Coming very close to using words, this French bulldog makes what seems a heartfelt plea to be allowed up on the couch.
I vote to let him up.
Sixty years ago, my sister used to sit on the front steps at 804 Avalon Road in Winston-Salem, N.C., and wait for the mailman, in hopes he would be carrying a letter from my father in Korea.
To pass the time, she recalls, she would converse with the pansies planted around the stairs of the apartment.
They looked like they had faces, she explained, so she talked to them. I can only assume, knowing my sister, that they spoke back.
She told me this story for the first time (or perhaps for the first time that I was listening) just this past weekend, when she and her husband came from Wisconsin for a visit with my mother.
In addition to spending some time with my mother, sister Kathryn was looking forward to seeing where I’ve been living for the past few months — the same apartment our parents lived in when we were born.
In case you missed the explanation of how that came to pass, here’s the short version: Ace and I, after nearly a year of traveling across the country, were dwelling temporarily in the cellar of a mansion. He got back problems. We were looking for a place without lots of stairs when, on an outing with my mom, I asked her to show me where she lived when I was born. It had a for rent sign in the window. I, 57 years after my family moved out, rented it. (If you need a longer version, it’s here.)
After hearing my sister’s talking-to-pansies story — odd as I found it — I decided to surprise her when she and her husband came over for an official homecoming dinner on Saturday.
I bought a six pack of purple and white pansies, and two little pots, did my gardening, placed them on the front steps and stepped back to admire my work. “How does that look?” I said to myself (or was it to the pansies?)
My sister spotted them as soon as she pulled up, and later she would step outside to bond with them.
She remembered far more than I do about the little apartment. The family moved out of it when I was one, and she was five.
Like me, the old turn-the-crank doorbell sounded familiar to her. But she remembered sitting in the dining room, and what furniture was where and, of course, the talking pansies.
In the photo to the left, I’m guessing Ace is telling her that flowers can’t talk.
The stoop has changed a bit since 1950, which is when the black and white photo at the top of this post was taken. Originally all concrete, it’s partly brick now. But other than that, College Village, as the community is called — it was built in anticipation of Wake Forest University coming to town — remains much the same as it was then.
My sister was an only child for about four years. Nine months after my father returned from the Korean War, I was born. Five years later, my brother came along. (Though he never lived here, he’ll be visiting the ancestral homeplace next month.)
She talked a bit about what she remembered of the family home, but I think that for her, as with me, what returning here triggers is more a swirl of hard-to-pin-down emotions — the kind that don’t lend themselves to words.
She seemed to spend a lot of time quietly reflecting, which has always been my favorite way for her to reflect.
I’d have to acknowledge — and maybe this is true of many brothers and sisters — that, since childhood, I have sometimes tuned her out, or only halfway listened, as if she were a college professor lecturing far too long on a subject in which I had no interest.
It makes me wonder how much I might have missed, especially when you throw in all others I may have, on occasion, paid less than full attention to — grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, wives and people who talk too much.
After four days in town, Kathryn and John moved on to visit other relatives, leaving me to sit on the front stoop of the ancestral homeplace and ponder all that, and to make a vow to listen better and listen always.
Listen to the dog, listen to the relatives, listen to the house.
Listen, even, to the pansies.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 12th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, birthplace, college village, dogs, family, flowers, home, homecoming, homestead, listen, listening, north carolina, pansies, pets, return, sister, talking, travels with ace, winston-salem
Pay special attention to the little dragons in the clip above, from the newly released movie, “How to Train Your Dragon.”
The movie from Dreamworks, being shown in 3-D in some theaters, features the voices of Craig Ferguson, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill and Kristen Wiig. But for dragon noises, the filmmakers turned to at least one dog — a Chihuahua named Paco.
Paco’s owner posted a video on YouTube of his dog, who he says vocalizes every night before going to bed. Here’s Paco speaking his mind:
Posted by jwoestendiek March 28th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, chihuahua, dog, dogs, dogs in movies, dragon, dragons, dreamworks, entertainment, how to train your dragon, little dragons, movie, movies, news, noises, ohmidog!, paco, pets, talking, video, voiceover, voices
A two-year-old bull terrier named Armani has become a celebrity in Germany for his ability to say the word “mama,” The UK’s Telegraph reports.
Armani has become the number-one downloaded video in Germany, and the star is now making the rounds on the radio and receiving fan mail, which he responds to with photos personally stamped with a paw print, the newspaper said.