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You are sitting there, quietly, when suddenly, you know. Death is at your shoulder. Again. All of his other visits swirl through your memory. Why is he a he? I have always thought of death as a male, and birth as female. The female part, I understand. But the male part is a mystery. He has yet to make a claim, but he is there, waiting. Animal or human, death is the same. In the long run, the hurt is the same. The loss is the same. A sensitive soul like me, or a pragmatic soul, like my ex, still feels the ache. The new/old soul like our daughter feels it all the more, because she is far away, and may not get a chance to say goodbye.

Champ’s age is debatable, but that he was adopted as Kelsea’s dog is indisputable. That he is preparing to depart is also without question. I sat for hours on the floor of the vet’s office with him laying between and against my legs, snoring gently and chasing things in his dreams. I know he will be free of the burden of his body over the Bridge, and that he will be waiting there for us. I have shared similar sentiments with three friends who have lost fur family in the last few weeks. It’s no comfort. There is no comfort. I so wish there was.

The feeling of grief before a death is, some might say, premature. But I know it to be very real , and inescapable. Once Death is in the room, there is nothing I can do but sit beside him, in uncomfortable silence, and wait.

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Boulder, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Dogs are always good and full of selfless love. They are undiluted vessels of joy who never, ever deserve anything bad that happens to them.” — Steven Rowley

Daily gratitudes:
A good vet
Clouds
Getting along with your ex
Video calls
The mixed blessing of feelings

 

For those of you who haven’t met him, this is Mr. Man. He is my constant companion in what we call the “North House” aka, the Bungalow, and keeps me feeling well-loved and snuggled when MKL is in the “South House”. Some people say he has a big nose, but I think it’s beautiful. As a Maine Coon, which people say is “the dog of cats”, he is a vocal fellow. If he loves you, he will give you headbutts – after smelling your forehead to be sure no imposter is disguising herself as his Mom. Mr. Man, also known as Mr. Boo, has only had one other owner besides me in his whole life. I adopted him when he was 13 as a birthday present to myself three years ago. Yes, he’s 16 now, and has had a few problems with pancreatitis, from which he almost died two years ago. That experience – my helping him get better – was a turning point in our relationship. He finally came to trust me, eight months after I’d adopted him. Now, I don’t think we can imagine our lives without each other, though having had cats before (my first one lived to 20), I know that one day, I will have to do so.  But I hope that’s a long time off.

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Lafayette, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.” — Terry Pratchett

Daily gratitudes:
A successful chainsaw massacre with no loss of limb
An old favorite movie
MKL
Strong arms
True love

 

Mr. Man is still taking his pain meds for his teeth, and they make him sleepy and take away his appetite, but he had his last dose this morning – it sent him under the bed, he hates it so much. Hopefully, he will get back to his happier self, and settle in now. I miss him.

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Lafayette, Colorado.

Quote of the Day: “I thought such awful thoughts that I cannot even say them out loud because they would make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish.” — Annie Lamott

Daily gratitudes:
Road trip with Kelsea
Crack pizza
Beautiful sunsets
Missing MKL (which means I love him)
Mr. Man
Rain that makes lush green mountain valleys reminiscent of Ireland

Here’s the reason I’ve been a bit remiss in posting.  It’s not a very good picture….

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but this is Mr. Man. He’s 13 1/2 years old, and 17 1/2 pounds and he joined the household today from the Boulder Valley Humane Society. Even though MKL is rather allergic to cats (and claims he can’t eat a whole one), he was intrigued by the idea of having a Maine Coon. They are known as “the dog of the cat world” because of their size and their chill tendencies. Mr. Man is doing quite well for his first night in a strange house (with a strange woman). He did spend part of the evening under the bathtub, but I probably would have too.  He’s having a hard time jumping up on the bed, but I don’t know if that’s because it’s high (it is), he’s high (he is, on pain medications since he had four teeth extracted yesterday) or he just needs to figure it all out. I may have to get him a step stool if he wants to snuggle in the bed.

So, right now, he is consuming me – not literally, but mentally. He’s a love and I’m so happy.

Dear Unknown Lady,

I don’t know who you are, but I know you’re an angel.

At the height of rush hour heading towards Denver, just past the Church Ranch exit, there was a beautiful dog in the road.  I don’t know if he was your dog, but I know he was someone’s dog.  He was silvery and fluffy and looked like he had some husky and maybe some shepherd in him.  And he was trapped against the center median, with cars speeding by at 65 mph, no doubt missing him by only a hair or a miracle.

Other cars had stopped.  But you did it.  You pulled your truck over on the shoulder, and got out.  You called to him with happiness and enthusiasm, in just such a way that he wouldn’t panic any more than he already no doubt was.  The cars at the critical point decided that this dog’s life was more important than getting someplace two minutes sooner, and stopped, allowing him to gallop across the road to you. He looked absolutely joyful.  And you clapped and encouraged and praised him and he leapt easily into your truck.

And he lived.  Uninjured.

Maybe he had been in your truck and had jumped out somehow.  Maybe he was left behind by someone.  Maybe he was someone’s darling who got loose, like our Champ did once – he miraculously made it to the other side of the highway that time too, and another angel lady helped him.  (Those husky mixes can really be escape artists.)

Champ as a puppy.

But that doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that you took the time to save a beautiful dog.  One beautiful soul rescuing another.

