Just one last pat on the head.

She’s been gone almost two weeks, but still, I inexplicably expect her to amble down the hall and thrust that magnificent golden head and mane in my face, looking to comfort me and oh, maybe get a nice little scratch in return, that spot on top of the head where only human paws can reach. How we miss her!

And so do others. She’s had so many tributes – cards, flowers, memorials on social media. Chloe touched a lot of lives, all of them with grace and joy. Many thanks to everyone for their thoughtfulness.

For right now, there’s way too much noise – every room is filled with the crashing sound of her absence. I don’t have words yet, but here are some that a kind neighbor brought us:

Dogs in Our Lives

“We aren’t house proud. If we were, we wouldn’t abide the scratches on the door frame, the holes in the screen, the darkened shine of worn spots on the chair. We would wince at the mottled carpet and fret at the hair clinging to our clothes.

We don’t. If anything, we loves of dogs are a tolerant lot, finding greater value in the unabashed affection of our friends than in immaculate sofas. Shoes can be replaced, but heroic retrievers are timeless.

Without dogs, our houses are cold receptacles for things. Dogs make a fire warmer with their curled presence. They wake us, greet us, protect us, and ultimately carve a place in our hearts and our history. On reflection, our lives are often referenced in parts defined by the all-too-short lives of our dogs.”

                                                                                           — Paul Fersen

 

A sweet portrait of her by artist Hannah Stevens Allen:

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I’ll turn the page next week, I promise…

“Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in. ”  –Mark Twain

 

 

 

 

Posted in All Things Family, Animal/Vegetable/Mineral, Pain and Misery, Sad, Spoiled Pets | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Chloe.

Yes, she was the family dog. Chloe’s family just happened to include anyone she ever met.

Of course, she was loyal first and foremost to her clan.

But she loved and was loved by so many others. Friends, friends of friends, neighbors and whomever she met on the street that day. Chloe radiated calm and peace and acceptance and joy. So much joy.

 

She was unfailingly gentle with smaller creatures.

She looooooved her toys.

 

She loved her siblings of every species.

Especially the Tart. Soho is lost without her.

We are lost without her, too. She was always on the kitchen step. Always next to our bed. Always in the back seat of the car. Always right next to us. Always.

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The CE called her his wingman. No walk will ever be the same without her.

 

So much sadness. So many tears. She tried, up to the last moment, to be there for us. So much heart. Such a good, good, girl. She will be loved and missed forever.

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“In one of the stars I shall be living

In one of them I shall be laughing

And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing

when you look

at the sky all night”

The Little prince

Antoine de Saint Exupery

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Animal/Vegetable/Mineral, Sad | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Plans, Interrupted.

Abbreviated time in the city. Pressing concerns here.

There, Central Park

Here, trees in the orchard laden with plums

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There, a brilliant and memorable Summer and Smoke with Marin Ireland and Nathan Darrow

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Here, a different kind of show

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There, a sweet waiter at Table d’Hote on the UES gifted me a birthday glass of champagne

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Here, this guy is even better than bubbly

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There, some amazing plumage at the Met’s “Heavenly Bodies” exhibit

 

Here, a different kind of plumage altogether

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There, a blessed gift of a day at the NY Botanical Garden with Daniel

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Here, a small echo of a garden despite the drought

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There, the masters of the universe

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Here, the center of the universe

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Sweet Chloe is very ill. She has been the angel by our side for eleven years. And in this sad season, we will try to be hers.

 

Posted in Animal/Vegetable/Mineral, New York city | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Might as well celebrate.

The last time a birthday brought me to my knees was (about an ice age ago) when I turned 30. The sensation of youth spent and misspent, time lost, world not yet conquered. Then everything seemed to speed up and fast-forward and decades whooshed past. Birthdays faded, mercifully, into the background. Kids born, kids raised, kids gone. Whoa, where did all that time go and why are there now so many candles on my cake?

Birthdays were more fun back in the day:

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I have a trusty little strategy for unpleasantness. In psychological circles it is known as “avoidance coping”.  As this rather distasteful birthday approached, I told the CE I had only one wish –  to just run away. Being the CE, he understood, of course, so we planned my escape. But also being the CE, he willingly partnered in my friend Pamela’s cloak and dagger scheme to surprise me with an exquisitely beautiful luncheon celebration before I departed. It was a week ago and I am still mostly in shock.

I remember these beautiful flowers but the rest of it was like a dream:

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As Pamela reminded me that day in her remarks, we have known one another for more than thirty years. She has, with spectacularly good humor, cheered us on through raising four children and an unrelenting parade of animals.  Her daughter, Alexandra, graciously played older sibling to our boys and in turn, I introduced Pamela to her husband, Kirk.

Pamela and me, back in the day:

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And a bit more recently:

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Alexandra with our boys:

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And at her wedding at our home a few years ago:

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The one consolation of getting frightfully old is that you have the blessing of long-time friends. Pamela gathered some of the most special ones for the luncheon.

Julia, who has been a precious part of our family since her college years:

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And also Elizabeth, Tammy, Marsha and dear, dear Karen, who made her prized Swedish Apple Cake for the birthday dessert:

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Me (in shock!) and Elizabeth:

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The group photo – that’s Pamela in front on the right, looking deservedly pleased with herself for almost giving me a heart attack of surprise:

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They all said incredibly nice things about me in prepared remarks, which it will take me at least another decade to live up to, so there’s a project going forward.

