Aug. 25, from Louie, Day 86

Well, Pops,

Mom is VERY excited. She says we’re down to single digits now, ‘n’ you’ll be sailin’ in the back door in no time.

I’d like to be excited, too, but I just don’t get it. What the heck is so great about a single digit?

EVERYONE knows it’s always better to have more’n one of ANYTHING. Five little buddies is a party; one is just a whispered conversation. Ten Milkbones is a feast; one is just a snack. Forty belly rubs is heaven; one is Mom bein’ neglectful.

I’m a big fella, ‘n’ I want LOTSA numbers. What good is breakfast with one measly Kibble? What good is a hike with one measly pee? What good is summer with only one Mom ‘n’ no Pops?

See what I’m sayin’, Pops? More is MUCH better’n less.

“Lou,” Mom sighed, “you gotta put it in perspective.”

“I don’t know that word, Mom, ‘n’ if I don’t know it, it’s not important.”

“That’s very self-centered of you, Lou,” Mom lectured.

“It’s the world accordin’ to Louie, Mom,” I huffed, ‘n’ curled up on the kitchen floor with my back to her so’s she’d leave me alone.

But Mom is nothin’ if not perseverant, so she sat down on the floor with her calculator ‘n’ tape measure ‘n’ got right in my face.

“See, Lou, if you wanna put somethin’ in your past, then you wanna put as many digits as possible between you ‘n’ the thing you’re tryin’ to get away from.”

I just snorted. Math is sooooooooooooo borin’.

“Remember that awful mornin’ when Pops packed up ‘n’ went away?”

“Not too well, Mom. It was a long, LONG time ago.”

“PRECISELY!!!!!” Mom said happily. “It was 86 days ago, ‘n’ that’s a very big number. It’s waaaaaaaaay up in the double digits. ‘N’ each day the number gets even bigger. Tomorrow it’ll be 87, ‘n’ the next day, it’ll be 88, ‘n’ every day thereafter, it’ll just keep gettin’ bigger, ‘cuz we’re always movin’ away from the past.”

“Well, I don’t see that as any cause for celebration, Mom,” I grumped. “If the number keeps gettin’ bigger, that means we’re just gettin’ farther ‘n’ farther away from the happy days last spring.”

“That’s true, Lou,” Mom agreed. “But we’re not talkin’ about the past here. We’re talkin’ about the future — the day Pops gets home. ‘N’ the number of days between now ‘n’ then just keeps gettin’ smaller, not bigger.”

“How much smaller?” I asked suspiciously, ‘cuz Mom was soundin’ as earnest as a car salesman, ‘n’ that’s very suspicious indeed.

“The number gets smaller by one every day,” Mom ‘xplained. “Back in June, when we was progressin’ from 95 days to 94 to 93, a one-number difference didn’t mean too much. It still added up to an awful long time.”

“Got that right,” I groused.

Louie is overwhelmed by math.

Louie is overwhelmed by math.

“But you know what happened this mornin’, Lou? We dropped from 10 — that’s double digits — to nine — that’s single digits — ‘n’ my heart is so much lighter, I could do cartwheels right down the driveway. Pops will be home in just nine days!!!!!”

“Why, geez, Mom,” I said, liftin’ my head in excitement as I finally got it, “nine days is nothin’ at all! That’s — why, that’s just 27 more hikes!”

“Just 18 more packages of Chef Cesar,” Mom said.

“One more invasion by the lawn-mowin’ orcs,” I said, suddenly gettin’ into it.

“Two more garbage nights,” Mom agreed.

“Nine more nights in the big bed.”

“Nine more letters from Louie.”

“Oh, gosh, Mom,” I gulped. “That’s sad. My writin’ career was just gettin’ started.”

“Relax, big fella,” Mom said, pattin’ my head. “No one’s takin’ your blog away from you. It’s just gonna take a rest for a while.”

“It has been tough comin’ up with an innerestin’ story line every night,” I admitted.

“That’s OK, Lou. In just nine more days, you won’t be writin’ the story line, you’ll be livin’ it.”

“HOORAY!” I barked. ‘N’ me ‘n’ Mom slapped high-fives.

I still don’t get the intricacies of this math stuff, Pops, but now me ‘n’ Mom is both happy.

Just nine more days. Why, even I can count that high on my toes, ‘n’ still have many, many left over to do other stuff, like scratch ‘n’ hike.

Life is good.

Your almost satisfied,

Louie

Pops replies:

Oh, Louie: Numbers, shnumbers. Life is good. Soon.

Pops
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Published in: on August 25, 2013 at 8:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aug. 24, from Louie, Day 85

Well, Pops, the Browns is lookin’ mighty putrid tonight.

‘N’ it’s all Mom’s fault.

You see, despite tellin’ her students the other day that she reads EVERY story with “Browns” in the headline, she had NO IDEA they was playin’ tonight (which only proves teachers always lie). In fact, as we was drivin’ home from our evenin’ hike at Hunt Farm, she was wonderin’ aloud just what we were gonna do all night since we’d already had our phone call from you.

So imagine her surprise (‘n’ my consternation) when the rock ‘n’ roll blarin’ outta Mr. Rav’s radio suddenly switched to the Browns pregame show.

“Omigosh, Lou,” she gasped, “there’s a GAME tonight ‘n’ I’m not even wearin’ my unlucky Browns shirt!!!!”

Forgettin’ to do the laundry was the least of her problems.

SHE FORGOT TO BUY MUNCHIES.

Louie strikes a noble pose.

