Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Monday, April 29, 2013
It was almost 80˚ today, and although most of it was spent in my windowless office, I couldn't stop thinking about how good it would feel to finally get home and be greeted by Roo and the cats at the door, change into more comfortable clothes and talk a nice long walk in the park. While it was not the first time I have worn shorts this Spring, it was the most rewarding. The pair I picked were in a box at the top of my closet with most of my other Summer clothes where I put them when the weather turned and it seemed warm evenings were too far away to even dream about. They were a little tighter around the middle than I remember them being but I was determined to reclaim them, and once Dunc and I were outside and off-leash, with the sun beaming down on us and a cool breeze drifting across the newly-greened grass, they seemed to fit as well as ever. But the best part was that when I reached into the pocket I discovered not only a couple of crumpled doggy bags, but a nice crisp twenty dollar bill wrapped in a Hero's Pets receipt for a couple of bully sticks and a bag of Blueberry Pumpkin Cruncher treats.
If only all my clothes were this magical.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
Sunday has always been my least favorite day of the week, what with all the chores that need tending to––the grocery shopping, the laundry, the vacuuming and cleaning––and the thoughts of the looming work week. But today was beautiful so inbetween the things that required my attention, Duncan and I spent a lot of time outside in the sunshine.
Apparently he had chores as well, most of which consisted of inspecting and reclaiming his territory. Most of our walks today hardly seemed like walks at all but a slow inspection of shrub after shrub, followed by the ritual lifting of his leg while I stood by.
There was our first walk of the morning:
Then there was our walk at 11:
And our walk at 1:
And then the walk we took at 3:30:
And then we went to the park at 5, which was a good one. He marked his favorite tree, the stump of what was a nice tree until last summer when it was cut down, the fence at the baseball field, and a soccer goal post.
And now it's dinner time, the sun is sitting lower on the horizon and there's not much daylight left, but we still have three walks in us and untold places to mark. My Sunday is far from over.
Saturday, April 27, 2013
It has been a lovely, fling-the-doors-and-windows-open kind of day and Duncan and I have spent much of it out in the world, walking the park, chasing squirrels down The Run, even strolling to the mail room and back, a chore I tend to put off as long as possible. And while I walked I did exactly the sort of thing I'm not supposed to do, which is to forget the walk itself and focus, instead, on what I think I'm supposed to do.
As you may recall, I've joined my friend Sue in an April Photo-of-the-Day challenge. Each day we're given a theme and we're supposed to find something to photograph that describes that word or phrase in some manner. I've primarily used it as a tool to help me blog, which I've struggled to do on a regular basis for quite some time. The only problem is that my blog is about not having an agenda; it's about moving out into the world without a goal, without a destination, and allowing myself to be led wherever my feet and Duncan take me. Quite often that theme has nothing to do whatsoever with where we wind up or what Dunc wants to do so I find myself not enjoying our walks, not paying attention to the world but instead looking for what I want the world to be.
And that can have disastrous consequences.
Today's theme was "earth," a rather vague and annoying theme if I say so myself. But, I made a promise to myself to complete the challenge and so Duncan and I marched out, he with his nose to the ground, his ears high to catch every note of the birdsong drifting down from the cottonwoods and maples, me with my eyes focused solely on every patch of dirt, every rock that might be the slightest bit photogenic, anything that I could focus my camera on. The more we walked, the less I actually saw, and the more desperate I became. Duncan, who waits patiently––most of the time––seemed a bit annoyed at my sluggish pace and my inability to just walk, to enjoy the day for what it was and not what I thought it should be. But I, as usual, forgot my lessons, and focused on all the wrong things.
Finally, down in The Glen, I spotted a nice patch of earth, dark and gold in the sun, at the base of a pine, the mottled trunk rising up in a suitably interesting manner. While I stepped in close, knelt down beneath it and examined it from all angles, Duncan would have nothing to do with it. He kept a safe distance, hunkered down on the hillside and watched me, sighing loudly as he is wont to do. Finally I located the patch I wanted to photograph and hardly noticed the tickles running up and down my legs and arms while I snapped picture after picture. It wasn't until the tickles began to itch, and then to burn, that I bothered to notice I'd stepped right into a nest of ants, which were busy acclimating themselves to the contours of my body.
