through the years

In the years after Steve died in 1992, I always took a cake to work on his birthday. Sometimes Lynne made the cake, sometimes I did. After I didn’t work there anymore, I still made him a birthday cake, and there have been many different friends who’ve shared his birthday with us, first at The Compound and now at Houndstooth Hall. This year Steve’s birthday fell on Friday–usually Craft Night–but The Brides are in Austin for softball, and Tim is housesitting. So it was only Tom, Debby, Lynne, and me, a nice gathering to celebrate Steve’s life. As happened long ago, Lynne was nice enough to decorate the cake I’d baked. Steve and I met through the bookstore where we were both managers, so I used the book cake pan and the usual Winnie the Pooh characters with a bookish theme. Lynne did a great job–and we all did a stellar job of eating it!

Later, it was a breezy night so we lit tiki torches with some mosquito repellant and enjoyed conversation on the patio. Tim’s dogs stayed inside to keep company with his little foster dog Leo, who’s still recovering from pneumonia. The rest of the pack, along with Lynne’s, wore themselves out playing in the yard. We like to pretend we moved here for the dogs to enjoy a big yard. But honestly…

Transport Thursday

Deelite and her two puppies were with their foster mom for only two nights, but in every photo I have of her, Deelite is hugging her. She may be a little timid. Uncertain of what comes next. Finding it hard to say goodbye.

But mostly, this is gratitude, Deelite’s way of saying, “Thank you for saving us. Thank you for saving me. Thank you for letting me experience a quiet, loving place where I could be comfortable and know I was safe. Because of you, I know I’ll be okay. I’ll be able to accept the love and safety offered in my next home. You’ve taught me it’s okay to trust.”

Every bit of kindness a foster provides builds a dog’s sense of security and self-worth.

Pet Prose: Sabi

Author photo.

“He wasn’t sure why the phrase ‘Do you want fries with that?’ was intended as an insult. He liked working at McDonald’s. Those golden arches had promised a treat during his childhood when his mother or his aunts took him for a Happy Meal. Now he liked watching little kids get their own Happy Meals, even if there were fewer fries and the addition of apple slices. It wasn’t about the food. Most kids wouldn’t finish it all anyway. It was about the toy and the playground and being somewhere with their families.

He also liked the people who pulled up and ordered a Soft Serve for their dogs. The breakfast customers who needed that first cup of coffee to start their days. The old guys who sat at a table for an hour or more talking to each other.

Nope, he wasn’t a rocket scientist or a surgeon or a college professor. He was just a guy who liked seeing people smile, so he tried to give them every reason to do that when they drove to his window or stood at his counter. It was the only legacy he had to offer.”

Sabi from his novel A Regular Guy.

I take photos. I write. Mostly I only take photos of Rescued Pets Movement’s rescued dogs and cats. Since working and volunteering don’t leave me a lot of time to write, I’m spending 2017 borrowing from what these dogs and cats are writing. They said it’s okay.

Sweet Lurleen

The other day I think I found the report I wrote on Lurleen Wallace, the 46th governor of Alabama, when I was in the sixth grade. I have no idea where I saw that now; maybe I dreamed I saw it. But I definitely did write a report on her. I don’t know why she intrigued me so as a child, but now, from my perspective as an aging woman with few illusions about what it is to be a Southern female, she continues to interest me and elicit all my compassion.

Every time I name one of RPM’s dogs Lurleen, I do it for her. I mean it as a compliment.

This beautiful Lurleen traveled on the most recent RPM transport. Happy life, sweet girl!

Pet Prose: Cherilyn

Author photo.

“After my mother ran away with my baby brother, leaving my sister and me with our dad, I began to understand why she might have left. I wasn’t any less angry about her vanishing act–for one thing, I missed Joey–but I had new insights about my father.

First, he never noticed the way the neighbors in our building started treating him. I was sure they thought the circumstances of her leaving were suspicious and that he’d done something to her. It didn’t matter that the police had a clear chain of evidence of her exit from Oker, South Carolina, thanks to grainy video images from convenience stores and mysterious cameras I didn’t even know our town had, along with credit card receipts and bus tickets. They even knew where she ended up–Miami. The cops suspected she’d run off to meet a man. But nobody else in our town was missing, and my mom had never turned on our computer. That ruled out an online romance, and anyway, what secret, beachside lover wanted a woman to bring her toddler along? The cops were willing to pursue parental kidnapping charges, but my father said no. She and Joey were just taking a break, and she’d come back sooner or later.

Besides noticing nothing about the neighbors and indulging in this fantasy about my mother’s return, my father was also clueless about Mandy and me. He left for his job at the lab in Greenville at six every morning, getting home after six every night, so it took a while for him to notice I never seemed to leave the apartment. I told him I was part of an at-home work study program for seniors–I was a junior. While my absences were adding up at Oker High, Mandy, who actually was a senior, had perfect attendance. She went to school every day with her boyfriend Stoney–most accurate nickname ever–after he spent the night in her room, showered with her, and crunched Rice Krispies at the table with her, none of which my father knew.

When Aunt Winnie came over one Sunday to bring chicken and potato salad, she cornered me in the kitchen and said, ‘Your father is a superhero to take care of you girls and put up with your mother’s desertion.’

Yeah, I thought. Captain Oblivious.

From Cherilyn’s novel in progress.

I take photos. I write. Mostly I only take photos of Rescued Pets Movement’s rescued dogs and cats. Since working and volunteering don’t leave me a lot of time to write, I’m spending 2017 borrowing from what these dogs and cats are writing. They said it’s okay.

