Thursday, June 29, 2006

Belle Starr

Starr is visiting with us for the next several days - a last-minute plan to relieve some demands on her own foster family. She's a Fila Brasileiro, 18 months old, with juvenile cataracts that limit her vision to within a few feet. And she is all puppy. She and Hunter spent the evening getting acquainted at a FOP committee meeting (and doing a lot of disrupting the meeting) and the homecoming worked out pretty well - Hunter did most of his grumbling before we got home. They played for a while in the backyard. She has some tentativeness when she can't figure out what's in front of her, and then every so often the puppy takes over and she is a howitzer on the loose. I'm hoping she'll settle so we can get some sleep before the alarm goes off at 5am as I have to open the daycare in the morning.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Also I am good in a martini

You Are Olive Green
You are the most real of all the green shades. You're always true to yourself. For you, authenticity and honesty are very important... both in others and yourself. You are grounded and secure. It takes a lot to shake you. People see you as dependable, probably the most dependable person they know.

Bumper sticker wisdom, chapter 19

Seen in rush hour last night, on the same car:




Friday, June 23, 2006

But they DO sh*t in the woods...

Last night I did dog-walks in a corner of the large wooded Russian Jack tract here on the east side. The last walk of the evening was Hunter and Bubba, which I enjoy for several reasons, not the least of which is that they are just flashy dogs and it's fun to see them together. We walked on a footpath that was in the woods well off the main paved trail.

Little did I know what menace I was escorting, until I heard shrieking that scared the daylights out of all three of us and I was trying to figure out where it was coming from and get over to the path to help, when as we emerged, a lady saw me and cried out "OH! I THOUGHT THOSE WERE BEARS!"

Well, sure. If bears had big black high-plumey tails, and walked side by side on Flexi leads, in front of a woman sing-songing "GOOD dogs..." every 20 yards or so in hopes of alerting the actual bears.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A home away from home

So I careened through this day trying to cover my bases. Kari didn't get back into town until 1:30 am, so I offered to open the daycare to give her at least an extra hour or so of rest. So it was two hours of busy-busy with pups arriving. Then off to Nancy's to work the rest of the day. Then rushing home to try to do some critical FOP stuff and a few things at home before coming to Michele and Chuck's late tonight for a week-long housesit. Michele is screaming through the afternoon and evening too, with emergencies occurring that were interrupting her and that will pass to me to handle tomorrow in my spare time. Meanwhile they discover their plane is leaving 90 minutes earlier than they thought. None of us has a life that easily accommodates the loss of 90 minutes.

So as I finished up with an errand at the FOP office around 10 pm and made my way across town, I thought of this visit with anticipation. I always love being here, and I rather like that I have to succumb to the fact that I can't keep up the same production on FOP stuff (though I have to think hard about how I'm going to get things done later) because these 14 animals are my priority. I came in to a virtually silent house - no barking! - said hello to the kids and to Michele and Chuck, and sat quietly on the couch watching the chaos of their departure. Smiling to myself that at least for me, peace prevails.


I went downstairs to visit with the kids I hadn't greeted yet...and there was one nose missing. I opened the door to the backyard thinking she had slipped out (she's one of two dogs I'm not able to touch here - she'll tolerate my presence now and will go in and out as I bid, but will keep her distance at any opportunity). But she wasn't peering at me from the blue doghouse as she usually does. I looked around the backyard. A little terror gripped me - surely Hannah wasn't gone - and by that I mean gone in a cosmic way. Surely Michele would have told me if that had happened.

So I had to make the call as they rushed across town to the airport. Where the heck is Hannah. Just a little extra panic in their departure. I've looked all the usual places. I tell Michele I will call her back.

I go into the garage, just in case she slipped in there when Kiyah and Sassy came out. No Hannah. But hey, what's this. Oh, it's a pipe out of the hot water heater...and it's leaking all over the floor.

I go upstairs and find Hannah hiding behind the couch. Not sure if she has ever ventured into the upstairs, certainly not with me around. I make another call. Hannah's okay, but did you know you have hot water leaking all over your garage.

