Wednesday, November 21, 2007

brrrrrrrr. too cold. 'bye

My fingers are red tipped and stiff from the cold and I'm cranky after loading freight all afternoon. My usually cheery drivers were cranky too. The temperature's dropped almost 50 degrees in the last twelve hours. It was so warm in the house last night, I flung all the windows wide open before going to bed, fighting the urge to turn on the air.

I am leaving for warmer climes shortly. In a way, I'm glad for this sudden cold snap, as it makes the delicious warmth of Mazatlan an even greater pleasure. I need walks on the beach, sunsets over the Pacific, waves lapping at my bare toes.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend. It's a strange one here, as I'm not cooking or having family in for the first time in 16 years. Just escaping. To warmth, sand, sunshine. See you in December.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

eugene is 90

He was born in 1917 on the plains of western Kansas. He lived through the flu epidemic, flappers, Prohibition, the Great Depression. He survived the Dust Bowl in the very heart of it, and the memory of Black Sunday can still bring him to tears.

Classical music moves him beyond any other. He was a brilliant student in a one room schoolhouse who went on to achieve many degrees and to have a distinguished career as a research chemist. His doesn't brag about the many patents he holds. He won't talk much about his World War II service except to shake his head and marvel at the remarkable resiliency of the Japanese.

He built us a bomb shelter at the peak of the Cold War. He took us outside as tornadoes passed overhead, enchanted with the power of those destructive storms. He lived through Vietnam, through hippies, through troubled daughters, a wife who abandoned him and a second wife so devoted I am convinced she is an angel.

He has always been humble, always curious, always fascinated by the natural world. He laughs and makes others love him with his warmth and kindness. He can be critical and demanding, and his heart is soft enough to break with an unkind word.

He speaks with just a hint of a German accent. He loves his family and wants, more than anything, for "his people" to be okay. I have fought with him over politics, over my lifestyle, over all manner of things which now seem inconsequential. More than anything I've sought his approval and today, sober and happy, I have it.

My Daddy is 90 today. That's young for a redwood, but it's a ripe old age for a human being. He is forgetful and healthy, and every day he's with us is a gift. I love my papa.

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Monday, November 12, 2007


Little fuckers have been tagging my warehouse building for the last week. I've been hearing them on the roof when I'm working late, now they've broken out the windows on the north side of the building. It would be near impossible to get in and the alarm would certainly go off, but the thought of little shits running amok amongst the armoires and china cabinets and stained glass and ancient old beds gives me the shudders. I've a notion to plant my ass on the roof tonight with a shotgun, go all crazy on the little bastards. Kind of like these bad girls, who remind me so much of high school.

Heh. My stepmother just called and in the course of discussing the little shits' attack on my building, she suggested I stake it out with a gun. This is the same proper woman who ran off one of my boyfriends with a pistol. Still wild at 75.

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Gym. Time. Every. Day. Why is this so hard to remember?

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Friday, November 09, 2007

what. the. fuck.

Toxic shrimp, melamine in cat food, tainted fish passed off as good, lead paint on childrens' toys and now this?? Toy beads coated with GHB?

Scientists said when the beads are ingested, a chemical coating metabolises into the so-called date rape drug gamma hydroxy butyrate, which can induce unconsciousness, seizures, drowsiness, coma and death.

China is trying to kill us.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007


I do penance for Bear every night as I lift the quilt and invite my dogs to join me on my stacked featherbeds. I tuck them in by my legs, two small terriers, letting them snuggle down into the feathers before wrapping them in the old quilt for warmth. Dogs love warmth, every dog lover knows that. I learned it watching Billy seek out the sunny spots in the house or jump into a basket of laundry fresh from the dryer. I often think of Bear as I fall asleep, the soft breathing and sweet, warm bodies of my dogs forcing me to remember her.

Bear was a small black Schipperke, the second of those tailless Belgian dogs to live with us. Bear followed Cindy by eight years, years filled by a seizure-prone pug. She was a playful puppy, an energetic adult, great fun for us in our grade school years.

When I was nine, Bear developed an itchy back and like Cindy before her, it was unrelenting. Whatever it was, and there were plenty of theories, it drove her to fits of scratching. Dr. Ray's ministrations and his soothing ointment had no effect. Nothing impacted this itch. It must have been maddening and torture for that little dog, the most severe itch being on her back where she could not reach.

