Ghostwriting for a Dog: Vets Smell Bad

Goody Beagle here. A couple of weeks ago my human took Alex with her in the car – and didn’t take me. I was really upset because my feelings were hurt and while they were gone I curled up in my bean bag chair and cried. But then they came back and I forgave my human because I noticed right away that Alex smelled like the vet’s office. I much prefer to stay home in my bean bag than go to the vet’s, which is a horrible place where they stick things in your mouth and poke needles in your butt and squeeze your stomach, and the whole place smells like poison.

And then last week my human took Alex back to the vet and he had to stay all by himself for a couple of hours, most of the time in a little cage. That’s because he has something called “gingivitis” and they had to poke him with a needle that made him fall asleep so they could do things to his teeth. Poor Alex, even I felt sorry for him when he came home, even though he had that nasty smell all over him and it didn’t go away for days.

I will never get gingivitis or any other tooth disease because I make sure I exercise my teeth regularly by eating everything I can.

Haiku Friday: Real

Here is my haiku for today, on the topic of “real”

when you are dying
you will know what living means:
Love. Nothing else is real

It’s Haiku Friday again.  For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose.  I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog.  Just write it in the Comments below.  The only rules are:  1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those).  That’s it.

Compost: My Mom’s Boot Camp

My parents left a treasure trove of letters, especially those they wrote during the Second World War. Many of these were written to, and saved by, their mothers. Hooray for my grandmothers – without them it would be a lot harder to write my parents’ story. Here is an example, a letter written by my mother Lois to her mother, giving a wonderfully detailed description of Lois’ first days of Boot Camp after she enlisted in the Marines in 1943. She was 21 years old, and never been out of Washington state, and had spent most of her young life in a tiny mountain town high in the Cascade mountains. Her Boot Camp was Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, which she reached by troop train, riding with a couple hundred other young women. The trip from Seattle to North Carolina took a week. Here is her first letter to her mother and father after she arrived:

 August 6, 1943

Dearest Mums and Dad,

This has been the first time I have been able to sit down and write a line and now I believe I have only five minutes so I’ll have to finish this the few minutes I have tonite. I haven’t been able to send you a telegram – boy as soon as we got off the train we were piled into a bus then hurried off to this camp. As soon as we got off the bus we lined up and marched a long way to be classified into our barracks and company and platoons. After this we were marched to our barracks, then allowed to go out and claim our bags. Then immediately we marched to chow with a great many other girls. After chow we marched back to the barracks then the nerve-racking job of unpacking and we were so tired and hot and dirty, we were sure a sorry-looking bunch. Lights out at ten o’clock and it took me some time to get to sleep.

I’m telling you just can’t realize how horrible the heat is down here. I haven’t had any makeup on since I got here – it’s practically impossible to keep any on. The heat is very damp heat and all day long you are perspiring and finally after evening chow, you’re wringing wet – not maybe, either.

Boy you really have to snap to attention or it’s just too bad. Tomorrow is the beginning of demerit system which is really tough. We have a very nice and young Company Commander. Our platoon leader is okay too. There are twenty-nine of us in our platoon, we are in a room filled with eighty-eight girls. Every night between 7:30 and 8:30 quiet hour is observed for study, etc. The command is “knock off” during that time which means absolutely no chatter.

I’ll give you the full account of our day today. At five thirty, “hit the deck” is the command, and I mean you hit it. You dash around making your bed just so – no wrinkles, square corners, etc. Your duffel bag in the right place which you use for your laundry bag. Everything neat and in order. You dash to the “head” which is the bathroom and get washed – or either you scrub your deck around your trunk, also sweep it – dust everything that is yours. By quarter to seven you fall in then march to chow, falling in line and wait along with hundreds of others. After chow we march to our classes, ours being Customs & Courtesies of the Marines, fifty-minute periods, take notes, then march back to barracks, have ten minutes to ourselves then we march (each distance generally takes in about six or seven blocks one way) to a building for our uniforms, which sure was terrific. First we got our bag and red scarf, 4 pairs of lisle hose and our winter hat. Then go to get three seersucker uniforms, two winter uniforms, and your trenchcoat. When they say “on the double” you tear off your clothes, put on a size 14, it’s too big around the waist, it hangs below the calf of your legs – it gives you the appearance of elongated calf. They say “okay.” You go to a fitting room which is filled with boys as well as girls fitting the girls – you’re stripped to your underskirt, they said I had only one winter skirt to be shortened – are they kidding – anyway you’ve got to do as they say, so there is no use giving your opinion. Anyway after you have piled up all this stuff you have to carry it in your arms in marching order about a quarter of a mile back to the barracks. And the trenchcoat is about 100 pounds of wool and is enough alone, anyway by the time you arrive you’re dripping, tired and hopeless. About fifteen minutes later you march to class on The Care of Uniforms, and then march to chow. After chow we march to barracks for about fifteen minutes rest, then to a class on Marine & Navy Organization, then a class in Hygiene, then a march back to the barracks for a 25 minute rest, then march to a class in Marine History, then march to chow.

