11
Apr
16

Billy Blue Eye, a Good-bye

I found you online, a “tweenie” dachshund with one blue eye and one brown.  A few days later, we met in front of the Ralph Lauren outlet store in Carlsbad, you on a string leash, no collar, walking two humans, anxious to let you go. You and Joey didn’t seem to mind each other and so I said, “I’ll take him,” and the string leash was handed to me. We walked, and you, well-trained dog that you were, stepped to my left and stayed there while Joey, still being trained, pulled and jerked his leach, his “must smell everything” at full operating mode. You didn’t seem to care.

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Until we got in the car. Then there was a minor dispute about who would occupy the front seat and who the rear. You claimed the front as if it was rightfully yours, and this time, Joey didn’t seem to mind. No growling, no snapping, just as it always was between the two of you, brothers in spirit if not in breed.

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Billy Blue Eye, little Billy two-shoes, Billy of the Wild Niguel, always available to be petted and admired, loved and stroked. The softest of fur as if you  were put on this earth just to be petted. And so everyone you met automatically reached out to touch you, even in your last days, carried in my arms, friends and strangers would stretch out their arms and wiggle their fingers behind your ears, stroke your snout, kiss you.

A couple of years in, you popped a disc and had to have back surgery. You never complained. A year after that, another disc popped and you had a second surgery and suddenly you were our “$9000 free dog”. What was to be done, though? We loved you and you loved us back.

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You loved to go for walks almost as much as you liked to curl up by the back door in the late afternoon sunshine for a siesta. You and Joey were inseparable. We traveled together; up the coast a couple of times to stay in Carmel and no matter where we went you were the star attraction.

There’s so much more, after all we spent almost 16 years together, but this last year, your 20th, was rough and today was the roughest. We had to say goodbye. But you had one last little surprise for us, didn’t you? Driving down the freeway this afternoon, after our last good-bye, Michael said, “look, a rainbow!” And sure enough, there you were, one last doggie kiss in red, orange, blue, green, and violet.

 

 

04
Apr
16

flowers (and rhetorical questions)

what  becomes of the broken-hearted?

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how can we be lovers if we can’t be friends?

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where is the love?

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how do i live without you?

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what’s love got to do with it?

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how can you mend a broken heart?

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wouldn’t it be nice?

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who do you think you are?

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who’s zoomin’ who?

 

27
Mar
16

use a bigger brush

met an esteemed doctor of neurology the other day when we interviewed him for a work project about creativity.

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after we were through, he asked me if i painted. when i demurred and said, “not often, i have to think too hard about it.” he said, “use a bigger brush.”

a piece of advice that i just can’t seem to forget.

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this work is something i have painted for an upcoming silent auction. when it goes online for pre-bidding, i’ll let you know.

let’s all remember, when things get rough, complicated, difficult, or seem out-of-reach, just “use a bigger brush.”

01
Mar
16

spring flowers (cyclamen, daisies, and patience)

what do i know about spring? (did you know that many cyclamen species in their native range–the mediterranean basin–are severely depleted and endangered because of the horticultural trade? nor did i. that makes my two little pots of pink cyclamen that much more precious.) but, spring, yes, what do i know about spring?

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when i was younger and living in the north, i know spring was highly anticipated. a break in the cold, gray, drabness of winter, just the hint of water running as the ice and snow melted on a warm day in march. (march is tricky up north, it’s end is the beginning of spring, but also the end of winter. your chances for comfort or disappointment equally elusive), but you take what you’re given.

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as i grew older and fled the plains for the chicago lakefront, spring took on a whole new meaning for me. it offered hope, or at least a modicum of aspiration, growth, renewal. of course, that came in fits and starts, much like spring weather. dry and cold, wet and warm, snow up to your ankles accompanied by that faint green aura that surrounds deciduous trees as they leaf out, a little darker green each day, hour, minute, second, pushing out as the snow and cold recede, a time-lapse photograph.

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but spring in the southwest is an entirely different experience. it happens suddenly and without warning. plants are blooming, new growth is sprouting on the trees and the shrubs. if you did your homework, the roses are beginning to leaf out fully and some may even have little tiny buds, the first rose to bloom since late last year just a few weeks away. i find that i can wait.

