December 2016 - Special Solstice Essay
The Chance Christmas
Yesterday, we were oot and aboot, as the Scots would say. Two weeks of rain, fog, low clouds, high clouds, mid-level clouds and steamy stormy weather produced a powerfully productive translation of the latest chapter of L’AUBE (THE DAWN): the winter of 1940 in Chichester, England with rain, low clouds, fog (mizzle) and cold weather!
The lyrical atmospherics and actual ambiance also produced one exuberant puppy and and his pent-up pet who needed to romp amidst the Yuletide crowds on the first sunny day that came their way! It also chanced to be the last shopping weekend before Christmas!
One Yuletide gathering was at the brand-new sporting goods retailer where we had to buy Chance a new piece of antler. He has almost chewed through the first one! This puppy is the first one I have encountered who requests, engagingly, assistance with his teething. “Would you just gently hold the antler for me while I work my incoming molar against it?”
It can be a bit chancy with those canine teeth but I am careful to take care of my writer hands while I help Prince Drool!
At the sporting goods retailer there was a warm cozy fireplace where Chance sat with me for a photo opportunity. The children began to line up and ask their Mommies if they could sit for the puppy photo too — it was so much nicer than being plopped atop a fake Santa with his phoney white beard! Brownie the Christmas Elf is quite popular this merry season!
Chance loves children and they love him. He is politely welcoming to all of the attention. He waits for the parent to permit the child to grant the affectionate adoration to him; and then he glances up at me for approval to accept the affectionate adoration from each child. It is one love fest wherever he goes! At this site of the original October Flannel Fest, it was a festive flannel love fest! Chance outdrew photos at the enormous Christmas tree in the entry way!
In the domestic arena (home), however, Chance can be less than polite and accommodating to my requests and wishes. Truth to tell, he can be a rascal. He is almost six months old now, more dog than pup, but I forgive him. There is still plenty of pup in the dog. He irrepressibly wants to be so much a part of wherever we go and whatever we do. It is often difficult to refuse the little dear. At times, I do not even get the chance to say no. Just this past week, for instance, he performed yet another daring and successful snatch-and-grab from the kitchen table of a printed page of THE DAWN that I was translating.
I immediately realized two truths: (1) You cannot discipline a dog (or child) when you are laughing; and (2) “My dog ate the homework” really is a legitimate excuse for Teacher. I had always deemed the story impossible, but this dog ran through the house, shredding the paper as he merrily, proudly and speedily went through 3 rooms with it. He wagged his tail and looked triumphantly up at me and then wagged his tail some more! I suppose there are more destructive editorial assistants but not more adorable ones!
Chance is so determined to become a laptop typist that he engaged in a memorable mimic of the Master this morning. With his sizable, swift and sweet paw he got a hold of the key “g” from the opened laptop on the coffee table. “The g,” which once belonged to the Master, is now quite his and quite gnawed, with a silent “g”!
I calmly informed Dear Husband that his first problem was an inferior laptop with a shoddy keyboard. Secondly, I never leave my vastly superior laptop unattended on a tabletop or any other horizontal surface. The Apple goes atop the elevated kitchen counter or it is secreted away in my workroom behind a closed door.
That kitchen counter precaution may soon become as ephemeral as the Winter Solstice. Chance has displayed, along the top of the back of the leather sofa, balance-beam talents that are somewhere along the lines of an Olympic gymnast. In fact, I am reminded of Olga Korbut. Of late, he has been intelligently eyeing — gauging — the distance — to the kitchen counter from the horizontal beam of the leather sofa upon which he calmly, almost casually, is positioned in a flawless imitation of Dancer, the Reindeer.
The distance is a mere three feet, maybe four. (Dear Husband has just performed his extended measuring tape verification — with Chancey Boy jumping at the metal tape measure — and the distance is indeed three feet.) There is an outside chance that Chance will yet fly before the foggy Christmas Eve. He might leap and achieve a stuck landing atop the ceramic tile counter; and the feat might be accomplished with the same aplomb that he has displayed whilst conquering the top of the kitchen table via the dining chair. (Chance wanted to share my cup of tea!) Of course, if that outside chance does occur, Chance will be going outside for a while!
His table manners are usually excellent though. Chance sits erectly and quietly waits for his little nibble of toast or Diggy Biscuit in the morning. He is allowed one bite of human food a day, preferably at breakfast because I do not wish to give him the nickname, Fat Chance. Gently, very gently, his mouth opens to receive the bite and then Gourmet Chance delicately tastes the delicious morsel, savoring each crumb! This experience is yet another new one for me, after three beagles where any food, cooked, raw or wrapped, possessed the potent scent of live prey! Feeding the beloved Bridget a little piece of Gouda cheese was risking the index finger in a big way!
For anyone contemplating the acquisition of a puppy during the rainy season anywhere, I suggest you prepare for indoor activity, and lots of it. No need for a formal, planned (boring) exercise routine at the gym or “workout” place or even a long walk in the soggy park. Oh, the weather outside is lousy, but the puppy is kinda mousy . . . Chasing him all day long, creates all kinds of songs!
And my two cats, well, they are too busy to join me in celebrating the Winter Solstice. They are also oot and aboot — amongst the grapevines and the green green grass in the gleaming sunlight. Besides, as the look on their faces told me, You have your D-O-G. They later came to me as the sun sank (fast) in the West and I offered a hot water bottle to them for their comfy, cozy, cushioned, blanket nest.
They are warm and snug and safe in the garage where there is no chance of Chance intruding upon their space, not even their workbench counter space. Gabrielle, however, the Snowshoe cat, could teach a thing to two to Mr. Chance about how to flick the Apple key (especially the Escape one) with a Q-tip paw and really call it your own! Annabella, the black cat, is blithely unaware of competing with a mere laptop, or with anything, for attention. She knows that her Author Owner has found more than adequate inspiration in her mysterious dark beauty and sleek sophistication to create a cat character, Gisele, for her novel, THE DAWN.
As for Chance Beaumont Milligan, he has found his niche at Christmas by the fireplace, whether at home, snoozing while Der Bingle quietly sings to Der Beagle; or captivating children with fetching curiosity and sweet merriment and soft-eared charm among the flannel and the fleece and fishing poles at the ginormous retail store. He certainly brightens up the darkest day of the year and warms up the longest frosty night. Chance is a delight that makes the Winter Solstice wondrously special!