Poet's Walk photo by Dennis Riley
Bless me for I’ve sinned, it’s been two weeks since my last blog-session. Things in Brooklyn have been really busy. The weather is changing–dog walking in the cold rain and leaves falling. Winter is on its ominous way, last week four grey days, no sun.
We took a trip up to see Dennis’s friend Ken at Toad Hall in Poughkeepsie or as Ken likes to call it P-Town on Hudson. He manages Locust Grove, a lovely historic estate. I love it up there, its so quiet and full of green. We were there back in July and checked out Poet’s Walk and Opus 40 amongst other things.
Opus 40 photo by Dennis Riley
I wrote this sonnet:
Toad Hall with its twists and turns, bathrooms opening
into other bathrooms old servants quarters low ceilings,
stairs slope and wind back into the kitchen. Turkeys
and frogs croak in the yard of green, lightning bugs
and dancing mosquitoes buzz. We hike through ticks
and flowered fields of Poet’s Walk, sit in old wooden
gazebos and stare at the Hudson River, shop at grocery
stores that classify Green Tea as “New Age Beverages,”
drive dizzy roads to Opus 40 stones in the Saugerties,
a monument tomb to obsessive sculpture. It’s raining,
steam rises off the hot rocks as if ready for dark-cloaked
druid sacrificing. Locust Grove’s rolling lawns and gardens,
house of servant’s ghosts and carriages, the Young’s pet
cemeteries headstones marked Snappy and Rusty. Back
in the city in coffee shops surrounded by people on cell
(as in jail) phones talking. I’m longing for quiet lakes
and green away from laptops and technology’s electric bars.
This time we stuffed our faces at Babycakes and the Eveready Diner went apple picking and antiquing in New Paltz. Unfortunately, the first night we were there the electricity was out. We made the mistake of going to see Zombieland. Even though its a goofy movie, it does have zombies and we were in this big house in the woods in the dark. It just seemed like a horror movie recipe. Did I mention I spent my childhood terrified of the dark? I’m 31 and I still have a nightlight! Suddenly this quaint little house in the woods with all its “secret” rooms became my own personal chamber of horrors. In bed that night, I stared at the attic door above me in the candlelight and poked Dennis every time he started to fall asleep and snore. Damn nature, this would never happen in the city! (with the exception of blackout 2005)
When we got back to Brooklyn I got my The Dogs of Brooklyn manuscript back with lots of notes from Barbara Hamby my poetry mentor. She’s the most amazing poet I know and has been so supportive and encouraging. After a few weeks of hardcore editing that actually gave me back pain I’m sending it off to several book contests, fingers crossed.
I also came back to an email from Melissa that Vijay Seshadri agreed to read with us at opening party of The Dogs of Brooklyn Photography and Poetry Show Ozzie’s Coffee, Park Slope (7th Ave & Lincoln Place) Brooklyn, NY November 6th 7pm. I hope everyone can make it. I’m super-excited. I wish the dogs could come make celebrity appearances but it is a food establishment so I doubt they’d be let in.
Finally Dennis and I went to the ridiculous “Meet the Breeds” at the giant Javitz center. It was a weekend event with almost every cat and dog breed imaginable in attendance. Crazy cat ladies with hand sanitizer, big hair, and too much make up. Dog people dressed up like they were from the country their dog breed was from. Super-white women dressed up in Afghan garb in a tent while their Afghan Hound lay sleeping. King Charles Spaniel owners dressed up as if they were having tea in the English countryside. Wow. It was fun to go around and get free samples of pet food and pet the dogs if the breeders let us!
I was dog sitting for the dogs Charlie, Chloe, Lola and the cats Milo and Sam (yes all one owner!), so we brought them and our own cats some goodies. Lola is an interesting case. A long-haired chihuahua with fear aggression issues. I’ve sat for her before but it takes her a little while to trust again. She usually starts as a barking, biting mess. I always have to lasso her, bribe her with food to get her harness and leash on. I think the biggest mistake owners make with small breeds is they treat them like babies instead of dogs. They pity them because of their size and don’t let them have normal dog experiences and boundaries. When I come along I treat them like big dogs and they seem to appreciate this respect after a little bit of a tantrum. You just have to get through the tantrum. You have to give energy to the behavior you want though praise and correct any behavior you don’t want without giving it a lot of energy, because whatever you give energy to will grow. I usually leave Lola’s leash on and reintroduce her to the house, as my house, not hers. I correct any behavior I don’t like with a chhh and a little tug on the leash. After a little while she’s pretty sweet and follows me around. Sadly I understand her wanting to growl off any potential problems, I’ve been known to occasionally do the same myself. However, living like that you growl off the love too and that’s no way to live.