The crepe myrtle in my neighbor’s yard is slurping up the rain today. Flowers and trees with faces uplifted let the welcome water slither down blooms and leaves. In the middle of this shower, Zoey needs to potty. Zoey is my 11-week-old Chug (a pug/Chihuahua mix). The crazy things people put together these days . . .
My hubster and I adopted Zoey almost three weeks ago from a rescue group out of Miami, Oklahoma. As we drove to pick her up in Vinita (where she was being fostered), I realized I’d never been to Vinita though I’ve lived in Oklahoma most of my life. It’s not much of a town, actually. It’s kind of sad like many rural communities. The downtown buildings with brick edifices bearing their birth dates sit empty, caving in on themselves. This is where the state mental hospital used to be—a dubious reputation for sure.
We followed our trusty Google Map to the Soggy Doggy groomers on Wilson Street. Zoey hadn’t arrived yet, so we wandered around town a bit, bought a diet coke from McDonald’s and used their “facilities.” Why do I always feel guilty going into a place to use the bathroom and not buying anything (unless it’s a mall store or a giant store or a Barnes and Noble)?
Back at the Soggy Doggy, still no Zoey. We watched the groomers at work. One was working on a Standard Poodle. A redhead (the poodle). She was quite beautiful, though a little haughty. The groomer agreed with my assessment of her personality. “Oh, she’s spoiled rotten. Her momma always takes the train to Dallas so Miss Prissy can ride comfortably.” Hubster and I nodded and shook our heads at the same time . . . you know, the “I understand completely—oh my goodness people are strange” head maneuver. There was more to the redheaded poodle’s story to come. “You wouldn’t believe it, but the poodle got herself a lifetime supply of Purina dog food because the owner found a dead mouse in Miss Prissy’s (not her real name—an alias to protect the innocent) bag of dog chow. She sued Purina and got a lifetime supply of food for her precious!” We were a bit amazed by this story.
Still no Zoey. The groomer had more information for us. “Did you know that Vinita was the first official town on Route 66 in Oklahoma—and it was named for woman?” Hubster and I did the headshake/open mouth maneuver. This was becoming a very informative and historical visit. I kind of loved it—a lot.
NOTE ONE: I looked up this information to confirm that the Soggy Doggy historian/groomer knew her town history: She did. Vinita was the second official town in Oklahoma, but was the first with electricity! And the first on Route 66. It was named after Lavinia Ream, a friend of Col. Elias C. Boudinot—counselor for the Katy Railroad. Lavinia was a famed sculptress, nicknamed “Vinnie.” “In 1866 and at only 18 years of age she created the life-size statue of Lincoln at the United States Capitol! She was a very controversial figure in her day and two years later was the focus of a smear campaign which [sic] claimed she had persuaded a senator to cast the deciding vote against the ouster of the recently impeached President, Andrew Johnson (http://byrd.rootsweb.ancestry.com/bob/13.html). I had no idea. Who would have thunk it?
I love historical stuff–not the huge sweeping sagas, but the small and personal stories. Steinbeck knew how to do that type of writing well.
When Steve and I first married 15 years ago, we loved visiting the small towns in Oklahoma during the summer or on weekends. We were always looking for daytrips—something with some history attached to it—and once we got there, we tried to find THE lunch spot. Look for the cars—that’s where the locals go to eat and talk. Sometimes it’s good food, sometimes it’s just food. Small town cafés locally owned catering to a small group of folks who like to gather and share the town gossip.
NOTE TWO: My grandpa Homer used to go to the CO-OP in Pryor, Oklahoma after he had to sell his farm and move into town. It’s sort of the same thing as the local cafe–only for farmers. He passed a long time ago but sometimes I can still hear his staggered, wheezy breathing–but that’s another story.
We don’t visit the little towns any more. Steve doesn’t much care for Oklahoma. No mountains. Bad streets. Toll roads. Crooked politicians.
Finally Zoey arrived. She wasn’t the pug they had advertised on the website, but she had this face I couldn’t resist. She was my forever dog. I sat in the back seat beside her crate. She never whined.
On Wednesday, she will have been with us for three weeks. She sleeps in her crate beside our bed, and as long as she knows we’re in bed, too, she’s ok. She holds her pee and poo all night, and then at 5:30 she’s ready to go.
I’m learning to wait and be patient. I stare at the fading moon. I feel the splish of rain on my raincoat as I wait for Zoey to find “her spot.” I stand under the blooming dogwood tree. I imagine a huge garden and a new deck for our 1950’s rancher. I think about what I want to write—the novel I’ve started and never finished. The series of children’s books started but never finished.
When I take Zoey out at night before bed, I’ve learned to breathe in the soft spring air and watch the stars. I listen for sounds of life—the kids down the street laughing, the ambulance heading towards the hospital, the squirrels doing their squirrel thing. A bird’s night song. I never knew how much life exists in the quiet after dark.
Zoey teaches me patience and continuity. Some days she “gets” potty training (or rather, I do), and some days she goes wherever her doggy spirit leads her. The hubster loves her, too. He is patient and kind with her. We are parenting together for the first time since our kids were already formed and raised by the time we married; Zoey is our first.
Right now she is sleeping, dreaming her doggy dreams. She doesn’t like me to get on the computer, so I put her in my other desk chair right beside me. Three small pillows and a towel so she can burrow. Some strange music is on iTunes radio. I have it on the Best Classical Music of 2013, but I beg to differ. Zoey sleeps on. She’ll have to potty when she wakes up—I have my Crocs and raincoat ready.
Just finished Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen. The title is very small and her name is very large. Like a size 42 font for the name and a 24 for the title. That means: VERY SUCCESSFUL WRITER. I loved this book. The protagonist is a 60- year-old woman. Finally—I get tired of 20 somethings and 30 somethings all the time. It’s a quiet book.
Just discovered Jeanne Birdsall’s Penderwicks series. I got it from the section in the library that has the real Peter Pan and Mary Poppins before Disney claimed ownership. It has promise. Since I’m working on a master’s in literacy, I figure reading juvenile books is good for me—and there’s not a vampire, witch, fairy, or werewolf in sight!