Time Well Spent (got jacked up on rage)

They knew us as the ones who checked the day’s euth list for the names of the dogs scheduled to be killed the next morning, who came to take the death-row dogs…for a last long walk, brought them good dinners, cleaned out their kennels, and made their beds with beach towels and bath mats and Scooby-Doo fleece blankets still warm from industrial dryers…They knew us as the ones who worked for free, who felt that an hour stroking a blanket-wrapped dog whose head never left your lap and who was killed the next morning was time well spent…The knew me as one who love in them…the patent need, the clinging, the appetite. They knew me as one who saw their souls in their faces, who had never seen eyes more expressive than theirs in colors of clover honey, root beer, riverbed… We would do anything for them – their heads and bodies crossed with scars like unlucky life lines in a human hand, yet whose tails still wagged when we reached to pet them…They knew me as one who got jacked up on rage and didn’t know what to do with it, until a dog dug a ball from the corner of his kennel and brought it to my side, as though to ask, “Have you thought of this.” …They knew me as one who saw through the windowed panel…a dog lift first one front paw and then the other, offering a paw to shake though there was no one there, doing a trick he had once been taught and praised for…They knew me as one who decoded the civic boast of a “full-service” shelter, that it means the place kills animals, that the “full service” offered is death…They knew me as one who asked another volunteer if she would mind holding Creamsicle, a young vanilla and orange pup, while I cleaned his soiled kennel and made his bed at the end of the night…We were both tired, and took turns holding the pup against our hearts. They saw this; they knew this. The ward went quiet. We took our time.

~ Amy Hempel, from “A Full-Service Shelter” in “Sing to It: New Stories” (Scribner, March 26, 2019)

 


Image Source

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

I start each day by letting in light and doing something for someone I love, in order to do what needs to be done to repair our small part of the world. Then I listen, and that listening becomes the perch from which I chance to see all we are a part of. The day unfolds and I get excited, then annoyed, then confused, and tired. I eat and sleep and do it all over again. When I get tangled in the tasks, it can seem like hell. But when the light illuminates the inside of things, like today, and the coffee is brewed, things go quiet, and there’s nothing else I could ask for.

Mark NepoThings That Join the Sea and the Sky


Notes: Nepo via Make Believe Boutique. Photo: Coffee (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)

Truth

“What I would do for wisdom,”
I cried out as a young man.
Evidently not much.
Or so it seems.
Even on walks
I follow the dog.

~ Jim Harrison, Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry


Source: Thank you Hammock Papers for poem. Photo: Brian Guest with a Vizsla

Flying North AA4650. With RTP.

It’s one of those moments in life when you remember exactly where you were, what you were doing, and how you felt.

In the old pre-smartphone days, it was the 3 am phone call, with the ring shattering the silence.  You fumble in darkness trying to find the handset praying…please, please, please, let it be a wrong number, and not something worse.

Today, it’s all about texting. And it was a text.

Yesterday morning.  11:00 a.m. Nashville, TN.  The first day of a 4-day conference in a large ballroom at the J.W. Marriott. The lights in the room were dimmed, the spots beamed down on the speaker on stage.

My iPhone screen lights up, flashing an iMessage notification.

“Please call me. Now. Important.” [Read more…]

when the house is finally quiet

Someone is always home sick: chicken pox, strep throat, another chicken pox, stomach flu…Baby Bliss sits on her hip. It is only later that week, perhaps, when the house is finally quiet, the dishwasher humming in the downstairs dark, her husband not yet home, and upstairs the kids are asleep or at least pretending. When she is finally in the soft light of her own bedroom with her hair brushed and her face clean, sinking into the down pillows with something to read, she arrives in a moment that is her own and not in relation to anything else—not a carpool, a nursing infant, nor a man she loves. She is self-contained, not only a woman but the sole measure of her own life.

~ Sarah McColl, “Joy Enough: A Memoir.” (January, 2019)

 


Notes:

Joy Enough

I loved my mother, and she died. Is that a story?

Story is giving a character a tangible desire, then putting things in her way. A writer I was falling in love with told me that. My desire is for my mother to live. More tangible, he says.

My desire is not to forget. More tangible, he says. Then my desire is for her to meet the next man I love, the one I keep now that I know a thing or two. My desire is for her to see my round silhouette in a summer dress, then to hold my baby in the delivery room. In winter, my desire is to make chili with the mixture of garden tomatoes and hot peppers she calls hell that I’ve kept in the back of my freezer. Our desires are equally impossible: to freeze hell, to thaw it; to reverse time, to stop it. My desire is to have more of what I do not need, seconds of what has been my fair share: a fight, a car ride, a cup of coffee, ignored advice straight from the mouth of a grade A know-it-all.

Or none of this. My desire is preservation, to carry her lodged beneath my breast like a bone.

~ Sarah McColl, opening lines in her new book: “Joy Enough: A Memoir.” (January, 2019)

 

Receipt of my first text message of the day


Source: Giphy (Thank you Susan)

Dinner (w Family)

The sun looks down on nothing half so good as a household laughing together over a meal.

– C.S. Lewis, from The Weight of Glory

 


Photo: Gabriel Maglieri with “Family

Oh, so much Truth…

Our house is quiet at night, I seem to be hearing dog paws on the stairs, but the dog lies sprawled asleep on the floor next to the bed. Maybe I’m hearing the dog we had before the one we have now? I don’t think people linger on after death, but I wonder whether dogs do. And that we can hear them scuffling about for many years after they’re gone.

Linn Ullmann, ”Unquiet: A Novel” (W. W. Norton & Company, January 15, 2019)


Photo of our Zeke on 11/17/14 (RIP).

Miracle. All of It.

“The hospital corridors were quiet, the midwife was quiet. She whispered—that’s how I remember it—that I needed to see the doctor and have an ultrasound. She helped me gather my things and sent us even farther down the corridor. I remember lying on the doctor’s examining table in a dark cubicle, only the ultrasound machine emitting light. I remember covering my face with my hands. After a while, the doctor touched my arm. “Look,” he said. My husband took my hand in his. The doctor pointed at the screen and moved his finger carefully around the sonogram, as though showing us a rare map, and then, because we couldn’t quite believe what we were seeing and what he was telling us, he turned up the sound so we could hear the steady beating of the heart…”

Linn Ullmann, ”Unquiet: A Novel” (W. W. Norton & Company, January 15, 2019)


Notes:

  • Photo of sonogram: Kim Pham
  • Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.
  • Inspiration: Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
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