Indigo, 1999-2014

Indigo Feb 22


This is the last photo I took of Indigo, who died earlier this month. I can’t claim that she was ever a well-behaved dog, but she was always a well-loved dog, and the house feels strange without her.


(The slideshow photos were taken by my husband.)

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Sunshine and a Blog Award

Sunshine Jan 29


I’m embarrassed by how long it has taken to acknowledge this Leibster Blog Award. Earlier in January, Linda at May and September tagged me, and I’ve been procrastinating as usual.

I’m delighted that Linda tagged me with this award, and I hope no one is offended that my very first move is to ignore a major technical point. The award is meant for blogs with less than 200 followers, which means I probably should disqualify myself. Instead, I’m going to hide in the irises and pretend no one will notice…

Sunshine Jan 29

Here are the other rules (I am planning to break more of them…):

1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves. 
2. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you, plus create 11 questions for the people you’ve tagged to answer.
3. Choose 11 people to receive the award and link them in your post.
4. Go to their page and tell them.
5. No tag backs!

My prolonged delay isn’t completely due to procrastination. I’ve begun this post a number of times, but each time I stumbled over the first task. I couldn’t think of eleven things to say about myself! Which is exactly where I should start…

  1. I have trouble describing myself because I feel that I don’t know myself very well.
  2. I am the youngest of five children, but I dislike being called “the baby.”
  3. I was born in Alabama but have no memory of living there. We moved to Tennessee when I was three.
  4. My parents separated while I was in junior high, and my father died while I was in high school.
  5. I didn’t take Driver’s Education in high school (I can’t remember why), and Mother refused to teach me to drive. When I graduated without license or job, I emptied my bank account ($600) and bought a mustard yellow Dodge Omni. My sister’s boyfriend was a mechanic, and he helped find the car. Then my other sister taught me to drive.
  6. I am convinced, due to personal experience, that wasps are attracted to the color yellow. Whenever I left my Omni’s windows down during the summer, it became rather dangerous to drive.
  7. Two years after I bought it, the Omni wheezed through its last mile. My next car was a silver five-speed Toyota Tercel, which I got for $2300. I taught myself to shift gears by lurching up and down our sloped gravel drive. Both of my sisters declined to ride along during this phase.
  8. I lived at home during my college years. I also had two jobs (sometimes three).
  9. My undergraduate studies concentrated on biology and ecology. I dreamed of doing field research, even though I suspected my attention span was too short to get me through a PhD program. I was right.
  10. I was the last of my siblings to leave home, and I felt guilty for being the one who left Mother alone. Our relationship had been fragile for years, frayed by stress and growing resentments. After I moved out, the bond between us snapped and didn’t heal for nearly a decade.
  11. When the bond did heal, it healed stronger and different than what we had known before. We were friends, instead of mother and daughter, and the new relationship felt healthier and more natural than our earlier, forced connection.

Sunshine Jan 29

Now, for Linda’s eleven questions:

1. If someone commissioned you to live in another country for six months and blog about it, where would you go and why?

Most likely, I would decline the commission. I don’t travel well!

2. Briefly describe a travel experience that you learned a lot from.

Hm… As above, I don’t travel well. Even so, each and every trip opens new worlds to me.

3. Name three books that have made a big impact on you.

Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls; Night, by Elie Wiesel; and A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking

4. Do you watch TV and if so, what do you like to watch?

Unfortunately, I do watch TV. More than I should. My current favorites are Downton Abbey, The Big Bang Theory, and almost any nature or science show.

5. What surprised you most about the blogging experience?

The exuberance with which the blogging community welcomed me.

6. What do you like to do for exercise?

Walk and work with free weights.

7. If you could have any job, what would it be?


8. If you could meet three famous people, who would they be and why?

E. O. Wilson, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Bernd Heinrich. Their writings contain intriguing combinations of wisdom, enthusiasm, and curiosity.

9. Minimise or collect?

I confess to both. It’s an impossible balance.

10. What would you tell your 13 year old self that you wish you had known back then.

Slow down. You’ll make fewer mistakes, and have less to regret, if you let life come to you rather than racing so ravenously after it.

11. What is one goal that you would like to achieve in the next year.

Finish and submit at least one of my current works-in-progress.

Sunshine Jan 29

Now, for my next breach of the rules. Many of the blogs I follow do not participate in awards, so I’m breaking the chain of tags and notifications. Instead, here are eleven recent posts that I enjoyed:

“2013 Marsh Fox Cubs” – Wilden Marsh: Another Year Living With Nature at Hoo Wood and Wilden Marsh Nature Reserve

“A Raven in the Grass” – For the Love of Clouds and Nature

“Voyager” – Hands on Bowie

“Birth/Death” – Sara & the 8 Million Strangers

“The January Birding Blues” – The Pathless Wood

“The Sap Rises” – soul-in-progress

“When Death Comes” – Flowers, Trees, & Other Such Gifts of Nature

“Colors of the East” – The Iris and The Lily

“The Day Our Dog Lost His Mind” – Boomie Bol

“Hello Again” – Simone Lipscomb

“Dynamos” – Seasonings

Many thanks to Linda for including me in her links!

