I’m appreciating my ordinary life as I ride the emotional ups and downs of this long season of change. Maybe you are, too. My dog, Moon, died May 31st and I’ve entered a new phase. He was the bridge between my history and the present. My days feel strange without him, triggering mood swings and melancholy. For a couple weeks I was dysfunctional. My treadmills slipped off track and collided. Daily chores, homemaking and domestic partnering stumbled into my ritual of writing and released a torrent of resentment. I know from past experience that this is grief. I had a slow quiet meltdown. Now I’m in transition and I’m ok, bearing witness to the ordinariness of it all here in my first post since May 12th. Thanks for reading.
In our house the new normal is to think about the worst that could happen and make ready for it. We’re not pessimists, we’re realists. Realists who just want to have fun. The puppy was something we had talked about for months. After Moon was gone, when the right dog popped up in the classified listings, we jumped. He is a standard poodle, just 11 weeks old, part Lamb Chop, part Satan. His name is Pete. Mr. Pete, Pistol Pete, Petey Pie, Sweetie Petey, Pedro, Pierre, or in moments of human indignation, Peter Joseph! the puppy from hell. If there’s a kernel of wisdom in the puppy experience it is that happiness is both essential and irrational. You don’t have to wait for conditions to be perfect to be happy. A puppy is genuinely happy, in divine delirium, for no good reason every day.
Gardening with a puppy is tricky. His inclination to dig and chew isn’t always useful. And writing with a puppy is nearly impossible, putting my patience to the test as the evil creature beneath my desk pulls on my shoelaces. I have holes in my clothes and scars from the puncture wounds of those mini canines. Occasionally I release a barrage of foul language. Fortunately, Pete will not pick up the F-word and embarrass me by repeating it. You might think it crazy for two people in the latter half of their 60s to get a puppy, but I would say Pete is a lot like a Peloton. He’s a fuzzy exercise machine that keeps us social and goal oriented and connects us with community. Right now the goal is to keep him from snacking on dead things buried in the grass.
When Gandhi said, Be the change you seek, I’m pretty sure he was talking about getting a puppy. Pete necessitates living simply, a focus on the basics, and mastery of the ordinary. Food. Shelter. Ecosystem. Local people and places. Our parenting skills are in full bloom, and I’m channeling Donna Reed (minus the pearls and petticoats). Yes, this is the life I fought hard not to have in my 30s and 40s when I considered homemaking a failure to achieve anything. Now my goal is to make our home a sanctuary. I know. “Home” is a thing right now. I’m right on trend with pandemic nesting and climate change cocooning. For all of us, the future — as early as tomorrow — has become wildly unpredictable, and the threats are many: biological safety, weather, fire, drought, rising prices, supply chain disruptions, social unrest, public health. It’s a lot to cope with. Maybe that’s why this little dog is such a burst of joy. His puppy love manifests divine happiness for no good reason every day. When the students are ready, the teacher arrives.
18 thoughts on “My Ordinary Life”
So happy you got a puppy to fill your heart again! So glad that you are writing again as well!
Thank you, Kathy!
When we got our border collie 3 years ago, the running joke was for us to invest money in bandaids. Her temporary name was shark mouth. That morphed into Mako, a small viscous shark. A few days ago I was mulling over the fact that she is always happy and lives in the present moment. What great lessons these beings can teach us humans!
Mako is a great name for a dog. Yes, many great lessons here. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
I am a professional groomer of 45+ years, and when someone with a new standard poodle puppy calls us to enquire about grooming I tell them that “You have a breed for which (in regards to grooming) you have to either be fabulously wealthy or learn to do it yourself.” For example, at my salon (Capitol Hill in DC) our price for the breed starts at $175. And they require professional grooming every 4-5 weeks. I’m sure in the wilds of your area prices are much lower – but I also suspect your grooming travails will be the source of new blog entries.
Bonnie, thanks for this advice. I am planning to watch some Youtube videos on poodle grooming and buy the tools.
Your puppy post is the most happiest and wonderful thing I had the good fortune to read in current memory. With due respect to Charles Schultz “Happiness is a warm puppy.” Enjoy.
Thanks, Marcia. So glad my post made you happy!
‘There’s no place like home…’ – Dorothy
So sorry for your loss, Billie! I felt like I came to know and love Moon too, through reading your memoir. May he rest in peace and live always in your heart! And how wonderful that a new dog has come into your life at just the right time. My dog Loki was also born in 2009…and I am also starting to think about a puppy, to help me with the inevitable transition….
Oh, Jennifer. When we love our dogs we make a promise to feel the sadness when they’re gone. Sending you and Loki hugs, and wishing you the pleasure of a new puppy. Also, the energy.
Sooooo great Billie
Wise wise words
Enjoy that puppy!
Thanks, Vanessa. Good to hear from you.
Thank you for this! I also can relate we just recently have a new puppy and I love him but some days I ask myself what we’re you thinking getting a puppy at 61!
I have your books and truly enjoy your writing! Thank you
Valerie, I have had a couple moments when I felt like having a puppy was more than I bargained for. But now we are in love and it feels perfect. Thanks for letting me know you got my books and enjoy them.
I delight to hear from you! I’m sorry you had to experience the loss of your beloved Moon ?? I was once told, that our pets leave us when they know it is okay for them to leave. They know we’ll be okay. Moon’s timing seemed appropriate as you recreate something new. ?? Blessings to you and “Mr P” as you recreate.
Thanks, Pam. I agree with you. I had the feeling that Moon was ready to go when the time came. I think we were both clear on it.