A Writer's Closet

Welcome to the weird flotsam of a writer's mind . . .

Location: Southern California

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Tao of Jake

I had no intention of keeping Jake when I took him off the street. I was still hurting from the death of my beloved Rottweiler Max six months earlier. I absolutely did not want a dog. Especially an old, filthy, flea ridden, medically-challenged, half-bald stray. But when I saw Jake at a doughnut shop one morning, ignoring food offerings to duck his head under people's hands simply to be petted, he seized my dog lover's heart. "Foster" was the word I bandied about but I think I knew that was bull the first day, when he came into my house. He checked out every room then looked out the window into the back yard, totally relaxed, tail waving lazily. His body language was loud and clear: "Nice digs. Yeah, I could have a cushy gig here." It was pretty audacious and I laughed nervously and said, "Don't get too comfy here, dog."

Oh, I tried to find him a home, of course. I did all the Internet adoption stuff, begged friends and neighbors. Jake insinuated himself into our lives with utter confidence that he wasn't going anywhere. Cute personality traits started coming out--his passionate love for sherpa chew toys, especially squeaky ones. His adorable habit of touching me with his nose every single time he passed me, or just to get my attention. How he'd snatch a foot-long piece of beef jerky out of my hand but take a miniscule piece gently from my son's. I joked that I would have named him Worf if I realized he was such a cling on. His fur grew in thick and soft and he transformed into a handsome dog. He delighted in being part of a family so much that it broke my heart to think of how miserable he must have been alone on the street.

Cancer took him yesterday. He'd been hurting for weeks and I knew it was time for me to do the right thing. We only had him for two years, but he slid right into our family so neatly that it felt like four. I was wishing earlier today that I had had more time with him, but the truth is, four years wouldn't have been enough either. I'm grateful he picked me and for the lessons he taught me:

Ignore appearances and enjoy someone's character.

Touch the people you love every time you pass them.

Embrace the unexpected sources of love in your life, even, perhaps especially, if it doesn't fit in neatly with your life plan.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

In praise of peeps

I hate peeps, always have. That disgusting grainy sugar coating hiding a marshmallow center that should be soft and gooey, but was always dry and crusty. But thanks to the web I discovered this year that peeps have endless entertainment value. The Peeps Research Organization is dedicated to such noble pursuits as discovering the harmful effects of smoking (see photo) and alcohol on the little darlings. They even perform a daring conjoined quintuplet peep separation. What will modern medicine accomplish next?

For the artists out there, the crazy girls over at The Plain Jane (who have way too much time on their hands) have put together some Peep Plays. Romeo and Juliet is my favorite, the Blair Witch Project is also funny. They've combined peeps, profanity, and Shakespeare. Thank you ladies!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

A-camping we will go

I hated camping when I first did it last August. It was damp, buggy and the open air showers were knee-deep in lizards. My son complained that he didn't have a TV. He complained that he had to do organized activities with his fellow Cub Scouts instead of just goofing off. I was dismayed that I bought all that camping equipment for nothing because I was never using it again. Could I find someone to take the cursed stuff off my hands, for say, a dollar?

This weekend was our second campout and I was not looking forward to it. It's twenty degrees colder, for one thing and rain was a possibility. But it was only one night, local and an important Scouting event, so off we went. I figured worst case scenario, we could pack up and come home inside of a half hour. Only, a weird thing happened. I liked it. I started making a mental a list of things I wanted for myself, like I was actually planning to *gasp* do it again. I have a camp stove but suddenly it's not good enough. I eyed the den leader's two burner, thinking about how I could sauté shrimp scampi while boiling fresh linguine in another pot at the same time. A mess kettle for boiling coffee water is a must now, or even better, one of those propane-powered Mr. Coffee machines. Whoever invented that bad boy is a God. And if it rained? Why, that's what an extra tarp would be for, and they even come with corner loops for suspending into the trees with rope over your campsite! Genius.

What really hooked me was the simplicity. No TV, and as blasphemous as this may sound on a blog, no computer. I'd like to say no phone, but of course I took my cell. Still my alarm clock was the birds, my surroundings were soft and green and warm. Everything was slower and quieter. As I read In The Company of the Courtesan by book light in my tent I could breathe and was happy.