Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lucas: Last Words






The end was clear for every dog I have ever lost. The fosters went to new homes, Bert was crippled by age and infirmary and the day after I spoke with my vet about putting Sam down he slipped away in his sleep. I’ve never lost a dog to tragedy or to sudden illness. When Lucas was bitten by a venomous Cotton mouth snake I was afraid I was going to lose him. When he came down with cancer I fought to save him. A vet told me I might get four or five more years out of Lucas after that surgery and I believed that with my heart and soul. I never knew that in fifteen months I would be writing this.

A human being can’t live to be fifty without knowing loss. There’s grandparents who die, classmates who are killed in car wrecks, cancer strikes at us all throughout life, and random stupidity takes those from us when we aren’t expecting death at all. Children die young and hearts break over it. The old die and there is guilty relief. There isn’t any way to escape the fact that we are going to die and those we love are going to die, and living is the only real way to…live.

There for a short time, after Bert’s death, all I could think of writing was things about Bert and his life and his death, and what it meant. I realized it wasn’t going to change anything and most of all, I had said it all before the day before, the day before that, and it was time to move forward. The other dogs still needed me. Life still needed me. And writing demands more and more from a writer each day or it ceases to be real and fresh and original and art.

Lucas, for everything that he was, was alive. He would charge out of the back door like he was really going somewhere and leap up in the air once his feet hit the ground. He ran hard. He played hard. Lucas loved being alive and he never truly lost all of his puppyhood. Just a few days out from the end of his physical life I find myself dwelling in the past, again, just as I did when Bert died. I’m not done with grief yet nor should I be, but I can see the end of it. It’s time to begin the process of living again. It’s time to move the things I have not moved because that was where Lucas was sleeping last. It is time to write this, to put into words that I am wounded deeply by the loss of a loved one, but I am still alive.


If there was any way to grieve forever and still live I would do it. But there isn’t.


More than any other dog I have ever shared my life with, I shared Lucas with the people of the Internet. It was the people of the Internet who rose up and helped me smite cancer when it reached for Lucas. The friends and family I have discovered in faraway places called and wrote me when they discovered Lucas was dead. The reaction was swift and compassionate. Tears were shed with me all over the world. Lucas was my dog, but Lucas was your dog, too. 



Three days after he was bitten by the Cottonmouth Lucas was playing with Sam. Less than a week after the surgery that removed six of his teeth and part of his upper jaw, I had to keep Lucas isolated from Lilith to stop them from playing, and playing hard, with one another. Death was the only event that kept that dog from living. There’s a lesson in this for us all.


This won’t be the last time I write about Lucas but this is the last time I’m writing about his death for a while. I’m not done with grief but I am going to begin the process of leaving it behind. Lucas wouldn’t have wanted me to be sad. He would have done anything to keep me from being depressed. Lucas would want me to go out and play, and play hard.


If this means anything to you, if Lucas meant anything to you, if the idea that love, unconditional love, has real meaning and real value, intrinsic to the Universe and to you, then honor the life of The Loki Mutt and look past his death. Lucas began his journey to know you as a stray, thrown away and left to die, or left to be discovered by me and by you. You can make this happen again. Volunteer at a shelter, adopt a rescue dog, donate to those organizations dedicated to saving the lives of animals, or simply find some lost stray and let him ride to his new home in your lap. But you have to know that it isn’t enough to feel the loss; you have to fill the need. You have to go out and actually do something. Love isn’t a noun. Love is a verb. It’s action. It’s work. It's loss. It's sorrow. It's pain. It's grief. It’s what we do, what we have to live through,  to create a home for dogs like Lucas. Accpet it. Accpet the price you'll pay and you'll never regret a single moment of it. I'm speaking from expeience here. 


I lost Lucas but long before I lost him I took that chance and saved a life. We, you, I, and Lucas, had one hell of a good ride even if it was a short one. Lucas never said a word about how much he loved me or how much he enjoyed living with me, or how much he cared about his family. All he could do was live it, and live it as best he knew how, the only way he knew how, and he lived it every damn second of his very short life.


That’s what I’m going do too. Lucas would have wanted that for me, and he would want it for you, too.


Love,

Mike


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Lucas is Dead




Because it was really cold Friday morning I fed the dogs some wet dog food and I gave them a sweet potato. Everyone runs in opposite directions when the sweet potatoes are handed out and everyone seemed happy and normal. A few minutes later Lucas walked into the living room and threw up and then a few minutes later he threw up again, but I thought he had just eaten too much or too fast. He didn’t seem to be sick other than that. I let them out and went to work. I got back home later in the day and was going to head to my girlfriend’s house but Lucas didn’t seem right. He was sluggish and he wasn’t loud and barky like he usually is when I get home. I decided to stay the night and go forth on Saturday morning. Lucas seemed a little droopy Friday night but I bundled him up and he was apparently okay. All during the night I woke up and petted his ears and Lucas seemed like he was coming out of whatever it was he was in.

I knew something was wrong Saturday morning. Lucas got off the bed and nearly fell. He wobbled like he was drunk. He made it outside and then sat down suddenly and then he just laid down. I had to coax him to his feet again. I pushed him up the steps and dragged him into the bedroom. Lucas didn’t move except to reposition himself so he could put his head on the shirt I wore the night before. My vet told me to bring Lucas to her house. I really didn’t know what was wrong but I didn’t think it was alarmingly serious, I mean, not like Lucas was going to just drop dead right then and there.

