Friday, March 22, 2024

Competing for the Gold in Competitive "Counter Sufing".

When the dog is busted trying to sneak up. stealth like. on the freshly frosted cupcakes.

 Who me, no, I was just, uh, practicing my Ninja skills. 

Sunday, March 17, 2024

The Great Stuffie Laundry Round Up

You're not taking Gumby.   He's Green, he's exempt from washing on St. Patrick's Day.

Friday, March 8, 2024

On Invisibility

When we were kids, we used to talk about what super power we'd like to have if we were a Comic Book Hero.  Strength would be good, but I'd be constantly breaking things.  X Ray Vision? (the human TSA scanner - no thanks).  I never thought the one I'd get was invisibility.

One day you're walking down the street, and everyone wants to say hello, be your friend, hear you speak (or just chat you up), and the next the mailman doesn't even make eye contact.  You realize that you are what you always labeled anyone over 40 when you were that kid.  You're OLD, therefore invisible. You are that library no one visits, that painted landscape of experience and color that no one looks at because they're all too busy taking a selfie or staring at their phone.

But I'm OK that that.  When the world isn't clamoring for your attention, you are free to step back and truly see it.  See it in the quiet hours of domestic life that are marked, not by a time clock, but by the shifting of light and shadow on ancient oak. Hear it, in the grace of stillness that lingers between walls that have known multiple lives and loves. 

There's that sense of time lost, but only in those changes, the loss makes in the course of our daily thoughts that can be felt in vague yet poignant moments of remembrance.  We remember those that have gone before, their breathing no longer in our power, but the memory as steady as always.  For, with aging, not only comes responsibility but loss. Suddenly, for myriads of reasons - fate, illness, accident; the people around you, as reliable as the sunrise, leave, insensible to your pleas to stay, 

But being invisible does have its perks.  I can watch the world as it does not watch me back; finding humor in the mundane, shaking my head at others so obvious to it all, their passive insensibility as the caffeine wears off interrupted by slight convulsive starts as a new text comes in, such as may be observed in a dog having a dream on a hardwood floor.  At first that sense of unwanted solitude is disconcerting, but then you realize how much you are truly not seeing, the stroke of a brush on a canvas, the launching of a thousand boats, the sound the tide makes as it retreats to the pull of an invisible moon.

After an errand that took me into the city, I walk down to the lake, before it gets too dark to be out alone.  The setting sun sets a metallic tinge to the waters as it begins to set, taking the moment to gather gold, the gold one meant to secure, but squandered, the gold that is promise, too soon forgotten, the gold worn on the left hand, enduring when all else was lost.  People think the clavicle is the most delicate bone in the body as it's so commonly broken, but to me anyway, it's the lacrimal bone, a small and incredibly fragile bone the size of the little fingernail, found at the front part of the medial wall of the orbit - its main function is to provide support to the structures of the lacrimal apparatus, which secretes tears.  

In my pocket is a small stone, gathered at a beach in Northern Indiana on one of the last outings to the water with Barkley.  I'd collected several, one of which looked to be an ancient seashell, found there on the shore of a lake 1000 miles from an ocean, that now lay upon a shelf by my bed.  I stand there at the water's edge, for just a moment as if separated from the world, the heavens, earth, and the very water next to me, swallowed up in a thick veil of gathering gloom.  As I clenched that stone as hard as I could, I breathed out the name of that black dog, into limitless space, sure of being heard, instinctually sure that the plaintive hearts of small children, grey-muzzled dogs, and a lone woman, are heard. 

As I feel the wetness on my cheeks, I guess I should just be happy my lacrimal bones are intact.  

I toss that small stone across the water, hoping to see it skip. only to watch it plunge into the darkness.  Next came a small stick, which freely made its way out into the depths of the lake growing small and indistinct in the near darkness.  Where would the currents carry it, north, south?  No matter how long I stand, patiently, watching the gleam and spark of the waves as the sun sets, that small stick will not return. It is as lost to me as the stone, just taking longer in its leaving. 

Some would look at my countenance and just think "old woman" yet in my eyes is a gleam of surprising intelligence that looks at the world gravely, wide open and steady as if facing something invisible to all other eyes, while I stand straight, unconscious of myself, yet aware of the power I still had in my hands.  They are hands that have held the paw of my best friend as he left me, hands that have sawed through the human breastbone to take a measure of a heart.  Hands kind, capable, but not to be trifled with.

A storm is coming in, that time of year when you don't know if you'll get rain or snow, the temperatures in the high 60s yesterday and in the 20s today.  In the distance are long flashes of vivid lightning, interrupting the short bursts of annealing day, the thunder speaking in the tongues of the gods.  It's best to get home as the sound of traffic floats out of the great silence that is water as big as an ocean.

Arriving home, I'd watch the news, but I gave away my TV long ago, preferring the vast library of books behind leaded glass a hundred years old.  Besides, I'd need to don my rescue dog's "Thunder Shirt" to listen to the news any more.  

I let our rescue Lorelei out, her grabbing and shaking her favorite toy while I quietly watch smoke from the neighbor's chimneys spread the thinnest of veils of haze over the neighborhood. No one pays any attention to me, despite the green "scrub" pants, bright red coat, and orange hat (intuitive color coordination apparently another superpower I lack).  

An ancient tea kettle shrills its warning, and soon we are back inside, Lorelei riding her escalator up into the house, her tail waving like a Nascar flag as she rides past the finish line, where she can snoot the latch open and walk into the house.  Coat and gloves off, it's time to be savored over tonight's book. I gather the makings of the tea, my soul's task as focused on those simple tasks as anything I do, but that is just how I am.

I curl up with an old favorite. Joseph Conrad's story "Youth" - an old man's story of his perilous experiences as a young seaman on a storm-wracked coal liner. Having always been a headstrong girl, taking on one dangerous job after another, I empathized with what he said. "I remember my youth and the feeling that I will never come back anymore, the feeling that I could last forever, outlast the sea, the earth, and all men".

If I had the chance to be 20 again I wouldn't. Time and memory are what has made me who I am. Events in my life, even the ones I'd rather not repeat, all served to awaken within me a stranger who was strong enough to survive it, to grow, becoming someone forged new, honed sharper, and stronger. I've moved past the deception of Conrad's youth, to a place where my soul is still, my heart is full and when I leap from a runway with the wind in my hair, I know I will not live forever on this earth and it doesn't bother me, it just makes me treasure what I have

I go to sleep with a clear mind, having given up alcohol or anything that dulled the senses years ago, preferring life lived sharp, like obsidian, not fragile as shale. Earth, the waters of the lake, and the sky are all wrapped up in deep sleep as am I.  It is a sleep peacefully oblivious to wealth or misfortune, friends, or enemies, yet eternally aware of that empty spot by the window illuminated as the lightning flashes where an invisible black dog stands watch into the invisible night.

 - LB Johnson

Monday, March 4, 2024

Simplifying Chores - Labrador Style

Mom - since you're going down to the basement freezer to get more dog treats, I suggest this bag to bring them back - it appears to be empty.