Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve

There's a cooking blog that I've taken to avidly reading: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog  It's written by a woman who loves to cook, is a wonderful writer and a very nice person (funny too).  But the best part is that her recipes are FABULOUS.  She plays around with other people's recipes and tweaks them until they raise to the level of sublime.  I know this because we've already tried several of them and have swooned at every bite. 

Tonight, for our humble New Year's Eve feast, it was Smitten Kitchen's Potato Latkes.  Bruce grated the potatoes, chopped the onions, and fried them up while I graciously set the table, lit the candle and put out the Scrabble board.  (Later, I also washed the dishes. But must admit that he cleaned the stove.  I also beat him at Scrabble.  But only by 14 points)  I'm so blessed to be married to a man who likes to cook and who puts up with me!
 I give to you (but not really -- it's all mine, mine, mine!!!): a potato latke with a dollop of creme fraiche topped by a generous spoonful of salmon caviar.  The melding of these flavors is amazing -- the creaminess of the creme fraiche along with the crisp potato and then the salty zing of the caviar is like edible music to the taste buds.  I'm just saying.

Bruce and I will be long asleep before that big ball falls at Time's Square.  But happy New Year to all!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Burn Day

Yesterday I put Christmas away. It was time.  All that's left is a vase of arching pine branches on the window ledge, a wreath at the front door and another down at the head of the drive.  This year, the spirit of Christmas had to be cajoled to come at all and it took off again almost immediately.  I was in a funk about my general lack of seasonal joy -- this is what comes of listening too much to the ever gloomier and upsetting reports on the national news.  It just doesn't leave much room for optimism.   In particular, the rabid and destructive animosity between our political parties and their lack of any regard for those who elected them is both bewildering and depressing.  In order to maintain some sense of equilibrium, I'm choosing not to allow their bad behavior to completely overwhelm my perception of reality.  To that end, I'm making a conscious effort to limit how often I check in on the fate of our country.  I figure that whatever cliffs we manage to go over, I'll find out about it soon enough anyway.  Stoopid politicians...

There -- that's out of my system.  And so...

Today was a glorious winter day at Frogpond:  sunshine in a bright blue sky and temperatures in the mid 40's -- a perfect day to burn the tall brush pile that's been accumulating since last summer.  Burning brush is illegal in most of California during the hot months when the hills are bone-dry and the breezes hot and capricious.  Burning brush in the winter and spring is the only sane (not to mention legal) method of burning in this climate, but there are certain inherent problems that emerge when trying to ignite a very wet and rain-soaked brush pile. 

In short, they don't want to catch fire, and when they do, they quickly go all smokey and then sizzle out.  This is what our pile was doing when I joined Bruce this morning on the upper pad.  He'd tried to get it going with just a bit of diesel fuel and a match.  The small, dry stuff quickly caught fire but the flames died out before the larger branches could join in.  Ever helpful, I dug in my coat pocket and found several very old Kleenexes which added to the embers.  They flared up and were reduced to ash in about 6 seconds.  Not successful, but this gave me an idea...

I ran back to the house and brought back lots of newspaper and two Firestart logs to get things going. 

This got things started, but it still wasn't enough: there was just a point when the larger logs emerged from the smoke unscathed after the smaller twigs and sticks had burned away.

So Bruce rode the Kubota back down to the house and returned with a really BIG jug of diesel and a plastic bucket.  A good dousing of this finally got the whole pile down to business and we finally had actual flames flickering through the branches.  Victory was sweet.

Bruce and I now were both covered with a fine dusting of ash, had soot on our coats and hands and both reeked of smoke.  But there was fire.

We stayed up there on the hill for another hour to make sure that the fire behaved itself and remained in bounds. 

While we waited, a couple of redtail hawks put on a show, wheeling and circling overhead.  No pictures of them, I'm sorry to say -- anyway, my little camera would have snapped images of black smudges in a blue sky.  Bruce (who is  occasionally very wise) said that sometimes it's better to just enjoy something in the moment and not worry about things like pictures.  I agree.
Murphy, looking at the hills of Gopher Ridge holding back the valley fog

And then we called to the three dogs and slowly our little group wended our way down the hill, along the dam, past the chicken coop and so back to the house.

