Monthly Archives: July 2010

Artistic pretentiousness made E-Z

I like the general idea of art galleries. I like the fact one can browse unimpeded, sure in the knowledge that even if one is a cultural cretin, nobody else in the room knows that. All that is necessary is to stand reasonably well back from a painting, scratch one’s chin pensively, nod, utter a “Hmm,” and even the most stalwart fine arts maven will not have a clue that you had formerly thought Escher was the name of a contemporary singer.

It is also beyond refute (at least in myth) that galleries are great places to meet members of the opposite sex.

“So, do you like Turner, or what?”

“Ike or Tina? Oh – right – that Turner. The painter. Yes, I’ve always admired his – uh – intensity. And maybe, dare I say, his passion?”

“Ooh, you flirtatious devil, you.”

See. It was ever so easy. And now that acquaintanceship has been established, you can then – this works especially well if you’re in a European gallery – ask your new ‘acquaintance’ if she would like to saunter down to the bar and discuss Turner some more and maybe, if you are feeling especially brave and worldly, Modigliani.

If you are on a genuine quest to establish an aura of culture (not to mention some more new friendships) you can hang out at the gallery on a regular basis, and also convince yourself and your loved ones you are not wasting time. How can you waste time surrounded by works of art. You will actually impress others by the intensity of your cultural acumen, and they will never suspect you of being the deadbeat you actually are. 

All you need to do to pull off this ruse is to master a few stock phrases like: post-impressionist, neo-cubist, proto-classicist (this calls for a certain mastery of the well-tuned adjective), and then throw around statements like: “Well, Cezanne is Cezanne, but Matisse always expressed it better, in my humble esteem.” Now, who can argue with a guy who says things like that? At best, your enthralled public will merely be able to nod their heads.

Now, I don’t mean to convey the seemingly cynical idea that there might be some pretentiousness afoot in the world of the finer things, but perhaps you might want to check out the gallery scene in Woody Allen’s Manhattan, where he says much the same thing – only much better than I do, no doubt. Of course, if you happen to think that Woody is a tad pretentious in his scathing indictments of pretentiousness, then we aren’t getting anywhere, are we?

There are rules to be followed whilst in galleries. Laughing out loud is frowned up, and automatically categorizes you as hopelessly philistinic. Laughter is in especially bad taste (as is pointing and exclaiming loudly “Will you get a load of the tits on her!”) when the artist is present. And, no matter how much you might like to believe it, your eight-year-old simply cannot paint better than David Hockney.

Other rules include eschewing any thought of stating: “But, I know what I like.” No you don’t. Certainly not in pretentious artsy circles, you don’t. You may know what you think you like, but you would be wrong. They ‘know’ because they are authorities on art. They may even be, critics. Many critics innately sense that they (the critics) know much more about the work of, say Jackson Pollock, than Pollock himself did, when he drew the odd sober breath.

Something else to consider when looking at any work of art. Master widespread use of the word ‘interesting.” It works for almost all contingencies. It’s non-committal, and it suggests knowledge when absolutely none, in fact, is present.

In gallery protocols, there are other rules to be observed. Do not attempt to take surreptitious photos of paintings and other works of art. Galleries are businesses. And part of their business is selling prints, books and postcards of the works within. They will, of course, hand you some sort of BS about the light from the flash having negative impact on paintings, but its mainly about separating you from a bit of your money if you are seeking a souvenir.

But, as galleries need money to keep operating, so do artists to keep painting or sculpting, or doing whatever it is they do. I mean, it’s kind of romantic to be a consumptive artist in a garret somewhere, but you can never be sure when the TB is going to take you out, and meanwhile you have to eat and pay the rent. Actually, garrets are pricey real estate these days.

In that regard a conversation with a friend (yes, I do have them) over coffee yesterday led him to reveal to me that a significant local gallery’s board has decided it will not take commercial artwork. You want to sell, to be commercial? Then you can’t be in our gallery. Ah, purists. Eschewing the marketplace. Now, there’s a plan. I have a couple of blogger friends who are truly fine artists and I think I should maybe suggest to them that they should stop selling their work and, you know, just ‘give’ me items of my choosing. I mean, I’d like some of their works, so isn’t that the counterculture way. Sort of a free-store for your creative sweat and tears.

