Archive for August, 2014

A dog will teach you unconditional love. If you can have that in your life, things won’t be too bad. (Robert Wagner)

I’ve often said that I won’t be allergic to dogs and cats in my next life—as if I had a genuine grasp of what a next life looks like, embraces, or involves. I don’t always know where my cell phone is, much less the substance of the infinite. However, I really would love to squat down and call, “Come here, Spike,” and then let my grand-dog lick my arms, neck, and  face—slobber all over me if he wanted.

Spike is an example of acceptance and unconditional love.

My youngest granddaughter is sick. I’m bringing dinner to her daddy’s house. My visiting time must be limited. I can manage short encounters, but as soon as I feel the slightest chest tightness I need to leave the premises, as in immediately. Itchy eyes would be difficult enough; I need to give up breathing to enjoy the presence of a fur-bearing creature. Fortunately, the weather allows us to eat on the patio. Outside, Spike can shed all he wants and the air absorbs the allergens. And I can appreciate him.

He looks for morsels of dropped food, but doesn’t growl when no one gives him a handout.  He already had dinner.  He stops by my chair and looks up, dark eyes begging to be petted. I smile and congratulate him on his many virtues, but don’t make contact with his soft fur. He moves away, patiently lying close to the table and waits for attention.

I think about how unlike Spike I would be in similar circumstances. So you’re the snooty type. Okay, suit yourself. I don’t need you either. Perhaps my grand-dog sees deeper than I do. He settles next to Ella and her daddy as he cradles the suffering little girl in his lap. Maybe Spike is sending positive vibes.

It’s hard to tell what he understands. I don’t speak dog. The folk who have a loyal pet are both fortunate and blessed.


Spike is a tad larger, black with white markings, but his expression is similar to this dog’s.

sleeping dog

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You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. (Mark Twain)

I drive alone in silence and savor the freedom. Certainly traffic brings noise, but that sound is outside my jurisdiction and it isn’t emergency-vehicle or passing-train loud, at least at the moment. Sometimes I crave space simply to be, to make a detour if I want, shorten or elongate a trip on a whim—celebrate a day without obligations or deadlines, with only open blue skies and a sense of the continuing now. I love hours when words and I work together at the computer, sometimes leading to a story, occasionally discovering a truth. That takes a certain amount of love-for-the-hermit’s-life.

I haven’t traveled far when I recall an incident with my youngest granddaughter, as she dressed herself with an infant bib, at least three long necklaces, a length of cotton batting, and sunglasses. Since her speech is limited I’m not sure whether she played the part of a princess, actress, or model getting ready for a shoot. Then I recall treading water with my older grandchildren, the joy we share as the warm water caresses us, the games we play as the deep end of the pool supports us with a little kicking and a lot of laughter.

I am hit with the fact that this moment of freedom isn’t really where I want to live forever. I just need to breathe occasionally and observe the whole. Chances are I’m going to be exhausted after spending a full day tomorrow with grandchildren again. Perhaps living perpetually alone could become a tomb, not the utopia I desire. One, two, three, breathe… Real life is about to return in a matter of hours.

time alone PIQ

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How much does one imagine, how much observe? One can no more separate those functions than divide light from air, or wetness from water. Elspeth Huxley

My granddaughter Rebe and I go to a small local park. She has brought four of her children, dolls of varying sizes crammed into a single doll carrier.

When we arrive we see another woman holding an infant surrounded by five to seven children as well as a dog tied to a bench. The older children seem to be attending to the younger; I assume that the group is part of some kind of daycare but don’t ask. The woman has enough to handle.

One young man, who could be twelve-years-old tops, attends to a boy on a baby swing. The smaller child appears to be approximately two.

“Is he your little brother?” I ask.

“No, he’s my step sister’s baby,” the boy says. He stops pushing the little one on the swing and grabs an adjoining swing. When the baby swing slows and the little boy whines, Rebe pushes him.  I had considered pushing the little guy, but decided to wait until he became accustomed to my presence. Sometimes children are afraid of strange adults. Kids accept kids immediately.

“Thanks,” the older boy tells Rebe. He pumps his swing higher and then quickly lowers himself when my granddaughter decides to play elsewhere.

“You take good care of him,” I say.

