Best Birthday Prez Ever

A couple of weeks ago it was my birthday. My present from my eldest granddaughter was a card she made herself. She knows about my various artistic practices such as writing a daily haiku and doing a daily drawing. (See my blog post from May 29th, titled Practice)

So for my birthday card she wrote two haiku of her own and two daily draws. Both haiku and one of the draws are about me! (The other draw reflects her dislike of getting up in the morning.)

Here they are. I hope you will agree with me that my granddaughter is talented, interesting, and totally loveable.

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Lies

HistoriansToday my haiku is from July 1st of my book A Haiku Book of Days for Historians, Storytellers, and Other Guardians of Truth, one of a 7-book series. The haiku topic for today is “Lies ”:

if you have blind friends
choosing to believe big lies
let them learn. love them

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.

If you’re interested in the story of how The Haiku Book of Days series came to be, check out my previous blog post here. You can purchase this book on Amazon here

Alex Terrgi for President

My dogAlex Terrgi here. The other day my human’s 10-year-old granddaughter E came over to our house. She was wearing a shirt that said “My Dog For President.” (E lives with two dogs.) My human disagreed with her shirt. She said “I think Alex would make the best dog president.” E tried to say that either one of her two dogs would be a better president than me, but my human pointed out that one of E’s dogs is nearly 14 years old and does nothing but sleep, and the other is not even six months old and does nothing but jump and yip and chase. I had to agree. Would you want a president who slept all the time? Even worse would be a president who got excited about every little thing and either bit it or ran away from it.

“You know why Alex would be a good president?” added my human. “It’s because he is creative in getting what he wants, and mainly because he always comes from a place of love.”

I think that coming from Love is the best qualification for president there is. But never mind trying to get me to run, because I don’t want the job. Way too much work.

Compost: Open Letter to a Dog

Dad&Akeem - Cropped

Instead of ghostwriting for my dog Alex Terrgi today, I am sharing something my father wrote back in 2002, when his beloved dog Akeem (named after pro basketball player Akeem Olajuwon) died. My father was 85 then, and Akeem was the latest in a long line of historic dogs (historic in our family, anyway – I can recount the life stories of dogs who died long before I was born.) I got my love of dogs from my father. Perhaps you will enjoy this letter. It says a lot about Akeem the dog, but even more about my father. And of love.

July 11, 2002

Dear Akeem,

It has been one week since you failed to greet the morning with me in your usually enthusiastic manner. When I came out of my bedroom and saw you lying in your bed unmoving, I thought the worst and then I touched your cold body and knew my long-time friend and associate was dead. There is a Native American saying: “When you left, my heart fell to the ground.” It will take a long time for me to lift my heart back up.

You know I don’t believe in a heaven for a human or a dog, but my brother says all things are possible. “You can’t be an atheist,” he said. “You can be an agnostic or a non-believer.” Whoever is right, I will write this letter to you with the realization that if there is a dog heaven, you surely are there. The odds are less than the crows and coyotes joining together and seizing control of the world or the Republican Party.

Many thousands of years ago, a human hunter or caveman bonded with a wolf and realized that if they worked together they could find more food for both the human and wolf families. Then their experiences together probably brought respect and love. I believe the caveman loved his wolf-dog as much as I loved you.

Dogs give unselfish devotion and attention to those they bond with, and man, even with his greater amount of life activities cannot give back nearly as much time or devotion. You accepted whatever time I could give you, and were constantly at my side sharing experiences.

Akeem, what I am about to write to you would not be understood by people who don’t have dogs and know the companionship a dog can give. They might think this old man is a bit dotty and is losing it. Anyhow when I found you lying in your bed, I said, “It is time. You are a very old dog for a Doberman and you will no longer feel the troubling pain of arthritic hips.” A lump formed in my throat but I said, “I have seen a lot of deaths during my lifetime, and besides tough old men don’t cry.” So I went out and got the paper from the box, as you and I have done a thousand times, fixed my breakfast, started to read the paper, took two bites of cantaloupe, and then began to blubber like a baby with bad milk in its bottle. When I got myself under control, I called my son, told him of your death and then lost it again. I realized that you were better off and I was only feeling sorry for myself in losing a very close friend.

During this past week, hundreds of activities around the home have reminded me of our relationship. Mornings were our special time. We both enjoyed the early mornings and while I went out to get the paper, you would run full speed out to the back garden and then full speed to the front yard. If no lions, tigers, or squirrels were found, you would come in for your breakfast. After I fixed and ate my breakfast, I would give you a piece of toast piled high with raspberry jam. Some mornings I would hide small pieces of food around the kitchen and see if you could find them. You enjoyed that.

You did have a sense of humor. Sometimes you would try to keep me from getting out of the swimming pool, by standing on the top step growling and showing your teeth. I would then grab you, rough you up a bit, and then you’d go away happy. Sometimes when I grabbed the edge of the pool, you’d reach down and grab my hand. This would startle me and I’d react; then you’d back away with a satisfied smirk on your face. I know you were laughing because all those skin wrinkles around your jaws got very deep.

