The Stray Dog and The Marriage

I pulled the model for this oak leaf out of the disgusting pond down in the front yard. Jet black, it was. Frozen and soaked and re-frozen, submersed for months. Totally intact, leathery and inky opaque. I think I might be growing a bog in my front yard.

7:40 PM (1 hour ago)

Well, now to add to distraction: hardware cloth in the main hall. Leaning like a pot of decorative branches in the hall.

I am still looking at projects from last spring. The stairwell is only 1/2 robin’s egg.

It’s funny how I get used to these things. Stasis. Landscape. This is an old house, comforted by hodgepodge. The thin piles of magazines and unopened mail are small blankets on all the tables.

I think this must be what cabin fever feels like. When the space itself becomes a character, a familiar kindly shelter that becomes cruelly smothering and obfuscates the world beyond its windows.

No worries. Spring will be here soon. And in the meantime, I am going to sort the mail, put away the laundry finally folded, fill out forms that need filling out, and sweep the porch clean…again.

That’s the thing: daily is just so daily.


This is when I first started to know that it was over – really, really over…(not just the sort-of-kind-of-over-sometimes that it had been for years)

I found the dog, a black lab with shiny fur, despite its stray-dog clumpiness of coat. She was with another dog, dull and big. Yellow lab.

The yellow dog bounded up to me when I got out of the car at South Mountain Children’s Home. I was there for a meeting. Another meeting. It seemed I had been up and down that 2-lane rural road a hundred times in the past two months. Long story. Not my child’s home.

As I was walked up the driveway I stopped to pet the Yellow Dog. I wasn’t thrilled, he was shedding like crazy and his coat felt dusty, waxy under my fingers. He had paint, or tar, fused to the fur of his back left flank, like a wound scabbed over. Which is what I thought it was when I first saw it.

And then the girls came out of the “cottage” (why are group home buildings always called “cottages” – like orphan fairy-tales?) Immediately possessive of what I was beginning to understand were two friendly, stray dogs. “Buddy! C’mere Buddy! Buddy, here boy!” The girls called him and he ran, eager to be petted.

The Black Dog stood her ground though as they called her. “Blackie! Here girl!” “No, her name is Midnight!” “I like the name Blackie!” “Whatever! C’mon Midnight!” Their voices getting sweeter and with a cunning edge, Buddy Yellow Dog momentarily forgotten as the girls tried to convey how much, and how sincerely! – they knew her name was hers.

The Black Dog, though, she stood her ground. Baking, panting, tail between legs, she looked dead at me. “C’mere girl…” I said it quiet and kneeled down to greet her as she limped toward me.

From: Me
To: Me
ReplyTo: Me
Subject: Re: Dogs and Marriage
Sent: Feb 25, 2010 5:40 PM

I named her Shiny before I even knew if I “could” keep her. Her friendly friend went to the shelter here in Asheville. He was quickly adopted and now his name is Jack.

Feb 25 (1 day ago)

My husband was deeply opposed to us keeping the dog. In spite of the fact that he seemed fond of her, he wanted her gone. From the first day she was with us, she was pure sweetness and humility and gratitude. An instant friend.

He asked me to choose and I chose the dog. “She’s nicer to me,” I said. “She likes me more than you do.”

He ended up staying a little longer, but it was no use: In my heart, I’d chosen the dog over the man who would deny me the joy of keeping a stray dog and who would begrudge my wanting to be best friends with a dog that smiled at me.

show details 12:08 PM (8 hours ago)

who can claim that “love” is true if it denies you joy
(drawn in the few limbo-minutes before a school group arrived at the museum, sitting in the big foyer-hall of the building, watching for buses to round the corner. A coworker, walking by, remarked: “You look totally comfortable.” I was sitting cross-legged on the floor, a clipboard in my lap. “I am. Totally comfortable.” I was telling the truth. It’s nice when you can find opportunities to integrate what you want to do with what you have to do. I had to wait for the buses to arrive, but I could have just been staring out the window, scowling perhaps. Sighing heavily. Or I could have been talking about a YouTube movie, or how cold it (still) is outside. But, I drew this instead. Feet underwater are a challenge in monochrome. The bottom-of-the-foot form is one of my favorite to draw. Tendons.

3:26 PM (5 hours ago)

Oh sheesh – this project is getting tiresome. Not the drawing, but the having to draw. Not the writing, but the posting. However, I know myself well enough to know that if I do not commit to drawing as part of a project, writing so I have something to post. Well, I won’t draw at all, or will only occasionally and with little inclination to finish a sketch and with nothing to say about it if I do.
I am going to focus on drawing here for a while. It seems that I have spun off in all directions lately, with birds and placentas and what not. These are great ideas. Really they are. I am still making birds everyday, but I don’t tag them or photograph them – I just leave them on ledges as I walk from point A to point B. I need to pull the sale-able birds from the Asheville Art Museum and Downtown Books and News. Or leave ’em – whatever. I don’t really want to sell them anyway. The thing is that – with a push – I could make a leap. Sell myself out. And really, that’s what I’d be doing.

There is no profit to be gained from this. It seems easier that way. Free.

And – I will keep doing it. Drawing my pictures, clicking in whatever words accompany them on that given day. I will still leave birds whenever I walk in space that is not ‘mine’ – outside my little sphericals.
I really can’t make it more than it is though. Just a lady trying to figure out a most peculiar equation, an improbable series of events.

People have been calling me an artist lately. I’ve accepted the compliment, and really it is a significant compliment. I have been “artistic” and “creative” for a long time. However, even these simple descriptors of action I would shrug off or roll away with my eyes.

But, after this very strange year, I will take any kind adjective that happens to come my way. I don’t know if I am creative or if I simply possess a remarkable ability to examine all possibility. I don’t know if I am an artist. It’s a fairly arbitrary term. The subject of seminars and long, angsty muses.

I know that, right now, it seems far more important to me to form spheres out of hardware cloth – to mount on the chicken castle…than it does for me pursue notoriety. If I am to be noted, then I will be noted…but, that is a note that I don’t have time to write for myself.

3:37 PM (5 hours ago)

It is, however, even more important for me to fold the dang laundry.

The Art of My Childhood
– Featured Today –
Mysterious Man Painting from Rach’s Living Room

This painting hung over the stiff, formal parlor couch in my great-grandmother’s living room. I used to think the upholstery pattern resembled women wearing bathing suits, or a Barbie doll’s segmented torso. I used to count the lady-shapes on the cushion of the couch while the grown-ups talked, or cleared the table or did whatever it was they did. This dark portrait always looked dreamily away from me – as if he, too, were pretending to be somewhere else.
I am not sure who the man is, or where the painting came from. My great-grandmother was born in 1894. It is a fairly old painting of some long-forgotten somebody.

I learned wistfulness from this gentleman.

Today’s Search Suggestions: Marriage, Art

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