Pet Prose: Asher

Author photo.

“Every day for the first week of school, Edwin’s feet dragged all the way to his sixth period class. He’d almost been late twice, which would land him in detention and put his misery on his parents’ radar.

But English. Ugh. Like it wasn’t already the worst class, he didn’t know any of his classmates. And the teacher, Miss Kick. She hadn’t really even been teaching. Every day they’d had to write dumb paragraphs about stuff. What was their favorite TV show and why. What were they most likely to be doing on Saturdays from three to five. What would be the best place to live and what kind of house would they have. Describe their favorite store. None of it had anything to do with English, and the paragraphs weren’t even graded. A whole week of school was behind him, and it wouldn’t be long before his mother got nervous and started asking what his grade was. All because he’d almost failed seventh grade because of stupid English. That was going to follow him around forever.

He made it into his desk just before the bell rang. Miss Kick was peering at her grade book and didn’t notice, so at least that worked out okay.

Everyone got quiet as she looked over her glasses at them then began calling roll. Edwin thought Miss Kick was kind of witchy looking, with her sharp nose holding up her little black glasses. Her teeth seemed too big for her face, and her head seemed too big for her body. She had a habit of pushing her long, dark hair behind her ears. At least her ears were okay. Mrs. Green, his seventh grade English teacher who was about two hundred years old, had ears the size of his hands. They hadn’t helped her hear any better. Miss Kick was a lot younger, and though he’d heard she was new at this school, like he was, she didn’t seem new to teaching. He usually did better with new teachers because they were more nervous than he was. Miss Kick wasn’t nervous.

‘Today we’re starting our unit on poetry.’

Sixth period had just found a way to get worse. Judging by the groans, he wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

Miss Kick smiled and said, ‘Sometimes people don’t like poetry simply because it’s called poetry. The same people have favorite songs, and songs are poems set to music. Poetry allows you to create the music in your head. The rhythm, rhyme, the words the writer uses, all appeal to your sense of sound.

‘The more of your five senses a poem engages, the more you can appreciate it. We’re going to approach the same poem, Michael Lee’s “Pass On,” from a different sense every day this week. Today’s sense is sight. I’ve broken you into groups of four, and I’ll be giving you a copy of the poem along with magazines, scissors, paper, and glue. After I read “Pass On” to you, each group will create a picture book together, using images cut from your magazines, to illustrate any parts of the poem you choose. Create between five and ten images, and if you don’t finish today, no problem. We’ll be with this poem for a while.’

Edwin ended up in a group with two other boys and one girl. They had to put their desks in a circle. When Miss Kick brought them a stack of comic books, Edwin’s eyes widened. Maybe she was a witch. How else could she know he loved comic books?”

From Asher’s novel There Goes My Hero.

I take photos. I write. Mostly I only take photos of Rescued Pets Movement’s rescued dogs and cats. Since working and volunteering don’t leave me a lot of time to write, I’m spending 2017 borrowing from what these dogs and cats are writing. They said it’s okay.

Pet Prose: Angela

Author photo.

“Every Sunday the five of them went to Maury’s Home Cookin’. It was buffet style, and though none of them could eat enough to make it a bargain at one sitting, their ‘knitting’ bags were loaded with enough plastic bags and containers to ensure they’d get several meals out of their single visit. They chose Sunday because it was so busy with the after-church crowd that no waiter, waitress, or manager could pay attention to a group of larcenous seniors who made a suspicious number of trips to the food bar.

Beatrice suspected they weren’t really getting away with anything, that Maury’s son, who’d been running the buffet for more than a decade, was not the tightfisted old curmudgeon his father had been. At forty-four, Maury Jr. had three divorces and a few other mishaps behind him. Instead of making him hardhearted, they’d made him indifferent. Better the food should go to old ladies than to the trash. At least that’s what Beatrice figured he thought.

They were a mostly quiet group until the first round of salad and yeast rolls had been consumed, so Beatrice wasn’t sure what surprised her more when Wylene spoke: what she said or that she said it.

‘I don’t believe in fortune tellers,’ Wylene said, her eyes on the cucumber eluding her fork. ‘Does anyone remember that carnival we went to when we were fifteen? Well, you were sixteen, Beatrice.’

‘I was the only one with a driver’s license,’ Beatrice said.

‘I remember that you stripped the gears on my daddy’s truck,’ Linette said. ‘He knew one of his kids had taken it out, and since no one would confess, we all got a whipping.’

‘Nobody told me I’d be driving a stick on the column.’ Beatrice took the defensive tone out of her voice when she turned to Wylene and said, ‘I never knew you went inside the fortune teller’s tent. How did I miss that?’

‘You were on that dinky ferris wheel for the dozenth time.’

‘I was making out with Junior Hayward behind the cotton candy stand.’ Bobbi’s tone was wistful.

‘What did the fortune teller predict?’ Linette asked, clearly in no mood for Bobbi’s romantic reminiscing.

‘She said I would have three babies and die young.’

‘Ha!’ Luann barked. ‘You passed both opportunities long ago.’

‘You did once have three kittens,’ Bobbi mused.

‘And it’s possible you died and you’re a zombie,’ Linette said.

‘Has she been a zombie for several decades?’ Luann asked.

‘I don’t believe in zombies,’ Wylene said.”

From Angela’s novel in progress.

I take photos. I write. Mostly I only take photos of Rescued Pets Movement’s rescued dogs and cats. Since working and volunteering don’t leave me a lot of time to write, I’m spending 2017 borrowing from what these dogs and cats are writing. They said it’s okay.