Multiple phone calls later, a plumber is dispatched, but I am talking to a friend of Chuck's and between us we decide it's pressure overflow and probably not an emergency right now. The pan I placed under the leak seems to have scared the pipe into quietude for now. I cancel the dispatch.

I start hauling soaked carpets out of the garage, count noses again downstairs, hand out treats. Come upstairs, count noses again, hand out treats. Make another call - all is well for now and we'll deal with plumbing again tomorrow.

It's nineteen hours after my day began, and indeed, peace prevails.

Adding insult to injury

Tonight on the city's primary north-south traffic artery through Midtown, I saw a guy walking with a sandwich board sign. Initially I thought it was one of the many panhandlers who inhabit the major thoroughfares and quickly work the intersections in one direction and then the other as the signals change.

But this guy looked a little too energetic. As I approached I got the same grin a lot of other folks did, as this guy exchanged meaningful glances with drivers and shook his head sorrowfully at the message he bore in large letters front and back:

I was too far distant to ask him just how long he had to endure eight lanes of evening rush hour to fulfill his obligation. He was getting a lot of sympathy, though!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Movie: The Lake House

So on Friday night, Michele calls to say we've all had to deal with way too much reality this week, and off we went to the late night showing of The Lake House. I thought that I'd get lost in the parallel-universe-timing but I was surprised at how easily that was dealt with right up front, though things are choppy here and there. The story was so small and simple it felt very much like an art-house movie, with the people's lives a sort of gentle impression painted lightly on the lovely backdrop of Chicago architecture. Surprisingly subtle performance from Keanu Reeves (who knew he actually had a range?... also, he's starting to mature, so he's finally getting my attention) and Christopher Plummer is just as dreamy as ever, though I am growing suspicious of whatever diabolical source has yielded such enduring sex appeal. Sandra Bullock, eh, I could do without, but I feel that way about her almost all the time. Can't think who I'd rather have seen in her stead, and she does have that sense of human frailty but reliability about her that makes her very believable in this role.

And the dog is just wonderful.

But if the idea was to escape reality, I'm sorry to say that by the last heart-wrenchingly romantic scene, I was confronting my own realities all over the place and frankly was ready to open a vein then and there.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Movie: X-Men 3, The Last Stand

I know that the X-purists scoff at this one but I enjoyed it enough to overlook a whole lot that's wrong with it (like plot, writing, acting, effects, character development...) I liked the other two movies but was getting tired that the plot always revolves around one megalomaniac, so this was perfect - a straightforward cowboy movie that briskly disposes of a number of honored characters with no emotional impact at all. Whatever. Blam. Blam. Blam. and Blam. Wish a few more of the annoying characters had been dumped (a big dose of the Mutant Cure could take out all of the younger-generation characters as far as I'm concerned) but still, I found its overall stink quotient amusing and endearing. Being in the mood for a big shoot-em-up story with No Thinking Involved, I couldn't have asked for better than this furry blue piece of poop.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Movie: The Da Vinci Code

I'm one of the two people in the country who hasn't yet read this book, though I have carried a copy around with me for months now. So there was no letdown for me at all in this story (and I'm told that the book will still be a great read even with the 'secrets' revealed, since the book is just, well, great). I was engrossed in the visuals and the performances and the deep motivations of the characters, and the time just flew by. I could have sat through it all over again on the spot.

So the only thing I have to say is that everyone who is engaged in such Deep Spiritual Conversation on this movie should just...go take a nap. I am utterly baffled that there is such strife over this story. It's a STORY. I didn't see the church or the Opus Dei or the Priory or anyone else involved as the good guys or the bad guys, but all deeply conscientious in their opposite motives. Admirably so, all of them. When I think of how many sermons are being preached on the impact of this novel, I really just find myself wishing there was a thimble-full of debate on the other 95% of movies that are deeply destructive and undermining of human and spiritual values but to which no church or creed would bother to blink an eyelash.

