LULLABY FOR ME

I tell you, this dog has saved my life.

Aussie, I mean.

Day after day, from sheer habit I get into my head, into those glum, narrow, gray confines of a boring old self I’ve known for some 69 years. Same old voices, same old lazy moaning and groaning. You look around and find yourself in fog, you know what’s next in the day, and what’s next after that, and after that, but you don’t really know anything.

Then Aussie brushes by your leg and looks up, and the aliveness of those eyes! The shine of those black pupils, the light inside the dark!.

For what reason? What’s the inspiration or ambition that causes them to practically glitter? Not world peace or a Nobel Prize. Maybe a reminder of breakfast, or of a walk or car ride. So ordinary, so routine, so alive!

And you know that inside that black and brown canine form, descended of wolves, nothing is lived by halves or quarters. Joy precedes every meal, Christmas every walk.

She doesn’t know about fragmentation, about being here but not really. Her eyes don’t go up towards her forehead when she talks, a sure sign she’s back up there. In fact, she doesn’t know how not to pay attention, how not to be aware.

Each time she brushes my leg or presses her head against me, whining volubly, I wonder: Is it time to feed them? Didn’t we go for a walk? And then I look down and see the brightness of those eyes: Come on! Meet me! Talk to me! Stroke me! Laugh with me!

Not with Aussie, with life.

How do you do this, I ask her. I lock you up, put you behind the fence, tell you where to go, where to sleep, what to eat, put you on leash. I bound and fetter you, so how are you so alive? Why, in so many of these moments, am I the one who is asleep?

Elizabeth Bishop wrote a poem, a lullaby, just for me:

“Lullaby.

Sleep on and on,

war’s over soon.

Drop the silly, harmless toy,

Pick up the moon.”

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NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL FAMILY!

“Where are you guys going?”

“We’re off!”

“Off to the woods. Adventure, here we come!”

“Wait a minute, where are you rushing off? You may not realize it, but the idea of walking in the woods is that you two walk with me.”

“Really?”

“I had no idea. Aussie, did you know that?”

“Silliest thing I ever heard, Harry. We go on our run, you, Boss, go on your walk. You mean, we’re supposed to stay en famille?”

“What does that mean, Aussie?”

“Stay as a family, Harry. Stay together.”

“We are a family, guys. I know you like to run when we’re in the woods, I don’t mind if you go off here and there instead of staying by my heels, but you have to keep track of me, and when I whistle or call out, you come right over. That’s what being a family means.”

“Fool me, Aussie.”

“Never heard of such a thing. We’re two different species, Boss, how could we be one family?”

“If we’re one family, Boss, how come we eat dry dog food while you eat sautéed chicken?”

“Good one, Harry.”

“If we’re one family, Boss, how come I can’t pee overnight and have to hold it in till you open the dog door in the early morning? Do I have to remind you how often you go to the bathroom every night?”

“No, Harry, you don’t have to remind me.”

“If we’re one family, Boss, how come you can leave the house whenever you want to and I can’t?”

“Except that you do, Aussie.”

“And this morning I missed breakfast. If we’re one family—“

“Enough already! Guys, one family doesn’t mean that we have the same life, that we sleep on the same beds—“

“Actually, we do—“

“Quiet, Harry! Or eat the same food or go and come in the same way. We’re different, not better or worse.”

“Tell me that next time you’re eating a hamburger and I’m eating Kibble.”

“Hey, I don’t have it as good as you think. Who worries about having money for your dog food and treats?”

“Don’t you hunt?”

“You’re a lousy hunter if all you can bring back is Kibble, Boss.”

“When the tree smashed down close to the house, who made sure to get the live wires back up and out of reach, and then got the tree sawed up and the yard cleaned out so that you two could have your games and chase each other?”

“Not us, Boss, we ran away.”

“When you ate the edible pot in the woods, who took you to the vet?”

“That was a lot of fun, Boss.”

“Who provided you with training, which hasn’t yet paid off? Who took out all those porcupine quills?”

