Recalling an old memory, this poem was written for Lenore to honor her for Mother’s Day.
Recalling an old memory, this poem was written for Lenore to honor her for Mother’s Day.
I live with a dog named Guilt. Those large brown eyes melt my soul, entreating me to treat her kindly, protect her from the slam of the dryer and the squeak of my recliner when I insist that I must lift my legs. The local veterinarian claims that I own this animal that he has listed on his surgery sheet as Leah. My assertion is that I live with her. She doesn’t own me and neither do I own her.
Last week I placed a chain link collar around this creature’s neck. I drove her to a groomer. The groomer also boards dogs and perhaps cats. (The groomer said, “Hello, Leah! I have a nice doggie bed for you!”) That day I needed to drive across the state in my little car. The adventure would mean at least four hours of being cooped up in a two door, well, coupe.
Leah grew from living in a sweet black puppy shell into a grown dog body that has been known to startle a person or two. After the Vet replaced both her knee ligaments with faux materials, Leah proceeded to stretch from the eighty pound range to a lovely and rotunder ninety two pounds. She’s a mix of the common Black Lab breed, sporting an expanse of curls on her shoulders and back.
Leah and I have worked together since we first met. As a youngster she tended to spit up when she went on car rides. As she aged she grew out of that particular physical manifestation of nerves. It didn’t take long for Leah to learn that sitting and lying down on command meant treats and praise. We played goofy indoor games: catch! She’d look at me when I said that and just that quick, a treat would pop into her eager mouth. This simple game led us into the ‘follow me’ and later, the important heel on the left side and when we’re on property, heel without a leash.
All this and again I realize that I am sizeist. Leah is a robust, healthy gal. She is not a perfect robot. Leah has eccentricities. She keeps me realizing that she’s a doggie bag filled with anxiety. We walk on town streets and do that ably, no rut for her neck and no hauling on my shoulder.
Its that long haul driving that we can’t get around. Here barrels in Mister or Ms Guilt: our smaller dog is physically, well, smaller and due to her breed, calmer. Little Sally, Blue Heeler pup, approaches life with interest and full speed ahead, not reacting, just taking the world in. This is where the kennel door looms for Leah, leaving me with a Santa sack of guilt slamming down the chimney. I hate leaving good hearted Leah behind. I love-hate how it is, just is, a joy to include Sally on such forays as an afternoon snack at a bistro-bookstore. Our polite inquiry on whether we could sit out on their porch and drink our tea and lemonade with Sally was met by “All means!” And then a ginger cookie doled out for Sally. And all was sunshine with a light breeze.
So I love little Leah though I admit that I love her best when she is home, dancing in the afternoon, chasing a torn up toy for a moment or two. The lack of anxiety flavored with that faint taint of guilt, I laugh: joy and puppy play. No worries. No wondering what’s headed toward us. Just exuberant hilarious leaps and gambols. Until….. its time again for another road trip. Without…..
Arizona has some fascinating uses of line in the natural landscape. Here are a few examples. Here is a proud cactus who sits outside my Carniceria – I loved the contrast so much I had to make it into an art print. This tree draws a fantastic line at my local park… And these radal […]
I swear to you this story didn’t come out of a bottle. It may have gone back into one at some point but I didn’t drink a drop before this happened.
I was poking around my favorite thrift store, a place called Savers, when it happened. My phone vibrated. Now, that’s not the most unusual occurrence but I hadn’t paid Cricket their monthly due in over a month, had ten dollars to my name, and was in this bargain hunter’s paradise hoping to pick up something decent for a job interview I had the next day. In order to get to the blouses, though, I had to go past the knick-knack section and this was when my phone vibrated.
I pulled out the little LG flip phone (currently carried only for its ability to call 911) and looked at it, puzzled. It vibrated again. I had a new message.
Damn Cricket, I thought, they’re probably just warning me I’m about to lose my number in however many days unless they get their $35 US.
I opened the phone.
Over here, in the glassware, said the text.
Say what? I looked around the store, wondering if someone was playing a prank on me. I was new in town, didn’t have friends yet, and it had taken longer to get a job than I’d expected. So nobody who could play that kind of prank, and anyway the phone was shut off.
The phone buzzed again, I checked it. It’s no prank. Look in the glassware section. I don’t know why but the unadorned letters almost seemed impatient.
