Category Archives: dog love

Spring temps at last

The clouds slid slowly to the west. Blackbirds darted from treetop to treetop while fat jays swooped down onto sodden, yellow lawns. I wore gloves but it was in the 40’s. Finally! We passed the husky — Sasha? — who stares (and then stares some more). Finn did just fine. “See the doggie?” Treat. Treat. “See the doggie?” Treat. Move on.

I listened with one earbud to a Pod Save America episode entitled “Peak Stupid.” You can guess what it was about. I might be all out of outrage for the moment.

Once home, I lifted myself out of the chair to check caller ID. The ACLU again — for what? — the fiftieth time in a month? Instead of annoyance, there was a twinge of recognition that it will never again be my sister calling. My intrusive, demanding, unreasonable sister.

Maybe it’s time, at last, to ditch the landline. Do any of you still have one?

Today, a charity comes to Saint Peter Street in Salem to look at my sister’s furniture. I hope they take a piece or two.

Now, at least, I am waking at my more usual time of 6:30. Since March 13, I’ve been waking at the approximate time of my sister’s death: 5:30. Lying awake in the dark.

Is she “gone”? How does one gauge these things? There hasn’t really been a moment when I felt her spirit near or when I felt a notably fresh absence.

Does that make me dense, somehow ill equipped to feel these things? Or should I take my sister at her word?

Not that long ago, I might have jokingly asserted that I hoped she wasn’t going to be a pain in the ass from the other side. She retorted, “Shit! I’ll have better things to do than haunt you!”

She could be funny. So could I.

Friday before the snow

My sister is cheered. The hospital turkey burger was delicious. They’ve dropped talk of rehab. Maybe a Monday release?

I’m relieved too. The earlier call had been spiked with overheard hostility. Taking on the entire staff, she was, refusing PT, objecting to turkey with no mayo.

I boarded the cat yesterday after a full morning of cleaning my sister’s apartment. Maddy the Tuxedo is in the very building where we adopted Jack all those years ago, poor little ballsy Jack whose first act as a family member was to piss all over my elder son’s ankle. At the time it seemed a bit of an outrage. Now I wonder if he wasn’t marking C as his own.

Dog people — what do you make of that?

A pewter sky portends snow. They’re saying some amount, then freezing rain. I’m wishing I’d wrapped our arbor vitae. Maybe tomorrow? I could use yards and yards of fabric from my stash, making the precaution double as a ‘fabric installation’. Then again, I might do nothing.

Meanwhile, I have friends to thank for getting through what at times feels like an ordeal. Thank you.

In closing let me say, I think I finally believe the twitter prognosticators who say the shoe is about to drop. What an avalanche of bad news for the poor fucking fool at the top!

Teeny preview and garbage pick up

Re: Etsy

I’m swearing that this time I’ll be organized. It used to be when something sold I’d panic because half the time I had no idea where the object got off to. Can you imagine?

In this house, with windows everywhere and decorated walls, taking professional-looking product shots is challenging. Not this time! I’m going to dedicate one of the boys’ rooms to photography. Whee! Lights and props out (and left out) is a prescription for ease.

I have a notebook ready for pen and paper notes. No more languishing listings! But more to the point of a well-groomed shop, everything’s gonna be done on my phone. That’s how I know it’s gonna be different. A whole new level of access and attention!

(As readers here might know, I have an inexplicable aversion to sitting at the desktop).

Hospital update: it looks like N might be staying through the weekend. Longer than I expected. While her new subsidized housing is great, with the move she lost the neighbors who used to check in on her cat. Damn!

The nurses and doctors are taking good care of my sister. That’s something to be grateful for.

Lastly, walking Finn an hour ago this happened: a big green monster of a garbage truck barreled past on its hungry quest for abandoned Christmas trees. Usually these trucks leave a malodorous trail. Imagine my delight to smell balsam instead — great heady wafts of it lasting the entire block.

AND, just as that pleasant sensation unfolded at street level, a red tailed hawk flew directly overhead, close — just above the power lines.

How about that?

