The Devil Dog, Michael Pollan, and a Neighbor with a Disability; a Halloween Weekend

Smokey

The Devil Dog

Demonic possessions are very hard on family and friends. The unexpected possession leaves them confused about what is going on and how to react. While they are suddenly afraid for their lives, they are also hesitant to drive a stake through their loved ones. My wife, Kitty, and I decided to spend the stormy Halloween weekend on a spooky story marathon. We watched the original Haunting, The Lost Boys, and listened to CBS Mystery Radio Theater when we were off the couch. As my wife and I were cuddled up in angst on a rainy Saturday night watching The Secrets of Emily Blair, we jumped out of our skins and off the couch to the sound of a tapping. With our nerves on edge, we warily peaked into the dark down and the hallway. Tap, tap, tap, tap — there it was again. I scurried to the kitchen, turning on lights, keeping an eye on the front door. Tap, tap, tap, tap — I couldn’t tell where the sound was coming from. Was someone at the door?

“Smokey! Smokey!” Our little Schipperke (“little black devil”) mix, who is always alert, was nowhere to be seen. I turned on the patio light,”Smokey, Smokey, where are you?” Tap, tap, tap; “Who is doing that?”

I watched cautiously from the kitchen as my wife sneaked up to the dining room window next to the front door and peered out between the slats on the blinds. There was…nobody there. Tap, tap, tap — I looked out the back door, “Smokey, come!” But Smokey was nowhere to be seen or heard. What happened to him?

In desperation, we grabbed a treat, “Smokey! Do you want a treat?” The tapping stopped immediately as Smokey greedily came out from under our bed to get his beloved treat. We laughed at ourselves when we realized the tapping was just Smokey’s tail wagging and hitting the planks under our bed.


@Michael Pollan

The day started with a wonderful bit of serendipity with our good friends, Jen and Tom. We dropped our plans for a hike in the rain in favor of a long, delicious lunch at a great restaurant Tom and Jen had supported through Kickstarter. We had been talking about Michael Pollan all morning. I brought Jen and Tom a loaf of artisan, flax seed bread I baked from my own sourdough starter. My new technique was inspired by Michael Pollan’s book and miniseries, Cooked. Tom has an amazing house he and his wife built. Our conversation transitioned to a discussion of our friend Carla’s agonizing experience as a go-between for her architect and contractor. I had recently told Carla I could empathize as I was reading Pollan’s, A Place of My Own. In the book, Michael Pollan recounts in great detail his trials and tribulations as the reluctant intermediary between his architect friend, Charlie, and his very capable carpenter, Joe.

To say my wife and I revere Michael Pollan, is an understatement. His writing and philosophy on food has transformed our outlook on eating. Michael Pollan is one of just a handful of people in the world we would love to meet. In the miniseries Cooked, he comes across as not only brilliant and insightful, but also genuine and approachable. So there we were, seated by the window, toasting our friendship, when Jen proclaimed, “There is Michael Pollan.” We turned and it sure looked like Michael Pollan and his wife were walking around the side of the restaurant and in the door. They were seated, without fanfare, at a two-person table right next to the door. But, maybe it was just someone who looked like Michael Pollan. He sat facing us, replaced his sunglasses with his normal ones, and sure enough, there was one of our favorite people in the world just 15 feet away. Hmmm, how do you greet someone you hold in such high esteem?

“Will you please send two glasses of your best champagne to the table for Michael Pollan and his wife?” My wife, Kitty, new exactly what to do. When the champagne arrived at their table, Michael Pollan broke out into that wonderful Cheshire-Cat grin of his; he and his wife lifted their glasses to us. I could not help but stop by their table on the way to the men’s room and tell Michael Pollan and his wife how wonderful they are and how we had just been talking about A Place of My Own and would love to have them over for dinner. When he asked who my wife was, I looked over at her and started to say, “The one facing us in the yell…”

“The one in the chartreuse sweater?” Michael Pollan asked. “We really appreciate the champagne; it really pairs well with our oysters.”

Before departing, Michael Pollan and his wife came over to our table and thanked us again. Kitty took the opportunity to tell him how profoundly he had influenced our lives. Although we spoke for just a few minutes, Kitty and I were left very happy finding out that Michael Pollan and his wife are wonderful, genuine, people you really do want to know.


Our Neighbor with a Disability

The next morning, Smokey was on full alert once again and started barking at the front window. We opened the curtains to see one of our neighbors slowly shuffling by in his typical button down shirt and pajama pants. He appears to have survived a stroke and he often pauses in front of our house on his daily walk. He uses a cane as he drags one leg. He also has use of only one arm. When we went out to wave, we noticed it had started to rain. I grabbed our umbrella and walked him home. He could not speak English other than to say, “China.” Although it had turned into a steady rain, he kept waving me off all the way down the street. He clearly did not want to bother me as I could tell he had quickened his pace. However, I insisted on keeping him dry, helping him across the street, and up his front stoop. We couldn’t hold a conversation, but I hope I connected in some ways and he doesn’t hesitate to knock on our door in the future if he needs some help.


Paranorman

With a heavy rain falling, we cuddled up again with some comfort food to watch Final Destination 3, and I am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House. Since we did need to sleep before work on Monday, we completed our marathon with the spooky but sweet, Paranorman.