Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"I Could Write a Book About That Dog."

One Saturday afternoon when I was about 11 years old, I was in my room, probably drawing or working on a toothpick sculpture. Then I heard my mom yell, "HEY! What's that lady doing running around on our lawn??"
I looked up with a cartoon expression, 'huh??' and looked out my window which faced the front, and sure enough, a woman in her 30's or 40's was dashing to and fro on the lawn, like she was trying to catch something. Then with amusement and embarrassment, I saw what she was chasing. Our dog Nicky had her purse in his mouth, and he was playfully avoiding her capture.
"Oh my God..." My mom ran out the front door, "Nicky! Nicky! Bad dog!" Soon they were both trying to catch him, as he skillfully dodged them both, even with the purse in his mouth. Finally, my mom grabbed the purse and had a tug-of-war with Nicky for a few seconds. I watched from the window and couldn't help but crack up at this display.
"I'm so terribly sorry..." my mom apologized profusely as she handed the woman her purse, but she was good natured about it, and even laughed. She went on her way, happy to have her purse back. "Bad dog!" My mom scolded Nicky, but he just wagged his tail with his doggy grin.
A couple hours later I was helping my dad mow the lawn. He abruptly stopped and went to the front of the mower and picked something up. It was a set of keys, obviously from that woman's purse.
That was our dog Nicky on a good day. "I could write a book about that dog." my mom would often say.
One time I saw him crossing the street back to our yard with something in his mouth. It looked like an egg. Then he laid on the lawn and chewed on it for awhile, but soon he went back across the street and into the neighbors garage, which was open. He came back with another egg. After he went on another egg run, I went outside to see what he was doing. They weren't eggs, they were the neighbors brand new Titlest golf balls, chewed to bits. He had broken in to his golf bag and helped himself. I quickly put him in the backyard and hid the evidence. I'm not sure if the neighbor ever found out.
Nicky's escapades weren't always as amusing. One time he disappeared for 3 or 4 days. We were worried sick, checking the animal shelter, putting up flyers...but then he came home, without his collar and starving. A long time later we found out he had been dognapped by a crazy neighbor around the corner, but had made his escape. We found out because the neighbor moved, and the new people who moved in found his collar in a kitchen drawer, which had his tags with our address.
He was also hit by a car, not just any car, a Police car!...he came limping home with a broken hind leg and full of abrasions. A friend of ours saw the whole thing, "I saw Nicky get hit!" he later said, "he was trying to cross Stevens Creek Blvd. and a cop car hit him! The cop pulled over and got out, but Nicky was half a block away by then! He even drove his cop car to find him, but he must have hid!"
That's what we would always fear when Nicky got out, and he would always find a way to get out, no matter how escape-proof we tried to make the back yard. Well, he was a beagle, a hound, and hounds like to roam, so that's what he did. "I saw Nicky cross Stevens Creek!" another would say. Stevens Creek Blvd. was a major four-lane artery. "He dodged all these cars, I don't know how he did it, but he made it across!"
"uuuuugh...my God...I could write a book about that dog."

Friday, April 9, 2010

Illustration Friday - Linked

Bug & Copter
Originally uploaded by danguerra444
Dragonflies have always reminded me of helicopters, so whenever I see either one fly by, they are forever linked.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter with Pat

Yesterday was Easter Sunday, though it didn't feel too much like an Easter. I usually associate it with warm Spring days, church bells chiming, Easter egg hunts, friends and family...but it was cold and gray and it felt empty and joyless, not unlike my mood...

A neighbor down the street, Pat, had invited my mom and I to come over for Easter, so with no other plans, we went. I hadn't exactly been looking forward to it, since I would hardly know anyone, and besides, they were all my mom's age and older. It underscored the sense of detachment from the day, and my sense of isolation as I kept thinking of past Easters, and the past days of joy and fun they represented, which seemed light years away. But I thought, well, it'll be fun just to get out and go somewhere new, even if it was just a few doors down. And I was appreciative of Pat's generosity in having me over.

When we got there, about 6 or 7 neighbors were already there, I recognized Ron...and we all greeted each other warmly. I was in 'social mode' with an air of politeness and savoir faire, which was greatly polished when I worked at the store, when multitudes of seniors would come through my line.

Though after awhile, it became less of an 'act' and more of a natural state, as I became more comfortable in chatting with Ron and the other folks who were arriving. Ron had been good friends with my dad, and he told stories of their fishing exploits, and I told stories of his younger days when I was growing up in San Jose. We talked baseball with some of the others too. I don't know what it is about old ladies and baseball, but many of them are such huge fans! My mom included. As the afternoon wore on, some of them sat down to play cards (a game I've never heard of) as they gossiped about some of the neighbors. Others were riveted to the Yankees - Red Sox game on TV, as I partially was, though mindful of the fact that it's not entirely polite to watch the tube during a social gathering. But my mood had certainly elevated from earlier in the day. Ron asked me how I liked it in Tulare. I said I liked it fine, though it's quieter than I'm used to, and to be honest I missed my life back up North, and felt like I'm living in a sort of aftermath. He said, "Well, I think alot of us go through that...here's a test to see if your mission on Earth is finished; if you're alive, it ain't!" I laughed and said, "yeah, that's a good one!"...and it was.
Ron has a slight accent, as do many of them...though down here it's not so much an accent as it a regular local dialect. A southern accent, from Texas/Oklahoma, or to put it plainly, an 'Okie accent', which is probably different if you're in Oklahoma, but perfectly natural here. I thought once again of 'The Grapes of Wrath' which I had in an earlier blog. (see below) Especially when Pat began talking about Lendell Ranch. "We left our damn pickup at Lendell Ranch when we finally moved outta there...that thing got us to California, but it wasn't goin' an inch further..."
Lendell Ranch was a government run camp which housed thousands of displaced families looking for work in the Central Valley. It was built in 1938, and to this day it's hexagonal pattern of streets is part of an old neighborhood south of Visalia. Tagus Ranch was another one, just north of here. I began to realize that aside from watching 'The Grapes of Wrath' a few weeks ago, here were living icons of that era. And I felt a certain sense of honor to be spending Easter with them, because they are indeed the salt of the earth.
When we left, I thanked them all warmly and genuinely, and I walked home thinking of the hardship that many of them must have indured when they first arrived in California, and how petty and foolish I was for being in such a funk earlier that day. And the words still echo...
"Here's a test to see if your mission on Earth is finished; if you're alive, it ain't..."

Friday, April 2, 2010

Illustration Friday - Dip

dannyspics 105
Originally uploaded by danguerra444
Nothing like a dip in the ocean to discover a whole new world down there.