A dog’s world view

From here he watches over the birdfeeders and pond. From the corner of his eye he knows if the groundhog has ventured out from beneath the neighbor’s garage to raid the vegetable garden. He might consider making chase, but advancing age has lessened any chance of his being a real threat to any furry creature, be it woodchuck or bunny, or marauding squirrel with a taste for sunflower. Most importantly, he can see the bend in the road – the point at which his defended territory begins. He orients himself to that place where children on bicycles (or heaven forbid skateboards!) and dogs on leashes enter his realm. He lies in wait and worries the honeybees working clover until he spots an interloper on his street. Then the show begins and he is up and running like a young pup. Pulling at the lead that allows him run of the length of the yard, looking to all the world like he is about to do a cartwheel off the lead and launch himself into the street. The neighborhood kids know to ignore his silly antics, but to the unsuspecting he looks quite ferocious. He likes it that way and seems to take a certain amount of pride in the number of dog walkers (especially those with little yippy dogs) that he can turn away and convince to retreat out of his territory and back the way they came.

For all the years we’ve had him, we’ve tried to break him of this habit, of being so ridiculously protective of his place, but to no avail. When he’s finished his clowning he looks to me for the scolding he knows to expect, and smiles in his doggy way at having been bad. How can I fault him for protecting his pack and his place and for taking such joy in it?

The reluctant fisherman and other fathers in my life

I just love this pic of my dad – his goofy grin and the big blue sky behind him while he holds this little fish pulled from some Canadian lake. I didn’t think of my dad as the *outdoorsy* type – heck he wouldn’t even eat most fish, but the chance to go away on a fishing trip with my brother and his buddies, well. I think this pic was taken on *the* trip when my dad talked non-stop for the whole car ride there – that’s my brother Kevin’s story to tell.

My father-in-law, at least 20 years before I met him, and smoking a cigarette no less! I miss him – talk about a man who had stories to tell.

My brother Kevin on his daughter’s Christening Day

My brother Brian with his Julia – both all legs!

Fathers, especially fathers of daughters: know that you are loved and that your impact will live beyond you. And know that we see the light you hold in your eyes, just for us, your daughters.

Have you read it?

Here are the current top 50 books from whatshouldireadnext.com.

Bold the books you have read. Add comments if you like. Italicize the books you want to read. Pass it on if you feel like it:

The DaVinci Code – Dan Brown
The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
His Dark Materials (series) – Philip Pullman
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter 6) – J.K. Rowling
Life of Pi — Yann Martel
Animal Farm – George Orwell
Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
Lord of the Flies – William Golding
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
1984 – George Orwell
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter 3) – J.K. Rowling
One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter 4) – J.K. Rowling
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hossieni
The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter 5) – J.K. Rowling
Slaughterhouse 5 – Kurt Vonnegut
Angels and Demons – Dan Brown
Fight Club — Chuck Palaniuk
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter 1) – J.K. Rowling
Neuromancer – William Gibson
Cryptonomicon – Neal Stephenson
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter 2) – J.K. Rowling
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
American Gods – Neil Gaiman
Ender’s Game (The Ender Saga) – Orson Scott Card
Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson
A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Good Omens – Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman
Atonement – Ian McEwan
The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
Dune – Frank Herbert

Most hated book on the list: Animal Farm. Freshman English class, need I say more?
Most loved book on the list: Shadow of the Wind or The Time-Traveler’s Wife.

I’d love to hear your comments on these books or if you make a list of your own.

6/14/06 Mid-week bunny fix (for Michelle)

May you always rest in peace,
My darling;
May you sing with the angels
And the heavenly hosts
May you never go hungry,
Never be lonely,
Always remember that I love you,
That I miss you immensely,
That I shall never forget you.
Lastly, may you always
Be happy,
Forever and ever,

Michelle is a dear *cyberfriend* from the PetBunny List and tomorrow is her Hazel’s one year Bridge Anniversary. I stole this pic from her Webshots page – hope you don’t mind Michelle! I’ll think of Hazel tomorrow and picture her leaping and dancing in that rainbow dappled land just beyond the sun.

Four hundred tongues

The neighborhood mockingbird (the many-tongued mimic, known to Native Americans as “Cencontlatolly” or “four hundred tongues” has taken to beginning his evening serenade around 11 pm of late, just about the time the people down the street put their young dog out for the night. The dog whines and yaps incessantly and this seems to be the mocker’s cue to begin his recital for those of us awake and with the windows open.

A pupa of pain, I sat and lay one July,
companioned by the bird the Indians called “four hundred tongues.”
Through the dark in the back yard by my bed,
through the long day near my front couch,
the bird sang without pause an amplified song
“two-thirds his own,” books told me,
“and one-third mimicry.”

Gray charmer, “the lark and nightingale in one,”
unremitting maker of music so full of wit
and improvisation, I strained by night and light

to hear the scientists’ record: “In ten minutes
he mimicked thirty-two species.” I counted eight
(even I) variations on cardinal’s song alone.

Cock of the neighborhood, his white flashes of wing
and long distinguished tail ruled the bushes and boughs,
and once, enchanted, I saw him walk past my house,
herding, from three feet behind, the neighbor’s nice, cowardly cat.
He controlled without any fuss
but took little time off. Most of our month he sang.

