Thursday, July 30, 2009


For some reason these photographs are about pain even though they were taken outside the gate of the track and are piles of sand and gravel that are used by the grounds men.

For many years (well over twenty) I've struggled with fibromyalgia, a neuro-transmitter glitch that causes the sensation of pain in the muscles. Since I started taking a very small dose of Lexapro, an SSRI, it's been infinitely better. Before I used to feel as if I had the flu continually. Sometimes I lay on the floor during faculty meetings or went to bed really early. But now I lead an almost normal life except that something aches. My shoulders hurt if I have been working on the computer very much, or if I've been looking down at the laptop, or working with clay. Sometimes I get a headache for the same reasons. Or my leg hurts and I limp. Recently I fell down a few steps and my right leg has been hurting. It will take another two or three months before I no longer notice it. Each day I feel some (mild) pain, annoying, but so much better than the serious problems that many of my friends are going through.

Tomorrow my right leg will hurt, but I will go to the track and wash water buckets, extremely glad to be there even if it's hot and humid, very hot and humid.


Bogie did a few naughty things when he was little like toss over the garbage and pick through it when we were out. And he left a fine deposit of poop in the upstairs hall that Les's middle son stepped in. (But he was very young, Bogie not Gabe.) I knew that I didn't want to go through the puppy stuff again, so I ordered Tulip on line because she is older and she looked perfectly awful and had a good recommendation as being 'wonderful.'

I have no idea how old she is, but she's not entirely house broken and she is definitely a prankster. Bogie would not imagine climbing up on the table to eat the cat food. I put it on a low table, too near a chair, because Tulip, at first, terrorized Bacall. Now they seem to have established a truce, but the cat was out in the hallway for a number of days until Tulip calmed down.

Late this afternoon, I took the dogs out, Bogie, Tulip and The Sausage. Tulip had her leash on, but I let it go and she went under her usual bush. But then disappeared. Absolutely. I had just talked with Jenifer on the phone, explained why we were missing the dog training class tonight, made two other appointments, and then lost Tulip. I couldn't imagine telling Jenifer (You let go of the leash?) or Krissy (You lost the dog already?).

I couldn't hear her panting or the faint snort she makes. I called Tulip, Tulip, Tulip endlessly, put Bogie and Happy in the house, hunted many times through the chaos of a backyard that's completely and badly and thornily overgrown. I got scratched, bitten and discouraged. And it took 45 minutes for me to find her, half out of her halter, leash still attached, coming back through the narrow opening in the fence to the next yard. That yard is paved with cement as many of the yards around here are.

Bogie, My Main Dog

Bogie was three and a half pounds when I got him as my conduit into the male dormitory, Les's house. He'd agreed that having a dog would be a good idea. I imagined a Golden Retriever, but he fell in love with a Shih Tzu that friends of his had and that's what we got. My daughter was annoyed that I'd 'bought' a dog rather than rescue him from a shelter.

Bogie had a crate and stayed in the kitchen for much of the time, though I took him out whenever I was around. I have to admit that he favored Les, and obediently fell on his back, waving his paws in the air, whenever he saw him. Les taught him to sit in pretty short order. But I was the one who wanted him to be trained. I'm have no idea how I found Jenifer Vickery, owner of the Pawsitive Dog down near Boston Medical Center. Perhaps we found her because Les had bought tropical fish at Skipton's where Jenifer's business is located.

At any rate, we -- Bogie, Les and I -- spent countless hours taking classes in her training center where Bogie and I did our best and Les ate candy from the huge bowl that sits on the desk. Bogie was a fairly fast learner except for the command, 'Leave It.' He saw it as a mission to clean up every bit of food ignored by other good dogs who were obediently ignoring it.

Jenifer has an Alpha personality, though Les never recognized this since she's a small woman and easy to look over if you're a tall, imposing man whose role is as an authority figure. I was always amused when she told him something important that he didn't even hear or promptly ignored, though he often repeated the story of our first class when Jenifer gave a snappish Jack Russell, belonging to a pregnant couple,an efficient shaking and a good scolding which had an admirable effect on his behavior. This, in his eyes, made Jenifer very effective.

I only ignore her commands because I forget them. She's an excellent trainer who has had years of experience and thousands of clients. One of the things I like best about her is that she's a good business woman, very fair to her employees. I've never had the chance to meet many people who have started their own businesses.

Les wasn't remotely interested in at-home training. But I was pretty good at enforcing what we'd learned. Bogie, Bogie, Come was always on the tip of my tongue, though I never could teach him not to lead me when we took a walk. He was so determined and no matter how many times I ran backwards, trying to make myself interesting as possible, calling Bogie, Bogie, Bogie, he really has always preferred to head out as the leader.

I'm sure that when I was out, Bogie spent his days in the kitchen until he was over a year old and safe from the slightest possibility of an accident. And he spent his nights there, too, until one time Les fell asleep and Bogie pulled the shield of invisibility over himself and slept in the king size bed with us. I love Bogie sleeping in the bed, no matter what Jenifer says.

When I was away, Bogie would sleep in the downstairs hall, facing the doorway, waiting for me to come back.

