Sunday, May 23, 2021

Longer Days

Since March 2020 I have posted about some of the adjustments and changes we have been through in these strange, sad, and global days of pandemic. In the beginning it was all clouded in the unknown. There was even a while when it was suspected that a lockdown could go on for as much as two weeks! A lot has developed since those earliest days, a lot has been lost, and gained, and I know that we are not through it. Our biggest update is that we have all been fully vaccinated, and it is slowly beginning to sink in, and redirect our activities, and plans. We still haven't invited anyone inside the house, but we have had a few more visitors, even sometimes maskless, and a few more outings... definitely with masks. No hugs, still spacing ourselves. It's not easy switching back to old ways, and everyone has different interpretations about the guidlines. I am not even sure of my own convictions or beliefs. I hope someday to look back on all of this, while breathing a big sigh of relief, and to be able to say, "Sure, we were over-cautious, and everything is stable now. But I am glad that we erred on the side of caution to bring about safety for everyone." And, I admit, my own trepidation comes from pandemic concerns, as well as my own issues with anxiety... it's been an unfortunate covergance, my desire to retreat and shelter, and the necessity of social isolation.
I couldn't bring myself to share puppy pictures in my last post. And I am still sad and even having feelings of guilt and regret. I have had nothing but empathy and support from friends... thank you, all! You see, I have been working with Bambi on adopting a dog, and we have been dutiful and diligent in our research... about breeds, about expectations, about sizes! The application process at our local shelter is stringent, and includes an interview. For months we have been reading dog and puppy profiles, and making choices about changes to our home, our habits, and thinking of "everything," to adopt mindfully. When this sweet boy showed up, we thought we were a good match, and the interviewer agreed. We were looking at a "pug-beagle mix," which we took to mean "small-medium" and with traits that would fit well with our pets, our lifestyle(s). Well... anyone with dog experience, among our many experienced friends, chimed in, "That does not look like a pug-beagle." And, "That looks like a big puppy for 11 weeks!" I laughed nervously. I already felt bonded to our Oliver-Scooby-Banksy. But then the vet met him, and she said, "Oh, yeah, no. Scratch out "puggle." I think we are looking at a boxer, with maybe some Rhodesian ridgeback, or... ?" She predicted a "large dog, very active." All of our diligence and mindfulness was moot, and we felt panicked, sad, and very concerned. If we weren't working with a respected shelter, if we doubted that he would have safe options, or a promising future, then we would have kept him. We would have trained him, and made bigger changes than planned, but those compromises were daunting, especially for me, because I never wanted a dog larger than I could handle... just thinking of it makes me uncomfortable, scared. We talked about keeping him long enough to do DNA testing, because no one can be sure what his breed might be, but that would take weeks. We really wanted someone to assure us that he was a puggle, maybe a bit bigger, but still the breed and size we felt was a good match for us. But this kind of stalling and bargaining didn't feel fair to the puppy. Many people are looking to adopt puppies and dogs, and we knew that by handing him back to the shelter, he would enjoy better chances of finding his forever home, with people eager for a big dog. When I filled out the forms for surrendering him, I had nothing but praise for him. We had already taught him "sit." And he always seemed eager to please, and engage. He had also learned how to climb out of the dog play yard we bought! Those big feet of his are so pretty! Is that strange? I've never admired a dog's paws, but he had such pretty nails, and soft pads. He has a kind of sad or serious face, but he's a tender baby, all sweet, and playful. Seeing all of his good qualities makes the decision hard(er), but we didn't want to prolong what might be inevitable, and ruin his chances of a better future. God, adulting is hard.
Oh my gosh! That day was wild, when we adopted our puppy, and were all loving on him, and caught up in the newness of this whole event, my phone rang, and it was the feedstore. It had been nearly a month since we last saw Grace Hopper, and other than knowing she was back with the breeder, recovering, I had no information, nor any idea of ever seeing her again... it was all a mess that I am happy to put behind me, and thought I had, when they said, "We just want to let you know that Grace is back at the feedstore." They might have said more, but I was so shocked, and distracted, I said, "Ok. That's good," then hung up. I really was stunned speechless. We had a puppy for about 40 minutes, and maybe a baby goat, again? I called them back and tried to think of all the relevant questions I should ask, and the next thing I knew, William and I were driving home from Escondido with our little friend, Grace Hopper Goat! She is well, a bit bigger, and as darling as we remembered.
Tasha and Ada are only slightly, practically imperceptibly, more accpeting of their herd-mate than the first time she was introduced. My attitude adjusted, at least. The first time I was trying to please everyone and utterly dismayed about how petty and cranky the old girls were. Now I just tell them to Deal With It! Grace has her own space, that I made with some fencing, so she has company, and protection, and she and I spend time together in the garden, like before. I am not indulging and cajoling Ada and Tasha, and sooner or later, everyone will be friends. The End. I've lost so much time and energy on trying to make things go as I'd like, as I wish... I think I am maybe more pragmatic? Or just too tired? I don't know. Grace is still on bottles! It's a pleasure feeding her! She's so soft, and happy.
Anna Banana and Fred came... to meet puppy and goat, and we had a fireside visit, that was good and enjoyable. Geoff made coffee, and the fire. We talked about their plans to visit Joshua Tree, and some weddings coming up, about learning Japanese, riding bikes, and swings that make you feel like you're six years old. It's so lovely to have friends, to see them face to face, and it's also awkward, at least for a moment, maybe like a first date. Things have been strange, and what was once familiar and easy takes a little getting used to. I feel funny saying that, but it's true. Won't it be nice to think about all of these things, and feel like we are lucky, like we came through, and things got better?
Sometimes I feel streetwise, and skeptical, but I admit, at my core I am naive, and drawn to hopeful, sanguine impulses. I want to live with bright hopes, with soft surroundings, and serve cakes to mend hurts, paint ratty-rats, watch stars, press flowers, build people-sized fairy homes out of geodesic domes, and do things well. Summer is coming, the days are getting longer. I feel the pull to make plans, to dare bigger. I also feel like holding everything close, guarding, and waiting. I think of loved ones that are facing hard days, difficult choices, of the larger world. For all of us, I am sending out my love, and every wish and prayer that soon, we will feel lucky, like we have come through, and things got much much better.


