In the Garden

Whoa. Summer came to Oklahoma with a bang. After all those extra months of freezing weather and our recent weeks of rain, it is finally 90+ degrees and dry. Is there no such thing as a happy medium? Or do those days happen fleetingly? I’m guessing the latter.

Those days have come where I now have to check my flowers and vegetables daily. A simply soaking every evening only seems to make my plants thirstier. When I walked past my potted petunias last night I was shocked by the condition of the soil. It was cracking and parched and it made me feel so silly for proclaiming only last week how hard it was to kill petunias! PUBLIC APOLOGY, PETUNIAS – I take it all back.

I never had an interest in gardening for most of my life, although I have had a lifelong interest in eating food grown in other people’s gardens. When I lost my job nearly two years ago and Florida’s economy failed to provide me with another, I decided to turn my spare time into a useful tool. The following spring and summer, I grew tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries, carrots, ground cherries, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, herbs, and edible flowers.

Jack, my parents’ piebald dachshund, accompanied me every morning to the garden space. The two of us made our rounds collecting ground cherries that had fallen or thinning out the carrots and nursing the cucumbers back to health. Actually, I did the work while Jack chased squirrels and investigated the deep roots of a philodendron.

Jack, my garden buddy

Jack, looking especially short next to the lettuce patch

Matt and I decided this year’s garden would be a small and manageable one. Everything we hope will be edible is growing in container pots and recycled whiskey barrels. There are three varieties of potted tomatoes, cucumbers trailing on our iron porch rails, and okra being held upright with a metal trellis. All those mornings I tossed the water out of those saturated pots are paying off and things are finally starting to grow.

sunburst cherry tomatoes

sunburst cherry tomatoes

okra is happening!

okra is happening!

It seems I have a new garden buddy these days to go along with my new garden. As I made my rounds this morning redirecting the cucumber vines and marveling at the height of my still-growing sunflowers, Teddy rarely left my side. There is a story behind this dog and I wish I knew what it was, but for now I’m happy to imagine he was treated well by someone who appreciated his constant presence and liked to take him for long walks outside.

my handsome boy

my handsome boy

More Teddy

For a fairly good sized 60-pound catdog, Teddy somehow manages to gracefully curl himself into a ball or carefully prop himself upright leaving him to rest quite easily on the leather sofa – the back of the leather sofa, where cushions and armrests are not required. Teddy is surprisingly considerate enough to leave those parts of the sofa for the humans (although he is always happy let you know he’s back there by sniffing your hair, licking your head, or by licking himself right next to your head).

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Teddy and Chimay. She is sometimes difficult to see right away in this house with dark brown floors and furniture, but her new reflective collar has kept us from spooking each other more than once.

We are used to finding Teddy like this, resting comfortably on the back of the couch. There is probably a really great view out of the front room windows from this height, too. Even after moving a smaller sofa right up against the front room windows, Teddy still prefers his spot on the leather sofa. Perhaps the cushions and armrests are somewhat confining to a catdog who lies on the floor with his legs outstretched in front of and behind him (we call this his yoga technique).

More boingle yoga with Teddy

The following photographs show how we found Teddy yesterday morning, his legs outstretched and hugging a cushion, his body completely draped over most of the sofa with his tail dangling nonchalantly behind him. I snapped pictures of him for a good minute, in tears from laughing so hard at what a funny cat-slash-dog he continues to be. Teddy didn’t budge, except to move his head to see what so damn funny. He was comfortable.

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How’s Teddy?

My parents often ask, “How’s Teddy doing?”

They don’t ask out of favoritism, but because they are aware of my hysterics months ago upon realizing what a nightmare with four legs we’d brought home. All is good now – Teddy and I are snuggle buddies, which I find surprising for a cat. To clear up any confusion, though, he really is a dog that just acts like a cat: bats the ball around all by himself, rests on the back of the couch, steals socks, licks my hair, and is easily distracted by random strings and stray yarns (anything tassled, like a throw blanket, is just asking for trouble).

This morning, while starting to watch an episode of The Grand (I have no trash television channels and must import the dramatic filth from BBC via Netflix), I was cozying myself on the couch in my bathrobe. Teddy crawled on and up the back of it, put himself down directly behind me, rested his nose right on my shoulder, and proceeded to snooze away.

Here he is just a few hours ago, blissfully asleep at the crook of my neck.

snuggle buddy

I wish there were more moments like this. They do happen quite often, but usually after Teddy has been tuckered out from beating the hell out of me. I pay a price.

Keeping in mind that he is still young and playful, this morning (pre-snuggle) he ran me over with his tennis ball tug toy in his mouth and knocked me to the floor. When I tried to get up, he and his sixty-four pounds jumped on my stomach and swung his toy around, aiming the tennis ball directly for my face and clocking me at least three times. I lost count.

Thankfully my glasses are still intact.

