Doggy Detention

Winter and the Leap Year Moon

Wednesday gratefuls: The Apple repair store guy. The offensive line size guy at Broadway Motors who, after putting on black plastic gloves, got my chainsaw working. No charge. Jeffco animal control. Yes, really. Ruby, in whom I slipped through Denver with ease. Dr. Palmini and Sano Vet. Cephalosporin*. Gertie.

Kep is on doggy home detention. No ankle bracelet, but our solemn vow to not take him anywhere for 10 days. I think it’s a mistake; I’m pretty sure it was Murdoch that bit Antonio, but it was chaotic. Antonio had to report the dog bite and Jeffco animal control followed up. The law is there to protect other dogs and people from a potentially rabid or otherwise sick dog. Can’t deny the value of that, especially up here where we also have wildlife to take into account.

We paid Antonio’s expenses at Urgent Care, though Joe will reimburse us. Antonio is a good guy. He’ll come back. This time he suggested we use muzzles. Hmm. Good idea.

Meanwhile for both Kep and Murdoch the whole incident is so last decade. Dog’s shrug off yesterday, the last hour, the last minute. Today. Right now. That’s where they live. After the inside fight where I got bit, I walked Murdoch calmly up the stairs with no leash. The fight was over.

In other doggy news Gertie is only on three legs now. Her left rear apparently got knicked in that same fight. We took her into Sano, our Vet Dr. Palmini suggested an x-ray. She has either a very severe bone infection, probably not from the fight, or bone cancer. She’s our oldest, beating out Rigel by a year at 12. At these ages dogs can begin a decline.

The cephalosporin should knock back an infection, at least make us see some improvement in a week. If it does, then she’ll stay on the antibiotics for a month. If it doesn’t, we’ll need to do a biopsy for cancer.

SeoAh is coming for a month. She arrives Sunday. The Coronavirus has Asia scared. Singapore has had a few cases. And, their household belongings which Joseph hurried to get ready for the movers by December 19th, have not arrived yet. Plus the issues with Murdoch. She will be a great help, will calm things down for a while. Much needed. And, appreciated. What a joy it is to have her in our life.

In further good news Kate is bouncy and energetic. At least compared to the last couple of years. Her trajectory is on the upswing and that makes me so happy. Just seeing her smiling, her voice without stress, her face without a grimace makes all this other seem incidental.

* The aerobic mold which yielded cephalosporin C was found in the sea near a sewage outfall in Su Siccu, by Cagliari harbour in Sardinia, by the Italian pharmacologist Giuseppe Brotzu in July 1945. wiki


Winter and the Leap Year Moon

Oh, man. Antonio the dog trainer came. Murdoch bit him. Shit.

Antonio is a young man, maybe 30. A lumberjack or hipster beard, hiking boots, jeans, a blue wool jacket. He has an easy smile and wore what I recognized as a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy hat. My kinda guy.

He met all of our dogs though Gertie held back because her left rear leg has given her trouble the last couple of days. Rigel went up to him as he came in the door. Snuggled up to her new bff. Kep came over and sniffed him after vigorously announcing his arrival.

Time to meet Murdoch, who was outside. I let him in the sewing room, the door closed to the rest of the house. Antonio put Murdoch through sit, heel, then down. Murdoch didn’t move. Antonio said most dogs don’t like down because it’s submissive. He hit the e-collar once on a very low setting and Murdoch immediately went down.

We talked about the situations that had prompted a fight. Murdoch seemed to be the aggressor, I said, and wouldn’t stop when Kep rolled over. The second fight they came in Kep in the lead and Murdoch behind growling. Antonio said that sounded like Kep was the aggressor.

We agreed to try Kep and Murdoch outside. I got Antonio a leash for Murdoch, but couldn’t find one for Kep. Antonio said that was ok, so I came out with Kep by my side. Kep turned away from Murdoch, not approaching. Murdoch growled.

We moved around the yard, keeping a distance. Murdoch gradually calmed down. It was this kind of desensitization that Antonio thought could work. Feed them each on one side of a glass door. Walks in the back. Hopefully calm them down enough so they could be inside together.

