Make Me Laugh

Life is grim, dry, flat and grey:
…Make me laugh…
Comics are heroes to me:
…Make me laugh…
We all want to chuckle, play:
…Make me laugh…
Your antics, quips inspire me:
…Make me laugh!

I love being here with you:
…Make me laugh…
We can sing then we can dance:
…Make me laugh…
I would spend a year with you…
…Make me laugh!
We can bounce, bounce, bounce!
…Make me laugh, laugh, laugh!

-Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, March 27, 2014

Perhaps Steve had George Burns and Gracie Allen in mind.

Everyone’s Desire

Pyrenees-Saint  Bernard and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Bernard and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Is there a common DNA between the frisky six-month-old 10 pound Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy and the lumbering two-year-old 150 pound Pyrenees-Saint Bernard who have just met?

Most large dogs ignore Barclay’s constant pawing for attention, but not this dog. Aside from their size, Sophie and Barclay could be mother and son. The fur is the identical. Its texture is the same: soft and fluffy. Slightly wavy. Beautiful to the touch. The coloring is identical: patches of auburn painted on new fallen fluffy snow white.

Watching Barclay and Sophie following each other around the crowded room on Thanksgiving after the huge meal at the retirement center lightens the air in the room and makes me thankful for these amazing creatures who we presume know nothing about conscious acts of thanksgiving, but who demonstrate the simplicity of joy and relationship that too often escapes families of the species that doggedly presumes its superiority to the canines.

We are thankful for the momentary intrusion into the relationships we take for granted. Joyful for the shared DNA and the union of two dogs who couldn’t be more different or more alike, an attraction of opposites whose fur and color mysteriously share the same DNA. Caught up in the ecstatic union of self-forgetful play that is everyone’s desire.

Footnote on the photograph:

The photograph was published by The Ipswich Star with the caption “King Charles Cavalier Spaniel Fred meets St Bernard Chopin at the Landguard Dog’s Day on Sunday, 19 May” with the following description by the photographer.

“I have to say I love this photo. I stopped to take a photo of St Bernard Chopin whose owners where feeding him his own ice cream at the Landguard Dog Day when he flopped down and Fred, a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, a fraction of Chopin’s size came right up to his face sniffing away.

“Their colouring was so close it was perfect.”

BOO! The grandson, the dog, and the grandfather

Isn’t technology wonderful? Memories of Jack, now 12, and the ever playful, ever licking Maggie.

My Grandfather Stewart would play this game for hours. I’d cover him with pillows; he’d cover me with pillows. The resurrection always came as a surprise, as up from the grave we arose!

Play: a Tribute to Maggie and Sebastian

Maggie with red toy

Maggie with red toy

This YouTube video reminds us of Maggie, our 3/4 Westie – 1/4 Bichon Frise, AND Sebastian, 1/2 Shih Tzu – 1/2 Bichon Frise, who kept us laughing by playing hide-and-seek, chase-and-be-chased every day. The mannerisms of the Westies in this video are Maggie’s precisely.

Muskrat Heaven

A story in preparation for Earth Day, April 22, 2012


I stand looking through the picture window at the pond behind the house.  The small nature raft in the middle of the small pond is peopled with Canadian geese preening in the mid-morning sun.   To their left, three or four ducks paddle across the pond – but something is different.

They’re moving much faster than usual. They don’t seem frightened; they’re just moving faster.

Then I see why.  A muskrat is chasing them – ten yards or so behind.  I’ve seen this before – mallards and muskrats playing a game of catch us if you can.  Speed up, slow down, speed up.  Nobody ever catches anybody and nobody ever gets caught.  They just chase and get chased.  It’s play.

As the mallards paddle past the raft with the muskrat in hot pursuit, the muskrat makes a sudden 90 degree turn, races at full speed and leaps up for the raft, the geese flapping their wings, scattering in flight just as the muskrat lands and springs into the air. A flying-muskrat in hot pursuit, an air-Jordan muskrat suspended in mid-air, a flying goose wanna-be, leaping and laughing for joy. Muskrat heaven!  Sheer unadulterated play.

I envy the muscrat, the ducks and the geese today. I know I’m making the story up, but the story I tell speaks aloud a yearning for more playfulness.  An enjoyment of each other with natural games that keep away the boredom and challenge our pretensions.

Nature raft with mallards

Nature raft with Mallards

I watch the pond a lot these days to learn about myself and us.  Oh, I know!  There’s also terror and danger in that pond – the snapping turtle lurks beneath the surface, the fox roams the edges, and my neighbor sometimes stands on his deck with his shotgun aimed at the little muskrat who dares to burrow his home under his manicured lawn.  But today all of that is beside the point – upstaged by ducks and geese and a muskrat in self-forgetful play. I stand looking through the window and give thanks for quacking mallards, honking geese and a funny little creature whose muskrat heaven restores my natural sense of play and joy.