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Thursday, December 31, 2015

POWER IN THE NAME

the road ahead
 
A lifetime of habit patterns around looking back on Dec 31 at the year gone by, I woke this morning thinking about what has come to me in the year and what has gone away. I don't remember a time I did not think New Year's Eve anything but another night before another day. Every day is New Year's day. It's like naming a dog. I feel like dog is best without a name, a name being something imposed on dog from outside by the human mind. Yet I don't know if the animals have names for each other. They're not telling. I've seen a gathering of about twenty raccoons in a picture taken by trail camera. I imagine they all knew each other, an extended family. Crows live in extended families unto tribes. They know each other as people in a small community. Surely they know one another by position in the hierarchy, by relationship, and subtleties humans don't see. I'd guess Mama has a crow equivalent. Brother, sister, seems like these relationships being known, they would have an identifying sound or thought for each one. I find behavior in the animal and bird world similar to ours, as it would be, considering evolution.
 
 
 
I've no problem with the word evolution. First, I'm not selling anything and am not a missionary for any agenda. People who have an issue with the word, evolution, don't read. There's the long and the short of it. Somebody who doesn't like a word I use can either tell me about it or not. I've seen contention over word usage all my life. In childhood, black people were known to white people only by nigger and colored, sometimes darkie. Of course, it's all demeaning, coming from a subconscious belief among white people that we're superior in every way, therefore privileged. In the late Fifties, a cry went up for white people to call black people Negroes, while Negroes went on calling each other nigger unto this day. But it's not ok to say it and be white. A white man is outright forbidden to refer to a woman a bitch or a cunt. It's totally ok for women to call men assholes or dicks in coffee shops, in print, on tv and radio.
 
 
Somebody black calls me a white motherfucker and it's ok, but not ok for me to call him a motherfucking nigger. For myself, I approach it with understanding that white man is, historically and present tense, the oppressor of black people, women, etc. White man has traditionally been the privileged demographic. That there are no restrictions on names minorities and women can call white men tells me political correctness is aimed at the white man, to bring white man under control. It's ok because arrogant white man believes himself superior from birth onward, thereby goes along oblivious to names he's called. White man is on a fast downhill run in this time on greased skis and he knows it. White man mind, not all white men, but the mind, has come together in one political party that represents half the population. We have devolved politically, from 1980 unto this year soon completed, 2015, to the clown bus of a dozen white man pretend candidates with a token black man and a token woman spewing white man unreason, strategically appealing to ignorance in the American people with the propaganda of fascism.
 
 
The shocking part is how well it works. The most cynical minds of all thought up this strategy and set it in motion. The republican party today is an illustration of the white male belief system, a branch of the patriarchal belief system, crumbling before our eyes, reduced to denying reason, intelligence, knowledge to maintain power. We're learning upfront that democracy has become a threat to white man. We've already learned through Southern history the white man will happily throw off democracy to hang onto power. I have stopped paying attention to anything to do with the clown bus. They've taught me what they're about, which is of no interest. Curiously, Trump has turned out to be the trump card in the political/media bridge game going on. Throughout my life I have attempted to understand people not me, from foreigners to everyone I know. I am my own political correctness cop open to understanding others the best I'm able, receiving every individual in my life as he or she is within themselves. Another way of saying I go in peace. I don't use any of the disrespectful names, except for the humor of irony with close friends who understand where I'm coming from. Like you. And this comes from a basic ethic to regard others with respect if I want respect in turn. Respect boomerangs. Disrespect boomerangs. It's my choice in every moment of every day. Happy New Year.
 
 
photos by tj worthington
 
 
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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

DOG, CAT AND PRIMATE CELEBRATE GENETIC DIVERSITY

 
black dog in waterfalls creek
 
Dog and primate had a successful day. We went on a spontaneous walk into the woods. I took along the walking stick that will be my own personal stick, not to be given away, the one to accompany future walks. Carried the pocket knife, stopping from time to time when dog found something of interest to hold her attention. I'd open the knife and carve more of the old bark from the stick. The wood is rhododendron, dried out long ago so dry it developed a long crack down its length. The crack does not weaken the wood, rather it adds a nano-bit of spring to the stick. I'm carving a knob at the top of the stick, a smooth half of a sphere about the size of a pingpong ball for the palm of the hand. Carving completed, I'll go over it with sandpaper, smooth it to the touch. It will soak up the tung oil such that the first two coats will vanish overnight. I'll give it probably five coats, maybe six. The wood is light like maple. The tung oil changes the color to honey. The tung oil dried unto cured, then lightly gone over with oooo steel wool, the stick is smooth as silk. The tung oil keeps dampness from seeping into the wood, preserving it.
 