Louie strikes a noble pose.

So here I sit, typin’ my letter with one ear tuned to Jim Donovan, ‘n’ there’s no Cheetos ‘n’ Milk Bones, no Rice Chex ‘n’ Kibbles Party Mix ‘n’ no Purina-crusted pretzels. All we got is a measly handful of grain-free biscuits, so naturally, the Browns is playin’ bad. With a fan as scatterbrained as Mom, they got no incentive to play good.

“I really don’t think you can blame me for the injury report,” Mom said petulantly as she searched the refrigerator for some bacon bits to mix with my biscuits. (It was a nice thought, but there wasn’t any bacon, so scratch that comeback.)

“Injuries is just an excuse, Mom,” I lectured her. “The offense hasn’t got no oooomph tonight, ‘n’ that’s ‘cuz the players know you forgot all about ’em.”

“Technically, I didn’t forget ’em,” Mom corrected. “You can’t forget what you didn’t know.”

” ‘N’ you think that’s gonna make them boys play harder?” ‘N’ I rolled my eyes in disgust.

“It’s not my fault they can’t stop that Luck fella,” Mom insisted.

“Maybe if you’d shown them you care by layin’ out a proper spread of munchies … ”

Mom’s eyes narrowed into two accusin’ slits. “This has nothin’ to do with fan loyalty, Lou. This is all about your bottomless tummy.”

“I’m just sayin’, Mom, you cooked up a banquet of Dawg food against the Lions ‘n’ the Browns won. Tonight you’re handin’ out stale biscuits, ‘n’ the Browns can’t even score. Who do YOU think’s at fault?”

Mom was speechless in the face of my faultless logic, ‘n’ she hung her head in shame.

“Oh, Lou,” she said, her voice quaverin’, “you’re absolutely right. I am a worm. I am LOWER than a worm, ‘cuz actually, there is some very nice worms livin’ in the back yard. The Browns are playin’ like bums tonight, ‘n’ it’s all ‘cuz I forgot to buy your Cheetos.”

Well, Mom looked so forlorn, I had to relent ‘n’ pat her on the shoulder. “It’s OK, Mom, it’s only a preseason game, ‘n’ everyone knows preseason games don’t mean nothin’.”

“If you say so, Lou.”

“Just let this be a lesson, Mom. When the real season starts, you gotta be prepared for every game. You can’t forget the Cheetos, ‘n’ maybe you oughta add some Dog Chow ‘n’ Frito salsa, just to be on the safe side.”

“I promise, Lou,” Mom said solemnly. “I will never EVER forget your Dawg food smorgasbord again.”

“Super Bowl, here we come!” I cheered.

So even though the Dawgs looked like dogs tonight, I’ve whipped Mom into shape, ‘n’ we’re guaranteed a WUNNERFUL season.

All we need is you sittin’ beside us on the couch.

Come home soon, Pops.

Your favorite,

Louie

P.S. I didn’t like that photo Mom sent you last night ‘cuz it made me look like a MANIAC, so here’s a picture of me lookin’ much more noble.

Pops replies:

Oh, Louie: Oops, I mean Oh, Noble Dog. You do look very regal in this photo, especially surrounded by the lush lawn in our back yard. Still, I do love yesterday’s photo. It’s sooooooo you, Lou. Now about football. I think you would be best advised to make yourself scarce every Saturday afternoon and every Sunday afternoon. Humans get very strange around this time of year.

Pops
Published in: on August 24, 2013 at 9:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aug. 23, from Louie, Day 84

Gosh darn it, Pops!

You ‘n’ Mom gotta get offa my case!

I am not FAT!!!!!

Sheesh.

OK, OK, OK, I’m not the skinny raggedy dude you brought home five years ago, but that don’t mean I’m a chubby butt.

I am a mature dog, ‘n’ I have a manly profile most becomin’ of my years. My chest is broad ‘n’ deep, my thighs is churnin’ pistons ‘n’ my belly is full, ‘n’ I AM NOT FAT!!!!

Oh, I heard Mom gasp when I tipped the evil vet’s scale at 79 pounds. Well, Mom, I got news for you. Grain-free biscuits don’t mean CALORIE-free. So there.

‘Sides, a 60-pound weaklin’ don’t take on Rockies ‘n’ win.

Chicken, chicken, chicken!!!!!!

Chicken, chicken, chicken!!!!!!

A tough guy like me needs solid poundage to fight off orcs ‘n’ other aliens threatenin’ the home front (‘n’ Mom’s well-bein’ in YOUR absence, I might add). A tough guy like me can’t stare down smoke-belchin’ FirstEnergy machinery without some girth. So just knock off this talk about diets.

‘N’ as for this exercise regimen Mom’s suddenly cooked up for me — well, you guys reap what you sow. ‘Cuz if I’m hikin’ my fool head off every day, then that only INCREASES my appetite, ‘n’ I’m not gonna leave EITHER of you alone until I get more meat!!!!

OK, OK, OK, when my nether regions was chafin’ so bad, I got kinda lazy. I admit that. But walkin’ hurt.

Only now that things is gettin’ better, I think Mom is goin’ a tad overboard. This mornin’ she took me to Schumacher, ‘n’ made me hike the whole mountainous loop. ‘N’ this afternoon, when we usually do just a double, she made it a quadruple!!!! ‘N’ tonight, our leisurely evenin’ stroll turned into two miles on the Towpath.

