I see in THE INQUIRER that Yosemite’s animals are behaving differently since the park closures. They’re coming out of hiding and going ahhh! in the afternoon sun. Ambling is the word the reporter, Susanne Rust, used to describe a bobcat. We have bobcats here, but I’ve never seen one ambling or otherwise. I don’t think visitors to Yosemite see them much, either, and when they do, I bet they aren’t ambling. But ambling may be what more animals are doing across the globe. Moving with confidence now that we humans won’t be bothering them, won’t be driving, won’t be filling the air with muck. Bears have quadrupled, at least the sightings of them have, since Yosemite closed. Ravens dance in empty parking lots while coyotes travel unbothered on paved roads. It’s the life!

 In my yard, foxes are the proof. Foxes and hawks. These are creatures we sometimes see. Well—hawks we always see them, high in the sky or in tree branches. That’s common, but they don’t come to the ground. Not here. Lately, though, we have seen them swoop low over the patio. There is no mistaking them for pigeons or blue jays. These are serious critters on a mission, and I would not argue with one.

To see them outside the window—what a wingspan! They’re so fast, I don’t see the catch, if there is a catch, that’s how fast they are. I will say, though, that whatever animals they don’t grab sure get the message. Afterwards, neither hide nor hair of any creature anywhere appears near that patio. And quiet. You could hear a rainbow.

Then they slink back, continue with the bird feeders and squirrel play. What me worry?

 Until a fox runs through.

We see them around here. Sure. They live here. So do we, but to see one is kind of an event. Hey! Did you see the fox? So pretty with their red coats. We see foxes every day now, and not just on the perimeters of our yard, or a red streak as it heads for parts unknown. Did you see it? Did you see it? Too late. They’re on the patio, too, and like the hawks, send the squirrels and birds and chipmunks into hiding. Between the hawks and the foxes, the regulars are getting a ramped-up education. But they don’t stay away. Someone must blow the all-clear, and they come back.

Sometimes the foxes stick around, stand where they can survey the area, just showing their colors, maybe. Once, two of them met on our front walk right on the other side of our window. They met and seemed to have a conversation, a little kissing, some reconnoitering.  We decided we were looking at mother and child. Ma’s been through some tough times with that tail missing chunks here and there. But, boy, do the two of them look healthy otherwise. Two? We probably see more than two individuals. There are never only two foxes.  Except for that tail, though, who’s to know who?

And then there was the day John and I were walking through the neighborhood. Reduced traffic like everywhere else. Less car exhaust and more beauty. The trees are just gorgeous this year! And the aromas!

The snakes think so, too, and we saw the evidence when right there on the sidewalk were two garter snakes basking in the sun. I have never seen two snakes lying on the pavement side by side like that. They didn’t even move as we walked past. Ambled past. The world was too lovely for them to care about us. We were benign. At least we weren’t driving a car. Maybe that’s what they thought. If we’d gotten any closer, maybe they’d have zipped off. But those snakes—each must have been at least eighteen inches long—just lying there like a couple of pals. Or lovers. Life was good, and they were going ahhh!

Before now, sometimes I’d see snakes. Not often, and they were always going somewhere in a hurry. They don’t stick around to pose. Neither to foxes. Neither do hawks. Used to be.

But everything is on hold now. The animals are coming out. The magnolias keep their blossoms for weeks instead of hours. It’s hard not to love all of this. This part.

So when I go out, I go ahhh! too. Bask in the afternoon sun. I’m not afraid of the foxes or the hawks or the snakes. When the bears show up, maybe I won’t be afraid then, either.

By authorsusanshaw


So yesterday, I had a thought that shows something, I’m not sure what.

I’m in the process of getting my teeth straightened with a product called Invisalign, and my dentist instructed me right from the start that I needed to wear the plastic device at least twenty-two hours a day.

 Well, that’s a lot of hours in the day for wearing anything, but I’ve been pretty good. I take both parts out right before eating, put them in again right after eating, and don’t take a lot of time over meals. The clock ticks and every five minute segment in the au natural state nips at me. Don’t waste time!

This has been going on for a number of weeks, and I’m sure getting tired of it. Snack? Take ’em out. Hot chocolate? Take ’em out. And I’m someone who grazes, eats every two or three hours, just like a baby. I used to, anyway, and sometimes, I’m just hungry. Well . . . Take ’em out, put ’em in. Don’t dawdle.

But yesterday, I got to thinking. Wait. Twenty-two hours isn’t so bad. Not with a twenty-five hour day. Can’t I do math? Twenty-five minus twenty-two is definitely three. It was true when I was four years old, and it is still true. Math doesn’t change with the times, at least not at the level I reached, which, admittedly, was not the highest. However, most of the time, I can add and subtract and keep track of my bank account. I’m not trying to be an architect or engineer, but you never know. These things can come up later, and then I will regret daydreaming in Algebra One.

