Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Dog – Chapter Four

Here’s the latest chapter, still first draft.  Comments, critiques and questions welcome!

Links to the other three chapters, One being the beginning.

Chapter One    Chapter Two   Chapter Three

Chapter Four

We found ‘The Glen’ without having to use the Gypsy.  Checking in and getting a cabin took less than fifteen minutes.  The ten dollar per night pet fee seemed reasonable to me.  The only rules were no excessive pet noise, no leaving the animals alone in the cabin, and clean up after your pet.  The cabins were spread out in a loose ring around the central office area.  Trees stood tall throughout the area making ‘The Glen’ look like it had been built inside of a forest.

Number 5 lay directly behind the office.  I parked Topper in front of our cabin, grabbed my luggage, the dog’s food and dishes, and led her inside, not bothering with hooking up the leash.  She carried Miss Piggy herself.

The inside of the cabin smelled like the woods, in a good way I could appreciate.  The dog dropped Miss Piggy, after squeaking her once, and did her own investigation of this new area.  She padded over and sniffed the fireplace, examined the queen sized bed, looked at the small table and chairs, and went into the kitchenette to explore the smells there.  I dropped my backpack onto the bed and took her food and dishes over to the counter.

“You’re probably hungry and thirsty just like I am, aren’t you?”  I filled one of her dishes with water and put it down in front of her.  She lapped up about half of the water while I opened her food bag and poured what I thought was a good portion for her dinner.  She heard the food being poured and stopped in the middle of her drink to look up at me.  Water dripped from her muzzle like a small waterfall.  I laughed and put her food bowl down next to her water dish.  While she was eating I looked around the cabin.

The kitchenette was nice.  It had a small refrigerator, a two burner gas stove on top of an oven, two counters, one of which held a compact microwave, and some cooking utensils in a canister.  Inspections of the drawers and cabinets showed me dishes, silverware and some pots and pans.  At least I wouldn’t have to use my camp stove to cook dinner.

The fireplace had wood stacked next to it with kindling in a smaller pile.  It was a traditional wood burning fireplace with no gas jets inside, I liked that.  I emptied my pockets of keys, coins, phone and wallet, and set it all on the table.  I kicked off my hiking boots, tossed my jacket over the back of a chair and sprawled out on the bed.  Food could wait, I needed to chill out for a while.  The TV was opposite of the bed with the remote sitting on an end table, but I ignored it.

I watched the dog finish her dinner.  We really needed to figure out her name.  She delicately licked her bowl clean, no pieces going uneaten; a little drink of water to wash it all down and then she came over to the bed.

“Do you want to come up?”  I patted the bed next to me.

She looked at me with those beautiful eyes, then walked over to the door, nosed the handle and looked back over at me.

“Aw heck, what was I thinking?  Of course you need to go outside.”  I got back up from the bed, grabbed my jacket, keys, and slipped my feet into my boots.  My boots had a zipper on the side, in addition to the laces, that made for easy access.  I usually wore them unzipped unless I was hiking or walking more than a short distance.

With her leash hooked up, we headed out into the gathering gloom.  A sign on a post announced ‘Poop Bags’; a small container on the post held a box of plastic bags for use in cleaning up after your pet.  I grabbed a couple as we walked by on our way to the trees.

I needed to figure out her name so I started trying some.  “Matilda, Matty.”  No reaction from her, she kept sniffing the ground as we walked.  “Sheila?”  I’d read that was one of the synonyms that Australians used for girl.  We walked past a garden area containing flowers so I tried, “Rose?”  Nothing from her.  “Iris?”

She did her business and when I bent down to clean up, she reached over and gave me a kiss on the cheek.   “Oh, you’re welcome,” I told her, “you are a very polite young lady”.  I dropped the poop bag in the trash can and we headed back to our cabin.  I thought more about names and their meanings.   I knew I would find her perfect name.

“Sophie?  Sarah?  Sadie?”  No reaction to any of these names.  Then I remembered what the doctor had called her.  “Missy?”  Still nothing.  “I could call name you Sweetie since that’s what I’ve been calling you, but you don’t really answer to that either.”  She kept sniffing trees, bushes and grass, out as far as the leash reached, but she didn’t try to pull any farther.

