Posted by: jane770 | November 30, 2013

If you will read, I will write

I have taken a step back from blogging, primarily due to lack of time.  Most of you know that I write a column for The Cedar Street Times.

A great many of my readers have suggested that I put some of these stories in a book..As I explained, I really appreciate the postitive comments, but publishing is expensive and compiling the appropriate tales takes too much time for a “working girl”..However, if my blog is being read, I will start sending stories and even chapters of a small novella I wrote.  Let me know if you get this and if you would read some of my efforts..even if you do not know me, you can check in to ladyjanesjottings.com and get a feel of my style..

Posted by: jane770 | September 19, 2011

Beau

Pieces of my heart                    BEAU

He was a tumbling black ball, squirming his way up to us.  I picked him up, his breath still redolent with the sweet puppy scent.   Daughter, Ellen, pleaded…”Oh, Mom, can we keep him, please, please…I will…. (Fill in the blanks)” The dog had wandered into the art room at the Monterey County Fair which Ellen was docenting with her friend.   I was in charge of the show, but had gone home for a much needed shower.  The Fair Grounds in the middle of September could be oppressively warm and dusty.

There was a couple visiting us fromOxnard, who chuckled when I said “No, way, we have four animals already”.   We went to the person manning the sound system and the pup’s description was blasted over the noise of the carnival, crowds and hawkers.  After several of these announcements, it was apparent that no one would claim him. I looked down at the appealing black puppy, who grinned up at me, his tail beating the ground.  He may have been abandoned but not mal-nourished, his black body was rotund. A bright white patch was on his chest… He probably came from a litter that had traveled with a rancher toMonterey.  It seemed his owner either didn’t want him, or more likely, didn’t miss him.  “We will take him home and find a good family for him”…

He was named Beauregard, Beau for short after a character recently introduced on the Muppet Show. Our veterinarian determined that he was part lab and part pit bull.   As a puppy he loved to roam, possibly coached by our Irish setter, Cinder, who was a rescue dog,   Cinder ran as a door was opened, Beau in hot pursuit, over hill and dale raced the red haired demon from hell, her apostle racing behind.   We would dive around the neighborhood and sight the little creature worn out, on the steps of a house.  In the meantime his teacher was collecting left over roast beef from a kindly restaurateur.  He accompanied us wherever we went, jumping up and down with pleasure at the idea of a ride, or a walk.

Cinder didn’t remain with us very long.   We received calls from all over the city to come and collect her.  We built a higher fence.  She broke her leg doing a hurdle. Many dollars later and a cast on the errant canine, we breathed a sign. At last she was contained … I looked out the window and Cinder flew by, over the obstacle, right leg, encapsulated, straight in front.  Several months later she disappeared for good; we advertised, called shelters and settled down with pleasure when ads were not answered.  She was a beautiful animal and very friendly, so some unsuspecting dog napper thought he had stumbled on riches when he stole her.  She was a gift that kept on giving.

Beau would eat anything that wasn’t nailed down.  He once was subject to severe medical ministrations to prevent a pierced intestine due to the ingestion of sharp bones, procured from the garbage. However he had an amazing constitution, relishing the box of chocolates which our daughter had received from an admirer, with no ill effect.  He learned to swim at an early age when he stood on one side of a swimming pool, we on the other.   Not understanding the consequences he took a step onto the water and was shocked when there was no foothold. struggling to get to the edge on our side.  After that there was no deterring Beau, if there was a pool, he needed to be restrained as many owners didn’t welcome dogs in their facility  He loved the beach and ran up and down, jumping in and tossing the water around, mud pools were his favorite, his personal Esalon.

He loved to run and, if he thought his exercising was incomplete, would sneak out and stand in the driveway barking.  When we would attempt an arrest, he would back up and bark some more

In the car we would jump and the chase was on.   First Beau was the leader, racing around the block, we in hot pursuit.   As he tired, his steps would shorten and soon he was racing behind us, ultimately falling exhausted at our front steps, or climbing wearily into the car…   His best friend was Reggie, one of our cats, as black as his companion; they would play for hours on end.

Generally he would leave the house and wander the neighborhood; in those days of no leash laws canines spent most of their time, unescorted and unrestrained, visiting neighbors and hanging out with their buddies.   Tuesdays, however, were an anomaly.  Beau would leave depart early in the morning and return home near dark.   We didn’t worry as he always reappeared for dinner.

