Category Archives: dog love

Score and a Heart

After weeks and weeks of missing, I flung the poop bag right into the pot! Blam!

It’s a tough shot — not so much because of the distance (from where picture was taken) or the small target, but because the missile has a tail (we use long, plastic newspaper bags) and the ballast is weighted unevenly. You can’t throw overhand or at least, I don’t, and hence you have very little control. How satisfying to nail it!
Was my aim improved by an hour long walk through sunny, summery, quiet neighborhoods? Three-quarters of the way along a sour knot in my gut disappeared. Just by walking. In the sun. With my dog.

We saw lavender blooming on Ripley Street, two Chinese brothers heading to the T in matching pj’s and yellow caps on Braeland with their dad, people out jogging, cycling and walking their dogs. Closer to home, the lavender has yet to blossom, but on Walter Street we were treated to sun-illumined rust-vermillion Japanese maple leaves and a morning dove perched up on a cable backed by blue sky.

Finn had a Training Victory on our walk, too — a trifecta. Some other time.

Given the TV’s current state, I’m plowing through a memoir called, “They Left Us Everything” — a book recommended by a blog reader a couple of weeks ago. This was Plum Johnson’s debut effort and it came at age 68. Sixty-eight!

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The book won an RBC Taylor prize, an award for literary non-fiction that “best combines a superb command of the English language, an elegance of style, and a subtlety of thought and perception.”

The memoir is interesting and well-written. Doesn’t hold a candle to “H is for Hawk”, but then, very few memoirs do (that’s like comparing debut historic fiction to “Wolf Hall” by Hillary Mantel — it just isn’t fair — but I think it’s the last memoir I’ve read?)

Johnson crafts nuanced portraits of complicated parents, not just their late, declining years, but their more vibrant youth as well. Both of her parents led interesting lives — informed by tragedy, travel and unusual circumstances. Johnson gets at the essential unknowability of parents by their children, something made plain as she sorts through their belongings.

Her mother was a piece of work and her father over-reliant on military experience as a benchmark for parenting. And yet, whatever wounds linger they scarcely show up on the page. Whether this is a testament to Johnson’s person or her writing style is hard to judge. It does strike me that building a narrative around the objects of her parents’ lives may have kept a certain kind of self-reflection at bay.

I like memoirs that get down and dirty too, but the absence of grudges, whining, or blame is notable.

I don’t know nearly as much about my parents’ courtship or their early work lives as Plum Johnson does about hers.

On our second walk, Finn and I rounded the corner to find a huge heart-shaped cloud, like a blousy kiss from the sky.

Perhaps it was meant to compensate for today’s crossword puzzles? Or the personal torment of the last couple of weeks? KISS!

And now it’s gonna rain again — no wonder I’m ecstatic about puffy white clouds and doves backed by blue sky. Man! Meanwhile, the catalpa blossoms that seemed celebratory days ago now clump in wilting piles of rot, four inches deep in places. Sweep. Sweep. Sweep. And grab. Good thing I’m totally into sweeping these days (seriously into sweeping). And good thing this old bod can still squat with ease.

Still life, figures, and Matisse

The Matisse show at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts takes a novel approach by displaying objects the artist collected along with some of the paintings they appear in. It’s fascinating.


Naturally, I especially enjoyed the textiles but even to see chairs, vases, and pewter coffee pots alongside the paintings they inspired was interesting.

I was shocked to discover, standing in front of the well-known ‘Purple Robe’ portrait below, that early on Matisse was ‘afraid he would never do figures’.

Lucky for us, at some point the artist figured out how to transfer the confidence he felt giving life to inanimate objects to the human figure.

With that and my unpopulated quilts in mind, take a look at the right margin of this slightly wonky tower I’ve been working on. Doesn’t that dark grain suggest a female form — staring up at a butterfly, perhaps? She reminds me of one of Grace’s drawings in its early phases. Mightn’t the nascent figure be saying something — Come on — stitch me into an empty structure! Let me enliven the yard or a room or even the attic!

Somehow this quiet and solitary day felt full. Almost too full.

Our morning walk was replete with scenes like these, peaceful and lush, but riddled with thoughts about aggression, primarily about the differences between aggression expressed from and for power and reactive aggression. They might appear alike from the outside but are worlds apart. Working with Finn has been a real lesson in this, inspiring me to quip from time to time, “Dog training’s taught me that I may be a mouthy bitch, but I’m no alpha.”

