New day dawns outside the kitchen window

Thought I’d send what seems to be my annual blog post, maybe even a bit early, maybe a 11.2 months post. The time during my last Rodney Street Laundry blog foray until now did mark the beginning of Truth in Progress, my new endeavor with Gil Caldwell, but I have missed my own unchartered no-destination writing.

Much has changed  in the last 11.2 months. I’ve changed from aol to gmail, PC  to Mac, dumb phone to smart phone, smart phone user to dumb phone user, among the minor transitions.

Helpful hint: it’s not well advised to get a new phone that has only been on the market for 6 weeks and is called Devour. I did not see the signs when the young Costco saleswoman told me that this was the next phone she was going to get and that I’d get the phone, chargers, case (that didn’t fit), and bluetooth, all for $39.99. Three weeks in, I did not feel any smarter, I had gotten to know the Verizon store too well, and met Verizon and Motorblur personnel around the globe. After a V/M software update on Devour, things did become more tolerable. However, they didn’t like my suggestion of spa points for every hour I spent in their store, time on phone to them, and the number of curse words per minute, actually seconds, including darn and shoot. I would also say that doing things fast without thinking through the ramifications -a difficult tendency that I bring to all things electronic- starting with buying a phone and onward to the rapid syncing of all the damn contacts on my phone, gmail and facebook, is not advised. I dare not try to fix what is what, because I no longer know where the contacts originated or which list is the starting point for the syncing. If you move without thinking, there are things you must accept, communication catastrophes not withstanding. I have however, for the most part, stopped pocket dialing my friends, but my cheekbone did find the mute button just the other day during a call, hearing my friend who could not hear me was most confounding. (For those of you who think you can tell me how to fix my contact list, my eyes are already glazing over.)

Right before the lunge at the guacamole

Bigger change: Emma the Wonder Dog passed on to doggie heaven in January, where she can now lick road kill off the middle of the street without me holding my breath as cars pass slowly on either side of her. She was 13 and caught in a series of seizures (still gumming down food in the seconds between them), her time for departure was clear. One special thing about Helena is all the dog lovers. I was allowed to sit with Emma on the floor of one of the vet’s two exam rooms all morning while it became clear that Em needed to move on. Then the vet joined me on the floor for the before and after, shedding tears and stories with me. I felt extremely lucky, all and all, that Em had done very well up to that point, and very grateful for our long friendship of 11 years. One can expect vet’s offices to be dog lovers, but there’s more. I did not look forward to the day I would go through the bank drive-thru and be asked where Emma was or tell the many people at the Myrna Loy Center where Emma worked in the two fields of quality popcorn and  nap control. Those days passed. I did cause an awkward moment when the bank teller asked where Emma was, and I said, “she died.” It sounded more abrupt to the teller than to me and I was left apologizing for the shock, “she was old.” I didn’t seem to be relieving her so I left it for another banking moment. One more dog moment to tell, a few months before she died, Emma decided to take a little ramble on the snow and ice. We had gotten out of the car at home, and I had decided to let her take her time coming inside. After not seeing her for a while, I went outside to check. A man was holding her collar and asking if this was my dog. He said he had  pulled his car over when he saw her because dogs can get cold very quickly on the ice, and he was afraid she was lost. He’d gone to a lot of trouble for an old dog winding her way (she had lost the balance to walk a straight line) diagonally across the corner. She seemed unfazed by the attention and the stop to her adventure. The end of our journey together was very difficult, and I had an underlying sadness for a long time. Again, with plenty of dog lovers around, I had plenty of company to share that grief that is particular to losing a really fine dog.

How to take a picture of a dog

Now nine months later with a little bit of hesitance I have adopted a new dog, a very tall white 80-pounds of enthusiasm, curiosity, and need-to-be-petted canine. His name is Lucky (changed from Langy). His breed is up for a vote. The shelter said Akbash mix, the vet white shepherd mix, but a picture on a dog catalogue and description online has him more like a Borzoi Russian wolfhound. I’m settling on a Turkish Akbash, which means “white head,” and the Russian wolfhound mix, which makes him a Turko-Russian white headed wolfhound, which is short for “gentle giant with no boundaries who dances with porcupines.”

Evidently, in his first home, where he was thought to be the sheep-guarding Akbash, he turned on the livestock, which wasn’t such a good thing to do. He ended up in the doggie slammer where he sat with the loud barking dogs when I found him.  I wanted a dog that would look me in the eye. I’m not sure I had in mind a dog that could literally do that but that’s what I got. I also wanted a dog that was pretty settled and could adjust

New Domain

to my schedule and mine to its without much loss of sleep or property. Those needs have been met, and I’ve gained a nutritionist and fitness trainer in the mix. He looks back at me on the hiking trail when I want to go back to the car with a look of  “come on, you can go a bit farther.” He also lifted some great bakery rolls that I’d been relishing and took them to the backyard where I found him finishing them off. Damn dog.