I put Lucas on a blanket and dragged him to the front door, out on the porch, and half carried him down the steps. He got up and walked to the truck and at that point it looked like he had started to improve. I got him into the truck and I kept telling him it would be okay, that we would have him back home in an hour or two, at worst. Lucas licked my hand and he rested.

About ten minutes out he tried to stand up, he turned around, and just like he did on our way back from Gainesville, where he had surgery for his cancer, Lucas put his head on the console, and I put my hand under his chin, just like I did on the way back from Gainesville. When I got to the vet’s house I looked down at Lucas and he was dead. I knew. I got him out of the truck and the vet came out and she tried CPR but I already knew. She kept telling me he wasn’t dead, Lucas wasn’t dead, but then she stopped and burst into tears. I knew he was gone. I sat on the cold concrete driveway and cried. Lucas was dead.

When I found out Lucas had cancer the first vet told me we were screwed; it was inoperable, Lucas would be dead in six months. I was in shock for a week and then I called my vet and told her we were going to fight it, that there had to be another answer, and I wasn’t giving up.  I found a second opinion, I found a doctor who would do the operation, and Lucas went under the knife.

At this point, I would like to thank a lot of people. First and foremost, Jon, who runs a site called Bits and Pieces, put the word out that I had a sick dog and I needed help. The response was overwhelming. People, strangers, from all over the country and world, donated money to help fund Lucas’ operation. It was the difference between bankruptcy and keeping my house. The people who helped me in that time of need restored a lot of my faith in humanity. A little girl sent me five dollars. A friend in California who I knew damn well couldn’t afford it sent me fifty. I have friends now I met through that event in my life. But it didn’t matter if the money was there or not, I was going to save Lucas. I did. You did. We did. The outpouring of positive feelings and emotions left me in tears and speechless.

I shut down my computer and turned off my phone yesterday. When I woke up this morning there was one hundred and forty new emails. There were a dozen text messages. There were two new voicemails.

Lucas is dead. Not all of the good feelings and positive thoughts can change that. But what you have shown me is that people do care. People care about me and they cared for Lucas, my Loki Mutt, my Muttibeasti, the Dog of my Heart and the one creature on this earth who, in his last minute of life, sought my touch to ease him into to whatever lies beyond this world. That’s the real debt. That’s what I really owe here. One day, maybe, if I can, I’ll repay all that money, I still keep a list of who sent me what. But the real currency here is love, devotion, loyalty and a sense of family.

I owe all of you that for what you’ve done for me during this time. I can only say thank you.


But most of all here, is the story of a stray puppy found in the middle of a road on a Friday. He was the lost dog who brought people together in compassion and he brought love to me and mine. There it is right there. That’s what I want to repay more than anything else in my life. I want people to know that in saving a dog’s life sometime it becomes so very much more.

Please, if there are any gods or a god, if love, loyalty, undying devotion, and unconditional love mean anything in the Universe, please take my dog, Lucas, for he was made entirely of it. Forgive me my unwell mind and my unwell hands, for I tried to do my best with what I have been given. My heart is broken. My home and my soul left bereft of a gentle giant whose presence is still felt.

Lucas is dead.


Mike

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Girl Dogs

Tyger Linn and Lilith Anne are beginning to have some sort of mutual friendly interactive relationship. Lucas gets along with everyone. He has loved the foster dogs as if they were all his kin, but Lilith has hated the fosters as if she felt her quota of attention would not be filled if she acknowledged them at any level. In good truth, Lilith has been downright hostile to any foster who dared enter her personal space. Most of them have backed away from the Pibbilated Princess and tried to stay alive as well as a good distance from Lilith. Tyger Linn is different. Tyger Linn is here to stay.

Tyger has a higher energy level than any other dog that has been around and she also has a bit of a “Me First” attitude that is running her aground with the Bringer Of Dogfood as well as Lilith. She tangled with Lucas a couple of times and came out no better for it, in great part to his patience, not her ability to tackle dogs nearly eighty pounds heavier than herself. Lilith merely snarls at Tyger Linn and that’s been all that has been said, or needed to be said. It’s very odd that Tyger Linn will try Lucas in a fight but won’t tie up with Lilith. That said, Tyger Linn and Lucas play, and play hard. Lilith and Lucas play, and play hard. But so far the playing between the two females has been very sparse and very brief.

So last night I was at the table writing and Lucas was at my side. Lilith and Tyger Linn were in the bedroom and I heard the unmistakable sound of bodies rolling on the floor, thumping as one dog pushed the other down, and the beginnings of Wild Hippo Noises. Then silence. Then more noises. I got up and crept into the bedroom to find Lilith on top of Tyger Linn, both of them in full Bitey Face Mode. I moved into the bedroom to keep an eye on things and they stopped playing in favor of lying on the bed with dad. The Law Of Unintended Consequences strikes again.

There’s a lull in the activity but Tyger Linn, gets up very nonchalantly and pads her way back into the living room. Ah, Bert tried this, Lucas tried it, and now Tyger Linn is trying it. I give her a chance to settle in then very quietly go into the living room to discover a very fast asleep Tyger Linn on the sofa, where no dogs are allowed to sleep without adult supervision or me there, too.

“TYGER!”