Now, as you know, I paint a bit. I not only paint, I paint just for me and the person who has chosen to live with me, so I am not commercial. But, you know, I’m not going to ‘give’ you one of my paintings. If you really, really wanted one (which would be doubtful) then I would ask you to cough up some sort of compensatory sum. Actually, somebody I know did suggest she’d like a particular painting of mine and asked me to suggest a price. I thought, I dunno. Maybe $10,000. That’d help keep me going. Then you wouldn’t feel guilty like those heartless bastards who wouldn’t stake Van Gogh to even the price of a shot of absinthe. Think about how they felt afterwards. Of course, the creeps who already had their hands on Sunflowers or Starry Night were probably too crass to care.

There are likely worse jobs, but I cannot think of any

There are many hateful jobs in the world – coal miner, public restroom janitor, prison guard, septic tank cleaner, tar and gravel roofer in a hot climate, Lindsay Lohan’s personal assistant – but I think there is one that must surpass all others in wretchedness and utter lack of reward, and that is substitute teacher.

Having been a regular teacher with classes of my very own for eight years (and finding that challenging enough at different times), I cannot imagine what it must be like to stride into some other bozo or bozette’s classroom and introduce yourself as the sub. Talk about skunk at a garden party, or undercover narc at a biker gathering. You are going to die by the end of this day, me bucko, at least metaphorically. You have a great big target on your forehead and another one on your ass. 

I know there are people, especially in times of high unemployment in pedagogical ranks, who are forced to be a sub (supply teacher, teacher-on-call, or whatever) in order to keep bread on the table, but for God’s sake, wouldn’t it be preferable to be on welfare, or dishing out fastfood for minimum wage? Would for me.

I mean, I know it’s difficult for newbie teachers to get jobs – uh, like why did you go into a calling for which there is virtually no demand, and yet you want to tell kids how to make their way in the world. Scary – and the main demand is good grades in university, and a close familial relationship with somebody already in the business in the local district. Principal’s kids always get top priority. That’s a reality that should be taught at all teachers’ colleges. Nepotism Rules!

Anyway, as I say, I never subbed, but I had a few of them in my day. And while it may not be the same now, some of the ones we had made it abundantly clear why they had no public school tenure. Generally our subs were 1) weird; 2) weird and stupid; 3) weird and psycho; 3) weird and alcoholic – or various combinations of the aforementioned.

Here are a couple of my recall:

Miss Crump: I have no recall what her actual name was, so I chose the name of Sheriff Andy Taylor’s schoolmarm girlfriend. This lady was completely dotty. She was about a century old and actually wore pince-nez (the only person since FDR to do so). She drove an aged Morris Oxford car which was always filled to the brim with a motley menagerie of cats and dogs that she hauled around with her and left sitting in the parking lot all day. I shudder to think of the stink within. And she was loopy. She talked utter blather and mainly demanded we keep quiet. We were in junior high. I mean, as if we were going to keep quiet. Periodically (about 4 times an hour) she would exit the room and when she returned the smell of cheap rye whiskey would be a little stronger. I mean, in retrospect, I feel a bit sorry for her. But then, she was a target. Almost too easy.

Mr. Tanschak: This guy was built like Danny DeVito and had about the same charm as Danny when he played Louie DaPalma on Taxi. But, we didn’t piss around with him too much, mainly because he would describe in detail and with pride how they used to sadistically handle troublemakers when he was a guard at a juvenile detention facility. I have no idea if that was actually true. If it was, he should have been up on charges. But, he was such a bullshitter at other levels, that I have my doubts. For example, he told us that he was the inventor of corndogs and held the patent rights on them. Uh, if so, why are you substitute teaching. In truth, he never really did any teaching but would read us stories out of some book that he told us was one of the rarest books anywhere.

There were others through the years, like the big dude who told us he had played for the NFL, and the little wan-faced woman named appropriately Miss Gray, who thought it would be a splendid thing (we were doing something on pioneers in about 2nd grade) if she taught us how to make candles. So, there we were with a big drum of boiling wax on a camp stove in a wooden frame building that had been a firetrap since about 1890. I guess somebody ratted the silly woman out because the next day we had a different sub.

I’m still sort of in charge but maybe I don’t care quite as much

In the past week or so I have been browsing in desultory manner through a book I’ve had kicking around for 15-years or so called The Seasons of a Man’s Life, by Daniel J. Levinson.

What it really consists of is a series of case studies that look at the world through the eyes of assorted men of various callings as they make their passages through the morass of life. It goes right from kiddiehood to later middle age. I was especially interested, for obvious reasons, on the mid-life transition period, since it’s one with which I’m rather familiar.

