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just a dog

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Her name is Bella.

‘Just a dog’ when we spot her buddy on Petfinder.com.

We wanted the buddy, but

the animal shelter says the two had been found together.

So we bring both home.

Izzy fits in right away.

Bella’s a worry wart.

She loves pieces of apple, cut up small. That’s her favorite.

When you rub her belly, she sticks her chin up into the air. Never seen another dog do that.

She sort of purrs, like a cat, when she’s earnest, which is most of the time.

Bella has to sniff the whole lower level whenever we come home from a walk. If she’s been waiting for us, she greets you with a little whistley trill, and throws herself onto the rug and spins by pulling herself.

We joke that she’s a spinster librarian. I buy her a dusty rose sweater.

Then last night @ 9:45.

My husband takes them for their walk. He carries pepper spray now, as a coyote has followed him home a few months back.

Silent. Stealthy. You can’t blame the coyote, it’s hungry. Why would a coyote be hungry in a city full of compost bins & squirrels?

BECAUSE MY FUCKING NEIGHBOR WAS FEEDING THE COYOTE and then the coyote becomes coyoteS

and winter is coming

and the neighbor MOVES AWAY and stops feeding them.

Last night Jay unclips the dogs when he gets to the porch

Bella hears something

there

beside the garbage

it’s there

on our porch

2 feet away

and there

there

the coyote takes Bella and drags her into the night.

Jay runs into the house, grabs a bat and heads outside.

I follow.

Bella! Bella !

Dog tags jingle, heading into the ravine behind our house.

Then quiet.

The night is keeping dark secrets.

We spend the night on the phone, all lights in the house on

waiting by the door for her the way she’s done so many times for us.

Waiting.

Calling (who? Division 55, Toronto Animal Services, Vet clinics, and, and, and).

Morning there is still no Bella.

One of our kids, Lily, comes over, and my husband takes the day off.

What do we DO? They’re asking me as if I know.

We’ll look in the back,  I say, in the ravine, in people’s back yards, I say.

Armed with sticks and rolling pins, we begin.

It’s raining (Bella hates being wet).

We climb over mossy fences, keep going

climb under electric wires

keep going.

one house,

next,

we’ve been in 4 back yards

Lily is ahead of me, climbing

I step

and almost fall

laying in the woods

Bella.

Here, at the end of all things, is my little dog.

My first thought: ‘She’s wet, Bella hates wet.’

Looks like she’s sleeping.

Now, if I live to be 100 I will swear, right there, there’s a purple glow over her and the second I see her body, say a quiet ‘Bella’

Hearing her name

the purple glow that is Bella leaves

so now she’s only rain and sticks and soggy ground.

We carry her home, and in the end, at the end of all things for Bella, I will not let ignorant people who feed coyotes so they lurk on your porch …win.

I am happy:

that the coyotes didn’t get to do what I spent all night thinking they’d done

that a tiny rescued rag of a dog got to live (we adopted her on the day she was to be put down)

that Bella taught one family how to love her fiercely for 5 years

that she got to have favorites, like apples, cut in small pieces.

Bella is now at the end of all things, true.

My heart is breaking.

But she taught us there is no such thing as ‘just’ a dog.

So, to the person (people?) who mistakingly think it’s a good idea to feed coyotes in a city: I leave you with a picture of Bella: happy, loved, cradled in a family who adores her.

 

rbella

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Miss Vivienne

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romper-room

Do any of you remember Romper Room? The magic mirror? How the nice lady would sing

“Bend and stretch, reach for the stars…there goes Jupiter, there goes Mars…?”

I’m at the Carrot Common in Toronto. I’ve got Life as a Pomegranate coming up at the Guelph Fringe, and the new show, A Mickey Full of Mouse, opening in the spring. I’m producing both.It’s been one meeting after the next. My stomach is eating itself, I’m tired & wearing out.

It’s been one meeting after the next. My stomach is eating itself, I’m tired & wearing out.

My stomach is eating itself, I’m tired & wearing out.

Like my cell, I’m running on empty.

Not sure where to find the cafe where I’m meeting a potential print sponsor in 15 minutes.

There’s an old woman sitting on a bench. She’s dressed in tie-dye and baggy, balloon type ruby colored pants. She looks calm and kind, so I ask her directions instead of listening to my battery beep LOW! at me one more time.

We start talking. I ask her where to find such & such cafe.She asks me if I’m always this rushed.

She asks me if I’m always this rushed.

No, but…

“Slow down,” she says.

Can’t I’m a small time producer who gets zero funding from ….

“Do you remember Romper Room?” she asks me, out of the blue.

Of course!

