Damn squirrels!

Dear Auntie Peggy,

Does this picture make my nose look big? My muzzle is all gray even though I’m not even three yet. Should I ask Mama for a color touch-up?

Mama L. doesn’t get to visit with you at all now that she’s no longer at the City. She hasn’t been able to tell us how you are or what you are up to, so I am hoping that you will write to us and catch us up on what’s going on with you.

She’s been doing a lot of gardening since you saw her last. We asked her to take some pictures to send to you. She already started her summer crops already by planting bush and pole beans and zucchini and summer squash and tomatoes and corn. Let’s hope these do better than last season’s crop.

The only thing that really grew from last season were snap peas — and there were lots of peas. But none of the other stuff grew; it was very dissapointing. The brocolli, cabbage and cauliflower did not produce anything but leaves. She just read (from Dog Island Farm) that they are planning to grow theirs in August. So maybe that’s why hers wasn’t producing because she planted them at the wrong time. None of the beets or carrots she started from seed turn into anything. They sprouted and held great promise, but in the end they were too tiny and tough to eat. She didn’t thin them out, though — maybe they were too crowded.

Now that the corn is beginning to show, Mama is already on the lookout for the squirrel that lives across the street. One year she lost all her corn to a squirrel. She had waited with anticipation as each ear of corn got bigger. And then, poof, one day the squirrel came and ate every single one of them. They seem to be particular about what they eat, Mama said, and each squirrel is different. This year, our squirrel seems to favor fruit like plums and apricots. We find half-eaten ones all over the yard. I hope he doesn’t decide to go after Mama’s corn. She lost a pair of shoes chasing the other one out of the yard.

Dear Auntie Peggy,

Today on our walk, we saw two Golden Retrievers. They were really big, compared to us, but that’s not why it was an odd thing for me to tell you. They were shaved, Auntie Peggy, except for one long strip of hair running from their heads to their tails! Mama L. said it’s like a mohawk, except that it’s not on the head. I wanted Mama to take a picture for you, but she said she didn’t want to embarrass us in front of those dogs. She said there’s nothing wrong with the way they look, and that anyone could dress however they want. Personally, I thought they look kinda naked, and I hope their humans won’t bundle them up in big sweaters like our Mamas do. And then I hope they won’t think about shaving us like that coz I like the way I look now.

We were inspired by our friend Bassa to tell the world the things that we see around our neighborhood. Bassa usually has interesting stories to tell about her town in Tbilisi, Georgia. Her Tall Person takes pictures on their daily walk. Mama L. usually has her camera with her, and when we see something unique, we would ask her to take a picture for us. She refuses to take pictures of dead things, though, much to Big Sis’s disappointment, but here are some favorites.

This succulent is huge, bigger than a dog, and is also flowering. I don’t know how long it took for the flower to get that big and long, but Mama L. says that it’s at least 20 feet long, with the arch and all. There were bees all over it, so she wouldn’t let Madeleine and me close. You remember Madeleine’s bee-sting incident, don’t you?

Here’s a persimmon tree that had lost all its winter leaves. Only the fruit remained on the tree. Mama L. said that the persimmons will never fall off no matter how long you wait — you’d have to pluck them off, even if they are fifty feet tall. The tree looked like it was decorated with orange ornaments! I can’t wait for our persimmon tree to produce fruit. I wonder what it will taste like since I’ve never had a persimmon before. Mama wasn’t sure if dogs can have persimmons, although she said we can have mangoes.

Here’s a picture of Mama’s latest gardening obsession: Square Foot Gardening (“SFG”), re-invented by some guy named Mel Bartholomew. He borrowed and refined the idea from the French Intensive gardening system. It’s supposed to provide a maximum yield of healthy crop in a minimum amount of space, thereby using less water. Mama L. said that with careful planning and with the right plant combination, we could have vegetables all year long because of where we live. But anybody can do this in any region even if they don’t have a big yard! Mama took this picture in front of somebody’s house. There are all sorts of vegetables and flowers all mixed in. The whole thing sits on top of a platform, with wheels, so it’s actually portable and can be moved around. It’s about the size of a small car.

She also likes to take lots of sunset pictures.

Dear Diary,

Auntie Peggy’s panettone is almost gone and I really really want to try some. I had promised to write down all that had happened so that I can have just a little taste. But Mama L. has been so busy and she comes home tired every night. Tonight she told me she can help me with the post, but I have to keep it short. How am I going to do that? There is so much to tell! I don’t even know where to begin. Maybe I will do this backwards just in case I forget anything!

Amy Lee broke her elbow playing tag. Mama M. said she should have stuck to scrabble.

Auntie Juniper got a new job and she’s really looking forward to spending more time with us.

We spent this entire past weekend watching football. Mama L. said the Niners-Saints game was the best game she’d seen in a long time. And Mama M. said the same thing about the Ravens-Texans game. We don’t care that much about football, but I sure like snuggling up in bed. Then Madeleine and I got to go on a long hike in Redwood Regional Park where we got to run off-leash! It was awesome, and it was the best hike we’ve had in a long time. We met lots of other dogs too, including a handsome Catahoula Leopard Dog with blue eyes.

