Neighbor Dog

Pastor Adam preached on the Good Samaritan yesterday, a parable from Luke 10:30-37. The question always becomes: who is my neighbor? To whom do I owe loyalty, kindness, love and friendship? The Jews he spoke to believed it was to the chosen people only. And the parable made it sound like only if the person in question didn’t require too much time and effort on their part. Can’t be dead, either, because…unclean.

This past Saturday, as I finished running, I saw a black dog walking down Olympic Highway North. It was raining, and getting heavier. Thinking it was Dakota, I called her.

“Dakota! Come here!”

The dog turned its shaggy head, woebegone and bedraggled. It wasn’t Dakota. But it was going to get hit on the busy road if it didn’t move. I stopped and called it. It started forward tentatively, then stopped. By this time, cars had halted. I walked out into the road and took the dog’s collar. I hoped it wouldn’t bite me. I thought about rabies, too. Amenable to some human leadership, the dog – all 100 lbs. of him – trotted alongside me. Well, I figured, let’s get him out of the rain. I’ve got dog food and a dry place.

I opened the gate and Mr. Dog and I entered the yard. He seemed right at home, until Dakota bolted out of nowhere, barking her head off. Her fur stood on end as she gave the intruder what for. I stood still so Dakota and the newcomer could sniff each other. The interloper stopped as Dakota checked him out. Only his eyes betrayed his anxiety. She nipped at him, but he didn’t bite back. We proceeded into the house. I left the dog outside for a moment while I got him some food and water. I put Dakota in the basement where she could bark to her heart’s content. After all, it wasn’t even 8:00 a.m. yet. No one else stirred.

The dog, whom I temporarily named Bo, walked into the house as if he owned it. He wolfed down the kibble and slurped up the water. I got a towel and dried him off. By this time, Ruby was awake. She fell in love with him on sight.

“Ooh! He’s so cute! What happened?”

I relayed the story and went to get a shower. As I mounted the stairs, I had a momentary qualm about leaving Ruby alone with a strange dog. But he was tame, with a grizzled muzzle and a calm demeanor. The cats might not like him, but he had no beef with anyone. He was Zen.

He laid his bulk down on the floor in the dining room, content to be warm and dry. His back left leg hurt him and he had a tough time getting comfortable. I got a few photos and posted them on Facebook in order to try and locate his owners. Then, he promptly fell asleep.

Around 9:00, I woke Jonathon up. He heard the story, too.

“So there’s another dog downstairs?” he asked, blinking.


He ambled downstairs and took a look at the dog that Ruby named Bear.

“He’s very mellow,” he noted. “What’s his name?”

I shrugged. He had no tag. He was very old, and I hoped no one had simply dumped him.

We talked about next steps. I emailed the animal shelter…in Shelton, Connecticut. Friends shared Bo/Bear’s photo on different websites. A friend texted me, alerting me to the possibility that it might be her neighbor’s dog. It wasn’t.

Meanwhile, we kept rotating the dogs around. If Bo-Bear didn’t find his way home, we would gladly keep him. Both Ruby and Jonathon were all for him. They liked his mellowness and thought it might rub off on hyper-vigilant Dakota. We put Bo in the basement, and Dakota stormed through the house, smelling all the places he’d been. When it was his turn to be in the house, he wandered and sought out Dakota’s scent. Hey, it’s what I read to do on the Internet, in order for dogs to get acquainted. A “let’s be friends” type of gesture.

Yeah. I know the cats appreciated it. Chloe marked a pile of Ruby’s dirty clothes to show her appreciation.

By around 12:20 p.m., we got a hit. Somebody knew the dog’s owner. The owner messaged me, and told me about some specifics. He’s 16 and his name is Spencer. He likes to get out and wander. In fact, he’d moseyed over from my parents’ neighborhood on the other side of town. He’d been out all night and probably got disoriented. No slam on them. Pets do crazy stuff. Look at my dog, who thinks anyone in a hoodie and baseball cap is an enemy. And the garbage man? Don’t even get me started.

The couple came and picked him up, grateful someone had taken their old gentleman in. It’s the least I could do. The least we could do, frankly. We’re no heroes. We saw a need and we offered the help we had. Isn’t that what being a neighbor is all about? I’d want someone to take Dakota in, though they’d probably pay a bit for it, at least at first. Because: who is my neighbor? It’s whomever is in my life, right here and now.

Bat Man

Last night, while Jonathon and I watched one of our favorite old sports movies, something circled overhead.