As I indicated, I’ve had the book kicking around for ages but never really got into it. I think that’s because I wasn’t ready for it. I was still transitioning a lot at the time of purchase.

So, today, I want to look at ‘mid-life crises’ (I use the plural for valid reason) from the male perspective. Sometimes this distressing phenomenon is called ‘male menopause’ or andropause, whatever works. While volumes have been devoted to the female menopause (for absolutely valid reason, so I don’t quibble about that) there is still a paucity of study of what men face.

Now, some get through this transitionary time with élan. At the end of it, around 50-ish, they are still quite happily with their original spouses, they have their personal habits in check, they like their jobs, their homes, their career path, their leisure activities, their friends, their extended families, and at the end of a tiring day they can still ‘get it up’ with comfortable excitement with the ministrations of the person who was once their high-school sweetie.

None of those applied to me, I must confess. I think I have medals of honor from the mid-life combat zone, and I have the scars to prove it. But, I also survived it.

I cannot remember exactly how old I was when I went into the realm of MLC, but it was an amazingly disruptive time. And, despite those fine fellows who sail through it, a lot of men are like me. But, as Levinson points out, if you don’t get your shit together during that time, you never will. And sometimes the passage is like the Cape of Good Hope – turbulent and threatening all the while – and that makes it even more worthwhile to dig in, find focus and evoke the changes we must. I think I did that, and I also think I got my shit together sufficiently to enable me to find, I daresay, genuine joy in my life. But, what a trip to get there.

Going back to our guy that sailed through, and making a comparison. When I was 50-ish (and over the previous decade) I’d crashed and burned in two marriages (one ended after 24 years, the other after 11-months), took no care at all with my health and smoked and drank heavily, I was frustrated in my job and my mid-management position (I wanted to be boss, and deserved to be), my friendships and associations grew increasingly chaotic and, while I could easily get it up, it wasn’t necessarily with the person I was ‘meant’ to be with, but with random other persons.

Yet, through it all I navigated a certain course that, while it was unclear at first, it eventually clarified. Many things helped me along that way. Good friends were essential, some counseling, major lifestyle changes, finding a partner whom I could genuinely love, and who genuinely loved me, and even putting a lot of my thoughts into words. Somewhere kicking around is a 250 page manuscript that has never seen the light of day. In that I offer some words of advice to younger males. Maybe advice is too strong – suggestions might be preferable. There was good therapy in writing it. It’s probably too naïve to ever be published, but I don’t really care about that. That was another change within me – ceasing to care about things that are purely ego-driven. Never thought I’d be at that place, but here I am. Albeit, only to a degree. I still take much pride in what I do.

Another element that enters the life of us all at a certain age is recognition of mortality. Parents and other senior members of the family pass on, and eventually contemporaries start to as well. Does that mean ‘death’ could happen to me? Well, yeah, and likely sooner rather than later. Get over it. But, it’s a big adjustment this mortality thing, and it puts other things that used to distress in a certain perspective of relative unimportance. In truth, awareness of death can be mentally healthy.

“I don’t care so much that he got a new sportscar,” I overheard my first wife saying to a friend many years ago when I first acquired the hot little vehicle I still drive to this day, “As long as he doesn’t want to get a new wife.” Little did she know that within months our marriage would have ended and within a few months after that I would be on the quest for a new wife. And so it began. And yet I made it through. I am happy about that.

One thing that did help me through all the stuff was acquiring one bit of wisdom especially, and that was to kill ‘expectations.’ There is a bit of wisdom that has been bandied around for years. It holds that: Expectations are resentments lying in wait. I fully believe that. Thus, when anything really good happens — and lots of good things still do — it comes as a nice surprise because it’s always unexpected rather than longed for.

Not all Moms are June Cleaver or Donna Stone

What annual festive occasion is the most lucrative one for the greeting card business? I think most of us know it is not Groundhog Day or Whitsuntide, but dear old Mother’s Day.

There is a fallacious belief that Ma’s Day was a calculated invention by the Hallmark Company, but actually it goes back much further than that, so Hallmark is off the hook. There are references to a special day honoring the materfamilia of the Roman Empire, and our observance was largely inspired by a proclamation by Julia Ward Howe in 1870, decrying the losses of husbands and sons in the recent US Civil War. It was essentially a screed that tied feminism and pacifism together, held by a glue that suggests violence is an exclusively male domain – right Karla Homulka and Lucretia Borgia?

