This is an old dog dozing on a sofa cushion.

February 8, 2013 § 13 Comments

Moo.This is also the companion who restored my father’s voice during the six months he spent alone in New Jersey each year.

Before Moo, when we called, his voice was rusty with disuse. After our daughter found her at the shelter and tricked him into adopting a dog his voice not only worked, it sounded happy.

This is also the grieving dog who helped us survive my father’s death by living out the loss with us.

This is also the good dog who, despite the nighttime trash knockdowns and a taste for cat turds has earned the irrevocable title of best-dog-ever.

Our kitchen.
This is a kitchen.

It is also two loaves of whole wheat bread rising on the stove, and a small carved monk looking benignly on as we live our lives, just as he did for my whole childhood.

It is a gathering of rocks , and an octopus painted by our daughter.

It is a the smell of coffee and the sound of running water and someone singing a written-on-the-spot song in honor of the aforementioned shit eating best dog ever.

It is the click of a light switch starting the new day or ending the old.

01 31 014-1This is a boy named Matthew.

This is also an excuse to sit on a storm drain and drop rocks through the grate.

And wear a fake mustache.

And read “Amos Jellybean Gets it Right” nine hundred times.

This is a reason to feel joy as I grow old.

This is the  novice person to whom I will entrust my old guitar and my stories  of time and family. As soon as his hands are big enough he will play a fine C chord, and as for the stories, he will remember and pass them on to the next child, somewhat changed and improved as any storyteller worth their salt does.

And believe me, this boy’s got salt.

Ray Faass does his duty.This is a sampling of fresh faces from Company C 18th Battalion, 3rd Training Regiment, Ft. Jackson, SC, January 1958.

This is also one of the things my husband did while killing time waiting for me to get from age seven to twenty when our paths would cross.

This is also a view of Ray that contains an anatomical detail I have never seen in real life.

An upper lip.

My hand.This is a high mileage hand.

This is also a gold ring bought for $10 at Best Buy, the cheapest in the case. Worn for nearly thirty-five years so far, except when kneading bread or making meatloaf; the best $10 ever spent.

This is also a page from a book written by the hand (with a little help from the brain). But while the brain got to sit in its penthouse suite, the hand paid the price for the hours and hours of repetitive motion.

The brain changed its mind, the hand revised.

Now the hand hurts when it does ordinary things like opening a jar or moving a sofa.

But the hand aims to please so it keeps on going.

Getting down to Motown.This is a photo of three girls dancing to music they’ve never heard, but which belongs to them: Motown.

This is also the view I saw from the stage at the Relay for Life. Turn the camera around and you see Craig and me, “Hot Tamale” singing our hearts out under adverse conditions. Having come through a car accident I was getting around on a walker.

I couldn’t dance to the music but I could still make it. What I see in this picture is three girls dancing with the exuberance I had in my heart if not my broken pelvis. It was good to know that when I couldn’t dance someone would do it for me.

I could have chosen other photos. I have thousands to choose from thanks to Ray. These were the ones that struck me at this moment, but all of them have stories. I remember the stories attached to photos with a clarity they probably lacked as they rushed by. The meaning becomes clear when I revisit the past. Like any storyteller worth their salt I might embellish just a little.

Where do you think Matthew got his salt from?

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§ 13 Responses to This is an old dog dozing on a sofa cushion.

  • Linda Terburg says:

    What beautiful memories…and as always so well said. I love all the stories but that kitchen….that kitchen makes me want to stop by and share a slice of that wheat bread and hear the red kettle whistling. Thank you for another beautiful story.

    Btw….that boarding house needs to get bustling again. And it will. :))



  • craig reeder says:

    OK, come on, the suspense is killing me!!! Please name the anatomical detail that you have never seen on Ray’s face. and I’m still guessing…… which one is he?


  • ammaponders says:

    I love the randomness of your choices. And that you shared your special memories.


  • Marcia Snyder says:

    Where is the boarding house? Tallahassee?

    I follow some of your randomness. I am an AZ teacher who has read your books and shared them with some of my students. Some of these themes and ideas are in your books. We enjoyed them.

    I had an old, important, and very much-loved dog. It was easier to get through difficult times when she was there.

    Any orthopedic surgery, rehab, and recovery is a series of challenges. I had a knee replacement last May , and I still use a walker to navigate halls that teem with hordes of 7th and 8th graders. They wonder about me at times. It seems like you have the support, spirit, and stamina for recovery. Work with what you have and keep going!


    • Thanks so much for reading my books, my blog and for sharing your stories. I have a vivid mental picture of you (I have given you dark, shiny hair) moving down the hall with about as much speed as the rock that parts the water in a river.

      Yes, the themes I write about here show up in my books too. Each of us gets a limited number of ideas, that can be used and reused in the course of a writing–or a thinking life.


      • Marcia Snyder says:

        What you have said about Moo seems related to Gregor in Anna Casey,,,Moo reminds me some of Juniper, who was my Catahoula-mix. I got her at the age of 4 from the Humane Society and we had almost 9 years together.

        I can tell by your writing, some of what matters to you. How long has the Front Porch Library existed? What made you decide to start it? I’d like to send some books. My weakness is kids’ books and I have been called ‘ the cousin with the books.”

        Enjoy Matthew!

        I used to have dark hair;now it has more gray.

        My physical therapy tech refers to me as “the speedy one”. I’m teaching 6th grade tomorrow. The kids are glad I’m improving and usually wait for me without grumbling. I tell them we’ll leave a minute early for lunch and they’re happy. No one wants to be the last class to lunch.

        Have fun with life and music.


  • KM Huber says:

    A lovely reflective, random post is such a light for if not one observation stirs the next surely does, whether it is the beauty of Moo, the salt of Matthew, Ray’s once-known upper lip or Motown meets another generation. Thanks, Adrian!


    • I thought of you when I posted Moo. It made me think of Cooper, the photo of him licking his own nose. A good dog is one of life’s best gifts–and comes with so few strings attached–as soon as I wrote that I thought of that perpetual dog-string, the leash, but you know what I mean. Dog’s, if they could talk would say, “Whatever you want, it’s fine with me–just let me stick my head out the window.”


  • Marcia, my library (or I should say our library since it is a venture that would not happen without neighbors and volunteers) is about to celebrate its fourth official birthday.

    I started it because the kids in my neighborhood (the neighborhood of Crossing Jordan and Anna Casey) rarely, if ever get to a public library, and some of my kids are avid readers. Others are reading below grade level, but both kinds of kids needed a library. Since my father, who lived across the street had died, I turned the front porch into a library–which quickly took over the house.

    We can always use books! They are cataloged and added to the collection, or shared with the kids to keep. Some of our patrons do their Christmas shopping out of the “help yourself” bin that is always on the front steps. We can continue our conversation on email:

    And yes, getting to lunch, even a minute early is a triumph.


  • I believe that exhuberance of the dancing children is why we have you dancing like that on stage today.
    Thank you for selecting each & every heartfelt image.
    lovelovelove this post.


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