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Cradling his soft fur,

stroking the scars on his face

around his sore and

(always now) runny nose,

we wait for his blood to talk

and the vet to translate.

I look at his collar, and think

of the one just like it

(but with little white skulls

instead of lizards)

that waits on the shelf

for us to plant the garden

and the box of ashes

and I wonder just how many

name tags we can stand

to bury in one year.

Bo’s story.

Never Met-a-Four, They’re All Tens

That sunlit day,

when she was crowned

Miss Information

and paraded

as a matter of fact

through the streets

and on your television

did you wonder at her lies,

seductively kissed

from those gorgeous red

and unnaturally plump lips,

or were you too busy

wondering about wandering

across her hips instead?

The smell of lies

It’s not like when somebody microwaves fish at the office or when you open that plastic-ware that’s been in the fridge for five months. This is a smell that sneaks up on you, more like when there’s just a touch of mold in the blankets you left overnight in the washing machine before shoving them in the dryer anyway. It’s subtle, but once you smell it, you can’t un-smell it, and if you’re anything like me, it will drive you bonkers until you do something about it.

While I have a strong sense of smell (my husband might say overdeveloped), it took me long years to learn to smell lies. I’m a trusting soul in a sometimes-terrible world. I used to believe that things were my fault because I was told they were. It fit my distorted self-image fairly well to take the blame, but there were times when even I smelled the proverbial rat, when I knew that I’d done nothing wrong, and the confusion set in because shame told me it was all me, but my nose said wait. Something isn’t quite right here. I smell a lie. And I’m getting better with practice.

Now to the country at large. I taught my children that advertising was a way to manipulate them into buying things they didn’t need. That television in general existed to deliver those ads. Yes, there’s amazing art there, and I’m a huge fan of shows like Game of Thrones and Doctor Who so of course I watch anyway, but I do try for ad-free, knowing that “they” are already charging me for that. So manipulation by TV is nothing new to my olfactory senses. The news, like all television, has always sensationalized to some extent. But I think we can all agree that some of it stinks a lot more than it once did.

In this country, we live with 24/7 news – access to instant angst – and we pay for the pleasure. We pay for the ads, we pay for the streaming, we pay in the loss of health that living with constant stress inevitably brings, and we pay for the vodka or cake (or vodka and cake) that we use to cope with that stress at times. We also pay in the loss of whatever olfactory sense we may have for truth vs lies. Anyone old enough to remember the invention of the word “spin” may get this. While we have some incredible journalists, the people controlling the flow of information are corporations whose sworn goals are profits, not truth. Censorship is back room stuff, behind the scenes. People on “both sides” are fed this fast-food diet of fear, terror really, and blame of otherness, and some odd sense of superiority because we, we’re all told, are the only ones getting the Real Truth.

But let’s face it, sometimes we have to dig through layers of innuendo and flash to get to it, that Real Truth. And sometimes it’s not there at all unless we change the channel. Sometimes the “news” is run by hate groups, sometimes just greed, always targeted with analytics to get to you and your type. We argue over which is real (how easy it is to just yell “fake news” in a crowded theater) and create false equivalencies whenever it suits our world view. Whatever flavor of “truth” we want, we tune in, soak it up, and spit it out on Twitter as absolute fact. Only, many of us can smell the smelly lies as soon as we see them, and wonder why everyone can’t.

It’s perhaps ironic then that because of the lies, because of years and years of them, we’ve been faced with a lot of hard truths in 2017. We are not united states, or even united neighborhoods. Hate is coursing through our (sometimes former) friends and through our discourse. And it’s catching. I’ve caught it and held it, fed it with fear and fury and the helplessness of being forced to watch the people and things I love under attack by forces I can’t begin to control. But I still believe in the power of truth, and the people trying to tell it. It’s out there and we can sniff it out. That means calling out our own “side” sometimes, and standing up for others that do the same when the well-defended vitriol bounces back their way.

