New Digs, New Life

Posted: April 8, 2015 in Uncategorized

Friends,

I’ve recently moved, a whole mile down the coast, as my close friends know my desire to be near the water.  Even more fetching is that my fiancé and I have our first home together.  We chose the paint and did it ourselves, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more comfortable.  The Black Dog has adjusted well, which is always a concern.  She has a large backyard to romp, and of course take care of business.  Its a duplex, and we have a lovely neighbor named Jean.  She’s 83 and has been here 32 years.  Its in my nature to look out for her, just hanging pictures and general maintenance.  Doing so makes my heart feel complete.

I’m also embarking on a change in career, and at 48, I’m pumped.  Is that too 80’s of a term?  Who cares, it works.  I feel so very fortunate to be with my girls, 200 feet from the Chesapeake Bay and Spring on the horizon. Virginia Beach is the finest place on earth, and the Chesapeake Bay is my Mecca.

Peace Friends and Hug Your Hounds,

Mike

Three Samaritans

Posted: January 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

     I’m always touched when I see stories of someone going out of their way to aid another on the news.  For my Hampton Roads brethren, we’ve just had a huge snowfall, and most of us have been off work for a day or two, digging out and trying to stay warm and safe.  But the time comes when we have to get our vehicles on the road, and that can present issues.  I live in a condo community, and after 8 inches, best guess, we’ve been pretty socked in.  While trying to free my girlfriend’s camaro, NOT a snow car, a neighbor came over with some cat litter and and an amazing homemade tool…a paint scraper on a broom handle…wonderful for breaking out ice under tires. He was patient and helpful, and it was clear it was in his nature to help others.  He got us free, and we were extremely thankful.  We got the hot rod all of 100 feet before we got stuck again, at a most inopportune spot.  I’ll insert here people that I’m 12 days out of rotator cuff surgery, so my aid is mostly limited to direction, and a feeling of ineptitude…I hopped out with my trusty dustpan, right handed with an aching left shoulder, and did my best to start clearing the tires.  A group of young men, mid twenties and sporting cans of Bud Light, approached, and while they they could have asked to help, they didn’t,  just launched into action…pushing, directing and eventually freeing the Camaro, driving it into a safe spot.  They walked away, brushing off our thanks with a swig of Anheuser Busch’s finest, and we were good. My girl and I had tried to clear my vehicle that morning as well, and we were positive that we’d been successful.  While trying to clear my vehicle today, I encountered the same difficulties I’d seen so many go through…I couldn’t do it.  On my own, as my better half had made her way home, I endeavored to free my vehicle.  Back and forth…rocking it…then climbing out and clearing the barriers…over and over…then the third Samaritan, (I’m grouping the Bud swilling dudes as one) came and offered his shovel.  Another young guy, shoveling his own dilemma, took the time to come over and help me out.  Minutes later I was free, and  couldn’t help but wonder about the need inside each of us, to help one another.  It’s rarely manifested until an obstacle of common threat or imposition is in play, but it’s a magnificent display of human character when it happens.  

All day long I’ve watched stories of the Samaritans out there…helping people on the road, making sure they get on their way, where they’re going…home to their families.  I met three in less than 24 hours.  They reinforce my belief in the inherent goodness of people, of how one can take time out of there own life to aid another, even in the simplest of situations.  I’m a simple man people, and I like to believe in the goodness of every human being.  Displays like today make me happy, excited to be a part of the human race.  But I know the deal, and far too many people just walk by.  But I have hope…I’ve seen it…Samaritans are out there, and if we each choose to be one…it will catch on…it’ll be a thing…trust me on this. Be a Samaritan.

A Jealous Girl

Posted: January 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

Friends,

I’ve been fairly lapse in posting these past months, and for that I apologize.  I’ve had a lot of things going on in my life that have kept me from my keyboard.  Of course the holidays take up a lot of time, what with shopping, planning and family commitments.  I also fell in a grocery store two days before Thanksgiving,  re-injuring a a badly torn rotator cuff that I’ve just had repaired.  Surgery pretty much sucks, if you’re curious.  Of course work has me busy and the whole meeting the woman of my dreams and falling in love thing has me derailed a bit.  Wait, what?  Did I say that?  