That is just way wrong, Pops. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay wrong. (“Oh, quit your gripin’, Louie. I’m walkin’ every single one o’ them miles with you.” ” ‘Cept you’re the one with the chubby butt.” “Am not!” “Are, too!” “Am not!” “Are, too!” )

Mom’s threatenin’ to take me to the Gorge in the mornin’ to climb them killer rocks, ‘n’ I just might haveta stage a rebellion. ‘cuz if I let her get away with that, then the next thing you know, we’ll be doin’ the Buckeye Trail ‘n’ we both know when Mom does the Buckeye Trail, she gets so wore out, I gotta strap her to my back ‘n’ carry her back to Mr. Rav. ‘N’ that’s just more’n any dog oughta haveta bear.

Fortunately, Mom hasn’t gotten too serious about the diet threats yet, ‘n’ tonight we had PICKIN’ CHICKEN!!!!

But she says it’s the last one we’re gonna have until you get home.

‘N’ that’s not right, Pops, just not right.

‘CUZ I’M NOT FAT!!!!!!

Your skinny at heart,

Louie

Pops replies:

Oh, Louie: There is only one word to describe it. Stupendous! Really, outstanding just doesn’t do it justice. Wonderful — even wunnerful — is woefully inadequate. Tremendous would simply be a cliche. Memorable or magnificent get close, but not quite. Superb might due. But, finally, I have to settle on STUPENDOUS! Lou, I’ve seen that look in your eyes so many times. A piece of pickin’ chicken is about the only thing that produces that look in your eyes, Lou. It’s a look of pure bliss — and I look forward to seeing it soon, in person. What a stupendous photo!!!

Pops
p.s. Lou, you are not fat. You are pleasantly plump, as a mature dog such as yourself deserves to be, after all those years of guardin’ the homefront while I’ve been away. Soon, though, we’re going to ratchet up the exercise level — more for my benefit than yours.
Published in: on August 23, 2013 at 9:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aug. 22, from Louie, Day 83

Dear Pops,

Mom is such a doofus.

She’s always takin’ dorky pictures of me (like the one she’s sendin’ tonight), but she’s never got her camera ready when somethin’ really excitin’ happens. (“That’s not fair, Lou. When somethin’ really excitin’ happens, I usually got my hands full with you.” “Excuses, excuses, Mom.”)

The day started out kinda slow. To tell you the truth, I’m not real sure when the night ended ‘n’ the day started. I’ve been feelin’ kinda peculiar lately, ‘n’ time just seems to be slippin’ through my toenails. ‘N’ colors have been most bizarre.

But let’s just pretend the day started, ‘cuz I’m pretty sure it’s not last night anymore, ‘cuz I’m pretty sure I had a heapin’ bowl of crunchy Kibbles for breakfast.

I think Mom mighta disappeared for a while this afternoon, ‘cuz I DO remember takin’ a pretty long nap on the couch, ‘n’ Mom didn’t nag me once to stop snorin’. So she musta been gone.

But ‘long about the time you called, I wasn’t seein’ plaid ‘n’ paisley no more, ‘n’ though I do enjoy hearin’ from you on the phone, I was feelin’ the need for some exercise. So I was quite joyful when Mom finally stopped talkin’ to you ‘n’ said, “Saddle up, Lou, we’re goin’ to Hardesty Park!”

Well, that wasn’t nearly as rigorous as I had in mind, but it WAS gettin’ dusky out, ‘n’ I know Mom feels much more comfortable in city parks rather than the woods when the sun is goin’ down. So once I was sure there wasn’t no dreadful band playin’ at Hardesty tonight, I happily jumped into Mr. Rav, ‘n’ we was off!!!!

We had a very nice hike around the park, where I had my fourth poop of the day (I gotta take Mom’s word for that, ‘cuz I don’t really remember Poops 1, 2 ‘n’ 3) ‘n’ then we headed home for dinner.

Louie don't WANNA play with his Little Buddy.

Louie don’t WANNA play with his Little Buddy.

As we was turnin’ into the driveway, I was jabberin’ to Mom about the kinda sprinkles I wanted on my dinner (turkey hotdogs is becomin’ BOR-in’, you know?), so Mom was the one to see ’em first, ‘n’ she jumped on the brakes so hard, I nearly flew into Mr. Rav’s windshield.

“Mom,” I sputtered angrily, “what the heck are you tryin’ to do? Kill me?”

“Oh, hush up, Lou, ‘n’ look out the window!”

Well, I didn’t care much for Mom’s tone, ‘n’ I was gonna tell her so in no uncertain terms when suddenly I got a flash of white tail outta the corner of my eye, ‘n’ Pops! There was a doe ‘n’ two polka-dotted fawns munchin’ peacefully under our magnolia tree.

Them fawns was so darned cute, we just sat there in Mr. Rav for many, many, seconds, enjoyin’ the view. Even I was content to simply watch, ‘cuz you know, with my chafed nether regions, runnin’ like the wind with the deer is outta the question. ‘N’ besides, I didn’t wanna scare the little fellas.

But then they wandered too close to the driveway, ‘n’ since Mom didn’t wanna accidentally hit ’em, she punched the remote control on the garage door, ‘n’ the sound spooked the three of ’em into our little woods.

But they weren’t scared silly, ‘cuz as soon as we was parked ‘n’ Mom was guidin’ me outta Mr. Rav with a very firm hand on my bling, they had already wandered back into our yard ‘n’ was peacefully munchin’ again.

That reminded me that my own dinner was overdue, so I made some agitated noises to Mom, ‘n’ I think she mistook ’em as threats to take after the deer, so she unceremoniously hauled me into the house ‘n’ slammed the door, ‘n’ that was enough noise to scare the deer all the way down to the Zaidans’ house.