And then I did run away to NYC. But instead of moping around and chanting “Woe is me” as I had originally expected, son Daniel and dear friend, Victoria, joined me for a lovely birthday dinner. Leave it to them to actually make it a happy birthday!

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I will cherish this photo forever:

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That’s a lot of celebrating for a birthday I was trying to escape. I am bedazzled in the wonderment of being held undeservedly dear by so many. This will buoy me through many birthdays to come!

And now you’ll have to excuse me – I have thank you notes to write…

Posted in All Things Family, Friends, Meaningful | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Two broody.

Maybe they saw Mother’s Day on the calendar. Or maybe they heard about the U.S. birth rate hitting a thirty-year low and decided to take matters into their own hands, er, feathers.

I guess it’s no surprise that Bella would want another go at it. She successfully raised June last summer.

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But Pippa?

Pippa is seven years old! Not a spring chicken! When she abandoned her favorite spot in the coop and huddled on the nesting counter last week, we were prepared for the worst, but we were not prepared for a broody!

Dual broodies!

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How can you tell your hen is broody? She won’t leave the nest. She hurls pterodactyl screams at you if you approach. And when you haul her, protesting loudly, off the nest, she swells up like a puffer fish.

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Chaos currently reigns in the coop because if prospective mamas ain’t happy, no one can be happy. And with those two taking up all real estate on the nesting counter, the other hens can’t get an egg in edgewise.

If left to their own devices, they will sit on their non-existent eggs for three weeks or longer, lost in a broody trance. They are aching for babies, but we are at full flock capacity and can’t give either of these girls any baby chicks this summer.

So the plan is to break the broodies by locking them out of the coop for extended periods of time. It’s not the most scientific approach, but maybe we will eventually wear them down.

So far, we have succeeded only in making Bella furious. Nothing but mama drama around the chicken yard these days.

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And we are feeling, I guess you might say, a little hen-pecked…

Posted in All Things Poultry, Animal/Vegetable/Mineral, Annoyances of Life, Chicken Facts, Spoiled Pets | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The wrongs of spring.

It’s a jungle out there.

We know the rites of spring as rebirth and Disney-esque time-lapse photos of flowers blooming and birdsong and tall grass in meadows, but truthfully, there is a violence to this season AND DON’T LOOK AT THE LAST PHOTOS IF YOU ARE SQUEAMISH.

It was all going well for awhile. We have a sweet little hummingbird nest the size of a tea strainer in our port cochére. Mrs. HB thrums, furious as a hornet, every time we open the kitchen door.

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And another bird – a nuthatch? A chickadee? is nesting, inexplicably, deep in a swag of fake and inexplicably bright pink bougainvillea, that has hung (inexplicably – please ask the CE what this is all about) in our garage for the twenty-five years we have lived in this house. She darts back and forth, seemingly undaunted by faux silk blooms and cars coming and going.

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So far, so good, spring.

But then, the squirrels started committing suicide. What is it with squirrels and cars? The CE and I have each had to slam on our brakes this week when squirrels have thrown themselves in front of our cars. Those two survived within an inch of their bushy tails, but a walk around the neighborhood tells me we are in immediate need of some squirrel crossing guards.

But that’s not the worst of it.

That bucolic little birdbath under the oaks?

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It has become, in recent weeks, a no-go zone. To be approached only with latex gloves and a bottle of bleach.

Don’t be so squeamish, you say? Well, DON’T LOOK,

but this is what I found first:

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I TOLD YOU NOT TO LOOK!

Mon dieu! Did a nestling fall from the trees? But, but, but – the decapitation? I pondered it over and over. Spring has become most unsettling.

I suspected it had something to do with the crows that have been increasingly seen loitering at the birdbath. And sure enough, a few days ago I spied one that seemed to be performing overlong ablutions there. It flew off as I approached and I was rewarded with this sight that, I AM WARNING YOU, cannot be unseen:

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And all this time, I have labored under the illusion that crows eat seeds and nuts.

A bit of research reveals that a) crows delight in carrion and b) they are especially prone to presenting moistened food to their babies in order to keep the little ones hydrated. Sooooo, what looks like a horror movie to me is actually just Mother’s Day in the crow world. (Still, mon dieu!)

Perhaps now I can more fully understand why a group is a “murder” of crows and a flock of ravens is known as an “unkindness”. All in all, however, I’m ready to fast-forward to summer, because I’m finding that spring is nothing to crow about…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Animal/Vegetable/Mineral | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

And Santa Monica, briefly.

If you have enough kids and grandkids, you can be gone almost every weekend. This time it was Santa Monica. James turned ten!

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He was king for the weekend.

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But never forget that the CE remains emperor!

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James and I had a special breakfast together. He ate ALL the pancakes!

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Aunt Tina and the cousins came up to help celebrate.

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She brought a cake!

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And she also brought James’ favorite present!

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There was fun at the hotel pool.

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And we discovered that Thomas is now taller than his Auntie.

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Angie and her boys:

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Everyone loves Grandpa!

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We drove through Malibu on the way home. Lunch at our favorite Greek place there, Taverna Tony. Too bad there was hardly any food…

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Why did I not buy this t-shirt?

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After a couple of weekends away, it’s good to be home. Happy to be hanging with this one this weekend.

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Posted in All Things Family, Travel | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments