Sunday, April 12, 2015

Up, Up and Away!

One day last week Kim and I sat out on the patio for a late-afternoon chat. The sun was in our eyes, so we raised the big umbrella. For one reason or another, we went inside without closing the umbrella and didn't give it another thought before bedtime.

The next morning I opened the back door and noticed that the small clay pot Kim uses as an ashtray on the umbrella table had tipped over and spilled half a dozen cigarette butts on the concrete. I hurried to pick them up before the dogs could get them, thinking all the while that something else seemed wrong. It took a minute to realize that the umbrella was missing.

A quick look in the backyard and the side yard showed that the umbrella wasn't there. I walked the width of the house, not really thinking that the umbrella could have blown far enough to end up in the driveway, and indeed it wasn't there. I had a clear view of neighbors' yards all around, could have seen a big green umbrella if there'd been one in any of them, but there wasn't.

Kim woke up a few minutes later, and I asked her to look around outside and see if she could tell what was different. She didn't register the missing umbrella immediately, either. Once she did, she looked in all the same places I'd looked. We both laughed at the mental image of a huge umbrella floating off into space.

Kim got dressed and went out the front door to look some more. Minutes later she came in giggling and said she'd found the umbrella. I followed her out that way and didn't see any sign of it until she told me to look up.

This photo shows the green umbrella, lodged upside down in a niche of the roof between the front of my house and the rear of our rent house across the carport.

Here's where it started from:

Apparently, on an otherwise clear, calm night, there was one gust of wind that was strong enough to lift the umbrella and its weighted pole high enough to clear our rooftop. Gosh, I wish I'd seen it happen! What fun that would have been.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

How Old Do I Look?

The other day I stepped inside the nearest gas station/convenience store and paid for a drive-thru car wash. The teenaged attendant glanced at the car wash code printed at the bottom of my receipt, looked at me for a long second, then turned the receipt over and wrote the code in large numerals on the back of it.

"There!" he said as he handed the receipt to me. "Isn't that better than those small numbers?"

I thanked him profusely. His intentions were good, the little s#*t.

Friday, April 03, 2015

April Already?

This year is whizzing by! Allergy season has arrived and has brought with it a couple of intense bouts of vertigo, during which I could do nothing but lie flat on the bed and watch my dresser and chest of drawers pass by again and again. Fortunately, antihistamines and this exercise seem to have stopped the spinning for now.

The new thyroid medicine has kicked in, and I'm feeling much better than I did a couple of months ago. The sunshine and warmer temperatures helped, too, of course. My spirits would probably be even higher if my summer clothes still fit. Thank goodness for the lightweight, stretchy knits we call "activewear." What a misnomer that is!

The weather this week has been beautiful, warm enough that the little anole lizards are out and about, which makes Gimpy just about the happiest dog on the planet. Every time he steps out the door, he closely inspects the drain pipes, the patio furniture, the spaces between slats in the privacy fence--all the places where lizards hide. He almost never catches one (thank goodness!), but it isn't for lack of trying.

Kim hosted a small dinner party last weekend, and my Goldendoodle boys seemed to think they were the guests of honor. Levi placed his ball in front of each person in turn, allowing everyone a chance to throw it for him, eventually narrowing the players down to one or two people who could throw the farthest. Gimpy played ball, too, but his main objective for the evening seemed to be making sure he left no chin unlicked.

One of Kim's guests had a charming accent (Mississippi, I think). When he spoke of "one feller who had a 'dee-limmer,'" I chuckled to myself at the quaint pronunciation and listened more closely, trying to determine what the fellow's dilemma was. Turns out Kim's friend was talking about clearing trees off some property. What the guy actually had was a delimber, a machine that removes the limbs from cut-down trees. My bad. Who knew there was such a thing?

Speaking of words, the Life Writing class I've enjoyed so much has been canceled, along with all the other LSU-sponsored classes in this parish. Our last class was Monday. It seems that enrollment was so low that the classes weren't cost-effective for LSU. That disappoints me, though I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that continuing education and artistic or intellectual pursuits aren't high on the bucket lists of many people in this small-town community. What delights me is that the members of our Life Writing class have decided to continue meeting and writing together on our own. We've found a meeting place and will start next week. Yay, us!

I'm looking forward to Sunday, when I'll get to spend time with kids, grandkids and great-grandkids all at one time. Those get-togethers are precious to me, and I hope you get to share the holiday with those you love most, too. Happy Easter, y'all!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

I'll See You in My Dreams

I didn't imagine I'd be writing any new stories about Butch; he's been gone for three years now. But this morning, when I finally slept hard and late after a night spent tossing and turning, he came to me in a dream.

It was past time for me to get up, and in the dream I did that. I put on my robe, stepped out into the hallway, and there, where I expected to see Levi and Gimpy, I saw Butch instead. He was doing his familiar, happy tap-dance on the tile floor, wagging his tail so vigorously that his whole back end moved. In the way of dreams, I believed I was awake, but the sight of a living, breathing Butch made the wide-awake dream-me think I must be dreaming. I reached out first to touch the door frame, then the green, high-back chair, reasoning that if I could make myself touch real things, then I must be awake.

Butch didn't seem to have any such concerns. He was all over me, wriggling against my legs, pushing his face against my hand, soaking up all the loving he'd missed while he'd been away. I dropped onto the sofa and picked him up, holding him like a squirmy baby, running my hands through his soft fur, sniffing his ears and his popcorn-scented paws, relishing the impossible moment.

My grandmother walked into the room, she who passed away in 1988, and my daughter Kim, too, who is very much alive today but was a young girl in the dream. Still not believing Butch could be here, I asked them both if they could see him. They could not.

I turned to look again and saw him standing by my knees, his tail still wagging, then I looked across the room and he was there, too. He was everywhere I looked. Sometimes I could see four or five of him in different places at once, all of them moving, sniffing corners, exploring every part of every room the same way I would do if I could visit the house where I grew up.

Eventually the long dream changed into a twisted scenario involving a long bus ride with the child-Kim in New York City, and it ended almost immediately after that when I woke up for real. I lay quietly in bed for a long while, soaking up the joy I'd felt at the dream reunion with Butch. He'd seemed younger than he'd been at the end of his life. A little thinner, too, and much more agile. Every bit as affectionate. I've tried to remember whether or not he was still blind in the dream, but I can't recall. It doesn't matter; we could see each other just fine.

Later this morning, after I'd been up for a while, I noticed today's date: March 19th. Butch was a found puppy who came to live with us on the last day of April, 1998. The veterinarian who checked him over that day estimated his age at six weeks, so we counted back into the middle of March to choose a date to celebrate as his birthday. We picked a date we knew we'd always remember because it was my second husband's birthday: March 19th.

To the best of my recollection, this is the first time I've ever dreamed about Butch. Happy birthday, sweet angel--and thanks so much for sharing it with me.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Smart Cookies

Back in November I wrote about Levi's attention to bells and timers. At one-thirty the other night he stood by my bed and poked me awake with his nose. I scratched his head and told him to go back to bed. Instead, he stood up on his hind legs, placed one paw on the mattress for balance and used the other one to slap me repeatedly on the shoulder. When he was satisfied that I was wide awake, he walked to the bedroom door and looked over his shoulder, waiting for me to follow him. I did -- all the way into the kitchen, where he stopped and looked up toward the spot where my cell phone lay on the counter. At precisely that moment, the phone lit up and the text tone sounded. It was a wrong number, but Levi didn't know that. I like to think he'd alert me to an urgent call, too.


The arrangement of chairs on our patio looks odd but has a purpose. Two of the chairs sit facing each other with about a foot of knee room between them. The chair that looks out onto the yard is for sitting; the other chair is for propping feet on and is also used as a tennis-ball return spot. After we get tired of throwing the ball for the dogs, they get a little more mileage out of us by placing the ball on the seat of the chair, where a human foot hardly has to move at all to knock the ball off the to one side or another. Kim noticed recently that Levi and Gimpy understand spatial relationships well enough that they wait on the left side of the chair if her foot is positioned to the right of the ball. If she moves her leg to the left side of the ball, both dogs scurry around to the right side of the chair. 

They do something similar when we play coffee-table ball in the house. Once they've placed the ball under the low-slung table, they watch while I stick the broom handle under there, then they quickly map out some kind of mental trajectory and race each other to the exact place where the ball will roll out as soon as I give it a good whack.


Levi is the only dog I've ever had that understands to look in the direction a finger points instead of focusing on the pointed finger. This skill comes in handy. He rarely goes outside without a ball in his mouth, and he knows it's his job to bring the ball back in the house when playtime is over. Usually he does it. Sometimes, if he hurries back inside, I have to send him out a second time to get his ball. That's an easy task for him--unless he can't remember where he left it. Being considerably taller than Levi is, I can often spot the yellow-green ball that he can't see behind leaves or grass at a distant spot. That's where the pointing comes in: I point, and he finds it after a short search. Now, if I can only get him to understand what I mean by "warmer" and "colder"... 


Such shaggy dogs! Haircuts are coming soon, just in time for warmer weather.