I have so many stories and thoughts bubbling around in my head that I could probably write a 5000 word blog post. I’m not going to, though, because that’s a lot of words and it would take me all day, maybe two days, and I have other things to do. But these are things I want to remember, all from a single day: this past Saturday.
First thing in the morning, I took Sophie on a walk, to our usual park, Stewart Park, where we played ball for a while. When we were leaving, a mid-size black dog came running up from behind us, its owner calling after it. Sophie said hello, politely enough, they did a circle of greeting in the way dogs do, and Sophie came back to me, ready to leave. The dog followed her and then… just… attacked. Grabbed Sophie by the scruff of the neck, yanked her down to the ground, much growling, Sophie yelping. I grabbed the dog’s collar and smacked it with my ChuckIt stick, yelling at it, while its owner came running.
Sophie was fine. I was somewhat less fine. The owner was apologetic, and shocked, authentically, I think. Not the pretend shock of “Dang, he did it again,” but the real shock of, “What did she just do, that was so crazy?!” The dog was sheepish, turning her back on Sophie and me. Sophie sat patiently while I checked her for injuries and then talked to the other dog’s owner for a few minutes. On the way home, I was shaking. Not because of that interaction, weird as it was, but because of the memories it brought back. It’s kind of amazing that we live with and love these dangerous predators.
It’s also kind of amazing how resilient human beings can be (and dogs, too, of course.) After Zelda was attacked, I really did have some post-traumatic stress around dogs: strange dogs made me jumpy, and a dog moving quickly in my direction would trigger major anxiety: adrenaline, accelerated heart rate, fast breathing — not quite panic, but anxiety. But I’ve recovered from that. When this dog came running toward us, I didn’t have the slightest bit of concern. I’m sure it helped that it was a black lab-ish kind of dog, not a pit bull or a German Shepherd or a Doberman, none of whom I would want to see running toward Sophie. But still, I wasn’t worried in the least. Incorrectly, as it turned out! But I don’t think there was a thing I could have done about that situation, short of never leaving the house, and I don’t think it’s going to trigger renewed anxiety. Well, maybe a little. But not a lot. It was a strange experience, however, and not a fun one.
Next up on my Saturday, though, some definite fun: the farmer’s market. The farmer’s market in August is so different than the farmer’s market in the middle of winter. Packed with vegetables and packed with people. And most of the people are — not tourists, that’s not the right word — but… browsers? They’ve come for the event, for the outing. They’re having a little Saturday adventure that might include some delicious food, while I’m trying to do my grocery shopping. It’s such a different mindset.
But it’s nice to remember to step back and say, oh, yes, this is an outing. (It’s a three minute walk from my tiny house, it’s a very tiny outing.) It’s not just picking up groceries; it’s a celebration of nature’s bounty. It is, of course, much, much easier to feel this way about the farmer’s market when it’s sunny and 65 degrees than when it’s raining and 45 degrees. And also, of course, with summer foods instead of winter foods — peaches, not just carrots. I’ve been eating yogurt and granola with peaches for breakfast and it feels deliciously summery.
Also deliciously summery: I brought some hibiscus aqua fresca home, and froze it in an ice cube tray. I’ve been drinking sparkling water with hibiscus ice cubes while sitting in the sunshine on the back patio. Total summer. Yum!
After the farmer’s market, Sophie and I went to her dog training class. We so love her class. Marilyn, the main instructor, asked how we were all doing with pulling on the leash, and then said something to me like, “You probably don’t have that problem, do you?” I laughed and said, “Mostly, no, but walking to class today, I put Sophie on leash the block before Samoa, because that’s where the road gets busy. But she knew exactly where we were going and for those last two blocks, she was definitely pulling. Go faster, go faster, that’s what she was saying!”
There are three dogs in this class (Level 2) and the way the class is structured is that we all sit and talk about our dogs for a little bit, and then we all go to separate corners, created by temporary fencing covered with sheets. Then Marilyn walks us through an exercise, sometimes using her dog to demonstrate, and we all practice in our separate corners. We’ll come out, one at a time, to work with our dog in the center of the room, with the instructors offering advice and suggestions.
