The Further Misadventures of Henry

Henry, upon realizing the cupboard is bare.

Today, for the first time, I present two stories about Henry, my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. That’s two for the price of one! Unusual, I know.

I, Cook, wrote Story #2.  Then, just as I was getting ready to post it, one of my readers, Robert, wrote his own story about Henry, on account that I’ve been sick (as everyone knows–thanks to my Sicko in Seattle post), and he decided that a little tale about the little king might be the thing to draw me out of my cold-ridden misery.  And, he was right. So, thank you, Robert!

Herewith, two tales about a dog who descends from royalty.

1.  Henry Fends for Himself, as told by Robert

Henry sat in his royal basket looking and feeling quite dejected. What am I to do, he thought to himself. Cook is ill and cook is not cooking. What will I do for lunch? The cupboard is bare, not a bone or a royal treat to be found.

Just then, a loud sneeze and a series of sniffles could be heard from Cook’s bed chamber.

There is nothing for it, thought Henry. I will have to mix with the working classes and do this thing they call shopping.

Getting out of the basket, he put his crown on its stand by his basket and made for the door. He opened his special doggie flap in the door and climbed through, muttering to himself. Humph!! Still no crown above the flap. Any cat or dog could use it, not realising it’s just for royalty.

Outside, he debated whether to head left or right, and decided right, as the sun would then shine on his good side. Trotting down the sidewalk, he came to a grocery store. He walked through the door and was promptly picked up and put outside again. After this happened three times, he sat and barked. How dare they not let him in! He was royalty, after all. Then, he spotted the notice on the door that said,

“NO DOGS EXCEPT BLIND GUIDE DOGS ALLOWED.”

Stupid sign, Henry muttered to himself, wondering, how can blind dogs read?

Dejected, he made his way home, and climbing through the dog flap, he smelt something nice. He smelt cooking!!!

Cook looked down at Henry, lying in his basket. “Henry, lunch is ready.”

Henry barked in joy and made his way to his bowl. He must have been imagining it. He must be cracking up!!!


2. Henry’s Thanksgiving in the Country, as told by me, Cook

This morning, I told Henry that it’s time to pack up his bags. For, I’m heading to Chicago to visit my daughter, my brother and his family.  It’s Thanksgiving soon and, while I’m away, Henry’s going to spend the holiday in the country. And, by country I mean he’s going to my friend, Trisha’s house, which isn’t in the country at all.

But, Henry thinks it is, as Trisha–or the scullery maid, as he calls her–has an ample backyard, with lots of room to roam and wonder. She also has a horse in a stable somewhere, which Henry has visited before. So, as I tell him about his impending trip, it’s clear he’s mulling it over in his head.

“Cook, will I be going to the horse stable?” he asks quizzically. Henry calls me Cook, because I’m the one who serves him his meals.

“No doubt about it, Henry. Will that be a problem?”

“I don’t fancy stables. Horses can neigh rather loudly, you know. Practically burst my eardrums last time. Got my paws all muddied while there, too. Bloody mess! Took forever to get them properly cleaned.”

“The scullery maid told me she drew you a bath after that visit, and you were just fine.”

“True, but how I suffered for it.”

“The point is, Henry, you got over it.”

“Did I?” He pauses, then inquires, “What about the Thanksgiving feast? Does the scullery maid know I only eat the white meat?”

“Yes, she knows, and she already said no.”

“Are you sure, Cook? Exactly what did she say?”

“Something about, over her dead—.”

“Never mind,” Henry replies, sulkily. “Noblesse oblige, I suppose. ‘Tis my duty to let her little wards have the good bits. “

“Oh, you mean her kids? So, you’re okay with going?”

“I don’t seem to have a choice, do I? Though, tell me, will the ranch hand be there?”

“Ranch hand? Oh, you mean Cowboy, the scullery maid’s cat. Yes, I suppose he will, seeing as that’s his home.”

“Dash it all! It wouldn’t be so horrid if the ranch hand remembered to bow in my presence. Oh well, what can you expect from the feline purr-suasion?”

“And Henry, word has it there’s a new member in the family. Seems as though the scullery maid has taken in a dog, too.”

“A horse, a cat and now a dog?? Should make for a rather chaotic visit, if you ask me,” muses Henry, adding, “So, when exactly are you returning?”

Sigh. Summing up every ounce of patience, I glibly reply,

“Henry, I’ll be returning soon enough and that’s all you need to know.”

