Ponder this:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I was up and down all night. Back in bed once again I tried to believe I might get sleepy again. Max began to stir, edging toward the side of the bed. If he hits the floor I have to get up because his bladder won't wait long. I tried to settle him down, whispering to him, petting him, but his timer had kicked on. I peeked at the digital clock and saw the two tines of the four o'clock pitchfork and some illegible-without-my-glasses minutes.  I tried ignoring him, until the bed began to quiver with his tense poising at the edge in preparation for the long jump down.
Oh well. I want coffee anyway.
So we are up while Daddy still sleeps, I hope, through the intermittent doggy exclamations. Everybody's had "out" time and we're waiting for the kibble to steep enough to be irresistible to the poodles. G'luck with'at. The lump of liverwurst has outlived its irresistibility and a new lump is called for to ensure pill-swallowing: a chore to be accomplished on the way home from work in twelve hours.

My good friend's dog died yesterday. An open-hearted big red boy, O'R would have been thirteen on Halloween. He spent too long, before he was rescued, all alone in a dark basement with someone coming to feed him once or twice a day. B adopted him seven years ago and his life exploded into fireworks of comfort and daily small joyful events. Walks and new friends everywhere and a blue bandanna around his neck. Days in the shade on the deck and nights (except the thunderstorm nights) of cuddling with his beloved mom. Some dogs are partners; some are babies. Marly was my partner; the poodles are my babies, Heaven help me. Like having toddlers for fourteen years. B's big red boy was of the baby type, goofy and sweet and easily 'whelmed at times. The day they came to visit here, when Marly was still on earth, O'R was so intimidated by Marly's intense interest that he leapt onto the coffee table to get away from her, and stood, all thirty-some inches of him, quivering in trepidation until we removed Marly from the room. B was aghast. It remains a funny and charming memory for me.

I'm not sure how many more pet deaths I can stand. I don't grieve for the animals, I grieve for those of us left behind, looking at the hole in the room, in the front yard, along the canal, romping through the field, where the beloved gleaming body was . . . trying by strength of imagination to make the hole fill again with the strong happy legs and flying tails and ears.

There's always another animal waiting to be brought home, and learned . . . another animal waiting to be loved, like the velveteen rabbit, into realness. That process is sweet and I know the joyful stretching of the heart that it brings. It's the heartbreak at the other end that takes my breath away.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

It’s simple: Write a post, help a dog.

Pedigree® is sponsoring an Adoption Drive – they are donating a bowl of dog food for every "like" they get on their facebook page. If you go here and "like" them, one more shelter dog will get a bowl of food. But that's not all.

For every blog that mentions the Adoption Drive between Sept. 16 through Sunday, Sept. 19, Pedigree® will donate a 20-lb. bag of food to a shelter. If you've got a blog, there's still time to write a post and help a dog. Enter the link to your blog post here to participate. ~The 7MSN Ranch

I suspect I'm preaching to the choir here, but . . . People! Rescue dogs are where it's at! 
Marly, who came to me through Petfinder.com and a good friend who poked at me until I decided that yes, maybe I did need her, was beautiful, and brave, and . . . what a great nanny dog!  There are parts of Marly's Back-Story here.

Shelters and rescues are overflowing with Good Dogs, waitingwaitingwaiting for Their Humans to come and take them Home, where they can grow into The Best Dogs Ever.  I believe that the lucky ones that get that chance . . . well, they just never forget their good fortune.
I'm talking myself into browsing Petfinder again....
Would three dogs again really be too much for me?
In the meantime, here's my effort to help the ones who still wait.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Y'can't make this stuff up.