It was a most enchantin’ encounter, Pops, but in Mom’s mistaken belief that my head ‘n’ legs is in condition to run relays with Maria ‘n’ the kids, she kept both hands on my leash ‘n’ forgot to take pictures.

‘N’ that’s why she’s a doofus.

‘N’ that’s why you’re gettin’ only this dumb picture of me ‘n’ my Little Buddy snake. You coulda had a much nicer picture of the wildlife grazin’ in our very own yard, but Mom can’t seem to do more’n one thing at once.

Thank goodness she still knows how to give righteous belly rubs.

Your disgusted-at-the-missed-opportunity,

Louie

Pops replies:

Look at Pops in his funny hat!

Look at Pops in his funny hat!

Oh, Louie: I don’t think a camera can capture enchantin’ moments like that. Sometimes you just have to store those memories in your head and bring them out when you need them. You can do that, right Lou?

Pops
p.s. Coupla photos for you, Lou. The first one is Pops giving people 10 seconds to take their photos while he wears a silly hat that his assistant John mistakenly thought was a good idea. That’s Pops’ big boss, Teresa looking at him.

Pops' California friends throw him a party to say goodbye.

Pops’ California friends throw him a party to say goodbye.

The second photo includes all 11 people at the dinner – left to right: Sara, John, John’s wife, Marie, Patti’s husband, Patti, Diane, Teresa, Pops, Dave’s wife, Dave (Pops’ current boss).

Published in: on August 22, 2013 at 8:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aug. 21, from Louie, Day 82

Dear Pops,

I think I’m supposed to be outraged at Mom. Some little voice in my head keeps sayin’ she did somethin’ really awful to me today. Or maybe it was yesterday. Or maybe it was last week.

Scratch, scratch, scratch, scratch, SCRATCH!!!!

Scratch, scratch, scratch, scratch, SCRATCH!!!!

I — um — I just don’t really remember too well ‘cuz — um — well — I’m kinda floatin’ right now ‘n’ — oh, wow, did you know there’s a FULL MOON tonight? Omigosh, Pops, it’s ORANGE.

‘N’ GREEN.

‘N’ YELLOW.

‘N’ wow, I think it might be PLAID!!!!!

Far out, Pops.

I sorta remember we took a hike this mornin’ on the Towpath down by Bruegger’s. Or maybe that was some other mornin’. WHATEVER.

There was a hike, ‘n’ I wasn’t too much in the mood ‘cuz — did Mom tell ya? — I got this gi-GUN-dus hot spot on my nether regions, ‘n’ it CHAFES when I trot, so I don’t wanna trot too much. I don’t even wanna crawl. I just wanna curl up on the kitchen floor ‘n’ just groove to Radio Paradise, ya know what I’m sayin’, Pops?

ANYWAY, there was a hike, ‘n’ then instead of endin’ in breakfast, it ended in a nightmare.

I dreamt I was at the evil vet’s. ‘N’ even though it was the evil MAN vet, who has some unnerstandin’ of dogly complaints, it was still the VET’S, ‘n’ I dreamt I was shakin’ most uncontrollably, ‘n’ Mom was huggin’ me ‘n’ pettin’ my head, but she wouldn’t take me home, even though I begged her. Most piteously.

‘N’ then I dreamt I was attacked with a needle as long as my back leg, ‘n’ that terrible but unnerstandin’ man shot me full of vile liquids, ‘n’ my shoulder is very sore now, so it must not of been a dream. But I just don’t remember it too clearly.

It's been a rough day for Louie. OW!!!!!

It’s been a rough day for Louie. OW!!!!!

I know I had breakfast ‘n’ dinner, ‘n’ both was on the crunchy side, ‘n’ I know Mom has stopped assaultin’ me with her stinky Gold Bond powder, ‘n’ that’s a relief.

But I really don’t know much more’n that, Pops. I’m just kinda chillin’ here on the kitchen floor, displayin’ my redness for anyone who wants to see. I don’t care. Go ahead ‘n’ look if you want. Gross, huh?

ANYWAY, I know I gotta get up ‘n’ pee for about the 82nd time today, but I might just lie here a while longer ‘n’ see if some chicken sprinkles don’t float down from the ceilin’.

Pops, did you know the ceilin’ is a kaleidoscope ‘n’ its colors ‘n’ shapes is always changin’?

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY far out, man.

Your purple ‘n’ pink ‘n’ chartreuse,

Louie

I think.

Pops replies:

Oh, Louie: I can see and almost feel your pain. Enjoy the many colors and chicken sprinkles floating down from the ceiling. You deserve the escape from that huge patch of flaming red. Oh my, you poor, poor boy.

Pops
p.s. Uh, Lou, uh, we need to get you out on some long, long hikes, if you get my drift.
Published in: on August 21, 2013 at 8:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aug. 20, from Louie, Day 81

Oh, Pops,

I am in despair.

First Delilah.

‘N’ now REGGIE!!!!!!

I been worried for weeks ‘cuz I’d dash out the back door every mornin’ to pee, ‘n’ Reggie wouldn’t be waitin’ for me.

‘N’ when me ‘n’ Mom was workin’ in the yard, he wouldn’t come shufflin’ over to the fence for his Milkbones.

‘N’ when the neighborhood dogs started barkin’ in harmony, his baritone would be missin’.

In memoriam.

In memoriam.

