Life Topics

A Great Escape

Leaving the Cape successfully takes an act of God combined with a little fortune telling, and some traffic savvy.  Let’s take a look at a typical scenario.  You’ve had a great weekend with a lot of beach time resulting in sand in your swimsuit bottoms, burnt face and shins, and a little dehydration.  Still you’re having a good time.  You enjoyed a few fancy dinners in a well-lit tourist café with a French name, probably in Hyannis.  You succumbed to the lure of the $6 Cape Cod T-shirts (2 for $10).  You reluctantly played miniature golf at one of the hundreds of courses avoiding the windmill traps, followed by an over-priced ice cream cone at the Four Seas.  Unfortunately, there was no time to catch a Cape League baseball game.  Maybe next time.   Then you’re forced to start thinking about leaving because playtime is almost over.  0-dark-30 is fast approaching where you should have a plan and some fortitude to get off Cape in a relatively quick fashion.

What was my last Cape visit like?  It was somewhat uneventful and unlike the tourist experience. I was visiting my parents and my sister who live in the heart of the Cape.  We don’t usually do tourist stuff, except maybe the beach.  The residents put up with the swollen summer population and the choked streets.  Anyway, I ventured down there late on a Wednesday night and stayed through the weekend.  I worked remotely from Hyannis and overpacked, bringing an overnight bag, beach bag, computer bag, and my dog McDermott, although he wasn’t packed. I decided to go to the beach every morning allowing me some “me-time” to relax and regroup before starting work.

With my toes in the sand and my eyes fixed on the horizon I felt at peace.  I set off by 7:30am each morning, when there were very few worshipers.  I basically had the whole stretch to myself.  Slowly people arrived, an elderly woman in a sand chair with a book, a Latino family of five frolicking in the waves, and a couple of baby-boomers under an umbrella.  It was kind of fun to be a voyeur between salty dips in the water and roasting in the sun.  I can be nosey that way.

However, Saturday night I had to start thinking about what time to leave the next day.  So, I play this imaginary game with myself.  My theory is people will prolong their weekend if they can have another nice beach day; maybe they leave early evening.  Therefore, I can escape on a sunny Sunday morning without too much traffic.   On a dismal day, people will start their trek home early.  No sun, no beach. So, I would stay put and leave later in the day.  So far, I’ve proven this assumption about 80% of the time.  The odds are with me, right?  Wrong.

After having breakfast out with my sister on a gloriously hot Sunday morning I felt like it was time to leave.  The warm sandy beaches would be packed I thought.  Plus I was anxious to get home to end
the weekend with my partner.  So, I no sooner paid the check, and I was packing my car.  The plan was to say my goodbyes, get McDermott in the car, stop at Dunkin’s for a large ice coffee black and sail home. I hoped that the Route 6 runway to the bridge would be clear and uncongested.  I entered the on-ramp with blind faith, a full tank of gas, air-conditioner blasting and a full playlist.  I was ready for anything.

Everything started out fine.  But a couple of miles into the journey the traffic went from a bit sluggish to a full stop; an endless parking lot as far as the eye could see.  Cars jostled between lanes to get inches closer.  I couldn’t help noticing a sign on the side of the road that said, “Evacuation Route”.  It struck me as ironic because there was no way Route 6 could evacuate all the residents at the same time.  Expelling the weekend’s first shift of visitors was clogging the road, never mind adding a whole population.  My brilliant theory was losing ground, and I thought I was being extremely clever.  Sitting there, I felt like I was aging in dog years.  My patience was draining as I sucked on my green spearmint vape and exhaled a cloud of contempt.

I sang along with the music, checked McDermott in the rear-view mirror, thought about the weekend and gazed ahead at the chain of multicolored car roofs that rose up the hill in front of me.  Is going to the Cape worth the hassle?  I think so.  Getting there and crossing the bridge transforms you.  The salt in the air relaxes you causing a comforting lull in your mind.  All worry and concern dissipate the closer you get to the shore.  And when there, you can soak in the many sights, sounds, and smells of the beach, the delicious fresh seafood and the friendly and colorful merchants.  It’s an exquisite place to lose yourself.  In the grand scheme, miscalculating traffic upon your departure is not fatal, only a minor annoyance.   Afterall, think about all the precious memories arranged in your bags to be slowly unpacked when you finally get home.

Life Topics

What I Know

They say write about what you know.  I don’t know what I know.  I guess I can do laundry, fly an excel sheet, take care of a dog, raise two children, chew gum and walk, give up smoking, take up vaping, kill a bottle of wine, knit a sweater, take out the trash (if I have to), almost balance a check book, recite lines from a movie, walk like a chicken, sing badly, play solitaire, half read a book, edit video, send an email and attempt to “dress for success” (not usually done well).  Are any of these things worth writing about?

Instead, I sit at the keyboard trying to dream up an interesting topic.  Find one thing that makes you want to keep reading.  Are you still with me?  Good.  I’ll take baby steps to figure out where I’m going with this.  Kick around a few ideas.  Do you want to see me walk like a chicken?  Probably not.  Can I interest you in a spreadsheet demo?  No.  Maybe some dog tricks?  I’m at a loss, as I fidget and scratch my back with a pencil, wondering what to put on this blank screen.

