Puppy Love

Darlene and our new puppy arrived last night at Logan. We took time out in a hallway for Claire to stretch her legs, drink, and eat a few tiny bits of dried food. She seemed stunned in a calm kind of way, and she slept at Darlene's feet during the two-hour drive to southern Maine. Puppy and parents slept well at the Hooper Cottage. This morning during a brief visit to our bed, Claire peed on my side.

After being apart for a week, I made the mistake of imagining that Darlene and I would have a liesurely seaside morning of getting reconnected. Instead, life as a threesome began with the new player peeing in my bed and launching my partner into turbo-cleaning mode. "I don't want you to feel like you're not Number One," she told me just now on the cell phone, reaching my wi-fi retreat at Starbucks in Saco. Right. Take a look at this photo and then estimate how much this puppy means to Fifi. It pisses me off when my emotions don't match my aspirations to be a realized, loving person free from the bondage of self. It's even worse when I catch myself competing with a foe who weighs 1.7 pounds.

Love does not follow the decimal system. Claire is terminally cute. Without thinking, I found myself sprawled on the floor of Logan International Airport, taking photos of her every move. I plan to fight fire with fire, daring to love a puppy instead of compete with her. After 21 years of marriage, who knows what new sparks may fly?

Saturday, August 06, 2005

My Father's Blog

Yesterday my father posted his first entry on the blog which I helped him set up this week. He printed out the page and brought it to his assistant, Kathy, and he read it again over her shoulder. It was a moment: the debut of a blog and a new project which seems to be delighting Dad. Our shared excitement reminded me of when I helped him buy his first Macintosh nearly 20 years ago. He and my mother have kept fitful pace with the computer revolution ever since, frequently feeling overwhelmed by all that can go wrong with even the simplest of tasks. But I've been proud of their ability to stay current, sending and receiving e-mail and surfing the web with above-average prowess for their pre-digital generation.

Not that creation of a blog has been an altogether calm family project. My mother weighed in with strong opinions about the innocuous little tagline on Dad's blog, which he first envisioned as "A retiree learning something new every day." I liked this descriptor for its blog-appropriate informality and directness, but my mother went batshit. To her, the word "retiree" connotes sacks of blubber rotting on deck chairs or Barker Loungers, waiting for their no-account offspring to haul them off to the Home. In an unpleasant conversation in the kitchen yesterday morning, I suggested that she back off and let Dad create his blog without her interference. This quickly escalated to politics, Bill Clinton's Oval Office blow job (it was quite a moment to hear my mother actually use that term, an indication of her rage) and how my generation has...well, no need to refight the sixties today on such a pleasant Friday morning. In the end, her critique led to what I think is a much better tag line for Dad's blog, "An optimist confronting reality."

The genesis of my father's blog is a typically optimistic plan he has for helping keep America strong in the next 15 years, a time period he chose because he sees himself going strong until at least age 93. I am helping him learn the Blogger tools, and I bought him a Pentax Optio digital camera, so he can experiment with adding photos. For the first post, we benefited from a serendipity. His brother's children had prepared a CD of old family photos, and we found one of Dad, his father, and his brother at Ocean Park, Maine, 70 some years ago. My father is seen leaning forward, a boy optimist gazing into the future, then as now.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The View from Boylston and Tremont

I have been scouting for a place where we can try downtown Boston life, a one-month rental in September and October, when the leaves will be turning. For now, I’m enjoying the cool air and hipster music in Starbucks at Boylston and Tremont Streets, across from the Boston Common. A kid surfs across Boylston on a skateboard. The pedestrians are more ethnically diverse and less physically fit than their Denver counterparts. There are more tourists here, gawking and shooting photos from duckboat and trolley tours. I hear more French spoken in Boston than Denver.

In the hopscotch game of my life, Boston may be the next move. I grew up in Wayland, Massachusets, a western suburb, or “sub-bub,” as WBZ Radio’s eruidite DJ Carl DeSuze used to mockingly call them. Boston and other inner cities were places we surburanites fled from and ventured back into only for cultural events, nervously skittering through the seedy theater district hoping not to get mugged. While I was gone for 24 years in Wyoming and Denver, they’ve cleaned the place up considerably. I remember the Green Line buses as creaking, urine-smelling heaps, but yesterday’s ride to Boston Univeristy took place on a modern, AC-functioning trolley worthy of Denver’s slick Light Rail system. We’ve gotten used to high-rise downtown life in Denver, and from what I’ve seen the past few days in Boston, the scene here is pretty much the same, if more expensive. One place we might be able to rent is on the 17th floor of the Parkside, a building on Tremont Street looking out over the Common and the Charles River toward Cambridge, where my whole fam-damily lives these days: two parents, one sister, two daughters, and one grandchild-to-be.

My mantra is “one step at a time”, a tough discipline for Mr. Leap Before He Looks, and Fifi is of course Mrs. Reality Check at every juncture. But for this afternoon, a sunny, clear day at the edge of Boston Common, I’m allowing myself to enjoy the possibility of spending more time here, of re-learning what was, throughout my childhood, simply known as The City. The blog is a safe place to let my dreams off their leashes, so they can go cavort on the Common.

I remember one day about 10 years ago having a coffee at Peaberry Coffee in LoDo, Denver’s Lower Downtown. “I could live here,” I remember thinking, which was a radical thought since we were thoroughly established on Casper Mountain in Wyoming at the time, with no plans to ever leave. One thing led to another and now our home is across the street from where that coffee shop was located. As I sit here at Boylston and Tremont, I’m having the same thought: I could live here. If not in this decade, maybe the next. If not on the Common, then on the harbor. I do believe that one day I will be remembering the peaceful sense of possibilities which settled on me here one late, sunny afternoon at Boylston and Tremont.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

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