Patty and I went hunting this morning.

First of all we got a late start because I needed to run Bethany over to the airport.  Then we got stuck in a bunch of Bay Area morning commute traffic because I made a couple of bad route choices.  Then I guilt-ed myself into skipping my usual stop at the doughnut shop.

When we finally got to Hastings Island Hunting Preserve, Patty had a burr under his saddle.  He was hunting for himself instead of for the team.  He was ranging much further than I wanted him too and eventually he bumped a bird way out in front.  I wasn’t happy.

We battled a bit over who was really in charge.  When we finally got in sync he pointed a bird that had been hunkered down right next to where we’d been talking.  I missed the easy shot.

Patty and I disagreed about who was in charge.

Then my phone rang, I was needed back in town and we hadn’t bagged a single bird.  A long sad walk back to the truck preceded a longer and sadder drive back to the East Bay.  My first stop was at the bank to wire some funds.  I didn’t have the right information.  Back in the truck I started making calls and sending messages to clear up the problem.  Then, back into the bank to retry, provide yet another form of ID, etc., etc., etc.

Another phone call and another couple of errands required.  The day was completely slipping away.

Stop in at Jiffy-Lube.  They’d failed to put a washer onto the drain plug yesterday and this morning there was a big ugly stain on my driveway.  It was a quick fix and no charge of course but just another chore to check off the list.

One of my to-do’s was to pick-up something from my mother-in-law at the memory ward where she lives.  Then I needed to drop it off at another stop on the way home.

Of course I couldn’t just slip in and out, I needed to say hello too.  Joan and I started talking and it seemed that she was having a pretty good day.  One of the ways that she copes with her memory loss is to ask other people about their lives.  She may not have a good grasp of her own life but she remembers that golden rule of conversation, show interest in the other person’s interests.

One of my tactics for making Joan smile and to pass the time with her is to scroll through pictures on my phone.  She loves the great-grandchildren of course but, needless to say, there are more than a few pictures of Patty in there too and soon Joan was asking me about how our hunting morning had been.

How indeed?  I had a few complaints in mind but really, how bad had it been?  We DID get to go hunting.  The day was beautiful, the air cleared of all the smoke that had been hanging low from the North Bay fires.  There were geese flying in V’s high overhead mirrored by the V-shaped wakes that the grebes left in the still water of the big canals.  There were egrets and herons on the levies and the ever present hawks and harriers soaring and swooping and watching it all.  We even saw a few pheasants fly.

How could I even begin to complain?  Instead I told her that we’d had a pretty good day, even if we didn’t have any birds in the vest.  I mentioned that Patty was outside in the truck and told her he’d love to come in to see her.

A few minutes later, with permission from the staff of course, Patty was promoted to therapy dog.  Joan (and a friend who rolled by) got to say hello.  In the memory ward, they’re really living in the moment and in that moment, Patty managed to put a smile on both of their faces.

And that makes for a really good day.

Patty, therapy dog, with Joan and friend.

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