dog in spin dry shakes the water off
 
Dog and I had a good time on our walk. We communicated well. She walked in the creek frequently, followed her nose everywhere she went on land. She strolled on deer legs through a paradise of scents for a dog nose excited as Vada at Disneyworld meeting Elsa, Anna and Cinderella. Walking with a dog is entertainment all the way. I'm not one to set a stride and power walk to lose pounds or whatever. I'd rather roam along watching the dog explore and follow scents along the ground, while I stand in one place, carve on the walking stick, watch dog splash in the water. I look forward to walking with black dog in the snow. Snow landscape frames the tree trunks with their colors and textures, lichen, moss growing on the bark, almost invisible through the other seasons. Dog is in perpetual motion in the woods, not easy to photograph. I'll have to find the way to photograph her explorations. I point the camera at her and she comes running toward me, changing focus until all I'm able to get is a picture of her happy eyes looking up at me.  
 
we are gods to the dogs
 
Farmer's Hardware had a good selection of collars and harnesses for dogs. Found a blue harness. At home, dog was so patient while fitting the harness, dealing with tightening and loosening the straps, it seemed to tickle her to have primate hands binding her. It shows me how domestically she has been trained. None of my dogs in the past even liked me to put a collar around their necks. I used to let my dogs live as much in the world of the wild things as at home. Circumstances are different now with a paved road and a subdivision half a mile to the west and one a half mile to the east, both of them out of sight. Mowed lawns, paved driveways, garages, and in between, "that place where nobody lives," trees grown up, rhododendron, rocks and ferns, messy. And fear them donkeys, smelling like a farm, could lower property values.
 
dog's nose follows a scent
 
Cat and dog grow closer by the day. Dog walks up to cat and they touch noses. Cat only runs from dog tempting her to play chase. Indoors, cat's curiosity about dog feels more confidence by the day the big bad wolf does not eat cats. Dog not yet ready to play appears a little more inclined each day to feel less that the cat is a threat. I'm glad for balance the smaller cat has seniority the dog honors. Dogs, being pack animals, have hierarchical minds that defer automatically to seniority. Though, sure as I say this, somebody else has the opposite experience. I grew up in a world of adults talking in sweeping generalizations. Having used my adult life to teach myself not to speak with so little meaning, I cringe when I say something like dogs have hierarchical minds. This includes everything from a Yorkie to a Mongolian mastiff.  Dog genetics and behavior have been so altered by the human mind, I doubt any one thing can be said to include all dogs. I say dogs  are covered in hair, some dogs are hairless. I say dogs have four legs, and recall amputees with three legs. I still tend to make generalizations according to interpretations of experience, and they continue not to apply. Connecting dots by trial and error.
 
all dogs have tongues
 
 
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Monday, December 28, 2015

RAINY DAY DOG

 
rain all day

This week of continuous rain has been wearing on my nerves. I'd be fine with it were I not sharing indoor space with a dog that wants to be outside, and I want to go walking with dog. Dog hangs about the house restless, staring at me, wanting all my attention. Can't read for her squealing. She'll squeal wanting to crawl onto me and when I don't let her, she'll go to the bedroom and jump on the bed. A few minutes later she's at the door squealing to be let out. I open the door and she backs up due to the rain. I sit down to read and she squeals. I tell her it's enough squealing for the day. She goes and jumps on the bed and the cycle begins again. She's in the reading chair now twisted into a knot, chewing at her back like she's covered up in fleas when she is not, stares at me between chewing spasms, panting, tongue hanging out from the breathtaking effort. It looks like she is using her teeth to comb her hair. She's grooming. Later, I'll make a town run for carrots, coffee, prescriptions and a dog harness. I don't like choking her when I walk her with a leash. She pulls so hard against her collar she chokes herself, either doesn't get it or doesn't care. Plus, she can slip out of the collar. I need control when she's on a leash.  
 
happy to ride with the primate
 
A week ago I renewed the car's license tag. Every year the State requires I stick a little rectangle on top of last year's rectangle with month and year it is next to be renewed. The little rectangle, about an inch by an inch and a quarter, in the past has stuck as irremovably as the old duct tape before they changed to the cheaper glue formula they use now. I could not make the little rectangle stick. I dried the old surface with shirt sleeve, cleaned it as clean as  it can be without taking Dawn to it. The new rectangle would not stick. I could move it easily with one fingertip. Corners lifted easily. My first thought: Revenue. Low bid contract for the glue this year. I lifted it off easily and brought it to the house. Last time in town I bought some Krazy glue. Now I'm waiting for a day without rain. By revenue, I mean a large number of the stickers will fall off after weeks or months and car owners won't notice. Law Enforcement will notice. In this time of zero tolerance it will cost several hundred dollars in fees per incident. I am not leaving mine to chance. I've learned from four decades of experience the state of North Carolina is not my friend. No new taxes means increasing our value as targets for the highway patrol by running up their quotas.

air bellows gap road going down the hill
 
Took a break here, made a run to town in the rain. Came home with some necessities from grocery store and found a harness for dog at Farmer's Hardware. I can already see it will be a trial getting the thing on her, fitting it, while she squirms like a worm I'm attempting to skewer with a hook. The trip to town amounted to a dog squealing all the way to town and all the time in town. I was wondering if she needed to pee, but the squealing started before we got in the car. It began the moment she saw I was going to take her. At the stoplight in Sparta I'd had enough of the squealing. I hollered, Stop it! That was it. All the way toward town I was saying things like, You've squealed enough for the day, Enough squealing, The squealing is rubbing my nerve endings the wrong way. I don't know if this is new or simply her nature. Whatever it is, it will be changing soon. It's like having a kid in the house and no television.