The Governor of California is shutting down Redevelopment Agencies in the State, and it’s making Mama L. mad coz she voted for him. Thousands of people are going to lose their jobs. Auntie Peggy, I’ll share all my dog treats with you, just so you know.

Mama L. had a couple of weeks off because of the City’s furlough days, and she got to do the one thing she’s been wanting to do for the past four years: clean out the garage. She’s still not done though on account of her running into rat poop. She got all grossed out and so it took a while longer than anticipated. She did all this research on how to get rid of rats holistically without trapping or killing them. One website said to clean out all the poop first and then scattering about some cotton balls soaked with pure peppermint oil. So far it seems to work and the garage smells terrific!

Then there were the Holidays with all the festivities. We got to go visit Mamas’ friends and then we had people over too! Even Grandpaw Dwight was here and they played poker all night. It was lots of fun and we were exhausted having to entertain everyone.

Oh, and Madeleine got a new outfit for Christmas!

I had my second birthday on December 9th. The Mamas got us birthday burgers and they were the best burgers ever! Keeper (Betty’s dog) stayed with us for three weeks and we had so much fun chasing each other around the house. He was there to celebrate my birthday too, so that was pretty special. Here’s a video of the Mamas singing me Happy Birthday!

And before all of that, Grandmaw and Grandpaw B. came out for a visit and stayed with us for a long time! This was especially great because we got to spend almost all the days with them and we got to go places that we don’t usually get to go to.

The same day that Grandmaw and Grandpaw B. arrived, we drove up to a town called Arnold, California. Mama M. had wanted them to see the foothills and gold country. It was one of several famous places that people used to flock to in the late 1800s because of all the gold they found! Boy, it was a really really long drive. Before the drive, the Mamas tricked us by giving us something called Dramamine by stuffing it in some Velveeta cheese. We love Velveeta! Madeleine is the one who usually gets carsick, not me. But I didn’t mind coz I LOVE cheese!

First it got dark and then it started to rain and we were getting nervous about finding the place. Mama M. was driving our new truck, The Beast, and she couldn’t see too well because they were on country roads and there wasn’t a whole of light.

We finally arrived at the cabin and wow, what a terrific place! It was huge! I chased Big Sis up and down and around and around. There were three different floors with lots of rooms to run in and out of. We had such a good time running around that we forgot we were scared. Then the Mamas and Grandmaw and Grandpaw unpacked and then we all had a great dinner!

The next morning, they had to get up really early. Because of all the rain the night before and the temperature drop, everything turned icy. Mama L. fell on her butt twice going down the steps as she was trying to get us out for our morning walk. I felt kinda bad for Mama L., but it was great fun sliding around like that.

They drove down to a town called Columbia to meet Miner John. Then they spent the next two hours digging and dumping the dirt into a screen in the river, and then panning it afterwards. Grandmaw and Grandpaw did the most work so they got the most gold. Mama L. showed us the vials with gold in them, and we squinted and squinted but it just didn’t seem like a whole lot for all that work. Mama L. told us that it took them over thirty buckets of dirt to get that much gold. I hope that’s a lot of dog food!

The best part of this trip was that it snowed the next day and everything was covered in white!  We had never seen snow before! Madeleine got all scared and started barking at everything. There were little white flakes floating down from the heavens above. I tried to catch them all before chasing Big Sis all over the place. It was really beautiful and fun and I wish everyday was snow day!

Then there was a flurry of activities. First, there was some show called Cirque du Soleil “Totem” that they all went to. Then there was Thanksgiving and Mama L. and Grandmaw B. spent an awful lot of time prepping and cooking. I got to taste a few items, but not as much as I would have liked. And then there was a really long hike through Redwood National Forest. The Mamas almost brought us, but it was probably a good thing they didn’t because it was a 5.54 mile hike and you know that Madeleine would have whined and complained the whole time. Sunday was football day and the Mamas and Grandmaw and Grandpaw all went to the game and had a good time. They had it was a really close game and the Raiders won over the Bears by only 5 points.

Grandmaw and Grandpaw B. left the next day to go back home, and we missed them immediately. It was so nice being spoiled. I even let Grandpaw B. pick me up and pet me, even though I was scared stiff and I was sure he was going to eat me. Grandmaw was great, and I really liked taking naps on her lap. I can’t wait till the next time I see her.

We barely had the house back to ourselves when Betty dropped off Keeper. Betty was going away for three weeks and she didn’t have anybody looking after him. Madeleine doesn’t like him much because he’s a boy and he has to pee over everything. The Mamas have been doing a lot of laundry. Mama L. has a theory that maybe he’s just scared of us girls and has to prove himself as the alpha dog. She also complained that our living room was turning into Occupy Manila Avenue.

