Monday, August 2, 2010

Our piece of the world…

… isn’t very large.  It is not measured in acres, but in feet:  eighty feet wide and one hundred feet deep to be specific.   It is a modest yard by most standards, but our piece of the world is just about perfect for us.   There is just enough space- enough to grow a few tomatoes and lots of herbs.  Enough space for a deck for lounging and eating.  Enough space for my perennial gardens.  There is enough space, but not too much.  Not so much that I get overwhelmed by the maintenance.  Not so much that gardening becomes a chore rather than a joy. 

I spend a few hours per week playing in the gardens and twice as many hours enjoying the view from the deck.  Unless it is raining, we eat all of our summer meals out there and enjoy the flowers and the antics of the birds, squirrels and chipmunks.  We have lots of shade trees that provide good homes to all of these critters and at certain times of day, they seem to line up for their turn at the feeders.  I experience a sense of satisfaction, a real serenity and calmness, when we sit outside with fresh hot coffee or glass of wine and the dog and cats sleep peacefully in the sun.   It is a true blessing to feel such a deep satisfaction with life on such a regular basis.   There isn’t much I can add to those moments, but I usually say, “I just love this yard.”  And Al nods.

This contrasts rather dramatically with the remaining hours of our lives, when like most people these days, we find ourselves pulled in many directions.  My job is demanding and hectic, and often all-consuming.  It is tempting to wish that my life could always be filled with that deep satisfaction that I feel in our yard, but the truth is that it can’t be so and that it shouldn’t be so.  I am deeply grateful for those moments in the garden, but I am equally grateful to be part of an enterprise that is vital, complex and very much alive.   I have often said that being a university professor (or now administrator) is not a job, it is a lifestyle.   It is sometimes overwhelming and very stressful.  There is so much to give and so much to gain at our university- so many opportunities to affect the lives of students in large and small ways—and so many opportunities to learn and grow ourselves.

So, today I am grateful for both the energy and opportunities of my hectic work day and for the calm peacefulness of my back yard in the summer.  I am especially grateful for the balance they provide each other.

But here is something I am NOT grateful for.  Last week our  very sweet, nearly 14 year old dog got into something very, very stinky.  We have unsuccessfully searched that (serene and lovely) confounded back yard trying to find whatever it is.   You would almost have the right image if you imagined us on our hands and knees sniffing around all the plantings and nooks and crannies of our yard.   But no luck.  We bathed the dog in tomato juice.  No luck.  We bathed the dog in citrus-scented deodorizing doggie shampoo.  No luck.  I bought special deodorizing doggie ‘waterless bath wipes.’ No luck.  The dog really, really reeks.   I just don’t know what else to do.  Any ideas?


  1. Still smells huh? Have you tried:
    mix 1 qt. of 3% hydrogen peroxide,
    ¼ to ½ cups baking soda
    and 1 – 2 tsp. dish soap

    It works for all manner of stains and smells. Never tried it on a dog but. . .of course it might change the color of his fur for a bit but. . . .

  2. What a lovely surprise to find your brand new "space" this morning! So ... when do we start our writing group? Congratulations, Deb. Bravo. (And I have no wisdom on stinky-dog cures. Sorry.)

  3. Tonight in my piece of the world (you being in Chicago for the night) the doggie found some breath freshener to renew that heavenly eau de doggie scent. She was out doing her business and I saw a birdie hopping across the yard near the squirrel feeder. Unfortunately Pippi was nearby, and 2 seconds later there was only a feather sticking out of her mouth. I went out to scare the dog into dropping it (sans rake). I thought she did, and she went back up on the deck. I looked around in the grass, but no sign of the bird. I looked up on the deck and that feather was STILL sticking out of her mouth. I thought about continuing my rescue efforts, but thought the bird had been without oxygen this long, I might as well let nature take it's course. So Pippi went out and lay down in the grass and had a proper meal of it. YUM. Not sure, but it SEEMS like she smells worse again...