FUgly v.2

SOME PEOPLE ARE STILL ALIVE ONLY BECAUSE IT’S AGAINST THE LAW TO KILL’EM, so reads the sticker on a motorcycle helmet. Some sayings stick in your mind.

Like most days, the terrible ones start out and move along in the same old way… Until they tear your heart out and show it to you. January Seventh, Two Thousand Three, was one of those days. I came the closest I have ever been to punching a female in the face. I didn’t, but I still wrestle with my decision. Every time I share my twist on this experience I go into it knowing the risk, but then again anyone who thinks less of me for ‘this’ and cannot get over it, can go Ffff…. Kiss my Ass.

Years ago I discovered that I have “a bit of a temper.” It seems normal people get angry for a few hours: I get stuck there for a few days. I learned that it is nothing to be proud of and keeping it under control, is for the best. I also have a tendency toward being Vindictive, when properly motivated. These traits, combined with a good memory, create lasting residual demons that live in my head. The misfortune of this day lit my blood on fire, woke up these demons and let them out. Rage is not always a bad thing, we discovered that day.

Inadvertently, I walked Sarrah into a life-changing event, a fight she could not win. We were walking our typical after dark evening route, around the block across the street so as to utilize the sidewalks and streetlights. This night was like many others, nothing special. Walking on the time twisted concrete past a tall weathered wooden fence, a few old cars in a dark driveway and a scraggly hedge of overgrown rose bushes, put us directly in front of a winding narrow stone walkway to the open front door of a one story house. In the yard were two large dogs with thick fur, curled tails and huge heads. One was white, the other dark. With wide expressionless eyes, they immediately, quietly, came straight for us. Sarrah started to panic and kept turning quickly to look back and forth at them with bug eyes. I tried to speed up and keep her moving as they began to methodically circle us. A few steps later, the closest sniffed Sarrah for a few seconds and then with swift silence, sunk its teeth into her hindquarter and hung on. Quiet air filled with a wounded shriek and ongoing crying sounds of excruciating pain. With no thought, I attacked the Offending dogs. I quickly Kicked! the second dog as it was moving in, two maybe three times as hard as I could in the ribs and stomach. Thankfully, it just walked away. I then dropped to one knee, punching on my way down, kneeling I Hit, Hit, and Hit the attacking dog in the eye area five to ten times. I was probably yelling, I do not recall. It finally let go of its bite hold on Sarrah and walked away. I assume that these dogs were more confused than hurt and were probably just regrouping from their crazy human experience. It seems that the noise from all of this strife eventually woke up someone in the house, to get up off the couch near the doorway. This tall person filled the backlit doorway about twenty feet from the sidewalk and appeared to stagger around.

“Send me the bill.” That’s all that she said. The dogs turned and quietly came in at her command. We walked down the sidewalk a few yards, to get away from that house so I could look Sarrah over. A neighbor who had just driven home, hopped out of his pickup and yelled at her, “It Fuck’n Happened Again!” I checked Sarrah out, the bite was into muscle and bleeding, but she could walk. While looking her over I spoke with this stocky guy around my age, we talked a bit about what happened and then walked her home.

It was almost six o’clock when I started calling local vets. One answered and told me “We’re closed” and that they “could not help.” I replied, “Then why did you answer the phone?” and slammed it down. After a few calls and phonebook searching I found what I was not prepared for. My day ended with taking Sarrah into the vile blend of disinfectant and urine stained twenty-four hour emergency veterinary hospital in Auburn. It was deemed that they had to perform some torturous repairs and keep her overnight. I had to leave her in this concrete warehouse filled with caged cries and howls of despair.

Following a mostly sleepless night, I picked her up as early as I could the next morning. She was drugged and out of sorts, but greeted me with a lone tail thump. Her body was shaved of some white and black fur with three “ports” of perforated surgical tubing connecting the bite wounds under her pink and black skin, extending out each blood-caked oozing side and sutured in place. A far-away voice explained that this was done so that a disinfectant solution can be flushed thru with a syringe to clean them out, to avoid infection, as damage heals.  Sarrah’s glazed brown eyes closed as I carried her outside.

After I got her comfortable in the safety of her garage, I typed up a brief letter and returned to that house. No one answered the doorbell or knocking, so I taped it to the door and left. It read:

“Dear Akita Owner,

Please mail a reimbursement check (see attached) for the emergency veterinary work performed on my dog, due to the attack by your two dogs last evening. I will mail any subsequent bills incurred by this event.

