28 March 2008


Do you ever let your imagination get the best of you?

It just happened to me.

My "office" is a construction trailer parked between the math building and the gym at a high schoool. We use the faculty restrooms in the admin building, a short walk away.

This week is spring break for the kids so they are not around.

There have only been a couple of ladies working in the principal's office all week.

In effect, the place is deserted.

I was just in there.

The light was out when I opened the swinging door.

That light has never been turned out before.

This spooks me.

My imagination takes off.

Somebody is in the next stall.

(I check for feet underneath.)

Somebody is looking over the top at me.

(I look up.)

Somebody is going to shoot me through the stall wall.

(Too much Terminator. I lean back.)

I imagine someone lurking.

(Somebody is hiding their head and feet.)

I hurry up.

(Somebody is going to jump out at me.)

I am making myself really frightened.

My heart is really racing.

I wash my hands and make tracks out of there.

I didn't turn off the light when I left.

If it's out when I go back, I'm not going in.

26 March 2008

STAY Confused

I am trying to teach Sonny "STAY". First attempts have been met with some success.

The first time we attempted to teach and learn, we were in the doggie room where his kennel is and I have a dish full of his after school snack (his supper) and I want him to STAY. But if I want him to STAY, then Dolly must STAY also. I put the food down on his mat and hold my flat hand out, I command STAY. He tries to sneak over and Dolly tries to sneak over, but I insist, STAY. Dolly plunks her butt down and stays, looking like, man, I already know this part, why do I have to do it? But Sonny scurries back to his kennel ears down, wondering if he has done something wrong, to him my strong command voice sounds to him like he is in trouble. Several times he tries to get to his food but on my command STAY he heads back to the safety of his den, his kennel. and he STAYS.

I think, well, STAY in the kennel is STAY, that works, so I continue to hold my flat hand out repeating the command, and they both continue to STAY. I count 1-2-3.... to 10, and then with fanfare wave them to their dishes. Praise, Good dogs, good job, good sit, good STAY.

We do this several days in a row at snack time, and he is doing STAY very well, he will go to his kennel and STAY. I will count his time on STAY and he will not move until I say, Come and Get It! Food, the ultimate reward.

Then yesterday, we are in the long hallway at my house and I decide to practice STAY. Sit Sonny, STAY, Dolly hears us and comes to join us. They both sit, but only one stays. Sonny wants to STAY, but STAY, for him, means STAY in his kennel. He will sit right away but repeatedly darts away to head to his kennel to STAY. He is confused but Dolly is not. She STAYS and she STAYS, and she is so proud of herself. Learn THAT young dog, is what she must be thinking.

We have work to do, Sonny and I. Dolly will help.

22 March 2008


My angel Michiko and her husband Jim, lost their dog this morning, 14 year old Mika, so frail, so sweet. This is for you.

To Those I Love

If I should ever leave you,
Whom I love
To go along the silent way. . .
Grieve not.
Nor speak of me with tears.
But laugh and talk of me
As if I were beside you there.

(I'd come. . .I'd come,
Could I but find a way!
But would not tears and
And grief be barriers?)

And when you hear a song
Or see a bird I loved,
Please do not let the thought of me
Be sad. . .for I am loving you
Just as I always have. . .

You were so good to me!
There are so many thingsI wanted still to do. . .
So many things I wanted to say to you. . .
Remember thatI did not fear. . .
It was
Just leaving you
That was so hard to face.

We cannot see beyond. . .
But this I know:
I loved you so. . .'twas heaven here with you!

by Isla Paschal Richardson.

Brave Dog

Rich and I are dog lovers. Rich has had a number of dogs over the years, I can't really name them all. Since I have known him he has had a dog named Maci.

Maci, the 65 pound black lab mixed breed, became blind several years ago. Her eyesight began to fade gradually, it took about 2 years, until she became completely blind. Whatever caused her blindness made her eyes start to lighten and eventually her eyeballs became white. It freaked out the little kids when they saw her, and the kids would always say in a scaredy voice, What's wrong with her eyes? We answered them saying simply, she's blind, she can't see. Then, to the kids, she became not scary, but, aw, poor doggie.

