Hair of the Dogs

Arf, Arf, Marfa

A bit of news for my longtime readers: I finally got that seatbelt fixed.  The one Revel chewed, remember?  The one that for over a year meant I could invite one extra kid but not two to ride somewhere with us.  And the one I will now guard like you guard something that cost two hundred bucks to fix.  It’s the shiniest, cleanest thing in my seven-year-old truck and I fear for its life.

When I leave the dogs in the truck, Ivy sits in the driver’s seat and watches with total focus for my return.  Revel and Lena snuffle every inch of the interior in search of something to chew, which is why they had to stay in Austin at the lovely Barking Springs Dog Ranch while Ivy, my husband and I went on a little road trip to Marfa, Texas.  The ups of Marfa?  It’s a good walking town with wide streets, some hills and slow traffic.  It’s colder than Austin and snowed four inches while we were there, a big novelty for us.  The town is named after a Dostoevsky character (Sold!).  There’s a coffee shop that was actually open when I wanted some coffee.  And it’s a handsome town with a big sky, old-West feel and the blurry, low-slung Davis mountains in the distance.  I read two books there, which is two more than I would have read at home (Chris Ballard’s new One Shot at Forever, wonderful but a passion for baseball is a prerequisite, and Natalie Goldberg’s old Writing Down the Bones, crunchy-but-good stuff about writing).

The downs?  Some wild dogs running loose.  Each time we saw them I asked Ivy to Leave It and also Look (which means look at me, please) and walked with total confidence that my smart girl and I are beyond the reach of wild dogs, but I also hoped she would rip one’s throat out if it tried to hurt me.  Many burrs on the ground, no big deal if you don’t have paws.  And typical resort-town stuff: overpriced food, a lot of things open only Wednesday through Saturday and even then can’t manage to open when their signs say they will, and unfriendly locals.  I understand the unfriendly local part because I’ve been a local in a resort town; there’s a resentful vibe that runs through the people struggling to make a living while serving tourists who are in full vacation mode.  Some of those tourists may work very hard for their livings at home, but here they are in your restaurant paying thirty bucks for a plate of pisatchio-crusted salmon and twelve bucks for a big ol’ Manhattan and they probably spent their afternoon reading a book and you gotta hate them a little.  I get it, but I’d rather be in Austin where everyone’s pretty much friendly and nice and the world’s best taco can be had for $3.50.  And so here I am, my pack of Aussies warming my feet.

One thing Natalie Goldberg says in her book is that we shouldn’t identify too strongly with our written words; that a piece of writing by me is not me but rather a moment that went through me, that I caught and wrote down.  Reading that one sentence that I have paraphrased badly made the book, and trip, worthwhile.  I love to write but I also love to distance myself from what I’ve written, to start walking and keep walking, maybe find some hills.


  1. Hotel Berthelot Bucuresti

    Your style is unique in comparison to other folks I have
    read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this blog.

  2. Chris Collins says:

    Just curious why you chose “One Shot at Forever” to read? I am from Macon and was instrumental in getting Chris Ballard to write the article in SI which lead to the book. Just curious. Glad you enjoyed it. Chris

    • Cool! I had bought it with a stack of other baseball-related books thinking it would be a good read for my boys (eleven and thirteen). But after pre-reading some of it to check for, you know, adult situations, I decided it wasn’t quite right for their ages and happily read it myself. We all love baseball and I particularly love that my sport is backed by a great body of literature. . .
      One Shot at Forever included. Absolutely loved it!

  3. Ginny Marie says:

    I always wonder that about tourist spots. We were up in Alaska visiting my aunt and went to some nice places. A lot of people go up there just to work over the summer.

    I read Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg. I’ve wanted to read Writing Down the Bones…now I just might have to!

  4. John says:

    Hello from a small village in north Wales UK
    AM loving my time mooching here

  5. Bill Dameron says:

    Louise, I always come to your site to learn about writing, either through your own written words or the advice that you pass along. This time I got both. It’s a good day!

  6. Hi & Happy New Year! I also just finished reading Writing Down the Bones. I tried a few of her suggestions/lessons and enjoyed my writing time. Good stuff. The idea of a hike with your dogs sounds lovely – invigorating and peaceful. Yum! Enjoy!

    • Happy New Year, Mary! So glad you read Bones. One thing I took from it is the idea of writing a lot with no intention of publishing; I’ve fallen into the habit of writing only when I’m writing for the blog, but I think I will try to change that this year.

  7. Buster is a big chewer too. I keep hoping he’ll outgrow it but I’m not sure he will! Glad you had a nice little break – love the photo of Ivy in the snow!

  8. Jennifer C. (Livy's Mom) says:

    Louise, please keep writing about Torchy’s so that T will come visit! <3

    • Oh I will! Bruce is on his way there right now to bring home some breakfast for me: migas tacos, come to mama! Then I will take the dogs for a long walk up and down the hills of my ‘hood to walk off a bite or two. . .

  9. Oh what a wonderful get away! The seat belt thing kills me. Glad it’s fixed. I bet you were a wonderful example of a good tourist Louise and if you keep talking about those tacos I’m gonna have to make a trip out to Austin! You have me curious now!

    • I could understand if he chewed it while left alone, but I was driivng! After having taken him for a long hike! He just loves to get his mouth on something. Still loves to give kisses and lick anyone who will hold still for it. You know I love him dearly!

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