I’ve always been fascinated with words. When I was a kid, I would keep an alphabetised list of words. I’d have the part of speech, the definition, the sentence that cauused me to look it up, and the book name, author and page. Every so often, I would re-write the list by hand to keep the words in order. Moving from colored pens to a typewriter helped a lot. By the time computers came onto the scene, I almost felt like I was cheating the process. Cutting and pasting didn’t allow me to write a word over and over.

I just started a new book, Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis. From the brief scan of testimonies, this book had the distinct possibility of being chewy, and that my brain may be asked to do some stretching. “An elegant cross-breed of magical realism, moral fable, owner’s manual, and philosophical treatise…”

Treatise is a familiar word. I recognize it. I think politics. “Extensive written discourse on a subject.” With my abbreviated attention span, I don’t come across extensive writings. Now, if I am in an especially curious mood, I’ll. Sometimes use a two for one one. I could take a word out of a definition of a word that needs more attention. Discourse. I’m thinking that it’s got something to do with commmunication. Written. Verbal. Discourse also has reference to being lengthy, so I’m thinking that a treatise is even longer.

Moving onto the book. Apollo and Hermes are in Toronto.If I could change the setting, I’d have them at a Toronto Blue Jays game instead of the Wheat Sheaf Tavern, though everyone at the tavern worship the gods; it’s possible Blue Jay baseball fans would worship their first-place team and ignore the gods. That wouldn’t be good at all. Instead of fifteen dogs given human intelligence, they’d probably increase that number substantially. Imagine waking up one morning to find Skippy reading the newspaper, and Skippy has his own ideas as to how things should run in the household, community, and even the world. Doggy coupe.

Sometimes words surprise me.I enjoy authors who enjoy their wide vocabulary. Apollo’s beard is down to his clavicle. Was this Alexis’s first choice or did he have the wild and out of control beard reach his chest. Meanwhile, I’m wondering if the beard is white since I do imagine gods being old.

On the opposite side, Hermes is described as fastidious.I’ve always liked the word fastidious. I wish I were more fastidious, but I am just not that particular, especially in the way I dress. Hermes is described as fastidious because he’s clean-shaven, “but his clothes were distinctly terrestrial: black jeans, a black leather jacket, a blue shirt.” The but in the middle of the sentence causes me to think Hermes lost some points in presentation. I tend to see browns and tans as terrestrial colors; in the fall, perhaps oranges and reds.But a blue shirt? What color blue. The word could have been thrown out there to see if it were even read. Sometiimes when I read, I don’t even read all of the words; I just read enough to get the gist of the story, but sometimes, like tonight, I like to savor words, knowing chances are,  the words have been carefully picked out with precision and purpose.

Some words throw me for a loop. “While at the tavern, the gods began a desultory conversation about the nature of humanity.” Desultory. I first think of the word insult. Does the sult in the middle give these words relation. As I’m always telling students who think I am a walking dictionary, I tell them to see what they can tell about a word by context.The gods are drunk on liquor and the worshipping of the mortals at the bar, drunk mortals, not very good examples of humanity.  I would never have gotten that desultory means random, unmmethodical; disconnnected. Then again, the gods were extremely intoxicated by this point in the story.

Fifteen Dogs is going to be a funny book. When Apollo and Hermes ask who is going to pay for their drinks, a poor student offers to pay for the five Sleemans. I’m going to guess that Sleeman is a made up drink. I was wrong. Mr. Sleeman created the ale in. 1834 in Canada. Am I now to find that the tavern is a real place as well? A well-known Toronto tradition since 1849.  Did Alexis spend some time in Toronto?

As a result of paying for the Sleemans, the poor student was never empty pockets as long as he wore those same pants. Chances are lived in them until the corduroy “rotted to irrecoverable shreds.”

As the gods left the tavern, they discussed human happiness or in many cases unhappiness because of intelligence. If dogs were given human intelligence, how would their lives change?  I’d want to know if the dogs kept their memories of their previous experience and be able to compare their feelings, though in the beginning of the wager, any animal was possible. Hermes took Apollo’s bet with the stipulation that if one animal is happy at the end of their life with intelligence, he would win.