I leapt up and began shaking them off, swinging my legs back and forth, rubbing them vigorously, sweeping off my arms and neck, shaking out my shirt and shorts. I danced a mad dance, sliding down the hill, losing my balance and falling on my belly where I had the good sense to roll in the grass. Duncan normally would have taken this as a signal to play but he merely sat and watched while I made an ass of myself in front of a woman and her Pomeranian who stood in her window, jaws agape, eyebrows cocked in confusion.
Enjoy the photo and know that I suffered for my art.
To the amusement of my dog.
Friday, April 26, 2013
“Sometimes,' said Pooh, 'the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” (A. A. Milne)
I discovered Winnie the Pooh in college. One evening, after many hours of studying in the library, and fretting and trying to cram more into my brain than felt like could possibly fit, I stumbled downstairs to the children's section, sat myself down on the floor and pulled out the first book I could find, a heavy, hardcover thing, well-worn and loved, which happened to be The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh. From the moment I read the first page I was hooked. There was a whimsy and thoughtfulness, a sharp wit and a clever sort wink and nod to the stories that cleared my head, filled my heart with joy, and warmed my spirit. I checked the book out, read it cover to cover that night, and every night after until the library refused to let me check it out again. Reluctantly I returned it but immediately bought all of Milne's books and began amassing my collection of Pooh memorabilia, including the tattoo which adorns my left arm. It's not the toughest of tattoos, and certainly not the kind of thing I would care to put on display at a biker bar, but it's a reminder of the innocence and tenderness of childhood that I carry with me every day.
Duncan is no Pooh Bear; he's far too adventurous and care-free, but there is a purity to his spirit that reminds me of Pooh and his adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood. He is thoughtful and gentle, kind and brave and when I am with him, when we are walking alone in the park together, when the fields and sunshine are all ours and I can take him off his leash and let him wander where his heart desires, I feel like a child again, like we are on the verge of discovery, as though something magnificent is about to be revealed.
And when we come home, when the day is done and we have cuddled and played ourselves into sleepiness, when we have taken the last of our walks and night has pulled herself over the world like a blanket, we climb into our beds and sometimes, when we are lucky, we meet in our dreams and cuddle and play there, too.
And Pooh is never far away.
“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams,
we can be together all the time.” (A. A. Milne)
Thursday, April 25, 2013
My life before Duncan was very different than the one I lead today. I was able to go out more, especially with friends after work. I could stay out later, too. The cats have always been fairly independent and seemed to relish the occasional time we granted them without adult supervision so they were never a worry. I did many more things than I do now, but since his arrival, Duncan has changed my life in countless ways, many of which I have recounted here repeatedly. And I find that for all those things I no longer get to do as freely or as spontaneously––the movies I no longer get to watch all the way through without pausing them to go downstairs for a bathroom break, the meals I no longer eat without a set of rich, brow eyes trained on my every movement, even the pillow I don't get to bask on without sharing––far more have been added that I may not have discovered without his presence at my side, such as our walks, my appreciation for the unfolding of the trees in the spring, the echo of a meadowlark song in the morning, the sense of discovery and adventure that seems to follow us every time we step outside.
Since he entered it, my life has become golden, and that is worth more than all the gold in the world.
I am rich in other ways.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Until a month ago Brady lived just a few doors down from us. He and Duncan became good friends and it was Duncan who inspired Brady to finally adopt his own dog, Roxie, a couple of years ago. Even though we haven't seen them since they moved in March, Duncan has stopped on every walk to stare up at Brady's old balcony, waiting for an appearance by Roxie or the cat, Fatty or his Uncle Brady who likes to call down to him, "Duncadunc!" Sometimes if I'm lagging behind he'll trot up the stairs and sit patiently in front of Brady's door and just wait, not moving except to wag his tail.