This entire situation is unfortunate and disturbing as we were merely walking on the public sidewalk, obeying the leash laws. The vehicles in your driveway, combined with a lack of light made it impossible to see your unattended dogs until we were in front of your house—at which point they attacked.

For the future safety of all people and pets in our neighborhood, I hope that you no longer allow them to wander freely.

Sincerely,

Bryan Goffe”

An apology from them at this time would have just pissed me off, more.

I would rather live in a world where people take care of their own problems, not by simply punching three numbers on a phone. A favored saying of my friend Jeff is “Nobody likes a Squealer”, though I completely agree, I did. As I thought it over… Most people would not be dumb enough to fight with dogs, nor lucky enough to win. Anyone else walking Sarrah probably would have met with a different ending. Besides, years of experience on that street I had seen other dogs and kids walking them in the same area. I stewed on all of this for most of the day following the attack, argued with myself a little and then pulled the trigger. I decided that if another attack happened, whatever the outcome, it would “Be on Me”, so I broke my own rule and called.

That evening I answered the door for the Animal Control Officer, who to my surprise in our small town is also a Cop. She arrived in full police issue gear: jumpsuit, combat boots, vest, gun, handcuffs, pepper spray and all. I took her to Sarrah and told her what had happened, while she photographed the damage and made notes. She also strongly advised against fighting with dogs, suggested walking with pepper spray and something like a walking staff for the visual and physical defense as many times spray does not stop dogs in attack mode. Though not exactly how she advised, I have never walked unarmed, again. The officer was very sympathetic and nice to us, but she lied to me. As we spoke on the phone I stressed that I did not want the animals destroyed. But the instigator dog was confiscated later that night, detained for a few days of testing and then put down. Charges were filed. I also had no interest in pressing charges. I would have been okay with reimbursement, an official visit and the proverbial ‘slap in the face’ wakeup call that comes with it. I learned a valuable lesson; by making ‘the call’ I put our legal process in motion simply becoming part of “Citation No: 2003-096” and what I wanted, had nothing to do with it.

The process of flushing her ports two to three times per day for two weeks was excruciating, for me. I cannot imagine what it felt like for Sarrah, but she tried to stay still. I can’t imagine what she was thinking while I held her down and painfully cleaned her, but she seemed to know that I was helping her. Each time I got ready to clean her wounds she gave me a look that could tear a real human heart, if nothing else scar it. A few times this routine brought tears to my eyes, once vomit to the back of my tongue and always blood pressure that could kill. I held her and tried to comfort her after each cleaning, while my blood boiled.

The road of recovery also included a few trips to Sarrah’s regular veterinarian. She was never happy to go there, but whatever was done behind closed doors after the attack caused her to tremble when we went back. Even driving toward that general area caused her to be alarmed and wail, for the rest of her life.

The Animal Police Officer’s second lie came to light, I got subpoenaed for court. Being no stranger to court myself, mostly due to moments of youthful renegade wildness and heavy-footed tendencies, this was my first time as “Plaintiff”. I was not happy about being hauled into court twenty-nine days later, simply to say, “Yes, that is what I said happened.” People gathered in the large white overly lit silent courtroom, to wait in this place without windows and breathe controlled air. I sat on one of the hard dark wood benches in a section with people I recognized to be other residents of that street, including the guy who yelled at the woman that night. I guessed that these people were other witnesses to our trouble and possibly other problems. One quietly told me “Those dogs killed every pet we ever had.” Some of these people momentarily seemed a little pleased to be part of this event and offered solemn nods of approval.

The dogs belonged to arrogant examples of oxygen wasting beings; these average-looking middle-aged people were even a little cocky in the courtroom, talking with their eyes while sharing quick smirks and sarcastic grins before and after those in charge were paying attention. Court went very quickly. They plead guilty and said that they were “very sorry” in court, to the judge. More to my satisfaction we all heard the list of court ordered matters of compliance that these people were to do to keep their other dog:

  • Reimburse me, (which they already had done).
  • Rebuild their backyard fence, updating it to adequately contain “a potentially dangerous animal”.
  • Post a ‘Beware of Dog’ sign on the front of their house.
  • Muzzle their dog when walking it.
  • No one under eighteen would be allowed to walk their dog.
  • I think there was a fine as well, but I do not recall.

