The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dog Heaven

Dog Heaven
        There is a picture book by Cynthia Rylant called Dog Heaven. It outlines what heaven is like for our canine friends. Of course, fields to run in and treats to eat and's all in abundance in dog heaven...

        Annie was a heavenly dog. She never had an accident in the house. She never chewed up anything. She never begged for table scraps. She was here on earth just to love and be loved...

         She was high maintainence, however. Chronic ear infections had forced her original family to give her up when Annie was 8. A couple of deep ear cleanings---after many ear infections and vet visits---resulted in expensive ear drops and a life of yeast-free food. No pizza crusts. No store-bought dog biscuits. Her treat every night at 8:00 was half of a raw carrot. (And she knew exactly when 8:00 struck, although she'd start pleading her case around 7; it just got quite frantic the closer it got to treat time.)

         Soft, silky puppy fur, even when she was a 14-year old senior. Ears that were mostly deaf due to years of ear infections. Eyes that were cloudy and mostly-blind from cataracts, but she could still see people across the street, and then she leaped into action. A loud, deep bark that made her sound like she was a much bigger dog---paired with her front legs rising off the ground repeatedly in her earnestness--caused the neighbor kids to recoil and call her "a monster." Little did they know that she was literally all bark and no bite. Once you came into the house, you would get a paw---she loved to shake---or a rear end bumping into you (so you could be prodded into scratching her butt) or she'd shove her head under your dangling hand, as if to say, 'Pet me!  And since you have two hands, you can pet me in two different places!'

         Annie only failed in two ways in the six years we had her. One, she refused to chase a ball. We could never entice her to "retrieve."  We had to adopt Foley to get a dog that was obsessed with playing ball.

         And her final failure...She didn't go on her own. She needed a nudge. But that was just like her---always wanting to be around her people...

            Annie...I know you're chasing rabbits and squirrels through a green, grassy field right now and tonight at 8, you'll get as many carrots as you can eat!



Friday, May 27, 2011

Helping Out Joplin

         This is a lousy photo of a tree in Ferguson, Missouri, damaged by the tornado that struck St. Louis on Good Friday (also Earth Day). No lives were lost...

           Donna Volkenannt, on her blog, posted a heartwarming story about how her family helped out the tornado victims in Joplin. It was a one-day collection; I asked if she would let us know if she found out about other opportunities for those who want to make donations.

            Are my fingers broken?  Am I the Queen of Sheba?  Is Donna my lackey? 

             I think not...

            I quickly found that some of the St. Louis malls are collecting donations (for kids) until early next week.  Here is the link.

            For those who find other places, please feel free to add it as a comment. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Annie's Last Legs

           This was Annie in 2005. She was eight then. Having spent her whole life with a family, they finally surrendered: Annie had chronic ear infections, and they could no longer afford to keep her.

            When Love a Golden Rescue brought her with them when they did the home visit, they were sure Annie would not be a good fit in our house. After all, we had two cats and Annie was living on a (foster) farm, and relished chasing the barn cats.

            But when one of our cats sidled out during the visit, they didn't run, so Annie had no reason to chase. And since she had earlier won our hearts by rolling on her back begging for a bellyrub when we saw her at Petco, we adopted her.

            Annie has never been the typical dog. If you throw a ball, she stares at you with an expression that says, 'I'm sure you want that ball there for a reason, since you were the one who threw it.'  She is not a typical Golden, as she barks (most don't) and doesn't like other dogs (most do).  When it's breakfast or dinner time, you have to say several time, "Eat, Annie...Go on, eat!" before she will delicately begin consuming her food.

            Now Annie is 14. She has lost interest in most food (in the past week) and now, all food. She won't get up and go outside, and yet she has no accidents, either. 

            On Saturday morning we have an appointment with our vet. We waited too long with our last dog, which meant her end was most likely painful. We don't want to make the same mistake with Annie...  



Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Upping My Insurance

         Yesterday I heard on the radio about various famous people who had insured their talents/body parts for millions of dollars.

  • David Beckham---his legs (that makes sense--if his legs go kaput, he won't be very useful on the soccer field)
  • Tom Jones---his chest hair (Good grief!)
  • Bruce Springsteen--his voice (logical)
  • Mariah Carey--her legs (what?  I guess I will have to really assess her legs the next time I see her on television)
         After this news lightning bolt struck me, I contacted Lloyds of London, and I too am now protected with some extra insurance. After all, I want to be able to continue on---in the style I am accustomed to---if something horrible happens. Check it out...And let this be a warning to you, as you probably need to get scads of extra insurance to protect your lifestyle!

