Wednesday, September 19, 2012


So tonight we were almost home and this lady who jogs in the evening around the neighborhood with her husband riding bike by her side came right over to Asia to give the greyhound some attention and to get some.

That never happens to me. In my entire lifetime, I don't think it's ever happened.

It probably never happens to that guy on the bike either.

But it happens to Asia. Often. Not just with women, but with men, teenagers, children, and even toddlers. Even other dogs seem to like her. I've seen cats stop and stare, like they couldn't get their eyes full of her, mesmerized. The dog has that kind of charisma.

Is there any wonder why I am writing about her? I need to study her and glean from her some charm.

However, I'll never look as good, as lean, as sleek as she does. That isn't going to happen.

The feminine mystique. She has it.

I'm guessing my mother in heaven does too.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Race When You're Older Changes

Asia was bred to race. She was bred in Colorado and raced at the track in Denver. After her handlers culled her from their racing inventory, she was rescued — culled inventory is killed — and eventually delivered to Utah. By that time, my wife had made application with a local facilitator to adopt a greyhound. The facilitator inspected our home and interviewed us to ascertain our worthiness. Apparently, we passed muster, and Asia — of course, that wasn't her name back then — was placed with us. My wife was immediately enamored and continues to be to this day. The others of us came along. Asia is now an important member of our household.

In her younger years, Asia had more energy than she does now. In the fenced yard out back of our house, she would race a particular track back and forth as fast as she could go. Scary fast. Sometimes I cringed watching her. At times I even worried that she would injure herself, but she didn't. She hasn't, not by doing that, at least.

That particular track of Asia's isn't as distinctive now as it once was. She doesn't use it as regularly or as rigorously now. I think she still does race around somewhat like that, but less crazily, with limited abandon compared with formally. Maybe she's just bounded as to what she can do now. Middle-age verging on old age or something like that. Maybe it hurts her to move now like it does me. Or possibly it's that I don't watch her as closely as I used to. Maybe she's still going breakneck and I'd be scared to death if I saw her.

A friend of mine told me he had had a greyhound as a youth. His greyhound also ran around with abandon and one day his dog reached its racing limit and then ran directly into a tree and killed itself, almost as if it had done it purposefully. I could tell it affected my friend, as course it would me if it happened to Asia.

Life moves on. Obligations one has in youth pass by the wayside as you grow older. Children grow up. Responsibility wanes. You receive pension. You have resources you didn't have earlier and the demands upon your time differ in your later years. Such dynamics give you the opportunity to contemplate what you never had time to consider with any particular mental effort before.

Where is my mother in heaven? Since I believe in a religious system that preaches that I have one — a mother in heaven — I must ask the question: Where is my mother in heaven?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On the Move Versus Stationary

Motion is an element of vision.

I'm sure that the experts in ophthalmology — Is that the field? Ophthalmology? — know all about it.

Maybe I should Wikipedia ophthalmology. Later. If I'm still interested.

Anyway, I noticed the motion-vision phenomena years ago, as a boy riding through Yellowstone with my parents, looking for black bears and grizzlies out the windows of the car. The bears were always easier to spot if they were on the move, lumbering through the woods, running full bore up the hill. I can't tell you how many bears I spotted from far off on that trip to Yellowstone only to realize they weren't bears at all, but rocks, logs, bushes or some combination of various natural flora or geography. Yet, if the bear that I thought I saw was on the move, I almost always got it right. No rocks, logs, bushes or combinations of things ended up on that list.

How does this come up? On the dog walk today, Asia saw something from afar. I did too. In fact, I think I saw it first, long before Asia did. She was dithering with the grass, sniffing or peeing or whatever.

I couldn't tell exactly what it was when I first saw it. It looked like a dog, a smaller one, a middle sized poodle or so, but I wasn't sure. It was oddly colored — pinkish, as I recall — for a dog. But, who knows these days? Crazy people die their dogs all different kinds of colors, I guess.

We walked on. The distant 'dog' or whatever it was didn't move. It stayed stationary, like it was glued to the ground. Within a few steps of my sighting of it, Asia caught sight of it. She didn't abandon her usual exploits, sniffing and dodging here and there, checking things out as she went, but she definitely kept whatever it was in mind while veering and pulling in that direction anytime she thought I might take her an opposite one.

The closer I got, the better I could see it. Pretty soon, I knew what it was. It was a child's toy on wheels that looked like a dog or some creature like a dog. As soon as I knew what it was I quit focusing on yet and began watching Asia closer.