Images of peanut butter sandwiches, crusts cut off, the glass of milk, sliced apples and the ‘board’: an extension of red and white arborite from our old kitchen table. Ma used to place it across the armchair. I’d sit, and she’d place lunch on the board so I could watch Romper Room.

The woman in the ruby colored pants and me, we’re connected big time all of a sudden. “Romper bomper stomper boo,” we both say, trance like. “Tell me, tell me, tell me do, magic mirror tell me today, did all my friends have fun at play?” Crazy, but, I still know the words. They’re etched into me; a huge part of dreamy, soft-edged early childhood.

We laugh.

The woman leans in: “I was Miss Vivienne.” She spells her name. “Remember me?”

I’m not getting it.

“On Romper Room. I was her, the host!” The woman beams at me. She doesn’t look at all like the lady I remember, but she’d old. I’m not sure there even was a Miss Vivienne, but she’s smiling, and she’s earnest.

When I pray, the face of God usually looks like my doctor, but sometimes the lady from Romper Room. Her magic mirror could see me.

“You called my name once, thank you!” I say.

“Do you really have to go to your next meeting?” Miss Vivienne asks. “I’d love to have lunch together.”

Have you ever had lunch with God?

I cancel my next meeting using Miss Vivienne’s charger to revamp my cell. We have lunch. Miss Vivienne tells me about the show’s humble beginnings. We talk about her life in the Yukon, and what it was like to be a working woman in ‘those’ days…the show took up so much of her time, she forgot to have children…they’d be my age by now.

Miss Vivienne tells me about Ayurvedic cooking, and how they feel it’s better to eat food that is not good for you than eat good for you food that you dislike.

I’m in heaven. We part, and I hug her with every innocent cell that still lives in me.

“It was lovely spending time with you, Miss Vivienne.”

That’s where she looks at me, holding my shoulders, and tells me she never worked on Romper Room.

I’m stunned.

“Good story, though,” she says. “But I feel I worked on Romper Room, you know?”

No.

Do I want her number, so we can do this again?

No.

At home, I google Romper Room.

Never was a Miss Vivienne. I’ll never know why she lied so boldly and admitted it at the end of our afternoon.

Life can be so strange.

Things happen, and we have no idea how or why.

But, this is not a sad story. For one afternoon, I remembered 4, with the board and a peanut butter sandwich, waiting for Miss Vivienne to say my name when she held the magic mirror to her face.

Glad you’re not tricksy, or bat shit crazy, friend,

Dawna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mrs. Kay

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Thank you Mrs. Kay. You had a skunk that you kept in your kitchen. A skunk named Stanley. A St.Bernard named Dutch.  A skunk smells bad even when its scent glands are removed.

The walls in your house were always shiny maybe because of the numbers of neighborhood children who you baby sat for the blue collar parents in my town and maybe from the lost ones. Like me.

And the back kitchen smells like burning oil and food dirt  and burning oil food dirt and safety and one day when I am over for dinner you bring down a box from upstairs. Upstairs of your house is silent and mysterious so you bringing a cardboard box and walking, sort of gliding into the kitchen this day stops Sandra and I from our black cherry soda drinking competition.

“I have something,” Mrs. Kay’s voice is always like tangerine colored velvet and my ten-year-old eyes do not see the disconnect between Mrs. Kay’s dulcet voice and her layers of fat, sleeves rolled up, hair always in pink curlers. “Come over here girls, something to show you.”

Mrs. Kay wears what looks like a burlap potato sack with a button on the front and always, always a floral apron on top of everything.

I love Mrs. Kay fiercely.

Sandra and I do not go over we crane our neck that black cherry soda game was going good and we have no reason to want to look at Mrs. Kay’s box even when she opens the lid and takes out a big picture.

“This is me,” Mrs. Kay turns the picture and I see a black and white picture of the most beautiful woman I have ever seen so that can’t be Mrs. Kay dirty children, two of them mentally retarded my mother tells me and one shot on the spine in Alabama protesting for the blacks to get rights and now he’s in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

The slim beauty in Mrs. Kay’s picture does not have a skunk, an oily kitchen, Mr. Kay bald, rotten teeth, work boots that stomp always a green shirt from the gas bar, Norman Kay buck teeth getting caught stealing from Miracle Mart, son a cripple.

“Who is this in the picture?” I ask.

“Told you, it’s me and I’m showing you because I was a singer in Paris and all the men loved me and I wore furs and my beaus took me out to eat at midnight.”

Mrs. Kay puffs up, “This is me. This was me, I mean.”

Then Mrs. Kay pulls her floral apron up to her mouth and her face crumbles and she’s crying into the daisies.