yellow light in sparta

She still could not hold the squealing back. Before going into the grocery store, I attached the leash to the headrest post on the back of her seat. Upon return, she was quiet in the seat and stayed still all the way home. I wondered if she'd choked herself to death. I saw the leash had gone all the way around the seatbelt that was vertical inside the door. She'd pulled the leash to the furthest extremity she could pull it, given the tight rein she'd given herself, and stayed there with the leash pulled tight. I thought, we've got some conceptual issues here. I left her like that all the way home with the attitude she knows what she's doing, and if she doesn't, it's hers to figure out. Don't worry~be happy. I remind self that all her habit patterns from her recent past are broken. Everything is different. My nature is different from the primates she knew before. The house is different, the furniture different, the outdoors different, the food different. And a cat rules. It's not easy for her. I would so love for the rain to give it a rest, give dog and me some outdoors time to walk together, explore dog's new territory, work on our communication signals, find our language and learn it. We were strangers thrown together by fate. We will be awhile learning to know one another. It's fun getting to know somebody new. I need to learn dog as much as dog needs to learn primate. We'll get there.
 
squeal squeal
 
 
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BARBIE MEDUSA


gray day
 
More rain, more overcast sky, more fog, more mud. Dense fog on the mountain today. Low-flying clouds cross the mountains along this stretch, crawling over them south to north like big white snails. The first five miles were opaque in dense fog and I took a detour over a muddy road that was a beautiful drive. Trees in fog are misty like a fairy tale. I drove out of the fog and it was another t-shirt day in late December. Wanted to see Carolina beat Atlanta in football, but that's not what I saw. At the beginning, Justin said Carolina would lose because they've lost their magic. I told him I'd said to friend Carole on the phone earlier that I want them to win too much, afraid I'd jinx them pulling for them. Not many years ago I went to a nascar race in Charlotte with Justin. He'd got a couple of free tickets. First car I pulled for was the M&Ms car because I like M&Ms. He was the first to blow his motor. Next I pulled for Jr Earnhardt. He blew his motor. I quit pulling for anybody. Nobody else blew an engine. When I'm watching a race on tv and feel like pulling for Joey Logano, I back away, not wanting to jinx him. I watch games and races with dispassion to keep from jinxing anybody. I know it is absurd to think I have such power, but too often it looks that way. I pull for Danica Patrick and she wrecks.

exit

I, too, suspected Panthers could lose, for the reason Justin said, they've lost their magic. Last week they came too close to losing. And I knew Atlanta would come back full force after their humiliating loss to Carolina the last game they played. The tension of Panthers going for their fifteenth straight win and Atlanta determined with all their power not to let it happen, made a good game. It was a tight game. Both teams struggled for every inch of ground. Atlanta won the play of the game with a stupendous Hail Mary pass and an equally stupendous catch. The quarterback had been hit hard three times before the play. The moment the ball left his hand he collapsed in agony. It took everything he had to throw it so far, so accurately. The receiver had three guys on top of him. The ball went between the hands of one of his blockers and into his hands. Beautiful throw, beautiful catch. I appreciate a good play, whichever team does it, and exclaimed, Great play! Justin said, Harrumph.

coyote with apple in its mouth
 
It was more fun seeing Vada than the tv. Upon arrival, as soon as we'd done our greeting hug, she took my hand and told me to go with her to her room. She wanted to show me her new toys. I knew her grandmother had given her a Barbie house and was curious to see what it could be. My first thought, it would have to be big. And it was. Three floors. About four feet high. Pink Beverly Hills post-modern neoclassical kitsch architecture. Something you'd think Paris Hilton might live in. I noticed there were no stairs. Of course, I thought, Barbie is about playing pretend. I asked Vada, Does it have an elevator? She said, Yeah! I'll show you how it works! It is a simple mechanism looking like it will go on working beyond the first two weeks. It has a garage with a mini Mustang in it and a swimming pool. A mermaid lay on her side in the pool having an underwater nap. She has half a dozen Barbies and several decapitated Barbie heads she plays with as much as the whole Barbies.

speeding car
 
One of the Barbie heads had long black hair. The new puppy dog, an "English cream lab," found it in a puddle of water in one of Vada's toys on the deck, floating face up. Dog picked up the head, brought it toward me, got in trouble and had to drop it. The wet plastic hair looked like the Medusa's head with blacksnakes writhing from her scalp. It was very peculiar to look at. Barbie Medusa with painted-on eyebrows and eyes, ruby lips. For a moment I thought I was watching a Derek Jarman film. Throughout my time there, the puppy curled up at my feet. I realized it had felt my gentle touch when we met and was drawn to it. I said it smelled dog on my shoes and pants, which it surely did. There came a time daddy scolded the dog for not curling up at his feet. The little dog is already afraid of him. He thinks he's training it, but for now he's only keeping it scared of him. It will grow up with his martial teaching and become a martial dog, which is what he wants it to be. We have different ideas of a dog's value. He will make a companion of the dog, Gus, to go places with him in the truck, be obedient and fierce, a protector for Vada to grow up with. It is a charming puppy and will make a great dog. In her room I called her Vada Tomata. She said, Don't call me that. I'm not food.   
  