We’ve just about sorted through him standing on the table to eat the cat food. After repeated scoldings, he actually brought me the cat food dish with food in it. I could here a scattering noise in between his claws clicking on the floor from the back of the house to my front bedroom. I wondered what the sound was until he arrived with the dish. As we went back to the kitchen, he was happily surprised to see a trail of cat food just for him. Days later he carried the dish into the yard and demolished it. I’ve moved the cat food to on top of the washer, which would seem a much easier place to get his mouth around it, but so far he’s leaving it alone. Now we are onto keeping him in the car when I run inside to a store or when a squirrel happens by as we’re driving down the street. I have to carefully measure how far down (or up) the window is so he cannot crawl out, one inch off and it’s a game changer. Last weekend he

This is all the space I need for an escape

crawled out and came through the automatic doors into Walgreens where I was looking at cards. At the familiar sound of his tags jingling I looked up to see a white streak shooting through the store. I got to the end of my aisle yelling out “Lucky,” but he’d already hit the photo shop and turned toward the pharmacy, so I’m looking like a woman in the middle of Walgreens yelling “Lucky” for no reason. I got to the photo editing machine just as he skidded to a halt at the cold/flu section and was able to get his attention. As he barreled towards me, a man standing in Lucky’s line, said, “What kind of dog is that?” Not a quick answer so I said, “Russian wolfhound” that might have sounded a lot like “rushing oops hounds.” Another dog lover.

Dog on cat

He must have made quite an impression when he was at the shelter because all over town people have asked about him, “Is he the big dog that was at the humane society?” “Was he in the paper recently?” “I think I saw him at Starbucks when they were doing the adopt-a-pet day.” A friend knew a 12-year old girl who had walked Lucky at the shelter and r-e-a-l-l-y wanted to adopt him. Her parents wouldn’t let her because they already had 3 at home. The girl has already called me to check to see how he is doing. And when he was having a howling throw-himself-at the-window attack in the car while I was in the bank, the clerks asked if he could come inside where he was bathed in attention. No wonder he doesn’t like being left out, his fan club awaits. Buuzedeaux (booze-dough) the cat is not as moved. He likes the dog, but Lucky’s head is about the size of the entire cat and then there are the sheer weight and velocity issues.

At home in Montana

Lucky gets to ride around in my new car, the final change this year. It’s also white and seems to go with him, him with it. I fetched it from Texas in May. My sister and brother-in-law had been on the look out for a car for me, a task that was very helpful to me as I hadn’t given it much thought. My sister, however, was given pause to think about it a couple of years ago when she came to help me through surgery. This is when she sat in single digit temps in the hospital parking lot at midnight waiting for my old car’s automatic shift to go into gear. There was a certain low temperature that when gone under, the button to press to get the shift to go to D wouldn’t budge. Sometimes it would on the first shot. If not, it was a 5-10 minute wait. It was a friend of Liz and Max who had the car for sale. Picking it up in Texas gave me a fabulous road trip home with the pleasure of meeting two officers of the TX law (to my credit, they were 500 miles apart). They both gave me warnings for my too-fast driving, but the second one asked if I would do him a personal favor and drive the speed limit. From that point on, I used Cruise Control, in the literal sense.

So my 1996/1997 model car and dog have passed on and now I have a 2005 model car and dog. Fall is settling in. The light seems to melt away this time of year, just as it seems to pop on in March in Montana. We have long, long days, and then really short ones, always hoping our bodies and spirits will move right along with the seasons. I like the green grass and blue sky but am heartened that even when the ground is covered in snow, most days we still have the bright sunshine –even if just for a short but lingering taste each day.

Montana skies

Some changes melt from a moment to another moment, others are abrupt in nature, some accompanied by intense grief. I won’t wax poetic, change is the reality of life whether human or the perennials my mom planted this summer. The poetry and prose of change are in the finding of ways to live with it with acceptance and the “why’s,” with heartache and humor, excitement and hesitance, slowly settling and sharply turning. And we live, I live, with the awareness that external changes signal internal ones, but I don’t always have to know what those are in the moment, another season will teach me.


In Texas, the first great niece Adelaide Claire Smith, who makes me a truly great aunt.

Adelaide Claire Smith

The Rodney Street Laundry is for sale, the B&B Market has changed hands again and thus the Jailhouse Sandwich Shop & Soup Kitchen is no longer, and the Main News turned Capital Perks is now Cafe Zuppa and newly located in the lobby of the Placer Building.

Things that have not changed: Belmar Bakery thumbprint cookies in Amarillo, TX

The BIG question: what kind of dog is Lucky?



White Shepherd