Sandra and I scuttle out of the room sideways, like mice avoiding an angry broom.

On my way out, I look back. The black cherry soda looks different; it has floaties in it and the bubbles are gone the game is over and not just for me but I know for Mrs.Kay too.

Thank you Mrs. Kay.

From that day on I am determined to live my best life and not get stuck in that oily kitchen with any skunk.

Life has guided me down to the precipice of being stuck.

But no.

Not me.

Mrs. Kay’s eyes taught me not to travel too far down a road that I am not in love with. Mrs. Kay’s sad eyes taught me to rise up and grab a dream like a pit bull and never let go and like a phoenix rise again and again if need be.

Tonight I am performing Life as a Pomegranate. It is the best of me, performing, and though I will never perform in Paris with a tangerine colored velvet voice I am the best version of myself when I can be a professional actor in a play I wrote from my heart.

I encourage every single one of you reading this to avoid oily kitchens…the dark demise of your dreams.

Thank you Mrs. Kay.

Thank you, friend,

Dawna

Ruth

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My knee just twisted,  on the way up the stairs to the theatre. We’re running late, so I’ve taken on too many heavy prop & tech equipment boxes.

The frayed hem comes down when I step on it (bad boxes!).

Costume gets switched with the spare, leaving no time for a warm-up.

The knee is throbbing.

There’s this ‘thing’ you get, a thing that burns the throat and leaves you weak and shaking. The thing either creeps up slowly, or ambushes you from out of nowhere. It sucks your energy dry, and leaves you in a heap.

Stage fright.

An actor cannot give into this thing, cannot let it enter the room , or it might jeopardize the performance.

Last night, minutes before going on stage, I am attacked by this ‘thing’. I’m under the staircase, prepping, and my good intentions run away, the neck gets splotchy and two hands begin to shake.

Not sure if I can do a good show.

I say a prayer. Not true: my heart says a prayer for me, because I’M A QUIVERING PURPLE TUBE IN A HUMAN SACK AT THIS POINT.

Then, a miracle happens: a woman comes into my space and hugs me. She is Ruth, she says, and she wants me to ‘press her into work of any kind, any kind’. I take her hands in mine, look her deep in the eyes, and I know this total stranger loves me.

She is solid. She is earth mother.She is Ruth, she says, and she wants me to ‘press her into work…’

She is Ruth, she says, and she wants me to ‘press her into work…’

She is Ruth, she says.

She loves me…maybe because I’m about to go on stage and the room is filling up fast and people are streaming in and she admires actors…maybe because she’s caught a whiff of my nerves, or maybe because

 

maybe because she’s caught a whiff of my nerves.

Maybe because there is a god, and that god wants to comfort me in the shortest and best way possible at that moment…

but a stranger named Ruth loves me.

My heart flings itself at hers, and I am found. The heart has its own thing, it flings itself, once in awhile.

The last time it happened was this winter, when I met my friend Ewa. Ewa smart, Ewa imaginative, Ewa heart sister.

I think of Ewa as I look into Ruth’s eyes.The thing dissolves as fast as you can say ‘begone self-doubt’.

The thing is a piece of rice now.

The play gets a standing ovation.

I make a whack of money (53 audience members, in this case, over sold out, & by donation, so they’re feeling generous).

Ruth and I make fast friends after the show.

Life is good.

All you have to do is be there, sitting in your ugly thing, and ask the universe for help, and don’t ask how, and lean in, and the universe sends Ewas and Ruths to you. “Ring ring! ” Who is it?” “Love!” “Coming!”

“Ring ring!”

” Who is it?” “Love!” “Coming!”

“Love!” “Coming!”

“Coming!”

I love YOU, friend, more and more than you know.

Hope you meet your Ewa’s & your Ruth’s.

Most of all, I hope you hear your own love buzzer,

Dawna

 

Twit, or, How to Become a Writer

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There are rails, they run both ways, all ways, and they’re taking things and bringing people, all so busy, busy, looking at their cells, their schedules and the rails have trains and the trains are on time and the trains are taking those things that way and bringing this package to this place. Running on time.

Don’t you forget it Mister.

Then there’s Twit.

He’s a peach colored canary, is Twit.

He’s between rails, hopping around, looking for and finding seeds, little crumbs (people on the trains shake out their paper bag from that Starbucks cookie).

Twit loves those crumbs.

Twit loves those crumbs.

Hop.

And the train passes, inches from two twiggy legs, sweet feathers, a beak so delicate. Iron on metal, grinding, pulsing, rocking the crumbs, creating a roar so loud nobody would survive.

But Twit survives.

Twit’s a canary.

