Thursday, August 21, 2014

Y'all come!

I'm pleased to announce that I've been invited by the Rowland Heights Library to give a presentation. My subject? Chaucer! What else?

I'll tell you about the moment that changed my life forever. I mean exactly that. And we'll play a game that gives you the opportunity to experience that same amazing moment your self!

If you live near LA--or will be visiting in mid-September--the date and time are:
Saturday, September 13 at 2 p.m.

The address of the library is:
1850 Nogales St., Rowland Heights, CA 91748

My books and t-shirts will also be available.
Would love to see you there.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Now for something completely different!

I just past 20 years of attending the San Dimas writers' group. Their critiquing has been vital to the Chaucer books I've published. When I attended for the first time I wanted to make a good impression; I feared they'd find Chaucer too weird, too stuffy. (It turned out that I was wrong; they became fascinated.) Anyway, here is that initial offering--a "safe" piece of general interest about a personal experience.

One Thing Left to Do
Two dogs . . . long-time friends . . . sleeping cozily, legs intertwined. So what changed things? They both wanted to catch the 'possum in the yard that night. That must have been it--"It created an instinctive rivalry." So after that they never went out together at night--"One of them in the dog run and then the other. No possibility of a problem. That's the answer." So we thought.
     But the afternoon I was picking apricots in the yard, it happened. Both dogs had been sunning themselves in the run, and then . . . I couldn't believe my ears . . . a snapping bark, a long, low growl, some thrashing about and then a piercing shriek. It wasn't the night or the 'possum We didn't have the answer.
     I dropped the box of apricots and dashed for the back gate of the run, shouting "No! No!" a word our obedience-trained dogs understood. But the screeching and thrashing just became more agitated. I slammed the gate closed behind me.
     How could I save them from themselves? My mind raced. "Ted's not home. The neighbors aren't about to get involved with two Dobermans fighting. What can I do? . . . The hose!" I snatched up the hose that was lying on the ground and rushed into the cloud of dust they were kicking up. Their teeth were sunk into the side of each other's face. Blood was already oozing down their necks and onto their chests. I smacked their rumps with the hose. "Kukla, NO! Tabitha, NO!" Through their growling and screaming, they never heard me.
     One good thing, their rearing and tossing was moving them toward the gate near the house. "If I can get one into the yard and keep the other in the run that would be the end of it." I dropped the  hose and grabbed onto Kukla's collar, pulling this 70 pound dynamo closer to the gate each time her feet left the ground as Tabitha, the larger of the two, jerked her off balance. Finally I was close enough to undo the latch and open the chain link gate just far enough for one dog to pass through. How I did it, I don't know, but, still hanging onto Kukla I kneed Tabitha in the chest, forcing her backward through the opening.
     I pushed the gate closed as far as I could but the dogs' jaws never released their hold. I moved the gate little by little, trying not to add to their injuries. At last, the latch fell into place and I released Kukla's collar. But the barrier wasn't enough. Even though they were on either side of the gate now, their hold had never slacked. Through the gap between the gate and the post they still hung on. Froth and blood were running down the chain links. "Lord, what more can I do? . . . Water! Why did I think of it before?"
     With the water turned on high, I aimed the flow from the hose directly into their faces; there was no visible reaction. But I continued the water because it was my only hope. Then, after several minutes, they simply let go of each other. Tabitha, panting, lay down on her side on the walkway. Kukla sat and licked the gash in her thigh.
     I turned off the water, went into the kitchen, close the door and dropped onto the nearest chair. Not until then did I realize my heart was pounding. I sat there trembling, tears running down my face. But soon I was overwhelmed with thankfulness. It was over. Now there was only one thing left to do: decide which of my "friends," which of my dogs, must go.