Hmmm…Those closest to me know I’ve been somewhat smitten lately, and I’ve gotten away with playing things down to my coworkers and colleagues.  The fact is, I’m somewhat over the moon for this woman, and I’m quite sure she feels the same way.  Not quite sure…I’m positive.  So I can work with my coworkers, explain, and I know they’ll be happy for me. My best friends will be ecstatic.  My parents will wish me the best, and love her as I do.  But there’s one that doesn’t accept this so easily, and it’s a puzzling and curious situation.

The Black Dog and I have been an item for almost 10 years, and we have a routine, a way of life.  This woman loves her, and T responds to her in kind.  But when we embrace, Trouble sounds a churlish woof.  I’d like to assign the behavior to confusion, to a different set of circumstances, but I can’t.  It’s quite obvious to me that my girl is jealous.  I’m not sure how to reconcile this…other than to show her as much love as possible.  What’s a boy, and his dog,  to do?

 

That Feeling

Posted: December 3, 2013 in In My Life

     It’s been a very long time people, since I’ve had it.  I had actually gotten to the point where I questioned if I ever would again.  Life goes on and things happen and you just don’t take notice.  Then one day, a simple innocuous act…in my case buying a gross of ground beef, posting a racy photo on Facebook,  and my life changed. A girl I went to high school with commented again on one of my posts, and we began talking.  So you know,  I had a crush on this girl back in the day, but never had the guts to push it beyond that.  I was quite the shy guy.  But we talked, and it’s kinda like Dorothy’s house hitting the ground in Oz…what was once black and white, is now color.  What once was unclear, is now defined.  I haven’t felt this way in forever…and all of a sudden I’m enchanted, bewitched and altogether over the moon.  Whew…Ok…I thought I could temper this post in a neutral light, but apparently I can’t, as I’m thinking of the girl.  I only hope that things will go the way I hope.  I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow.  I can’t wait to wake up with that feeling…

Hug Your Hounds,

Mike

 

A Breath of Fresh Air

Posted: November 20, 2013 in In My Life

As much as I love The Black Dog, and our life, there’s always something missing. I recently reconnected with a high school friend, and find myself a bit rattled, She’s funny…she’s smart…and has a smart ass streak that melds well with my own. She’s a breath of fresh air into my rather mundane life. We’re going to have dinner together this Saturday…a date. As scared to death as I am, I take a little comfort that she’s just as frightened. It’s a strange world, dating in our 40’s. bit it’s a trip worth taking. Our lives are too short to not take these chances. I have no idea where it will go, but for now, I’m going to take a deep breath, and enjoy the fresh air.

The Song

Posted: November 2, 2013 in In My Life

I’m a fan of music, that’s no surprise to those who know me.  I live life with a song in my head…whatever I’m grooving to at that particular time in my life, day or moment.  It’s how I embrace and enhance my day, and makes me, well me.  But it’s a fragile mechanism, and subject to interruption.  Which can occur from a bad channel switch on the radio…”Am I really humming “Pretty in Pink” or worse, walking into the office, where the banter can put countless unwanted tunes into my head. I once spent half a day with The Brady Bunch “Sunshine Day” rattling around my noggin. Ugh!  But as I was trying to write this, I thought of a song that often haunts my mind.   It’s not really the whole song, but rather a portion of the song. 

Early in my college career I met a dear fellow named Jon, a musician with talent.  He lived in what you might call the hang out pad.   One night he put on a tune from one of his favorite artists, and it was a little strange, and I’m looking into my beer thinking, Jon, I just don’t get it…then…in a transitional lull, a piano begins a simple and beautiful melody…and this rather innocuous acoustic guitar joined the fray…next thing I know, the most amazing voice begins singing lyrics that gripped me, and I sat stunned for two solid minutes.  Then it transitioned back into the stuff I didn’t get and I asked him to play that part again.  He teetered over the turntable, and the familiar hiss pop of vinyl filled the room again. He was a little miffed I didn’t like the bookends of the song, only this middle piece. But I was hooked, and he was happy with that.  It became our anthem, and our late night song.  These 2 minutes of a 7 minute song.