Amelia said...

Hi - greetings from a new follower of the Queen of Blogging Obscurity and Luckiest Woman Alive! Lovely that Grace is back - healthy and happy - and you definitely made the right decision with the puppy - even allowing for photographic distortions of perspective those paddy-paws are mahoosive!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Amelia, you really made me laugh! Greetings! And thank you. I wonder... could I be the Luckiest Woman Alive, BECAUSE I am the Queen of Blogging Obscurity? I do love making some new acquaintances, friends, here, but I would be totally out of sorts and overwhelmed if suddenly I became "noteworthy" and had loads and loads of readers commenting. Well, I am glad to make your acquaintance, and all day long I will noting things that are "mahoosive!" The laundry pile, for instance, is Mahoosive! And your comment gave me a mahoosive smile.

gretchenjoanna said...

Oh, my, you must have been on the wildest roller coaster of animal-related emotions. I almost cried reading about it. Grace Hopper being back is a good ending to that day... Please God, let that be the status quo for a long while!!

Your writing about the First Date sort of feeling reminded me of what a friend told me today: he has been attending a certain church for several months and now people are starting to come without masks, and he realized that of many of them he'd never known without their masks. Now that he sees the whole of their faces their personality is more revealed and it's like getting to know a new person. He also discovered that they are more likable now, even though they are not behaving any differently.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Yes! A roller coaster! You are so right, GretchenJoanna. And thank you for your thoughtful prayer, because I think a nice calm status quo would be just the thing to calm us down!
I didn't imagine I was the only feeling "different" about coming out of lockdowns and isolation, and I am very interested in anecdotes like you've shared. I imagine there will be a myriad of reactions and responses to the year we are coming out of, as well as the transition.