• Tag Archives Kona
  • Kona

    Summer                                                                  Moon of the First Harvests

    Kona died this morning.  Both Kate and I spent time with her just before she died.  She was alert and responsive to the end.  She died knowing we loved her and in the crate she knew as her safe place.


    We cried, both of us.  Yes, in spite of an end obvious long ago, the actual loss still opens a chasm between the living dog and the dead one.  That chasm represents the never will agains.  And those made me cry.  I would never again feel her nuzzle into my hand.  Never again see her smile.  Never again see her run the trails in our woods.

    Her corpse no longer retained her; it was a symbol now, not a reality.  This is a wonder to me.  When I spoke with her about a half hour before she died, she looked at me, put her nose in my palm, caressed me with her muzzle.  Kona was 100% there.  Then, she was gone.  The light left her eyes and her body no longer moved.

    The wonder is this, that life has a magic about it, seen most clearly after it is lost.  That which was Kona was there, then not.  Yes, her memories live on, that’s true.  But Kona does not.  The personality, the somewhat aloof I’m living life as I intend to personality of the sighthound, has vanished.  Just like that.

    (Rigel, Gertie, Kona)

    Life is a miracle, ordinary in its profusion and ordinary as long it exists, yet when it has gone, then we know.  So, each death gives us a moment to reflect on the precious gift we have.  The one carrying us forward into tomorrow.  A gift others give to us, too.  Each death is an opportunity to affirm and celebrate life and living.

    Kona’s father was a whippet champion named Drum.  When we picked up Hilo and Kona from the breeder, the puppies and the parents were watching Animal Planet.  We brought them home and they began a series of escapes from the property, going under the chain link fence in pursuit of prey or delight, often both.

    We held them on our laps when they were young.  Hilo would squirm, sit up, stretch, jump down.  Kona, the much larger of the two, would lie quietly, happy to be there.  

    In her early days Kona was a predator.  I remember one day Kona came up on the deck, dropped something there, then ran back out into the woods.  The something was the still warm and clear eyed head of an adult rabbit.  Why she brought it to the deck I don’t know.   Over a long period Kona would kill rabbits and we would pick up the dead rabbits, put them in a plastic bag and dispose of them.  This never deterred Kona.  She just kept at it.

    Hilo died three years ago of kidney failure and was never much of a hunter.  She liked to be with her people.  Kona kept to her self, finding places to sit nearby, sometimes with us, often not.  She kept her own counsel and determined what her day would be like, pretty much independent of us.

    After her death this morning, I went out into the garden and sat on one of the raised beds.  Gardens heal.  Surrounded by life and life producing food, the cycle of life was concrete.  Kona fit into this cycle.   It helped me remember that at some point the light in my eyes will go out, too.  And, more.  That will be fine, it will fit into this cycle.

    (Vega and Kona)

    Kona had privileges the other dogs didn’t.  She would go with me into the garden, mainly because we could count on her not to dig holes in the garden beds.  She would also be outside on our brick patio with us because we could count on her to stay around the house.

    She has been part of our lives for 12 plus years, as real and regular a part of our lives as we are to each other.  True she was a dog, but as a companion and fellow traveler on this pilgrimage she was with us, part of our pack as we were part of hers.

    We travel on now with one less pilgrim immediately in our presence, yet at the same time, the whole pack with us, all 17 dogs, two parents and two sons.  Amen.



  • Jazz Noir

    Spring                                                                        Planting Moon

    “Creativity is the social act of the solitary person.”  William Butler Yeats

    Reading the book about introverts, Quiet, will help you see why.  Even if you’re not an introvert, reading this book is a good introduction to the world of those of us who prefer alone time, find crowds and parties taxing, would like time to mull over decisions.

    Part of what was so stressful for me with the Kona situation and the back pain was that I had to go to the vet with her three days in a row, meaning I increased my regular interaction with outsiders by multiples.  That tires me out.  Even on a good day.

    Right now Kate’s upstairs doing the cross-word and watching the dogs, the back pain is much better this morning, probably the result of the prednisone and I’m down here in the study getting ready to get back to work.


