Wow! I had an adventure!


I am basically very cowardly.

I’m scared of getting hurt. I’m scared of falling. I’m scared of falling down an up escalator.

I’m a wimp.

But.

Now that I’m retired, and in my seventh decade of life, I am determined to push myself into new and exciting exploits. So last week, on school vacation, when Ellie would be safe in her Mommy’s arms, I had….an adventure.

I didn’t got to the Amazon to try to catch a piranha. And I didn’t head to Tibet to climb the Himalayas.

Still, for me, this was an awesome adventure.

I flew, all by myself, to the West Coast.

I know. You’re all in awe, right? I was dropped off at the huge, bustling Manchester New Hampshire airport. I flew. Alone. To Philadelphia. Where I had to (gulp) change planes.

And I flew all by my onesies across this beautiful country, all the way to San Francisco. Where I was met at the baggage claim by one of my oldest and dearest friends.

But that’s not all!

No, indeed. After three days with my pal Deb and her family, I flew ALL. BY. MYSELF. to Portland, Oregon. Where I was met at the airport by my friend Joanne, who I met when I was six years old.

So, I get it. Even though this was a huge adventure for me, it isn’t really such a big deal. Most people now jet around the world like it’s nothing.

But not me.

For me, this was a big, big stretch. And that’s why I’m telling you about it. For me, for 61 year old Nonni, this was a gigantic leap out of my comfort zone.

I made myself do it.

It scared me.

And it was fabulous. I got to see gorgeous places I would never have seen if I hadn’t pushed my sorry old self out the door. Places like Berkeley, California.

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If I hadn’t pushed myself out of my cozy little niche, I wouldn’t have had the chance to dip my feet in the Pacific at beautiful Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

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If I hadn’t decided that I was tired of being the world’s biggest chicken, I would never have flown up to Portland to reconnect with my buddy Joanne. The woman who bought me my very fist makeup (Max Factor Rose Cream Blush).

And if I had never gone up to Portland, I wouldn’t have met her hilarious, smart, warm, generous friends. I would never have seen the gorgeous Columbia river and the falls that pour into it.

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More importantly, I wouldn’t have learned that the way to make a REALLY dry martini is to use a spritzer for the vermouth. Amazon has already shipped mine.

People grow in many different ways. I understand that.

For me, growth means pushing and shoving and forcing myself out there into the big wide world. I made myself fly all alone when I was afraid.

I loved it.

Now I need to force myself to become a writer. I need to learn how to submit my stories, my essays, my thoughts for others to review, critique and judge. I need to overcome my fears and just. Try.

Life is constant growth, if you do it right.

I have to say it.

It’s actually pretty fun to be my age.

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Layers on layers


I used to think that each of us was born as an unformed little white dot. I thought that every experience added on a layer, and that each layer covered the ones before.

I thought that we were like pearls. Layer on layer of life, constantly growing around us until we became fully formed humans. I thought that process would just keep on going until at last we die.

Some of that is no doubt true. We grow and we change and we certainly learn as we move along the paths of our lives.

But now that I’m on the downhill slope of this life, past the midway point, I have a completely different idea.

In the past few years, my husband and I have reconnected with some of our oldest friends. These are people who knew us when we were young and foolish. When we had no real idea yet of who we’d be.

When we weren’t much more than those unformed “dots.”

These were the people who watched us struggle to learn our limits, and who watched us struggle to define our dreams. They grew with us. Our friendships were more intense than any we’d ever have again, although we didn’t know that at the time.

Eventually, we grew up. We got our degrees. We parted ways as we moved into our ‘real’ lives. We became parents. We launched our careers. We grew into our adult selves.

Layers were laid upon our layers.

Then, oh so suddenly, we found ourselves at the point in our lives where we were no longer “on our way.” We were THERE.

Our children grew up. We became the “old guard” at our jobs.

We thought we were our fully formed, true selves.

But now we’ve hugged and laughed with those old friends. Now I see that its time to peel back some of those layers. Those layers of cynicism, and of fatigue. It’s time to scratch off the layers of unfulfilled dreams, and to let them fly away on the wind. It’s time to peel away the layers of self-criticism and drop them into the passing stream.

Now it’s time to go back to our truest selves, our best selves.

I think that in the presence of the people who knew us at our wide-eyed best we can once again find that inner, innocent self.

