Monday, April 30, 2018

A Pup Named Mattie

We had no intention of getting a puppy. For one thing we're too old. For another, we're partial to older dogs who need and deserve a good home. And for another thing, we weren't ready.

Here's what happened: my daughter's brother-in-law posted a Facebook photo of Mattie and he left a comment, 'you might be interested.' I impulsively called the rescue group listing her and found myself talking to her foster mother. Mattie was being housed on Cape Cod, so it was easy for us to visit her foster home, watch her play with the three other dogs who lived there, and hear about how sweet she was. The die was cast: we decided on the spot to adopt her. 

Except that Jess' brother-in-law didn't direct his comment to me in that Facebook post at all. He was nudging someone else to consider Mattie, not me! Which is another way of saying that Fate took the wheel and destiny delivered Mattie to our little family.

Her foster mother was right. She is a wonderful dog, smart, sweet, flexible, kind. At nine weeks old she was pretty much potty trained in a day, slept through the night, and even now is uncharacteristically patient for a puppy.

Mattie was rescued off the streets of the island of Aruba. She was was flown to the United States with about 40 other puppies before she ended up in our neck of the woods. Aruban street dogs are called Cunucus, a rare breed named after their homeland, the small Caribbean Island in the Dutch Antilles. The word "Canucu" means 'countryside' in the local language of Papiamento. These dogs are known to be athletic, courageous, loyal and intelligent. Mattie is all that. If they have any faults at all, they dig and bark. They are also agile and have amazing leaping ability. This is apparently an adaptation for lizard-chasing in prickly terrain, which may be a necessity in Aruba but not here in Provincetown. :^) Cunucus are pack dogs who live on the streets, forage for food from tourists and by their own means, and are targeted for rescue, especially the puppies, by a few wonderful animal welfare groups. 

It has been 2 years since we've had a dog and in those two years JB and I had the luxury of no responsibility for any one but ourselves. No longer. Now we're tethered to Mattie, but not because we feel responsible. It's simpler than that. Love has taken over. I'm amazed by how easily and completely that can happen. We care about her, we've all bonded. Because of my immobility this pup has learned all kinds of commands from me on the couch (sit, stay, leave it, bed, come, kiss, paw, no, yes, kiss kiss kiss) and all kinds of fun in the outer world from JB (daily dog wrestling at the local dog park, runs on the beach, walks on a leash.) She rides in the car with us, plays with our grand kids, welcomes and snuggles with our company and friends, and sleeps right next to me each night.

Dogs are special beings. When they're loved and with guidance, their loyalty and unconditional love can't be matched by us flawed humans. I hope once I'm back on my feet we'll head to our local animal shelter and bring home that 6-7 year old dog we first planned for. We're sure Mattie will like the companionship. Meanwhile, forgive me for saying she's a special dog, but I think she is. Most of all, she's kind--my favorite quality no matter what your species.

So here's to Mattie aka Matilda 'Mattie' Marie. She has a too-small yard to play in and a non-athletic and kid-less family, but all in all she landed on her feet. And so did we.

this post dedicated to my friend Wieneke xo

Friday, April 27, 2018


There's no escape from the mess that is current American democracy. This week the President of France addressed a joint session of Congress and his message and articulation of unity and justice and  compassion was especially striking because it contrasted so sharply with the angry and divisive rhetoric of Donald Trump. Many and most Americans are hoping that the mid-term elections in November will begin to right the ship. I don't know what troubles me more: the abhorrent treatment of decent immigrants or the flagrant danger of dissing the Paris Climate Accord. (Yes, I could add the attack on the free press and all our systems of justice and government.)

I know great damage has already been done but I have hope. 

As I prepare to shop my second novel, here's a reminder my first book is a good beach read. I still remember what it felt like to first hold this book in my hands. The characters of Alex and Lily live with me still. Writing is a lonely profession: it has to be done alone. To me it's a mysterious process, how words follow one after another to create a story. Sometimes I reread what I've written and I hear it for the first time, like someone else wrote those words. These days my mind is on my current heroine Christine Macabee, mother of 4, devotee of poetry and all things John Denver, a woman whose belief in devotion both comforts and deceives her. 

I'm glad to be a writer. 

This is where I live. Provincetown, on the very tip of Cape Cod, a peninsula where the light bounces off the sea like no where else. (First 2 photos courtesy of the Provincetown Photography Page.) 

I long to step into spring and summer. I still can't walk very far; I can't walk Mattie  and I can't walk along the sand. But some progress is happening. No more pain meds, my activity has increased, I'm still losing weight (!), and hope still floats. I'm determined to keep my attitude high and in check because maximizing what I can will clearly help me. 