“She has a point, Harry. We all have our jobs to do. We all have our different roles to play. Right, Boss?”

“Right, Aussie, now you’re talking. I’m proud of you.”

“The Boss’s job is to fence us in. My job is to break out.”

“The Boss’s job is to give us Kibble. My job is to steal chicken off the counter.”

“The Boss’s job is to get us dog beds. My job is to sleep on the sofa—“

“Or her bed.”

“The Boss’s job is to walk us. Our job, Harry, is to run away.”

”Now, that’s what I call a family!”

 

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CHEESEBURGERS

I used to love to sit in New York City subway cars and look at all the different faces across from me. At that time all the subway cars had long benches, one across from the other, each bench holding 10-12 people, and if you were lucky you saw 12 completely different faces, from ethnic groups all over the world.

There they are, sitting elbow to elbow, in their own respective worlds and thoughts. Maybe they’re mentally reviewing the job they’d just left or what’s ahead for them at home, thinking about children or what they’re going to make for dinner, and do they have to stop at a food market. They’re barely aware of each other, they just do their thing, some tired and shutting their eyes, others listening to music or talking on the phone, all in one subway car together, effortlessly, not realizing how amazing it all is to me, sitting across from them and looking from one face to another.

I no longer live in New York, so now I love to look at the credits that roll in the end of movies and see all the different names of editors, cinematographers, producers, animation specialists, special effects folks, the many assistants. Sometimes there are hundreds of names rolling down that screen: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, African, Jewish, Muslim (a more recent phenomenon), and straight WASP, as I think of it.

I do the same thing with the acknowledgments at the end of books, especially nonfiction informational books that list the many names of those who helped with research, editing, proofreading, inspiration, etc. It never fails to move me how people with such different names, coming from such different backgrounds, work together to create something that wasn’t there before.

I grew up in a religious Jewish household and it didn’t take long for me to realize that I had different priorities than others in my family and community, one especially. I was not interested in the question of what it meant to be Jewish. I was interested in the question of what it meant to be human.

The bus driver who took us teenagers to school and back often ate his meals while waiting for us to board. His special favorite seemed to be cheeseburgers. I would sit up front and stare and stare at him as he ate. In our house, where meat and dairy were always kept separate, we never had cheeseburgers.

One day I said to my mother, “Mom, do you ever wonder what cheeseburgers taste like?”

She turned around slowly. “Never! Not once!” She couldn’t have been more horrified if I’d asked her what a dog turd tasted like with yellow mustard on the side.

Right then and there I knew I was different. I also knew that it was dangerous to be that way. Usually, people didn’t say you were different, they said you were crazy.

I don’t usually sit on New York subways anymore. But I think about what that was like, how different we all were, sunk in our own thoughts even as the train hurtled uptown, carrying us all into the next moment, the next future, the next life. We didn’t have to do much, just pay a subway fare, and the train transported us equally uptown regardless of who we were or what station we got off.

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GETTING LOST

Waiting for Godot

“Where do you think she is, Aussie?”

“I hear her calling us in the woods. She thinks we’re lost.”

“Doesn’t she know we’re right here by the car?”

“I don’t think so, Harry. In fact, I think she’s the one that’s lost.”

“Do you suppose we should go find her, Auss?”

“I think it’s best to wait for her by the car, Harry.”

“I think we got ourselves a dumb Boss, Aussie. She takes us to the Wendell State Forest for the first time ever, and as soon as we’re all off-leash she gets lost.”

“The trouble is, Harry, she thinks we’re the ones that are lost, not her. That’s why she’s whistling and calling our names all the time.”

“Why should she think we’re lost? We ran around the lake a bit, frightened some ducks. I chased five yellow butterflies. Just being dogs.”

“But she’s being a human, Harry, and you know what that means?”

“That she loves treats?”

“That’s one. But what I refer to is that she’s always afraid of getting lost, of losing control, of what’s gonna happen.”

“Why is she so afraid, Aussie?”

