The Further Adventures of Chico and Annie
As you may remember, last month our dog heroes snuck out an unsecured gate and explored the neighborhood, upsetting pack leader Sue tremendously. Well, after the gate was secured, Chico, the tall black dog, realized he didn't need no stinking gates. He could jump the fence, especially on the west side where the ground has settled and the fence isn't as tall as it used to be. So up and over he went, every day, sometimes twice a day, forcing Sue to hasten up and down the streets hollering, "Here Chico, come on, dude, Chic, Chic, Chic." Sometimes she took Annie along on a leash to lure him back because sometimes he'd listen to Annie. Good old Chico just loves to run. He'd come flying out from the trees, zoom past Annie and Sue and disappear up somebody else's driveway. Over and over and over again. This is not safe, even in our rural area. Once he almost got hit by a truck, and you never know when he might meet an angry dog or a shotgun-toting homeowner who didn't like them pit-bully-faced dogs trespassing on his property.
So, enter Ted Stephens the fence man, the same man who with his wife Sue built our original fence, which was good enough for our old dog Sadie who had bad knees and never thought about jumping the fence. Ted looked around, shook his head and said we needed a six-foot enclosure for these dogs. He scratched out a bid, I looked at the numbers and then at those rascally dogs and sighed. Do it. On the next clear day, Ted and Sue brought poles and chain link and built a new home for the pups. Because they can dig even better than they can jump, he soon returned with more chain link to place along the edges so they couldn't dig their way out. Annie thought this was great because the ground-level link was secured with steel hooks. Within a few weeks, she had dislodged about 30 of them, carrying them around like trophies.
Now the dogs were secure, but we still had a problem. The fenced area is mostly in a section of the yard where the sun never shines, so the dogs had soon turned it into a mud pit suitable for wrestling until Annie, who is tan, and Chico, who is black, were both brown. They tracked mud all over the laundry room, living room, den, kitchen, and Sue. Because it rains here from Halloween until approximately Fourth of July, this was unacceptable. But what to do? Astroturf? They'd eat it. Gravel? They'd eat it. Wood chips? They'd eat it. Therefore, as this is being written, two young men are preparing the ground for concrete. The dogs can't eat concrete. I think.
It looks as if they'll like the concrete. Even now, when they're not wrestling, they tend to tiptoe across the stepping stones that Sue bought at Wal-Mart for $2.99 each after she slipped and imprinted chain link designs on the bottom of her yoga pants.
Yes, I know some folks would say these dogs are too much trouble. But they haven't sat in a big pile on a cold night with a dog on each side, watching "Dancing with the Stars" together.
April is National Poetry Month and Writer's Digest's Robert Brewer is hosting another Poem a Day challenge. I'm doing it. I wrote more than 30 poems during the previous challenge in November, and some of them are even good. For more info, see Brewer's Poetic Asides blog. If you're not up for every day, how about once a week? Brewer provides new poetry prompts every Wednesday. Even if poetry isn't your thing, it's a good mental exercise. I don't have much else to report. I'm still adapting to our new family situation with Fred living at Graceland Care Home while I'm here figuring out how to be single again after 24 years. But I'm working on it. At my Freelancing for Newspapers blog, we have a challenge going on to see who can keep sending out queries or manuscripts at least once every two weeks. Join us, if only to keep me at it. Manuscripts lounging in the file cabinet never make any money.
Newport singer/guitarist Kurt Smith is back in action, hosting open mics every Friday night from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Red Door Café in Newport (behind B of A at 101 and Olive Street). Frank Jones and I are among the regulars. Show up to perform or to offer support and enjoy some of the great food there.
The South Beach open mic has moved to the fourth Sunday of the month at 4 p.m. at the South Beach Community Center. Café Mundo in Newport also has open mics every Thursday at 7 p.m. Let's get out there and sing and play, folks. It's a great way to try new songs and work out the kinks in your act.