And that's what he did tonight so I called Brady and asked if I could bring Roo over for a quick visit. "Do you want to go see Uncle Brady?" I asked and watched as Dunc charged across the parking lot to Brady's old building, marched up the stairs and plopped down in front of the door. It took some coaxing to get him back downstairs and loaded into the car, and then once we were on our way he whined the entire drive, unsure of what was happening, why I'd mentioned Brady, and where we were going. But once we were there and Duncan figured out who we'd come to see his joy couldn't be contained.
He ran through their townhouse, dragging his leash behind as he investigated the kitchen, the bathroom, the tiny basement, all the bedrooms, and then finally the backyard where he got to play ball with Brady and Roxie, barking loudly whenever there was a lull in the game. Dee, Brady's girlfriend, and I sat on the patio and watched them cavort, smiling at how happy they were to see each other. Even Roxie, who has been known to get a bit territorial, didn't mind his presence, and when she wasn't following him around, was busy sneaking treats from me.
I am not good at getting away from home as often as I should. I am a creature of habit who is very aware of his comfort zones. Brady and I both struggle with anxiety and have helped each other through dark periods more times than I could count. We have leaned on each other when it seemed there was no one else to lean on and I have missed him terribly these last four weeks. But despite that I haven't driven the six minutes it takes to see him until today, and that was because of Duncan, who always seems to know what is best for me, what I need to lift my spirits, what will lighten my heart. It is good to have a dog who knows who the good people are in my life, and cherishes them as much as I do.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
If they know one thing, it's how to tell time, specifically when it's 6 AM and PM. Pip and Olive dispense with all pleasantries and make their demands known, whether I'm tucked away in bed, fast asleep, or still working at my computer. They begin their yowling and aggressive affection the moment the shadows reach a certain point on the wall, and that is Duncan's signal to join in. No sooner do I step into the kitchen to begin the preparations when all three line up and urge me on, a demanding chorus of meows, whimpers, whines, and purrs, dancing, prancing, and dangerous winding around my ankles. There is no such thing as patience. No such thing as dignity. And no negotiating.
At moments like this I have to wonder who is running the show around here.
Monday, April 22, 2013
I cannot count the reasons I love my dog; they are far too numerous. But on mornings like this morning, when the sky was still clear, the sun golden, and the air still warm, before it turned grey and cold and began to snow, Duncan reminded me that it his gentle spirit and enormous heart that I treasure most of all.
The bunny was waiting for him in the middle of The Run, a small grey shape that I mistook for a stone until he laid down almost on top of it, cupped it between his paws and began to lick it. The bunny, eyes wide and alert, its ears pushed back nearly flat against its back, didn't move, didn't even flinch, but stayed where it was and seemed to relax under Duncan's tender care. It closed its eyes briefly, even seemed to push back against him while he tended to it. It was only when I realized what it was, that it was not a rock kicked into our path by some kid but a baby rabbit, that Duncan rose to his feet and stood protectively over it, nudging it once or twice with his nose before resuming his ministrations.
I could only stand and watch. Several times he laid back down over it, spread his paws around it like a cup of warm tea, and licked it, oblivious to my presence. I stood there a long time, a mute witness to the scene, my heart bursting with pride and love. He tended to it carefully, his tail churning happily in the grass behind him, a soft whine occasionally rising up from his chest.
After a very long time we had to go. Duncan had business to tend to and I had to get to work. I was finally able to coax him away with soft words and the promise of treats. I planned on picking the bunny up and placing it in the shrubs off the path but Duncan stood protectively over it.
