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A Present of the Present

August 22, 2018


A Present of the Present


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



Where is that yellow satin ribbon?  I am wrapping this August day in a pretty, sunshine yellow bow.  I am giving myself a present of the present.  I am savouring this summery day, when, at the time of this writing, the temperature is 75 degrees with the unbelievable humidity reading of 38 percent.  (Yes, Alexa gives the humidity–unlike some weather people I know.)  The 2.16 inches of much-needed rain on Monday night cleaned the air, and now a breeze feels most pleasant on this gift-wrapped day.  The flowers and herbs of my container garden are quite content and lovely after the shower and soaking bath that still nourishes them over thirty hours later.  Like August of 2017, the prematurely fallen, dried leaves are dancing on the sidewalk of our inner courtyard.  Do you know the tune to which they are dancing?  “Fall Is Coming.”  Nevertheless, I relish this August splendor.


We sometimes speak of a “funny bone.”  Well, I do hope that most people who know me think that I do have a sense of humor and that I am sometimes humorous.  However, I do imagine that most people would say that I have a very well-developed “complaint muscle.”  Yes, complaining about what should be complained about does come quite naturally to me.  Not to worry!  I absolutely refuse to exercise my complaint muscle on such a beautiful day in Milwaukee.  All is mostly right with our world at this moment, as my fourth Leader Dog Willow naps on one of her three beds–the one beside my computer desk.  Being out in the rain on Monday evening made her black hair even softer than usual–actually, it is “rainsoft.”  Willow is my blue ribbon on each and every day:  her especially gentle, highly intelligent, unusually polite, and sweetly affectionate ways help me to treasure the present of the present.  Like my three previous Leader Dogs, Willow is a gift for all seasons, as well as for each day.  I am blessed that she shares this splendid day with me.


On this bow-tied day, as Willow and I walk through our neighborhood, we carefully cross four tracks of the streetcar project twice successfully.  Willow hits all of her marks at each new “curbless curb”–that is, she stops at the tactile markings.  The streetcar construction–preparatory work and laying of tracks–that plagued us for almost three years no longer confronts us on our walks, like this one on this 22nd day of August.  However, at one of the city’s parks, some work is being done:  I hear a machine of some sort.  Willow stops.  Despite my suggestions of “Willow, forward.”  She stands her ground and exercises her “intelligent disobedience.”  After repeating the suggestion twice, I know I must trust her decision–her “intelligent disobedience.”  So, we do a U-turn and take a different route.


On our walks, my British Black Labrador likes to have a destination; so, we go to one of her favorite places–the bank, the only place where I trained her to “find the button” for opening the door of the high-rise tower.  (Due to a wind tunnel, at times, this door is difficult to open when not using the automatic-door opener.)  After finding the door, I tell her “find the button,” which is placed unusually behind us and to the left on a pillar.  As always, she takes me directly to the button.  I praise her and give her a treat.  After I press the button, we return to and go through the doorway into the almost two-block long lobby.  In the “E-shaped” lobby, she, following my command of “find the bank,” walks confidently on the somewhat slick flooring and guides me directly to the door handle of the bank.  While the teller is greeting us, Willow takes me to the counter.  She waits patiently, as ever.  Next, we visit briefly with someone else at the bank; then, on my command, Willow finds the door to exit the bank.  After going past numerous other doors in the lobby area, Willow leads me to the door which I prefer to exit the linked-double-tower complex.  We head home by a different route and enjoy the lovely weather.


At home, for the first day in a long while, we come home to open windows.  A breeze, not air conditioning, refreshes our townhouse.  Due to the clouds of dust and/or construction noise of May and June, as well as the too hot days throughout this summer, this day of being able to have the windows open is another present of this day.


In the midst of this lovely day, I realize that so much of my writing is re-visiting the past, treasuring memories, reflecting on yesterdays.  Additionally, so much of life is focused on the future, planning ahead.  For a change, how utterly pleasant to bask in the present of the present.


Now, time for playing with Willow while I exercise my brain by listening to DAYTIME JEOPARDY and while a juicy Colorado peach ripens on my kitchen counter.


Wishing you many gift-wrapped days of summer!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


August 22, 2018, Wednesday



From → Uncategorized

  1. Fran Rayce permalink

    What a great reminder that we do need to spend our time living in the now. Your vivid description made me feel as though I was visiting the bank with you and should have my deposit slip ready. And the ripening peach sounds really inviting.
    I’m glad to know that you finally have relief from all of the construction and that you and Willow will be able to enjoy less stressful walks.
    Enjoy the gift of today,

    • Hello, Fran–A short while ago, I told Mary to tell you that I said “Hello” when the four of you meet for a nice dinner visit in Michigan tomorrow.

          Thanks for your special comment!  I smiled at the mention of the deposit slip, and I must add that the peach was delicious.

      Enjoy your Thursday visit!

      Alice and Willow

  2. Hi, Alice,
    One of the presents that I look forward to every Wednesday is reading your blog post! Opening my computer to find your beautifully-worded poem, essay, or memoir is like opening a delicious box of chocolates–and I savor every word! Thank you for those delightful weekly presents!

    Another present that I enjoyed today was getting my classroom and materials ready for my new class of prekindergarteners. As I begin my seventeenth year in the program, I must admit that writing the names of the children–some of whom I know and others I have yet to meet–still makes me feel very excited. Each name is like a gift ready to be opened to see how I might create interesting learning experiences for this child in the coming year. I do appreciate the joy that teaching gives me each and every day.

    Thank you for sharing your gifts! Best wishes to you and Willow!
    Love, Mary

    • Good morning, Mary–Thanks for taking the time to add your special comments.  Yes, the beginning of a school year is an exciting time with so much hope and optimism.

      Enjoy another wonderful school year!  Alice and Willow

  3. Sue McKendry permalink

    Enjoyed reading this description, especially how Willow guides you into what sounds like a very complex endeavor for your banking. Like Fran, I’m also glad you are free of construction, finally! Like Mary, I always look forward to your blog, whatever literary form it takes. Thanks!–Sue

    • Hi, Sue–Thanks for your nice comment!  When I stop to think about how all four of my guide dogs have worked the particular building with relative ease, I am amazed myself.  Each learned the route so quickly:  of course, being able to learn quickly is a hallmark trait of a Leader Dog.  I have wondered if each prior guide dog of mine left a “scent trail” for each subsequent Leader Dog of mine to follow.

      Enjoy the weekend!

      Alice and Willow

  4. Katherine Binole permalink

    Alice, Living in Minnesota our weather is similar. I, too, enjoyed our top 10 weather day when I could open all windows and sliding glass door to let the air flow in! Indeed, a great present from Mother Nature. I have savored many an afternoon sitting on my deck even in 90 degree days with humidity storing the heat in my old bones for winter. I so enjoyed reading your detailed description about Willow and how she does such an amazing job guiding you on your errands and walks. I’m sure she is very happy to no longer be dealing with streetcar construction too.

    Speaking of presents, more like blessings, I found out this week I’m going to be a great grandma again, #3! Sophia is expecting a baby boy in March! Annie’s baby boy, Luca, is due any day to join his 2 year old sister Mia! I can’t wait to visit in October!

    Enjoy the rest of summer and walking with Willow. Love, Aunt Kathy

    • Hi, Aunt Kathy–Thanks for your fine addition to this post.  I am always so glad to find a comment from you on my blog.

          Yes, your great-grand news is quite exciting!

      Talk with you soon!  Take good care–Alice Massa

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