An enjoyable day -- very much needed and appreciated.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Project

It's been a quiet few days.  Bruce is pretty much down and out with a nasty cold.  While he's been alternating between sleeping and coughing, I've been busy at my loom. 

There's a project scarf on it that's been sitting and gathering dust since last June.  It's the most complex twill weave I've ever attempted -- 246 ends threaded through eight harnesses and tied to ten treadles.  With that many threads going in that many different places, there were more than the usual number of mistakes and mis-threadings to correct.  Once I got those sorted out, I got to actually weaving without too much difficulty.  Until a warp thread broke.  I added in a new thread and continued weaving.  Several inches later, another warp snapped.  I repaired it, but almost immediately another two broke.  I couldn't figure out why they were breaking, but knew something was wrong.  And then I left for Germany for two weeks.  When I got back, I eyed the project with it's dangling warp threads caused by an unknown problem...and promptly found other things to do.  For the next eight months. 

Twisting the fringe (Scrabble board and soup pot weighting everything down)
Finally, with a baby blanket project waiting in the wings for our new grandson and a new year looming days away, I decided that it was time.  It didn't take long to realize that the broken warp threads were being caused by my allowing the sides to draw in as I wove -- this caused the edge warps to stretch and finally give out entirely.  I gave up the first scarf as a lost cause, practiced my new technique on a bit on a small stretch of warp, and then commenced to weaving and finishing off the entire scarf in two days (plus eight months, of course).

The finished scarf was as satisfyingly beautiful as anything I've ever made.  After a quick washing and drying, the weave "bloomed" into a fascinating mix of patterns.  The drape and feel of the scarf was incredibly soft and a delight to the skin.  I fell in love with it.

So I pressed it, wrapped it up and drove down to Stockton to give to daughter Liz for a Christmas/Engagement gift.  I was very happy to have something so pretty to give to her...

...however, I'm eying the remaining cones of yarn and wondering if I have time to weave a similar scarf for myself before the yarn for the baby blanket project arrives in the mail.

Hmmm...I figure that if I can shave eight months off my weaving time, I should have another finished in about two days.  Could happen!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Christmas Eve was our usual small get together of Mama, Ian, Becky and boyfriend Alan.  We ate our traditional meal of rouladin, red cabbage, mashed potatoes and gravy.  German/Austrian comfort food of the highest order!  Afterwards we opened gifts, ate desert and so to bed.  It was a good evening!

Our Christmas Day feast -- pickled herring on buttered home-baked rye bread accompanied by a salad of cucumbers in sour cream with fresh dill.  All was washed down with frequent sips of ice cold Aquavite.  Humble fare, but so, so good!

Monday, December 24, 2012

'Twas the...

...morning of the night before Christmas.

In other words, another morning just like all the other ones.

The tree is decorated, the house is clean, and the candles are lit, and Arby, bless his little furry boots, has spritzed the tree.  Twice (so far).  Yes, it's shaping up to be another Frogpond Christmas. 

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Single Candle

Today, three days before Christmas Eve, I drifted and did very next to nothing.  I read.  I ate.  I napped.  From the window I watched the rain swirl and patter on the pond.  A load of laundry got washed, as well as the dishes.  I did finish the last Christmas cards and did an inventory of the gifts my students gave me so I can write my proper thank yous after the holidays.  I took a walk around the pond with the dogs.

What I didn't do was bake any cookies, wrap any presents, put up the tree or do any decorating other than setting out a single candle.

Can one celebrate Christmas with a single candle?  I'd like to try.  Paring down the event to its essentials -- love, warmth, communion -- seems somehow do-able this year.  A single candle and a shared smile would do.

Yesterday at school was the typical, chaotic, last day before winter break.  The children sang and danced for their parents, we watched a movie, I taught them how to cut out snowman paper garlands, and we played BINGO.  Through it all, even while trying to be good, they were pinging off the walls in their excitement.  Many of them still believe in Santa Claus.  Their mix of innocence and worldliness amazes and touches me.  I am in awe that I have the great good fortune to be their teacher.