And she’s back on the floor in less time than it takes to type this, because she knows full well she isn’t supposed to be up there. Tyger Linn will also run for the door to be let out when being scolded but I herd her back into the bedroom. She hasn’t committed a large crime and I let her back on the bed, and she hides behind Lilith, just to be safe. Tyger will rest her head on Lilith’s back, and Lilith allows this. It’s odd that in times of peace Tyger sleeps beside Lucas yet when she’s in trouble she heads towards Lilith’s side.

Lilith takes this all in stride. I’ve never lived with a dog with as much silent patience when it comes to new dogs. Lilith despises the newcomers but until they get within growling range she doesn’t speak to them at all. I think Lilith believes that Tyger Linn is just another foster, and who can blame people for not adopting her, but she will leave like the others have, sooner or later. Yet Lilith has to admit there’s Doggie DNA involved here; they are two cut from very much the same mold. Both react strongly and swiftly to threats, real or imagined, and Tyger Linn is more than happy to allow Lilith to lead her into battle. There’s a lot to be said for Tyger demurring to Lilith when all hell breaks loose. It shows elements of both trust and respect, something Tyger Linn isn’t in the habit of acknowledging. Both are speedy dogs who are quick to the point of conflict, unerringly charging directly towards whatever it might be that is causing the problem. Both are very light footed and nimble, showing great signs of mobility at speed. This is something to consider. It’s one thing to hear Lucas the Large bumbling into war mode at a trot but quite another to have two liquid ladies weaving in and out of brush to arrive like living electricity.

I’m very curious as to how Tyger Linn is going to react to fosters. It’s going to happen, sooner or later, and I wonder if I’ll wind up having to keep them apart or if Tyger Linn will want to play with the new toy? I think she’s still a very playful little girl but she does like to play rough. That happens. Lucas and I play hard and everyone else does, too. This isn’t a household for the timid or the small. This is Big Dog Territory and if you are going to be smaller your attitude and ability has to be a little larger than life. So far, so good.


I was given Tyger Linn because she had run out of chances and run out of people willing to take that chance with her. This was not a usual foster failure in that (1) I knew I wanted her the first time I met her, and (2) she had some issues that would have made adopting her out problematic to begin with. So why did I want a dog no one else did? Because no one else did. Because people created in Tyger Linn what she is and someone had to fix what was broken. Why me? Why not! I have a secure location in the woods away from other humans and I haven’t had an escapee make it out.

For every piece in the puzzle there is another to match it, make it part of a whole, to complete the process to make the picture a little more clear than it had been. Tyger Linn is that piece of my puzzle and I am hers, too.

Stay tuned, please. This is going to be a great dog!

Take Care,
Mike



Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Waitress Named Quinn








If it wasn’t for a stupid internet meme running around I wouldn’t have remembered the woman named Quinn. Oh not the beloved show about a Doctor Quinn out in the old west who happened to be female but a waitress I once knew long ago, who had a really unusual name. But then again, maybe her real name wasn’t Quinn, and having that one her nametag was who she was when she was where she was. Toni Morrison wasn’t Toni Morrison at birth and I was born with someone else’s name, myself. Some of us are like stray dogs who remember being called something once, another name, but life changed, a lot.

Quinn had skin the color of coffee with just the right amount of chocolate soy milk in it. Her face was a little flat, no high cheek bones here, and there was a slight hint that maybe a grandparent might have come from China in her eyes. Quinn was a little on the tall side, a little on the skinny side, and she strayed over to where beauty hides more often than not, when she smiled but most women do.

She stopped one day, at lunch, and sat down across from me and asked me what I was writing. I told her that I was writing everything that came into my head and everyone who came into the restaurant and I wish I would have asked her if she wrote, but it didn’t occur to me that she did. At that point in my life a lot of things didn’t occur to me and one of them was to ask people about their creativity. Most people won’t talk to you about it right away but they will eventually because they want to know it’s not some rare disease that only inflicts them. When she sat down across from me I saw her eyes were a sort of clear blue color you won’t find anywhere on earth except as an eye color in someone whose parents weren’t the same shade of any hue.

Quinn had a small tattoo on the inside of her forearm just seven or eight centimeter square. If not for the skill of the artist who drew it, and I often wonder if Quinn was that artist, it might have meant and shown less. But it was very nicely played and laid and it showed a scene of tall grass, in the wind that spoke of an approaching storm. It’s hard to describe how something that small was done that well, but it was.

She had other tattoos, but time and modesty kept the conversation from getting any deeper or going any further. Quinn and I parted ways, I left her a good tip, but she wasn’t there the next time I ate lunch there and I never saw her again after that day. They said she got a better job and moved on but I will never know.

What I really wanted to do is ask her how it felt inside her skin and not so much look at what was on the outside of it. I wanted to know where she grew up, for clearly she was far too articulate to have been raised in The South. If one of the first ten words a person speaks is “Ain’t” there can be an assumption that person is local to this region where words are blurred and butchered, botched and dropped, as if a disdain for language skills is an Olympic event. All of this happened over a decade ago, before tattoos really started to go mainstream, if they really are yet, and it was fairly uncommon to see a waitress with a visible work of art on her arm.


So where was Quinn from and how did she arrive in South Georgia? There’s an Air Force base nearby so she might have been military, in some shape, fashion or form. Thr real question I would like to ask is this, “does being multiracial make you a part of everything or does it make you apart from everything?” This is not a question I could answer or even hope to answer on my own. Most of my life was lived with there being only two kinds of people; black and white. I remember in my early childhood seeing a color television for the first time. I thought the color was too intense and that no one would watch it because it was too different.

