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December 21, 2000
a year ago
two years ago

Newfs and Puckle Warts

Got stuff done today.

Looking back in my journal it's funny to see just how often I'm depressed this time of year, and this is about the time that I start taking the steps to climb out of it. If Colorado weren't so sunny, I'd have thought it was Solstice problems, or lack of sunshine depression. It's just brilliant today.

Maybe it's just the good old holiday blues mixed with missing Fezzik.

Got stuff done. Chocolates right outside my cubicle not withstanding. Lynn brought in a huge box of Belgium chocolates and everyone is coming by to eat them. So I get to see a lot of people. Thomas stopped by to say that Bill is now a father and mom and the kid are doing well, but no real details, yet. Lunch was a pot pie at my desk. I had a massage appointment in the morning and it went really well. The Fish played pattycake with the massage therapist, startling her a little. She was surprised at how interactive he was and told me that I was in for a treat. She didn't see that many babies that were that interactive at this stage, and the one she had, herself, has turned out to be a really, really social child, who will start conversations with complete strangers.

It's going to be very interesting when the Fish gets out here.

I did well enough with my work to have finished off a task and afterwards, for some reason, I started looking at Newfoundland breeders all over the world. Looked at Newfie after Newfie and puppy after puppy and found all kinds of things about the range of what breeder expect from their puppy buyers. There's one breeder in Montana that had the picture of the Newf nose to nose with a horse, and that Newf looks almost exactly like Fezzik did. What surprised me was that Sweetbay Kennels actually does *agility* trials with their dogs! Surprised the heck out of me, given the 'normal Newf' disposition. Fezzik was always much more active and energetic than most other Newfs. He was running and jumping and playing and swimming at 8, when puppies only 8 months old were just lying on the sand watching all the action.

Check out their Agility Dogs, they all seem to be configured the way Fezzik was. In the Introduction section, they have a gorgeous picture of a Newf running, full speed, in front of one of the brilliant yellow tunnels.

It's one of those things that I mildly regret is that when Fezzik was a younger and much more active dog that I didn't have the time or inclination or drive to train him in something much more active and challenging. He would have loved agility, I think. He was smart enough and if I'd actually spent the time with him, I think he would have done well. His size would still have been a problem in 'winning' trials, but he would have had a blast going all out on these things and even more of a blast learning it all and using his brain to get through it all. I was still teaching him tricks when he was 11, it would have probably been fun.

We're not likely to get another dog for a while, but it's interesting thinking and planning.

It was also somehow reassuring to know that Fezzik wasn't really that weird for a Newfoundland for all that he was a bit small for a Newf. All the personality traits we loved best, his curiosity, intelligence, cast iron constitution, gentleness with and protection of the fragile, non-dependent companionship, eager energy, and social disposition are all things that these breeders look for in their dogs. That there are people that aim for the very things we liked best about him. So it's likely that we will be able to get another dog like him some day, with that many that think the personality traits he had are an ideal.

I know. I swore I'd get something smaller for the 'next go', who wouldn't crush my foot by stepping on it by accident. A more tractable dog who was less apt to track mud everywhere in the house. Who took me as pack leader all the time and wouldn't challenge me to show him who was alpha dog when he was 2 and rambunctious and at his full growth. Who could actually fit more than just his head in my lap. Who wouldn't drool-slime us frequently or keep that last mouthful of water to spill on us. Who would actually be content to play fetch for 20 minutes straight for exercise instead of demanding a walk in a new place or something more complex and interesting than that. Who wasn't so smart he'd scare me by showing me he really did know how to open doors, steal food and look completely innocent, and figure out things dogs just shouldn't be able to figure out. A dog that wasn't a Houdini in black fur, capable of leaping twelve foot gaps in a single bound (and two hind feet on the railing), learning how chicken wire bends, or figuring out that small rises were an easier way to get over a six foot fence.

Yeah. Right.

Now I'm crying again.

Ah. Irrationality at its finest.

Something for me to mull over. We got Fezzik 'cause John wanted a Newf. We did the research, figured we could do it, and did it. I was half scared of the size he might be, so did the conscientious thing of training him thoroughly and being dominant dog of the pack. He could mess with John, as John is bigger than me and can take care of himself. He couldn't be allowed to mess with me. Now I know that I can do that. Now I am wondering if I don't want a Newf, now, for myself.

Oddly enough, this morning in the shower, I said aloud to myself, "I can raise a creature who is independent, polite, and socially proficient. Someone that isn't afraid of things, can trust others but still defend himself, and who can believe that the world is a great place." Fezzik clearly was these things, but it got me crying to acknowledge that I had any part of it. Also crying a little 'cause this opened a mental door in my own head that I just might have a chance of raising a kid that could be as self-confident and brave as Fezzik always was.

Odd how that all blended together in an odd emotional mix.

It did all make me feel better. John and I went to the Safeway on the way home, as we'd run out of grapefruit. I was hungry and tired, but still capable of giggles and jokes and enjoying the shopping. Got a good bit more than what we needed, but that's the toll of shopping when hungry. John made the frozen turkey lasagna while I dealt with the shaping and, eventually, the baking of the Puckle Warts. The dough has gotten really hard in the fridge overnight, so I let it thaw a bit on the counter while John was prepping dinner. When he was done, I cut up the dough, rolled it into two inch logs and set them on parchment paper on our insulated cookie sheets. Since they had to bake for nearly half an hour, when the lasagna came out, I shifted the shelves so I could fit both sheets near the middle of the oven. Fifteen minutes into the baking period I swapped them so they'd come out evenly.

Dinner was good. Lasagna, garlic bread, and spinach salad made for a good meal that left me without cravings or feeling funny. The Safeway Lasagna didn't have huge amounts of salt, which was very nice.

While watching TV, I decided that I'd play a gentler version of the poking game with the Fish. Instead of initiating things, when he pushed at a certain section, I pushed back with about the same speed and force and number of times. First there was just slow pressure in one area and I gently and gradually pushed back in that one area. There was a let off, and then a quick flick. So I flicked back. A double push in the same area, and I pushed back twice, and he then started doing a series of pushes at that spot, that I countered. Then he started pushing on my right side! So I pushed back there, with the same medium level of pressure. So he did a few sets there and went back to the original spot for a few touches and then I felt his whole body shifting, rolling to the side away from the side I'd been poking him back on. That was pretty funny. A few more pushes, which I just stroked gently, and he calmed down and settled back.

Playing with my baby before he's even born. How funny.

The cookies just slid off the parchment paper. The first few were so hot the powdered sugar just melted onto them. So I waited a little bit and let them cool a bit before trying to roll them in the powdered sugar. With my fingers, the sugar would clot and stick, so I had to start using a fork. It was a lot of work to get them rolled in it all at first. They cooled on a rack and when I wanted to put them in an airtight container, my fingers took the sugar right off again, so I had to do the second coating so that not all of it would come off. The second coat was actually a bit easier to apply by rolling them in a bowl of the confectioners sugar with a fork. With the second coat on, they could actually be more safely handled. So I stacked them up in a plastic box to take to work tomorrow.

Holiday cookies. They turned out buttery and rich with toasted pecan flavor and scent. Without the sugar they weren't at all sweet. With the powder puff exterior, they sprayed white everywhere when I first bit into them, but the sweetness balanced the richness perfectly. Given how much work they were, I was glad they proved well worth it. For all the name is really funny, they really are delicious, like pecan shortbread with a fine powdered sugar dusting. Fun to make and better when lots of people eat them.

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