The best part of yesterday came right at the end of the school day, as the children were boarding the buses to take them home.  As I stood talking with another teacher, three of my former students -- all 5th graders now and usually too cool to willingly speak with me, walked past.  I interrupted my conversation to wish them a merry Christmas, which they all wished back and then climbed the steps onto their buses.  Suddenly one of them was back at my elbow, offering me a candy cane.  "This is for you," he said, "Merry Christmas!"  And then he turned and disappeared back on the bus almost before I had time to call back, "Thank you!". 

And that, dear ones, is as good as I think Christmas can get.  I'm happy with my candle flickering on the bookcase.

Tomorrow I'll get the tree up and decorated.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Still Here!

Yoiks?  What is this???  The world did not end? 

Thank God!  After a day of 4th grade performances, parties and non-stop Christmas glee I'm very relieved that a tomorrow will come where I can be home at Frogpond with the husband, cats and other Frogpond hilarity.  Fourteen days of it in fact!

School went very well today -- but I'm looking forward to getting back to normal routines in the new year and days filled with actual teaching. 

That said, today was filled with affection and holiday cheer.  Lots of hugs and smiles between the students and myself.  I do love these children (even as they regularly drive me nuts).  I'm blessed.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Odds and Ends

Tomorrow the world is supposed to end.  If it does, I hope that it happens some time after our 4th grades perform in our Christmas program -- such a pity if all those rehearsals were for naught...

It's also supposed to rain tomorrow night, and I'd hate to miss that.  And it would be a cruel joke if the world ended on the last day before our two week winter break.  As in all things, timing is everything.

However, the wonderful cleaning ladies are coming out tomorrow to perform their monthly miracle of reaming out the house from top to bottom.  I suppose it would be a good thing to have the bathrooms clean before the world ends. 

I'm so very ready for a break.

The Classroom Christmas Flurry

The second-to-last day before Christmas break.  The students are ready for it.  The teachers are even more ready for it.  Our Christmas program is tomorrow -- teaching 53 bouncing nine-year-olds how to square dance, cut out paper-doll snowmen and weave God's Eye ornaments has been the usual challenge.  It's (hopefully) fun for the students, but all the teachers are looking more frazzled as move through the week.

We're almost there!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Coming in out of the cold

Last night was our coldest night yet this winter -- down to 24 degrees.  The lemon trees got to spend the night in the laundry room, comfy and warm.  The little guy on the left is covered with its first crop.  The fruit's cheerful and adorably tiny -- and very lemony!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Drop by Drop

This was the pond last evening.  We had a bit more rain and the pond is a bit larger.  Friday looks like it will be the next opportunity for a storm.  Keep 'em coming!

Monday, December 17, 2012


Sunday morning was spent working on coloring the borders of our homemade Corny Christmas cards.  Comforting work, that -- the patterns are embossed, so all I have to do is embellish them with my red and green Sharpies.  This is followed up by dabs of silver dots all around the frame (my favorite part, of course).

As usual, I'm about two weeks late in all of this, but I've grown so used to always being behind with my Christmas cards that this has become part of the tradition.

In the afternoon we drove down to Manteca under gray skies and picked up the Corny photos from Costco and did some other shopping.  By the time we were done, it was almost four o'clock.  In our hurry to get home before dark, we decided to skip grocery shopping at our favorite market in Modesto and stop at a smaller one that was on the way home.  It was a noble plan, but was quickly doomed to failure when we ran into a former neighbor whom we hadn't seen in about ten years -- a nice man, but one who obviously felt that he needed to catch up on the entire ten years.  It took about 45 minutes before for Bruce and I to finally gracefully (I hope) escape.  You can imagine my horrow when I ran to into him again in the cheese section.  Fifteen long minutes later (in which I uttered about 10 words to his 10,000), we finally made it to the checkout line.  He cheerfully followed us, talking the entire way.  When we'd paid the cashier we got in a final "Merry Christmas!" and then swiftly pushed our cart out to the parking lot.  Our not-so-laudable goal was to be gone before he came out.  Not exactly the Christmas spirit, I know.  But the man is cheerful, happily married and simply loves to talk (listen -- not so much).  

Neither one of us said a word as we drove home in the dark, but it was lovely listening to Christmas music.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gray Saturday

Bruce and I stayed home today and practiced coughing together.  Being sick together on a damp, gloomy Saturday had at least one plus-point -- we got through the entire stack of mail that's been accumulating since last April.  Two trash bags later, the wooden mail carrier is now holding two thin catalogs and one magazine.  Everything else was sorted through and then either dumped or filed. 

