Tag: park

Deep Pace Mine

Let’s not waste this fine Spring day.

Django is waiting. I know I know. But I had to go for a run with Syd first. Yep, I’m a runner. Kind of. Syd went on her real run early in the morning, and then when she finished she ran here so we could go for a lap around the park. I was almost ready when she got here. I’d gotten up quietly when my alarm went off, hoping that the dog, like Dave, would keep sleeping.

In the bathroom I changed into the clothes I’d set there the night before – leggings and two tee shirts and a warm-up jacket. Then I tiptoed into my office and did some yoga to un-creak a little, but I couldn’t stop thinking about what if Syd came early and tried to come in the back door, which I’d said I’d leave open? I didn’t want the doorbell to wake up the dog, who would immediately want to be fed and walked. Dave, I wasn’t as worried about. He’s been staying up way too late watching Deep Space Nine, so too bad.

I decided to do yoga downstairs instead. I went down and unlocked the door, but Django must have heard me turn off the alarm, because when I headed in to the living room she trotted in, wagging her tail. Okay, yoga in a minute. I let her out, fed her, and leashed her up for a quick walk around the block.

But just outside we ran into another lady and her dog. Pino? Pina? He too didn’t like being held back on his leash so he barked at Django, who was quiet and docile until he leaned in to sniff her mouth. Then she let him have it. “Sorry, sorry,” I pulled Django away.
“No, it’s okay, he does the same thing.” Pino or Pina looked up at me pitifully. I squatted down to pet him. Django sniffed the parkway, her work done. The lady and I talked about how cute our respective dogs were, and what breeds they might be, and how unpredictable they can be on leash. Luckily Dave wasn’t there to add, as he always does, “She’s unpredictable off leash, too.” He’s been staying up way too late watching Deep Space Nine, so whatever.

Django eventually came over to be patted by the lady and to be sniffed, more politely, by Pino or Pina. Then we continued on our walk. Soon as we got home, Syd arrived. So much for yoga. We went for our run and I felt just like those people I see running at the park. Really cool. I was wearing proper running clothes and I had a running partner and we were even talking like other runners do, in short casual bursts. At first I tried to smile at the dog walkers, because I always feel like runners are looking at me angrily for having my dog at the park. But I realized today that they’re probably just concentrating. After my first smile or two I didn’t have time to worry about those losers. I had to focus on keeping pace with Syd. She kept asking, “Want to slow down?”

“No, I don’t want to slow down now because I want to reserve the right to walk later.”

“We can take whatever pace feels right. It’s up to you.”

“Uh-huh.” She didn’t realize that if I started walking it would mean that we’d stopped running, so it wouldn’t count as running so I wouldn’t feel like a runner so I wouldn’t feel cooler than shit. When we got home, Django was sitting in the window, staring at us like she couldn’t believe we’d go to the park without her. “I guess Dave didn’t walk you,” I said when I got inside. He was still sleeping because he’s been staying up way too late watching Deep Space Nine, so I had to go upstairs and say it louder.

Now I’ve had my shower and some breakfast, and we’re heading back to the park for a dog lap. Dave is joining us. He should probably stay home and work, but I notice that if I just ask how Deep Space Nine is going, he will pretty much do anything I ask.

No direction home

Django in park
No one has noted her resemblance to Dylan.

I saw the woodcarver at the park, walking with Mr. Wu and their dogs. They were so far away that when I waved and they didn’t wave back, I figured they just didn’t see me.

I walked a little further, then turned to call Django and leash her up. I noticed that the woodcarver seemed to be staring at me, which was silly because they were so far away. But there was something purposeful about his walk. And I had no reason to avoid them, I reasoned. I’d done my homework at last. So instead of leashing Django up I threw the ball in their direction, and she bounded for it.

As she neared the two dogs, Django lost interest in the ball. Her run drifted into a walk, and then she just stood, as if she had no idea what she was doing there.

“Get the ball, Django,” I called.

She looked at me blankly.

“The ball! The ball!”

She trotted away, in the general direction of the two dogs, while also managing to ignore them completely. I walked back to pick up the ball myself, just as the two men neared.

“Hi!” I called.

The woodcarver was still staring, a fierce smile on his face. “So you changed your mind.”

“My mind?”

“About the carving, you changed your mind.”

“No! I did it! I went to your site.”

“Did you?”

“I did. You wrote me back!”

“No, I don’t go near that. It must have been my son.”

“Well then, he wrote me, a profile shot and a closeup.”

“Yeah, well, I had a little time before.”

“Oh yeah, well, I guess I missed Christmas, ha ha.”

He wasn’t smiling anymore. Suddenly I realized that when I ran into him last week and asked about carvings of dogs, and also asked how long it takes, and come to think of it also asked if there was any chance of getting one by Christmas, and that’s right also said I’d go to his site, that, well, he took me seriously. Suddenly I felt like one of those flakes who do the sort of thing I’d just done.

Mr. Wu smiled at us, hands clasped behind his back. I said, “Sorry, I… the holidays… maybe I could shoot for a Valentines present?”

The woodcarver said, “After I make it, if you don’t like it you don’t have to buy it.”

“Oh.” I wanted to say, I’m sure I’ll like it, but somehow that felt like an insult to his process. I offered, “I have another friend who might want one.”

“Get yours first and if they like it they can get one.”

“But we’re going to do a photo shoot.”

“A shot just like that would be perfect.” Django was standing absolutely still, in profile. She and the woodcarver looked like they expected me to whip out a camera.

