Bella 2b     Nearly all my writing time continues to be devoted to the class-profile project mentioned in my last two posts. Though after my third weekend at it, I am still not done, I have made progress. Amongst numerous interruptions and the need to do certain unavoidable chores—grandchildren visiting and the wash—I got three hours in. Today I hope to make even greater inroads, if not necessarily in an accumulation of hours then in concentrated effort. I hope to have this done sometime this week.
     Once I’m finished with this profile, I can start the second one I was assigned. Yes, a second one, this time for my senior English class. :-P. The silver lining here is that it isn’t an honors class description and thus, not nearly as in-depth or detailed as the one I’m working on right now. Because my honors class is an accelerated class, many of the assignment descriptions are similar to those in the upperclassman senior profile and the chore of describing which Common Core College and Career Readiness Anchor Standard for Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking they meet has—to a point—already been done. This particular requirement takes a great deal of time if done right and honestly. To have even some of it already done is a boon.
     So…no writing time in sight, but I’m eating my frogs left and right, even if only an hour at a time. Eventually, just like a visit to the dentist, it will be done and over…despite the interruptions.
     Putting this thing together has been a challenge even at the best of times, whether at school or at home, but one would think “at home” would be best. No students to interrupt me, no administrators asking for yet more, no fellow teachers looking for “X” (everything from a cuppa to a lesson plan), no interruptions. Ha! Let me give you an example of the shit that happens around here.
     Yesterday, Marirose brought two of my granddaughters home to spend the night. Mom and dad are in the process of moving and needed some time without the girls underfoot to get things done. I can relate, I thought. On the other hand, hey, they’re my granddaughters and they have Seannair wrapped around their fingers. That being said, it is amazing how much chaos a two year old and a six year old bring with them when they visit. Eventually I had to put on headphones as a sign that “Papa-nair is busy” and with piobaireachd playing, I powered on. After a bit Yai-yai took pity on me and decided to take the girls shopping…brave woman. I was hard at it, headphones still on so I didn’t hear them drive up when they got back.
     The first I was aware of their return was the two year old calling out, “Bella!” Oh, no! I thought and immediately spun around in my office chair. Sure enough, the two year old had opened the front door, which had been left unlocked and Bella The-Run-Away-Wonder-Dog of a few posts ago was out the door like a shot and again at large. Grrr. In the guise of dog-catcher, I’m out the door after her, my granddaughter speaking two-ish to let me know Bella had decided to tour the neighborhood.
     When I got out on the street, she had already gone a block or more. She was smelling hear way along, pushing her nose into hedges and bushes, seemingly deaf to my calls, but every now and then casting a watchful eye my way. I could tell that it was going to be a long chase, because as I narrowed the gap, she’d widen it. Just past a “T” intersection, however, which Bella navigated with aplomb, a situation arose that both slowed her down and alarmed me. On our side of the street, a couple of folk, a man and a woman, were working in their yard and had been watching our approach. Bella is very friendly, so I was hoping she’d stop by to say, “hi!” at which point they might get hold of her collar. Just across the street, however, and approaching fast, was a guy walking his shepherd. Bella had yet to see them, so we were safe for the moment, but I wanted to capture her before she did. Now, you have to understand. I do not appreciate it when folk let their dogs run loose, especially when I’m walking my own and I was pretty sure Bella would make a B-line for the other dog if she saw it and I honestly didn’t know what might happen if she did. At the very least I knew she wasn’t going to look both ways before crossing the street.
     Luckily, Bella turned into the couple’s narrow yard. On one side of the yard was a garage, and on the other was a fence with the yard-working couple near the sidewalk. These worked to funnel Bella to their front door. Aha, I thought, I have you now (if you remember those were Darth Vader’s famous last words from a New Hope—I should have taken it for an omen).
     “Where to go now,” I said as I entered the yard behind her, my back to the street. The man chuckled and moved to a guard position so should she make for his side of the yard, he could lend a hand. I picked a half way point between his garage and where he stood and began to close in.
     Well, Bella, may not be wise but she’s smart. She took one look at her would-be dog wranglers, got our measure and decided to make a break for it. Now we still might have been able to catch her, but as she was approaching us, belly low, mouth open, tongue out, she saw the dog and its walker across the street. Now that dog is fast, but suddenly she got a whole lot faster. Even as I knew it would be like trying to catch a rocket propelled grenade, I turned to the left in an attempt to cut her off. It was no good. She was just too fast. And me? I’m just too fat. I kept spinning was sucked into her wake like a leaf on the wind as she careened past between the couple and me and out into the street, her eyes fixed on the dog walker.
     Everything went into slow motion after that. Cars! My mind screamed. “No! Bella!” I yell and just as I’m about to cast a quick look for any approaching vehicles, praying there are none, it happens. My foot catches on something and I stumble. I try to get my feet under me and surge forward, but it’s no good. My weight tips beyond the break point and trip just as I’m leaving the lawn for the side walk.