At every opportunity, Bear would race to my father's bed, an old mahogany four poster my mother had fitted with metal rails in order to accommodate a larger mattress. The rails were the perfect height to scratch Bear's back, to soothe that desperate itch. Scratching made it worse, of course. We'd put her out so she wouldn't scratch; she'd dart inside as soon as the door was opened.

Missing her one day, we found her in the bedroom, her back a bleeding mess. This horror was repeated over and over until she ended up with an oval patch of bleeding, hairless skin from rubbing against the rails. We put her outside to stay and from that day on she lived in the back yard. We were, by then, front yard kids, active, outdoors a lot, but Bear was a backyard dog and so she was alone.

That's how I think of her now ~ alone. And the worst, the most painful, agonizing thoughts are of Bear alone in her dog house on the coldest night of winter with deep snow and all of us warm inside. On those desperately cold nights, I would sometimes find myself seized with a kind of panic, a 12 year old's guilt, wondering how she was faring out there, realizing I couldn't sleep until I knew.

Going to the door, I'd call her, persisting until she hobbled from her dog house, a moving inkspot against the snow. Rousing her from her nest, from whatever warmth she could find, I'd feel reassured that she was alive. I'd pet her briefly, then shut the door and so to bed. I left her there, cold, alone, in the dark, with no companionship, with nothing that dogs thrive on. Nothing.

I hate myself for this. It is one of my worst sins. I can't write it without crying. What a hideous thing to do to a dog. It's no excuse that I didn't know what dogs were like, what they needed. It was a terrible, terrible thing to do and it is a permanent stain on my conscience and an ache in my heart.

I think the intense shame and guilt I felt over the treatment of one small black dog fueled my near lifetime insistence that I didn't like dogs. Until Bill arrived in my life five years ago, I lived dog-free, touting the superiority of cats over the panting, shedding, jumping, licking canines of my acquaintance. I jokingly insisted my sister should administer "the final solution" to her pack of nine unadoptable and ailing dogs. And Bear was always on my mind. I couldn't laughingly denigrate a dog without thinking of Bear and with Bear inevitably comes a hot shame. Always.

There was a little comfort for Bear when my father remarried. As my stepmother arrived on the scene, we were coming alive again after the shock of my mother's disappearance. A dog lover, this good woman was horrified at our neglect of the little Schipperke. I am horrified too, and filled with regret. After 35 years, I am still sickened by my mistreatment of that poor animal.

I can't fix it. I thought writing about it might help. I don't need reassurances that what I did wasn't that dreadful. It was, end of story. But I live a program that insists I make amends, to right wrongs where I can. Long before my dogs arrived, I helped animals where I could, supported rescue, paid vet bills for strays, anything to assuage the guilt. And though it can't be fixed, my neglect of Bear, it is some comfort that my two terriers have the best possible dog's life, every comfort, constant companionship, inside living with their people, lots of exercise, endless, boundless love and affection.

I wish I could do it over with Bear, give her this kind of life. I'd find a solution for her itchy back as I've found for Billy's itchy hip. I'd tolerate her quirks as I tolerate Deaf Betty's barky attention to every falling leaf and passing car. And I'd let her sleep with me every night. I'd hold her and love her and keep her warm, every night.

There aren't any do-overs, and regret is the most wretched of emotions. I suspect I will die with this one. What about you? Do you have regrets that simply will not leave you?

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

more alive

Forgot to say that I am feeling so alive, so refreshed and so much myself again, that I can confess I am consumed by envy and jealousy and a strong urge to fly off to Boston this weekend. The lure is my wish to see, in the flesh, this boy and this one, and these boys, and more. They are going to have so much fucking fun without me and I am heartbroken.

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Went to sleep, woke up in love with my husband again. Amazing how that works. A month ago I wrote a friend that I was thinking about divorce. Just wanted to move out, away, free of entanglements, live in a single room away from everyone I know.

This sleep deal is astonishing. I feel like a new woman, all happy and well balanced and resilient. Again. That's the way I used to feel, but it vanished somewhere in the sleepless nights. I am now officially among the living, thanks to my cute little friend. I'll be catching up with all of you this weekend.

Meanwhile, here's the sweet thing I go to bed with each night:

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