Itunes took their time, but I finally have it…strangely they wouldn’t let me buy just that song, but the whole album…While the music and Jon Anderson’s voice (the voice of Yes…impossibly high pitched) make this, it’s the lyrics that move me, as I identify.  I’m the dreamer…I believe in the strength of dreaming…
Remember your song?…the one that touched your soul way back when? I bet it still does. Give it a listen sometime. You’ll be glad you did. It touched you for a reason.

Portions of Jon Anderson Song of Seven

Met me a stranger, he came here to town
Bearing gifts full of promises, discoveries of light
Sold me many reasons why my merry tale
Could be justified and just both together entwined
I tell you of a reason, he said, “Bless you fool, you fool”
You want “the belief,” yet you want so much more,” you seeker
Now I see you’re baffled, yet again you administer fear
Of the unexpected, you don’t know the score
Everywhere you look you release parts of your senses
And everywhere there’s purpose in answers to all your dreams
I can hear you saying what a dreamer, what a fool to life
Isn’t it a pity that he won’t come back to earth
Haven’t you imagination, and is it not available
How you can be sooner or later than your thinking
Haven’t you imagination and is it so impossible
That you ask of everything so your eyes can see clearly
So in an instant you’re story bound
A desert, the underground, on mountains high
A glacier, the heat of the day
City jungle, the sky at night
In space on a starry ride
An atmosphere impossible
So you never really cared
So we talk about the strength of dreams
And we talked at length of every dream
And we talked about the strength of dreams
Yes we talked about the strength of dreaming

Peace Friends, I believe I’m story bound…

Mike

The Face Lick

Posted: October 25, 2013 in The Black Dog

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel special when Trouble decides to lick my face. I know, it sounds gross, but it’s her way of expressing affection. It’s her way of saying “I Love You”. Without speech or opposable thumbs, she has no way of just saying hi…thank you…you mean the world to me. What a frustrating thought. I take my voice for granted, in that I can tell someone my thoughts and let them know how I feel. Dogs can’t. They go with what they know, what works…they lick. Yes, there’s a salt factor, as we secrete sodium chloride, and our hounds love it. But it’s more than that. It’s their idea of a kiss…and while it’s objectionable to some, annoying to others…I always like to be kissed.

Broken Glass

Posted: October 18, 2013 in The Black Dog

Since The Black Dog and I walk a public trail each day, I find myself lamenting the litter that covers the ground.  I pick up the larger pieces…from the 7-11 big bite box that someone who’s belly is currently rotting due to that bad decision tossing their trash, to the larger pieces of detritus that mar the beauty of our path.  The one thing I can’t control, the one thing that scares me most…is broken glass, and it’s plentiful.  I search my brain to fathom what someone thinks when they just toss their beer/liquor/wine bottle on the path…shattering into countless landmines for all that travel the trail.  I’m serious, I’ve picked up the remnants of all three in my 4 years at the condo. Shattered liquor bottles, the occasional wine bottle…and countless beers. Why people?  I write this as I just finished bandaging Trouble’s pad.  She came up limping after catching the Bee and I assumed another bur…nasty little buggers that flourish every September.  Upon further inspection I found a neat, surgical slice to her dew pad.  A gentle pressure brought a yelp, and I carried the girl home. 

This will be our third visit to the vet for glass cuts in 4 years.  The Black Dog is making do, not happily, with a makeshift torn t-shirt bandage for the interim.  I’m not sure why people feel the need to just toss their glass objects…it just makes no sense.  I’d like to spread broken glass on their bathroom floor in the middle of the night.  Ok…not really…well…yeah, really I would. 

I was raised in the 70’s, and moved by the environmental commercial with the American Indian who roamed the landscape, seeing the litter that had filled his world.  It ended with a tight shot on his face as a tear rolled down his cheek.  I’ll never forget that.  Today it’s my dog who has the tear in her eye, not because of her indignation at the callousness of the ignorant…that tear is mine…she cries because her paw hurts, and she doesn’t know why.

Hug Your Hounds,

Mike

 

 

My Barometer

Posted: October 5, 2013 in The Black Dog

I’ve mentioned friends that Trouble senses a storm roughly 15 minutes before it’s here. She’s an amazing hound, in that she senses the tiniest shifts in her environment, in her comfort zone, and she reacts usually with gluing herself to my leg.

