Nature adores a vacuum

Dog has been changed to protect the innocent.

Yesterday was warm and sunny, sweater weather at most. We went to the park and Nola discovered ice cubes. She also got yelled at by the dog who owned the ice cubes. For the first time, I saw her slink away from a dog instead of just shaking it off and going back for more. I find myself watching for signs like that and hoping they’re not signs.

When we got home, Dave left for his matinee and I tried to figure out what to do with the beautiful day. I raked in the yard a little but the lawn is a mud pit and there’s not much to do at this point. I came inside and there was a text from Gloria, “Are u home?”

“Yep,” I texted back, pleased to get such an informal text from someone I don’t know very well. Gloria is a dog whisperer who is unfazed by difficult animals, bad weather, and flaky owners like us who book her last-minute, “Sorry! Can you walk Nola at noon today?” I hoped she was writing to suggest a play date with Weejay, the puppy she’s dog-sitting down the block.

But no. “Jasper’s coming over to help with this vacuum. Weejay has feathers all over from a pillow and I can’t figure it out.”  I thought she must be dictating because the only Jasper in the neighborhood is a realtor and why would he be helping with a vacuum?

“Sure! I’ll come through the back.” I brought our new Oreck along just in case.

In the yard, Gloria and indeed Jasper the realtor were huddled over a bagless canister vac. After greeting me, Weejay  continued nosing the emerging forsythia, wagging his adorable little tail.

Gloria wanted to empty the vacuum before attacking what she called “a mountain of feathers in there.” I couldn’t wait to see the mess. But none of us could open the canister. It seemed like part of it should unscrew or unclip, but nothing was budging and none of us wanted to be the one to pull too hard and break it. Jasper gently poked a long-handled screwdriver into the opening. “Let me just use my vacuum,” I said.

“No. I’m not letting you do that,” said Gloria.

“I need to change the bag anyway,” I said, which was partly true. Dave hates this new Oreck because he claims it smells. I tell him, “No, it’s what the Oreck picks up that smells.” He counters, “The old Oreck didn’t smell.” I come back, “That’s because it didn’t pick anything up.” The old Oreck now lives in the basement, and he insists on lugging it upstairs whenever he’s doing the vacuuming. “Go ahead,” I say. “I’m just going to need to vacuum again tomorrow so whatever.” Surreptitiously, I change the bag as often as possible, even though Oreck bags are ridiculously expensive, being made partially of cloth, which is probably why they smell.

Gloria and Jasper poked around with the screwdriver until we agreed the canister looked pretty clean. Jasper clicked it back on the base, and then Gloria nudged another unmoving part, “I need this wand for the feathers.”

“Are there that many?”

“Oh this dog,” she said. “They’re everywhere.” I pictured the scene from North and South where the cotton bits float in a mist above everything, choking the millworkers’ lungs and causing industrial malaise. I was dying to get inside. But none of us could unclip the hose part from the carpet sweeper part. There was a lever that you either pull out or unwind like a clock, but neither way seemed to dislodge the wand, and once again we were all afraid to break it. “I’m just going to use my vacuum,” I said, grabbing the Oreck.

“No!” said Gloria.

“Don’t be weird,” I said.

“It is weird,” she retorted. I went inside and looked for the feathers. None in the kitchen. None in the dining room. Then, in the middle of the rug on the sun porch, a fluffy pyramid of white wisps. A slight drizzle of them on the sunporch sofa, and a random few drifting across the dark wood floor.

Jasper plugged in the Oreck and I vacuumed up the feathers. Weejay was briefly interested. Gloria shook her head slowly. I worried that the Oreck would smell and humiliate me on its outing, but it didn’t, or maybe the good smells in the house neutralized it—faint incense and fresh sunshine air. The procedure took about 60 seconds.

Afterward, Jasper found one rogue feather and suggested saving it for the owners. Gloria took the feather and shook her head again. We all agreed that Weejay was adorable and it was a good thing he hadn’t gone after the couch.