Friday, June 09, 2006


It used to be that the way each week came to a close for me involved a stress intensity that was dang near unbearable. The former Job #1 (or was it Job #2) was on a Monday and Friday schedule, which meant that anything that wasn’t finished on Monday. . .plus everything that came in over the next three days, plus any new projects for Friday. . .had to be done before the end of the day, and oh, while you're at breakneck speed and taking down the new version of the day's to-do list at 4:00 pm, please punch the creativity button half a dozen times also.

Today the items in my inbox were Charlie, Oscar, Loki, Matty, Buckley, Bing, Kramer, Davie and Foxy, Gem and Farley, Wolfie, Louise, Jenkins, Riley, Toffee and Banner, Rocky, Sadie, Trout, Bodie and Trace, Kodi, Layla, Vivi, Oliver, Kati, Dewey, Gilbert, Sydney, Alyeska and Minnesota, Spice, Julius, Bella, Dubbs, Pup-Pup and Sweetie, Ruger, and Brinkley. In today’s group of 40 dogs there were 28 distinct breeds or breed mixes, in all stages of life and learning. The job is pretty simple: attend. In all the ways that word can be defined. The complexity is in the endless variety of energy flows, constantly shifting and adapting, sometimes clashing mightily (god, I really hate dog fights) before returning to an equilibrium. It’s fascinating to be part of that independent organism of relationship that won’t ever again exist in precisely the same way as it existed today.

As the oldest (sadly, the oldest by far) person on the crew, I feel my years at the end of the day. I get home pretty tired and aching, and yet I don’t crash on the couch in a befuddled coma, like I used to every Friday. Instead, I get home and I. . .mow the yard and I do the laundry and I clean the kitchen and I give Hunter a good grooming. And I know I can get up early tomorrow and get into the list of many other things that need to be done because I won’t be using all my energy trying to recover from psychic trauma from Friday or preparing for the Very Special Encore presentation on Monday. The thing about dog fights is that when they’re over, they’re over.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Hunter with all the trimmings

Couple weeks ago it finally got warm enough for Hunter's summer haircut, time to lose all of the wonderful light gray on his flanks and mantle (Michele calls him a silverback.) The summer we lived back East is when I first tried clipping him. I'd worried that it might break down the texture of his wonderful shaggy-wiry coat. but with care in cutting, it's grown back perfectly each year.

He looks so sleek afterward, and it happened that I had cut the grass the same day, which Hunter really gets a kick out of. So a huge case of the sillies ensued - he flung himself to the ground again and again and frapped about the yard generally.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Officially dog tired

Last Friday was my first official day as an employee at DT. And also Hunter's first day back at school since I pulled him at the end of April - he'd been melting down and things just weren't going well, especially that one day when I was subbing for Kari and it seemed Hunter was too anxious with me there.

It turned out to be a really nice day, so positive and pleasant. A few scuffles among the dogs but they were easily managed, and it was just so fun to be working with people who enjoy being there and enjoy the dogs. And Hunter did just fine his first day back. I only kept him there the first five hours, then ran him home, just to make sure we ended successfully. He showed no anxiety at all and enjoyed the day.

Now you may have heard the screams from up here last week when the Alaska Aces won the ECHL Kelly Cup, bringing home Alaska's first professional team championship in 26 years. So our afternoon activity at the daycare was to print out booster placards that showed a puck with the Aces insignia and a congratulations message. We wrote each dog's name on a puck and taped the placards up on the windows. I mentioned this to Michele last night and she just dropped her head and said 'oh my god, it's just like nursery school.' No, it's a LOT more fun than nursery school...

Was this wrong?

Keeping in the semi-ecclesiastical vein from last week... on a Saturday a couple of weeks ago, I started to think the universe was talking to me. Well, first, because I received an actual email from the Universe, which seemed to target precisely some of the things I'd been thinking about recently. It read in part: Dream of "the life," Peg, not the money. Because always, it's "the life" that draws the money, and not the other way around.

(Disclaimer: So sorry if I have disillusioned anyone else here who gets Notes from the Universe and may have thought until just now that each message is written uniquely for you and not for the whole herd. The Universe has to multi-task.)

