Care Bear

“BEAR!!!! I want to sleep!”

“I have a job to do, Aunt Lois. I need to make sure my flock is well and safe all night.”

“But you’ve woken me up four times! I’m tired! It was a long day! Fun, but long.”

“OK. I’ll go check on Mark.”

“You do that.” Lois gets up and slams her door shut, hoping that this time it latches. Martha wakes up at the sound and knows the whole story. She laughs to herself and goes back to sleep.

Morning comes. Martha’s up first. She looks in her friend’s room and sees the sheet pulled up over her face and laughs to herself again. Bear doesn’t give up. Bonded to humans rather than sheep, she is taking care of her flock. Lois and Mark are her flock and when they come back to the fold after a long absence, Bear is visibly relieved.

In the solitude and silence, Martha makes coffe and a smoothie, taking the blender to her room so she doesn’t wake Mark who’s sleeping in the semi-bedroom/studio off the kitchen with only a curtain, no door. She sits down at her laptop and with amazing tenacity continues looking for agents who might possibly represent her book, The Price. She does this only because it’s the right thing to do, and necessary, not because she has any hope. She doesn’t.

Lois wakes up.

“I guess Bear checked on you a few times?”

“I finally gave up keeping her out of my room.”

Later on, Mark stumbles out.

“Did Bear check on you in the night, Marky?”

“Her nose.” Mark had slept on a mattress on the floor, an easy target for Bear’s cold nose.

This is the hazard of spending the night in the same house with a tenacious livestock guardian dog who loves you.


(Some of the conversation in this post is possible but imaginary)


Four years ago I set out for Colorado. I’d sold my house, I’d quit my job and I was leaving California behind, hotel and all (ha ha). In my rented van were Lily T. Wolf, Dusty and Mindy T. Dog, the only companionship I’d have on that journey and in my new life in a new town where I knew no one.

Life in the mountains of CA had been hard on Dusty T. Dog. My neighbor hated him and was abusive and mean to both of us. Yes, Dusty barks, but 1) He was never outside unchaperoned after 8 pm, 2) I scrupulously cleaned the yard and their dog run, 3) Dusty would not leave the yard even if someone left the gate open.

One day I went out and my asshole neighbor was standing next to the fence in front of my house (at that time it was a 3 foot fence; it was soon changed to a 6 foot fence) shaking the fence, screaming at Dusty and yelling, “Come on you son of a bitch. BITE me!” He threw rocks at my dog. He hoped to provoke Dusty so that Animal Control would haul Dusty away.

Animal Control came in response to a formal complaint the guy lodged against me. They found three friendly dogs and a clean yard. I conferred with Animal Control and my trainer and the consensus was that if Dusty wore a bark collar it would control the barking. It didn’t. Dusty’s urge to bark was stronger than the pain of the electric shock. One day I felt a scar on my dog’s neck, took the batteries out of the collar and put it back on him. To the world it looked like he was wearing the bark collar, but it would never shock him again. Grrrrrr.

Dusty was a rescue. I got him from a shelter. He was on his way out as an unadoptable, nervous and aggressive dog, but I didn’t know it when I met him. He was a 4 month old black puppy who let me know as soon as he saw me that he wanted to be my dog. The Animal Control people who ran the shelter warned me that he was not adoptable, but when they put us in a little room together, Dusty laid his head on my chest and talked and talked and talked. The Animal Control officer said, “I guess he’s your dog after all.”

I spent $1500 to have him professionally trained and socialized because where I lived he would not meet people or dogs and he needed to. He never really got calmed down with either (though he is a very sweet, affectionate and friendly dog if you get past the bark) but he did learn to love horses. Dusty barks at people as a warning, to protect me, and to protect himself. You see, when Animal Control picked him up, he was a two month old puppy who was injured and left by the side of Interstate 8 outside of Alpine, CA. Someone had intentionally hurt that dog — puppy, rather. How could he trust anyone?