In the nine years we’ve been together, there have been good and bad times in my life. And she’s come to know my moods, my good times, my discomfort, and even my distress. She’s panting and happy when I’m doing the same…Ok, I’m happy, not panting…but she reads me, and knows what’s up. If I’ve had a bad day, and I’m quiet, my affection to her limited to a scratch of the ears then silence, she senses my feelings. It’s a little spooky sometimes.

When I come home each day, I know I have my best friend waiting for me…and she knows she has a version of me coming home…she just doesn’t know which one…she treats all the same, but if I’m a little down, she knows, and she nuzzles softly. If I’m excited, she’s a whirling dervish the likes the tasmanian devil has never seen. But most days I open the door with a smile and a “Hey Sweet Girl” and she is beside herself because Dad is home. (then the whirling dervish and the likes…)

Don’t think this is a one way street! The Black Dog will toss a tude my way when she’s unhappy, and I instantly know it. Usually too short of a walk, (I’m running late) but it’s viable energy from her, not just the normal “you’re leaving me forever and I’m doomed” look. Dogs have moods as we do, and I try my best to cheer her when I sense the gloom. Of course a simple Wannagooutside…its really one word in dogspeak, well, in Mikespeak too, because that’s how it comes out of my mouth. She’ll shed any despondence and leap to the the outside door. I just grab her Bee and life is good.

I wish sometimes I were the scientific sort who could collate the data and give us a solid reason why we love dogs. But I’m not…and truth be known, that scientist doesn’t exist. Dogs invade our hearts, and merge with our souls. We train one another. We forgive the little slights. We compromise on couches and beds, and boundaries cease to exist. We invite them into every part of our lives, and they accept the terms with eagerness, their only goal to please.

You Know the Drill Friends,

Hug Your Hounds,

Mike

Blue Ridge Mountain High

Posted: September 22, 2013 in In My Life

     John Denver never sang this song, as he had his hands full singing about the Rockies.  But those of us who grew up on the east coast, and had access to Appalachia know a secret.  The Blue Ridge Mountains are God’s gift to those who are are lucky enough to spend even a few moments in her majesty.  I can’t quite capture my feelings on my first trip to Blacksburg, in 1985 for my orientation.  As the flat lands became hills, and the hills became mountains, my wonder increased.  By the time we were 30 minutes from Blacksburg, I knew I had chosen the right school, the right place for me. 

     I wax poetic because I just made the trip again this weekend for a football game, Black Dog in tow.  We stayed with my dear friend Andrew and his family…wife Christy, twin girls Cameron and Madison, son Alex, and epitome of an anxious hound, Jenny Lee, a Golden Doodle who, at 95 pounds, is the sweetest lap dog you’ll ever encounter.  Trouble fared well, and of course made life long friends with anyone and everyone in her path, as is her way.  Andrew and I watched the first half of the game at the stadium in the rain, as I had to have that rush of “Enter Sandman”, and the entire game experience.  Then drier heads prevailed and we made our way back to his home, where their Hokie friends and Hokie children were watching.  We rose and fell with the ups and downs of the first two overtimes, then gave the final cheer as Tech won in the third overtime.  Whew…exhausting! 

     The drive was good, the scenery beautiful, and a win by the Hokies just capped it off.  But take away all of that, and I still would have had the time of my life, because I got to reconnect with my friend Andrew. Amazingly, we started right where we left off, with the intimate familiarity of close friends.  I so enjoyed getting to know his children, and we spent some good time catching up on life into the wee hours…let’s see, it was almost 10pm!  I laugh, but that’s who we are now…not the crazy party monsters we used to be, but the responsible adults we were meant to be. 

     I said my goodbyes last night, knowing I’d rise before the roosters and want to get down the mountain.  We made promises to shorten the gaps between seeing one another, and hearty hugs were had.  We actually have some tentative plans for a ski trip this winter, and I’m going to make sure it comes to fruition. 

     There is nothing better in life than spending time with friends…those you’ve shared the best and worst of times with.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder, I hear…well, my heart couldn’t be any fonder, absence or not.  A truly great weekend.

 

Peace All,

Mike