Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dogs as Social Media

When I got to the Home section of today's New York Times, the fellow pictured in the article below the fold rang a vaguely familiar bell. Then when I saw he was sitting on steps made from thousands of tiny stones meticulously cemented into tightly arranged patterns, it hit me that this was the neighbor I'd met on one of my walks around the neighborhood.

My neighbor.

And not to get off on a rant, but when I'm out with Walker and someone stops to admire him, then looks at me with dewy eyes and says, "We've been thinking about getting a dog," I immediately launch into my "Well, that's nice. You realize they need to be walked four times a day, at least, right? Or if you're not able to do that, you'll need to hire someone to walk them mid-day, and that costs at least a couple of hundred bucks a month." But by then they've backed away, since what they want is not a reality check but someone to ooh and aaah and talk about what their chances are to score the latest golden-Labra-cocker-doodle.

I admit to being torn about dog ownership. I love the fact that they force me to get out every day and walk them for two or three miles in all kinds of weather, but I also dread exactly that same chore. They're great companions, too, but can't they find something else to do besides follow me around the house all day? But I also admit they've been the conduit for getting to know most of my neighbors, who would only be nodding acquaintances if I didn't have to engage them in conversation while waiting for Rosey or Walker (or both at once) to…well…"finish their business" so I can pick up after them and move on.

Which is how I met my neighbor, the rock guy, Jeffrey Bale, who was out unloading rocks from his truck when I'd stopped to…well…you know. I'd admired the magical pebble mosaics that I'd seen (or rather, glimpsed while nosily peering as unobtrusively as possible) while walking by his house, and the enforced break gave me a reason to tell him how much I admired his work.

So when I opened the paper and saw him in the article titled "Turning Every Stone for a Perfect Fit," then read that he was constructing garden mosaics for Hollywood, it didn't really surprise me all that much. Bale had been written up a while ago in the garden section of the Oregonian, where I got to see more of the incredibly detailed mosaics he'd designed around town. Each one looks like a rich, earthy Oriental carpet and turns a garden into a journey to an exotic, foreign land. You can see a slide show of the photos from the article here.

I imagine he'll be a little busy now that he's hit the NYT, but I have to say, "Congratulations, Jeffrey. Maybe I'll see you again when I walk by with the dogs!"

Photos by Stephanie Diani for the New York Times.


Eugenia said...

The rock walk is gorgeous, but what I really like is your rant about dog ownership; thanks for being a responsible dog owner! Keep discouraging the dewy-eyed ones.

Kathleen Bauer said...

It's really that I feel sorry for the dogs whose owners don't get the responsibility a dog entails, and end up ignoring/abandoning them (emotionally or physically).

Anonymous said...

Those mosaics are just so stinkin cool. What patience! And how exactly does he go about planning those? I haven't seen the times lately. Does it go into detail?

And I agree with you on responsible dog ownership, although I myself get a bit dewy-eyed thinking about getting a dog, with full knowledge of all that entails. I haven't gotten one yet because I am aware I am currently incapable of providing everything they need (training, walking, feeding, vet), but that doesn't change the fact that I truly miss the companionship and spirit that dogs provide. To me, the walking seems like a small thing, but I guess I'm a pretty hopeless dog person. :)

Kathleen Bauer said...

Well, obviously I agree with you about dogs, since we have two and adore them hopelessly. I hope you can join the krew sometime!