Dogville – Part I: Celebrity Spotting & Part II: Size Doesn’t Matter

I’ve mentioned my friend Will in a few other posts. Will is an excellent source of humorous observation. Among the many things he does, Will walks dogs in my favorite seaside town that I’m always going on about. The other day he texted me a comment and photo about a dog he walks. He’s been walking this particular dog for a while, but suddenly looking at him he realized that the dog bore an uncanny resemblance to Frank the grouchy Pug from the original Men In Black movie. Here decide for yourself.

As you can see Frank is camera shy which confirms to us it is actually the real Frank. Will says this is as much as he could get Frank to look at him. Another sign of celebrity! So, in case you were wondering, Frank is living the good life in retirement and is still fairly uncooperative.



I have another friend, a lovely young woman who I have known for some time, but only recently I learned about her little dog who she adores. I think it’s a Chihuahua but I am not positive. She only weighs 2 pounds! Our cat weighs 12! She is thinking of breeding her perhaps this coming spring, and I can’t imagine how tiny the litter will be. I find it endearing and touching the love my friend has for her dog, and what I like most is that the dog’s name is Peggy Maria. That knocks me out. Her name is bigger than she is! Here are some pictures of two best friends, and once again reminds us that love comes in all packages and sizes.

Enjoy the holiday weekend.

Clare Irwin

P.S. I just learned that Peggy Maria is a miniature Doberman — not a Chihuahua!

P.P.S. Frank was spotted on the cover of this week’s New Yorker! Looks like he has the right idea.




Thanksgiving Wishes

I haven’t written as often as I would like, but it’s been a busy time. I do want to wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving holiday — may it be peaceful, loving, joyous and full of gratitude. It is the day before and I took a walk along the shore. It was cold but clear, crisp and beautiful. I had fun kicking through the leaves and kicking acorns across the road. I’m past the age when that is acceptable behavior, but who cares? 

We’re staying local and being guests instead of hosts – I find I don’t quite have the energy for traffic and long trips and crowds this year. It’s just too hectic for me. I ran into a nice lady at the store, her wagon was groaning under the weight of all her groceries. I remarked on the size of her load and we started talking. She was so nice and cheerful; she said she has it down to a science now. Even though it’s a lot of work she knows what she has to do and gets it done and enjoys doing it. How nice, who wouldn’t want to go to her house for turkey day? I ran into her again in the parking lot and she wished me a happy Thanksgiving. I love people like that — it’s all good.

So, stay safe, enjoy and be thankful.

Clare Irwin

Veterans Day Belated

I am two days late in acknowledging and thanking those who are veterans. The week was a bit draining, and I didn’t get home till late on Friday to post in a timely fashion. All the men in my family served in war time and in “peace” — many generations back. The two World Wars called them too, and ones thereafter. I saw a bumper sticker once that read: “All gave some, some gave all.” How true. I don’t think it matters in the macro whether one supports or is against these conflicts. It is a sacrifice. Lives and careers put on hold, marriages too. Those who were fortunate to come home without a scratch had other ghosts to wrestle. I remember a great uncle of my mother’s who was a marine at The Battle of Iwo Jima in the Pacific Theater. He never spoke about it, but my mother said that his wife told her he would wake up screaming years after. That was over 70 years ago.In the present, I know several young men who have served, again in the marine corps. One in particular who I run into often did three tours, in Ramadi, Fallujah and Haiti. We talk about it a little and I was telling him that I had started reading Sebastian Junger’s new book Tribe. I was telling him a little about the premise, essentially that as a post industrial affluent society we have lost our sense of tribe, and that Junger found, while he was embedded with the troops, that the sense of tribe, or band of brothers not only still exists but is diamond hard. Junger recounts that these soldiers, upon returning home to the States are not finding that connection — that everyone is plugged into their own…whatever. After a period of discontent they find themselves returning. Returning to the conflict. Not for blood lust, but to seek out and reconnect with their tribe, their platoon, their brothers in arms. After I mentioned this, my friend nodded and said, “I wanted to go back too and almost did.” I think what stopped him was his young son and new wife and a baby on the way. He’s building his own tribe here. Tribe speaks to our need for each other, it’s in our DNA, when we are scared, terrified, happy, heartbroken, joyful. Junger writes about other tribes too, not just the military — it’s a fascinating book definitely worth reading — that we have an atavistic need to belong to a group.

I know it’s naïve and maybe sappy to wish that there wouldn’t be any more wars, but I do. I also wish that we take heed of what Junger is proposing, that we do need each other down to the marrow. So I hope on Friday, or over the weekend, you perhaps went to a parade, or just took a moment to quietly or directly thank those who have served.

