Charlie Elizabeth Gretchen Sue

I recently read that when a dog leans up against you, they’re hugging you.

I’m probably oversimplifying it. But that’s what I like to think I read. Because Charlie always leaned on me.

He was a foot-sitter, too. He liked to sit on my feet. And I’m personalizing this. I understand that he sat on other peoples’ feet, too. And that he leaned on other people, too. But I liked to think it was just me. Because I’m selfish like that.

This is an early picture of him with his partner in crime, Dasher Dancer Prancer Pryor. Their mum said they just got in the wheelbarrow like this. I call it “The Usual Suspects” because they look like they’re in a lineup.

Charlie and Dasher

Charlie was a goof.

But there was also something remarkable about him: Charlie developed a sense of mortality.

He never got freaked out by the hunters who patrol my family’s property until, one year, they hung one of the deer carcasses in the garage. My own speculation has always been that Charlie just assumed that deer are bigger dogs. And when he experienced the rather macabre site of one of them gutted and strung up, I think something in his dog brain clicked. When some of the humans show up dressed like that, and when there are loud noises in the woods, those other dogs end up dead.

After that, nothing made him more nervous and agitated then when there was hunting going on. Charlie came to associate the hunters with the deaths of beast he considered to be contemporaries at the least. I think in his own way, he understood mortality as few dogs ever do.

Bear in mind. He never discussed this with me. It’s just a guess.

I often say that some of the best people I know are dogs. When I say it, I’m always talking about this fella.

Charlie died last week. Cancer. Dude seemed weird the weekend before, but we assumed it was because the hunters were around. Maybe it was that, too. But I think we’re pretty clear he wasn’t feeling good.

I got to go over that night and sit with him in the car backseat, from where he refused to move. I rubbed his tummy and sang the stupid song I always sing to him, which goes: “Charlie Elizabeth Gretchen Sue / He’s a good dog, and who are you?” I said his name to him a lot. Dogs like that.

I have since been back to the Farm and the welcome one usually received from this goober dog was lacking. How amazing it is that a single mongrel can create such an ambience.

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

For the first time in recent memory, we had snow for Thanksgiving.

Just call me Lorelai Gilmore; that’s how excited I was to have snow on Thanksgiving. A decade ago here in the Rochester metropolitan area, snow on Thanksgiving was a given. These days, not so much. And it’s a more daunting task, I think, to get excited about glüwein and to feel the snuggly comfort you’re pursuing on Thanksgiving when it’s a balmy 50 degrees outside. So I welcomed the snow gladly.

I took Wednesday as paid time off and was able to help where I could with the preparation, though Dear Old Dad had much of it in hand by the time I got to the house. The pies were made already (pumpkin not-from-a-can, peach, pecan) and much of the prep was done, and the day itself went smoothly. I was on stuffing, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole duty as usual. Dad worked the bird and rendered the gravy, as well as other sides and overall planning. We didn’t have quite the turnout we were anticipating, but it was still a robust crowd.

Among our guests this year was a family from Afghanistan, the father of which had served as an interpreter for the American effort there. Our family has been working with No One Left Behind to help get these folks—who are often in mortal danger in their native country—here. We were glad to have them. And it was truly a remarkable thing to know that our rather secular household could bring folks of so many different faiths to the table; Muslims, Christians, and the secular humanist variety.

The only problem was that whatever cold that was going around decided to choo-choo-choose me this week (this despite a powerful dietary regimine, a near OCD system of hand-washing, and a flu shot, although that this cold only kicked my ass for three days rather than a week I think says something for that). I began to notice it about on Tuesday evening and was probably most destroyed by the thing on Thursday. Any other occasion I would not have shown up; I would have spared these people my feverish presence. But I wasn’t missing Thanksgiving. I just got a box of Alka-Selzer plus and downed one every couple of hours. I also discovered that glüwein has great medicinal properties.

Thanksgiving is my favorite. At work, it is the holiday I tell my boss I cannot work under any circumstance. I can miss Christmas. I can certainly miss New Year’s Eve. But. Thanksgiving? A holiday centered around stuffing your face with comfort food? Are you kidding?

Well, we had a lovely one this year.

And then there was me on yesterday morning:

having tea by the fire

Yeah. It doesn’t get much better than a cup of tea by the fire.

Kitteh agrees.

kitteh by the fire

Life Is a Series of Dogs

You remember Charlie.

Well, Charlie went and hurt himself this week. Rather badly. One of his legs ain’t working and another is gimpy. He probably messed up his back.

He’s only 7.

Anyway, the Farm is trying to raise some funds to help fix him. Premium donors will get a year’s worth of horse rides.

Here’s the link. Thank you. I don’t think we’re ready for the next in the series yet.

Credit, Carlin.

I was just saying to myself, myself, I said, it’s about time for Prince to do SNL, isn’t it?

Eye no!

Food Coma Weekend

It began when I ran errands around town Friday afternoon. I debated about whether or not I wanted to go to that pizza bar in town and risk being ignored again or to try something new. I was set to try Richmond’s Pub, but they don’t open for lunch. It’s a walkable alternative so that would have been nice. So I got back in the car, ran a few errands, and then ended up on Alexander Street parked at the Ox and Stone.