Look, I have a point of view about what’s going on. I know how I feel. I stand where I stand, and yes sometimes I let emotions rule over logic, or at least what’s presented as logic. I do not want my country to isolate itself, to turn its back even further on the people I was told we were here to look after. I want my melting pot back, and the belief – not yet true – that we are all equal under the law and in our hearts. But the truth is hate has always been here, and injustice rules the day, quite literally. And at this point, it’s my job, and quite frankly yours too, to point out the lies when you can stand the blow-back, to second-guess what seems too perfect a fit to our pre-conceived ideas of how things are before we post or publish them*, and to always use your nose.

Also, get some rest, take a walk outside, pet an animal, hug someone. There’s truth in that for sure.

* Like I did before adding a false claim above about a news network I detest. Yep, looked that sucker up and Snopes said nah, that’s not how it happened. Delete. Breathe. Keep sniffing.This problem is going to last for a very long time.

I am a snowflake

I am a snowflake

formed and reformed

by the chill shrill

of angry lock-step

declarations of hate

belched out

in 140 characters

or less.


I am a snowflake

yearning to melt

into liquid poured

down thirsty throats,

rain in the desert,

or an ocean teaming,

still, with life and joy

and hope.

Second Home

Our second home is

this second-hand love,

our matching failures,

the lingering aroma

of struggle and divorce.

The costs are high,

in dollars and children

lost in the shuffle.

But it’s shelter, still,

for me, for him,

for the second-hand dogs

(because how could we

do anything but rescue?).

There’s no ocean view

or peeks of mountains,

only us, together,

feeding the birds

and unpacking our bags.


For John, on our 9th “gave him my number”-versary. <3

Rough weather

I think it was that day I caught you laughing
in the corner of my eye as I punched angrily
at the heavy bag, unleashing my fury into
something safe, something intentional.
You, arms crossed, leaning and amused
by my clumsiness and bulk attempts
to grow muscle, to dump the dumps,
to gather strength for a storm I didn’t yet expect.
(Although I think now I must have smelled it in the wind.)
It was a light-ening strike, the crackle of it
shooting through my muscles and bones,
setting my teeth and soul on edge.
Yes, I’m certain now – I still feel the shock –
that was the day our bridge caught fire,
though it would smolder yet awhile before
bursting into flames for all to see.


Oh my ex, oh

my exoskeleton,

I owe it to you

who untrue showed

me the cracks but

if you’d had my back

jack if you’d only

had my back I’d still

believe in safety

unsafely dismissing

not even missing

my shell I’d be

unaware of hell.

Prompt: betrayal

Yep, I’m a flake

When I was a child, I used to love making paper snowflakes. You know, where you fold the paper all up and cut out notches, and then when you unfold – voila! I taught my kids, I wonder if they even remember in their sad everything-sucked kind of memories, but yes we made things. We painted on rocks and baked cookies and made snowflakes, and each one was its own little world and perfect. I love snowflakes.

And apparently I am one, too. I’m the person whose despair delights those MAGA winners on Twitter. I’m the tender-hearted fool who literally does think the well-being of others is worth more than a new car or fancy house of my own. I mean, I do have a fairly new car, it’s a 2013 Fit, but it runs like new and I will drive it into the dust like I did with my last car. I make pretty decent money for someone who was out of the workforce for 9 years. And I do have a decent (albeit un-fancy) house. Still, it’s a roof over our heads, and we can afford dog food for our two grown dogs and the new puppy. (Yes yes, we foster-failed on this last puppy, a combination of our broken hearts and the fact that we can. How lucky are we, that we can afford another rescue dog?) But what the hell more do I need that’s more important than helping people who weren’t born with a fraction of my privilege? Why does believing people should all have basic rights and a level playing field make me a loser?