Anyway, the point of the preamble is that we not only are expected to love and respect our moms, we are meant to sometimes elevate them to precipitous levels – I’ll daresay sometimes undeservedly.

Well, in that regard there are mothers and there are mothers. We have our fictional pop-culture moms like Mrs. Cleaver and Mrs. Cunningham, Donna Stone and even Marge Simpson (arguably the most long-suffering of all), but we also have the Ma Barkers of the world and a few others who would not be recipients of PTA awards for responsible mumsy behavior. But, I’ve known some amazing real-life mothers for whom I’d always doff my hat and must confess to having envied their children. For example, while my 2nd wife and I had a pretty tempestuous relationship (though it had its moments), I would never impugn her mothering instincts. Therein she was a warm, caring and nurturing individual. At least from my perspective. My late mothers-in-law, both of them, did not fit the bitch-crone image of the cliché MIL (as opposed to MILF, which is an entirely other matter and not to be mentioned here). I valued them in my life and envied their children.

I’ve already made mention of my own mother figure, and shall not belabor that issue again. Suffice it to say that Mumsy never quite got her head around the ‘nurturing’ aspect of parenthood, and let it go at that.

But, compared to the tale of one poor bastard, my mother comes up smelling of sainthood.

Story in the weekend papers about a man, a decent man, a good man, a hard-working, happily married husband and father who is, get this, being sued by Mom for support. OK, at one level, as creepy as it is, you might think she has a point, what with having brought him into the world and all.

But, that was all she did. She literally abandoned her son when he was 15, buggered off out of town, and left him in a small town in the BC interior to fend for himself, with no roof, no source of income, nothing, nada, zilch. And now this evil person is suing him and his siblings so that she (who has never worked a day in her life) can continue her lifestyle. Oh, and our subject, a victim of the recession, is just barely eking out a living as a trucker, and has kids he wants to send to college. But, the bitch-queen wants $300 per month from him and each of his siblings. And she has taken her ‘ungrateful’ offspring to court.

And her asshole lawyer who merrily took the case (beats chasing ambulances, I guess) is citing a law that was passed in 1918 and has very rarely been invoked, to justify the case. All I can hope is the presiding judge has an ounce of common sense (which is sometimes in short supply with superannuated members of the Canadian judicial body) and compassion for the circumstances.

Otherwise, if I were he, I’d be booking passage for Brazil (no extradition treaty) and raising my hand in 2nd digit salute to dear old Mom and a system that hasn’t trashed such a law.

Oh, and Mom, you look just a little better when I compare my tale to his.

Taking a tour of my personal gallery — at least part of it

My artistry, such as it might be, is purely a personal thing. I began painting in the early 1990s with no objective other than personal creative therapy. This came about after a desultory avocation as a cartoonist. And these pictures (covering a number of subjects over many years) may not show wondrous skill at artistry, especially when compared with the works of such blogging artists as Andrea or Leslie, to name but two of many out there.

No, all I can say about my stuff is that it is my stuff, and I kind of like it and have it hanging in my house. This is only a small sampling and it comes about as a suggestion from blogger pal Geewits. You’ve seen some of these before, and now you’re going to see them again. I am not a soi-disant ‘artist’, I am a hobbyist and don’t profess to be more. Of course, if anybody would like to tell me I’m more, I’d be ever so flattered. So, here goes:

This is from a photograph of a dramatic canyon near Crater Lake OR. I’m acrophobic but Wendy isn’t so she took the shot.

This is a spot a few miles south of where I live called Tigh-na-Mara. At low tide a vast expanse of sand shows, and the arbutus (madrona) tree is typical of east coast Vancouver Island.

I’ve posted this one before. This is my impression of the exquisite French alpine town of Annecy. Wish I was there right now.

A sandstone formation near Palm Springs CA. A beautiful desert spot known as Indian Canyons.

St. Nicholas Church, Bradwell, Norfolk, England. This is the 13th Century church in the little village where I lived for a year in the early 1980s.

Twin Falls, Island of Kauai. Another place that captured my soul and draws me back with power on a regular basis.

My earliest painting evah. A scene in front of my home at Craigdarroch Beach, whence I lived for 18 years in another lifetime — maybe in a galaxy far away. Excuse the flash projection on the glass, it’s not a wayward sun.

