Ella Beast : Chicago
            

Packing Kevin's painting
"What the hell are you doing?" the old man yelled into my window. "You can't park here! What's wrong with you?"

I had just backed very carefully into a space barely wide enough for the car. My friend Kevin was riding shotgun, my dog Ella in a nest in the back seat. Funny, I thought as the man angrily waved me back into the alley, we only missed our target by about twelve feet.

That was exactly one year ago this evening—Wednesday, June 26, 2013. It was the tail end of a 24-hour odyssey that already felt like a dream.

In reality, though, the odyssey went back much farther. For months, Laura and I had been planning a move from Chicago back to New York City. The company she worked for had offered her a job in its New York office, and in fact she was already spending much of her time there, transitioning into her new role. It fell to me to make all the arrangements for moving, to get everything packed, and to find us a new place to live.

Full entry
            

I've been playing around quite a bit with the new Vine app, which lets you post six-second looping videos to your Twitter stream or other social media service. You can create animations or employ other goofy effects, but everything must be shot in order. No after-the-fact editing is possible.

Something else that doesn't seem to be possible, as many disgruntled users are discovering, is reuploading a Vine that fails to upload in the first place. If your upload fails, it looks like you're shit out of luck. I found this out on Saturday morning when a Vine I'd been planning in my head for days failed to upload. If I could have taken the Vine app out of my iPhone and smashed the code on the sidewalk, that's just what I would have done.

Rather than trying to reshoot my video, though, I found a workaround. Vine does save your little square video to your phone, and from there it can of course be uploaded to other video-sharing services. YouTube doesn't seem to allow embedded videos to loop, but Vimeo does, so that's where my lost Vine now lives:

Full entry

Our time with the Colonel

| No Comments
            

Lobo
On Sunday I was getting over a cold. After our morning walk with Ella, I went to bed to take a nap. I hadn't been down for long, though, when Laura came in and said, "I know you're trying to sleep, but I know you're going to want to meet this dog."

I grew up with German shepherds, and Laura knows I love them. She's somewhat allergic to dogs, which is why we have a hypoallergenic breed and not a shepherd. (Ella, by the way, is the greatest dog in the world and I would never trade her.) But the dog our downstairs neighbor Ann had in her apartment was gorgeous. He was huge, probably 120 pounds, with a long, long body, giant paws, and a grizzled muzzle. He was friendly and very sweet. He licked my face.

Ann had found him that morning wandering by himself around the neighborhood. He had no ID tag, but he did have a valid rabies vaccination tag. Ann had already driven him 80 blocks south to the Chicago Animal Control and Care facility on Western Avenue, only to find that it didn't open until noon. She had an appointment she couldn't break and wanted to let us know that there might be a strange dog in the basement for part of the day. "I'll take him down to CACC again when I get home," she said.

"Don't be silly," said Laura. "We'll take him for you, so we can get him there at noon."

Full entry

Infidel dog

| No Comments
            

Infidel dog
This morning,
with a high of seventy degrees in the forecast,
amazing for a November in Chicago,
I drove the dog to Warren Park.
That's where we go for a special treat
instead of our usual neighborhood walk,
because the squirrel chasing is most excellent,
and there are never any cops there to harass you,
a scofflaw walking his dog off its leash.

We like to run up the steps of the sledding hill,
which a parks department sign actually proclaims "Sledding Hill,"
and then charge down the slope,
after which we make our way around the skirt of the hill
where the squirrels rummage through the leaves
like so many bargain hunters.
We crunch crunch crunch across the orange carpet,
and if we're lucky we spot a squirrel far enough out
in the open that Ella can chase it full-bore
back to its tree.
She has never once caught one.
Or at any rate never killed one.

Next we like to follow the cinder jogging path
all the way around the little nine-hole golf course embedded
like an off-center yolk
in the albumen of the park,
and that's exactly what we did this morning.
I walked in the leaves at the side of the path,
trying to encourage Ella to do the same,
but unless she has a rodent, lagomorph or marsupial in her sights
she prefers to walk on pavement. Go figure.

We were on the south side of the golf course,
the tall chain-link fence meant to protect us from flying balls
off to our left,
when I saw two men coming our way along the path,
youngish men—younger than I, at any rate—
neatly bearded men dressed in long robes the color of wet sand.
It was already warm enough out that I was regretting
the heavy coat I wore over my hooded sweatshirt.
I snapped my fingers imperiously,
calling for Ella to return to my side,
to leave the path and get out of the way
of the two youngish men engaged in animated talk.

Full entry

Instinct

| No Comments
            

Let me tell you a story.

This morning I was out walking the dog,
who, honestly, can be a grouchy pain in the ass.
But today she was pretty good. It was clear and cold, being October,
and we had waited more than five minutes
to cross a busy street. Ella was alert for squirrels,
trotting with her head up like a tiny horse,
when half a block ahead we saw a woman walking a shepherd mix
of some kind. It was small for a shepherd, brown with
a little bit of red to it.
Ella sat down on her haunches, as she sometimes does,
and wouldn't budge. It's her way of telling the
other dog that they're equals, and she's not afraid.
I made her keep walking, though, but I kept her
on the side of me away from the other dog,
just to be on the safe side. Because you never know.