Now color televisions are everywhere and it’s getting to the point that black and white people are becoming less the norm. The pigeon holes are finding more on the outside than on the inside. People are beginning to breed outside the expectations of the generations of prejudice and ignorance. The end results are a race of people who are going to be forever different than the way things were for hundreds of years.

If Quinn and someone of her same genetic match up produce children then whatever shall we call these people? What box shall we offer to allow them to check? Suddenly, the boxes seem just a little outdated like the “Whites Only” signs that I saw when I was a child. Quinn might be able to pass for white, or pass for black, or even someone from Asian. Simply by being alive Quinn transforms our world, even if there are those who cannot accept her. Whatever sign they hang or whoever they hang, the people who want the world to stop turning and for time to stand still are going to lose that fight. I think it’s already been lost. I cannot imagine things returning to how they were.

What I would really love one day is for someone who has a variety of races all mixed into their lives to tell me that I’m wrong, that it’s different now, and my fears are unfounded. I would like to live long enough to see the day that I’m a minority and anyone who isn’t blended is as well. I think that day will come.

Until that day does come, I hope Quinn is treated well by the last of the dinosaurs. I hope they can accept the idea a new age is upon us and there is no turning back.

I would like for Quinn to have a good life because of who she is and what she can do.

Take Care,

Mike

Friday, February 13, 2015

Bubba On Valentine's Day.








Traffic is a mess early in Valdosta today because everyone who has a partner has to do something special tomorrow and I would be one of those people. I thought by hitting town in the middle of the afternoon I could slip in and slip out without fighting everyone else on earth trying to do the same thing but everyone on earth was trying to do the same thing. And then there’s the two women in the parking lot of the wine store. Here it is, one of the busiest days of the year and they are parked side by side, chatting away, while the parking lot fills up around them and traffic on the street backs up. Share the love, Ladies, thanks.

But then there’s Bubba. This is the guy I get behind on the road that I took so that I would avoid some of the traffic and he’s Bubba. He’s got his white tee shirt and his ball cap, his truck has a bass decal and a bummer sticker that reads, “If I had known Obama was going to happen I would have picked my own damn cotton”  and there’s a very select few people on earth that thinks that’s truly gut wrenching hilarious. So Bubba is one of these people who sit and wait after the light has turned green. He’s also one of those people who smoke while driving and hangs the cigarette out of the window while he’s doing it. You’ll smoke but you won’t keep it to yourself? Bubba and his pal and looking for something, a store, a place to molest swine or commit incest, which might be one in the same with these two, and they’re pointing, Bubba is riding the brakes, they’re looking off at the side of the road and I make a right into the movie theater parking lot just as I see Bubba rear end the car ahead of him. You had to see that coming, Bubba, didn’t you? I try really really really hard not to feel smug about someone being in a car accident but I fail.

I cut through the parking lot to emerge at one of those chain drug stores. All cards are half off. But in reality, at this time of day, before the event tomorrow, they’re marked up twice what they should be.

The lights of an ambulance cut through traffic before I heard the siren and now I do feel bad about my feelings of karma upon the head of Bubba. What if he hurt someone? But then again, what if Bubba was hurt? It’s not uncommon, believe it or not, to see someone dressed just like Bubba at a very nice restaurant with some woman beside him, dressed nicely, hoping people understand.

Sometimes, men just do the best they can with what they know and the rest of it seems to get past them, like why women like for them to wear dark colored socks or leave their favorite hat in the truck rather than wear it into a place where most men are wearing ties. I knew a guy that ate catsup with everything no matter what sort of meat was served. He and his wife went to a truly nice place and when he asked for catsup they brought him a little silver cup with catsup in it. He wanted a bottle he could kind of splurt the stuff out of and of course, they had one. Truly, there are men like this and they vote.  But the bumper sticker aside, if you can, ( I can’t really) there just might be someone out there who cares very deeply for Bubba, who isn’t likely to become bacon one day.

Really good women care about questionable men the same way people who plant gardens pray for rain. They know it’s going to get better or not get better, but they hope it will, and face the idea that it might  not with a faith that borders on straight delusional home grown whiskey. But it’s their drink of choice and their choice, and I wonder if someone will sit a woman down who loves me and ask her if she has totally lost her mind for doing so. I admit it wouldn’t be totally out of the question for something like this to occur.


At least Bubba has some sort of cultural reference in this part of the world.

I don’t hunt or fish. When I pick up a wrench, somewhere out there, a mechanic dies. I can’t fix things around the house and I can’t stand direct sunlight for long periods of time. I don’t like people and generally speaking, I don’t do well around them at all. I hate beets and I despise religion. Honestly, sometimes I wonder why a woman would bother with me at all if I didn’t have great dogs.

Love is like that. It’s something that sees past white socks and catsup. It look past the fish stickers and the black velvet Elvis that some guy just couldn’t let go of once he got out of High School. Love sees things that only someone truly in love or truly insane would bother to look for at all. The idea that we celebrate this with the madness we do only once a year is a little disappointing. We ought to do this at least once a month or so. We should do it every full moon.