Maci was not bothered by her blindness. It came on so gradually, she accustomed herself to the blindness as gradually as it happened to her. She would still retrieve the newspaper, since it was always in about the same spot on the driveway at home. It just took a little extra sniffing to find it. Bringing the paper in, in the morning, was the most important job and duty in life for our dogs Dolly and Maci, and they shared the responsibility. The mornings when they woke up together, at paper fetching time, they would both run boldly in a race to get there first to where the paper would be. Sometimes, if they were at my house, Maci would get disoriented and wander off course, or she would have to take a detour around a car in the driveway. Listening for her beacon, Dolly, Maci would remain in hot pursuit of that gold ring, the newspaper. These times, Dolly would run out and pounce on the paper so that Maci could hear where it was, and maybe or maybe not Dolly might walk away from it and let Maci bring it in. If Dolly would not hand it over, be aware that Macie seldom would take no for an answer and would valiantly wrestle it away from Dolly. Maci could pick up the heaviest and thickest of Sunday newspapers, no paper would ever be too much of a burden for her.

Maci would still play ball, the sound of it rolling or bouncing on the floor, or a tapping of your toe behind it, was all she needed to locate it. Maci was brave, running full speed alongside Dolly, flank to flank, in the game of catch trying to get to the ball first, or to get it away from Dolly. Blindness never, ever, changed the joy she found in the game.

Maci, the kind of dog that if you pet her for even a few seconds, will put one foot up on your lap, pet pet, the other foot comes up, pet pet, a hind leg up on the chair, pet pet, the other hind leg hitching up, so that within not even minutes this dog would be blissfully sitting on your lap, tail wagging, head back, tongue lagging, in rapture.

Maci loved bunny chasing, and I think that is the only thing she couldn't do after the blindness set in.

Maci adapted. Maci loved her people. Maci played. Maci enjoyed her life. Maci was brave, blindness didn't change anything about her. Maci was happy and healthy for many years, robust and always hungry. Maci was never aw, poor doggie.

Maci changed this past week.

Maci died peacefully at home yesterday, on the first full day of Spring, March 21, 2008.

21 March 2008

Mars -vs- Venus

We were out with some friends last night, at Sybergs, drinking beers and looking up the definition of some dirty words on Rich's iphone, I know, how mature, but it was really a quite funny conversation we had going. Soon, that was all the fun we could handle, and it was time to go in search of a place to eat dinner. He asked me, where would you like to go?

I said, I want to go to that corner place for dinner, you know the one, I said to him, it's at the end, on the corner, in that new shopping strip by your house.

To which he responds, Do you want to go to Tuckers for a steak?

I say, no I want to go to that corner place for dinner.

A pause. A sip of brew. Says he, do you want to go to someplace closer on the way home for you, like in Webster Groves?

No, thanks dear, I want to go to that place on the corner. It's right on the street by your house that leads to the highway and you have had enough beer, you shouldn't drive so much.

So we head for the corner place I want to go to, and drive around looking for a spot to park. There are no parking spaces close. We drive across the parking lot looking for the next closest place to park (he is following me in his car). I see this other place across the parking lot, where there are plenty of parking places close by, and it looks open. I drive past to check it out , but upon inspection I think, no, I want to go to that place around the corner. I drive back over towards the place where I want to go, and get a parking spot that is not real close, but the walk is not far, to that place at the corner where I want to go.

I see he is not pulling in next to me but is parked back there by the rejected place, and he calls me from that parking spot.

He says to me, this place looks nice, let’s go here.

I say, no I want to go to that place around the corner.

But this place looks nice, says he.

Exasperated, out of exhaustion, I finally say, fine, lets go.

When we walk into this place where I don't want to go, it is nice and new and pretty but it feels like a lunch place, not a dinner place, and I am frustrated, because this is not where I want to go.

Saying nothing, we read the menu. (It is upscale fast food, order at counter, pay at the counter, wait for it to be brought to your table by kitchen staff.) We order our food, it is Italian and I don't want Italian, either. I order a small Caesar salad and go sit down to wait for him. I get glum because I really wanted to go to that place around the corner.

He comes to the table with two glasses of wine, and I feel quiet and petulant. He says, what’s wrong, and I say, I don’t like this place. He responds with surprise, why didn’t you say so?

I TOLD you where I wanted to go, says I.

He queries, But why didn’t you tell me you didn’t want to go here?

Can someone tell me, how many miles are there between Mars and Venus?