Sad, but true. Finn had a set-to right before this yard. Bark, bark, bark. My sister and I are having set-tos all the time, but this week they’re about re-configuring the distance between us. Bark, bark, bark. I can’t take it anymore. It’s amazing I’ve put up with it for this long. If she can’t accept my moving away some, I will vanish from her life. I’ve done it before. I was hoping not to do it again, but I am exhausted, tattered, and unwilling to continue at current decibel levels. Bark. Bark. Bark.

After what seems an impossibly long time without sun, out it came for our afternoon walk, so the day contained cheer, too!

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img_4552-2Lastly, the TV is all fucked up and you know what that means (wink, wink)! I may be forced to read for a spell here (and miss The Great British Baking Show?) or watch LIVE TV on the tiny shit box in the kitchen. Boo-hoo. Then again, the house is filled with good books waiting to be read.

let the rocks speak

Our forms displace a precise amount of air.
We have volume.
Your thoughts do not.

We remember all that made us.
You do not.
The air and the fire, the currents of water,
grains of sand, and eons of pressure.

Our value is not relational.
Yours, sadly, is.

Gutter, rooftop, buried, shattered, exalted, exposed,
it is all the same to us.

You collect us as trinkets.
That does not make us trinkets.

We adore gravity.
You do not.

It’s no accident
the only time you felt real today
was when you walked in the rain
and through water-speckled glasses
looked at your dog
looking at you.

[After losing several posts connected to these pictures, I submitted myself to them. The story of conspiracy and monopoly (think: Comcast) and co-dependence and Murphy’s law (mine, the Universe’s) will have to wait].

Did I create a monster 

When we invited Finn into our lives, I wanted to raise him to be unafraid of the vacuum.  With all that shedding black fur, I knew I’d be vacuuming A LOT.

And so, for months I made sure that I never startled him with the cord, or bumped into him with the canister, or acted anything but super casual-cool about the noise. It worked! Look — there’s a dog relaxing on the couch while his human runs the vacuum — I was so proud.



But then one day he tossed the star toy down next to the canister and fool that I am, I flung it across the room.

You can guess the rest. Now every single time I start up the vacuum, he thinks it’s time for a game. It. Just. Took. One. Time.

(Noticing the speed of conditioning makes me fearful about how I dismiss a few less than exemplary moments of parenting (once? It just took once?)). But never mind. I can’t go there today. It’s sunny and 80 degrees out and I have the afternoon to myself.

Don’t be fooled

Don’t let the bedroom eyes fool you.He desperately wants to eat the doll lying there, a mere five inches from his nose.

Evening found me in a Newton Corner church shoulder to shoulder with like minded neighbors. None of us have been fooled — not for a New York minute.

Free Speech for People and Roots Action leading the charge.

impeachdonaldtrumpnow.com

The idea is to get cities and towns to pass resolutions asking the House to begin investigating whether there are grounds for impeachment (there are, of course — more unfolding by the day). The idea is to express tangible outrage and exert public pressure.

They are focusing on the emoluments clause because that evidence is already in, even without the tax returns. DJT has been in violation of it for every minute of every hour since he took the oath of office.

Relentless pressure. From all quarters. This is not normal. This cannot go on.

PS  At link above you can sign their online petition (for what it’s worth). Almost a million already have.

Shadows on snow

Maybe to blog more often is to give myself permission to matter on some.

(Ha — Autocorrect wisdom? I meant to say “natter on some”).

Just wore Finn out so I can happily leave him while I go to writing class. The striping shadows of trees pleased me to a ridiculous degree. Look at the colors! Purple, plumbago blue, lavender, and grey. A regular festival for the eyes. And the soul.

End of day

We are both zonked: Finn from playing with his buddies and dog-walker Rafi; me from chopping rock hard snow and revamping two chapters.

Just made a few more machine-pieced components for the Pale Village quilt. It’s time to iron for a while and watch comedy — maybe I’ll finish watching Mike Birbiglia’s “Thank God for Jokes” on Netflix. In this show there’s a hilarious riff about the schism between “on time people” and “late people” (‘How do on time people feel about late people? Well, we hate you is all’).