It took several minutes before he's let me reach down and pick it up. At the feel of my hands around it, it tensed and seemed ready to spring, but Dunc whined and danced in front of me, staying within the bunny's line of sight. I felt it relax and once I placed it deep into the shadows among the brambles, Duncan nosed in and checked to make sure I hadn't hurt it. It hopped further into the bushes and hunkered down near a flat stone. I stepped away while Duncan stayed behind, turning to look first at me and then back at his charge. He was torn, but after several whistles he hurried to catch up to me. He trotted along side me, dancing as we walked, his eyes wide, his ears high, his tail flapping like a flag above him. "Good boy," I said. "You did well." I patted his head and slipped him a treat, which he greedily gulped down. But almost as soon as he swallowed he glanced back over his shoulder and then darted back down The Run to the spot where we'd left the bunny. And there he stood for a long time, content to stay where he was, heedless of my schedule.
I had no choice but to follow, to kneel down in the grass and sit with him long after I should have fed him his breakfast, climbed into the car and driven away. Moments like these are far too few, and some of the most precious we have shared and I didn't mind being late one bit.
My dog is magical. I know it's true.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
These are my favorite nights, when Duncan and I are home, good music (by my friend Sean Renner) is playing while dinner (homemade chicken curry) is simmering on the stove, a couple of candles are burning, the air coming through the open windows is cool and sweet, and the world three flights below is unmoving and quiet. While I cooked and cleaned up after myself Duncan curled up on the couch and watched the flicker of the flames from the candles on the coffee table, his eyes rolling closed, his eyebrows dancing with dreams. Soon I'll snuggle up next to him, he'll rest his head on my hip where Winnie used to lay, and together we'll enjoy the creeping darkness, the smell of dinner, and the simple pleasure of each others' company.
These are the nights I wish I could hold onto forever, that I'll dream about in my old age, that I could spend eternity reliving. My dog and me, together, content, lazy by the smallest of fires.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
I have only ever played tennis once. It was a complete disaster, as my friend Kelly could attest. We were in high school and she became briefly obsessed with the game, and actually thought she could convince me to take it up. She took me to a court, brought two rackets and spent the next thirty minutes watching me hit the ball with a fierce underhand swing, which sent it rocketing dozens of feet straight up into the air. She was momentarily patient, but after thirty minutes or so, she stomped across the court, yanked the racket from my hand, shuffled me back into the car and drove me home, shaking her head the entire time. I haven't played since, although for a while I played ping pong, which, I'm told is a miniature version of the sport, and although I wasn't terrible, I eventually gave even that up. I haven't touched a racket or a paddle since.
That's why it was surprising to learn last week that I'm suffering from tennis elbow. Talk about delayed response! After wracking my brain for a cause it finally dawned on me that it's from playing with Duncan's Chuck-It in the park two and three times a day. Duncan loved to play fetch and so I've obliged, almost fanatically. I throw the bowl, he retrieves it––for a treat––and all is well with the universe. But this constant daily motion has finally taken a toll on my arm and we've been unable to play for weeks.
He's not too happy about it, especially now that the weather is starting to turn nice (except, of course, for the snow and cold expected Monday and Tuesday). So our walks at the park are spent with him staring at me expectantly, waiting for me to lob the ball halfway across the field. I hold up my empty hands for him to see and tell him, "Not today, buddy. Not for awhile." So he glowers and ambles away, not seeing any practical use for my presence.
And when we're done, I come home, don my tennis elbow strap, load up on glucosamine, ibuprofen, and pity, and do my little exercises so that, hopefully, in the next few weeks we can get back to it. Acupuncture helps, as does the herbal pain patch my acupuncturist gave me, but our spirits are low. The only thing that will help that is a game of fetch in the park.
Friday, April 19, 2013
My last car, the reviled Hyundai Sonata, which I never named and which was the bane of my existence mere days after getting it, did not beep when I locked and unlocked the doors. It did, however, beep––wail, actually––at random times, like during thunderstorms or when the door didn't shut all the way. Some little gizmo was perpetually coming loose, which caused the door to register as ajar, thereby leaving the dome light on and alerting a little bell which would ring all night long, thus causing the battery to die and when the battery neared the end of its pathetic life it erupted in the most unsettling caterwauling known in automotive history. At least for a few minutes, and then it would heave and sigh and give up the ghost and die. But generally it did not beep when it was supposed to.