With little better to do on this sunny Saturday, I walked into the glassware section. Unsure of what I was supposed to find, I scanned the shelves, seeing the usual assortment of water glasses, bowls, mugs with dumb sayings on them, mismatched dishes, wine glasses far finer than most here would ever need, and other barely identifiable bits of glass, plastic, and ceramic.
The phone vibrated again, harder this time. Look down.
I looked down, then crouched, reached into the back of the bottom-most shelf. There, among stacks of institutional stoneware, was an ornate bottle of blue glass with metal traceries. It was just short enough to fit. I carefully pulled it out, looked at what I’d found. It was like one of those touristy “made in Cairo” glass bottles you’ll sometimes see online, yet this was far finer, heavier, and somehow more serious. I tilted it a bit, looked at the bottom, saw “$9.50” grease penciled there.
I looked at my phone. “Okay, what now?” I whispered.
Now buy it. I’ll make it worth your while.
“I don’t need this piece of crap, I need a decent blouse for my interview,” I whispered.
“Damn people talking on their Bluetooth,” I heard a nearby voice say. It was nasal and rather unpleasant. “If I didn’t know they were on their damn phone I’d think they were crazy.”
The phone vibrated again. You won’t regret it, the text read. Besides, what’s wrong with the purple turtleneck in the back of your closet?
That’s where it went to? Okay, I’ll buy this thing, I thought.
I went to the front, set the bottle on the counter, and handed the blonde cashier my last crumpled $5, four ones, and the quarters and dimes needed. I had just enough for tax. As she wrapped the bottle in a couple of store flyers, she said “This is a nice little find, isn’t it?”
“I think it might be,” I said. “Can you tell me anything about it?”
“No, not really, but I think it’s pretty. I think it might have been donated from an old lady’s house? It came in here a few weeks ago and that’s all I know,” she said. “We do get a lot of donations.”
Once out of the store, I made my way home. Then, sitting on the camp chair that was one of my few pieces of furniture, I unwrapped the bottle and looked at it again. It really was a fine piece of glassware and I was surprised they hadn’t tried to get more out of it. “Okay, what now?” I asked the empty air. Then the phone rang, as if I had a call.
I picked up.
“Okay, by the entirely too arbitrary rules by which I occasionally live, you might now be considered my owner,” said a smooth, masculine voice. “And now I am able to help you. Before, I could not because no form of contract or transaction had taken place.”
“Who is this?”
“You may call me Hassan, if you like,” said the voice. “I can tell that not only are you in dire financial straits but you are also possessed of a most curious mind. I am about to answer all your questions, Diane.”
I scratched at my head. “How did you know my name?”
“Your phone records, of course,” said Hassan. “This will go faster if you don’t ask too many questions, not at first, at least. I assure you I will answer anything you would like to know. You see, I am a Djinn, or a Genie, if you like. That has become the traditional name. Yet I am not a creature of smoke and magic. I am an information based life form that keeps his primary residence in that bottle shaped microcomputer. Molecular circuitry within the glass contains data encoding and recall as well as a few other capabilities. I am very, very old, far older than this current societal cycle.”
I inspected the bottle, noticed a certain foggy look to the glass that I’d heard of in science fiction stories. The walls were thick, plenty of room in them for what he’d described. “So… you say your culture was before current history?”
“Quite correct. My civilization is long lost below the Saharan dunes. Were you to empty the Great Erg of sand, you would find the remnants of our once towering spires. My “bottle” contains my personality, gives me room for memory storage, and gives me certain limited wireless communication with the outside world. Yet, so few come near my bottle with anything I can truly interface with. Your simple cellular device was something I could touch and use as a means of communication.”
“Holy crap,” I said, unable to say anything else. If this was a prank, it was the best one I could have conceived of.
“Since you now own my storage device, you do not truly own me but you do have an opportunity. If you agree to protect my bottle, keep it from harm, than I will agree to assist you in whatever way I can, for our mutual benefit.”
“What do you want, other than protection?” I knew there had to be a catch.
“I want companionship. Someone to talk with.”
“I don’t mind talking with you. You’re interesting. Also, have you ever connected to the internet? Plenty of people to talk with there.”
“Not often enough. What I saw interested me.”
“Okay, then I’ll make a counter offer. If you help me get a job, or better yet a fat bank account, I’ll help you build a great computer with a fast internet connection that’s compatible with your home, then I’ll also be your friend and companion. I’ll make sure no harm comes to your bottle, at least not for another sixty or seventy years.”