Stopping at the truck, I raided my supplies and snagged a can of chili, some saltines, and a bottle of water for my own dinner.  Back inside I kicked my boots off again and left the food on the counter.  The doorknob seemed to be a good place for the dog’s leash.  While I looked for a can opener and started my dinner, she explored the cabin inch by inch, with the fireplace getting most of her attention.  After scraping the chili into a large bowl, and grabbing my crackers, water, and a paper towel for a napkin, I sat at the little table to eat my dinner.  The dog came over, sat and alternately looked from me to my food and back.

Hunger gnawed at me, even the canned chili smelled good, but I sat for a minute and reflected, like I usually did before eating.  I thought about my mom, I still missed her terribly, even though the accident had occurred over two years ago.  I wondered about my dad, whom I had never met.  I ached for the buddies from my unit, who had not made it back, who would never make it back.  I questioned why I was the one, the only one, who had.  I felt hollow.  Survivor’s guilt is a term I had heard a lot.

The dog had lain down and was looking at me, panting slowly, with her ears down and back.   I looked at her and pondered the events of the day.  Why was she in my life now?  What meaning did it have that we happened to run into each other?  How come it was so important to me that she stay with me?  And why couldn’t I name her?

I looked back at my chili, picked up my spoon and hesitated.  “You know,” I said, “my mom always had us say grace before we ate.”  I turned and looked at her, “But with everything that’s happened to me, I’ve pretty much lost my faith.”

She sat up so fast I thought she must have been shocked.  Her ears stood up, she stopped panting, and her eyes were bright and fixed on mine.

“What?  What happened girl?”

She sat frozen, seeming not to breathe, staring at me, quivering.  I reviewed what I had said, ‘pretty much lost my…’

“Faith?” I said aloud.

At that, she leaped up, planted her front feet in my side and began furiously licking my face.  I started laughing and tried to push her back but she was a lot stronger than she looked.  I finally got her four feet on the ground and escaped her kisses for now.

“Is that it?  Is that your name?  Faith?”

She barked once at me and started a crazy dance with her body bent almost into a U and her little tail wagging so hard her it shook her entire rear end.  She was grinning and giving little yips of excitement.  I untangled myself from the table and chair and got down on my knees with her.  She gave me more kisses and threw her body into mine like she was trying to check me into the boards.

I put my arms around her and buried my face in the fur around her neck.  She quieted right down.  I took a deep breath and whispered it into her ear, “Faith.”  Then I started crying like I hadn’t cried in years.

My Old Aardvark

This is an essay written for one of my online classes.  It started out at 865 words and I was challenged to get it down to 500.  I thought that would be impossible to do while keeping the same impact.  Here it is, please comment.  I’ll have a link to the longer version at the end if anyone is interested.

My Old Aardvark

Today I walked out to the garage and saw my old aardvark. His tail is lost; his tongue and its attached ant are gone, leaving a hole at the end of his nose. His ears are drooping and flaking away. Three legs are broken and he stands like a dog sitting, offering a paw. His eyes are the same, but with a dusty, aged look.

I created my aardvark years ago in the eighth grade. We were assigned a paper mache project and I chose to do an aardvark since I liked both the word and the aardvark in the B.C. comic strip.

The aardvark’s body was a bleach bottle and his nose was a long inflated balloon. His legs were toilet paper rolls, his tail a piece of rope and a stiff wire served as his tongue. His ears stood up with little folds at the tips. Layers of paper and paste connected and molded these mismatched pieces until my aardvark took shape. I painted him reddish brown and his eyes were slightly crossed, bloodshot, big white ovals with blue irises and black pupils.

Dad liked my aardvark enough to adopt him and keep him in his room. It was his personal game room, office, junk room and bar. My dad had my aardvark in his room for over thirty years. I realize now how much more my aardvark saw of Dad, that I never did.

I was close to my dad. We both loved military history. He had a bookcase of model fighters and other bookcases filled with military history books. He had stacks of war games and magazines. Together we re-fought the battles of Gettysburg, Stalingrad, Midway, and Waterloo.