The scars that we carried with us after the battle with the dogs and their people, changed us. Sarrah’s physical scar tissue bothered her hip, even after time had passed. Massage could not completely remove the residual damage. Sarrah’s mental scar faded, faster than mine. After she healed, we did walk around that block, on the other side of the street, Armed, eventually Sarrah was no longer afraid of that area. We had a point to prove, I had a best friend to heal, and potential for who knows… Later I did forgive the dogs, after all they are genetically bred to quietly stalk and kill. But I did not, will not forgive their people. My mental scar still glows brightly, if something makes me focus on it. Mine is rage-based loathing for ignorant animals, in human form.

In fairness, Officer Jan is a good person who deeply cares for animals. She told me what I wanted to hear so that she could do her job and what she believed needed to be done. I am certain that she would be much happier if the actions of Dumb Animals would stop requiring their pets to be “destroyed.”

After a year or so of blatantly ignoring the court ordered requirements with in your face demonstrations (they were too lazy to walk often, so this was no big deal to me). I heard about another problem near that address. Their remaining dog attacked a Labrador Retriever being walked by a mother, carrying her baby in a papoose carrier. The woman was knocked down and her dog was hurt. History repeated and that Akita was put down, too. Soon after these idiots sold their house and moved away. Hopefully some kind of poetic shape shifting happened, trading places of sorts with these dogs and their humans.

Around this time, at the end of each day; before I went to bed I would say “Good Night” to Sarrah. In addition to normal evening chores, I rubbed her ears, touched my forehead to hers and whispered, “Every Day is a Gift.”

* * *

I decided to post this improved version of FUgly (I added [DRAFT] to the title of my first version).  It made sense to me to have both versions for those interested in comparing them.  This improved version came after having the group of writers that I spend Tuesday evenings with, “Workshop” it (read it in their spare time and have a group discussion on its strengths and weaknesses).  This discussion and the returned copies with their notes helped me rework this chapter using some better words and sentences to weave in more details that living in the eye-of-that-storm makes it hard for me to see objectively.  I did leave most of my usual ‘bent literary rules’… such as using Capital letters mid-sentence, to make words Bigger.

I’m sure this new version will continue to evolve… as I learn.

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Unwanted Gifts

Sarrah, Nissa and I explored the roads, trails, miles of beach and rolling dunes.  We never tired of these journeys and the ever-changing collection of treasure discovered along the way.  The ocean constantly changes the beach and gives back an endless amount of debris from the land.  Some storms take away sand, others bring it back and then some.  Those that come in the winter pile up logs and other assorted remains washed down streams.

Sadly, not all is wonderful. The ocean is always giving back the unwanted gifts of the human experience, garbage.  I began to collect these ugly bits of proof and pieces of disrespect.  The more we looked, the more we found and brought back with us.  I began to take ownership, understanding what is called “stewardship” and feel like this was ‘our beach’ and wondered why so many other people were just walking past these ‘treasures’, do they not see the garbage?  All of this reminds of when I was a kid in the early seventies, there was a television commercial with a stoic, once proud American Indian, standing with a tear in his eye watching garbage come to shore in the waves.  Perhaps time has come to replay it for those who missed the message and do not recall pride.  Or maybe a newer version to make us more aware of the long term affects of mishandling things like plastic.  Regardless of the cause of garbage turned into litter in the wild, it belongs to all of us and it is not ok for me to walk on by.

The Weary Kind

A couple of business collaborations ended over a three-year span.  One ended well having run its course, just a few months prior to the music stopping.  The later fell to the circumstances, making it time to pick up and try again.  I had seen glimpses of ‘the writing on the wall’ for quite a while in my handwriting (this is an example of where stubbornness isn’t always a quality) and knew that I needed to cause the latest change and jump into the pile of challenges that it takes, to move on.  My human battery would not hold a charge and I sensed that this change should be done while I still had my four-legged assistant, before I would not be able to rise out of bed, let alone to the occasion.  It was time to recycle my crippled career, in a new direction, with a new group, one more time.  Sarrah was eleven and half years old at this time with most of her life in the past and the dark cloud that all animal people are aware of, but try to ignore, was getting closer.