Sunshine Jan 29

Tomorrow’s forecast calls for more warm weather, so I may not get to my other pending award tag for a few more days. Sunshine calls…

A Mostly True Christmas Story

Please bring me a box of Milk Bones, a rabbit-proof fence for the yard, and a new toy...

Please bring me a box of treats, a rabbit-proof fence for the yard, and a new toy.


Naughty list? Dad's gloves? You heard about that?

Naughty list? Dad’s gloves? You heard about that?


I'm getting nothing for Christmas.

I didn’t know there was a naughty list.


What if I find new gloves for Dad? See? I found these in the closet...

What if I find new gloves for Dad? See? I found these in the closet.


So they said if I'm really good between now and Christmas, I might get back onto the nice list. I'm trying, but it's hard. Mom and Dad leave stuff everywhere, and sometimes I get nervous when I'm alone, then I need to chew on something. You understand, don't you?

So they said if I’m really good between now and Christmas, I might get back on the nice list. I’m trying, but it’s hard. Mom and Dad leave stuff everywhere, and sometimes I get nervous when I’m alone, then I need to chew on something. You understand, don’t you?


If it weren't so cold, I'd stay outside until Christmas. I never get in trouble out here.

If it weren’t so cold, I’d stay outside until Christmas. I never get in trouble out here.


I'm nervous about Christmas. Will you tell me a story?

I’m nervous about Christmas. Will you tell me a story?


And then what happened? Rudolph, did you stop for the Misfit Toys?

And then what happened?


Indigo 1

Can I get back on the nice list now? It’s Christmas Eve, and I promise that I’ve been really, really good!


I think I heard something...

I think I heard something…


How We Stayed Warm

Warm 01s

I grew up in a house with a wood burning stove, so all of my winter memories are tinged with the scent of smoke.

Warm 12s

Mother ordered the first load of wood mid-summer, which gave it time to cure. She ordered a cord at a time, requesting a mixture of kindling and longer burning logs. It arrived as a tumbled pile at the end of the driveway, and we hauled it off by armfuls and wheelbarrow loads, stacking neat rows under the tin roof of our open-sided pole shed.

Warm 06s

Starting in my teens, I claimed the wood as my own domain because I enjoyed the physical activity of hauling and stacking. Plus, it gave me an excuse to be outside with the animals, who followed me back and forth as I worked.

Warm 11s

Mother disliked storing firewood on the porch, so she rarely wanted more than one day’s supply brought down each afternoon. However, she relented when we had snow or ice storms. Then I would carry wood until my shoulders and back ached.

(This photo is from Mother's archive, not mine.)

Or until I got bored and wandered off to explore the pasture and woods.

Warm 14s

Warm 15s

The stove was undeniably harder to maintain than central heat, but it was also undeniably warmer.

Warm 09s

Warm 07s

Except it didn’t heat the entire house. Our den was a smoky, sleepy haven, but my bedroom, in the opposite end of the house, stayed so chilly that blankets were not sufficient for a comfortable night’s sleep. Even so, I didn’t suffer. I had plenty of furry companions to keep me warm.

Warm 05s

Indigo’s Christmas Toys

Several years ago we purchased a set of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer toys. We bought them on a whim, because we both have fond childhood memories of watching the animated Christmas special. We didn’t know that our dog, Indigo, would claim the toys for her own. They became her favorite part of Christmas, and ours. She knew what box they were stored in, in the attic, and visited them as often as allowed during the intervals between holidays. Each November, she danced underfoot as we brought the box downstairs and unpacked “her” toys. Then she climbed onto the couch and stared at them for hours on end. Her first task every morning was to check on the toys, and she begged for us to make them sing over and over during the day.

Last year, my mother died in October. Selfish in my grief, I skipped Christmas altogether. I didn’t decorate or buy gifts. I didn’t send cards or listen to carols, and I complained about the month-long marathon of televised nostalgia.

During the year of my cancelled Christmas, Indigo aged dramatically. Her hearing loss advanced to complete deafness, and an insidious onset of distraction and anxiety altered her personality. So I shouldn’t have been surprised, today, by her muted reaction to the Rudolph toys. She danced a slow, stiff dance as I placed them on the mantel, wagged her tail as I activated them each in turn, and then wandered away in search of a warm place to nap. She has not returned to the toys, and I have not tried to remind her of them.

It seems that this part of Christmas must move into the past and take its place among all of my other holiday memories. I’m sad to lose such a simple source of joy, but I’m happy to say it’s not completely gone. Two years ago, we spent an afternoon filming Indigo with her toys, and I have this video to treasure and share…