12 March 2008

Kick Box Girl

I teach aerobics at the local gym. A while back I walked into the upstairs aerobics room to open the stereo cabinet and get ready for class. In the room already was a pudgy young woman, barefoot, in kickbox attire, apparently practicing kick boxing moves. Swift kicks, sharp jabs, fierce looks, karate chops, Hi-Yah! She apparently has high self esteem since she knows martial arts.

I continued to set up my place at the front of the room, step, risers, weights. the young woman continues to practice, oblivious to obvious preparations for a class.

My class filters in, approximately 10 women, various ages, sizes, shapes. We are all familiar with one another. We greet. No one knows the kick boxer girl. We eye kick box girl. Kick boxer continues to practice.

My class begins, I have my microphone tuned up, the music on loud, I begin with my cues. Kick boxer girl continues to practice, jab, thrust, chop-chop, and my ladies are eyeing her curiously. Their focus is distracted. I must get rid of kick box girl.

I lead my class in warm up. Ooops, so sorry, my class needs to march up 1-2-3-kick, right in front of where Kick Box Girl is practicing. Kick Box Girl has to stop in mid kick and wait. She looks a little fuming. She moves from the side of the room to the back of the room. Ooops, my girls have to grape vine 4 times and face the back of the room to walk up 1-2-3-kick, and, oh so sorry, they once again must march in front of practicing Kick Box Girl, who once again must wait and fume. We are taking back our space for our class. Kick Box Girl must die!

Kick Box Girl has no more room to practice. Kick Box Girl catches a clue and leaves the room.

My territory is secure.

The point of this story is that some people at the gym are either thoughtless or self important. It MUST have been obvious to this Kick Box Girl that we were having a regularly scheduled structured class, yet she continued to do her kicking and flailing and disrupting as though what she was doing were way more important then us having our class.

A few weeks later I was down in the weight room, where men and women were lifting weights, in somewhat confined areas, and who is there but Kick Box Girl, kicking away, and barely missing all the people with her fancy moves.

Some people never get the picture.

Shoes, Shirts and The Goodwill Pile

I love shoes. I have lots of pairs of shoes. Some I wear all the time, like my work shoes and gym shoes. These are kept on the floor of my closet, easy to get at, in pairs, lined up neatly. Some other shoes are in the shoe holder in my closet, the ones I wear to weddings, not very often, like the two times a year I wear a dress or the times I might wear heels with jeans. Some I have tried on with an outfit a million times but have never actually worn out of the house, because my jeans aren't quite long enough to go with, or they just look plain stupid with a dress, what the heck was I smoking when I bought those?? These shoes are the saddest ones, they were so hopeful coming home with me, and I was so hopeful of looking really chic wearing them, but it turns out they were only destined to be place holders in my closet. These sort of shoes stay in my closet a couple of years until they are hopelessly outdated, then they move to the basement, at the bottom of the stairs, where I pile up my bags of old clothes and boxes of shoes that are on their way to the Goodwill.

I don't actually TAKE these bags to the Goodwill until they have been on the basement floor for at least a year. I might change my mind about the stuff I already haven't worn for 4 or 5 years. And sometimes I do. I'll take an old sweater out of the bags and think, hm, why did I ever think I didn't want to wear this sweater ever again? So I wear it and realize that I never want to wear it again because the stupid tag on the inside irritates my left oblique even though I have cut off the most of it, the part that is sewn to the seam is still annoying and scratchy. Or, why did I ever put these cute red slip-on tennies into the pile? So I wear them to a Cardinals Game because they are the perfect color of red, and then I remember, these are uncomfortable because they don't stay firmly on my skinny foot and it's real work to curl my toes to keep them from slipping off at every step.

Sonny has long ago discovered the shoes at the bottom of my closet. Shoes that I thought were already in the basement, he has pulled out from the back of my closet. What really surprises me is that he has started to bravely venture into the basement, a place he feared going when he first moved in with me, and now he nonchalantly does the steps and has begun to present me with samples of castoff shoes that I put down there for the Goodwill. He'll disappear for a few minutes and the next time I turn around there is something on the living room floor I remember buying in 1999. He is fast and furious when it comes to carrying a shoe out of my closet or from the pile. I can't keep up with him! As soon as I put the shoe back, there's another one to take it's place. I really have to keep my closet and the basement doors closed, I need to pay more attention to that, and I think it's about time to take the present pile to the Goodwill and start a new pile, I'm really never going to wear anything from that pile again.

