That’s why she came

The very circumstance, which your suffering sense deems wrathful and afflictive, Love can make an angel entertained unawares.

— Mary Baker Eddy

The quote above arrived in my inbox Friday morning as the Daily Thought from

I’d forgotten about it until Ron and I went out for a late dinner tonight after he got off work. As we were finishing up our dessert, I overheard two ladies talking in the booth behind me. I don’t make a habit of eavesdropping on strangers’ conversations, but the word “Lord” kept coming up, and something told me I needed to pay attention.

One of the ladies was basically admonishing the other to stay positive and look for the blessings in a bad situation.

“Don’t keep talking about what you can’t,” she advised. “You have to just think about what you can. You have to give all the glory to the Lord, and when you start saying, ‘But I can’t,’ that’s giving the devil an opening.”

In other words: Don’t get so mired in your “suffering sense” that you overlook the angel.

Suddenly willing to acknowledge my blessings, I thought about all the ways Scout had enriched my life.

Over the course of nearly 11 years, she taught me about patience, unconditional love, patience, tolerance, patience, persistence, patience, not taking things personally, patience, pack order, patience, assertiveness, patience, balancing praise with correction, patience … and, um, patience.

My kids have a much better teacher because of her. All those things she taught me are things that come up every day in my classroom.

I’d thought the timing of her illness was a little strange: She came to me immediately after I quit teaching in 1998, and here she was, leaving just after I wandered back into the classroom.

Well, of course she left. Her work was done. She didn’t come so I’d have soft fur to nuzzle or a feisty little friend to entertain me. She was sent to prepare me for a trip back into the classroom. Once it was clear she’d accomplished her mission, there was no reason for her to stay.

I still hurt. But in understanding the reason for Scout’s life, I was able to make just a little sense of her passing, and I found just a little peace through the pain.




This afternoon, I lost the best friend I’ve ever had.

In June of 1998, I walked into my parents’ living room with what my dad referred to as “a little ol’ double-handful of dog.”

That little ol’ double-handful of dog grew into a hilarious, exasperating, adorable, maddening, willful, clever, disobedient, and utterly brilliant rat terrier who would spend the next 10 years and nine months by my side (or, more often, somewhere behind or ahead of me, sniffing something interesting or barking at a stranger).

During that time, Scout had her own business card …


… discovered the magic that is Ted Drewes’ Frozen Custard …


… stood on a corner in Winslow, Arizona …


… ate dead chicken and cheeseburgers with cheese at the Snow-Cap …


… and, through her Web site, became a kind of unofficial four-legged ambassador for Route 66.


Scout drove me crazy. She could be hard-headed beyond belief, and she went through about a three-year phase in which she solved all her problems with her teeth. My standard line, when anyone asked about her, was, “I wouldn’t wish her on my worst enemy, but I wouldn’t trade her for anything, either.”

And I wouldn’t.

The common belief is that Scout was a dog. This is a misconception. In point of fact, Scout was a very short person in a fur coat.

She is the only dog I have ever known who had sense enough to use her paw to extract peanut butter from the bottom of a jar. She’s the only dog I’ve ever seen watch a greyhound run and then copy his movements in an attempt to improve her own technique. And she’s the only dog I’ve ever known who recognized the sound of the ice-cream truck (and wouldn’t look at me all afternoon if I let it go by without dashing out to buy something nice for her).

Last November, Scout went to the vet to have her teeth cleaned. She came home with a scary diagnosis. She — and we — spent the next three and a half months fighting it, but she slipped away from us this afternoon.

On a bright morning not many days from now, we will take her on one final road trip down Route 66. At the end of our journey, we will climb a certain mesa overlooking a certain town, and we will let the high desert wind carry her ashes out into the New Mexico sky and over the road where we had so many adventures together.

Travel well, little Monster. Stay out of the cockleburs. And be careful with my heart. You’re carrying most of it with you. Try not to make a chew toy out of it, hey?



I took my math final on Sunday.

We had the National Honor Society induction ceremony tonight.

Two big projects down, two to go. Next up: Oklahoma Route 66 Association Trip Guide, followed by the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.

Speaking of which, I need to sign up for the marathon. It’s only going to get more expensive if I wait. Probably ought to look into getting a hotel room, too — I’m told they’re pretty scarce, and I’m not really keen on getting up at 4 a.m. to drive over there from Red Fork the morning of the race.

On a sad note, we lost another pet today: I got up this morning to find that my gerbil, Juliet, had passed away sometime in the night. Poor baby hasn’t even had a proper burial yet. I found her as I was getting ready for work this morning, and it was dark by the time I got home this evening, so I’ll have to take care of her in the morning.


Farewell, old friend

The sun was shining when I got out of school this afternoon. I found Ron in the backyard, cleaning out the pond. He called me over to look at a tree frog he’d found in the bottom. I’ll post a picture of it when I get a hand free.

On a sadder note, Ron also found Lazarus’ body in the pond. Laz, as you may recall, was the goldfish who lived out there. He had an interesting habit of vanishing for months at a time, only to reappear at odd moments when I needed a bit of reassurance.

He was a good fish. He will be missed.


Hard-won victory

Conic sections and quadratic equations kicked my butt in 1991. Eighteen years later, I have returned the favor: I got a 94 on my algebra final and a 97 for the semester.

I’m trying to decide what I want to do next. I think I’d like to take trig and calculus, but I’m kind of wavering, because I’m also thinking about grad school.

I was thinking about it much harder before I figured out that the cheapest option would set me back more than $8,000, and I’d have to settle for something other than English (my first — and most obvious — choice) or math (my second).

Why is it that so many colleges assume that if you are a teacher, and you are pursuing a master’s degree, it is because you want to be an administrator? What if I’m perfectly happy being in the classroom? What if I have no desire to be an administrator? What if I just want to get class credit for spending the next two years shooting the bull about Faulkner? Is that so wrong?