Hello, and welcome. My name is David Ross, and my dog’s name is Jasper. He’s is, of course, a beautiful dog; a Plott Hound/Choc Lab mix, rescued from a shelter in N.C. and now 2 years old. On the other hand, I am proud to be of the human persuasion. I am part Scotsman, and other parts unknown but equally unhindered by convention, I would guess. Work wise, I am or have once been a house painter, homebuilder, boatbuilder, cabinetmaker, logger, ME landowner and log home builder, lumber stacker, sawyer, post-and-beam guy, home designer, web designer, web programmer, tree farmer, grease monkey, electrician, plumber, welder, silkscreener, and wannabe writer. That last one is what I’m working on these days. At leasst until the snow melts.
Jasper and I reside somewhere in the cosmic country nexus that is the area around the beautiful villages of Tamworth, Whiteface, Wonalancet, and North Sandwich NH. It’s a big, beautiful, mountainous and vibrant nexus – a liberal mix of huge gobs of nature, honest hardworking rednecks, dazed aging hippies with a tool belt, scattered international carrom players, beginner astronomers, uppity Mass summer snobs, talented futbol players, parlez vouz-ing Francophile poets, do-gooder Toyota-driving enviros, boaters, bikers, hikers, bakers, Quakers, skiers, and die or live free-ers. There are also lots of mysterious people you barely see, shuffling up up long, winding dirt driveways into the woods, often in the snow, whose names you never know. I am a little bit of all of these. Actually I am a LOT of all of these. I may be all of these, personified.
I am blessed in many ways, and I am continually and eternally thankful for these blessings. I don’t know where they came from, and I’m not sure I deserve them, but I’ll take every last one. Who wouldn’t, right? They say you have to play the hand that’s dealt you, so I guess I will. Everyone knows how much I like to play – especially carrom! – so I don’t think playing a hand or two of cards should be a problem, though when I’m not wearing these mirror shades, I have a terrible poker face. Sometimes, I can’t even help but impulsively chuckle or chortle a bit when I pick up my cards. I don’t just have a tell; I have a long-ass story you probably don’t want to hear, or maybe already heard twice.
It has been said by wiser folks than me, I don’t just sell myself cheaply, I give myself away. I love to talk and yap to everyone about everything. I love and talking about everything. I push myself on the street corner to anyone with a pulse. I want to convince people how cool my great ideas are, sometimes like a Hare Krishna with a quota. My big brother, the ex-lawyer, says I should learn to count to ten before speaking, which was optimistic for him. I thought around five seconds might be a sustainable target. I think I could shut up for that long, lol. My ex suggested it should be a hundred instead. Lol, good one Ex.
My last love interest, in a rare moment of keen insight about her new boyfriend, said she thought if I could make it to one second, I’d probably be okay most of the time. That was the funniest thing she ever said. Most of the things she said were not that funny, particularly towards the end. I’m guessing that the ghosts of Mom and Dad were not at all surprised with our breakup ( could have thrown me a hint, there, Sheila? ), as they both knew long ago that I didn’t have great self control. Let’s just say that fact affected them both in different ways. And leave it at that, for now.
Anyway, life has definitely been interesting, and I’ve had some really weird twists and turns – particularly lately; maybe I’ll get around to telling you about some of them here. Or maybe I’ve already told you a little about some of them. Overall, I believe my path has been a good one and has led me to where I needed to go. I chose some things, and some things I just knew I had to do. At other times – much of the time – I guess the wind was just pushing my sails. A few of those moments, I could have sworn I heard a faint whisper on that incoming breeze, always just out of range. Those were moments of extreme grace.
But those graceful moments have been rare. Lots of other moments were very hard, and some were just the same old grind, which some would call boring but I just don’t seem to get bored. When your work puts you to sleep? There’s so much else to think about and learn. Anyway, in the end I don’t know if I’ll have a single important thing to say by the end of this blog. But as my Mom Sheila used to say, ‘Now David. Strap in! And try to smile, will you?’. Maybe that’s all we can do. Sheila was a funny woman and an old soul, though I should mention, with great forgiveness, that she also had a voracious thirst. That affected me and the sibs in different ways, as can be expected, and we’ve had to work out some stuff. Let’s just leave it at that for now. I would humbly ask that you give us a break. Life is hard, at least that’s what my Tibetan friends always say. I agree. It can be an absolute Grizzly bear sometimes. Coming straight at you, growling, all claws and snarliness.