“Dang if I know, Harry. It’s how many humans are.”

“So what do we do, Aussie?”

“We wait here, at the point of origin, ergo: the car. You see, Harry, the way humans are, they chase after one thing or another, they run around and call out, go here and there, and when they’ve had enough of all that foolishness they come back to the exact same place where they started.”

“That makes no sense, Aussie. Why don’t they end up somewhere else? Like me, for instance, last week. We started in one place on the Montague Plains, you and I chased a deer, and I ended up three towns north.”

“That wasn’t much fun for the Boss, Harry. She drove the car on those roads crisscrossing the Plains that are full of potholes, which gave me in the backseat a big headache, not to mention all the yelling she did: Harry! Harry! Not a smart move on your part.”

“Hey, at least I don’t travel a long distance and end back where I started. Talk about a waste of effort! Don’t you think we should go find her? I feel so bad for the Boss, being lost.”

“Leave her alone, Harry. Being lost is good for her, though she doesn’t know it. She gets frustrated, she gets upset, she starts talking to Bernie—“

“Who’s that, Auss?—“

“Before your time, Harry. She yells at him that he should never have left her alone like this, she gets out all this angst.”

“What’s angst, Aussie?”

“Not in the canine vocabulary, Harry.”

“And all this time she still thinks she’s looking for us when we’re right here? I don’t get it.”

“That’s humans, Harry. When they start looking for something they think they lost, it’s a sure sign that they’re the ones who’re lost. You just watch. She’ll get tired of yelling our names and running here and there, she’ll come back to the car, and here we’ll be.”

“And we’ll be together just like always.”

“At least till the next time the Boss gets lost.”

“Probably tomorrow.”

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INSTEAD OF BLOOD AND SOIL

You call this an office?

My brother recently posted a question on his Facebook page: Why don’t American Jews go to Israel?

To paraphrase what he wrote: For almost 2,000 years we were a small, persecuted minority not permitted its own national vision of how to live as Jews, not afforded the chance to uncover what living a fully Jewish life could mean. Living as a majority in Israel, he wrote, we can now finally do this. And indeed, he has explored these questions his entire life.

He is not condoning the present Israeli government and its policies. He is simply pointing out that Judaism and land—specifically Israel—can’t be separated, and an exploration of Judaism’s deepest values must occur on the land.

I pointed out to him that many indigenous nations tie their spirituality to their land. This past week Zen Peacemakers spent 6 days with Lakota elders going from one sacred place to another in the Black Hills, bearing witness to this intersection of land and Lakota spirituality.

I was born in Israel, brought to the United States by my parents when I was 7, and have spent almost the rest of my life here. My immediate family—mother, brother, and sister—live there, not to mention the broader family, and for this reason I’ve gone back many times.

Often I have wondered if I could ever make my way back there. I love my family and wish I was closer to them. You don’t relate to this culture, my sister good-naturedly warned me a few times, you’ll feel a stranger in a strange land. I agreed with her, so instead live among the Yankees of New England.

But today I saw the following words from the moderate Washington Post columnist, Anne Applebaum, who has written extensively about far-right parties in Europe as well as about Russia. This particular column, however, was about the United States:

“We are not, and never will be, a nation held together by ethnic blood ties. In its way, this is what gives us our strength. All nations are, at base, imagined communities, and our imagined community is based on a uniquely inspiring set of principles. Americans have proved that they can be loyal to, and will fight on behalf of, a more complex, more cerebral national ideal, one derived from ideas of democracy and justice as opposed to blood and soil.”

Voila, I thought to myself.

I find myself unable to relate to a community based on “blood and soil.” It’s what prevents me from identifying with a nation based on the question: Is your mother Jewish? and Do you see Israel as your homeland? I don’t find myself in any structure built on that foundation.

Long ago, a Filipino friend of mine said condescendingly to the group we were in: “You Americans have no national culture like others have, except for maybe Thanksgiving and hot dogs on the Fourth of July.” If she’d said that now I’d reply: And thank heavens for that. We don’t need to be like the rest of Europe and most other countries, who have their story of an original ethnic identity that plays landlord, while other groups are tenants.

