Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: A New Friend

Recently some neighbors of ours lost their black lab Clancy to cancer. Clancy was a good dog, strong and muscly, a bit more vocal, perhaps, than his neighbors would have liked, but good nonetheless. He fought a good fight and left his family having touched their lives deeply.

Recently they were able to invite a new dog into their home, a stocky little yellow lab named Bentley, who loves the grass and Duncan, my pocket full of treats, and showing us his pale pink belly. Dunc, who normally doesn't pay much attention to other dogs, is quite taken with this new pup and both consented to getting their picture taken together.

 Roo made a goofy face for the first one, startling Bentley, but agreed to pose politely for the second.

Our walks down The Run just got better!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Feathers for Flight for a Friend

“Every fear hides a wish.” David Mamet

Recently an old college friend, Koko Cooper, who directed me on stage in David Mamet's Duck Variations––the performance of which I am probably proudest––announced that she'd accepted a new job, the training for which would require her to fly here to Colorado for a few days. Koko was a good friend, kind and patient, and incredibly generous, so when I read about her fear and the experiences she's had flying, I knew what I had to do. She had to have one of my magic feathers. They did wonders for me when I was preparing for my flight to Buffalo last year and I figured maybe all she needed was a little extra magic to get her off the ground.

So last week Duncan and I dumped all the feathers I've collected over the years onto the coffee table and went through them. The table, a heavy and dark tiled thing, turned into a rainbow of memories and inspiration. I took a long time going through them, running my fingers along their sleek bodies, strumming the music from them, holding each up to Duncan for his inspection. Finally, he seemed to settle on a nice red one, bright and vivid, a parrot feather my friend David had sent me. I picked out a simple card with a puffin on it, a bird most people falsely believe doesn't fly despite the fact that it does, and slipped it into the mail.

It has arrived safely in Chicago, ready for Koko to carry with her onto the plane that will bring it back to Colorado. It will not bring her luck but the kind of magic that is familiar with the air, with its currents and calms, with the serenity of boundless blue space, and the strength to accomplish whatever it is she sets out to do. She doesn't yet know that that magic resides deep within herself, but I have faith the feather will whisper its secrets to her as it whispered them to me. 

Koko, you will be fine. And if we can see each other after these eighteen long years, I will experience the magic of that feather again. Be strong and brave, my friend. The feather will carry you far.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Friends and Storms

The clouds rolled in early this afternoon, high and dark, without much of a wind, but with tremendous drama. I had just enough time to take Duncan out for a quick walk before the thunder and lightning started right overhead. We ducked inside and while I turned on the fans, cranked the stereo up high, and slipped him into his Thundershirt, the rain started. It was not a shy rain, but came suddenly and with great force, turning the day into dusk, scenting the air with that lake smell I miss from my days in Chicago. Dunc put on a brave face, staying close and not hiding, but making sure I was always close enough to touch. It rained and thundered for an hour or so and then was gone. The skies opened up, the air became muggy, and afternoon slipped quietly into evening. Duncan and I sat on the patio, he snoring while I read for a few hours, and all seemed right with the world.

And then it started again. This time the lightning was much lower and closer, the thunder shaking the apartment. There was little I could do to drown out the rumble, so I cuddled with Roo on the couch and slipped him treats and praise for as long as he could stand it. While I straightened the apartment he seemed busy darting back and forth between the living room and the bedroom on a hurried and secret mission. He vanished as the storm reached its peak, the rain roaring, the flowers hanging from my patio swaying in the wind, lightning somehow making the daylight even brighter. When I finally went to investigate I found him in the bedroom, his nose tucked under my bed. In days past he took great comfort in crawling under the bed, his belly rubbing the carpet, his tousled head occasionally bumping against the underside of the box spring. The arrival of my new bed several years ago put an end to that as it was much too low for him to crawl under. Since then he's contented himself with squeezing his nose and a paw or two under it. It's not much but it makes him feel better.

