My Dog’s Happy Hour

Featured

Barclay smiling

Barclay smiling in the car

There’d been no intention of a Happy Hour yesterday when I decided to go to Target for a short errand. “Barclay,” I asked, “wanna go for a ride in the car?” Barclay cocked his head, ran for the door to the underground garage, and leaped for joy. We drove to Target. I cracked open the windows, left Barclay in the car. In the parking lot, I see my friend Chuck, whom I’d been with an hour earlier on a business matter where I’d asked whether he’d ever been to Ike’s. He hadn’t. “Why do you ask? Is it good?” “I don’t know. I’ve never been there,” I’d said. “My neighbor Michael tells me it has the best Martini in town — not one of those tiny Martinis you get at most places around here. It’s big, and they give you the shaker, too.”

Inside Target, Chuck and I take our places in the line for picking up prescriptions. The line is long. Neither of us is good at waiting. We decide, on the spur of the moment, to go to Ike’s Happy Hour for a different prescription. We leave Target and join Barclay for the trip to Ike’s. At Ike’s I again leave Barclay in the car, opening all four windows a little more than I had at Target. As he always does, Barclay smiles. He knows the routine. He lies down on the driver’s seat.

Sitting at the bar for our nonprescription drugs, we notice the wind has come up and it’s pouring rain outside. “Do you think Barclay’s okay?” asks Chuck. “He’ll be fine,” I say, “nothing flusters him. He’s not afraid of storms.” The Martini is everything Michael had said it would be. So is the Happy Hour food he’d recommended: two mouth-watering beef tenderloin sliders with grilled onions and horseradish sauce, one on pumpernickel, the other on sourdough, for $7.50. We love this place!

We pay the tab and head back to the car. Barclay is calm until Chuck opens the passenger door. Barclay sits up, smothers Chuck with kisses, and says, “I was worried about you guys!” Both seats are partially wet from the storm. Barclay is dry. We are not.

Barclay on chest

Barclay

We leave Ike’s parking lot and drive back to Target where Chuck had left his car. Chuck goes in for his prescription. Barclay and I call it a day and head home. Safe at home in the underground garage, Barclay stays put like a petulant child. “Dad, why can’t I stay in the car? I love Happy Hour!”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, October 4, 2018

 

 

Elijah the 16 month-old walks the dog!

Featured


Elijah and Kay swingYesterday 16 month-old Elijah and his mom came by to visit Grandma and Bumpa (Grandpa). But mostly he wanted to play with his friend Barclay, the five year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. He took Barclay for a walk and a little conversation on the parking lot, stopping to point to the sky, step up to the sidewalk, leash in hand, and walk Barclay as no one else ever has.

  • Elijah, Barclay, and Bumpa, September 30, 2018.

My Dog and I

Although words cannot describe the delight I feel watching Barclay romp freely in an open field, Mary Oliver’s poem comes close.

Click “The Storm (Dog)” to hear Mary’s poem read aloud on David Juda’s lovely poetry siteVoetica.com

As Mary said, “I couldn’t have said it better.”

Barclay and Gordon

The Calm after The Stormy Romp — Barclay and Dad

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, May 10, 2018.

One day tells its tale to another

It’s quiet this morning. The only sounds are from the birds.

IMG_9456

The wetland by the wilderness cabin

Redwing blackbirds feed on the cat-n-nine tails. Woodpeckers peck the trees. Canadian geese honk to stake their claim to what remains of the beaver lodge. Trumpeter swans blow their trumpets to shoo away the geese. The loons warble a primordial language, an echo of a time we cannot remember but dare not forget. The first sounds from a primordial Silence.

At daybreak at the edge of the wetland, I read from The Book of Common Prayer (BCP):

“One day tells its tale to another

and one night imparts knowledge to another.

Although they have no words or language,

and their voices not heard,

Their sound has gone out into all lands,

and their message to the ends of the world.”

