Sunday, December 14, 2008

Marley And Me

Originally posted on Marley and Me site on 02.07.06

To the Grogan Family: Thanks for sharing Marley with us.

Her last footprints in the snow are already fading. Kodiak had a couple different walks around the house with each of us during her last time. We made the decision on Monday and arranged our work so that we could have time with her at home. Our vet said he would come to the house at Noon yesterday. We made the most of our time together.

She had good enough mobility to walk and do her business (always something she took seriously) and we each got to have a walk around the property with her. The night before and that morning, moderate treats were enjoyed, why she even gnawed a bone Tuesday morning; an all-time favorite activity. While she enjoyed her last big treat we looked at pictures and reminisced and cried. Once she'd gotten an end off the chlorophyll bone, we had to take it away and she only complained a little. It had been a very long time since she'd had a good chew and we think Kodiak Bear was well satisfied.

Spooning her, we talked to her and stroked her hair and told her what a good dog she was as we all lay together on the big rug in the great room. The driveway chime announced Dr. Nate's prompt arrival...which made us both hitch-up a bit and we were right with her, face-to-muzzle as he shaved a leg for access. Kodiak's willfulness came out one more time. I said in her ear "It's Bedtime"; she shifted that leg enough for the syringe needle to leave the vein after only a little solution had gone in. Nate's a very good vet with an excellent manner and sure hands. Without any fuss, as we continued to shower our good old dog with love, she soon slipped away.

After a bit of prep we placed her in Nate's Jeep passenger seat, letting him know that she was always a good rider. We lingered over more pictures from our entire collection and saw many images of departed loved ones. We'll get Kodiak's ashes in a while, we offered her for necropsy.

Slowly we'll put away the beds, toys, leashes, collars and assorted other dog tack. Right now Spyder Boy prefers to drink out of Kodi's water bowl as he always had. The pain of our loss ebbs and flows, all we are sure of is that any other canines that come into our lives will have the burden of comparison to that one great dog.

Thom & Mare

p.s. a few days later, a friend sent John's book and it helped a great deal.

p.p.s. The necropsy was not done as promised but singular cremation remains were presented to us and Kodiak can still watch us {especially when we eat} from the fireplace mantel.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Power Tool Mayhem

Taking on a project with a buddy is one of the special joys in life. There are times when you can’t get it done without an extra set of hands. Such are the times when something fairly simple can spin out of control, sometimes happily so.

Over the years I’ve been asked to help on a coupla different tasks by friends. They rarely ask for help a second time. It’s not so much my incompetence as the bad luck I seem to bring.

F’rinstance: soon after the wife and I moved into our house, my friend Louie cheerfully offered to help run a rototiller up our hillside to till for some wildflower seed sowing. You can imagine what could have happened and almost did. Gravity and equilibrium eventually triumphed and the running rototiller tumbled down the hillside with both of us attempting to hold it back. Those gas powered tines almost took a chunk outta our legs. I flashed back to the time a chainsaw kicked back and stalled when the fabric of my sweatshirt choked-off the now dying motor and prevented a swift, nasty laceration to my arm.

Last year Louie asked me to help tarp-over a mutual friend’s porch roof. At one point a swinging claw hammer almost contacted my cabeza. During a lunch break the wind dragged the tarp half-off, which then tipped over the ladder so it could slash my truck’s hood and quarter panel. To my knowledge the handsome brown tarp is still doing its job.

When Louie and his patient wife moved into their house years ago, they didn’t care for the deer antlers left on the wall. Our place was way more country and befitting of those horns, so up on our wall they went, above the fireplace, upside-down to make drying hats and mittens handy. My country friends got a real kick out of pointing out that the points were “bassackwards,” and weren’t convinced of the utilitarian set-up. They don’t grace any surface at the moment.

I believe those antlers belonged to a buck that once hung from a cedar-poled clothesline crosspiece at Louie’s. Over the ‘bout twenty years that we’ve been to their place, I’ve seen that ganged, true-dimension, 2 by 4 crosspiece, which once held a mighty eight-pointer’s weight, go to pieces. Rot had sentenced it to a ”fix-by-baling-twine,” literally. But it held fast, mostly because heavy, well-screwed straps held its horizontal altitude.

At this point I should confess to my sometime obsessive-compulsive tendency about this or that. Watching that clothesline, deer-hanging crosspiece surrender itself over time, I started to say to my friend Louie: “We could fix that, you know -- make it able to bear true weight again!” The campaign took several years. It wasn’t mentioned at every visit, but often enough to be just this side of a harangue. Or maybe it crossed over.

