Sunday, August 9, 2009

Racing time and mind

It's well into August, and I fear I've left the blog sitting idle too long. Weeks flee by like fugitives, marked only by my Wednesday visits, brief "supervised" moments with Brindi, after which I do several hours of errands. Otherwise, good or bad, I rarely emerge from the house. And for all that time, I can't seem to get through the growing list of things to be done. An electrician I had to call recently - to help stop the power company from cutting me off, after somebody apparently falsely reported a "dangerous situation" - asked me, "Don't you ever go anywhere?" Not really.

Finally it's summer, after a horrible, horrible winter. I glimpse the baseball games in the park behind my house from my bathroom window. On game days, for the past three years, I'd normally be out strolling the grounds with a dog, Howard or Brindi, and then both of us would hang out with the local team afterwards in their clubhouse. But not this year. I've all but forgotten that I live a few miles from a beautiful deserted beach; the drive down in the car alone, with no warm snout pressing into my shoulder, is no fun, just as a walk through the woods alone holds no interest for me anymore. As a result - naturally, I'm flabby, tired, and pale.

Haven't blogged for many reasons, and no reason at all. Much of the time, there are plenty of things I'd love to write about, but some of them are best left un-blogged - the risk outweighs the communicative purpose and whatever therapeutic benefits I gain from the exercise. Lately, I haven't even felt communicative at all; what is there to say? An entire year has come and gone, a year from hell, that won't end. I don't dare reflect on it any further, for fear of setting off a dozen roadside bombs in my head. Instead I work with images, like this one, which ended up on a t-shirt I tried to give to my favorite Beatle; hopefully, he received it. When I posted the same image on Facebook, suddenly people were asking where they could buy it, so a friend helped me put it on

I spend the brief time I am alloted with Brindi each week outside in the pen at the SPCA shelter, in sun or drizzle, taking cover under a tent they put up. I notice Brindi has gotten accustomed to me leaving: she now stands a few feet back from the gate with an expression of a hostess seeing off a guest. She learns quickly; she's adapted as best as she can, in her sporting, willing-to-please way, winning over even the toughest, and she has no idea that she is not supposed to be there. No use trying to get that across, it would only upset a person. I groom her and have been gently introducing the idea of a toothbrush to try to tackle the mess her teeth and gums have become. She licks at the toothpaste, actually meant for cats (but dogs love every sort of food for cats), and after the third time she let me get a good brushing on her canines before wriggling away. Her gums still bleed at the slightest thing - grabbing a toy or chewing a treat.

The Paul McCartney concert was the one notable exception of the whole summer, an occasion for me to leave the house for something other than groceries, court, lawyer interviews or meetings, or other Brindi-related business. In a word, the concert was amazing, truly amazing, no less for the number of ecstatic young (25 and below) people surrounding me who knew all the words, as for the perfection and endurance of the man himself, playing for a good three hours with a fabulous band, including two - or three? - lengthy encores. Just incredible. I stood for over six hours and hardly felt it, even the next day. Still - somehow, it was still hard to get really excited about it, as I did when I was 16 at the Wings Concert in Detroit. This time I was far closer to the stage, and even got a few great pictures (like this one), but the excitement and pleasure were numbed by the way I feel these days, or the way I don't feel - I submerge pain, dread and grief with great effort, and this does not allow joy to seep in very far, even the joy of seeing the 20th century's best musician and songwriter (in my humble opinion).

I now have a court date for the "trial", October 13, rather surprisingly: it seems the court must have been prepared, possibly setting aside this day. The day the date was set (July 15), every bench was packed and March was the date handed out to others. In fact it was so packed (at least 50 people plus about ten lawyers lining the walls), I took the opportunity to hand around the petition. There was an air of solidarity all of a sudden; people were quite willing to sign. Worried about speeding tickets or worse, they were quite stunned when they learned why I was there.

There is truly a sense of solidarity in my immediate community that belies the perception, or misperception, too eagerly circulated in online comments, that my neighbors all want Brindi dead, or at least shipped off somewhere. Most recently the contrary was articulated by the kind woman who rented me a storage unit up the road last Friday. I am using it to store the 20 custom-made wood windows that should have, and would have, long since been installed in my house, had this ordeal not happened. She and I exchanged several phone calls over the last two weeks, as I had to reschedule a few times. She was friendly but I wasn't aware she knew anything about me. When I saw her I realized she was the wife of the local tow truck operator - a man who fished me out of more than one scrapes with my old car through the last two horrible winters, often with her by his side. They live close by, pass my house daily. I forget what a small place this is, in my isolation, so I was a little surprised, when, as my friend and I started loading the windows into the little storage space, the woman asked me, in her great Quebec accent, "When do you think you'll get your dog back? I think it's terrible what they have done." She assured me that many, many people here in East Chezzetcook were on my side. She referred to the way they feel about "them" (the Halifax authorities, I assumed) with disapproval and some derision. I dare say many longtime residents here view HRM's treatment of me and Brindi with the same resentment they feel toward the annexation or regionalization of these smaller communities into the Halifax Regional Municipality (an organizational entity whose logic still escapes me - why a municipality (town) would become a region, eschewing the customary metropolitan area of a city). The loyalties to localities will always be stronger when it comes to certain things.

In any case, it was good to hear her encouraging words, along with the electrician's. He is also a neighbor, living just down the road. He had met Brindi a few times, and regards her as anything but "cross", the local term for a dangerous dog. I am greeted with same head-shaking reaction at the Porter's Lake hardware store, where another neighbor works, and at the bank, where the sympathetic receptionist always asks me how Brindi is doing. Earlier this summer, the former president of the local Lion's Club stopped his car in the road for a good while when he saw me out front, ignoring traffic to express his own disbelief and disapproval. It is over the top, and I guess people are ready to say so.

After he sent a second letter calling for an end to the "nonsense" to his fellow HRM councilors in June, deputy mayor David Hendsbee told me he got an angry letter from one of my neighbors. But it turns out that the person who sent it actually lives in Lower Sackville, a good 45-minute drive away from our constituency. "Well, in that case, I guess I don't have to bother to write back!" Hendsbee said.

Doubtless, there are those in the area willing to join her. I have to wonder how many of them have heard false rumors that Brindi has bitten people or destroyed dogs. The woman with the storage units was adamant that the majority want to see me get her back, and my friend felt the same; I don't doubt it, actually. The thing is, as is true in so many cases, the many are relatively quiet, while the few that have a negative view tend to be loud. Fortunately, the Chronicle Herald has chosen to publish four letters recently, all calling for Brindi's immediate return. Two even proposed that the city reimburse me for legal fees, a welcome idea as far as I'm concerned, and not unreasonable, given that the city's failure to provide a bona fide appeal process and its by-law's sweeping definitions of "dangerous", etc., forced me to have to hire lawyers and go to court. It certainly was not my preference, to risk understatement.


This coming week: a long-awaited benefit concert, at The Company House - which opened in Halifax last February - on August 13, with tickets priced at $10.
The performers include rising stars Andrea Somers, Ria Mae with Margot Durling, Bruce Stewart (all folk/singer-songwriters), and a new Beatles tribute band, Hard Day's Night.

Bruce's song, "Take Me Home", which he wrote some time ago, says it all, in my opinion...

I owe this touching show of support to Kelly Gray and the owner of the club, and all those helping with PR, and of course, the musicians themselves. I just can't believe the day is already here - in my mind, time is at a standstill; in my mind, it's still February.