Jasper carried the Oreck back to my gate and went on his way. Gloria texted to say, “Thanks again,” and I texted back, “No problem. Any time.” She responded, “Hopefully it’s all downhill from here.”

What not to say

Should be posted everywhere.
Should be posted everywhere.

In the afternoon we went to Home Depot, where Dave struggled against his recent overwhelming desire to buy more plants. “Let’s come up with a plan first,” I said, reminding him of his earlier plan to come up with a plan.

By the time we got home with firewood and mulch and landscape bags, I was so hungry I almost didn’t help carry any of it into the yard. But then I saw Dave walk out to the sidewalk to talk to the neighbors, and I didn’t have keys to get inside, so I started hoisting bags from the trunk, hoping it would speed things up once he was done consulting about the bare spot on the parkway that used to be a tree.

“I’ve got a bag of grass seed from last year,” I heard him offer. I lifted out the last bag and tried to slam the trunk in such a way that would make him notice me and want to let me inside. I know I should carry my keys but sometimes I don’t know where they are or I think they’re in my purse but actually they’re in a different purse or sometimes I just don’t feel like it.

The trunk slamming didn’t work. He was still talking with the neighbors, a pleasant woman and man, and gesturing at the bare spot on the parkway. They all seemed to agree that nothing seemed to be growing there. I ventured a few steps toward them and announced, “I’m sorry but I need to get inside.”

“Oh, sorry,” said Dave immediately; and then, “this is why you should have your keys.”

“Yep.” Dave started to follow me inside, but then made the error of saying to the neighbors, “Oh, by the way, I wanted to ask you about these.” He pointed to some flattened plants peeking out from under the tangled coil of the neighbor’s water hose.

“Yes?” They walked up to look.

“These day lilies.”

“Oh, the day lilies,” said the neighbor woman. “Those grow like weeds.”

“Yes, well, I was thinking maybe I could move them.”

“…What?”

“So they can grow,” Dave explained.

“Oh.” Suddenly the temperature seemed to go down. “Well, where would you move them?”

“I’d find a place for them, “ Dave said.

The neighbor couple looked at each other and then back at Dave. “I don’t know about that,” said the neighbor woman.

“I could move them closer to the front of your house,” Dave offered. “I’ve moved a bunch of ours.”

The four of us stood in silence.

“Or not,” said Dave. “I just thought, so they could grow.”

“I’m going to have to think about that one,” said the neighbor.

“Dave, I’ve got to get inside and eat something,” said I.

We got inside and I ate something. Heather stopped by and we went to Gene’s Sausage Shop for a rooftop beer. “Look under that hose,” I said as we exited, “but don’t look like you’re looking.”

“Got it,” she said.

At Gene’s, she told us how her father had planted a whole fence-worth of day lilies, dividing them season after season until they spanned the length of the yard. “But then we got new neighbors,” she said, “and it turned out the day lilies were over their property line. So they dug them up and put in a fence.”

“Oh no,” I said, “your poor dad.”

Heather shrugged, “They grow like weeds.”

Awkward

solo dog
She plays better solo.

When I first saw her, she was talking to Dave and our host. I walked over and said, “You look so familiar.”

“You look familiar, too,” said she. I love that moment when two people recognize each other without knowing quite how. It could be past lives or high school or almost anything. It’s so full of possibility. She cocked her head, “Did I used to buy drugs from you?”

Dave and our host laughed, like maybe they’d been talking about drug legislation or something before I walked up. “Oh, that’s right!” I said, “You were a great customer.”

“You were an excellent dealer.” It’s so much fun to improvise with a complete stranger, especially when it’s not in a theatrical setting.  It’s a leap of faith in adult playfulness potential.

We continued a few more rounds of banter, and I was really starting to be pleased with my comebacks when she cocked her head the other way and said , “Oh, now I know you. You’re the person whose dog bit my dog.”