Fun times at the office last week.
  • Man phones, put gun in car last night to go hunting this morning; gun is gone. Will send an officer, where do you live? I don't know, can you hold on a few minutes? Eight minutes later, comes back with his address.
  • Send officer, locked out of car at Grand and Main. Officer goes, nobody there. Guy calls back, angry: "Where's the policeman?" Told officer sent, no one at Grand and Main. "I meant Robin and South!"
  • Lady, medical emergency, can't reach the ambulance at the listed phone number. On Social Security (DSS) disability, on Medicaid, moved here from the city. Have you called 911? No, because the ambulance would take me to the the local hospital, which I consider substandard. Can't reach DSS representative, can't get a supervisor. Ends call, having decided to call State Commissioner of Social Services.
  • Man calls PD worried about neighbor killing his rooster. "He's already killed two of my roosters and wife is crying."
  • Guy wants to know what's the smallest crime he has to commit to get arrested. He left his ID in his home state and needs some ID. Several following days, spends several hours walking around the parking lot wearing a red Superman-like cape. Didn't get arrested.
  • Woman needs a copy of father's death certificate, doesn't know where he lived or if he's dead.
  • Woman, furious: People next door put up a clothesline in their back yard and she doesn't like looking at their laundry from her bathroom window.
  • Man, furious: Neighbor puts trash at curb on trash pickup day. On your property? No, on his property, but right next to mine. How long is it out there? For an hour before the trash collector comes.
  • Building owner cited for trash accumulation in the fire lane behind building, says he'll tell his tenants to stop throwing garbage bags back there. Next day, tenants hang full garbage bags on the building's second-floor exterior wall.
  • Tenant complains about unsanitary conditions. Inspector and property owner meet at apartment. Very drunk complainant lets them in for inspection. They all have to walk around a freshly deposited puddle of beer vomit.
  • Tenant complains about unsafe electrical condition. Shows inspector a singed, partially melted surge protector as proof, wants the surge protector back from the inspector so he can watch television. Later same day, tenant opens window to let in breeze, forgetting that it's the window that's holding his air conditioner in place. Air conditioner falls from third floor to Main Street sidewalk. No injuries.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dressing for the weather

This is the season of my dressing wrongly.
Summer is easy: It will be hot and humid. I wear sleeveless or short-sleeved things and keep a pair of shorts handy for throwing on as quickly as I can walk in the door from work and shed my slacks.  Winter's pretty easy too. I wear the same styles, except with longer sleeves, and more of them on any given day. And of course, the down coat is a daily given in real winter weather.

This morning when I was getting dressed, it was coolish, but humid. I put on a tank top and a sleeveless shirt with my slacks. Walked out the door: Perfect. Sometime during the middle of the day the temperature went down and humidity increased. By the time I got home I was thinking of hunting down a jacket before the dogs and I headed out for After Work Wander. The dogs weren't happy with the wind and the "63*F, feels like 59*F" (that's 15*C for the rest of you all over the world) either; it was a short Wander.
And that's just the outdoor weather.

In the morning, Jane's office is stuffy and warm. We could incubate hens' eggs in there without a light bulb. Occasionally she turns on the air conditioning and just as I stop mopping the sweat from my hairline, she begins to shiver like a chihuahua and turns it off again. In the afternoons, I have a little more control over the room temperature, but the a/c units are on the other side of the office, and blow directly onto my coworkers' desks. If the temperature's set for June Comfort, Paul and Aaron begin to lose sensation in their fingertips, so I try to go easy on them. I leave the temperature a little higher than I would like and I turn a fan on myself. Having come from the hotbox that is Jane's office, I usually give myself a stiff neck from the breeze, but the rest of my body's comfortable. I think the solution might be a wool muffler around my neck and my bare arms waving in the breeze. 

When I left the office this afternoon, I left the a/c on because we'll have a meeting there this evening. I'll turn it off as soon as I get back there, and we should all be equally uncomfortable for the duration of the gathering. I'd better get out a jacket so I will be able to bear the dark and rainy 53* that will greet me when I head home again.

I need to move somewhere where the temperature is always 77*, dropping to 63* overnight. All the windows would be open, at least a little bit, all the time, and there would always be just a slight breeze.  And I'd like the sun to stay up until I will it into setting.  That would be perfect.  

Not so very much to ask, is it?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Life lessons: Marriage and Reality

I've been reading about a poor disappointed unfortunate who's questioning whether or not to remain married or strike out on her own with her three children. Complaints include boredom, money issues, emotional stagnation, ongoing sadness over a failed affair, whatnot.  I see my old self in her, and I've done some thinking over the last few weeks, with the following result.