     Shit! May-day! May-day! This is the human-zeppelin Sunwolfe! We have lost control and our air-ship is descending rapidly. May-day! May-day! I repeat, we are going down!
     In this sorta outta-body state I watched myself cleare the side walk and the bruising edge of the curb with this stupid vague sense of happiness that I wasn’t going to land there—“concrete is so hard!” Like black top is any better? With a final and instinctual push to right myself, I slammed into the asphalt with all the force of a runaway train. I landed hard on my left side lower chest. Pinned between the blacktop and the full force of my considerable 250 pounds at full tilt, my left arm from elbow to shoulder took most of the impact. Unfortunately it was just like falling on a sharp curb edge. Trapped between my body and the ground, it severely bruised and, I suspect, “cracked” my ribs. My glasses went flying as I continued to slide along the street. Everyone yelled…the couple, the dog walker, a girl with a basket ball across the street—where the hell did she come from?…and me. When I finally came to rest and the world reassumed its normal speed, I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. Dazed I lay there wondering if I’d seriously injured myself.
     The other half of the couple, the woman, told me to lie still as I tried to push myself up. She took after Bella, calling her. I was shocked for a bit, but did a quick subconscious assessment of my bones and then forced myself shaking to my feet much to the man’s consternation. I could hardly breath. Oh, damn I hurt, but the only coherent thought I had was to get Bella away from the dog walker.
     “What is her name?!” the lady called.
      “Bella” I croaked from a bent over position.
     After I said that, everyone was calling her. The dog walker, the couple, the girl with the basket ball. She was probably thinking that she needed to get out more into this nice neiborhood where everyone knew her name and wanted her. Me? I was not calling her. I was thinking about calling an ambulance! Oh, shit, I hurt. The basket ball girl won the come-to-me contest. I’m not surprised as Bella loves kids and young people. I staggered across the street holding my ribs like I’d been shot. I didn’t even think about thanking the couple until later or apologizing for beaching myself in front of their house. I don’t even remember what happened to the dog walker. I think he took a side street in an attempt to get his traumatized dog home as soon as possible—“Babe, you’re not going to believe it! We just saw a blimp crash land down the street! I shit you not. Look how freaked out Jasmin is!”. Ya know, I don’t even remember if his dog barked.
     When I got across the street to the basket ball girl, Bella was trying to lick her face. Please, please, don’t let the evil man take me.
      “Are you alright?” she asked, “I saw you fall. That was bad.”
      “Yeah,” I gasped, still having a hard time breathing. I was beginning to register pain from other places on my body; my knee, my lower leg, my shoulder.
      “Thanks for grabbing her; she loves young people. My granddaughter let her out by accident. She’s a runner—the dog, not my granddaughter.”
      “No problem,” she laughed. “You’re the guy who walks the white three-legged dog, huh?”
      “That’s me…it’s the four-legged variety that kicks my ass. Thanks again,” I took Bella by the collar and began to hobble back across the street.
     I turned back to her one more time.
      “Thanks again, and just so’s you know, I’m not an evil man.”
      “No problem,” she called and went back to dribbling.

     When I got the dog back to the house, I collapsed in a chair in my library. Marirose suggested the ER. I flatly refused the idea. My injuries reminded me of those I’d suffered after a couple of bike wrecks I’d had in the past. From experience, I knew the ER would take hours. They might take X-rays, but more than likely, they would poke and prod me to make sure it hurt, clean my scraps with neosporin for which they would overcharge me horrendously and send me home. I needed to get to my report, so she gave me three ibuprofin and a worried look instead. I took two pills—I hate taking medicine–and sat in the chair for about half and hour after which I cleaned my self up and got back to work.
     I’d only been at it for a half and hour, when Marirose announced that the youngest granddaughter had lost the car keys…or should I say my youngest granddaughter who likes to pretend she’s locking and unlocking doors and who had been given the keys by her Yai-yai so she could pretend to “unlock” the front door out of which the dog ran, had lost the car keys.
     Really?! Really! Really. Yeah, and there it is! Anyway, the kid’s only two, so we didn’t get too much out of her during her interrogation beyond a shrug and a request for chocolate milk. I wisely decide not to mention to my wife that she is somewhat older than two and should have known better than to give a two-year old her car keys and along with my older granddaughter go on a bug-hunt for the keys, she zooming up the stairs, me crawling after her. We found them about half an hour later just as the dryer buzzer went off and it was time to fold clothes.
     With each passing hour, I was hurting more and more and it was getting harder and harder to move naturally. It is amazing how much one uses up abdomen muscles at seemingly unrelated tasks. By this morning, I was a basket case. I type this out of rebellion. My report hovers in the background, but I just need to be a bit creative before I dive in…or before something else happens here. Where are those dogs, anyway?

Dedicated with love to my brother John, A.K.A. The Cat Wrangler