Recently my brother was hospitalized and discharged home with hospice care. His situation is well more serious than mine, but his attitude is similar: he's determined to enjoy his days and wait to worry. When my parents died, one of the last things my Father told me was, "I'm not afraid, I'll see my Mother." And my Mother, two days before her last breath, with her eyes closed and her body withdrawing, said to herself, quietly and with no fear, "I hope I'm not dying." I chuckled about that since because she was so matter-of-fact and calm. Years apart, they both died peacefully and surrounded by love and family. They never once complained. I think that will be my brother and I hope when the time comes that will be me too.

Dying is hard to talk about and hard to plan for. Do you know about Five Wishes? Google it. Totally helpful. 

I'm so glad to be blogging again. 

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Write What You Know....

Going on 4 months later, I did not expect to still be wondering why I have groin and hip and leg pain that often hurts too much to walk and stand in a normal natural way. Which is another way of saying I am not able to plot and plan my gardens this Spring, I’m not watching our puppy frolic on the beach, and I’m not gabbing and socializing with my family and friends as I love to do. Twice now JB and I have prepared ourselves for major surgery, 5 times I’ve had injections hoping to locate the problem and lighten up on pain, but here I am again, reasonably comfortable sitting on the couch and unreasonably unable to stand and walk normally, figuring out what to do next.

Every night I fall asleep in our newly renovated all-white master bedroom and every morning as the light shines in and Mattie the puppy wakes me with her joyful licks, I think this will be a day when whatever ails me has fixed itself. I know it’s true that sometimes things and circumstances do indeed fix themselves. That hasn’t happened yet, and my concern grows bigger that I’m not helping myself, that it’s not healthy or justified to be so sedentary. I’m thankful that 2 of the injections gave me almost total relief for a glorious one or two days, assuring me that the cause of my inactivity is pain, not passivity. 

From the couch I’ve had time to notice certain areas of my character and they are surprisingly comforting. For one thing, to borrow a scene from the bay, just a block down the street, I still see starfish and reject seaweed: I believe I will in time be on the move again. I have a lot to be thankful for and every day I review that list: JB is well again and cooking us these super meals, our puppy is a goofy joy, my Jessica and her husband are happy and healthy and so are my 4 spunky grandkids, my manuscript is done and ready to be shopped for publication, I’ve lost almost 30 pounds, I’m swimming to strengthen my back, I love my house and the nearby ocean, I'm almost retired, and I have terrific friends and interesting people around me. The point is I have a lot going for me.

Pain has a way of removing a person from day-to-day life but I’m doing what I can to ride through the worst of it and I’m lucky because the pain isn’t relentless. I also have a couple of doctors who are riding this uncertainty with me—we try one approach, evaluate, and move on to the next. 

I’ve had an unusual amount of time to sit and reflect. And for some reason that reflection has taken me back to the very day I graduated from high school.I remember that day so well. I knew everything would be different the following morning. A couple of friends went to college with me and stayed near by but mostly I moved on to a new life: I got married, moved away, built a career, raised a phenomenal daughter, fell in love again, learned to garden, traveled the world. Over the next fifty-plus years, I lost touch with my high school friends and I built a satisfying life. Then a funny thing happened. When I began to wind down my high-energy career and took more time to relax, I reconnected with some of the friends I‘d left behind so long ago. I found I am still the same person and so are they. Despite all the changes and good or bad circumstances folded into our lives over half a century, to quote the songwriter Paul Simon, “after changes upon changes we are more or less the same.”  I’ll be damned.

Which brings me to the point of this post, if there is one. Last night I learned that it’s time for my brother, 7 years older than me, to arrange for hospice care now, so he can comfortably stay at home with his wife. Because I’m a Case Manager and at his request planned to speak with his doctors he called me first. “I don’t want you to be surprised when you talk to them,” he said. “It’s grim but I’m alright. I’ll have time to take care of things.”

It seems my brother approaches challenges like I do. I’m not in the middle of the worse challenge life might eventually throw at me, but there’s evidence so far that neither I or my brother aren’t likely to fold or whimper. I look backwards again and I see my parents didn’t fold or whimper either, even when they were dying. It must be in my DNA. And it must be because I've been lucky. 

And I should add, a week after I wrote this, the 5th injection has so far worked! Pain is a zillion times less. I’m might be gardening afterall. 


Sunday, April 01, 2018

Update 😬

My surgery was cancelled. There is a possibility that I have a second problem and it not the bone slippage may be the source of my limiting pain. This would be good news. So i’ve Had an injection into the suspected site and so far the pain has significantly decreased. Too soon to tell, but hopeful.