The first message from my sister went like this, "Lilly is fake-peeing to get extra treats."
That's my little con-artist –– always working the angles!
I used to believe that dogs did not actually lie. They tell their truths, I used to think.
My friend SJL (squee! book deal! details to follow!), a seasoned owner of a small dog, assured me that perhaps they don't fib, but they do exaggerate.
When the dog tells me that she's starving –– grunt! grunt! grunt! –– there's probably a grain of truth. And if she insists on trying to convince the babysitter that she regularly gets a second dinner –– well, she might just be right.
Farming...Previously Aired Content
In lieu of repeating myself...a previously aired post. After all, I am doing the same dang thing this time of year.
Unless a deadline is looming (cliché alert, but seriously, what else do they do but loom?), it's a daily challenge to stay focused on work. The writing gig requires my time to be divided into something like 1/4 research, 1/4 outright fabrication, and the rest revision.
Any guesses on where I tend to go off the rails? Research. It's littered with shiny-sparkly distractions.
The better part of an hour –– and I do mean the better part –– disappeared while I traced the identity of two guys that I had vaguely thought were both John Legend. My apologies all around. Enjoy the stolen fruits of my shirked labor:
Yeah, that is a lot of soulfulness.
A fresh perspective. Or an off-kilter one.
Tip a watery landscape 90 degrees or so, and you get a Rorschach image. Is that a snapping turtle? A monster with antlers and a Celtic-patterned surplice?
And are those fuzzy green faces hiding down there along the seam -- I mean along the water's edge?
Psychological insight provided separately.
Story Prompt: Voices
Each writing day, I wonder if a ray of light will come down from on high to illuminate a Higher Truth –– complete with the sound of horns.
Maybe Wynton Marsalis playing Haydn, or something like this:
Then I snap out of my whimsy –– as if inspiration had a sound-effect! Oh for pity's sake, cliché alert! –– and buckle down to some warm-up writing.
Warming up –– for me anyhow –– often involves a second helping of whimsy. For instance, I wonder what Saint John might possibly have been listening to on his iPod while writing the Book of Revelation?
The music washed over him in ecstatic waves. Ear-buds vibrating against the cartilage of tragus and cavum, the thin white cord tickling his neck with each pump of his pulse. There were times like this when he thought music was the only thing keeping him connected to the rocky earth. Without the slim silicone-encased player, he might float free among the clouds. Like the eagle, he might stare into the sun as he rose, until vitreous humor boiled into steam in the sockets of his eyes and the soft conjunctiva dried into sand.
But then the music faded, the four chords of the chorus gently shifting to outro and silence, and in the moment of stillness between songs on his unnamed playlist, and he felt again the rock under his elbow. He took a steadying breath and calmed his thoughts against the feverish images of devils and harlots, the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. He dipped his pen into the walnut juice and held it over the page as next introduction began to climb into the bridge.
Revelation, he thought. You say you want a revelation, well, you know. We all want to change the world. He jotted the words on parchment and found the next line flowed almost without effort. You say you've got a real solution, you know we want to see a plan.
The words, written, turned on him like a serpent.
Doubt and the devil take this infernal music machine! He pressed the wheel-within-a-wheel on the MP3 player. Damn the Beatles, he thought, skipping the remaining tunes of the White Album to get to the first song from the eponymous Beau Dommage.
Thank you Lord, he mouthed the words and focused his gaze on the clouds. Thank you for the future that includes Canadians!
File Under: Tiny Surprises
Doing some sailing recently on a fresh-water lake in the center of Florida, I looked over the side of the boat and saw this. A pattern in the water that looked like a little flower or a shooting star, or the rowel from the heel of a cowboy. A rowel that had rolled across sand, perhaps flung from a bucking bronc.
It's a gap in the algae bloom, the image formed from a droplet of water flung from the dock-line. A tiny bit of current moved water around the reed to make the curved line. It's a painting. A scar. A kind of photo negative. A tiny surprise on the surface of the world.
Books: In Multiples
Once, while I was writing at the coffee shop in the Barnes & Noble Bookstore, I noticed a crowd slowly gathering. And gathering. And gathering. Then a gal plopped down at my tiny cafe table and said, by way of apology, "My feet are killing me." She flashed me a look at her ticket –– "Number 437 if you can believe it!"–– and, perhaps recognizing my confusion, she added, "I don't read anything except I just LOVE this Janet Evanovich and Stephanie Plum!" She was waiting to get a book signed by the author.
The old-fashioned term dipsomania –– from the Greek of thirst + excitement –– seems wasted as a way to refer to alcoholism. There are dozens of other colorful options: call someone a rummy, a wino, an alky, a drunkard, a soak; say they are soused, pickled, zonked, pissed, impaired, tipsy, hammered.
I wish there were a parallel Greek term for the specific greed that certain writers engender in their fans. Bookthirstia, maybe, anyway, the kind of appetite that makes 400+ ladies of a certain demographic gather in a bookstore waiting for Janet Evanovich to arrive with her police escort. It's not limited to any demographic, I know this. The hordes of Harry Potter readers, the legion of Dickens-fanciers and Brontë-ites –– you can't guess who it's going to strike.
Papa Joe was rendered gleeful by the addition of a Louis L'Amor in his Talking Books package. My mother amassed a complete collection of Gene Stratton Porter, and re-read the oeuvre at least once a year. She also tried for the whole Andre Norton, but I suspect she missed a few.
Looking at the bookshelves across the room from this glowing screen, it's clear that I, too, have a galloping case of whatever-it-is-itis:
The small dog enjoys mixed success socially. She is keyed to human company. On a good day, she is a fine ambassador for her small species. On a bad one, her noisy breathing and pushy attitude drive everyone around the twist.
Other dogs she can take or leave. When we meet dog-walking people, she is indifferent to the pet lunging at the end of its leash, barking in excitement to meet her. At the dog-park, she focuses on sniffing the perimeter, giving other dogs the cold shoulder when they bound up to say hello. She's got a finite amount of patience with puppies, less with human children, and if given the opportunity, she would be delighted to eat any bird or horse -- or their byproducts.
Cats are invisible to her: she will trot past a lounging cat on the sidewalk while keeping her gaze directed 90 degrees away. If the feline is especially bold and makes to touch noses, Lilly will discreetly move to the opposite side of my legs, leaving me to fend for myself.
We travelled en suite with the small dog recently. I've hosted visiting dogs and their people often enough to understand why people bring their dogs when leaving home. Still, having not had a dog of my own since college, it was my first experience of carting a possibly unwanted four-legged family member along to the party.
She did not embarrass us too much: she did steal the really luxe dog-bed from Velma and Daphne when she had the chance. She did insist on being hoisted up onto someone else's couch -- but at least she did not, as she does at home, scuff up a nest before falling asleep. She made some noise with her hosts' dogs and was entirely ready to half-inch the other dogs' food -- but on the plus side, she did a bang-up job of spit-polishing other people's kitchen floors.
She waited patiently (i.e. snoozed and snored) in the truck while we went to restaurants. There were no "accidents." There was no vomit. And that, for traveling pet-owners, is the new good.
Gratitude: A Fouth Short List
There are so many things – big and little both – that remind me I live a lucky life. Here are a few more things for which I am quite grateful:
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