On any given day, I’ll open my e-mail to find a message from daughter, link included,  The Daily Puppy. Hard not to be charmed by pictures of puppies, with or without the subtext, this one needs a home. The photos that cut to the heart are the ones that bear a resemblance to our dog, now gone. How we came to her (or she came to us) has risen to the level of family legend. She had a good life, and it’s taken some time for the sadness of her passing to give way to the laughter at what she brought to our family. The puppy pix my daughter sends are her not-so-subtle way of suggesting maybe I need a replacement. Or maybe she needs a dog to come home to.

It’s almost the first question anyone asks when you tell them your dog is gone: Are you getting another? The question, in a way, holds its own answer. There’s no replacing a pet. Nico the Rottweiler Mix may have those irresistible eyebrows and other similar markings, that same begging-to-be-loved-and-fed (and played with) expression. But he’s Nico, not Maggie.  Another is simply another.

One friend tells me she can’t imagine living without at least one dog (she has two). Another friend, disconsolate as she was after putting her cat down, admits she doesn’t have the heart for another at this point in her life. A woman I stop to say hello to on a walk (mostly for the encounter with her dog, a strong resemblance to mine) says one word, ‘healing,’ with its power of suggestion, a puppy licking your face. Or making a plaything of a sock. Or just being there.  I nod, say nothing much, except that, for now at least, I’m appreciating something I haven’t had for a very long time, namely, that sense that I can go out without worrying about what I left behind. “Dogs are a responsibility,” says her husband. That’s for sure. And yet,  responsibility strikes me as too reductive an explanation for my not taking that leap, again. At least not right now.

The fact is, I miss my dog now more than I knew I would. It was a tough winter in the Northeast. Just the thought of having to take her out, ailing as she was, could bring me to tears. Now it’s spring, and I’m running into all her friends, a quick hello and good-bye.

Which brings me to the pair of swans usually on the lake down the road, taking up residence in the pond over the waterfall a little closer to home, a reminder that a thirty-minute walk can be so much better for the heart than pumping away on an elliptical machine at the gym.  Sometimes a break from a walk can do more for the heart than all that spinning. I inch closer to the pond. One of the swans is snapping up something from the water, or maybe the water itself. How much trust it must take to do that, I think, with me no more than five feet away.

Missent to Jamaica

This is the way the world works:  Billy Crystal, chit-chatting with Jon Stewart, announces that he’s making the plunge, his first tweet.  Jon Stewart, savvy and funny as ever, says he doesn’t tweet. He has a television show.

I put out my first tweet many months ago, read by a (very) few faithful, mostly friends of my daughter.  Every so often I get an e-mail, ‘So-and-so is now following you on Twitter!’  Today Mr. So-and-So brought me to a milestone, 100 followers. He has more than 3,000.  He has a product to sell, a method for optimizing my web presence,  increase traffic, make a little money. I sell words. I hesitate before following in kind, becoming one of thousands who get tweets about a paradigm that will rocket my business, sales pitches for software and diabetic test strips (I kid you not). Not that I don’t give him credit for trying.

Sometimes a tweet really is a poem, haiku-like in its brevity.  The first day of the cruelest month (World Poetry Day, to boot) happened to coincide with the very first tweet sent out by Jack Dorsey, the software designer responsible for Twitter. Now we have ‘twitterature‘ and ‘twaiku’, things to sing about.

In the course of just a day, too many tweets pass me by.  I’ll sign in, scroll down, follow the breadcrumbs to news I  missed, poems and articles I need to mark, reviews of books just out, links to @mentions. I’ve stumbled a little along the way, but I think of I’m getting the hang of it, the art of reply and retweet, the @tweet and the #hashtag.

Sometimes tweeting has the feel of ships passing in the night. Being noticed is only half the equation; there’s a great joy in noticing someone who passed you by and passing along his or her message.

Here’s one that didn’t come via Twitter, but might as well have, for its brevity and mystery: Missent to Jamaica


There’s no Tiny URL here,  just three words, the lol subject line of an e-mail. A tale about a book that took something of a detour between New York and Canada. Betwixt and between the weeks of sending the book and not hearing that it had been received, there was angst. Writers are nothing if not insecure. I was pleased — so very pleased — that a writer I friended via She Writes (a veritable salon in cyberspace), wanted a copy of my book. So I happily obliged for many reasons, not the least of which is that my connection with this whirling dervish of a writer (yes, do check out her blog) is mired in admiration. Which of course does not negate the insecurity rising in me.  I know the mail to Canada is security-slow these days, but when two weeks pass, no word from Cathy that the book had been received, I do that thing — omg, she got it and didn’t like it and doesn’t know what to say.

Until I get the e-mail with that oh-so-melodic subject line, which I immediately take to be the title of a new post of hers, maybe a delightful story about someone named Miss Ent whose name is constantly misspelled and has a curious story to tell. Then I read more closely, a little relieved. I hope she likes my book.

P.S. Oh, irony!  On the very day I write this post I receive via old-fashioned snail-mail a beautiful notecard (shoes glittery with roses, a Christopher Vine Design, Australia), hand-written thanks from my friend in Canada.