Finally, the opportunity presented itself. Two stout cedar poles and all necessary tools were bungeed and stowed in the truck and we went to Louie and Di’s quickly-called barbecue. Our friends moaned when they saw the tool box. This couldn’t end well.

Those stoutly set screws weren’t all coming out easily. Even an 18-volt Dewalt and a less than perfect bit couldn’t prevent leverage by Louie being the main removal method.

Which led to injury, of course.

When a screw finally gave it up, something smacked hard onto my lower thumb. Icing it helped a lot, but I thought it might be cracked for awhile there.

What really cracked were the old cedar posts. One of the final heaves that we gave the old crosspiece broke a post below ground. You could really hear it go. Putting a new crosspiece on would be like putting lipstick on this old clothesline hanger. The honest assessment of the situation emerged from the crowd: “It’s toast!” Now Diane could speak her mind: “I’ve always hated that thing;” leaving Louie with one choice.

He broke the back of the other post and the whole mess went into my truck.

The posts will live on as landscape edges after I cut the bad ends off with a chainsaw.

It’d be great if Louie could give me a hand with that -- as long as neither of us loses one trying to do it.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


I’ve always been kind of a slo-poke while driving and right now I should be sporting a bumpersticker: “ ’SCUSE ME, I’M DRIVING FOR MILEAGE” Lately I'm shifting to neutral on some of my commute stretches where it makes sense. A truck with a boat-rack needs to sip sometimes. Haven't had the guide-boat in the water yet this summer. Have you read about trucking companies adding/adjusting governors to limit the tractor’s speed to 62 mph? It’s not supposed to make a trucker’s run much longer but really save fuel . Commuters who say they’re always running late can’t see themselves slowing-down I guess. On my usual run to and from, it’s people and other vehicles, including bicycles that keep my governor engaged and my head on a swivel.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Staycation Blues?

Sort through clutter
Enjoy a campfire
Go camping
Mow the lawn
Paint a darn thing
Eat fried clams (whole belly)
Split wood
Save with the tax-free weekend
Read as much as I wanted to
Go to regular recycling
Burn up much gas
Sort fishing gear
Tighten wind-vane directional
Put old futon out at driveway
Do enough laundry
Have to sort any done laundry
Go to dog show
Spit roast a turkey
Fix the gutter drip edges

get happy news about her mammogram
clear utility trailer of junk metal
wash boat
celebrate my and my friend’s big 5-0
boat-racked the rig
sort boat stuff
got oar bag
have dinner with friends, twice
grill (x3)
drink a beer (x?)
make a metal recycler trip
put the rubbish out
lop-off a small oak (by mistake)
swing a pick-ax and work a spud
watch 5 episodes of ‘America’s Test Kitchen’
get surprised by the gift of time-off from mowing
enjoy time with the all healed Spyder Boy kitty
lament the loss of room ‘00’ at the Ellis Inn
start reading new books; and finish them
get to say yes to a moose hunt

Coming Soon: Band Names and Magic Hat top lines

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Uncle Firmin's Last Ride

As Uncle Firmin headed back toward home on Monday night, I followed in his wake.

It was a gentle ride as the wheelmaster steadily and gently negotiated the curves and hills and glides and stops. A practiced feel of the big vehicle’s ways on the road was obvious.
Many had made this journey and many more would.

I thought at this hour of the night, in this direction, the big station wagon would probably be doing what it was designed for. There was no fold-down way-back seat. It took a long downhill stretch for my pickups lights to confirm: Someone’s going home. The shroud, visible briefly, covered Uncle Firmin on his last ride down Spear Street.

Showing respect I hoped, I followed with extra distance between us, aiming not to add glare to the rearview, leaving the funeral director to concentrate on the road ahead with its many possible hazards. Critters big and small cross in several places along Spear at all hours. Oncoming traffic crosses the centerline all the time, at least bicyclists probably wouldn’t be out this late. I thought, it must be rare for a hearse driver to be involved in an accident and rarer still for the fault to be his or hers. A smooth, gentle trip toward a families’ love is the mission, I’ve been told.

Was there anyone with the driver? Did they talk? What about? Are the topics always respectful too? If the funeral home people knew their cherished passenger, can they share a last joke or story without regret? I don’t think they play the radio.