Tag Archives: Rosa Parks

Here’s the Scoop

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Lately, when out in public, whether at the grocery store, hardware, post office or bank, I’ve been – unasked – bursting out with a story. Perhaps encouraged by a glance that seems to go on a bit too long, or a quizzical look, or a raised eyebrow, I get the feeling that an explanation is needed…and I am quick to oblige.

My face, these days, bears what I have called “the mark of Zorro.” Actually, though, it’s more of a simple “zig” than a “zig-zag.” The scratch begins under my right eye and runs diagonally across the bridge of my nose to my left nostril. There, it shifts course and makes another diagonal swipe across my upper lip to the right corner of my mouth. It was bright red for a day or two, then relaxed into a brown scab which slowly wore away until, presently, I am left with a distinct pink line. It will probably heal without leaving a scar.

Some people say, “What happened to you?” and I am happy to explain. I didn’t fall down, drunk, or trip into a thorn bush. It wasn’t clumsiness or stupidity. I have nothing to be ashamed of, though I’m embarrassed by the big mark on my face. It seems so outrageously visible, I feel an explanation is necessary whether prompted by a question or not. So, I’ve been spontaneously jumping into an explanation. This is the story:

My back is out, and I sleep more comfortably downstairs, where I can press by body against the back of the sofa for support, and where I don’t have to navigate stairs in the middle of the night. So, I’ve been sleeping on the couch. When I sleep on the couch, Rosa Parks takes position on the back of the couch, where she can see out the window. Darla sleeps on her big cushion on the floor beside me.

Last weekend, in the middle of the night, something came into the yard. At the time, I thought wild turkeys, though I’ve since been told that turkeys don’t usually move around at night. Maybe it was a coyote…or a deer…or a stray cat. In any case, at about three in the morning, when I was sound asleep, something came into the yard. It startled Rosa Parks, who sounded the alarm with her shrill bark.

Instantly, Darla was on the job. In her eagerness to assist Rosa Parks in frightening away whatever was invading our territory, she forgot I was on the couch. I had barely been frightened out of sleep by one dog barking when the second – larger – dog jumped on top of me with such force, I thought she had broken my nose.

I staggered in to the bathroom to stanch the bleeding and assess the damage. So enthused were they at their thorough job of protecting me, neither dog realized anything had gone wrong. Neither of them would ever hurt me on purpose. As I held a cold compress to my poor bleeding face, I doled out treats and told them, “Thanks for taking care of things.” I’ve considered, though, that – in the future – when my back is out and I’m forced to sleep on the sofa, a football helmet might be a good accessory!IMG_1308IMG_1309

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Late!

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I’m up early today, trying to make up for all I didn’t do yesterday.

I don’t set the alarm clock on Sunday morning. I don’t have to be at work until 10:30; sunshine streaming in and the dogs needing out always assure that I’ll be up in time, no matter how late I was up the night before. Not yesterday.

Yesterday morning, the dogs had each made a trip outside before 6AM. I had taken the opportunity – while I was up – to empty my bladder and get a drink of water. The windows were open to a cool breeze; gentle rain was coming down. I was cozy and warm under a heavy comforter, with Rosa Parks curled up at my feet, Darla snoring from her bed close by. A cloudy sky blocked the morning sun. There was nothing to drive me from my bed. I thought of waking up, then let myself drift back into sleep…until I finally reached out to turn the clock around, to get an idea of the time.

TEN O’CLOCK!!!

I jumped out of bed. First, to the kitchen, to start the coffee brewing. To the bathroom next, where I ran the sink full of hot water for the sponge bath that would have to replace the shower I had planned. Having gone to bed with damp hair the night before, my hair was sticking up in a dozen directions. I wet it down and dried it into what could only be described as “better than before.” I washed, dressed, and brushed my teeth.

I filled two tiny dishes with soft food for the dogs. By that time they had roused themselves, too, and were not-too-enthusiastically considering another trip outside in the rain. “You’ll be fine,” I told them, “stay inside.” I filled my thermos and poured a cup of coffee. As I put down the dogs dishes, I reminded them that this was a short day, and told them to take care of things. Purse, thermos and coffee cup in hand, I was out the door.

Seven and a half miles is the distance to town. When I was considering this property, my Dad said, “That’s an awful long way from town, Cindy.” At that time, I was living outside of North Branch, driving ten miles to bring my daughters to ballet lessons, fifteen to visit my parents, and more than twenty for my classes in Flint, Michigan. Seven miles seemed like nothing…until I moved here.

Gas prices are high. I consolidate trips. I almost never come home and then go back to town, no matter what exciting event is taking place. The roads are, for the most part, unpaved, narrow and curvy, often littered with fallen branches. One must always be on the lookout for wildlife: chipmunks, black squirrels, wild turkeys and white-tailed deer think nothing of crossing the road without warning. So I did think about Dad on Father’s Day, and his sage advice about the long distance from town, as I made my way to work.

