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hosta extraordinaire. [k.s. friday]

ordinary. perennially ordinary. hostas are intrepid, robust, shade-tolerant, adaptable plants. they are patient with human-planting errors and magnanimous with dogs who run amuck through their early sprouting. these plants seemingly have boundless energy to reproduce and spread and fill-in gardens in shadow. with low maintenance personalities, they happily populate yards and our hosta garden out back is an easy joy.

right next to the hosta is a garden of ferns. these are a different story. they are, indeed, more particular than hosta and, in our experience, much higher maintenance. they are beautiful, willowy and tall and a gorgeous green that changes in the light. still pretty ordinary but with a little more sass.

there are a few peonies in our backyard gardens. they are more specific about their needs. they like the sun and well-drained soil. they like a little space. they have a short-lived flowering season, but their wafting scent is remarkable. they are still ordinary plants, but need a smidge more attention than the ferns and quite a bit more attention than the hostas.

they all, however, live in community and, were we better garden-planners and were we not to have an aussie running circles in our backyard grass, would present a lovely picture. despite our lack of garden design and despite dogdog’s propensity for a bit of ruin, we are grateful for each of these living plants out back. the extraordinary of their ordinariness doesn’t escape us. they are there, they are steadfast, even without us worrying about them, fussing over them, micromanaging them. they seem to know what to do.

i recently interviewed for a job. it didn’t require a masters degree in the field, but i have one. it didn’t require experience in the area of expertise, but i have forty years. coming away from the interview, i noted to myself that it also didn’t seem to require a sense of humor or a sense of who people on either side of the call really were. is this ordinary? i’ve read many articles recently about leadership and management. the best of the best leaders and managers are human, appreciative of those they work with, looking for potential and collaboration, leaning on a bit of community warmth and pushing back at haughtiness and agenda in the workplace. the best of the best remember we are all extraordinarily ordinary, together.

i suspect i was too old for this job. that thought takes my breath away, but, these days, it seems to be true. i watch as garden centers work in our neighborhood and others we pass through. they carry in plants of great variety, design architectural gardens of varying heights and species and colors. i wonder if these gardens will require owner-vigilance or if they will propagate and grow toward their potential with the freedom that years of gained wisdom and savoir-faire and insight have granted. or if, perhaps, it will be a respectful collaboration, a chance to, in community, laugh at the breeze, bask in a bit of sun, cool off in late afternoon shade, soak in the rain and grow leaps and bounds. ordinary extraordinaires.

just like our hostas.

“it’s the ordinary people who give extraordinary love. when you sit back and look at it all you know this is what life’s made of. it’s not the stuff you accumulate or the title on your desk. it’s the people around you who make living life the best.” (song – this is life: ©️ kerri sherwood)

*****

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hold kjeft. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

i never asked where the deer head on the den wall came from. we were not a hunting family and we were verymuch a mammal-loving family, but it must have never occurred to me to ask. this old deer head, hung on the paneling of the room with our black and white tv and giant rock fireplace built stone-by-tedious-stone by sven, ruled over the garage wall side of the room and was somewhat opposite the back door.

if snoopy, our modell’s sporting goods $10.20 dog (of which i paid the 20 cents), got to barking incessantly, my sweet dad would point to the deer head and, in his brooklyn-voice, taunt her, “you wanna go on the wall?” somehow she understood this empty threat and would mostly stop barking. but if she didn’t stop, my dad would bark back at her, “hold kjeft!!” my sons-of-norway norwegian lessons were not long-lived, but they were comprehensive enough for me to know that meant “shut up!”. spoken in a different language, it didn’t seem as rude.

when they were growing up, i never allowed the girl or the boy to say “shut up!” to each other or anyone. it just seemed like an unnecessarily aggressive way to ask someone to be quiet or at least quieter. i never thought to use “hold kjeft” as an alternative back then.

but now, as dogga runs the backyard looking for the rest of the cast in 101 dalmations to bark back at him, “hold kjeft” is my command of choice. as we pass people in the car and he is suddenly aware of a dog on the sidewalk out the car window, “hold kjeft” is my command of choice. as the neighbors get him riled up, with fifteen kids or so in the backyard all screaming at the top of their lungs and their dog barking-barking, “hold kjeft” is my command of choice. every time i say it, i see the deer head in the den and i can hear my sweet poppo’s voice.

it doesn’t necessarily do the trick all the time. but it conjures up precious long-ago memories of a different time, when i watched black and white tv with no remote, sat on the hearth with hot chocolate and sit-upons, paid no attention to decor or other adult-riddled-responsibilities and laughed when my dad stared at our underbite-blessed-boxer-mixed-breed-mutt and pointed to the wall.

*****

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an independent dog. [merely-a-thought monday]

independent dog

jen pulled the sliding glass door open for the fourth time (within a short visit of potlucking time around the kitchen island) and we all laughed.  sweet henry and chester wanted out.  wanted in.  wanted out.  wanted in.  this is a familiar tune.  dogdog finds it irresistible to demand to go out and then not want to miss anything and want back in.  on repeat.

andrea and scott have two golden retrievers.  impeccably trained, they wait for a sign or a word to do most anything.   they are not the in-and-out-ers that dogga and henry and chester are.  i remember them as calm and happy and i vowed that one day i would have a dog as well-behaved.  this is not that day.