One afternoon I received a call from a friend who lived a couple of miles down the hill.  “Jane, do you know where your dog is” “No,” I replied, but I am sure he is fine”  “He is down here at my house and seems to be with the garbage truck.”  I drove to the location and saw the vehicle on the curve of the street.  “Beau,” I called.  He turned, looked and laughed returning to his mission.

A big African American man came over to me.  “Is this your dog?” he asked.  “Yes, I replied, his name is Beau”.  “Well, mam, he sure is a good dog, and really helps us”  It was revealed that for several months our pet had been joining the team when they entered the area and stayed with them all day, reminding them if they missed a can.   It was fine with us and the practice continued for almost a year.  Once when I was hosting a bridge game, a friend came in, clearly bemused.  “Janie, I believe I just saw Beau riding in the front seat of a garbage truck”  “Oh, yes, that’s what he likes to do.’  Everyone loved the dog and were thrilled about his “play-date” Our local newspaper wrote a story, accompanied by a picture.  He was immortalized in a painting by Will Bullas.

The leash laws were instituted.  For awhile it didn’t affect Beau’s Tuesdays as he was being carefully monitored by his companions in waste management, but the idyllic life ended.

Neighbors complained that it wasn’t fair that our animal could be out on the streets when theirs must be incarcerated or restrained.  For a time, the boys would stop by the house on Tuesday morning, collect Beau for the day and return him in the late afternoon.

We received a ticket and decided that we would go to court (Beau could not accompany us to plead his case; we had to do it for him).  The judge happened to be a good friend. We were certain that he would see the justice in allowing the lab his beloved activity.  That was not the case.  Judge Burleigh was most amused.  “I sympathize with Beau, but it is the law that he must be on a leash when out and about” He dismissed the charges but determined that the animal would either be on house arrest or “shackled when walking.    Gene, the foreman or the team, asked his supervisor if they could take Beau with them on their rounds.   The request was denied.

By then the fear of Pit Bulls was rampant and we were becoming increasingly disturbed.  While Beau had demonstrated no aggression, only love to people and his own four legged family, he hated small dogs and other cats, lunging and growling if they came in sight.    Obviously we couldn’t get rid of our beloved pet so we watched him carefully Gene really wanted to take him and asked if we could relinquish him.  We gave it some thought,

One day we were sitting in the dining room eating brunch with my husband’s parents who were visiting fromIowa.   Mother Roland exclaimed “There is a large black man coming to the door”

People of color were rare in their farming community, in fact were looked upon with apprehension.   “That’s Gene” I said “Beau’s friend”. Gene came into the house and we introduced him.  “I wonder” he asked “could Beau come out to the yard with us next week?

We are going on strike and we would like him to walk the picket line with us.  We will keep him on a leash, and bring him home later”

Our “man in garbage” had another day with his friends, but that was it.   Every Tuesday, when he heard the truck, he would stand at the window and whine.  Months passed and he forgot.  Years went by and Beau slowed down.  It became necessary for him to sit down and rest from time to time.  We knew the end was in sight and dreaded the looming trip to take him for his final nap.   He slept on the floor in our bedroom.  On the Fourth of July we arose to see that Beau was very still, in fact he was gone, gone as he had come, sparing us the pain of having to help him reach greener pastures.

Not long after there was a small article in the newspaper about a man working at the garbage collecting yard who had been killed when one truck came too close to another,.  His name was Gene Black.  Now he and Beau are watching the trash collections in Heaven and laughing all the way.

Posted by: jane770 | June 18, 2011

tails from Monterey Bay

It was a hectic day at the house on the corner. There was a massive remodeling project in process. Windows were being removed and enlarged to expedite a view of Monterey Bay; cabinets were replacing the wall between the dining area and kitchen. New appliances were sitting covered in the carport, awaiting installation; a behemoth of a dumpster loomed in the driveway, gobbling unwanted debris…

Becky, the mistress of the home, supervised carefully to insure that things would be done to her liking, Sean, just went to work or buried his nose in a newspaper. The animals were distraught and puzzled, Shy Ann and Daphne got as far away from the activity as possible, the cats seemed oblivious to the entire thing, but stayed out of sight until it was time for their repast.