While I'd been preoccupied with weekend chores he'd been busy between thunderclaps collecting his friends and hurrying them into the bedroom where he could cuddle with them and wait the storm out. I curled up next to him, stroked a paw, and whispered encouraging words into his ear. He stayed there long after I left and didn't come out until the storm had passed.

As I sit on the patio again, the sun long since set, the crickets and night critters chirping, the wind is picking up again. The leaves on the Lindens and cottonwoods are brushing against each other, trying their hardest to sound like the waves I miss on Lake Michigan, and I can see flashes of lightning in the north. Dunc will most likely sleep on the bed with us tonight, and that's just fine. Sometimes we all need a little extra help to make it through the difficult times.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Winnie Day Update: Together

Earlier this afternoon I set Winnie's urn out on her chair where she spent much of last summer laying on the little blanket my mother crocheted for her. Almost immediately Pip, who rarely sits there, crawled up and laid down next to it and hasn't budged once.

I'm not waiting alone.

Winnie Day

It was a year ago today that Winnie left us and I can honestly say not a single day has gone by that she hasn't been in my thoughts. I have dutifully refilled her glass of water on the coffee table and each time I feed Pip and Olive I call out, "Come on, Bean. Come on, Mouse." For a very long time I kept her feathered urn on the kitchen counter where she liked to perch and watch me cook but recently moved it to my bedside bookshelf where she can sit next to me while I sleep, which she also liked to do. I'm as loyal and dedicated to her now as I was every day of her life. And I miss her more than I thought possible.

I would be lying if I said I hadn't spent portions of the day crying. I look at her spot on the chair and tear up. I feel an emptiness on my hip where she used to perch. But I've decided I'm not going to be sad. Instead I'm going to make a bowl of popcorn and eat it. She loved popcorn more than just about anything else, so much so that on that last afternoon together, when she'd stopped eating, I was desperate and made her some, which she eagerly devoured one last time. So I'll make my popcorn and think of the day Ken and I brought her and Pip home and all the good days in between, and celebrate her life as it deserves to be celebrated.

I'll remember the last time I took her outside, the last time I held her little paws in my hand, and that beautiful face of hers, with the diamond on her nose. She was my most precious girl, my Bean, my Mouse. And I was her Papa. And someday I'll get to see her again. I know it. I can't believe anything else, but that just wouldn't make sense.

“You know that place between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting.” 
 (J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Little Vistors: (A Not So) Wordless Wednesday

We have made some new friends this summer without doing much of anything to gain their favor and win their trust.

The hummingbirds first appeared in June, darting nervously around the feeder I hung on our patio. For a very long time there were only two, one quite small and dark, with tiny little feet curled under his sleek body, and a bigger, sandy, desert-dirt colored one, feisty and vocal, and intent upon keeping the smaller one away. They were afraid of our presence as I sipped tea in the morning and then again in the evenings when I relaxed and read or just sat with Duncan, listening to the crickets and enjoying the cool breeze. But recently there have been as many as six attempting to feed all at once, diving at each other, chirping loudly, each defending the territory they saw as their own. I have sat quite still and called out softly, "Hello, little bird" each time they appeared, and now they don't seem to care about our presence at all. Sometimes, in fact, they slip right into the patio, bypassing the feeder entirely to float a foot or two above Dunc's upturned head, hovering before my face where I can look directly into their dark little eyes while they look back. When I have cleaned and refilled the feeder they have darted back and forth in front of the patio doors, anxiously calling at me, ignoring Dunc below them. And there have been times when I have rehung the thing that they have buzzed around my head, actually brushing against my arms to drink from it while I rehang it from its hook.

They have become quite precious to me and I never tire of their regular visits. I will miss them when they are gone, but for now I am quite content to sit back and enjoy their busy little movements, the buzz of their wings, their delicate voices, and the simplicity they bring to my days.