• Tag Archives Vega
  • Becoming a doctor instead of a professional sewer

    Spring                                                                          Planting Moon

    Granddaughter Ruth, turned 7 last week, asked Grandma, “Why did you become a doctor instead of a professional sewer?”  Grandma has been teaching Ruth to sew.  “Because I’m good at being a doctor, too.”  Lots of great information in that exchange.

    Vega just came in from the outside carrying one of the green toy balls.  She brought it all the way inside, deposited it beside the water bucket and continued onto the living room to lie down on the rug.  It’s a dog’s life.

    We’ve been talking, here and there, about the third phase at our Woolly meetings.  Maximize life now.  While we have it.  Say yes to life.  Do what only I can do.  A few approaches, still being tried out.  We had two new third phasers join the group in the last couple of months.  There’s one outlier at 64 and another at 60.



  • 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.

  • I Knew Her Right Away

    Spring                                                                              Bloodroot Moon

    Home again, home again.  The dogs greeted me with unusual joy and vigor.  Vega spun round and Gertie jumped up, biting at me to come play.  Tumultuous.  And wonderful.

    Kate came into the Loon Cafe and picked me up from the Hiawatha light rail.  She had on blinking ear-rings.  The server at the cafe, before I arrived, had asked her, “Is that how your friend will recognize you?”  It was.  I knew her right away.

    She led us through the maze of parking spaces to the truck, not easy in the mammoth commuter ramps that collect cars from the western burbs.

    The trip home had no remarkable moments, a good thing for travel.  I did use, for the first time, a bar code boarding pass on my cell phone.  Felt very with it.  You all have probably done it for years, but it was amazing to me.

    It’s nice to use the full size key-board and not the 92%, slick metal keys of the netbook.  Having said that, the netbook has been the best single computer purchase I’ve ever made.  It goes everywhere with me when I travel.  It’s compact, picks up wi-fi with ease and has a 92% keyboard, which is why I bought it.  It’s allowed me to post on this blog from as far away as Cape Horn, south of Tierra del Fuego.


  • 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.



  • See the Heads?

    Spring                                                            Beltane Moon

    Coming north on Highway 10 (or east, I can never figure it out and I’ve lived up here 18 years) just before the big Lowe’s store, it’s no longer unusual to see cars parked along the side of the road, drivers clomping out through the high grass, camera with a big telephoto lens in hand.  They’re headed toward a dead tree with a big clump of sticks in a high fork.

    Kate told me she saw heads there a month or so ago.  I began to look, too, and finally saw a bald eagle circling the nest, coming in for a landing, presumably with food for the young’uns.  I’ve seen a head or two though I’ve never been able to suss out whether they were chicks or adults.

    We hunger for peeks into the wild world, a personal glimpse of the life and times of creatures that live among us, but we rarely see.  Over the last 18 years Kate and I have a great horned owl hooting at night in our woods.  I’ve seen him/her once, it’s giant wingspan remarkable, yet hardly ever observed.

    We have opossum, raccoon, woodchuck, rabbit, deer, coyote, skinks, snakes, frogs, pileated woodpeckers, bald eagles, great blue herons, egrets, too.  These last three we see from time to time, usually in flight, though the egrets are often there, serpentine necks ready to dip suddenly into the water.  The rest, almost never.

    Around Christmas tree three or four years ago, back when I still fed the birds, a opossum took to visiting the bird feeder around midnight.  I happened on him one night and checked back frequently after that.  His small pink paws looked almost like human hands and I delighted in watching him do his opossum thing.  Why?  Because it was a glimpse of a neighbor, a close neighbor, one who shared the very land I claim to own, but whom I rarely–up till then, never–saw.

    This takes me back to the discussion of mystery I had here a few weeks back.  We do not need to imagine a world beyond the one to which we have ready access; there is a large, unimaginably large world shrouded in mystery that lives near us, with us, within us.  Take the billions of one-celled entities that share our bodies, help us live our lives in return for some benefit derived from the eco-system that is our body.  A mystery, certainly.