Eh, don’t bother answering that – I don’t care. I’m sick of the name calling and the ugliness and the “winning” that seems to only consist of enjoying watching others fall. How long can it sustain itself, I wonder? How long does a (disturbed, yes, messed-up, get that child help!) child need to pull the wings off of flies or scorch ants with a magnifying glass? How many sandcastles does the bully need to knock over before he just decides he wants a sandwich and maybe a little telly time? I’m so bored already. The once-fresh snow of this political climate change has turned to black piles on the side of the road, full of exhaust, an eye-sore.

But whatever. I’m proud of my sensitivity, although it’s been used against me and can get a bit over the top at times. I mean, crying at animated movies bad. Yeah, I’m a snowflake, but I think you are too. And you know, this flake wants us all to win. My winning will only be sullied by the losing of others. I won’t be cheering when they drag the liars and the cheats out of their towers. I mean, I’ll be relieved as hell, and drinking champagne, but I won’t attend the hangings (this is just a METAPHOR, no need to alert the CIA). There’s no joy in any of this conflict for me. Some days it’s all I can do to focus on survival. But when I can, I’m going to keep trying to help people in the small ways, to spread a little kindness (that’s right, without even asking what side you’re on). I think that’s part of resistance, to stare down the ugliness and not become one with it. I believe we can do better, and I’m still willing to try. You can help too – let’s get our flaky on.

Adorable puppyIn only semi-related news, this is Gonzo. He came to us at 5 weeks – found alone on a busy road. He’s ours, but there are so many in rescues – go get you one, or two, they come in packs!


I want to say that if I fall

and I expect someday I shall

when you see me crash and burn

take my wings and take your turn


that paper tiger has no roar

face your fear and say “No more”

take up the torch I left for you

I hope you soar because I flew


They say all dogs go to heaven. Me, I think they bring heaven to us. Either way, Snoopy is leaving us behind, and we are shattered.

Snoopy has lived a few lives, city stray at the pound, a little house near the beach, apartments, a house with an electric dog fence, and finally, our forest-edge fenced-yard paradise for dogs. Through it all he’s been the Snoopervisor, the one looking after us, when he wasn’t busy eating furniture or finding the chocolate stash or loaf of bread someone thought they could leave on the counter for just a minute.

He was John’s when I met him, and I like to tell John that he’s the reason I went on that third date. I looked at him and knew that anyone who had a dog this magnificent had to be worth knowing. Thanks, Snoopy, you were right.

In the nine years that I’ve known him, Snoopy has put up with a lot, including Misha, the brindle maniac hound, who arrived in our lives as an 8-week old wild thing, turning everything upside-down. She pulled his shoulder out when we leashed them together, him 100lbs and her less than 10. Still, he stayed steady.

He put up with our foster puppies too, which can be utter madness, tiptoeing when he really had to go outside but didn’t want their attention. He put up with the kids, rolling on him, trying to pick him up, using him as a pillow whenever possible. And he put up with us, our moods, our ups and downs, our long walks and our hurried ones. And when he had enough of any of it, he would just “ROO” his mighty roo, and the room would be his, all traffic stopped. What a mighty Roo.

He’s been loved by so many people, and he’s made all our lives richer. There’s really no words for that, it just is.

So this is how I want to remember him. A solid 100lb soul with humor and personality to spare. A protector who kept us safe, and always made sure we all knew when someone had the audacity to walk their dog past our house. A heavy chin on your lap when you just really needed a heavy chin on your lap. A music lover who never missed a good jam session. A dog so magnificent that I not only wanted that next date, but to join his family. And oh, I’m so glad I did. I’m so grateful for all the time we’ve had. Fourteen years is a long life for a big dog, but it doesn’t seem even close to long enough.

We love you Noopy. Run free wherever good dogs run, no pain, no age, just slobber and handfuls of salmon and chocolate cake. We will always be yours, and always grateful to know you.

Snoopy left us at noon today – Friday 5/26/17, peacefully, in our home, thanks to Lap of Love ( After not eating for days, he managed some McDonalds burger and a touch of chocolate this morning. He was ready. <3

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