Barking in the Rain

It was nearly five pm before I sat down to lunch this afternoon, and though the sky had been hazy all day, the clouds were thickening. Thunder rumbled and lightning flashed outside my window as I sipped coffee and nibbled on tabouleh with tomatoes and cucumbers, but no rain fell.

Unable to focus on work because the dogs were circling my feet demanding attention and treats, I gave up, and escorted them to the kitchen. I let them out into the back yard, finished my coffee, and then prepared their dinner. Calling them in at this time of day is always easy. “Dinner!” I yell, and two small furry animals come running giddly toward me.

While they ate, I slipped outside to check the mail. No bills. A dvd from Blockbuster. It’s all good. But they were waiting for me when I came back in, and demanding a walk. It still wasn’t raining, so I said, “Okay – walkies!”

Rain began to fall as soon as we reached the corner, but we kept going. Why? Because it was one of those summer rainfalls that can be so refreshing. The air was cool and alive, they were anxious to move. We took the long loop, up around the park, over two blocks, down the long block home. We arrived home damp and happy, all of us.

But in the middle of the walk, there was a brief downpour. I stopped under one of our neighborhood trees, and barely got wet, but the dogs took it as a personal attack, and for three minutes I smiled goofily while they stood barking in the rain.

Thursday 13: 0707.26

Thirteen Things about MissMeliss
13 Things that begin with M

  1. Magic: Whether it’s fantastic magic as found in great (and not so great) literature, aspects of faith, or a perception of technology, magic is all around us. It’s in knowing who’s on the phone before you pick it up (and without a special ring-tone) and it’s in the beauty of the ocean. It’s in every technological marvel we use that our grandparents merely dreamed of, and it’s in the spark of inspiration that led to the development of each marvel. Of course, no entry on magic would be complete without quoting Arthur C. Clarke:

    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

  2. Marmalade: Bitter, dark, and slightly erotic, or sweet, light, and full of sunshine, marmalade is my favorite fruit spread. My grandfather got me hooked on it when I was young, but I maintained the affair. It’s great on a croissant and lovely on a toasted English muffin, and goes perfectly with strong black teas (splashed with milk). Marmalade is also very musical, and falls off the tongue rather prettily. Many people may be thinking of the song “Lady Marmalade” about now, but the lyrics that entranced me as a child are courtesy of the Beatles:

    Picture yourself in a boat on a river,
    With tangerine trees and marmalade skies
    Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly,
    A girl with kaleidoscope eyes.
    –From “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”

  3. Melissa: The truth is, for most of my life I hated my name, thinking it to be frumpy and boring. Also, people kept wanting to shorten it to “Missy.” I am not the “Missy” type. When I read Stoker’s Dracula I noticed that one of the brides was named Melysse, and I’ve adopted that spelling for online use, and because I like the physical shape of the word. I’ll refrain from defining my name – y’all can look it up if you want – but I will repeat that my mother found it among the ingredients on a shampoo bottle, and I’ll suggest that the next time you unwrap a lemon-mint Ricola, you note the ingredients and think of me. For that matter, if you happen to hear the Allman Brothers’ tune “Sweet Melissa” you can think of me then, too.
  4. Memories: I can’t always remember where I left my cell phone, and I’ve lost books inside my house more than once, but I have vivid memories of many conversations, of places I’ve been only once, and I’ve people I haven’t seen in decades. I remember scenes from novels I haven’t read since childhood, and the scent of the grass in my grandparents’ back yard after a summer rain (lemongrass and onions). Memories are virtual time travel.
  5. Midnight: My favorite time of night has always been around midnight. As a teenager, I would wait til my parents were asleep, pad downstairs barefoot, and sit at the kitchen table with a pot of tea, navel oranges, and a thick book, reading through the middle of the night. Even now, I take the dogs out for their “last call” at midnight, and I stand and let the night soak into my skin.
  6. Milne, A. A.: Best known for creating Winnie-the-Pooh (who rocked before he was Disneyfied), Milne also wrote other short stories. One of my favorites involves a girl making mental bargains with raindrops: if one got to the bottom of the window pane before the other her parents would come home, or the rain would stop. It features my favorite single line ever: “But it went on raining.” In that line, you can hear her quiet sigh. Also, that line totally validates my love of using a sentence fragment as a sort of punctuation. I also really like Milne’s verse. I pointed out The King’s Breakfast to a friend earlier this evening, but one of my favorites is “The End,” and it was included in the book, Now We Are Six, which I received for my sixth birthday:

    When I was One,
    I had just begun.

