Sugar’s sweet, and so is she…

The night Rhonda and Lindsey brought their newly adopted dog home in February of 2007, Tom, Tim, and I went to RubinSmo Manor to meet Sugar. Of course I had my camera, and Lindsey, photo pro that she is, warned me that she’d already tried to photograph her and Sugar did not like the camera. And as kids do to prove their parents wrong, Sugar immediately became a willing subject and let me get a couple of photos. This is the first one I ever took of her.

There have been hundreds more through the years as Sugar came to be a frequent visitor to The Compound. On Friday nights, if she thought The Brides were being too slow to leave the house, she’d get amped up and remind them that It’s Craft Night: They are WAITING for us at THE COMPOUND! She was part of the pack that included Margot, Guinness, and Rex, and tolerated a few doggy visitors and fosters through the years. There were two things that would make her forget that she was a dog of great dignity: when the laser pointer was brought out and when Tim cradled her in his arms on his lap. I never saw anyone else allowed to hold her that way.

In the fall of 2009 she met her BFF at first sight, Pixie. They were completely wrapped up in each other and ignored the rest of us. Fortunately my camera was handy and Lindsey grabbed it and shot a series of photos of them.

Sugar played so hard at The Compound on visits and when we dogsat her. We wondered what she’d think of Houndstooth Hall. Would she understand it was still her home away from home? She was getting older, a little slowed by her arthritis, and not as prone to a good romp as she once was. But after some initial hesitation, she found a new reason to enjoy being with us: a bigger yard with so many interesting things to smell and places to explore. I loved watching her as she found her favorite spots to sniff and hide.

It was an honor the last Monday of September to be with Lindsey and Rhonda at RubinSmo Manor when they brought out the laser pointer for Sugar again–to see her chase the beloved “red dot” one last time. Then they gave her the gentlest, most loving of goodbyes so she could leave to find her old pal Rex and her grandfather Sam at the Rainbow Bridge.

You are missed by all who knew and loved you, Sugar. I’m grateful that once again you let me turn my camera on you.

Run free, sweet girl.

Independence Day 2015

Looking out the library window today at Houndstooth Hall.

Rescued Pets Movement had a No Show Picnic. For the pleasure of not enduring ants, food that tastes of starter fluid, sunburn, and other such picnic activities, you could make a donation. I was delighted about this, because we really wanted a quiet day and a night in.

First, I made collar covers for our three hounds and Tim’s three just to show we did celebrate the spirit of the holiday.


They are all rescue dogs, ranging in age from almost two to almost sixteen, and they are very loved. As you may know, July 4 is the night of the year when more pets run away because they’ve been scared by the sound of fireworks. The Houndstooth dogs are not fans of the noise, so I donated to RPM to stay home and play music to block out the noise for these six. I even offered to donate more if anyone could guess the night’s musical choice. And while the guesses were good–Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac, Beatles–okay, maybe not Whitney Houston–no one guessed America’s band! You can hear them in the video posted below. I’ll still add to my donation even though no one correctly guessed whose music I’d play. In addition, here’s a link to a bonus 20-second video on Instagram. Marika said she’d donate to RPM, too, if I’d play one of my least favorite songs and say something nice about it. A snippet is all I’m willing to share of that one, because the rights belong to a very protective estate. Enjoy!

Six dogs completely undisturbed by the sounds of fireworks that are still going on!

Whimsy and the spin cycle

Over the last year, I’ve done a LOT of laundry. So when we moved into Houndstooth Hall and I began unpacking boxes and finding things I hadn’t seen in a while, I decided to create a fun wall in the new laundry room. (Well, I thought of it. Tom made it happen.) This is the first time Tom and I have ever had a laundry room inside any home we’ve lived in during our marriage. In our apartments, they were in exterior rooms; in our houses, in the garages. It’s kind of awesome.

The wooden paper towel holder was a gift from my brother back in the 1980s and has been in all my kitchens since. But because of the tiled backsplash in the new place, I couldn’t hang it. It’s perfect here, though! The cross-stitched pig is from my mother, and probably the pig couple and the Welcome pig are, too. The pigs with bells were finds at an antique store and are made from 1800s quilts. And the other pigs pictured here are probably all from Lynne.

Most people think pigs and dirt go together. But let me tell you, precious dogs and cats can create a LOT of dirty linen. I’ve been their laundress for over a year because I love them all.

A week’s worth of transport laundry. Now it will be done at the RPM clinic by kennel techs and volunteers and I LOVE THEM as much as dogs and cats! =)

Happy Earth Day!

Here are offerings from the grounds of Houndstooth Hall.

There are plants that came with us from The Compound, too.

Everything is keeping the bees busy.