No matter what you have to say about Christmas and the commercialism that surrounds it, at least Valentine’s Day is for love. It’s the only thing worth risking everything for. It’s the only thing that if you make a fool of yourself over it’s a job well done. It’s the only thing that can make drinking seem like a really good idea when it’s gone wrong. It’s the only thing, really, the only thing at all, that makes life worth living.

Love,
Mike.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Old House and the New Moon







The moonlight is less than it was last night, through clouds or attrition and the Coyotes have migrated to quieter hunting grounds. Warrior Girl sleeps deeply and Lucas snores, his half face leaking air into the darkness. Tyger Linn gets up and goes to the window, puts her front paws on the sill and looks into the depths. Her left front leg bends and she tucks a paw next to her chest as if she’s cocking a hammer. But there are no targets this night. Tyger Linn returns to her pack and nests between the two males in the pack. She falls asleep instantly and deeply.

I watch the moonlight creep back into the darkness. Unbidden and unlooked for, a memory of a very young girl eases back into my mind. She and I made love in my father’s car, in the moonlight, and the image of her body in that light stays with me still. Many years ago, decades ago, I loved her as if there would be no tomorrow and eventually there wasn’t.

We skipped school once, she and I, and at first she told me we had to keep our clothes on, because we were hiding out at her parent’s house and they would kill us if her mother or father came home and caught us in bed. But the heat kept rising between us, as it will with young lovers, and we took a blanket to a place in the woods nearby where there was an old abandoned house. Right there in an open spot in front of the house we spent the day exploring who we were and what we liked. It was the first time there wasn’t a time to get her home, a time I had to be back, and it was time stolen from the adult world to do adult things with our adult bodies, even if we were still very much young in our minds. Her body looked incredible by moonlight or by sunlight, and suddenly, the morning had turned to afternoon, and she made me a sandwich in her parent’s kitchen, an adult thing to do, and it was as if this would be our future one day, to have a house, and a kitchen, and there would be that time we shared between the bodies we shared. The time in high school oozed by like wet sand through a tiny hourglass but the time spent with her was a an avalanche; suddenly I had to leave and suddenly I was thinking about how to get someone to write an excuse for me for missing school. That was so terribly important; not to be tardy or absent, yes, those were the high crimes to be committed when a person stole time of their own life to spend other than how it was demanded.

She’s a grandmother now, her daughter a mother, and I haven’t seen her since before I was in the Army. She’s lived her life and I have lived mine, and the two lives never came close to having any sort of intersection. I wonder what happened to the old house behind where her parents lived, and I wonder if they live still. I often wondered whose old house that was, and if they ever made love in that spot and I wonder if they lost love or they found it.

That house stood during a time when people were married and they stayed that way, ever it may bring. There were fewer distractions, fewer opportunities, and who you loved was all you had. We, as a culture, transitioned from stay forever to stay for the kids to stay until you want to leave. There are species of insects who live longer than how long my marriage lasted so I’m the last person to speak of this subject with some wistful yearning, but still…


For whatever reason it might have been, a friend of mine who was dying of cancer, moved to within a mile of her parent’s house. It was odd being in that part of the world when I visited him, it was odd being that close to that house, it was terrible and strange to know he was dying, and it seemed odd that a dying man could sit and talk about things in the past and remember so well that which was, and know that the past would soon engulf him. It is one thing to know that someone was once a part of your life and now lives another life, and it is quite another thing to know that someone was once a part of your life but no longer lives. It’s as if in the light of day I looked down and part of my own shadow was missing, gone forever, and would never be replaced. All the memories that I shared with that one person I have now inherited as a singular set. Like something gained in a divorce the possession is lessened somewhat by the lack of the other half of a relationship. It was not my memories, our memories, that made life what it was but the person who helped create them.

He’s dead now, and I thought there might be a time when I looked back and time had stopped or paused, or something, and that I might have a chance to just sit and reflect upon his life, his death, our life, but now it’s been nearly two years. My long lost lover has been gone for many times that time. I know they knew one another and I know there had to be some point in time we were all in the same place at the same time, but I cannot remember that now. It is gone, lost forever, perhaps as a memory someone else holds, I cannot say.



But love, like life, isn’t about memory or about how it was. It is about how it is and how it will be. To delve too deeply or to dwell too long in the past life or past love is to lose everything in the present. There is nothing, nothing at all, back there in the past, no, not love not life, just memories. A person can only honor life, and honor love, by living and loving, right now.

Take Care,

Mike

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Of Moon and Mutts.

The moonlight pours into the windows and Tyger Linn thinks there is something out there, because she can see out there. Bert did this and Sam did too, but I think Sam did it because Bert did. Bert was a Moon Mutt, one of those dogs highly affected by moonlight, and Tyger Linn seems to want to walk that same path. There isn’t anything to be done for it. They will do what they will do and all I can do is facilitate it. At least she doesn’t go thrashing around in the water like Bert did and I am thankful for that. There is a lot less of Tyger Linn than there was of Bert and that also, is a blessing of sorts.

Tyger Linn still has some anger issues. She cannot seem to separate the idea that she can tell one of her sibling to back off, or have one of her siblings tell her to back off, without a fight breaking out. And she can’t separate the idea of a fight breaking out that isn’t an all-out fight, which she will lose against either of the older and stronger dogs. So far she hasn’t tempted Lilith to kill her, and that’s a sign of intelligence, but she’s clashed with Lucas twice. Lucas has been around for a while and his years of keeping Sam at arm’s length during fights has taught him how to wear someone down and blunt an attack without it going too far. Tyger Linn is learning that I react poorly to fights. But it has created a very interesting twist on puppy politics.