I conclude with an entirely gratuitous ‘work-in-progress’ and it is far from finished. I took one of the models I’d sketched in the ive drawing course I took in the spring and placed her in a pastoral setting. It’s absolutely not intended to be salacious, but doesn’t she have the cutest darn bum?

OK, so I’m not perfect. No-no, really I’m not, but it’s nice of you to say …

OK, I cannot fold a fitted sheet so that it looks moderately presentable, or even usable by polite company to save my life. I don’t believe men are gender equipped to do that task, much like my wife is challenged by parallel parking. Consequently, I agree to do the parking if she’ll fold the sheet to make it look like something I’d welcome sleeping atop of.

No, really, I’m not just shirking here. I think my dog; even without having opposable thumbs could do a neater job than I do. No matter how hard I try, the end result always sucks and leaves me with a strong impulse to scrunch it into a ball and shove it way in the back of the linen cupboard. King-size sheets are the absolute worst.

There are things in this life that I do well, I’m proud to say, both as a human being and as a male human being. There are other things I don’t do well – OK, I do extremely badly — and if I pretend I do them well there will be somebody out there who will provide factual examples to illustrate what a stinking liar I am. So, yes, there is stuff at which I claim no expertise.

I cannot pretend to be good at all things or I wouldn’t be human. Of those things I’m not good at my failures stem from two sources only: 1) ineptitude and 2) sheer laziness. Of the basic causes, number 2 is by far the greatest.

So, aside from sheet folding, I do not do well with the following:

–         Wrapping gifts: My presents always look like a double carpal amputee wrapped them. They’re messy, the two ends of the wrapping paper don’t always meet, and I am a subscriber to the notion that if a little scotch tape is good, a lot is even better. Thank God for those little gift bags that came into vogue a few years ago.

–         Chopping Onions: When Wendy chops an onion her hands and the blade move so rapidly you can scarcely see them, and the end result is perfect slices or chunks. Were I to chop at her pace the chopping board would be rendered incarnadine due to the assorted involuntarily severed digits mixed in with the onions.

–         Catching a ball: The noble game of baseball is a favorite of mine, has always been. But, if I were told that the only way I could avoid execution was to catch a ball, I’d say get the gibbet ready, boys, because I’m a goner. Just can’t do it. Toss me something softer like a marshmallow, and I’m still hopeless. Hand-eye coordination? I don’t know. When I was a kid I could bat like a hot-damn, so that isn’t necessarily a factor. I also play a good game of darts, and pool and billiards aren’t utter embarrassments for me, so I don’t get it. By my age I also don’t really care and never truly have since the Dodgers left Brooklyn.

–         Being passive: I’m hopeless at a concert, an opera, a symphony, or a church service. I squirm, change positions 3,000 times an hour, unbelievingly check my watch every 2 minutes, and inwardly whine: “When is this going to be ooooooverrrrrrrrrrrrr?” It doesn’t matter how good the offering is. If it were Eddie Van Halen and Eric Clapton in a session of dueling guitars I’d still end up getting restless. I think it’s all to do with not being in control and not being able to establish my own timeline for an event. “The Second Coming, cool. So, when is it over, because NCIS is on tonight at 8?” Essentially I am an active person, lazy slob that I might be. I like to be doing, and I also like to stop, nap, procrastinate, etc. on my terms.

–         Listening: If there is any single thing that women utterly revile about men is that men do not listen to what they say. I have been known to be guilty of same. Again it’s back to that passivity thing. You see, I zone out, depending on whom I’m talking to and think lovely thoughts about little fawns in forest meadows or “I wonder what you look like with your clothes off,” when some young eniviro scientist is explaining to me her findings on wayward sewage sludge for the sake of a newspaper article I am writing. Truly, I have been known to completely zone out mid-interview, which is a bit mortifying. “Sorry, but I wasn’t a bit interested in what you were telling me, so I nodded off. Could you repeat it please?” That would never work, so you find ways of covering your ass by saying such things as: “Come again? Damn hearing aid is acting up on me today.”

–         Ironing: Whenever I am called upon to iron an item of clothing due to the female in my life having been called away, having broken both her hands, etc. the end result looks like – well, like something ‘I’ have ironed. On the other hand, I do have slightly less trouble with ‘irony’.

