On Sunday morning, I woke up at 3:30AM, because Miss Sophie Sunshine was at the door, saying, “I have to go outside. Oh, it’s so urgent, please wake up, my human. I really, really, really NEED to go outside.”

I obediently pulled myself out of bed and went over to the door. As I opened it, I automatically stopped her from running out. She has to wait until she has permission, because that’s Suzanne’s rule, and it’s good to have a little consistency with the dog rules. (Just a little, Sophie gets away with a lot more than Bear does because I am not strict.)

But just as I start to give Sophie the OK, I smell what’s on the air, and slam the door closed in her face. I tell her to pee on the floor, and she responds, “But please, please, PLEASE! There’s a skunk out there, it’s my JOB to chase it and get sprayed in the face.”

I said, “We have different definitions of what your job is,” and went back to bed.

When I woke up, she HAD peed on the floor, an enormous puddle, so maybe she really did need to go outside, too. Still, I considered pee on the floor a very small price to pay for not having to deal with skunk spray again.

Speaking of which, for those who are curious, my house doesn’t smell like skunk anymore. I still got whiffs of it as late as mid-October, so it took about three months to dissipate. There’s still one blanket that I haven’t used since. Every time I pull it out, I sniff it, then throw it into the wash again, and someday I’ll probably just resign myself to defeat and throw it away, but meanwhile, it gets washed every few weeks and never used. It took about that long to fully dissipate from Sophie, too — every once in a while, even as late as October, when she got excited and panted, you could smell skunk on her breath. The vet suggested that it might be on the enamel of her teeth, which is probably another good reason to brush them.

Anyway, the next time I woke up on Sunday, it was almost 7AM, and I woke up feeling happy. No particular reason for it, except that Saturday had been a nice day and I anticipated Sunday being a nice day, too. Let’s see, I’d walked 5.4 miles on Saturday, which included playing ball with Sophie at a nearby field; the farmer’s market with Suzanne, followed by a rosemary & cardamom latte at our local coffee shop (SO GOOD!) where we planned a post-Christmas trip to Oregon; and then a visit to the Ma-le’l Dunes with the dogs in the afternoon, where they got to run around like maniacs and Suzanne got to test her ankle’s recovery on sand.

A morning photo:

a tree in foggy light

I took half a dozen photos of this tree, because it just looked so cool in the morning fog. I’m not actually sure any of them came close to capturing how pretty it was, but I promise you, it was lovely.

An afternoon photo:

the dogs running on a beach with a clear blue sky

I have so many photos just like this. Arcata is a wonderful place for dogs. Sophie is not usually the one in front, though. Bear is fast! Sophie is, too, but Bear’s longer legs win.

So I thought Sunday would also be a nice day and guess what? It was! I started it with a “treat” breakfast: GF toast and eggs over easy, then took Sophie on a walk to the community forest. While we were there, Suzanne texted me and asked if we wanted to go on a hike for a Woof Camp reunion in half an hour? Yes! That gave us just about enough time to get home where Suzanne and her dogs were waiting in the car.

Our Woof Camp reunion was at a fantastic spot in Eureka — in the midst of a fairly urban environment, another beautiful redwood forest — with Jen, Copper, and Penny. (Woof Camp = Jen taking care of all five dogs, her two, Suzanne’s two, & Sophie, while we were in Oaxaca.) In the community forest here in Arcata, dogs have to stay on leash, because horses and mountain bikers also use the forest and it wouldn’t be safe for them to be off-leash. But in this Eureka forest — miles of it! — the dogs got to run loose. They loved it so much. Suzanne has a thing called a FitBark that tracks Bear’s steps, and I’m willing to bet that Bear had a LOT of steps. My personal steps yesterday were 6.2 miles, so Sophie probably had at least double that. Plus, lots of interesting new smells and playing with friends. A perfect dog day!

And when we got home, later that afternoon, the best thing of all happened. Two very nice people — I didn’t actually meet them, but believe me, they are VERY nice, they’re wonderful people — showed up and took the roosters away. And not to kill them! This morning when I woke up at 3:30 AM and listened to the delightful, delightful sound of silence, I didn’t even have to feel badly about the poor dead roosters, because they’re not dead. Happiness is the absence of roosters.

Actually, happiness is eating lots of vegetables, walking regularly, and sleeping through the night. My Depression Recovery Plan is going great, as is probably obvious. I still want to write about a few of the finer details — how gratitude is over-rated, how mindfulness is easier than its reputation would have it, plus the three types of A Experiences that I give myself and why — but maybe that’ll come later this week. Or, you know, over the next few weeks. I’ve got walks to take, dogs to play with, and vegetables to eat. Plus an Oregon adventure and some holidays!

Two more days to Solstice! Time to find the origami paper…