Available Light

I was going to try to write some holiday-appropriate words to accompany this animated image of our Christmas tree. But it’s 3:20 on Christmas Eve’s eve morning as I write this and I’ve been up since 2:41 and I’m just not feeling very jolly.

I was brought from my sleep because our dog Shadow uncharacteristically unsilented the night with a couple of adamant barks at the aforementioned ungodly hour and minute. I did not hesitate to get up and go to her.

Every day I wrestle with a decision regarding Shadow whose inevitability will one day pin me to the mat — and sooner rather than later. She was eight weeks young when we found each other on the grass beside Balboa Lake in the Sepulveda basin. She is now eight months into our seventeenth year together and honestly, I don’t know if we have eight more days together.

Her hearing is severely diminished. She no longer walks, and can barely even sit up on her front two legs, much less stand on all four. As such I have become her dutiful attendant, shuttling her out into the backyard several times during the day and night where I’ll hold her upright with one arm cradling her belly and the other lifting her tail until she’s finished. If I get lucky she’ll poop, too. But I don’t get lucky often in that regard. Mostly when it comes to No. 2 she does that where she lays, and I pick up after her and then carry her out to for her to empty her bladder. This has been going on for a few months now.

She isn’t in any pain, at least not the obvious variety. But so long gone from those days a few years ago when she’d accompany me  on two- or three-mile exploratory walks high and low around the neighborhood, Shadow clearly despises her condition. Who wouldn’t? Some might say that in prolonging her frustration and deterioration, I should despise it more.

For whatever it’s worth, my rationale is that she’s still pretty much in control of her bladder and she eats most meals. If –or I should say: when — either of those tentative positives go negative… well, then it will be time to say goodbye.

When I awoke to her barks I knew almost immediately that it wasn’t in alarm to anything going on outside because our other dog Ranger wasn’t accompanying it with any whimpers or frantic activity. When I got downstairs to her corner of the foyer next to the Christmas tree, whose lights were off, she lifted her head and looked at me. In nothing but my boxer briefs and flip flops I carried her outside into the 39-degree chill, cradled her belly and lifted her tail and minor miracle of minor miracles she both pooped and peed.

I have this little routine after she’s finished where I lift her back up in my arms and hold her close as I look up to the sky bracketed between our two backyard palm trees and I tell her what a good girl she is and that I love her. I prolonged that moment this time.

Back inside I returned her to the foyer, but still she fussed. Thinking she might be thirsty I moved her closer to her water bowl, but that wasn’t it. I sat and petted her, and she calmed a little, but I still sensed her stress. I’d accidentally left the tree’s lights on all night last night so I turned them back on to see if that might be what she wanted, and went and sat on the couch. Whether that was the solution or not, she relaxed. With the tree twinkling I set up the cam and recorded a few seconds of video. Before I finished she was asleep.

The tree is far brighter and more festive than the above too-dark animation of it, which I almost didn’t post. But actually, the clip works for me on a symbolic level. This holiday season has been dimmed by a decision I’m still not yet ready to make, but it still shines.


Pepper and Susan and I met Jigsaw on Super Bowl Sunday of 2004. Pepper, (left) was four years old, had been with me since August of 2001 and reigned as king of the one-bedroom apartment I lived in when I first moved to Silver Lake. Jiggy was about eight weeks of age when I went to investigate his desperate caterwauling coming from the building’s garage only to be surprised to find him scrambling out  from beneath the car under which he sat and literally jumping into arms to take advantage of the opportunity to have a home.

Pepper was not at all happy with the competition and in an infamously sinister episode very early on in their relationship was almost successful in choking the kitten to death right next to me on the sofa upon which I sat. Seriously, Jiggy was half-passed out with Pepper’s jaws clamped on his neck and constricting his airway. Like a cheetah with a gazelle. Domesticated, my ass.

During those first few weeks Pepper took every opportunity to attack and/or terrorize poor Jiggy.  Terrified of coming home and finding him dead I kept them separated whenever I was away; Jiggy in the bedroom and Pepper in the livingroom with separate food and water and litter boxes. When I was at home I opened the bedroom door. There’d be skirmishes, but with less frequency.  If it got too quiet though I’d freak and make sure Pepper wasn’t administering a killing bite. Eventually Jiggy got big and bold enough not to put up with Pep’s bullying bullshit, and Pepper chilled out. But to this day, whenever I find them like I did this morning snuggled up together on the chippendale, I flash back to a time seven Februaries ago when I never thought there’d be a chance in hell that they’d ever become such close friends. Family even.

All Together Now

One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite musicals, “Man of La Mancha,” goes like this:

“Whether the pitcher hits the stone or the stone hits the pitcher, it’s going to be bad for the pitcher.”

Well in the case of the pticher pictured below, it wasn’t a stone, but rather the backyard patio floor that it made contact with, and yes, it was bad for the pitcher.

The pitcher was on the patio table the night of last week’s hellacious winds, and just as I was not smart enough to heed the weather advisories and take down the adirondack chair I’d put on the roof last summer, so was I not smart enough to close the patio table umbrella, which at some point during that mostly sleepless night caught what must have been a pretty spectacular gust like a vertical sail, which then lifted up the entire table and moved it about three feet from where it had previously stood. Consequently, the pitcher — brought back from Italy by Susan during our 2007 cruise around that country’s seas — tumbled to its doom upon the concrete.

Dutifully I gathered up all the broken bits big and small and badly reassembled them — with the exception of that silver-dollar-sized hole in its belly, the pieces of which I can only list as missing and presumed pulverized.

These reconstructions are a strange habit which I’ve had for most of my life. I think the compulsion to reconstitute what’s been deconstituted is tied to that same unavoidable drive I had to “clean” the graffiti off our garage doors couple months back (and in turn make a bigger mess that the city eventually came and painted out — but it was MY mess, not the taggers). In this case, like the ladybug pot that also shattered that night, it’s not about fixing what’s broken or returning it to its previous unmarred fully functional state. My intent is driven by sentimentality not meticulousness. I mean… just look at it: it’s days as a liquid-bearing vessel are gone.

But its days not even nearly good as new, but better, have begun.

Timelapse: Puzzle Pot

Wednesday night’s extreeeeeeeme Santa Anas windstorm was devastating to many communities throughout Southern California. Our house and those of our neighbors got off lucky. With the exception of a bunch of fallen palm fronds, one of the few things that broke in the backyard was a sentimentally valued ladybug pot that had already broken once a while ago and I had glued back. So this morning I pointed the cam at all the broken bits I sat down with some superglue to put the pot back together.

The finished product ain’t pretty, but it’s back in one piece:

Best Seat On The House

It’s a given I’m a nut, right? I mean, I don’t have to kualify my krazee, do I? I preface with that rhetorical because today while people all around me are moaning the organizer-driven and city-ordered demise of what was to have been this weekend’s Sunset Junction Festival, I did something I’ve long wanted to do that will no doubt be further evidence to support kookiness.

I put a chair up on the roof.

Work with me here: Given the characteristic keep on truckin’ angle of a pair of adirondack chairs Susan got me as a gift some years back, and given the angle of our steeply pitched roof, rudimentary calculations  led me to the conclusion that one of those chairs properly positioned in a straddle over the roof’s ridgeline would be inherently stable and secure and afford the sitter prolonged and infinitely comfortable access to the awesome views to the west and north.

And so today, I tested out that theory.

And proved its validity.

Oh yeah.