Yesterday's school shooting in Connecticut has left our school staff shaken and sad. Our principal stopped by every classroom yesterday morning, called each teacher outside and told what had happened.  He made the decision (a wise one, I think) to say nothing of it to the students -- it was a Friday and it seemed better to let the parents talk this over with their children.  However, it wasn't easy to go through the day as though nothing had happened.

It will be interesting to see what Monday brings.

Friday, December 14, 2012


It took awhile, but Bruce finally caught the cold that I've been throwing at him for the past two weeks.  He gave it up and came home before noon yesterday and has been sniffling and hacking ever since.

However, that didn't stop us from trotting out in the frozen air last night to view meteor showers.  Actually, the first time he told me that he was doing this I never moved off the chair in front of my computer.  No way was I leaving the nice warm house to search for tiny streaks of light in the sky.  So, off he went and here I sat.  When he came in 10 minutes later, though, to get his camera and told me that he'd seen about seven meteors shoot past, I changed my mind.  I wore my slippers, though.

So there we stood in the circular drive in front of the house, craning our heads back to look at a brilliant winter sky.  The beauty of the moment was somewhat marred by our intermittent breaks to loudly cough and blow noses.  I'm sure it was during these times that the majority of meteors flashed by.

It was an uncomfortable and rather silly thing to do, especially when sick, but we had a good time.  As there was nothing to do but stand and look up (between nose-blows), we talked together and had the most complete conversation we've had together all week.  We both also saw the same brilliant meteor -- one of the largest I've ever seen -- that silently arced right overhead. 

After a few more minutes, I gave it up and my soggy slippers and I went back inside to be with the cats.  Bruce braved the cold for awhile longer on his own and then he came in too.

The evening was, in a word, splendid.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


The recent rains have banished the last traces of summer -- it's good to see the hills turning green again.  The neighbor cows approve!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Corny Christmas Photo-Shoot 2012

I've been moping around with a cold since last Thursday.  It's not too bad, as colds go, but I stayed home Friday (*OK, here I must go off on a bit of a tangent:  I dislike going to staff parties.  This year, I was honest and admitted that, although I love everyone at our school, I just don't enjoy parties so wouldn't be going to this one.  After a few tries to get me to change my mind, there were shrugs but it was accepted that I wasn't going.  Except I then felt so guilty about letting down the team that I changed my mind on Wednesday and said that Bruce and I would be there after all.  So on Thursday afternoon when I asked our secretary to call a substitute to take my class on Friday because I was sick, everyone laughed and teased that I was faking sick so I wouldn't have to go to the party.  Our principal even felt my forehead and joked that I didn't seem to have a fever.  So, on Friday, after staying home all day with the sniffles, I got dressed up and Bruce and I went to the party to prove that I hadn't stayed home to get out of having to go.  I do marvel at the complex struggles I force myself to have.)

It was a quiet weekend and I didn't do much other than read and correct papers.  But today I gathered together my energy because I'd put off THE most important pre-Christmas tradition of all long enough: The Cornelius Christmas Card Photo-Shoot. 

Cornelius was his typical Christmas photo-shoot self:  obnoxious and willful, with a bit of brattyness thrown in for good measure.  I had to take of a thick layer of crusted mud that caked his flanks, face and mane, then hose the mud from his hooves and sponge dirt off his face. Then I got the clippers and trimmed his bridlepath and brushed out his mane and tail.  When I was almost finished, I briefly thought I was going to become a pancake when a helicopter suddenly was chopping right overhead and Corny woke up enough to try to jump into my arms in a panic.  It's not easy when a 3,000 pound horse thinks he's your baby.

Anyway, eventually I got him more or less decorated (every time he shook his silly face, sparkly stuff went flying).  Then Bruce got his camera and Corny had his usual jolly time being uncooperative, pinning back his ears and making stupid faces.  I have proof:

Corny looking just a tiny bit like Cher



When the decorations came off and I was leading him back to his pen for dinner, he changed back into my sweet, doofy boy who would do anything for his mommy.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Draino, anyone?

Bruce worked from home today, so was able to get down to the culvert to take pictures of the branches that the storm left caught against them.

