Small Conceits

Musings. Stories. Poems.

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Bodhi TV

Bodhi: <from the dining room> “OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD!!!”

Me: <running to him, clutching my chest> *gasp* “What is it, Bodhi? Are you OK?…Oh, for the love…”

Rabbit: <outside the dining room door> “Huh. What a weird place to put a TV.” <sits down facing the door and nibbles a nearby weed>

Me: “…it’s a BUNNY! I thought the world was ending. You scared me half to death!”

Rabbit:  <perks up his ears and leans closer to the door> “It’s a show about rabbits! How cool is that?!”


Rabbit: <gasping> “It’s…it’s a horror show about rabbits!”

Me: “Stop shouting. And, no: I’m not letting you out.”

Rabbit: <sniffling> “My hero!”

Me: “While I understand that ground rabbit meat is on the menu, the stuff I feed you is farmed, not nasty wild rabbit — which is probably riddled with parasites and disease.”

Rabbit: <huffing> “Well! A horror show written by haters! Bad TV!” <hops off nonchalantly>

Bodhi: <wailing> “It got awaaaaayyyyy!!!”

Me: <looking out at the departing fluffy tail> “He doesn’t seem in any big hurry. What was he mumbling about out there, anyway? Pretty cocky, sitting that close to the door with you carrying on in here…”

Seriously. It just sat there, watching us through the glass and chewing a weed, while Bodhi barked his fool head off.  I might need to check out that weed…

Photo of little brown bunny

Image by David Solce:

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Bodhi Makes a Tactical Error

Bodhi: <from the dining room> “Huh. That’s weird.”

Coyote: <from cushion in living room>: “What’s that?”

Bodhi: “Usually when Mom gets mad, she puts us outside. This time, she put me inside.”

Coyote: “What did you do?”

Bodhi: “I don’t know. We were playing ball, and then Mom was doing something, and I went over and laid down to wait.”

Coyote: “OK…”

Bodhi: “And I love my ball. It’s so green and bouncy and-…”

Coyote: “Right, right. You love your ball. But what were you DOING?”

Bodhi: “So I rolled in it, and Mom said something I didn’t really understand-…”

Coyote: “It’s probably just as well.”

Bodhi: “Hey! I think one of the words rhymed with that!”

Coyote: “And, when you started rolling, where were you lying?”

Bodhi: <sighing happily> “Over in the corner. The yummy-smelling corner…”

Coyote: “Where Mom grows her strawberries.”

Bodhi: “That’s the one! They smell so sweet and yummy when you crush them against your fur.”

Coyote: “And then she sent you inside.”

Bodhi: “No, then she picked up the ball and threw it.”

Coyote: “I don’t get it. What happened? Did you chase it?”

Bodhi: “No, I kinda lost track of it. I got distracted for a second.”

Coyote: “By…?”

Bodhi: “Well, I went to chase it, and there was this HUGE bowl of strawberries sitting there, and-…”

Coyote: <rolling her eyes> “Let me guess: You shoved your whole head into it and started eating.”

Bodhi: “YES!” <pause; then, in an awed voice> “How did you know? It’s like…you’re magic!”

Coyote: “OK, so. Some parting words of wisdom for you. First: Leave the strawberries alone.”

Bodhi: “OK.”

Coyote: “Second: Leave the strawberries alone.”

Bodhi: <cocking his head, unsure> “Those sound really similar.”

Coyote: “You noticed that, huh?”

Bodhi: <wagging proudly> “I did!”

Coyote: “You might actually survive a couple of weeks after I’m gone. Now, come over here. I’m too tired to get up and kiss your foolish head.”

Bowl of ripe strawberries

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A Walk in the Fading Sun

On a walk in July…

Me: “I used to bring you and Sachi here to run sometimes.”

Coyote: <sniffing deeply at something in the grass> “Mmmhmm.”

Me: <continuing> “Well, I did, once I could trust you off-leash.” <pause, reminiscing> “It always amazed me how consistent you were, coming when I called, especially since in the beginning you spent so much time and energy trying to escape.”

Coyote: <pausing in her sniffing to glance up and ponder> “Well, I knew it was a bargain, and I had to keep my end of it. You’d let me off the leash, but only if I came back when you called. You made that pretty clear.”

Me: “Yeah, but Sachi wasn’t always that consistent.”

Coyote: “Sachi didn’t come from where I came from. She had a very different history. I was awed and touched by your generosity and trust.”

<I break down.>

Coyote: <looking up sharply from her sniffing> “What are you doing?” <I can’t answer.> “Oh no-no-no! No you don’t! Stop it. No crying. Not on a day like this. Look at how beautiful the sky is! Listen to the birds! Use that weak, generally useless nose of yours to sniff the breeze! NO. CRYING.”