Mr. Wu said, “That dog has very unusual spots.” He said this like he’d never seen her before, though I’ve run into him at the park at least twice a week for the past six or seven years. At first I’d see him standing alone, dogless, east of the path, examining some detail of a tree. Hands clasped behind him, head slightly cocked, as if some leaf or bit of bark was refusing to be categorized. Then he got a dog and started walking with the woodcarver, or the guy with the unpredictable Golden.

Django stopped posing and wandered off to look for her ball, which was now back in my pocket. Mr. Wu added, “She looks like an African wild dog.”

“Does she?” I said, which I always say, although I’ve already compared her to photos of African wild dogs online and reached the same conclusion.

I said, “I’ll get you the pictures.” The woodcarver looked skeptical, which was understandable. He and Mr. Wu continued walking, and I decided to do another lap in the opposite direction.

Back up

a boot
Thanks, Doc, not right now.

The Katharine Hepburn of Horner Park has made a decision. I saw her yesterday. Dave and I took Django to the park, and stopped on the way to grab Zoe. Miss Hepburn’s sister greeted us at the door and said we’d meet the new caregiver when we got back.

Zoe pulled cheerfully all the way to the park. Then all the way through the park. Then all the way home. She stopped pulling only when I threw the ball for Django. She’s learned that Django gets a biscuit for bringing it back, therefore Zoe gets three biscuits: one for sitting while Django finds the ball and then pauses, seemingly lost in thought; another when Django returns, dropping the ball somewhere along the way; and a third when Django spits hers out because she’d prefer liver or cheese.

When we got back, Dave headed to the garage to carry in a large bag of dog food, and I went inside to meet the new caregiver. This is the sixth one I’ve met since things got hard for the Hepburns. The first was reportedly “an angel.” It took several weeks for the Hepburns to realize she wasn’t the right angel for them. She mostly just talked on her phone. Then there was the sweet one. Then the stern one. Then someone who could only come two days a week. Then the artsy one. And now, the calm and kind one, who seems like she might actually be an angel. Miss Hepburn is eating a beautiful lunch of fluffy omelet with toast and grilled peaches on the side.

She is so tired she almost can’t sit up, but she looks happier than I’ve seen her in weeks. She says she’s decided not to do the hospice thing. Her cardiologist had sent someone after her last appointment, and ever since she’d been in a funk. “She told me I could have all the salt I want,” she says.” I can eat what I want and do what I want, because it doesn’t matter.” She breaks off a tiny piece of omelet with her fork. “I mean, I know it’s progressive, but am I just supposed to give up?”

Her sister has returned with Dave and reminds her, “The hospice people are very nice.”

“Oh yes, but that doctor just sent them out, just like that. I hate him. I’ve always hated him.”

“You’ve only had two appointments.”

“Well, I hated him the first time, and I hated him the second time.” The sisters laugh. Miss Hepburn continues, “I mean, the way he put his size eleven shoes in my face! He sits across from me and crosses his legs and his feet are right up here.” I am reminded that she is not as tall as the other Miss Hepburn. “He doesn’t even look at me. He just says, ‘Someone from hospice will be out.’ Just like that!”

A few months ago, I saw a defining moment when Miss Hepburn could no longer work in her yard. But this defines her yet again. Her back is so bent she has trouble looking forward. She’s got bruises and bandages from surgery and falls. She’s on oxygen 24-7 and still has trouble catching her breath. But she asks me, “Did you see Margie’s cute car out front? Isn’t it adorable?”

Hospice is great when you’re ready to give up. When you know you’re near the end, the people of hospice can enrich your life and the lives of your loved ones in uncountable ways. But some doctors haven’t learned that not everyone gives up at the same speed. Some people just aren’t made for it. Also, they don’t like shoes in their face.

Apparently there’s this whole chain of life thing

squirrel contemplating
It's big.

Today I won’t be going to my friend Mike’s memorial service. He was a guy I met at the dog park, and I really liked him, but I didn’t know him well. I don’t know the details of the memorial service, and I don’t even know anyone to call and ask. But I will miss seeing him, and walking around the park with him and his gangly dog, and hearing small details about his interesting life, and getting travel ideas (he sent Dave and me to Merida, a perfect trip).

A few years ago, soon after I met Mike, before I knew his name, a small story happened because of him. In memory of the guy who turned out to be Mike, and with a nod to his dog who reportedly is going to a good home, and in honor of Mother’s day tomorrow, a day my mother claimed to hate, I offer it up.

How Squirrel Saved Fly

I went to the park with my dog. We saw a guy with his dog, and we walked for a while. Then then guy’s dog killed a squirrel. It was so upsetting. The guy cleaned the blood off the dog’s muzzle at the water fountain and I helped him.

Then me and my dog went home, where I had set these mousetraps. And then I was even more sad for when the mouse would be caught than I was when we set the traps, although we haven’t caught any yet. I was sad that I couldn’t just relocate the mouse, I was sad that I couldn’t save the squirrel.

Then me and my dog went to my mom’s, and in my mom’s dining room this fly was trying to escape. I had trapped him between the outside window and the inside window. And he was just standing on the sill, rubbing his two front legs together, and I could see his eyes, every detail of his eyes. My mom and I were going shopping and my mom said, “Just leave him there to die.” But I couldn’t. I couldn’t let him die, not after the squirrel. I mean, if it weren’t for the squirrel I wouldn’t have thought twice about this fly, I would have let my mom zap him with this electric zapper thing she got that kills flies, but I was like, “No.”

So I worked open the storm window without letting him back into the room, and I watched him fly away, and I felt so happy.

Goodbye, Mike. See you around, maybe.