A working week alone with Sarrah at the Beach House in the late winter of Two Thousand Ten gave me time to do many things, one of which was to finally embrace this conclusion and scrounge up the energy required to get on with it.  While there I did some of the things that ease my mind, forms of what I suppose are mediation.  We walked many miles on the beach, through the dunes and down the roads.  The weather cooperated so I rode my motorcycle daily, around the community and the rural roads.  Most importantly, I simply sat in the sunshine with my best friend and watched her nap. At each day’s end, we walked to the beach to watch the sun disappear into the ocean.  Every evening I watched my favorite movie, “The World’s Fastest Indian”.  This was my first lone stay at the Beach House.  The quiet time alone was good for me and I feel fortunate that Sarrah was with me for this experience.

Shortly after returning, I met with another group who had expressed an interest in me, made ‘The Change’ and began the next chapter of my tired, working life story.  Around this time a movie titled “The Weary Kind” came out along with a soundtrack of the same name by Ryan Bingham that felt like a fitting battle song for the times (especially the lyrics “Somehow this don’t feel like home, anymore” and “Pick up your crazy heart and give it one more try”), Sarrah and I listened to this tune every morning as we rallied to fight on another day.

FUgly [DRAFT]

SOME PEOPLE ARE STILL ALIVE ONLY BECAUSE IT’S AGAINST THE LAW TO KILL’EM, so reads the sticker on a motorcycle helmet.  Some old sayings stick in your mind.

Like most days, the terrible ones start out and move along in the same old way… Until! January Seventh, Two Thousand Three, was one of those days. I came the closest I have ever been to punching a female in the face. I didn’t, but I still wrestle with my decision. Every time I share my twist on this experience I go into it knowing the risk, but then again anyone who thinks less of me for ‘this’ and cannot get over it, can go Ffff…. Kiss my Ass.

Years ago I discovered that I have “a bit of a temper”. I learned that it is nothing to be proud of and keeping it under control, is for the best. I also have a tendency toward being Vindictive, when properly motivated. These traits, combined with a good memory, create lasting residual demons that live in my head. The misfortune of this day lit my blood on fire, woke up these demons and let them out. Rage is not always a bad thing, we discovered that day.

Inadvertently, I walked Sarrah into a life-changing event, a fight she could not win. We were walking our typical after dark evening route, around the block across the street so as to utilize the sidewalks and streetlights. This night was like many others, nothing special. Walking past a tall weathered wooden fence, then a few old cars in a dark driveway and a scraggily hedge of overgrown rose bushes, put us directly in front of a winding narrow stone walkway to the open front door of a one story house. In the yard were two large dogs with thick fur, curled tails and huge heads. One was white, the other dark. With wide expressionless eyes, they immediately, quietly, came straight for us. Sarrah started to panic and kept turning quickly to look back and forth at them with bug eyes. I tried to speed up and keep her moving as they began to methodically circle us. A few steps later, the closest sniffed Sarrah for a few seconds and then with swift silence, sunk its teeth into her hind quarter and hung on. Quiet air filled with a wounded shriek and constant crying sounds of excruciating pain. With no thought, I attacked the Offending dogs. I quickly Kicked! the second dog as it was moving in, two maybe three times as hard as I could in the ribs and stomach. Thankfully, it just walked away. I then dropped to one knee, punching on my way down, kneeling I Hit, Hit, and Hit the attacking dog in the eye area five to ten times. I was probably yelling, I do not recall. It finally let go of its bite hold on Sarrah and walked away. I assume that these dogs were more confused than hurt and were probably just regrouping from their crazy human experience. It seems that the noise from all of this strife eventually woke up someone in the house, to get up off the couch near the doorway. This person appeared in the backlit doorway to be a drunken lazy, bitch. I don’t blame the alcohol, I blame the bitch.

When it was over, she staggered around her front door, about twenty feet from the sidewalk, and from there said “Send me the bill”, that’s all that she said. Her dogs came in as she called and we walked down the sidewalk a few yards, to get away from that house so I could look Sarrah over. A neighbor who had just driven home, got out of his car and yelled at her, “It Fuck’n Happened Again!” I checked Sarrah out, the bite was into muscle and bleeding, but she could walk. I spoke with him a bit and walked her home.

It was almost six o’clock when I started calling local vets. One answered and told me “We’re closed” and that “they could not help”, I replied, “Then why did you answer the phone?” and slammed it down. After a few calls and phonebook searching I found what I was not prepared for. My day ended with taking Sarrah into the vile blend of disinfectant and urine stained twenty-four hour emergency veterinary hospital in Auburn. It was deemed that they had to perform some torturous repairs and keep her overnight. I had to leave her in this concrete warehouse filled with caged cries and howls of despair.

