Thankful Thursday – Neighbors

Our dog has been sleeping on two beds.

A few days ago, our neighbors drove away in their cars and rental moving van, all loaded to the max. They took their funny cat and sweet black lab.

Of course they did.

But over nine years, our neighbors have become our friends. We borrowed onions and bought each other flowers. We enjoyed regular parties with the other neighbors on our court. We celebrated holidays and occasions. We sat on each other’s front porches to shoot the breeze. We shared meals and drank wine around the fire pit. We walked our dogs together.

We actually co-parented our dogs.

Their dog and our dog have been besties since puppyhood. Neighbors took a board out of our shared fence so the dogs could be together constantly. Jessie (their dog) is an early riser; most mornings she came over to wake Izzy (our dog) and tank up on water, which she seemed to prefer at our house. They had morning play time with Guy before we all went to work and dogs went outside.

Unless someone was working at home–between our houses, that happened often–in which case dogs stayed in. In the evenings, dogs followed Neighbor room to room, begging with anxious eyes, until he took them onto the hill, the open space behind our homes. When he wasn’t home, our boys were enlisted to doggy hill duty, despite the fact that dogs (usually) had already had a walk or two that day.

Most nights dogs slept on their own beds in their own homes. But we had an extra bed for Jessie since she was at our house so often. Our dogs even had regular spontaneous sleepovers, more often than my kids and their friends!

This week has been different. Izzy doesn’t play with toys; she played with Jessie who played with toys. We should probably clean up all the toys scattered around the floor. Tween spilled some dry cereal, and we don’t have Jessie as our doggy vacuum cleaner (Izzy’s picky that way). I thought I heard Jessie chomping on a bone; nope, just Tween making some odd racket in the next room.

Izzy keeps asking to go outside. She looks toward the fence separating our properties, the one that used to have an opening through which her friend appeared. She turns around and flops by my feet. She follows me from room to room. We stacked Jessie’s bed on hers, and so she sleeps on two beds, our princess puppy.

We’re excited for our friends in their new adventures. Change is hard. Change can be good. Change brings new opportunities. In Jessie’s absence, we’re keeping Izzy busy– she’s been out on the hill, on a run, and to the dog park twice. Good for her, and for us.

And today we have new neighbors. They have little kids, which makes for different sounds drifting through the windows. We also have new neighbors on the other side; a mom and three daughters, one of whom turns out to be a school friend of Tween’s, are moving in to the house below us.

Maybe, with time, our new neighbors will also become friends. Now, if only they had a dog…

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Life Follows

Last week the kids had an unusual two weekdays in a row off school. And it was my birthday. Gracious friends loaned us their mountain vacation house for a couple of nights and I couldn’t wait.

This fall has been rough – too full, too emotional – and contrary to my typical MO I didn’t feel much like celebrating. I went Facebook silent from the day before my birthday until the evening we arrived home to also unplug from media distractions (and, in this case, celebrations). I longed to bug outta town, to hide away with my guys in a gorgeous spot, enjoy long walks and time with a good book, watch movies and play games, leave life behind.

Hah! Life followed.

Of course it took hours longer than it should have to tie up the loose ends, pack up the bags and the car, and get on the road. However, on the road we saw the most beautiful sunset, seriously, trees on fire with light.

birthday sunset - car window

No way I could get all the work done before we left, so hours of it had to get done on the trip. Fortunately, it got done.

Work done (for the moment), we walked along the river: Guy, Dog, and I on the paved path, Tween, Teen, and Friend as close to water as possible; more or less we walked parallel, a wall of brush separating the different ground beneath our feet. But then we heard our two hooligans shouting, clearly distressed. Guy tossed me the leash and bounded through the brush to discover Tween sinking in thigh-high mud. The drought has dropped water level dangerously low and the boys had walked on exposed riverbed, including some particularly nasty mud. It wouldn’t have occurred to me that the ground was unsafe, and as Tween stepped into the squish he struggled and continued to sink until one leg was almost entirely encased in mud. It took 30 minutes of Guy calmly instructing him how to wiggle and dig. Odd but we’ll take it, Guy noticed that someone had long ago abandoned a couch in the brush so he pulled off a leaf-encrusted cushion and threw it between a log and Tween in order to get get close enough to help pull his son free. Without Guy I would’ve called 911. Tween (and I) have learned lessons about mud!

river dog

A few hours later Teen and Friend were whittling spears for their squirrel-hunting plans (am I glad they don’t tell me this stuff in advance?) when Friend cut his finger. Playing it safe, Guy took them to the ER where the kid received three stitches. No good with blood, Teen all but passed out in the waiting room. It could’ve been so much worse, though, and Friend never even needed a Tylenol, no pain.

Just after they left, I heard a noise like Dog crunching through a massive cow bone. If only! She vomited warm kibble, three times, and about three times more than I could imagine her stomach could hold. I quickly put her on leash and ordered Tween to take her outside while I cleaned up. Gagging. As she hadn’t actually digested the food, clean-up was – thankfully! – quick and easy and that was that, no more vomit.

The guys returned, we had an easy late dinner, we hot-tubbed and played and read and slept well, and in the morning enjoyed a gorgeous river walk/bike ride before cleaning and packing up again. Hallelujah, Teen even learned how to make a beautiful bed!

tall trees

Life: work, family, boys, dog, cooking, cleaning… Life follows. I had to face my unrealistic desires to leave behind the stressors of this season just because we were in a new location. I had to remember to be Grateful in all situations, to Accept and Surrender and just get downright GAS-y, as I learned last week.

Laughter helps. Not much in those wacky situations felt funny at the time, but in retrospect they sure made for a memorable weekend. Hearing the story, a sweet 20-something friend said, “I kinda feel like these things only happen to you…” Oh, darling, maybe they do! My family has a Corner Market on Ridiculous Street. And then again, call me when you have kids and we’ll talk!