let's tessellate.

I bought this M.C. Escher puzzle for fifty cents.

The box challenges one to see if they can solve the puzzle without consulting the picture on the box. In my case, the answer was no.


unfamiliar roads.

The sign said that the brewery tasting room was open. It did not matter that we did not know what or where the brewery was. We knew that it was a truly magnificent June Friday evening, and that's as good a reason as any to have a beer. So we followed the signs. The first one on the highway was a propped-up sandwich board (is it a sandwich board if no one is wearing it?). It pointed to a road we'd never been down. There were more signs, but they were sporadic. Every time I'd start to lose hope that we'd find any beer at the end of this road, there'd be another sign. All the signs had a symbol that I recognized as a picture of the hops plant. It also looked a little like an artichoke, but I was going with the most likely guess.

I think now that not everyone follows signs down unfamiliar roads. Me, I follow signs down unfamiliar roads every week, just because someone promised me a yard sale. It's true that sometimes these signs lead to nowhere, a sale that existed last week or the week before, the lazy throwers not bothering to remove their advertisement. I rain curses down upon those who do not take down their signs! And then sometimes, the sale is going on, but the neighborhood gets a little sketchy. Like, you're not sure if there's really a yard sale or if it's just some trick by some crazy person that likes to kidnap only thrifty people. That seems like a bad plan, because there's a possibility that their relatives will be too cheap to pay the ransom, but maybe they just want to keep us in a deep hole they've dug until we're fat enough to eat.

That's never happened, obviously, but sometimes my imagination gets the best of me. Besides, this unfamiliar road was not the right type. It was the sort of road you only go down if you have business there. There was some kind of place where you could rent cranes, that was the kind of road it was. A road that you might pass by on your way to somewhere else all the time and never notice, because you go one kind of somewhere and this road was the location of different kinds of somewheres.

The signs were plywood, spray-painted with a fancy hops/artichoke stencil. Aside from being sign-following kind of people, we are also the type who hold special places in our hearts for spray paint and stencils.

At the end, the very end, of this road, there was a warehouse kind of building. It could have been anything, and it reminded me a little bit of those trailers they add to schools when they need more space but can't afford a proper structure, but the sign said it was a brewery. There were traces of other signs that had been similiarly spray-painted and then scrubbed. We parked, and throwing all caution to the wind, we went inside.

Luckily, it actually was a brewery.
So we ordered beers. I had a stout flavored with Larry's Beans. Josh had a red ale. There was not a clear boundary between the tasting room and the brewery, and so on one side of the room there was a big couch, and then across the way, there were giant tanks. There was also a giant, ornate, gilded mirror in the corner, but I'm not sure what it had to do with anything. Although, if I had come across such a mirror, I would've found a place, any place, for it, too.

Since it was such a magnificent Friday evening, we took our beers back outside to sit at one of the picnic tables in the parking lot. From here, we examined our surroundings: a streetlamp, other industrial buildings, an overgrown yard filled with junk and surrounded by a locked chain link fence. The beer was okay. It got extra points for being locally brewed.

There was another couple enjoying the out of doors, and with them was a puppy. From my extensive experience of looking at puppies on the internet, I can confidently say that this particular puppy had a great deal of pitbull in him. He was beautiful - that shade of gray that is almost blue - and very sweet. He allowed us to scratch his ears while he sniffed us, then wandered off to sniff other things. At some point, he disappeared, but his owner called out and he appeared immediately from behind some sniffable thing. Good boy.

We finished our beers and returned our glasses to the bar, stealing a pair of the free stickers advertising the brewery. And then we drove down the unfamiliar road back to the familiar road to continue our magnificent Friday evening.



When I was around twelve years old, I took a confirmation class at my church. Confirmation is when you confirm your place in the church; after having been baptized as a baby, you're now old enough to decide these things for yourself. I did not take this class very seriously. It was taught by the preacher, and I was in the company of three or four other twelve-year-olds. I have heard from others that their confirmation classes had a lot of theological discussion. That seems like it should be the point - before you join the church you should learn about the positions of the community you're signing up with. I only remember learning about the history of Methodism. That's not to say that there was not an attempt to engage us in doctrine-based discussion, just that I don't remember it. I do remember cutting up a lot.

Since then, I've been a member of the United Methodist Church, though for ten years or so I did not regularly attend any church.

When we had been going to a local Lutheran church for a month or two, Josh started talking about joining. And I was alarmed. I was not ready for that step. We were attending regularly and were thinking about getting more involved, but joining seemed too official and too permanent. I'd joined a church once, and it had involved a class and a baptismal font.

Of course, I did not realize that when you join a new church, unless you are switching over to a snootier faith, they will accept your previous baptism. Some places may offer a class, but really it's a matter of a little ceremony and a letter to your old church about transferring membership.

I was right to hold back on the Lutherans, because it turns out that we're really more Episcopalians. After we'd been going to the Episcopal church for a few weeks, they sent us an information sheet to fill out. On the bottom was a question about joining the church. Here again, Josh was ready to go and I was hesitant. There was a yes box and a no box, but I added a new one that said only one of us was ready to join. I felt bad, but I did not see the point into rushing into membership.

Josh and I have been together for eight years, and we've known each other for five years beyond that. But it took going to a new church together for me to find out that Josh is a joiner. People quickly found out that they need only ask Josh if he was interested in doing something for him to volunteer full-throatedly. Which is why he is an usher, a lector, a consulting member of the Communications committee, and on the fellowship team. Meanwhile, I am only on the fellowship team, because Josh signed us both up for that.

