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Ancient History

Doris Day, Ninja

There are eleven people living here. Two dogs. One Roborovski hamster, aka Phodopus roborovskii. She’s new around here and her name is Doris Day. The name struck me when I looked at her face and coloring. Blonde, with big eyes and a big smile. The shopping montage from That Touch of Mink popped in my head. Twinsies. So far, she is called Doris Day, Doris, Dori, and The Hamster. We are trying to leave her alone for a bit so she can acclimate to her new surroundings. Her cage is set up on Beatrix’s dresser. It’s colorful and Doris seems to be settling in okay. I just checked on her. She’s burrowed next to her little food bowl, which would be like me unfurling a sleeping bag next to the refrigerator. Handy.

I spent this morning watching several YouTube videos on caring for and taming “Robo” hamsters. Several commenters were predictably sad they are not, indeed, robot hamsters. They are the smallest of the dwarf hamsters, which describe their size, not their proclivity toward mining, battling Orcs, or sharing homes with strange runaway girls. Robos are quick, agile, intelligent, and love to dig. Robo hamsters are also harder to tame than other hamsters.

Last night, Beatrix and I stood and watched Doris run in her big plastic green wheel. Her legs moved so quickly, you couldn’t distinguish one from the other. Then, Doris jumped off and ran to every corner, through her food bowl, and used the nozzle on her water bottle to try to scale the outside of the wheel.

“Doris Day is a ninja.” Beatrix whispered.

It was one of those moments where you know that sentence has never, ever been said in human history.

It was also one of those moments mental pictures spring to mind. I thought of Miss Day, wrapped in mink, bringing a gang of miscreants to their knees with stealthy moves. They fall in a circle around the hem of her shimmering evening wear. She takes Cary Grant’s arm and they jet to Bermuda.

Eventually, I convinced Beatrix it was time to sleep. I warned her how Doris might be up during the night, playing and eating because she doesn’t share our sensible affinity for daytime partying and nighttime snoozing. “Hamsters are nocturnal.”

“It’s funny that she’s named Doris Day, then.”

I agreed. It’s just funny, all around. When Beatrix woke up that morning, she had no idea she’d be happily sharing her room with anyone. Especially a ninja.

You will never see her coming...

You will never see her coming…

Spring cleaning is a dream come true

This past weekend, my husband made a list of the households projects, repairs, and purchases we’d like to make this spring. The list is long, which is no surprise. It includes major jobs that will take days and minor jobs that will take minutes. Some of the highlights from the list are chopping down a small dead tree, hanging new towel bars by the bathtub, cleaning the garage, digging up an unwanted bush, painting our bedroom, getting new blinds for the kids’ windows, and building longer benches for the dining table.

Yesterday, one of our teens found the list and was reading it. “Hey dad?”

He said yes.

“Is this your bucket list?”

I nearly choked on the snort that rocketed up. Yes, adults commonly create bucket lists that feature daring feats of gutter cleaning. Before we die, we want to debate over paint swatches. We do.

Annie Dillard wrote in The Writing Life, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.”

It seems what’s left off a bucket list is more important that what’s on the bucket list. The moments between viewing Mt. Fuji from a bank of cherry trees in full blossom and holding Snoopy’s rope in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (ahem) are what inspire you to aspire. Somewhere, in some unhailed moment, you discover the beauty of cherry trees. On a quiet Sunday morning, you read Peanuts and thought Snoopy was the best. Without flashy pronouncements or bold declarations, a list came into being.

It’s a culmination of glances, flavors, photos, listening, and admiration of the courageous. This spring, as we swipe new paint on old walls, it won’t be a grand moment in the least, but maybe it could launch a conversation about an amazing painted ceiling in Rome. A kid overhears, then boom. A dream is born.

“Can I help you paint?”

Oh, wait. That’s my dream.

From Spring 2013's painting spree...

Saturday Siblings ~ All of Them, Spring 2014 Edition

It’s not easy getting all nine of them to look at a small circle on my phone, in unison, with smiles or other somewhat pleasant facial expressions. There is always someone who is feeling surly and someone who is compelled to be silly. I’ve learned to embrace and appreciate what I manage to snap because months later, the goofy pictures end up being our favorites.