Me: <finding my voice> “The weather is turning.”

Coyote: “It is.”

Me: “And you said you didn’t want to stay for the heat and humidity.”

Coyote: <exasperated now> “I don’t. But I’m not gone yet! And today is too beautiful to waste a single tear on it. Celebrate today, Mom. Just stay here with me, now.”

Me: <kneeling down to her level> “I just hate that you’re leaving us. I don’t know what we’ll do without you. You keep us grounded.”

Coyote: <her tone softening> “I told you: I’m not going anywhere. I’m just shedding this sick, old body. I’ll be right there with you and Bodhi until it’s time for the two of you to cross over. Then I’ll be there to guide you. Now, c’mon.”

Me: <trying to pull myself together> “I’ll miss how soft and thick your fur is. I’ll miss your velvety ears. I’ll miss the freckles on your pointy little nose.” <kissing her nose>

<Coyote leans in to kiss the tip of my nose, as she sometimes does, then suddenly stops and turns her head.>

Me: “What? No kiss?”

Coyote: “I’m SO not kissing that! It’s all drippy.”

Me: <tearing up again> “Dammit.”

Coyote: <huffing> “What now?”

Me: “I’m even going to miss the snark.”

Coyote: <returning to her sniffing> “Good. If you had any idea how long it took to perfect that… You might be a blubbering fool, but at least you appreciate art.”

Coyote walks in the field.

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Advice from One Who Has Crossed

Bodhi: “When will Old Auntie cross over?”

Sachi: “When she’s ready. You know her; she has to do everything her own way. But I don’t think it’ll be long now.”

Bodhi: “Why do they call it ‘crossing over?’ What will she cross?”

Sachi: “It depends on who you ask. Some people think it’s a rainbow bridge. For some, it’s a high ridge, beyond where the pine trees grow. For others, it’s just stepping over a kind of doorway into another world.”

Bodhi: “Well *you’ve* done it! Which is it?”

Sachi: “You’ll find out when your time comes. If I tell you, it would spoil the surprise.” <teasing him> “No fair telling!”

Bodhi: <whining a little> “What’s not fair is that Old Auntie is leaving us.”

Sachi: “Oh, Little Brother. You’re so wrong. Death is the only thing that *is* fair. Everybody has to do it — even trees and grass and…stupid chipmunks. No exceptions.”

Bodhi: <crying> “But I’ll miss her! She’s helping Mom raise me up right. I won’t know the right things to do!”

Sachi: “I know you’ll miss her. But it’ll get better after a while. And you’ve learned enough from her that you’ll figure things out.”

Bodhi: “She misses *you,* you know. Will you be waiting for her?” <suddenly panicky> “What if she gets lost when she’s crossing?”

Sachi: “Don’t worry about Coyote. She knows the way. You just focus on taking care of Mom.”

Bodhi: “Mom is going to miss her a LOT. She says Coyote grounds us.”

Sachi: <gently> “Yes, Mom will miss her. So taking care of Mom is a really important job.” <pauses> “And I know you’ll be great at it. Coyote and I chose you because you’re a sweet, smart boy. You are and always have been exactly what she needs.”

Me: <relieved> “He’s stopped crying.”

Coyote: “Thank goodness! How am I supposed to get any sleep with all that racket?”

Me: “Oh, now…he’s definitely not keeping you awake. You’ve been snoring all morning.”

Coyote: <grumpy> “Hmph!”

Me: “Oh look! He’s wagging. I love it when you guys wag in your sleep. It’s so sweet.”

Coyote: <grumbles something and turns a clumsy circle on her bed, trying to find a comfortable spot before plopping down with a grunt>

Me: “I’m worried about him, Coyote. He’s going to take it hard when you leave.”

Coyote: <opening one eye, then the other, to gaze fondly at Bodhi; in a soft voice, she says> “He’ll be all right, Mom. He’s getting some very good advice from an old friend.”

Bodhi, my Golden, sleeps

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Let’s Take a Walk!

From a summer out of our past. She really was a snarky little girl in her heyday.

Coyote: “Hey! I know! Let’s take a walk!”

Me: “I’m kinda busy here.”

Coyote: “What could be more important than a walk?”

Me: “Sanding down the spackling on this wall so I can wash it down again and get some primer on it tonight.”

Coyote: “I repeat…”

Me: “Weren’t you the one who was complaining that it was hot earlier when I let you outside?”

Coyote: “It *is* hot! But it’s not as hot when you’re taking a walk. Well-know fact from physics.”

Me: “Right. Because sniffing dog pee somehow cools you down.”

Coyote: “It does!”

Me: “It’s not like we don’t have dog pee in the yard.”