“Of course,” I said, feeling mortified but also not wanting to look mortified. Bite is such a strong word. Was it really a bite? Wasn’t it more of a, you know, more of a something you wouldn’t go right out and call a bite?

“What?” said Dave.

“Yes, two little cuts on his face,” she added. “And it was strange because we’d already passed by and then your dog just turned around and bit my dog.”

Our host, still smiling, said something like, “This actually happened?”

“Yep,” I said. “Is he okay?”

“Oh, yes,”‘ she said. But she didn’t change the subject. And clearly I couldn’t change the subject. Actually I became fixated, mentioning all sorts of details from the event. “It was on Sunnyside. He was so cute. Did you get your luggage back? Did I give you my number and stuff, just in case?”

“Oh yes,” she said. “You gave me your card.”

There was some silence, and I wondered if I should have done more, like offered money right off the bat. Was that what she meant? Did she think I was just some irresponsible dog owner, whose dog goes around biting people?  Was I just some irresponsible dog owner? “She’s never bitten another dog before,” I said.

“Oh, really?” she said.

“She’s actually good with most dogs,” said Dave.

“Is she really?”

“She tends to snap her jaws,” said Dave, “but she doesn’t usually make contact.”

“She has gotten bits of fur from time to time,” I added, for full disclosure. Eventually we moved on to other topics, and I tried to adjust to my new role as that person whose dog bit her dog.

For full disclosure, I should have added that she also snapped at a friend of ours on New Years Eve. But in her defense, we’d told our guests repeatedly not to pet her.  She looks, like most dogs in the world, like she would like to be petted, but she doesn’t. Or rather she does, but only under certain very specific circumstances which are impossible to predict or quantify. She would make a terrible scene partner.

How to become the Weird People

Bumper sticker on a pickup I passed the other day
Everything has consequences.

In the play we’re doing for the Citizen’s Play Festival, there’s a cage, a dog crate large enough for an actor playing a 12-year-old boy. At first I assumed we wouldn’t use a real cage. After all, it’s just a staged reading. Even in a full production, a real cage would probably be too literal. The designer would come up with something better.

But as the director pointed out, with a 10-minute segment in a fest you need to communicate basic story elements quickly. The kid lives in a cage, it would be good to have a cage. One of the actors had one in his garage, so yesterday morning I drove over  to pick it up.

When I returned, I parked out front and carried first the metal base into the house. Dave was busy practicing, but Django came over and sniffed the base when I set it on the living room rug. I went back for the cage part and she followed me out. Down the block, a neighbor was playing ball with his kids. The cage was heavy and unwieldy. I set it down a few times on my way to the front door. Django laid down in the grass, far from the cage, watching my progress.

When I got to the front door, Dave came out and carried in the cage. I turned to call Django and saw the neighbor girl from down the block. “Hi,” she said.

“Hi,” I replied. “Come on, Django.” Django remained on the lawn, watching the crate move into the house.

“Is that a dog cage?” asked the girl.

“Yep.”

“What’s it for?”

“It’s just a prop for a play we’re rehearsing here.”

“Cool!”

This was the longest conversation we’d ever had. I added, “I think Django thinks it’s for her.”

The little girl and I looked at Django, who was now looking away from the front door. “That’s what my dad thought, too.”

“Come on, Django,” I called. “It’s gone now. It’s not for you.” Django came inside and the girl went back to her dad. I imagined her telling him, “It’s not for the dog, it’s for a play they’re practicing in their living room.” And I imagined one more weird thing about the weird couple being added to the rolls.

Before’s and after’s

trimming trees
Durings.

This morning when I was out walking the dog, we passed a woman I’d seen at a wedding over the weekend. I don’t know her but I see her all the time, walking her dog or with her kids or out running. Always with her hair pulled back, a scrubbed-looking face, in jeans or running shorts or dog-walking gear like she had on this morning, a Labradoodle by her side. I can’t believe Microsoft Word doesn’t recognize Labradoodle.