Antonio thought they could come closer, so I approached with Kep. Murdoch dove for Kep. Antonio fell on Murdoch, but Kep had come up to defend himself and in the struggle one of them bit Antonio. Through his jacket. Just like mine. A big gash, maybe 3 inches by 3/4’s.

Inside. My wife’s a doctor. Blood dripping on the deck, the tile. His arm over the same sink where mine was on Thursday. Kate took care of him, bandaged him, ironically, with some of the supplies given to us at the Swedish E.R.

He’s in tears, agonized, shaking. What to do? Called his wife. Got a time to go to the Conifer Medical Center. He’s gone. Don’t know anymore.

Jesus Christ.

Dick Clark

Winter and the Leap Year Moon

Sunday gratefuls: Healing on my wrists and hands. Kate’s feeding tube back in place. Again. Ruby and her seat heater, her dual climate controls. Nice yesterday. The loft. A place to be me, to take in the matters of the last three weeks or so. Kate for finding this house with the loft in waiting.

Well. Sometimes the hits just keep on coming. Dick Clark.

Friday night Kate’s feeding tube popped out again. Geez. I put it back in so the stoma would not close, then we spent most of yesterday in the E.R. at Porter Adventist. (never again there) After much dithering by a newbie e.r. doc, a new tube got inserted. Took over 4 hours for a five minute procedure. The place was more like a morgue than a hospital. Very, very quiet. Our internist’s practice found it for us.

The feeding tube has gotten Kate’s weight up to the 100 pound range, ensured her good nutrition which she can’t achieve by mouth any longer, and been a much, much less fussy tech than the pic line feedings. However, still with its own quirks.

The first time it popped out was shocking for both of us. By this one, the third, we just want it put back in and let us go home, please. Also, we’d like it to stop popping out.

Medical matters have inundated us. Some critical, most not. We’re managing, staying ahead, but barely. Wish there was a magic bullet, but I don’t see one. Keep schlepping. Keep each other strong. Do what needs doing.

A plateau here would be nice. Let things calm down. Get our breath. Not sure if that’s gonna happen right now.

The Murdoch Problem

Winter and the Leap Year Moon

Saturday gratefuls: Dinner at Twin Forks with Kate last night. Pint of cookie dough ice cream. Clouds of the front moving in from the east. Augmentin. Kate’s improvements. Her smile and her laugh. Gertie. Kep. Rigel. Murdoch. Dogs. Joe and SeoAh. Diane. Mark. Mary. Marilyn’s call.

Hands and wrists still in gauzy bandages. They come off today. The stitches are in until next Friday. A few aches. Not much pain unless I try to open a door or a dog food bin. In problem solving mode now. Antonio will come on Monday. Hope he has some good ideas. After that, it will be time for a talk with Joe and SeoAh.

Kate suggested, and it’s a good idea, that I talk with the Akita rescue folks here, see if there’s a foster situation that might be available for Murdoch. A big, big step for us and even more for Joe and SeoAh. Reluctant. But. Also reluctant, opposed to more E.R. trips.

If I looked at us from the outside, I’d say we don’t know what we’re doing. We do, it just isn’t going well.

Got sorta down yesterday. Mostly over my commitment to Joe and SeoAh. Wondering if I’m going to have to back out of it. That feels awful, so I hope not. Decided problem solving was more useful though the feeling lingers.

Kate saw that and took me out to dinner again. This time to Twin Forks, a fancier place. On Friday nights they serve the yabba dabba do cut of prime rib. It’s huge. We didn’t have it. Scallops for Kate, beef medallions for me. The energy of the place helped. Talking and laughing together. Also helped.

At least we’re not seeing life from the seat cushion of a recliner.


Winter and the Waning Crescent of the Future Moon

Friday gratefuls: Josie, the nurse, and William, the doctor at the Swedish E.R. Lidocaine. Kate and her bandaging skills. That neither Murdoch nor Kepler got badly injured. Sandy, who came today, just in time to clean my blood off the tile.