The dogs are enjoying nature, too. Sometimes, they’re enjoying it a little too much. If we’re keeping score, it’s

Hounds: 2
Squirrels: 0


Hounds: 2
Birds: 0

The latest fatality was yesterday, when I found Anime on the office couch with a dead bird bigger than her head. I disposed of the bird (RIP), then texted Tom.

Tom: It’s fu*king Wild Kingdom.
Me: It ain’t Disney.

Button Sunday

I recently read Daphne du Maurier and Her Sisters: The Hidden Lives of Piffy, Bird and Bing by Jane Dunn, and though plenty of the details of the sisters’ lives were fascinating, what struck me was that almost every page mentioned a residence of some kind–townhome, cottage, mansion, castle, farmhouse, villa–and each of these had a name. These homes were scattered over England, Scotland, Canada, the northeastern U.S., France, and Italy and became, for me, characters in the du Mauriers’s lives as significant as their families, lovers, and friends. In fact, the brooding, decaying Menabilly, perhaps the greatest love of Daphne’s life, was the model for Manderly in her novel Rebecca.

Each night as I powered down the Nook after reading a while, I’d lie awake waiting for the name of our new home to come to me, considering and rejecting so many possibilities. The only thing I knew is that when Debby retires and moves here, her home on the property is to be the Fairy Cottage. And Tim’s temporary name for his apartment is The Storage Unit (he hasn’t unpacked because there are renovations in the near future, so he may as well wait and endure living out of boxes. Lots of boxes.).

I was in that dreamlike state just before sleep finally takes over one night when I heard the name in my head. I became wide awake for a while, trying to think of any reason I didn’t like it. When I woke up the next morning, it was still there. It’s one of my favorite tweed patterns. It references our love of dogs. It pays tribute to Coach Bear Bryant and the University of Alabama, alma mater of my father, Tom, me, and several of Tom’s siblings.

I introduce you to our new property, Houndstooth Hall. Tom and I live in Houndstooth House proper. I’ve already created the new guestbook (it’s a good thing we sold The Compound, as that guestbook was almost full!), though our first guests have to sign their guest cards still (I was an absent-minded hostess and forgot to print them while they were here).

My little hound helper in the photos is actually a pen that was in my birthday presents Geri sent me. Meanwhile, for those family members and friends who support Alabama’s arch rival and are shaking their heads about the houndstooth, I’ll share a photo of a new family member with you. Daniel’s mother Terri adopted him from a shelter and named him BoCam after two of Auburn University’s legendary football players. We love you BoCam, and you are welcome at Houndstooth any time!

Quiet Corner

Other than when it was full of boxes as we were moving in, I didn’t take “before” photos of a quiet little corner in the library of the wall opposite the fireplace. It’s nestled just outside the kitchen, and I’m not sure anyone will ever use it but me.

My parents’ roll-top desk is there. In one of our moves from house to house in Alabama, they bought furniture in the store where my first boyfriend worked as a high school student. I think the only things left from that shopping trip are the desk and a glass ashtray. Even though that boyfriend was lifetimes ago, when Mother started giving away her stuff, she said I should have those two things because Tim G sold them to her. How could I argue with such logic? And I do love sitting at that desk to write letters.

The paintings over the desk are watercolors my father painted in Germany. Once again, I scored possession because I was born there. I’m pretty sure this is where my siblings believe our mother’s logic broke down. It was kind of fun at my birthday dinner, with the two of them sitting at the table with Tom, Tim, Lynne, Rhonda, and Lindsey, to try to negotiate trades of things that used to belong to our parents. I don’t think any agreements were reached.

On that other wall is the painting I once talked about here, and under that, a photo taken by James in Montgomery Woods, home of the Sequoia sempervirens redwoods near Mendocino, California. This is where he scattered some of my friend/his boyfriend John’s ashes in 1997. James had the photo framed with a poem I wrote, “Montgomery Creek.”

Speaking of James, he was in town a couple of weeks ago and came by to visit and check out the new place. Anime fell completely in love with him and stayed glued to him his entire visit. I’m not surprised. As long as I’ve known him, James has always had an adoring fan base (I’m by no means a founding member, but I am a devoted one).

The bookcase in that corner holds a lot of reference books–technical, grammatical, metaphysical, geological, spiritual, astrological–as varied as any lifetime of interests can be. It also holds two drawings our niece Toni did when she was a little girl and found out our dachshunds Pete and Stevie had died.

Those will always have a place of honor with the dogs’ ashes. The little monk was my mother’s and reminds me of Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals, and next to him is a tiny carved wooden dog that my mother talked Cousin Elenore into giving her. Then there are photos of the dogs through the years.

I probably should be at the roll-top desk writing thank-you notes right now…