prays for dogs
 
 
 
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Saturday, December 26, 2015

SOFIA THE CAT DISCOVERS TREES

 
sofia tree cat
 
Earlier in the day I saw Sofia dart by the window, tail straight up, Corena behind her. Cat ran up a tree where dogs can't go. Sometimes I see her stand on the ground below a tree and look up it, assessing the branches and, I suppose, seeing herself climb it, like a Himalayan climber reading the side of an ice mountain, climbing it in his mind. Dog and cat were interacting outside. I took camera and watched them. I went out mainly because Martha was out there and I wanted to keep an eye on her. Cat was comical. Martha is here every morning waiting for dog to come out. She's enchanted by the new dog, a bit jealous too. Sofia would taunt Corena to play chase. Dog would dart at her, cat ran to nearest tree. She goes up a tree like a squirrel, high enough at first to be out of reach, stops and watches to see if she need go higher.  
 
sofia surveys the playground in the sky
 
On the ground she's somewhat anxious with two dogs. Her tail was fluffed and sometimes her body hair sticking straight out. She ran up in front of Corena, hunched her back, a ridge down her spine that stood up like a donkey mane, tail bristly like a bottle brush. She'd hop up and down on four feet in front of Corena, saying, Don't chase me...chase me...don't chase me...chase me. Dog looked at her like to say, What's up with you? She did it with Martha too. Cat did every kind of provoking Corena she dared with a dog. Eventually, Corena caught on the cat wanted to play chase. I took it she was apprehensive cat wanted to fight. In their world of international body language, fear and aggression read alike. Dog darted at Sofia and cat ran laughing up a tree. I was glad to see Corena take off after Sofia with a smile on her face as big as Sofia's. It was the first time I'd seen Corena catch hold of the spirit of play. It's subtle enough I might be imagining that I see a closer connection between cat and dog since I left them in the house together yesterday for five hours. The place was not torn up, nothing out of place, nothing broken. The day's learning for dog was waiting several hours in the house with cat while primate socializes among other primates. The two-leggeds are social animals.  
 
I'm scared of you, no I'm not, scared of you, not
 
Today, they are more relaxed with each other than before. Sofia likes Corena, wants to be close to her, wants to be her friend. When Corena relaxes into her new home, she will already have a best friend in a cat, something she'd never wanted for herself, a gift from out of the Blue, the best kind.  Sofia is now acquainted with the outdoors and knows the area around and under the house. I feel like her game with Corena is about racing dog to the nearest tree, learning how fast she needs to run to escape a dog. She goes inside and outside at will now. I feel she's safe, learning as fast as she learns. She's aware this is her territory. She knows the view out the windows, every detail. I saw her first time out there going from one rock to another, tree trunks, recognizing them up close, finding out what the objects were that she sees from the other side of the glass. The windows are her cat televisions she can go in and out of at will. She understands glass well by now. She also understands mirrors. At night when I have the floor lamp on, she can see herself in the window when the glass becomes mirrors. She humps her back. She jumps at it. She stalks it. She knows it is her own image, but plays pretend like a child that it's another cat, reacting as if it is.
 
our lady of the trees
 

She likes to see herself in a mirror, will sometimes sit beside the mirror like a parakeet, though not for long. She likes to see herself, but dwelling on herself does not interest the cat. I think of her image her imaginary friend. While I'm pecking at the keyboard, she will walk down from her window seat, step between my arms and stop. I scoop her into my arms, and she stretches front legs all the way out, back legs relaxed. She stays like that awhile, then turns around and looks at herself with the primate in the mirror for a minute or less, turns back around and settles into a relaxing session in the primate's arms, listening to him affirm her beauty, her charming personality, her clever pranks, telling her I appreciate how well she is doing with the dog, how fast she's learning, how happy I am to be able to trust her home alone not to tear up. I wondered how Sofia would change with a dog in the house. She has changed for the more familiar. She's more relaxed at home with the dog. She has somebody to pay attention to besides herself. She likes dog. Dog is slow to want to know her. Everything is new for Corena. I tell her, be kind with Sofia, the day is coming she will be your very best friend.   
 
sofia's deer skull with antlers tattoo
 
 
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Friday, December 25, 2015

CHRISTMAS AT HOME WITH FAMILY


black corena
 
The night before Christmas not much stirred through the house. Dog lay curled up in the reading chair, cat beneath the desk at my feet, and the primate played the keyboard like a percussion piano of clicks. Windchimes went ting-tong-ting outside, and inside my head the katydid chorus of a summer night. Dog's experiential learning for the day concerned rain, learning how to go from one napping place to another. She'd go to the door, I'd open the door, she'd look at the rain awhile and back up. It gets tight in here when we're all three in motion. Frequently our paths cross with dog at my knees and cat at my ankles. Two days of rain has both dog and cat frustrated they can't go outside. Both understand their boundaries outdoors by now. Sofia stays close to the house. Corena explores in sight of the house all the way around. Dog is learning the boundaries of her new territory. The time will come she will do her toilet in places that establish her boundaries to the night critters and dogs passing through. She will keep her markings fresh and quickly be known by all the four-leggeds in this part of the mountain, including the squirrels and chipmunks, them first. The primate's territory now has a guardian, a four-legged security guard. 
 