Clare Irwin

A Shower of Gold

Last Sunday as I was walking up to the entrance of our church, our young priest was outside to greet us. He was in his immaculate white cassock with an dark apple green surplice, and fastened around his waist was a white cincture cord tied in a luscious knot. Behind him the sun was shining through an oak tree that was blazing red, yellow, orange. It was a magnificent panoply of color and light.

As I made my way to my pew, to settle in and let go and breathe, I had a memory that I hadn’t had for a long time. My grandfather, my mother’s father, was staying with us during the fall. He was ill, gravely ill we were soon to learn. He was a lovely man, charming, affectionate, outgoing, funny  and easygoing — everyone loved him. He was also a bit of a Beau Brummell, but in a good way, he always looked amazing and he made it look easy. But that fall his heart was failing him, and maybe in the back of all of our minds we knew it.

My grandfather would sit in my father’s study which had a nice comfortable chair that seemed to ease his distress. The chair faced a window which looked out onto the fairly vast front lawn of my family home. Right near the window was a very old and very large oak tree — majestic and much loved. We had all climbed it, swung on it, and the tree tolerated us all. Every fall it would turn the most exquisite shade of brilliant yellow gold and the glow would fill the room with a warm cast. I remember my grandfather sitting in the chair with the light was hitting the tree just right, and it was a vision moment like the one I just described from last Sunday where I think we really see — we see the true perfection of all things. My grandfather was wearing a camel hair sweater and an oxblood ascot and he looked wonderful. He had these lovely light hazel eyes and he was staring out onto the view. I remember him remarking to us how beautiful a sight that tree was, with the golden leaves still on the branches and the glorious pool of yellow leaves beneath. It gave him comfort and his remark compelled us to look at the beauty which we took a little bit for granted because it had always been there. We all surrounded him, standing by his chair or sitting on the floor beside him, and we all shared the moment.

He died at the end of November — his heart was enlarged — too big my mother said. I think of that moment with all of us there and fast forward to now. Everyone, except me, is gone. I see that image and there is almost a cinematic effect of each of the players in the tableau gradually fading and disappearing. The house is gone too, and that tree that stood for so many generations is gone as well I am told. It’s a precious memory. I remember then, and it still reminds me of it now, of the myth of Danae. Apparently Zeus fell in love with this princess and impregnated her with Perseus by visiting her in the form of a shower of gold. There are quite a few ancient depictions and Renaissance paintings of this myth but I think my favorite one is Titian’s.

I haven’t read all of Freud, but some, and wonder how he missed the heavy “symbolism?” of this myth. We all know that the Oedipal one has been done to death, and for those more interested, the Electra one as well. Just wondering what Freud would have made of it. But the encounter of Zeus and Danae I suppose was glorious, and it yielded a great hero. For Danae the shower of gold was an entrance into fecundity and birth; it was the inverse for my grandfather — those were his last days until he exited our lives but not our hearts. But the tree, our giving tree, and that my grandfather was surrounded by his children and grandchildren and his wife, my grandmother, whom he adored – I think eased his passage, and he enjoyed the splendor of his shower of gold.

Clare Irwin

P.S. I also love Correggio’s and Klimt’s interpretations of Danae….

Halloween Post Game Wrap-Up

I thought I’d offer a brief coda to the Halloween festivities in my nearby paradise coastal town. The evening was mild and pleasant with lots and lots of trick or treaters. Over 100 at my friend Will’s house; they had to make an extra candy run. Will is studying phlebotomy, so he was dressed in his scrubs and white jacket and greeted the kids as a “scary mad doctor” — who thinks he’s a phlebotomist? The toddlers came in what Will calls “the usual adorable little kid costumes — princesses, pirates, ninjas and the like.”

The “older” kids’ prevalent costume was a fat suit? I ran this by another friend who lives in the village (my version of fact checking!), and her response was, “I’m not surprised.” I don’t get it. Kind of odd.

Will’s favorite trick or treater was a 13 year old girl who came as an escaped mental patient. No big deal you say? Well, she stayed in character and worked it — she had a whole back story and everything, and she was Will’s all time favorite. A riot I am told.

Lots of hot dogs were cooked and eaten, beer imbibed, no cigars this year, sadly. All in all a good Halloween. There was some minor fracas about some candy being stolen, bowls being overturned, and some disrespecting — but I don’t have the full story. Pretty tame I trust by comparison — no creepy clowns at least. Anyway, I hope all had a great Halloween if you celebrated, gorged on candy and had good fun. And, for those who didn’t celebrate, hope you had a pleasant night whatever you did, including avoiding the doorbell and pretending not to be home!

All the best,

Clare Irwin

P.S. A friend of mine who lives a couple of towns north came by to see me. She told me she went to a marvelous Halloween party. The son of the hostess came as an outhouse — she showed me the photo. Excellent!