Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Today is the day the Prop 8 case goes before the Supreme Court, and tomorrow they'll hear arguments on the constitutionality of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act), which denies marriage rights to same-sex couples. In an act of solidarity, people all over the country have decided to wear red as a means of showing support for same-sex couples and the rights currently denied to them.

I, of course, have been all over this.

And Dunc, not wanting to be left out or outdone, decided to join in and support his two dads.

I'd like to invite you to join us, too. Today and tomorrow people are wearing red to show their support for marriage equality. Don't be left behind. History is on our side.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Simple Melody

There are things I refuse to take for granted, little things that are so easily overlooked, like the sun still shining when I got home, still bright and high, beaming a blinding gold off the snow and ice. For too long Duncan and I have walked in the dark after I return home from work, and for too long it's been easy to neglect the stories he creates when we walk, to grow tired and lazy in the dark of my apartment after a long day. But this evening the sun was there, glorious and blazing, refusing to be ignored despite the cold and treachery of the ice.

We were standing in a grove of juniper trees, Duncan sniffing and taking his time, examining each of the spots other dogs had visited, thrusting his nose deep into the powder or standing under a bough bent low under the weight of the snow, watching as flakes, and occasionally entire clumps, drifted down onto his upturned face. After a bit he pulled away causing my shoulder to brush a branch where the long silver icicles, burning with the last of the sun's light, grazed their long bodies against each other, whispering a delicate chime reserved for our ears ears only. Duncan looked up at them, his eyes wide and full of wonder, as did I, and for a very long time we played, knocking them softly together and marveling at their tone and the hushed bell-like luster of the melody ringing across and through the snow and glistening needles.

Such a simple thing but the highlight of my day, a refrain I will never be able to recreate nor forget.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Witch

So there is this woman who lives here, mid-way down The Run. I've written about her before, and have spent nearly every walk since those initial encounters biting my tongue and playing nice. But last summer, after several unpleasant words, I've taken to calling her The Witch. Her patio is decorated with all manner of unpleasant hangings, bizarre wind chimes that, for all I know, could be made from the bones of little fingers of children she has lured into her abode with promises of sweets and goodies; baskets made of wicker that look like aboriginal snares and ghastly, clotted paintings that depict what I can only imagine is her mood at any given moment. Late in the fall, just before the first snows came, a number of tall, grizzly-looking bird feeders appeared, brassy, copper-ish things turned green with age, with strange shapes and undulating figures running up their sides, their wide basins open mouths waiting to swallow the finches and nuthatches which frequent Jeffrey's patio only a hundred yards away. She fills them regularly with seeds and grains and while the birds have largely ignored them the squirrels have been unable to turn their backs on the treats she puts out as offerings.

She is a short thing with wild, white hair, who crouches and lurks in her window watching for Duncan each morning as we pass by and then again in the afternoons and evenings. She has chastised me for not cleaning up after him––a crime I have never committed––and has lectured me about keeping him away from the flowers she has planted in the common area that does not belong to her. She is mightily unpleasant and a dark cloud seems to hang over that area of The Run no matter the season or the time of day. I have worked tirelessly at training Roo to stay away from her patio and the bulbs which erupt there in the spring, but he is a lover of all things bright and wonderful, those things that sway in a summer breeze, and the wondrous things which make music by the invisible hands of the wind. It hasn't been easy but I try. And last summer, when I spied her lurking behind her curtains waiting to reprimand me for his appearance once again on her patio, I started warning Dunc, loudly so she could hear, "Be careful, Roo. Get too close and she'll turn you into gingerbread. Or worse, a toad! And I don't have any water on me to melt her down should she get too close." She's stopped accosting us but she hasn't ceased her glowering or the loud sighs and grunts which emanate from behind her screen door and windows.

She was on her patio this morning, clad in a bright orange bathrobe, so short as to leave her mottled and purple-veined knees exposed, her skinny legs white and twiggish, impossibly pale even in the glare of the thick, new snow and the bitter cold. I did not see her so when she screamed, a guttural low roar, I jumped and Duncan tripped over himself as his body tensed and recoiled all at once.

"You scared me," I laughed uneasily as she hissed loudly and waved her hands in the air, the limp band of a slingshot wagging above her head.

"These damn squirrels," she cursed as one darted past Duncan and up a nearby birch. Duncan, terrified of the crone, didn't dare follow after it. He sat solidly beside me, his weight pushing against my leg. "They won't leave the bird feeders alone."

"I know they have special feeders you can get that make it difficult for squirrels to get the seed. My mother has several," I offered.

"I don't want other feeders. I want these," she spat and hissed again at another squirrel. "So I got this slingshot. Just about took the leg off one yesterday. And now he's limping around. Can't even climb very fast. I hope the coyotes get him."

I blinked, astonished at her malice. I patted Duncan's head and softly urged him forward. "Let's go, Roo."

"You should get your dog back here to scare them off," she said. "He can finally be useful."