The closer Asia got to the toy, the more wary of it she became. She didn't want to approach it too fast, I guess. She wasn't anxious to hurry up to it in case it was ready to slash into her eyes with its claws, lift its tail and spray, or something gruesome. To Asia, it was a living thing, frozen from motion, waiting to attack, or to flee, but to flee only if it was absolutely necessary. Asia veered away from it, but when she saw we were so close and it was not doing anything, not fleeing, not attacking, decided to walk over and sniff it, which she did.

And then she was off.

As a man, a straight man, what have I missed through the years relative to my privilege as a man over against what women have? In particular, within my culture and religion, how do those questions play out?

Friday, September 7, 2012

The responsibilities of doo doo

Speaking of walking Asia, how do you feel about walking around the neighborhood with a plastic bag full of dog doo doo? Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if you could just start out with the bag full, filled by somebody else and handed to you along with the leash and the dog. But seriously, what if you have to be the one gathering the droppings?

I don't imagine too many people would find it appealing or want to do it themselves.

In fact, now that I think of it, I think I'll have to start noticing better what the people out there walking their dogs are doing about that responsibility, whether they are picking up after their mutts or not. Obviously, the dogs aren't doing it. Well, the dogs are doing it, but they're not doing what we humans consider appropriate. It's not within their values.

I know some people who do pick up after their dogs. Chris and Tori always do so. But truthfully, I'm not sure what others do or don't do. I haven't watched closely enough to know. Should I? I'm pretty sure Robert doesn't; after all, he's got two medium-sized dogs he takes at once, often letting them go loose and then he gathers them in if he sees somebody coming who might distract his dogs. So logistically it probably would be very very difficult for him to do. Nonetheless, I still think he should.

I admit that bending over and using a plastic bag to gather the canine's deposit is quite disgusting but not beyond anyone's ability to do. Well, there are exceptions, I guess, people who are handicapped and can't bend over and pick it up. But, if my wife could do it, and did do it routinely when she walked Moochie a.k.a. Asia, there is no reason on earth why almost anyone else who can walk a dog couldn't do it. It's a matter of responsibility and sacrifice.

Enough of that.

Well, not quite. Stopping and gathering what is unseemly and distasteful must be some kind of a metaphor for what we have to do in life. Should there be a distinction made between individuals who take that degree of responsibility and those who do not? Should we individually ever make that kind of judgments about others? I definitely think we should judge ourselves in that regard and learn to do and commit to doing the responsible thing. As to judging others, I think, if it is in the collective interests of a community to do so, it would be appropriate to make an ordinance requiring the same. But long before we get to that point, people should take it upon themselves to do what is right. If enough people took it upon themselves to do what was right, ordinances and laws possibly would not be necessary.

But they don't. It is clearly the law to keep your dog controlled, in your yard fenced, or on a leash that provides adequate control. There are plenty of people around the neighborhood who don't.

How has this dynamic changed over time?

How does the dynamic of how women are treated in our society changed over time?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Opposition in All Things

We have our differences, Asia and I.

But mostly we are on the same page. She's a little more casual and easy-going than I am. At least, that's the perception I have of other people's opinions of her and me. One thing, I think Asia is a Democrat. If she could talk, I'm pretty sure she'd say she was. If they'd let her vote, I'm pretty sure that's the platform she'd support. Candidates would benefit from her endorsement. She's attractive and sweet. She's kind except to cats and excitable dogs. I think she thinks they are Republicans.

As to differences between us, she often wants to go an alternative direction than I do. Usually, this involves preferences as to what to avoid or what to enjoy. I don't want to admit that she has higher standards than I. That's not the issue…or is it? Sometimes it has to do with just wanting to extend the walk, get some more exercise. It's usually her, not me, that wants to go on further, fanatic that she is. She has more stamina, more enthusiasm for walking or trotting, and more curiosity than I do.

The differences as to the direction we go don't usually involve politics. Asia wants to go further away from home; I want to stick close and return and go have a chocolate chip cookie. Asia wants to avoid a mean, barking dog or raucous equipment, so she says let's go this way; I want to check out the progress of carpenters working on a project at the neighborhood house or the new car so and so bought. Asia wants to check out the newest bitch; I don't think it's appropriate for a married man to do that.

So what happens if we have a difference of opinion? First of all, she lets me know. After all, I have a leash in my hand, and she knows how to use it. Sometimes all she has to do is tug and I relent. I try to be kind. Other times, I don't want to go the way she does; it's a matter of principle. It becomes a standoff. She tugs and pulls and sometimes whines, and I stand there, sometimes tugging back, sometimes pulling hard, and, frankly, sometimes whining myself. She usually gets her way, although she'd probably tell a different story.