“Fine,” he snorts. “Abandon me to the country if you need to, but please, whatever you do, don’t put this in your blog. I have a reputation to maintain. No one need know that you’ve put me in a mood or that I’m pulling a face. Especially not the scullery maid. Don’t want to start off on the wrong paw, you know.”

Henry prepares for his journey to “the country.”

“Yikes. Too late,” I say. “Already posted.”

“Is that so? Then, make sure they also know how utterly delighted I am, too. In fact, I’m going to don my purple fascinator to show my joy.  I’m going to the country! Maybe I’ll blog about it, too!”

“Sarcasm doesn’t become you, Henry.”

And just like that, Henry leaves the room to fetch his petite chapeau.

Happy Thanksgiving from Henry and me!

Now tell me. Whether or not you celebrate, what are your plans this coming week?

Sicko in Seattle

Seattle held out for 48 hours. For two days, nothing but sunny skies and fall-like temps. Football weather, some would say. We rambled through the city, hitting some favorite spots and a few new ones. Lovely!

Seattle has heart.

Everyone got annoyed with me, of course, because of my obsessive need to take photos, and how I kept forcing my friends to pose this way and that. They were mostly accommodating, but drew the line at leaning against the Gum Wall, Seattle’s latest landmark, which kind of reminds me of the Lennon Wall in Prague, but not really. Sigh. Who cares if it’s among the top 5 germiest tourist attractions, anyway?

As always, Tom was as sweet as can be, patiently following us along while carrying our shopping bags, so we could shop, shop, shop, and not be weighed down with all those, ahem, purchases. And shop, we did, as Pam was wont to remind me, that it is our noblesse oblige to support the vendors of Seattle and help stimulate the economy.

But then, after two days, everything changed. And by everything I mean it rained and got cold.

Miserably cold.

Wet cold.

And then I got sick.

Miserably sick, and insufferably sick.

Greta-Garbo-as-Camille sick.

If you ask me, no one should be around me when I succumb to a cold. That’s when I sink into the depths of despair, feeling every tickle in my throat, every ache in my body and pang in my head, while the mucus steadily builds up in my nasal passages, bursting forth in a cacophony of sneezes. Woe is me!

Starry, starry Seattle.

Luckily, I had two Florence Nightingales tending to my every whim, err, need: Pam and her daughter, Twin 1. They darted to and fro between the kitchen and my death bed, aka, a very comfy chair in the living room and, as quick as the tiny fairies in Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, they brought me mugs of hot apple cider, toast and jam, cough drops, cold medicine, mentholated balm to rub on my nose, tissues, and a heated rice bag to wrap around my neck. Add to that oodles of blankets, a footrest so to keep my legs up, and wooly socks to keep my tootsies toasty, I must say, there are worse ways to suffer a malady.

As you can imagine, I didn’t get to do all on my Seattle dream list, which would’ve proven difficult as I’d forgotten just how chilly and wet Seattle can be. But, true to form it was cheeky fun spending time with the ol’ gang—Pam and Twin 1 and Twin 2, who brought along her roommate; Pat, who kept us organized; and Tom, who I learned is a world-renowned collector of seashells, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Pee-wee Herman.

I also got to catch up with–for the first time in 25 years–Pam’s sister and her hubby who drove all the way from eastern Washington, across the Cascades Mountains, over the river and through the woods, just to see me! (Okay, not really. They actually came for a Husky football game, but I’m almost positive that seeing me was a highlight of their weekend. :) )

And on my last full day in town, achy and clogged-headed as I was, I had lunch with Clare, who’s busy working on all sorts of writing projects!

The Highlights:

  • Alder wood king salmon at Ivar’s
  • Visiting my old place of work
  • Browsing the kiosks of Pike Place Market and adding to my collection of art and jewelry
  • Eating out a lot, once at an old fashioned hamburger stand where you drive up, park and a waiter comes out to take your order. Only thing missing were waiters on roller skates

    Signs of autumn.

  • Buying lots of chocolates at the Dilettante Cafe and then eating some, despite having purchased them as gifts
  • Discovering Miranda, a British television comedy series that is gads of fun and laughs
  • Exploring the University District
  • Seeing a movie, Perks of Being a Wallflower, which was delightful and very poignant

Biggest change since I was last in Seattle? It is now law that you must bring your own shopping bag wherever you shop, something I kept forgetting, of course. In San Diego, bringing your own bag is still mostly optional, and bags are available for free.

Seattle, being so environmentally savvy is way ahead of the curve, and if you forget to bring your bag, you can get arrested!