After my daughter came out of her bedroom to rescue me, I stood myself up and was immediately pounced on again by Teddy who, as it happens, likes to spontaneously attack the loose sleeves of my bathrobe. Unfortunately, my arms get in the way. The act might look vicious to a passerby, much like how a K-9 police dog is trained to attack a fleeing perpetrator (we’ve all seen the hilarious videos where the German Shepherd goes for the suspect’s arm), but I know Teddy is playing and he’ll stop as soon as I tell him to be nice. And after a few reminders to stop and be nice, he did, because he’s a good cat, er…dog.

So, Mom and Dad, Teddy is fine. We all are.

Meet Teddy

He always has that look on his face, like an exasperated cat that cannot seem to get the humans to understand a damn thing. We’ve all noticed it. At times I have called him Eeyore or Grumpy Gus, as if learning that his name is now Teddy isn’t confusing enough for him. His face just tells me that if he were an actual person, he’d be that crotchety old man yelling at the kids to get off his lawn. Or Teddy Roosevelt (Matt seems to think they have a similar look about them and I tend to agree).

a dog and his bandana

Teddy in his favorite chair wearing his favorite badass bandana.

Then there’s the bandana. When I first took it off of him to wash away the Animal Shelter funk he didn’t seem to mind, but once he saw it again out of the wash he got really happy and wanted me to put it back on (again, Teddy’s face tells you nothing – his happiness is all in the wagging of the tail or his paw on your leg). I will be searching later this week for one or two more bandanas.

Teddy seems to have some anxiety and separation issues, which any one of us can understand. We have had to assume certain things about his former family and the life he had with them. All we were told was that his owner could no longer care for him. Was it financial? A divorce? Did the dog do something the shelter intake people and we are not aware of? These are things we’ll never know.  But a few of the things we can assume are:

  • Teddy must have been a good travel companion for somebody. He loves being in the car and if he could use actual words, I know he would yell “Shotgun!” while knocking down whoever is his greatest competition for the highly coveted front seat.
  • Teddy must have also been a good sleeping companion for somebody. He’s getting better about listening to us when we tell him to get off the bed and stay off the bed, but there have been a few occasions that lead to a battle of the wits. So far, the humans are winning.
  • Teddy already knows a few tricks so his previous owners cared enough to teach him things. He’s good at sitting and shaking paws on command and if I have the right tone in my voice, I can usually get him to stay in one spot.  The thing the melts my heart is when I finish petting him (or haven’t yet started) and he pulls my hand toward him. Dawww…gets me every time.

We are all learning how to live together and no, it is never easy bringing in another family member because everything changes, the whole dynamic of the house is abruptly altered. I have likened it to when I brought my newborn daughter home for the first time (exactly eleven years ago today) and the simplest of tasks were suddenly difficult. Teddy is no infant but he does make it a chore to even get myself into the car (remember, “Shotgun!”), out of the driveway (we have to leash him until we can close the gate again from the outside, then he’s unleashed…yes, unleashed is the perfect word), and into the house with groceries (seriously, I must find a way to transport all cargo from the van into the house without opening car doors, kind of like what Willy Wonka did with his Wonkavision contraption and Mike Teavee).

Weekending

Our weekend actually started a little early when we headed to the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter on Thursday night, “just to look”. We brought home a Labrador/Pointer mix and named him Teddy. (By the way, all dog and puppy adoptions are only $25 through this month to celebrate Dogtoberfest.) A few of my neighbors met him on Friday (and heard a lot of filthy words come barreling out of my mouth) when he escaped out of the pedestrian gate as I was leaving to pick up the birthday girl from school and he took a run through our ‘hood. Teddy likes to dance with me, acts like he’s afraid of the dark, and also seems very attached to his candy corn bandana (not pictured):

Teddy

Teddy

On Friday, the kid turned eleven (!!!!!) and requested her birthday dinner be a burger & fries from S&B’s Burger Joint and my homemade chocolate layer cheesecake. Her gift from Matt and me was a new American Girl doll that she has been wanting for months. And here I must explain something so she doesn’t kill meShe does not play with dolls like a little girl would but instead uses them in her own stop-motion films. Apparently, there is a big YouTube community dedicated to American Girl movies and series made by young kids and teenagers and the kiddo is one of them.

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Our dining room decorated amateurishly for the October 5-9 birthday season (Elle’s and mine).

Finally, Saturday the temperature dropped to the mid-forties and we loaded up the van with coats, hats, gloves, hot cocoa, mugs, and a wool blanket and drove north to Guthrie for the Zombie Bolt 5K (my husband was sweet enough to give me a few birthday presents early – a fleece jacket. warm knee-high socks, and real gloves that are nothing like the kind I ever owned in Florida). Matt and Elle got all dolled up to scare runners and steal the participants’ flags while I sat in the warmth of the van taking photos and munching on Annie’s cheddar snack mix. Next year, I want to be a zombie, too!

Runner Vs Zombie Part II

Runner Vs Zombie

creeping around old buildings

Yes, even zombies get cold and need to wear hoodies and jackets.