He’s got one purpose, you see, and that’s clear to him, it guides and sustains his tiny frame and when the next train comes, and the next, he will be there, searching for crumbs, one sweet bird.

Crumbs are what Twit lives for.

In the places where the wheels don’t grind and the air gets still, Twit stops and sighs. He’s got a life, this bird, and his life means so much to him, but sometimes, sometimes when those in between places stretch ahead of him, and the iron is not about to take him, leaving nothing but a paper bag, sometimes, that bird sings, and you hope with all your heart you hear his song.

Oh, you’ll hear that song when this canary sings, because, and you know it, he sounds like ………………..(finish this for me, friend).

………………..(finish this for me, friend). Post it here, in the comments section.

Love,

Dawna.

 

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yes

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the cape

july 15, 2016 – to Alton Orlando France

There’s a dark cape, and it’s wet, and it is fear.

Sun kissed days, hummingbirds, elephants, wiggly drawings and baby giggles, fresh laundry yanked off the line, crisp and smelling like good times, and crunchy –  the cape wants to cover these things, aims to kill all things bright. Piled high murmurs, from all good peoples, strung together by stories and blood, we’ve soaked the cape, squeezed it swollen and smelling of rotting flesh – prickly – and flies and screams of children torn from their work, which is play.

If there is an us, if you see us as all tiny, deliciously good things, join in: let’s push back, hold hands and let’s keep singing, keep being our perfectly imperfect selves.

Let’s believe in ‘yes’.

If the day comes that we fall, the ones who stood up to the thing that grew so big there’s not one more day left, not one, then at least we’ll go down happy, last words from us will be to our children, reminding them of the songs of their ancestors, the ones that the cape could not silence, not ever, not the beginning, not in the end.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes, to you, friend.

Now, what was that tune?

I love you to that coconut bagel on my counter and back, and twice as much as that,

Dawna

 

 

 

 

Rosie’s Island

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The kazoo makes up for an orchestra, finger puppets fornicate, worn shows walk from one awkward situation to the next.

Life as a Pomegranate.

Where does Rosie Fudge sleep? And Sutton Waverly  – Jones…how can she be scathing in a void? Does goofy Mau Parker cater corporate events from the bottom of a basket in the art room? And poor Ma…how can she love Rosie so fiercely if she’s relegated to the carpet of a second storey house?

They live.

Under a table piled high with books, folded, pressed, jilted or sitting jumbled together amongst sharp edges and sleepless nights.

Ideas live.

All ideas live somewhere.

After having performed this show across Canada and the US, I can tell you this: the characters are still mouth wateringly juicy, zesty, citrusy bursting with life and freshness and their energy fills me with wonder every time I put them on, like a hand into a puppet.

Actually, the characters put me on.

Somehow they whisper to the powers that be, and the show finds itself in yet another excellent festival: the Island Festival 2016.

They live.

Rosie gently pulls me into her heart, her eyes, her world, and I see things from her POV: innocent, vulnerable beyond imagining, sweet and so, so achingly loving. We should all be so fortunate as to see situations like Rosie Fudge does.

Rosie hears my fears and reminds me we all have a blue ball.

The SOB tells me I’m not good enough, don’t have enough, don’t do enough, but

today,

I will open the script.

This messy, juicy, seedy, bitter, sweet script.

Again.

The lines are mostly memorized, tattooed, but I want to study director Ginette Mohr’s notes, run over the hot spots, smooth away any bumps. Ginette is one of those directors who takes a play and loves it into something to be proud of…something phenomenal.

Within a week I’ll be covered in times new roman dust, wearing the play like a badge of honor and walking fierce..ready to shout, squeak, dance, sing, writhe, jump, and share the story of how one woman loses her dreams, and what desperate thing she has to do to get them back.

The story is always fresh: as parents, many of us give ourselves away one peeled veggie at a time, one birth at a time, one obligation too many as we try to do too much, to be an impossible version of someone else’s ideal.

For a few months Rosie’s world has been tucked under books. (I had to preview A Mickey Full of Mouse & make commercials…and still finishing that novel!)

But not today.

Today, we fly.

Life as a Pomegranate flies.

And you, sweet friend? Coming to PEI August 4, 5, 6, 7?

Would you like to be part of the team?

Share in the back story of a festival play? Give out pamphlets or party with us after the show…either way…

COME to Charlottetown!

BTW: I love you even if you are still eating Cheesies, in your underwear, with one sock on, watching Netflix, and you never see my plays.

Your friend in the big story,

Dawna aka Rosie, Arthur, the SOB, Sutton Waverly – Jones, Mau Parker, Ma,  Mr. Steven, Aunt Yvonne, Ruby, Gossip Bag

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