Rabblerousers and Names


8th grade, 1968, new state, new school, girls were not allowed to wear pants to school. I pleasantly and determinedly created a petition to request that girls be allowed to wear pants to school. I got enough signatures, it worked, we were allowed to wear pants.

Mr. Brenner, my English teacher, said “Mary, you are a rabblerouser!” I had to look up the word in the dictionary. An old fashioned one, with alphabetical listings, remember those? When I found out that the word describes itself, one who rouses the rabble, I blushed with flustered….shame! embarrassment! horror!

What I wondered then, and I still wonder now, this many years later, is why do Rabblerousers have a name if not to imply that there is something wrong – or annoying – or dangerous – about them?

And yes I am still rousing the rabble. Nothing huge, but yeah I still do.

a letter to her dog, from sherry o

dear calgirl (aka “the zone”),

as i told you earlier, i am sorry. i am still sorry. i didn’t mean to throw your toy tire on the roof. as much as it pains you to sit all day–on guard–two stories beneath the roofed-tire,it pains me even more to shop all over this christmas town only to discover there is not another tire like the one stuck on my roof. i know you won’t accept an imitation, but please (i am begging you) don’t ask me to get out the two-story extension ladder.

still sorry,


photo and story by sherry o’keefe

A Proper Cup of Tea

Sad Heart, a good dog.

“We could learn to stop when the sun goes down and when the sun comes up. We could learn to listen to the wind; we could learn to notice that it’s raining or snowing or hailing or calm. We could reconnect with the weather that is ourselves, and we could realize that it’s sad. The sadder it is, and the vaster it is, the more our heart opens. We can stop thinking that good practice is when it’s smooth and calm, and bad practice is when it’s rough and dark. If we can hold it all in our hearts, then we can make a proper cup of tea.”
(Wisdom of No Escape) – Pema Chodron

Invisible Fences

Bailey’s invisible fence ran along quite close to the cement steps pictured here. She used to veer off to the left of the steps to avoid getting “buzzed.” When the railing got installed we moved her invisible fence line way over to the right to give her more room – but at first she didn’t believe. We had to coax her and sweet talk her over and over, up and down the steps until finally she was a “convert.”  Still, it took guts for her to believe.

The invisible parts of our lives; believing in them, or not.  Trust. Fear. Taking those first steps. Avoiding pain. Pain that seems to come from nowhere – an “invisible” fence!  How very much this mirrors our emotional experiences of our lives. And yet, still, every day, Life asks us to keep walking up and down steps.  To believe we won’t be hurt.

The Best “Good Dog Bailey” Story Ever

Here is Good Dog Bailey, and below is First Island…

Bailey and I often swim out to First Island. It’s pretty far, right?
So yesterday we swam out there and after a few minutes I couldn’t find Bailey
but I figured she was playing with some dogs who were also visiting the island
and I was chatting with some folks who were there.

When it was time to swim back home, I couldn’t find Bailey girl. I called and called her.

How amazing is this dog?!

She missed me, so she apparently swam back home to find me…….then when she heard me calling her, she swam back to First Island to find me…….then she swam back home with me.

The kisses she gave me!

Such a good dog! Love that girl!
(Lots of exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) (See “Miserly With Exclamation Marks” post for explanation!)

A Path Makes Sense to its Maker

On the lake this morning with good dog Bailey.

We saw a yellow butterfly, a turtle, a muskrat, dozens of fish large and small, and a frog (or maybe it was a toad).

a turtle poem. . .

Bubbles on the water’s surface
follow a path that makes sense
to their maker.
At the end, a turtle’s head
appears out of early lake water,
trees bent and reflected around it.

Two days ago a dozen or more
turtle tails & fat feet tracked in the sand;
clumsy mounds. We chose two
to protect. Eggs, we hope.

The turtle’s head disappears –
a magician’s trick –
the bubbles slowly go back
to their own kind:
the clear air that belongs
only to new mornings.

– poem and photo by mary macgowan

Oh Bailey!

Somehow Bailey does it. She turns ’round and ’round til she can squeeze into this tiny dog bed. Why do I love this so much? Is it because of her optimism? Determination? Her complete lack of embarrassment? The joy it brings her to be curled up so snugly?

And when I asked her to “stay” so that I could take a photo of her standing over this tiny bed – what a good, good dog. She’s such a good dog.  Bailey, good girl.

— Some of my drawings are now available on Etzy:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/MaryMacGowan