–         Administering Discipline: I make for a lousy parent in the old ‘spare the rod’  regard, which is why it is probably good that I’m not a parent in any regard whatsoever, because essentially I believe in the virtue of judiciously administered discipline. I just can’t do it. I end up sparing that old rod all the time. I think it was because I was raised in such a strict home that I became a softie. During the brief window of time in which I was a stepdad my wife would regularly indict me (well, she regularly indicted me for nearly everything that was bad in her world) for being too soft with her daughter. And yeah, I was. Big beautiful brown eyes tearing up would turn away my wrath in a trice. “It’s OK, hon’. Just make sure you don’t ever rob a 7-11 again.”

But, I’m not a hopeless shmuck, I am proud to say. There are things I am good at. Well, there are likely more things I’m bad at, but I remain proud of the following:

–         Potato salad: I make the best damn potato salad you’ve ever tasted. Trust me on that. Even enemies and ex-wives have been known to sing its praises.

–         French-Canadian split-pea soup: Again, praised here and abroad. Well, not so much abroad, but it would be if somebody living abroad had actually tasted it. The secret lies in adding exactly the correct ratio of maple syrup and vinegar.

–         Cooking in general: Come to my house for a meal and let me prepare it and you will find dishes created with flair and imagination. Wendy and I share culinary tasks and since she is a trained and certified restaurant cook we don’t fare too badly.

–         Driving: My recent citation for cruising too blithely through a stop sign notwithstanding, I have an excellent driving record and people are perfectly comfortable with me at the wheel.

–         Writing: Since I’ve earned my living as a scribe for much of my adult life, and have even earned a modicum of respect and skill, I think I must be OK. As it stands, nothing I’ve ever sent to a newspaper as a freelance has ever been rejected. Now, book writing, that’s a different thing. In that realm I have a drawer stuffed with rejection notices. But, I persevere.

–         Artistry: I’ll never be brilliant and stuff of mine will never end up in a major gallery show, but I am able to create something that actually looks like something.

‘Come on, Dude, load up the woodie and take me to the Big Kahuna

I am a Pisces – as if I believed in astrology, which I don’t, except when it applies directly to me and only with favorable portents – and hence I’m a water person – or fish.

That part is true. I love everything that can be done in or upon the water. I love to swim, and taught myself how to do so when I was about 8. Tropical snorkeling is about as close to heaven as I can get on this earth and is so beneficial for my psyche that an underwater excursion once cleared up a minor depression I was having on a visit to Hawaii? Depressed on Hawaii? What gives? You might be forgiven for asking. I say, “Dun’t esk.” I don’t SCUBA, but that is mainly because I never go around to it.

I love boating, used to water-ski when I owned a boat, and one of my regrets is that I never took up surfing when I was young. Otherwise, I cherish looking at seascapes, lakescapes, riverscapes and even pondscapes, which is why I have one in the back yard. I also once had a beautiful, kidney-shaped (why never liver-shaped, or spleen-shaped, one might ask?) in-ground pool. I’d have one again if I could afford a pool-girl (why would I want a pool-boy?) and somebody to help pay for the chermicals needed on virtually a daily basis.

So, I love the water, as you gather. Even the terms moist and damp are evocative to me. No, maybe better not to ask in this category, either.

Anyway, that stated, you can imagine my complete delight in having a dog that is a water dog. We had no idea until the warm weather of summer came upon us. We knew he loved the foreshore and would race along the sandbars. The Oregon Coast was sheer bliss for Max, though he was afraid of the surf. But here, where the waters are placid, he’s a swimming fool. I’ve always wanted a dog that loved the water s much as do I. I’ve had dogs that will tolerate it with a little bit of coaxing, stick-throwing, or unceremoniously chucking-in, but not one who was crazy about water of any description, and who demands a Baptismal total-immersion whenever he sees a body larger than a bathtub.

He’s even water-savvy enough now to know which water he can drink (fresh), and which he cannot (salt). To show how crazy he is about it, I just returned from a walk with him. We went up to a park about ¾ of a mile distant. It’s a warm day. At the park there are two sizeable duckponds. As we strode along the pond Max decided to hell with it. It’s warm and I’m going in. He marched down to the mucky, weed and lily festooned pond and wallowed about five times. I could see the look of serenity on his face. He looked at me as if to say: “Why the hell aren’t you down here, too? You usually go in with me.”

I could offer him no explanation other than to say I’m glad he cooled off, and now I get to endure, like just this moment, a dog that smells like the Okefenokee. Well, it’s worth it to have a water dog.