Watsonville Vacation and The Dogs
Written by
Louise Nayer
August 2011
Written by
Louise Nayer
August 2011

In Watsonville, California house sitting among the redwoods for our friends who are in Maine. The house has a beautiful swimming pool and a hot tub. Yesterday , the sun was shining and I swam laps and then when I was chilly, got into the hot tub. It was luxurious—a true vacation. Jim read a Wendell Berry novel(great writing but not much happening) and I read a mystery by Cara Black, transported back to France where I lived  in 1969-70 during my junior year of college. I’ve never been back to the South of France where  I spent time off from school hitchhiking down the coast of Spain to Morocco in a white Van, stopping in small villages where we bought bread and honey-- or to Italy with a couple that put up my friend and me for a night and bought us dinner and breakfast—so many acts of a kindness—a crazy, lucky time(that again I had the luxury of believing, mostly, that the world was safe and I would survive that craziness).


At our dear friends’ house in Watsonville, today it’s raining. The water ran out yesterday(from a leak by the pool) so Jim has just boiled water and is washing the dishes. He brought buckets yesterday from the overflowing swimming pool to flush the toilet. We hope the water level will rise today—as we forget how much we are used to that simple pleasure of turning on the tap or the shower—pleasures not everyone in the world has these days.


The three dogs(our own, Penny) and their dogs Sparkey and Lizzy are all inside the house which is quite an accomplishment. Lizzy was an abused dog(not easily discernible when our friends got her) but for a long time she rarely came in the house—and ran away when anyone tried to get near her(except for Dixie) and has started, slowly, letting me pet her—a first for me. She has even tried to get up in my lap.  She has let me look into her eyes. Sparkey, a big, black dog, cute and friendly but with little impulse control, is spending the morning licking Lizzy all over in a kind of maternal moment I’ve rarely seen him do. I’ve pet him, too, as I try to give him equal attention. When he tried to jump up in my lap, too(he’s big) I have to say, “No,” a number of times before he finds a ball to put in his mouth. Our dog, Penny, has found a spot on the white couch in the other room—far from the Madding Crown. She is an “only”  dog. When any of us(including our two children, now 24 and 26) come into the house, we all rush to see her and pet her. This never seems to stop. So you can see  she is a bit dismayed at times, living with two other dogs, but curls up in my lap or Jim’s lap when she needs to. We brought along her bed which she relishes.


The rain is pounding—and we hope the water level is rising. I haven’t left the property since we arrived on Saturday and it’s now Wednesday. I’ve been reading, writing, cooking(more than I usually do—a curry squash soup that even Jim, not a vegetable guy, liked)—and I’ve talked to my sister, one of my daughter’s.


Right now Lizzy is trying to climb on my lap. Perhaps she perceives me as a similar soul. We all get through difficulties in life and hope that we can live in peace. Soon, Lizzy’s years in this loving place with Dixie and Jay, will begin to erase her difficult past. “It’s okay,” I say to her. “You can let go of the past.” Who am I talking to? 



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