Coyote: “But that’s self-referential pee.”

Me: “Self-refer-…what the heck are you reading NOW?”

Coyote: “It’s a dog thing. You wouldn’t get it.”

Me: “Look, I’m up on a ladder here. Just go take a nap or something.”

Coyote: “Up on a ladder, huh? Easy enough to fix…”

Chipmunk: “What are YOU doing out here?”

Me: “I’m not sure. Might have something to do with the swearing when she shook the ladder.”

Chipmunk: “Doesn’t explain *how* you got out here.”

Me: “I opened the door to boot her outside, and found myself out here with the door closed behind me.”

Chipmunk: “Aren’t you the one with the opposable thumbs? Let yourself back in.”

Me: “She locked the door.”

Chipmunk: “How’d she do that?”

Me: “Look, you little rodential pest, why don’t you go find some poisoned peanuts or something?”

Chipmunk: “Still not over that strawberry thing, huh?”

Me: “Get. Lost. NOW.”

Chipmunk: <diving down hole> “Touchy!”

Coyote looking longingly out the front door.

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Bison Bit Debate

Life without Sachi for that nine months meant Coyote and I spent a lot of “quality time” together. At the dinner table, about 18 months ago, when Coyote was still eating food on a regular basis:

Me: <tossing a coupla bison tidbits onto the deck> “Hey, you want this?”

Coyote: <sniffs, takes in her mouth, spits back out, sniffs> “Did you have these in your mouth?”

Me: “Yeah, but only briefly. Kinda sinewy.”

Coyote: “So, what makes you think *I’m* going to want that?”

Me: “You’re a dog.”

Coyote: “What?”

Me: “You’re a dog. Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed.”

Coyote: “I’m not disputing the fact that I’m a dog. What I’m taking issue with is the insinuation that I would eat your mouthed-up table scraps because I’m a dog. It’s speciesist.”

Me: “Oh good lord! Speciesist? What the heck have you been reading while I’m at work? I’m putting the parental controls back on the computer.”

Coyote: “Puh-LEEZE! As if I don’t know your password…”

Me: “Hey! Are you sniffing through my things again? I told you that’s private!”

Coyote: “Whatever. In any case, I’m not your canine garbage disposal.”

Me: “Fine. I’ll just –”


Me: “Dammit! That was almost my hand! I thought you didn’t want the scraps.”

Coyote: “I didn’t say I didn’t want them. I said I resented the assumption that, because I’m a dog, I would want them.”


It’s a good thing Bodhi came along when he did. I think we were beginning to get on each other’s nerves.

Coyote licking her nose

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Scratching Lessons

About 18 months ago I suffered one solid week of maddening itching from a scalp-to-sole allergic rash. And this was the help I got:

Coyote: “Try your hind paw.”

Me: “What?!”

Coyote: “Your hind paw. You can get better leverage scratching behind your ear.”

Me: “Not now, you smartass husky.”

Coyote: “Hey! I’m just trying to help!”

Me: “By critiquing my scratching technique?” <I continue scratching>

Coyote: “See. Now I’d bite that. You’re never going to get that part to quit itching just by using claws.”

Me: “Seriously, this is not the time.” <moaning as I get the hard-to-reach part of my back>

Coyote: <giggles>

Me: “What is so damned funny about this?”

Coyote: “It’s just that it’s been a while since I’ve heard you make that sound…and there’s usually a man involved.”

Chipmunk: “How’s it going?”

Coyote: “Huh? Oh…you…”

Chipmunk: “What did she put you out here for this time?”

Coyote: <grumpily> “For a prey animal, you’re sure lacking in survival instincts.”

Chipmunk: “Don’t need ’em. We’re avid breeders.”

Coyote: <growling> “You’re about to take one for the team.”

Chipmunk: <diving down a hole> “Touchy!”

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A Sachi-Shaped Hole

Coyote was my rock, my saving grace after Sachi died. She has always been a gentle soul — with just enough snark to keep me from getting too maudlin. 

Coyote: “Mom, why did Sachi have to leave us so soon?”

Me: “I’m not sure, Coyote, but I suspect it’s because the world just wasn’t big enough to handle all of that love and joy.”

Coyote: “I’m going to miss her.”

Me: “I am, too, baby girl. <We pause and reflect a moment.> “If you were to wish one thing for Sachi, now that she’s moved on, what would it be?”

Coyote: “I’d wish she’d finally catch that fat, stupid squirrel that teased us every morning from the maple tree out front. <We share a chuckle> “Remember that one that fell at her feet out of the tree that time?”

Me: <laughing> “I remember. She almost didn’t know what to do with it.”

Coyote: “Or I’d wish that she was swimming in the river, chasing ducks.”