My new car, though, my beautiful black Subaru Outback which I have christened Simone, after the Jazz singer, Nina Simone, beeps whenever I want her to. And it's not an annoying little beep either, but a full and melodious one, cheery and confident but not overly so. It's assertive, an "I'm-Ready-Whenever-You-Are" sort of beep, and Duncan has grown to recognize it as my beep, the signal that I have returned home and am ready to take him out on our first walk of the evening. That beep summons him to the windows in the office that overlooks my parking space so that when I climb out of the car––mug of tea, water bottle, and backpack in tow––I have only to look up to see a beaming face, bobbing back forth in such a way that tells me his tail is wagging excitedly, rocking his whole body with it. And as I move around the building Duncan moves too, from the window by the desk to the front window, which will soon be obscured by the leaves of our Linden tree. His smile travels with me, and by the time I'm at the door, he is also, waiting, dancing, chirping as Goldens are wont to do, ready to go, full of love and exuberance.
A button is such a silly thing. A beep even sillier. But it is music to the ears of my best friend, who brings me such joy. I could push that button all day long.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
It has been a long week, with storm after storm blowing over The Rockies, hiding the sun from view, with low, grey skies, snow and biting wind, and temperatures in the single digits. Snow never lasts long here in Denver, and even the fiercest of storms become memory only a few hours after passing. We are blessed with nearly three-hundred thirty sunny days a year and even on the coldest of days that sunlight still manages to make winter bearable.
Last night we fell asleep to the sound of snow pattering the ice below, the sky orange from the low clouds reflecting the lights of the city, a stinging wind rattling the windows. This morning we were greeted by the sun, new and bright and delicious in the high, blue sky. It was cold but that sunshine made it seem less so. We arose early and walked to the sound of snow falling in great melting clumps from the branches, striking the grass with loud, wet slaps while the ice in the rain gutters broke apart and raced earthward with a cacophonous crunch.
By noon it was as though we'd dreamed the storms. The grass had not only broken through four inches of snowy crust, but had devoured it, leaving a bright green blanket where yesterday there had been slushy footprints and ice razors along the edges of the curbs. It was as though none of it had happened. Duncan pulled on his leash in that way that tells me he has a destination in mind and that I should simply allow myself to pulled along after him. So I followed, thankful for the sound of the birds and the evaporating puddles in the parking lot and the guidance of my good, red dog.
And then, quite near to where we started our walk, Duncan stopped at a small green patch along the red painted curb and nosed a clump of dandelions that had unfurled and were waving down the sun with their tiny, gold petals. Weeds, but joyous nonetheless. I greeted them happily and reminded myself that a weed is only that thing that is unwelcome, still beautiful but out of place. My friend Kevi is always quick to remind me that if I wanted to grow dandelions even the most luscious of roses would become a weed springing up amid their yellow splendor.
Hello, Spring, I thought as Duncan turned away, happy to have led me to the place he wanted me to see, and rolled in one of the few fading patches of snow left for him to enjoy.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
I spent the afternoon making Ken's birthday cake, the same cake I have made him every year for the seventeen years we've been together. It was so easy when we lived in the flat, low lands of the Shire-like Midwest, and even though I've made it fourteen times here in the high, wild country of The Rockies, I still struggle to bake a decent cake. It entails lots of adjustments, an incredible number of bowls, spoons, a sieve, round cake pans that drive me nuts, raspberries, more raspberries, and enough chocolate to kill a pack of wild dogs.
Duncan likes to stand in the middle of the kitchen where he can test my agility and ensure that I stay on my toes. He doesn't like it when I'm busy but he also doesn't like to be far away from me either. And so there he stands until I finally have a moment to sit down and relax (while the frosting cools and prepares to have the Hell whipped out of it). So we curl up on the couch together and just be, waiting for Little Man to come home to his birthday cake.
Happy birthday, Ken. Duncan and I love you!