She's a female, and I'm for feminine rights. I need to do better to support her. The patriarchy has too much power.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What she does, what I do

I like to watch Asia as we go, but there's only so much about her on walks after all this time that still holds my attention.

Quite frankly, I've mostly passed the point of needing to stare at her or at what she does while we go on our route. I can more or less zone out or concentrate on something else. I more or less let her choose the pace, with some restrictions. Obviously, if she wanted to run or sprint, that wouldn't work. I prevent that from happening. I have the leash and the weight advantage. We usually stroll, and I always stop for her to explore, unless there's another dog or a kitty. Anymore, if she wants to stop and visit with a human being, especially with children, if they're willing, I'll stop and try and comply with her desire and theirs.

But I usually have an earphone stuck in at least one of my ears, usually my right one, for what I want to concentrate on, given the circumstances of Asia exploring the smells, the bushes, the fire hydrants, the lamp posts, the flowers etc.

Most of the time, especially mornings, the earphone is hooked to a portable radio, a little Sony I've had for years. I purchased it originally because it used to play the audio from the local television stations when they were still analog. Those days are gone, however; that feature is its obsolete. More and more, I feel outmoded myself. But the device still plays the local radio stations, both AM and FM, and my favorite is NPR. The local NPR station is KUER, located at 90.1 FM. It's broadcast, as I understand it, from the University of Utah.

By the time I get going, Diane Rehm is usually on. Her program, of course, varies, sometimes with reviews of books, or guests who have written books on particular topics or who are featured in some magazine or newspaper. Experts in some field or another. Politics. Current events. Whatever. Diane is about as balanced as anyone I've ever heard on radio or seen on television. Often, she has someone fill in for her. She has problems with her voice. Anyway, KUER broadcasts two hours of her program. The next program in the morning is Radiowest, whose host is usually Doug Fabrizio.

All the while I'm listening, Asia has her routine. You can probably somewhat imagine it, although I'm not sure you can imagine how casual she is unless you know something about greyhounds. She isn't at all flighty, like some dogs are. In fact, she is pretty cool and collected. She does some sniffing but probably less than most dogs do. After all, she's not like a bloodhound. She is in the class of dogs known as sight hounds, so she's a looker, not a sniffer.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Today was Labor Day.

Asia and I labored on around the neighborhood again as usual.

Well, I guess it's more a labor for me than I think it is for Asia. After all, I don't go begging or reminding her we need to get going, but she does me.

Oh, she's nice enough about it, discreet and all. She doesn't do much yapping or jumping up on me or anything radical at all. In fact, she doesn't ever do any of that, except sometimes slightly when the feat is accomplished.

Her coaxing me to the deed is much more subtle. She'll come in if I'm sitting at the computer and nudge my hand with her snout. I'll scratch her head and pat her body. After I quit, she'll crouch down and wait. If nothing happens, that is, I don't start putting on my tennis shoes or start searching for the radio or iPod, after ten or fifteen minutes she'll get up and go away for a few minutes. Pout Pretty soon, though, she'll be back again to repeat her procedure. If she hears me get up or move about, she'll be there at my side immediately, checking out whether I'm putting on my shoes and getting my hat on or not.

Asia might be a dog, a sight hound, but she isn't stupid.

Nothing particularly out of the ordinary happened on today's walk except the fact that more people were out strolling with their dogs today. When a person with a dog approaches or overtakes us, I gather Asia's leash so that if she gets growly at the approaching dog, I can lift her off her feet and disorient her somewhat. That helps. It seems to be working. She's getting better, and on this Labor Day she wasn't growly to any of the approaching doggies. Or me.

One feminist I read today asked some interesting questions. She asked could she be LDS and think that women should be ordained. Could she be a Mormon and be disgusted that Joseph Smith pressured young girls and married women to marry him to receive their exaltations? Could she be LDS and actively embrace LGBT sisters and brothers? Could she be Mormon and blatantly disagree with decisions made by male leaders? Could she be LDS if she thought the LDS God didn't consider her equal, although she might be important?

These are some of the questions I might want to address in my upcoming work.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Plastic Bags and Paying Attention

I admit I don't always pay strict attention to Asia when I walk her. Oh, I keep her securely on her leash and make sure she can't get out of her harness and all that, but I don't watch her constantly. Why?

Parts of Asia's activities aren't that interesting at all, and some can be said to be downright disgusting.

