Of Dreaming Dogs and Laughing Children

Happy Tate on beach 2

Anyone who has been owned by a dog has experienced this … fast asleep they chirp several times, back legs jerk, sometimes giving out a soft bark, a few more chirps, then become quiet again. We don’t know what they are dreaming about but imagine it’s something like this … “Someone left the gate open and there’s a rabbit on the other side … run, chase, run run run.” … or “After years of waiting underneath the dining room table, someone finally dropped a piece of roast beef on the floor.

The biggest trauma our dogs have faced is being left alone for a few hours, so we’re going to bet their dreams are happy ones.

Our first grandchild lived with us the first four years of his life. It didn’t happen often, but occasionally we would hear him laugh out loud in his sleep. It’s one of those rare moments when you believe all is right with the world. But it’s not just sleeping children that trigger that emotion. Our middle granddaughter can laugh and giggle while tormenting her older brother (the one who laughed in his sleep, probably because he didn’t know at the time, he would have a little sister to aggravate him). Our youngest granddaughter, nine months old, laughs, sometimes I believe she makes herself laugh just for the pure joy of it.

Retired now, we try to walk every day. Our route takes us out of The Four-Acre Wood and onto Waters Lane, a charming and infuriating one lane road. Charming because it’s a one lane country road, infuriating because while driving and meeting someone coming the other way, someone will have to back up or pull off the road. Then our walk takes us around the Windsor School complex, the first leg loops around the buildings for the youngest children.  If we time it right, the kids will be out on the playground; running, screaming, turning cartwheels, throwing a ball to someone, throwing a ball at someone, looking for the highest object to jump from in an attempt to break something, but the pervasive sound is laughter. We can’t speak for the teachers on playground duty, but it makes us smile, enjoying the pure joy, the exuberance, the innocence of being a child at play.

We made the mistake of visiting a “news” site the other day and read of career politicians attempting to draft legislation in bills long enough to make “War and Peace” look like a comic book (and cost a lot more than the first edition of “Superman”). A tome that no one will read or understand before voting on it, in an attempt to solve all of humanities problems, both real and imagined.

We have a simple two-part counter proposal.

Part one: Devote ourselves to creating a world where our pets have happy dreams and our children laugh in their sleep instead of crying out in terror.

Part two: Live your life like someone left the gate open.

Happy New Year, Tim, Susan and Mimsy

And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. (Mark 10:16)

Introducing the Four-Acre Wood and “Shipwreck”

Ah, where to begin? 2020 was an eventful year for all of us, (that alone might win the Captain Obvious prize for the classic understatement.) For Susan and I, it meant; selling our beloved 1890 house of 27 years, moving in with Susan’s 84-year-old mother for 6 months until we figured out that she was more independent than we thought, and discovering that we all needed our own space, then searching for a house of our own a month before I retired. The hunt began. While Susan’s mother was doing okay on her own, she’s not going to get any younger and we didn’t want to move too far away. In a real estate market gone crazy with bidding wars, we came across a house that had been on the market for 3 years. The previous owner had an inflated idea of its worth, and so it sat, and sat, and sat until he gradually dropped the price, year after year until we came along, and after a few offers later the house was ours.

The last two homes we owned were built-in 1890. We are old house people, it’s in our blood (and under our fingernails and probably in our lungs) but there aren’t many historic homes in Jefferson County, Missouri, but this house checked off a few boxes. Though only 20 years old, the plans were from North Carolina architect William Poole whose designs are rooted in tradition and southern heritage. The brickwork came from salvaged 100+ year old home demolitions in St. Louis. The full-width front porch mirrored our last two houses, pulled on some heartstrings, and was a major selling point.

Anyone who has purchased a house knows that acquiring homeowners insurance is part of the deal. We submitted bids to several different companies. The little subdivision we are in (a whopping nine houses) is called “Shipwatch,” based on the fact that most houses including ours have views of the Mississippi River. I may have mumbled, or the insurance agent on the other end misunderstood me, but the quote came back with a price to insure “Shipwreck” and the name stuck.

So welcome to Shipwreck!

Shipwreck sits on four acres which is about 3.5 acres more than we wanted, fortunately, most of it is wooded, hence the name for this blog, The Four-Acre Wood, (with a nod to Winnie the Pooh).

As mentioned in the “About Us” page … we invite you to join us on this journey, this chapter turning of; retirement, remodeling, resale shops, cooking, gardening, decorating, family, fashion, dogs (see I didn’t forget about Mimsy), and life musings … not because we have any great wisdom or expertise in any of those areas, but because life is best shared. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it has taught us that we are not designed to live in solitude.

Tim, Susan, and Mimsy