but dogdog is, yes, dogdog-ish.  his sweet face watches our every move, trying to anticipate to which room we might be moving, trying to assess why we are feeling what he knows we are feeling.   he doesn’t like conflict; he doesn’t like the sound of metal touching metal.  it took him a while to warm up to the ukulele (which he now loves and wishes he could play) and the piano draws him into the studio.  he won’t touch food on the counter or the table or really anywhere unless given permission, but his direct eye contact begs for a bite every breakfast.  he destroyed very few things as a puppy (well, the kitchen cabinet door and the table legs count) but de-heads every toy he is given and un-stuffings them.  he bows to all things babycat, yet loves to drag him around and taunts him until babycat asserts his ruling paw.  his aussie-ness makes him intuitively try to keep track of all people and animals in the house, a tiresome and difficult chore when one is peculiarly averse to going upstairs or downstairs.  he is quirky.

on island he was quiet.  here at home he is a barker.  i guess he knew the littlehouse wasn’t his.  he loves errands both places.  he ecstatically runs miles in circles in the backyard and certain names will make his eyes wide and his australian-shepherd-jumping-bean-dog-heart jump with glee. he clocks out of all responsibility late at night, content to quietly languish in whatever room we are in, happy to have pets and go sleepynightnight.  sweet, sweet dogdog emerges from constant-motion dog.

i don’t remember the story we were talking about around jen and brad’s island.  i’m sure it was one of tripper’s many idiosyncratic tales.  we rolled our eyes and laughed.  and brad said, “you should be proud that you raised an independent dog!”

riiiiiight.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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dogga-chip-head [two artists tuesday]

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what you can’t see in this picture of dogdog, his gaze intent on me taking his picture, is that he has a chip on his head.  a tortilla chip.  a mission tortilla chip, to be specific.  gluten free.  dogga loves chips.  he loves to have chips on his head, staying perfectly still with the “leave it” command issued.  even more, he loves when “leave it” is released and he can bend his head down and eat his treasured chip.  he prefers it sans salsa.  good thing, because his aussie hair would be a total mess WITH salsa.  and i hardly think salsa is on his doggadiet (for that matter, neither are chips.)

i have to say, dogdog and babycat pretty much run the show here.  not just merely sponsors, they are producers, directors, screenwriters, actors and extras.  we laugh every time we wake up after a fitful night sleep because babycat has taken up 2/3 of the bed, snoring his way through his peaceful slumber.  we could move him, wake him up, nudge him, anything…but instead he just rules over his two-thirds and we deal with it, yawning and complaining about cramped legs all the next day.

dogdog, on the other hand, sleeps in his crate next to the bed.  he loves loves loves sleepnightnight (his word) time and makes sure that everything happens in the “correct” order.   he goes out.  he runs back in.  jumps on the bed.  and listens.  he waits to hear the water-in-the-fridge spigot filling the coffeepot.  waits to hear the coffee grinder.  waits to hear d put a small amount of nighttime kibble in babycat’s bowl.  waits to hear the container on top of the fridge opened from which d gets his cookie.  waits for his bellybelly (also his word) on the bed and kisses on his sweet head, chipcrumbs mixed in with his messy fur.   day’s end for a dogdog.

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everybody has their thing. [two artists tuesday]

so, we were trying to have a nice backyard.  the pond, the deck, the grasses, the hosta, the barnwood planting stand, the old piano….we were headed in the right direction.  but then there’s dogdog.  he has this THING.  every time we let him out and michele and john’s dogs are out, he races around in a circle, digging into the grass that was there, creating a velodrome (kenosha is known for its velodrome, only not this one.)  we tried various ways to address this, to try and dissuade him from running around in the circle, from ruining the grass that we had painstakingly planted.

finally, we decided it would be far less painful for us to just embrace it.  i went online and ordered an actual highway sign (the european roundabout sign, because he runs clockwise every time and the roundabouts in our country are counter to that.)  we planted a few grasses, put up temporary rope to help the grasses have a chance, pounded in our new sign and sat back to watch.

i mean, EVERYbody has their thing.  sometimes it’s just easier to not fight it.  it’s easier to just, well, laugh.

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enjoy the puddles. [chicken marsala monday]

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dogdog doesn’t like the rain much.  he pretty much avoids the puddles in the backyard…that is, until one neighbor or the other lets their dogs out.  then?  then he doesn’t care; all inhibitions are off and he runs like a maniac, his long aussie hair first flying, then clumping and muddy, joy joy joy on his face.

that’s probably a good lesson for all of us…inhibitions off and joy joy joy. despite the messy puddles and the bad hair day.  my sweet momma used to sign off her letters with “enjoy, enjoy!”  yes.  enjoy, enjoy.

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call it in the air! [flawed cartoon wednesday]

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there is a dog biscuit on the floor in the laundry room in the basement.  i was about to put laundry in the washer when i saw it.  “hmmm…” i thought.  “what is a dog biscuit doing down here?” i wondered.   our courageous dog has never ever been in the basement.  he dislikes stairs.  he is an aussie and, well, if you know any aussies, you know that they have interesting….issues.  one of his, apparently, is that he doesn’t do tight stairwells.  so, knowing this, i am aware that dogdog did not bring a dog biscuit to the basement.  (not to mention the fact that had he had a dog biscuit in his mouth he would have consumed it.)

so.  the mystery.  i can only  assume that one of the mice we seem to have accommodated this winter carried this downstairs for a later snack.  when i picture a mouse carrying a milkbone i’m amazed by its tenacity – it had to be under tremendous stress with its milkbone-burden.  and…where did it get its milkbone from?  we have a tray with dogdog’s “cookies” in the kitchen; i shudder to think of a mouse sitting there evaluating which cookie to steal.  and…furthermore…there are no mouse…ummm….poopies (as i call them) anywhere nearby.  what to think….

by looking at the tiny bites off of dogdog’s cookie in the basement, i think that mice will go to great lengths for a snack.  i guess.

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call it in the air!  loser goes for it. ©️ david robinson