I think the pearl is in there, but it takes an old and true friend to help us find it.

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Rock maple and dovetailed joints.


 

32235_398975950898_543400898_4765939_6508281_nMy Dad could do anything with his hands. When we were little, he used to spend a weekend taking apart a car engine, cleaning everything, then putting it back together again.

He could fix leaky pipes, he could paint walls and trim. My Dad could lay down carpet, strip wallpaper, rewire lights, plane the bottoms of doors so they wouldn’t stick.

Most of all, though, my Dad could bring out the life and the beauty of wood.

He made shelves, and little stools and steps and work sheds.

My Dad made my sons tiny wooden train sets that fit together perfectly. Each car had one of the boy’s names on it.

They are still here, in our house. The golden stained wood still gleams. The pieces still fit, 25 years after he made them. They are still beautiful.

Last weekend I drove two hours out to the small city in the Berkshire Hills where my boys live. I got a tour of the classic Victorian house where my son Matt is living.

As soon as I saw the old wooden floors, and the built in shelving, and the gorgeous dark wood bannisters on the stairs, I though of Dad. He would have loved that house!

We went up into Matt’s room, and there I saw his bureau. An old, golden hued wooden bureau, in Matt’s bedroom.

And it was if Dad was standing there beside me.

I started to laugh, but there were tears in there, too.

“Oh, man! I forgot that you have this bureau!” I said, running my hands across the smooth top.

“This is rock maple.” I said it reverently, although I have no idea what “rock maple” is. I could hear Dad saying those words to me, and they were filled with respect and pride when he said them.

So I repeated them to my boy.

This old bureau had belonged to my husband in his childhood. He doesn’t know where it came from, but he grew up with it. When we got married, it became our bureau. It was in our first apartment in the corner of the bedroom. It travelled with us to grad school in New Jersey, and then to our first apartment after graduation.

When our baby was born, we moved for a while back into my parents’ house. We needed to save money and we needed a safe, clean place to live. So back “home” we went.

And that’s where my Dad taught me how to refinish furniture. We took that old bureau, scratched and dinged and dirty, down into Dad’s garage workshop. And he stripped the old stain off, and sanded it, and sanded it again. I learned about the grades of sandpaper, and the use of a good “tack cloth”. I learned to use mineral spirits to clean up every speck of dirt and sawdust.

I learned about the proper use of stain, and how to smooth it on evenly. Dad pointed out the dovetail joints in the bureau drawers, telling me that you don’t see those very often any more.

Together we chose the stain, a very light golden oak that brought out the warmth in the hard, hard wood. Dad showed me every grain in that wood. He showed me how to be sure that every rough bit was smoothed away.

“Like a baby’s bottom,” he’d say when we got a drawer face perfectly smooth.

It was so special to work there beside him. He never got impatient. He never seemed in a hurry. I saw how the wood came to life under his hand. I saw how he was able to coax beauty out of something rough and old and stained.

I had wanted to toss out that old piece of furniture as soon as we could, but Dad was horrified at the thought.

“This is rock maple!” he’d said. “Those are dovetailed joints!”

Together we worked on the old wooden bureau, and I learned that my father was an artist, though he never described himself that way. I learned to be patient when polishing the top of a refinished piece of furniture with wax.

I learned how to listen, to watch, to imitate. I learned how to see the strength and the beauty under the rough exterior.

I learned how much my father loved a job well done, and I learned how much I loved my father.

Last week, standing in that bedroom in that old Victorian house, I caught sight of that beautiful bureau, with my son’s belongings sitting on top.

“This is rock maple!” I told him seriously. I pulled out one of the drawers. “See?” I asked him and  his bemused friend, “These are dovetailed joints.”

They agreed that the bureau is a real beauty. They were smiling at my earnestness.

We left then, turning off the lights and leaving the old rock maple bureau in the dark, in that old, old house.

It’s hard to say how much I love the thought of my son sleeping every night beside that wood that had felt my Dad’s loving hand.

I hope Matt keeps that bureau. I hope he gives it to a child of his own one day.

I hope that he tells that child, very seriously, “This is rock maple, you know.”

 

 

When old folks argue


Yesterday we had an experience that has me thinking.

Thinking in a good way, but also thinking in a kind of serious way.

It was a pretty typical weekend day for us. We had invited some guests to come for dinner and spend the afternoon with us.