Last night I caught Lucas provoking Tyger Linn. This isn’t the first time I’ve caught him at it, but this is the first time he’s taken it this far. Lucas knows that if Tyger Linn starts a fight then I’ll kick her off the bed and make her sleep on the floor. This will leave more room on the bed for Lucas and he can sleep closer to me. Tyger Linn likes to sleep next to me so she tries very hard not to be provoked. But Lucas pushed her with his side last night and she tensed up at him. He then poked her with his nose, hard, and pushed her again.  Tyger Linn saw me watching and she ran over to me to tell me that Lucas was trying to start a fight and Lucas came over to plead his case that he was not trying to start a fight. But I think he was. He acted guilty.

Compared to her one hundred and twenty pound brother, Tyger Linn, at forty pounds, is a small dog. She is also very hard and compact. There isn’t any spare meat on this animal at all. Late last night the Coyotes got cranked up and out of the door flew the Girl Dogs with Lucas bringing up the rear. I’m not real sure what the Coyotes think they’ll get if they tempt those two into becoming a team but I do know they won’t like it. Lilith screams defiance at them but Tyger Linn doesn’t make a sound. Her body posture tells me that she’s ready for a fight. Tyger Linn has never heard a Coyote before but she does understand what’s happening here. No growling, no barking, no lectures on trespassing from Tyger Linn. Come, do not come, fight, do not fight, but don’t stand around talking about it. The Coyotes, who have also walked this path before, dissolve into the darkness and moonlight silently. As disconcerting as it is to have Warrior Girl berating them, the scent of the Silent One has to weigh heavy on their minds. Lucas and I both pee on things in the dark, marking territory and defining our world, moonlit as it is.  

Tyger Linn can’t sleep and neither can I. The moonlight slowly fades, the L Hounds sleep deeply, but Tyger Linn stays focused. What in the hell is out there, she doesn’t know, this is her first trip into Coyote Clashing, but there is no fear in this one. Maybe it’s a defining quality of the Pibbles, but Lucas is likewise unafraid. Bert was always ready for a fight when it came to his cousins, and even Sam brayed at them, full of bad intent and murder. Yet Lilith and Tyger Linn both seem to be more visibly upset at the trespass. Lilith gives voice to her emotions, loud, shrill, and totally committed to the idea that they shall not pass. Tyger Linn was bowstring taut and ready without a word. I’ve never seen a dog so tense and yet so very silent. This is dangerous in ways that most people do not realize; if you cannot see her coming and you cannot hear her coming you will only know she is there when she arrives. Nothing I have seen from this animal makes me think the Coyotes will like this.

 But Tyger Linn stays put. She rests beside my head, curled up tightly, but with her head up, ears up and alert. She does not growl at the wild canines but remains vigilant. This may very well the first place she has ever had to call home and she is ready to defend it in the only manner available to her. It is interesting to see that as much as she interacts with Lucas, and almost never with Lilith, that it is Lilith she follows and allows to lead her when things get tense. As Lilith yowled at the Coyotes Tyger Linn stayed at her side and a little to the rear, and she waited. There is more to the relationship between these two than meets the human eye.

Tyger Linn is not far removed from being a stray. You know as much about her past as I do. What happened to this little girl before she arrived here is a guess. But my guess is that somewhere down the line she had to fight like hell and got very little in return for it other than her life. Now there is a lot more worth fighting for and she is being trained not to fight at all, ever.

In the darkness of the night, and the shadows created by the moon, Tyger Linn is meeting herself every time she listens to the wild and obeys her training instead.

Take Care,

Mike

The Foggy Side of Suicide




It’s cold and there’s fog trying to lift off the ground again. The fog rose Monday morning and took everything with it. There were no landmarks, no lights, nothing but the front of the truck and everything within three meters in front of it. And fog. If you’ve ever wondered how fish see in murky water they do not. Other senses have to prevail and we humans are sight based creatures or we are nothing. Mostly, we ignore everything that doesn’t reflect light and we dismiss those creatures who use their entire arrays of perceptions. I’ve learned more by watching my dogs as they use their hearing than I ever could have reading about it. Lucas’ intentional and dramatic sternutations aside I also trust his nose more than I do my eyesight in the woods.

But in the fog there is nothing. We humans have finally developed a system as to be totally dependent on sight and then found a way to go so fast as to outrun our ability to see. Hurtling in near blindness and in the dark, humans in vehicles kill one another on a very regular basis and curse the darkness and the fog. Lawyers sue one party or the other, or some government entity yet there is a little that can be done with headlights and speed when it comes to thick fog and darkness except hope it doesn’t cause you to kill someone or someone to kill you.

That was Monday, and the last two mornings fog has not gotten out of bed, totally, still tired from having to push mounds of floating water all over the main part of South Georgia. I’m a little twitchy about Monday morning; someone wrecked on I-75 in the fog and it’s more than a small miracle that more people weren’t killed. Of course, I heard there was someone walking in the fog along the Interstate but I haven’t been able to track it down. Suicide by traffic is more common than most people believe it is. Those lacking guns or poison and just simply tired of being alive have only to walk that white line until a truck or a car crosses it. The human body is incredibly frail when being struck by metal at high speed. It’s like jumping off a very tall building and landing on a car’s grill. Last year a man stood on the side of the Interstate until whatever it was kicked in and he leapt in front of a semi. It’s more certain than a bullet to the head. It’s a lot more sure than overdose. And it is a lot more messy than suicide by cop.