So, yes. It happened again. This time a door didn’t shut and Murdoch, who was outside, came in. When I saw him and Kepler together, I said, “Oh, no!” Shortly they were at each other. I don’t even remember getting in it with them. Not sure I did. But one of them got my left wrist, another my right. 6 more stitches and lots of less deep lacerations, plus spurting blood. Looked like a murder scene. Tile, fortunately.

Leaves me feeling like a failure. Taking care of Murdoch for Joe and SeoAh. They’re gone for a year. What will we do? A very tough place to be.

Just got off the phone with Antonio, a dog trainer. He’s going to come by on Monday for a consultation. See what we can do. He said it’s tough after they’ve already been into it. He’s right. Hope he’s got some good ideas. It obviously isn’t working as things are.

Then there’s an inevitable talk with Joe and SeoAh. What can we do? Yecchhh.

Both incidents have occurred right after we’ve gotten home together. Yesterday, Mussar, The first time, after Kate’s g-tube got replaced. The dogs are excited and we’re distracted.

Slept fine. Hands don’t hurt. Much. Lots of gauze, steri-strips, and the neat row of stitches. Antibiotics. Lot of exhaustion though.

Right after getting bit, when the blood still spurted onto the floor, I felt faint. Skin clammy. Scared me seeing all that bright red vital fluid escaping its container. Holding my wrist over the sink, I hollered to Kate.

She was blaring the fight extinguisher at the two combatants. Loud. Made no difference at all. Good idea, though.

When I got to the E.R., they asked me where I’d been seen first. Both hands were wrapped in paper towel and coban. A professional job. Oh, I have a doctor in the house.

The drive in, the pain, the treatment, the drive home. Long sleep. Till 9. Still worn out. Had to go to King Sooper to get the augmentin. Back home. Nap right now.

Broken. Replaced.

Winter and the Future Moon

Tuesday gratefuls: Hot water in San Francisco! Diane’s recommendation of “Getting Open.” Sleep. Rest. Feeling rejuvenated. The U.S. grocery store. The NYT for endorsing Amy and Elizabeth. Blizzaks. AWD on Ruby. Healing from the dog bite. Almost done.

Cooked last night. Deep fried chicken chunks from a deli chicken. Coated with bread crumbs. Surprisingly good. Broke our vegetable chopper, too. A second time. I prefer hand tools in the kitchen for food prep. Knives, choppers, dicers, zesters. We have a mandolin somewhere and I want to find it. Just ordered a Swedish chopper, made of metal. More durable.

Broke the chopper making a version of Israeli salad. It was the onions that did it in. Well, not the onion, but me, pressing down quick and hard on the onion. Little blades popped off the cutting grid. Not supposed to happen. Got the salad, diced onions (by knife), tomatoes, cucumber, and a generous sprinkling of cilantro. Some lime juice. Some Italian seasoning.

But. I was also gonna warm up the cabbage and potatoes in the microwave. Put them in the microwave at the start. Kate’s taught me to get all the ingredients out before I begin. Forgot about the potatoes and the cabbage. Still in the microwave this morning.

Oh, yeah. Finally got the microwave installed. After the first appointment, I had to have an electrician come out to create a wall socket for it, then reschedule the installation. Happened Saturday. Kate is very happy. She can reheat her coffee. Hot coffee and the crossword in the morning make Kate a happy gal. I’m indifferent to coffee temperature. Cold. Hot. Meh. Not a gourmet.

Spent time yesterday on another modern chore. Cutting up boxes. We get our dogfood through Great service. Reasonable prices. Free shipping. And large cardboard boxes. Bought some airtight dogfood containers, too, through Amazon. Really big boxes. As I’ve noted before, the home has become a shipping and receiving department. All those cardboard boxes that used to get cut up at the warehouse or in the back of the store are now in living rooms across America. Or, garages.

Anyone rural appreciates the chance to look things up online and order them for delivery. Beats going on a Saturday morning quest for the right pan or sheets or, say, a vegetable chopper. Especially if the stores are miles and miles away. Makes a huge difference to caregivers like me, too. It’s why Sears and Roebuck did so well with their catalog. A shame they couldn’t make the transition to an economy much like the one they introduced back in the late 19th century.