For those who have read this blog for awhile, you know what it was.

A bat.


We ducked as it lapped the family room, circling lower and lower. We scooted out of the room pronto.

“Seriously?” Jonathon said, frustration in his voice.  “How did the bat even get in?”

No idea. Well, we had a couple of ideas, but did it really matter? No.

Zac, startled from his video game by our rush into the living room, helped us out by Googling how to get bats out of your living space.

“Open all the doors and windows. Bats have excellent echo-location and should be able to find the exits. Or put on heavy gloves and trap them in a tupperware container.”

I looked at Jonathon. He shook his head, face grim.

“You can also cover them with a blanket. Remember, bats have delicate wings and they break easily, ” Zac went on, reading off his phone.

“They will fight back if cornered.”

Great. Didn’t mention the carrying rabies part. Yes, I know bats eat insects and do good things for the environment. I just don’t want to share a living space with them.

We sat and contemplated our navels for awhile, chatting about this and that. Then, since we couldn’t find the bat after searching the family room again, we resumed our movie.

But it wasn’t gone. It surfaced from the curtains and flew around the room again. Like a bad movie, we ran out again.

Now what?

We wanted to finish our movie and go to bed. By this time, it was way after 10:00 p.m. I had practically turned into a pumpkin. Emboldened by the late hour and the need to evict the visitor, we started banging on things and peeking behind furniture. No winged mammal.

“I see him!”

Jonathon found the critter on the back of the curtains. He lifted the 10-foot curtain rod off its holder gently. He eased it up and out of the room. I spotted the bat, tiny now in repose, clinging for life to the back of the curtain. Jonathon tossed the curtains, rod and all, out in the carport. The bat unfurled its claws and crawled away.

I only noticed  bats the other night, looking up into a blueberry sky as the daylight faded. What looked like large insects flew back and forth from the laurel hedge on the edge of our property. I told Ruby about them.

“Oooh! Everything has its cute face,” she said.

I felt a little sorry for the bat, despite the creepy factor. It got lost, somehow, and soared into another creature’s home. It got confused. The bat didn’t know the way out. We all get lost sometimes, wandering into places we truly shouldn’t go. Hopefully, some kindly stranger will help us find the nearest exit.






Run On



I haven’t written much lately. I tweaked my shoulder and have had a lot on my mind.

Like…I entered a race. I’ve thought about it all summer. This nice weather we have and by nice, I mean “not raining”(that’s Pacific Northwest lingo for you), should not be wasted. If you live in this area, you know that from June to September, every weekend gets jam packed with festivals, parades, carnivals and the like. Why? Because it’s sunny. Or at least trying to be. We give points for that, too. Everyone wants to be out and about in the vitamin D.

This is my convoluted way of saying I wanted to capitalize on my earlier running streak and take advantage of the good weather, too. All too soon, come November, nobody will want to be outside. The scenery will be shades of gray upon gray with a hint of brown for lively accent.

But there’s a bonus this year. Jonathon, eternal candidate for husband of the year, wants to run the 5K at the same time. Huzzah! Wouldn’t it be great if he fell in love with running, too? I’m trying not to get too excited and freak him out. It’s difficult.

I downloaded a Hal Higdon training schedule, free off the interwebs. I purposefully picked the Novice 2 level. Of course, this is my 6th half marathon. I have learned a thing or two. But I also know myself. No sense killing myself to get to the desired result. I plan to keep the 2 kettlebell workouts a week in the mix and get one rest day instead of two. I’ve jacked the plan all around to make it work for me. And, if it doesn’t work, I’ll change it again. Yes, Virginia, I can be flexible.

This is my latest adventure. I’m wiping the slate clean of old disappointments and injuries and expectations. I want to have fun and get stronger. Care to join me?


Father of All Projects

This morning dawned bright and breezy. A large moon lurked in the sky, unwilling to give up its place despite the sun’s rising. I wandered down our driveway towards the main road. My thoughts swirled around, eddying around this one rock: God’s faithfulness.

See, all this work we’ve put into our house lately has been to get it ready to sell. There. Now you know.

This weekend, we worked on the house. Jonathon and I shoveled at least a cubic yard of bark dust onto the yard. We planted flowers. We weeded. We tidied up the house more, moving excess furniture into a nearby garage.