I had the taco plate, one with pork and pineapple, and another duck confit.

These were delicious. The star of the show, as it should be, was not what was on the tortilla, but the tortilla, hand-made on the premises. As the food was delicious and the ambiance seemed nice, I arranged for Dad and I to have supper there later.

I got the chicken mole; Dad had the enchiladas.

Chicken Mole, Ox and Stone, Rochester

So, that was Friday. Saturday, DOD, my brother, and I rode up to Canandaigua to sample a burger Dad had been bragging on for two weeks. I did not photograph the event, but I can say that the Wally Burger at Wally’s Pub there certainly does live up to it. Will look forward to returning for the shaved ham sammich, too.

Saturday night was a stop at Gordon’s Pizzeria.

Gordon's Pizza

Don’t bother looking it up on the Wiki. This is just somebody’s house. 🙂

So. Where’s mine? Huh?

Dasher Wants Something

What If Gravity Changed?

I’ve taken on a Facedbook challenge from my friend Cara. It’s a poetry challenge. She posted a poem by Eloise Klein Healy. I liked her post and then Cara assigned me a poet to find one of his works and to post it.

She gave me Ross Gay, a raw poet who evokes subtle events from his experience and creates powerful events and feelings from that. I enjoyed reviewing some of his work and will perhaps add his books to my wish list.

I can’t help but think that the poem I selected, “Prayer for My Unborn Niece or Nephew,” is about football.

Pittsburgh. November 28. 1985. Colts-Steelers. I figure as a Youngstown-born Phillie resident, maybe he’s torn about this rout he’s just heard of. Holy cow. Payton Manning just destroyed these poor fellas, he’s thinking. Then, his thoughts turn to bombs, his new family member and legacies.

Thanks, Cara. That was fun. Now, like this post so that I can assign you Wallace Stevens and be done with it.


Prayer for My Unborn Niece or Nephew
by Ross Gay

Today, November 28th, 2005, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
I am staring at my hands in the common pose
of the hungry and penitent. I am studying again
the emptiness of my clasped hands, wherein I see
my sister-in-law days from birthing
the small thing which will erase,
in some sense, the mystery of my father’s departure;
their child will emerge with ten fingers,
and toes, howling, and his mother will hold
his gummy mouth to her breast and the stars
will hang above them and not one bomb
will be heard through that night. And my brother will stir,
waking with his wife the first few days, and he will run
his long fingers along the soft terrain of his child’s skull
and not once will he cover the child’s ears
or throw the two to the ground and cover them
from the blasts. And this child will gaze
into a night which is black and quiet.
She will pull herself up to her feet
standing like a buoy in wind-grooved waters,
falling, and rising again, never shaken
by an explosion. And her grandmother
will watch her stumble through a park or playground,
will watch her sail through the air on swings,
howling with joy, and never once
will she snatch her from the swing and run
for shelter because again, the bombs are falling.
The two will drink cocoa, the beautiful lines
in my mother’s face growing deeper as she smiles
at the beautiful boy flipping the pages of a book
with pictures of dinosaurs, and no bomb
will blast glass into this child’s face, leaving
the one eye useless. No bomb will loosen the roof,
crushing my mother while this child sees
plaster and wood and blood where once his Nana sat.
This child will not sit with his Nana, killed by a bomb,
for hours. I will never drive across two states
to help my brother bury my mother this way. To pray
and weep and beg this child to speak again.
She will go to school with other children,
and some of them will have more food than others,
and some will be the witnesses of great crimes,
and some will describe flavors with colors, and some
will have seizures, and some will read two grade
levels ahead, but none of them will tip their desks
and shield their faces, nor watch as their teacher
falls out of her shoes, clinging to the nearest child.
This child will bleed
and cry and curse his living parents
and slam doors and be hurt and hurt again. And she will feel
clover on her bare feet. Will swim in frigid waters.
Will climb trees and spy cardinal chicks blind
and peeping. And no bomb will kill this child’s parents.
No bomb will kill this child’s grandparents. No bomb
will kill this child’s uncles. And no bomb will kill
this child, who will raise to his mouth
some small morsel of food of which there is more
while bombs fall from the sky like dust
brushed from the hands of a stupid god and children
whose parents named them will become dust
and their parents will drape themselves in black
and dream of the tiny mouths which once reared
to suckle or gasp at some bird sailing by
and their tears will make a mud which will heal nothing,
and today I will speak no word
except the name of that child whose absence
makes the hands of her parents shiver. A name
which had a meaning.

As will yours.

—for Mikayla Grace

Anna in Fall

Anna in Fall #1

Anna in Fall #2

Anna in Fall #3

Anna in Fall #4

Anna in Fall #5

So I bought the most ridiculously humongous Bible at a book sale today.

ridiculously humongous Bible

I posted this on Facedbook. It did draw some response:

My lovely conservative friend who grew up with religion: I’m glad you bought it, Aaron. It kind of makes my heart happy. If you actually want to read it, might I suggest starting with the book of Mark?

Me: You assume I haven’t?

My lovely conservative friend who grew up with religion: Yeah, I assumed you hadn’t.

Me: I’ve read Atlas Shrugged, too. Doesn’t mean I’m voting for Paul Ryan.

I’m such a charmer.