Sunday, May 30, 2010

Penny to the Rescue

This last week with Penny has been a period of great adjustment, to put it lightly. At times I feel completely overwhelmed by this new responsibility, but strangely enough, I feel equally that she belongs with us. Sometimes I look at her and just feel that she is part of our family. Or she positions herself just so, sleeping next to us on the couch, and I am comforted by her warmth and softness. And then sometimes--just enough to convince me that this is the right direction--she will do something that makes me feel so undeniably attached to her.

I'm not a dog person.

But I am a Penny person.

A couple of days ago we went down to the river for a dip. The conditions were less than ideal, very windy and a bit cold, but we made use of the shallow pools that were near the bank. Penny stayed nearby, keeping silent watch over the kids and occasionally testing the cold water.

At some point, Phill wandered out to the middle of the river. Then he called to Penny in mock concern, "Penny! Save me! Penny, help!" Immediately, she began to hop and run along the edge, searching for an easy way to wade into the water, but clearly having to overcome some fear. Then she simply stood, watching Phill, trying to ascertain whether he was really in trouble. Her whole body was alert.

Then the boys walked out to Phill and stood nearby him, trying to remain standing in the fast-moving water. They were perfectly safe with Phill nearby, but Penny didn't seem to believe so. The second they were by Phill, she barked loudly, and jumped into the water, running out to where she couldn't even touch the river's floor. But she kept going, alive with some protective spirit, until she reached Phill and saw that the boys were laughing and praising her.

In her sweet canine mind, though, she saved them. I couldn't help but cry, realizing that she had overcome fear of the cold, rushing water to be near my boys out in the middle of the river. I couldn't help but feel bonded to her, grateful to her, and cried as I held her shivering body in a towel, shooting {admittedly less-than-sincere} dirty looks at Phill. (He was way too proud that Penny had passed his test with flying colors, and simply smiled at my glowering.)

So when she pees on the floor for the third time today, or chews on the twentieth stuffed animal, or gets too wound up when we play, I am remembering that beyond all her annoying puppy-ness is deep loyalty. I am soooo a Penny person.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


I was talking to my friend Cara today, telling her how I have this strange craving lately to do all these things that are requiring the utmost in responsibility from me and my family: The garden, the kitten, the puppy....

I puzzled over why I was so willing to do these things that have put me miles away from my comfort zone (particularly the puppy endeavor), because although there were many good reasons we embarked on these "adventures", I do second-guess my decisions at times and wonder if I've bitten off more than I can chew.

So Cara, theorizing what could be behind these rather eventful things we've taken on, said, "I think sometimes we just want to grow. And we do these things that are hard, but worthwhile, so that we can grow."

Simple, but something I haven't been able to articulate! Cara is right. There are days with this darling new puppy of ours that I am only able to keep loving her because I know that I'm in this for more than the benefits of this present time. (Sorry. That wasn't a very cohesive sentence. Hope you got it.)

We decided to get these two pets of ours because we remember the great love a child can have for a pet, not to mention the love we as adults feel for them, and how they can enrich our lives.

We decided to have a garden because we like the purity of growing our own food, the basic beauty of nourish-and-grow, and we want our children to experience that.
Our garden is growing beautifully. It's not perfect, and a couple of things seem to be on the outs--our strawberries and possibly one of my dahlia plants--but it's so green and so lovely, and it does my soul good to see it out the kitchen window every morning.

Our kitten Jude has blended seamlessly into our family. His personality is outrageous and we love him fiercely. He sleeps all over the place and can relax in the arms of any of our children (though for a very limited time in Savvy's....). He is playful and curious and smart.

We got Penny on Saturday, the same day Phill came home from San Antonio, and, well....I think having a new puppy is quite similar to having a potty-training child in your family. Messy. Maddening. And really strange, in that you find yourself celebrating over poop and pee....And somehow, I'm still falling in love with her.

I had this moment the first night we got her. I'm confessing it (I'm a little ashamed) because if anyone has had this feeling with regard to a brand-new puppy, well, don't feel guilty, and have hope because it will go away!--but moving on. I had this feeling that was quite similar to when I brought Reed home from the hospital. (Granted, I had postpartum depression and didn't realize it) This sense of having added to our lives something very permanent, something requiring much of our time, energy, resources, and love. And then a feeling of doom and dread, wondering if anything would feel normal again. (See, there's that obvious postpartum depression symptom--a symptom because it was a feeling that persisted for months and wasn't dictated by hormones) So that night (that we got Penny, not Reed), I cried and cried and two days later, I didn't need to cry anymore. (Hormones WERE involved in THIS instance....ahem....beloved PMS)

And today, five days later, I'm more comfortable already. It isn't easy yet, but it's....becoming our new norm. And I'm thinking I enjoy this new norm. Penny loves to sleep on our laps. She loves to go on short walks. She forces us to spend more time outside and also more time together as we all help her integrate. She is good for us, just as I hoped. It's a little uncomfortable at times, but we're doing it--we're growing!



Sweet corn

An odd assortment--this is evidence of how haphazard this really was! Some seeds got mixed in with others and, voila, we have a little cornucopia in this tiny corner of our garden! Plus our cucumbers are wayward, not sticking to the "row" I created for them, save for one.
Reed's marigold, a little thirsty after having been transplanted too late
Penny Lane