Home Fires Burning

by jkatejohnston

10 November 2018

Dear Max,

Today’s a big day. D-Day gets his walking papers, that is his last shots, and then we have to wait a couple of days, and come Tuesday—look out, World.


When Enzo was little, and I could bend him to my will, we used to go to the farmer’s market together, and he would gaze and gaze at the different fishes laid out on ice and tolerate the produce stands reasonably well, and then we would cook together. Now I can only get him to cook with me if there’s some angle, like cooking a recipe out of The Hunger Games Cookbook.

Last weekend we made venison apple cheddar puff pastry. The ingredients cost about seventy-five dollars and required visits to three stores. We used the food processor and the pressure cooker and the marble rolling pin and the oven. So, it was absurdly complicated, and Enzo was bored the whole time, and after all that, it wasn’t very good. And I don’t recall any plot lines in The Hunger Games that involved Katniss scouring the forest for an outlet to plug in her Cuisinart. The real problem is, Enzo doesn’t want to cook a deer, he wants to shoot one.

I was complaining to my mom about it afterward, and I said that my plans to lift Enzo out of food illiteracy were—and here I hesitated, trying to choose between stupid and hopeless.

She supplied, “Ongoing?”

Today, I’m going to the great Oto’s Market on Freeport to get more ramen, which he does make himself, though he needs help slicing the Chashu pork so that it’s thin enough to meet his exacting standards.

11 November 2018

Dear Max,

When Colin and D-Day play, sometimes Colin puts his front leg and paw on D-Day’s back, almost like he’s putting his arm around his shoulders. Colin holds his head high, while D-Day strains upward. Then Colin drops his paw and they mouth each other about the face.

Once, when they were playing, Colin lay down for a moment, taking a break. D-Day doesn’t believe in breaks, and he zoomed around Colin several times in a tight circle and then jumped over his back in a graceful arc. Then he did it again. And again.

They look so good together. Colin is dark gold with a lovely creamy undercoat, a flag of a tail, an alert wolf-like head and soft ears. D-Day is smooth, glossy and black with superb musculature. His hind-quarters are tremendous. Baby got back.

I asked Teresa if it would be hard to do prints of D-Day because he’s black. She was almost indignant. “Do you know how many colors there are in black?” I had to admit that I had no idea.


It’s cold here, and I’m writing in front of the fire. D-Day’s lying beside me on the couch, almost asleep. Outside the window, there’s light in the high branches of the Sycamore. The Manzanitas below are still in shadow. It’s the very best time of the year, but terribly marred by all the smoke in the air.

I feel like a jerk for being bummed out by the ugly inconvenience when many people and animals have burned to death. It’s awful. But sensation is sensation. If you go outside, your clothes and hair smell like smoke afterward. And yesterday, taking D-Day to the vet, we had to drive toward the fire, into a semi-rural area, across rice-fields, and the smoke was much heavier. The sun was a dark orange circle in the sky. It felt as if we should be fleeing in the opposite direction.

But D-Day got his shots, and we came home and ate chili, and I took Colin for a walk and then it was time to read books and go to bed.