So What IS Crazy Anyway?


Our next contributor to the series “Just A Little Crazy” is Sally of TigerEye’s Sallies. She eloquently ponders the question, “So what is crazy, anyway?” If you’ve missed the other entries in this lively series, click here and get yourself oriented . . .

Crazy? Harder than I thought to pull together ideas. What is the craziest thing Ive ever done? I dunno. I seem to have a lot to choose from, especially in the days before children.

Do I talk about walking the Witness Trail in honour of my dead brother with my best girlfriend in bear country? Do I talk about painting the kitchen bright spring green and rich mountain blue? Do I talk about skinny-dipping at midnight, or mid-day, or whenever confronted with clear water? Do I talk about throwing off the shackles of widowhood at five months out and finding a new love of my new life?

All of these are crazy, and adventurous and generally spontaneous behaviours in my life-well-lived. Theyre pretty typical of what I do. Regular readers will know how anathema punctuality and regularity are for me, and may not be terribly surprised by the aforementioned list.

So, for this post, I wanted something different, and big – something truly crazy. I have no tattoos or unconventional piercings, so that wont work. But I do have a series of recently taken photographs, which do somehow illustrate my brand of crazy and spontaneous. Let me explain . . .

This is a picture of Sam, my first-born, almost nine-year-old, beloved boy. He is wielding a magic stick, aka a dog ball chucker, and he is spreading magic at the lake, before sunset, on a mystical afternoon, outside of time, at the end of summer. For me, this is magic, aka crazy.

Lets look at the elements:

A dog: we dont own a dog ourselves – our zoo is full up with cats and rabbits and fish – but my daughter Sydney is a dog-lover. The dog-person gene skipped a generation, and was passed directly from my mother to my daughter. We stop for dogs (e.v.e.r.y. Dog). We borrow dogs. We test-run dogs. Adding a dog to our household is an important ingredient in our crazy recipe. Dogs mean chaos and fun and laughter and water and mud. The dog not seen in this picture is a not-yet-full-grown pointer. He is non-stop crazy fun magic.

A best-friend: I met my BFF 20 years ago last week, during the first days of our university program in Child and Youth Care. Weve been through a lot of crazy fun magic together (see the above list . . .), and now that we once again live close enough for easy visiting, my children are the beneficiaries of her largesse, energy, creativity and spontaneity. For them, she pretty much epitomizes crazy fun magic. For me, she is this, and a trusted confidante and an opportunity to play photographer while she plays auntie. She brings over her dog, and her presence and presents, and another critical ingredient in our crazy fun magic recipe is added.

Water: it doesnt have to be a lake – a river is also excellent – but a backyard pool and hose will do equally well. It doesnt even have to be outside – dish soap and food colouring added to the bath tub make for a fantastic crazy fun magic time. Water soothes us and heals us and holds us. It keeps promises and secrets; it restores and refreshes. Being in it or near it seems like a never-fail ingredient in our crazy fun magic recipe.

Sparkles: here, they come from sunlight. They could come from glitter, or cake decorators sprinkles, or an out-of-season Christmas ornament. They might come from a precious pet, perhaps named Sparkles, or from a loving hug or a warm smile. They certainly come from the helpless laughter of a child or the love in a parents gaze. Sparkles are harder to see when youre down, but they are there, in dew-drops, butterfly wings, spiderwebs and wet noses. If you dont have them before you put together your crazy fun magic recipe, youre bound to have them afterwards.

A child: I birthed both my children at home. For some people, this is crazy. For me, it was a refusal to live in fear. Certainly, there are risks in life. I choose, vigorously, not to live my life wrapped in cotton wool, fearful of bumps, bruises, heartache or even disaster. I cant protect against these things – for the most part, life and the universe are pretty indifferent to my petty sandbags. My very best defense against those slings and arrows, I figure, is to seek and exploit opportunities for joy, beauty, sparkles, fun, magic and craziness.

The crap is gonna come along – can I grow something good in it? Turns out, I can and did – a couple of kids, several profound loves, some great friends. Pretty sure something fantastics gonna happen tomorrow – will I be ready for it? Will I recognize it? It might like look water, or a dog, but who knows? It could look a lot like you.



What I really wanted to say was how this animal had touched our souls and taught us some of the most important lessons of our lives. ‘A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours,’ I wrote. Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things – a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty.

~ John Grogan, Marley & Me

Sights and sounds from a really rough morning . . .

My daughter standing at the foot of my bed with tears streaming down her cheeks. My wife crying the cry that shakes the body, the soul, and the silence. My boys holding her on the couch, Ty tenderly rubbing her back as she screamed into a pillow.

Our pug Shadow had curled up in the bathroom on her forest green floor mat and slipped away during the night.

When we moved into the home we’d built, back in the Spring of 2002, one of the first things we decided we needed was a pet. Garsy’s parents breed pugs and Shadow, who’d endured a rough pregnancy that resulted in a hysterectomy, was the perfect fit. I was apprehensive at first, not sure if I wanted such a God-awful ugly dog. But she won my heart that first day . . .

. . . with that mile-long tongue and hearty yelp that lifted her front end off the ground. She’d beg for treats by standing on her hind legs and dancing in a circle. Resistance was futile.

And the kids loved her. Especially Zoe . . .

. . . who on one occasion was the benefactor of Shadow’s protective nature. Our old neighbors owned a pit bull, a dog made mean by years of teasing and abuse. He was chained in the yard one day, dancing and barking and watching Zoe play with a ball on our driveway. When the ball got away from her and went into their yard, he snapped his chain and came running. Being a kid, and the dog being a big bruiser of a dog with a reputation for playing rough, she freaked out and started running.

Between the two stepped Shadow. She lost . . .

. . . and took a bite to the chest. Her yelps, and the screaming, alerted the neighbor, who came running to break up the confrontation.

Shadow had become the family hero by doing what comes natural. Isn’t that the way it is with most heroes?

Eleven years. That’s old for a pug with a go-getter attitude. We’ll miss her dancing around the breakfast table begging for pancakes. The way she’d nudge my leg and then flop down and roll over in anticipation of a belly-scratchin’. Her favorite spot, under my wife’s desk near the vent, is now vacant.

But our hearts and minds are filled with her presence. That’s my girl . . .