FLUMMOXED AGAIN – Marilyn Armstrong

Flummoxed by Life, Rain, and Dawgz

It’s a great literary word and I love what it means. To be completely (pardon the expression) bamboozled. Stunned. Lost in the complexity. Wandering mentally aimless. Made mentally woolly by the ghosts of the past.

”Naked and alone we came into exile,” Thomas Wolfe wrote. ”In her dark womb we did not know our mother’s face; from the prison of her flesh have we come into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison of this earth. . . . Which of us has not remained forever prison-pent? Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?”

And then he said … and he repeated it throughout the book: “Lost, o lost. Ghost, come back again.” By which he was remembering his dead brother.

I read this book– all of his books, actually — when I was 14 and 15. Those were my serious reading years.  Wolfe really spoke to me. “Look Homeward, Angel” was nearly 1000 pages of poetry. I don’t think I’d get through the first chapter today. My taste for poetry has withered on its vine. Even so, a really good poem grabs me by the heart.

A beautiful poem isn’t just words. It’s a cry to your soul and all of “Look Homeward, Angel” was a soul’s cry.

Duke on a rainy day

The thing that makes me bring up a book I haven’t read for nearly 60 years was that the main character in all of Wolfe’s books — especially his three early ones — was permanently flummoxed. The world meant little to him. He was never clear on where the boundaries between real and ghostly began or ended.


That’s how I felt then and sometimes today. It’s not dementia. That’s when I can’t remember a perfectly simple word because it has flown my mental coop and I have to find it on Google (how could I survive without Google?) … or just write around it until later when the word just shows up. Like a lost kitten who was hiding under the bed, the word looks at me and says: “What’s your problem? I was just under the bed. Didn’t you look there?”

This morning it was raining so hard I thought there was a strong wind blowing. I looked outside and realized the trees were shaking from the weight of water falling on them.

Gibbs was never housebroken. He got here, doped out where shit went and proceeded to become housebroken. Unless it rains. None of our three dogs likes rain, but Gibbs truly loathes it.

Snow? Not a problem. Cold? No worries. Light rain? Can handle that.

You want ME to go out THERE?
You go out. I’m home until it stops.”

Gibbs had already left a load for me in the kitchen, right next to the trash can. He’s very neat that way and never goes for a rug or anything soft. I threw the dogs out. Gibbs lay down in front of the doggy door and went limp. I had to lift his front end, push it out the door, then lift his butt (which seems to be growing) and pushed it out, too. Then I locked the door while I cleaned the kitchen and gave them fresh water.

They stood in front of the house. Dripping. Looking at me. Daggers to my heart. I let them back in, went to the bathroom and came back. Gibbs had saved a pile to remind me he is a proud, stubborn terrier. Amazingly, he also looked guilty and has spent the rest of the morning giving me his best “sad-eyed” look.  He knows he has done wrong, but if it rains like this again, guilt will not change him. At 11-years-old, this is not a dog with a lot of “give” in his nature. Much love, but little flexibility.

I could have gotten up earlier and tossed them out. I was tired. The bed was warm. Excuses, excuses.

I wasn’t flummoxed. I was tired, warm, and cozy — the lethal “stay in bed” potion. Pushing reluctant dogs out a dog door wasn’t on my list of “things I wanted to do.”

Life keeps getting livelier and I don’t understand how two long-since retired people could get so godawful busy this late in life. Life never seems to go where we want it to do, though sometimes —  maybe even often — it does something more strange, but better.

