Safe and Warm

We are having our annual week of serious winter right now.  The tree branches reached out to catch the fluff, and down it came, and came, and came.  It was too much snow for them to bear, and many branches broke and fell.  The clinic has held shorter hours, and much of my little town has shut down to await the melt.  This year I had the studded tires put on the day before it snowed, instead of the day after.  It’s a better strategy.

Thanks to meteorological technology, we knew it was coming and had time to buy extra groceries.  We’ve been eating in and with our neighbors, and watching movies. As a lifetime member of the Writer’s Guild (WGA), Mary gets screener copies of films that are hoping to earn writing nominations.  These are the copies that end up pirated on the Internet.  Each one comes with an agonizing array of dire warnings onscreen about this, and you can’t scroll past them, but I’m willing to endure these boring threats of huge fines and imprisonment in order to see current films legitimately for free.

Though it’s probably going to win awards in other categories besides writing, the one I’ve liked best so far is (The Descendants), directed and co-written (adapted from a novel) by Alexander Payne.  It’s the story of a hereditary land baron (George Clooney) and formerly emotionally remote parent forced to take on the needs of his growing daughters when his wife is rendered comatose by an accident.  He also must simultaneously contend with a gaggle of discordant cousins fighting over how to most profitably dispose of a huge parcel of prime real estate.

Besides the allure of beautiful Hawaii as a setting for the story, the film sports a greater number of expert and memorable performances than any other I’ve seen in the past year.  Payne’s signature style is dark comedy.  He previously directed Election and Sideways.  This time his direction has produced a subtler balance, a buoyant spirit that lightens the tone, protecting the characters from drowning in the depressing situations they face.  Not everyone in the film ends up happy, but most viewers will.

Our new guide dog trainee, Spice, is well built for snow or any other kind of water.  She has webbed feet, and a coat that insulates her and repels moisture.  Labs were originally bred to retrieve fishing nets.  She burrows into the snow, bounces about, and does her business easily.  Then she comes back in and cuddles with us as we dry her off with a towel.

Because she is more submissive and cooperative than the last dog, she will sit at our feet as her meals are being prepared, and not lunge at the dish until she has been given permission.  If a guide dog were to jump up, a blind handler might spill the food.  She is generally affectionate and attentive, though she will try to mouth us when she is tired.  That’s not allowed.  Young puppies can be prone to minor infections, and Spice came to us with them in both ears, but she allows us to cleanse and medicate them without squirming.  I still have hope for this one to progress farther in the training.  For now I will put on the kettle, start the fireplace, and settle in.  I hope you are all safe and warm, too.

31 Comments

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31 responses to “Safe and Warm

  1. Safe and warm is right! Tonight we’ve invited our neighbors over for a chili feed. I’m hoping for a nice community gathering. No one will have to drive and face the weather. We; all live on the same block.

  2. That’s a lot of weather you have there, Mikey. Spice looks just wonderful. I was very interested in your review of The Descendants and will definitely be watching it when I get the chance. (This post is a great read.) Keep warm!

  3. Warm? Actually, we are relaxing after a few nights earlier in the week where the temps didn’t drop below 28C all night – very hard to sleep! So we would like a bit of cool right now! 😆

    I am glad Spice is working out well. She sounds adorable and with the right temperament!

    • Without the experience of knowing Lila, I wouldn’t have understood how much difference temperament makes. Now that I know how warm you are, I will restrict my good wishes to your safety 🙂 Thanks, Robyn.

  4. This reminds me of when I lived in the country outside of Albany, NY! It lasted longer than a week though. There was a certain sense of purity and expansiveness in the experience. In the end, it wasn’t a good place for me, but there were elements I enjoyed.

    Thanks for the movie review. I haven’t seen a movie for years. This sounds like one I would like.

    Glad you are staying warm and toasty!

    • Thanks, Sandra, my dear friend. It’s an exceptional film. I admit freely to being a movie addict, but that also means I can spot the good ones. The themes are materialism vs. personal intimacy and also the whole question of what the boundaries of altruism are, or should be.

