The Atheist’s Pulpit

One believer’s view.

Mar 062014

Happy Anniversary, Luke!

I’m 12 days late in celebrating an anniversary. On March 6, 2010, we met Luke the Dog. Recently returned from Guatemala, Mer suggested we “just look” at adopting a dog, seven months after Lucky’s death crushed our hearts. Mer suggested we go to a pet store where a local group, HART (Homeless Animal Rescue Team), had rescued animals. We walked in and the very first dog we saw was Luke. Mer knelt beside his cage and cried. We discussed Luke with one of the volunteers. We walked Luke out of the store. He seemed oddly short and stocky, but very gentle and easy-going. Mer liked his interaction with small children; I liked his calm manner under the circumstances and as he met other dogs. Of course, we couldn’t just take the first dog we saw, could we? So, we looked at all the dogs available there, many of which stressed us out with their energy. Then, we went to the Humane Society, filled out a compatibility form, and looked at many more dogs, some virtually unadoptable. Then, we went to the Humane Society’s mobile station and test-walked a dog. After a couple of hours of looking and seeing so many dogs that needed homes but that just weren’t right for us, we went home.

Luke in his trance stateThe next morning, we talked about Luke, who was so different from all the other dogs we saw. And so, we called HART about him and, thankfully, he was still available. Coincidentally, if you believe such things, he was in Los Lunas, which was where I was headed that day to play volleyball. So, a HART volunteer (Jeri) brought Luke to volleyball. Although I put him in the back of the truck’s extended cab, he had other ideas and jumped into the front seat. Fine, I thought, let him ride in the passenger’s seat. But soon, he crawled over and laid his head in my lap for the drive home. He’s a 65 pound lap-dog and a love hound.

In the years we’ve been together, Luke hasn’t traveled as much or far as Lucky did his first year with us (5000 miles). And, we’ve left him at home with a dog-sitter, something we never did with Lucky in 10+ years. Luke is gentle and mellow and loving and we could only be happier if he and Lucky had known each other.

[first published Mar 6, 2011 @ 7:47am]

 Posted by at 7:47 am on Thu 03/06/14
Feb 142014

Thirty–one two years ago today, Valentine’s Day, 1982, Merri Rudd and I shared our first kiss. It was the morning after the first Valentine’s Day Pajama Party at Preston Road.

Happy Anniversary, Darling! xox, mjh

Valentine's Day card drawn by mjh for MR in 1987

“I’ll be your man.
I’ll understand.
Do my best
to take good care of you.
You’ll be my queen.
I’ll be your king.
And I’ll be your lover, too.”
– Van the Man Morrison

cupid and whatshername

See also

 Posted by at 2:14 pm on Fri 02/14/14
Feb 022014

Today, two billionaires pit teams of millionaires against each other in a stately pleasure dome built at taxpayer expense. Tomorrow, whether you’re grinning or crying about “your” team, a few people will be even richer and their surrogates will be hard at work opposing raising the minimum wage, arguing against the estate tax and regulations, while praising the non-existent free market. Hey, at least it’s more fun the original feudal system, right? Right? Go team!

 Posted by at 7:47 am on Sun 02/02/14
Jan 132014

I came out of Smith’s with my arms and hands full of groceries, including sushi, roasted chicken, beer, and 5 pink roses. A down-and-out man sat on the bench near the grocery and looked up at me. “Spare some change, sir?” I was so laden with my own good fortune that I couldn’t get a hand free to give him anything. “Sorry,” I said, “good luck.” “Have a good day, Sir. May god bless you.” As I walked to the truck, I thought about what I could give him instead of cash. I had a bag of potato chips I had taken on the road but not opened. My fortune is such, I could order fries and save the chips for later. As I put my bounty in the truck and got out the chips, I saw the bag of pistachios. Those are more nutritious, I thought. I grabbed them, too.

Back at the bench, I proffered the pistachios. “Yes,” he said, “I’ll do the best I can.” Perhaps that was in reference to his random assortment of teeth. He could give them to someone else, I thought. I held up the potato chips. “Oh, potato chips,” he exclaimed. His face was transformed by joy, his grin huge. I may have beamed as brightly back at the sight of him. “Thank you, brother. You have a good week.” It was a fitting end to my walkabout on the anniversary of my Mom’s death.

 Posted by at 7:47 pm on Mon 01/13/14
Jan 132014

EJH November 1978My Mom died 29 years ago today. By the end of September, she will have been dead more than half of my lifetime. I’m at a loss for a word to describe this. It’s not inconceivable, not really unbelievable, no longer unfair or unjust. It’s just un-Mom. It’s grief — interminable, but suppressible.