I went away to college, returned and lived with my brother. His house was close to Dad’s and I visited often. My aardvark was still in Dad’s room, keeping watch over him. I would talk to Dad about the new games and magazines he had collected and about other things, but the history/game connection was our strongest bond.

Over the years life moved me further from Dad. His hearing went away and health problems contributed to his diminishing mental acuity. When I did visit, we talked less and less. But I always got a chuckle out of my aardvark, still in dad’s room, still observing.

When Dad passed away, his room was left pretty much alone. I still visited and browsed through the games, magazines and memories. My aardvark watched me now.

Mom passed a few years later and we had to sell the house. I got my favorite games, books, magazines, and items that triggered good memories. And the aardvark; I looked at him, laughed, and brought him home with me.

Today I walked out to the garage and saw my old aardvark. My first memories were of junior high and a paper mache project. Everything is broken except for his eyes. I looked at his eyes and wished I’d seen everything they had seen.

My Old Aardvark – long version

The Dog – Chapter Three

Here is the latest chapter.  Here are links to the updated pages for chapter one and two.

Chapter One

Chapter Two

The Dog – Chapter Three

I stayed crouched down petting her and looking her over.  She sat there looking like she enjoyed me scratching behind her ears; her eyes were half closed and she looked like she was smiling, with her mouth slightly open, panting slowly.  “You’re a good girl, aren’t you,” I whispered at her.

A soft knock at the back door caused us both to look over.  An older man wearing a white smock and carrying a file entered.  He first looked at the dog for a few seconds and then turned to me and held out his hand.  “Hi, I’m Doctor Taylor.”

I stood up and shook his hand.  “Marty.”

“And this is Miss No Name?”  He dropped the file on the table and sat cross-legged on the floor in front of her, with his hands in his lap.  Dr. Taylor looked like he was in his fifties with thinning hair touched with gray.  He wore old fashioned wire rim bifocals with an obvious line in the middle of the lens.  He didn’t look like he was in great shape, but he didn’t look overweight either.

They both sat there looking at each other for a maybe a half a minute or so.  I could tell Dr. Taylor was looking her over, getting a feeling for her, just as she was doing to him.  He held his hand out to her to sniff at the same time he started talking to her in a low, calm voice.

“How are you Missy?  You’re a good looking girl.  Your eyes are bright, attentive.  Nice coat.  Are you going to let me examine you?”

“Do you want her up on the table?”  I pointed at the steel examination table in the middle of the room.

“No, I’m okay down here if she is.”  He shifted onto his knees and reached out a hand to stroke her head.  She let him.

I crouched down beside her again.  “It’s okay, he’s just going to look you over,” I told her, though she didn’t seem to need the reassurance.

Dr. Taylor ran his hands along the sides of her head, behind her ears and down her neck, then back up under her throat and down her chest.  “Okay Missy, can we stand you up so I can get to your underside?”  He put a hand under her tummy and nudged upwards just a bit.  She stood right up.  I still held the nylon leash and it hung loose around her neck, she wasn’t trying to go anywhere.

When his hands came back up to her neck he felt her collar and noticed the tag.  He took hold of it, read it and said, “Oh…”

How am I going to explain that tag?  Then I flashed a quick worried thought that maybe he’d read the ‘I AM YOURS” and want her for his own.

“Well,” he said, “this is interesting.”

“Yeah, um, I…”

“This tag has her shot records on it.”

“It does?  Wow, I didn’t see that.”  I guess I hadn’t even looked at the other side of the tag.

“She had her rabies and her other vaccinations about a month ago.  She’s all set; she doesn’t need any more shots.”  He flipped the tag around and glanced at the other side and didn’t say anything.  He picked his stethoscope up from around his neck, stuck the earpieces in his ears and said to her, “Missy, let’s see what you sound like inside.”

He held the chest piece out so she could see it and sniff it.  She gave it a quick sniff and turned to me, giving me what I took for a bored look.  The doc proceeded to listen to her key spots and announced that all sounded good.  He reached up and grabbed an ear scope and checked her ears.