So I was frettin’, but I didn’t say nothin’ to Mom, ‘cuz I didn’t want her to fret, too. (You know, she made friends with Reggie long before she made friends with me, ‘n’ back in the early days, when I still wasn’t sure Canyon Trail would become my permanent home, I was afraid she liked Reggie best. But I know better now. He was like a boyfriend outta her past, while I’m the real deal.)

Anyway, Mom didn’t say nothin’ to me last night after Ms. Sandra called, ‘cuz she didn’t want me to be up all night cryin’. But this mornin’, after breakfast, Mom sat me down on the couch ‘n’ give me the bad news.

Reggie’s dead.

‘N’ I NEVER GOT TO SAY GOODBYE!!!!!

Just like Delilah, he was whisked away from me without a final butt sniff, ‘n’ I’m just shattered.

He was an old dog — too old to be my best bud. There was quite the generation gap between us. But you know, Pops, Reggie was wise, ‘n’ early on he took me aside ‘n’ told me what was what in the neighborhood. He told me who the good neighbors was ‘n’ who was bad; which dogs I could play with ‘n’ which dogs would try to rip out my heart. (Even though Reggie got along OK with the Evil White Dog, he knew immediately that me ‘n’ Cody was two alphas destined to hate each other, ‘n’ he sagely counseled me to take the high road. ‘Course, I didn’t, but that’s not the point.)

The point is he was almost like the canine dad I never had, ‘n’ it just tears me up that we’ll never again meet at the fence ‘n’ swap stories about our humans. (Don’t worry, Pops, I never told him any really embarrassin’ stuff, like how funny you look without any fur to cover your butt, just the cute stuff, like how you always fall asleep with your library book on your chest ‘n’ Mom hasta tuck you in — you know, that kinda thing.)

I know the old boy was in a lotta pain. You just had to watch him walk ‘n’ you could see every step was an agony. But his eyes was still bright ‘n’ he could still growl most ferociously at orcs ‘n’ other invaders. So I thought — I hoped — he’d hang around a little longer, at least until the first frost set in ‘n’ the sun could still warm his bones.

But I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

Poor old Reg — Pops, you gotta forgive me. I’m just too broke up to write anymore.

Maybe tomorrow.

But now I gotta go cry.

Your most forlorn,

Louie

Pops replies:

Oh, Louie: I know you are sad about your bud. But, you know, Reggie had a really good life. He had Miss Sandra to talk to all day long — and, Lou, you gotta know that Reggie got alotta conversation. (Remember when he told you how sometimes he has to cover his ears?) Well, I feel sad for you. But mostly I feel sad for Miss Sandra. It’s gonna be lonely for her. She’s gonna want someone to talk to. Perhaps you could hang around her fence for a while, you know, just in case she really, really misses a canine companion.

Pops
Published in: on August 20, 2013 at 9:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aug. 19, from Louie, Day 80

Well, Pops, the weatherman says the temperature’s gonna soar up to 84 tomorrow, but it don’t matter.

Me ‘n’ Mom sadly agreed today that you’ve missed another summer on the home front.

No matter how hot it gets, summer is over.

The proof is overwhelmin’.

The petunias is dead ‘n’ the ferns is dyin’. By the time you get home, they’re gonna be nothin’ but brittle brown weeds. (I know that breaks your heart, Pops, but you gotta be brave. It’s just one of the many sacrifices you gotta make so’s you get a paycheck. Which buys Louie’s meat. ‘Nuff said.)

If that isn’t enough proof, when we come home from our evenin’ stroll, DEAD LEAVES was skitterin’ across the driveway.

“Oh, boy, Mom, Pops isn’t gonna like that!” I said.

“I know,” Mom said in resignation. “He’s gonna have to haul out the rake before he even gets his welcome home dinner.”

“But NOT before he plays tag with me ‘n’ my little Buddies,” I said indignantly.

“Of course not, Lou. He’ll play tag with you as SOON as he gets outta Ms. Corolla — before he even gives me a hug.”

“Darn right,” I huffed, so stridently that I blew half of the leaves into the pachy-Sandra.

Louie checks for Rockies through the back door. (Note how Mom's redecorated the kitchen while she paints the storage room.)

Louie checks for Rockies through the back door. (Note how Mom’s redecorated the kitchen while she paints the storage room.)

But the dead leaves isn’t the only proof, Pops. Fact is, our evenin’ hikes is gettin’ darker ‘n’ darker. Mom used to think nothin’ of drivin’ for miles ‘n’ miles to a nice trail so’s we could stretch our many legs, but our hikes has been gettin’ closer to home of late, ‘cuz Mom don’t want us to get caught in the woods in the dark without a flashlight. Why, last night when we was drivin’ down Canyon Trail after our excursion to Lower Akron, we both noticed THE STREETLIGHTS WAS ON!!!!

There’s just no gettin’ around it, Pops. The days is gettin’ shorter, ‘n’ that means summer is over, ‘n’ you’ve missed it again.

Oh, there’s still time for PLENTY of barbecues on the patio before it starts to snow. ‘N’ Mom figures she don’t have to unpack her long johns just yet. ‘N’ I might grow some hair on my nether regions before the first frost.

But the leaves don’t lie, Pops. They’re turnin’ brown ‘n’ fallin’, ‘n’ pretty soon the acorns will be peltin’ our new roof, ‘n’ the flowers that have escaped the maraudin’ deer will shrivel up ‘n’ die.

On the plus side, that just means you’re closer to comin’ home. ‘N’ if me ‘n’ Mom haveta give up summer to get you back on our couch watchin’ Route 66 reruns, well, we figure it’s worth it.

