“I love painting my toenails, Aussie.”

“Silliest thing I’ve watched you do. Only humans do something so dumb”.

“You know something, Auss? It’s wonderful to do dumb things every once in a while, not to always be serious. Even as I talk earnestly on the phone about something, I look at my silly red toes, with the two tiny toe rings on the second toe, and I laugh.”

“I thought Buddhists don’t color their toes. Or their fingers. I thought you guys have to be serious all the time.”

“Don’t tell anybody, Aussie, but deep inside I’m happy.”

“Buddhists are not supposed to be happy!”

“Fall is magnificent here; it’s impossible to look out the window or walk in New England now without being happy, even frivolous.”

“Frivolous! Now? With the election coming up? Even I know Donald’s in trouble.”

“Even with the elections and the kablooie around the Supreme Court.”

“What’s kablooie, Boss?”

“A very important word that describes the circus we’re going through right now, Aussie. Kablooie means explosion. It means everything’s going down!”

“Donald’s not going down!”

“I think he is, Auss, but that’s not the point.”

“If only he’d take me into the White House to be his dog. Everybody will love him. I’m much prettier than Melania. Donald will huff and puff and yell Kablooie! Kablooie!, but I’ll bat my pretty eyelashes and look soulfully at the cameras, and you just watch, we’ll win paws down.”

“This is not about Trump, it’s about the country, Auss: the big dramas, the splashy headlines, he screams this and she screams that, a Senate that’s become a sandbox for toddlers—enough already!”

“Kablooie! Kablooie!”

“We’re not going kablooie, Aussie.”

“I don’t care, I love the word.”

“It’s always important to keep in mind that we don’t really know the outcome of things. I think Trump’s time as President unveiled much we didn’t want to look at and now there’s a loud wake-up call we can’t ignore. It’s time to live differently, to sacrifice. How many of us thought like this during Obama’s years? Trump’s years in the White House might be valuable in the long run after all.”

“Of course they’re valuable. We learned to appreciate the importance of a First Dog. Kablooie!”

“Aussie, I first came across kablooie in Calvin and Hobbs, a cartoon about a little boy and his stuffed tiger, which may be alive. Come bedtime, Calvin always asks his father to read him the same book: Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie. But his father’s so sick of it he won’t read it anymore to Calvin.”

“Why? Because it’s violent?”

“That’s the funny thing, Auss. You never find out what the book’s about. All you know is that Calvin always wants to hear that book read to him, and his father won’t do it anymore. They fight all the time, but you don’t really know what they’re fighting about.”

“Anything called Gooey Kablooie must be a great story, Boss.”

“I agree, Aussie. Some of that is what’s happening now. We fight and we fight, but we’re not always sure what we’re fighting about.”

“I’m fighting about having a dog in the—”

“Some might say that it’s all about racism, the pandemic, climate change, gender rights, religious rights and abortion, lots and lots of things. But it’s always good to remember that we never really know how things will pan out. We do what we do, and life takes over, Aussie.”


“You have to stay open even as you fight for things, Auss. That’s not easy. It’s called not-knowing.”

“Here we go again. NASA.”

“NASA? What’s space flights got to do with anything?”

“NASA. Not another spiritual answer!”

“Aussie, there are things we know we don’t know, but there are lots more things we don’t know we don’t know. Like who knew a pandemic could change our life so radically?”

“NASA! NASA! That’s what I want you to call me from now on. Every time you want me to come, just call out: NASA! NOT ANOTHER SPIRITUAL ANSWER—come!”

“I can’t do that, Aussie. I’m a Zen teacher, spiritual give-and-take is in my blood!”

“I don’t mind what you take, it’s what you give that I mind. I don’t want no spiritual treats.”

“By the way, how would you like to be called Kablooie instead of NASA or Aussie?”

“Too long for a dog, Boss.”