It gave me some comfort to have that cup of coffee nearby, though it was much too bumpy a ride to try to get a sip. As I rounded the church hill, I was glad to see Mass was still in session, for the church-goers often make their way to the hardware store as soon as the service is over. I made it to work no more than three minutes late, with customers already waiting at the door. I mixed two cans of paint before I had my coffee, and the day continued busy.

By the time I got home, I was ready for a break. As it was too wet for gardening or yard work, I took the dogs for a short walk. We then convened on the sofa to watch a movie and nap. After that, a drive to Fox Lake and then down to the frog pond. A late dinner completed the day’s theme.

Yesterday, I was behind all day. Today, I’m getting an early start.

Pushing On

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So, what is it now, that has kept me away from writing? I’ve been busy, sure, and tired. There have been a lot of things going on here on Beaver Island, and in my life.

Saturday, for instance. I worked at the hardware store. It was our busiest – by far – day this year. The side of the building has become a nursery, with stacking shelves arranged under a sun shade for perennials and shrubs, annual flowers, vegetables and herbs. Folks were flocking in to our store for necessities for lawn and garden plans as well as all the usual painting, plumbing and home repair projects.

I had started the day loading art work in the car, so that I could drop it off at the Beaver Island Gallery, on its first open day of the season. I did that in the early afternoon, just before running out to attend the memorial gathering to honor my friend, Roy. I then ran to the point, to attend the annual shareholder’s meeting of the Beaver Island Boat Company. Then, back to the hardware to finish my work day.

Home, I changed clothes, doused up with mosquito repellent, and headed for the garden. I’ve been forcing myself to get in at least an hour of work out there every evening, no matter how much I want to collapse. Saturday, I raked, dug stubborn weeds, hauled away another wheelbarrow full of roots, and assembled a raised bed for my strawberry plants, before coming in to shower. I ate dinner in my pajamas, and was in bed not long after.

In addition to long and busy days, I’ve had a few side-line inconveniences that have further complicated my life. I picked up a tick, while working in the garden, and didn’t discover it until it was firmly embedded in the skin of my inner thigh, and fairly well engorged with my blood. That was the most traumatic (and gross!) thing that has happened to me in quite some time! A trip to the medical center, a dose of strong antibiotic, a few instructions about prevention and how to handle it should it ever happen again, and I was on my way…though the nightmares continue.

My car is in the shop for repairs. That has caused me to be using vehicles that I’m not familiar with (Oh! No cup-holder? And where is the knob for windshield wipers?), changing one car for another, begging rides from here to there, and sometimes walking. It’s not a big deal. It will all be over soon, and I’ll have my own dusty, messy car back, with a nice fat repair bill to boot!

Next, my little dog, having worked herself into a frenzy over having her nails clipped, managed to get out of my grasp…and bit me. By the next morning, redness and swelling made another trip to the medical center necessary. “It was an accident,” I explained, “she was trying to bite the vet.” My tetanus vaccine was still good; another dose of antibiotic, and I was finished. All dog bites have to be reported, so next came a visit from the deputy. My dogs are up to date on all of their shots. Still, according to standard protocol, Rosa Parks had to be placed in quarantine (“House arrest,” I told her) for ten days. No rides to visit the inland lakes; no walks down the Fox Lake Road. “That’s what you get,” I tell her, without sympathy.

Yesterday, it rained. That put all yard work on hold. After coming home from work, I took a lovely, long nap. I got up in time to feed the dogs and make my own supper, then went shortly right back to bed. Today, I feel rested, and like I just might make it. The sun is shining. The grass is desperately in need of being cut. The dogs and I could all use some outdoor time. That’s where I’ll be, then, for the rest of this day.

 

Artifacts to Memories: Bunny Rabbit

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This bunny rabbit is not a personal artifact, but it’s been in my home for quite a few years now. Memories attach themselves to objects, and this little raggedy soft toy is no exception.

I brought two of these little bunnies home, when my dog family consisted of Maggie and Clover. Clover was a joy to watch with a new toy. She tossed it in the air and caught it in her teeth; she gave the toy a good shake before tossing it up again; she’d bring it to me coyly, inviting me to play, too. Maybe tug-of-war? What about fetch?

Maggie, on the other hand, was just a hoarder. She’d impatiently watch Clover play, until she could grab the toy away from her. Then she’d stand, chest out, on her bed, daring anyone to try to take anything away. She was the oldest, and largest, of the dogs, so she always got away with it. While I was away, she’d settle in and chew the stuffing out of any soft toy, but she didn’t otherwise engage with them. She just wanted them. All of the toys. On her doggie bed. All the time.