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
After a long walk in the snow and slush (oh, the slush!), Duncan and I climb the thirty-seven steps to my door where I make him shake the snow off his coat. He doesn't always do it on command so sometimes I just grab his tail and wag it it side to side, which makes him dance and smile and turn in circles. I'm sure we look ridiculous but we find it fun and anything worth the fun is also worth the ridiculous.
After that we come inside where a nice warm towel is waiting for him. He plops down in the entryway while I slip it over his head and down his back. Duncan loves a good toweling-off which makes it quite difficult. He huffs and puffs and rolls over on his side, pushing his snout into the floor while he turns this way and that, stretches out long then curls up in a ball before standing up and letting me dry him off some more. I towel each of his feet, coaxing out the tight, round balls of snow that collect under his pads, leaving them scattered across the floor like the remnants of snowmen. Then I move down to his belly, which he really loves, leaning into me as I dry his chest, licking my cheeks when I come back up for his chin and the tip of his nose. And sometimes when I'm done I just leave the towel draped over his head so that he looks like Obi-Dunc-Kenobi.
Red is my favorite color. Especially when it's on my good, red dog.
Monday, April 15, 2013
"Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore. There is always something to make you wonder
in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf." (Albert Schweitzer)
It snowed today, one of our frustrating but predictable April snows, big and fluffy. It will continue to snow, off and on, for the next three days, and then hopefully we'll be able to put winter behind us and get on with the business of Spring, my favorite season. Last year at this time the trees were in full bloom, pink and white, and the air was filled with sweet fragrance, but this year the trees are hardly budding.
This afternoon, after leaving work early in a futile attempt to beat the traffic, Duncan led me down The Run to play in The Glen. Halfway down, beneath the maple that rises up near the balcony which used to belong to my friend Brady until he moved two weeks ago, a single leaf had come to rest on the surface of the snow, somehow still golden and crisp, its edges sharp and as new-seeming as if it were October instead of April. Duncan galloped right past it but I paused and reflected on the long winter days and nights, the bitter wind of the past few days, and the strength of that lone leaf as it clung to the tree it had known as home for so long. Why it chose today to fall instead of holding on a little longer, until a new family unfurled around it and protected it from the elements I'll never know. Perhaps it wanted only to fly and spin, just once, among the thick flakes which drifted from above, to realize the wonder that had perplexed it in the long, lonely months it has been alone.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
I never used to like yellow but then the day after Ken brought Duncan home we went shopping for all the things we'd need for the new puppy and I spotted the big yellow crock that would eventually become his water bowl. I liked it because I imagined leaning down into it for a cool drink would be like leaning into the sun and lapping at its rays. The thing was bigger than him and he had to stand in it to drink so we switched it out for a smaller bowl until he'd grown into his paws and could drink without simultaneously taking a bath. And now, on hot summer days Duncan loves nothing more than for me to fill it with water and ice cubes that he can chase with his nose and tongue, and chomp when he grows tired of their swimming. And on those same days, when I am exhausted and too tired to move, I love watching him play and splash until his face is soaked, until his eyebrows drip, and a smile dances across his face.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Every time I time I think I'm in charge of the house, Pip and Olive like to remind me who's really running the show. It's a puppet regime and the puppet has yet to figure out what went wrong or when he lost control.
Ken is such a heavy sleeper they don't even bother. They sense my weakness and so my day typically begins around 5:30 AM when they decide I need to get up and tend to their every whim. It doesn't usually work, as I bat them away for the next half hour or so––if I'm lucky––but around six they begin the yowling in earnest and proceed to bat their cold noses against my cheeks and then commence the tag-team staring until I get up.
Roo is the lucky one. They leave him alone in his kennel and let him sleep until a more polite hour. And once they're done with breakfast and I'm left to take care of myself they curl up next to Ken for a nice long, post-breakfast nap.