I am generally a regular guy, but maybe a little smarter and a little more enthusiastic than the average bear. Mom thought so and told me for most of my life that I shouldn’t let it go to my head. Dad might of thought so, but never really mentioned it directly and couldn’t get past thinking I was a loser who might lose my wallet and die destitute a month after the old coot finally passed away. Yet whatever they might have thought, I am now just me, the me that happened along the way. Some parts of that me are curious, passionate, and really hard working; at least in bursts. I also do not give up. Ask the ex, who always said I was ‘a lot’. Maybe I just got to be too much. Anyway, as a result of all that, and a little bit of luck, I now mostly spend my time thinking about really cool stuff, talking to my dog, walking and exploring the local landscape, looking at maps (for my walks), building things, facebooking, or watching English futbol, in about that order of priority. Btw go Chelsea! It seems like in 2017 there is not an English futballing ass we can’t kick. Personally, I think it’s because Antonio Conte told Eden Hazard to cheer the hell up and play some ball. That kid is so good when he’s in the right mood.
Sometimes, for a long time now, I also like to write stuff down. Usually, I file it away and feel shitty about it. But lately, I feel as if more and more of the stuff I think about needs to be written down and said, shitty or not. A lot of people are already saying it. Too many people appear to have stopped thinking about stuff entirely. They appear to simply believe what they hear, if a well-dressed person is telling them on the TV, even when my sleeping dog Jasper can tell it’s crap from across the street, without waking up, using tail signals and a couple of snorts. Admittedly, Jasper has an amazing crap-meter. Most people do not.
Anyway, in case your wondering why I’m here, my darn Facebook friends want to get all of this annoying and nitpicking Dave-ishness off of their feeds, so that we have a remote chance of harmony again. So here we are. I am going to post a puppy/sunshine/happy photo on FB on the mornings I can, and if I write something cool (or annoyingly brilliant) about politics, or any other forms of life, I’ll just post a link there and not force-feed my friends my crap. I’d rather they eat my crap voluntarily, happily chewing away, one spoonful at a time. And ask for a dessert of silly nonsense. That could work for me. Maybe it could work for you. I have no interest in breaking into your house and starting to scream at you. I want you to come visit me so I have someone to talk to all day. Oh no. Don’t tell me I’m doing all this just because I’m lonely (looks around). But I have to admit it’s a possibility.
So I’m just going to hang out here every day and start yakking, louder and more ridiculously than ever, and I can yak pretty darn ridiculously. Again, ask the ex. I will try to make sense, provide a steady menu of interesting distraction and delight, and entertain. I’m like a girl. I just want to have fun. My FB pals can come if they want. Something my Mom used to say is what’s the point of having a voice if you don’t use it. I feel pretty good about the way some of it is coming out. If you like it, or if it makes you think, learn something new, or especially laugh out lud, I’ll be happy. If I’m happy, Jasper;s usually happy to. Feel free to tell us about it. Or not. Either way, there is enough good stuff for everyone to have plenty to think about. Jasper’s been busy all day.
If you don’t like it here, at least a little, then why are you reading this at all anymore? You should be gone already; but if you’re not, take your boo-Dave vibe and go get lost in your twisted daydream where everything works out in the end, the hero kills all the bad guys without reloading, and goes home to get laid without commitment or a single iota of emotional suffering. You wish. Ha ha ha. Nothing is that certain here, my new friend, on this particular astral plane. Not inside this particular Dave Sandwich. Not in a great big impossible-to-see world filled with a quintazillion atoms that might be one of a trillion galaxies coming out the ass end of a black hole. Snap of fingers, Whooosh. Where I mean nothing is at it seems. Yo Doc Hawking? Give me a call on that weird phone of yours, we got a few questions here, lol.
So if you are indeed ready to think about stuff, be nice, and make a reasonable effort to figure it out – that’s all I’m doing after all – then stick around. However, if at this point you feel your head starting to hurt, and there’s no possibility you’re going to get me, and you’re going to start complaining that I’m just a liberal dummy or a socialist or an enemy of America or any version of mean in my face, then that’s not going to last long. Jasper and I are not sticking around for that, even if you have a pocket full of hot dogs. And we both love a good dog.
But I just turned sixty, and he just turned two; so we’re about even on wisdom, and we’ve agreed that our minds are forever too open for people who aren’t as open as us. We are simply moving on. Neither of us have any plans to go back to our old small versions of our closed-up lives. These two big slobbering friendly dogs broke out of that kennel together. Lots of times, I can still get so stuck in humanity; anger, regret, shame, second thoughts; even big old backyard piles of stinky shoulda-coulda-woulda that I can’t give away. But my pal Jasper? He only lives for the joy of the Now, for the next ball, or bone, or toy, or walk, or nap; the sweet anticipation of the very next fantastic moment. That’s all he’s doing all day.