Oregon Coast Writing Events
The coast chapter of Willamette Writers hosts Barbara Drake April 7 for a poetry workshop at the Newport Public Library. This multi-published award-winner and college professor will have us thinking about our words and how we use them in whole new ways. The doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the program begins at 7. Admission is free, no reservations required. On May 5, we'll welcome columnist and author Bob Welch for an encore visit. For information, contact me at email@example.com or Dorothy Mack at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Nye Beach Writers is taking a break from readings and open mics to present its fourth annual Instant Haiku Slam Classic at Café Mundo on April 18. This popular event hosts teams of haiku writers who create 90-second works of art which are then judged by volunteers holding up signs ala gymnastics competitions. It's tons of fun. Plan to arrive by 6:45 p.m. at the latest to sign up for a team or to judge or just to get a table because Mundo crowds up quickly. The fun starts at 7. Café Mundo is located at 209 NW Coast St. For more information, visit the Writers on the Edge web site. On April 24-25, Eastern Oregon University will host the Northwest Poets' Concord at the Hallmark Inn in Newport. Events kick off Friday at 2 p.m. with a Book Fair where you can buy poetry books and meet the authors. At 5 p.m. Barbara Drake (yes, the same Barbara Drake who is coming to the library on April 7) will give a talk about The Northwest Regional Anthology. These events are free. On Saturday, a variety of workshops will be held at the amazingly reasonable price of $7 for the morning session, $8 for the afternoon session or $15 for all day, including refreshments. You can also get college credits. An open mic at the Champagne Patio in Newport at 7 p.m. Saturday closes the festivities. For more information, contact Dr. Sandra Ellston at email@example.com.
To be honest, I have started reading several books that didn't grab me enough to finish them within a month. It could be the books' fault, or it could be that I'm not interested enough right now. But I do have a couple good ones to report on.
Blessing of the Animals by Brenda Miller, Eastern Washington University Press, 2009. This collection of essays is very personal, telling me things about my former MFA professor that I sometimes don't want to know. But they are also well-written examples of the collage style, in which she mixes various entities to tell a truth. For example, in her essay "Opalescent," she begins by talking about her new stained glass windows, then writes about a patio made of broken concrete, jigsaw puzzles, broken bones, quilting and other topics that deal with putting pieces together. The title piece, "Blessing of the Animals," wanders from taking her dog to church for a blessing through her relation with religion to other animals she has owned and trying to stay focused on the moment in yoga class. These creative nonfiction pieces are not for every reader, but they are fascinating for those who have taken her classes or read her text Tell It Slant.
Greetings from Nowhere by Barbara O'Connor, Frances Foster Books, 2008. Widow Agnes Duncan is going to have to sell the Sleepy Time Motel that she and her husband Harold used to run. Guests are not coming, and the place is falling apart. But just as she's about to the sign the papers, three families arrive, each with a troubled child. Loretta's biological mom has died and left her with a charm bracelet showing all the places she might have gone. Now Loretta's adoptive parents are taking her on a journey to discover those places. Kirby's mom is taking him to a military-style school, but her car died and she ran out of money before she got there. Meanwhile, Willow's mom Dorothy has left her and her father, Clyde, and now her dad wants to start a new life by the buying the old motel. This is a light and beautiful tale, filled with love and perfect details that make a person feel good.
If you're in the area, Fred needs visitors. He's at 1147 Newport Heights Rd. Drive past the cemetery, take a left at the water tower and keep going up and down the hill until you see the big Gracelands sign on the left. Call (541) 264-8218 to make sure he's home. We both could use your prayers and good wishes to get through this transition time.
Happy birthday to all the April babies and happy Easter to everyone. May the sun shine and your flowers bloom. If anyone wants to help me take de-mud my house, come on over. Chico and Annie love company.
All contents copyright 2009, Sue Fagalde Lick, except mug shot courtesy Teresa Grady
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