Friday, April 12, 2013
I'm in the middle of MaxDog, a wonderful book by my blogging friend Caryl Moll. Caryl writes of her Golden Retriever Max, who entered her life just prior to a very tumultuous time, filled with uncertainty, anxiety, grief, and depression. Max filled her days with confidence, exuberance, and the kind of special devotion only Goldens can provide and helped her overcome the challenges that interrupted a seemingly idyllic life in South Africa.
I first came to know Caryl two years ago when I stumbled upon her blog, Living Life to the Max. Almost instantly we connected in a way that only people who have shared similar circumstances can understand. Max was her rock during some very bleak days and as I learned more of her story, the more I understood her bond with Max and the tremendous impact he has had on her life.
Like, Max, Duncan entered my life at a difficult time. Just a few months prior to his unexpected arrival I'd lost my grandmother, who I'd been close to and with whose passing I was having an extremely difficult time coming to terms. Max was originally intended to be Caryl's husband's dog just as Duncan was meant to be Ken's. But life has a way of turning things around and soon Duncan and I formed a bond that transcended his relationship with Ken. Not too long after Max arrived Caryl's life was turned upside-down by a series of events beyond her control. And a mere six months after Duncan joined our family I was diagnosed with a debilitating anxiety disorder that changed my entire existence. Duncan was there for me in ways entirely unexpected, and through his guidance I began the long process of rebuilding my life, a task that continues to this day. Max did the exact same thing for Caryl, offering his unconditional love and acceptance, while encouraging her to reenter the world and resume her own life.
I identify with this book in many ways and am thankful I've had the opportunity to read it and grow closer to Caryl, or as close as two people on opposite sides of the planet can grow. Caryl was one of the amazing people who sent me a magic feather last year prior to my trip to New York. While I don't have an autographed copy of MaxDog, I keep the card she included with her feather as a bookmark. In it she wrote, "Remember, courage is not the absence of fear but that special person's ability to embrace it... Fly, Curt, fly!!!" I have cherished it, and the feather, since their arrival, and stop every time I open the book and thank The Universe for putting her into my life.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
I have always said that God is in the details and as such I have spent most of my walks with Duncan searching out the tiniest details of the world. I say most because there are times, like last night when it was freezing and it was time for bed and I didn't feel like standing in the snow, that I don't pay attention and simply focus on getting out and back in as quickly as possible. But the rest of our walks together are spent with my eyes seeking out the little-something-extras that make life extraordinary. Sometimes Duncan leads me to them but sometimes, when he wanders off to tend to business or to sniff the tall grass sprouting up beside a tree stump, I can pause and simply witness the world being the world. And when I have a chance to do that the most wondrous things allow themselves to be discovered.
Last summer was disastrous for the trees at the park. The irrigation system is old and poorly managed and several of the larger fields found themselves under water for most of the season. It was so bad our usual collection of late-night Ultimate players were nowhere to be found and so Dunc and I didn't get to enjoy their glowing discs spinning through the darkness or the coordinated calls of the kids running back and forth. Several of the trees got sick and withered. The leaves curled and browned by the end of June and a rank odor rose up from the bog that grew up along the edge of the bigger soccer field. The grounds crew were forced to cut eleven of them down, most several decades old, tall and wind-weathered, their bark shaped and mottled with character. A few were left standing as knee-high stumps and this morning, while the sun was still up and before the afternoon clouds set in, Duncan ventured among them, leaving his calling card as he passed. Someone had peeled the outer layer of bark off them, exposing the smooth inner bark, soft and lustrous. I spent several minutes running my fingers over them, watching the ants crawl among their cracks, listening to the crows in the elms craw at me impatiently. The traffic seemed to die down and for a long while the park was silent, which is the best way to experience it. No cars, no shouts from the skateboarders, no sirens or wind. Just perfect silence. The kind the trees loves. A detail that nourishes the spirit.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Three days a week I go into the office where I tend to the things I'm paid to tend to and interact with people I actually enjoy interacting with. Until I got my present job three years ago, I'd drawn pretty clear lines about socializing with the people I worked with. Work is work and my life is my life and rarely did the two intersect. There were exceptions, of course, but for the most part I was a pretty private person at work. But the people I work with now are incredible and I enjoy spending time with them. I love my work and don't dread going there. I was ill-suited for my last job––I loathed it, in fact––and the sound of the alarm going off each morning was almost more than I could bear. But now when the alarm goes off I don't think, "I don't want to go to work," I think, "I don't want to get out of bed." But once I am up and on my way I actually find myself looking forward to the time I spend there. I am fortunate to finally be one of those people who loves what they do.
