Here’s a picture of the Round Mound of Hound getting ready for our big road trip.
The Round Mound of Hound preparing for some top-down cruising.
It’s kind of a cop-out, I know, just slapping up a picture after all this time. I plan to get back to blogging soon; right now I’m deep into Munchies (the novel you will be hearing more about presently) and it’s taking up all my head space. There’s also the fact that the tale of my last road trip with Chiquita might just come out well enough that I try to flog it in creative nonfiction markets rather than post here. (Creative nonfiction is the new fiction.) But probably I’ll just put it here.
I promised chronicles of my road trip with Chiquita (who is currently lying on the bed with me and crying about my neglect) and they will follow. It’s been tough finding the words, which is trouble considering I’m going to writing camp starting tomorrow night.
I am wearing my travel shirt. It became the official shirt of road trips last summer (or was it the summer before?). Driving through humid climes, there’s nothing nicer than putting your left elbow on the door sill of your convertible and having your sleeve balloon up and scoop air down into your comically-inflated shirt. Man, that feels good.
When you’re out on the road, certain social niceties can be set aside. If you’re just going to slather sunscreen all over yourself and sweat profusely as you crawl across the surface of the Earth, there’s no point putting on a clean shirt in the morning. You may as well throw on the shirt that is already saturated with road fluids. Mountain Dew stain on your chest? No biggie; more will follow.
It’s an aloha shirt, the sort of thing that fits my style anyway, built for comfort when things are warm. Cotton, of course, and roomy enough for me.
The shirt also has a breast pocket, which is absolutely required while traveling. It’s where hotel keycards go, where the change from the drive-through lands, and where anything else that you might need to recover while your seatbelt is fastened will ultimately reside. On my travel shirt, that pocket is starting to tear off, the fabric failing in different ways on either side. It’s the result of reaching in there for something way at the bottom so many times. The left-handed reach while I juggle items in my other hand is the most punishing, I think.
Today, zipping across the Texas panhandle, my dog started licking my shirt. Not the breast pocket (where there was jerky from a nice gas station owner in Clines Corners), but my right shoulder. I gotta think that might be a sign.
It’s Wednesday night; on Saturday morning my pilgrimage to Kansas begins. I look forward to this time every year—my chance to hang with the Kansas Bunch, to revel in pure writing energy. This year is dramatically different, mainly for the journey.
I’ve never needed the company of the Kansas Bunch more dearly than I do this year. My first time I was living in Prague and I chose maximum intensity for the workshops and learned an enormous amount. Chuck was my roomie that year, and I hope to hell he’ll be back this time around. He always leaves me with a massive reading list.
I won’t go through the whole litany of names. It’s the Kansas Bunch, and I’m one of them. There’s a special slot for people like me, a sub-bunch called repeat offenders. I rejoin the ranks of the repeat offenders this year with an edge of despair. I’m still working on the same story as last time. And the time before that. That’s not the recipe for success.
And how am I preparing for the workshop? I’m tweaking the first novel I wrote, long ago, getting it ready to shop around (again) to people who pay for stories. The Monster Within still chokes me up at points. Kind of embarrassing when you’re editing at a sports bar. It’s petty intense at points. However, that’s not the story I’ll be asking the kansas Bunch to help me with. That story is rusting in the weeds.
But this year, it’s not just a trip to Kansas. I’ll be taking the most wonderful dog in the world to her new home. I’m not good at goodbyes, and fortunately the ritual is lost on the canine of our species. At least I have the honor of several days in a small car with the best dog in the world; my sweetie must go cold-turkey.
The pup herself is enthusiastic about any activity that involves a motor vehicle. Chiquita loves the road. She’s a dog that way. As am I. But somewhere in Oklahoma I’m going to say goodbye to a good friend. I’m going to fight not to blubber in front of strangers. I’m going to hand over Squeaky Fuzzy Monkey and a little piece of my heart will follow along.
It’s vanity, I know, but I hope that someday when I’m down Texas way I’ll see the girl again, and that she’ll remember me. It’ll be hard to tell; she loves everyone she meets.
It’s a little difficult to get a blog episode out when there’s a largish dog begging for your attention. The dog in question is Chiquita, our newest resident. Chiquita’s owner died suddenly and the ol’ gal was was looking for a new home.
She may be the sweetest-tempered dog I’ve ever met, happy to see anyone. She didn’t bark at repair men and delivery guys today, even though she’s starting to get the feel of her new territory.
The first thing we did when we got home was give her a bath; she’s been living outside for the last few weeks. She put up with the water and shampoo stoically, but we missed a few spots.
People over in Facebookland have been asking for pictures, so here for your delight are a few snaps. (You can click to see them larger.)
We had bought a package of rawhide bones for her; after she showed no interest in a tennis ball we gave her one of those. She walked around with it for a while, relaxed in the shade with it firmly between her teeth, but never chewed it. After a while, she found a corner of the yard and buried it. In the second photo she’s pushing more dirt on top of the burial site. Of course I’ve heard about dogs burying bones, but I’ve never seen it before.
As you can see our new doormat could stand to shed a few pounds. Her hip stiffens up and stairs are particularly difficult for her. We’ll be putting he on a diet.