Not “guests” as in “people you need to impress” but “guests” as in “family, people who get it, people you just really want to spend your day with.”

All would have been well as we prepared to make dinner for two young couples with little kids if only Nonni here hadn’t come down with a nasty bout of asthmatic bronchitis.

Nonni woke up yesterday feeling (as my mom used to say), “Like something the cat dragged in.” My husband, also known as “the sweetest man in the world,” let me sleep late while he dealt with our old hound and our new puppy. He even took said puppy to the vet.

But when it was time to make dinner, I asked him for help. This is an unusual request from an over functioning, over controlling Italian woman, but I did. I asked for help.

Then company arrived. Our beloved young folks, with babies in arms, arrived as planned. And “Papa” went straight into Grandfather Host mode. He was charming, hugging babies, pouring beer, chatting and laughing.

Meanwhile, Nonni was sauteeing and coughing in the kitchen.

Nonni was NOT amused.

Nonni was, in fact, crabby, cranky and slightly snarling.

Both young women asked how they could help.

All of the men stayed on the couch.

Finally, Nonni growled at Papa.

And here is the point of this post.

When a couple argues during a more than 40 year relationship, this is what it means.

It means that sometimes humans misunderstand each other. Even humans who love each other and want what is best for each other.

I remember, back in about 1980, every argument felt like the end of the relationship. Every time I lost my temper, every time my husband lost his, it felt like the end of the world. I tried so hard to always push down my irritation, swallow my needs, keep the boat from rocking.

But now that my one true love and I have come through graduate school, two separate careers, raising three children, falling head over heels in love with a grandchild, and even living with three different dogs….well.

Now I understand that when I’m mad at Paul, or when he’s mad at me, it means “I’m mad at you.”

It doesn’t mean “I hate your.” or “I want a divorce” or “You are a terrible person.”

What freedom.

The best part of getting older, maybe, is the realization that you can get really annoyed at the person you love, and still love them in the morning.

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My honey and I, back in the day. At Dolly Copp Campground.

What the absolute f*ck?


I know. That’s just such an improper headline. I know.

But my sister Liz showed me the most hilarious little video that had that as the punch line, and now its in my head.

And when I tell you what has happened to me in the past week, you will also feel the need to say that same phrase.

Really.

Let’s begin three weeks ago, more or less.

I realized that every now and then, when I sipped my nice hot espresso, my lower left molar would go into a screaming fit of pain. My mouth would fill with saliva and my left cheekbone would start to feel like someone was jamming a hot spike into it.

Now, I am not stupid.

The fourth or fifth time that happened, I realized that I needed to call the dentist. So….a week or so after I realized that I needed to call, I looked up the number.

A few days later, with “call the dentist” at the top of my To Do list, I started to notice the same hot spike feeling if I ate something cold. Or sweet.

So I called.

See? I am not an idiot. I called the dentist and I got an appointment for three weeks later.

Yay, me!

This past weekend I went down to Pennsylvania with my sister Liz, who is better than I am at everything. I love her in spite of her awesomeness, and the two of us laughed our way down the  highways toward Lewisburg Pa, where we were going to meet our brand new great niece.

On the way, we stopped for coffee.

I was driving. Liz was looking at the map and chatting away. I took a good deep swig of the hot coffee and I felt the entire left side of my head explode.

My left eye watered as I drove. My heart hammered in my chest. My vocal cords made an involuntary “eh-eh-eh” sound.

I needed to have my tooth yanked out. But I kept driving.

After a half hour or so, the pain faded down to a dull roar. All was well. I knew I could make it another week before my appointment.

Liz and I went to Pennsylvania. We met our gorgeous little great niece and we celebrated with her wonderful parents. It was so so sweet! And my jawbone cooperated without having a screaming fit, so I was very happy.

Last night I got home, and unpacked and chatted with Paul. I went off to bed feeling happy and relaxed.

Hahaha. Silly, silly me.

As I went to bed, I popped in the little rubber mouth guard that I’ve been using for the past 5 years. It stops me from grinding my teeth and breaking all my molars. It’s not a big deal.

I fell asleep and had a lovely dream about the new baby.

Then I woke up. It was 3 AM. Something seemed off.

As I came more fully into consciousness, I noticed that the tip of my tongue felt very very strange. It felt like sandpaper. It felt like a bloated balloon. It felt like a big, bloated, sandpapered balloon.

