Dear Diary,

It is a beautiful and glorious day here in the Northeast, and my Dad and I pray you are happy, healthy, and safe.

Before we get started, I apologize for being late this week with my entry. Serious question, though… Have you ever been so tired that your “Tired” was too tired to tell you it was tired? Because that’s pretty much where I am this week, and—to plagiarize one of Dad’s favorite sayings—I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I have so much to tell you that I honestly had a little trouble deciding where to begin, but, like he always does (because, for some reason, he is under the false notion that he’s in charge), My Dad said I should set the stage for this title upfront.

I know he’s just trying to be a good teacher, and he really is, but a part of me wonders if the real reason I should lead off with this might be because he ended up winning the argument we had after he talked me out of the title I wanted. You never know with my Dad… Sometimes, he sneaks into my head with a teachable moment I never saw coming, and sometimes, he thwocks the end of my snout with it, flashing that big grin of his that always makes me melt. He tells me all the time that all this arguing and back-and-forth negotiation is just part of the writing routine, and using that dreaded “it will make sense when you’re older”thing, I just have to roll with it.

By the way? I hate when he does that snout-thwocking thing (he says that’s a real word, but I’m not sure because it just sounds too silly to be a real word, so I’m going to have to Google it later). Because I trust him and love him with my whole heart, I have to accept that all of this haggling is apparently just part of the routine.

Dad tells me that humans and canines are both creatures of habit and says that even though we enjoy being spontaneous, we are usually at our best when we have (and stick to) certain routines. In his case, for example, he simply has to make his bed as soon as he gets out of it in the morning. He says that it’s not because he is OCD (or CDO if you really are OCD – he says you’ll get the joke if you have that problem – about his bed being made before he starts his day… It’s just part of his routine.
From there, he goes to the kitchen and hits GO on the coffee pot, circles back to attend to what he calls his “biological needs” (as I squeeze my knees more tightly together), goes back to fill the thermos, and by the grace of God, finally lets me out of my crate, my leash in hand. Once we are out the door, we scamper downstairs and out into the yard so I can attend to my biological needs and he can begin his caffeine and nicotine infusion. First drag and first sip in the record books, he recites his daily Hermit Writer’s prayer, and we set about the business of discussing plans for the day, making sure to remind me how lucky we are to be alive, to have each other, and how glorious it is that we have a morning routine to get each day started right.

I started working on this diary entry on Wednesday of what is now last week, fully intending to publish the other 600 words I had already written and working toward a close, but then Friday night happened, and all at once, the teachable moment dad had planted in my head was pushed aside to make room for the snout-thwacking lesson I learned over the last three days on the matter of this idea of breaking routine and basking in the glow of spontaneity, with a dash of Chaos and a spritz of pandemonium for good measure; two adults three children an adult Pitbull and a 12-week-old Cane Corso brought the Thunder into our erstwhile (he just taught me that word) calm, Placid, and yawningly mundane routine(s) of daily life.

Now, everyone knows that Newfoundlands were born specifically to love and protect their people and, most of all, the youngest among them. I am no different, and when I first met the youngest of these three kids – Willow – I was absolutely Starstruck! I mean… We all know I am freaking gorgeous, but from the first time she and I laid eyes on each other, nothing and no one came between us (except her puppy Oberon) until I had to let her walk down the sidewalk and get into her car to go home… And, every time one of the older boys picked on her, I was quick to take her side even when she was wrong because that’s what sisters do, just like it is with me and Emma. Willow is now my forever sister.

I mentioned in my last entry that I had been helping Dad do yard work, and over the two weeks since then, we have been doing quite a bit of it. There is a ginormous tree in the back corner of our yard, almost directly opposite our spot, where we lay together and look up at the stars right before bedtime. Dad says it is every bit of 3 ft in diameter and at least 60 ft tall, and the shade in the summertime makes it just about the best spot in the yard, especially because it’s as far away from the road as possible.

There are two homemade wooden sheds in that back corner, the one on the left reserved for us and the other reserved for our upstairs next-door neighbor, Henry. Unsurprisingly, because we are freaking gorgeous, Henry adores Emma and me, although he’s quite anxious for the two of us to outgrow our biting phase because he seems to dislike bleeding every bit as much as Dad does. The whole area where our two sheds sit is littered with sticks and Fallen branches, and even though Dad cleaned it up when he first moved into this apartment, it was all overgrown again, and he decided it would be the perfect spot for Emma and me to hang out as the weather gets warmer. Plus, he says that once he builds this thing he calls a “veranda” back there, it will be our new morning coffee spot for the days it isn’t raining.

There are still quite a few things my Dad wants to do with this space, but we spent the last three mornings sitting there, him doing his infusing, me continuing to dig up roots all around the base of the tree, and enjoying the sunrise that comes up over his left shoulder as he sits in his chair (while I happily roll around my gorgeous black and white coat in as much dirt as I can find) and talk about the day ahead while the Sparrows, the Robins, and the occasional Mockingbird offer their two and a half cents.

He tells me that as much as he hates living in the city, creating a country living vibe in our little corner of the universe – with me as his BFF to share it – is just about all he could ask for, and I can’t say I disagree. If he gets done half of what he has discussed with me that he would like to do, it might just end up being the next best thing to heaven. I have requested a kiddie pool to lay in while he’s sitting in the shade, and I’m not going to take no for an answer. Until then, I need another nap… Snorting dirt for 3 days with a 5-year-old is exhausting work.


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