Ernestine Hinton loved all kinds of fabric. She frequented fabric stores, buying yards of cloth she liked, which she piled in an out-of-the-way corner solely to paw through, no specific project in mind. She loved sensual materials like satin, silk and velour. She loved color and was happy to put colors next to each other that some might call daring. When she remodeled the house — transformed it, really — she brought together golds, yellows, reds, greens, sage and Chinese lacquer, all unified by a carpet that might have pleased Jackson Pollack, a studiously patternless palette of color blotches that gave every first-time viewer pause.

Ernestine was a natural hostess, welcoming everyone with such genuine charm. She wanted you to be comfortable but never complacent and she trusted you to know the difference.

Out and about, she spoke to people most others ignore, extending courtesy to everyone equally. She worked to improve the lives of many and was outraged by those who did the opposite. She did not suffer fools. She would be appalled by the churlishness and pettiness of modern politics. And she would be overjoyed to see Obama as president.

Mom 1980 She preferred to be called Teen, but I could only call her Mom, or in occasional shock, Mother! And shock me, she did. She was her own woman and expected to be accepted as such. In conversation, she was alive and witty. She could turn a deft phrase to knock you off your feet and then pick you up and dust you off and make sure you were still OK. She was brilliant.

Although Teen was a feminist role model before that concept emerged, she loved being a mother and loved children without reserve. There was nothing more important or valuable than nurturing children. We make our future by teaching our children and by loving them.

Mom taught me to love quick wit, language and laughter. She taught me to despise ignorance, the root of hatred and most of the ugly things we do to each other. She taught me empathy and compassion and patience. She taught me to speak out when I see the emperor has no clothes. She believed everyone’s life would be improved by a little more gentle affection, even between strangers. She was kinder and more gracious than I’ll ever be. Many people and events have shaped me; she did it first and gave the world what there is to work with.

Today is the 29th anniversary of my Mother’s death. My Mom told Mer she knew I’d be angry about her death for a long time. I’ll never stop being angry about that — she deserved a long life as much as anyone else — though I do better understand the burden of anger after all these years. Anger is a poor memorial. She deserves better. mjh

Ernestine 1966

Teen 1973

Click for more photos of my Mom

Cue Dave Carter’s “When I Go.” (He’s dead, too.)

[originally posted Sun 01/14/07 at 6:27 pm]

mjh’s Blog: Cut (2004)

 Posted by at 1:37 am on Mon 01/13/14
Jan 122014

The grocery store was a madhouse this morning, the aisles choked with shoppers. You would think a deadly storm was expected. I said to the cashier, “Seems crazy-busy this morning.” “Yeah,” she replied, “The playoffs are this afternoon.” (If she mentioned the sport, I didn’t register it.) “If you hadn’t told me, I never would have known,” I said, truthfully. “Also, Comic Con is in town,” she added, perhaps sizing me up.

I’ll be playing volleyball on a beautiful sunny New Mexico day. Have fun inside, hollering at millionaires, while choking down your favorite poison.

 Posted by at 1:43 pm on Sun 01/12/14
Jan 042014

WP_20140104_13_35_39_ProYou may recall that prior to Thanksgiving, we adopted a dog named Autumn (Dogs of Future Passed). Within a week, we returned her (Grief and puppy love), in large part because I seemed to be allergic to her and also because I let her take over the household and began to regret that. Letting her go was very difficult for us, to say the least.

In the 6 weeks since then, we’ve talked about Autumn almost daily, second-guessed and regretted our decision, then resolved to put it behind us. We have the best dog in the world in Luke (all dog owners believe this of their dogs — it’s part of that powerful bond between us). With Luke, we have a near-perfect life. We could not ask for a better dog.

It seemed the Universe wasn’t going to let us get away from Autumn so easily. On the last day of 2013, out for our last walk of the year, we encountered Autumn walking with her terrific foster-mom, Susan K. The timing was perfect. Autumn seemed so happy to see us again and we realized that although we don’t want or need a second dog, we do indeed want and need Autumn. We ran into them again a day or so later. There was talk of other adopters, so we this was our last chance to have her.

During the holidays, we also came to realize that a little disruption could be a good thing. I like change and Mer likes challenges and Autumn might be both. Autumn is a phenomenal fit with us. Though she is a small dog, she’s not a yapper. She adores Luke and emulates him; he’ll be a great role model for her. She’s mostly housebroken and can walk on a leash and sit on command. She’s a small dog with long legs and Luke is a big dog with short legs. Their coloring and face shape are very similar. Their ears are very cool in different ways.


When Autumn came home today, she and Luke ran joyfully in the yard. We’d been concerned that he was at best indifferent to her. We also worried about his well-being, especially trying to keep up with a puppy. Those concerns vanished in play.

But what about my allergic reaction, which consisted of burning hands and hives? Well, my symptoms pre-date Autumn and recurred during her absence. She may contribute to my ailments but she isn’t the sole cause. If I knew Luke was the cause of my difficulties, it wouldn’t change how I feel about him nor would I consider for a moment getting rid of him; the same for Autumn. I’ll work through my issues.


 Posted by at 10:47 pm on Sat 01/04/14