However, I can't responsibly ignore the most disgusting of them because I have to collect the results, solid and firm or as runny as syrup. I carry my collections of her excretions — a little euphemism is probably necessary – until I find a garbage can to deposit them in. That's why Thursdays, the day you put the garbage can out in our neighborhood, and Fridays, the day that the garbage collectors actually come and dump the garbage cans, have advantages for me because there are plenty of depositories on those particular days. On other days, I just look for the neighborhood's neglected green garbage cans along the route, which have been left out. You know, people go on vacations, forget to bring them in, and ignore them. Or they choose to fill them with their trash at the curb and avoid all the hassle of the bringing in the can and taking out the trash. Absent these left behinds, I carry what I collect until I get home and then make my deposit in my own green can.

There are some days when I don't make any collections. Asia is, if you must know, pretty regular, but like most of us she has her problematic days. Some days her output has succeeded the three bags I take with me. It isn't a matter of the bags being full or anything. It has to do with logistics, but I won't call upon you to use your imagination to fill in the blanks. Let's just move on. There have been a few days when I couldn't make collections because I forgot to bring what I needed to make the collection with.

Anyway, too much information. Simply, I don't always pay strict attention to Asia. Every girl needs her privacy.

There are risks to ignoring her however. We can be walking along and she might see a cat I haven't seen at all. If there is any slack in the leash, I can be in trouble, because a former racetrack greyhound, like Moochie — did I mention that that is her nickname — can accelerate amazingly fast, and my hand is attached to the other end of her leash. It can be extremely painful and I can be pulled right off my feet. Ask my joints in the arm holding the leash, if you don't believe me about the pain. No wonder my left shoulder grinds and I have to grit my teeth and suffering when I move it.

Anyway, it was Sunday today, and we made our usual two trips, the first a little after 9 AM this morning and then the other one this evening a little after 7 PM. Things went all right; there were no surprises today. In fact, today there were two kitties, one in the morning and one in the evening, that were quite close to us, one huddled in the gutter and the other crouching in a driveway, that I saw but that Asia missed. So I guess there was some surprise. Anyway don't ask me how that happened. Sometimes Asia can sense a kitty without ever seeing it, so it's all quite a mystery.

Of course, in the morning today, before church, I took my Kindle with me to read my bom33 lesson from Julie, which she posts almost every week on the Times and Seasons blog. The way this works is that I get myself all set up with earphones in my ears, the earphone cord threaded through the neck of my shirt with the connection hanging out the bottom of my shirt. This is after I have stuffed my pockets with the necessary plastic bags. I then put the harness on Asia and put my hand in the end of the leash that I hold onto. I then grab my Kindle, open the door and go out and down the stairs, following the dog. Then we pause. Or rather, I pause and Asia tries to pull me along. I win.

I then stick the end of the earphone cord into the Kindle, opened the Kindle's cover, open the file I need — in this case my bom33 lesson — and press the necessary keys on the keyboard of the Kindle to have the text read so I can hear it in the headphones. And off we go. In this manner, I was prepared in Sunday school. This evening, after all the folderol, I listened to music.

A friend from the neighborhood wants to walk with us so she can tell me her theory about blacks and the priesthood. I told her I was anxious to hear her theory. Of course, blacks and the priesthood is a resolved dilemma. Questions I now contemplate involve things like LGBT rights and the patriarchy.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Storm Can Have an Effect

It stormed last night and cooled things off.

This morning, when we walked later than usual, it was very comfortable, but verging on more storm. We took a shorter route and stayed closer to home. Asia avoids wind, thunder and lightning, and rain.

At home, when things outside become raucous, Asia will go to the bedroom and hunker down there until it becomes calm again. The east side of the house is more dynamic in most storms. Many winds howl out of the east, where the mountains are, sweeping down through the foothills, where our house is, to the valley below.

We have a flue where we could have a fireplace or stovepipe on the east side of the house. It is covered on the roof with sheet metal, and during a wind storm the erratic pressure expands and contracts it, making thunderous sounds like a percussionist beating timpani. This drives Moochie — Moochie is Asia's nickname — west, to the bedroom.

Actually, Asia wanted to walk further, up the long hill to the approaching a half-million dollar houses on the northern bench that overlooks South Weber. By the time we would have made that turn to go west instead of east, the sky began to rumble and a few droplets of rain fell. Asia will balk and tugged in the direction she wants to go. She knows how to put on the brakes, planting her paws and locking her legs. She is quite strong and insistent. I am patient with her, waiting a few minutes, then talking gently and tugging her along, being careful she doesn't slip her way out of her harness.