But at the wedding she was stunning. Simple dress, hair down, just a little makeup, luminous. I couldn’t place her at first, until my friend said, “You know her. She’s got the Doodle.” When we passed each other, the dogs sniffing in other directions, I said, “Now I know what you look like all glammed out.” I realized too late that it sounded creepy. Like I had something on her. All I meant was that I hadn’t realized how beautiful she was. But that’s also sort of creepy. Like, who cares? We don’t even know each other.

The fruit trees in our yard got trimmed yesterday. We’ve been waiting and waiting for that to happen, because they were far too high, their spindly branches reaching well above the power lines that run along the back fence line in the alley. There were all sorts of delays, even after we’d booked the tree guys, because of ComEd and scheduling and weather. But finally yesterday, in all that wind, they came and reshaped them into the small dwarf fruit trees they were meant to be. I’ve always had a hard time saying dwarf. I’m still not sure which is right. Do you pronounce the “w” or not?

Afterward I went out into the yard, expecting to bask in the glow of our newly proportional surroundings. Instead, the yard felt suddenly smaller and more bleak. The garbage cans in the alley seemed closer, crowding into view. The yard felt sad. “What happened?” I asked. “It’s supposed to look nicer now.” Dave didn’t answer. He was inside. It was freaking windy and cold outside.

At the reading last night, I was almost stupidly nervous beforehand. I keep telling myself I don’t get nervous at these things because you get to hold your script and you’re only being yourself. But still. Dave and I got there early as instructed, and I introduced myself to the hosts. One of them said, “Yeah, we met before, when you did a story at This Much Is True.”

“It’s the same story,” I joked.

“Really?” he looked at me seriously.

“Yeah, I just have the one,” I said. I backed away before I could say anything else. Luckily Syd came in. I tried to talk to her normally but my nervousness kept twisting my tongue. She opened a shopping bag to show me a gift-wrapped box. “You get a goff?” I asked. It was loud enough that she didn’t seem to notice. “Yeah, I’ve been running errands,” she answered.

Another friend walked up and remembered meeting Syd at our old book club. Syd said, “I’m going to see if I can find my book club book before it starts.” I didn’t want this friend to think we were excluding her from our no longer existent book club so I said, “Syd now in real bockup.” The friend smiled and went to her seat.

A third friend showed up and gave me a peaceful incense talisman she got at a retreat over the weekend. I sniffed it a few times before I went up. And after I went up I wasn’t nervous anymore.

One good lie

blurry crowd
What’s not to believe?

I got an email inviting me to audition for a show filled with lies. For the audition, I have to tell a three-minute lie, as outrageous as I like. How hard can that be? So I accepted and figured something would come to me. But now the audition is just days away and I’m starting to panic.

I’ve come up with two so far, one about a friend’s strange restaurant behavior and one about accidentally killing my piano teacher. Both sound good in my head, but when I start telling them out loud, I trail off. I lose my sense of purpose, which at least tells me something about why I like true stories, even when they’re not outrageous. They’re true, so they reveal something about something, even if I don’t always know exactly what the something is. But what does lying reveal? So far, I’ve lied only to hide things. But then again, a lie is just a fictional story and I’ve written those, so this shouldn’t be any different. But it is. I’m thinking about cancelling my audition, but I don’t want to chicken out.

Last night my brother Rolando came over. His friends have opened a hardware store, Matty K’s, and we were going there for a sort of gardening pep rally. Rolando came early to bring us gifts of dog food. Their dear old family dog passed away last month, so they had boxes of treats and bags of food which I coveted. My plan was to pass it on to Zoe’s new owner, because the Katharine Hepburn of Horner Park has also passed on, and Zoe was now living with one of the B’s.