[Psalm 19:2-4]

The Good, Good Earth: Our Island Home

The pale blue dot — our island home

I come to the wetland on this “pale blue dot” (Carl Sagan) in a vast universe to hear the primordial echo away from the human crowing, honking, and pecking that hurt my ears back home. Barclay, the ever faithful Cavalier King Charles Spaniel companion, lives by his own natural rhythm at home as well as here at the cabin, but his wagging tail and constant smile here tell me he prefers this place where the only sounds come from the air and the wetlands.

Barclay smiling

Barclay smiling on way to the cabin

Barclay professes no particular creed, yet he seems to know better what my faith tradition, ducks, geese, swans, and loons know:

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament God’s handiwork” [Psalm 19:1] and “the whole Earth is the Theater of the God’s glory” [John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion]. With the help of The Book of Common Prayer, hearing aids, and binoculars, I sense it too.

Glorify the [Primordial Silence], O springs of waters, seas, and streams,

O whales, and all that move in the waters,

All birds of the air, glorify the [Primordial Silence],

Glorify God and praise God forever. 

[“Song of Creation” excerpt, Morning Prayer, BCP, p.89, amended by GCS]

  • Gordon C. Stewart, The Pea Pod, Northern Minnesota, May 6, 2018.

Elijah: “Grandpa, what’s love?”

Elijah love

Photos of Elijah

Grandpa, everywhere I go people say they love me. What’s love?

If I were wise, I’d take a month to read up on it before answering a big question like that, but I’m not, and instant gratification is too slow for a seven-and-a-half month-old grandson, so I’ll give it a shot.

Thanks, Grandpa, gimme your best shot, but don’t hurt me!

Not that kind of shot, Elijah. It’s just one of those expressions.

Yeah, Mom expresses before I go to daycare.

No, not that kind of expression. “I’ll give it a shot” means “I’ll try.”

Okay, try to give it a shot. What’s love?

Well, Elijah, like Frank Sinatra said, love is a many splendored thing. Love means MANY things to many different people.

Grandpa, you’re not giving me your best shot. You’re using a shot gun. Take out your rifle and give it to me straight! What’s love?

Like I said, it’s one of those words that requires lots of thought. We throw it around to express all kinds of feelings but most of them aren’t really love. Like “I love ice Ben and Jerry’s ice cream” and “I love ‘How to Get Away with Murder'” and ‘I love ‘Sesame Street’ or “I love my ‘Huggies’.

Yeah, like I love Lammie!

IMG_9526

You do, Elijah. You do! You express great affection for Lammie. You have a thing between you. The way you feel about Lammie is the way we all feel about you. Everyone just wants to hold you. You make us feel like children again. Your smile makes us smile. Your laugh makes us laugh.

Yeah, like Barclay makes me laugh. I love Barclay. He’s even better than Lammie. He can give me his paw! I love that! “Sit, Barclay! Sit!” 

Yes, I know. Lammie is a stuffed animal. Barclay’s a real one. He’s a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. He loves you. But he doesn’t love you and you don’t love him because you can order him around, Elijah.

Barclay on chest

Barclay the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Remember, no matter how much you love Lammie, now matter how much you love Barclay, and no matter how much I say I love you, I always love you more than that!

Thanks, Grandpa. That’s a many splendid answer. I’ll always love you, too. But I love Mom more! She expresses herself much more clearly than you do!

  • Grandpa Gordon, Chaska, MN, January 7, 2018.

 

 

The Light Show

The moonless night beyond the picture window contrasts with the candles that wash a warm glow on the orange rough-cut pine walls inside the A-frame cabin in a place without a name.

flightA flock of Canadian geese flews over the wetland before dusk, honking their way south before winter comes to the Upper Midwest, while inside the cabin walls the Toronto Blue Jays had flown south to Minneapolis over the radio to play a ballgame with the Twins. Unlike the Canadian geese, the Blue Jays are going nowhere; the Minnesota Twins are preparing for a long flight to the World Series.

votive-candlesThere is something strange about being alone in a remote wilderness cabin without a remote or internet, but some things stay close. Like the radio I bring to listen to the Twins games, and my canine companion Barclay who doesn’t care about the Twins or the radio but does care about candlelight. Barclay had headed for his kennel for the night an hour after the Twins had broken the sacred silence—until the sound of a match drew him back to the sofa to watch the candlelight flicker against the walls.

