Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Quiet Weekends

It was a warm Saturday night in Seattle, and Pugsley was in a ball, snoring loudly on my lap as I sat reading. Curled up on the couch reading the final Harry Potter with growing excitement and dread, I stopped every few pages to quietly mourn that this would be the last book, and chastise myself for being such a nerd.

My husband had gone upstairs to bed hours before, shaking his head and muttering about losing his 35 year old wife to a 17 year old who doesn’t even exist. I love my husband heart and soul, but he married me knowing full well how obsessed I was with the Boy Who Lived. He thinks it’s because the young man who plays Harry in the movies is cute. Truth is I lost my heart to Harry long before Master Radcliffe was even considered for the role!

At 3am, I finished the final Harry Potter book, weeping with loss. I always feel a little sad when I finish a new book. There was an especial sadness this time, knowing this was end of the series. I said a silent prayer for Jo in her time of loss, and then blew my nose.

Pugsley jolted upright at the sound, and nearly fell off my lap. He stretched his little puppy legs and yawned. I gently snuggled him for a second, and he licked my face. I carried him upstairs to the bedroom, and he had almost fallen back to sleep when I put him down in front of his crate. He hopped in reluctantly, but soon settled down and began snoring again.

I woke Wednesday up to get her off my pillow, and she staggered to the foot of the bed, collapsing dramatically in a heap and promptly started snoring again. I joined my husband under the covers, and dreamed all night about a dark wizard, and a boy with bright green eyes.

The next day, I went to the various Harry Potter fan sites on the internet. I read the editorials, the message boards and found solace in the grieving community of fans who had spent the better part of the last two years anticipating what would happen next. Of course, we all want more, but out of respect for Jo, the consensus was that we would not ask.

My husband peeked in the office to check on me, and I noticed he had his waders and fly rod.

“I love you!” I yelled.

“I love you too, Babe. Be back in an hour or so.”

“Okay. Have fun! Did you take the camera?”

“Yes. I’m taking the dogs.”

“Great. Don’t let Wednesday teach Pugsley any bad habits out there!”

“Yeah, right. See you later!”

The sound of felt wading boots receded, accompanied by the unmistakable sound of two sets of dog claws scrabbling on slate tile. The door shut quietly and the house was silent again. I finished checking the editorials on Mugglenet for new entries, and commented on a few message board threads before shutting down the computer and heading into the kitchen.

I put a pork roast in the slow cooker with a packet of onion soup mix and a can of cream of mushroom soup. Then I pulled a shallot, two yellow squash and two zucchini out of the fridge and sliced them into a bowl. I minced three cloves of garlic, and tossed them with the vegetables and a tablespoon of olive oil.

I happened to look out the window to our backyard where my husband was standing 10 feet out in the river, our pugs cavorting along the shore line and digging holes in the dirt. Our fawn colored pug, Wednesday, was turning a dark shade of brown as she splashed in the river bank, and then rolled in the dirt. The black puppy, Pugsley, was quickly fading to brown as he copied everything she did. I opened the back porch door and they came bounding up the hill like excited pre-schoolers showing their mommy a new discovery.

Doug waived at me from the river and I waived back. It was our signal that the dogs had scared away all his fish, and he’s going a little way upstream to try elsewhere. The evening hatch would be starting soon, and I didn’t have much time. I put the bowl of veggies into the fridge, donned my waders and vest, and locked the dogs in the mud room. I walked down the steep hill to join my husband in the river.

I picked a nice fat Hemmingway and clamped down the barb. Doug gave me an amused look when he saw the fly. He knew it was my favorite. I walked upstream about 10 feet, and observed the hatch in action. Large stone flies were landing on the water, depositing their eggs. The lucky ones flew off again. The not so lucky ones were sucked under. I watched the stretch of river for a few seconds and made my cast. My fly drifted along lazily on top of the water where I had just seen a rise. Two casts later, a 15 inch trout sipped it, and I called out to my husband to show him my catch. He took a picture, and I let the fish back into the water.

Doug handed me the camera. He walked upstream from me about 5 feet, cast once, and caught a 22- incher. The show off.

He has been fishing since he was four years old. He is a fish magnet. On charter boats, he is always the first to catch a fish, and he always catches more fish than anyone else. He took up fly fishing in his twenties to give himself a challenge. Any fly fisher will tell you that there are going to be days when you will not catch anything. For Doug, those days were when he was teaching me, and only got to demonstrate techniques. Even then, the line was tapped…

We caught several more fish, dutifully captured them on memory card, and spent the rest of the twilight hours trying to keep from inhaling swarms of stone fly hatchlings. Just after sunset, we began the long walk downstream, then up the hill to the house. Thankfully, I put the porch light on before I walked down. Many a Sunday evening has been spent walking up that hill in the dark, trampling the ferns and tripping over gnarled tree roots.

When we opened the back door, the pork roast had filled the house with a delicious aroma, and both of us felt our stomachs growling. The roast was not quite done yet, so we gave the dogs their weekly bath. We had a dog shower installed in our mud room during the remodel last year. The look on the contractor’s face when we told him our idea was worth the price of the installation. Basically, it has all the features of a regular shower enclosure, but three feet high. Finding the door was the hard part.

The dogs love shower time. Wednesday runs in little laps around the floor, and we have to try to keep them from licking the soap suds off each other. We each grabbed a towel and I grabbed Wednesday. We dried the wigglers as best we could, and I stuffed both of them into their pajamas to finish the drying process, while Doug sautéed the vegetables I had prepped for him. Pugsley immediately started chewing on the left-front sleeve of his pj’s. I sprayed some bitter apple on the sleeve. He took a bite, shook his head and started smacking his lips. He sneezed, sniffed the sleeve and gave it an experimental lick. He shook his head and sneezed again. Out of compulsion, he sniffed the sleeve again. I sprayed the right sleeve before he discovered the other side tastes better. Wednesday sniffed the air, wrinkled her nose and trotted over to the door.

The dogs followed me into the kitchen and I set out the plates and silverware. Then I grabbed their food bowls. Pugsley ran in excited little circles until I said, “Down.” He dropped down and stayed very still. As soon as I touched the bowls, Wednesday ran into the other room. She sat on the other side of the door and peeked around the corner. I set the full bowls in their crates and called them. Pugsley ran straight in and started chomping away. I closed his door and called for Wednesday again.

She had her head turned resolutely away from me, but had her ears cocked back toward me, and then would sneak quick little sideways glances to see where I was. I called her again, and she grudgingly turned around and laid down. I pointed at her crate and said “Come.” She licked her chops and sat up. I snapped my fingers, and she seemed to resign herself to eating in her crate and reluctantly hopped in. By the time we were done, Pugsley was already finished and was rooting around to find a comfortable sleeping position.

Serenaded by two snoring pugs, Doug and I enjoyed a romantic dinner where I regaled him with the fantastic events of the book, we talked about the fish we caught, and discussed what we were going to do with the leftover pork roast for the rest of the week.

I did the dishes, and Doug updated his fishing blog and uploaded some pictures. We got done around the same time. I let the dogs out of their crates in the kitchen, and they scrambled up the stairs. I took Doug’s hand, and led him upstairs to our room.

“My temperature is at 98.7 tonight,” I romantically whispered in his ear.

“You’re hot,” he whispered back in a teasing whisper as he nibbled my ear.

We tried again.