    Or the baby opossum I found huddled up far inside a dead tree, doing what all prey does when confronted by snarling predators–Vega and Rigel–hiding in an inaccessible location. If Vega and Rigel hadn’t been obsessively interested in this tree, I’d never have known the opossum was there.

    The morels that visited us once 18 years ago, never to return.  Or, at least never to be found.  A mystery.  This is a revelation to us, the way for us to an original relation with the universe.  And, it’s in our backyard.





  • Dogs and Granddaughters

    Spring                                                         New Beltane Moon

    Homes have needs.  This one needs Kate to feel full and she’s gone.  I’m lucky I have the dogs or I would feel lonely.

    The dogs get up very early, thanks to Gertie, usually around 5:00-5:30 am.  Kate, with her residency experience of sudden waking, working and going back to sleep handles this if only because I sleep through it.  She gets up, feeds the dogs and comes back to sleep.  Most mornings all four dogs come inside after their meal and then wait quietly until we get up.

    This morning Vega and Rigel, our two coon hound/Irish wolfhound dogs, decided, as they occasionally do, to stay outside.  Vega will bark, sometimes 30 minutes later, to come back inside and Kate will get up and let her in.  Well, I slept through it this morning, letting her back in.

    When I finally got up, I let Vega and Rigel inside and Vega was so happy she came in, spun around, jumped up on the window seat (her place), back down and spun around again.

    Talked to Kate last night and apparently Ruthie, 6 year old granddaughter, really liked her rhinestone studded belt I picked out for her at the Stock Show this January.  “Are those real diamonds?” she asked.  She has the hat, the vest and now needs only the boots to be a real Jewish cowgirl.


  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Busy Friday

    Beltane                                                                                           Waxing Last Frost Moon

    Finally.  One chunk of the Metamorphosis finished in a literal (sort 0f) version.  That’s Book III:138-250.  My learning curve has been steep, sometimes so much so that I thought I might tip over backwards, but I seem to have reached a point where moving forward goes faster now and the hill no longer looks quite so daunting.  The next step is to take it apart and put it back together in idiomatic English, then compare it to other translations, see what insights that adds.  As a guy who thought the world of language had invalidated his passport years ago, I’m pleasantly surprised and pleased with myself.  It means a lot to do something at 64 that I’ve spent a lifetime imagining I couldn’t.

    After that I drove into Little Sezchuan and had lunch with Justin and Margaret, the Sierra Club’s lobbyist and Executive Director.   We discussed evaluating our legislative work this year, wrapping things up and getting ourselves squared away for the 2011-2012 session.  This has been a difficult year and it’s not over.

    Came home, ready for my nap.  But.  Vega lay in the kitchen, scrunched up in pain and bloodied from some kind of a fight.  No clue what happened, but we first examined her, then took her over to the vet who sewed her up, gave her antibiotics and pain pills and we brought her home.  She’s resting now, but the vet says she be very sore tomorrow.  She’s such a sweety, she just let them work on her.

    Now, I’m sleepy, but can’t get my nap because it would interfere with going to sleep.

  • Good News, Good Art

    Beltane                                               New Last Frost Moon

    Good news from the vet.  Vega’s kidneys are ok, so a round of doxycycline should set her right.  She’s so lovable, a goofy, intelligent, sweet animal, a joy to be around.

    Then another death related incident.  A friend called for thoughts about a service he was conducting for a deceased friend.  This guy suffered from bi-polar disorder and was found two weeks ago in his house, a suicide.  He had killed himself in 2008.  Friends and relatives thought he was in Mexico.cropped3

    Mark says he was a dog person in Bangkok and I can see that here.  He finds our dogs a real help, sort of a therapy pack.  That’s one reason we keep dogs, because their presence cheers up the house and adds loving beings to our day.  What’s not good about that?  Well, ok, there is that death thing, but that’s the price of love.

    I wanted to show one more of Mark Odegard’s designs, all of them wonderful.  This one has its fans among my docent colleagues, too.