  5. Thank you for a heart warming glimpse into your life. Made me smile and feel all fuzzy.

  6. Cat

    What a precious puppy, oh my God! 😀

    Even though I moved “north” to Arkansas, it’s still not very cold. It snowed once but dried up by the afternoon. I bundled up all excited to go take pictures, stepped outside, and it was sunny. I have no luck with weather. Hah.

    • I would invite you to visit, but the week’s over – it melted! But you know what they say; “Unlucky in weather, big sale on pleather.”

      LOVE your new “soft drink spokesmodel” Gravatar! (mwah)

  7. I love your film review and I literally can’t help but love every single story about your puppy! 🙂

  8. While you put on studded tires for your car, my partner got studded tires..for his bike.

    I haven’t gotten there –yet. In our area of Canada (Alberta), we were fortunate to have Christmas holidays and 2 wks. thereafter with hardly any snow (after 3 previous snowfalls that melted away). So we biked daily at temp. just below freezing.

    Our new movie selections are much more limited in choices, compared to Vancouver or Toronto. So Descendants won’t reach us and I have a pr. of 2 tickets I won from a (naming a board rm.) contest at work, to burn off.

    But Mother Nature whalloped us with very cold temp. for past few days as low as -25 degrees F (with wind chill at -46 degrees F). I’ve never experienced it so cold..and I lived in southern Ontario for first couple decades in life.

    • Cold is cold. We adapt based on experience. I grew up in a much colder region, so this version of winter doesn’t faze me. When I was a 12 year-old paper delivery boy in Des Moines, Iowa, it regularly got to -20F, and it lasted for months. I dragged papers through the snow in a laundry cart. Here, winter is beautiful, and it only lasts long enough to take pictures of it.

      The Descendants will be just as satisfying to watch whenever you run into it, since the themes aren’t based on current events. I often don’t see new movies (aside from the 10-15 screeners we get) until they show up on cable. Sometimes I check them out from the Public Library years after the hype is over. Thanks for dropping by, Jean!

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  10. I’m headed up to my cabin tomorrow where I hope to be snowed in. A cozy fire and a good book are my speed right now.

    Love the update on the puppy. Good luck!

  11. Pie

    You’re the second person to recommend ‘The Descendants’ in a week. The first recommendation was from a radio presenter. I saw ‘The Artist’ last week, so I think I’ll give this one a go.

    Spice is a gorgeous little thing. Sounds like you’re on to a winner with this one. Apparently it’s going to be very cold in London this weekend, but it probably won’t snow. I’ll be getting the hot chocolate ready.

    • “All I want is a room some-wheah, far a-way from the cold night ayeah…”
      It all melted already, and now it rains or blows. Bah.

      Agreed, she’s a lovely girl. She’s having a sleep-over with a retired guide dog tonight. Thanks again, Pie.

  12. Just looking at that first picture made me cold! I’m still in Mexico–though leaving soon–and have actually become accustomed to the constant perspiration and three showers a day.

    Spice is adorable! I don’t know anything about guide dogs, but there’s something in her eyes that tells me she’s a winner.

    • I love Mexico, at least the parts I’ve been to. It’s such a varied country, out away from the big cities. We’ll go back when we get a chance.

      Princess Piddles (Spice) has lately gotten much stronger, but she’s still sweet. Now that the snow’s gone she needs about seven miles of walking a day to remain in top shape, because she’s growing fast. If this one doesn’t make the grade, we might keep her.

      (B’s got a hilarious post over at her blog featuring priceless recordings by some of my favorite musicians:
      http://justmakingconvo.com/2012/01/26/billboards-not-so-greatest-albums/)

  13. Thank you for the thumbs up on The Descendants which I can’t wait to see but how wonderful that these films come to you – particularly with that burst of weather.
    All best wishes with the photogenic and ultra-cute Spice.

    • All you need to do to get free movies in the winter is to sit at the same desk and crank out the news for 30 years. I couldn’t possibly have done it, but it’s a nice little perk of being married to one who did. Best wishes to you too, Patti.

  14. A warm week in the snow, staying in, watching movies, and training a new puppy sound like my kind of week.

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