I ran the scratchy balloon across my lower lip.

What. The. Hell.

My lower lip was just wrong.

I got up, fumbling for my phone to give me some light. I stumbled to the bathroom and quietly closed the door so I wouldn’t wake Paul up. I turned on the light, and made my way to the mirror.

Holy horrific images!

There was a face looking back at me. Its eyes were ringed with wrinkled, puffy sacks. Its gray hair was standing up in tufts all over its head. It had a big nose and a HUGE, pendulous, swollen lower lip hanging out over its chin.

It was my scary, creepy Uncle Salvatore staring back at me from my bathroom mirror.

The shriek that came out of that mouth would have roused the dead.

Luckily, I realized that the sound was coming from me, and that the distorted face was the result of some kind of crazy allergic reaction. I pulled out the mouth guard, took a long cold drink of water, and tried to think of what to do.

My mouth was burning, swollen, itchy and numb at the same time. I took a Claritin and some herbal antihistamines. I laid back down in my bed.

I tried to sleep, but my giant lip kept finding its way between my teeth. Finally I dozed and I woke to another day.

I have no idea why my body decided to react to the mouthguard after all these years. I have no idea why my lip turned into a giant raw wound filled with hot coals. I don’t know if any of this is related to the nerve in my lower jaw that definitely needs to be removed as soon as possible.

All I know is that as I stood in front of my bathroom mirror in the middle of the night with my gigantic lip throbbing in pain, all I could think of was the final line of that video Liz shared with me.

“What the absolute f*ck?” could be my motto today.

What am I supposed to do with the world’s biggest lower lip?

 

Emotional Stew


It’s all just roiling around inside of me tonight.  A big cauldron of emotional stew, just simmering along at an almost rolling boil.

I have met two incredibly endearing, loving, funny new friends in the past few days. They are here visiting us from Berlin, Germany.  We met them by hosting their son for a few months in our house.  What a surprise gift these two are to us!  From the moment we met, via Skype, we have felt as if we are in the room with our dearest friends and soulmates.  I know that sounds a little mushy and gooey and Hallmark card-ish, and that is all just so. not. me.  But the thing is, it really truly IS that way. My heart is just sort of dancing around in my chest, doing a little Polka of Joy as I get to know Katja and Jörg and have a chance to share breakfasts, dog walks, beach trips, laughs and political philosophy with them. “Oh, OK!”, my heart is saying, “You just met, but these are definitely your eternally close friends!”

And at the same time, in the middle of this joyful beginning of a relationship, these are also the waning days in the life of our funny, strong, sweet brother-in-law, Ed, who has been living with Parkinson’s Disease for well over twenty years.  We’re saying good bye, good luck, thank you to someone who has been there at all of our kids’ birthday parties, hockey games, football games, plays, graduations.  He and my sister introduced our entire family to the joys of a winter vacation on St. Pete beach. He’s been right there in the center of our family life for over 25 years.  But every life one day runs its course and comes to an end.  For Ed, that time seems to have come.

And for his wife, my baby sister, I am feeling an overwhelming sense of awe and amazement at her strength and grace and humor over all the many years of her husband’s illness and decline.  My little sister Lizzie is my hero.  She’s my inspiration at those times when I want to moan and complain.   She is my role model. I often joke that I am just “The stunt Lizzie.”, but that’s how I truly feel.

So my heart is full of equal measures of joy and sadness tonight, as I sit here typing up my thoughts at midnight.

Its a real stew of emotion for me tonight.  Because on top of all of this yin and yang, I am also filled with worry for my beautiful little granddaughter, who has to undergo an MRI in only 7 hours.  Please, my entire soul is begging: let her not feel too much hunger before the procedure. Please, dear God in Heaven, let her come through the sedation easily and quickly.  And most of all, please please please, God, Allah, Goddess, Vishnu, Buddha or any other deity who can hear me, please let the MRI results be nothing for anyone to worry about.

I am steeped in a big black cauldron of emotional stew tonight.  I can’t think of any other way to describe it.

Let the Autumn Come


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It was a September Tuesday.  It should have been fresh and brisk outside.  Our small New England town should have been feeling the oncoming change of seasons.

