Category Archives: Essays about dogs

Hard Lessons

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Learning Disabilities

I have no water in my house. I’ve had no Internet for weeks. My dog is at the vet’s having major surgery that will cost $1,000 U.S. that I need to go to the bank to withdraw along with another $1,000 I offered to loan to a friend to buy a car they need to buy who just called to say they need the money tomorrow! Problem is I can’t get to the bank because I’m hoping for a call from Telmex saying they’ve figured out my internet problem––and the plumber who is going to try to come at 3. All this and to top off the perfect day, I have amoebas and the new medicine I got yesterday has given me a headache and fever. Or I’m just stressing out and the entire kit and caboodle is giving me a fever and headache.

I’m beginning to fear I’m no longer able to handle running a house. The floor is covered by boxes of three different types of tile I have laid out to try them out. I have a dozen things to complete before I leave in a little more than a week. I’ve been trying to get a haircut for a month, but no time to do so. Gripe gripe gripe. You would think I would learn, but somehow time and time again I am getting into these high-stress situations where hyperventilation is the norm.

From a perfectly organized house last night my house has turned into a disaster area. Files from the file cabinet lay piled on the headboard/case of my bed—leftovers as I looked for a brochure of the water system to try to figure out what particular tube I need for the purification system. My bed is covered by the contents of six different big baskets I pulled down from the closet to look for a pair of gloves to handle the tube I bought after visiting four different water supply places. No, none had a man to come install it. Yes, I broke it installing it. Good thing I had one glove on—all I could find.

My desk is covered by little slips of paper concerning tile types, prices, business cards, discarded amoeba meds (wrong variety for what the lab told me yesterday) and old VHS tapes (what are those doing there?) Earlier, when I needed to call the water place to see if they could locate another purification tube light (answer was no) I couldn’t find one phone of four that I have in the house that was still in its cradle. Then when I did, turns out one of the lost phones was clicked on so I couldn’t call anyway. Search house again. Finally found it on the bookcase by the doggie domain. What in the world was it doing there and where in the world are the other 3 phones that are still lost? Last night I found them all and restored them to their cradles. Do I have Telmex poltergeists infesting my house every night?

Yes. At.The. End. Of. My.Rope.

Should I move? Can’t stand to think about that. Perhaps there is someone pleasant willing to trade free rent of my casita for a few managerial tasks such as dealing with electricity, phone, internet, gas and minor construction. No, I don’t need a keeper yet, but my house certainly does. It seems to be reaching that age when everything needs attending to. Walls aren’t crumbling, but floors need replacing, the walls painted less than a year ago need a second coat, and someone needs to search the Virginia creeper vines to find those hummingbird moth caterpillars that are pooping bee bees all over my terrace table and the steps outside the doggie domain.

Yes. At. The. End. Of. My. Rope.

I need to pick up Frida in an hour and still can’t get hold of Pasiano or Yolanda to come let the plumber in. If the plumber comes. And even then, I won’t have purified water—just water, at least, to flush toilets and wash with.

Headache. Chills. Frustration. Breathe. No one has died, at least today. Calm down. Was I always such a fussbudget? Yesterday I was screaming “Fuck, fuck, fuck!” when I had for the zillionth time lost my keys. They were no place. How could I be so dumb???? It was past time to leave for something important and the other set of car keys had vanished into the void 4 years ago. This was my last set. Last chance. I looked in the outside locks, the inside locks, the bathrooms, kitchen, under the bed, on the nail on the wall where I usually hung them. Emptied out my purse. Twice.

I imagine, now, neighbors passing in the street hearing this madwoman scream invectives at herself. With all my doors and windows open, they must be able to hear me as clearly as if they were inside my house. For 15 years, I’ve overlooked this fact until once earlier this year when all three of my dogs were barking and I roared “Frida!!! Stop!!!!” above the din, a friend protested,“Judy! You are worse than the dogs. You should hear yourself. You must scare the neighbors!” my friend uttered this softly. Unlike me.

I had to shout to be heard above the dogs, right? But did I need to scream at the keys?

I found them eventually and was only 10 minutes late to the appointment I started to leave for half an hour early. I found them by calmly retracing my steps which took me eventually by my open closet door with the new file cabinet inside—my keys dangling from its lock. I had gone to get some necessary file, but the cabinet is so new it had not yet been added to my key recovery route. It has been now.