There are two B’s, B-e and B-y. For months we’ve emailed each other to schedule Zoe’s walks. We’ve also tried to plan a dinner together, because the Hepburn sisters gave us checks to dine at Blackbird, as a Zoe thank you. We’ve tossed dates around and B-e even made reservations twice, but something always comes up. Yet when Miss Hepburn died, we found ourselves suddenly able to wrangle ourselves and husbands and bottles of beer and whisky for pizza at a local BYOB. It was soon enough after Miss Hepburn’s death that it didn’t feel real, and we had a boisterous time.

I planned to email B-e and tell her I had food to pass on for Zoe – it’s even her brand – but B-e had already emailed to say she’d brought Zoe back to live with Miss Hepburn’s sister. She convinced her that we didn’t mind continuing the walks, and Zoe is good company and good protection. So in a little while I’ll go over and pick her up for a walk. But first, I need my lie.

Last night, after Rolando parked the car and we had dinner, we walked over to Matty K’s. We passed a man dressed in a plumed page’s costume. He looked exactly like a royal chicken, with a plumed headpiece and puffy satin middle and tights. I wished I had my phone out, but he didn’t look like he would appreciate a picture. He was smoking a cigarette and adjusting his headpiece. We continued on to the store, where we had cookies and root beer and got fired up about gardening.

When we left, the royal chicken was still standing on Western, greeting people going into an event. If this were a lie, something outrageous would happen right here. But because it’s true, all I have is a blurry picture, because I grabbed my phone in time but didn’t stop to focus because I was afraid of getting yelled at. I don’t know if I’m cut out for lying, if I don’t even have the nerve to get a decent picture of an outrageous apparition placed right in my path like a golden egg.

It’s like this

Like boots.

I went to pick up Zoe. I put Django’s boots on first, because of the salt. We walked over there. It was cold. We went up and Marianne was just coming in from shoveling. Her face was rosy, like a storybook child’s. Katharine Hepburn and her sister were at the kitchen table. I said hi and Marianne leashed up Zoe. Elaine said, “Look at Django’s boots. They’re so cute!” “You should see her with her coat on,” I boasted extra loudly, like an intrusive home help lady from a British mystery novel.

Back outside, I felt bullied by the cold. I walked the dogs up north, aiming for a mailbox so I could mail my letter. But my hands were starting to ache, like the last gasp of water in the tray before it freezes into ice. I was so cold I started to whimper, so quietly that passersby didn’t notice, so quietly that even the dogs didn’t turn around. I decided to stop home and warm up.

My hands were so numb I could barely unlock the back door. The dogs bounded in. Django stopped on the rug and waited for me to take her boots off. Zoe jumped up on a counter, looking for snacks. I whimpered more loudly now, “Ow. Ow. Ow,” as I pulled off Django’s disposable balloon boots.

I rubbed my hands together briskly, like a Buddhism teacher on Lawrence Avenue once taught, reminding them what circulation feels like. As they thawed, Dave came in the back door from rehearsal. He offered to walk Zoe back with me, noting that Django didn’t need to go out again.

He was right, and certainly I didn’t want to wrestle Django’s boots back on, but when she followed us to the back door I said, “I think she wants to come.”

“No, she just doesn’t want to be left behind.” Dave opened the back door and both dogs pushed out past us. “See?” I said, “She wants to come.”

At the bottom of the stairs, Django immediately ran back up and inside, but I ignored that. “Let’s just take her.”

“She’ll get cold,” said Dave.

“It’s only three blocks,” I said. I figured we wouldn’t have to carry her until we were on the way back.

Dave leashed her up and we started walking. When we got to the first salty stretch of sidewalk, I tried to walk fast, like that kid from the Bazooka cartoon who paints the fence quickly because he’s running out of paint.

Django stopped and held up a paw. “Come on, Django,” I said annoyed, “There’s hardly any salt.” Zoe and I were already at the end of it. But Django held up two paws, switching among them to keep herself upright. “Django, come on!” She started shivering, like an old lady.