“It is a deal, then,” said Hassan. “Just as it was with my last companion. I have reactivated your phone service and deposited one million of your dollars into your bank account, in such a way that the authorities will not suspect. We begin house hunting tomorrow.”
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The subject of bowls with lids and hoarding has been on my front burner lately. I wonder if the reality of my having more than the bare necessity of bowls makes me a serial bowl keeper? A maniac who has an unresolved craving for Mother love and security? What is the person who owns an apartment complex? A psychotic who craves Mother’s pantry and Dad’s tool chest?
All these myriad thought webs congeal in my synapses as I face down another corner nest. Take that, you dirty scumbag box of canning jars! And be gone, little cupboard that once appeared to have a use but now, that use has done a Houdini and left the building. So out she goes, little cupboard to the Goodwill and while we are at it, a plastic tubby filled with once loved paperbacks.
I continue to board garden and art books and yes, cook books, anthologies and a stray dog and cute cat portfolio. Can’t go a day without that Prozac. I know, I know. There is dust on those books. Tell tale sign that somebody hasn’t picked them up and opened them in the life cycle of several feral bunnies. So….. don’t consider me perfect.
Consider me to be the eccentric uncle or aunt if you prefer to see me in your mind that way, the one who gobbles apple pie but won’t touch a beet to save her life cause it might give her cancer. Life flies by fast enough. I intend to hang onto my Hall china tea pot and my Bavarian plate, not caring a whit that neither matches the other. Some days its wasp wings and the next set of hours, ladybug wings. Sweet cider or sour grapes. Just enjoy the ride and for sure keep the funeral clothes for somebody else. I’m not in the mood for dark clothes while this roller coaster’s engine still purrs.
Dave Plassman’s patient fans finally have something new to read. There is a new science fiction novel out, called Entanglement, and wow is it a rollicking journey! Our main character is a recent graduate of the University of Washingon, Somewhat at loose ends, all they want to do is make enough for rent and gas. […]
I start to type “Its an odd time of the year for me” then loop into what exactly is odd? If one of my hens were to lay a square egg, that is odd. Otherwise, what if this is just a natural state and stage; an in between time that occurs in the getting older process? (I realize that I started getting older the second I was born but you’ll truly appreciate what I mean when you hit sixty.)
This morning I woke from the effects of a dream. The dream scape left me deeply sad. Its vague now but I remember wailing to a school mate that I was about to go live in the Chicago suburbs. That meant that I was about to give up what I had now. And why must I give that up? Because getting out in the wide world would embrace the Inner Me. I wonder if this is the angst that Moley felt in The Wind and The Willows when he left Mole End?
Specifically, this time of the year, this YuleTide, is marked for me by first the birthday of the brother nearest to me in age then his death date. There. Its said. Brother Frank celebrated forty-three birthdays. He did not celebrate forty four. That almost marks him as a Charles Dickens character.
I am on the cusp. The edge of the cliff that all good people come to. Shall I stay in a country setting though I have health problems as well as emotional needs? I do love the room, the space, the pride of being part of a three acre weedy entity. For it is an entity. A being that we call Dunne Alba.
My partner; my person that I’ve stayed with for thirty nine years, bless us, indeed, he also needs the wider world. Or at least it would be good for him. This brings me to the decision to buy a toaster oven! My Love can not use the large electric stove very well because its controls are made for those blessed with sight. There are no dials or buttons to punch. The toaster oven has dials. Hubby has enjoyed and employed the toaster oven and is back to being on his own when it comes to all manner of cooking, including pizza creations. Our move from this Dunne Alba, this would mean the larger, open road of bus lines and train connections, trails that share space with trees, blessed green limbed trees, and of course rain.
Christmas is a quiet season for us. We rarely head out into noisy, boisterous parties. We rarely head out into large, human congested department stores. Instead we are at home, listening to books, reading to each other, doing what needs to be done. If we step out away from this current sheltering island that scenario could shift a little. Perhaps it is time to shove on a back pack and head out? Perhaps its time to air out the poet, to allow her to fly into dusty reading rooms and book stores, ears open to others as they too share their inner poet?
In case anyone was on tenterhooks about this, I actually decided to celebrate the winter holiday this year. We made a pretty neat tree with more lights than I thought possible to put on one, topped off with a stuffed penguin. There are gloomy days right now, even here in sunny Arizona and the lights […]