With all that training, Bogie passed with Canine Good Citizen test with ease. Became a therapy dog. And I retained possession of him when Les and I separated. He is definitely my main dog. Always watchful is serious way, but expressing joy when I get home. He has never been given to naughty dog pranks. His only foibles are chewing on his towel every evening and keeping careful watch on The Sausage, AKA Happy, my daughter's dog, when she chews his toys. I think that Bogie was an interior designer in another lifetime since he's so aware of his toys, retrieving them from the box if I put them away so that they are scattered around in a way he sees fit. For five or six months, he brought a specific toy, a little black dog holding onto a red heart that he found in the park and carried back, to bed every night.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The New York Brussels Griffon vs. Tulip from Georgia

The top dog in this blog is the new Tulip. The following dog is a Brussels Griffon who happens to live near Susan's friend, Sheila on 16th Street in New York. Sheila recognized the photograph when I showed her some of my obsessive photo collection of New York dogs during that birthday-present-to-myself trip. I had hoped that Tulip would look like this dog, but I'm afraid that she doesn't. She'll have to make up in personality what she lacks in beauty.


     I thought blogging would be a meditative sport, but when you're computer craps out, you lose momentum. So, Tulip has been a presence for over a week without any public acknowledgment. 
I think I was suffering from the inevitable loss of my daughter's presence since she is moving to New York. She has created an admirable amount of distraction this last year and a half. And I'm also worried about having a back-up dog, since Bogie, love-dog of my life, is nine and has a chronic shaking in his back legs that occasionally becomes a total trembling if something sets him off.
So, I looked on line under Shih Tzu, a calm breed with little expression of stress and many displays of affection. And I found Tulip who was advertised as half Shih-Tzu and Brussels Griffon. I love the Griffon, a favorite New York dog. They are quite hideous looking, a quality I appreciate. 
Tulip was rescued by Gard in Georgia and it took them three weeks or so to find transport for her, a van loaded with 20 dogs to be delivered by Tom in New York, Connecticut and Providence. Dogs are, evidentially, not allowed to be driven into Massachusetts. Krissy and Chris picked her up at a park in Providence a week-and-a-half ago.

Bogie is reasonably tolerant, but not overly pleased. One session with Jenifer Vickery, the dog trainer, taught me how to get Tulip to sleep quietly in the kitchen all night. And we go back on Thursday for more instructions. I should remember all the lessons from the endless training with Bogie, but I don't. 

Sunday, July 12, 2009

My Computer

This is the problem. The computer. It has separated me from many tasks that I take forgranted. The worst part was being separated from what I needed to accomplish, files that I needed to put on disks and then mail.

The problem first showed itself when I was trying to do just that, put self-portraits on a file for Liz Hesik so that I could mail them to her in California. She's been editing a video in which my only, and very long ago, ex-husband and I talk about the traumas of our past. It's so complicated that I couldn't even take a crack at editing it myself, so she's been the sole caretaker of this work. I've finally seen a rough draft of the video and need to respond. Part of my response is adding photographs of my daughter and I as an after-thought. The computer refused to do it.

And it's refusing to write lists of names I need to send to a publisher of my first chapbook of poetry.

And it's refusing to deal with the hand-out for the Photo I summer class I start teaching tomorrow.

It's very kindly allowed me to blog again, but I imagine that it will have enough of this shortly and crash yet again, so that it will have yet another trip to the repair shop and those fellows who are earnestly trying to fix the old thing, well past it's prime, but too precious to replace since my learning curve is about shot and I don't want to refine my FinalCutPro and Photoshop skills.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Friend

I hadn't seen Ann-Marie for three years, maybe. We used to talk fairly often, go for walks in the Arboretum with my dog, but she moved to Texas with her husband five or six years ago to go to graduate school. She finished that, started teaching. They bought a house, started fixing it up. I knew pretty much about what was going on for most of that time, knew when her son got married, what job he had, what his wife was doing. And I'd sort of followed the e-mails about the shoulder operation she had a year or so ago, but didn't pay all that much attention. 

And then I lost track of everything last winter, didn't pay attention to the group Christmas letter she sent, generally ignored a whole lot of things and people in my life, including the fact that she'd been very sick. I expect myself to write cards and e-mails, to make phone calls, to express care about friends and friendship, but I didn't do any of that. It all passed under the radar of my consciousness.

However, I got to see Ann-Marie  when she just visited, to have a long time sitting in Au Bon Pain and to wander around some crazy second hand store that had the most incredibly expensive clothes. And I got to apologize for having ignored her. I would have been mad at me, I have to say, but she wasn't. I'm glad. 

Today when I went to have blood drawn for the yearly physical exam, I asked the woman doing it if she'd tell me a good story. She understood by my request that I was anxious. It never hurts and the whole thing is over in two minutes, but I wanted a story and she said she didn't have any good ones. Yesterday she'd learned that a friend of hers, a thirty-year-old guy, who had been in the hospital for a week, had died. His mother had died a year and a half ago and he seemed to take that to heart, she said, but....   He'd lived with her aunt at some point, so he was family, and she just couldn't get over the fact that he'd died. "We're all going to die," she said, "That's a fact, but..."