Dave picked her up and shook his head without shaking his head, like a statue of a person who is about to shake his head. “I’m sorry,” I said. “Go on back. I’ll be home in a minute.” I continued on with Zoe, who plowed happily through snow, salt and ice like a draught horse. When I got to Katharine Hepburn’s, the kitchen was as dark as night. I let Zoe in and wondered if it would be rude to just leave. Then Miss Hepburn’s sister came in from the hall. “My boots are snowy so I won’t come in,” I explained from the back door.

Miss Hepburn’s sister told me briefly about Miss Hepburn’s upcoming surgery and effusively complimented Marianne’s shoveling and asked politely about Dave’s playing and my projects. She is the most civilized person I have ever known, like Maggie Smith in Tea with Mussolini. She gives me hope for 92, or 93, or whatever she may be.

I walked home without whimpering, just like a person with their hands in their pockets.

 

Burn

tree stump Not pictured: Tree.

“Can you believe they cut down that tree?”

“I know, it seemed perfectly healthy, didn’t it?”

“And why do the signs say Tree trimming when they never trim trees like the one out front with branches that hit passersby in the eye, but they chop down entire other trees just because they lost one branch in a storm?”

“It’s sad.” He and his dog are walking north; we’re walking south. He pauses another moment and tells me about a neighbor who had the city chop down a tree because the roots were damaging her pipes. Instead of dealing with roto-rooting the pipes every year, it was cheaper and easier to get rid of the whole tree. Years later, when she was old, her caregiver would set her out front in a wheelchair. The lady would sit uncomfortably, squinting into the sun because the shade that would have shielded her was gone.

That Rosanna lady was not wrong

string of lights
Gatsby could totally relate.

It amazes me to look at the list of things I wanted to accomplish yesterday and see from here that they’re all accomplished, but now there’s another list, just as long. Yesterday I did the shopping and hung the shade and did some cleaning and mowed the lawn and hacked the grape leaves and put out the tables and strung the lights. Whew.

The lights are beautiful and old fashioned-looking, even though they’re from Target. Target’s good at satisfying my nostalgia cravings at a reasonable price. Not that I grew up with anything that looked like these lights, but they’re something I picture having grown up with. The problem is, they’re real glass, so they’re breakable. You know, how things used to be.

I got my ladder and a drill and some hooks, and hung them high on the house, stringing them over to the cherry tree. As I was weaving a strand through a branch, one loose bulb fell out and shattered on the cement. Dave heard it from up in his office and came to the window. “Ow,” he said.

“I know,” I said. “I didn’t think about how they’re glass.”

“Hm,” he said. Suddenly the lights went from twinkling globes of Gatsby-style ambiance to coiled-up dagger balls of death. What was I thinking buying these things? No wonder they were on clearance. I went inside to find the safe, plastic, low voltage, LED Christmas lights. X was over, doing some carpentry and I told him, “All that work for nothing.”

“You’re going to take them down?” he asked.

“Yeah, I can put these up instead.”

“No,” he said, which was surprising because he almost always finds a way to agree with other peoples’ choices. “Those lights are so beautiful.”

“I know, but what if more fall off and break on peoples’ heads? And I’ve got one hanging on the neighbor’s fence. She might not like that.”

“Their beauty is in their fragility,” he said. “This society is too litigious anyway. Let them be.”

As a compromise, I hung the plastic lights too, across another part of the yard. Now I need to put electrical tape over the empty socket of the fallen bulb and another one that burned out already. Though with the way the sky is thundering, I can quit worrying about anyone being outside when the daggers start falling. Instead, I can worry about whether anyone is going to show in the rain, whether I want anyone to show up in the rain, and how we could possibly feed them when we have no kitchen and Dave refuses to barbeque in the garage.

The day the circus left town

pawn shop postcard
I'm not making this stuff up. Hardly.

Late last night, the guy sweeping up after the very last elephant was a woman. She sat in front of her house and held a small sign: “Free Gov. Blagojevich.” I wanted to tell her that Blago isn’t governor anymore, and he isn’t in prison yet, but instead it hardly seemed worth it. There’s just something not very interesting about the Blago train, now that he’s been convicted.

