In early June, a sweet puppy, about seven months old, decided that he needed to come live with me. He had spent the weekend going to various homes, shopping for a human, and when he landed on me, he decided he was home. I told him that I’m not a dog person, and that did not deter him. He hung around for three days, even without food, accompanying me to chapel in the morning. That’s when I decided to make things official by getting him his shots, getting a collar, a lead, and food, and a name: Tucker, in honor of the Bishop Tucker School of Divinity and Theology. I wish I could take credit for his name, but I am simply not that creative.
Naturally, word spread quickly about Tucker. A number of the students were reluctant to enter my office when he was there, and since that is where they robe for services, this was a challenge until he was tethered at home. However, everyone seemed pleased that I once again had a pet.
After a staff meeting, someone asked how Tucker was. A lecturer who’d not heard about him looked at me incredulously, and asked, “Jessica, is this true? Did the Lord bring this dog to you? He brought you a dog to care for you? Right to your door. Isn’t that WONDERFUL?” And she was truly amazed.
I must confess, at that moment, I shared neither her incredulity nor her amazement. Tucker was not taking care of me. I was trying to adjust to being a dog person, getting him into a schedule, ensuring that he was able to expend his puppy energy before he completely dug up all the grass in my compound, and trying to ensure that he was a civilized dog who would let me sleep through the night.
As it turns out, Tucker was born just outside one of UCU’s gates, and his mom brought the puppies inside in hopes of finding food. We have many feral animals running around, and to keep their population at bay, poison is often placed in the compost heaps. This befell Tucker’s mom and siblings, but not Tucker. Somehow he survived, and for several months, managed to eke out a living, mostly staying around the library.
I don’t know what prompted him to find a human. I don’t know how he adapted fairly well to domestic life. He loved his walks, especially in the morning with Doreen, my househelp. He hated the harness I bought him, but it made him be a bit more civilized, something of import that I tried to convey to him.
As time marched on, we fell into a good rhythm, I think, and I began to see myself as a dog owner, though I was rather stressed about who would care for Tucker when I went on leave.
On August 1, I went to get him his third collar (since he stretched out the first two trying to get off the lead to explore: ahem), as well as a bone and some toys. When I left, he was happy in the compound with Doreen and the gardener. When I returned, I showed him the new collar, and he was ridiculously happy about it, silly boy. He was happy about the new bone. Then I prepared to sit down to work, and I heard Doreen ask, “Tucker?” He had collapsed.
I called the vet, who I’m sure knew he had been poisoned by what I told him, but Tucker kept fighting, and I asked him to come. He arrived just before Tucker died. It was horrible and awful, yet I’m so glad that I was able to be home with him, and that the vet came, even if it was useless. I felt better having him to talk to.
And after everything and Tucker was buried, Doreen and I sat down and cried. I told her how much Tucker loved her, and how much I appreciated that she loved Tucker, and she said, “You loved him too. You bought him all those things” (the collars and bones, I suppose).
And then I realized she was right. I did come to adore Tucker, and pretty quickly. I came to agree with my colleague that the Lord did provide Tucker to care for me. He brought him right to my door. I don’t know why, and as much as I am still struggling with the grief of his abrupt death, I am grateful that the Lord saw fit to bring Tucker into my life. He taught me to stop and smell the roses (and the avocados on the ground and whatever else he wanted to smell). He got me out for evening walks, which we both enjoyed immensely, and then I wondered why it’s taken me six years to do. He was not deterred by my constant reminders that we would not be chasing squirrels, monkeys, chickens, or cats. He was very quick to make friends, and found very few people he did not like. I loved how open his heart was. Maybe that was the biggest lesson the Lord was trying to teach me: to be as open and embracing as he was.
In the last year, students have offered to get me a cat to try to fill Meri’s void. I have always declined, as I was either mourning or enjoying the concept of not being held down by a pet.
Apparently, the Lord thought it was time to fill the void.
In between rains on Monday, a canine peeped into my home office window and said hello. I thought he might be a friend’s dog, so I went out to see whether he was hurt. It wasn’t her dog, but this dog joyously jumped on me to say hello. And then he tried to come inside.
Local dogs generally are not terribly friendly, and tend to shy away from people. But not this boy. He made himself home on the verandah. Since he was so comfortable with me, I thought he had a family. I posted about him on Facebook, on Tuesday, hoping to find his family, but my friends told me that it seemed that I was chosen.
Sweet puppy kept coming around, and seemed to enjoy escorting me to chapel. So I caved, and admitted that I was adopted. Meet Tucker.
A SAMS Bridger here, also named Jessica, named him. Tucker is appropriate, as I lecture in the Bishop Tucker School of Divinity and Theology. And he wears it well. I heard that he joined the Sunday School children on stage in church on Sunday, so it’s appropriate that he’s named after Bishop Tucker.
My students are amused with my morning escort, though they’re less amused that he parked himself in the doorway this morning, as dogs are usually security, and they are leery of maneuvering around him, despite my assurance of their safety.
I’m amazed at how quickly I’ve taken to Tucker. It’s quite a comfort to see him sitting on the verandah. I’m not about to confess how many times I’ve asked him “who’s a good boy?!” I’m a cat person. I told him this. He wasn’t impressed.
I have no idea why God brought Tucker into my life. I’m sure this sweet puppy with the crazy ears has a lot to teach me.
Over the last couple years, my discipleship group has become accustomed to an end of semester party. When we were studying the 39 Articles, we dubbed it the 40th Article. This semester, we studied spiritual disciplines, so we called it the Discipline of Fellowship.
Brian and Saul wanted to make matooke, the staple food for the Baganda, and fish. All I had to do was provide the kitchen and tea after. Sounds like a win! I had no idea how matooke was made, and was very interested to learn.
Brian brought over the matooke, fish, and spices (vegetables to make the sauce: tomatoes, onions, and green pepper). Then he started peeling the matooke. My knives have never had such a workout. Saul came and joined in the work, and soon enough, they were done.
Brian moved to the kitchen and began to work on the fish and sauce, while Saul continued with the matooke. He had retrieved some banana leaves and banana bark, and he placed the latter in a bowl crosswise, then a few banana leaves. Then he added the matooke. I was convinced it would never fit, but he proved me wrong. He then added more leaves, then tied it all tightly with the bark.
Saul then cut the spines of the banana leaves and some of the trunk so that the matooke wouldn’t touch the bottom of the pan. He added water, and voila! A matooke steam bath was born.
Now the matooke (in the pan we borrowed from the guest house because I don’t have a pan large enough) went in the stove to steam away. It eventually received another bowl as topper to trap the steam.
Brian continued to work on the fish and sauce, kicking me out of my own kitchen when I tried to help. Twice.
When the matooke had steamed enough (they kept pressing the leaves to see how soft it was), they removed it from the sauce pan, then took other leaves and mashed (though I think the proper term is “pressed”) it, working quickly because it was hot. Then it got re-wrapped for more steaming.
When it was finished, Saul then used a plate to scoop and serve, and we all enjoyed tremendously.
And out of that huge bunch of matooke (which fed 18 people) only this remained, which I gave to Saul.
As I was tackling the mountain for marking, I came across this gem from one of my MDiv students in an assignment about the Day of Atonement:
It gave me a good chuckle, as did the “unusual liturgical actions.” I am quite strict about plagiarism, and I thought this was his way of paraphrasing something he read. I was all kinds of proud of him for incorporating what I taught him.
Until I read the same sentence three papers later. Sadly, it’s a quote from a commentary.
So the plagiarism/attribution rants shall continue.