‘Cuz, you know, when you got a thick fur coat like me, summer’s not much fun anyway.

Eighty days down, Pops. Fifteen to go.

I can already smell the hamburgers on the grill.

‘N’ the T-bones.

‘N’ the chicken breasts.

‘N’ the bratwurst.

YUM!!!!!

Your devoted,

Louie

Pops replies:

Oh, Louie: We can’t think in terms of summers lost. Yea, I can feel the oncoming Autumn as well. But, our horizons are far, our skies blue, and our future full of only good things.

Pops
Published in: on August 19, 2013 at 9:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aug. 18, from Louie, Day 79

Well, Pops, today Mom was only marginally saner as we ‘xplored the environs of Lower Akron on our evenin’ stroll.

I was quite disappointed. After spendin’ all afternoon by myself while Mom did her volunteerin’, I was expectin’ a most righteous hike in the woods, where I could sniff for bunnies ‘n’ hedgehogs ‘n’ bears, but no, instead of headin’ north to the mountains of the Cuyahoga, Mom turned Mr. Rav south toward the land of industrial wastes.

“But Moooooooooom,” I whined, “I wanna go to Deep Lock or the Beaver Marsh or even Big Bend!”

“But I just came from that direction for my volunteer duty, ‘n’ I wanna see somethin’ different,” Mom said, ‘n’ stubbornly kept Mr. Rav’s nose pointed south.

“Different gets us nothin’ but trouble,” I reminded her.

“That’s why I got you, big fella. Your job is to keep me outta trouble.”

“Fat chance,” I muttered, ‘n’ curled up on the back seat to pout.

This peculiar house sits on one side of the canal in Lower Akron ....

This peculiar house sits on one side of the canal in Lower Akron ….

After a very long drive, Mom pulled into a trailhead off Wilbeth Road, ‘n’ I woulda obstinately refused to get outta Mr. Rav, ‘cuz this neighborhood looked as scary as the one around Waters Park. But I’d gone many, many hours without a good pee, so before my brain even knew what it was doin’, I barreled out ‘n’ dashed to the nearest bush for some blessed relief.

‘N’ the next bush. ‘N’ the next bush. ‘N’ the next.

In fact, we was outta sight of the parkin’ lot before I come up for air.

“OK, Mom, I’m done,” I panted. “Let’s go home.” ‘N’ I tugged very purposefully on my bling.

“Whoa, boy,” Mom said. “We’re just gettin’ started.” ‘N’ she tugged just as purposefully in the opposite direction.

Well, back in the days before Mom was seduced by cheddar cheese bread toast for breakfast, she’d’ve never got away with it. But sad to say, she’s got the girth to beat me in a tug-o-war now, ‘n’ I was forced to follow her down the towpath, farther ‘n’ farther away from Mr. Rav.

OK, there was no sleepin’ men (?) on the benches ‘n’ no impolite women sittin’ on the picnic tables ‘n’ no young men of unknown parentage playin’ tennis, but not a single person who walked or pedaled past us returned Mom’s cheery “Good evenin’,” ‘n’ the only dog we met growled at me from behind his spiked choke collar.

.... And this is the view on the other side of the canal. Yuck!

…. And this is the view on the other side of the canal. Yuck!

We saw just one duck, ‘n’ she flapped her wings at us ‘n’ told us to go home.

Even the vegetation was unfriendly, bristlin’ with burrs that wanted to snag themselves in my luxuriant black hairs.

The scenery wasn’t even beguilin’. On one side of the scummy canal was little cardboard box houses huggin’ the shore, ‘n’ on the other was the foul remains of industrial dumpin. ‘N’ this is a scenic byway??????

Mom did get a photo of one MOST peculiar house, ‘n’ that’s what she’s sendin’ you tonight, juxtaposed with the wasteland outside its back door. There’s no picture o’ me, ‘cuz I simply refused to pose. We was in a downtrodden neighborhood, ‘n’ I wasn’t gonna make our visit there any longer by playin’ to the camera.

“You’re a party pooper, Lou,” Mom grumped as she finally allowed us to turn back.

“It smells down here, Mom,” I grumped back. ” ‘N’ I think there’s bugs attackin’ my nether regions.”

Mom turned white as a sheet. “Oh, Lou, you don’t mean ticks!!!!!”

“Maybe,” I said, crossin’ my toes behind my back.

“OMIGOD!!!!!!!!!” Mom howled, ‘n’ despite her great age ‘n’ poor dietary choices, she burst down the trail back to Mr. Rav, ‘n’ I had to break into a most ungainly trot just to keep up with her. But I sure know how to push Mom’s buttons to get her out of a bad part a town, don’t I, Pops?

‘Course, I paid the price, ‘cuz once we got home, I had to put up with a most thorough inspection — MOST thorough — before Mom would make my dinner. (Naturally, she didn’t find no ticks, but that little fib is just between you ‘n’ me, right, Pops?)

‘N’ now we’re gettin’ ready for bed, ‘n’ since Mom don’t have any volunteerin’ duty tomorrow, I’m hopin’ we’ll go hikin’ somewhere NICE ‘n’ give up this silly idea of ‘xplorin’. ‘Cuz we got only 16 days to go before you’re home, ‘n’ it sure would be stupid to get mugged NOW when our summer of discontent is almost over.