corena explores her new home
 
Barking at sounds from the woods across the road in the dark identifies dog to all of them. She says to them, Y'all stay where you belong...enter my territory at  your own risk...I am Dog...next thing to Wolf. She's na├»ve to the ways of the wild, has much learning ahead, learning by her own experience. Martha will be a good teacher for her at first, a dog who has lived here all her life. Martha is not much of a hunter. She likes to play chase, make them run, anything that will run. If it won't run, then she runs. Only problem, I don't want dog rambling with Martha, especially not with her sister, Jolene. I will stop her rambling with them before it starts. I'll call her in the house when Jolene comes around. I don't even want her to know Jolene. Corena will not be a rambling dog. It's too dangerous now for a dog that rambles, and all the more for one that doesn't know her way around on the ground, among the dogs of the area or the wildlife. She has not yet learned about donkeys. One day she may want to play, may taunt one to play chase and learn why dogs stay out of the donkey meadow. Maybe. They may take to dog and want to play chase.

jack and jenny munch hay
 
This morning Corena went with me to take carrots to the donkeys. She squealed and sniffed at Jenny and Jack from our side of the fence. Even yesterday, giving them grain, dog nearby was no occasion for alarm. They paid the dog no mind. Sophia was watching from nearby. They looked at her, though not with any inclination to dart away. They did not even grunt or snort at Corena. It just now occurred to me she is close to the same size as baby donkey. Both donkeys are out of sorts. In their shared grief, their zeal has gone out of them. At carrot time, since the baby left the body, I hand one a chunk of carrot, either one will take a bite and let the rest of it fall to the ground. They are even slow to take a bite of carrot. The first morning, neither one wanted carrot. I threw them on the ground to let mourning donkeys pick the carrots up later when they felt like it. As of yesterday, Jenny's "foal heat" turned on, the heat donkeys go into a couple weeks after giving birth. Jenny is a hormonal salad in this time. She is so inward she only wants to be alone or beside Jack. Their love is visible in the ways they console one another. At this moment, they are munching hay, side by side, almost touching.  

cat wants to play

It is a rainy day, short-sleeve Christmas, comfortable inside and out. I feel for the dog, just as she's become acquainted with her new territory and wants to learn it all now, it rains three days and nights. I dreamed, just before waking up, I was looking through the window at the donkey meadow and saw a new baby donkey standing close to Jenny, smaller than Miss Ed. This falls in line with my dreams of the last years characterized by a familiar scene with something missing that belongs there, or something there that is not there. Most often only one thing. I'd like to see Jack and Jenny adopt Corena as their surrogate baby. She's gentle with them and likes to be close to them. They're not even alarmed by her while they're eating grain, when they don't even want me around, knowing I've never challenged them for it. I'll not anticipate one way or the other, but wait and see what develops between them. The donkeys tolerate Martha in the meadow, but not near them. Corena walked all around them while they were grazing hay, her first time meeting them. Whatever they make of her, I can see they are as receptive to and wide open with her as with me. She put her nose to Jenny's grain, an inch away, the other side of the fence. Jenny will not let me that close to her grain without snorts and stompings, forget the fence. Their relationship with dog and cat bears paying attention to.   

sophia in her comfort zone
 
 
 
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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

CORENA CORENA BLACK DOG CORENA

dog and likeness
 
Drove to town today for lunch with friend Bob I've seen from time to time over the last thirty-plus years, though seldom to sit and have a conversation with for an hour. I'm glad he likes La Mexicana, my favorite restaurant in town, where the food is not Tex-Mex. It's cooking as done in Latin America, the cook from La Paz, Bolivia. We have another good Latin restaurant run by Cubans who came here from the Canary Islands, Las Palmas. Also a new Tex-Mex restaurant that is nice. And the one that has been here for years, Mis Arados (My Plow), known as the best restaurant in Sparta since it opened. It is family owned. The kids that were toddlers, waddling among the people at tables spreading cheer with their glowing round faces, are grown up now, worked through high school as waiters in the restaurant, and now have husbands, wives and babies. One beautiful young woman I watched grow up in there, I saw at the gas station a few weeks ago, she had a baby in the car. I said, "You have a baby." She said, "I have three." My jaw bounced off the cement between my feet like a golf ball.

curled up waiting
 
Next stop, the grocery store for donkey carrots, then the drug store where I saw Teena, who gifted me Sofia, and hardware store. From town out to Stratford, a township in the western part of the county, to deliver my friend Carole's Christmas present. We don't do that. However, I saw a book in Chris Davis's shop about Zentangles, which I knew Carole did not have and needed. I'd have bought it on sight for her in August, or any other month. I called it a Christmas present due to time of year. I drove home over the mountain on Spicer Mountain Road that connects hwy 221 with hwy 18 at Whitehead, singing, "good dog Corena," simple words dog can understand from words I speak to her. It is a slow road with curves galore, a third of it mud on a rainy day like today, though not bad, and great scenery, blue mountains in the distance, black cows in the foreground, the meadows still green on a short-sleeve day two days before Christmas. The girl at the grocery store register was one I didn't remember seeing before. I looked at her name tag. Corena. Bells rang all over the inside of my head. Why hadn't I thought of it yet?