37 thoughts on “FLUMMOXED AGAIN – Marilyn Armstrong

  1. I love fancy words like this. In German we have two quite different words for flummoxed and it’s an art to know which one to use, because the other one would be wrong. I think I like the English language best because it has a concise, precise and ‘right’ word for everything. Whereas for a long time I thought that Italian and French were the most beautiful languages, I now get sick and tired by the time a French (just to take an example) has sad his/her thing in 15 lines and with 23 deviations – when in English they could have said it in 6 words and everybody would know what they’re talking about….
    What did we do before Google? Would you care to have our combined ca 30 thesaurus, dictionaries, ethymological books, our ‘Kultur-Fahrplan’ with over 2000 pages, our 2 ‘Petit Robert’ which are each about 3 pounds of printed paper and tons of others??? Help yourself. I know that I could use that space in our libraries for other books!
    ‘Poor’ Gibbs: As understandable it is, it’s pretty much VERY annoying too. I remember the time our small and normally very clean dachsie ‘lost the plot’ and left her gifts everywhere…. But rightly so you understand that you are not going to change your darling’s mind – stubbornness is another great English word! In German you have around 8 words – always subtly different the one from the other. In French you can choose from 4 very good words….. I love it!
    I don’t know if this is any help but there is a terrific French site called http://www.atlas-semantiques.eu – site which does also translations and offers synonymes and meanings. But hey, WHERE did you lead me with this? I haven’t got the time for this….
    Just THANK YOU for cleaning up after your stubborn dog and for making that dirty fact a great story for us – without the smell, the work and the swearing 😉


    • English is really good at “getting to the point.” Hebrew, on the other hand, was NOT, which is why all the documentation on products was in English (or occasionally German). In Hebrew, what you could say in a single sentence in English might take a chapter.

      English is something of a melting pot of languages. Probably all those occupations by Norse and French and Romans and all that. Also, those who speak English have never gotten upset at having to adopt a foreign word is a local one didn’t get the job done. Moreover, we abandon words very fast if they no longer say what we want them to say, Watching the language fly by is breathtaking!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m completely with Gibbs that pooping in the rain does not seem like a very pleasing thing to do. If my bathroom roof sprung a leak, I’d probably just go by the trash can as well…


    • I’m glad I don’t have to clean up after YOU. Bad enough cleaning up after me! For that matter, bad enough plain old cleaning. I hate cleaning, but I think I hate dirt worse. Rough choice.


  3. The advantage of cats who use their boxes. Jules was an out of the box guy in his last days, but since all the carpet disappeared over the past 10 years, not such a big deal. Out in the rain–what’s the matter? I don’t poop in the shower!


    • I had a cat who refused to use the box. He would go anywhere else, including right outside the box. I gave him to a friend who never forgave me. His wife ADORED the cat. I felt it was $400 well spent.


  4. Cindy has the odd mishap inside. Usually she wakes me if she needs to go in the night but like you sometimes I am too warm and comfortable and sleepy to pay attention. Can’t really blame her for that. I have to leave her shut inside when I go out and she rarely makes a mess then. I think she sometimes does them when she is either stressed or cross with me like the time I went away for the weekend and left her with a minder.


    • The thing is — my dogs have a door. They CAN go out, but they don’t want to. Because it’s raining. A little light rain, no problem, but heavy rain? The dogs look at me with a doggy look that screams, “Are you MAD? You think I should go out THERE?” This isn’t stress. They don’t like rain.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Huny is housebroken. EXCEPT. When she really really REALLY has to go and her human is so engrossed in those electronic boxes that she doesn’t do anything about the request to go OUT. NOW. So I blame myself. And in the last year, Huny has developed heart problems and that was discovered because she got wicked diarrhea. Now having that problem myself, I don’t blame Huny. And those pictures of Gibbs? Big sad puppy dog eyes…they sort of guilt us into feeling it’s somehow OUR fault that they went where they weren’t supposed to go….

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Poptart isn’t completely housebroken either. And neither is Cocoa when it rains. They’re mostly housebroken, but stress and weather makes them not so much so. Luckily, our carpet isn’t a heavy pile, so it’s easy to scoop up the mess. Our next house will have way more pet friendly flooring (not carpeting).

    Liked by 2 people

    • We have almost NO carpeting anymore. We tore it up. It really stank after years of dogs and puppies and accidents … and anyway, it was old. The flooring we put down is easier to clean, but it isn’t very good quality and you can see that it’s not doing all that well after 10 years.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I thought about doing that here, but we live in a double wide mobile home and I’m too afraid of what we’ll find underneath. >_< Since we're welling or rebuilding in a couple of years, it's not worth the trouble.


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