Well, not exactly, but you do have to pay extra for a bag that you once got for free and everyone gives you dirty looks when you do. Also, everywhere we went, in addition to the trash and recycling containers, there were containers for composting. Composting! Even in the movie theater, though frankly, I can’t see stopping to sort out all your trash while leaving the darkened theater in a mad rush for the exit.

Hey Neighbor! And by the way, have you checked out my new blog yet?  It’s called, Hey Neighbor! I write about the ordinary people that make San Diego such an extraordinary place to live.

Well, dearies, I’m still not up to snuff. So, please enjoy these photos while I go and get comfy in bed, nursing myself back to health. How about you? What did you do while I was away?

Seattle is all about umbrellas.

These decorative pieces can last up to five years, but if you want to eat them, do it only during the first two.

Love is in the air–in Seattle, too!

Can you believe it? That’s gum–already chewed! Seattle’s Gum Wall is located in Post Alley under Pike Place Market. Hey kids, don’t even think of trying this at home!

We helped find this homeless bear a home.

A gathering of pots on a rare, sunny afternoon.

A house of blues.

Tom and his artful collection.

And One More:

Pee-wee at sunset.

Seattle, Here I Come (and other random stuff)

Guess what? I am going to the Emerald City, which is what some call Seattle because it’s so darn lush and green, thanks to all the rain they get. I’m practically apoplectic with delight, because I’m going to see my friends, and you know that when I was last there, last spring, we had buckets of fun.

The view from the plane as it approaches Seattle.

I’ll be staying with Pam, who I’ve known for decades. Hundreds and hundreds of years, if you ask me. Pam has a big heart and a biting wit that is way sharper than mine, and makes me laugh like crazy.

I’ll also be seeing our pal, Pat, who is very sweet and kind, and somehow tolerates our off-kilter humor, which is just one of the many reasons why we adore her. Oh, and because, when someone makes her mad by doing something really annoying (present company excluded, of course), the best she can say, in her most polite voice, is, “I’m finding it hard to remain civil.”

With any luck, I’ll also see Clare, my amazing author friend who has written and published a plethora of books for children. Not to mention, Tom, aka Dernab Swarren. That’s what I call him, and he calls me Della. That’s Della Wolf, to you. Long story.

Pike Place Market is must-visit for anyone traveling to Seattle.

I am also going to get to spend time with Pam’s twin daughters, who are the same age as my daughter, and so much fun to be with, too.  And, last but not least, those canine cuties, Digby and Maisie. No doubt, they’ll be underfoot, looking for a cuddle and a lap to rest on.

Well, there’s at least one person I’m not going to be able to meet up with while in Seattle.  I was hoping to at last meet my young blogger pal, Cappy, whose got lots of moxie and joie de vivre. But turns out, she lives nowhere near Seattle. What was I thinking??

So, here’s my dream list of stuff I want to do during my visit, in no specific order:

  • Spend time with my friends
  • Pick up chocolates at the Dilettante
  • Peruse the stalls at Pike Place Market
  • Go antiquing
  • Catch up with my friends
  • Go out drinking and listen to music
  • Nosh like crazy!   Which includes breakfast at Julia’s Restaurant where they serve French toast with orange butter, lunch at Kidd Valley for awesome char-grilled burgers and pineapple shakes, and, what else? Dinner at Ivar’s Salmon House, for some mouth-watering, alder-wood smoked salmon.
  • Take walks with my favorite little Yorkies, Digby and Maisie
  • See a new movie

Ivar’s Salmon House restaurant serves up delicious alder-wood cooked salmon.

OMG, I can’t wait! I’m packing my bags and filling them with warm clothes, because if I know anything about the Northwest, it’s going to be cold, cold, COLD!

OTHER STUFF:

DON’T FORGET TO VOTE TUESDAY!!!

Hey Neighbor! I have a new blog, folks! This one’s for my work and it’s called, Hey Neighbor! It’s all about the ordinary people that make San Diego such an extraordinary place to live. If you have a chance, I hope you’ll check it out.

AND DON’T FORGET TO VOTE TUESDAY!!!

This photo, and all the others here, were taken during my last trip to Seattle.

Sick of the election coverage? Me, too. Well, it’s almost over, but not soon enough for this four year old who gave into her tears after her mom was listening to yet another election report on NPR. Check out this story, in which NPR apologizes, Dear Little Girl: Sorry We Made You Cry About ‘Bronco Bamma’ and Mitt Romney. If you ask me, I think she’s channeling what many of us are feeling.

