IMG_0333I took Lulu & Fritzi out at 0630 today, our earliest walk of the year. To date, that is. We may have to go even earlier if rain doesn’t come to cool things down. Every summer we hope for a heavy monsoon. We’ve lived through 26 monsoon seasons in southern Arizona. All but three have been disappointing. Here’s hoping for Monsoon 2024.

I’m not the only one walking dogs earlier. We turned the corner this morning and came face to face with a guy walking one large dog and three pugs, who barked and lunged at our dachshunds as vigorously as ours barked and lunged back. On the return leg I stopped at the neighborhood free library kiosk to see if there was anything new and a neighbor approaching with a hound decided to cut her outing short and turn around rather than endure the barking and baying likely to ensue. As I took the girls onto the dirt by the school bus bench and hooked their leash to a tree for photos, another neighbor came down the street with a corgi our dogs love to bark at, and the photo captures them at the instant they acquired the target. The neighbor lady said hi and I responded by saying I was taking photos for Lulu & Fritzi’s Instagram fans, then felt awkward for going out of my way to explain why I was lurking in the shiggy by the school bus stop.

There were some new books in the free library kiosk (I call it a kiosk but it’s more like a birdhouse on a pole). I took home a trade paperback edition of Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, thinking Donna and Polly may not have ever read it, also thinking I might re-read it myself. I re-read Steinbeck’s East of Eden a few years ago and was really wowed … he was a damn fine writer.

Every now and again I take it upon myself to remove books that have been in the kiosk forever, books that clearly don’t appeal to any of our neighbors, and replace them with others from our own shelves. I don’t tell anyone I’ve done it, though. I just do it. One of our neighbors sends out email announcements of books she puts in the kiosk and I wonder if she’ll notice, a year or two from now, when I remove and replace some of them.

Almost forgot. About three years ago someone stuffed one of the two shelves in the kiosk with religious pamphlets, coloring books, and a stack of pocket constitutions (the kind with the 2nd Amendment highlighted in red, like when Jesus speaks in the Bible). I took them out and threw them away. No one ever said anything about it.

I worry about my instant inner reaction to outrageous news headlines, which is consistently … well, the only word is “reactionary.” As in “Bring back public hangings!” But there’s the quick and instinctual reaction, and then there’s the one that comes a second later, which in my case is usually a liberal or progressive one. I think we all have an inner reactionary with a deeply conservative outlook, but we keep that part of ourselves under control, because we know what society would be like if we gave in to those impulses, and it’s not one we want to live in.

I could feel bad about my inner reactionary, but as I say I think most of us have one. I take some hope from my instant reaction to MAGAts, bigots, evangelicals, and stupid people in general, which is, correctly, contempt. At least my inner reactionary has standards! It’s impossible for me to see a vile homunculus like Donald Trump, whose behavior and values are the utter opposite of those we are taught as children, as an object of worship. But apparently 30-35% of us can. The ones who, during civics class and Sunday school, say to themselves “fuck this do-gooder shit.” The ones Hillary Clinton so accurately pegged as a basket of deplorables.

There’s a long hot summer ahead. Stay fresh, cheese bags.

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