But he does trust a lot of people. He’s come a very long way from the scared creature he used to be. He used to be terrified at the vet — scary terrified, and now he’s happy to see Dr. Crawford, Dr. Ratzlaff and all the other people who work at Alpine Vet in Monte Vista. He loves my friends (and their dogs). He adores everyone at the kennel where I board him. He likes other dogs, just not from a distance or if they charge him.

Still, my early experiences with Dusty made me wary, and I have always tried to keep him from scaring people, even when it was the people who were the assholes.

Until today.

There’s an old guy who sometimes walks where I do. When I see his truck parked, I go somewhere else. There’s just something about him that creeps me out. The first time we met, the dogs and I had just arrived. Dusty was off leash, and the guy pulled up beside me in the parking lot. Dusty barked and ran to him. The guy was obviously (and naturally) afraid. Dusty’s a big dog.

“I’m afraid of dogs,” he said. “I used to be a mailman.”

“I’m sorry.” How many times have I said, “I’m sorry” because of Dusty? Thousands.

“Keep him away from me.”

“He’s friendly.”

“I don’t like dogs.”

Somehow, that guy’s “I don’t like dogs” trumped my dog. Until today.

We got to a spot to walk. I let Dusty out (off leash because he heels off-leash very very well) and Bear (on leash because she catches a scent and she’s GONE) and off we went. Dusty pooped on the edge of the parking lot. This parking lot is used by teenagers for, uh, parking, (snicker, snicker) and it’s replete with used condoms and beer bottles and dog poop. Lots of people take their dogs there. There is no trash can. Sometimes I pick up my dog’s poop, and sometimes I don’t. It depends whether I am prepared or not. Lots of people don’t, but it’s the country, it’s out of town and who cares?

On the trail are cow pies, road apples, coyote shit, cat shit, elk, deer and rabbit droppings along with god (and Bear) knows what other excremental delicacies.

Today we took a walk by the river (humid, mosquitoes, flies, horseflies, not fun) and then we turned back. I saw the guy walking toward us with his stupid ass hiking stick and not wearing a shirt. Did I say mosquitoes? Flies? Horseflies? I leashed Dusty, took both dogs to the side of the trail, pointed their noses toward the woods, away from the trail, and held them tight.

The guy approached. The guy approached me. “Don’t stop,” I said. Dusty was barking like crazy, of course, because a guy with a cudgel was coming toward his human. “DON’T STOP!!!” I said again because the guy just didn’t get it. Finally he walked on, and I got back on the trail. He stopped and said, “Someone let their dog poop in the parking lot.”

I’ve been Dusty’s human for 12 years. For 12 years I’ve taken the peoples’ side in their objections to my dog. Today, I didn’t. “Big fucking deal,” I said thinking of the museum of excrement that is a path along a river.

The guy yelled toward my quickly retreating back, something about “Don’t talk to me that way.”

The thing is, I never wanted to talk to him at all.

Cosmic Awesomeness and a Beautiful Book

“The Epicureans…believed that teaching is by personal contact; knowledge and wisdom pass from teacher to student, one by one.”

I wasn’t a great student. I was a better than great scholar, but student? No. I was lucky in graduate school, however, to have found a teacher who understood me and supported my style of learning and advised me in the writing of my thesis. He was also an extraordinarily demanding teacher of writing. I revised my thesis eleven times under his kind but critical instruction.

Because the department did not give me a third year appointment as a teaching assistant, when I finished my classes, I got a full-time job. I had no reason to go on campus while I was writing my thesis, so our meetings about my thesis usually took place at his house, in his study. It was lined with books and had a big desk, of course. There was a Victorianish red velvet sofa where I sat flanked by two black great Danes while he read and red-lined the current draft.

I graduated and we remained friends and in contact, but life carries us on. I read all the books he wrote in the interval, but had no contact with him for twenty or so years.

