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At Home and in Paris

Updated: Aug 20, 2023

I Must Make Another Confession...

Although I hadn’t planned to work on a new blog post right now, in part due to my cataract surgery (yes, in both eyes), and the unexpected re-arrangment of of our summer travel plans due to the unexpected heatwave in Switzerland (you will be surprised to know where we found a place to chill out for our Summer away from Paris), I checked in on social media for a few minutes, not wanting to appear neglectful to my dear friends and family or to miss some of my favorites. After peeking at Instagram, I realized that for me, one of the brightest spots in even the darkest of days might be just catching a glimpse of the latest photograph posted by my ‘new love’. Over time I realized that he lived somewhere in the countryside of Germany. But, where precisely he resided remained a mystery to me until he posted a TikTok that gave away his location, not too far from Berlin. I do know

that he’s much, much too young for me. But when I look into his eyes looking back at me, as he peers into the camera lens, I feel the kind of breathless infatuation that I haven’t felt since I was in my youth, a very long time ago. No, it’s not that I’m no longer crazy about my husband of 40 years. Of course, Ted is still and always will be the flame that warms my heart and the love of my life, at least my life as a human being!

But my new heartthrob is different. I do know that he has a name, although I only know him as Helmut19919. Recently I’ve dared make written contact with him by way of a comment on his stunning physique, his perfect conformation. An encouraging emoji 🤗 came in return and provoked me to ask, “Do you have a twin brother?” The response came sometime later in the form of a new image: Helmut19919 alongside his reflection in a mirror, or perhaps it was playing off a pane of glass. Either one, the portrait conveyed the painful truth: there is only one Helmut19919 in this world.

Although, it leaves me heartbroken, I also have to face the reality that I am way too old to meet the needs of one as active and energetic as Helmut19919.

With his disposition, he is surely at his most gleeful when running, jumping, and playing rough.

And yet, he is such a romantic; Each new snapshot teases and seems to speak to me from afar.

He often posts mug shots in which he is enveloped in flowers of all colors. Does he know how much I love flowers? Sometimes he seems to stop in the middle of his adventures in the fields or in what appears to be a forest or woods, tossing me a seductive glance as if to invite me to play, even if only in my imagination. At times I can gaze at him

in one of his more contemplative moods. In one pic, he seemed to be expressing his curiosity

about my frequent comments and questions and my instant reactions in emojis with eyes full of love in the shape of red hearts raining down over his images 😍. By now, it must be obvious to all of you readers that Helmut19919 is an Australian Shepherd dog. In the early 70s of the last century, we had the honor to have the fifteen-year-long companionship of a beautiful female Aussie named Delilah (DeeDee for short).

She too was a gorgeous black tri-color, but unlike Helmut19919, she was born with a naturally docked tail that resulted in her whole body wagging when she’d run up to greet people (this is known as a wiggle-butt). The photograph on the right is old and snapped without the benefit of current iPhone technology in her old age . Sadly, it was the only one I could find, but it gives you an idea of her stature. Her Sire lived in Oregon and her Mother was the pride of our large animal veterinarian, Dr. Robert Miller, who lived near my farm in Thousand Oaks, California. Dr. Miller’s Molly was a blue merle Aussie and quite petite. However, DeeDee’s father was the spitting image of Helmut19919, and DeeDee took after him.

My other non-human true love -- by now well known to my readers and others -- is very tolerant of this canine romance I’ve been having with Helmut. Mickey is secure in the knowledge that, with his perfectly symmetrical silver and charcoal grey stripes, and his bright Granny Smith apple-green eyes, he is the real light of my life. The feel of his silky fur and the sound of his soothing purr isn’t fantasy and needs no imagination to appreciate. He is always ever-present in our home. Mickey is truly French, born in Normandy and rescued as a kitten in a park where some inhuman-being had abandoned him and his sister in a cardboard box, all on their own at a very tender age you could count in weeks.

Ted and I were lucky to have found Mickey through his foster parent who was not concerned as were others of the more orthodox variety working with animal protection organizations, and who had turned us down because of our age; “Seventy is way too old to adopt a kitten,” they insisted. It was suggested that we adopt an elderly cat. Didn’t we know that cats can live twenty years or more? Who would care for our pet if we were confined to a nursing home? But in spite of those

discouraging words, we persevered until we saw a photo of Mickey and spoke with Joanna, an adoption representative here in Paris, who worked in tandem with a foster parent in Normandy. Since she had found a home for a kitten that was being brought to Paris on the train from Normandy to St. Lazarre Station, very close to our home, and Joanna's workplace, it was agreed that Mickey would be brought to Paris as well. At only six months of age, he was adorable, if shy, and not quite socialized. But Joanna agreed that we could keep him for several days to make up our minds without pressure. It didn’t take long to create a promising connection with Mickey and we decided to sign the adoption papers. Mickey has been ours since December of 2019. He is now a robust four-year-old tiger, and has quite a fan club of his own on social media. He’s also a helpful critic of my books, and his quiet somnolent presence and frisky antics all throughout the Covid pandemic kept our spirits up.

What do people do without some four-legged creature in their lives?

As post script to my last story of the virtual dog in my life, recently Helmut’s family brought a new

puppy into their home. And now, at six months of age, he is showing some definitive signs of becoming a gorgeous movie idol in his own right.

His name is Eckart, Ecki for short. He is a blue Merle Aussie with the most distinctive markings. At first, I wasn't sure if he would ever live up to his older family member. And I was also

concerned that the two of them being male would not get along so well. But little by little, not only did Ecki become more and more handsome as he fleshed out and his fur went from a scrawny

baby coat to a big fluffy growing up adolescent coat, which promises to be spectacular when he's fully grown in another year and a half. Following along with the many stories that the “Mistress” writes, in her spare time between being an amateur animal photographer and a psychotherapist who works with a therapy dog, Helmut, I have often reached out and was surprised to receive responses to my comments and questions, and my responses to questions put to readers enjoying the

fabulous photographic history of these two as they grow. It is clear that these two canine

‘Mencshen’ are brothers from another mother (and perhaps another father as well) and they are beautifully bonded with each other.

Well, That’s all for now. I’ll write all about our Summer journey when I return. All I can say now is that I feel like I’m living in a technicolor world now that the Cataracts have been removed from my eyes and I can see at a great distance without glasses and only need a slight boost from magnifying glasses to be able to read and to write to you about all of the history I will learn on this coming journey.

You have a wonderful summer too, a bientôt!

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