In the light of day, I must admit that the branches don't look nearly as massive as they appeared by flashlight.  What is more striking, though, is seeing how high up they're snagged -- the water almost made it to the top of the road.

It always amazes me how suddenly the creeks here can rise during a downpour.  Twice since we've lived here the water's overtopped the culvert and taken out the road.  Then the people who lived on the other side had to park their cars at the culvert and hike to their houses on foot until the road was repaired.  Considering the glacial rate of road repair around here, I'm more than a little grateful that we live on this side of the creek crossing.

Cornelius appears to have enjoyed overseeing Bruce's picture taking.  He's also looking exceedingly smug -- no doubt proud of how dramatically he's prepared himself for his annual Christmas card photo shoot.  How am I ever going to get all that caked mud out of his fur? 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Culvert

This evening when I got home there was a message on our answering machine from our unknown neighbors across the road.  Debbie was asking if the culvert passing under the road was on our property or the people who lived on the other side of us.  They wanted to know if they could clear out the area in front of the culvert from debris from the last storm.  I listened to the message and then asked,  "What debris?"  So I went down there with a flashlight to see.  What I found was several massive  tree limbs strewn across the opening of the culvert.  They were wedged high up -- right where the torrent of water stranded them.  Most impressive.  I called back Debbie, introduced myself, and assured her that they were more than welcome to come over any time to haul out the culvert blockage.  She thanked me, and I thanked her. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Storm

All last night the wind whistled and moaned around the house and a small rain blew sideways against the windows.  It was a tree-falling sort of wind, and I woke up off and on all through the night, worried by what the morning might bring to light.  When morning arrived, all our trees were still standing and we'd totalled a whopping 0.01" in our rain gauge.  I knew that this was because horizontal rain throws off all measuring tools...but still I was disappointed.

All the weather reports still were talking about this band of rain that was bearing across Northern California and due to dump copious amounts wherever it passed.  The dogs and I took a walk to check out how Frogpond was looking before this storm hit. 

The pipe that drains from the hillside watershed to the pond was modestly trickling.  Meh...

Murphy had fun racing around the pond -- I think that the mixture of rain and wind cranked him up.  He was one wet, happy dog.

The island in the center of the pond has been a peninsula for over a month now. 

Down in the lower pasture, the seasonal creek was at last flowing through the pipes that go under our road. 

It was here that I discovered that my right boot had developed a serious crack. As the rest of me was already pretty much soaked by this time, one additional wet sock hardly made any difference.

Arlo and Seal had gone back up to house to get up on the porch and out of the wet.

Not Murphy -- he was a happy dog in his element...

...and I was a happy human in her element. 

Wind, rain, soaking wet -- bliss!

I came inside and got dried off and soon after the actual storm band came through.  It was cold!  The rain sheeted down.  We wished that we'd finished cleaning out the gutters as the water poured out over the tops. 

And, saints be praised, the pond began to fill.  

The pipe had a robust rush of water flowing out of it.

And soon the peninsula was an island again -- just barely, but we takes what we can get!

By mid-afternoon, the storm band was passed and blue sky shone between the streaming clouds.  It was a lovely, still winter sunset. 

OK, so I'm already pining for the next storm.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Pie and Rain: The Waiting Game

The school's Christmas Craft Bazaar was set to start at 8:00 this morning.  From the first moment I heard of this ungodly early hour for the opening, I couldn't believe that anyone would want to dash out of bed on a Saturday morning in order to gallop off to buy Christmas crafts.  I tentatively brought this up with several of our Parent Club members.  They firmly assured me that our cafeteria doors would open to multitudes of people who would be there early to get the best pick of things.  All right then. 

As I didn't know who else might be showing up that early to get our 4th grade booth open and ready to sell pies, I was there at 8:00 on the dot.  The multitudes of people were not.  Neither were the pies.  As time passed, people did begin to trickle in -- and even though attendance was sparse (at least at the beginning), the mood was convivial and Christmasy. 

Nine o'clock came and went and Sue and I were still waiting for our pies.  We were getting them from a fruit stand just down the road from the school, and, although the man assured us they were on their way, we had nothing in our booth to sell as the minutes ticked along.