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patience, now, a surprise gift of spring and growing older.

16
Feb
16

so, um, 63 (how the hell did that happen?)

Now more than ever, aging takes on its own personality. It wasn’t something I gave too much thought to when I was 20, 30, 40, or even 50, but the 60s put a new, pardon the expression, wrinkle into the concept of time.

IMG_0350It’s different, somehow, this new notion of time, age, and the space one inhabits–moves through. It’s both slow and fast, muddy and clear, predictable and completely random. Sigh. (He thought to himself, that by now, it would have been easier.)

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I’m not quite sure what to make of 63 yet, but I’ll tell you this: I’m glad I’m here to be 63. Which is something, I promise you, that I never thought I’d ever say.

18
Jan
16

as you do (adventures in eating and viewing)

it seems that anymore our “adventures” always involve eating and viewing. yesterday was no exception.

we headed up the freeway to the bluff park/museum district  in long beach (405 north to 7th, over to junipero and left to ocean blvd. and left again, down two blocks and left again, and right where we parked on 2nd in front of a stunning craftsman residence (we believe circa 1912 — 1914. some houses had ‘historical markers’ designated this house or that one a “_____” or a “______”. to have read them correctly, we would have had to trespass and in these days of concealed carry, the last thing you need is an armed resident greeting you with the barrel of a gun while you satisfy your need to know. but i digress.)

i think this house suits him, don't you?

i think this house suits him, don’t you?

after some oohing and aahing over the merits of living in a historic home, m. & i tottered over to the long beach museum’s outdoor cafe, claire’s, where we met up with his ex, a., who was ‘in town’ (which means agoura hills) from chicago visiting his sister; long beach being the halfway point between us. m. & i have been together for 34 years, so that should give you an idea of our relative ages…a bunch of old men.

oceanside at claire's.

oceanside at claire’s.

we had a lovely brunch at claire’s, even though we left the “br” out of our menu selections and settled to a person on the “unch” parts. turkey club on pumpernickel, tuna salad (grilled rare and sliced thin over baby greens), and claire’s cobb salad, with freshly grilled chicken breast, gorgonzola, avocado, bacon, baby field greens, hard-boiled egg, and mustard vinaigrette. finished with a flourish of banana bread pudding.

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but to the ‘viewing’ — i can honestly say, m. & i don’t need a museum to be in ‘viewing’ mode. we are of a mind to find the beauty (and the ugly) of our surroundings and to frame each ‘view’ with commentary and perceptive understanding, citing references to other ‘views’ and admitting honestly that “i don’t believe i’ve ever seen anything quite like that.” our storehouse of references inexhaustible it seems, thank the god of mental facility. although admittedly, there’s sometimes a moment of silence as one of us waits for the other’s file retrieval system to kick into gear.

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we were fascinated and captivated by the works of terry braunstein, who explored time, memory, and feminism in carefully constructed collages, installations, and photography.

collage by terry braunstein at the long beach museum of art.

“who is she? dancing to kerouac” a collage by terry braunstein at the long beach museum of art.

we took the elevator up to the second floor in deference to m. and viewed a handful of examples from the museum’s permanent collection before we fell into the barbara strasen exhibit, “layer by layer”.

i have to say, it was a bit confusing at first. the work is complex and reminded me of the pattern & decoration movement of the late ’70s and early ’80s, so to sort through all of the dense imagery took some visual adjustment, but once you fell under her spell (not too trite, is that?) you could begin to understand and appreciate the journey she was taking you on. her use of lentricular lenses was particularly fascinating. i believe her commentary on the overload of images we are subjected to each and every day was precise and revelatory. we all enjoyed her work immensely.

possibly the most fab of all the homes we saw.

possibly the most fab of all the homes we saw.

the museum is small, so an hour later we were back out on the street and walking the avenues of bluff park. many of the homes had been fully renovated and brought back to (or maintained) their original glory, but there were a few that could’ve done with a coat of paint and a bit of tidying up–said the gay man. (i hate stereotypes, don’t you? but really, it is a marker, don’t you agree, that gay man like to prettify their surroundings? i’m sure there’s the exception to every rule…but none who would admit it.)

