Entry # 98
December 19, 2008
Hello Everyone. It’s me Wimsey coming to you from the snowy wonderland that is Manhattan’s fabulous Upper West Side! There is nothing quite as beautiful as Manhattan (and Central and Riverside Parks) when it snows. It’s like being in a touching Christmas movie--one where a magnificent Hound brings tears to the eyes of his humans! And speaking of humans, my human Maria is already assembling the extra Hound control equipment that she will need if she has any hope of staying upright whilst being dragged into snow banks by me. And her friend Elizabeth may finally get to wear at least one of the three pairs of high traction snow boots she got last year for the same purpose. But it will take more than three pairs of boots to control an excited snow loving Hound such as myself! This year the ladies have also purchased some stuff to spray on my paws that is supposed to protect them from the salt and ice on the sidewalks. While this might be a good product in theory, I don’t think the ladies thought through the fact that they will actually have to get me to let them mess with all four of my paws without them sitting on me. I rather think this product might join the nail clippers in the Wimsey Dust Bin of Historically Impermissible Implements.
But all this snow puts me in the mood for a lusty chorus of:
Oh, the Hound outside is frightful
But the Hound inside is so delightful (when he is not trying to crush me, shred the newspapers or eat the remote control)
And since we’ve no place to go (its hard to move with a 126 lb, Hound in your lap)
Let it Snow Let it Snow Let it Snow!
And of course that American classic:
I’m dreaming of a yellow Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten
And children listen
To hear me peeing in the snow.
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I shred
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Hounds be actually white (and not yellow)
Anyway, this was a really exciting week as I am sure you can imagine. All the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping (immortalized in my Christmas shopping montage) and endless rounds of that seasonal game—“Don’t let Wimsey Pee on the Christmas Trees.” Now here in New York Christmas tree vendors line up their wares on the street so that they form long, luscious corridors of peeable conifers—it’s a veritable Hound urinal—even thinking about it makes me want to pee-- only somehow I am not supposed to use these trees for the purpose that nature intended. Harumph. (or more precisely, Ahroooooo!). These unwarranted restrictions did not put me in any great mood on Sunday and there were some definitely peevish (and loud) moments when we were shooting the Christmas montage. In fact my humans have an extensive collection of pictures of me with my muzzle pointing skyward in auditory protest (companion pieces to the pictures where I turn my rump to the camera or find something urgent to sniff stage left). But all the noise attracted lots of people which had the desirable and somewhat compensatory effect of allowing me to slime perfect strangers while at the same time delay the shooting of the heinous montage.
And for Christmas every year Elizabeth buys me the same present from Petco—a four foot piece of rawhide bent into the shape of a candy cane. So this Sunday, as we were all headed to Petco to buy another whacking great sack of food for me (it takes two people to transport it up the stairs), Elizabeth decided to purchase my rawhide candy cane in advance. Now there is really no way one can persuade a loud and demanding Hound that one is not in fact carrying a four foot rawhide candy cane down Broadway. I am afraid I made quite a scene—furiously baying and cavorting Hounds being somewhat thin on the ground in New York City. And in the midst of all of this ruckus it occurred to Elizabeth to suggest to Maria that perhaps the rawhide candy cane could be stored in my closet until Christmas morning to save her the trouble of bringing it over. Well, the withering look that she received in reply made it clear to Elizabeth that this was not one of her brighter ideas (I think visions of my continuous serenading of the closet danced alarmingly in Maria’s head).
Anyway, Christmas shopping can be very entertaining, especially when Maria is in a store and Elizabeth and I are forced to wait outside-- giant smelly drooly Hounds for some reason not being particularly welcome in upper west side emporiums. And this Sunday I attracted my usual crowd of inquisitive admirers and who quizzed Elizabeth extensively on all matters Wimsey. And although she tried to answer the questions somewhat objectively, I know what she really wanted to say:
What kind of dog is he (a bad one)
You don’t see many bloodhounds in New York (people have more sense)
Are bloodhounds always this big (no, his owner got lucky)
Is he a nice dog (don’t get me started)
But he’s so cute (I hear Attila the Hun was a fine looking chap too)
Is he hard to take care of in New York City (depends on whether you expect to have a life)
Does he eat a lot (only if you cook him what he likes)
I bet you have a large apartment (he takes up most of it)
And there are also loud men in red suits baying on street corners and ringing bells. But none of them are Hounds, which I think is very unfair:
A Visit With a Hound Santa
Hound Santa: Ahroooo! Ahrooo! Ahrooo! Who do we have here?
Visitor 1: It’s me Hound Santa. Bernie the Beagle.
Hound Santa: You’re so small I almost didn’t see you down there!
Bernie the Beagle: Well I do try to eat a lot so I’ll grow.
Hound Santa: And have you been a good Hound?
Bernie the Beagle: Yes Hound Santa. I stole the Thanksgiving turkey oft the counter and dashed under the coffee table so all the guests could enjoy watching me eat it.
Hound Santa: Excellent. Excellent. Here is a large bag of Yummy Chummies for you to break into when you’re supposed to be having a quiet nap. Next!
Visitor 2: Hello Hound Santa. It’s me, Billy the basset.
Hound Santa: Why the long face? Haven’t you been a good Hound?
Billy the Basset: Yes Hound Santa. You know we bassets are built low to the ground for a reason. I am able to store all the gloves and electronic gear my humans think they’ve lost elsewhere under the bed where I can destroy them at my leisure.