It was more interesting three years ago, when we lived in a condo across the hall from The Guys. The State of Illinois rented the unit as a crash pad for Blago’s security detail. I hated how their Crown Vics took up so many parking spaces out front, and how they left a rusting Weber grill on our shared back deck, and how they used garbage bags as curtains in the living room. But they were a novelty, and some of them were genuinely nice. Peter the postman gave us the low-down on who was in charge of who, and what the deal was with “the football.” It was fun to watch The Guys muttering into walky-talkies as they scurried from condo to Blago house, looking solemn and authoritative about exchanges that probably consisted of, “Gotta pee, be right back,” and “Is there gas in Crown Vic #3? I’m making a lunch run.”

When the indictment came down, that was a fun time to be in the neighborhood. We saw the first flush of reporters and news trucks, and didn’t realize yet they’d be a three-year fixture. It was the dead of winter and I admired their tenacity, sitting out in the cold, waiting for a shot of Blago walking from his front door to his SUV. Because you can’t have a news story without live coverage of someone getting into their car.

On one dog walk we watched The Guys execute a complicated maneuver to get Blago out the side door and into a waiting Crown Vic up the street, all without the news crews realizing he’d left the house. This required three walky-talkies.
When The Guys suddenly moved out, one cold day in January 2009, leaving only their rusting Weber and some cable wires, the parking improved. My friend Peggles moved in across the hall, and like everyone else we could exclaim over how vehemently, almost exuberantly, Blago was denying everything. His problems seemed to make him more chatty than usual, and as he jogged through the neighborhood—alone now, without Crown Vic #4 trolling behind—he’d wave vigorously, and say something like, “Isn’t this great?” as he loped by. His Teflon factor was staggering.

One morning during the first trial, I let a reporter into the lobby as I returned from a dog walk. It was a sub-zero day and I was tired of skirting the cameras on the way back from the park, when every extra step cost another centimeter of numbness in your toes. She followed me to the building and asked if she could just step inside to warm up and ask a few questions. I don’t remember the conversation, something about, “Is this media circus upsetting the neighborhood?”

“Oh yes. It’s upsetting the neighborhood.” Who was I kidding? We loved being able to kvetch on corners and post on Facebook about how annoying it all was. The helicopters I could do without, but the spectacle was nicely surreal and mostly contained to court days. And when he was mostly acquitted after a hung jury, it was just another example of how screwed up the system is and nothing changes. Always good food for neighborly conversation.

But yesterday, after the conviction, it all became less interesting. We were out on a dog walk when the verdict was announced, and on our way home two reporters stopped us. “Do you think justice was served today?”

“We haven’t heard the verdict.”

“Guilty on…what is it, Bob, 17 counts? Seventeen of 20 counts.”

“Oh. Wow.”

“So, do you think justice was served today?”

“Um, yeah. I guess.”

“Would you say justice had been served?”

“Yeah, I’d say justice was served. Wait, I’m not sure what that means. I think he did some stuff he shouldn’t have, and now he has to pay for it.”

“Yeah, can you spell your name, please?”

Suddenly there’s nothing to bitch about. Justice has been served, whatever that means. There are still blips of interest, like yesterday when he told reporters that he hates to think that “some” people in the state “might think” he’s not fighting for them. That he had the presence of mind, there in that jumble of reporters outside his door, as his wife stumbled up the stairs in tears and he hastened to join her, to keep spinning. That still staggers me, but now it’s none of my business. It’s something for him and his family to suffer through. Nothing more to see here, folks. We promise you a shot in his jump suit, sometime later this year.

On this morning’s dog walk, we avoided Sunnyside and possible reporters. Instead we headed to Ronan Park. Coming back, cutting across the lawn at Manor and Lawrence, we passed a postcard in the grass. It seemed to sum things up, so I put a biscuit under it to get Django in the shot. I guess we’re all showmen at heart.