Took Jasper to the vet for a heartworm test. Gnat wanted to hold the leash as we entered, but I had to take the reins; you never know when Sheba the Death Mutt is waiting inside, ready to pounce and open throats. There was a Doberman inside, looking, as do all sitting Dobermans, like a living exclamation point. This dog did not like Jasper, and gave him a warning growl that had murder in mind. Jasper turned and walked to the door and looked out the window: I will go now please thank you okay great. But no, I had to drag him over and make him sit in the same room as Killer MacBully. Jasper was already nervous, since I’m sure the vet’s room smells like fear and doubt. I tried to distract him with a good chest rub, which has a way of making male dogs zone out, but it didn’t work. Some people talk to their dogs as if they understood the exact text: you’ll like the doctor! She’s nice! Yes you will! Mummy’s widdle smuckums. I can’t. It’s one of the things about pet ownership that breaks your heart: they can comfort you, but you really can’t comfort them. They don’t have to know your language, but you can’t know theirs.

Well, you can, but I’m not going to lick his face to express benevolent dominance.

There’s a sentence that’s going to get me some hits for all the wrong reasons.

Since he’s an old dog, they gave him a geriatric exam as well. He’s in tremendous shape, and the vet said he could live many more years. He’s trim, everything works, the joints are good, there’s no glaucoma. His politics have shifted way to the right, though. It’s either that or they become very accepting of all ideas, inasmuch as they give them much thought. To be expected. He’s also become insistent about getting scraps – and don’t look at me, I’ve never given him scraps. But I live with soft-hearted wimmen. It’s  gotten to the point where he does not believe there is no more food to be had, so I have to pick him up and show him the surface of the table. And he’s 54 pounds. Well, it’s good exercise.

Last weekend Gnat acted in a play – one of those Saturday morning classes that give the children a chance to embrace the muse within, while conveniently giving mom a three-hour window to get something done. The kids wrote the play, so it lacked a certain dramatic coherence. It involved Popeye, his daughter Poopeye, a zombie rabbit, aliens, and a  dance troupe from another planet that lip-synced to annoying minor-key angular music and moist teen ballads. The room was packed; I stood behind a fellow in a sweater that gave off waves of mothball perfume. The play lasted an hour, after which everyone filed outside to experience fresh air, heretofore just a remote, distant memory. The play was held in a performance art center, but it wasn’t always that. Not with this cemented into the bricks:

Sights like this have an oddly sacred look to me – and not just because of the oddly sacred imagery. When I was just getting interested in the Past, and the architectural relics it left, things like this fascinated me; compared to the blank crass crap of the architecture of the 70s, this seemed like it came from the other side of the galaxy. Unlike the ahistorical modernism, this image had 20 centuries of backstory behind it. The very year had power: 1923. The Jazz Age was just starting to roar; the crash was still six years away. Oh, to have been 23 in 1923. But back to the escutcheon:

I don’t mean to be sacreligious, but this looks like Bong Dog to me.

All four corners of the intersection were occupied by old buildings. A giant church held down the southwest corner, and I suspected all the other buildings were church related. Examination proved me correct! Hidden in the bushes across the street, this gem:

It’s Kasota stone, which is used a lot in these parts. This building took over for the 1923 structure, I suspect, and reminds us that people did build things in the 30s. They’re rare, though, and when you find one, it’s a delight. Over the door, a weathered Savior:

And flanking the entrance, Wizard-of-Oz-era light fixtures, still intact.

As I took the pictures, people began to leave the church across the street. The congregation appears to be mostly Hispanic now. The girls were dressed in blinding white, shining in the new May sun. You know that moment when the bell’s peal has died away but you still feel the note in the air? That’s what they looked like.

I know what you’re saying: what about the entry on the local library finances? Don’t promise such a thing then cruelly fail to provide! Well, it’s really a blog entry for a local Twin-Cities oriented website intended to spawn discussion about local matters. Not to say that might happen. I’ve no idea!

I’ll know more next week, though.

I love the Wall Street Journal; it’s a paper you can spend a solid hour devouring. The smallest facts are often the most tantalizing. From the front page:

“Yamaha plans to sell a 7.8% stake in motorcycle firm Yamaha Motor for $520.3 million to focus on musical instruments.”

There’s so much there. First: Yamaha is separate from Yamaha Motor. Second: Yamaha Motor uses the singular form, which somehow reminds you what a wonderfully anachronistic word “motor” really is. Third: the value of Yamaha Motor would be about $6.1 billion or so, off the top of my head. Didn’t know that. Fourth: this small stake has been interfering with Yamaha’s ability to concentrate on musical instruments. You can almost imagine the CEO sitting down at  a Grand Piano, and someone revs up a bike outside the window. Gnat goes to Yamaha piano school. They use Yamaha instruments. I used to have a Yamaha stereo, I think. Really, it’s like learning that Steinway Iron has sold its interest in its piano division, so it can concentrate on antibiotics and golf balls. 

In the adjacent news column:

“Police are investigating Brazil’s energy minister, Silas Rondeau, for possible links to a kickback scheme involving public-works projects.”

I’m guessing that investigation might bear fruit. But I love the name: Silas Rondeau. There simply aren’t enough Silases about these days; it’s a name that deserves a comeback. The actual man himself resembles a carved potato, but you can’t blame the name for that. It reminds you how some names gets fixed in the popular imagination by a work of fiction, and once they fall from favor – as all names do – they turn into ossified relics of another age. If we’d had a boy, I would have named him Jebidiah Silas, because the very phonemes are encoded deep with American DNA. At some point in his life, probably in his early 20s, he would have found himself in a meeting of the Green Peat Vegan Disarmament Solidarity Council, and found himself unable to concentrate on the reading of the minutes. He would have stood and announced he was going to Ken-tucky to shoot raccoons, which he would then strip and wear on his head. Thank you and have a nice day.

Well, I could go on and on. And I’ve love to: the day has had many delights, and most of them, I suspect, will bear fruit. I saw the cover for the new book today: Wow. And I mean, WOW. Four words:

Name above the title.

I’ve come to believe that this mood, this frothy chipper spring-heeled glee is not some biochemical reaction to deep horrid disruption, but an expression of emotions I’ve tamped down and stifled for the last three years. Glee! Hahahahaha! Of course, that’s just the moment when the meteor strikes; whom the gods would destroy, etc. But today when we left the vet’s I stowed child and beast in the Element, and went around to the driver’s side door WOOSH came a bus, an inch from the tip of my nose. And I thought, as I always do when I come close to rushing buses, of an Onion story. It's eight years old. The title: Area Man Goes and Gets Himself Hit by a G*ddamn Bus. I remember it only because my Strib podmate and former editor, Bill Hammond -  a crack word-parser and an unbelievably good guitarist – loved that headline, old newsman that he was. It was a running joke between us for a while. Don’t go and get yourself hit by a g*ddamn bus.

If I did get hit by a bus, certain people would be sad. Bill would be sad, too, but in his first private moment he’d be unable to stifle the laugh: he went and got himself hit by a g*ddamn bus. If he got hit by a bus, I’d have the same reaction. In either case, neither would feel guilty laughing about it; we’d know the other guy would have expected nothing less. We’d be disappointed if it didn’t occur to the other guy: what, all that office japery was for naught? I go and get myself hit by a g*ddamn bus and you DON’T GET THE JOKE?

Bottom line: I didn’t get hit by a g*ddamn bus today. But even if I had: there’s always a bright side.

New money. See you tomorrow!