My husband and I moved into our home nine years ago. Before we bought this house, I moved 16 times in 16 years. By the time I arrived to NH, I had boxes of my personal belongings — or as the great George Carlin would say, boxes of my “stuff” — stashed in attics and storage units all along the Eastern seaboard as well as overseas in Ireland. I was eager to have all of my things in one place, although at that point, I couldn’t really remember what most of those things were. [Read more…] about Going Through Stuff
This week I’ve been on the road in NYC rehearsing for and performing at The Moth’s Mainstage show in collaboration with The World Science Festival. Not a lot of time to write a blog, and it’s not resistance, I promise, as stated in a previous blog. It is, frankly, not enough time in the day! So here’s a rewind of a former blog — enjoy! And I’ll see you with a new blog next week.
On Owning a Dog
My dog ate a chicken carcass this week. Andy, our 14-year-old Jack Russell terrier, snatched the carcass from our kitchen counter while my husband and I stepped away for about 30 minutes. When my husband returned, he caught Andy trying to bury the last bits of the chicken in the living room couch. We can’t figure out how he got the carcass — he’s a small dog and it’s a tall counter so he actually had to climb his way up and over to reach his prize. Andy may be old, but he’s still determined, and frankly, he’s smarter than we are.
We shouldn’t be surprised. Over the years, Andy has eaten two feet of sheet rock (he’d sniffed out a baby squirrel that had fallen behind our bedroom wall and then presented it to us in our living room); more than 1/2 pound of gourmet salami, which he consumed in the three minutes it took me to greet our dinner guests at the door (I kept looking under the couch thinking the salami had somehow rolled off the coffee table); and in one legendary episode — please stop reading if you are easily offended — numerous feminine hygiene products, which miraculously did not need to be surgically removed (according to our wonderful vet, June Sailor O’Day, dogs ingest these products with great regularity, but instances are not openly discussed for obvious reasons; this blog dares to break the silence). This brief list just scratches the surface. At one point, I think we were running a tab at the emergency vet clinic.
These escapades are what we’ve come to expect owning Andy and my husband and I don’t care. We don’t care because when we come home, he greets us like we are Lazarus rising from the dead. We don’t care because when we argue, Andy sits between us and waits patiently for us to return to our senses, sometimes nuzzling us to get on with the forgiveness. We don’t care because when we watch Andy run — filled with absolute, pure joy — his pleasure reminds us of the happiness small things bring, no matter what large drama, real or imagined, we might be tackling.
My husband and I have been married for 13 years and Andy’s been here for 11 1/2 of them (we adopted him when he was just 2 1/2). There have been days when given the choice between my husband or the dog, I would have chosen the dog. I can say this because given the same choice, there have been days when my husband would have chosen the dog, too. Andy, and most every other dog on the planet, gives us what we all crave — unconditional love, attention, and loyalty. Plus, he is a very good listener. Andy joins me in the studio every day and he’s heard me rehearse my one-woman show I Will Be Good at least 100 times. He seems to enjoy it.
I think dogs really do feel joy as well as other emotions and writer Larry Brown agrees with me. He’s quoted in a wonderful little book called Southern Dogs and Their People, which I found in our fabulous independent bookstore, The Toadstool Bookshop. The book is a collection of quotes from Southern writers about dogs, and in it Brown writes about his dog, Sam:
He’s an excellent mole dog…We have a lot of fun with him and one of the things we do to him is pick up Pooch, our other dog, a white beagle, and hug him and push Sam back, and before long he’ll perform these incredible leaps four feet off the ground…It’s really enlightening to watch it and wonder about the emotions of dogs. It’s pure jealousy, and you wouldn’t think a dog would know jealousy. It opens up other ramifications, like, do they know heartbreak? And loneliness? And angst? I think they do. I think they know fear and greed and love, impatience and uncertainty.
The Best Kind of Company
My husband and I are keenly aware our days with Andy are growing shorter. He’s 14, for goodness sakes, and while we know Jack Russells who’ve lived to a ripe old age — Josephine, who lived to be 20, and Ruby, who is still with us at 16 — each day with Andy is a gift. Our neighbor, who recently had to put down his beloved 12-year-old lab, Harry, knows the gift well. He and Harry had a ritual, where our neighbor would give Harry part of his toast each morning. Recalling their time together, our neighbor simply said, “I’ve had a dozen dogs over the years, but none was quite like Harry. I don’t think I’ve had a whole piece of toast in 12 years.”
Fortunately, Andy seems to have escaped the dangers that eating an entire chicken carcass can bring and hopefully he can stay out of trouble for a while longer. As I write, however, he sits next to me, stomach still gurgling, gazing out the window at the squirrels, and quivering as he anticipates his next chase.
Thanks for reading! Please leave a comment or post this blog on your Facebook page or on Twitter using the icons below. And if you’d like to subscribe, just fill in the box at the top of this page.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” This quote from Philo of Alexandria (not a household name, but apparently a smart guy) landed in my email inbox two days ago while I was in Minneapolis telling a story with The Moth. I thought of the quote when I was in the airport and the distracted Delta ticket agent was rude to me. Instead of barking back, I tried my best to smile. Who knows what was going on in her world? I thought of it again on my flight home when the lovely woman seated next to me revealed she had just placed her 48-year-old brother in a nursing home after his third debilitating stroke; she was desperate to bring him home to New Hampshire. And I thought of it Tuesday morning when I found my husband, once again, battling his OCD. [Read more…] about Our Battle with OCD
My dog ate a chicken carcass this week. Andy, our 14-year-old Jack Russell terrier, snatched the carcass from our kitchen counter while my husband and I stepped away for about 30 minutes. When my husband returned, he caught Andy trying to bury the last bits of the chicken in the living room couch. We can’t figure out how he got the carcass — he’s a small dog and it’s a tall counter so he actually had to climb his way up and over to reach his prize. Andy may be old, but he’s still determined, and frankly, he’s smarter than we are. [Read more…] about On Owning a Dog
It’s Presidential primary day here in New Hampshire and I just got the sticker that says “I Voted.” The sticker is my favorite part of voting. It reminds me of when I was little and my parents came home from voting with their stickers. As a kid, I wanted an “I Voted” sticker in the worst way, because it would mean that I was an adult, and I could do something very important, something that only adults could do. [Read more…] about Different Together