By the time Maggie passed on, Clover had lost interest, mostly, in toys. I’d try to engage her in games; she try to comply, for my sake, but the joy was gone. She preferred just a good walk. The collection of beat up chew toys and stuffed animals sat neglected in a corner.

Then, little Rosa Parks came in to our household. She was young, curious and ready for adventure. What were all these toys, gathering dust? Could she, with her keen young nose, detect a whiff of another dog…one that she had never met? As the toys were dragged out, one by one, Clover engaged with them as well, just to let the little dog know she knew what they were for. Mostly, they just got them all out, and strewed them around the living room.

As the years went by, though, both dogs lost interest. By the time Clover died, the toys – with a few additions – were occupying the neglected basket again. Rosa Parks, who had engaged in all kinds of games and play with Clover, was a hard dog to entertain, on her own. Often, I’d drive her down to Fox Lake, just to see her tail wag. There the water, and the memories of squirrel-chasing play, always put a spring in her step.

It seemed like Rosa Parks needed a companion, besides me. So, mainly as a gift to my little dog, I adopted Darla. Turns out, both Darla and Rosa Parks would have preferred to be the only dog in my house. Or so they thought. For my sake, they put up with each other. It took a few months for them to learn to enjoy each other’s company.

The toy basket, though, was an immediate success! Darla loves a toy. Her tail wags just snuffling through the basket, trying to pick just the right one. If she has gotten into the trash while I was at work, and she hears displeasure in my tone, she’ll bring me a toy. If that doesn’t do the trick, she’ll go get another. Once, having exhausted the toy basket while I was still picking up scraps of paper from the floor, she brought me a throw pillow!

Darla always likes to carry a toy outside with her. When she goes tearing out of the house, growling, to chase wild turkeys out of the yard, she often has a cute toy dangling from her jaws. Stuffed animals come on our walks with us. Until a chipmunk or a smelly piles of leaves distracts her, Darla will carry a soft toy in her mouth for a mile or more. I try to pay attention to where she drops it, so that I can tuck it in my pocket for the walk back home.

This stuffing-less bunny rabbit and all of his soft companions have a new lease on life, and  are getting out more, now, than they ever did before!

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Dog Comics, Part III

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Now these two. I spent about a year, after Clover passed away, wondering whether to get another dog. I work long hours, and have a lot of guilt about the time my dogs spend alone. Would a second dog be a good companion for Rosa Parks, or just double the guilt for me? My sister has a camera in her house, so that she can keep an eye on her two pups while she’s at work. They don’t really interact much, she told me, until close to the time either she or her husband are expected home. Then they get up and start looking out windows. Two veterinarians and the woman who boards my dogs when I travel all assured me that dogs do offer comfort to each other, even if they’re not actively playing. I finally made a decision, and brought Darla home to join the family.

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Rosa Parks was unimpressed. She had not been unhappy being the sole beneficiary of all of my attention. Darla, too, in our drive across the state, had come away with the idea that she was going to be an “only dog.” Neither one was happy with having to compete for treats or attention. They got along, for my sake only, but took their time becoming friends.

Some of those habits linger. If Darla is acting up, begging at the table or clambering for the attention of guests, Rosa Parks will remove herself from the situation. Suddenly she, the bossiest, most demanding and spoiled of the two, is sitting calmly off to the side, one paw crossed casually over the other, with a look of absolute superiority on her face. “Do you see this?” I imagine her saying, “I am the good dog!”

When Rosa Parks whimpers and – one ear to the floor, tail in the air – begs me to stop what I am doing and give her some attention, Darla is quick to take advantage of the opportunity. While I’m on the floor rubbing Rosa’s ears and tummy, the big dog wants her belly rubbed, too. Rosa refuses to give up her spot, but takes on a pained expression as Darla – without fail – rolls right over on top of her.

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Over the course of the last several months, though, the dogs have developed a rapport. I notice when they rush out the door to chase wild turkeys out of the yard, they look at each other, a shared mission, as they go around the corner of the house. They’ve learned to take turns begging for treats, so that neither appears too greedy, but both benefit from the handout. At their last doctor visit, Darla stoically endured being poked and prodded by the veterinarian. Then it was the little dog’s turn. Rosa Parks was simply having her nails clipped. Always the drama queen, her response might lead one to believe she was at least enduring an amputation. The vet and I grinned at her melodrama. Suddenly, from her place in the corner of the room, Darla started talking. Not a bark and not quite a howl, but the sound dogs make when they are trying to sing…clearly she was not pleased with what we were putting Rosa Parks through! “Leave her alone,” was my interpretation. At last, my dogs have become friends!

