Rob's Blog Archive

December 2, 2012











I start each day by getting the fire going.  Sometimes I’ve wandered down the staircase and thrown some wood in the stove during the night and it’s still burning when I wake up.  More often, I haven’t.  If there’s no wood burning, I start by sifting ash away from coals using a 1/2 “ screened kitchen hand strainer held over a miniature galvanized steel garbage can.  The ash falls into this and I dump the coals into a pile in the center of the stove. 

Once I’ve built up a pile of coals and cleared out all the lose ash, I stack the wood.  Given a reasonable size coal pile, one piece lays on this and two others are off on either side.  Wood in, I hit the coals with the bellows.  Here, my routine varies depending on the pile size, how much air it’s going to take to get it hot enough to light the wood, and my mood.  Sometimes I keep pumping the bellows ‘til the fire is going.  Certainly, that’s what I do if it only takes a few blasts.  Sometimes I pump the bellows twenty or thirty times, then leave the coals to draft themselves for a bit.  Whichever I do, I leave the door to the wood stove ajar.  One of the first tricks I learned after arriving at Seeley Lake is that my wood stove will create quite a wind storm with the door ajar, even more than if it’s wide open.  And the door being nearly closed means that if the wood sparks, it’s safe.  If the fire doesn’t take off on its own, I’ll hit it again with the bellows.  Within ten minutes of my start, the fire is self sustaining and I can move onto other things. 

All of us have routines.  Our dogs do too.  That’s how we’re built.

My last few years in grad school, my bed consisted of a twin mattress on the floor.  I began my day by grabbing at Sapura’s leg.  She’d grab my arm.  I’d push her head away, but she’d dive back in grabbing the hand again.  This time, I’d grab her under her neck, shaking her head back and forth.  Wagging her tail and smiling, her day had begun as well.

Dawn and Tenaya started their days with business rather than pleasure.  Typically, Tenaya woke me up with an order to let her and her sister out.  Given the nature of the problem, I acceded.  Bonding would wait.  This served as a good transition to now with everybody outside.

Most of my pack start their day with a good stretch---actually several stretches.  These done, they look around for a good spot to urinate (actually, I didn’t list ALL the things I do when I get up).  From there, routines rapidly become much more varied.  Thor might try and convince Sybil that he’s the best boy around while Syb will play hard to get.  Kennicott will offer her rear to Quid only to withdraw the offer just about the time he might be able to mount her, all with the predictability of Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown.  Fondue will check to see if Ghost is doing laps, maybe grab him and mount him, though that’s more an after dinner thing than first thing in the morning.

Among the routines that are the most entertaining are the gyrations they’ll go through to convince me to feed them or take them for a run.  Prior to runs, Daisy poses on her house standing nicely and raising and lowering her head…”I am the cutest thing, take me!”  While waiting for dinner, Quid used to fight his food bowl.  Now, he generally marches around with it and delivers it to me when I arrive.  That is unless he’s dropped it and forgotten where---Quid is not the sharpest tool in the shed.

With all these, my favorite ritual comes after dinner, the after dinner howl.  The pack sings several times each day, but the only one that is predictable is the one that comes about ten minutes after everybody has finished eating. I may not stop what I’m doing, but I always at least enjoy the singing as background music.

I heat my house with the wood stove, so stocking it before I go to sleep is always my last routine.  Then I bank the fire it and turn on the fan.  With this, the house should stay adequately warm and there will still be hot coals when I get up the following morning.       

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