It made my day.  I thank you.  And your fuzzy buddy thanks you.

I’m not whining, but I do want to share.

Roscoe’s injury has hit me hard. Not as hard as it has hit him, obviously, since he’s the one who had a nine-inch stick in his body cavity for a week and almost died, not me. But in an emotional way, hard.

I’m at the vet now, sitting on the bed that he’s become attached to here, typing this. He has his upper body curled against my leg, and is sleeping peacefully, breathing normally for the first time that I’ve seen since the injury. He was dreaming a bit, his paws twitching like dogs do when they’re chasing something in their sleep, and he just gave a big contented sigh. Nothing is waking him – not my sneezes, not the barking dogs in the treatment room, or the voices of the staff. He’s peaceful. I cuddled him and sang him all the lullabies I used to sing to Kelsea when she was a baby.

He still has the pump in his side. They upped his antibiotic dosage, and so the incision sites are cooler, and he is much more alert. The shaved spot is the size of many other dogs, so he may have to wear a t-shirt when he gets home, which I always think looks adorable on dogs. But he’s still not eating and not drinking. He did covertly eat the food I brought yesterday sometime in the middle of the night, so I brought some more for him today. They gave him two liters of electrolyte IV solution earlier to help him keep hydrated and his body just soaked it up like a sponge.

Roscoe's Frankenstein incisions

I don’t even want to imagine what the bill will be. I don’t care. I can’t really afford it anyway. But you do what you’ve got to do.  The vet – Arapahoe Animal Hospital in Boulder – has been fabulous. All the doctors and all the techs here know Roscoe now and love him. They want him to live here with them and be their vet pet. (Sorry guys, we got him first.) It reminds me of when Kelsea was first born. That first night, they took her away and told me they’d bring her back for me to nurse her. I woke up seven hours later with no baby and no one answering the bell. I wondered if something had happened and I was the last person alive. So I hobbled out to the nurse’s station, and said, “Um, excuse me, do you know where my daughter is?” “Oh, Kelsea?” they said, “She was so sweet that we just decided to keep her here with us at the nurse’s station.” Sweetness must run in the family.

So, Roscoe is getting better and is going to be okay. And that’s all the news that really matters.

But now we come to me. Yes, wussy me. I am so exhausted energetically from caring from him from a distance, emotionally from worrying about him, and physically from not sleeping well at my ex-husband’s house while I care for the other animals that I can hardly tell which way is up. Sitting with my puppy while he sleeps, along with this wiped out feeling, is totally taking me back to taking care of my mom the week before she died. I was up all the time, sleeping in strange places, showering when I had a second, snarfing food when I could, sitting with her all the time because I could. (I haven’t been able to do that with Roscoe all the time.) This zombie-like functional state is so familiar in my bones from that time with my Mother that it’s giving me flashbacks to a most tenderly painful episode in my life – her death. I never thought I would feel that way again. I couldn’t have told you exactly what it felt like until now, when I’m experiencing it again. And now it is flooding back in a strange, disjointed, poignant way.

I will deal with my own feelings, and it will be fine. I will be fine, just like Roscoe will be fine.

But it is strange to wander in this strange land again.

Roscoe in my lap

Well, everything else being thankfully ruled out, it appears that Kelsea does have a kidney stone.  She was trooper enough to go to school yesterday, but is sleeping in today.  Sleep and liquid, that’s what she needs.  Hopefully, it will pass soon.  At least in my experience, the passing was the easiest part.  And I felt better immediately.

It has been amazingly, freakishly, frustratingly windy here the last few days.  It makes me not want to go outside.  And so, I’m not. I’m watching Rick Steves traipsing through the Mediterranean on public television, experiencing pangs of envy, and wondering if they’ let ME take pictures inside the Mosque of St. Sophia.

The good thing is that it has inspired me to work some more on the Different BVI travel guide.  I will start a pitch letter next week.

It’s amazing how fast money flows out when no money is flowing in.

The Interstate Mullet Toss is this weekend and I am missing it.  If you’re not familiar with this event, the highlight is a competition in which individuals toss a one-pound dead mullet from within a 10-foot circle on a Perdido Key beach in Alabama, across the state line into Florida.  I am determined to go next year.

Gark.  It’s nearing noon.  Maybe it’s time to take a shower and get dressed.  Or maybe it’s time for tequila.

It’s really amusing to watch the dog try to attack the vacuum cleaner attachments.

One of my dearest friends in the world wrote to tell me her cat passed away this week.  She and I had just had a wonderful two-hour talk last weekend.  Talking to her makes me feel like I’m 17 again.  I ache for her.  Losing Tug and JT is as vivid today as it was the day I had to have them put down.  I wasn’t there when my cat of 20 years died of natural causes.  She knew it was coming and said goodbye to me before I left.  I don’t know if I could have borne it.  But of course I could.  One can bear anything if it provides some modicum of comfort to a beloved soul.  RIP, Guido, and peace to you, my dear friend.

There is an abundance of magic in this world.

I hate Rick Steves.  Why can’t I be Rick Steves?

I have been considering trying silk painting.  One of my favorite possessions is a circle of silk with a seascape of Anegada painted on it.  It was made by a British woman who used to come camp on the beach and paint.  It’s a lovely idea and a lovely piece.

August 2017
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