REMEMBER TO VOTE TUESDAY!!!

Fifty/Fifty Challenge:  Full confession. I didn’t finish reading anything in October. And, I didn’t even see one flick! Sigh. Oh, well, I am working on Winter of the World: Book Two of the Century Trilogy, a book that is 960 pages long, though I’m listening to the audio version, because I’m no fool.  All I can tell you is that Ken Follett is a brilliant writer and John Lee is the perfect audio reader, capturing every accent, and every dialect in this saga of five families across continents, on the eve of World War II. I am absolutely riveted!

REMEMBER TO VOTE TUESDAY!!!

Take the hint and vote! I already did. And, be sure to check out the latest posts from our Race 2012 bloggers.

Ta-tah for now! I’m going, but I’ll be back soon!

Old Friends

This photo was snapped about 15 years ago.

There’s nothing like old friends.

In May, I got together with a few old friends in Seattle, who I hadn’t seen in practically forever: Pam, Clare and Pat. We had such an amazing time together, falling back into our own rhythm, much like the way we were back when we’d see each other all the time. It nourished my heart and my soul to be with my longtime friends, so much so, that I plan to go back this fall for another round with them, just hanging in the Northwest.

This past weekend, I got together with another old friend. Christine.

Years ago, Christine and I worked together, right here in San Diego. Then she moved away and we lost track. A couple of years ago, she came back into my life (Thank you, Facebook!), and we haven’t missed a beat since.

I have so much fun with Christine. She’s smart, cheerful, hilariously funny and oozes joie de vivre, to boot! Her happiness can’t help but rub off on me. Which makes me very joyful, indeed!

So, though I don’t see Christine often—she lives two and a half hours away, for crying out loud—when we do get together, we’re guaranteed to have a blast. Make that an explosion of fun!

This weekend, we met halfway, and spent the entire day losing track of time, by doing the following:

1. Shopping to our heart’s content at our favorite department store.

Isn’t she lovely?

2. Trying on expensive makeup from Australia. Talented makeup artist, Tim, worked hard to make me look halfway decent, but had a much easier go of it with Christine, who is beautiful, with striking eyes, a gorgeous smile and flawless skin. He sold her two products to get that look (see photo, above). He told me I needed 15 different products and a prayer, and that I should “hope for the best.” Sigh.

This is Christine, holding her brand new shoes, and starving while waiting for me to pick a place to eat. She graciously allowed me to snap gads of photos.

3. Laughing and giggling while shopping for a travel purse (for me), a pair of pink wedge shoes (for Christine), and a blouse from the sale rack that was such a good price, it became a must-have! (Christine, again).

4. Searching like crazy for a place to lunch. (We’d waited so long, we were famished!) And confiding, and laughing over avocado egg rolls, once we found the perfect spot.

5. Trying on all sorts of clothes in the women’s department, which was seemingly deserted–not even a salesperson in sight! It was as if the store had closed and we were accidentally trapped inside to wreak havoc. What fun!

6. Finally, when we were so exhausted we could have fallen asleep right there, between the dresses and the pants rack, we stopped at a café for refreshing Frappuccino’s, and used it as another opportunity to chat some more. While we were at it, we set a date for our next encounter, thank you, very much.

Then, regretfully, we hugged and said our goodbyes, with neither of us looking forward to the long drive ahead that awaited us. Me heading south, and Christine, due north.

One last chat before parting.

Until next time, Christine!

So, tell me. What’s the best day you ever spent with an old friend?

This is us just before heading home. What a day!

The Road Taken Returns: The Forgotten Diaries

Brace yourself. The Road Taken is back. For now, anyway. For those of you who’ve been asking, this one’s for you.

Yeah, that thorny path to love, marriage, joy, despair, and finally, the growing-apart thing. Maybe it’s like watching a train wreck. Seeing how I gave up the life I had carved for myself, to join a man who was so far away from me, in more ways than just distance. How we lived together, and then married, and somewhere in those 12 years, “wedded bliss” crumbled into bits of clay and dust, launching me into the hellish ride of my life.

And yet, from these ruins I found something better:  Myself.

Turns out, I kept a journal then, and recently rediscovered it. It begins at a time when the two paths were still before me, and I had a choice to make. (Read chapter one, Broken Hearts, for more on that).

We know how it turned out, but this is how it starts. On a short trip to Seattle, in order to determine if G and I could make a go of it. Listen to the troubled heart of this young woman, and tell me, what advice would you have given her?