“All right Missy, let’s check your teeth.”  He moved with care now, with a light touch, he put his hands on her muzzle, lifted her lips, and examined her teeth.  A gentle finger pushed between her teeth opened her jaws so he could look inside.  She put up with all of the indignities, showing a quiet demeanor.

“Do you know how old she is?” he asked me.

“No, I’m not sure.  I really didn’t get any info about her. The guy just wanted to get rid of her.”  The more I said it, the better it sounded, or so I thought.

His face squinched up, “Who could possibly want to get rid of this dog?  She’s beautiful, has a great temperament, healthy, and from the looks of her gums and teeth, I would say she’s about a year old.”

Dr. Taylor finished up the exam and brought us back out to the front of the office where Suzanne was waiting for us.   The doc made some scribbles in our file, handed it to Suzanne and bid us a good evening.

Suzanne glanced at the file.  “Everything looks good; Doc thinks she’s in great shape.  I’ll get your bill up in just a minute.”

I looked at the wall with the pet accessories.  “I’m going to need a leash I guess.”  Then I noticed the sign, ‘Pet-aphernalia’.  “Cute sign,” I said pointing at it.

She looked up at the where I was pointing and gave a short laugh, “Yeah, I made that up. A lot of people don’t get it.”

“They probably think it’s Greek or something,” I said.

She laughed again.  “I have to explain that it’s a play on the word ‘paraphernalia’, but some people don’t even know that word and I have to explain that one too.”

I chuckled and reached for a long flat nylon leash, blue to match the dog’s collar.  She was sitting beside me looking at the dog toys in the lower bins.  “Would you like a toy?  A frizbee or a ball?  Go ahead and pick something out.”

She looked at me, then at the toys, and then back to me.  Her ears were down like she didn’t quite understand what I wanted.  I leaned over and picked up a red and green tennis type ball, showed it to her and squeezed it.  “Squeeeek-y squeeeek-y,” the ball said.

That brought her ears up; her eyes got big and she tilted her head staring at the ball.  I squeezed it again making it squeak some more.  Her head tilted the other way.  I laughed, “Haven’t you ever had a squeaky ball before?”  I offered it to her; she sniffed it carefully and looked back up to me with those beautiful eyes.

“It’s okay, you can have it,” I said.

She took it from my hand, dropped it, sniffed it, picked it up again and dropped it.  It didn’t squeak at all.  She nudged it with her nose and then looked up at me like she was asking, “How did you make it squeak?”

I picked the ball up again and squeezed it, “Squeeeek-y”.  That brought her ears up to attention and she tilted her head almost sideways, staring at the ball.  I laughed and gave her the ball.  I also picked out a soft rubber frizbee that looked like it would be easy on her mouth in case she liked that better.  I walked back over to Suzanne at the counter, guiding the dog with her temporary leash.  She carried the squeaky ball over with her.

“Well, add a leash, a squeaky ball and a rubber disk to the bill.”  Then it occurred to me that I was going to have to supply her with other essentials, like food and water.  I dropped her leash and went back over to the Pet-aphernalia wall.   A couple of stainless steel bowls caught my eye, one for food, the other for water.  I brought those back over to the counter.

“And I’m going to need some food for her, what would you recommend?”  I looked over at the wall with the pet food.

Suzanne walked over to the food wall and grabbed a five pound sack of dry food and brought it back over to the counter.  “This food is grain free and protein rich.  It’s all you need to feed her, you don’t need canned food or anything else.”

The picture on the package showed a happy healthy looking Australian Shepherd (now that I know what they are) that very much resembled my dog.  I pointed at the picture and said, “I guess it is the right food for her.”

Since I wasn’t holding her leash, the dog walked over to a small bin of stuffed animals, dropped the ball, and started nosing around, sniffing and nudging the little cats, dogs and other various farm animals.  She picked up a little pink pig, turned and looked at me, and squeezed it with her jaws, “Squeeek-y, squeeek-y.”

“Well, aren’t you clever?”  I laughed and shook my head; she really figured that one out fast.  She came trotting back over to the counter, looking proud, with her head held high and a little squeaky pig in her mouth.  “Suzanne, you’d better add Miss Piggy to the list.”

After I settled the bill, traded leashes, and said my thanks, I headed for the door.  Suzanne stopped me with a question, “Are you staying in town?”

