Old dogs, new tricks, toy guns and peace, love and understanding.

Mommy, what’s a gun?

My five year old asked this question after I demonstrated how our sweet 13 year old puppy can still recall the tricks she learned from the kids who regularly played on the porch of our Baltimore row house.  The porch was large and had a huge glass window looking into our living room.  Our dog, then only a few months old, would sit in the window and watch the world go by.  Sometimes the world stopped to play with her–the world in the form of 3 or 4 boys whose ages were between 5 and 8, as far as I could tell.

The boys would hang out on the porch and talk to her through the window.  Sometimes I was home, and would go outside and offer drinks and snacks.  They were sweet kids, never caused any trouble and always said thank you.  They giggled a lot.  And they knew something about guns.

They taught our dog to roll on to her back and play dead when someone made a shooting a motion with their hand.  Bang, bang. She’d drop, tongue hanging out to the side, eyes bright and waiting for praise.  It was only mildly unsettling and mostly cute.  I thought it quite amazing that they could teach her though the window.  I thought that it is was only appropriate that my dog would learn such a thing in Baltimore.

Now, there are no kids hanging out on my porch, except for my own.  They are 6, 5 and 2.  They don’t watch the news and we try to prevent them from watching television shows or movies with any sort of, even comical, gun violence.  Yet they live in a house with guns, with a father who is in law enforcement.  Still, they haven’t really seen a gun.  Ever.  You see, it’s entirely possible to believe in the need for stronger gun laws and own a gun.  Life…and politics…they aren’t so black and white. Continue reading

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I could never live in a place without creaky floors.

Not long ago, I drove past the first house we bought together.  A Victorian row house at the top of an inclined street, in a neighborhood more inclined to wrong than right.  Two blocks in any direction and the neighborhood was completely different, far better or far worse.  Baltimore is a funny city that way.  It’s an old city, lovely in all the ways old places are lovely. With grand national history and not-so-grand personal stories behind every centuries-old brick wall and cobblestone paver.  It sometimes felt like such a sad place, with more loss and hurt than feels possible for a place so small.  

Still, I love that city and miss its markets, and row houses, painted screens and Old Bay scented air.  I miss our friends.  And I miss that house.  I miss the way it sounded.

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