My roots--Yes, if something catastrophic happens to the roots in my hair---say, if they become the same color as the rest of my hair---I don't even warrant a mention. The public has gotten accustomed to part of my hair (the part) being the color of rat fur, and the rest being magenta or tomato-red or Corky-the-Clown orange. How else will they recognize me?

photo by milkmaid1979

My leg hair--Yes, if something caused the stubble on my legs to vanish, all color would be gone from my legs, and I'd be left with blindingly-white legs. People would have to wear sunglasses when I put on capris or---heaven help us, shorts---to save their vision. The sprinkling of gray hairs cuts down on the glare a bit. It's a public service...People have come to depend on it.

photo by ameros

My poochy belly-droopy chest combo---Because my protruding gut meets my succumbing-to-gravity chest, I have a clipboard made of flesh at my disposal.  I open up a teacher's guide book  and place it onto my belly, lower the shelf of a chest onto the book, and the book is held in place, allowing me to walk around and use both hands as I refer to the book.

         I know there are other valuable parts that need to be insured. But Lloyds of London spent so much time laughing (I think they were laughing because I was stupid enough to tempt fate this many decades without insurance) and then charged me so much, I will have to save up if I'm going to protect more of me...    

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Poessay--Lots More Fun Than a Sonnet and Loads More Fun Than a Trimetran

          Essay + poem = poessay. You can rant or preach, but not for long. Remember, it's a poem, and in poems, every word and every white space is deliberated on.

photo by sue.h

      John Pereira (the writer who invented this form), Simon Potter and Wayne K. Johnson said of poessay:

    "What is a 'poessay'? On one hand, it is poetry to be appreciated for its sounds, rhythm, dramatic impact and imagery. On the other, it contains a flowing message, an insightful opinion, or a rhetorical argument that is usually expressed in linear prose."

     Here is a link to page of poessays. Peruse. Ponder. And try writing one. If you spend an hour or two and create one, and then would like to spend the next 13 years of your life tearing your hair out trying (and failing) to use a different form, check out Fireblossom's post.

     Here are two poessays written by Scott Blackwell when he was in 7th grade. He might cringe, seeing work from such an earlier phase of his, but looking back on past work is crucial to our growth as a writer. Keep a "map" of the crap (or what you perceive as crappy writing). It helps to chronicle your journey as you look for the buried "treasures" as a writer.



but the
real thing.

all in

how you
look at





at them
for their

"The Fencers"
painting by Milton Avery (1898-1965) 
photo by RasMarley 




at the

but what
if the

a book

a poem

do they

or do


Monday, May 23, 2011

Prioritizing Emergencies

         "Peter!  Come quick!  This emergency trumps the kitchen sink!"

         That's what I yelled, in the hopes that my sister's beau would respond. Fast.

         I spent the night at her house, and we were heading off to lunch and then a bike ride. 

(Abigail's in Rocheport---delicious, unusual combinations and quite reasonably priced.  It's a family-run restaurant--Abigail is their teen-aged daughter--and is very small. If you want a spot on Sunday afternoon, get there right at 11 when they open. I hear getting dinner there means you made reservations a week or two in advance.  They always get fresh stuff from the farmers' market, so the menu varies from day to day. Yesterday I had a brie, apple and pecan quesadilla--delicious!)

        Chomp. Chomp. Swallow.  Sorry...back to the story.

        Peter was attempting to fix a clogged-up drain. My sister Nancy had been dealing with it on Saturday afternoon. Chemical gunk that was guaranteed to work failed. Peter was called into action, and he brought with him a snake.

        As he was working with the snake, pleading with it to slither down the length of the pipe, I stayed out of the way. No one who is elbow deep in grease and acid is eager for an audience. 

        As I was lurking in the spare bedroom, I heard a bird. Clearly. Loudly. And clearly, this bird was not outside.

            I ran into the hall and there was Lilly (Nancy's cat) and a bird. Proud (Lilly) and in shock (the unnamed bird).

photo by bluemoonart

        I picked up Lilly and Peter grabbed the bird. After spending a few minutes in the bird bath, it got its bearings and flew off. Lilly's ending was not as happy. I picked up and discarded the few tiny downy feathers that were still in the hall (I did not want the cat to have those as a memento; it might have reinforced her thrill with the near-kill) and had to wipe a couple off of her chin.

      I am sure she was upset.  'Hey, I did something exciting, and you  blew it for me! What the heck?' She had been so close to something so desirable and then it was inexplicably yanked away from her.  And after all, she was doing what she was born to do...

     But later on that afternoon, when we returned from our bike ride, there was Lilly, hiding under a newly-planted spruce tree. She was scanning the yard for her next prey.

     As writers (here it is, Hope) we might think we are so close to snaring something fantastic. A magazine's acceptance.  An anthology saying "yes." A publisher sending a contract to sign. 

     But if they are wrenched out of our grasp, we can't give up. We can only keep alive the glint in our eyes, and keep stalking...Stalking with our submissions in hand...