Archive for June, 2008

Happy Monsoon Season! Happy Rainy Day!
June 26, 2008

“If you really want to be happy, nobody can stop you.” 

Mary Tricky

Here in the desert, if you look at the sky, every day is pretty much the same; the weather, although cooler at the end of the year, is pretty much unchangeable. If you bet the sky would be blue, you’d win, because blue skies abound.

Except during Monsoon Season. Happy day!

It’s been hotter than Hades in Arizona, and by hot, I mean 112 to 116 degree days. Each morning when I wake, regardless of the dreaded heat, my first responsibility is the morning feeding — of my rescue’s sanctuary dogs, my little terriers, and of course, the horses and donkey.

Saved from slaughter, the equines are especially hungry having known starvation in the past, but when summer rolls around they become less active in the heat. Consequently, I must decrease their rations.

Cloud, my newest equine rescue, has been successfully re-fed and happily sports a big hay belly. It’s to be expected, but as I lessen his rations, he grumbles in the only way he can — with ears pinned, and with head nods toward the tower of Bermuda hay. I explain to him that he can’t eat as much as he does in winter because it’s summer, now. I tell him he even needs to lose a little, and he pins his ears and snakes his neck menacingly, and because he wouldn’t hurt me, moves out of reach of my scratching fingers. Fine, he says. So there.

Each morning, trumpeting at me in greeting, he trots back and forth along the fence-line making soft, nickering sounds. Nuzzling my shoulder with his pink nose, he thanks me before starting to eat. I am the reliable food lady, tossing a flake on time throughout the day, never missing a feeding, always good for a neck scratch and a carrot or a peppermint candy. 


Photo by Emily Murdoch 




Sometimes I catch Cloudy staring at me, like he can’t believe his luck. Maybe I should give her a tiny nip when she comes by, just to make sure I’m not dreaming. Meanwhile, he gets what all horses deserve — care, food and a home for life.

If only all our problems could be solved with a schedule and a flake of hay.  

The monsoon sky, swollen to bursting, lets fly. Cloudy reluctantly abandons his hay, kicking out at the thunder. 116 degrees (as it was this morning at 11 am) is washed away almost instantly, and it’s only 96 degrees an hour later. Clouds, rarely seen since last June, are fat and sassy or pulled in threads like cotton-candy, depending upon the winds.

Before this storm lets up, there will be hail. But, the equines are snug in their shelters, and the dogs are dry and sleeping on comforters from Goodwill. Sitting here typing in the air-conditioned bedroom, my favorite place in the summertime, I’m craving a cup of hot tea and the day off, like an east coast snow day, to read a book in bed while scratching the terriers with my feet and throwing balls that ricochet off the walls.

I just love Monsoon Season. The desert is shined up by the rain, the green everywhere multiplies, and all the animals of every size, domesticated and wild, run and jump and wrestle and play. Summer is officially broken in, as the rains will carry us from June to September, eventually replaced by the cooler clime of a desert winter.

It couldn’t have happened a day too soon. I was tempted to buy a sprinkler, today, and freezer pops, the long ones, where you cut off the end and suck on the blue or red or orange juice. Maybe I will — no one’s watching, right? I’ll dance through the sprinkler with no make-up on, my hair unbrushed and flying, not caring how I look in a bathing suit, and living completely and thoroughly in the moment.

(Who knew a little rain outside, could resurrect the child of summertime?)

Nirvana hides in a cardboard box.
June 26, 2008

 “There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.”

Louis L’Amour

Recently, I joined a wonderful writer’s group and as part of my profile, I had to put down where I’m located. My husband, looking over my shoulder and gifted at quick quips, and taking advantage of aol allowing us to be online at the same time, sent me an email (which was much more romantic when we lived on opposite ends of the country).

Hey Em – put down, “If there’s dog poop, horse manure, kibbles and hay, I’m there.”

Very funny, especially because it’s true: if there are horses or dogs in need I’m there, and yes, cleaning up and feeding is part of it. Presently, our kitchen is overrun by yet another puppy play-pen, and another dog in need; this one healing from a fight with a coyote, having dug out of her kennel in record speed and running off even faster. In the desert, (which is more like a zoo), the clash between domesticated and wild almost always results in some sort of trouble.

Where we live, which is rural ranch and horse country, people push dogs out of moving vehicles with the hope that someone in the community will take in the dog. “How do they know you so well?” my husband asks, rolling his eyes and sighing. I can’t blame him — the man’s a saint. Not only is he the world’s best supporter of my writing endeavors, he also understands my penchant for the underdog, including the two now in my kitchen.

It never ceases to amaze me just how grateful an abused horse or dog is for food and attention. Their capacity for forgiveness is difficult to comprehend, and especially so when considering the fact that they’re better at it than most human beings.