Dear Auntie Peggy,

Mama L. brought home your treat and said it was the BEST panettone she has ever had in her entire life. From what very little we could see, it looked great and it smelled delicious! But Mama L. said I couldn’t have any because I’m a Dog and you had told her she can’t share your treat with dogs. I don’t think it’s fair at all. I thought you were my No. 1 Fan! Is it because I haven’t written anything in a very long time that you forgot about me? What if I promise to catch up on that tonight? Then can I have some panettone?

Sad,

Gingersnap!

Dear Diary,

Madeleine and I have gone to jail every day for the past couple of weeks now. The Mamas said it was for our own good and that it’s to protect us from ourselves. I didn’t know what that means until Big Sis told me it was because we ate Mama M’s shoes. I still wasn’t sure how the kennel would protect us, but Madeleine said that the Mamas told her that veterinaries often find the strangest stuff inside dog’s stomachs, like shoes, and that can make them sick or die even. I don’t mind jail that much, actually. I get to sleep in all day, and when I’m awake, there’s always a pizzle or a rawhide for me to chew.

We have lost a few neighbors in the past couple of weeks. Zeke is gone now; he was one of our favorite dogs! Mama L. was walking me that very morning when Zeke’s mom told her that it was going to be Zeke’s last day. Mama L. cried all the way home and she’s been sad ever since. And Fast Eddy and Mr. Ahab are gone, too, although I don’t miss them much at all — they were such mean old cats and they were always hissing at me! And now Annabelle is gone too. Big Sis was very fond of Annabelle. She told me a story about how when she was much younger she would share her treats with Annabelle.

Beatrice the Cat has been much nicer to me since then. I am not sure why, but she would purr and rub up against us. She even let me guard her and herd her around the house to make sure she’s safe. And instead of swatting at me like before, she’d just tap my head.

Mama L. has been depressed for the past few weeks, but I don’t think it’s just because of all the animals gone from our block! I think maybe it’s because of the stupid caterpillars eating her Asian vegetables. Mama L. had planted all these different kinds of vegetables like chard and lettuce and beets and the caterpillars didn’t bother any of them. But they devoured her bok choy and tatsoi and something else I can’t pronounce.

Or maybe it’s because she’s not sleeping well. She wakes every two hours at night and flings the bed cover off. And then she would shove me over and muttered something about us being a furnace. But since she was the one who threw the covers off, I have to put out more heat to keep warm. Big Sis said Mama L. is having hot flashes and that should go away after Amy Lee fixes her. She’s been taking herbs, although I’m not sure they’re all that helpful.

Maybe it’s Amy’s fault because Mama L. has lost every single scrabble game she has played with Amy. I don’t know how many games she has lost, but I think she should stop if she’s not winning. Why would you want to play if you can’t win?

Madeleine says it’s a combination of everything going on in the world right now. Grandma D. hasn’t been doing too well because she’s been sick and then one day she fell getting off the bus! She wasn’t too badly hurt, but Mama L. is worried coz Grandma is getting older and there’s that whole thing about old bones. On top of it all, the weather is getting colder and it’s getting dark sooner. There is something called seasonal affective disorder, and it spells SAD! And Mama L. is particular susceptible to it. I think we should all go on a vacation to some place sunny.

Anyway, I try my best to cheer the Mamas. When they come home, I fetch my favorite pizzle and throw it down at their feet to show them how much I love them! And Madeleine would roll over their dead socks to show how much she appreciates them too! I hope this will earn us our good service dogs kerchiefs like the one that Auntie Peggy was talking about.

HAPPY (very belated) BIRTHDAY, AUNTIE PEGGY!!!

Mama L. hasn’t been right since she came back from Utah. There’s something wrong with her head. Which is why she completely forgot to send you great birthday wishes, Auntie Peggy, even though I reminded her several times that you’re still my No. 1 Fan!

Yesterday she told me that she has a sinus infection, not a head cold, so it’s not supposed to be contageous. But Big Sis Madeleine has been sick the whole week ever since the Mamas came home. And I’m positive it’s not coming out of her head. And why would they call it an “infection” if it’s not infectious, I ask you?

With Big Sis being sick means that Mama L. is not getting a whole lot of sleep coz she kept having to wake up in the middle of the night to take Madeleine outside. Which also might explain why Mama L. has been so crabby and snappy and irritable. She grumbled at the smallest thing! This morning I wanted to say hello to the hippies’ Mr. Attack Cat but apparently I was taking too long, and Mama L. grumbled at me! He usually hangs out in the yard just before the scary monster, Mr. Sprinkler’s yard. I haven’t seen Mr. Sprinkler in a while so maybe Mr. Attack Cat chased him away. Anyway, I was just trying to be friends with him, because if he did chase scary Mr. Sprinkler away then he is a friend of mine!

Well, I hope you had a terrific birthday anyway! Mama L. (when she was feeling a little  better) told me that this was supposed to be a terrific year for all Virginians or Virgonians or something like that, and that you are one, so this is gonna be a great year for you!

Love, Gingersnap!