She gets a bad case of the “Zoomies” at least once a day.

Twice, if she’s had a bath.

Maybe like me, you share your home with a dog. If so, you know what I mean. Ours can be sitting next to me completely calm one minute and the next, spring off the sofa like she’s just had an electric shock course through her body. When the Zoomies hit, she’s off like a shot. Running as fast as her legs will take her up the flight of stairs, through the dining room and kitchen, down the hall, and back down the stairs to where I’m sitting. Usually, she’ll “ROO!” at me and then repeat this a couple more times before she finally comes back downstairs to resume her spot next to me.

Zoomies, it seems, can strike a dog at any moment and for no apparent reason other than the fact that it’s fun for a dog to act like a nitwit at least once a day. Maybe it’s because dogs don’t have to work for a living or shop for groceries or clean bathrooms or do any of the things humans do. They have more time for Zoomies.

When she isn’t zooming, Lilly does a lot of watching.  For example, I raked the yard yesterday and Lilly watched. She also watches me bring the groceries in from the car. When I’m cooking, she’s right there under foot, watching for something to drop from the counter. Every morning, when I’m in my office working, she is a few feet away, watching and waiting for me to finish so we can take a walk. Watching is not nearly as much fun as zooming.

Her friend, sweet, speckled, Sadie comes to visit occasionally.  She is a lot older than Lil and therefore, less prone to the Zoomies. She mostly sleeps the day away, only coming to bug me when it’s time to go out or get fed. Sadie gives me hope that some day the Zoomies will leave Lilly, too, and we will once again have peace in the kingdom.

But then, I remember that wishing the foolishness that comes with youth away is a bad idea. I know this from experience.  I did it too often with the other small two and four-legged creatures I’ve loved who’ve grown up and grown older and left in one way or another. Time, after all, is fleeting in the lives of dogs and children. It’s good to remember this when the Zoomie spirit moves this small pup of ours, who is joyful and funny and full of herself in the way that young dogs are. In Lilly’s world, there is only now. Right now.

There is joy in the now. Now  is worth celebrating, not wishing away. Lilly knows this.  She reminds me of that daily.

So zoom, zoom, Lilly. You go, Girl.

I’ll just sit here and watch.


Three mouse nights

We buttoned up the cabin this past weekend.

The pipes are drained and the towels and bed linens are put in heavy duty plastic bags and bins. All the food has been removed from every shelf and the fridge is empty. I took all the paper toweling and TP back home, too, in the hope that come spring, I won’t walk into a paper product Mouseocalypse.

We trapped three of the nasty little suckers over the weekend. They were scouts sent by the Head Mouse to see what the winter food situation was looking like in our place by the river. They must have been some of the more experienced scouts in the tribe because they managed to lick all the peanut butter off the traps twice before we finally outsmarted them.

Death by mousetrap isn’t pretty, but it is effective. When you have a cabin, there are always winners and losers. This weekend, the humans prevailed. Next April? We’ll see how well I mouse-proofed the cabin.

Saturday, we gathered with family for a bonfire at Big Sand as the bright yellow Hunter’s Moon rose high over the lake. It was the perfect evening for a fire. We joked and drank and inhaled the sweetness that is October in northern Minnesota. And as the sparks rose and the flames illuminated the faces of people I love, my heart was full even though I was missing my grandmother, who loved a good rip-roaring fire more than anyone else in the family. She would have loved seeing those faces around that fire, too.

We are a typically messy, extended family of middle-aged siblings and cousins who inherited places on bodies of water and then, because we weren’t quite complicated enough already, added to the messiness by bringing spouses and another generation of human children into the fold.  But for all of our messiness, we know we are blessed, too.  With good health and decent jobs and grown or nearly grown kids who find us all somewhat odd but lovable, most of the time. Some day, those in my generation will all be a mile up the road from where we were on Saturday night, at a cemetery in the pines, resting eternally beneath the moss. The cabins we fuss and fret and even fight over will belong to our kids. I’m guessing they’ll fight their own battles with each other and the mice, too.

But on perfect October nights, like the one last Saturday, my hope is that they, too, will stop long enough to gather around the warmth of a fire and bask in the warmth that is family.

And know its worth.


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Maryanne Williamson

She wanted me in the room.

Not to advise, or speak for her, or do anything but just be there while she did a very hard thing. Something that far too few young women in college do when they find themselves standing at the gritty intersection between remaining silent and speaking the truth.  After nearly two decades of working with college freshmen and sophomores, there’s one gray hair for each student whose dangerous choices I’ve agonized over through the years. Some have been academic. Others have been brutally painful and personal.

And so, it is hard to shock me at this point. My students know this. The current environment in which sexual violence toward women is normalized and excused in entertainment and popular media, and the ways this permeates the culture on college campuses, is why.

Maybe that’s why she wanted me there. After all, it’s always good to have someone in the room who isn’t going to freak out when you speak your truth to paunchy, middle aged, men in suits and ties in a conference room or police station. Things you haven’t even told your roommate. She did a hard thing that day. She was brave. So brave.

Tales of courage get around on a college campus. That’s how it works. Because she was brave enough, others will be stronger and braver, too, when it is time to speak their own truths. I have seen this happen, time and again. It is how healing begins.

The toughest thing about being young is that while you are, the things that happen to you seem enormous and all-encompassing. One advantage of growing older is that you gain a whole lot of perspective about both the good and the bad things that happen to you.In time, my young friend will see this. Her hope, in the telling, is that another young woman faced with the same decision, will find her voice, too. To muster up enough courage to do the hard things. To be brave and state calmly, firmly, “this happened to me.”

My hope, in the telling, is that if you happen to be her friend, her teacher, her pastor or family member, you will come into the room if she asks you. You won’t need to say a word. She’ll do that herself.

You just need to show up.

At dawn

The chances of each of us coming into existence are infinitesimally small, and even though we shall all die some day, we should count ourselves fantastically lucky to get our decades in the sun. -Richard Dawkins


I watched the Sun rise this morning.

At first, there was a sliver of light through the trees. Then, more light. The small, sleepy, dog at my side sat staring solemnly toward the east, too, making me wonder whether it was instinct or simple curiosity that kept her attention for so long.

Suddenly, the light on the horizon changed to a deep rose. Then, a second or two later the entire eastern sky looked to be engulfed in flame. And then, finally, it was daylight.

One more day.  I got one, and so did you.

The sun rose today, just as it has every day of my nearly fifty-seven years of living. It rose over mud huts and marble mansions.  It rose over gleaming skyscrapers in large cities and dusty cabins full of sleepy grouse hunters. It rose over the children of Aleppo and frantic mothers on the south side of Chicago weeping over sons who did not make it home this morning.

One more day. Aren’t we lucky? Do you feel it?

It rose over a critically ill young father of two waiting for a new set of lungs and an organ donor climbing into a car who took the long view concerning both life and death. It rose over a grieving mother who, in less than a year, was tasked with planning both a wedding and memorial service for the same daughter before breast cancer took her child from her.  It rose over spouses waiting for their partners to finish chemo, praying they’ll grow old watching their grandchildren grow up.

In the space between the sun’s rising and setting today, babies all over the world will take their first, gulping, grateful, breaths. The ill or elderly will shudder and sigh as they breathe their last. Seasons will change, as seasons do, and the planet will continue to spin on its axis paying no mind to the pundits, politicians,or pollsters.  It will simply keep doing what it does. It’ll turn.

So much depends on whether or not we are paying any attention at all, doesn’t it?

Especially at dawn.