Your most put upon,

Louie

Pops replies:

Oh, Louie: I must make note of your extraordinary vocabulary. Those two photos — when JUXTAPOSED — certainly do tell a story about Lower Akron. What an amazin’ discovery. And, hey Lou, when I’m back home (and your summer of discontent has ended), we’ll be doin’ lots more ‘splorin.’

Pops
Published in: on August 18, 2013 at 9:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aug. 17, from Louie, Day 78

Honest to gosh, Pops, I’m gonna put Mom on a leash.

She’s got this stupid urge to go explorin’ all the city parks we never visited yet, ‘n’ it’s just gonna get us kilt.

OK, goin’ to Forest Lodge over by St. Sebastian’s was OK, ‘cuz that’s a churchly RESPECTABLE neighborhood with polite dogs. (I say this even though the freshly mowed grass give me killer itchies, so you gotta know I’m bein’ truthful here.) ‘N’ Schneider Park next door is very high-end, even though it could use a few more trees for Louie’s purposes.

Louie isn't impressed with Akron's ruins.

Louie isn’t impressed with Akron’s ruins.

But this afternoon Mom dropped everythin’ she was doin’ to cart me off to some place called Waters Park, ‘n’ it was even dumber than her bright idea to go listenin’ to the band in Kenmore.

You prob’bly don’t know where Waters Park is. I didn’t neither. It sits on top o’ North Hill across the street from that St. Thomas hospital place, ‘n’ as Mom ‘xplained to me as we was drivin’ there, it was sure to have a killer view of the city skyline.

It was a killer, all right.

Well, the first hint that we oughta turn tail ‘n’ run come as we was sittin’ at the light on North Main Street, waitin’ to turn onto the little street that surrounded the park. There was three benches dottin’ the hillside, ‘n’ each one was occupied by men (?) sleepin’ with newspapers draped over their heads.

“Uh, Mom,” I said, “them guys don’t look too picturesque, if you get my drift.”

“Well, we just won’t disturb ’em,” Mom said brightly, ‘n’ briskly made the turn behind another car packed with squirmin’ humans.

“Uh, Mom,” I said, “have you looked at this neighborhood? It isn’t — um — much like ours.”

“New vistas, Lou,” Mom said cheerily. “Say, do you think that car ahead of us is goin’ to the park, too?”

“Oh, gosh, Mom, I’ll bet on it,” I said gloomily.

‘N’ sure enough, the car pulled into the parkin’ lot just ahead of us.

This is the monument to the Waters family, who donated the park that's become a social center for the homeless.

This is the monument to the Waters family, who donated the park that’s become a social center for the homeless.

Well, that car slipped into one space, ‘n’ Mr. Rav slipped into another far enough away so as not to be intrudin’, ‘n’ as Mom hid her valuables, I watched a gazillion young men of a recent immigrant persuasion pile outta their car, jabberin’ in a language I haven’t had an opportunity to learn yet ‘n’ swingin’ tennis rackets. (I KNOW they was tennis rackets ‘cuz I watch ESPN when I got insomnia.)

“Oh, isn’t that nice?” Mom said. “They’re gonna play tennis.”

“They could bash our HEADS in with those rackets,” I said.

“Oh, pshaw, Lou,” Mom said. “They’re here to get some exercise ‘n’ so are we. So outta the car, boy.”

I reluctantly crawled outta Mr. Rav. If it’ve been up to me, we woulda been speedin’ over the Y-Bridge for home about then, but Mom was intent on checkin’ out this new park ‘n’ I had no choice but to follow her. But the whole time we was there, I kept one eye locked on them boys playin’ tennis (yes, this innercity park had two tennis courts, ‘n’ they wasn’t TOO shabby), just in case they decided to ram a tennis ball down Mom’s throat ‘n’ demand her red juice money.

Mom tut-tutted over the sad state of the litter adornin’ the park, but thankfully she’d forgot to bring a garbage bag. It woulda taken the extra JUMBO size to bag all the trash skitterin’ across the parkin’ lot.

So first we approached a curious pile o’ stones that Mom said was once a cozy little amphitheater.

“Oh, stand here, Lou, ‘n’ we can get a picture of you lookin’ down at the stage.”

“Stage?” I guffawed. “It just looks like a buncha rocks to me, Mom.”

“Why, Lou, if we was in Ireland, your dad would call these ruins.”

“They’re ruins, all right,” I muttered.

So after that photo op, Mom drug me across the grass to a monument dedicated to the fine Waterses who donated the park to the city. “Oh, my, Lou,” Mom said, “I bet they’d be terrible dismayed to see how neglected their park is today.”

“Not entirely neglected,” I said, eyin’ the strange woman sittin’ on the picnic table off to our right.

Louie doesn't wanna get too close to Akron's skyline.

Louie doesn’t wanna get too close to Akron’s skyline.

Mom followed my glance ‘n’ said most politely, “Why, hello.”

The woman mumbled back somethin’ that I don’t think was polite at all.

Mom blanched ‘n’ said, “Let’s move along, Lou.”

We give the lady a wide berth, ‘n’ backed ourselves into a fenced corner of the park overlookin’ the Little Cuyahoga Valley ‘n’ the skyscrapers of Akron beyond.

“Oh, Lou,” Mom sighed, “isn’t that a stupendous view?”

“Don’t know, Mom,” I groused. “All I see is two ratty sweaters dryin’ on the fence.”

“Oh, oops,” Mom said. “Looks like we stumbled into someone’s open-air Laundromat.”

So we quickly backed away from the fence ‘n’ scurried down a steep staircase to Main Street.