What in the world do people expect from marriage? How, possibly, could a twenty-year-old marriage be the same as a first-year marriage? Would you want it to be? And, if you chose badly in that young flush of infatuation, why would you upset your whole life based on a new obsession?  I didn't get married until I was twenty-nine. I had lived enough to have begun to learn that romance is not love.  Some years later, we had a little refresher course in that lesson. Nor is lust, although certainly lots of fun, love.  And, I offer that . . . perhaps . . . in the long term, exciting and romantic love is not the most important requirement for a stable, comfortable and happy married life. Possibly I'm more satisfied than some with the stability of a settled married life because by nature I like routine.  I figure if you live with anybody for more three weeks, the thrill of togetherness pales. No longer do you delight, your heart all a-pit-a-pat, your breath short, at the thought of reunion after a hard day at work. A nice sense of anticipation, yes, some days. Other days, maybe lots of days . . . it's on to the Home Chores and a ritual of "How was your day?" "Fine." and after a few hours, off to bed. G'night, kiss, snore.  

Every now and then, you read interviews with old people who've been married for decades and they usually have some pretty practical advice. They hardly ever count gymnastic sex as one of the ultimate requirements, for example.  I like the old marrieds who say laughter is the thing that kept them together.  Laughter means nobody's taking him/herself too awfully seriously. Nothing good lasts forever, but nothing bad does either, if you're willing to laugh at it and let it go. 
I knew an old married couple who enjoyed each other's company tremendously. She was very fat and deaf and he was dapper and witty.  They would tell stories of having lived through the Great Depression, they and their eight children eating pancakes for supper every single night because that's what they could afford. Remembering, he'd say he never wanted to see a pancake again, and the two of them would laugh with, I imagine, satisfaction and relief that they'd kept going on, one foot in front of the other, for a long, long, time, and had made it to the other side.  Laughter isn't simply amusement; it's also mutual congratulation.
I like it when those long-marrieds talk about respect too. Simple courtesy goes a long way. Husband takes the garbage; I thank him. I change the sheets; he thanks me. It's good to let somebody who's supposed to do these things know that the work's appreciated.  

It is my belief that anybody who's been married more than five years has been through some kind of Disillusionment Hell, and I think that rule does not exclude people who lived together prior to marriage. The Prince gets a little rumply, the Princess gains a little weight.  The Prince fails to notice and react with warm sympathy to some welling silent tears of a sad mood. The Princess fails to . . . oh, whatever us Princesses fail to do. 
Oh, boo hoo. 
Nobody stays a Prince or a Princess forever. People are people. Life goes on. If you plan on being married in another year, another five years . . . if you meant any of that stuff you vowed (see definition of "vow") on your wedding day, then grow up, allow your spouse a failing or two, just like you do everybody else you know, and think about something else until that turns into a big fat disappointment and you can go running back to discuss it with the person with whom you swore to spend your life.

Believe me, the grass ain't no greener over there on the other side of that fence. Not once you get a real close look at it. It looks all fluffy and soft and cushiony from here, but you can bet there're sand fleas or nettles in there that, after a while, will be just as bad as what you have in your own yard. 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Labor Day Thoughts of a civil servant

I have enjoyed this summer more than any in recent years. For years I was forbidden to take vacation time during the summer months, since that was the busier season at work. This year, after having battled through recurrent threats of being dismissed for non-existent problems with the municipal budget, I figured they could all see what it would be like if I weren't there, so I took a few staycations and soaked up the summer air for days on end. It's been good for my soul, and maybe it'll make the long dark winter a little more bearable. 
Nahhhh. Probably not. But still, it's been nice.

I have received an announcement of another civil service exam and I'll be taking that one in October. One never knowzzzzzz.....

Whatever you think about civil servants, consider these questions:
In what other job category is one never allowed to eject a "customer"?
In what other job category are all portions of the employee's life an accepted subject for general public discussion?  
When the public cries out against excessive taxes, which level of civil servant loses employment? (Hint: It is not the six-figure-salaried people.)
If you have never called the police, never needed a building permit, never needed public trash pickup, you might question why you should pay taxes for those services. What would it be like if your neighbors, who rely upon those services, didn't have them? Would your neighborhood be safe and clean?

Unrelated thoughts and stories

I shouldn't have made that promise in the last post. Ever since, I've been feeling unpleasantly pressured to present something worthy of the buildup. 
1922 Columbia Phonograph Company image of a woman who is transcribing dictation from a dictaphone wax cylinder.
I have grown worn out with typing thoughts not my own, what with the tape recordings to catch up on.  There were two meetings at work during the two weeks I was out of the office. I prepared for my absence by buying (from my own pocket, mind you, a recent local political debacle involving tape recordings making it inadvisable to submit a purchase order for such a thing) a Dictaphone. The nights that I was at home while the meetings were being held, I sighed with contentment: "There's a board meeting going on right now. And I am not there taking notes."  Yes, but then I had to live through those meetings in real time to get the meeting minutes finished. 