The day was over; Becky prepared dinner on makeshift appliances. The workmen had long since departed and the family settled down for the evening. Suddenly there was a shriek, “Sean, Sean, come here! The master of the house hurried to the kitchen. They listened “meow, meow”, came from behind the wall, which had been installed and primed that day…”MEAOW!!” The Flavins looked at each other. “Oh, my”, cried Becky, “the cat is walled up, Sean, we must get him out”

This project was, obviously, beyond the abilities of the owners and the only solution was to call the contractor. The call was made, there was much discussion and unhappiness demonstrated by the man who really had no interest in driving over at 10:00 PM. “Mr. Flavin, this will be very expensive, time and a half, you know”, Sean blanched “It doesn’t matter what it costs.” said Becky. “He can’t stay in there overnight, he might suffocate”.

The contractor arrived in a less than happy mood. Wielding a large mallet he started breaking down the wall, first a small hole, then larger and larger, down to the studs. No feline appeared, but, from time to time, the plaintive cries were heard. “Sorry, Mrs. Flavin, there is really nothing more I can do; I’ll see you in the morning”. He drove away, looking forward to his comfortable bed.

The Flavins continued to worry and tossed most of the night. Becky would arise from time to time and flash a light into the gigantic hole in the new kitchen, no cat and, now, not even a sound. “Oh, my, I wonder if he is dead. What if a piece of wood fell on him” “Don’t worry, dear” comforted her husband, “I am sure he is all right” Becky moaned, “How can he be all right?”

It was a long night. That morning all of the workmen arrived on schedule, the dogs hid, the remaining cat visited the neighbors, and Sean went to work. Heartbroken, Becky went downstairs and consoled herself by tending to plants. Suddenly she looked over at the house. Out from the crawl space came the missing kitty, he stretched, smiled and sauntered over to rub against her leg, he hadn’t enjoyed being under the house but a tasty mouse assuaged his ire and he went to sleep on a pile of leaves. Being practical the Flavins tried to think of a way to minimize the damage to their kitchen, but, after much pondering, the wall was replaced and life went on in the neighborhood…

Posted by: jane770 | January 23, 2011

JANE’S PLAIN TALK – A TALE OF A PACK MOUSE

I am a pack mouse, no not a rat.  Oprah would not use me as an example on her program, but I do collect (as does my husband).   I see things that people might like and stash them away for future gifting.  As I work at a benefit shop, many appealing items appear.   I am an online shopper and order special things for special items.  The big problem is the fact that I sometimes forget and, before I know it, I have drawers and boxes full of presents.  In some respects, this is very practical..in others it becomes cumbersome.

Now I say that John is also a collector, not of gifts…these are purchased at the very last moment.   But every little screw, piece of plastic, pieces of paper, etc. might have a use, so are saved – forever.

I also hate to throw away or give away any gift I have received, any card, anything that might remind me of a loved one.  My children say “Oh, Mom, you don’t need that” . It is never a question of need, but, for instance, Alice brought the Yuban coffee man home from Mexico.   The ceramic pig was a wedding gift, dust catchers all but, beloved,

Every so often I am compelled to sort.  I never seem to finish the job, other projects step in and take precedence.  I don’t like to get rid of books; although the chances of reading them again are nill.   I pity my family when I shuffle off to the other world or an old folks’ anti-room to death. 

Our garage isn’t too bad, not as filled with junk as some, but, certainly not the way I would like it.  In my mind “there is a place for everything” and everything should be in it’s place.  Plastic food boxes really need their lids, cards their envelopes, and recipes should be in books…it just doesn’t happen.  So here I am with drawers of presents, boxes of papers and pictures and, I believe I shall take a little break and read a book

Posted by: jane770 | January 16, 2011

Jane’s Plain Talk

Do you remember the movie “Sliding Doors”, how true it is.   I did not want to go to the Fourth of July party in 1959.  It had been a hectic week at work in San Francisco. I drove to Carmel Valley with a friend, a friend with whom I had a long friendship and great bond.  It was a relationship from which we both wanted more, but it was not to be for a variety of reasons.   We had a horrible argument and the cup was smashed forever. I never saw him again.

