Chairman Bao is a Shih Tzu. We travel a lot. I drive. He watches. We've logged at least 10,000 miles and he's never once said, Sweetheart, don't you think you should stop and ask someone?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I'd give a pretty penny to know what Bao was dreaming just now.

Such twitching of the paws and lashing of the tail! Such happy little yelps and whimpers. It was a nice dream, I'm pretty sure of that. Sex? Food? And do dogs remember their dreams? Do dogs even know they're dreaming? Or are they like Chuangzi, who woke up from a nap and wondered if he was Chuangzi, who'd just dreamed he was a butterfly -- or was he a butterfly, fast asleep and dreaming he was Chuangzi?

It's cold. The water in my little pond is frozen solid, and I have to go outside and put sheets over all my pot plants every night at sunset to keep them from freezing. For the first time since I've lived here, it's cold enough to turn on the furnace. But it doesn't seem to be working. There's probably one stupid little switch someplace, but I can't find it.

So I'll throw another log on the fire and curl up on the new couch, with Bao.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Bao loved the goose, but the goose didn't like him.

At 3 AM this morning, my furred friend experienced what I will tactfully refer to as an urgent call of nature. Urgent being the operative word. Out we went, into the dark and the freezing cold. Bao searched meticulously for just the right spot, while I shivered and kept a lookout for the coyotes and bobcats who come over the wall and into the garden each night to drink out of the fountain.

In the daylight hours, the garden belongs to us. But at night, it belongs to them. Sort of like South Vietnam in 1965.

I was surprised at how little edible goose there was on the goose, once it was cooked. There were three of us (and it was a 10 lb goose) but we pretty well decimated it. If there had been one or two more guests, we'd have been fighting over the carcass.

Goose gives off an incredible amount of fat -- a whole roasting pan full of it. My recipe (from a book published back when we didn't know about chloresterol) recommended rendering the fat and saving it. Potatoes fried in goose fat are apparently divine. I'm sure they are.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Our Christmas goose is almost as big as Bao.

But when I went to pick it up from our local "purveyor of fine foods" it wasn't there. Sorry, said the butcher. No geese this year.

But we've got company coming for Christmas Dinner, and they're expecting roast goose!

Sorry, said the butcher. He wasn't, though. Not a bit.

So off we went on a wild goose chase. Surely, I told Bao, somebody, somewhere has a goose -- preferably killed and plucked -- for sale. Otherwise, we're gone goslings! We tried a couple of supermarkets. No luck. We tried a specialty grocerer. The good news was that he had a freezer full of geese. The bad news was that they all belonged to people who'd ordered them weeks in advance. But he did suggest another supermarket.

There were turkeys and ducks and Cornish game hens in the freezer chest, but no geese. Nary a one. I was almost in tears. I hate being thwarted.

Ask at the counter, suggested one of my fellow customers. They might have a few in the back. And so they did. Just one last goose, but hey! We only need one. So instead of my goose being cooked, I'll be cooking goose after all. Happy Solstice, everyone!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

We've put up the Christmas tree, but the halls aren't decked with boughs of holly. Turns out, holly -- and Christmas lilies and mistletoe -- are dangerous for dogs.

I have an artificial Christmas tree, but it's got very realistic needles and pine cones on it and it looks quite authentic. When I was a little girl, I always used to feel sorry for our poor little Christmas tree. First, it got chopped down. Then after Christmas was over, it got thrown out with the garbage. It just seemed really sad to me. I'd actually cry when my parents took the tree down, which annoyed them. My father said I was hypersensitive. My mother said I was over-imaginative. My brother said I was nuts.

This year, I'm planning a Boxing Day Party. (Boxing Day is an English holiday, celebrated the day after Christmas. English servants had to work on Christmas Day, so they were given their Christmas "boxes" -- and the day off -- on December 26th. Hence, Boxing Day)

Meanwhile, I still haven't done my Christmas cards!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Winter has definitely arrived. The sky is grey, and sporadic bursts of icy rain are pattering against the skylights. A thick mist presses against the windows, and I'll bet there's snow on the mountains. Bao is sleeping, stubbornly.

His body language is unmistakable. No, he is saying. I will not get up and go out for a walk in the wet and the cold. If you want to go out and pee, go right ahead.

True confessions. I didn't want to get out of bed either, this morning. It is cold. (Well, cold by southern Arizona standards) And wet. But it could be worse, I tell Bao. We could be in Oklahoma. Or Alaska. And besides, there's a drought. We need the rain. We almost always need the rain here in Tucson.

The rain stops. Bao opens one eye.

Come on, I say. It's only rain. We're not made of sugar. We won't melt.

No way. He's gone back to sleep.

Friday, December 07, 2007

We've got an HOA meeting on Monday night, and I admit, I'm dreading it. So Bao and I have fled to our Mexican hideaway for a couple of days, to get away from the strife and watch the whales.

Well, I think they were whales. They looked too big to be dolphins. And there aren't any islands out there, and this is the right time of year for whales in the Sea of Cortez. Even so, just because they were here last year doesn't mean they'll be here this year. Global warming, and all that.

Flying foxes are dropping dead from heat exhaustion in Australia. Polar bears are starving in the Arctic. Maurading swarms of jellyfish are terrorizing salmon ponds in Norway and giant squid are invading fishing grounds off the California coast. Costa Rica's Golden Toad has been declared extinct, as nobody has seen one since 1989. In Africa, the savannahs are starting to disappear and the giant Quiver Trees are dying.

The whole world is changing before our eyes, but Bao is unperturbed. He snuggles close, blinks at the ocean outside our window and curls up with his toys and goes to sleep. Everything's changing, but so what? Change is the rule, not the exception. Buddhists and Taoists know this. So do Shih Tzus. The trick is to live neither in the past nor in the future, but in the moment itself.

So we're going for a walk on the beach.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Poop wanted!

Now there's a headline that's irresistable.

Turns out, they're serious. Forget ethanol. Pooch poo power is the coming thing. American dogs produce 10 million tons of poop every year. It's free. And it's valuable. One ton of dog doo will produce 50 gallons of diesel-equivalent fuel, which is enough to heat a house in New England for 2 days.

This is known as animal waste technology, and European farmers have been doing it for the past 20 years. (Of course, Chinese farmers have been doing it for 5000 years) Now, San Francisco has decided to give it a try. This makes sense, because there are more dogs than kids in San Francisco and dog poop constitutes 3.8 percent of the collected garbage. San Francisco doggie doo will be collected and processed in methane digesting machines, where -- after bacteria have broken down the wastes -- the methane gas that's produced will be piped to stoves, heaters and anything else that can be powered by natural gas.

Our morning walks will never be the same!