Just because you aren’t thinking about killing yourself doesn’t mean you aren’t headed in that direction fast. Driving in fog without caution is a lot like playing with a loaded gun in the dark while in a crowded room. But that was Monday and this morning the fog flirted with trying to kill some folk but it slept in. On the way to work I take a side road off a side road and the air is full of blue lights and yellow lights and I know someone has done something very strange.

Cops know me. I’ve been around for a while. I’m out early in the morning, up before the sun, and I never speed. I’m famous for how carefully I drive, really, and they like it. But someone else was not so careful; on a fairly straight road someone took a hard left turn into some woods. The truck was being pulled out as I got there. A tree had stopped the truck cold, as trees will stop a vehicle cold. The driver survived with very minor injuries but as the guy in the wrecker told me, “Drunker than I have ever been at four in the morning.” The Cops grin but make no comment on the case. Still, the aroma of cheap alcohol creates its own fog. Sharp, acrid, and unmistakable, wherever this man started from he ended here, with this odor. The scent of the early morning and woods is gone. There is nothing natural about what occurred here at all. There is a lack of the spiritual here and it has been replaced by distilled spirit. Had it occurred an hour later I would have been in the path of this person.

It’s amazing they can get the truck out of where it was. A tree stopped it but not before it came to rest with the front tired partially in water. One less tree and the man might have made it into the flooded area and had his final drink. Had he hit the massive Oak to the right of where he went in he might have been killed outright. The say the gods look after drunks and fools so he might have qualified for double protection. That Oak would have stopped him more suddenly than his body could have endured unless he was wearing a seat belt. One of the cops there told me that he saw it happen; the man made a turn where no turn existed. I would love to know how it looked as he went in and at what point his brain started screaming about it, or if this was a form of suicide.


The wrecker pulls the corpse of the truck out of the woods and the damage is significant. The front of the truck is smashed and the side look like he might have pinballed between a couple of trees. The damage to the man’s life will also be impressive. He could have hired a helicopter to pick him up and drop him off with what he will face in fines now. Somewhere, however, in the deep dark recesses of this human being’s mind, I think he tried to kill himself. That’s something that he’s got to reconcile with his next drink or head down the same path.

The cops and I talk shop and as the wrecker pulls the truck away we drift off. None of us say it out loud but I think they know it too; we’ll see this man in the woods again, stopped cold by something unmoving. If he wants out bad enough he will find a way out. I just wonder what it would take to make him want to live again.

Take Care,

Mike

“Life is a foggy road. You may come across anything on the road.”


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The River Of Red Shoes



 I hear the noise of running water and I know there’s a term for it. There are a lot of terms for running water; babbling, gurgling, bubbling, and perhaps a few more, but there’s a term for hearing sounds right before sleep and that term escapes me, even as I drift in between being awake and being asleep. I lived in Tifton Georgia many years ago and heard a freight train’s horn in the distance. I was falling asleep but I had always been told a tornado sounded like a freight train and the idea of a tornado having a horn made me laugh hard enough to wake me up. I got up and sat in the window and listened to the train go by and I wondered if the people on that train, however many there were, knew someone was listening to them pass by in the night?

When I had an apartment downtown I liked to eavesdrop on people on the street and in a way I miss that sort of one sided interaction but it’s not a habit of choice; when you live downtown there are people there all the time whether or not you like it or do not like it. Late at night there were brief hours of near silence but rarely was the silence complete or unbroken. There was a man who stood under my window one night and cursed another man, drunkenly and repeatedly, until it was to the point of neurosis. I mean, how many times, even when a person is really drunk, do they have to yell the same pejorative over and over and over again?

While I drift in and out of sleep I can just imagine the brain of a drunk being saturated by alcohol in an endless and slow stream. Like the faucet that is still running, or is it, there isn’t enough drying time or drainage to keep the brain truly alive or truly functioning. It’s a long term poisoning to the point that even when there is time enough to dry and even when the flow stops, the brain keep operating as if the drug was still there, to some degree, because that’s what it has been trained to do for so long. It’s like watching the same reruns all the time or eating the same food every day or never changing the way you wear your hair. Your brain gets used to being that same thing all the time so when a drunk stays drunk the brain stays drunk even when it isn’t anymore.

I wake up enough to realize there is no running water but as I drift again I can hear the same sound again. I don’t really hear the sound, I know I don’t, but suddenly I begin to wonder where I would have to live so I would. The last time I was at the beach I could hear the sound of the waves at night, infinite white noise after a while, and the time before that I marveled at the energy that went into those waves that sound, the hearing of that sound, and how it went on without ever ending at all. I’ve never lived near running water and that’s a shame; I think I would really like it.

When there was flooding several years ago I found a red shoe, a woman’s shoe, and I wonder by what event she lost it. The mate to it never washed up and I didn’t expect it to either, but somewhere both shoes existed apart from one another, like lovers who have broken up but are still very deeply in love. I tossed the red shoe back into the water on the off chance its mate was still downstream waiting and I was a little worried that one day the other would appear, looking for its sole mate, and damning me for releasing it back into the watery highway.

Being a writer is like that sometimes, you get caught up in your own fiction.

