Thursday, July 24, 2008

Daphne: In Memoriam

Daphne's mud facial after digging in the creek for a rock

With the help of our vet, the sublime Dr. Adriano Betton, Daphne died peacefully last night in her yard. We buried her--along with a collection of her beloved rocks and Rosie's ashes--not far from the shed out back. She's in the company of the many cats, dogs, hermit crabs, and pet mice who have graced our home.

Daphne was 14 and a free spirit right up to the end.

She would have had a good laugh at our final moment together. And the dog did laugh--and smile.

It was dark by the time we wheeled her down to the end of the yard in my trusty barrel. I just couldn't bring myself to dump her into her grave, like a load of compost. So I gathered her now-skinny body in my arms and tried to lower us both in. I couldn't see and didn't realize the depth of the hole. Together, we tumbled into the grave. My husband Bill, who has a bad hip and couldn't lift her but had offered to get a flashlight and I refused, watched in horror as dog and wife disappeared into a cloud of lime dust. (We had lined the hole with lime.) I was lucky, suffering only a few minor scratches and a knee bruise. With Daphne, we always expected the unexpected--and got it.

To Tina, Daphne was Mom.

Dosing on the screened porch with Lucy

Rest in peace, friend. You had a full romp.

Prompt: Write about a pet that is no longer here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Poplar Grove

When I took a writing group to France in June, we walked from the chateau to a poplar grove. This was as close as I got to the trees. Others wandered through the swampy grass--you wouldn't know it was there by looking--and tried to get into the grove. At one point the trees had been surrounded by a moat and finding a way in was almost impossible. Only one in the group succeeded.

I was content to lie in the grass and write, from afar. Sandra, who sat with me briefly, said: "I'm having explorer envy." I wasn't. And when the others came back, shoes ruined or as somebody with an artistic bent called them, "distressed," Sandra was just as glad she had stayed put.

So was I. I don't usually care about going the extra distance. I don't have to pitch a tent and camp to get the feel of a mountain. I'm happy to spend an hour or two on the trail and then return to the comfy hotel.

Same with museums. I can spend a morning in one gallery and be perfectly happy. I don't want or need to take in the entire collection.

And when I'm in a foreign city, I'd rather walk the streets and sit at an outdoor cafe, soaking up the ambiance, than tour the famous sites.

Some would--and do--call me lazy. Maybe they're right. But I like to say that I enjoy letting my mind fill in a lot of the details. I don't have to experience everything up close and personal.

And I try to tell writers that too. Give enough details but leave room for the reader's imagination to fill in with its own vast vision.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My Favorite Writing Tool

When I'm stuck and can't budge on a writing project--when free-writing, list making, journaling from the kitchen sink's or my dog's point of view, clustering--when all these tools fail me, I put on my knee high boots and head out to the back shed for this . . .

my blue wheel barrel. I dig into the loamy mulch pile, toss the soil, splat, into the sturdy steel bowl of blue, and haul a load to a needy shrub--enjoying the quiet roll of the wheel barrel--up the drive, across the yard, into the ivy--my fingers holding the wooden handles, shoulders back, body balanced against the wheel barrel's weight.

The Red Wheelbarrow
so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

--William Carlos Williams