Boat Dog

24 09 2013

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I have four paws. I like to keep them on an even keel, generally. So when The Management suggested I come along on the Annual Summer Boat Trip, I’ll admit I balked (not to be confused with barked, although there WAS some confusion).

You guessed it: doggie life-vest, four-footed booties, one canine swim-step later, I was cast adrift.

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IMG_2713IMG_2793Not bad actually. New territory to be conquered; IMG_2675interesting creatures, mostly edible;IMG_2684 IMG_2808a multitude of aromas the likes of which I had never smelled in the Tuscan hills; pleasant salt bathes to keep my pilose body up to par; IMG_2827and a number of napping options.

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The caveat?

A small dog must take flight in order to reach those sacred waters. A trite but true fact: If God had intended the simple dog to fly he would have given it wings. Instead I received headgear obviously not designed in Italy.IMG_2845

Apparently nothing having to do with boat fashion for the water-bound dog ever crossed the mind of an Italian.

I see an opportunity here: “Il Cane Yachtwear–––NOT for the everyday dog.”

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The Seven Day Fog

22 01 2013

“It all started with a wrong turn in the velvet fog of Venice.”

Chapter one, line one, new autodogography.

I am off to the City of Water to do some research. Venice in January: like an iceberg in a snowstorm and tourist-free.

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Steamy bars laden with the scent of tobacco and milk chocolate. Trattorie packed with bodies warming to a plate of squid-ink pasta or creamy truffle risotto.

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Gondolieri standing in their boats, wrapped up like winter hams, waiting for business. Ice between my toes. Frost on my snout. Pregnant mist pushing its long, fleshy fingers between the towers and canals.2292218586_e546c44060_m

I know only roughly (or ruff-ly, as is the case) my plot. Certain things have to occur: suspense, romance, danger—and magnificent meals. Truffles will take part as it is winter in northern Italy. And a French-African Chihuahua I once met will play in.1159578853_5864672ff8_m

 

 

Write what you know is what I say, until you no longer know. Then make it up. It’s fiction. All life is a type of fiction, after all. And the living, nothing more than writers. Comforting to know one can always change the ending. All dogs understand this.

The ending is always owned by it’s writer in more ways than one.8381306661_3b58d2eccf_m

Chew on that.

Chow.





Snow Dogs

9 02 2012

The Roman snow is mere memory today, but memories are things that sometimes haunt. I smell more flakes on a breeze calling from mountains to the east. I think my Contessa knows it’s on the way, as well. I led the way as she carried heavy bags of critical supplies into our elevator: A new can of tennis balls, 3 special chew toys, a squeaky, fluffy imitation squirrel that smells like a polyester-clad tourist and a large bag of my favorite kibble (organic, duck and pea). These are the perks of a rare “snow-pocolypse”.

Another perk? Slipping our way across the thankfully level Piazza del Popolo and up the steep steps to the winter wonderland of the Pincio. Dogs romping and racing through snow until the ice between their toes begs them to stop; eating snowballs launched by laughing children (who, by the way, sound much like a pack of puppies) and making snow dogs.

 

I crafted three last Monday. Terriers, of course. Used my nose to push and pack and my artistic talent (mother’s side of the family) to sculpt the creatures. If we get more snow, I plan to do a series: Scotties, Rats and Russells.  It didn’t hurt that the Villa Borgese is nearby. Bernini has always been an inspiration.

Apollo and Daphne,

Pluto and Proserpina…

 

…Truth Unveiled by Time.

I was proud of my work. Tail held high and nose in the air all the way home. Alas, today, the work was merely memory under a fifty-degree clear sky and an icy puddle of H2O.

I suppose that I am a bit of a fraud. No Bernini here. Mere dog, save the fact that, though my creation had not the lasting effect of Bernini’s Truth Unveiled by Time, that is, in fact, exactly what happened.

Art mimics life as life mimics art, no?

Chow.





Nevica

4 02 2012

Driving in the big grey car with the butter-soft leather seats and the whole vehicle smalls of truffles. The Contessa holds them in a glass jar full of risotto: A succulent dish that will be served up later with only the truffle scent hinting at the current pleasure those kernels enjoy.

Now, we carry the prize to uncle Giglio in Rome.  He will use the truffles in his famous linguine for one night only. Customers and friends in the know will line up at his trattoria doors promptly at 8:30pm.  We will be there.  I sit in the back seat, nose against the chilly window watching the snow fly, drooling at the idea of the coming meal. Soon the snow will turn to rain as we approach the Tiber valley and the Eternal City. Good thing, I think, for Roma has no plows.

But the snow does not stop by the time we reach the city.  The cobbled streets of Rome have lost their etching. Road-noise is absent. The Ferrari tires glide, no, slip along the icy via. The Count swears under his breath as great glazed domes into view.

Marble statues wear coats of white mink. The umbrella pines on the Pincian hill stand like bas-relief on a slab of ancient glacier.

Effervescent Rome is dampened, the bustling city muffled under a white dome more grand than any other in sight.

The Contessa puts a hand to her mouth as we pass the Pantheon. She whispers as though her words are a secret, “Fermiamo qui.”