Following a mostly sleepless night, I picked her up as early as I could the next morning. She was drugged and out of sorts, but greeted me with a lone tail thump. Her body was shaved of some white and black fur with three “ports” of perforated surgical tubing connecting the bite wounds under her pink and black skin, extending out each blood-caked oozing side and sutured in place. A far-away voice explained that this was done so that a disinfectant solution can be flushed thru with a syringe to clean them out, to avoid infection, as damage heals.  Her glazed brown eyes closed as I carried her outside.

After I got her comfortable in the safety of her garage, I typed up a brief letter and returned to that house. No one answered the doorbell and knocking, so I taped it to the door and left. It read:

 

“Dear Akita Owner,

Please mail a reimbursement check (see attached) for the emergency veterinary work performed on my dog, due to the attack by your two dogs last evening. I will mail any subsequent bills incurred by this event.

This entire situation is unfortunate and disturbing as we were merely walking on the public sidewalk, obeying the leash laws. The vehicles in your driveway, combined with a lack of light made it impossible to see your unattended dogs until we were in front of your house—at which point they attacked.

For the future safety of all people and pets in our neighborhood, I hope that you no longer allow them to wander freely.

Sincerely,

Bryan Goffe”

An apology from them at this time would have just pissed me off, more.

I would rather live in a world where people take care of their own problems, not by simply punching three numbers on a phone. A favored saying of my friend Jeff is “Nobody likes a Squealer”, though I completely agree, I did. As I thought it over… Most people would not be dumb enough to fight with dogs, nor lucky enough to win. Anyone else walking Sarrah probably would have met with a different ending. Besides, years of experience with that street had shown me that other dogs and kids walking them was a typical, regular occurrence. I stewed on all of this for most of the day following the attack, argued with myself a little and then pulled the trigger. I decided that if another attack happened, whatever the outcome, it would “Be on Me”, so I broke my own rule and called.

That evening I answered the door for the Animal Control Officer, who to my surprise in our small town is also a Cop. She arrived in full police issue gear: jumpsuit, combat boots, vest, gun, handcuffs, pepper spray and all. I took her to Sarrah and told her what had happened, while she photographed the damage and made notes. She also strongly advised against fighting with dogs, suggested walking with pepper spray and something like a walking staff for the visual and physical defense as many times spray does not stop dogs in attack mode. Though not exactly how she advised, I have never walked unarmed, again. The officer was very sympathetic and nice to us, but she lied to me. As we spoke on the phone I stressed that I did not want the animals destroyed. But the instigator dog was confiscated later that night, detained for a few days of testing and then put down. Charges were filed. I also had no interest in pressing charges. I would have been OK with reimbursement, an official visit and the proverbial ‘slap in the face’ wakeup call that comes with it. I learned a valuable lesson; by making ‘the call’ I put our legal process in motion simply becoming part of “Citation No: 2003-096” and what I wanted, had nothing to do with it.

The process of flushing her ports two to three times per day for two weeks was excruciating, for me. I cannot imagine what it felt like for her, but she tried to stay still. I can’t imagine what she was thinking while I held her down and painfully cleaned her, but she seemed to know that I was helping her. Each time I got ready to clean her wounds she gave me a look that could tear a real human heart, if nothing else scar it. A few times this routine brought tears to my eyes, once vomit to the back of my tongue and always blood pressure that could kill. I held her and tried to comfort her after each cleaning, while my blood boiled.

The road of recovery also included a few trips to Sarrah’s regular veterinarian. She was never happy to go there, but whatever was done behind closed doors after the attack caused her to tremble when we went back. Even driving toward that general area caused her to be alarmed and wail, for the rest of her life.

The Animal Police Officer’s second lie came about, I got subpoenaed for court. Being no stranger to court myself, mostly due to moments of youthful renegade wildness and heavy-footed tendencies, this was my first time as “Plaintiff”. I was not happy about being hauled into court, simply to say, “Yes, that is what I said happened”. People gathered in the large white overly lit silent courtroom, to wait in this place without windows and breathe controlled air. I sat on one of the hard dark wood benches in a section with people I recognized to be other residents of that street, including the guy who yelled at the woman that night. I guessed that these people were other witnesses to our trouble and possibly other problems. One quietly told me “Those dogs killed every pet we ever had.” Some of these people momentarily seemed a little pleased to be part of this event and offered solemn nods of approval.