The good news (from the perspective of the other booth owners), is that Sue and I took turns wandering among the booths, buying things.  I ended up buying two wreaths, a belt, five necklaces, a scarf, cookies, a perfume stick (don't ask), and one not-yet-delivered pie.  By ten o'clock, after I'd spent almost $200, the pies finally arrived.  Not a moment too soon -- another half hour would have had me in the poorhouse.  After cutting them, setting out the plates and forks, and explaining to the parent helpers how to write the receipts, Sue and I were able to leave with at least a modest sense of success: the pie booth had both pie and the workers to sell it. 

I won't know until Monday if the multitudes ever did show up.  If they did, they would have arrived fresh and well rested.  As for myself, I came home and took a nap.

Tonight it's supposed to dump rain.  So far today, it's been just light drizzle off and on.  This afternoon I went out and cleared dead weeds out of the ditch that runs down the drive, picked the few quinces that are on our tree, threw the porch pumpkins on the compost heap, and generally tidied up.  I now respectfully wait for that first fat raindrop to smack down on Frogpond.
The pies finally came -- surely the rain cannot be far behind?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Last Day of November

Last night the wind moaned around the house most splendidly.  I woke up from time to time to press my ear to the wall to see if I could hear rain tinkling through the downspouts.  There were only a few spatters of rain during the night -- the deluge came as soon as I set foot at school in the morning.  The water came down in waves; sheets slid down my windows.  My portable is located on the far perimeter of the campus and it's a long walk from our classroom to anywhere else.  The children loved it.  First, coming to class through the pelting rain at the beginning of the day.  Half an hour later, back to the mult-purpose room for our awards assembly.  Then back to my room.  Then back to the multi-purpose room for lunch.  Then back to my room.  I was surrounded by soggy kids all day long.  Other than one of them stepping on my umbrella and breaking it, the day went fine.

Tomorrow morning I'll be driving back to school to help at our school's Christmas Bazaar.  The 4th grade is selling pies to help pay for our springtime overnight trip to the ocean. 

The next storm is due to hit in the late afternoon.  Hopefully I'll be back home by then.  I want to be sitting at the window, watching the rain and sipping tea (or a glass of wine).  This rain is wonderful.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

First Storm

First of the series of storms staged across the Pacific and aimed in our general direction has blown through.  We got 0.42"  by our rain gauge -- not bad.  The next storm is supposed to come in tomorrow and have stronger winds and more rain.  Keep 'em coming!

I had two long meetings after school, but bailed and ditched the third.  Enough is enough. Bruce was was home taking a homemade chicken pot pie out of the oven.  I love being married to a man who cooks! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Lull Before the Storm

Weather-wise, it's been a calm, benign sort of week.  But just around a corner a good sized storm is brewing and should be here by early tomorrow morning.  The weather site says that we should have 2 to 4 inches of rain by the end of this weekend -- that's a good amount for around here.

It occurs to me, as I sit in my bathrobe, typing and sipping tea, that most of my houseplants are still sitting out on the back deck, completely unprotected.  Crap.  I'd better get them moved before I go to bed. 

Other than that, everything else outside is pretty much battened down.  Bruce works from home tomorrow -- it will be nice to come home to a warm, lit house and all the outside chores done.  Perhaps he'll even have a fire in the woodstove and dinner waiting...


Sunday, November 25, 2012



Good things come to those who wait.
Sweet dreams, dear Seal!

Now, how to reclaim my own bed... 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Bed Thief



 Several weeks ago, Bruce and I brought home three plump new dog beds to replace the torn, flattened ones that lined the front porch.  It took a few days for Seal, Arlo and Murphy to break them in so that they indented in the right spots, but all three dogs are now delighted to nap their days away from their centers. 

At least most of the time.

Seal likes to sunbathe on the carport, so we moved her bed over there.  Max also likes to sunbathe.  I'm sure that you know how this story is going to go...

Seal came over and very politely asked Max to please get off of her bed.  Max blinked up at her and, just as politely, told her that this wasn't going to happen.

Seal is a very patient (and long-suffering) dog.  She sighed and settled on the doormat.
Buddenbrooks update: I'm on page 207! It's been a very long time since I've managed to stay with a book this thick (both in a metaphorical and physical sense).  Stacks of schoolwork await, but I have to read just one more chapter first.  And then another... And another...