There is, I have been told, a house that straddles a creek in South Georgia. The living room has a glass bottom to it and the people can see the water underneath but fishermen can see the people up above. It’s deep, really deep in the woods, but the people there still have problems with fisherfolk and the curious wanting to come in and look around. The curiosity in normal but it must get old living in a tourist attraction. The last tornado that came through this area created a lot of misery in its wake and a lot of people were driving up and down the roads taking photos of ruined homes and the lives of other people strew about in the chaos. One man parked his truck at the end of his driveway to keep people out and people stopped, with their blinkers on, waiting for the truck to pull out so they might pull in and get a closer look at the damage. Another man was hauling around a trailer behind his truck picking up metal roofing and aluminum that had been blown off houses, and all of this just hours after the tornado hit. I heard it sounded like a freight train when it came through.

I drift more deeply now; the gravitational pull of exhaustion is irresistible. There are the beginnings of real dreams now, shapes and places and people begin to assemble for the night’s activities. The curtain moves around as actors take their places and the light begin to dim. The brain begins to flow in the direction of the subconscious now and what is a real turns into background noise and what was not real begins to become reality. The running water is forgotten in place of other forms of hallucinations. The world becomes something else for a while.  I can feel sleep taking over the real would and it is a welcome relief to the thoughts that ran through my mind like a river.

Take Care,

Mike

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Rebel of the Indoor Rain





So about the time the weather had its first real cold snap, when I actually had to close the windows and get the comforter out of the closet, Lilith had some incontinence problems. It only happened twice, and it was right after she was on steroids for Kennel Cough. But it did happen once on the bed and having no idea what else to do about it, I bought a shower curtain to shield the bed from liquid Lilith. I put the shower curtain on the bed, put a sheet over it and Lilith got to sleep on the bed with everyone else.
There really wasn’t a question of making her sleep on the floor or outside and until I figured out what was wrong, if something was wrong, this was the way we were going to do it. It never happened again, thankfully, and I just tossed the new shower curtain to one side, just in case.
When I was growing up all shower curtains were white. Showers hadn’t really gotten in vogue everywhere and a lot of people still took baths. Refrigerators were always white, too, and mostly people called them “ice boxes” because that was once what they all were. But when I rented my first apartment it came with a white shower curtain. I vowed to be a rebel and change.
What really got me cranked up was a woman I dated who had a truly unique shower curtain with fish and seaweed and that sort of thing on it, but it was also clear plastic. I really liked clear plastic and that’s what I wound up with. For reasons I cannot explain to you my shower curtain that was clear plastic and had no sea scenes on it made her self-conscious when we showered together but hers didn’t. But I really liked the clear plastic shower curtains and that’s what I’ve owned since, believe it or not, the 1980’s. No not the same one, silly.
So yesterday I took my old shower curtain down and used it as sort of a repository for things that I was throwing away while doing some house cleaning ( try not to faint) and then I bundled it all up and toss it into the dumpster- thing- with- wheels- on- it- that- I- take- to- the- side- of –the- road- on- Fridays. I installed the new clear plastic shower curtain and what in the name of Moby Dick is this?
The new clear plastic shower curtain was two feet shorter than it ought to have been.
This is funny for more reasons than you think. Right after I got married my bride went to get a shower rod for our shower stall and I told her to measure the stall. She didn’t so before she left I did and it was forty inches. In a huff she told me there were all a standard size. Off she went to get a rod for the shower while I did yard work and when she returned, the rod, fully extended, was about six inches short. We used some small wooden blocks to fill up the difference but to me, that was just another one of those things that even after I told her to do something different, she did it her way and it cost us money or time. Those were the days when driving to Valdosta for something had to count and this had been something truly simple. I made a trip in Monday when I went to work and I felt kind of weird returning a shower rod that had been used for two days. Rarely is a house torn down all at once but one brick at a time. Every day, every week, every month, and finally, every year, money went missing for no good reason and we needed for something desperately but she had frittered it away with nothing to show for it. There were times I nearly felt like a pedophile because it was a lot like living with a child. No, you can’t buy that because we have bills to pay! I can’t remember what it was but she bought something and I returned it that day, fifty mile round trip, because we simply couldn’t afford to have the money out.
So there was this dwarf shower curtain hanging there, reminding me that I hadn’t looked at the length dimensions but for some reason it was funny. I took a shower this morning and could see over the top of the shower curtain. Who has a shower built like this? This is what it is like to be seven feet tall. No, but really. Who has shower curtains that are made for stalls that are less than five feet tall?
Of course, since I bought it months ago I can’t return it so I had to get another shower curtain. This time one that was seventy inches tall. I picked up a clear plastic one and as I was walking out I realized that I have owned a clear plastic shower curtain since I had long hair. I wasn’t about to get one that said, “Looks like one my ex-girlfriend had” but I decided to get one that looked like something that I would like, hell, it is something I do like. It’s kind of opaque with bamboo pattern on it. Yeah, that’s cool.
So after all these years of the same shower curtain I’m back to be the Rebel of the Indoor Rain. I’ve ditched a habit I’ve had most of my life and it feels a little out of sorts to take a shower all hidden and out of sight, kind of. I think no matter how small a change you make in your life that nearly all change is good in some way. It builds up. It rearranges the way you look at the Universe in some way. Maybe other things will change now. Maybe I’ll wear socks that aren’t white one day.
Don’t hold your breath.
Take Care,

Mike