The Count pulls over and we quit the car, walking on the silent cushion of snow toward the most beautiful building in Rome. The Contessa pulls me into her fur coat and we enter the vacant Pantheon. There in the center is a miracle: A column of flakes descends from the oculus as a alabaster pillar and I wonder if this is the way the marble columns of Rome were created.  At it’s base the marble floor is blanketed in a perfect round of white, pedestal to the heavenly pillar.

All things a dog sees are miraculous.  This is the way of a dog. Every day is new and all things possible.

Even “nevica” in Rome and ancient pillars made from snow.

Chow.





Dog Logic

1 02 2012

Off to truffle hunt this morning.  Just as the truffles reach their peak of flavor and scent  the season wanes.  Wild pigs grow irritated at approaching unavailability of those elusive funghi.

Soon they’ll be relegated to lesser treasures: Nuts, berries, carrion…and the occasional eyeing of a certain small dog. Morning fog grunts in the background as we make our way through the wood. Leaves crackle under the oak trees hidden in the mist.

We are surrounded by boar guarding that remnants of those white diamonds beneath the soil.  We walk on up the mountain.

A half mile beyond we find a large oak, acorns strewn across it’s feet, the scent of truffle hangs just below the mist, dog-nose level.  The dig is on.

My people sift the dirt landing behind my rear legs.  Soon the small, round basket is full.  A weeks worth of truffle heaven, secured.

Truffle Butter slathered upon al dente Fettucini;

Truffled Porchetta; Clafoutis with Morels and Truffles; Truffles Fontina; Fried eggs with Truffle Shavings…Truffle Ice Cream.

There is a God.

There is a Dog.

Dog Logic the morning after: To be, one must eat; I eat, therefore, I am; Pigs eat truffles, I eat truffles.

You see where I’m going here?

Chow.





French Delights

26 07 2011

I am freshly fluffed and feeling fine.

We made an excursion to the open market in Nice today.  The smells were exquisite: artisan cheeses, provencal sausages, crisp white wines, multitudinous flowers conjuring the famous perfumes of Grasse just up the hill….and Socca.

Socca is a simple staple of Southern French fare.  It is ubiquitous in all the open markets in this area.  And, I always get a wedge.  I assume this is because nothing about it is bad for the figure of a small dog.

I watched carefully today as an old man concocted the batter.  Pezzo di torta, as we like to say: piece of cake.

Following is my translation.  I estimate it would serve 4 humans…or 1 dog:

The man put 1 1/2 cup chick pea (garbanzo) flour in a medium-sized blue bowl.  He added 1/3 cup of a lovely pale green olive oil and 2 cups of water and then stirred the whole slurry with a whisk.  He bent down to let me see the mix: a soft, smooth, lump-free batter that smelled like a rich bean cake.

He then poured a tablespoon of olive oil in a large, round pan, about 13-14 inches wide, like something one would use for Paella (ah, that trip to Spain last summer!). The Socca was only about 1/2 thick, or so.

He popped the whole thing into a very hot oven (I estimate, by the tinges on my whiskers when he opened the door, that the temp was 500 degrees).  He let this bake for what seemed to be 20 or 25 minutes.  Anyway, when it was set in the middle and browned at the edges, he took it out, drizzled it with more olive oil (about a tablespoon, I think, and sprinkled coarse salt and fresh pepper on top.

It was then cut into wedges and each was served on a piece of parchment paper: warm, salty heaven. I guess you could add herbs, or spices to the batter.  There are probably endless possibilities.

Personally, I think it would be a great light summer meal, with a tossed green salad and a glass or two of Provencal Rose wine.  

Alas, no one asked me.

I eat it alone, treasure on the street… a la cobblestones.  Still, heaven.

Chow.





The Alphabet Game

7 07 2011

The true meaning of nobility in a 27 line story from A to Z:
Aristocracy does not come easily to a small dog.
Born, bred or borrowed, nobility is something learned not passed along.

Careful examination of one’s character is the key to it’s discovery.

Do not be swayed by the rhinestone glint of an expensive collar and neither by the well-worn rags of the common man.

Every dog has the capacity for greatness, but no dog should be judged by it’s wrapping.

Few dogs have such luxury.

Goodness comes not from a simple fetch and romp.

Humility and kindness feeds the noble more than anything else.

know this as well as any other dog.

Just yesterday I was faced with my own inadequacies.

Kids on the Pincio stole my ball.

Laughing, they ran away, watching behind them as I stood, crestfallen, in the middle of the park.

Most of them disappeared behind the roses at the crest of the hill.

Nothing mattered more to me at that moment than I reclaim my favorite toy but the kids were well out of sight.

Only one thing to do.

Pout.

Quietly, I sat down on the grass and examined my toes.

Right then, a second set of toes appeared, facing me.

Stunned, I looked up.

There before me was a young gypsy boy dressed in tattered clothes, cheeks filthy, green felt ball in hand and a smile on his face.

Up,” he said.

Very slowly, he raised his hand and threw the ball like a comet, high into the air, with the fervor of a second-baseman.

When the ball came down, my jaws were ready to reclaim the prize.

Xavier,” said the boy.

Zealot named Xavier, rags and all…truly a noble boy, in deed.
Chow.







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