    When I was Two,
    I was nearly new.

    When I was Three,
    I was hardly me.

    When I was Four,
    I was not much more.

    When I was Five,
    I was just alive.

    But now I am six,
    I’m as clever as clever

    So I think I’ll be six now
    Forever and ever.

  7. Mist: I like rain, but cool mist is my favorite form of precipitation, when it actually IS precipitation. I like it equally when it’s masquerading as sea-spray or waterfall-spray. Mist is more capricious than fog, but still holds an element of strangeness. It suits me.
  8. Mnemonic Devices: I like word games, and to me, mnemonics are just fancy word games. Whether you’re trying to remember scientific classifications (Kings Play Chess On Funny Green Squares), cranial nerves (On Old Olympus’s Towering Tops, A Finn And German Viewed Some Hops). the names of the planets, in Spanish (Me Voy Tia, Mama Joven Siempre, Usted Nunca Paga) or English (My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas), or the notes on a musical staff (Every Good Boy Does Fine / Good Boys Do Fine Always / FACE / All Cars Eat Gas), there’s a mnemonic device for it.
  9. Mugs: The perfect mug has a handle large enough to slip three fingers through, and curves outward at it’s middle, so that when you curl your hand around it, your palm is warmed. I am a mug person, not a cup person. I drink coffee, cocoa, and tea from ceramic mugs. This means that I don’t nuke water (water “boiled” in the microwave is just gross – it tastes flat), and I have over crowded cabinets. My favorite mugs ever are Maiolica ceramics from Italy, and look like this. I was once gifted with four of them, but they all broke in various moves.
  10. Muse: I may joke that my muse is fickle, but the reality is that sometimes I ignore her. But the word “muse” isn’t on my list to honor an aspect of my imagination (because really, that’s what she is) it’s here because I like the word as a noun and a verb. I muse, I share my musings. It’s a useful word. It’s more coherent than ramble but less specific than an essay or a formal opinion. Musings are loosely connected random associations. At least for me. I was going to quote Shakespeare here, but a more appropriate selection is from Sir Philip Sidney.

    Thus, with child to speak, and helpless in my throes, biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite: Fool! said my muse to me, look in thy heart, and write.

  11. Music: I don’t just like music, I live music, I think in music. I dance around the living room and sing to an audience of two dogs every lunch hour, then bring my lunch up to the computer, because if I don’t let the music out, I can’t focus. I don’t have a particular favorite style, either. I mean, I favor melodies, but sometimes rap or funk or hip-hop are really enticing. I like the freedom of jazz and the precision of classical music. I like opera, in small doses, and am learning to appreciate country in moderation. I’m a geek about show tunes. I love folk. I wish I could play guitar.
  12. Mystery: Both the genre and the word that describes it appeal to me. In fiction, I tend to prefer cozy mysteries over true crime, but sometimes the gravel voiced hard-boiled detective is the only one that will do. When I’m feeling analytical, I reach for Sherlock Holmes (I’ve read all the short stories he is featured in) and my favorite detective ever is Margaret Maron’s Sigrid Harald. But I also like mystery when it refers to mood. “She has an air of mystery about her,” is a phrase I’d love to have as a descriptor, and I like the notion of being a spy or a journalist living under cover, though the reality would probably drive me crazy. I like the notion of unanswered questions, and the smidgen of spookiness that “mystery” entails.
  13. Mythology: All those Greeks and Romans were like friends to me even before Hercules and Xena made it to television, and a part of me still loves the old stories. If I could go back to school and design my own course of study, it would combine mythology, folklore, literature and music, and all courses would take place in cafe-like settings. I’ve read, and heard people say, that comic book heroes are our modern mythological figures. I’m not sure I agree, but I like the notion.