Accidental design

I love it when the board speaks to me – the humble pin board meant to showcase the real design. Here, the stripes of white on either side as well as the bit of white above the highest roof now seem essential. Even the vertical books below intrigue me.

Hmmm.

It is very hot here again. After a game of fetch, Finn kept panting and panting, so I draped one cold towel after another around his neck — a trick I learned from my mailman during that recent extreme heat. I knew Finn liked it when he followed me and waited patiently near the sink. He continued to pant hard, so I coaxed him into an empty tub and ran cold water, splashing and rinsing him. That seems to’ve worked. I know he needed it because he hates the bathtub. Not today — hopped right in!

Stay cool!

Joy and Good Things

Friday’s First Joy: Wading with my guys at the lake. (Later, K and I will return sans Dog and take a dip and that’ll be another Joy) (autocorrect caps ‘Joy’ and ‘Dog’ on my phone – don’t you love that?)

While standing there in summer’s blue palm, another Joy arose — what else? — a vision of food.

Vichyssoise! Wouldn’t that be nice? I’ll make it with cream! (The sugar purge has begun and in honor of what works for me, some high fat allowances will be made).

This dish will also celebrate Anthony Bourdain. Maybe we’ll even watch his final episode while we enjoy it — then again, maybe we won’t. Another anodyne episode of “Anne with an E” (– a recent remake of Anne of Green Gables on Netflix) might suit the day better.

Soup recipe here.

Eight leeks is A LOT of leeks. Recipe calls for “whites only” and I wonder if I have included too much of the transitional green? — I’ll let you know.

Another Joy: a run to Whole Foods for ingredients (it’s the grocer closest to the lake). This always constitutes an exercise in both abundance and privilege. Look at those artichokes! The beautiful shallots!

Arriving home, yet another Joy: perennials. Rising up in the garden — a seemingly effortless miracle of return. Color and profusion. Soon there will be morning glories, too.

A surprising addition to this list: all the witty and astute and funny people on twitter. For example, George Takei. This morning I learned he has made a Cat-Trump app that’ll let you make videos. I think I better not get it.

Or, The Hoarse Whisperer.

“Tell me one good thing” is a weekly feature of his (hers?). After days of pithy and unavoidably depressing political commentary, the #OneGoodThing hashtag takes over. Hundreds of people respond and I often take the time to read dozens of them.

So, like him I’m asking my readers to tell me one good thing that happened this week. We all need this.

I’ll start: my sister’s new care arrangement will allow the aide to drive her around. This is terrific news!

The River Lethe and Mercy

Lately, I’ve had an overwhelming and sometimes irresistible need to sleep — I’m calling it, “the Helsinki Reaction”.

Imagine my shock upon turning over in bed Sunday morning to see that it was 10:30. 10:30! And WITH A NEW YORK TIMES CROSSWORD PUZZLE on the stoop, no less. That was one thing, but then to polish off the puzzle WHILE DRINKING A CUP OF COFFEE and subsequently lie down and sleep some more?

(K. has the excuse of jet lag. I don’t).

Yesterday driving home from Salem in stop and start traffic with a hot summer sun blasting through the windshield, sleep arose as a weird and disturbing possibility. Oh, to close the eyes for just a second! Just a second. This, even with the AC going full tilt. This, even while listening to Pod Save America — a news podcast that I find addictively funny and informative. It’s not normal, this need for sleep.

Aside #1: Jon Favreau is my pod crush, what with that big, big brain of his and the charming space between his front teeth. A fellow fan warms to Tommy Vietor and though I’m less inclined toward blondes, I get it: all those clean cut good looks in a neat preppy package.

(I made it home and don’t worry I wasn’t really gonna fall asleep while driving).

I’ve ticked through the list: am I coming down with something? (no); is it the Sun traveling though my Twelfth House, triggering the Underworld corner of my Grand Cross (perhaps, but this is an annual event and one I often find energizing); could it be my thyroid? (alas, no– recently checked — which is too bad because it’d also account for a recent 15 lb weight gain); could it be the collision of the dew point and scorching temps? (well, maybe? but I’m mostly inside with AC). Wait, did you say ‘collision’? That’s getting close to the nub of it, I think.