That same morning, I drove on out to Chugiak to pick up mail. As I dug through the pileup of the last few weeks, I noticed on the sorting table a plastic packet with an illustrated card of St. Anthony (patron of miracles, as I'm sure you know), and one of those cheap little medals on a chain. I picked it up and flipped it over to read the prayer on the back, which read in part "Help me to humbly accept all of the bountiful blessings I am about to receive."

So I don't know exactly how much benevolent Providence one can expect by swiping icons of the saints, but I took him.

Ray Troll's Fin Art & Weird Science

One of Alaska's favorite sons has put out some new t-shirt designs for summer 2006. There's "In Search of the Holy Grayling," "There's No Ho Like Coho" and of course there's...

The tiny sign in the left lower corner reads: MONA WAS A CANNERY GIRL. Here's the Anchorage Daily News story.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Knockout punch

I got home from the day's tasks last evening and thought I'd stop long enough to watch a movie. Hadn't ever seen Star Wars Episode III and so I switched to that channel and....I still haven't seen it. Well, I woke up for the last hour or so. Whatever. Nothing about that franchise will ever hit me the way it did when Janice Pecher and I sat in the tiny cinema at International Village in Gettysburg PA and watched the original, reciting the introduction words aloud just two beats ahead of their appearance on screen, so that it really irritated other people in the theatre, because that's what teenagers do. That, and pledging our undying love to Harrison Ford.

But then I stayed awake for another movie I hadn't ever seen, Million Dollar Baby. Clint Eastwood's oeuvre these last 10-15 years makes me glad he's put it all on his sleeve and let us watch. What a story.

But it evoked something very unexpected in me. One of the oldest wounds I've carried in this life. Something about the scene where he disconnects Maggie's air...took me back to the week my brother died. I've talked about this before, and in the last year there has been a comforting sense of reconnection with him as though he was never truly lost to me. But there's a deep wound in me about the days between his accident and his subsequent death, and it's about my unwillingness to forgive.

And all of a sudden I am faltering about writing it down, so this may be the skeleton version. In that last week of Barry's life we spent quite a bit of time at the critical care unit. He never regained consciousness before he died. And we would spend long hours in the ICU waiting room, taking occasional turns going in to visit. My foster sister at the time was a particularly needy person and my father especially was very attuned to this in multiple supportive ways. One of those ways is that during that week, I wasn't ever allowed to go see my brother without taking my sister along. She was too afraid, she said, to go in alone. So if she wanted to go in, I had to go with her and stand there while she was fearful and useless and all contact was inhibited. When I tried to slip in alone, my father lowered the boom on me and directed that I don't go without giving my sister the opportunity to visit since she couldn't go alone.

The time in that room felt powerful and important, and I wasn't prepared to say the most intimate things I wanted to say, or touch or hold my brother with all the whimpering self-absorption in the room. So I never got to say anything that I really wanted to say.

I remember riding home from the hospital one of those nights, with my face pressed against the cool window glass, feeling just quietly sick at heart because I so badly wished I could talk to my brother. I don't know how anyone else in the family experienced it - I've never asked and I don't remember how everyone came and went through those days. I hope at least that everyone else got to say what they needed to say, and that no one else experienced the despair that grew in me as the grains of my brother's life slipped away and I never said one important word.

I suppose I haven't talked about this much (except to therapists) because the adult Peg thinks it unseemly. After all, that week wasn't about me for damn sure. I think I'm not angry anymore, but I have kept my silent distance from my sister all these years since so that I don't test that theory overmuch. I still need that protection. What remains is just a place that's numb and empty and there's nothing especially wrong about that. And when I think of how much regret there is in me around this experience, I realize there are about a million more regrets since. But most of those are regrets because there was an element of my own bad judgment, something that I signed up for that allowed me to be injured or experience harm or loss. Realizing as I do now that the love didn't die with my brother and that it's accessible and real right up to this day 30 years later, I am a little puzzled at how bitterly I have wept over this particular ancient chapter tonight.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Remind you of anyone?

This photo by HSUS's Carrie Allan appears in a recent issue of the Animal Sheltering journal, both as a cover detail and as this lead photo in their stories on Katrina. The likeness to a certain someone took my breath away.