mardi 30 septembre 2008


Baccarat by the pool
June 2008

(please overlook the stuff growing at the bottom)

Labs swim, right? Not this one, nor her mother. Defective labs.

Joachim came today to meet about the house (remember him? Goes back awhile, I know). He had his dog, Bandit, with him. Bandit's a 9-month-old Griffon Boulet, and reminded me of all the reasons I am so glad Baccarat is 2. He was out in the car, waiting, so I told him to feel free to bring him with him to the house.

All dogs welcome.

Ce fut de la folie! They raced in circles around and around le basin de poissons, jumped, frollicked and made merry with Rapide, who loves nothing more than to have canine visitors to the house, while Joachim and I reviewed the state of the renovations and discussed political philisophy (he's worse than I am). Sitting here in my ruin of a house, the ironing board loaded down with folded laundry, dust from the work covering the windows, papers all around me, and the vacuum cleaner, waiting expectantly over in the living room, looking at my drawings and the pictures I took last week of the house in Les Loges, near Etretat -- if you zoom in, it's on the D940, heading to Bordeaux St. Clare, on the south side of the road, just before la rue du Jardinet; you can't really see it, though, because they have put a nice thick yellow line along the road, right on top of the roofs --, Bandit zooms through the door.

"Mais qu'est ce qui s'est passé? Bandit est tout mouillé!" [trans: But what's happened? Bandit's soaking wet!]

That was the understatement of the day. Bandit was not only soaking wet, all of his poils laineux splastered to his thin frame, he was covered in smelly muck from the bottom of the fish basin, and he knew he had done a bad thing.


Joachim grabbed the hose, while I tried to move him forward by the collar. He wasn't having anything to do with the hose-shower idea.

"Attendez, je vais chercher une laisse."

"Une laisse, bonne idée," he muttered sort of helplessly as I darted back into the living room and returned to attach it. Joachim had the collar, rather inexplicably in his hand, while Bandit lay at his feet, doing his best submissive dog act.

I took over. Bandit got a shower. It was like he had come out of The Bog of Eternal Stench, the bog monster. Green-brown slimy smelly muck ran from his fur, coating the grass at his feet, while he looked at me pathetically. Smells baaaaad!

"Oui, Bandit, tu dois avoir une douche! Joachim, voulez-vous que je cherche le shampoin?" he stammered something about shampoo, and I sent him (what is it with men in a crisis, anyway?) around to the side of the house by the petite maison to grab the pool towel I had left there, sitting in a planting pot. Never mind. I don't put much where it belongs.

The reeds in the basin were lying every which way, a clear path of trompled ones lying flat against the water and the edges of the basin where Bandit had flailed across the entire thing. The fish looked stunned. They had probably just started to get over the days when Baccarat did the same thing. Bandit was not much dryer, and didn't smell a whole lot better. He looked better, though.

Feeling not terribly reassured this wasn't going to repeat itself, we headed back inside to finish the meeting. The dogs romped, ran in and out, pestered the cats, got batted back with hisses and paws, and on we talked, about windows, insulation, ideas and the bank failures and failure of the spirit of man as responsible overlord until it was really time to do something more productive with our afternoons. Joachim called Bandit, and I walked them to the car without it ever once occuring to me that Baccarat was nowhere to be seen.

Où est Baccarat?

It wasn't even when I walked back in the house that it struck me that there was something wrong with the picture. It took a moment before the peace struck me as... odd. There were only the cats, milling around.

I stuck my head out the door. Nothing.

I listened. Nothing.

"Rapide, Baccarat?" Nothing. "Rapide? Baccarat?" Not a sound. Just the leaves rustling overhead in the twin linden trees. I moved closer to the stair to the bottom of the garden, feeling almost scared. What had happened? They should be there. They should come bounding from wherever they were.

I looked toward the stair, "Rap --", there she was. Lumbering up the stairs, alone. I looked behind me, no Baccarat. Where was she? I hadn't seen her go out the gate.

"Baccarat? Baccarat!" There was a tiny noise, a whimpering coming from below me. It was like the time I dared not look down the cellar stairs when I couldn't find my six-month-old brother.

"Baccarat! Où es tu? Baccarat!" The whimpering continued. I was almost at the bottom. Had Bandit bitten her? I hadn't heard anything. Had she fallen? The pool --

I hurried through the shurbbery, and there, on the far side of the pool, there was her black head, sticking up between the edge of the pool cover and the side of the pool, her body completely lost below the cover under water.

"Baccarat! J'arrive, j'arrive, j'arrive." She tried to turn her head to look at me, but if she did, her paws slipped from the crown of the pool. "Ma Baccarat, mais qu'est-ce qu'il t'arrive?" Afraid to see her fall even as I hurried around the pool to her, I grabbed her by the elbows, my arms along her front legs, trying to support her body's weight with my hands and arms as I pulled her out. She looked at me as if to say, "You're not going to pull my arms out of their sockets, are you?"

She couldn't even help me. She was standing on tip-toe, her feet having found the wall of the pool where it slopes down to meet the pool bottom, her front paws pressed to the pool deck to stay upright. When I got her out, she nearly collapsed. She was exhausted. She was cold.

How long had she been there? A half hour? An hour? It was beyond me to understand why she hadn't barked, unless she figured I'd just yell down to her to be quiet.

Actually, I think she did, now that I write this and remember back. I had shouted for her de se taire [trans: be quiet] once. She had been there a long time. Why hadn't Rapide come to find me, aggitated, unless she was afraid to leave Baccarat?

What I knew was that this afternoon, I nearly lost my Baccarat. She nearly drowned because she couldn't swim under the pool cover to find the stairs out. If she had gotten too tired. If she had slipped and been too tired.

Ma Baccarat. Ca va maintenant. Elle va bien. Je ne sais pas si elle n'ira plus jamais près de la piscine.

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