Red’s a smart, fine-lookin’ dog

A few days ago my funny, clever, multitalented daughter asked if Red Dog had come up with any questions lately. I had to think for a minute; he hadn’t. Somewhat later – just today, actually – I realized why that was. Red and I haven’t had much trail time lately, just the two of us. (He never asks me anything when Mrs. Smith is around.)

With that in mind, Red and I set out this morning for a walk down by the Colorado River, which is still tryna freeze. The temperature was around 20F degrees when we started. Most of the ice I’d seen on Corn Lake in late January was gone. We went east for a mile or so on the river trail, then across a pedestrian bridge and up a steep, switchbacked cutout to the top of a bluff.

Trail down steep switchbacks by the Colorado River
Heading back down to the river.

Along the way, as if on cue, Red asked me why I spend so much time doing whatever it is I do on this computer or on the other one in my home office.

“Most of that is called earning a living so we can buy dog food and treats and .…” I stopped about there because I could tell by the cold stare that he got the point.

“I’m teasing you, Red,” I said. “Feeding you is a real bargain and we’re happy to do it. You’re family!”

He smiled at that, with those big brown eyes. We kept walking.

He’d asked a great question. I’ve seen many writers respond by saying things like “I can’t not write” and “because I must” and so on. My reasons are pretty simple to explain, at least when humans ask: My job is writing and editing.

I’m fortunate that people pay me to do that sort of thing. I didn’t try to explain that to Red, and I didn’t get into why I’m putting these particular words in this particular order right now, but that’s not complicated, either.

I do it because I enjoy doing it.

I do it because I enjoy doing it. I like making stuff up and I like writing true stuff. It doesn’t matter much if anyone reads this, but I do appreciate those who do.

Back to the walk, which was interrupted as almost every walk with Red Dog gets interrupted, sometimes more than once. Men on the trail never say much beyond hello, if that. But women…

This morning the woman walking toward us, with a guy I’d guess was her husband or partner or whatever, said with a big smile on her face, “Oh, you’re so cute! I’m gonna take you home with me!”

Red assumed she was talking to him, and I suspect he’s right. Nobody talks to me like that.

Write on,


Storysinger: Almost anything for love

Standing here at the high bar separating kitchen from dining area from living room, I’m listening to the greatest hits of the recently deceased Marvin Lee Aday, known to most as Meat Loaf.

Alas, I have not a single device now that plays CDs, but YouTube will do for today and maybe a few more days, and then for occasional replays as time goes on.

As I do this, I’m mostly ignoring the reports about how Covid anti-mask stubbornness might have killed him. Instead, I’m remembering him as the storysinger he was and the hundreds of miles I’ve driven over the years with Bat Out of Hell and Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell blasting on the CD player.

I almost called Marvin a storyteller, but since he was much more performer and singer, storysinger seems appropriate even if my spellchecker doesn’t like it. Every song was a story.

Mrs. Smith asked yesterday what it was that the singer “won’t do” in the story called I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That). I didn’t remember all the specifics, but it wasn’t just a single thing and it wasn’t the mystery some reviewers and others made it out to be. I went back and listened carefully. You can do that or just skim through the lyrics.

There were many things he wouldn’t do.

To say that I’m in mourning would be a great overstatement. I didn’t know him and there have been too many others to mourn. As I enjoy the music playing on my laptop, however, I’m saddened by two things.

One is that when we had tickets back in the day to see Meat Loaf in Cedar Rapids, I was too sick with a cold or the flu or whatever it was when the big day arrived. Mrs. Smith took our friend Rita in my place. I’m told they had a good time.

I’m also saddened by having to wonder if the first-person lead in one of my favorite rock performances might have been willing to do almost anything for love except wear a mask when it most counted.



Monsters in disguise
hide inside their cowardice,
behind loaded guns.

Pixabay image


Snowflakes fall to Earth
and melt like wicked witches.
Gone by noon again.

River tryna freeze

River tryna freeze.
Old hip talks to papa now.
Red Dog don’t notice.