    We have a jazz weekend planned with Craig Taborn at the Walker tonight and Jazz Noir at the Artist’s Quarter on Sunday night.  Taborn is a Golden Valley kid who has made a big name for himself as a jazz pianist and an ensemble player flavored by Miles Davis in his Bitches Brew phase.   Jazz Noir is a radio play being broadcast live at the 8 pm hour over KBEM.

    “For those who long for “the grand old days” of radio, Jazz88 has answered the call. Jazz Noir is a new original radio series complete with live radio actors and jazz ensemble in front of a studio audience, just like in the days of radio’s infancy.

    (Avon–Latisha White)

    Jazz88’s first episode is an original drama, Charles & Avon, that will be performed, recorded and broadcast in front of a live audience from the Artists’ Quarter in downtown Saint Paul on Sunday, April 28, with shows at 5 and 8 p.m. The 8 p.m. performance will be broadcast live on 88.5 FM.”

  • She’s Homeward Bound

    Spring                                                                          Planting Moon

    Kate’s in Lincoln, Nebraska.  She’ll see the international quilt museum tomorrow, then head east into Iowa. That’ll put her home on Thursday.  I’ll be really glad to have her back.

    Our plan about vehicles works well.  We have one at home, the Rav4 and when we need a car for a long trip, we rent one.  Usually now from Enterprise.  That way we put the mileage on the rentals and the Rav4 stays home.

    Feels like I’ve floated through the last three days, seeing the vet with Kona three different times, John Desteian, picking up and hiving the bees, taking meds that make me feel weird.  I’ve set aside my exercising–too much pain–and my writing and my Latin–too hard to concentrate.

    That’s life at times, one foot in front of the other, getting through the day and on to the next one.  I don’t feel bad about it.  At all.  Just what’s required right now.

    Tomorrow I see the eye doc.  Get my glaucoma surveilled and check those flashes of light I’ve begun to have in the upper left quadrant of my left eye.




  • Master Communicator

    Spring                                                                         Planting Moon

    Within 30 pages of finishing Missing, the read through.  Lots of ideas bouncing around, not sure where I want to head quite yet, but some changes seem obvious, others not so much so.

    Kate in Colorado means lots more dog management, just as she has to do when I’m gone.  Since I work downstairs and the dogs are upstairs, this means every hour plus I go upstairs to see what’s going on, see if anyone needs to go outside.

    Because Rigel, Ms. feral hound, has a tendency to start the bloody, expensive scrapes with Gertie, our German short-hair, she and Gertie have to be on opposite sides of the cast iron gate that separates the living room from the kitchen.  Since Kona, our older whippet, does not like the cold, she needs to be on the tiled floor of the kitchen unless she’s just been outside or I’m upstairs.  Come to think of it Vega is the only one who can be with any other dog in any location.

    Vega has an astonishing range of communication.  Most people train their dogs, Vega trains us.  She is not a dominant dog in most ways, just very attuned to her own needs, the needs of the pack and certain critical, to her, times of day.

    (Vega and Kona)

    We have an evening ritual, now over 13 years long, of giving a piece of sliced turkey to each dog before they go to bed for the evening.  It started because we had to give Kona vasotec each morning and evening as a preventative measure for congestive heart failure.  When you give meds every day, twice a day, turkey makes the whole process simpler.  But.  You can’t give just one dog turkey. Dogs have a highly developed sense of fairness so everybody gets one.

    We crate each of these dogs in these evening, a practice not common for us over most of our years, but one that became necessary for various reasons.  The dogs don’t mind it all.  In fact, Vega has a built in timer that alerts her to what we call turkey time.  When it’s time, she comes to me and goes, “ooff.” Opens and closes her mouth.  Repeats.  Then she lowers her head and lifts it, meaning, get up.  If that doesn’t work, she retreats a step or two and sits, two legs low to the ground and her front legs fully extended and looks at me.  Another ooff or two might be added for better effect.

    When she wants to go outside, she stands by the sliding glass doors and thunks her tail against the glass.  Or, if she wants me to get more water in the bucket in the kitchen, she’ll stand near the crate and thunk her tail against the crate.  We’ve had dogs that would do various modes of communication but they always overdid them, sort of like shouting at deaf people, I think.

    Not Vega.  She’s very nuanced and polite in her communication.  She is a rare dog, one of perhaps two that achieved this level of in synchness with us, at least as far communication with us goes.