At base, this is the reason I abhor Trump’s rally cry: Send Her Back! The question of whether or not he’s a racist is not the point (questions arose during the election of whether or not he was an Anti-Semite, which didn’t feel relevant then either). I feel he’s a chameleon changing his colors on his path towards only one destination, and that is getting re-elected.

What’s relevant for me is the question: How do you define America? How do you define Americans? And as Anne Applebaum pointed out, unlike many countries, including Israel, we don’t define ourselves according to blood and soil—and that’s our strength. We’re not some single ethnic scheme, we’re a collection of people from all over, most of whose ancestors arrived here as refugees in some form or other. We do have fierce loyalties to family, religion, community, and stories of our past, and some of us are ready to fight over whose stories are the right ones (in that sense, folks fighting about statues of Confederate generals in the South are fighting the same empty battles as Balkan populations reliving fights from a millennium ago).

Nevertheless, we are held together by an extraordinary vision (still unrealized) of equality and democracy. Granted, at times it feels more tenuous than blood and soil. How often I have landed in Tel-Aviv and been told by a fellow passenger: Isn’t it great to be home? Don’t you just feel it in your blood? To be honest, I shrink away from those feelings. I have a deep sense of how exclusionary they can be, how self-serving they become.

I know, it’s easy to grow cynical about how many millions of people the Declaration of Independence has failed over hundreds of years. Nevertheless, it is a fantastic challenge. It takes us out of our natural tendencies towards insularity and self- and ethnocentrism, and reminds us that the neighbor who looks and dresses differently, who speaks a different language and celebrates different holidays, is as much American as I am.

That, I believe, is this country’s basic koan.

Zen master Dainin Katagiri wrote: “When you develop your individual character in the broad perspective of non-individual karma, then your personality develops very gently, in a humble way.”

Karma has to do with all the many elements that create you as an individual. But you also have your national karma, and your karma as a human being. He encourages us to discover our individual selves only as part of a much greater whole. In that way we’re gentler, in that way we’re humbler.

In that way we know that when we send someone out of this country to go back where they came from, it’s ourselves, Americans, that go into exile.

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FAR MORE EXCITING THAN THE APOLLO LANDING

50 years have passed since Apollo 11 landed on the moon.

It was the end of the 60s, a time of rebellion and rage for some, confusion for me.  Richard Nixon was President. Technically, I lived at my parents’ home, planning and plotting how I could leave, which was not easy in a religious Jewish home where girls were not allowed to leave the house till they were married. I worked full-time, went to college full-time at nights, and within a month of the lunar landing I’d be physically gone as well.

One day I received a call from an old high school friend who was studying up at Barnard. “I have something to tell you and then ask a favor, “ says she, “but you have to swear you won’t tell anyone.”

Instantly I’m intrigued. Laurie (not her real name) was everybody’s idea of a good girl. Not for her being sent to the principal’s office (a frequent hangout of mine), not for her getting suspended and even kicked out of home. Was she flunking out of Barnard? Was she pregnant?

“I met a guy in Columbia,” she says, “and we fell in love. He’s Palestinian.”

“Palestinian?”

“He’s such a nice man.”

“You fell in love with a Palestinian?”

“They’re refugees. His family lives in Jordan.”

I was dumbstruck. I wasn’t even sure what a Palestinian was. Jordan had controlled the entire West Bank till Israel had conquered it just 2 years earlier. In 1969 there was no such thing as Palestine, and no such thing as Palestinians; that was to come later. But I knew that Palestinians were Arabs. The odds of a Jew dating a Palestinian were lower than reaching the moon. Only here was my old friend, Laurie, who never missed a homework assignment in four years of high school and never disturbed anyone’s equanimity over a span of two decades, falling in love with a Palestinian!

“He went home to Jordan and is coming back tomorrow,” she says on the phone. “I don’t have a car, but you do. If I meet you at Kennedy Airport tomorrow, would you pick him up along with me and take us both back to school?”

