stripes and claws
brown and cream bowl hard against feline teeth
laid low, just outside, a liberated bird
yellow and softly warbled
sagebrush clumps remaining,
autumn winds mottle the ridge.
brown and cream bowl hard against feline teeth
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…..
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.
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 […]
Birds down in the creek dive and chatter
the cells in my ears twitch in acknowledgement
tomatoes ripened to a mirror shine
my bones stretch to grasp flown over,
common doves arc my synapses alert,
sucking in moisture another Sunday,
another tromp humble pie and humble be
for now that’s what I get:
another moment piled into all that live
cell into cell, above, below.
A chapbook can be like a mosaic, or even a collage, of thoughts and illustrations. As the illustrator of the recent chapbook “Sunset Reflections” by poet Lenore Plassman, I had an interesting challenge. I needed to illustrate each poem in such a way that it evoked or at least illustrated the feeling set down in the words. Sometimes I felt successful at this, other times I’m not sure I hit the mark. The author was happy with my work and I was fairly happy with the result. At each step, though, it was a partnership, my images with the poetry, different feelings and pieces coming together like bits of paper forming a collage. Here is one of the poems from the chapbook. Click on the image if you want to learn more about it.
Three-lobed prints sooted my cheeks forever
in that first awareness,
the flapping incredulity
and then the caws flooded
their tide never ceasing.
I ran to make the first entreaty
to an unseen 911 employee
and finally stood there at the apex
between garage and back yard;
It’s just a crow but can’t you do something?
The economics of a possible blown transformer
caused the officer to pose the crow’s plight
to the power company;
back to hoeing weeds and seeding lettuce,
fellow crows echoed distress
and warning to strafing starlings
as the morning waned.
My voice then woke the power company
my inquiry as to their whereabouts
the male voice telling me
that the officer had related
a dead crow incident
and my avowal that he was not dead;
his wing beats penetrated the air even now.
Glad tidings rang from crow outpost to crow outpost
when the lineman nudged their caught comrade free
the maiden flight shortened as he fell
from a pine
his leg bent and broken.
Crow drums continued to throb through the night
and the following day
as their maimed companion hopped through sprinkler water
cat kibble and bread proffered
another black friar would keep vigil.
Odd now this entity that is normal
this lack of strident whistle blowing;
left within my sphere of earth bound garden
bereft at not knowing for sure
the end of the tale
of my black one legged monk,
I bend again to hoe
the absence of the crow drums
palpable in the creases of my fingertips.
Now, I was supposed to post a photo, so I’ll do that too. Here’s the true collage – the beautiful cover. The artist who assembled that, started with a photograph of a somewhat cluttered backyard and turned it into a peaceful waterscape that was perfect for the book’s cover! Turning one thing into another at the same time as you combine different elements – that’s a true expression of what a collage can be.