By the time we got back to 3700 N., she was ready to get back home. The volume of the thunder combined with the frequency of raindrops contained more persuasive effect than my earlier attempts to tug and coax her.

The procedure on reaching the house doesn't very much. First of all, I dump whatever I have collected in plastic bags from Walmart in the outside garbage can. We then climb the stairs and go in the door. Asia pauses at the bottom of the stairs that go up to the living area from the living room we have entered. Sometimes she pauses on the stairs. Her pause is necessary so I can remove her leash. She then proceeds up the stairs, opens the doggie gate there and goes into the kitchen to get a drink. Sometimes if someone is up there, she might get distracted.

I put her leash away, empty my pockets of any other plastic bags I used to pick up after her and put them in the closet along with the leash.

I don't think there can be any question but that over time in Western culture women have fared better and better the more they stood up for themselves and others took their cause seriously and helped them.

a good turn of word in the lathe of literature

This is a review of TRUCK, A LOVE STORY by Michael Perry.

Don't you think the title of this book TRUCK, A LOVE STORY seems a little hokey, maybe even manipulative? It's as if its author — or more likely, the book's editor/publisher, who most often does the naming — wanted to broaden the book's market appeal. How many women would read a book titled TRUCK? How many men would read A LOVE STORY (setting aside that old romance novel by Eric Segal, which was made into a movie)? However, I guess it could be said that this particular book appeals to broader audiences than those just enamored of a particular vehicle or of touchy-feely stories of romance and love.

Well, all of that is beside the point. The book is good, worth reading whether you're a male or female or somewhere in between. Michael Perry writes well, even if it seems sometimes he has too much on his mind. I happened to read this with a book club comprised primarily of women. They generally outnumber the men in the group three or four to one. Many of the books we read could be considered more or less feminine oriented and sometimes I've even heard the women themselves utilize the term chick lit. Because they outnumber the men so far this is the dynamic we men in the group have to live with. But truthfully, we cover a broad swath of interesting fiction and nonfiction, mostly fiction, which brings me to this book.

Is TRUCK, A LOVE STORY fiction or nonfiction? It reads like a memoir, but I never did really see anywhere where it claims to be nonfiction. Perhaps, Michael Perry realizes that imaginations always figure into memories and experiences anyway. (The author after all writes, "Fortunately, the eye is an organ capable of deception. In collusion with the brain, it convinces you to ignore what you see — or don't see.) Or perhaps I just missed where it says what it is.

This is a slow reading piece, a work you want to take your time with, a book you might start reading in bed at night if you want to go to sleep. Now I don't mean by that to say that it is boring or anything derogatory. But don't compare it with today's fast-paced fare, which seems targeted at hyperactivity disordered readers. This isn't calculated to keep you on the edge of your seat, shrieking, or covering your eyes in order to cope. Instead it'll make you want to languish like you are in the Bahamas on the beach with unlimited time and plenty of food and drink by your side with the most charming companion.

Where does a truck come in to all of this? Perry is restoring an old International Harvester truck with his brother. The restoration ticks off the time in the book. Perry's attitude is communicated in this manner: "In 1951, a man bought a pickup truck because he needed to blow things up and move them. Things like bricks and bags of feed. Somewhere along the line trendsetters and marketers got involved, and now we buy pickups — big, horse-powered, overbuilt, wide-assed, comfortable pickups — so that we may stick our key in the ignition of an icon, fire up an image, and drive off in a cloud of connotations. I have no room to talk. I long to get my International running in part so I can drive down roads that no longer exist."

Who is Perry? He describes himself: "At thirty-eight, I'm still a few follicles from a Category Cue Ball." This is one of his obsessions, besides his truck. He says, "I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian sect that not only frowned on vanity but viewed long hair on a man as sinful." He also describes himself as follows: "No matter our vocation, we so often find ourselves living life as a form of triage. I need more time with the dirt, the sense of the soil with its plenty." So gardening is another of his — I don't want to say obsessions — passions.

Family is another honored subject for the author. Speaking of his grandmother, he says "this time she raised five children of her own and took in another twenty-eight foster children. She did her baking with a .22 rifle at hand and was known to step away from the stove to snipe feral cats and once an incautious woodchuck."

And what of the love story part of the title? Well, there is Anneliese. But I can't say more without spoiling it for you, so I'll shut up and just recommend that you pick up the book, especially if you appreciate a good turn of word in the lathe of literature. If you like anecdotes stacked within the framework of car restoration and raising turnips while discovering a love interest, then find a beach in the South Pacific or Caribbean and languish away with TRUCK, A LOVE STORY in hand.