The Dog Chronicles: Andie Sunday 11/6/2016


These wet, luscious, heavy rains continue to drench our little village and gardens in abundant water. It’s been years and years since we experienced anything like this and we celebrate Lakshmi’s generous blessings or Gaia’s tears, depending on how one sees the unfolding of things. Our village owns its own water and so we denizens pay dearly for it because things being democratic and all we are lumped in with the vast agricultural concerns that surround us. To be fair to the vintners and orchards though, one recognizes that their engineering and control of flow is far more judicious than we mere mortals who struggle along with rising water prices year after year. However, the difference between vast scale and individual necessity make virtue moot.

Damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Those of us who recognize the importance of climate change and the absolute necessity of controlled water usage in drought years, which here  has been for nearly a decade, carry an undo burden by virtue of our virtue, because our average limits determine the degree to which we must overpay for exceeding those limits. Thus, making mockery of our valiant attempts  to tow the line of responsible citizenship. Meanwhile the great agricultural concerns, faux Tuscan villa estates and golf courses afford the excesses that great wealth assumes its due.

But, for all that, it is the micro, which holds it’s miracles of a practical and deeply satisfying hope. The golden hills of California in our area are now emerald hued, everything is thriving in November. It is so beautiful on those clear cool mornings and warm afternoons, looking across the valley to see the rolling landscape of green hills  and the colorful tapestry of autumn that decorates it with red, gold, bronze and purple. Acres of grape vines turned yellow stretch for miles in the expansive view.

Our own little bit of  garden  finds tall autumn Saliva, red in rising against the green, very holiday like. Here and there a late rose still blooms and we rejoice in the expression of an obdurate rebel standing against the determinations of fortune and nature.



img_5722-copyWe are a microcosm of what impresses me as a growing binary social division eerily resembling a neo-feudal  characteristic of late stage capitalism. I try to explain all that to Andie and my reasons for thinking so, but she is impervious to Debbie Downer catastrophizing and reminds me with a somewhat ironic and pitiful look (see above) that I once thrived in the most outdated and feudal institutions of all time—academe.

For the most part though Andie and I live in the private magic world of our hermitage cottage and garden, thrilled when Mercury in retrograde  gives us a break and things go well. We are grateful for the community of which we are a small part and the wonderful simple and generous events that make life a happy resolution of anxious moments.

For example: The joy of sleep with Andie curled up near my head or chest at night, experiencing that warmth and companionship is a treasure of incalculable measure. Lately when I am in deep sleep and have an A-Fib  attack, I awake to find Andie standing on me licking my face….Nurse Andie on duty!

One of the highlights of the past week was the visit of a dear friend for whom I made lunch. I am cooking again and thrilling at the process, the measure of colorful vegetables, cutting them, preparing the ingredients and selecting spices and orchestrating flavors to create what I can only call a communion of nourishment, rich for the soul and tasty to boot. What a pleasure. I’m getting better at soup all the time.

This last time it was Pea Soup—perfect for Fall. I cooked dry beans in the slow cooker for 8 hours in chicken broth to soften them up, prepared a mirepoix of onions, carrots and celery to sweeten the brew and then pureed the batch. The peas and mirepoix turned into a creamy beautiful mixture that remained me of the pleasure I feel when melting chocolate reaches that state of perfection in a double boiler. I added salt, Tellicherry pepper and a quarter cup of Marsala for flavor. Oh, I almost forgot—-two TBS of raja curry. It was served with a swirl of heavy cream and chopped parsley.

My friend and I entered our private world of fond memories and entertaining conversation, which contained as much the measured subtleties of grief as the joys of still embracing life on all terms.  We also say wicked things about bad people, but that dear reader was entre nous, and  lies beyond the scope of civility, with which  we hope to catch more butterflies than flies.

The denouement of the month was the visit by Sara and Mike Majors. It was Sara, who brought Andie to my doorstep a little over a year ago and it was Sara, who also brought into my world with Trace, Harry Hound and Bodhi Dog. This powerful history of love and generosity cannot be overestimated, when thinking of all those long, loving years of companionship by dog units closer to the heart than breath itself.


We had a wonderful visit. These two people are interesting, accomplished and worldly travelers whose companionship is dearly appreciated. The event reminded me of my grandfather’s tales of the Seanchai story tellers who  visited his remote childhood farm in the old days of Ireland. As in those days, I had a fireplace glowing with warmth and a tea table set with the finest the cottage had to offer. Honoring the occasion there was brought from storage the Russian Teapot that has a special history, I thought appropriate for such a special occasion, because it brought Trace into the celebration by association.

img_5715After the Soviet Union collapsed many of its finer goods were available for export and among them was porcelain from the old Imperial kilns, which had managed to carry on in spite of the vicissitudes of history. I bought a complete tea set at that time for a song, but had no inkling then how it would  find its first social expression. Trace had been hospitalized for nearly six weeks, hovering between life and death at times, but then rallied and was released by the hospital to an advanced nursing care facility nearby. After he gained sufficient strength I showed up one afternoon lugging a wheeled carry-on loaded with the tea equipment and dozens of pastries from the French bakery and gave a high tea for the staff and patients on his floor. The Tzar’s teapot was enthroned  at last!

Andie excitedly and happily enjoyed the Majors’ visit  hopping up and down from her favorite perch on the back/top of the couch for treats and visiting. It could be lovingly said that Sara is the Faerie Dog Mother of much happiness in our lives and that Andie is a lifesaver, the perfect antidote to a terrible and abiding grief, for which no gratitude is sufficiently adequate to offer its humble relief.

Andie, of course, does not know that she is a Dogisattva of mercy and compassion, being totally entranced with ‘Squirrelly’,  her new toy given by Sara and quickly deposited in the study along with Bean Bear, Leo the Lion and Squeak Bug, her favorite day toys.



Life is good and the you nap….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz



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3 Responses to The Dog Chronicles: Andie Sunday 11/6/2016

  1. rainnnn says:

    I always love these stories

  2. Anonymous says:

    Tea is healing. Lately I wake up between 1:00 am and 2:00 am. Instead of cursing the interruption of my sleep, I’ve been getting up and having a cup of tea. My teapot isn’t as lovely and lacks the fine history of yours, but the process is very soothing. Love to Andie and You. Renee

    • Karmanot says:

      I’ve often thought teapots were as close to the soul as religious icons in some sense and certainly more immediate in the wonderful relief they bring. The Czar pot usually remains cloistered in the back of the cupboard to be brought out on special occasions, not because of any actual precious status, but because that ole’ weathered English teapot with its felt lined copper cozy has been doing Olympian duty now for nearly thirty years and oh the stores it remembers and narrates after the brew is poured and the cream added. Having a cuppa in your honor dear cousin!

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