Three Weeks Down – Summer Solstice Edition





Today found us on our newly named Sky Deck watching the sun come up over the Cascades and Lake Washington. Buster loves it up there as now he can make sure there are no kitties lurking around the neighborhood, and he has a view of all the neighbor dogs. Coffee on the deck on a gorgeous day is sublime.

It’s week three and we’re trying to mitigate the dust and debris. We finally gave up on our contractor managing our site and spent 4 hours yesterday cleaning up the yard and vacuuming areas in the house to remove the debris left behind by Ivan who is working on repairing the dry rot. His brother, Eddie, has come in from Chihuaha, Mexico to help, and is doing what he can, but he’s not really into construction as much as Ivan, who has been doing a great job with very little support. But Eddie and I worked together to remove the kitchen tile and fireplace landing. We also worked to remove debris from the house. Both brothers are great guys and hard workers.

John is at the end of his rope with the debris falling into the basement through the vent holes created when we removed all of the ductwork. While we asked that the holes be plugged, they were not, and both of us have spent a lot of time cleaning that up. John is going to Florida and will have a break from the mess for a week, which I’m sure he’ll enjoy. Buster and myself will hold down the fort. 

We’ve made lots of decisions this week on bathroom fixtures and some lighting, doors and tile, but we still have many more to go. The Airstream is performing like a trooper, but there is one major design flaw to them and this is the horizontal blinds, particularly the one over the bed, which keeps popping out of the pins that hold them to the wall. The pull down blinds on other models are far superior as they lock in place, and I think we are close to replacing some of the key blinds with those so we don’t have to keep putting them back in their pins. John made delicious breakfast biscuits today from the biscuits we bought at Biscuit Bitch in Belltown (they are wonderful biscuits) on our way back from Le Pichet where we always go after the Symphony for Chocolate Chaud. Last night, the Seattle Symphony performed an extraordinary version of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite for the Untuxed crowd. It was quite moving.

Buster is doing great, though he’s a bit tired from making sure everyone is doing their thing. He’s constantly on alert for changes. We’ve been giving a bunch of tours to the neighbors, but those will end this week when the roof structure is removed and we can no longer get up on the sky deck until all is re-framed.

Today is a beautiful day for Solstice, and as we head into the next week, we’ll be curious to see if our contractors reappear, and if the roof removal and reframing goes smoothly without the threat of rain.

We are beginning to believe that the demo process is nothing like you see on HGTV. You have to live it to believe it. Their remodels are done in an hour.  : )


Writers and Dogs

Writers need dogs. Plain and simple. Through the long hours writing, there is nothing like a dog to curl up next to you when it’s cold, or when the long sentence dwindles down to a razor-like clearness that illuminates the work.

We need dogs for the long walks for thinking – because we are always thinking, inventing, plotting, defining. They snap us out of writing’s melancholy. They teach us patience (except when it’s their mealtime) and they show us joy. They bark at us when we’re too serious, or stare us down when our attentions go astray.

There are many wonderful books about dogs: Dog Years by Mark Doty, Colter by Rick Bass, Merle’s Door… Dog poetry abounds. We are silly about dogs – spending more money on them than ever, doting on their needs – and why not? In the insular world of writing, we need the release from tension that dogs bring – and we need their comfort from  the thoughts that bounce around in our brains all rubbery, but sharp.

I’ve been fortunate to have two wonderful dogs so far… Tucker helped me through the first 2 books and part of the latest, and Buster through the final leg of it. How wonderful it is to have the feet warmed, the hand a place to rest, or their eyes to get lost in when the time is absolutely right.

Dogs and Writing

There are more than a few books about dogs out there in the marketplace. I’ve read very few. At the time that Marley and Me came out, I was in the process of losing my own yellow lab, and had no interest in living another person’s loss.

As a writer, I’m thankful to have a dog as they allow me the needed time to contemplate on long walks along the lake here in Seattle, or in the woods on nice weekends. Both of my dogs have curled up at my feet when I write, which I think has more to do with the radiator right next to me than wanting to be next to me. I hope it’s both.

Dogs are extremely valuable creatures to writers. I’m sure cats are too, but dogs will actually listen to you when you read a sentence out loud, or walk away when the cadence goes awry. Or be there when emotion simply overcomes you when you write a passage and you need them to be there. Cats, in most cases, could care less.

My two favorite books about dogs are Mark Doty’s “Dog Years” and Rick Bass’ “Colter.” Mr. Doty and Mr. Bass write with such lyrical prose that they elevate the reading experience to art, making the experience they had with their own dogs, and their compulsion to write about it, extraordinary for the reader.

My yellow lab, Tucker, withstood many lonely afternoons of me writing, but was rewarded handsomely with terrific walks at the beach. When he passed it was a terrible loss. The three years between dogs was extremely difficult.

Buster, my lab/golden mix is enjoying our lake walks. Lucky for him, he hasn’t endured the intensity of writing new words, just the work of rewriting. I find that getting new words to paper is far more difficult. Luckily, I’ve had my two pals to join me when the mind is allowed to relax and create, and I would not have traded Tucker, and now Buster, for anything in the world.

The Dogs of Central Park

Watching dogs play in the snow today reminded me of this poem I wrote about all of the dogs of central park, which was inspired by my friend, Fran Reisner’s book, “The Dogs of Central Park.”

You can listen to it here as well.



The Dogs of Central Park

We come in at all angles from brownstones and high-rises, running, sniffing,

bounding across The Great Lawn in every season, once through saffron gates,

dragging our humans to meet ancestors, generations of buried bones, chased balls,

nipping silk petticoats waiting for attention, the play to begin, discovery.

Down along the paths to The Boathouse where we bathed, and rode

the great ships from shore to shore, in this park, this banquet of smells,

in skyscraper shadows, we strolled under shielding trees protected by angels

wings. Leashed, we crossed Balcony Bridge, lunched at the Ladies’ Pavilion

breaking away to hear Shakespeare’s sonnets sung as we raced up granite

mountains to see our ghosts digging, their paws scratching the history of

New York, the immigrants who tamed and lived with us, building the horizon

up, up, but leaving this beauty here for us, where all streets converge,

mapped by our noses so that we may find each other and urge our offspring

into the great maw of hope, driving our humans, our park, our city, forward.