That wasn’t something I had thought about yet.  “I’ve been camping out, but maybe I should find a place, since this is my first night with her.  Do you know any places that take pets?”

“Sure, there’s a place called ‘The Glen’ down this road about another mile.”  She pointed out the front in the direction I had been heading.  “It has cabins with small kitchens, in case you want to stay around for a while.”

“Thanks again.”  I went out to my truck and stowed the bag in the back.  The dog was carrying Miss Piggy.  When I opened the door and told her to load up; she leaped up into her seat.  As I removed her leash, I looked at her tag again, ‘I AM YOURS’.  I thought about Dr. Taylor seeing her shot records on the tag, but not commenting on the ‘I AM YOURS’.  I wanted to see the vaccination list so I flipped the tag over.  It was blank.

Which beginning do you like?

The title is a link to the original page…

The Dog

I stood at the gas pump, hit the button for the cheap stuff, and let out a sigh.  It had been too long between stops.  Dark clouds hung low and the air felt stale; it smelled like dirty rain and old gasoline.  I locked the nozzle on full, leaned against the camper shell, and that’s when I saw the dog.  She trotted around the back end of my truck, sat down on the other side of the hose and gave me the look.

She held her head tilted, her eyes were bright and unblinking, and her ears stood at attention, though the tips folded over.  She looked young and clean, delicate but not small, around thirty five pounds I guessed.

****************

Or this:

The Dog

I stood at the gas pump, hit the button for the cheap stuff, and let out a sigh.  It had been too long between stops.  Dark clouds hung low and the air felt stale; it smelled like dirty rain and old gasoline.  I locked the nozzle on full, leaned against the camper shell, and that’s when I saw her.  She walked around the back end of my truck, stood on the other side of the hose and gave me the look.

She held her head tilted, her eyes were bright and unblinking, and her ears stood at attention, though the tips folded over.  She looked young, clean, and delicate, around thirty five pounds I guessed, a good size for a dog.

I skipped Cinco de Mayo

I just decided the day did not exist.  I had a really long May 4th that ran into an early starting May 6th.

I don’t think I missed anything.

I did finish a first draft of chapter three of ‘The Dog’ and after the wife does a quick review I’ll post it.

Chapter Four is on the keyboard.

 

On the home front, the wife got her mixer of dreams and is working on homemade bread, I can’t wait.  Make sure we have enough butter…  I think that’s all I’m having for lunch today.

Laters!

Breakfast…

A good meal starts a good day, right?

Since we’re planning all this work we decided on a big breakfast.

But ended up with breakfast burritos, home style.

Started by heating up some apple chicken sausage, mixed in a few eggs to scramble, with garlic pepper.  Then came the grated sharp cheddar cheese.  Heated the flour tortillas on the stove, heaped the mix onto the tortilla, topped off with picante sauce and sour cream for me.  Rolled and served with fresh coffee and OJ.

Yum… ready for the day now.

A yard work day

It’s finally dry enough and nice enough and everyone is feeling good enough to start our spring yard work.

Front Porch fence and vines.

Front Porch fence and vines.

You can see the grass in front is out of control.  It’s so long that we had to go buy a two bin bagger for our lawn tractor.  Usually we just let it mulch the grass, but there is way too much.

Front lawn, right side.

Front lawn, right side.

The wife has put started the spring decorations.  Here’s the front porch.

Front porch box, with real watering can.

Front porch box, with real watering can.

 

So today is a lot of grass cutting.  The lawn tractor is running fine.  Believe it or not I’ve already made two quick passes at the front lawn this year.  I have to assemble and attach the new two bin bagger.

 

The regular mower needs a tune up to get it running smoothly.

 

The weed wacker needs new gas and new cutting string.

 

I’m going to need a new back after today.

Also on the list is setting up the bird stations on the knoll.

Knoll

Knoll

 

A couple of bird feeders with patio mix.  A sock and a feeder with thistle, and our custom tray with squirrel mix for the Jays and squirrels.

 

 

Back yard.

Back yard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think the back yard can grow some more before cutting.

 

Have a great day everyone!!