Month: February 2014

Other People’s Blogs: Planet of the Blind

Because I’ve been a writer for more than 9/10 of my life (I could probably say 100%, but there was that one or two weeks when I couldn’t speak or write a sentence . . . ), I have a lot of friends who are also writers.  I support them as much as I possibly can by buying their books, talking about their work to other friends who read, and having coffee (wine) with them to talk about the business.  We share joys and triumphs and we try to ignore those moments when all seems unusually dark.  We are writers.  We are used to rejection and suspicious of those moments that feel off-the-charts happy.  No matter what the emotions, we’ll write about them.

Today, I spent the day working on a schedule for a friend’s poetry readings at my College.  While I was putting together the pieces, another friend was writing about her one-eyed dog’s death on Facebook.  That heartbreaking news (the dog was truly a super hero) reminded me that my poet friend wrote an occasional blog for a blog called “Planet of the Blind.”  The writer who hosts that blog, Stephen Kuusisto, has a remarkable connection to the one-eyed dog.  You see, Stephen is blind, and his best friend is his dog.  He writes about that dog, a gorgeous yellow retriever who acts as his seeing-eye dog, his partner in life.  And his latest blog is particularly beautiful.

So, here, in honor of Andrea Scarpino, the poet who has written ‘Once, Then’ and will be at my College on April 15 and 16, and for Sarah Louise’s Mia, is the beautiful “Planet of the Blind.”

So I’m a Baby Boomer Woman and I have a Dog. That doesn’t make me a crazy old lady.

Lately, I’ve been doing some thinking about dating at this age, and I’ve come to a conclusion:  I have more fun with my dog and my grandson.

For years, other single friends of mine have basically told me that they have “rich, full lives without men.”  I never believed them.  I thought how could they not miss having someone to eat dinner with?  How could they live without sleeping with a man?  How lonely must they be traveling without someone to share the scenery, someone to grab a suitcase when they’re tired, someone to do half the driving?  But every time I came up with one of those questions, the answer would be:  I don’t miss having to cook what someone else wants.  I don’t miss someone snoring and farting in bed.  I have plenty of friends who are fun to travel with and share half the driving.  And, inevitably, the friends also had companions of the four-legged variety.

My friend Jenna travels all over the country in a small mobile home accompanied by her dog, Sandy, and a cat, Mittens, both of which she adopted sometime during the last ten years.  Sandy isn’t her first dog and probably won’t be her last.  Mittens isn’t the first cat either, but she might be the last since dogs travel better than cats in mini-mobile-homes.  Jenna has been single for all of the years I’ve known her (we met back in the  mid-1980s when we were at a writer’s conference).  Only once during that 30+ year span has she had a relationship.  It lasted less than a year, and she practically threw a party when it was over.  I could hear her relieved sigh all the way in Florida, where I was living.  She was in Maine.

Greta moved from Massachusetts to Florida when her long-term relationship disintegrated because the guy she had been living with for 23 years was arrested for pedophilia.  Good reason to say goodbye and good riddance.  I thought she’d find another, better, man at one point, but she has always insisted she’s been quite happy with her two cats (sometimes one) who are quite independent and reflect her persona.  She travels with friends, works from home, visits her grandchildren in Seattle, London, Boston, and has come to the point of being happier at home in her seacoast town than she has ever been elsewhere.  Her question to me has always been:  why do you need a man?  I always insist that I haven’t “needed” one, I just liked having one around, especially one I loved.

Julie pens children’s books and teaches at a liberal arts college.  She lost her husband, the man with whom she was truly in love, several years ago.  Her dog, a rangy and adorable mutt, has kept her company and staved off an unbearable loneliness.  I think that, in many ways, that dog saved her from dying of a broken heart, much the same way my Izzy did with me.  She dates on occasion, but the last time I saw her, she said that she would be fine if she spent the rest of her life walking her dog, visiting with friends, traveling to see her daughter, and being happy that she had the time she did with her precious husband.

The women in my family who lost their husbands always ended up spending the rest of their lives alone.  Some of them had animals, others did not, and I think that the reason why most did not is because the majority of them lived in apartments (which might not have permitted pets).  Those who had animals were happier, I think.  And that supports the research that’s been done on older single people who live with pets — they have less heart attacks, less stress, and get more exercise than their counterparts who simply live alone.  I suspect they are also warmer during storms like the ones we’ve had during this (not-over-yet) winter.  Nothing better than having a cat or dog cuddle up with you on the couch or in bed when no amount of quilts seems to be enough to keep you warm.


Perhaps I’ll be like this woman in the picture who probably talks to the dog and cat who have been her companions for most of her life.  It could be worse.  At least she’s smiling!  I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s better to have the contentment I have with my silly little dog (and my grandson and my friends and my writing) than to have knots in my stomach  because I’m wondering what the man who lives with me will find to critique at dinner tonight.  I’m not crazy.  And I’m not alone.  I’m a dog lover who happens to be over 40 :0)

My new hero: Gus Kenworthy!

My new hero: Gus Kenworthy!

Cutie Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy is my new hero.  He’s going to take home some of those homeless pups/dogs in Sochi that have garnered so much attention.  I’m sure that there will be plenty of girls oohing and aaahing over this sweetie and his pile of puppies.  I hope that there are others who are just as much in love with puppies as Gus and that the Sochi dogs fill up at least one plane that’s coming home to the U.S. from Sochi!

The Olympics and Stray Dogs

I was prepared to be outraged when I saw a tag on a newsletter I get that said “Stray Dogs Executed Ahead of the Olympic Games.”  Ready to not watch the games.  Ready to write a letter to whatever editor of whatever newspaper would be read in Russia.  Ready to write the prime minister (who I’m sure doesn’t read anything, much less something from a crazy dog-lover in the United States).  Ready to rant and rave and rant again.

But I sighed with relief when I discovered that the headline was designed to do just that:  catch your attention.  The truth is that the Russians already heard from plenty of people besides me, and they have changed their minds.  However, the director general of Russian “pest control” Alexi Sorokin, told the Associated Press that “he is performing an important service that he and his company are there to eradicate vermin.”

“Let’s call things by their real name,” he says. “These dogs are biological trash.”

Perhaps if Russia was able to care for their animals, this “problem” wouldn’t be happening.  According to this article, they are actually building a facility for the dogs, something that should have been done a long time ago, in my humble opinion.

And that, dear readers, is my rant of the day.

Dog Books: The Best of the Best

Izzy and I have spent the past couple of weeks reading a lot.  The snow that North Carolina had last week gave us a few days off, and we had plenty to do.  I wrote and read.  He watched me write and read.  And we walked.  He sniffed the snow and got an “ice cream headache” and I laughed at him and thought about how much I love this little being that shares my life.

There are plenty of other people who also love the four-legged people in their homes, and many have written books about them.  Some are ‘meh’ (Danielle Steel has written one about her Chihuahua called Pure Joy that is not worth the price even if it was free), and some are wonderful.  Today’s post will be about those that are wonderful.  Feel free to add your own choices, but this is my personal top ten.

10. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

9. Oogy:  The Dog Only a Family Could Love by Larry Levin

8. Merle’s Door:  Lessons from a Freethinking Dog by Ted Kerasote

7. Marley and Me by John Grogan

6. Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean

5. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

4. Old Yeller by Fred Gipson

3. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

2. The Call of the Wild by Jack London

1. Lassie Come Home by Rosemary Wells