I am, you see, capable of learning. It’s the remembering that is the hard part.

The End (Perhaps)

Postscript: Just now the lovely lovely girl from Techno Agua called. She has called all over town and located the right water purification tube light. It is 60 pesos above the price I paid for one this morning. Is that a problem? No problem. The plumber can come at 3. I just called Pasiano and although he still is not answering his phone and although Yolanda is working and can’t come to let the plumber in, her husband has agreed to do so; so when he arrives, I can go, hopefully, to the bank and then to get Frida. The tide is turning. Maybe today will turn out to be slightly less frustrating than earlier happenings indicated. 

An hour later: good news and bad news. I got to the bank in time to get the $1,000 U.S. for the surgery and the $1,000 for the car, but when I got to the vet’s I was informed that Frida still hasn’t awakened and so I need to leave her for the night. They assure me they’ll feed and water her when she wakes up, but although I understand I can’t take an unconscious dog home, nonetheless I know she’ll be traumatized to wake up in a cage away from home and to have to spend the night there. Also, I was supposed to sit the info booth at the Lake Chapala Society tomorrow so will have to try to find someone to sit in so I can go get Frida and take her home. Always a new thrill. Still no internet at home, so I am at the mall. Getting to be a regular mall rat as they have free wifi and otherwise it is $15 U.S. a day to use my phone as a hot spot as I was over my limit in just four days.

Are you tired of my whining yet?

 

The Prompt word today was “Learning.”

Roar

 

Roar

The ceiling fans turn above five women. One holds an almond cookie in her mouth as her hands adjust her notebook and reach for her pen. She moves the rest of the cookie into her mouth with the hand that has finished turning to the correct page, then brushes away the crumbs from the glass table. Another woman sits hunched over a tablet in her lap. She is wearing a black swimsuit and sits on the white canvas cushion of a rattan couch.

A third taps on her computer—a fact that has driven her former sofa neighbor out to the terrace to write––that tapping too distracting. Next door, the crash of chisel on concrete furnishes a counter-tempo to the gentle tapping of the keys. The ocean swells in a continual basso…the notes and words of a plaintive Mexican song straining in over the fence as well. The sparseness of the view––sea dunes, succulent ground cover, crashing ocean and sky–– is augmented by so many sounds that they blend into a cacophony that can be overlooked…or underheard, as the case may be.

I am the fifth woman, and as the other four write about whatever world each is in, their imagined voices fill my thoughts to a point where my own voice is lost. I can only record what I see and hear. It is as though my own imagination has been sucked up by the morning, lost in the profusion of thoughts of others that grow like liana in my mind.

The blades on the fans spin. Tiny upside-down crosses are formed by the bolts that secure the glass globes of the lights below the fans. Like crucifixes the tortured have slipped free from, they stand useless as metaphors but necessary in actuality. All of the crucified have scurried away…survivors of someone else’s bigotry or fears or cruelty.

Some of the survivors climb up the legs of the coffee table and pull themselves onto my computer keys. They jump on keys to say, “We have voices that will not be stilled. We sacrifice that bullies may be overcome. We expect you to resist as we do. Frightening as it is, it is the only way. Life is choice after choice and those choices, if easy, are not worth making.”

I take over. Brush them like crumbs from my keyboard.  I get to choose how profound my life will be, at least on the page, and I don’t want to write about crucifixion, church bombings, the Paris massacre, the San Bernardino shootings. I have six friends who live in San Bernardino. I haven’t checked Facebook. I don’t want to know.

I want my senses filled with tappings and poundings and too-loud strains of music and where the fridge will go in the tiny new sleeping/feeding room I’m having constructed for my dogs. I want another almond cookie, and a sip, two sips of hazelnut coffee. Some of us have to have a happy life. Some need to go on in spite of the slaughter, greed, small-mindedness. We win in this way. Something exists in spite of the horrible chaos some would make of the world.

We win by fighting, but we also win by being. By remaining. By choosing to be happy. The ocean roars and sometimes I must roar, also. But not always.