You seldom talked to me but you often had long conversations with my wife. You made strong noises but used great enthusiasm in your discussions. You understood a lot of what we said to you, but we were never smart enough to understand your replies.

Akeem, you were not always law-abiding. Sometimes you’d open the bread drawer, seize a loaf of bread, and go off into the woods for a picnic. You never took along butter, raspberry jam, or bologna. I guess you could picnic on bread alone. You seemed to estimate how much troubled you’d get into if you stole a cookie from a child or an apple from the coffee table. Sometimes you thought the food was worth the punishment.

You were my supervisor while we worked in the garden. You didn’t do much work yourself, but you did enjoy the results of my labor. During raspberry and strawberry seasons, I’d pick handfuls and feed them to you. At times I even allowed you to pick your own apple from the tree. You loved carrots the best, and I was always amazed how you’d surgically cut the green tops from the edible parts.

Akeem, my dog, my friend, I don’t fully understand a man’s love for his dog, or a dog’s love for a man. I know I enjoyed our relationship tremendously and life for me will not be as good now that you are gone. I do know that you should end up in heaven. Heaven would be a hell of a place if dogs like you were not allowed.

Love,
ADP

Note from me, ADP’s daughter: My father died in 2011 at the age of 94. If there is a heaven, I suspect he and Akeem are now together enjoying raspberry jam and playing swimming pool jokes on each other.

True Love

The CatAlex Terrgi here. A few weeks ago my human and I spent 2 days and 1 night at the home of my human’s daughter. I had a great time playing with the little kids who live there, especially my humans 6-year old grandson. He is the same age as me and likes to do the same kind of stuff. Dig in the dirt, run instead of walk, ride his bike really fast (well actually I can’t ride a bike, but I run alongside him to keep him company), and eat treats in front of the TV. (He shares his treats with me sometimes in spite of my human telling him not to.)

But that’s not the point of this story. Here’s the point. When we got home from being away for such a long time, The Cat met us at the door. She walked around our human’s feet and spat out words like “Mwah! Mwah!” in her crabbiest voice. Her eyes were very green and she pointed them right at our human. It was clear she did NOT approve of us being gone, and it was even clearer who she blamed for this travesty of justice.

Meanwhile I ran over to the couch and found my favorite spot. I curled up to take a nap, because I was a little tired – 6 year old human boys can really wear you out. After The Cat got done with cursing out our human, she ran over and jumped on the couch too – and then she climbed up on my back and purred her loudest happiest purr in my ear!

Now I know the Truth. No matter how many times she ignores me or hisses at me or tries to steal my bed or my food – The Cat loves me!

It is good to be loved, even by a cat.

In Good Paws

Alex Terrgi here. Itoncouch was just about this time 2 years ago that my friend Goody Beagle died. Goody “wrote” a lot of good blog posts while she was here. Here is one of the last things she wrote – and it’s about me. I hope I have lived up to her expectations.

Goody Beagle here. I am trying to train my so-called brother, Alex Terrgi, to blog about important stuff, like smells and food and love, but it is uphill work. For one thing, Alex gets distracted easily and can only seem to tell the human one tiny thought at a time, like “Ball! Let’s play ball!” and he repeats it over and over until she throws the ball for him. I mean, what’s she supposed to do with that?

But I have to admit that Alex does a good job when it comes to love. He knows how to love. I remember when The Grandpa, who was our human’s father, was dying. That was before Alex came to live with us, when he still lived at The Grandpa’s house. The Grandpa spent the last two weeks of his life in his bed, because he was too weak to get up. So Alex spent those two weeks in bed too, lying next to The Grandpa with his head on The Grandpa’s shoulder or thigh, or just curled up next to him, always touching. The only time Alex left The Grandpa’s side was when he had to go outside to pee or poop, or to go gulp down his dinner as fast as he could so he didn’t leave The Grandpa for long.

Alex knows how to comfort someone who is dying, like The Grandpa – and me. These days he lies on the couch next to me, with his warm body touching mine. He may be an annoying pest at times, but this is okay because he not only knows the meaning of life, he acts on it. Yes, Alex knows how to Do Love.

I know that when I leave, I will leave our human in Good Paws.

Ghostwriting for a Dog: Why I Am Here

Delicious birthday cake on table on bright backgroundAlex Terrgi here. Tomorrow is my human’s birthday, and she says she does not want to ghostwrite for me today, because she is taking three days off to celebrate. She says she is not going to write another word until this coming Friday, and that includes ghostwriting for me.

Hah. I’ll believe that when I see it. I’m not sure she can live without writing something. It’s what she does. In fact, here’s the haiku she wrote just yesterday.

Please, on my headstone
Etch one of my best haiku
It’s why I was here

 I too know why I am here. It’s to love her.