A few weeks ago, I was thinking of him so I googled him and found an obituary, but only one, and no confirmation anywhere that he had actually died. Instead I found he’d written a book that piqued my interest even more than it would have been piqued just finding a new book by him, Nearer the Heart’s Desire: Poets of the Rubaiyat: A Dual Biography of Omar Khayyam and Edward FitzGerald. It’s unlikely this book (beautiful and readable though it is) will ever be a best-seller, but my father’s favorite work of literature was the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, and I was raised on it. It was my early introduction to the importance of literature and the power of writing. It was also the main factor that led me to my personal philosophy which is that life is short, incomprehensible, often, but beautiful, and nature is my teacher and most stalwart friend. That Bob Richardson (Dr. Richardson to me in spite of everything) would have written this book was a wonder.

I found a contact form on his website, and I wrote him asking if he were dead or alive. I mentioned the book and my father’s love of the Rubaiyat and sent him a link to my website. He answered that he was very much alive and told me he was sending me a copy of the book and buying one of mine.

I finished the book last night. It’s full of beauty and appreciation both for Omar Khayyams verses and for the passion of Edward FitzGerald in learning Persian and transforming Omar Khayyam’s poetry into English. Omar Khayyam was a poet, mathematician and astronomer who lived in the 11th and 12th centuries, during the glorious times of the Persian Empire. Coincidentally, Edward FitzGerald was an Englishman living in England during the “sun never sets” period of English history. Both were quiet iconoclasts.

The book is organized into three main parts; the first introduces the reader to Omar Khayyam, his life, verses and philosophy. The second follows a similar pattern with Edward FitzGerald. In the third part, Richardson puts the two together and discusses how and why the Persian poet spoke so powerfully to this rather eccentric Victorian gentleman scholar.

Richardson’s book is beautifully written. He uses stanzas from the Rubaiyat to help his readers understand Omar Khayyam the man. The court and era in which Omar Khayyam lived are vividly portrayed, and we really get to know the people and some of the political machinations of the time. There are parallels between Omar Khayyam’s time and ours — a period of intellectual flowering and liberal thinking gave way to a reign of repressive conservatism. Richardson does the same thing with FitzGerald’s life, and we are introduced to a “colorful” character who followed his own star.

The book is accessible literary analysis that is also very timely. Richardson writes:

FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat shows us an approachable eleventh-century Iranian, a nominal Muslim, of probable Zoroastrian heritage, thinking about life and love in terms immediately comprehensible to an Internet-adept, scientifically inclined modern person. In the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam one civilization speaks to another, as equals, across a thousand-year gap.

He makes the point that words have the power to unite sympathetic hearts across time and that the spirit in the Rubaiyat of sharing the “cup of wine” could be the spirit that brings peace to the world, and while it might not happen nationally, it can happen personally.

I thought about that, and about my own life which has been filled with people from most of the world’s nations. I thought of many parties at my house and the houses of students, most of whom were perfectly happy to relax their prejudices for the sake of a good time. I thought of how much that was the result of their having been in a classroom together for months learning the words with which they could share ideas with each other.

I then thought of some of my favorite poems. In his book, Richardson writes about the probable influence of FitzGerald’s work on that of modern poets particularly Yeats and Eliot. I’m afraid my mind doesn’t bend that way any longer, but there is a theme in the work of some poets that shares Richardson’s claim that words are bridges linking people existing across time. One is Yeats’ poem, “The Song of the Happy Shepherd:

Go gather by the humming sea
Some twisted, echo-harbouring shell,
And to its lips thy story tell,
And they thy comforters will be,
Rewarding in melodious guile
Thy fretful words a little while,
Till they shall singing fade in ruth
And die a pearly brotherhood;
For words alone are certain good…


Richardson also shows how FitzGerald’s literary background and philosophical loves influenced his appreciation of Omar Khayyam. It seems that FitzGerald admired — and took to heart — the thinking of Lucretius. I don’t have a background with which to evaluate this claim, but it makes sense to me. One of my favorite passages in the book is where Richardson explains the general perspective of Lucretius, saying, “…Lucretius looked for answers in Nature, not in Religion. What Lucretius knew and what FitzGerald loved in him was the fact that Nature IS the law.”