“Sure,” I told her. I’d have to check if I could get my mother’s car (lying through my teeth about why I needed it), but wild horses couldn’t prevent me from seeing this.

The next day was July 20. In early evening I drove to Kennedy Airport, parked the car, and found Laura in the TWA terminal that was shaped like a bird. An enormous screen hovered over the inside of the terminal and I looked at it briefly. The Eagle had landed, but Neil Armstrong hadn’t yet stepped onto the moon, not that it mattered. I mean, how could landing on the moon compare with a nice Jewish girl like Laurie falling in love with a Palestinian?

I peppered her with questions—How did you meet? When? Where?—and deduced that yes, she was definitely sleeping with him. Nobody knew except for her, and now me. We waited for the flight to arrive, leaning against the rail as she implored me to silence. We ignored Neil Armstrong taking those first steps and instead stared breathlessly at the flights monitor.

“He landed!” she finally announced. She didn’t mean the astronauts.

I hurried after her as she made her way towards the door from which he’d emerge. If Armstrong had come face to face with a green moonie, it would be nothing like my encounter with Laurie’s Palestinian lover.

He came out of customs and he and Laura embraced. She introduced me briefly, said he was tired, and suggested we go to the car. Above us the two astronauts walked on the moon; we barely gave them a glance.

My mother’s car was a red Dodge convertible, but Laura asked me to keep the roof down. New York City streets were empty that night; I remember driving up one of the avenues on the West Side and making every green light for a 2-mile stretch while Laura and her friend necked on the back seat. Did she tell him that I was born in Israel, I wondered.

I dropped them off at the Columbia campus. I barely received a thank you, but I didn’t mind. I’d seen something far out, unimaginable, and felt strangely grateful.

“Did you see the landing?” my father asked me upon my late return.

I nodded.

He shook his head. “Will wonders never cease!”

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ANOTHER WAY TO PLAY

The hand-off

This is how Harry and Aussie play:

They’ve both rushed up the slope to protect the house from terrorists, i.e. deer, gophers, and wild turkeys. They come back down, job well done, and Aussie gets that glint in her eye that tells me a message has just come in from God. She makes eye contact with Harry, goes down on her belly while keeping her rump up (rump up!), and wags her tail madly.

Harry picks up a small stuffed turtle lying on the ground that squeaks when squeezed, and runs, Aussie chasing. They make the turn around the back, then Harry heads to the garage, jumps through the dog door into the kitchen, runs into the dining room, makes a full circuit around the table, then into my office and out the door to the back, Aussie at his heels, not missing a trick.

A couple of minutes later he turns to her, drops the stuffed turtle. She goes back down on the ground, rump up, wags tail madly, jumps up, picks up the stuffed turtle, and runs ahead, Harry chasing. Same thing: whirlwind rush around the back, into garage, through dog door into kitchen, round and round the dining table, into Eve’s office, and out to the back, Harry breathing hard on her neck.

A couple of minutes later, the stuffed turtle is handed off, or mouthed off (see above), again. New leader, new chaser. The only difference is that when it’s Harry leading and Aussie chasing, he does 2-3 circuits around the dining table from sheer exuberance (not to mention that he’s younger), while she pauses, takes a breather, and when he runs into my office and out the back she’s just inches away. Often they pause to wrestle a little before the next switcheroo.

What a civilized way this is of playing together, I think. Imagine that world leaders played by similar rules.

Xi Jinping: “Hey Donald, you’ve held the stuffed turtle in your mouth for almost a century. We’ve been chasing and chasing, so how about we switch places? We get the stuffed turtle and lead, for a change, and you chase us.”

Trump: “Good idea, Xi! Since I’m a little older and you’re up and coming, I’ll let you take a couple of extra rounds, no need to exert myself too much, but otherwise I’ll be right behind you.”

Xi: “Great. And we can switch again, say in 50 years time.”