   dog at home  
 
I'd been feeling that Rena was missing something the name needed, unable to find what it was. It was like the name Rena was too lean, needed some fat on her bones. I was thinking of calling her Black Rena driving into the parking lot, spoke it a few times to hear it and liked it. Thought of the song, Black Betty. Great name for a dog, but she's not a Betty. I think it was the way the girl at the register spelled Corena that caught my eye. She was gorgeous with black wavy hair. Lots of new spellings these days. My favorite is Mysti. I also know a Karina. Co-Rena. Rena modified. It fits and flows with Sofia. In sound, o-e-a, only the C-n and the S-f distinguish them from one another. Yet the names have very different sounds. Sofia is soft as a down cushion. Corena, too, is soft with a sense of self-assertion, like bear fur. All the way to Carole's and all the way home I sang Corrina Corrina, "I love Corrina, tell the world I do." I was out there on the highway in the rain singing to my new dog, "Corena Corena, won't you come on home, aint had no lovin since you been gone."

dog says I wish it would stop raining
so I could go outside and bark
 
I remembered Aster, and having no dog for eight years, like Corena was Aster come home after being gone so long, riding the mountain roads in her seat again. The feeling is very much like having Aster return after long absence. Wherever this dog's soul came from, she found her way to me. She has the same soulful eyes as Aster. I know it is the breed of dog, lab mix, that determines much of their behavior, personalities and thinking. It's not the same dog, but like the same dog. What more could I ask? A chance to have Aster back as a young dog. Curiously, it's like we already know each other. Today was dog's day to learn by experience another aspect of living here, riding in the car and waiting for sometimes a few hours. I keep windows open enough to let air pass through, but not for her to escape. Twice I left her in the car for an hour and twice for a half hour. I took her out for a chance to pee after the first hour but she did not. Let  her out later and she did not need to. I put her outside for bathroom before we left. After we'd been home a few hours, after my nap, I sat with her and thanked her for being a patient riding companion today, thanked her for finding me, hugged her, told her she has legs like a deer and beautiful eyes. Big yawn.

corena corena
 
 
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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

MY FRIEND RENA


waterfalls creek
 
I went out to dig a hole in the meadow, in the cold, cold ground. Jenny has not let me near the baby. Today it is going in the ground if I have to do it in the dark with flashlights. It wears me out to think about it anymore. The donkeys are both wrecked and I'm wrecked. I've commissioned a couple of helpers to come by if possible before dark and help me get it done. Can't get any help before dark. I dug until I started thinking if I keep on, somebody will be digging my grave. The rectangle established and I've gone about a foot deep. Came to the house to lie down, failed to sleep, but relaxed for half an hour with dog on the bed at my feet. Martha, the jealous dog from next door, was outside when I wanted to go out to dig. Apprehensive, I carried a walking stick. Our friend hesitated with Martha out there. I told her it was ok, I'd take care of Martha. Martha's attitude was entirely different today. At first, she glared at friend. I pointed the walking stick at her. She hunkered down. I said, "It's ok to play today, not to fight." Both dogs followed me, hesitantly curious about each other. Martha's lip curled up and I told her again, ok to play, we're here to play.
 

big rock beside waterfalls creek
 
They spent some time assessing each other with distance between them. My friend went and took a dump. Martha had to go pee near the place. Martha then went off someplace else and took a dump. Friend had to go pee there. They didn't put nose under the tail to sniff each other. Rather they passed nonchalantly by each other's rear ends sniffing the air. Martha took off running and friend followed, playing chase. They switched around and Martha did the chasing.  They played chase with near abandon. I was satisfied they'll be friends from today onward. All the time digging, I was going over names for the dog. This morning I found myself partial to Friend, as that's what I call her talking to her and about her. Thought about Crow, Crow Dog or Raven, partial to Raven. But when I called her Raven, it did not sound right. Same with Crow. Friend sounded empty, like that was not it either. I looked at her as I worked the shovel, looking for a sound that resonated with her energy as I know it. I want a name particular to our relationship. Somebody else can call her whatever. I wanted a name between us, a name that resonated with her and for me. Nothing I called her sounded right. Everything sounded as far off as Vladimir, though Vladimir is a good name.
 