I was wallowing in self-pity in my mother’s home in Carmel Valley, determining to return to the city immediately.  My friends called me from Carmel, urging me to attend a gathering, someone would drive out to pick me up, no excuses.  I finally gave in and a few hours later was in the middle of the festivities, feeling anything but festive.   A close male friend asked if I would like to escape and have a drink at the Mission Ranch, and we left.  We talked deeply that night, Paul and I, I said to him that I was tired of my life, the parties and shallow, mindless activities.  I really wanted to settle down, but there was no one in the horizon, other than a beau who was in the army and lived in Allentown, PA, not really a prospect.

We returned to the party and I heard someone say “do you think she will be back?” “Oh, yes, I am sure, Janie always comes back”..and there he was, the man who became the love of my life, if only briefly.  On August 29 we were married, shortly before I received a proposal from Peter, my Allentown friend..

The marriage lasted only seven years, but there were two beautiful children and now, they have four beautiful boys.  What would have happened had I stuck to my guns, not attended the party and subsequently married Peter Fish of Allentown.  There you have it sliding doors or the path not taken.

Finally, I am starting again, with a new picture thanks to daughter, Ellen, and new title, credited to Bill Mullen.  I will make every effort to log in every day or so as I am sure you are all awaiting my thoughts.

Recently there has been a huge flap over Huckleberry Finn, it is just another sign of social or political correctness.  I would go along with the idea if I were not so opposed to censorship of any kind.   I need not attend the performances, nor watch on Television gratuitous sex and violence.  I remember when, as a teenager, I was fascinated by Lady Chatterley’s lover. I finally found in my parents’ library the unexpurgated volume.  It was a huge disappointment to find that it was much tamer than Forever Amber, the shocker of the day.  I detest name calling, it is a quick way to turn my allegiance, but the word “n……”was ;used at the time, as dreadful as it seems.  Actually, among those of more gentile persuasions, the word was Negro, more because the other was slang and slang was unacceptable.  If I had a few days to write and you to read, we could unearth so many books that would be unacceptable today that the schools would have no books.  Actually, Mark Twain, himself had one that was actually banned because it was so shocking.  

As we enter the new year I hope that those who feel it is important to bedeck their pets with expensive “bling” will buy cheap items at the dollar store and donate the balance where it might do the most good, to an animal shelter.  I don’t care for animals in costume but , if that is the owners’ druther and the critter doesn’t mind it is their business, but please don’t spend thousands for Fido, when other fidos need food and shelter.

These are my thoughts for today.  I could write about the correct way to make a bed, found in the Wall Street Journal this morning, or, in the same newspaper, how the Chinese train their children.  These subjects take too much time with no succinct resolution, I just want to get this off the ground and see if any one reads it, if you do let me know…

Posted by: jane770 | January 2, 2011

Animal Tales and Other Random Thoughts

Our neighbor across the street does not care for cats.  When my husband saw a feline relaxing on his doorstep, he feared it was one of ours.  That was not the case, the Siamese, Sammy, was on my bed, reading the morning paper with me, Toby was staring out of the window in the family room…He does that frequently, sits on the back of the sofa and surveys his domain.   We wonder what it is he is thinking, but no one understands cats.   They are not predictable in behavior unless it is beneficial to their own well-being.

I will be writing about animals, people and happenings, some true, some fictionally embellished, and hope that some of the tales will interest if not inrigue readers.  I, also, welcome any input and suggestions

Posted by: jane770 | January 1, 2011

Animal Tales and Other Random Thoughts

It is the first day of the year of our Lord 2011.  We spent a wonderful New Year’s Eve with good friends in their new home, celebrating the beginning of what will, hopefully, be a better time for all.

Today I cooked for our dinner.  The Christmas decorations have been stored for next year, not so much anymore as there are no little ones here and we spent the holiday weekend with our daughter Ellen, husband Shawn and little boys, Joe, almost ten and William 7.  It was a wonderful peaceful time, lots of children’s movies on television, much reading and good food cooked by our son-in-law, chef, insurance web designer and actor.  They made us welcome and comfortable.  We saw a wonderful Christmas variety show at the Geffen.

We returned home to our menagerie, Brandy 12 year old chocolate lab, two and a half year old dachshund mix, Toby the marmalade kitty and Sammy who looks like my Nicki and is just as devoted.

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