Henry got a new toy for Valentine’s Day yesterday: a pink elephant.

I didn’t know about it for some 24 hours, just heard squeaking upstairs all day. When I finally went up, there he was, holding Pinky proudly in his mouth, shaking her and throwing her around. If I was in the immediate vicinity he’d growl louder and more ferociously than ever before.

He and I have a playing routine in which I try to pull the toy out of his mouth and he growls and pulls it back. But not with Pinky. Pinky was only his, no one else’s. I couldn’t go after it even in joke or play. He was as proud as could be with Pinky in his mouth, swinging her up in the air, brandishing her like a weapon, bouncing and jouncing her, making her squeak.

Pinky, I was told, was one of those indestructible dog toys made from material that dogs couldn’t tear up quickly, and she survived yesterday’s gymnastics with Henry.

But of course, Henry couldn’t keep Pinky to himself, so today he came down with her in his mouth, swinging her around and shaking her right in front of Aussie.

Though Aussie is the president of the local chapter of the Proud Pooches, she still has some decorum. She watched him carefully, not making a play. But of course, Henry ran out to pee, leaving Pinky behind, and when he came back Aussie had Pinky with her, growling threateningly if Henry came anywhere nearby.

“Oh, Auss,” I told her, “you don’t care about toys. Henry loves that pink elephant. Why are you doing this to him?”

“Because I can,” she said.

So, she kept Pinky right by her in my office, giving Henry a look of pure wickedness over her shoulder as he sat outside the office, forlorn and helpless.

“What is she?” asked a neighbor I met in the conservancy late this morning, pointing at Aussie who was busy playing with his dog.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“She has a little German Shepherd in her,” he surmised. “Doberman?” I shook my head and he proceeded to tell me that he submitted his dog’s DNA and discovered she’s part Hound, part Lab, and part Pointer,. At that moment Aussie ran by him. “So, what’s inside you?” he asked her playfully.

Aussie had no time for him, wagging her tail madly as she chased his dog down the ravine to the freezing pond below.

What’s inside you? As if a DNA test could answer that. It’s like asking What’s love? and replying:: Valentine’s Day.

We had a Zoom meeting today of various Zen teachers and seniors associated with the Zen Peacemaker Order. We all recommitted ourselves to the Order and the practice of social and environmental justice based on the Dharma. Much of the time was used to reconnect with each other, recounting memories of how we got involved with this meshugena family, and especially, with its meshugena founder, Bernie Glassman.

It’s challenging for me to attend these. There’s the public dimension of work, practice, companionship, and love between Bernie and so many people, and there’s my own private realm with him as my husband. It’s difficult to express both together.

Asking me to share memories of Bernie is like someone asking me to carve out a joint or a finger and examine it under the light, share it with others. Bringing up a memory or anecdote feels like a DNA test that can’t describe the way the Aussie’s tail vibrates in circles when she sees another canine, or how she curls up on the black lounge chair in the living room with her head thrown sideways, or how I look down from my office chair and there she is, standing alongside, mewling softly, head nestled against my leg.

So, while the tales and the laughs we shared today among some 28 of us felt deep and tender, I couldn’t express what was inside. To do that, I’d have had to verbally operate on myself, say This is what he said and This is what I said, splitting the one into two. I’ve done that in the past, just not today. Today it felt like just the one looking at the screen, unable to speak.