Impetuosity

Wedding Day portrait0001March 20th will soon be here. This date has significance in my family because it was the day my parents got married. As you can see from the photo, their wedding was not a typical one of tuxedos, veils, and bridesmaids. This is because theirs was an impetuous affair, hurriedly arranged. It’s always been one of my favorite stories about my parents, so I’m going to share it here. I hope you enjoy it too.

My parents met when my father Armond was in the CCCs in 1938, and my mother Lois was in high school in a tiny mountain town north of Seattle. They were not romantically involved at the time. Armond was focused on getting into college, and had little time for girls. Lois was interested in Armond, but accepted that she had no chance with him. But she made sure she got accepted into the same college he did, in 1939.

But in 1940 Armond was drafted into the Army, and Lois quit college to get a job in Olympia, the state Capitol south of Seattle. They remained just friends. Although Armond and his army buddies would often come down from Fort Lewis and take Lois and her friends out dancing, this was the extent of their “dating.” Times were uncertain, and Armond felt it would be unfair to get serious with anyone until he got out of the army. Lois was disappointed because she still harbored a secret crush on Armond, but managed to get over her disappointment. It wasn’t like there weren’t plenty of other soldier boys to date. When Armond left for San Francisco and then overseas in late 1941, the extent of their intimacy was a kiss on the cheek.

While Armond was fighting, Lois did volunteer war work and then joined the Marines in 1942 (a story in itself). They kept up their friendship via letters. (We have many of these letters, because they saved them.) The letters do reveal a growing level of romantic interest on Armond’s part, although it was hinted at only, never overt. For her part, Lois kept her letters to him friendly, although in her letters to her mother she did reveal that she was conflicted over her feelings for Armond and her feelings for the other boys she dated, especially one named Bob, who like her was stationed in Philadelphia. Bob had asked her to marry him more than once, but she hesitated. She wasn’t sure if she was reading too much into Armond’s hints in his letters – was it possible that he felt the same way about her as she did about him? Maybe she should pass up Bob, although she was very fond of him. Or maybe she should accept Bob’s proposal and give up on a man who kept her guessing about his feelings. And of course there was the uncertainty of War. No one knew what would happen.

Then Armond was wounded in July of 1943. At first no one expected him to survive. When he did come back home in early 1944, she was stationed in Philadelphia, and could not visit him in the hospital in Spokane. She was still dating Bob, who was a persistent fellow and kept asking her to marry him. Lois did not know how badly Armond was wounded, and he was unsure if he would remain disabled and unfit for marriage. Their letters reflect their mutual confusion over the relationship and where it might go, or even if they would ever see each other again. After all they had not seen each other since 1941, and they had never been romantically involved anyway. How could they know if a romantic relationship would work?

In March 1944 Lois got leave to go home to visit her parents. Armond was still in the army hospital in Spokane. She wrote to him and told him the train stopped for two hours in Spokane; perhaps they could meet at the train station, just to say hello for old times’ sake. He applied for a half-day leave from the army, which was granted. But there was a mix-up on which platform her train arrived at, so he waited at the wrong platform, and although she went looking for him, she didn’t find him on time and had to rush back to catch her train. So they missed each other. Lois wondered if it was an omen.

Lois arrived in Seattle on Thursday March 16, 1944. Her parents met her and they drove home to the tiny town in the mountains, Darrington. On Friday, Armond went A.W.O.L. from the army, borrowed his sister’s car, and drove over the mountains, arriving in Darrington that afternoon. Lois was stunned to see him. They went for a walk by the Sauk River and he proposed marriage. She accepted. (Let’s hope they finally got to kiss.)

That same afternoon Armond and Lois borrowed her mother’s car and drove to Seattle to obtain the marriage license. Although long distance was expensive, there was no time to waste, so when they got back to Darrington Lois called her friend Lela in Olympia, and Lela got hold of the minister of the church she and Lois had attended there, who agreed to marry them on Monday. Armond called his 16 year old brother Gaylord in Spokane and told him he’d pay for his train ticket so one of his brothers could be his best man. Armond and his future father-in-law met Gaylord at the train station on Saturday and rushed to the store to buy Gaylord a suit. Everyone met in Olympia on Monday and Lois and Armond were married.

On Wednesday Lois took the train back to Philadelphia and Armond went back to the hospital in Spokane, where he was not punished for going AWOL. After not seeing each other for three years, and having never had a true romantic relationship, they started their married life by having less than a week together. It wasn’t until that summer that Armond was discharged from the army and joined Lois in Philadelphia.

I would call this impetuous. Yet they were married for 65 years.

Haiku Friday: Choice

haiku pic 2Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Choice:

you can love rodents

you can love insects and sharks

you choose who to love

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.

Haiku Friday: chimpanzee

haiku pic 1Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of “chimpanzee”

dream of Jane Goodall

with you as a chimpanzee

relax into love

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.