Trump: “Wait a minute. How will I know we’ll really switch? Of course, I’ll still be in the White House—you won’t be able to pull the wool over my eyes—only not as young and spry as I am right now.”

Xi: “You’ll know because I’ll go down on my belly, push up my rump, and wag my tuches! It’s a universal language.”

Trump: “Of course! OK, here. I just dropped the stuffed turtle. Off I go to Mar-A-Lago–unless there’s a hurricane, of course—but after that I’ll be right at your heels.”

Xi: “Get ready, get set, go!”

 

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TIME TO RELOCATE

I was booked to leave on Friday morning for South Dakota, to our fifth bearing witness retreat with Lakota elders. I worked very hard the day before, which usually happens before a trip that starts early the next morning, and went to bed early. And stayed awake all night.

I looked into the darkness for hours, thinking that this would be my first bearing witness retreat since Bernie had died. We loved those retreats so much! I was there when he first conceived of one at Auschwitz/Birkenau, we planned and plotted over it incessantly. Other couples talk about the kids or grandkids or a movie they saw or how they’re feeling; we talked about bearing witness retreats.

He attended one Native American retreat and no more due to his stroke, so this one doesn’t have the same imprint. It didn’t matter. I felt he was there with me the whole night.

What do you think? I asked him. I thought of the 40 some odd folks coming, their enthusiasm and joy at seeing each other and how disconnected I feel from that right now.

A friend later told me: “It’s like you shared the same skin for years, and when he went, part of your skin fell off. You feel horribly exposed and vulnerable because there’s no skin to protect you. No wonder you want to slink off to a corner and hide somewhere. You want to protect ourself.”

Aussie came up—she never comes up to the second floor on hot summer night because it’s much cooler downstairs—she could sense something was up. Probed with her muzzle—“What’s going on? Why aren’t you sleeping? And maybe, since you’re up anyway, how about opening up the dog door so that I could run out and bark?”

“Aussie,” I whispered to her, “I saw a large golden coyote cross the road  in the morning. Was that the big animal that crashed through our yard yesterday and sent you tearing out of the house like a mad canine?”

She nuzzled me some more in that darkness. Of course it was, I thought to myself. Bernie loved coyote tricksters. He loved to cause things to appear, and then disappear.

Was he pushing me to go? Was he telling me to show up? In his last years he was so soft, every ounce of hardness had left him. “I don’t want to create more work for you,” he said over and over again. “You should do what’s good for you.”

Do what’s good for you. If you’ve been indoctrinated towards obligation and duty, that’s not so simple. But this morning, at 6 am, I decided not to go.

I’m looking for a softer place now, someplace that’s more intuitive, more home. That’s got more give. Not the old neighborhood of You gotta show up, you can plow through this, come on, you’re strong, other people have it so much tougher than you, etc., etc. I flinch now when people call me strong.

It’s time to relocate. Find that place that’s soft and light, that lets me breathe. Tender.

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PROBE AND PROBE AGAIN

I turn from my computer and meet Aussie’s eyes, one big, imploring call. I need to be free! I’m your freedom girl, I need to run!

Funny, I think, she hasn’t escaped in a while. I look at her, get back to work, look at her, get back to work. Finally, I go out the door and towards the side gate by the laundry lines, the one with the bungee cord and ladder blocking all avenues of escape. And then I see it. Tim had tightened up the bungee cord around the gateposts so hard that not even Aussie, flattening herself like a piece of cardboard, can get through.

Her eyes narrow, looking hard at me. “That’s good,” I tell her. “That’s how things need to be around here.”

And then I astound myself. My hands reach up to clutch the bungee cord. It’s so tight that at first I can’t move it. But I pull hard and it gives. And then I tie it up again, just one coil less.

The two gateposts are still very tight, I reassure myself.

I don’t look at Aussie, just go back to the house. She’s a dog, I tell myself, she doesn’t know what I did. And indeed, Aussie follows me back to the house, stretches out and takes a nap.