I love that a Roman writer was the key with which a British gentleman opened the words of a Persian poet. That is, for me, precisely how literature opens the world.

I loved the book and there was only one point made with which I had to take serious umbrage.

“FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat points unmistakably to the poety and philosophic superiority of eleventh century Persia over the prosaic, superstitious, intellectually primitive eleventh-century West, a West still sunk in poverty, overrun by barbarians, confused, illiterate, depopulated and primarily rural.”

To my surprise (and probably to Dr. Richardson’s) I grew up to be a medievalist, so I have my biases, too. 🙂

If you’re interested, here is a link to buy the book


Aunt Jo

In the photo above is my Aunt Jo, my cousin, Linda, Linda’s mom, my Aunt Kelly, and my mother. This was our kitchen in Englewood, Colorado, so I’m guessing it was Thanksgiving 1958. I would have been six.

Literally two minutes before I lost contact with the world last week because wild-fires burned down microwave towers in the mountains, I got an email from a cousin telling me my Aunt Jo had died. It was no surprise. For a long period in early spring/late winter she’d been in hospice care AND she was 95 years old. Then the internet went down and my phone went dead. At first I figured, “24 hours” but it just went on for five days. I worked on my novel and attempted to use the WIFI at the library (it worked once) then I gave up until my neighbor told me about free WIFI at the park.

But even then… I didn’t contact my cousin — my Aunt Jo’s son —  or anyone. I meant to but what I had to say was something beyond words. When I finally did text my cousin I said I was happy that now he had his freedom. That may sound cold, but the past 7 years have been a long haul for him caring for a woman with whom he had a complicated relationship and who also had dementia. That’s families for you. I understand. I was raised by a woman who didn’t like me, and I was stuck at the end with her, making arrangements and taking her verbal abuse. It’s not all happiness in family life and, finally, even the sorrow isn’t clear.



Aunt Jo showing her grand-daughter, Monica and my niece, Andrea, meadowlark eggs

I loved my Aunt Jo very much and we were close, good friends. She gave me something I needed very badly and that was the truth about my own mother and her treatment of me. Anyone who’s known or been in a relationship with a sociopath KNOWS that they have the ability to alter your perception of reality, and I grew up knowing something was true and yet unable to believe it.

One night a few years after my mom died, my Aunt Jo (next in line in the family birth order) sat me down and talked to me straight about it, how it appeared to her, to my Aunt Dickie and my Aunt Martha. It was a moment of intense revelation to me because I KNEW the truth inside me, but was not able to believe it. An example, let’s say I had an appointment with the school counselor (something that happened every year for every kid). The morning of that event my mom would say, “I know what you’ll do. You’ll make up some story that I beat you.”

In fact, she didn’t exactly BEAT me but I could count on a fair share (nice use of irony?) of face slaps, arm bruises, shaking and so on. Her tendency was more toward psychological sadism than physical abuse. Usually all the school counselor wanted to talk to us about were our grades — but my mom’s defensiveness about her behavior and fear that I might tell someone is pretty interesting in retrospect.

I never knew until that night with my Aunt Jo that anyone noticed. I NOW know that her sisters closest to my mom in age had noticed everything, and all of them tried in their own way to mitigate the hurt

Beyond all that ugliness was a lot of wonder in my Montana extended family. There were seven sisters, and my Aunt Jo was the second to youngest. She was outgoing, could tell a good story, liked people, worked hard to earn money working at the school cafeteria, then a gardening shop, went to florist school, worked as a florist, worked in the hospital gift shop. She grew apple trees and beautiful gardens. One year — 8 years ago — she and my uncle planted three little cherry tomato plants in a big, red wagon and named them “the kids.” They moved them to the sunny spots in their yard all day.