  • A Thought, A Sigh

    Beltane                                                                            Beltane Moon

    All day.  A thought comes.  A sigh, hoping to delve into, oh, say, renaissance humanism.  Dive in and just stay there until all there is to absorb crawls inside my skin and remains.  Or, maybe Romania.  Wondering just how the Slavic countries ended up north and south of Romania-Hungary-Austria.  Here’s another part of the world about which I know almost nothing.

    Later, watching Kate, seeing her sinking back into a life without paid work, a sense of relaxation, of being at home.  At last.

    Looking at the Google art.  A kris.  A southeast Asia blade with a wavy, not straight edge.  Indonesia.  Again, a country with a population comparable to the US and lots of islands, but, again, not much is in my head about it.  A little.  Bali.  Krakatoa.  Suharto.  My god, it has 17508 islands.

    Lyndon Johnson.  In the first volume of Robert Caro’s four volume (so far) biography.  He dominates, pushes, acts out against his parents.  The hill country of texas.  A difficult place, a trap for the unwary.  Most of the people who lived there.

    The dogs.  At the vet.  18 years to the same vet.  Many dogs, all panting, all nervous.  Rigel, Vega and Kona today.  Rigel and Vega, sweet dogs.  Kona more aloof.  A grand dame.

    Irrigation overhead busted in the southern vegetable garden.  Pulled loose from the pcv that feeds it water.  Have to fix it.  Plant more collards and beets.  I’ve touched most of the plants here, memories.  Buying them at Green Barn.  Digging a spot for them.  Pouring water on them.  Over the years, 18, lots of plants, thousands.  One at a time.  In the soil.  Maybe pick it up and move it or divide it.  That sense of a deep, long connection.

    Dream of the Red Chamber.  Chinese literature, the third classic of the four major ones.  Romance of the Three Kingdoms.  Monkeys Journey to the West. Sinking into the rhythms of another culture.  Reading it on the Kindle.  Odd juxtaposition of past and present.

    original by Ivan Walsh)

    Now, tired.  Smelling the lilacs Kate brought me.  Thinking of sleep.



  • Untamed and Primal

    Fall                                                Waxing Autumn Moon

    Warning:  weak stomachs should not read further.

    Kate yelled, but I didn’t hear.  Rigel, let inside after breakfast and a morning’s romp in the woods, came in, lay down on our small oriental rug, and, as dogs sometimes do, threw up.  Gross, I know, but after a while with dogs, many dogs as we have had, this becomes part of the experience.

    In this particular case however, it was not eaten grass or clumps of cloth (some dogs love to shred and eat cloth), but most of a recently ingested rabbit:  the head, a hind quarter and much of the softer parts.  Since none of breakfast came up with it, this was a post-breakfast hunt, likely followed by bolting because three other dogs Vega, Kona and Gertie wanted some, too.

    Since we have about an acre and a half of woods with many brush piles, which we create intentionally for the purpose of harboring wildlife, our dogs always have hunting options, but we’ve not seem many offerings brought up on the deck in recent times.

    Since our dogs are all sight hounds, or at least half sight hound coupled with half coon hound, they come equipped at birth with the instinct to hunt and kill on their own.  We’ve had various levels of skill among our dogs, but some have been exceptional.

    Rigel is one.  Sortia, our Russian witch, a female Irish Wolfhound who weighed around 180 and was never fat, was and remains the champ.  She took down a deer by herself during an interlude at the breeders.  She brought us raccoon, ground hog, many rabbits and, to our chagrin, the occasional neighborhood cat who strayed foolishly over our fence.

    The whippets are no slouches either.  Kona has killed many a rabbit, one time bringing a very fresh head and dropping it at the kitchen door.

    Long ago I slipped over to the Farmer McGregor attitude toward rabbits so I have no problem with our dogs keeping the rabbit supply on the thin side.  They’re protecting our vegetable garden.  I imagine their presence also keeps out deer.

    It’s not why we keep dogs, but it is a good side benefit.

    All this hunting reminds us, too, that beneath the cheerful, loving persona our beloved dogs show to us, there is still within them an untamed and primal beast, a carnivore not really so far removed from the wolf.