Me: “She was like sunlight on the water.”

Coyote: “Yeah, she was beautiful, that silly Golden.” <sighs> “Mom, who’s going to make us laugh, now that she’s gone?”

Me: “I guess we’ll have to do that for each other.”

Coyote: <groans> “We’re sunk. You’re not funny.”

Me: <laughing through tears> “Well, it’ll certainly be a lot more humbling for me with just you around.”

Coyote: <putting her paw gently on my thigh> “I was teasing, Mom. You’re plenty funny. For a human.”

Me: “But not for a Golden.”

Coyote: <sighs & leans into me, just slightly> “Nope. Not for a Golden.”

Later, from something like a dream:

Sachi: “Mom! Mom! I don’t hurt anymore, Mom!”

Me: “I know sweetheart, I know.”

Sachi: “And I think I could really run again — and jump over logs and play!”

Me: “Then go do it, my good girl.”

Sachi: <teasing and wagging her tail> “C’mon, Mom…what’s the command?”

Me: <unlatching her collar and whispering close to her ear> “Sachi FREE!”


I love you, Sachi. With all the pieces of my heart.

My Golden, Sachi, swimming

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Sachi’s Last Goodbyes

Sachi, my first Golden and Coyote’s sister, had been ill, off and on, for nearly six months when her last emergency room visit finally produced the diagnosis that had evaded us: cancer. And it was untreatable. My entire world went dark. I went to the veterinary hospital, where she’d been kept for testing, to bring her home to die. So great was my anguish and worry about the possibility that she was suffering that I began frantically calling veterinarians to see if someone could come that night to put her down. Fortunately, no one was able to come, as it gave me the opportunity to invite the people who knew and loved her to the house to say goodbye to her. It was too much for me to process and impossible for me to form the right words for such a pronouncement, so I let my sweet little girl tell my Facebook friends how it was with her.

Sachi: “Mom, why are all the people visiting us sad tonight?”

Me: “Well, Sachi, it’s time for you to go, sweetheart.”

Sachi: “On a walk?”

Me: “Well…”

Sachi: “Or a car ride? I like car rides.”

Me: “It’s kind of a like a car ride. It’s a journey, baby. A new kind of adventure.”

Sachi: “Are you coming, too? I like it when we go places together.”

Me: “Oh, puppy-girl… No, I’m not coming this time.”

Sachi: “You aren’t going to be there? What about Coyote?”

Me: “No, Sachi, you’re going to have to do this one alone. But we’ll be right there to send you off, baby. We won’t leave you until we’re sure you’re safely on your way.”

Sachi: “I’ll be sad. I’ll miss you.”

Me: “We’ll miss you, too, baby girl. Believe me. We’ll miss you every single day.”

Sachi: “Mom?”

Me: “Yes, Sachi?”

Sachi: “Am I a good girl?”

Me: “Yes, sweetness. Yes, my soul. You are a good girl. The sweetest, funniest, most beautiful girl. You are my light.”

Sachi: “You’re a good girl, too, Mom. Even if you don’t have a tail to wag.”

Me: “Thanks, baby. That means a lot.”

Sachi: “I’m tired, Mom. Are you ok?”

Me: “I’ll be fine, Sachi. Just rest here, and I’ll hold onto you for a little while. Tomorrow is a big day.”

Sachi: “Thanks, Mom.”

Me: <whispering> “No, Sachi. Thank you. For everything you are and have been.”

My Sachi as a puppy, 10 mos

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THE CHIPMUNK LETTERS, The “Coyote Incident”

Chipmunk: “Hey. How’s it going?”

Coyote: <staring distractedly at the house> “Huh? Oh…ok, I guess.”

Chipmunk: “What’re you doing out here?”

Coyote: “Not sure. Mom was reading something, then she started tearing the paper up with her teeth, spitting it on the floor, and jumping up and down on it.”

Chipmunk: “Huh. Sounds pretty serious.”

Coyote: “I know! I was a little worried about her, so I suggested she curb her caffeine intake. And now I’m out here.”

Chipmunk: “Hmmm. That’s strange…” <dramatic pause> “You know, I always find that nibbling a strawberry helps me when I’m confused. Here, try one.” <holds out paw with a strawberry in it> “But only take one bite. The first bite is the best. Then we’ll get you another one. There’s plenty to go around.”

Coyote: “Yeah, there are a lot of them–” <shaking her head to clear it> “Hey…wait a minute…” <squints her eyes at the chipmunk, then smiles an evil smile> “Say, buddy, isn’t that a hawk shadow gliding in this direction?”

Chipmunk: “Hoooo! Lookit the time! Gotta run.” <disappears down a hole>

Coyote: “Stupid rodents.”