I’m a moderate when it comes to dogs pooping on my lawn. I’m not conservative – let’s ban all dogs from going to the bathroom anywhere outside, make them wear diapers. Nor am I a liberal – let them poop and pee merrily away and run around in restaurants, Parisian-style.
No, I don’t mind if a dog poops on my lawn, as long as the owner picks it up. It’s not as if I’m out there rolling around on my grass, or even walking barefoot. I’m not as squeamish as some who even hate the idea of dogs on bike paths, the idea of walking where dogs have done their business, although I do admit that walking through a dog beach bothered me a bit.
Now that my son and his wife have adopted a dog and I see what they go through encouraging little Ruby to squat quickly and quietly, whipping out the teeny plastic bags and bending over and deftly scooping and tying the end and making sure nothing is left behind, I’m even more sympathetic to dog owners. Most, I think, are conscientious, and don’t have room in their homes for dog litter boxes, assuming dogs would even know what they are, unless a fire hydrant or a tree could be planted next to it.
Not everyone agrees with me. One of my neighbors glares from under her gardening hat at dog owners as they amble by. One morning, I point to a man in front of me with a dog the size of a horse. “How would you like to pick up after that?” I joke. She turns red. “The other day I caught him,” she said. “I was up on my roof and he couldn’t see me. It’s amazing what people will try to get away with when they think no one is watching.” I try to imagine what she saw. Then she adds, “If you see anyone letting their dog on my lawn, tell them to get off.”
So the next time I’m out walking with my daughter-in-law and Ruby starts sniffing my neighbor’s pristine lawn, I explain that it’s not dog-friendly and the owner may be up on the roof watching us. “It’s almost too perfect, isn’t it?” I say. There’s not a blade out of place or sullied by soil. We look closer – and both realize that it is too perfect, because it’s not real! It’s fake grass.
A friend send me a new word today – biscornu. It’s an eight-sided pincushion that’s become popular in recent months. Some southerners think it comes from the word biscuit, since it’s shaped like one. The French think it means skewed, quirky, or irregular. Linguists insist it means “two horned.”
My friend thinks it might be a fun thing to make. But, like me, she’s a writer and more nimble with words than needles and thread. She has plenty to do besides sit around and match teeny pieces of cloth together and sew on buttons. Not to mention actually use the damn thing to hold pins. Pins for what?
Despite happy memories of writing poems in a wood-lined room where my grandmother sewed, I was fortunate to inherit my mother’s dislike of sewing. In high school, we didn’t have a sewing machine, so I had to make place mats and napkins drudgingly by hand. I had more fun photographing and writing about them for my assignment than I did fraying 32 edges and embroidering my initials eight times. After all that work, the teacher gave me a C+ and the girls whose mothers whipped up nightgowns got As.
As a young housewife with extra time on my hands, I tried sewing for awhile. I inherited my grandmother’s tiny Singer and spent hours, just as she did, bent over its whirring rattle. I made a few cute animals for my kids, but by the time I finished making skirts and blouses for myself, I was sick of them, and didn’t feel like wearing them.
Eventually, as I moved into writing for a living, I gave up all pretenses of being a seamstress. I’d rather observe and write about quirkiness than create a skewed, horny pin cushion. Then when my friend sent me the new pin cushion word, I remembered – didn’t I make a pin and needle holder for my mother when I was 10 years old? I still have her sewing basket. Oh yes, here it is! A tribute from one bumble-thumb to another! A loving memory of my mother, the word lover, who filled in the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle in ink every morning until she died at 89 and avoided sewing needles like mosquitos carrying the West Nile Virus.