It was nearly 90 degrees outside, and as humid as a typical July day in Massachusetts.  My friend and I, both retired as of July 1st, decided to spend the day kayaking on a local lake. When we made the plan, of course, we knew that it would be a “weather permitting” event.

Well.  The weather certainly permitted today!

I woke up early, showered, dressed in a bathing suit and shorts, cleaned out my kayak, and found my paddles and jacket.  I filled a water bottle, walked the dogs, and waited for Lesley to arrive.

So funny!  My dear friend, with her graying hair that matches mine, arrived in a big old pickup truck, her kayak tied safely into the back. We did what ladies our age always do (we used the bathroom before we left), then piled into the truck and headed to the lake.

The place where I took my friend is a good sized lake about ten minutes from my house. It is common in that it is a lake in a region of many lakes. It is unusual in that it is nearly uninhabited, except for a big boy scout camp on one side.

Because it is September, and schools have opened, the camp was empty when we arrived. We parked the truck, unloaded our kayaks and happily headed out into the beautiful green waters of the lake.  We paddled our way around the cove, passing the boarded up camp cabins.  We made our way to a few of the small islands that dot the lake.

We let ourselves float for a bit, watching a family of loons as they fished in the cool water.  We looked at an abandoned beaver lodge, admired the water lilies, watched a graceful blue heron groom his wings.

The sun beat down on our backs.  The sky was a perfectly clear, dry blue.  The water kept calling us.

We put the boats ashore at a tiny beach that was most likely part of the Scout Camp. We let ourselves fall into the cool, clear water.  We floated.

There were no other humans in sight.  We heard only the loons, the gently lapping waves, and breeze in the pines.

How did we get so lucky, we kept asking ourselves, grinning at each other as we lay on our backs in the middle of the lake.  How did we ever find ourselves in such a perfect place, on such a perfect day?

We closed our eyes.  We let the water carry us.  We smelled the metallic herbal tang of the water all around us.  We watched a hawk circle, high over head.

My friend and I, two women who have worked together for many years, allowed ourselves to steep in the perfect heat and cool of the moment.  We paddled our way back to shore.  We loaded the boats and went home for lunch.

Let Autumn come, we told each other.  Today was the most perfect celebration of the Summer.

Friendship


Once, long ago, I was invited by a friend to join a choir.  The choir was a group of people who sang Russian songs, under the direction of a wonderful old Russian man named Igor.

Igor was kind, gentle, sensitive, and very old fashioned Russian.  We were a group of very young students who were studying the Russian language in the late 1970’s. We loved the romance of the language, we loved the tender emotion of Pushkin and Tolstoy and Lermontov.

We loved to sing together.

During my time with this wonderful choir, I met a woman who was totally intriguing to me. She was half Russian Jew, half Korean.  She was beautiful, tall, smart, stylish in the most effortless way.  I fell just a little bit in love with her and her beautiful soprano voice.

Gradually, over some time, we became friends.  I found her to be incredibly sophisticated where I was a humble country bumpkin.   You see, Deb had attended a prestigious private girls college where I had graduated from a small inner city state school.  She had sailed the oceans on a Russian cruise ship, while I had considered a trip to Cape Cod to be exotic.

Deb was unique.  She was creative.  She read books that I had never heard of. Deb had grown up in New York.  I considered her to be the epitome of style and grace and late 70’s cool.

I was slightly star-struck when we first became good friends.

But soon we began to work together. Two young women helping new Russian immigrants to maneuver the American health care system. We worked as interpreters for these newly arrived families, helping them to make and attend doctor’s appointments, finding them apartments, enrolling them in English classes. Through our work at Jewish Family Services, Deb and I learned so much about life for new immigrants to the US, about Russian-American relations, about our health care system.

Most of all, though, we learned a lot about ourselves. We learned that we were caring and loving and kind. We learned that we had a talent for giving something of ourselves to people who needed a kind voice. We learned that we were friends, in every meaning of that word.

Deb became my very best friend.  She was the one who saw talents in me that I never knew were there. She encouraged me to sing, to explore, to reach out.  Deb was my sounding board when I went through a rough patch very early in my marriage. She stood by me without judgement.  She was my friend.

And it was Paul and I who, unintentionally, introduced Deb to her future husband. We had hosted a party at our apartment, and had hoped that maybe Deb would be drawn to one of our friends.  We knew that she was single and gorgeous and interesting and smart. We thought there was a good chance that she’d connect with one of our many interesting single men friends.

