“My ass is hanging off the bed.”
Those were the Chef’s first words to me this morning, prompted by one Scout-the-Goldapeake-Retriever’s pushing four paws into me, with his back to the Chef, who was forced out of the bed this way. All six-feet-plus of him, at a quarter ‘til six. The planets are misaligned; that’s my best explanation for mixed-up routines around here, like a dog in the bed with us way too early. Could be the full moon. Possibly it’s simply spring, a time of upheaval and new routines anyway. “I’m getting up and having coffee.”
“Why? It’s not even six. And it’s Sunday.”
“Because there is no longer room for me in the bed, and anyway I’m awake now.”
Ever since Scoutie was handed his pink slip at work for being too growly and bark-ish, we’ve adopted a new routine at home to minimize the stretches of time he must be alone. This has nothing to do with planet misalignment or the full moon. Creative thinking and helpful ideas from trustworthy sources have yielded a plan that works, mainly, and breaks up the week nicely so Scout has a day here and there where he has bumper to bumper company, either at home with me on my remote workday, or hanging out with his beloved homies at dog camp. But like most plans, it’s imperfect.
One thing we’ve noticed lately: Scout is more of a love sponge now than before this most recent change. Here’s an example. On some weekday afternoons I come home from work and write. Anybody who works full time but has other irons in the fire, will understand me when I suggest you’ve gotta strike while the iron’s hot, to stick to the metaphor. We take care of bid’ness first, to be sure: Scout welcomes me inside the door with his tail all a-wag, then I say let-me-put-my-things-down-please-first while he wiggles all around me and jumps up to lick my face (I truly appreciate the gesture, slobber notwithstanding, and will never discourage this habit), and then out the door we go to do the backyard doings: imagine statuesque Deb standing in the middle of the yard while Scout sprints around like a dervish. One day this past week he miscalculated my position and collided headlong into me—which I found comical just as soon as the pain in my legs subsided and I collected the shoe he somehow knocked off my foot and jettisoned to the other side of the yard. Or maybe it was no miscalculation at all on his part.
Once back inside the house, if it’s a writing day, I usually give Scout a cookie, fix myself a libation, and then sit down on the sofa with my laptop; Scout hops up and settles in next to me. But in the last couple of weeks I notice he’s less content to curl up and nap; this makes perfect sense considering he’s probably spent most of his long day alone napping in the first place. Instead, he sits there like a sphinx on the other two-thirds of the sofa and watches my laptop—that’s right, he watches it. I’m not suggesting he can read, or even see the minuscule typeface or the cursor moving across the screen. Although there are occasions where he most certainly can see at least something, for example when I queue up a dog video for him; then he furrows his brow, pulls his ears forward, and tilts his head comically.
This, though, is simply an exercise in waiting and watching. And when he decides I’ve been at it long enough, which is nearly always about 10 minutes before I would’ve finished anyway, he simply reaches out one of his surprisingly muscular forearms and thwaps my keyboard. Actually, what he does more accurately is pin my right arm to it. It’s a singularly clumsy move, unlike the finessed way a cat might do this, because dog. And because I’m typically fairly deeply engrossed in what I’m doing, this action always catches me off-guard. Then I turn and find him staring a hole into the side of my head, and note his beautiful ginger tail wagging on the sofa behind him. Here’s my best guess at the Doggish to English translation: enough, already! What I say to Scout is, you live with a chef and a writer: this is, you know, way cool. You’re lucky. And then we go for a walk or a run, where this “heavily muscled dog,” as his vet describes him, gives out way before I’m ready to throw in the towel. Psyche.
But that thing that happened this morning at a quarter ‘til six? Scout’s timing is way off. He typically starts his night in bed with us, snuggled into a long valley he carves out between us. Then he gets too hot and curls up on the bed at our feet. Then even that is insufferably hot, and he jumps off the bed. All this happens over the course of about 20 minutes. On weekday mornings he doesn’t jump back up onto the bed until I get up, around five; he simply takes my spot when I leave. On Saturday mornings, he wedges between us for some schnug, usually politely waiting until seven or eight to interrupt our sleep. But this past Friday morning he hopped up between us at 4:00. So I was wide awake by 4:05, and grumpy, feeling deprived of my last hour of precious shut-eye on a workday. And then there was the bizarre early-morning wakeup call today. It’s not that the dog needs to go outside; this morning, for example, after the Chef and I threw in the towel and got up way too soon for a Sunday (did I mention it was not yet six?), Scout simply circled around and burrowed happily into the rumpled bedding we left behind. When I got to the bottom of the steps, I stood there and summoned him to come outside with me. Crickets. I went back upstairs and found him curled up contentedly in the bed, in a tight circle, refusing to budge.
“I think I understand his strategy now,” I told Chef David when I came back down. “Wake up the hoomans, force them out of the bed—and have the entire bed to yourself.” Well played, Scout. Chef David believes it’s mainly that Scout is missing his hoomans these days, and just wants more schnug. That’s generous and does not explain what happened this morning. Planets misaligned? Maybe.
Meanwhile, this past week the Chef made some nice cuisine for us. I wish I’d photographed the hand-tossed pizza he made with spinach, black olive, and feta. It was beautiful and did not hang around long. On Friday night we ate supper late because we did our weekly shop after work, a time-consuming errand but also a fun date. (Try shopping with a chef sometime if you have not: It is an adventure, gentle reader, and includes close scrutiny of the tiny print on food labels, which makes a longish chore still longer.) I mentioned I wanted some dang quesadillas, so we bought ingredients and Chef David complied.
We aren’t impressed by food prepared with ‘tweezers and fog,’ as we like to say. We’re working on a concept for a beautiful book on this subject, filled with photos of real food, and entertaining stories about love. Scout will need to make his peace with more time on the sofa for this project to unfold, I’m afraid. Here is a picture of real food, eaten by real people this past Friday night:
We watched a gorgeous Werner Herzog movie while we ate our dang quesadillas, called Queen of the Desert. I recommend.
It’s been a good week and an especially fruitful weekend: The Chef laid in some new posts for another new section of fencing, but large tree roots are making post hole digging difficult. On Saturday morning Scout and I went for a long run out in the country, in the glorious sunshine; it turned out to be more of a run-walk-run-walk-walk-run, during which time we stopped twice along the way to talk to two separate friends we encountered, and to their dogs, who are Scoutie’s buddies. I finally got our guest bedroom more or less put together yesterday, organizing and finding permanent storage for the stuff piled in that room now since the week we moved in more than a year ago, and then dusting, cleaning baseboards, sneezing, vacuuming, and finally hanging lots of artwork. And yesterday afternoon I sat outside on the front porch and drank my first Kir of the season while we visited with our across-the-street neighbor and the Chef worked some on his crossword. Today I ordered balloon valances and window hardware, and a bed skirt made for the antique three-quarter bed in the guestroom—this time with the appropriate 20-inch drop. It is shaping up to be a positively pleasant, sun-filled room.
Rumor has it I might be moving into a new office space in the coming weeks, where it’s possible Scout will have his go-to-work privileges restored because of the office design.
Sometimes change is a thing of beauty.