Got doggy things to do now. Tomorrow.

Supernova Era

Winter and the Future Moon

Tuesday gratefuls: Kassi at Petsmart, who groomed Kepler so well. All the kids from Collegiate Academy who came into the Starbucks while I waited for Kep. Growers of coffee. Dairy farmers. Cappuccino. The checkout clerk at Petsmart so proud of her dog. Passing the emissions test. Emissions testing. Friend Debra who we’ll see for dinner tonight.

A confluence of literature and place yesterday. Started reading Supernova Era by the brilliant contemporary Chinese science fiction writer, Cixin Liu. A star goes supernova close to earth. His astronomical knowledge is profound, the explanation for this event detailed and lengthy.

The resulting energy burst damages the DNA of everyone on earth. Those above middle school age no longer have the capacity to recover from such an insult. Over the course of a year all the adults will die, leaving about one billion children under school age all across the globe.

While I waited for Kep at the Kipling Avenue Starbucks, I read chapters about the transition from an adult run world to a child run world. Parents taught their children the occupations they were in as the most efficient way to transfer knowledge quickly. Cixin focuses on the case of China.

As I read this, kids from the Collegiate Academy about two blocks away began to stream into the Starbucks. One tall senior high youth had a fade and a topknot grown from the crown of his head. A girl with whom he would later play fight had piercings, black lipstick and a friendly demeanor. She asked politely if she could have the chair at my table.

A younger, perhaps middle school girl, had on an orange athleisure top and carried, of course, her phone. She seemed serious until her friend came in, then they laughed and shared pictures off their phones.

The Starbucks lit up with the energy of young folks performing the person they thought they wanted to be or should be or could be.

At one point a college aged woman walked through them. Pant suit, blouse, briefcase. Not that far away in age, but so distant in sense of self and composure. At least outwardly. Her mask was adult.

My mask was that of the elder amused at the antics of the young, serious in his reading, but willing to laugh with the kids, too. Kabbalah teaches that we all wear masks, all the time. That everything is a mask for the ohr, the divine light of creation shattered after the tzimtzum, the sacred’s self contraction to allow space for other.

Saw all this through the lens of Cixin Liu’s middle schoolers taking over the adult world. Three children from the same middle school class in suburban Beijing were chosen to become the President, Prime Minister, and head of the military. No time for elections.

As I read, I looked up and saw the kids around me, released from the strict parameters of schooling, letting their still forming selves out to play. And tried to imagine this group here designated to run Colorado.

She’s the governor. He’s the head of the Highway Patrol. That one the Mayor of Littleton. Topknot guy following his mother as a bulldozer operator.

A fun collision of reading and immediate reality.


Winter and the Future Moon

Monday gratefuls: Ruth and Jon skiing. Gabe peeling potatoes. Kate getting Murdoch upstairs. The picker at King Sooper. Having Sunday free of workout. Cleaning off my table. Organizing and preserving my paintings. Kate paying the bills. Ruth. Murdoch.

My paintings. Whoa. Like my novels and my blog. I’ve done, I don’t know, twenty/thirty paintings since I began. A few end up in the trash because I can’t bear to look at them. A few are standing out so I can look at them, review what I like about them, don’t like. The rest I put between buffered paper and/or cardboard sheets yesterday. Not sure what I’ll do with them. My novels exist in printed form in file boxes and in their revisions on my computer.

Two million words of Ancientrails rest on Kate’s old medical school desk, two thousand plus pages printed out with the wrong margins for binding. Sigh. Going to a bookbinder for an estimate and to be told how or if, if I decide to, I should layout the page for printing myself. Might give them a memory stick with all on it. Or, that might be too expensive. We’ll see.

Gabe stayed here yesterday while Ruth and Jon went to A-basin. I asked Gabe to tell me one interesting thing he’d done last week. I haven’t done much. I did see movies. Oh? Which ones? Lots of them on the Disney Channel.