A half hour later I hear the clinking. I look out the window in time to see her tail go between the gateposts. Once again, softly and quietly, she’s managed to get through the rungs of the ladder, flatten herself like a pancake, lift open the latch, push with all her might between the tightly-held posts, and get out.

Harry runs after her, but stops, undecided. He’s smaller, he could get out easier than her, and I watch quietly, wondering what he’ll do. But for Harry, the call of the kitchen is louder than the call of the wild. He turns around and trots back to the door.

Meantime, I’m full of self-recriminations. Are you insane? How could you let her out? What kind of mixed message are you giving her?

I didn’t open the gate, I tell myself. All I did was loosen the bungee cord just a little. I didn’t think she’d keep on probing and probing, that sucker has been locked tight for 3-4 days now. She should have given up by now.

But she didn’t. She wanted to find her way to freedom.

What does that say about me, I wonder.

  1. I’m a crazy woman (most plausible).
  2. I want to do the same thing. I want to free up some constraints, work my way through obstructions, and get free.

Since Bernie died the left side of my body—especially the shoulder and hip—has been very constricted. For the first time in my life, I have pain going upstairs or uphill. X-rays have shown no particular deterioration, so the physical therapist diagnoses bursitis and tendonitis.

I diagnose it as pain. I diagnose it as hardship taking a long walk, an obstacle to running away from home. “The body always prioritizes,” a physical therapist told me after I related how healthy I’d been throughout Bernie’s illness. “As long as he was sick, he came first. Now that he’s no longer around, you’re discovering what’s probably ailed you for a while.”

I know nothing about that. What I do know is that now, 8 months after his death, I’m beginning to experience some of the freedom that comes with not having someone sick at home, not rushing from one thing to another like a crazy woman, not measuring time by the milligram. Instead I actually walk out and look at the gorgeous flowers, even take the dogs out for a second walk when it cools down.

But there’s the pain. If I can’t go uphill, how am I going to go downhill?

I want to regain my mobility. I want to run away from home. Learn from Aussie to probe and probe, feel the obstruction, try to run and get stopped, but probe again and again, till one day I get through.

Run, you crazy dog, I tell her as off she goes, tail wagging in the air. Just don’t forget, dinner’s at 5.

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A BORN HAZARD

Goodbye! Leaving home!

“Harry, why did you make a hole in the blanket?”

“Because it’s raining, nothing to do except tear up blankets. That’s not all.”

“What else, Harry?”

“I peed by the refrigerator.”

“What else?”

“I chewed up Bernie’s red lacquered box of Japanese name stamps.”

“What else?”

“I broke the butter dish. I couldn’t help it, it was right on the dining table—“

“—in the center of the table, Harry—“

“—so it was no big deal to jump on the chair, then jump on the table, and gobble down the butter. Just too bad the dish fell on the floor and broke.”

“And did you also throw down the salt and pepper shakers, not to mention the Italian seasonings?”

“What else was I supposed to do? They weren’t real food. Another thing I did was, I chewed up the sides of the blue recyclable bins.”

“Why did you do that, Harry?”

“My teeth need exercise. I just took nibbles, nothing to get excited about, but you should have seen what I did to the bird food canister.”

“You mean, it weren’t mice who created that big hole in the bottom?”

“My, my, I cannot tell a lie, it was moi. Guess what else?”

“Tell me after my nap.”

“I can reach the kitchen counter.”

“How do you know, Harry?”

“Because I jumped right up on it. I thought there was beef stew there but you’d already put it away. Not to mention the car.”

“Are you perchance referring to what happens when I leave you alone in the car for a few minutes and you go bananas? Let’s see, last time you pushed every button you could find, turned on the window wipers and the radio, got rid of my favorite stations, and locked up the car doors.”

“Not to mention that I almost pushed the gear shift from Park to Drive. I’m a born hazard, is what I am!”

Where does forgiveness come from?

Where does self-forgiveness come from after you’ve murdered the little monster?

And where’s the store that sells compassion because there are times when, search high and low, you’ve simply run out?

 

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