We’ve had a contractor come in and install new carpet throughout and new linoleum in the kitchen. Jonathon put in new butcher block countertops and a glass tile backsplash. Oh, and he painted the kitchen, too, a pale dove gray. The new deep white ceramic sink replaced the shallow stainless steel one we had. He repainted the hallway, the family room and Ruby’s bedroom. He touched up paint in the living and dining room. He’s had a plumber come in and fix a leak in the basement. I’m sure this is only a partial list of all he’s done. I’ve been toiling away at work, putting in my 40 hours at the offices. He’s borne the brunt of the work. Good thing he has a flexible work schedule.

Our realtor walked through yesterday. Wowed by all Jonathon had done, he said it was move-in ready. We can sell it for a good price. This entire process – even getting us to consider the prospect of moving, from way back last summer – has been God’s doing, 100%.

Today, the realtor comes back to take photos. Here are a couple for you.

old sinkpergola

fence and planter boxes^4841E4DD8ECD33C2277F6532F23567F5ECD8FEAAA4A3243DF7^pimgpsh_fullsize_distr

Today, we’re taking a breath. We’re standing on top of the mountain. The fresh mountain breeze restores us. We made it. However, the next peak hovers on the horizon. Conquering that crag entails the winding, upward climb of selling our home, packing up, moving and doing it all before school starts again in September.

I know our Father has it all well in hand.

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31


The Dwarf and Other Adventures

sleepy the dwarf

Today, I am sleepy. I believe the job of Sleepy the Dwarf of Snow White fame is already taken. But I suppose I *could* be a dwarf if I really wanted to. I’m short enough. I could head out each morning, whistling a merry tune, shovel on shoulder. I could mine gems, deep within the mountain.

You’re welcome for the ear worm.

However, today I think I’ll do my regular job. No shovel required and certainly no whistling. Though my office did smell like garbage this morning. There’s a broken garbage truck sitting in the shop bay, waiting to be repaired. Hence the aromatics.

I’ve had 2 cups of coffee. The sun flirts with dark rainclouds. A breeze blows out of the west, reminding us that it’s still spring on the calendar. I ran 3 miles this morning. I was not feeling it today. Almost bagged the whole “run a mile each day” goal I set. Nobody had a gun to my head. Who would know, anyway?

Me, myself and I. All three of us would know. I slogged up the hill. Puny Susan comes to mind. I made it and put in three miles. I passed a homeless man talking to himself on the way down.

Speaking of homeless, a guy I’ll call Bob stopped by our house yesterday. I saw someone wearing a red baseball cap pass by the window. We had Builders group from church going. A large spread of cookout type foods sat on the table – burgers, dogs, chips, fruit and veggie trays, potato salad and macaroni salad. One gal even brought a cake. We talked and ate and enjoyed each other’s company.

Jonathon answered the door to the man. Bob was looking for work. He wanted to make some money by doing odd jobs. He’d been by the house before, several times. See, we live in town. We get foot traffic like this. Jonathon invited him inside. I always turned Bob down because, well, I didn’t have any work and he showed up when Jonathon was out of town. I didn’t feel comfortable with a strange man hanging around me and the kids.

“Here,” Jonathon said, pointing to the table groaning with food. “Help yourself.”

Bob’s eyes lit up. He put together two hamburgers and a full plate of sides.

We all said hello from our seats. Bob didn’t look at us. He blushed slightly, then went outside. Since the weather permitted, Bob and Jonathon sat on the front steps. I could hear Jonathon drawing him out, asking questions and sharing his own experiences.

I felt strange. I wanted to help Bob. But I didn’t know if it was safe. My mom-radar was going off full-tilt. Was Bob safe? Was he casing the joint? My husband is a giver. He learned from his mom. He takes care of people as much as he can. I like to give, too, but I realized yesterday it’s mostly to people I already know. I like known quantities. I’ve had bad experiences dealing with homeless from working in downtown Portland. You never know what will happen. It can get ugly.

So I prayed. Jonathon found out some things. Turns out Bob has a baby girl who lives with her mother in Olympia. He needed bus fare. He hopes to get a job there and stop living in a tent.

“Here,” Jonathon said, drawing off a $5 bill for Bob.

Bob took it.

“Thanks,”he said.

Bob had a bicycle with no seat. Jonathon yanked one off one of Ruby’s old bikes, since it was dumpster-bound anyway. He put it on for Bob. Bob rode away and came back for more food.

“We have plenty,” Jonathon said, smiling. Bob filled up his plate again. Then he left.

