Tuesday, December 17, 2013


I've been putting this off for three months now. (Procrastination? Who me? Oh, what a surprise.)

I can't believe it's been three months, almost to the day.

Exactly three months ago tonight, we were having one of the best pre-wakes a dog has ever had. Many of Kai's friends stopped by to give him a hug, feed him a treat, sit by him with love, and just smile with him. He was ecstatic.

What a long way he had come.

When we first got Kai, he was completely distrustful of anyone and everyone, even us. He jumped a 6-foot fence two days after getting fixed, just to get away from us. But he didn't run too far, and maybe he'd already learned to like us enough that he wasn't too unwilling to come home with us. Or maybe it was the food we were bribing him with.

That was the day we started to learn that he really didn't like being alone. Even though he was scared of us, he was more scared of being alone, where loud noises could occur at any time and make him practically jump out of his skin. So we brought him inside and sat with him and pet him and cooed at him and did all the things we never thought we'd do for a dog, just to get him to love us ... or at least to trust us.

But he wasn't just a dog, was he? As many new pet owners before and since have learned, those four-legged beasts become a part of the family as soon as we set eyes on them. And they become embedded in our heart faster than seems possible. Mark and I knew Kai was "ours" from the first second we met him. It just took him a while to figure out that we were completely his. But not too long of a while.

In fact, in just a month, Kai was going on walks with us off leash, playing "whack-a-gopher" in the fields, chasing ducks down the creek, and prancing along the trails as if he were born to it. Which he was, actually. He had just had the bad luck of having that natural exuberance frightened, and perhaps beaten, out of him for his first 18 months of life.

But for his next 10.5 years of life, he grew back into his natural state. Sure, he was still petrified of loud sounds -- fireworks, cars bottoming out on the road, thunder, a knife whacking a little too hard on the cutting board. And he still barked at strangers. But he was no vicious attack dog (unless you happened to be the poor Fed Ex guy ... sorry about your pants, sir). And all he wanted was love and attention and as much food as we were willing to dole out to him.

Our friends who knew him so well in Colorado wouldn't have recognized the social pooch he had become here in Boise. He no longer hid upstairs in a corner when we had friends over. In fact, he usually sat himself on his bed right next to the table, reveling (as much as Kai could revel) in the good times .... and in any food that "dropped" his way.

And that's why his last few days on this Earth were just so right (or as right as they could be). He was surrounded by love and food and friends and laughter and more food ... right until his last peaceful breath.

We miss you, Kai. We miss your scaredy-cat-ness. We miss your hunting of night creatures in the yard. We miss your abhorrence of cuddling with us (unless we were on a road trip). We miss having you chase after us on our cruisers. We miss the sound of your nails on the floor. We miss your many episodes of "squeak-i-cide." We miss you chasing planes across the backyard. We miss you jumping up on us when we walk in the door. We miss your fascination with the pond. We miss feeding you the tops of green peppers and tomatoes when we cook. We miss watching you "hunt grass" on the river bank. We miss having you on our road trips. We miss your love of the indestructible squeaky toy. We miss how rockin' you looked in your winter raincoat.

We miss your handsome face.

Rest in peace, Kai-Bo-Licious! I will see you in my dreams!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sea Fever

I was just sitting here, working on a public policy edit, listening to iTunes, essentially minding my own business, when Kris Delmhorst's song Sea Fever came through my ear buds. I've always liked the song, ever since hearing in an NPR interview about how she took poems and set them to music. But I'd never paid full attention to the lyrics of this song, until today.

I looked up the original poem by John Masefield and hummed along to Delmhorst's haunting voice, and before I knew it, tears were streaming down my face. I realized that as I listened, I was composing a eulogy for my dad in my head.

My dad who is very much alive and kicking.

Sorry, Dad. I don't mean to kick you off this mortal coil before your time!

Apparently I have a seriously morbid twist in my brain. It reminds of when I first heard Death Cab for Cutie's I Will Follow You Into the Dark. After bawling my eyes out in the car, I decided that song should be played in honor of Mark and me when we die. (In this morbid fantasy, I guess Mark and I perish together ... I hope at least it is while doing something exciting and fun.)

Is this a normal thing for people to do? To envision their funerals or the funerals of those they love? I don't know. It is sad to think about, but also weirdly therapeutic, or at least for me. A good cry over something that is inevitable but not happening right now (as opposed to a big cry over something devastating as it is happening) seems to clean out the works for me. Kind of like purging or the toxins that are supposedly released during yoga or something. I don't dwell on these thoughts all day, every day. They just pop into my head, usually prompted by music or literature or art or even a beautiful scene. Maybe it's just the reminder of life's brevity, how we really are a blip in this universe. It makes me sad but also makes me appreciate all we have ... all that I have.

In any case, I haven't written in ages. Maybe it's the change in weather. It's a gray, chilly day here in Boise. Or maybe I'm just really not interested in editing that policy paper right now and am taking any chance I can get to procrastinate (see: stopping work to look up lyrics to a song). But it feels good to write again, even if it is just today.

Sea Fever

By John Masefield 
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking,
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.