We have to wear little bright green hats that have turned down brims in front and turned up brims in back – just the kind that don’t look good on me.  

 

Lois in her green hat

It’s twenty minutes to ten so I have to hurry. I just dashed down & took a shower. Please ‘scuse the scribble but I’m sitting on the chair beside my bunk with my feet propped up.

 Well Mums this is what I want right away please: name tags, hangers, some stop-red lipstick and some cookies or something if you have time. I still have some things to do before lights out. So goodnite folks and I’m sure thinking of you. It is rather tough right now but we’ll get used to the schedule. I don’t mind it too much really. Tomorrow I’m having 3 shots and blood tests.

Oceans of love,

Lois

Haiku Friday: Cauliflower

Here is my haiku for today, on the topic of “cauliflower”

think life is simple?
regard the cauliflower
and its complex lobes

It’s Haiku Friday again.  For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose.  I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog.  Just write it in the Comments below.  The only rules are:  1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those).  That’s it.

Ghostwriting for a Dog: Age

Goody Beagle here. Last month (on Christmas Eve, actually) I had a birthday, my tenth. I heard my human telling one of her human friends that now I am an old lady dog. Pooh. Just because it’s harder for me to jump up on the bed now, and I don’t run fast for no reason, like other dogs I could mention. Speaking of my so-called brother Alex Terrgi, I bet I could find more squirrels than he could, just by my superior nose, which is every bit as good as it ever was, and way better than Alex’s nose will ever be. Youth isn’t everything, you know.

Haiku Friday: Zombies

Here is my haiku for today, on the topic of “zombies”

secrets are zombies
buried in the hidden swamps
of the undead past

It’s Haiku Friday again.  For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose.  I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog.  Just write it in the Comments below.  The only rules are:  1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those).  That’s it.

Compost: My Father’s Garden

As I’ve mentioned before, I am currently writing a memoir of my parents. There is so much to say, and not all of it will fit into the memoir. Like my father’s garden; I’m not sure where it will go, or even if it will end up in the book at all.

I’ve written about my father’s garden before, in my morning pages journal that I’ve kept for nearly thirty years, in various blog posts, and even in one of my books. In other words, I write about my father’s garden a lot.

That’s because there’s a lot to say about it. I’m not sure I’ll ever come to the end of my writing about it. Because somewhere in those many words lurks the spirit of my father, the one he showed when he was in his garden, and the one his garden reflected back to him and anyone else lucky enough to enter this sacred space. In that garden was the man he was at his very core, the spirit where his human faults and failings had no reality and the only reality is love and a vibrant joy of life.

Even though the words will never be enough, I feel I have to try, whether it ends up in the final book or not. So here is another piece I wrote about his garden, this one about his King Apple Tree. Much of this was written some years ago, but that is alright; because gardens can go on forever, as can memories. As long as you write them down.

 King of the Garden

In my father’s garden is an old apple tree. It bears King apples, the kind they don’t sell in grocery stores because they have a short shelf life. But in their eating prime King apples are the King of Fruits, truly. They are crisp and when you bite into them the sweet tart juice spurts against your teeth and shoots down your throat, spraying its essential appleness over your tongue and uvula, and you will shiver with delight.

Last year the King apple tree had only seven apples on it, owing to the severe pruning my brother had given it the preceding year in a vain attempt to be helpful. Everyone was disappointed, for the October King apple picking is a beloved tradition in the family. All my father’s children and grandchildren, all ten of us, claim an apple on the tree from the time it is just out of its bud stage, and we watch with proprietary interest as it develops little by little through the long summer months.

Last year when there were only seven apples we “children” reluctantly gave up our King apple inheritance so the seven grandchildren could have the apples instead. How unselfish, how virtuous, we are! We learned it from our parents.

My father was angry at the tree and talked sternly to it – he informed the tree that it was not acceptable to produce only seven apples, and if it didn’t do better in the coming year, he would have to cut it down. Only producers are allowed in his garden, he told the tree.

The rest of the family howled against this infamous threat, although few of us really believed he would carry it out. Still, some of us may have sneaked out to the King apple tree in the evenings and talked to it in calmer, more conciliatory tones. We asked it, with all due respect, if it would please produce more next year, assuring it that we would not let Dad chop it down.

I don’t know which conversations produced the desired effects, but this year the King apple tree hung low to the ground with heavy dense apple flesh. There were even enough to fatten the marauding birds who loved to poke their sharp beaks into the smooth sides of the apples and suck the sweet juice down their tiny throats.

Last week we picked the apples. Everyone got some, and at this very moment there is an uneaten King apple in my refrigerator, a treat I am saving for tomorrow’s lunch.

My father talking to the King apple tree

Haiku Friday: Second Chances

Here is my haiku for today, on the topic of “second chances”

time does not return
starting over is a myth
no second chances

It’s Haiku Friday again.  For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose.  I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog.  Just write it in the Comments below.  The only rules are:  1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those).  That’s it.