Clever folks, Disney. They priced their channel, at $6.99 a month, so a kid with an allowance might choose to purchase their own subscription. Both Ruth and Gabe have a subscription.

Stirring inside. Declutter, simplify. Downsize. Example. When we moved, I kept every file I made for my docent work at the MIA. Why? Wanted to keep art as central to my life as it was when I was there. Tried several different things, none worked. And, having the files hasn’t helped either. Out they go. I also want to clean up the filing system (?) in the horizontal file which will mean throwing out yet more files.

The bigger, harder question? What about the books? Is it time to downsize my library? I’m considering it.

Doubt it will stop my book buying. That’s a lifelong habit started, I think, with those book lists from the Scholastic Reader (something like that). Sheets with books, descriptions, and modest prices. We could pay for them at school, then they would come at some other point. Sorta like e-commerce. Oh, how I looked forward to the arrival of those books. I read them quickly, too. I graduated to buying comics and paperbacks at the Newsstand downtown.

My first serious kick was all the James Bond books. I bought them one or two at a time with my paper route money. Lots of others, too. I was also reading books from the Carnegie library, too.

Got into the habit of buying books that interested me, books that followed other books I’d read. Buying books. College was hard in that I passed by the bookstore every day in the Student Union. If I went in, I’d always come out with a book or two.

Later, bookstores. Joseph had been in most of the good book stores in the Twin Cities before he hit first grade. And, finally, Amazon. Oh, right here in my own loft. On my computer. What a great deal.

Over 60+ years I’ve bought a lot of books. My interests have waxed and waned, but the books purchased during my enthusiasms remain. A few: Celtic mythology, fairy tales, Ovid’s Metamorphosis, magic, Jungian thought. An ur religion focused on the natural world, not scripture. Literature of all sorts. Plays. Theology. Poetry. U.S. history. the Civil War. Art. Lake Superior. Latin and the classics. Religion.

Getting rid of them feels like betraying my curiosity. I might finish that book on the Tarot. That commentary on the Inferno? Maybe next year? What about that ecological history of Lake Superior? The work on reconstructing, reimagining faith?

Still, it feels like time to begin paring down. Will take a while. And be hard.

For each of the tags listed here, I have a small or large collection of books.

A Certain Woolly Center of Gravity

Winter and the Future Moon

Sunday gratefuls: Snow, at night. Stefan and Lonnie in Colorado. Having plenty of leftovers. Hugs. Tears. This whole miracle the world. Life. Death. All of it. Again, still the mountains. This nation, tested as it is. This nation, for what it still is. This nation, for what it still can be. My heart which fills up, then flows over.

Three clean, sparkly, sweet smelling dogs: Gertie, Rigel, Murdoch. Gotta love it. Do this more often. Kep on Monday.

Kate went into her sewing room! Yeah! She fixed my gray, alpaca wool scarf. It got damaged in the Akita mixed-martial arts match two weeks ago. Lots of holes.

This scarf was born along the west coast of Latin America as Kate sat on our deck chair, viewing the wide Pacific. She made it for me because, as you go further south below the equator, it gets colder. I had it on when we sailed through the Chilean fjords, a remarkable one-hundred and twenty mile long stretch of mostly uninhabited islands, glacial bays. I had it on when we sailed into Ushuaia, the southern most town on the continent, and, in the world. Around Cape Horn. On the Falkland Islands. Now when I go get the newspaper. Or the groceries.

The dogs. With Murdoch added to the mix they require some Tetris like shuffling all day long. Where Kep is, Murdoch cannot be. And, vice versa. When Gertie is out, Kep cannot be. And, vice versa. Lots of intercom calls between upstairs and downstairs. What’s the disposition of the dogs? Where’s Kepler? I’d like to let Murdoch out. And so on until the moment when Murdoch and Rigel go up the stairs to the guest aka dog room for the night.

The payoff. A happy Joe and SeoAh, knowing Murdoch is safe and loved. Murdoch here with his puppy bounce and energy. Lots of kisses and wriggles and smiles. Life in the house with our life. Full. Good. Tiring.

