September 21 was World Gratitude Day. I completely missed it. Probably because I was grumbling. It’s my default mode.
Alf and I were on vacation in Ashland, Oregon at the Shakespeare Festival that week. One night we saw Sully, the Clint Eastwood movie. I can say I was grateful I wasn’t on that heart-stopping flight. You forgot it was Tom Hanks. He was Captain Chesley Sullenberger making life decisions in that pilot’s seat and you were right there next to him.
I was grateful to have seen the best Hamlet and Richard II ever. They rivaled anything you’d see on Broadway.
On the drive home we came to a snarl of traffic on the highway. “Now what?” Alf said. “Probably an accident,” the know-it-all in me said. As we inched closer we noticed a full grown deer splayed dead blocking the four lanes. The lines of cars sat there with engines idling. “Now what?” Alf said again. This time I didn’t have a response.
Suddenly a car closest to the dead animal veered off to the right. The driver, a tall, strong muscled man, got out, his wife too, and he ran across the highway and grabbed the 120 pound animal by the front legs and dragged it to the left side of the road and left it there in a heap. Then he ran back to his car and got in. Nobody honked thank you. Nobody waved. Nothing. In a flash the traffic started up again and began rushing past the deer without any thought to what just happened. Stunning.
I was thankful for that man who took the initiative in front of oncoming traffic. Fortunately the drivers in the front lines acted as a blockade otherwise who knows what carnage could have transpired with man and beast.
Calvin says, “How gutless of the driver that killed him to drive off like that leaving others to pick up the mess. If this had happened in the woods, my tribe of beagles would have surrounded the beast and howled for help.”
My friend and her husband are driving cross country to deliver a car to their daughter in D.C.
Nevada and Utah were blanketed in snow, which made for stunning pictures. Wyoming was another matter. Flat is the only word for it. A view of the occasional cow on some green land was the only bump on the landscape.
Now they’re in Iowa, home of John Wayne and its depressing Main Street, which looks more like a movie set than a real place for real people who work, play and raise families.
I’m so used to living on the coasts that I forget there’s a whole country in the middle of the country. It looks like a foreign land to me. I expect people to be speaking another language and living another culture. And perhaps they do. They are ranchers and farmers and people who have worked the cornfields all their lives.
I looked up employment in Iowa. The list included pizza driver, office clerk, test administrator and library assistant. I noticed there weren’t any tech jobs. That’s probably because there’s no internet. Who needs internet for herding cows? Two border collies will do.
What I did discover were a ton of bloggers from Iowa. A lot of them are food blogs. But I don’t see Iowa as a foodie destination. How many blog posts do you need for grilling hamburgers?
It’s worth mentioning that there’s the famous Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop, which has produced many award-winning authors over the years.
For some, looking at pasture lands and grazing cattle fosters the urge to write. I, for one, wouldn’t find any inspiration looking at a cow chewing the cud. I’d need some action like a line of geese following a marching band.
Calvin says, “And to think Iowa is the bellwether of American politics.”
It’s been raining cats and dogs.
They’ve been under my window at night hissing and booing.
Every day there’s a parade of them sniffing my bushes around the house. Black, white, grey and the occasional tortoise. They prance along with tails high. They learn who’s been there. Then they leave the next memoir installment detailing the gossip of their sordid little lives for the others to stay current.
To my knowledge there’s hasn’t been a runaway best seller yet.
They’re not too happy this week.
The daily Feline Gazette has been watered down from hard core news to sound bites that are water logged and hold no new mews. The social media section has mud caked on its whiskers. The local news, well there isn’t much due to the storms, which has led everybody indoors to lick their paws.
The few still out there got to witness drama in their own backyard last night.
A train derailed through the canyon. A mudslide washed over a portion of the tracks. One of the cars fell over on its side and slid down the embankment and was baptized in the creek. Fortunately no one lost life or limb, a few ended in the hospital but were later released, and most commuters got home without a scratch.
Those intrepid felines who gathered in the trees got to witness the first responders take charge and do their jobs. It was exhilarating. They’ll have an article in the next edition of the Gazette with their by-line.
If it stops raining.
Calvin says, “Cats are stupid. Why go out in the rain when you can burrow under a down comforter and eat bonbons?”
This is the time of year for majestic sunrises and sunsets.
I see them because I’m on the subway at those hours.
While I’m busy clicking away, my traveling companions have their earbuds and electronic devises on.
They’re watching their shows, but missing a better one outside.
This phenomena even happens on a walk in the country.
The trees are in full blossom, the creek is gurgling, the ravens are cawing in the trees, the squirrels are zooming across meadows full of wildflowers, and the hikers? They’re plugged into their music with heads down watching their feet.
Thank you technology.
You’ve made us blind. We now prefer our inner landscape where there’s nothing to see because it’s dark in there.
If we can’t enjoy nature anymore, what makes us believe we can enjoy each other?
Calvin says, “That’s why you need a dog to watch so he doesn’t roll in that wonderful, foul smelling cow manure.”
I didn’t think I’d do it, but I did.
I watched the Super Bowl.
These things impressed me:
Every seat was filled with a fan. 70,000 of them.
The maturity of the Bronco team. They played well.
The Panthers bounced around like puppies. Give them another five years.
The half-time, minus Beyoncé, was cool. I didn’t cringe for a minute.
I thought the colorful ending was tastefully done.
And when it was over, there were no dead bodies to pick up.
I consider that a successful Super Bowl.
Now let’s get back to real life.
Calvin says, “My favorite commercial was those wiener dogs. A clever idea for those runts.”