The sticky wings of my mind began to open
No mere plagiarist, a Harold Bloom singer,
he leaned on, but played with, robin, or jay or
starling or whippoorwhill. I began to prefer
him and house and hurting to the world outdoors.
Both art and art-lover attend to what may happen.

The weeks went by. At two a.m. he’d begin
my steadier, stronger, surer flight through his airs,
and the sun sent us into heights of his lyric together.
Virtuoso though he was, I was learning his repertoire.
Who would have thought the moth of me would tire?
Toward the end of a month in concert I began to complain.

Constant cadence, I told him, gives one no rest.
Is it my fault you must be lonesome for a mate?
There must be no nestlings to feed (when do you eat?).
What master of complexity won’t duplicate with incessant singing?
Delete, delete, delete,
shut up for a while my bird-brained, brilliant stylist!

I left him for the North and less prolific birds
(but not before reading a chatty chapter on him
by a man who threw a shoe treeward at four a.m.
to stop “that endless torrent”),
my movement a handsome tribute to his voice.
Leaving my pencils at home,
I resolved to husband my own apprentice words.


Sometime past midnight I heard a neighbor yelling, “shut up! stop it”; whether to the mocker or the yelping dog I’m not sure. I enjoy listening to him sing as I fall asleep and do try to name the bird he’s mocking as I drift off. A pair nested for a number of years in a spirea bush in our yard, but since getting cable tv and doing away with our old-fashioned tv antenna they don’t seem to find our yard as attractive and have moved across the street to the cemetery. I used to love to watch the mockingbirds *dance* up there on the antenna – jumping into the air with wings extended, only to flutter down in the same place face-down, before turning around with wings out to repeat the dance, singing all the while.

Mystery garden raider

Do birds eat broccoli?

Do squirrels like brussels sprouts?

Well, we’ve discovered that the fortress my husband built around the veggie garden is not impenetrable. Nothing has chewed through the chicken wire and lattice and nothing has dug under the fence. There are no footprints. So either a bird or an herbivore with a parachute raided our garden or a squirrel or a very lightweight woodchuck climbed over the fence to snack on the broccoli and brussels sprouts. But only those two delicacies. It must be saving the kale, cabbage, and assorted lettuces for tonight. Darn.

Fridge art and hot rods

So this is what’s on my fridge. Exciting stuff. 6 years worth of magnets (we’re missing 2002) from Westside Hose Company’s annual car show and a few silly bird magnets that were stockings stuffers to hold up important papers like the invite to yesterday’s graduation party and the reminder card for tomorrow’s appointment with the bunny vet.

I wouldn’t call it art, but I’m going along with the invite from TaraDharma to post what’s on your refrigerator today. I hope other people have more interesting fridges than mine. Slightly more interesting might be a pic of what’s lurking inside my fridge, but let’s not go there!

Today was Westside’s car show and my husband as a volunteer fireman had to go and help out. I stopped by and we did the loop looking at all the cars that had come to show off. They had a really good turn out this year and beautiful weather, so I hope they made lots of money. I don’t know the first thing about cars, classic or otherwise, but enjoyed taking pictures of them, mostly because it made the owners feel good for me to show an interest in their car.

I loved the colors of some of these cars – bright orange and purple and this beautiful, almost violet, blue. They were all incredibly shiny and well-cared for. These guys spend so much money on these cars, just to take them out to shows like today’s. If they’re lucky, they’ll win a shiny trophy to go with their shiny car, but that’s it.

This bright orange Studebaker truck was my husband’s favorite. The whole inside of the hood was mirrored, to show off the engine, I guess. Very shiny! I liked this violet blue Edsel (I’d swear I’d heard my dad talk about Edsel’s) – the color was really gorgeous in the sun. There were over 300 cars in the competition, but our friend Jimmy (that’s his little red Ford in the photo above) didn’t win a trophy. But then, he didn’t even wax the truck up so that it would gleam in the sun like the others.

A day for memorials

Sort of an odd day today. I met my brothers at the cemetary this morning to finally bury my father’s ashes. We’d put it off for too long, but my brother has just about finalized the estate, so I look at this as another step in that long process.

Two years ago at this time it was all just beginning. Figuring out how we would care for my dad in his illness, the day-to-day efforts to find some normalcy in the midst of his struggle with dialysis and cancer, his poor appetite, and all the medicine and doctors that he hated so much. All the while trying to get his house emptied and ready for sale. It is a wonder to me that it’s all worked out okay. My dad can rest well, I think. So today we said our prayers and put a velvet-covered box in the ground beside my mom and brothers who died so long ago. And then we stood around and made jokes, as we do.

My husband and I had a graduation party to attend at a nice waterfront restaurant overlooking the inlet and Sandy Hook Bay. On our way home we visited the county’s 9/11 memorial, pictured above, which honors the 147 residents of our county who died that day. Located at Mount Mitchill Scenic Overlook in Atlantic Highlands, the memorial is backed by views of Sandy Hook and the Bay, and the New York Skyline. According to the brochure, Mt. Mitchill, at 266 feet, is the highest elevation on the Atlantic coast from southern Maine to the Yucatan. More info on the memorial is available here. Today was my first visit to the memorial and park, but closeby is my dad’s favorite German restaurant which we visited often on special occasions, like his 70th birthday, pictured at left, with my brother and sweet red-haired niece. He loved the dark German beer there and the view.