This hot afternoon, two stray dogs believe I am the star of their air-conditioned universe, each having been given an empty box — one a Ritz cracker box, and the other a box of Reese’s Puffs. In their eyes, happiness is free and easy; the best times are had with boxes, toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls, and Dixie cups — due to the wonderful sound they make hitting a tile floor, and because of the way they crunch — while fitting perfectly in a medium-sized dog’s mouth. Each paper object is sturdy enough to be thrown in the air and caught many times, and the future can always be counted on for more.

I work hard to be a grateful person in this twisty-turny, nothing-for-certain life; I am grateful for so many things. But Nirvana is made out of cardboard, today, and I’m humbled by the saying these two dogs know so well: one man’s garbage is another dog’s treasure. As the dogs mimic each other, taking my fearless arm into their gentle mouths, who knew it would be so easy to find Nirvana in the kitchen, next to the apple sauce and flour?

A Spider Funeral.
June 25, 2008

  “We need heart to heart resuscitation.”

Ram Dass

 What are you reading, today? After finishing The Diddakoi by Rumer Godden, I’m now reading another novel of hers, An Episode of Sparrows.

If she were still alive, I’d send her a fan letter and thank her for her wonderful mind.

Much like oxygen, food and water are necessary to survival, so are words and thoughts and books. I believe books can change people, and therefore, the world. Also, sometimes that better world we wish for can be found inside the minds of our favorite writers, and that’s something. It isn’t everything, but it’s a lot.

Really, aren’t we all writers, now? Especially with the advent of email, instant messages and text messaging, we live on a planet of writers. We all get a taste of creativity each time we peck out the letters and hit “send”.

Maybe even, sometimes, things happen to us for the sole purpose of being written down. For instance, waking up on top of a large spider, now a spider-pancake, with two dismembered legs stuck to your own leg. (It was a spider minding its own business, most likely, having burrowed under the covers while I was out flaking horses or getting the mail, on a quest for warmth in the frosty, air-conditioned bedroom.)

Or, how about the panty-liner flying out the front door, (you know that’s not what those wings are for), getting mixed-up with a pre-monsoon wind only to end its journey stuck to the leg of the UPS man?

Let me backtrack: some people say terriers are difficult to housetrain; for mine, that’s true. I found these nifty potty pants (or, “big-boy pants” as we tell the dogs) which they sleep in at night. For ongoing potty-training and a clean house, this product is a godsend. Called “Simple Solution”, they wrap around the offending part and stay snugly in place thanks to a velcro closure.

Inside, you fit an absorbent pad to circumvent any accidents, but those pads are a lot less expensive if you buy women’s generic panty-liners, instead. And so goes the story of the flying panty-liner, the blushing UPS man and the quick explanation he most likely thought I’d made up like fiction, on the spot.

I’ll save the story of the relocation of seven desert toads for next time. In the meantime, this site is only two days old, spanking new and full of promise. With all there is in the world to demand our time and attention, you’re here, reading? Thank you. I’ll keep you here in spirit, too, at the spider funeral at sundown. Who knew a silver-blue earring box could make such a fitting coffin?

Welcome to my blog!
June 25, 2008

 “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

Anne Frank

What I hope my penchant for writing becomes, is a catalyst — a catalyst for thinking, and a welcome intrusion that breaks down the walls that separate us from each other. If you see something differently, or experience an epiphany from some thought pinned down on these pages, then my wish has come true.

From a very young age, I’ve been fascinated with the parallel universes that unfold through the books we read. Books serve so many wonderful purposes: taking us off to places we never imagined, and never forget; opening our eyes; making us laugh, cry, and think; doubling as teachers; offering us guidance; besides bringing us love, comfort, beauty, wisdom, and truth. Books are such good company; the magic between the pages of a good book is one of those rare, sure things in life. 

Life has been hectic, lately, for so many of us. In this fast-paced world of worry and work, wars and natural disasters (along with the smaller, inevitable, every day kinds) stress can be like the houseguest who never leaves. A good book is like balm.

A few days ago, and in celebration of having finished my own novel, I went on a book-binge; one of the books I ordered, The Diddakoi, by Rumer Godden, I hadn’t read since childhood. Excitedly haunting the window in anticipation of the UPS man, and having read the Reader’s Digest Condensed Books version years ago, I was even happier knowing I’d be reading parts and passages not included previously. 

Unwrapping the package and smelling the old, old pages, I lovingly placed the book on my night table and went about feeding the dogs and the horses, my husband and myself, along with other odd jobs such as folding the laundry, mopping the kitchen and filling horses’ water buckets. Finally, with the dogs worn out and snoring under the covers, I settled in to read my newest treasure.    

Engrossed, I read the entire 148 pages in one sitting, staying up late like when I was a girl. I fell in love again with the crisp writing style and emotionally smart story which pulls on the heartstrings. Propped up against the pillows, I cried on and off all the way to the end. Finally looking up and catching myself in the mirror across the room, I had to laugh at myself. I may have even hugged the book close, as the magical ride came to an end. 

Now, that’s good therapy, at $5.95 for three hours. The best writers pull us into a world that often fills those empty places within us, including the ones we didn’t know existed. Who knew books had so much power? (We do, we do!)