who wouldn't want to live in a neigborhood with a honor library?

who wouldn’t want to live in a neigborhood with a honor library?

we decided that even though it was suggested that everyone in the neighborhood helped maintain the ‘neighborhood book swap’, the reality was that the owners of the home this cart and sign sat in front of did all the heavy lifting. still and all, a sign of community such as this, is a blessed thing in our world today.

hollywood regency plopped into the middle of arts & crafts--perfection!

hollywood regency plopped into the middle of arts & crafts–perfection!

we plotzed when we saw this hollywood regency home cheek and jowl next to a queen anne on one side and a greene & greene on the other.❤!

and finally...

and finally…

i’ll leave you with our favorite of all of the homes we saw yesterday. if you look closely, you’ll see me waving to you from the second story window on the left.

 

03
Jan
16

notes on gardening in the new year

we’ve been through a lot, she and i.

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she stood on a globe with shooting stars circling it, a butterfly perched on her right hand, offered up to the gods like a tithe, the astral winds pulling at her gown, defining her voluptuousness. it would have been easy to walk right by her, many had, but she drew me to her with her simple, pleasant expression, her rather demure demeanor, eyes downcast, hesitant and hopeful as if at the next moment she would lift her face to you and speak.

she came home with me from an antique store on clark st. just north of fullerton in chicago on a rainy day in 1975 when i was on one of my long walks. i think i paid $95 for her (a lot of money then) and was told she was made around the turn of the century (20th) and was composed of ‘white metal’–which, at the time, i was too afraid of not knowing what it meant, that i didn’t ask what ‘white metal’ was–it was years later that i found out, but many years before wikipedia. i set her on the top of an old wooden secretary desk in my high-rise studio apartment and she resided there, close to the ceiling for a few years, taking note of my failures (many) and triumphs (few) and then followed me from one encampment to the next, losing the butterfly along the way, (was it 18th st., wolfram st., wolcott ave., piiholo rd.? idk.), until i landed in california (amethyst ave., crystal sands dr.) where she became a garden ornament.

she didn’t weather well. an arm fell off. i saved it for a few years, then threw it away when she separated from the globe she’d been standing on. i kept the globe and stuck her one foot into the ground and watched the ivy claim her, and then i would pull that away, but the ivy had different plans and the next time i found her she’d been embraced once again by it’s tendrils and intentions. the globe on its art nouveau base still exists and is sitting next to her, just out of view to the left. the gilt has long disappeared and she’s been pock-marked from the heat, the dry, the rain, and the sun until her surface is rough and uncomfortable to touch.

a few months ago, i rescued her from laying upright against the base of the birdbath where she’d taken up residency a few years before. protected from the bird’s droppings by the overhang of the clay bowl, but still majestic in her own way. this ‘rescue’ involved laying her on a patio table and ignoring her for months, not sure what to do with her. i’ve been slowly ‘de-accessioning’ the garden: when plants die, i’m letting the ivy take over, when the honeysuckle needed removing, i pulled out the trellis and threw it away; the decorative birdhouses that housed hummingbirds and wrens, but fell on hard times, have been tossed, my intention is less time devoted to maintenance, although my gardening motto is “benign neglect”. it’s just too much anymore–as long as the garden’s schedule conflicts with my own. there may come a day when i’ll “re-up” and have the time to devote to it, but that’s not now.

but what to do about her? and her companion, whom i’ve not even mentioned–she once held a round walnut clock in her outstretched art deco hands, perky breasts and luxurious thighs sitting on a walnut base, but somewhere along the line, she lost those and became a sister to the goddess. she, too, has stories to tell, but she’s the soul of discretion, you’ll not get a word out of her.

for now, they’ll lay here, moldering, but not unloved. one day, i may have the heart (and the courage) to toss them, but not yet, i’m not quite ready to let go of those times and motivations, those yeses and nos, the glitter and the tarnish.




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© Robert Patrick, and Cultivar, 2008-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, photographs and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Patrick and Cultivar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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