  • Plans and Further Foolishness

    Lughnasa                                                                Waxing Harvest Moon

    We moved Gertie (the German wire hair, formerly of Denver) and Kona (our oldest dog now, a whippet) downstairs.  Gertie had slept in our bedroom but consistently got Kate up between 6 am and 6:30 am.

    Their crates downstairs, right under the heating ducts, carry sound well, however, and Kate said she heard Gertie cry at 6:30 this morning.  Due to my deaf ear and sound sleeping those noises don’t filter through to me.

    No plan is perfect.

    Further example.  We paid extra to get Mark’s visa on the desks of the Travisa folk by 8:30 am.  At 9:30 Washington, DC, time it was still not there.  Gonna get that extra money back.

    First Sierra Club legislative committee meeting for the 2012 session of the Minnesota legislature starts tonight at 6:30 pm.  We’ll be gone during most of October and November so my participation for the early work has to get done in the next six weeks.

  • Queen of Relaxation

    Mid-Summer                                                            Waxing Honey Flow Moon

    Our new pack Kona, Vega, Rigel + Gertie has begun to calm down.  There are fewer tense circling moments, fewer snaps and growls.  Life with dogs has its rhythms, just like life with vegainwaterhumans.  Vega, our biggest girl, lays on the window seat, tail thumping, watchful, inviting me to come down and sit beside her, enjoy a moment of relaxation with her.  She is a great role model for relaxation.  The 4th of July fireworks season has moved into the  past, or the future, and Rigel no longer barks at the night sky.

    Our tiered perennial garden and its brick patio have gotten neglected in our push toward the orchard, vegetables and bees.  It was my focus for so long and now it grows on its own, almost, with little help from either of us.  It looks that way, too.  I began this morning a three or four day project to clean it up, weed it, mulch it, arrange and clean up the furniture and potting bench.  This involved, today, pulling the lovely green chive like grass that volunteers everywhere, then putting down a heavy blanket of birch leaves, sweeping the bricks and clearing litter off tables and benches, killing weeds growing in the brick crevices and emptying old pots into the compost.

    There’s still plenty to do and I’ll get on with that tomorrow.

  • Medicine

    Mid-Summer                                              Waxing Honey Flow Moon

    Kate showed up at the breakfast table this morning, the Zimmerman walker nearby.  Her friend TJ Zimmerman gave her this fancy cherry red walker before her last hip surgery.  It’s a speedy contraption, should have flames and streamers.  When I went upstairs a moment ago, she was at her computer, old habits at work.  I bought her an I-pad2, an early birthday present, and it’s right by her bed.

    The last few days have had a lot of this and that, into the hospital and back again, Kona’s injury, groceries, gardening.  Now with Kate home at least all of them have a home-based locus.  Much easier.

    Kate’s hospitalist called, delivering what he thought could be seriously bad news.  She has a nodule in her lungs.  But.  We had our anxiety over that one several years ago when we thought it might be cancer.  Nope.  Some kind of hardened mass.

    Medicine much on our minds here right now.  Will be happy when it subsides to the background where it belongs.

  • Bandaged

    Mid-Summer                                                                                 Waxing Honey Flow Moon

    Picked Kate up at a very quiet Fairview-University.  She got into the truck cab under her own steam, stands on her new hip and walks short distances with the aid of the walker.  Her progress from last Friday amazes me.  She tires quickly, of course, but she’s already on the mend.

    Now the fireworks.  Rigel, who hates thunder, doesn’t distinguish between thunder and fireworks.  She becomes agitated, barks.  No fun for her.  Or us.

    I discovered a new sensation with Kona’s injury yesterday.  I put the bandage on, wrapped the coban around her thorax to hold the bandage in place, and the dog who had been snapping and biting, shrieking and limping, bounded up the stairs as if nothing was the matter at all.  Today, after Kate got home, I checked it for heat or tenderness, both signs of infection and it felt cool, plus she didn’t flinch.  Being able to help her move from a limping, snarling state to a normal carefree state in just a couple of minutes gave me a lot of satisfaction.  Made me realize what Kate feels in the urgent care.  It’s a rush and a pleasant one.

    Gertie, who almost certainly bit Kona, is asleep at my feet, looking innocent.  In this instance my guess is that Kona snapped at Gertie and Gertie bit back.  Kona has become a bit crankier as she ages.  I don’t think this will be a long term problem.

    It’s going to be a busy July.