03 May

Pattian Rogers: Poetry as the Real Astrology

Or maybe just specific poets. Right now, that person is Pattian Rogers.

Astrology is the Sunday night detritus off our kitchen floor that didn’t whet the dog’s indiscriminate appetite: sticky bits of eggshells, old cracked buttons, paperback dandruff, gray-blonde tumbleweeds of dust and hair, and dead flashlight batteries.  (Previously I thundered that it was just a crock of shit but in retrospect decided that it doesn’t smell or resemble excrement so much as stuff that rolls around or swirls up into interpretive shapes when the wind blows). That’s a metaphor that doesn’t holler down the quibblers so much as lock them in a little elbow room where they’re limited to making interpretive shapes and hoots but no real arguments.  (I think this is also how politicians limit the public voice most of the time. Hmmm. Notes that for future ref.)

This doesn’t mean that we can’t randomly stumble across a piece of writing that resonates so strongly we’re sure it’s either predictive (because, for goddsake, freedom of will is a lot of work) or predetermined (see previous parenthetical). Maybe that writing is your vaguely worded horoscope from today’s paper or one you paid for with high hopes and hard cash.

Or, maybe, you open a volume of poetry by someone like Pattian Rogers, who writes poems about the world in the way only the scientific mind steeped in the fantastic can (which makes them almost overwhelmingly rich). And if the heart in your head is sympathetic to that way of seeing, you sometimes feel like the book was reading and directing not your mind but that heart in your head.

I keep a fat collection of Roger’s work, Song of the World Becoming, at the office. Several times a week I cast it open to a random page and usually get a bite. Today, it was the Success of the Hunt, led with a quote about a white hart from My Antonia. It’s a poem about hunting, about observation, about how the hart and his forest and spore and you in your tracking garb in the cool weather look and smell and what you see, and through those words, how you feel–especially if you’re resonating with enough memory to identify with the poem. It told me what I was hankering for but couldn’t describe after only a couple of stanzas. It wasn’t an idea, thank god. It simply reminded me of how to think and feel in detail about the world I’m describing in story without using prose I felt I should emulate.

03 May

Exit Basil, Enter Sasha

Sasha the Great

Sasha Leonardo the Great, 11 weeks old, 2012-04-12

Basil, it turned out, occasionally bit small children. For a full-sized dog in a house with a small child and her friends, that behavior sent him back to his gracious former owners. Three days later they sent us email saying they’d missed him and decided to keep him.

We learned that we were ready for a dog, however. Or, ready as we would ever be. So we started over, got lucky off Craigslist with an 11 week old male yellow lab we named Sasha Leonardo the Great. Sasha because we all liked Sasha, although Noah really wanted Leonardo, so we compromised with a grand name.

We’ve done a fair job with training and accomodating him in our house and yard–we have a portable playpen (a set of six connecting panels); two crates, one for now, one for later; clicker and plenty of treats; a gentle lead; a new toilet run I built in the side yard away from the house but with open access from the back yard; and a start at hemming in our garden beds with raised wood borders. He’s a good soul, quick on the uptake, but also teething and that means biting. Which means more patience than I bargained for, and willingness to put up with nips and train ourselves,* too, for a few months as we see him make progress.

He survived his first checkup today and his second set of shots. The vet thought he was making good progress with training and gave his health a big thumbs up. We’ve enrolled him in a 6 week puppy training course starting in near the end of May–if nothing else, that will at least give us more formal time for applying training, even if we and he learn nothing new.

* Training ourselves means going against instinct to roughhouse with his head and adopt any behavior that encourages jumping up (and biting).