First Week:  I have arrived in Seattle! I feel comfortable with G, but I can’t help but wonder if we’re capable of having a different type of relationship this time, without reverting to old, childish roles. G says I make his life pleasant. But is that all there is? While he is kind, he has no desire to make himself appealing to me. He says he loves me, but his heart just doesn’t seem to be in it. I think, like, me, he just doesn’t want to be lonely. But doesn’t that tell me something?

Maybe it would be better for me to start with someone new—a clean slate. I have changed, and the way he sees me and the way I am, are not one. The me who wants emotional ties, attachments, dependence, wants things to work out. The new, self-reliant me has trouble accepting that. I ought to forget him, start my life in D.C.

The Next Night:  I can’t sleep. It’s after 2 am and I can’t sleep. A million and one worries that always seem worse late at night. I am jealous. I am jealous of all the women G’s had. I am jealous of Marigold, who told him it was okay for roommates to sleep together. I am mad that G told me. I am mad that I’d already guessed it.

A Week Later: My trip is halfway over. But the question remains, where do I stand with G? Last night, I confronted him with my feelings. He listened and finally, said that it seems I’m just looking at the negative points, exaggerating them, using them as a weapon for wanting out of the relationship. I’m the one with the doubts, who is too damned scared to stay and work things out. Let it go, he tells me.

I want to cry but tears do not come. Nor will sleep come. I am restless, anxious, tense—tormented. I must leave this madness. He makes me happy but he makes me sad. Since I’ve been here, I’ve gone through a spectrum of emotions.

A few nights later:  It is the eve of my departure. Two and a half weeks seems short, but a lot was accomplished. Physically, we outdid ourselves at times; other times we took it easy. We dined out a lot, went to the movies, the symphony, a basketball game, the stores. We spent this past weekend in Vancouver, B.C. and enjoyed the view of the bay, the colorful sailboats, and the mountains. G baked two batches of brownies; one not as good as the other. I took long walks by myself, around the university district. We shopped for records and books, blankets and mints. We saw the full moon dip behind Mt. Baker. We kissed incessantly, made love, got high and listened to Bruce Springsteen. I danced, swayed, moved—and caught his eye.

We laughed, sighed, yawned, whispered, touched, talked, joked and cried. On Thursday, I wanted out of the relationship. By Friday night all doubts were tossed aside as I gave my heart and wondered how I had ever thought of living without him. 

G spoke honestly and truthfully. His matter-of-factness compelled me to do the same. There is no holding back. I am affected by him, his moods, his anger, his fears and pleasures. It makes me happy just to be with him.

To watch him move. To watch him in his true form. Reading. Engrossed in a mystery, all other life stops. He bites his fingers, his lips. All other functions cease until the book is done.

Working. Flipping slide after slide, making illegible notations on indecipherable charts. Peering into a microscope, examining, inventing theories. Worrying, and studying journals. He is engrossed and often talks about losing sight of time. Whatever he gives his attention to, it is with the same zeal that he applies himself. It is all or nothing with him.

And he is handsome. Maybe not to all, but certainly to me. He is tall, lean with strong features. His skin is clear and smooth. His mouth, inviting. His eyes tell all—when he loves me, when he’s confused or hurt or bitter. His eyes chart his moods, his passions.

We are bound by words, sentences, comments that we have shared. I have revealed my bleakest self to him and I have seen his. We are not scared away. Our quirks, bad habits and our secrets have been revealed. We accept that in us. We are real to each other.

He has called me his love and his curse, all in the same breath. I accept that. It’s natural. But when he calls me by the special name he’s given me, I want to melt and hug him. I feel vulnerable, and cannot think of a life without him. Tomorrow I leave. I am ready.

I am not ready. I’m preparing myself and should be used to it, but I’m not. Every time we part the pain is alive, intense. We are uncertain what will happen.

Do we have a future together?

And so, I returned to school, and the battle continues in my head, whether to give G another chance, or stay put. During this time, I write the following poem:

“When we are apart,

I remember the hugs,

the warm bed, the jokes,

Your laughter,

Your smile and eyes,

I think about how wonderful you are,

When we are together—

Ah, that’s something else!

When we are united, I see how

Painfully clear are the differences.

The differences kill us.”

And then I write this:

 “A hunch tells me that I could never realize myself with G, and that when the day came that I wanted to become a whole (full of life) person, I would have to leave him, and it would hurt more than it would now.”

So, after writing this, why did I do it? Just more proof that I wasn’t reading the writing on the wall.

And so it begins, and so it continues.