I comb over my Goodreads list and then pick a book that appeals to me at that moment and request it from the public library. I am also strongly affected by my constantly wavering obsessions. Right now, I’m reading a lot about zen and Christianity, but last month, it was French women novelists, and the month before that, Southerners. It’s hard to say what it will be next.

How’s that yoga thing working out for you?

I don’t know, decently? I didn’t practice in the morning much this past week, as sleep seemed so much more precious, but I sneaked in a few poses in the afternoons. The other night, Eden decided to turn my (expensive) yoga mat into rubber confetti and destroy my nice, leather-bound Book of Common Prayer, so I’m not sure whose side she’s on (Eastern meditation vs. Episcopalian meditation). Aside from that, I recently tried to do a sun salutation on the deck while the dogs were out there with me, and Eden pounced on my head (like, dog claws into skull). Eden and yoga do not mix. Pyrrha, however, adorably practices a very well-formed downward dog whenever I start to stretch. (Fine, I love Pyrrha more! I admit it!)

A summer update

Another bouquet from the front yard #wildflowers #flowerlove
Wildflowers from the front yard.

Apparently, I haven’t had much to say lately. There are dogs to be walked and books to be read and friends to be moved, near and far. After a run of house guests and weekend travel, I have relished our recent weekends at home — even if the last weekend meant relishing by way of contracting this horrible fever virus that is worming its way around town. I was in bed all day on Thursday, fantasizing my death, sending incoherent e-mails to family members, letting Pyrrha lick my limp fingers as she made her rounds around the house. She is a very sweet nursemaid. I was going to say that she had such concern in her eyes while I was laid up in bed, but I think she might always have concern in her eyes, burdened as she is by her myriad fears. My dear troubled dog.

Beauties
The girls.

Eden, on the other hand, was quite put out with my laziness. She is merciless toward the weak.

Lately, I have derived pleasure from:

  • Post-dinner walks with G. and the girls
  • The wildflowers in our front beds (an Easter gift from Mike and Windy)
  • The short stories of Paul Bowles and re-reading Pale Fire
  • Looking up words I don’t know in Pale Fire, only to discover that Nabokov made them up
  • A granite/Corian counter-top cleaner I made myself, thanks to the glories of Pinterest
  • New jewelry from Tara Montgomery’s fall line
  • Watermelon and peaches
  • Going to bed before 10
  • Teaching the dogs some (much needed) new behaviors
  • The resurrection of family e-mail chains
  • Not having any calligraphy jobs on the immediate/urgent docket
  • Guion’s new melodies
  • July days that top off around 81 degrees

You?

Our Easter weekend

We loved having Mom, Dad, Kelsey, and Alex stay with us over the Easter weekend. Lots of good food (mostly made by my live-in gourmet, Guion), lots of laughter, lots of walks and dog time. I love these people ever so much.

Easter weekend

Easter weekend

Easter weekend

Easter weekend

Easter weekend

Easter weekend

Easter weekend

Thankful for

Playing in the yard with the girls

Today, I am thankful for:

  • Guion
  • Gorgeous spring weather
  • Toiling in the earth alongside my helpmeet
  • Maddy, Sallie, and Tara
  • The fact that Rachel has kept up her blog; equally thankful for her gift of expression
  • This town
  • Dog-savvy people who bring their dogs to play with our psychopaths
  • Cherry trees in bloom
  • Everything in bloom, actually
  • Not going to the forum on the church and homosexuality so that I could have a long brunch instead
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • Dirt under your fingernails
  • Our house
  • Books in translation and being able to trust that the translation is good
  • Dogs chewing on sticks
  • Open windows
  • Smelling like the earth after a long day working in the yard
  • Men who listen
  • The Wire
  • Annie Dillard
  • Family and friends who don’t ask me when I’m going to spawn a child and why I haven’t yet
  • Journaling again
  • Not having to moderate Facebook for the shepherd rescue anymore
  • Mom, Dad, Kelsey, and Alex coming to visit this weekend

Our home, lately

Having people over is the best motivation to get stuff done. We’ve made progress in the house this month, particularly in the departments of hanging art and having sofas.

A collection of photographs of home and life, lately:

This is the before. #ikeamadness #handyhusband
This is the before.
New sofa, paintings hung
After!

House coming along

House coming along
Giant boxes = busted IKEA bookshelves we’re returning…
Feels like I really live here now. #finally #homelibrary #justthefictionsection
Perfectly sized white bookshelf from the thrift store. Take that, IKEA.
Living room view into hallway
View into the hallway + puppy gate!
House coming along
View from dining room into kitchen. Thanks for the counter stools, Mom and Dad!
Our bedroom
Our bedroom; I heart minimalism. This room used to be dark brown.
Our bedroom
Our bedroom.
Synchronized sleeping. #babies #doglife #vscocam
Synchronized sleepers.
Calligraphy studio, while working
What the studio looks like when I’m working.
Puppy punk
Punks.
Puppy punk
Edie’s serious face.

Come visit us! We have places for you to sit now!

January thoughts

Even though my books are still in boxes and there is no art on the walls, I am finally beginning to feel like the new house is ours. Maybe it’s the familiar tumbleweeds of German shepherd fur that adorn every room, but it’s starting to feel like home.

Don't make me go play with that puppy
Pyrrha, being bashful.

The bane of my existence right now is the backyard, which turns into a veritable swamp when it rains — a swamp of red clay pools that the new puppy* utterly delights in. (*Right: We got a second dog! Adopted our foster puppy and named her Eden. She is a joyful little terror. So bright and happy; opposite personality of my shy, sensitive Pyrrha.)

If you have any great solutions to a marshy yard — aside from pouring concrete over the entire thing, which I am often tempted to do — please let me know. I had such high aspirations for having a beautiful house. Now I just have a den of dog hair and clay-stained floors and walls. It is good, though; I am learning to surrender my material possessions to the Hands of the Lord, who points to the dogs and says, “This is why you can’t have nice things.” (It’s training ground for future offspring, right? I’d like to have a competition between a toddler and our two dogs to see who could destroy a room the fastest.)

Dogs in January
Dogs in the swamp.
Dogs in January
Eden wants to come inside. And the poinsettia is definitely dead.

On the brighter side, I enjoy practicing calligraphy 50% more now that I have A Room of My Own. I like to escape there from time to time. Pyrrha is the only one who is allowed to join me. She’s been more jealous of me since adding Eden to the household, and she likes to be reminded of her top position in my esteem.

This little room brings me great joy. #studio #aroomofonesown
My studio.

I am also reading fiction again and deriving great pleasure from it. I just finished Adam Johnson’s fantastic novel, The Orphan Master’s Son, which most recently won the Pulitzer. I rarely read books that are both action-packed AND superbly well-written. (And darkly funny!) It’s great. I recommend it.

I also continue to marvel that I was lucky enough to get to marry Guion. He is a real winner. Par example: In the past year of our marriage, he has morphed into a gourmet chef. I don’t even want to go out to restaurants anymore, because the food they serve me pales into comparison to what Guion can make. And these are primarily meat-free dishes, too; we’ve continued our aspirations to mostly meat-free eating, and I’ve felt better for it. We sit at our refurbished farm table (thanks, family!), light some candles, and keep the dogs at bay.