I just stared at her, my back straightening and my gloved hands clenching in my pockets. There were a myriad of things I wanted to say, none of them nice, several of them downright awful, but instead I took a deep breath and said, very calmly, "You have made it clear you want my dog nowhere near your patio and I've trained him to stay away. He is very useful but he will never be of any use to you. I wouldn't allow it." I turned away but then stopped and looked back at her. "And if I ever see that slingshot again I'll report you to the leasing office." And with that, we walked away. Duncan strutted beside me, head high, tail even higher, perhaps proud of his papa, perhaps simply happy to be done with that old witch.

I was just happy to finally give her (a tiny sample of) The Full Curt.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Earlier this week it was warm and sunny and all the promises of an early Spring seemed so close we could touch them. While the trees have not even begun to bud yet and the grass is still matted and yellow, the earth seems to be loosening up, and the air has been filled with the faintest of Spring-ish fragrances. The sun has been high and bright, chasing away the occasional gloomy grey clouds, and the air has been warm enough that we have slept with the windows open twice. As you know, I'm a whistler and the last few months I've been whistling some rather mellow, wintery sorts of songs on our walks (I do a mean "Nature Boy" and an even meaner "I'll Be Seeing You"), but this past week has found me whistling a couple of springtime favorites: "I Feel Good," (a Nina Simone classic) and "Recipe For Love" (a Harry Connick, Jr. favorite that requires my eyebrows to dance while my head bobs from side to side as Duncan and I walk down The Run).

And then this morning this happened

So Duncan and I have spent much of the day nestled up on the couch, occasionally getting pushed out of the way by Pip, who seems to regard us as little more than warm pillows arranged for his convenience. We have napped and watched a movie, snacked on a leftover piece of pizza, sipped at the chicken noodle soup simmering on the stove, and ventured outside only every now and then. But it takes almost ten minutes to get my boots and hat, gloves and jackets and coat pulled on, zipped up and ready to go. And then neither of us particularly wants to be outside in it for very long. It's cold and the snow keeps finding a way to bite at the soft spota tucked under Roo's pads. He limps and tries his hardest to be brave and endure until I come to the rescue, but after several failed trips he's decided a warm couch, or even the bed, is a nicer spot.

 And that's just fine with me because this is what I get to see all day.

The last of winter's snarls may batter and bite at us, but it also brings us closer together. And that makes the wait for spring endurable.

Post Script: And yes, Aunt Lori, that is the blanket you knitted for us. It is has been our salvation every night these past few months and I wonder how we ever got along without it. Bless you!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

There at the Beginnings

Since the middle of last summer when she and her husband first moved in on a hot July day when there seemed no relief from the sun and dry air, Duncan and I have been waiting for Cassie to have her baby. We met her and her husband the night they finished unloading their truck, carrying all of their belongings, which weren't many, up three flights of stairs in a neighboring building. They were taking a walk across the street to the park with their dog Luka, and as we were headed in the same direction we walked a ways together, chatting casually as strangers and neighbors do. When I marveled that they seemed in remarkably good spirits despite moving on such a hot day Cassie blushed, looked at her husband (whose name I can never remember) and confessed, "We just found out we're going to have a baby."

And so began our ritual, passing each other once or twice a week, usually early in the morning before work and then again late at night on our last walk before heading to bed. Duncan and Luka would sniff each other out, walking in circles around each other, forcing Cassie and I to do that awkward dance known to all dog walkers whereby we reach around and under each other to untangle the leashes. We'd laugh and I'd ask, "How's the baby?' I got updates and as Autumn came and turned to winter we watched her belly grow until finally her coat became too small to contain all of her.

And then last night, after the long snow finally tapered off and the low orange clouds drifted away revealing a sky as magnificent as any I've seen in a long time, we passed her again. She was enormous and the coat she'd bought to replace the one she'd worn for so long, wasn't even zipped up. Her belly was massive and low and I couldn't help but see how uncomfortable she was.

"Not yet, huh?" I asked.

"We're a week overdue," she sighed, petting the top of Luka's head. He was being a good boy, staying right at her side, avoiding Duncan and the inevitable dance of leashes.

"I hear that's common the first time around," I smiled.

"But I think tonight is the night." She rubbed her belly with one hand. "She's been moving around a lot all day."

"Hang in there," I said, and when I gave Luka a treat for being such a good boy Cassie let out a little oomph kind of noise, tensed up and then froze. "Is everything okay?" I asked.

She nodded quickly and then began to back away, pulling Luka after her. "My water just broke," she said. "I need to go. Sorry," she offered, as though afraid I thought it rude to depart so suddenly.

"Go," I told her excitedly, a smile wide across my face. "Do you need help? Do you need me to take Luka?"

"Nope," she said. "I'm good. Thank you," and then she hurried away, never turning her back to me.

Duncan sat down in the middle of the parking lot beside me and together we watched her climb the stairs ready to hurry to her side if she needed help. But she made it inside and not long after, after climbing my own stairs and pulling the blinds, looking out on the night from the warm side of my window, I watched her husband help her into their car and pull out of the parking lot, their taillights glowing red on the ice and new snow.