The only one we’d never considered, of course, was the friend who fell for Deb.  We couldn’t have predicted the dating, the wedding, the two beautiful girls, the 32 years of happily married life.

And Deb and I stayed close for so many of those years.  Our children knew each other.  We visited her California home once; she came back to the East Coast every year.

But time went on. The kids grew up.  My hair went gray and my chorus days waned. I never completely lost touch with my Deb, but our friendship faded and wilted and went into a dormant state.

I thought about her often. I thought of us singing Russian folk songs on the banks of the Charles River. I thought of her when I drove through Brookline, Mass.  I remembered our Sunday morning brunches, our dinners near the hospital, our flirtations with various young and handsome doctors.   I remembered telling her about my first pregnancy. I remembered meeting her little girls.

But time seemed to have moved us apart.  I no longer write letters in long hand on pretty stationary.  Deb doesn’t like to email.  I can’t seem to manage the time lapses on the cell phone; she is not on Facebook.

We drifted apart.

But.

This past weekend, Deb and her husband Steve were visiting in our area.  They contacted us and we made a plan to have them come and stay with us for a couple of nights.

I was elated. I was anxious. I was so happy. I was afraid.

I’m not the young idealist that I was when Deb and I first met.  Now I am a chubby, middle aged, retired teacher with a slight chip on her shoulder.

Now I am a grandma.  What would we say to each other?

I waited all morning for Deb and Steve to arrive. I cleaned the house, plumped the pillows in the guest room, made some appetizers.  I worried.  I rearranged some photos, swept the front steps.  Worried a little bit more.

And then they were here.  I was out in the yard, my old Sadie doggie by my side, when I saw their car approaching.  They stopped in the driveway, and Deb stepped out of the car.

Her arms were open. She was smiling.  She was my Deb, my friend, my true heart’s companion. I folded myself into her embrace, almost sobbing with relief.  I heard her voice, so familiar and so dear, saying my name.  I inhaled the scent of her thick dark hair, and felt the cool softness of her familiar cheek against mine.

I was home. My friend was still my dearest friend.  We stepped back, looked into each other’s eyes.  We laughed and hugged each other tight once again.

Some things don’t change, no matter how much time has passed. The love of a true friend is one of those beautiful gifts.  I had the incredible pleasure of learning that Deb will be a grandmother in February of this year.  And I had the even greater pleasure of seeing my first grandchild encircled in Deb’s loving arms.

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Deb and Ellie.

Life may go on, but the best parts of it remain the same.

Thank you, Deb and Steve, for coming to visit us this weekend!!!!!

Something about the sea


I don’t know what it is about the sea.  I don’t know why it reaches out to us and grabs us and pulls us in so completely.

A gull on Assateague Island.

All I know is that every time I smell the salt smell of the ocean breeze, my lungs feel more open. My heart feels stronger. I can feel the blood moving in my veins.

I feel more myself when I am in the ocean’s arms.

When I see a gull, swooping out over the rolling waves, I almost believe for a moment that I too can soar away as far as the winds can carry me.  I almost believe that I can be that free, just for a little while.

It doesn’t matter what beach or coast I am on when I find myself in a spot where I can see the ocean at last.  As long as I can touch my lips with the tip of my tongue and taste the briny tang of salt and seaweed, I am home.

A winter day on the Massachusetts coast.

The ocean in winter is spectacular.  Cold and so sharp.  The beautiful gray of the water merges with the icy gray of the clouds. A study in monochromatic beauty.  I wish so much that I could live in a place where I’d see the ocean racing in every winter day.

But the ocean in summer, on a sweet July evening, in a place where the blue ocean meets the crystal sands.  Nothing in life is more alluring to me than that.  The spiky shards of beach grass poking up through the white sand, the restless movement of the dunes.  The incredible sight of a sailboat passing in the twilight.  Almost too pretty to be real!

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I would give anything I have to one day live in a place where I could watch that motion every single day.

Ah, but if wishes were horses……..

For now, I will have to content myself with occasional days at the beach with friends, walking in the surf, watching the gulls, finding sand dollars, daring each other to dunk in the freezing waters of high tide.

For now, I will count myself lucky to live as close to the Atlantic as I do.

For now, I’ll have to keep dreaming of one day owning that beach house.