My brother and I stayed with them for a few months in the late 1950s and during that time I learned an important lesson in my life. My two older cousins (boys) teased me constantly and some days (like the one they hung my Tiny Tears doll from a noose in a cottonwood tree) were awful. That day, after dinner and dishes, my Aunt Jo took me out to the front porch and taught me to count my blessings. She went first. She said, “I don’t have a little girl of my own, but I get to have you as my little girl for a little while.”  I don’t remember mine but I guess it was that I was grateful that Uncle Hank made the boys cut my doll down from the tree. We had to come up with ten blessings and we did this every night after supper.

What a life skill!!!!

I know a lot more about the lives of my mom and her sisters now and how they grew up. I don’t know if counting their blessings was part of it, but it seems to me it might have been. I do know that right now though I’m sad that I will never see any of them again I am grateful that I knew them and that even without my knowing it, they looked out for me. I am grateful for the years — the Christmases and summer weeks — I got to spend as an adult with my Aunt Jo and Uncle Hank after my mother died. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have known them — all of us as grownups —  for all our conversations, for the jokes and for the love and understanding that we shared


Pain and Pleasure

Yesterday at physical therapy I was standing there doing tug-o-war with my therapist. Yeah, it’s an exercise. I’m supposed to hold still while he attempts to move me away from my center by pulling in one direction or the other. It’s a hip strengthening and stabilizing exercise. The tool involved is stretchy. Once that was finished, we moved on to his pulling me (using the same stretchy tool) from the front. I was thinking about how great it’s been to be able to safely do so many things I want (and more that I don’t want, like yard work) so quickly after surgery thanks all the physical work I did before the surgery, the miles and miles on the bike-to-nowhere, the dog walks that were often excruciating.

“You need to give me a challenge,” I said to Ron, grinning. “I’m pretty strong.”

“You are,” he said. “You know, I think you’re ready to walk on uneven ground.”

“I have been.”

“Where?” I told him about our walks out at Shriver/Wright Wildlife Refuge with the heat the the horseflies, how beautiful it was, how silent and empty (because who wants to walk in heat with horseflies? Only a dedicated idiot stoic like me, I guess). “It’s mostly flat, but there are some little — very little — hills.” My new thing is finding hills. Not big hills, but hills.

I had been thinking that I’m now able to walk my dogs at the slough and do a lot of other things because of the way I was raised. I felt grateful to those “cowboys” who raised me to be tough and to have a sense of humor about it. There wasn’t a lot of indulgence in the Kennedy household. In my mind’s “ear” I heard my mom say, “Quit yer bellyaching,” followed by a slap across the face as enforcement.

I literally grew up expecting pain. One friend a long time ago called me a masochist, but that’s not it at all. A masochist LIKES pain. I don’t like it, but it doesn’t surprise me. What has surprised me is NOT feeling pain. That’s amazing.

I wonder how I would have raised children to expect both pain and pleasure and take neither for granted, to understand pain enough to know that it may be transitory but maybe not; it may need to be dealt with. Still, it’s universal to all people and so should inspire compassion. I would want to raise them to understand pleasure is also transitory and somewhat random, but can be the fruit of their kindness to others — which is intentional and which they can choose and can ameliorate a lot of the pain in the world.

All in all, the cowboy stoicism with which I was raised seems to have been a good thing, though I could’ve done without the slaps. It looks like I’ll be doing that mountain hike two months earlier than originally projected. ❤ Thanks mom.

Stoicism: an ancient Greek school of philosophy founded at Athens by Zeno of Citium. The school taught that virtue, the highest good, is based on knowledge, and that the wise live in harmony with the divine Reason (also identified with Fate and Providence) that governs nature, and are indifferent to the vicissitudes of fortune and to pleasure and pain.

Gratefully back to Business as (Somewhat Slower than) Usual



Bear, happy to be home


Lori, the owner of Noah’s Arff, brought Dusty and Bear home to me yesterday afternoon. They were so HAPPY! Lori pulled into the alley, I left the back gate open, both dogs went straight to their yard and into their house. Dusty spent the first hour glued to me and Bear spent her first hour exploring the vastly overgrown wilderness that was once her yard. She was VERY impressed, however, by her favorite hole because now the lilac has leaves and has grown around the hole so she can not only dig, but she can hide.