But first, well maybe, I think I am going to try those black sandals my sister gave me again this summer. With that white shirt. And I'm pretty sure those jeans will fit me again........

06 March 2008

The Hen That Crows

Sonny is spoiled, and I am the one who is spoiling him.

Last night I had to go to Walmart and of course I had to get him a new baby. He has plenty of babies already, but that has nothing to do with it. I want him to have more.

Last night in the dog toy aisle I picked out a white hen with a red comb and yellow beak. If you press the breast it crows. I decide,This is the toy for Sonny.

Back at the ranch I give him the toy and he trots it around the house as if showing the baby around, and eventually he realizes it will make a sound. If you press it one time it crows 3 times in a row. He found the right spot and wouldn't let up. Over and over and over again.... the crack of dawn at 7:30 p.m.

There were only so many cockadoodledoo's I could take.

The Crowing Hen has a hiding spot, and I'm not telling anybody where it is.

05 March 2008

Snow Day

Yesterday was a snow day.

I left my house around 7:30 to go to a doctor appointment in Swansea, and the roads were a little bad but navigateable easily enough. But when I left the doctor's office things were much changed! I drove off, heading for work, via Frank Scott Parkway and Route 15, towards I-255. by the time I got to 255 I knew I was not going to go to work, the roads were miserable and I could barely see out my windshield because the wiper blades were so covered with ice. I said to myself, I can get to work but the drive home later will be even worse, I'm going home.

And I did.

It was a marvelous day! I finished all my laundry, I made my bed, I finished unpacking my suitcase, I looked at my bills, I made found cookies and found spaghetti.... found because I didn't have the typical ingredients, so I used the things I found in my cupboard, oatmeal, molasses, coconut, chocolate chip cookies (I would normally make oatmeal raisin) and the spaghetti had a jar of marinated artichokes and black olives instead of mushrooms, red onion, zucchini and italian sausage, the usual ingredients in my spaghetti. It was a delicious dinner, and everyone is enjoying the cookies.

To make the cookies I needed two eggs, so I went over to ask Jim and Michiko to borrow the eggs, which they were happy to provide. When I brought them back a plate of cookies Michiko had to give me something from her house to take home, you never leave her house empty handed, so she gave me some cottage cheese and a bottle of ranch dressing, she is the sweetest thing. Did I ever mention that Michiko is my angel?

And Sonny! In the Snow! racing, diving, running, jumping! He came inside at one point with a golf ball size glob of snow on his nose, he didn't even notice it. Dolly would need to have the snowflakes wiped off her coat whenever she came back inside, because she would potty and then stand at the gate til I let her back in, but Sonny never had to have his coat wiped, he was always moving, no snowflakes could catch him! He enjoyed having me home all day, I could tell, because he brought me every pair of shoes out of my closet that he could reach. Twice.

I love a good snow day.

03 March 2008

Vacation Is Over

We were in Florida all of last week. The weather was fine and the temperatures were reasonable, we got a little color in our faces and on our arms and legs, and the entire trip was leisurely and uneventful. The best part was the big soft bed in that condo! I didn't know I liked that kind of soft fluffy mattress so much! Now I want a new mattress!

It was getting home and retrieving Sonny from Kate's house that I was looking forward to mostly.

Apparently, Sonny and Tucker have become best buds. the Younger dog and the Older dog, getting in trouble together, side by side, aw. I wish I could have Kate write down all their escapades. Suffice it to say, they both got in trouble, they both slept well at the end of the day after chasing constantly in the yard outside, and fighting underfoot inside. Kate says she misses Sonny but is grateful for the quiet again.

In the meantime, Dolly and Maci stayed at my house with Michiko keeping tabs on them. They stayed over at her house most of the time, until her daughter's dog came over to stay for a few days. Dolly and Maci both look fat and happy, their coats are shiny, and Michiko told me, go on another trip, go away, so they can stay over again. Have I ever told you that Michiko is my angel?

It's good to be home, even if they are predicting sleet with the rain this afternoon, and upwards of 6" of snow tomorrow.

That's what I keep telling myself anyhow, it's good to be home....