These dogs belonged to arrogant examples of oxygen wasting beings; these people were even a little cocky in the courtroom, before and after those in charge were paying attention. Court went very quickly. They plead guilty and said that “They were very sorry” in court, to the judge. More to my satisfaction we all heard the list of court ordered matters of compliance that these people were to do to keep their other dog:

  • Reimburse me, (which they already had done)
  • Rebuild their backyard fence, updating it to adequately contain “a potentially dangerous animal”
  • Post a ‘Beware of Dog’ sign on the front of their house
  • Muzzle their dog when walking it
  • No one under eighteen would be allowed to walk their dog
  • I think there was a fine as well, but I do not recall

The scars that we carried with us after the battle with the dogs and their people, changed us. Sarrah’s physical scar tissue bothered her hip, even after time had passed. Massage could not completely remove the residual damage. Sarrah’s mental scar faded, faster than mine. After she healed, we did walk around that block, on the other side of the street, Armed, eventually Sarrah was no longer afraid of that area. We had a point to prove, I had a best friend to heal, and potential for who knows… Later I did forgive the dogs, after all they are genetically bred to quietly stalk and kill. But I did not, will not forgive their people. My mental scar still glows brightly, if something makes me focus on it. Mine is rage-based loathing for ignorant animals, in human form.

In fairness, Officer Jan is a good person who deeply cares for animals. She told me ‘what I wanted to hear’ so that she could do her job and what she believed ‘needed to be done’. I am certain that she would be much happier if the actions of Dumb Animals would stop requiring their pets to be “destroyed”.

After a year or so of blatantly ignoring the court ordered requirements with in your face demonstrations (they were too lazy to walk often, so this was no big deal to me). I heard about another problem near that address. Their remaining dog attacked a Labrador Retriever being walked by a mother, carrying her baby in a papoose carrier. The woman was knocked down and her dog was hurt. History repeated and that Akita was put down, too. Soon after these idiots sold their house and moved away. Hopefully some kind of poetic shape shifting happened, trading places of sorts with these dogs and their humans.

Around this time, at the end of each day; before I went to bed I would say “Good Night” to Sarrah. In addition to normal evening chores, I rubbed her ears, touched my forehead to hers and whispered, “Every Day is a Gift”.

 

 

Into the Mystyc

Many of my friends and family, including myself were born in the colder winter months sprinkling this time of year with lots of birthdays.  Fortunately Sarrah had the energy to navigate past all of these special dates noted on the calendar.  Possibly, due in part to her lack of tolerance for sharing.

Given a final gift, to have her own day, January, Nineteenth, Two Thousand Eleven, to end her memorable journey here and cast a long shadow… into my future.

Image

***

All of the pages of a calendar have been torn off… three times.  Nothing significant has come to me… leafing through Circle of Life ponderings and Next Life beliefs, in my drifting quest of humbled wisdom and peace.

If you have a pet, in Sarrah’s memory… please some extra time for them, often.

Winter Walking

The Pacific Northwest offers dampness in the longer evenings, the kind that makes bones ache a little, in the aged and the damaged.  These cold night walks were my least favorite, but also became part of our routine.  I found that ending each day with a stroll does let mental junk settle and unwind springs.  Living near the Puget Sound often brings moist cool marine air induced fog.  This heavy, thick, ‘cotton like’ mysterious air requires a little more caution when walking amongst distracted moving vehicles, due to poor visibility as it shrouds depth and changes perception.  Sarrah and I typically walked three times each day; we experienced all flavors of the weather that come to the Pacific Northwest.  Some varieties were appreciated more than others, but we grew to enjoy all of these experiences, together.

Eye of December

Another newer wrinkle of our annual tradition in what has evolved into the month of Christmas, we escaped to the Beach House for the weekend prior to the actual holiday.  Just Nissa and I with our pets, went to get away from it all and make peace with the season.  This is a nice, quiet, uneventful time to unwind and reflect in our place of refuge, sort of ‘the eye in the storm’ that is December.  This last time Sarrah was clingier and wanted to sit in my lap, many times.  She wanted to do this often in her early years, but with wiggly youthful restlessness.  Now she wanted to be still and press her forehead against me, perhaps bonding in reflection.  I wonder if there was a tear in her eye.