Hound Santa; Ahroo, Ahroo Ahroo. A very clever use of a body type designed to actually help humans hunt. Hoist by their own petard and all that. Here is a nice big rawhide to add to your stash. Whose next? Yikes! What kind of creature are you?!
Visitor # 3: It’s me, Alfred the Afghan.
Hound Santa: Did anyone ever tell you you need a shave? Are you sure you’re a Hound?
Alfred the Afghan: Absolutely. I’m not very bright, extremely stubborn, like to chase small defenseless animals and have an almost feline indifference to the wishes of my humans.
Hound Santa: Well it does sound like you have the proper Hounditude. Have you a been a good pseudo Hound?
Alfred the Afghan: Oh yes. I raided the hall closet and used my athletic ability to jump high in the air to the top shelf and steal my human’s fur hat (I strongly disapprove of fur that I can’t chase). And of course catching me when I take off is out of the question unless you’re say a cheetah or something.
Hound Santa: Very nice. Perhaps you are a real Hound after all. Here is a nice stuffed woodchuck for you to shred. Next!
Visitor # 4: Merry Christmas Hound Santa. I am Gordon the Golden Retriever. I have been trained by Cesar Millan and am always calm and submissive and listen to everything my humans tell me to do. I love them so much! I fetch their newspapers and their slippers and never take anything that doesn’t belong to me and never ever walk in front of them or tug on my leash.
Hound Santa: You’re an idiot! We have a special gift for canines like you. Hey.. who stole the lump of coal!
I think I would make a very fine Santa. Well this week’s excitement hasn’t all been about Christmas. On Wednesday during my early evening constitutional we saw a raccoon strolling down Riverside Drive! He was a fine looking fellow, all plump and fuzzy, and I was strenuously in favor of getting to know him better but the ladies were rather vigorously opposed to the idea and in the end I had to content myself with merely dragging them to all the places that the raccoon had been. I don’t in the least see why their wishes should count in these matters—I mean how bright can they be-- one of them managed to inadvertently change the input language on her new Blackberry to Greek and the other seems unable to convince her Blackberry that she doesn’t speak Spanish. And then of course, there was Elizabeth’s great cable TV crisis when her cable company required the installation of cable boxes (New York recently having gone all digital) and she needed two for the same TV because of her Byzantine Tivo array. Unfortunately she overlooked the fact that changing the channel with the cable remote changed both boxes as they are one on top of another and when this was realized she frantically called Maria to get advice on what blocks the IR signal on a cable box. Maria was like, “Well Wimsey can block an IR signal” and whereas it is entirely true that I like to position myself in front of the cable box whenever Maria picks up the remote, I really didn’t think that having me dashing over to Elizabeth’s whenever she needed to use only one cable box was a very practical idea. So people who can’t control their Blackberries and cable boxes should not be passing judgment on the desirability of my socializing with raccoons.
Anyway, as promised we once again return for a visit to the Wimsey Institute of Houndish Art where in honor of the three newly discovered drawings by Leonardo da Vinci we examine one his masterworks, Girl With An Ermine (Leonardo da Vinci, 1489, Czartoryski Museum, Krakow, Poland). Now this a very beautiful painting of an extraordinary young woman (she was 17 when this was painted), Cecilia Gallerani, the mistress of the Duke of Milan. She was highly educated, spoke Latin, wrote poetry played music and hosted one of the first salons in Europe. And Leonardo infuses the painting with a dynamic quality as evidenced by the fact that he seems to catch the sitter just in the act of turning--perhaps to listen to what someone is saying. Although the title of the painting would lead one to believe that the woman is holding an ermine, it is really a white ferret, which to me somehow lacks the same cachet. But in any case, as a beautiful and refined woman she should really be holding a beautiful and refined Hound! See how much better she looks cuddling this diminutive, yet somehow haughty Hound. And the presence of the Hound also makes the painting more clear as she is probably turning to acknowledge someone who is greatly admiring him. Girl With A Wimsey.
OK, so I know this is a long post but in a PS, I have reprised last year’s “Twas the Night Before Christmas with some new recently discovered illustrations.
Merry Christmas to you all,
Wimsey This is How I Really Feel About the Santa Hat
Wimsey’s Night before Christmas
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a Hound.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there before the Hound could shred them.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of Hounds danced in their heads.
And mamma in her shredded ‘kerchief, and I in my chewed up cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap with the Hound.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what the Hound had gotten into now.
Away to the window I flew—stepping over the Hound-- like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen yellow snow
Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer being chased by a Hound.
With a little old driver, so lively and quick (he had to be to get away from the Hound),
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than Hounds his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!
"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Wimsey and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall where the Hound can’t get to us!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"
As peed on leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew away from the Hound,
With the sleigh full of rawhides, and St Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof and a lot of loud baying.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a Hound.
He was dressed all in fur (The Hound thought he was a stuffed toy), from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot and drool.
A bundle of rawhides he had flung on his back trying to keep it from the Hound,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.
His eyes-how they twinkled as he looked at the Hound! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as yellow as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth to keep the Hound from stealing it,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed at the Hound, like a bowlful of jelly!
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself and the fact that the Hound had stolen his hat!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread (I live with a Hound, what more is there to dread).
He spoke not a word—he was speechless--, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk as the Hound poked him in the tush.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose as the Hound chased him!
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, let’s get away from that giant smelly dog
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle after a Hound has sneezed on it.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to the Hound a good-night!"
Friday, December 19, 2008
Entry # 98
Posted by Wimsey at 8:08 PM