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Dog Comics, Part II

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Clover and Rosa Parks

My next pair of dogs was Clover and Rosa Parks.

Though Clover often had issues with other dogs, she and the little dog became friends very quickly. In fact, Rosa Parks quickly took on the roll of the boss, letting Clover know when she she was being annoying, or when she could – or could not – share space on the bed or sofa. Rosa’s coloring was very much like Maggie’s; I often wondered if Clover didn’t see Rosa as a much smaller, reincarnated version of her old friend.

Clover, being the older and wiser of the two, took her roll seriously. She was the teacher, Rosa Parks the student. Clover would come upon a footprint in the snow. She’d put her snout near it, look up toward the little dog, and raise one eyebrow. Rosa would run right over, and put her own nose down to smell what Clover was smelling. They would exchange a knowing look. If it was a coyote print, the look was of concern. Deer or turkey tracks were interesting but not scary. A dead snake in the road would also demand attention. First the meaningful look, that would send Rosa Parks scurrying over. Then the demonstration: aim, flop onto the back right on top of the dead animal, and squirm. Jump up, sniff again, and repeat. “Now you try it,” I imagined her saying, and Rosa Parks complied every time.

Clover, who was very enthusiastic about chasing chipmunks, did her best to get Rosa Parks involved in the sport. Rosa pretended to be interested. If Clover was watching, the little dog would dig madly at the base of the tree, stare into its branches, circle and jump, just as Clover was doing. If Clover wasn’t paying attention, Rosa’s lazier nature came out, and she’d find a comfortable spot to watch the action. If she saw me watching, Rosa Parks would be quick to roll her eyes at Clover’s antics, letting me know that she was well above behavior like that.

Clover always rode in the car with us down to Fox Lake. Coming home, though, she preferred to run. And chase every single squirrel, and follow every single scent all the way home. Rosa Parks, on my lap, would watch Clover out the window, just as Maggie had watched her from the passenger seat as I followed closely behind. Eventually, though, I’d lose patience with her side trips, and with driving in second gear, one foot always on the brake. At some point, when she was off on the trail of a bird or rodent, I’d speed up, and let her make her own way home. That always put a look of satisfaction on Rosa’s little face. “Finally, rid of her!” By the time we got home though, her relief had changed to concern, and she – with me right behind – would head down the Fox Lake Road on foot, to meet Clover and accompany her in the final stretch for home.

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Stubborn Dog

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Sometimes, Rosa Parks happily joins me for a walk. The big dog, Darla, knows that the pace will be slower and the distance shorter, but she’s okay with that. She’s learned to enjoy having the little dog along, and – like me – feels a little lost and guilty when we leave her at home. When Rosa Parks is enthusiastic about walking, she’s a tail-wagging joy to have around.

Sometimes, Rosa Parks is reluctant. She needs to be coaxed to come along for the walk. I grab a handful of kibble before we leave the house, to lure her to the end of the driveway. I often have to carry her across the road and onto the trail to get her into the spirit of the adventure. Now and then I drive the dogs down to Fox Lake, or Hannigan Road, or another remote location to begin our walk. Then, the little dog is unable to run back to her own porch to sit and wait, so she stays with me, and gets her exercise whether she’s in the mood for it or not.

Sometimes, the little dog simply, stubbornly, refuses to go for a walk. She will snuggle down into the cushions of the couch when I suggest it, or adamantly stay on the porch as we make our way down the driveway. If I carry her to the road, she bolts for home as soon as I put her down.

On the day before opening day of our firearm deer season, I thought a good long walk was in order. There are fewer opportunities to get out in the woods once the hunter’s have staked their ground. I didn’t want to drive to Fox Lake; the boat launch has limited paths and walkways for getting a good walk in. Hannigan Road, Cotter’s Trail and the other trail back to the cabin behind me – all fine walks in other times of the year – are off limits during hunting season. There are people testing their weapons for accuracy. Hunters frown on dogs disrupting the normal movement of deer, so close to opening day. We would walk down the Fox lake Road.

With a flash of blaze orange around the neck of the fawn-colored big dog, we headed up the driveway. Rosa Parks wasn’t thrilled with the idea, but treats offered every few yards kept her coming. Darla was enthusiastic, and headed right down the road. Rosa Parks sat down. Sometimes, when she doesn’t get the response she wants – when I don’t go back to pick her up and carry her, or if we don’t turn back and give up on the walk altogether (which is rewarded by a little dance and joyous tear around the yard by Miss Rosa Parks) – she eventually catches up. Not that day. She feigned deafness as I called, coaxed and cajoled her.

Rosa Parks was not swayed. I finally walked her back to the house, settled her royally on the cushion with the suggestion that she rest and – if she felt up to it – “take good care of things.” Darla and I took a nice long walk, without the stubborn little dog.