The notes and inspirations mentioned in that most recent post were random impressions that floated into my mind as I sat on the porch admiring a sunny afternoon. They appeared as twinkling sparks worthy of enlargement. Upon these several days' reflection I see that they, perhaps, are neither twinkling and sparky nor worthy of enlargement. But now I need to get something out there, so I can get beyond this and back into the routine of noticing what's going on in my own head.

MiMau and the Lazarus chipmunk
One late outdoors afternoon, MiMau came toward me from the tall grass. Her mouth looked funny. I squinted. She was carrying a chipmunk the size of her head. Having regained her good health she is now working at obtaining another parasite with which to endanger it. But that's what cats do: so be it.  She sat in the driveway facing me, put the chipmunk down. I warmly thanked her for her good hunting skills. I thought the 'munk was dead until she patted at it with one paw, then the other. One hind leg made a feeble up-and-down motion. Ah: not dead yet then. Husband emerged from the barn and MiMau proudly stalked toward him, accepted her praise and lay down fifteen feet from her prize to bask in sunshine and her family's admiration. I went back to my book. A few minutes later, a sudden turn of MiMau's head caught the corner of my eye. Astonishment in every hair of her face, she saw the dead chipmunk roll over, get up, and run for the stone wall. She pursued, but the 'munk reached the rocks first. MiMau sat for half an hour on top of the stone wall, hyperattentively listening, but the 'munk had gone deep.  I feel as if everybody won that one.

I recently read Jean Harris' Five Quarters of the Orange.  
It's set on the Loire in the late 1930s and there are frequent mentions of eels. It reminded me of my father-in-law's story about watching a farm wife he had known beheading eels: "Hold still! I'm only gonna kill ya!" He would laugh as he told the story, laugh so hard he could barely speak.

I have heard that beheaded eels writhe and flop and bang inside freezers for hours and hours when any other creature would have accepted its demise
All of it horrifies me. 

The story reminded me of many things, not many of them pleasant. I thought it was a darkish, but intensely absorbing, book. 

I am, at last, past the stage of having to wear the chest girdle, for which I thank the stars above, my Higher Power, all things great and small, Jesus, Mary, Joseph and all saints 'round.  A fact of which many of you will be blissfully unaware: Wearing a girdle on one's chest is even less comfortable than wearing a girdle on one's abdomen. 
Nothing, however is bad or good, but thinking makes it so.  The fine thing about the chest girdle was that, using my mirror that showed me only my upper body, I appeared thin as an eight-year-old. 
I always thought that a woman never looked fat unless her stomach stuck out past her chest. I'm in trouble there now. But if I never again look in a full-length mirror, I'll be a happy woman.

Language: Some people can't say "sausage." 
This is one of those memories from my waitress days. 
Canadians always asked for pizza "all dress," ate heartily (and tipped penuriously). I always loved it when Canadians asked for olives noir, because I was the only waitress who knew what that was.  Some Canadians asked for sah'-oo-saj'.
"Sausage" was problematic for several ethnic groups; more often than not some people-from-down-in-the-heart-of-the-city asked for shaw'sheej. So much work of jaws and lips for two seemingly simple syllables.
I understand that Asian-speaking people have no "l" (or is it "r" sound?) and therefore cannot hear the difference. That's why there are jokes about the interchanging of those sounds when they learn English, for which they have my utmost admiration, as a second language. 
It has to do with synapses. 

I have mentioned previously that I like sparkly things, things that dazzle me with color. If I can get both characteristics in one item, I am (see above) A Happy Woman. Imagine my delight, then, at having won this shiny colorful item on eBay:
Look. I know it's crap, but it didn't cost four dollars. And it's pretty. Goes with everything. Reminds me of sunrises and sunsets and the iridescent insides of shells, and just thinking about it lifts my spirits. I figure this giving in to low-class highly-colored jewelry is one of the rights I have gained by having reached . . . let's call it Late Middle Age. It's my right and I'm going to enjoy it. And enjoy it I do. 

Here's a question, a poll, if you like: 
Dare I wear that bracelet with this blouse? 

I vote yes!