It would be easy to pick a place to post about that I share with Duncan but anyone who reads this blog would probably be able to draw a map of the places we frequent, from the park to the lake, the dog park to Hero's Pets, and all the places in between. But I've never really talked about work and where it is I go when I'm not spending time with Roo.
My office is the first on the left when you come through the door. I share it with Ben and almost as soon as we moved in together someone posted a picture of The Odd Couple on the window outside our office. Ben is much too young to get the joke and even after we explained it he seemed unimpressed. I'm Felix to his Oscar apparently; he's a jock and spends much of the day listening to sports talk radio on his headphones while I have somehow earned the reputation of being the fastidious one, which couldn't be further from the truth. One has only to look at my desk at home, or my closet, or my bookshelves, to find the proof. But we get along well and spend much of the day taking pot shots at each other. I enjoy Ben and although he wouldn't admit it, he probably doesn't mind spending time with me either.
My desk is probably not the most professional in the office. Last Thanksgiving when we held a turkey bowling event I protested by making a sign which reads, "Bake don't bowl." It hangs in the corner above the bulletin / dry-erase board I have yet to discover a practical use for, aside from holding the copy of How to Speak Wookiee my mother gave me for Christmas two years ago. For a time I kept my Star Wars action figures there but they kept falling so I moved them down below, propped against the wall.
Two years ago Duncan and I narrowly avoided being hit in the parking lot when a woman backed up without looking at us. I yanked Dunc out of the way but was struck and knocked into a parked car (all of this the morning before my grandfather passed away, which was also the day I got the most severe food poisoning I've ever had). I was lucky in that I wasn't injured so much as bruised and shaken up but when I returned to work my friend Lisa had left me a recreation of the event, complete with a small, red dog, a Lego Han Solo laying flat on his back, police tape, and a Hot Wheels car. It is one of my most prized possessions and I've taken great care to preserve it as it was presented to me.
In the corner behind it there's a small Zen water fountain, a frame with photos of my family, friends, and the cats, a wonderful piece of art my friend Denise made for me, a digital scale for the shipping I occasionally tend to, and a lamp which gets far too hot. The fountain, the newest addition, has a light that glows as water drips down on three separate tiers, and rocks that I get to arrange as I like. It's cheap and maybe a little tacky but the sound of the water bubbling is soothing and keeps me focused throughout the day.
Above my desk there are a couple of locking shelves where I keep my personal items as well as snacks and the best damn tape gun in the world. I haven't quite figured out what to do with them so I put up a quote I liked from a Ted Talk I listened to along with a couple of pieces of art my boss's daughter drew for me for my birthday.
There's another lamp on the other side of the desk, near my computer where I sit, along with a sinking Titanic, a postcard from Metropolis, Illinois with a picture of Superman, the origami Star Wars pod racer my friend Sean and I constructed on New Year's Eve, a framed photo of Duncan and me that my sister took, and a large Superman action figure given to me by my godson, Elijah. Everyone thinks I'm a Superman fan, and I am, but Batman is the real hero in my book, I just haven't been able to find a cool enough action figure to put up. I look every time I go to Target, though.
The truth is that while I spend a large portion of those three days at the office away from Roo, he's never out of sight. He goes with me everywhere.
And while I sit at my desk answering emails, talking with instructors and students on the phone, and joking with Ben, Duncan is always looking back at me from the wallpaper on my computer monitor.
Duncan is present in all my important places. And I wouldn't have it any other way.