Sometimes I wish I were a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel instead of a lone silly goose who needs a radio to stay sane in an otherwise silent night in a warm-lit cabin in a place without a name.

d6dbdcca-1865-4dbf-b1dc-9cfda368e47d.1By the seventh inning stretch, I’m tired of the Twins game, blow out all the candles, see Barclay to his kennel, and head up the ladder to the loft in the darkness. Only then do I notice the light show beyond the cabin walls: the Northern Lights dancing across the sky, a natural light show no World Series can match. Through the loft window I watch the light that knows nothing of matches, candles, or our whereabouts off the human map.

Sometimes, when awe reduces me to lightening bug, it feels good to be human.

 

Barclay and his Big Sister

Barclay and his Big Sister

Barclay and his big sister pausing on the walking path.

Lonely folks cruise the internet hoping for a good match. Websites pair strangers looking for love. They meet in coffee shops, bars, parks, and restaurants.

On rare occasions the two make for a good match. NEVER are they better matched than Barclay and his big sister.

We should all be so lucky! Forget the internet. Get a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and some pink shoes, and enjoy the mutual admiration on a good walk, healing and heeling at the same time.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Barclay’s Dad, Chaska, MN, April 9, 2017, responding to The Daily Post invitation to share a photograph and commentary on the theme “A Good Match“.

A Dog Day Pattern

Okay, enough of politics!

Time for something light, like a response to The Daily Posts challenge to publish something on the word ‘pattern’.

So, what’s my daily pattern, I ask myself. Kay’s out of town, so the pattern is different today. It’s just Barclay and I (or is it ‘me’?).

I get up early, as usual. I make a pot of coffee, open the front door hoping the newspaper’s waiting on the porch, pour myself a cup of coffee (four packets of Splenda – it’s bad for my health but I don’t care; two teaspoons of Cremora – made of corn starch, also bad for my health and for the planet, but I ignore it) in my special cup from our trip to San Francisco. Every morning I wish I were in San Francisco. It’s part of the daily pattern.

I turn on the MacBook Air to check for emails and find a text from Kay who’s in Charleston, South Carolina with her three sisters from Denver, Lincoln, and Charleston. Texts are rare in my normal daily pattern, but there are three of them this morning. I’m not much of a texter, though there are mornings when, though Kay and I are sitting together silently in the living room so as not to awaken Barclay, she will text me!

About 9:00 a.m. it’s Barclay time and Barclay’s pattern takes over for the next half-hour. Out from the kennel he comes, stretching his legs as though he’s been instructed by a Yoga Master, wagging his tail . . .  running over to the recliner where Kay should be. “Where’s Mom, Dad?” Sitting on the recliner with Kay is an essential part of Barclay’s pattern, but she’s not here today. He looks at me, lies down on the rug, rolls over on his back for a tummy rub, a brushing and the wiping of his eyes (Cavies have problems with their tear ducts requiring twice-daily depletion of  Kleenex). Then he gets his ball and drops it at my feet. Time to play ball – “Get the ball!” “Bring the ball!” “Get the ball!” “Bring the ball!” – until it’s time for a drink and for turning over his food dish to play with the food, as in throwing pieces of food into the air and chasing them down until he runs to the front door to ring the bell that tells me he’s ready to go out.

Anyway, that’s enough about my daily pattern, and it’s only 9:30. The rest of the daily pattern is not very interesting. After lunch we take a long nap together. We have dinner. We go to sleep. And the day begins again with an unhealthy cup of coffee and the dream of being in San Francisco. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat the pattern.