sofia
 
A friend from twenty to twenty-five years ago came to mind, as she often does, Rena Ferneyhough. I loved her name Rena and loved Rena herself. The name was right for her. I called the dog Rena and it felt right. It resonated when I called to her, "Rena." It's easy to say and I like the sound. The name Rena is a pleasant memory. If I think of her every time I speak the name, it will be to the good. I was thinking I wanted a feminine name, she is very much a feminine dog, and wanted a name that means her in particular. The sound flows well with Sofia. I also wanted a name that complemented Sofia somehow. Rena and Sofia sound like sisters. I've not seen Rena for at least twenty years, attempts to find her by way of internet came up with nothing, I knew her from Boone. She was originally from Raleigh, same place dog is from. Images of Rena are flooding my mind. I've seen her looking the very worst she could possibly look, after crying all day, butcher knife at her throat, a voice in her head telling her to kill herself, her own will struggling not to do it. All day long. I knocked at the door around 4 in the afternoon, no idea what she was going through. She appeared, face raw from tracks of tears, butcher knife in  hand, holding it more like a weapon than an implement. She was a good cook and kept sharp knives. I embraced her in a major hug and encouraged her bawling, butcher knife in hand.
 
a shadow ran through it
 
I thought I had opened myself to extreme vulnerability, entered the zone of zero defense, offered myself to death by someone else's unpredictable whim, because I trusted Rena, felt I understood her and what she was going through, to some degree. I stayed with her for quite awhile, not going home til late. Rena was delicate as a bluet, an artist and she wrote well. She'd done graduate work in Art at Emory. I bought one of her paintings because I loved it, to give her some financial support, to back up my support of her art with action. I've been looking at the dog, thinking Rena, questioning. It always resonates with her. I asked her if she would like me calling her Rena. She seemed friendly to what I said, but she's always friendly to what I say. I'll sleep on it. Dog doesn't seem to me to have a name. She seems better without a name. But I feel that about naming anything alive. I'd get awfully tired of explaining why she doesn't have a name every time somebody asked her name, so tired of it, I'd name her. It would become affected in short time.

sofia in the sun
 
 
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Monday, December 21, 2015

NEW DOG FIRST DAY

dog in a new world
 
First full day with new dog was an event from beginning to end. I can't call her Kutra any more. This is not her name. Zero resonance with this dog. Maybe for a pit bull. For now, I call her Dog  for absence of a name and I like it for a name. It means canine, which is high praise for me, like calling mountain people hillbillies. To me, hillbilly is a name of high praise. It means beautiful, wonderful people, which I've learned from experience. For me, even calling somebody a dog is high praise. Calling her Dog, I feel a warmth associated with the word dog. She is a silhouette of dog. Silhouette (sil-a-wet), good name possibility, easy to say.  Could spell it Cilawet, avoid the long French spelling with the weird H. Sounds like Lil Bit. They would rhyme in a song. Seems to me in this time of no moral or ethical center in hairless primate society, we'd do well to build the new society following a dog's nature, now that we've learned human behavior is no model to live by. Like you-better-not is absence of morality, control by guilt indicates absence of ethics. Even wolf packs take care of their own. Dogs are known for automatic forgiveness, for loyalty in the absolute, their way of communicating in silence, adding a squeal or a bark for emphasis. A dog will give its life for a human friend without thinking about it first.
 
cat eyeballs dog
note the batman shadow on the armrest
a projection of sofia's self-image
 
Dog nature is not all sweet and gentle, similar to ours. They fight and exhibit jealousy without restraint. First night new dog was here, Martha from next door dropped by. Dog saw her out the window and wanted to meet her. I questioned it. Martha is a naturally gentle, good dog, but that's not all. She's dumb as  rock, never ever learns. Every time I arrive home in the car and she's here, every time, as soon as I open the car door she starts climbing inside while I want to climb outside. Every time I have to struggle with her, put up my leg to stop her, grab her collar, pull her back, and all the time she's struggling with all her might to get in. It takes yelling at her in the loudest voice I can fathom to get her attention. She only responds to yelling and screaming. At the house, Martha outside the door, I hesitated, but dog inside was excited to meet her. I did not know if Martha would be friendly or attack. It was about fifty-fifty in my mind, while considering jealousy it was more like zero-one hundred. The moment they made eye contact, Martha attacked in her full fierceness, and she's a powerful dog. I had to decide in a nanosecond how to handle this moment.
 
every experience is new
 
I kicked a 45-yard field goal with Martha's head. Yelling would not break the state she'd gone into, nor would hitting, threatening, anything. Even cold water could not have stopped her. I needed to distract her attention instantly, no time to think about it, do it now. I realized in the moment it was my role to show my new friend that I am her protector. She will be loyal to me and I will be loyal to her. I've told her she is safe with me and this was my first opportunity to show I mean it. The kick deflected Martha's spell enough to get her attention. She looked at me with eyes that said so clearly I could read the subtitles, "Did you do that on purpose?" I looked at her with eyes that said just as clearly, "Yes I did." I closed the door on Martha and turned off the outside light. This morning I took dog out for bathroom and carried the walking stick for a weapon. Martha came creeping toward us, aggressive eyes on the dog. I pointed the walking stick at Martha like a magic wand the way Vada does it when she's playing Elsa from the movie, Frozen. Martha tucked tail between legs and turned around. I thought, Good, she at least understands magic wands.
 