When I turn to the Tarot, “Logic” comes up. Three times. Anyone who has a relationship with a deck knows this means: PAY ATTENTION. But Logic? Logic as answer to the question, what do I need, what can I lean on now for succor and strength?

I no longer view logic as mere sturdy upholder of truth and argument, but rather as a potent gateway to mercy and justice. I can thank former NAACP President and CEO, Cornell William Brooks, for that insight.

Aside #2: At the inception of the BLM movement, or to be more precise, at the time All Lives Matter rose up as a stupid and reactionary hashtag, Cornell Brooks made this elegant argument: If All Lives Matter, then perforce, Black Lives Matter (which is to say, if you believe that all lives matter, you should have absolutely zero problem with the assertion that black lives matter).  Conversely, if Black Lives DON’T Matter, then it cannot be true that All Lives Matter (so if you’re siding with “blue lives” at the expense of black lives, you don’t really believe that all lives matter). In the realm of illogic serving up racial animus, it also bears saying that believing in racial equity does not automatically make you anti-police. (I unfriended someone over that asinine argument).

Is this logic in service of Mercy or Justice?

Aside #3: A recent sharp edit by storyteller extraordinaire and generous beta reader, Deb Lacativa, brought this very question into focus. How are Mercy and Justice different? When are they the same?

To those who’d say, take up the arms of resistance to beat back your stupor, I say, not right this second. Did I mention: I want to go to sleep?

When I input my zip code into Swing Left’s ‘get involved’ page on Monday and New Hampshire came up, I thought, “NO! NO! Not going there again.” Getting high school students down the street registered sounds more like my speed especially because I don’t think my day of canvassing in the fall of 2016 made any difference at all, unless you count settling my conscience (which is not nothing and there’s no reason to assume that 2018 would be the same as 2016, but still… ) Post cards. I’ll write post cards. But only if someone hands me a list.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday’s Indivisible phone call, I listened to others’ laudable efforts — one networking with folks from Free Speech for People (drivers of #impeachdonaldtrumpnow on the basis of the emoluments clauses), another collaborating with Quakers on international measures protecting justice, and a third taking part in a celebration with a faith community that has housed and nurtured a family in sanctuary for a full year. This comparison is only to highlight how fucking tired I feel and not to otherwise feel bad about myself.

Okay, so could it be the dog? (Now you can tell me that I’m being ridiculous). But how restrictive a presence he is — making a trip to the beach difficult, causing a visit to my ailing father-in-law to require more planning than I have the wherewithal for right now, making even a trip to Macy’s in Framingham feel like it’s pushing it at times, for Christ’s sake. That I spend my dog-free hours on trips to Salem is just another indignity of that situation and puhleeze don’t get me going on that (yesterday was a difficult one).

Aside #4: It’s a wonder that a creature who imposes such regular restriction also offers salvation, for there I go, twice a day, out into the neighborhood, always the better for it. And later, there he is, modeling sleeping and relaxing as a Correct Way of Being. And, every time I stand at the cutting board, there are his liquid eyes, such attention affirming that we are connected, that he notices what I’m doing, and that he’s learned how to get stuff from me, all incredibly reassuring somehow, even as I’m also lambasting myself (just a little) for making a food beggar out of him.

So, it has to be the news. Of course, it’s the news. Even for this prolonged and shocking shit storm, the Helsinki Summit came as a drastic and soul-wrecking event.

Part II of this Lament: tomorrow. It’s all of a piece but this post is already too long. I promise it won’t just be about politics. Look for words about coyotes, unintended consequences, and how we construct narratives.

A screen grab from almost a year ago

PS The River Lethe is one of five rivers in Hades. Ten seconds of research produced this relevant passage:

“those who drink from it experience complete forgetfulness. Lethe is also the name of the Greek spirit of forgetfulness and oblivion.”

(picture above by Thomas Benjamin Kennington)