Friday, May 21, 2010

Laura Grace Weldon & Jedi, Cocoa Bean and Winston

Who is in the photo at right?

The furry brown-eyed beasts are Jedi the German Shepherd, Cocoa Bean the Toy Poodle and Winston the Pomeranian.

The other creature with brown eyes is me. I’m Laura Grace Weldon, a writer, farm wench and relentless optimist.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

The hounds are gentlemen of habit. They expect a daily walk down the street plus a stroll around the farm. They associate the smells of coffee with a newspaper-enhanced snuggle in the morning and relaxation time outdoors in the afternoon. If I attempt to alter any of these routines they go into Trinity of Despondency mode.

Today we’re having coffee out back here at Bit of Earth Farm. For the dogs that means visiting livestock, sitting by the pond (or in the pond) and rolling in whatever smells.

What's brewing?

We drink whatever brand of Fair Trade coffee is on sale at the co-op. Lately we’re enjoying Green Mountain Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. I like to make it strong, dosed up with raw organic cream from our cow Isabelle.

How were you and your dogs united?

Jedi, the 10 year old German Shepherd, was given to us as a puppy already named and housebroken. He’s a gentle soul and tolerates the little guys with the patience of an elder statesman.

Cocoa Bean, the 3 year old Toy Poodle, was bought by my son for his girlfriend. Soon after, she and her family were deported due to a tragic legal snafu and little Cocoa Bean came to live here. He is clever, affectionate and a bit neurotic. When Winston joined us Cocoa plotted against him for weeks, secretly depositing dog poo in the spot where Winston had been having some house training problems. Only when we caught him in the act did he stop.

Winston, the 1 year old Pomeranian, was abandoned at a work site when he was a few months old. He had fleas, worms and deep bite wounds. His coat was sparse and he was achingly thin. You can see now with his summer cut that he’s rather on the chubby side. He’s a bit of a rajah, preferring comfy chairs and short rather than long walks.

Do your dogs have any influence on your writing?

They sleep nearby as I work. Their dreams surely filter into everything I do.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

They do the requisite barking at all who dare come to the door, per the universal dog contract. Mainly they keep the menace of invisible badgers at bay. Of course I can’t sense these badgers but the dogs do, and I’m grateful.

What’s the most amusing thing your dogs do? The most frustrating?

This may qualify for both. My dogs communicate with me in ways none of us actually understands. For example without a sound, without anyone in our family of six noticing, the dogs somehow tell me (yes, with their minds) that they have to go out. Because of this habit, “butt psychic” is one of my many unfortunate family nicknames.

If your dogs could change one thing about you, what would it be?

A hermit at heart, I’m still lured into the larger world pretty often. I’m told the dogs howl and sit facing the front windows when I’m gone. The dogs would like me to hobbit about here and never leave again.

If your dogs could change one thing about humans, what would it be?

They are not fans of cars. People leave them in cars. People make them go places they don’t want to go in cars. When we walk along our rural road people pass by at speeds that make their shoulders shrunkle down in fear (shrunkle is an invented word). My dogs would rather humanity never bothered to invent cars. Perhaps the quiet peace of personal zeppelins floating just off the ground would please my canine friends more.

Laura Grace Weldon is the author of Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything.

Her new book advocates for the child’s right to learn naturally and demonstrates how to enfold this approach into daily life. It incorporates ancient wisdom, current research and the educational insights shared by over 100 homeschooling families from around the world.

Learn more about
Free Range Learning, check out Laura Weldon’s blog, and find out what’s up on the farm.

Writers Read: Laura Grace Weldon.

--Marshal Zeringue