Remember that informational sheet that I added a third box to? It never got sent back to the church. This was not intentional. I was waiting until after we were married, just in case we needed Josh's membership at his old Lutheran church in order to have our ceremony there. The Episcopalians were not to be deterred. They sent another form. This time, we'd been attending for several months, and I was starting to get attached. And Josh had explained to me that joining was not the song and dance that I thought it was. So I did not make a third option this time, just checked the yes box.

A few Sundays ago, after the sermon, the preacher asked us and the other new folks to come stand up front with her. We did a short liturgy, where she asked us some questions and we answered them. Then she asked the congregation whether they accepted us and they said "Yes! Yes! Yes!" just like it said to in the bulletin. Then everyone clapped and someone handed me a loaf of homemade bread and we sat down, newly Episcopalians.

I did not feel any differently than from when I had been a Methodist, only minutes before.

In the liturgy where the preacher asks the gathered community if they accept us, it tells them that by letting us into the body, we will change it. It means that we have the ability to change the church's mission and how it fulfills that mission, just by being there. All those years in the Methodist church, and I did not really pay attention or think about very many of the words that were said, but I've been thinking about being a part of the body and changing it. And the preacher warned them, but they all said Yes! Yes! Yes!

My husband, the joiner, answered a query about recording the sermons for putting on the website. It would be a valuable resource for people interested in our church or for people who couldn't make it that (or any) Sunday. Turns out, everything was all ready for this to happen, except they needed someone to push the RECORD button at the beginning of the sermon and the STOP button at the end. The equipment was there, the preacher was happy to wear a microphone, and there was even a page on the website all ready to list the recorded sermons. They were just waiting for a body to show up and do it. I wonder now of all the things that could happen just because there are sermons on the website - maybe nothing, maybe something big, maybe a ton of little things that we'll never know about. But here we are already, changing the body just by being a part of it. Neat, right?



We have some friends, Jay and Meg, who once picked out a cute puppy to adopt. Later, Luther the puppy turned into Luther the pitbull. That's not entirely surprising, as pitbulls make very cute puppies, but it was a surprise to our friends. Previously, they had kept only small dogs, respectable breeds. It took a cute mutt for them to realize that they had been pitbull people all along and not even known it.

Once they were converted, though, they were all in. So much so, that one day, Jay went down to the animal shelter and picked out another pitbull. They named him Caine. Now, there is a spectrum of bulliness. Luther obviously has the lineage, but there are a lot of other breeds going on in there, too. This new dog was possibly the pitbulliest pitbull they had at the pound that day, and I have to tell you, they got some pitbulls there.

Unfortunately, Luther did not like Caine. The day they adopted the new dog, Jay dropped him off at the house with Meg, then ran some errands. When he got back to the house, there were blood splatters all over the walls.

They had an awful weekend. Luther lost no opportunity to attack Caine, and Caine fought back only as much as he needed to do to defend himself. Caine could have ripped Luther to shreds easily, because he is a massive muscle beast, while Luther is more of a medium-sized beast that stays fit. But he wasn't trying to make trouble. They had to take him to the vet for a gash on his paw which required stitches. While they were there, the vet shaved Caine's face and head so that she could patch up all the other little bites and scratches.

Our friends, after several days of running interference and not really sleeping, called in a dog whisperer. I was amazed to find out that people really had that job. The dog whisperer came over and checked out the dogs, the owners, the house. A lot of it is really instructing the owners how to think like dogs, because dogs operate at a different level than we do. Some things that we do, things not even directed at the dog, have whole other meanings to them.

After that, there was some level of peace in the house. For the most part, Caine and Luther played like nice doggies who like each other. But every once in a while, the play would lead to growling, which would lead to horrific pitbull fighting. The harried owners learned how to predict the fights before they led to bloodshed and to separate the dogs beforehand.

A few weeks after Caine came to live with them, Josh and I went over to write some poems. Because of a miscommunication, we did not bring Remix, who has played happily with Luther several times in the past. It was our first meeting with Caine. I'd seen a picture of him on the internet, strapped in to the front seat on the way home from the pound. That dog in the picture had looked happy and sweet. This dog in front of me looked pretty rough. He still was regrowing the fur on his face, and you could see every little scratch and rip. He looked like what many people think of when they think of pitbulls, a fighting dog.

The dogs tussled and played in the basement with us while we visited. Jay told us about all they'd been through - the blood, the fights, the vet, the whisperer. He said he thought everything might have been fine if they'd brought home a female dog. We sat at a table. Luther staked himself out underneath the table, coming out to provoke Caine, then retreating under our legs. It was cute and seemed fine, until it was not.

Suddenly, the dogs were growling and attached at the face. Our friend grabbed Luther and held him up bodily. Josh took ahold of Caine and together, the two grown men were able to pull the dogs apart. Luther was unceremoniously dumped out into the back yard before we all surrounded Caine to gauge the damage. Jay turned the dog's head this way and that to look at it, came back with blood all over his hands. There were splatters on the floor.

The fight had lasted maybe ten seconds. It was terrifying. And what I could not get out of my head was that this was what people had bred pitbulls for. They wanted to see dogs kill each other like this. They placed bets on it. The human race sorta sucks sometimes.

We left pretty soon after that. It was late anyway, and no one felt like writing poetry. Even leaving was a hassle, as we had to keep the dogs separated through the period of our exit. We went home to our dogs, who were asleep on opposite ends of the couch, as usual. They sniffed us all over. I always wonder how much of our activities they can sense, but this time, I wondered if I had dog blood on my pants.

A few days later, Jay dropped Caine off at a no-kill shelter out in the country. They'd had all they could take. It broke their hearts to do so, and it was unfair, but Luther had been their dog from the beginning. I do not know if they are planning on getting another dog, and if so, how they feel about pitbulls now.