...sometimes even a single feather is enough to fly. (Robert Maclean)


remembering Calvin

1999 - July 20, 2015

It's hard to know where to begin with Calvin.
He was, in a nutshell, 
the little dude who ran our house 
for as long as I've been part of it, and for a few years before that.

In fact, we jokingly called him the Speaker of the House
because he was often barking as if he was in charge, much to my chagrin. 

With Calvin you could always be sure
that he would let you know what he wanted and when.

If he wanted to come in or go out 
or if he just wanted you to make his dinner a little faster,
or if he just wanted to hear himself bark,
that was Calvin.

So, over the years we nicknamed him Nancy (Pelosi)
and that stuck with him, among his many other nicknames.

Calvin was a paradox to me for a long time.
He was overall pretty high-strung and uptight, and even his body was stiff,
except for sometimes you'd see him in this position,
like he'd had too many margaritas 
or was just such a chill guy.

For the record:  he was definitely NOT a chill guy.
Not even remotely. 

But he did soften with time, and so did I,
and he had many sides to himself that unfolded over the years.

He was deeply neurotic, and while I didn't like his domineering ways, 
they did help keep the order around here,
and made the hierarchy very clear.

In the end, I couldn't help but respect how
his 20 pound bark and bite was somehow sufficient to
intimidate even our massive Great Pyrenees, 
who could have swallowed him whole if they had wanted to!


After my boy Tucker died, 
Calvin and I slowly but surely made our peace with each other.

I came to respect him and his role.
And I always, always appreciated 
how much he loved his Mamma Boo.

He was so loyal and so utterly devoted to her.
I thank him for giving that kind of love,
and I assured him before he died that I would keep carrying the torch
and take good care of his most beloved Mamma. 

Even at our most disagreeable times,
one thing Calvin and I had in common 
was our unwavering adoration of her.

He'd wait for her faithfully,
and he'd follow her anywhere that his little crooked legs could carry him.

   It's impossible to remember Calvin without also remembering Bella.
 Bella was his main squeeze and the only dog whose authority he deferred to.
They were like Mutt and Jeff, a motley duo.
Wherever Bella went, Calvin went, too.

Bella used to get little sticky boogers in her eyes
and every night he would lick them off for her.

It was a tender little ritual that usually occurred every night
before Bella's own personal nightly ritual,
which was 45 minutes of butt-licking and flatulence.

 Calvin and Bella both had the frightening tendency to walk on our pond 
when it was only partially frozen, so during that time of the year,
they had to suit up with life jackets when they went outside unsupervised.

Life without Bella was never the same.
But Calvin cozied up with Clara, and us.

Clara is the link between our past and present dog packs.
She knew Tucker, Bella, and Calvin.  
She's said good-bye to all of them in the last 2 1/2 years,
and we can only hope she doesn't also have to say good-bye 
to her new brother Huck anytime soon.

(Luckily Clara seems to be very in touch with the Spirit world.
I think she's as wise as she is big and fluffy...!)


Calvin was a really tenacious little dude.
A real trooper, and my hat goes off to him for that.

He didn't give up... he just kept-on-keeping-on against all odds.

Four months ago, 
the traditional vets thought he'd be dead any day 
and they recommended euthanasia.  

But Boo said No.
He ain't no youth.
And he ain't in Asia.
 He's not ready for Asia yet, so forget it!

She did so much research 
and bought every alternative remedy known on the face of the earth,
all for her little boy.

He became more and more high maintenance, 
and life around here became an ongoing Hospice,
but she didn't mind one bit,
and she would do it all again.  


Calvin was actually more like a cat 
in that he must have had at least 9 lives.

He had at least that many death vigils,
times when we thought he was going to die and then
he'd surprise us and perk up.

(I think he must have been a little drama king - 
even soap opera stars don't have that many near-death experiences!)

Plus, years ago, our friend accidentally ran over him in the driveway,
and then backed over him again when she panicked.

We figured he could recover from just about anything
if he could get run over twice by an SUV and live to tell the tale...!


Nothing got Calvin's spirits down.  

Not the weather,
not even when the snow was deeper than he was tall.

No matter how blind or bulging his eye was, 
he didn't care, 
as long as he could see his Mamma.

 No matter how deaf he was, he didn't care,
as long as he could still hear the vibrations
of his Mamma playing piano 
or whispering her love for him.

No matter how big that awful tumor got, 
he just kept lugging it around like a suitcase.

No matter how many times he banged into things wearing his cone, 
he just kept on going until he could swing his neck far enough 
to do what he wanted to do.

He tolerated a litany of bandages and treatments,
some downright humiliating -- from baby pants
to handmade suspenders and harnesses,
and various adaptions to "the cone" 
which he continually evaded or outwitted.  

None of it lessened his dignity or his role
as the man-in-charge around here. 

When he was ready to go, 
he went on his own terms, without euthanasia, and he went fast.
He got down to the business of letting that old ailing body die. 

We felt Bella and Tucker's presence with him and us as he transitioned.   

And with his mother's permission and encouragement, 
he left to go play with his friends
wherever doggie heaven is. 

He had a beautiful life,
and a beautiful death.

While I watched him die, I was in awe of him
and all that he's been through and all that he's done
with his little 20 pound self.  
 If I had my druthers and could choose the way I would die,
I would also die outside in the sunlight,
with my people all gently around me.

Live into the Light, little dude.

We'll remember you,
and love you, and miss you, always.

It's hard to believe, 
but now our original pack is together again in the spirit world.

What a joyous tail-wagging reunion that must be for them!

Thank you for sharing the journey with us, sweet old friends...

Happy trails through the heavens,
until we meet again.

 love fur-ever,
your Mammas


shopping mall... bird nests

Sometimes errands can really be a drag.
Especially if it involves going to the mall or a big box store.
I never get excited about that stuff.

But sometimes you just have to look around,
look a little closer,
look with fresh eyes instead of
I-can't-wait-to-be-done-with-this-crap eyes.

You might be surprised with what you find!


When I looked up from my discontent, I laughed out loud with delight.
I saw that a whole bunch of house sparrows
had decided to make use of our sprawling concrete shopping jungles
in the best of ways:


It's interesting how they built the same sort of spikey reed nest in the curve of the S
in Arts
and in Crafts.

 Perhaps the same bird artist constructed both?

Maybe this bird thinks
S stands for Sentinel.

Here are some closer shots so you can see how "crafty" those sparrows are:

 It's amazing how they don't mind having such proximity from one nest to the next --
maybe they're good neighbors?!

Look carefully at the stick-things.
They're so similar looking, I wonder if they might be plastic floral "decor" sticks
from one of the outdoor displays or sale racks?

I love their art.


Cornell's Lab of Ornithology sponsors a Funky Nest contest,
you can check it out here and see some interesting submissions from 2015.

Have fun finding nests in unexpected places!