He looks at me as if forming an unspoken response, but doesn’t share his thoughts. Something in his eyes startles me, a look suggesting complexity beyond his years.

A few minutes later the woman carrying the baby, leads the other children toward a shelter down a slight hill. The boy jumps from the swing mid-air, and then hands the little boy a cell phone, perhaps to distract him. “Got to go now,” he says.

The child in the swing shakes his head.

“Come on,” he says gently. “We have to go.” He lifts the toddler from the swing and puts him in a stroller.

I smile at the boys, in a reserved kind of way. I don’t know this pair’s story, not sure what I need to say—In fact, I sense that the caretaker doesn’t want to talk. I don’t know the boys’ names! Perhaps the older child is babysitting for an hour. Perhaps this situation is an everyday, overwhelming task.

The older boy pushes the stroller out of the park.

Rebe runs to the slide with her dolls and drops them down, one at a time. Our middle granddaughter hasn’t begun first grade yet. Her everyday world is relatively simple.Today she creates scenarios where we need to dive from play equipment into shark-and-alligator-infested water. Rebe magically turns into a mermaid. Then without warning, our six-year-old innocent child becomes Rebe again when she decides it is time to leave for lunch.

I am grateful for one-on-one time with my granddaughter, yet sad because I was not prepared to meet the young man and his step-sister’s son at the park. Perhaps I could have been helpful, perhaps not. Life’s whole does not belong to me.  Rebe tells me later that she loves me as much as the whole world and back again. If I could have one wish I would zap that kind of love around. But, I don’t know any genies, so with just one day at a time, guess I’m going the slow, uncertain route.

In the meantime I trust the evidence and my gut. Sometimes I will be right-on. Other times I won’t know one way or the other. I am only one small part of a very large whole.

everyone fighting a batle

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No, no! The adventures first; explanations take such a dreadful time. (Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass)

I’ve been invited to play a game, my favorite kind, a writer’s game. I’m taking part in a blog tour. Sarah Wesson extended the invitation. She writes: Earful of Cider: The Caffeine Gnomes Demand Tribute. Her answers to the seven questions for the tour can be found there. Her writing is worth the click. Sarah is a word chef who serves insight as a main course with side dishes of well-seasoned humor.  She listed the seven questions and answers one at a time. I will reply to all in a single paragraph. I have a self-imposed word limit on my entries. Moreover, my focus is positive thinking, not the art of writing. Anyone who wants to check on the thoroughness of my responses can look up Sarah’s blog—actually I hope you do.

The main character in the fictional short story I bring to the tour comes from the recent past. He lives in an unnamed town, somewhere in the United States where wild rabbits run free from one yard to another, behind bushes and trees, present one moment, disappearing the next. Carson is in third grade. He needs to keep the events of his foster home environment secret because he is afraid he could make his life even more unbearable than it already is. All he wants to do is survive. At least that’s what he thinks he wants, until he meets Robin, the peculiar girl with teeth aligned like the boards in a crooked fence. She has a wobbly walk and an upbeat attitude. “Among the Rabbits” should appear at Piker Press on approximately August 18.

I tagged Greg Petersen and asked him to introduce his character approximately a week from today. If the surname sounds familiar, that’s because he is my son and a writer who happens to have a keen insight into the human situation. Below is his bio:

Gregory Petersen is a writer, editor, comedian, coach, husband, and father of two beautiful daughters.  His novel, Open Mike, was released by Martin Sisters Publishing in June of 2013,  and his next book, Dreaming Out Loud, is close to completion.  He has performed at The Funnybone, Go Bananas, Wiley’s, as well as several charitable and corporate events.  When not writing or performing, he is following The Cincinnati Reds, training to run another very slow marathon, or goofing off on Twitter (@gregjpete).  He was born, raised, and still remains in Cincinnati, Ohio.

I am adding that Greg has also written a blog that demonstrates his ability to see humor in everyday life: Professional Goofball.

Kudos to the two people, before and after me in this tour. It takes time to participate. I am glad to let other folk celebrate you and your writing. Thank you, Sarah Wesson and Gregory Petersen!

I have met many folk who read only nonfiction. I must admit that many fascinating books focus on fact. However, fiction opens up worlds that don’t exist and makes them real within the first few paragraphs. The story that uncovers beauty hidden inside darkness  makes the world a better place, eventually.

May the adventures continue!





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