Here I sit in the glow of the computer.  The 11 o’clock news is on in the background, with the dramatic music to make everything seem urgent.  The dog lies at my feet, breathing heavy, ready for bed.  My laundry basket sits in a dim corner of the bathroom, overflowing with a hint of yesterday’s odors.  I take deep drags from the vape blowing out stress and anxiety, thinking about what needs to be done tomorrow.  I know, I’ll make a list, YES a list!

Not like a “bucket list”, but much simpler.  You know, take notice of how I do things, and try not to do them anymore.  Live in the moment as they say.  Do all the usual stuff, but do it differently, better.  I will think of it as a “don’t” list.

Here goes:

  1. Wake up and don’t dread the morning.
  2. Take a shower and don’t curse your body in the mirror.
  3. Have breakfast, and don’t forget the medication.
  4. Go to mass and don’t fall asleep during the sermon.
  5. Say “I love you” and don’t just walk away, hold his eyes.
  6. Walk the dog and don’t forget the poop bag.
  7. Do the laundry and don’t leave a load in the dryer to pick thru all week.
  8. Call your parents and don’t cry when you hang up because they are so old.
  9. Text your sons just because and don’t forget the little hearts after you say ILY.
  10. Watch a documentary and don’t judge the hoarder, the family or the victim.
  11. Talk to the neighbor and don’t just give a small wave.
  12. Eat the ice cream and don’t feel guilty.
  13. Knit that sweater you’ve been working on for 2 years, and don’t get discouraged.
  14. Work on the computer and don’t lose track of precious time you could have with Jamie.
  15. Say your prayers and don’t leave anyone out.

My eyes are drooping so I have to go to bed now.  This life of mine, like most, is made up of small pieces that have made me the person I have become.  Sure, I can walk like a chicken and work a spreadsheet, but how can I be a better friend, daughter, Mom?  More important questions.  Will people think of me as negative if I feel guilty about the ice cream or too busy to talk to a neighbor, or have a bad body image?  Maybe they won’t even notice.

I finally know that I have to work my “list” in a positive, thoughtful way to make my journey one of love, generosity and faith.

“Time for bed McDermott.  Do you want a treat?”

Life Topics

Wait, What?

FOR THE LOVE OF DOG

 

The love of a dog is nothing like the love of another Human.  Nothing. Wait, what?

 

There is an objective to find the companionship of another being; not a lover, not a friend.  No. Wait, what?

A decision is made by one or two, to find the creature to fill a void, to add to the family.  Family, Yes. FAMILY.

They are not a peripheral entity, no, they are part of the family.  They occupy a piece of the heart, wait, yes. The heart.

I wonder if I take you home, will you want to be here?  Am I a good Mommy?  Scratch, rub, hug, wait, what?
Trust me I do love you.  More scratches?

Eat, scratch, lick, love, hugs, and more hugs.

Adopt the baby puppy…they want to be loved.  They need YOU.

Wait, what?

Life Topics

In the mouth

Everything goes into the mouth; toys, socks, shoes and whatever is laying in his path.  There is a fine line between the habits of a young child and a new puppy.  The destruction can seem epic, or at least serious enough to cause momentary insanity.  I’ve bid goodbye to a handmade quilt I made that was disassembled because of boredom, with the hand sewn seams ripped apart by sharp white baby teeth.  I wanted to cry as I looked at the batting laying all around him on the bed like happy puffy clouds.  His tail was wagging when I walked in on the perfect storm – teething puppy and delicious quilt.

The quilt was only the beginning.  Did I mention the small rug that was ripped apart?  Oh, that was a proud moment for McDermott.  Pulling the threads up from the mat with intense concentration, occasionally chewing a stray thread.  He stopped mid pull to look at me with great pride. “Look what I did Mommy” shined in his eyes.  Oh the joy he felt in sharing his accomplishment.  Again, I wanted to scream, but instead pulled the rug away from him, telling myself, “he’s only a baby, he’s only a baby.”  I walked off to look for a chew toy to keep him busy until the next disaster.

If the oral fixation isn’t enough to drive me crazy, there is the jumping.  Oh yes, jumping to eat, jumping for attention, jumping when excited, jumping when bored.  This exercise is usually followed by frenzied running about the house with his oversized paws, sliding into couches and tables with his long legs getting wrapped around each other.  His favorite thing to do is jump on the end table, and launch himself, flying high, onto the couch.  I have to admit this makes me laugh every time, even though I shouldn’t let him do it.  If I was an Olympic Judge, I’d rate his landing a 10.0.  And, I think he believes this IS a competition because he sits at the end of the couch waiting for a treat after his performance.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love my new puppy and look forward to him mellowing out with age, just like the rest of us.  For the most part, he is well behaved, but in those moments of silence I can be sure something is dreadfully wrong.  “Why is it so quiet?” I think to myself.  And, sure enough, there is always something in his mouth; a shoe, a  rug, underware, or a slipper.  The other day, he was gnawing on the leg of my antique Empire table.  Needless to say, his strong little jaws caused extensive damage. I just shook my head, and looked for a chew toy for him.  Sigh.