Well, she didn’t say so, but I could see Mom was quite relieved to be back in traffic. But I wasn’t at all happy, ‘cuz now we had to pass them three men (?) sleepin’ on their benches.

“Can’t you walk any quieter?” I hissed to Mom outta the corner of my mouth.

“I’m bein’ as quiet as I can,” Mom hissed back. “I just got creaky knees.”

“Well, uncreak ’em before they wake them boys up!”

So we tiptoed as silently as possible with Mom’s 62-year-old bones, ‘n’ managed to turn the corner back to the parkin’ lot without rilin’ up any of the men (?) fermentin’ on their benches.

I drug Mom up the staircase to the parkin’ lot lickety-split ‘n’ raced her past the immigrant boys, who was still playin’ tennis. We’d been in the park all of 15 minutes, but it felt like 15 years to me, ‘n’ I never stopped once to poop. I was that unnerved.

Mom dutifully pulled my Tupperware of water outta Mr. Rav so I could refresh myself, but I said to heck with that ‘n’ leapt over the bowl into the back seat.

“I hear ya, Lou,” Mom finally conceded, ‘n’ she hustled around to the driver’s door, checked that her valuables was still hidden, ‘n’ with me stridently urgin’ her to “Go go GO!!!!!” jammed Mr. Rav into gear ‘n’ we burned rubber outta there.

Pops, I’m all for new places ‘n’ new things, but this excursion was DEFINITELY one of Mom’s dumber ideas. So you gotta have a serious talk with her, or else Monday she says we’re goin’ to some place called Grace Park.

Your thoroughly rattled,

Louie

Pops replies:

Oh, Louie: I am sooooo glad you were there to protect Mom. Sometimes her sense of adventure and her desire to find these hidden gems … well … her sense of safety gets lost. But, hey, with a big, black dog along, who’s gonna mess with you? You are worth your weight in chicken sprinkles, hamburger bits and pizza crust, Lou.

Pops
p.s. What an interesting place. The three of us will have to go there after the trees lose their leaves. Soon.
Published in: on August 17, 2013 at 10:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aug. 16, from Louie, Day 77

Dear Pops,

This letter is gonna be short.

Maraudin' deer feast on Mom's flowers. That's okay. They was prob'bly hungry.

Maraudin’ deer feast on Mom’s flowers. That’s okay. They was prob’bly hungry.

‘Cuz nothin’ good happened all day.

‘Cuz Mom ABANDONED me to go out ‘n’ party with her friends Bob ‘n’ Colleen, ‘n’ SHE DIDN’T TAKE ME!!!!!

It was very mean ‘n’ inconsiderate of her, ‘specially since I thought we was best buds after last night’s wunnerful football party. I mean, I thought we really connected soulwise while we was sprawled together on the couch, stuffin’ our faces with Milkbone munchies ‘n’ cheerin’ like maniacs as grown men fought over a piece of pigskin. I thought we BONDED.

But the very next day, what does Mom do? She feeds me the stale crumbs from last night’s snack bowls, pats me on the head ‘n’ GOES OUT ON THE TOWN WITHOUT ME!!!!!

What kinda buddy does THAT?????

OK, I KNOW she’s starved for human conversation. I KNOW there’s more to talk about in this world than where ‘n’ how many times I’ve pooped (although I surely can’t think of any topic more IMPORTANT than poop). ‘N’ I KNOW she needs to be reminded once in a while that she’s more’n Louie’s mom ‘n Dad’s absentee friend.

Mom abandons Louie to go out with Bob 'n' Colleen.

Mom abandons Louie to go out with Bob ‘n’ Colleen.

But geez, I’ve spent my WHOLE summer focused on her welfare. I haven’t done NOTHIN’ without considerin’ first whether it was really in Mom’s best interests. (Should I chase that bunny, or should I give Mom’s arm sockets a break? Should I bark my fool head off at the deer munchin’ on Mom’s flowers, or should I just let Mom snore blissfully in peace? Should I whine about my own football hangover, or should I cuddle up to Mom ‘n’ try to make HER feel better?) ‘N’ most of the time, I choose to do what’s best for Mom.

Well, OK, maybe chasin’ after the West Side Leader delivery guy in the dark wasn’t the best thing for Mom’s achin’ muscles, but geez, he looks like David Crosby on a bad day, so o’ COURSE I had to chase him, ‘n’ if she wouldn’t’ve been so fuzzy from her dinner, she woulda KNOWN that ‘n’ she wouldn’t’ve snarled at me for doin’ only what comes natural.

I’m tryin’ to do my best here, Pops, but Mom keeps blowin’ hot ‘n’ cold, ‘n’ I just can’t keep up with her good side. So to heck with her feelin’s. I was the one who was left alone all evenin’, I was the one who was shorted on his hikes, I was on the one who had to stand guard at the front window for hours waitin’ for her return ‘n’ I —

“Oh, Louie, I just made your dinner, ‘n’ it’s chock full of chicken ‘n’ creamy tomato sauce, straight from that high-class restaurant Bricco’s!”

Ooops, gotta go, Pops. Don’t want dinner to get cold.

Geez, wasn’t it swell o’ Mom to order chicken just for me????

Your best bud,

Louie

Pops replies:

Oh, Louie: No matter what happens, no matter how unjust the day may be, Mom always comes through with a great dinner, a wonderful belly rub and a soothing nighttime story. She’s the best, right Lou?

Pops
p.s. Hmm, it looks like a good time was had by all at dinner.
Published in: on August 16, 2013 at 10:15 pm  Leave a Comment