The Canela tweets

fearless tracker

I use Twitter for a bit more than just Morning Porch updates these days. Three weeks of dog-sitting — and especially dog-walking — yielded a few insights, which I shared on Twitter because they weren’t really long enough for blog posts. Canela is an eight- or nine-year-old Chesapeake Bay retriever with a very easy-going disposition, boundless energy and an insatiable curiosity. We walked three to four miles every day. Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s what I’ve been writing. (The first and last of these also appeared on The Morning Porch.)

Jan. 2
Dozens of juncos flit through the bushes. The old brown retriever that I’m dog-sitting watches from the porch, her nose quivering.

Jan. 12
Trying to teach sarcasm to the dog.

Before I can stop her, the dog wolfs down a frozen coyote turd.

Just back from a three-mile walk full of fascinating scats and urine samples, the dog falls asleep on her Dora the Explorer blanket.

Before I started dog-sitting, I had no idea how much I talk to myself.

The dog’s sleep is punctuated with sighs and episodes of labored breathing. She snores. She smacks her lips.

She rumbles like an appliance with a bad motor.

Her jaws move as if around recalcitrant syllables of human speech. Then she dry-retches and falls silent.

Jan. 13
I just complimented a dog for taking a dump. This pet thing is insidious.

Jan. 14
The dog appears to have two modes: full-on excitement and sleep. I of course am an Eeyore and an insomniac. What a disappointment I must be.

On a walk in the thawing woods, the dog smells everything. All I smell is dog.

Going out to pee in the moonlight, the dog stands gazing into the shadows.

Jan. 15
Having just circled the field, more than anything the dog want to circle the field.

You can’t circle the same field twice, as Heraclitus might’ve said.

Like a suburban kid getting a “tribal” tattoo, the dog wants desperately to roll in coyote scent.

Straining against the leash that won’t let her catch up to a porcupine, the dog whines and whimpers like a creature in pain.

Jan. 16
Ten minutes after telling our neighbor that the dog never barks, I hear her bark, left alone in the house.

So the dog doesn’t bark at people, other dogs, deer, ruffed grouse, rabbits or porcupines. She barks at the absence of all those things.

Jan. 18
Last night, I gave the dog back to her family. In the morning, two inches of wind-blown snow, and the yard unmarred by a single track.

Things to do with texts after Derrida

I couldn’t resist.

  • Deflesh them with bone knives.
  • Let the wolves and ravens deflesh them.
  • Gather them into skin bags and bury them under the hearth.
  • Feed them beer.
  • Dig them up every fall and dance with them.
  • Dig ditches around them so the uninitiated cannot get too close.
  • Build mounds over them so the otherworld can ascend and be closer to us.
  • Organize them by size and type.
  • Rearrange them into new, mash-up texts.
  • Break them so they will not follow us in our dreams.
  • Suck out the marrow so their spirits will protect us in our dreams.
  • Burn them and place them in jars of clay decorated with rows of pits, as from missing teeth.
  • Erect stones around them in a circle so they will remember us who stand in the light.

2013 in photos: Touched by a Rachel

I took a lot of photos this year, most of them during the two months I spent in the UK. I never did get around to sharing them all, so let me try to make up for lost time with a few gargantuan posts. One benefit of taking a look back is seeing patterns that one might not notice otherwise.

Holding up a beech

Here’s Rachel laying her hand on beech trees in Hebden Bridge, Continue reading “2013 in photos: Touched by a Rachel”

Bill Bailey at the Hammersmith Apollo

This is not a review, just as a pipe fallen to the stage is not a pipe. The performer’s open mouth resembles a small asteroid covered in hair. Eventually, everything is thrown into question, such as why we don’t live in flowerpots or buy religion all shrink-wrapped out of vending machines. Have the sun and the moon really been played by the same poorly informed celebrity all this time? Do you remember where you were when you heard about the death of humor? Why don’t owls ever unbutton their vests? Who told your elbows to sing? Words approach as quickly as starved sheep and lower in pitch after they pass, thanks to the Doppler effect. Short films of moss growing on a butler or tractors that won’t start are triggered by a wrong note on a tuba or the audience’s failure to clap. It turns out that people dress up like armies solely in order to march, becoming lost in the middle of a vast square. It turns out that you need a long stick to poke someone who is far away. The lighting crew keep a purple spotlight on the audience, so I take advantage of the extra illumination to write down a one-word recipe for porridge (“porridge”). An avuncular Jah chortles about the beetles he squirreled away in Guatemala. All the Jamaicans from Downton Abbey begin to pray.

A very hagfishy Valentine’s Day

hagfish 1

For Valentine’s Day, my love designed and knitted me an Atlantic hagfish, A.K.A. slime eel — Myxine glutinosa. Apparently, she was the first on Ravelry to do so. While to the uninitiated this might seem like a less than subtle suggestion that I am a slime-ball and a bottom-feeder, in fact it was a highly romantic gesture, a response to my “Ten Simple Songs” (8-9, if you’re in a hurry). I was initially going to hold off posting that poem until Valentine’s Day, but then I thought, what if she doesn’t like it? Perhaps slime eel references don’t belong in a serious love poem. I guess I needn’t have worried.

hagfish 2

Hagfish purposely tie themselves in knots to remove excess mucus. Thankfully, this plush, knitted hagfish is not mucilaginous in the slightest. (See additional photos on the project page at Ravelry.)

I don’t own many works of art, and none that please me quite so much as this. Folks, don’t ever let anyone tell you that poetry doesn’t pay! Also, heed the wise words of Robert Fulghum (often wrongfully attributed to Dr. Seuss):

We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love.
Robert Fulghum, True Love