Dusty in his favorite spot


I have always been amazed by dogs and I was curious to see what Bear and Dusty would do when they came home. They were gone for 6 weeks — 43 nights. They learned a whole new schedule, new life, new people, new regimen. They had fun and playmates and sometimes a lot of time in the VERY large kennel that is “theirs” (it’s easily 10 x 10 feet). But once home, it didn’t take long for them to reassert their dog-status and re-assume their habits. The REAL test was last evening, after dinner, about 7:30 pm (a beautiful time of day on the longest day of the year, the first day of summer) Bear stood in the kitchen giving me a certain look which means, “C’mon! Let’s go! C’mon! The alpenglow! You’re going to miss it! I have messages to read! Let’s go!”

I wasn’t sure I was ready to walk her, honestly. I’d half planned to wait a day or two, take control of the moment, make it my own choice, but I love that dog and I thought she was right.

“Dusty, you have to stay here. I can’t handle you both.” Dusty seemed to nod in understanding. I leashed Bear and out we went. She was eager, but responsive to a command I’ve taught her which is, “Go slow.” So we had our evening walk on the longest day of the year, slow and peaceful around the high school. I met a neighbor with her sweet, smart and very loyal little white poodle. Bear sat and listened to our short chat about stuff. Then we went on our way Bear read messages, left a couple, while I looked at my mountains and thought to myself that there’s nothing more beautiful than a simple moment with a good dog.

I’m so glad they’re home. Now I have to go clean up their yard. There’s probably even a pond out there somewhere I don’t know about.


“I missed my coffee!!! Thanks human!”

What Happened…Hip Replacement Update

I slept pretty well last night in my beautiful B&B four poster bed.


Got up, dressed kind of and went out for a delicious breakfast and good coffee. The hour neared — it was a 30 minute drive to the doc in a part of town that — when I lived here — were inscrutable boondocks where you went four wheeling but times change.

They called me right away, took X-rays, put me in the doc’s room, doc came in, said “It’s beautiful. You’re free to bend 110 degrees, pretty much everything. Do you have any question?”

I didn’t. I should but I don’t. I showed him that I can walk pretty well without my cane. He smiled a huge smile and put his arms out for a hug. I said, “Thanks for everything. Thanks for everything. Thanks for listening to me. Thanks for saying fuck. Thanks for explaining, And thanks for this.”

I sat down and I told him something that I completely surprised me. I explained that while I don’t know about other people, but that for me without the ability to move freely in nature I really didn’t know what my life would be. I told him about my dad having had MS and dying young. He said, “So you know exactly what it means to lose the ability.”


In the room — unsaid — was, “So that’s why you’ve been so frightened, so emotional and so desperate.” I hadn’t realized it before. I told him about taking my dad out to see Pikes Peak with a storm coming over it just a few months before he died and how soon after, my dad go pneumonia. I said, “I think it was the kindest act of my life.” The doc nodded. “It was,” he said.

So that moment passed and he told me I am able to to anything I want that’s low impact for the next three months. I can hike anywhere, anything, ride a real bike, whatever I’m fit and ready for. I go back on September 20 — that’s the fourth anniversary of my return to Colorado. And if all is well at that point he said I can run and I can ski (X-country).

I am not sure anyone else can know completely what this has meant to me — maybe. But today I got my life back. I have a lot of work to do and I’m not young any more but I won’t get any younger and I have nothing I’d really rather do motr than the work. I have a good team of allies and my dogs will be home tomorrow.

Thank you everyone for all the encouragement and moral support. I know I’ve been a cry baby sometimes and pretty self-indulgent other times. Forgive me for that. I’m just a little lady after all.

Tomorrow Lois will join me for breakfast, then I’ll leave this place which has been a little haven and a little dream come true and return to Heaven where I will work toward a more active life with my two best buds.


The Cast


“What happened?”

My little brother held his arm as if it were a bone china tureen filled with hot soup, not that he’d know or care at all about what bone china is.

