Watching the Dog

I was walking downtown. Up ahead, there was a little dog, maybe a foot long, hopping along beside his owner, a young woman. I was spacing out, watching the dog, either in the moment or detached from it, I’m not sure which. (Most likely, the latter.) The dog was carrying a tennis ball in his mouth. Somewhere along the way, he dropped the ball and it rolled under his legs. Actually, the clearance between him and the ground was shorter than the diameter of the tennis ball, so his front legs were lifted off the ground – he rolled over it. He stopped short, backed up, and the ball rolled out between his front legs. He picked it back up and resumed his hopping pace. I caught up with him while he was working things out, and was now walking just behind him and his owner. The spell had been broken and I had almost reached my destination, so I turned toward the entrance, glancing over at the dog one more time.

The dog’s owner had stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and was leaning down over the dog. She removed her free hand from its pocket and reached for the tennis ball. She pulled the tennis ball out of the dog’s mouth, and a red metal cylinder, half the length of the dog, slipped out of her pocket and tumbled onto the sidewalk. I made an audible oop sound at this. The dog owner pocketed the tennis ball. Then she quickly picked up the cylinder and — with one eye on me, I felt — stuffed it back into her pocket with the ball. The cylinder was a can of mace.


This suburban freeway off-ramp is surrounded by evergreen trees, I don’t know what kind. I can’t help noticing how young the trees look. I’m guessing that they’re younger than me, but again, I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Cars are backed up here, so I’m waiting. The traffic in front of me creeps ahead a couple of car lengths, and I follow, quick with the clutch because the car behind me is close and I don’t want to roll back into it.

I didn’t pick the leaves off my windshield when I abandoned my valuable parking space earlier. Those leaves freed themselves during the first couple of miles of the trip. The last one I noticed came unstuck from behind the windshield wipers as I was driving out onto the 520 bridge.

There are leaves here at the off-ramp – pale yellow leaves – drifting around in the air above the freeway, caught by some system of weather and currents from the steady freeway traffic. They’re waiting to fall.

The present that I’m referring to is yesterday, late in the morning, when it wasn’t raining and such things as leaves that are lighter than air were possible.


The same round sparrows are waiting around in a short barren bush in the landscaping beside an attorney’s office. The bird in the middle is twisting itself around to dig under an itchy wing. But he won’t hold the pose when I raise the camera. He gets back to work after I put the camera back in my backpack.

Weblog Reading

[Space Needle and moon]

The blog – this blog – is three years old today. At one point, it looked like this.

It’s also been about three years since I started reading weblogs regularly. I sat down to make a list of some of the weblog writing that has stuck in my head over that time, and then searched through weblog archives to look for those entries. I dug up a handful of the one’s I remembered and a few entries that I forgot, but that I’m including in place of those that I couldn’t find (or perhaps, those that I made up). Most of them are from the last year and a half; so I guess that I have a short memory.

11/12/03 What’s New, Pussycat?: The Trampoline
9/17/03 A Surprise Night
7/1/03 Use Your Hands: Are you a lucky person?
4/4/03 The Hoopla 500: For the Duration of This Cheese Sandwich
3/20/03 bus stop: Tangier-Fes
1/31/03 thenyoudiscover: Grocery
9/10/02 Oblivio: News
9/9/02 Textism: After the Floods
9/6/02 Electrolicious: Part of It
8/14/02 Eeksy-Peeksy: Cemetery of Nonexistent Cemeteries
7/19/02 Oblivio: Meditations on Sweatin’ to the Oldies
9/13/01 9.13.2001
8/11/01 “Call it half past two in the morning.”


Westlake Center

Made-up girl undone by the rain.

A red raincoat, flared at the bottom. The left side is held down against her side by a pocketed hand. Right side swings open and shut with rhythmic swings of her right arm. She stops at the corner and pivots at the shoulders left and right, then left again, looking both ways without turning her neck. She fastens one snap at the waist and crosses on red.

A yellow light on top of a Qwest van flashes through the restaraunt windows across the street. The light is scattered across the rain-covered windows. Inside, an aproned waitress takes chairs down off the tables, preparing the dining room for dinner. The van pulls out from behind the building, turns left, and drives away, yellow light still flashing.

Juice Drink

One of the shelves in Samantha’s fridge door is stocked with juice bags. The brand name and flavor of the juice is printed in big bubble letters on the front of the package. It says, “Capri-Sun Pacific Cooler.” Centered beneath that, in small print, it goes on to describe the contents as a “flavored juice drink blend.” I imagine the precise phrasing of that line was very important to someone.

For each of the last few Christmases, I’ve received nicely packaged boxes of non-perishables from Hickory Farms. Among the sausage logs, tea bags, and crackers, there are always two long rectangular forms. One is orange, it’s label says, “Cheddar Cheese Food.” The other is gray, and the label says, “Swiss Cheese Food.” It’s not quite cheese, it’s cheese food. I point that out every year, and it’s starting to get old, which makes it a tradition.

Back to the Capri-Sun, (manufactured by a popular tobacco company, by the way). There’s a line squeezed in beneath “flavored juice drink blend”. It says, “From Concentrate.” “From Concentrate” is lined up with the left margin of the preceding line and is printed in a smaller font size, so that it lines up perfectly beneath the first two words in the previous line. “From Concentrate” seems to apply only to “Flavored Juice” and not to the entire phrase, “Flavored juice drink blend.” I believe that the bag contains “Flavored juice (from concentrate) drink blend”, rather than “Flavored juice drink blend from concentrate.” The positioning of the type leaves the true meaning of the words oblique. It could be interpreted either way.