On Cavities and Puppies


Fluffy filling or cuddly painkiller? Serves both purposes sometimes.

Today my mouth was tainted with the cruel sting of artificial sealant. The dentist filled two cavities—my first two cavities—ever.

noun: cavity; plural noun: cavities

  1. an empty space within a solid object, in particular the human body.

Forty-eight and a half years. A good streak, but it’s over. I’m crushed.

No Novocain for me. I had to feel it physically just as I was feeling it mentally. I don’t have many claims to fame. In fact, now I have none. Having teeth without cavities was as close to amazing as I’ve ever come.

I sat in the chair and heard the shrill of the drill over my head. My eyes darted around the room. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Puppy photo on the front wall. Zzzzzzzzeeeeeeeee. Puppy business card holder on the desk. Zzzzzzzzzrrrrrrrrr. Puppy painting at my right. My feet jumped off the chair as the drill hit a nerve.

Once the torture ceased and the less painful work continued, I relaxed and closed my eyes and thought about puppies. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could have a puppy on your lap during a dentist appointment? You could pet the puppy and it could lick your wounded soul (and maybe even bite the dentist).

Now I’m all set. Good to go. The sealant should fill the empty spaces, but like with most artificial sealants, it never really makes it whole again. I’m different. I’m holey.

I suppose there are other empty spaces inside my human body–now there’s just two more. Maybe the world doesn’t see them—when I fill them with other things, like amalgam and puppies. But they are there. We all have them— cavities. What are you filling yours with?


I try to fill my “cavities” with puppies whenever I get a chance.


Stuffed Animals: What’s in a Name?


Which one of these guys would you put back on the shelf? Tusky, Snugs, Buster, or Ralph?

When I was in primary school (in the mid-seventies) I had an orange bulletin board in my bedroom. The board matched my yellow and orange shag carpet and orange bedspread.  I used my bulletin board to express my deepest dreams and interests. That meant I combed through my mom’s Better Homes and Gardens and Good Housekeeping magazines for Puppy Chow ads.  I would carefully cut out the puppy pictures and add to the collage of my heart’s desire — being surrounded by cute, fluffy pups.  When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I proudly told them — a professional puppy petter.

I even hung up pictures of my dog, Patches, on my door and made every member of my family sit through Buddy Holly singing Everyday while looking at a specific picture, which I indicated with my dad’s extendable silver pocket pointer. The pictures told a story in concert with the song. This was before PowerPoint or camcorders (oh, if only I had a iPhone back then). My family endured these musical picture shows, but to me it was so much more.  I could see the feeling in my dog’s eyes and I matched the feeling to the lyrics.

My obsession with animals continued. Like a lot of kids, I collected stuffed animals. I named them all. The name gave them life and personality. The name came from looking into their eyes and into their fluffy little souls. They were my friends. We had adventures and they were part of my Animal Kingdom. My dad built shelves around the top of my room to house them all. By the time I hit high school my collection had reached about 120. Each had a special name cataloged on my roster and sometimes even placed in taxonomic order. And at night, when tucking me in, before my dad was allowed to do his bedtime routine  (quiz me on state or world capitals) I required him to walk around my room and call each animal by name.

Names give life. Knowing a name is powerful. It was true for my stuffed animals and, as I grew, I discovered it is the same for people. When you know someone’s name, a person becomes so much more than “that guy on the street corner” or “my boss” or “that cleaning lady” or “some tax accountant” or “that kid who sits behind me in church.”  The name gives life and personality and when looking into a person’s eyes you can see into his or her fluffy little soul. We all have them, you know, fluffy little souls. And we can share them by first sharing our names with one another.

Yesterday I went shopping for a big fluffy soul to offer comfort to a friend of mine recovering from surgery. I’m not sure if she wants a big fluffy animal, but it was the first thing that came to mind when I saw her recovering in bed.

At the store I looked into the animals’ eyes. I couldn’t decide. I ended up with four fluffy friends riding in my cart as I continued shopping (pictured above). Just like people they all possessed something special and each of their eyes told a different story.

If my parents are reading this right now, they are not shocked. And neither will they be shocked hearing three of the four were purchased. My shopping companion consoled me as we placed the bear back on its shelf in a prominent place and made up a story of a parent who will come along and be overjoyed to finally find the perfect toy for her toddler. Ralph went home with my friend and Tusky and Buster came home with me.

Oh, and if you are wondering, I did not become a professional puppy petter. I consider myself a hobbyist puppy petter and I only own one dog, Ratchet. Luckily, I didn’t need to become a professional to learn the value of a name.

Say It Quick. Listen Long. Share Your Soul.


Just some of the pages and papers I’ve uncovered from years of writing poetry and tucking it away.

Poetry is amazing. It allows anyone to capture something humongous in a tiny little box. I like to think of a poem as the busy (or lazy) person’s novel. Poems share riddles of life and only take minutes to read, but much longer to digest and untangle.

I subscribe to very few email lists. There is one and only one I read every day – Poem-a-Day from the American Academy of Poets. You get modern day previously unpublished poems on weekdays and classic poems on the weekends.

Reading these poems day after day inspired me to share my own poetry on crossing the midline. Sharing is scary. It exposes my soul. It opens me up to criticism. What if people think it’s dumb? What if they think I’m too simple? Not smart enough? Not talented? Stop. The voices in our heads need to stop. Remember our stories and poems are US and we all have value. Our experiences and ideas are unique and they mean something.

Sharing also sometimes feels like giving up…like you are never going to get published if you share your work. But I finally came to this conclusion…poetry is rarely lucrative, but it is life. I’d rather share these verses with my friends and family and the world, for which it was written–even in this small corner of the digital universe—than lose more of it on failed hard drives or tossed away on dinner napkins. I encourage you to join me. Share your soul. Open your door just a little wider and watch what happens.