Apollo is not a fan of human intelligennce. “Human intelligence is not a gift. It’s an occasionally useful plague.” A useful plague? Is this referring to humans doing things that reduce population? I think of war technology and how humans have brilliant ways of killing each other. If dogs are able to keep their traditions of sniffing butts and private parts and had intelligence to boot, perhaps they would create harmony and world peace.

The gods were near Shaw Veterinary Clinic. “Entering the place unseen and imperceptible, they found dogs, mostly: pets left overnight by their owners…” Imperceptible is one of those words that is in my vocabulary, but it’s not one that comes to mind when I am writing, and I know that if I tried to use it conversationally, I’d trip over it. Of course as I do this exercise of extracting words from readings, I’ll be able to bring in new words to my repertoire.

Lessons that keep on kicking

I  don’t mind making mistakes even when the lesson is painful, but when the lesson  seems to have no end in sight.

I’m going to blame complacency for not meeting a deadline. I had afterall been working with this school district for almost ten years. I put it off, classifying the task of mailing back my signature as NBD. Oh what a BD that signature turned out to be.

I tried to sneak in my yes I would love to substitute again next year, but it didn’t make it past go. Instead I got to go to Jail. In order for me to get my job back. I would have to reapply.

It didn’t occur to me that I would lose my insurance that I was paying for, but obviously I wasn’t thinking things out. I tend to play the Checkers-style of life rather than Chess.

Today I got out of Jail with an email congratulating me upon on my hiring. Not a rehire. Just a hire. New hire.

I can handle the two-day notice of a new hire meeting. In  the email, I was warned to bring all of the paperwork  filled out prior to the meeting. See links. I clicked and hit print link affter link. Eighteen pages later. Why not make employees print out forms. That’s  one way to save money.

One  page will tell the school district how I would like to pay for having my finger prints processed. To think that just last June, a mere two months ago, I had security clearance, but now that those ten years of employment have vanished, I start from scratch.

Some lessons are more painful than others.

Jumping Hoops

What really bugs me is when I’m merrily jumping hoops, especially Governmental ones, and the hoops are looking familiar. I’ll jump or crawl over hurdles and whatever obstacle course necessary, but chasing my tail is not an activity I’ll partake in .

I need a doctor. I finally decided to find out the identity of Johal Sukhdeep, my appointed PCP. A quick search on the internet told me that Dr. Sukhdeep was in Portland. I’m not willing to drrive 110 miles to see a doctor, so I got on the phone with Trillium. At least they have a Eugene office and I haven’t had to wait long to talk to a representative either time.

Beth reassured me that Dr. Sukhdeep was in Eugene and gave me the number for Integrated Health on River Road. It’s not a good sign when I’m given a toll-free number to call someone in Eugene. Everything is channeled through Portland. Lots of menus and time spent waiting. The website told me all that I needed: Currently they don’t have a medical doctor, but I held on to get the answer from the horse’s mouth. 

Good news/bad news. No, Dr. Sukhdeep no longer was there, but Dr. Stricker was available. I wouldn’t mind a natural path physician, but Beth from Trillium had told me that it was very hard to change doctors. For the first time in my life I was told that I had no choice in the matter.

Before making an appointment, an appointment that I wouldn’t be able to get until the end of September, I had to confirm this possibility from Trillium. Again, not much of a wait. I had hoped Beth would help me again, but Shelby was just as nice, though a little on the perplexing side. I told her that Beth reassured me that Dr. Sukhdeep was my primary  care physician, but she has moved on. Is it possible for me to switch to Dr. Stricker? Shelby said yes, but then said that she needed to verify. So much for the not having to hold on. At least the music was entertaining. No. She can be used as a specialist. Okay, so do you have a list of doctors that are taking new patients? Yes, but there’s no one on the list. Huh?

When I first called Trillium, the recording said something about being surprised at how much Trillium covers. And their web site promises:

“About Us

Trillium Community Health Plan® is a leader in providing the most responsive customer service, outstanding coordination of care, and innovative healthcare through an extensive group of providers.”

I mentioned that I had once seen a doctor through Oregon Medical Group, and Shelby told me to call them and see if they’ll work with me; that would be the easiest since I had recently been with them. OMG, aka Oh My God, is a rather prolific organization with several clinics around Eugene and the surrounding areas. 