portrait of good dog martha
 
Today's adventure with dog was riding in the car. It felt good to have a dog beside me again, especially the very image of Aster, herself, even the red collar. Aster has been gone for eight years and I miss her the same as if it were eight days. Dog wanted to be on me the whole time on the road. At first, she thought I was taking her home. I put the armrest/divider between us. It helped. She was anxious, nervous. Her balance was good on the car seat. The continuous curves back and forth, changes of speed, took her a few minutes to get used to. Needed car inspection to renew tag and registration. Crystal's dad is the car's mechanic. She and Vada were in Crystal's shop next door and met the dog. Vada was enchanted. Dog squealed nonstop. I read it for needing bathroom activity. I walked her for it but she did not. Later, I walked her again. It turned out she needed to find the exact spot and she didn't know where it was, had to search until she found it. She was desperate to go and couldn't let herself do it in the car or indoors. Thank you, wonderful dog. The squealing ended. She uses the leash to pull me. She chokes herself pulling me, and keeps on pulling. We look like a cartoon.
 
 
 
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Sunday, December 20, 2015

THE NEW DOG ON THE MOUNTAIN

kutra meets sofia
 
I was making phone calls to see who I could watch the Carolina Panthers stomp the New York Giants with. Had a good place to go and good friends. The phone rang from Raleigh telling me friend in Raleigh was on my road bringing my dog, a three and a half hour drive. This is somebody whose life is dedicated to the four-leggeds. He had found the dog a home, but it was not a good home. He called me to ask if I'd take the dog, a lab mix. It only took two hours to decide. I weighed why I don't want a dog against why I want a dog. The latter tipped the scales all the way. After going over why I would like a dog, like eight years without a dog, I could see it had to be. I knew already it was the right dog, dog and Sophia would become friends right away. He drove up with the dog riding on the seat. I knew as soon as she jumped down from the door and looked at me, this was my dog. We took to each other on sight. He told me her name was Lil Bit, but I had another name for her. Kutra, as I've been told, is the Sanskrit word for protector. Whether or not it is actually the Sanskrit word, I don't know. It is in my mind. The only Sanskrit I think I know. The Hindi version of it is kutta, their word for dog, the protector.

black dog cammo
 
Whatever the case, dog's name is Kutra. Even if it's nonsense syllables, I believe it means protector. If it is not a Sanskrit word and means nothing, I don't care. I like the name. I give her this name wanting her to be Sofia's protector from a cat killing dog that lives nearby. Plus, I like the sound. I took her for about an hour walk through the woods around the property line soon after friend left. I wanted to give her experience exploring her new home. Friend was not enthusiastic about a name change, and I don't like to change a pet's name, but do. Jenny was Daisy before. Changed it because I can't have a donkey named Daisy. I can't call a dog Lil Bit. I called her Kutra hundreds of times on our walk, familiarizing her with the sound. We walked the woods the other side of the road. She responded to Kutra the same as I was told she responds to Lil Bit. She doesn't respond to Lil Bit from my voice. I realized it was not a problem for dog to be called by a new name. She responded to being called Kutra. Perhaps it's reasonable to her that a new primate would call her a new primate sound. I don't know what dogs think, though was given the impression by her that she connected with the sound of Kutra. She looks to me like the word sounds. I carried a leash around my neck, believing she would stay with me, but not sure.

water dog
 
Several times she ran out of my sight. I trusted that, like my dogs before her, when she was out of sight I was still in her sight. She'd be out of sight for a short time and come running back. Her nose was going in overdrive. Scents of the night animals. She followed a scent a ways, found another, followed it, found another. Throughout the walk she sniffed scents going every which way. I noticed she handled her footing well on the new, uneven ground that had a spongy quality from several years of decaying leaves. She found a place beside Waterfalls Creek where night critters drink, stepped into the water feeling it on her feet. She sniffed around on land awhile and walked back into the water, walked in it almost deep enough to cover her back. I don't know if she'd ever had the experience of a creek. The lab within drew her to the water. The first time she stepped into the creek she squatted down on all fours lowering her belly into the water and relaxed into the sensation of moving water for half a minute, feeling the water stimulate her inner lab.

she came running out of the water
                 eyes sparkled
smile so radiant it bared her teeth
 

 I saw a few times everything here was new to her. She ran under the lower wire of a patchwork barbed wire fence and let out a yelp. It bit her. Trial and error. Now she knows. Her mind catches onto things instantly. I  saw her walk into an area with several briars growing. She went into it rather quickly and slowed down just as quickly. She learned to step gently among briars. Toward the end of our walk I questioned whether to take dog on a short stretch of road or take her through the woods all the way to the house. I chose the road to give her the experience of road, supervised. I walked along the edge of the road and she ran everyplace that was green. The walk turned out to be so much like walks with dogs that have lived here before, I questioned if she might already know the place. She is the perfect image of the last dog that lived here twelve years, Aster. Kutra has a white spot below her throat, as did Aster. It was the spot of white that gave Aster her name, star. I can see that already Kutra is beginning to claim me. She gives Sofia looks when she thinks I'm not looking that tell cat to be very afraid. Sofia backs up. While I hold Sofia, she makes eye contact with dog and gloats. I'll be having some interpersonal dynamics to work with over the next weeks.

ninja cat aint afraid of no dog
 
 
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