All days with Barclay and Kay are good days!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 11, 2017.

Grandpa’s letter to Ruby

Dear Ruby,

Barclay and I loved playing with you yesterday. I think you enjoyed it too!

You and Barclay aren’t old enough to understand all the things I know. Both of you are only two-and-a-half years old. But, from the looks of yesterday’s play time, you both enjoy life more than Grandpa. Watching you and Barclay do his tricks was such fun!  “Barclay, sit!” “Barclay, down.” “Leave it.” “Roll over.”

You were the alpha dog, the commander-in-chief, Chairwoman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. To this day, no woman has ever held any of those positions.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. You don’t know all that stuff. You don’t know what an alpha dog is, or a Commander-in-Chief, or Chairwoman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff or President. You’ll learn all that stuff soon enough, and, if this were the world I would like for you, there wouldn’t be any Commanders-in-Chiefs, or Joint Chiefs of Staff. There would be grandchildren like you and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels like Barclay who play together with moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas without worrying about the reasons we have Commanders-in-Chief and Chairwomen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Watching the two of you yesterday made me think about how much of what I know I wish I could un-learn. My head and heart are crammed full of things that don’t belong there, like the time your Great Uncle Bob drank the Drano and had to be rushed to the hospital to have his stomach pumped.

Drano container - POISON

Drano container – POISON

Older people your Uncle Bob and me have drunk the poison of thinking we’re smarter and better than dogs and cats, and trees and birds and blue skies and clouds and rivers and ponds and oceans. We drank the poison. I hope you’ll grow up remembering your play time with Barclay whenever the can of Drano sits on the back of the toilet.

I go to the toilet a lot more these days. You’re still wearing diapers. If you’re lucky you’ll learn from Barclay what my generation never learned: never poop in your own kennel. The world, the planet, is your kennel, Ruby! This whole wide world. We need to take care of it. Enjoy it. Not be mean to it or hurt it.

As you get older, remember how you and Barclay looked right in each other’s eyes and smiled. Remember the love. If you do, the world will be a better place than the one I’m passing on to you. And, when I pass on, remember that our big wonderful kennel doesn’t go anywhere. It just keeps going long after we’ve been here. Be nice to it. Be nice to yourself. Keep playing, and, please, don’t swallow the Drano!

Love you,

Grandpa Stewart

Joseph and Mary living in our pantry

La Posada Festival poster

La Posada Festival poster

It’s almost Christmas. Joseph and Mary stayed at our house last night as part of La Posada, a Mexican tradition re-enacting Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging in Bethlehem.

We welcomed them to our home for safe lodging, food, and a warm place.

When they arrived we sat them on the floor.

Barclay welcoming Joseph and Mary to our home.

Barclay welcoming Joseph and Mary to our home.

Unfortunately, Barclay  quickly took a liking to Joseph’s left ear, so we moved Joseph and Mary into the pantry where they’d feel safe from a domestic terrorist attack.

Last night, after Barclay had gone to bed, I invited Joseph and Mary to join me  watching the presidential candidate debate.  Last night’s debate topic was terrorism. Refugees fleeing persecution and immigration policy were also discussed.

Our guests stayed very still. They were very quiet. They watched the faces on the TV screen. They listened to every word. As I went to the kitchen for a drink, Mary cuddled up to Joseph needing reassurance. She whispered, “Joseph, we have to get out of here before one of them gets elected -these people don’t like us! They’re mean. They sound just like Herod!”

I took them back to the safety of the pantry, put them back on the shelf, said goodnight, and closed the door so they’d feel more secure. Today they came out of the closet when another family came to protect them from Herod on their way to Bethlehem. But before they left, Joseph told Mary, “Don’t worry, honey, as soon as you give birth and are strong enough for the journey, we’re leaving for Egypt.”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, December 17, 2015.
The Holy Family traveling to Egypt

The Holy Family traveling to Egypt

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”  Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.” – Matthew 2:13-15