“I fell out of a tree up at the mission.” The Columban fathers had a mission a block from our house. It was acres and acres of deciduous forest. It was our playground, our happy place.

“I’ll call your father.”

She didn’t drive.

I don’t know what happened next. I don’t know where I went — probably to a neighbor’s  or maybe (I think) my grandma was visiting — or where the bone was set, but my brother came home with a cast on his forearm.

“Simple break,” said my dad. “No reason for hysterics, Helen.”

“I broke my arm,” she stuck out her left arm so we could see the crooked bit. “It never healed right.”

“Helen,” sighed my dad, “there were no hospitals.”

“She sent David for Dr. Festy.” David being her older brother.

“Had to set it with boards in the kitchen, right? They did the best they could.”

“My poor boy. Mother gave me castor oil.”

“For a broken arm?”

“I wouldn’t stop crying.”

My dad shook his head and laughed. That was my grandma. What do you do on a dirt farm with ten kids, no car, no phone, two Percherons, a 7-year-old with a broken arm? From where I sit now, castor oil doesn’t seem that crazy.

“Well, it ruins our vacation,” said my mom.

“Why?” asked my dad.

“Kirk won’t be able to do anything. He has to be in a cast for three months!”

That did not turn out to be the case. Kirk did everything a two-armed kid would do except play Little League which he hated, anyway.

At the end of the summer, we went to Montana on the train as usual. The days were long, hot, sweet and filled with family. There were sunset games of Red Rover and lots of running in the tall grass of the pasture between grandma’s house and Aunt Jo’s. There were backyard picnics with fried chicken, red Jell-o mixed with fruit cocktail, potato salad and pie. The grownups sat in lawn chairs smoking in the darkness while we played monsters with flashlights.

One afternoon our cousins came over to stay with grandma and play with us. My brother  was playing in the ditch (not supposed to because of the cast) with the two youngest cousins, girls, while I tried watercolor painting with out a brush — I was trying to use the bristly ends of some wild grass. It didn’t work. Kirk and my cousins came screeching in through the backdoor. Kirk had caught a sucker with his bare hands. This was a marvel, a feat previously only accomplished by my mom.

“Mom! Look what I caught!” He held the fish carefully in both hands.

“Where’s your cast?” asked my mom, turning pale.

“I don’t know,” said my brother, suddenly realizing how seriously he’d messed up. It turned out he’d been slipping that thing off for weeks when he didn’t want to wear it.

I still have an image in my mind of that tow-headed kid in the Hawaiian shirt my mom had made him during the months she and my dad were living in Honolulu and we were living with Aunt Jo and Uncle Hank in Montana. We’re in a doctor’s waiting room. The chairs are Chartreuse, the tile floor black and white. Kirk and my mom are called into the examining room. They get up and Kirk leaves the cast on the chair.

Once Upon a Time

My brother had a little girl, and I loved her more than anything. Strangely, you can have unrequited love in your own family, and that love story didn’t work out well. Not because of me, and probably not because of her. I suspect all the other dark factors that affected my family. The photo is her with her mom about 1981.

When she was a little thing, just walking and talking, she was my best bud. I didn’t get to see her often because there was a lot of stress in the famdamnily, but when I did see her, it was the greatest.

Once we went out to eat together — her mom, dad, and I. We had finished dinner and were sitting around the table while my niece played in a largely empty restaurant. She was enthralled with the (to her) long distance between the back wall and the front windows. I joined her in the back of the restaurant about to share an adventure to the front.

“Let’s go!” she said. She’d just learned to run without falling on her face.

“Where?” I asked.

THERE!” she replied.

“There? That’s too vague,” I answered (to a two year old)

“OK. Let’s go to vague!”

2 + 2

Rat IThe House Might Eat Tommy’s Ice Cream

Got THAT out of the way. I’m not at all interested in mnemonics, frankly. But I do know one and there it is. 🙂


In OTHER news it snowed last night. Here’s a photo of Bear in the snow. One of my friends pointed out the shadow, calling it Bear’s “Inner Wolf.” ❤