Jasper doesn’t even own a suit or a suitcase, and he’s never bought an insurance policy in his life. He doesn’t even need a toothbrush, he just chews on sticks and his teeth stay shiny. He owns less stuff than Jack Reacher; he doesn’t use a toothbrush and has only one single item of clothing. It’s funny, even all his blankets and toys and medicines and food is actually mine. I mean, for all intents and purposes, it’s his. But I buy it, own it forever and also get this: I have to buy, care for, replenish, tend, repair, replace, clean, de-smell, and otherwise manage it all.
If you were an alien scout who had just landed in my yard, and jumped out of your spaceship, unfamiliar with the language of either man or dog, I would not be surprised if between the visuals, the behavior patterns, and the occasional aroma, you deduced that Jasper was some kind of retired Jamaican rock star living in my house, I was his Geisha, and my primary job besides rubbing his thighs constantly was to keep the bowl full. Hell, I spend about 40% of my day tending to his needs in one way or another, and at those infrequent times when his pee-poop-food-toy-walk-attention needs are satisfied, he tends to nap nap on the couch while I rub his belly and massage his head. At night, of course, I am banished to the upstairs bedroom with the periodic mouse scritching and the worn flannel sheets, while he gets to sleep in the living room, 20 feet from the fridge, with the electric baseboard heat on, one the leather couch, with the remote beside him on the coffee table.
The kicker? Get this … he’s my best friend. Not the other way around. It’s mind-bending when you think about it.
Unless I’m completely bonkers, he is definitely the one in the room who can say that his ‘shit is together’. Mine is definitely not as together as his. So I’m trying to observe closely, and maybe pick up a trick or two from this incredibly patient, kind, enthusiastic, graceful, and smart dog. Sometimes he makes happiness look so easy. (In return, I’m doing him a favor too; teaching him to sit down, lay down, don’t move, and STFU).
Jasper and I simply don’t need your frustrated, gurgling negativity when he’s not even going to hear it, and I have lots of things to do. Actually, we don’t need your bogus, downer vibe even if we aren’t doing a thing and Chelsea is ahead 2-0 with Willian streaking down the wing with a nice chance. Even if we’re only napping, Jasper and I are simply too busy and content for party poopers like you.
One other little housekeeping item. (web guy note: turn that into a category). I have always truly loved a solid and well-argued debate, so if you’ve got a counterpoint, let me know in the comments. Just remember, this is not – not at all – about you or me being a jerk. That’s actually irrelevant, and for the record I will hereby admit that I sometimes can be a one – I confess I’ve been told as much – and you can probably be one too. At least on occasion. C’mon, fess up. Jasper called your ShiTzu yesterday and talked for ten. Do you really want to deny that you can get – as TenderNuzzle put it – a little ‘gnar gnar’ on occasion, especially in the morning when you’re late and can’t find your keys? Please. If you want, you can bring that little ShiTsu over. Jasper and I have both been a little short on TenderNuzz lately).
Why don’t we just do this? Lets be nicer to everyone in the world tomorrow and commit to putting our own stuff aside once in a while. Maybe one day a week we could do an ‘about everyone else’ day. Just stop talking and ask questions. Done and dusted. It would be tough for me, but I could sign on if you do. Arguments about politics and religion can get bad. But they are really important arguments, so we can’t just pretend that we don’t have to have them anymore. We also can’t just keep taking turns suffering through four years of the other guys ideas that we really think are terrible and wrong.
That’s what I believe the Founding Fathers were doing that day in Philly. They were thinking pretty hard , about politics and religion, and they were arguing. A lot. And loudly. And they were making very important decisions. That’s why as a country we’re so proud of what they did, all these years later. What the Founding Fathers were probably not doing was acting like jerks, blaming a all the poor people for their problems, trolling the internet for perverse kicks, or hitting each other over the head with the same junk 500 year old ideas that they were there to burn. So if you disagree about a point, I’ll be happy to have that discussion. But please first explain yourself as completely and as honestly as I have explained myself here. Then we’ll be on an equal footing. If you ever really do have a better idea, I swear I will eventually come around. I doubt that’s going to happen; but who knows, you might surprise me. That would be fun.
With childlike fascination and a healthy dose of freakin’ wahoo,
Dave and Jasper
D & J, Whiteface NH 2/17
Jasper Johns Cale, born Christmas 2014