But I don’t care who you are, twenty-five-minus twenty-two is always three.

 I’m trying to distract you from your main argument. I know what it is. Now. Yesterday, I was in this bubble. Of some kind. Lalaland.

So I thought, as John and I were approaching dinnertime yesterday, that a little appetizer might be nice. A little relaxing time with music playing before we actually had dinner. What would be wrong with that in the middle of living on the moon? I had one more hour of Invisilign-free time than I’d been operating on. Ahhh!

We sat down on the loveseat, my beloved and I, and commenced our no-pressure, private, Invisilign-free feast. I began to tell John of my mistake, that I had three hours instead of two, three hours of freedom that could be used for any ladeda adventure. I could last until after dinner. Wasn’t that great?

But as soon as I opened my mouth, after the guess what?—the bubble burst. The imp who lives on my shoulder laughed right out loud.

What? Twenty-five hours in the day? You get three hours of freedom? On what planet do you live?

So I’m losing my mind. I’m going to be committed.

On the other hand, maybe a twenty-five hour day is what we need. Either that or a slower beat, a slower clock. And thou beside me in the wilderness.

As I said, I’m not sure what all this shows about me, but I’m opting for the twenty-five hour day.  Try it. Who’s to know when you live on the moon?

By authorsusanshaw


 There’s an old Peanuts cartoon in which Charlie Brown is playing in the sandbox with other children. Fine. Snoopy is portraying a World War I flying ace. Fine. All normal. Everything is as it should be.

 But . . .

“Curse you, Red Baron!” shouts the dog in his cartoon panel, and he flies over Charlie Brown in the next one, knocking him completely over.

Charlie Brown says from the middle of his daze, “I never know what’s going on.”

Me, too. My whole life seems to be reacting to something coming in from left field. True, it’s never been the Red Baron or Snoopy, but it’s only a matter of time.

What do you do if you are Charlie Brown the way I so often am? Well, first you have to realize that Charlie Brown is a loveable character. So are you, whichever version of humanity you take on, and so am I.

In my loveable, flute-player persona, who is only a little younger than my writer identity, I’m getting out that flute and working on hard music, finding different approaches to things like Rodrigo’s Concierto Pastoral. The score appears to represent the randomness of paint being flung on manuscript paper, but, no, there is logic. Knowing the logic makes the notes more playable, and these days, finding that logic is a good use of brain power. All-encompassing. Nothing outside those notes exists during that time. A form of meditation, you might say. Also, I like playing the flute and conquering musical dares.  I’ve never played the Rodrigo so well.

After talking with a fellow flute-player, whose husband, I noticed, took their cat for a walk the last time we played flute duets, we decided we should figure out how to play duets across the airways. Our systems are not exactly compatible, but we’ve figured out that if I can install a WhatsApp on my iPad, we might be in business.

I spent a lot of time trying to figure that out yesterday. No go so far. As always, with computer stuff, I reached a point of no return. So I left that monster and returned to my novel in progress, attempting not to growl too loud or too long. That might upset my fictional girl.

And she bites.


Afterwards, I attempted to procure certain flute duets online with the idea that I will at some point slay the WhatsApp dragon and play these pieces with my friend. Same thing. Grr! Everybody else knows how to do these things, but it makes me feel like I’m back in junior high after a missed week of classes. Or daydreaming. Algebra? Oh, well. I did not distinguish myself in that classroom, not with that window to stare through. All that freedom outside.


Not a great student.

Me, though, who always scored so high in the California Achievement Tests. Remember them? Do they even have them anymore? I used to score so high, way up in the clouds, which is where I figured everybody scored, but which no doubt dumbfounded my teachers who must have thought my intelligence was at least somewhat marginal. At least I could dress myself.

Dreamers can have that affect.

But I read. I read everything that wasn’t nailed down, and some things that were. Somehow, I picked up whatever the California folks thought was important. Not that it gave me straight A’s. And I played the flute. And the piano. And dodgeball. Got through junior high. Even college. Had kids. Man! Think of that!

I still dreamed, though. Once a dreamer, always a dreamer, I guess. Probably, some dreamers can figure out the installation of WhatsApp and the procurement of online sheet music.

John helped me with the sheet music. Now I have some Telemann duets—for some reason we printed out the same ones in two different formats. Anybody need some Telemann flute duets?  I told one of our sons about my issue with the app.

“Can you help me with that?” I asked.

He’s an engineer and knows everything.

“That’s easy,” he said, so I’m questioning where he got those genes.

It’s easy? Good. I’m glad. We’ll get to it sometime.

The app is still not installed, and my friend and I have not yet played our flute duets. The cats and husbands in both houses are safe for now. But I think that’s only temporary.

By authorsusanshaw