Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My Most Charitable Critic


While I realize no one is waiting breathlessly for the third volume in my Author’s Press Series — my mother, bless her, is no longer able to read — let me state here that I am making progress. One Hand Clapping, “a daily journal in two volumes,” is shaping up to be a thick, completely ridiculous book that will run in excess of 450 pages. Its saving grace, perhaps, will be the artwork featured on the cover — a lovely, intriguing piece by the Austrian artist, my gracious friend, Rudhi. Dear Rudhi — he must be a friend if he’s willing to jeopardize his reputation this way!

Meanwhile, the previous volumes, The Painting of You and No Time to Cut My Hair, remain quietly if not quaintly available, like earnest, soulful-eyed hounds in a shelter. On their behalf, I can say that my father brought home many such strays, and they all proved to be good and faithful friends.

I remember one in particular, a smallish, short-haired animal that was part terrier and part half a dozen other things. It made its entrance on my twelfth birthday, and was one of the quickest, smartest, happiest dogs we ever had. We called her Goordy, a name derived from a sound my brother and I made to egg it on as it raced in mad circles on our lawn. For years, Goordy was with us everywhere on the farm, running alongside the tractor, chasing jackrabbits, swimming in the ditch, rolling in the dirt, snorting, sneezing, and chewing on bones at backyard gatherings. She accompanied me, too, on many of my private adventures, serving as a silent witness and companion during my troubled-happy adolescent years. Those who have had dogs for friends will understand when I say she could speak volumes with her eyes, and knew best when her attention was needed.

Goordy, the dog who slept on top of her house in the deep shade of our mighty ash tree, didn’t die young, but she didn’t make it to old age either. The victim of a tragic accident, she was run over and hopelessly injured by the large rear wheel of our tractor. My father, who loved dogs and considered them family members, was driving. He carried her home in his arms and put her on the passenger seat in our pickup. As he was backing out of the yard, she jumped up in pain and bit him on the cheek — and then immediately sat down and apologized with those eyes of hers. There was no choice but to ask the veterinarian to help end her misery.

When it happened, Dad was not quite the age I am now. And he cried — as I am now crying, all these years later.

What does this have to do with my books? Well, in the end, I guess, as my father expressed himself through his farm, I express myself through my stories, remembrances, and poems. For the record, though, I am still a damn good gardener and pruner. On good days, I think it shows in my writing. And there are no bad days that have writing in them.


Update:
In the Forum: haggard mimes playing air guitars.

10 comments:

Joseph Hutchison said...

"there are no bad days that have writing in them"

So true. And how lucky we all are to have yours, Williams. I for one am looking forward to One Hand Clapping!

nouvelles couleurs - vienna atelier said...

I can read english (I understand almost all), but not good write and I hate the google translator because he translates literally... so i can't me explain on english what i feel reading this post....
i can only say that suddelny reappeared in my mind old memories

Anthony Duce said...

I enjoyed your words today, brought back memories of a childhood friend who gave unwavering support with her eyes, and companionship on long walks along rocky shorelines.

RUDHI - Chance said...

Your waterfally-stories are ending with interrupting void - so I have to drooling to your ONEHANDCLAPPING - in eager joy of jeopardize my ego... It makes me fun too, polishing my English with your thoughts of brightness spheres, genious William! I wave my hat to you; and you save my sympathie for USA also! Looking harmonyously forward for Vol.3, I'm CLAPPING with one mind... (I have to stop now, otherwise it maybe grows unbelievable;-) Oh, and I know theese dogs eye-moments and the tragedy of their farewell into nowhere or somewhere...

William Michaelian said...

Thanks, Joe! — I appreciate that. And think of its worth as a paperweight!

Laura, I know what you mean about the various online translators — sometimes the results are pure comedy, even when they’re not supposed to be. But your words here mean a lot, and I understand the feeling behind them. And if you ever feel like responding in Italian, be my guest. With your help, little by little, I can learn a few words. In the meantime, thanks for reading!

Anthony, thank you, too. Your comment and the pictures they bring are good medicine.

Rudhi — your fantastic response makes me happy that we are about to ruin our careers together!

Rachel said...

Lieber William,

mit dem Rudhi hast du einen guten Griff gemacht, lach..ich bin gespannt auf euer Werk sozusagen...

Ich bekam ja auch ein Büchlein von dir, welches Rudhi doppelt hatte, nun, ich bin nicht so gut im Englischen, aber ich nehme mir jeden Tag Zeit, aus deinem Büchlein zu übersetzen...

Ihr Beide werden nicht ruiniert, lach, es wird ein sehr guter Treffer werden...

herzlichst, Rachel

William Michaelian said...

Ah, Rachel — my German teacher has arrived! Did you know, in high school, I had two years of German, but I hardly remember a thing! So now I have so start over.

It makes me feel good to know that you’re reading my book. Maybe your translation will improve it!

And it seems every time Rudhi and I meet, there is comedy between us — as if I have one hand clapping and he has the other....

Rachel said...

Lieber William,

stimmt, wir lernen so gegenseitig voneinander, ich wohl noch mehr von dir als du von mir, lächel..

Du hast so recht, mit unserem Rudhi zu schreiben ist eine wahre Freude, auch von ihm lerne ich sehr viel..

Klatschen wir drei also in die Hände und freuen uns daran, dass wir uns verstehen und uns hier getroffen haben...

herzlich, Rachel

Elisabeth said...

I started to write a comment here William on this wonderful post and my computer swallowed it up.

Rather than repeat it all, I'll try to reiterate. I remarked on the extent to which I enjoy the comments on your posts from those whose first language is not English. Yours is an international blog. You write in such a way that you invite others irrespective of their native tongues to comment. High praise indeed. Thanks.

William Michaelian said...

Rachel, you’re right — and maybe someday our conversation will be called “Three Hands Clapping.” An odd number for odd friends...

Elisabeth, this aspect, the international flavor, is something I really enjoy. I hope it continues. In Central California, Where I’m from originally, I heard a lot of Spanish, but there were also several dialects, to the point that many Spanish-speaking workers in a farm labor crew of fifteen or twenty men had a hard time understanding one another. We had some interesting language lessons. Swearing, mostly.