Was gonna go see Stefan and Lonnie today in Avon, near Vail, but the weather out that way was nasty. No need to do that to myself. Gonna try again Friday. Stefan had a hip replacement at Steadman Orthopedics and is recovering at the Westin Spa and Resort. Why not?

There’s a certain Woolly center of gravity gathering energy here in Colorado. Paul’s daughter Kate and her husband, Michael, moved to Boulder. Scott’s son and daughter are both in Colorado: Pagosa Springs and Carbondale. Warren and Frank both have relatives out here. Tom’s visited several times. Mark and Bill and Paul have come out, too. Lonnie and Stefan come to Colorado regularly, this time for a new hip.

Finished my ninth page of Daf Yomi. As I read, I keep thinking of the 60’s, what a long, strange trip it’s been. Gonna keep at it. It’s alternately boring, fussy, and poignant. At some point I’ll do a post about what I’m learning.

Through our life together

Winter and the Full Future Moon

Saturday gratefuls: the full future moon lighting up Black Mountain Drive when I went for the Denver Post at 6 am. The crunch of the snow. The starry sky. The groomers at Petsmart for spiffing up Gertie, Rigel, and Murdoch. Kep’s on Monday. Kate’s weight at 101. Her increased energy and good spirits. Stefan and Lonnie in Vail. Stefan’s new hip.

Buddy Tom Crane, a cognoscenti of contemporary poets, found a book, A Dog Runs Through It, by Linda Pastan, former poet laureate of Maryland. Thanks for the gift, Tom.

Here’s a stanza from her poem, Envoi:

“We’re signing up for heartbreak

We know one day we’ll rue it.

But oh the way our life lights up

The years a dog runs through it.”

Those years have been, for Kate and me, thirty plus. And not just a dog running through them, but an ever renewing pack, sometimes as large as seven, now down to three plus a guest.

My first dog, Diamond, a puppy with brown and white fur, a misshapen diamond mark on his forehead, I barely got to know before someone fed him hamburger with ground glass. It still makes me sad, 64 years later.

The second dog, whose name I can’t recall right now, a black and white bouncy one, went after a five year old girl who leaned into the stroller to pet my infant brother, Mark. Dad told me he went to a “farm in Tennessee.” Uh huh. One of the reasons I lost trust in my father.

Steppenwolf, a German Shepherd. Dundee, a Sheltie. Both went to better homes than I could provide. Steppenwolf due to divorce and Dundee to my ignorance about how to care for dogs.

Kate was a long time dog owner when I met her. She had Buck and Iris, Whippets, and Bemish, who was old and died before I could get to know him. I learned from her how to be with dogs, how to love them, how to accept their love, how to care for them.

Since then, we’ve had Irish Wolfhounds, many, more Whippets, two IW/Coyote Hound mixes (Vega and Rigel), and two family rescue dogs, Gertie, a German Shorthair pointer, and Kepler, an Akita. Murdoch, also an Akita, is here for eleven months, then he’ll return to his mom and dad.

My heart is full with dog. Licks, kisses, wiggles, jump ups, digging, running, hunting, killing, barking, growling, fighting. Joy over their happiness and grief over their pain and their deaths. So many memories, so many deaths. So much joy. So much sorrow. Life. Life. Life.

When we consider our life situation, it’s not only about us, but also about the dogs. Part of our reason for staying on the mountain is our fenced in yard. Easy for the dogs. Good for them. No heart worm. No fleas. No ticks as long as they stay in the yard.

Hilo who would crawl up into my armpit for a nap. Gertie who lies with her head on my pillow at night. Celt stepping on my snowshoes. Sorsha with a squirrel in her mouth and another in sight, frozen in place. Emma standing on the big downed cottonwood surveying her realm. Vega and Rigel digging holes in Andover. And so many, so many more.

Dogs run through our lives, Kate’s and mine. Sharp teeth, four legs, wagging tails, floppy ears and alert ears, noses, always noses, taking in a world we humans cannot access. Asleep in our lap or near our chair. Eating. Getting treats, heads turned up, expectant.