My yellow-line pad had collected quite a few names, numbers, and doodles that by the timem I got to Jason at OMG, I was on the other side. Oregon Medical Group has dropped all ties with Trillium. But Brookside Clinic will take Trillium insurance.

More good news bad news. There are doctors at Brookside that are taking new patients, but appointments can’t be made over the phone or on line. I have to go to the clinic. I might a s well jump on the horse and giddyup down there and see what I have to do.

Not only do I need a new doctor, but I just might need a new health insurance plan.

Stubby Squid

As the Tigers  score more runs than the Red Sox, the more interesting the Stubby Squid has become. Rossiia pacifica. Smithsonian, one of my countless email subscrriptions, planted the seed, or perhaps in this case an egg. Takes four to nine months for one of these hard-cased eggs to hatch.

Meanwhile, until the hatchlings emerge, in four to nine months, the numbers in the collective Shoal have  dropped drastically with all off the mating pairs die, leaving just the yearlings. Not having the ability to dwell upon a two-year-life cycle is a good thing, though it’s impossible to rule out what goes on in the mind of daddy squid or Jyroplatus.

For some reason Wikipedia doesn’t define squids by gender. According to a page called Cuteness, sexing a squid, finding the hectocotylus, the appendage only a jyroplatus would have. According to Danna Staaf, a graduate student specializing in squids, says to look at the mantle or tube.  I still don’t know what to call a female squid. i may have to subscribe to Staaf’s Squid of the Day  blog.

“Google, What Time Is It?”

I’m surprised that Google has not told me to shut up or worse. I won’t be surprised if the voice comes back with, “It’s two minutes after the last time you asked. Do you think you can do the math?” At least I alternate that question with, “Google, What is the current temperature. Slowly the number is going up. Today, another record-breaking day, could beat yesterday’s 104 degrees.


Abby the Labby Number Nine not only leaves the room, but she leaves the house when I speak aloud to Google or to myself, though I tend to talk to Google more often.

Talking to myself while no other humans are in the house is a new phenomenon for me. It is easier for me to ask Google questions. The only questions I can ask the dogs refer to where such an such a toy is located. Wubba Bear is one of the most remembered toy. Abby, true to her Labrador genes, can not walk through a room or down stairs without something in her mouth. Sometimes it’s a toy; sometimes it is Ricky’s collar as she flings him about. His added weight does prevent her from launching him.

I don’t need Google to tell me that it’s almost time to hunker down, perhaps get the kiddie pool on the deck ready. Abby likes drinking out of the pools. Ricky sat down in one last week; when he got out, he couldn’t figure out how his tail got wet and hasn’t gone in one since. Today might be the day they change their minds and join Lucy and I.

But for now, I’m thinking about food. A liquid meal, like a protein heavy smoothy might the ticket. Save the BLT’s for another week.

Lessons Learned


Learning from Margaret D. Sandoz would be a better headline.

Last weekend Sylvia and I headed to La Grande, Oregon for a long weekend for a family reunion  and a memorial service for the Matriarch. We arrived in Eastern Oregon to sweltering heat. Over a hundred in Rufus, but by the time the weekend was over, the winds had picked up. Leave it to Sandoz ingenuity to duck tape every thing down during the memorial gathering at the park. Yes, I do realize that the real spelling is duct tape, but if I can add a duck in while talking about those Beaver-loving Sandoz, I have to run with it.

Sylvia’s paternal side of the family have probably been Oregon State alumni and bandwagoners from the beginnning of time. I have to pick my battles carefully with this massive size family. They are long past family tree and into the grove. From the look of the new generation, this family name will live on till Eternity.

If I start to label the Oregon slice of the Sandoz family with the icon of a grove, what about the massive  gathering I experienced two years ago in Switzerland  with the entire world Sandoz reunion.  Their name has definitely left an indelible mark on history.

The purpose of the La Grande gathering was to celebrate the long life of Margaret D. Sandoz and support her family. The loss of a mother, whether it was at the age of fifty like my mom, or almost a hundred and one, is still a punch in the gut. It was important to be there and pay my respect. Little did I know that there was another reason.

In the  twenty-eight years of my connection with the Oregon Sandoz clan, I probably can count on one hand the number of meetings, and my interactions with Aunt Margaret were few. Most of what I know about her came from the recent gathering.