Note: No, my essay above was not written to the prompt.  I did start a poem on the WordPress  life-line subject of fortune-telling, and I’ll publish it later, but on my way to posting it, I found this snippet written in response to a prompt at the three day women’s writing retreat I went to last week, so I want to publish it, too. (HERE is a link to my poem on the subject of fortune telling.)

 

Morrie Takes off and Brings the Road Home with Him!!!!

Morrie Takes off and Brings the Road Home with Him!!!!

It’s true.  When Pepe came to give me my massage today, he opened the door and all three dogs ran out!  After two months of never escaping when the construction guys were in and out dozens of times a day, suddenly they asserted themselves and were long gone–not a whisper of a tailfeather was in view in any direction by the time I got out in the street to call for them.  I didn’t know whether to fear that they’d gone up the mountain or to be glad.  No cars up there and fewer dogs than in the streets.  So, nothing to be done. I decided to leave them alone ’til they came home, wagging their tails behind them.  An hour and a half later, that’s what they did.  The first two to enter were fine, but this is what I saw when Morrie entered!

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First thing he did was make right for the water bowl.

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A one-and-a-half-hour run in the mountains sure makes a Laird thirsty!!!

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I couldn’t help but notice the splint-like accumulation on his leg.

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not to mention the sizeable limb of some sticky weed, complete with tiny tenacious bristles all over it and flower abloom.

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Oh yes, those little decorations all over his head were sticky as well, and had no desire to be shed.

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Contrast Morrie to his brother’s pristine coat!

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The “limb” looked like a sunbather using Morrie’s coat to  attract the sun’s rays–a sort of solar hothouse!

Ah, Morrie.  Always a new thrill.  I got the limb off, in pieces, before he took off to tussle with Diego.  When I fed them, I got a few more pieces removed, then noticed that some scraped off as Diego and Morrie rolled and growled and wrestled and did their usual hi-jinx.  I went back to party preparations.  (Pictures to follow.)

I have neglected to say that the doggie domain is almost finished. Today they primed the walls and they reflect so much light into the hall now that I’m tempted to leave the walls white.  Dare I?  It looks beautiful, even in the chalky transluscent white of the primer.  I put the fridge in and the two cages with beds inside and Frida’s bed which almost entirely take up all the floor room.  I left the outside door to it open and a half hour ago, heard noises and went in to find Diego in Frida’s bed and Morrie in Diego’s bed in Diego’s cage! I couldn’t persuade them to switch back to their own bunks, so we’ll see what happens when Frida comes in. No lights connected, so I can’t take a picture!  Perhaps I’ll try with flash.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Tomorrow before the guests come, I plan to put Diego in the doggie domain, Morrie (and his bed) in the little dog run outside the spare bedroom and Frida in the garage with her bed while the guests are here.  One guest asked if she could bring her dog and I said I thought there would be pandemonium enough with my three.

 

 

Different Thanks: JNW’s Prompt Generator

 Different Thanks

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                                                      Family Thanks Giving

Three dogs, paws up on the gate to the garage whenever I get home. The little one leaps up and down like some ballerina at the bar, the biggest with his irritating barks–loud and harsh and insistent—for whatever reason, be it mom’s arrival home or a dog who dares to pass by in the street. All of them escorting me to the door, attempting to help me with my bags and bundles.

The big dog sneaking into my room at night when she thinks I haven’t noticed. Wanting to be even closer than within eye-shot down the hall, she sleeps on the cold floor in lieu of her warm padded bed, perhaps because she wants to remind me that although the second dog is cleverer and handsomer and the newest dog is the littlest and most pleasant to have jump up on the bed with me, she was the very first and has known me for the longest. She has put up with intruders—both these two canine upstarts and the one human one who entered my house and stole my house guest’s laptop years ago when she was my one and only!

And although I am allergic to them, I wash off the licks of thanks that Morrie gives for a few cuddles on the bed before he sinks down to the foot to curl at a more hypoallergenic distance. Wash off my hands and arms after I’ve pulled off clumps of Frida’s thick undercoat. Dress the wounds that Diego’s claws have left on my legs and arms when he just can’t resist jumping up for closer contact. All of these wounds and welts and sneezes and wheezes just the aftermath of the constant thanks these kids adopted from the streets offer every day, as often as I will allow them.

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