The Eyes of the King


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I am the Wolf King.  I am a mighty, mighty hunter.

I fear no thunder, no fireworks, no Boom Monster in the cold winter night.

I am the Wolf King!   Hear my howl!

Man Who Walks Me and Woman Who Feeds Me know all about my howl. They have heard me on the nights when I’ve escaped, pursuing the elusive squirrel through the woods. They have reveled in the sound of my howl as I called to the moon from exactly two feet outside their open bedroom window.

And they know my howl when I wake up in the night and I want to walk from the living room to the bedroom. When I want to travel the long lonely way down the hall.

They hear. And they obey.

There was a time when I owned the hall.  In my youth, I could walk up and down from the bedrooms to the living room with barely a pause.  I was bold, in my youth.  I loved to hear the tickety-clicky sound of my fabulous toenails on the laminate flooring. There were nights when I strolled back and forth all night long, patrolling the darkness, the sound of my toenails proclaiming that all was safe.

But then, everything changed.  The Wolf King was humbled.

It all started when Man Who Walks me decided to add a device called “Fan” to the room where the Dust Eater lives. Naturally, I already have an innate aversion to the Dust Eater.

I am a dog.  I sometimes shed.

OK, in the warmth of spring, I shed enough to knit a couple of new dogs every other day.  But still.  I do not appreciate the times when Woman Who Feeds me swoops down on my resting place with the screaming suction of the Dust Eater.  As that evil wand devours every bit of dust, dirt and (sadly) my butt hairs, I whimper in fear.

I do not like the Dust Eater.

But when Fan joined him, and stood in the doorway to the Dust Eater’s room, I knew that I had met a new enemy.

You see, as the years have passed, the mighty gleaming eyes of the Wolf King have grown somewhat dim.

I can’t see shit in the dark anymore.

And so one gloomy night, as I wandered down the hall, I heard the whirring growl of the fan suddenly coming at me from the left.  I turned my head, but all I saw were shadows.

I jumped about 4 feet in the air.

And I mean all four of my feet. In. The. Air.

Now that was a howl for the record books.

And as I came crashing down again, the tickety-clicky turned into “screeeeeek” and my ass went left while my head went right.

Ouchie.

Since that fateful night (which I think of as “Attack of the Killer Fan”), I am no longer the brave protector of the hallway.  I no longer patrol all night.

Now I fall asleep on the comfortable cushions of my couch. I snooze and snuggle in the blankets that Man Who Walks Me always drapes over my shoulders.  I fart and twitch and do all those wonderful doggie things that my kind enjoy as we rest.

But around 5 AM, every single day, the heart of the Wolf King awakens. I rise from my comfortable bed, aware that Man Who Walks Me and Woman Who Feeds Me are far down the hall. They need my protection!  Plus, there’s an orthopedic dog bed in their room.  I place my front paws on the laminate floor.  My eyes try to adjust, but the floor seems to have no color, no solidity, no firmness.  What if I slip again?  Me no likey the ouchies!

I leave my butt on the couch, and my front paws go sliding around on the floor. I frown, I shake my head, making my ears flap-flap-flap.  I try to howl, but only a pathetic whimper emerges.

Slowly, shakily, I get to my feet and tickety-clicky across the living room.  I stand at the entrance to the hall.  All is darkness. All is shadow.  The Dust Eater sleeps, but I cannot tell if the Fan has returned.  I take two steps forward….click, clicky…..I whimper “heeeeeeew”.  I pause.

All is shadow.  I reach deep inside, to where the spirit of the Wolf King hides.  I call to him.

I take another step….tick…tickety….I whimper louder……”HEEEEEEEEEW”.

This goes on for about an hour

……ticky….click…..heeeeeeemmmmmmm…..clicky….tick…tick…….h’wwwweeeem……click….tick……HOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

At last, at last, my cry of desperation is heard.  Man Who Walks Me emerges from the darkness, hair askew, pajamas sagging.  He mumbles something gruffly, and flicks on the hall light.

Hey! Look at that!  No monsters, no fans, no slippery icy surface!   It’s our hallway!

I lift my head and focus my Wolf King eyes.  Proudly I saunter down the hall, tickety-clicky,tickety-clicky,tickety-clicky.  I sink into my comfy orthopedic bed.

I consider howling, but think better of it when I hear the sounds coming from Woman Who Feeds Me.

All is well for another night.