Sophie is a total ham. When she’s in the center of the room, she will run through all her tricks as quickly as possible, trying to guess what I want. Up, down, tummy, hugs, kisses, tummy again, down, sit, eyes, paw, tummy, tummy, tummy… It’s never the goal, but she usually manages to make me laugh. This week, Janet (the assistant instructor) called her delightful, and Marilyn said she was surprised Sophie wasn’t fat from getting treats just for incredible cuteness. In her defense, however, twice recently, strangers on the street have asked if I’d like to train their dog, too. I admit, I find that seriously gratifying. She’s probably moved to an average of 2/3 compliments on her cuteness, 1/3 compliments on how well-behaved she is. The former are nice, of course — yes, she is adorable! — but the latter are so satisfying. She’s not perfect, of course, (I will expect perfection from my dog only after I have achieved it myself, ie never), but we’ve worked hard on good behaviors, both of us, and I’m proud of her.
After class, Suzanne and I walked down the street and went to the movies. My first movie since pandemic times, where I think I only went once, but it was much nicer to sit in the movie theater without a mask. Movies are not in my budget, to be honest; I’d rather eat, go to the dentist, and buy the occasional book. Well, I don’t prefer to go to the dentist — but that’s where my money goes. Anyway, I hit the point of thinking, much to my surprise, that I wanted to see Barbie. Much, much to my surprise! I can’t possibly express how little interest I had in seeing a movie about Barbie a month ago, but it would probably equal how little interest I would have in seeing a GI Joe movie or, I don’t know, the Super Mario Bros movie. No interest whatsoever, it will never happen. Except I kept reading things about it and it sounded a lot more interesting than I expected it to be.
It was, in fact, a lot more interesting than I expected it to be! Also, really fun. Also, really unexpected. Also, it made me laugh out loud. And, I admit, I actually shed two tears for Ken, who I think is kinda the villain? Anyway, it was an excellent movie and I do recommend it. Well worth seeing.
I had turned my phone on airplane mode for the movie and when I got home, I turned it back on. I had some text messages and a couple of alerts. One of the alerts was sort of odd: the NYTimes was telling me about the Perseids meteor shower. Um, okay, that’s nice. Not the sort of news that usually warrants an alert, but whatever. I looked at the article and thought, well, maybe I’ll stay up and see how foggy it is, and maybe I’ll wear something warm to sleep in so that if I wake up in the middle of the night, I can easily go outside.
Then I got another text: this one from a friend whose mother had just passed away. I texted her back right away of course, and we exchanged messages for a while. The death wasn’t unexpected, but it wasn’t easy, either. Somewhat randomly, I eventually said, “Tonight is the Perseids meteor shower. Any chance you can get outside and watch the night sky? It might be just the kind of cosmic moment that would feel good.”
What an odd thing to suggest, you might be thinking. True. But it turns out that falling stars had emotional significance for her — she’d seen one when her mother went into hospice, another one when she decided she needed to quit her job to be there. And it was exactly the right suggestion at exactly the right time: she went outside, saw a shooting star within two minutes, and then the clouds started to come in. Sometime recently I wrote about not believing in the malicious universe, and I don’t, but I do believe in the mysteriously magical universe, the one where the NYTimes sends me an alert on a subject that I don’t follow so that I can offer a suggestion to a grieving friend at exactly the right moment.
I did not, then, go out to see any meteors myself. I did think about it! But it was foggy early on and then later, when it was full dark and maybe there were some stars, I remembered the skunk who I really didn’t want to meet at midnight. Still I think I got the meteor magic without actually needing to see the meteors myself.
I should find a photo to go with this post, but not unexpectedly, I’ve been writing it for hours. I can’t believe it’s almost 2PM and I haven’t even looked at my email. So no picture, but use your imagination — blue skies, lots of flowers, especially roses and dahlias, and an incredibly cute dog. That’s what August 2023 in Arcata looks like.