Dogs and Life

The voice of my stepmother…

I miss Myrtle more than I thought I would or could. I loved her and she said that she loved me, more in her later years than for decades before.

For the many years that she was my stepmother, I found Myrtle quite judgmental. She was demanding of herself, though she denied being a perfectionist. It seemed that she always felt strongly about what was the “right way” to do anything, and any other way was … wrong.

Daily, I have Myrtle’s voice in my head. In a sense, what she had to say were lessons; lessons about doing one’s best, finishing what one starts, and so on. She always wanted me to do things the right way and could be very vocal when it seemed that I hadn’t or couldn’t.

Now, as I work around the yard or do almost any task, I hear, “You shouldn’t have done it that way.” or “Are you so rich that you can afford to replace that?” or “You’ve never taken care of anything properly and you never will!” and “You never know where anything IS!” and “You’re too damned sensitive!”. If I didn’t know something that SHE knew, it was, “What planet have YOU been living on?” or “You don’t know THAT? How could you not know that?” or “You learned that in school! Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten that you learned that in school.”. Over the years she told me that I was “beefy”, or that my figure just wasn’t what it should be, that I dressed in a sloppy ‘uniform’ to conceal my body (no wonder?), or that I was not even proud enough to press my shirt collars, showing disrespect to the people I visited. In the years that I was well and truly away from the family home, raising my own beautiful daughters, she would berate me about how they spent their meager allowance, or about their table manners (which were FINE), or the state of my housekeeping (not so fine, I admit).

I should be able to let it all go. She said once that if I thought she criticized me constantly, it was my imagination and due to my “put-down complex”. This begs the question of which came first! She was never in agreement that insecurity, introversion and especially sensitivity are not so much character flaws as character traits. Maybe even ineptitude.

Anyway, I must deal with this on my own. I can’t debate the issue with Myrtle, and long ago saw a counsellor about my angst. I will not let it rule everything I do: it seems that I can’t tape over the running commentary, but I continue to do my best, try to finish what I started, be honest and real and work hard. I take care of SOME things for many years, and try to forgive myself if I make a wrong decision, kill a plant, or lose something.

On a cheerier note, providing I don’t carelessly step on him, I found another toad. I put a planter (galvanized tub) up on rocks and arranged other items around, hoping to provide a good environment for the creature. It should be somewhat safer than in the walkway of the greenhouse. Maybe I should relocate the little guy.

"Toad Hall"

“Toad Hall”

Coincidentally, my dear daughter Shelly suggested I put some broken crockery in the garden where I found the first toad … will do that tomorrow.

I groomed the dog Scruffy who was staying with us this weekend. I forgot to take a new picture, but here’s an older one:


Today I had such an interesting task! Friends near McBride had tried to groom their dog with scissors each year, but decided to let me shear her short this Spring. The moment I saw Maggie’s picture in Facebook, I could hardly wait to get my hands on her! She was as gentle and trusting as ever a dog could be. She started out looking a bit intimidated (still quiet and obedient), then relaxed as I worked and ended up feeling positively joyful.

I used a technique that is quite popular with groomers these days: wet shaving. In Maggie’s case, I could not get water and shampoo all the way to her skin in most places, so I lathered up her head and neck and worked down. I repeated the process several times before I rinsed the dog thoroughly and placed Maggie on the grooming table.

While it might seem foolhardy to use a corded electric device on a wet animal, sometimes with water standing in the tub at the same time, the technique has worked very, very well for me. I try not to actually have the drain blocked or water dripping onto the clippers, and certainly don’t allow the CORD to dangle near the water. If you hear that a dog and I have had an electrical mishap, now you already know the story.


Maggie’s owner seemed pleased. He was a little worried that the dog would look funny, though he added that they could cope with that. I think she looks fine and feels wonderful.

I sat on the deck for a little while this afternoon, enjoying the scent of the May Tree.


I haven’t taken pictures of all the doggy guests this weekend. Bella, Scruffy and Riley have gone home. Foxy & Morag and Odie have arrived. We also have Nellie & Sadie, Boston, Clemina & Wally, Belle and Bear. It’s a sort of “half a house”: we have room for more, but even boarding a few keeps me occupied and fulfilled.

Speaking of which, I need to tuck everyone in for the night. Nice talking to you. Hope you’re well and had a good weekend too.

Love, Ann

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