As we passed the woman, her dog lunged in front of me,
growling. Ella lunged back. She's a soft-coated wheaten terrier
and doesn't look like she could be that tough, but they
were both about the same size and it was an even match.
In the confusion of bodies and leashes and guttural snarls,
I could see the other dog's teeth, points of gleaming bone,
trying to find their way home in my dog's
throat. I hauled Ella into the air by her leash and
swung her clear of the scrap. She wears a body harness and not
just a collar for exactly this reason.
The woman, sounding shaken, could not have apologized more.
Her dog never acts like that. I was shaken too. She
thanked me for being so cool, but it's like I told her:
"Sometimes things like this just happen."
There's no reason for it.

It's much the same way that I don't like you.

Full entry
            

Squeak! squeak!
So Laura got home this morning from walking Ella to report to me, as I drank my unmagical coffee-n-cream, that they'd had a fantastic time. All except for one little incident.

There's a big preserve of prairie grass at the park in which the dogs like to romp. Ella herself enjoys tearing first one way then the other along the narrow paths through the tall grass. This morning Laura was nearby while a dog we know named Digger was playing in the preserve. She heard happy squeaks coming from Digger's direction. I'll let Laura report the rest in her own words:

I looked at Mike and I said, "Digger has a toy? A squeaky toy? I've never seen him with a toy at the park before! Fun!"

Mike replied, "He just caught a bunny. They sound like squeaky toys before they die."

Me: "Well, I guess that makes sense, but I have to go now."

Our own little carnivore is lying flat on her side on the floor next to me, her eyes fluttering as she fights sleep. I sure have a different view now of the delight she takes in running around the house with her rabbit toy squeaking in her mouth.

Full entry

Our poor dog

| No Comments
            

Morning sentinel
Ella's been having a rough time of it lately. Between thunderstorm season and fireworks season, she's been afraid to go outside after dark, and until recently she was starting to balk earlier and earlier in the day. (Yes, balk,, not bark.) We've been working with her very carefully to bring her anxiety level down, and it seems to be working.

I just hope she doesn't start shying away from the dry cleaners. Ella loves running errands in the car, and the dry cleaners is one of her favorite places to go. It's also one of our favorite places to take her, if only because it's one of the few businesses we frequent where we can bring her in with us. Usually Ella and I park in the lot out back, then walk around the corner to the front door. Ella knows where we're going, so she likes to dash ahead—around the corner and in through the glass door, which is usually propped open—while I brace myself so the tug on the leash doesn't dislocate my shoulder.

Okay, it's not really Ella's fault. It's not like she's a bird or something, attracted to her own reflection in glass. The door is usually, like I said, propped open. This afternoon Ella dashed ahead of me, like usual, and I cleared the corner of the building just in time to see her slam full force into the glass. I swear to God, she accordioned like a cartoon character.

She bounced off, shook her head, and seemed to be fine. But even as I was wincing and kneeling to make sure she hadn't broken something, I was wishing I had the whole thing on video.

Full entry

The bottom of the deck

| No Comments
            

Bearcase
No, Ella is not awaiting a date with the hangman. This is not a gallows but the new deck that's being constructed on the back of our house, and Ella is eagerly awaiting the day when the second level is complete and the back door out of our kitchen no longer opens on empty air.

Right now, Ella is mightily confused as to why we don't let her out the back door anymore.

Full entry

William Ratfriend

| No Comments
            

It's raining fairly hard here in Chicago this morning—not like in Texas, certainly, but hard enough that there's standing water a foot deep in places on our street. Ella and I just got back from an hour-long walk in that deluge. We had a famous time, chasing wet squirrels in the park and clambering on the maze of playground equipment that is forbidden to dogs.

Ella was kind enough to deposit a pile of turds near a large plastic rolling waste bin. It was the kind of bin with a hinged lid that is supposed to stay closed to keep rats out. The lid was open, though, and I swung the tied plastic bag of Ella's turds through the air and into the bin. Two points!

But the thud and swish of the bag landing in the bin was followed immediately by a harsh, raspy squeal. Startled, I moved near the bin and peered over the rim. A medium-sized rat was hunched in the sludgy foot of garbage at the bottom. I jerked back, then peered in again. The rat was soaked and looked terrified.

I drew back again. I had never seen a terrified rat before. I didn't know if it was injured, or if it had babies in there, or what, but clearly it was unable to climb the smooth, wet sides of the bin and escape.

Full entry

Here's a photo Laura took

| No Comments
            

Fetch!
Here's a photo Laura took with her birthday camera at Montrose Dog Beach here in Chicago:

I'd say, for best effect, check it out in its original size.

Full entry

Ella's Friends' Books!

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Chicago category.

Charity is the previous category.

Children is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Pages