A colleague at work decided to host an English tea party for all the women in the office. She draped the common room with streamers in pinks, yellows, soft greens, and lavender. The tablecloths were pink with white polka dots. Her finger foods included an English trifle, thumbprint cookies with a cherry jam center, cucumber and butter sandwiches without the crust, caramel pecan brownies, and lemon bars. Toward the end of the party, one woman disappeared and returned with a strawberry shortcake and candle in it. It turned out it was the organizer’s birthday.
“Oh, we had no idea,” said one co-worker with a furrowed brow.
“That’s okay. This way I got you all to come,” said the organizer.
Calvin says, “Clever. For my next birthday, I’ll invite all the neighborhood dogs for a bone barbecue. Tell me if they wouldn’t all come, well maybe not that boor Nigel, with a stomach that drags on the ground, who stays up barking all night believing he’s the neighborhood ninja defender.”
I run into some of the same people every morning on my walk from the Civic Center subway station to the office. I walk on the same side of the street because it’s cleaner than the other side. I’m also a creature of habit. And so are a lot of people I’ve discovered.
For the past two months I’ve encountered a man walking his Welsh Corgi pup. The dog is so beautiful he looks fresh out of a dog fancy magazine. Just looking at him makes me smile. I can’t help it. Like the Queen, I’m a sucker for a Corgi. I love the breed.
At first the six-week old pup didn’t have a clue how to behave on a leash and dashed in all directions all over the street with part of the leash in his mouth. I stopped and told the owner what a gorgeous pup he had. He grunted.
Every week in the mornings I’d see them together and every time the pup wriggled and mouthed his leash. Mastering a straight line wasn’t in his arsenal of behaviors. And why should it? He’s a herding dog, and if you must put him on the street, he’s going to herd people.
On my way home one afternoon I saw them. I stopped and petted the beast.
“You’ve made my day,” I said.
“I’m glad we could do that for you,” the man said with zero expression.
This has continued for two months. Each week the dog gets bigger and more confident on the leash. Gone are the zigzag walks, sort of, and the munching on the leash, but now he strains and pulls out in front of his owner. What can you expect in only eight weeks?
This morning on my way in, I saw them coming at me as I crossed the street. I smiled. But this time the man smiled back.
Now that made my day.
Calvin says, “I’m hurt. How could you? That mutt has no nose like mine, doesn’t bay, and lacks the character that I have. What are you saying by this?”
“The bird spooked my dog and she hid in the closet the rest of the day. When will you be taking it home?” Sonia said to Heather at lunch today.
“I should ask my husband. He doesn’t know yet.”
Hurry,” Sonia said.
Sonia lives in a Victorian house with her husband and dog one block away from the office. A yellow cockatiel landed on the doorstep last week. It had no identification or passport. It was shivering. Nora, one of the residents, found him and brought him indoors. She bought a cage, food and toys. The bird is thriving in the kitchen with the noise of cooking and the residents talking to it everyday. At night it shares Nora’s bedroom. By the end of the month it should be talking in full sentences.
“Tonight,” Heather said.
“Call me,” Sonia said.
If Heather does take it, it will have a swanky life in Tiburon with a view of water and trees to look at, but nobody to talk to. Heather and her husband work all day.
I’m hoping it stays in the Victorian with its fans who already enjoy it’s company. Sonia will just have to teach her dog bird-speak.
Calvin says, “That Burmese Mountain dog is all drama. She needs to get over herself.”
El gato has a new home. One of my co-workers and his wife wanted him, so we put him in a carrier and drove him to his new owners last night. He meowed, scratched and complained the whole way. When I lifted him out of the carrier and placed him in the wife’s arms, he scrambled up her arm and nestled into her neck.
A heart-warming scene if there ever was one.
What I didn’t know was that there was a dog in the picture, too. He was shut out in the garage while we did the handover in the living room. I asked what kind of dog they had because the racket he was making at the garage door sounding like he was the size of a bear and I was afraid we’d be taking el gato back home with us.
“He’s a Chihuahua mix,” my co-worker said.
“With that noise?” I said.
“He knows something’s up,” he said.
I’ll say. It sounded like he was throwing himself against the door with all the force of a hurricane.
I had visions of fur flying and hissing and booing the instant the dog was allowed inside the house.
“Don’t worry, they’ll grow up to be friends,” my co-worker said with confidence.
I hope so, otherwise el gato I didn’t want will be back in our lives and we’ll have to give it a name. I’m thinking something like Recurring Rico.
Calvin says, “Quit threatening my peace, will you?”
The story continues with le chat.
After a night in our garage where he had dinner and slept in a warm spot, Alf put le chat outside the next day to see if mamma would respond to his plaintive cries and claim him.
No such luck. She’s chucked her mothering role for better options.
He ended up running into our neighbor’s backyard and meowing at a window sill. Our neighbor scooped him up, the kitten scratched him, he let it go, and the thing flew up a tree covered in blue morning glory vines.
We could hear him but not see him.
That was the stand-still when I arrived home later that day.
I called a cat rescue group and talked to Lisa. Lisa was an expert in flying cats up trees. “Put some food out, he’ll come down,” she said.
Sure enough the poor beast couldn’t resist the smell of that plateful of tuna. As he gulped it down, I grabbed it and pulled him indoors back into the garage where he finished his food as I sat watching him. Afterwards he explored my feet and my back and rubbed his little body everywhere to put his ownership on things.
He’s moving too fast.
Today at work I may have found two people who would like to adopt him. They’re thinking about it.
I’m waiting with hope and bated breath.
Calvin says, “Me too! It can’t happen soon enough.”