Margaret was the stereotypical fire-cracker, a live-wire; a woman who fight the answer no until it becomes a yes; when a maybe only instigates a stiffer fight.  I’d like to think that this is the woman I’m gradually slipping into, though it’s  kind of like merging onto the Expressway of Life during rush hour. There’s no going back and there’s no room for apprehension. What a corny metaphor, but when I get old and am wearing only purple or perhaps nothing, I can get away with clichés. I’m just practicing.

When I think of Aunt Margaret being born in 1915, I think of the legacy of firecrackers who refused to take no for the final answer. Oregon’s own Abigail Scott Duniway was exiting this world the same year that Margaret was entering. AbigailScottDuniway Perhaps not a coincidence. Duniway was responsible for getting women of Oregon the right to vote, the seventh state, and eight years before it became nationwide.

As I write this, I feel like I am channeling Margaret’s passion for learning and her curiosity. While writing this, I’ve got another computer as well as my Smart phone helping me to google Oregon suffragists and other famous women. Thank you Aunt Margaret; I love going down as many rabbit holes as possible and taking my readers along with me, though I’m bound to lose those who prefer not to rabbit hole dive, especially when I tend to go in a wide range.

Back to topic at hand. Firecrackers. Forward thinkers. Those who didn’t just complain about injustice, but did something about it. Passionate  and confident women fighting the fight.

I didn’t really know the almost 101 year-old Margaret D. Sandoz, but her family carries on her legacy. Through her family,  I see how  Aunt Margaret fought against ignorance and her weapon of choice was curiosity. I think it was Joe who talked about the set of encyclopedias and if anyone had a question, her answer was, “Why don’t we look it up?” Joe did talk about how his mom was tech savvy and helped as many of her peers of eighty and above continue to be curious.

Margaret broke all sorts of barriers.  1138789744She broke the age barrier when she continued playing tennis. When the word still gets thrown into the conversation and people act surprised, you know you’ve stepped over that hurdle. Yes, I still play softball. I’m not very good, but that only used to matter.

She most likely did something to slash the G-barrier. There have been a lot of barriers since 1915. But I get the notion that with Margaret’s intelligence, which is  curiosity all grown up, she knew when to learn how to get around some barriers while leaving the smashing of others to special occasions. This is one of those things I could add to my list of things I want to learn before I get old. For me, the words before and get are growing dim.

Luckily, the Sandoz Clan are a people who are as real as it gets.  Infrequency of interactions does not preclude how comfortable I feel around them, and allowing me to get to know them better than those I am around every day.

Margaret and children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren exude this same philosophy that one way to combat ignorance is to become educators. There are teaches and a preacher. There are writers and some who are writers but don’t admit to it. In this family, there are so many parents who seem to stress curiosity.


Red Sox Trade

Fernando Abad made his Red Sox debut against the Seattle Mariners and promptly gave Robinson Cano a pitch that was crushed out of Safeco field. 

Granted, the wheels on the Boston Duck bus started to wobble after David Price allowed four straight hits in the eighth without getting any outs. A four nothing lead could have withstood those base runners. Even a 4-1 lead in the second to last inning was do able. 4-2 created worry as the Mariners chipped away.

Chris Barnes came in and got an out, but he was promptly pulled in favor of a guy I had never heard of. Abad. New acquisition from the Minneapolis Twins. 

A bad pitch that cost David Price a win, but at least Abad takes the loss, doesn’t mean Abad won’t be beneficial to the team, but we never got a chance to see what Pat Light, the young prospect pitcher, could have done. Experienced pitchers are good to have on the team, but since the Red Sox have had so much success with home grown players lately, I wonder why we give up on players when hunger and desire could trump experience, especially when those experienced players come with a hefty salary.

A baseball game involves a lot of what ifs. What if Matt Barnes was left in to finish the eighth. (Earlier I referred to him as Chris. Chris Barnes bowls. Matt Barnes pitches.)

My main question is whether Red Sox management did everything in their powers to get Andrew Miller back from the Yankees instead of letting the Cleveland Indians scoop him up.

Since I killed my lap top with a splash of water, writing on my phone will keep my blogs short and sweet.