Like all new mothers, there are days that I reach exhaustion very quickly.   I am confident in my reserve of patients, knowing that shit happens.  I try to keep up with our training lessons, but his cuteness tends to win me over.  I don’t want to be “the bad guy.”  Jamie is the alpha-dog, I’m just one of the pack.  He follows me everywhere and loves me unconditionally, and that makes me happy.  After all, isn’t that the reason we get puppys?  His playfulness is infectious, his kisses are pure comfort.

He will outgrow puppyhood one day, so I should appreciate the fanatical energy while it’s here.
You can always buy new rugs and new shoes.  Not sure I can replace the Empire table, but I’ll learn to live with the chewed leg.  Silence will not always scare me, it will be a time to sit with my dog and enjoy his company.

Until then…where is McDermott? Where did I put his chew toy?!?!

Life Topics

Rescue

No words can convey the loss of my best friend.

He trusted, he loved, he cherished and he howled.
He brought peace and comfort.

He gave of himself fully without being guarded.
He had the soul of a child, up to his old age, up to the end.

He believed that I would always take care of him,
and I did.

The day you left made my soul scream in pain,
but I did it for you.  I did it for you.

I breathe you in without seeing or hearing you.
You could never be replaced.  Never.

Your paw print rests in my heart and on my soul.
I’ll never be the same without you, and I thank you
for rescuing me that beautiful day at the shelter.

Forever yours.

Life Topics

Until the Wind Meets the Sun

scoutUntil the Wind Meets the Sun

As many of you are aware, my dog has dementia.  Yes, you heard that correctly. Dogs get dementia just like people do, at least that’s what the vet said.  I realize there is a bit of a giggle factor when I say this.  People have asked, “how does the vet know he has dementia.”  All I know is his behavior showed up on her checklist; staring at the wall, barking for no reason, confusion.  He had them all, especially the barking.  We were given medication to make him comfortable and help reduce the symptoms.  So far the barking has lessened, but my concerns have grown.

You see, he doesn’t have years to live, he has months.  I’m not prepared to let go.  At 13 years old, Scout is on the other side of the mountain.  Sleeping and eating have become his main activities – no more toys, no more running. The tennis ball he used to fetch sits in a basket, caked with dirt and memories. I don’t have the heart to throw it out.  I reflect on the puppy years as I look at the ball, wondering how his muzzle got so grey.  Thinking about how many times I would throw the ball into the lake and with labored breath, he would paddle back with the ball in his mouth, excited for the next throw.  He couldn’t wait.  And, a branch was like candy to him whether it was thrown, or he just picked it up in the yard.  It was his treasure, as he pranced around showing it off.

He was a crazed puppy who joyed in the destruction of clothing and furniture.  Not to mention that he took 6 months to become house-broken.  Every time I turned around he would be gnawing on a coffee table, or come trotting out from a bedroom with underwear in his mouth.  And, if you didn’t walk him, when he wanted to walk, the destruction escalated to pillows and couches.  He was the worst puppy.  I was terrible at disciplining Scout, but Jamie played “Bad Cop” to improve his horrible behavior.  It worked over time, as we stuck by him as he grew into a steady old dog, and a great friend.

Since we got Scout at 4 months old, he has always enjoyed boat rides.  That will never change.  We have to lift him onto the seat just like we do in the car now.  Sitting up in a regal pose, he points his nose to the air to smell neighborhood cookouts, or other scents we could not imagine.  His eyes close, like he is infused with the delight of it all.  The wind his muse, the sun his lover. The two are one in the same to him.  We are there to complete the meeting, and keep him company.  He sits in the seat, or moves to the floor to adjust his outlook allowing him to catch scraps of food that fall off our plates.  We gladly share with him.  Each voyage is one of relaxation feeling the simple pleasure of being in a loving family.

Scout lays at my feet while I type, just happy to be next to me.  He will always be my baby-puppy no matter how old he is, or how confused he now gets.  He has been with us since he was a few months old, but it feels more like a lifetime.  He has worn his loyalty over the years, sitting next to me when I lay crying on the couch, or jumping on me when I got home from work.  Our emotional lives are intertwined, and for that I am thankful.  People who lack a special kind of commitment don’t deserve the love of a dog.  For the gifts that dogs will bring you, can leave you vulnerable, exposing your heart in unimaginable ways.  I am happily exposed.

Scout follows me from room to room, ending up under my desk where I work.  A hound needs to be touching, and will often put his paw on my foot, letting me know he is there.  I take a break from typing, reaching down to soothe him with my words, while giving him with a few scratches  He looks at me with his hound dog expression and chocolaty eyes; that tell me, “I’m still here, I remember you, and now it’s time to eat.”

His wish is my command, until the wind meets the sun, and he will be a whisper in my ear for the rest of my life.