I still felt uneasy. I remembered the stories of tramps at the time of the Depression. They would mark houses with special symbols to say, this house is safe. Ask for what you need and they won’t turn you away. They care for the less fortunate. I hoped we would be protected and not robbed or worse. Maybe I’m cynical and guarded. But I’m proud to be married to someone who isn’t.

Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. – Luke 6:30



Friday Flotsam

what do people do all day


Remember this book?

Richard Scarry wrote and illustrated some of the most memorable children’s books. I remember looking at his books and trying to figure out which of the professions I might like to take on as an adult. Perhaps you have a natural curiosity, and you must know:  What have people been up to? Since everyone’s a worker and all.

Well, yesterday I finished the Title VI report. Which is not the same as CA Certification, like I originally thought. Title VI has to do with civil rights. CA Certification has to do with WSDOT allowing us to manage our own transportation projects. Anyway, the Title VI report has many attachments and lots of contractual language. Mercifully, for government reports, plagiarism is not only expected but encouraged. No need to reinvent the wheel. It’s done, awaiting city administrator signature. Whew!

Jonathon’s managed to put in a new window in our bedroom. He tore out the old screen door and rickety steps leading up to it. He trimmed out the new window and painted it this week. It looks like it’s always been there. Beautiful.

Zac scored 100% on a financial intelligence essay. He said the reviewer wrote something about how “its” should have been “it’s”. Folks, “it’s” is only used for a contraction of it and is. Period. Zac knew this, and the reviewer didn’t. Proud of that kid.

Ruby created a black spider out of fuzzy pipe cleaners. She gave it googly eyes and a mouth using scrap materials. I’d show you a picture, but I don’t want to scare you.

Rex, fully recovered and back up to fighting weight now, killed a rat. He looked very pleased with himself. I spied it, gray, soggy and very dead, in the carport this morning. I’ll spare you a photo of that, too.

Chloe threw up on the carpet and yet managed to espouse no knowledge of the fact.

Last, but not least, if you work in a garage, you might find this bonus reading material in the bathroom…

predator extreme mag

What have you been up to this week?

Remodel Revelations

Here’s Rex, taking advantage of the heating vent just under the piano bench. Notice how he’s lounging on the kitchen calendar like it’s a paper throne. It’s as if he doesn’t even care it’s Friday or has no concept of time or anything. Lucky cat.

Why is the kitchen calendar on the piano bench under the window? Good question. We’re doing a major remodel. I say “we” as if I had anything to do with it. I think I’ve packed a couple of boxes to get stuff out of the way.  The remodel has pretty much been all my fabulous husband’s doing. Jonathon has spent the last week repainting the kitchen, both bathrooms and the hallway from downstairs to upstairs. This includes the alcove, with the chimney and ceiling. Carpet installers come next week. Whew! I’m tired just typing it.

One thing I’ve learned about painting:  some areas need more than one coat of paint. The walls can be powerful thirsty.  And as you start painting one area, another adjacent area starts to look dingy. You didn’t plan to paint the ceiling, but…you find you can’t leave it like it looks now. It doesn’t work with the rest of the room anymore. Kinda like eating Doritos. You can’t eat just one.

This means stuff is everywhere. The toilet brush from the upstairs bathroom sits in our bedroom. Ruby’s sewing desk that used to rest in the alcove now rests, denuded of all accoutrements, in the living room. Toothbrushes and toothpaste lounge on the kitchen counter, around the corner from their home. I mean no disrespect to Jonathon by discussing this. Making a major change in your living space creates a temporary displacement of items. It’s inevitable.

I’ll be the first to say I like everything in its place. I don’t do well with disarray and clutter. But this season of change is good. Our former “McDonald’s” kitchen (so dubbed by a friend  because of its bright yellow base coat and red accent wall) made the small space with mismatched counters feel closed in and dark. Now the kitchen, resplendent in its new pale dove gray coat, barely needs lights on during the day. Why didn’t we do this years ago?

I know why. Life. Kids. Jobs. Church. Bills. Pets. Planet alignments. Woody Harrelson. Obligations of all sorts. Alright, maybe not Woody. But you get the idea.

Change brings growth and new opportunities. It can bring pain as well, as we uncover new ways to live and breathe, and vulnerable, damaged areas get exposed. It might mean more work for us, both in the physical and in the spiritual. Yet new vistas await on the other side of the change as we adapt and transition. We build up strength and endurance along the way, too. I look forward to the good coming out of this new scenery.