Tag Archives: love

The Orange Dog

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe got Augie on October 23rd, 2012. It took me since we got Pickle (April of 2011) to convince Nitram that a lone dog is a lonely dog. It took Pickle and Augie five days (I thought it would be much longer) to become inseparable.

This is Day 3:

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This is Day 5:

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This is about 6 weeks later:

2012WinterPups

Augie is a Boxer/Whippet/Pit Bull mix — about half Boxer for the most part. When we got her from a local rescue, she was 30 pounds and still suffering from mange. She looked to be about 5 years old, with a permanent worry in her face.

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Two months later she was almost 40 pounds and  fit, and one of the happiest dogs I’ve ever seen. Dr Fitch had said Augie was barely 2 years old (good teeth!) and would “fill out.” She sure did. We thought we were getting a dog only a few pounds larger than Pickle, and ended up with a 40-pound galoot who leaves muddy footprints, sand, grass, debris, and general awesomeness everywhere she goes.

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Augie also leaves farts everywhere she goes. They’re horrifying, room-clearing. I looked up Boxers and it turns out that they unfortunately have a high incidence of death by flatulence — their human’s death, that is. I’ve had to keep a bottle of natural organic lavender air freshener on the bedside table so I don’t suffocate in my sleep. I found out that Boxers also have the longest tongues of any dog, so that explains that humongous piece of sliced ham hanging about 18 inches out the side of her mouth.

We’ve taken to calling Augie the Orange Dog and Pickle the White Dog when we don’t want them to know we’re talking about them. It’s still working — they haven’t  figured out their colors yet.

I asked Nitram not too long ago if after not wanting another dog, could he ever imagine living without Augie.

He said, “No way.”

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Impoverished

“…I want you to tell me why you live here.”
“The people.”
“The people?”
“If I thought I wasn’t going to see Bagado or Moses or Helen again for the rest of my life, I’d feel…”
“Yes? What would you feel?”
“I’d feel impoverished.”
~from A Darkening Stain, a novel of West Africa by Robert Wilson

Bill O’Keefe died suddenly and unexpectedly on April 19th, and we are all impoverished. What was lost when he left us was one of our town’s most beloved citizens, a friend, a father, grandfather, brother, a man about whom you really could say, “There was no one who didn’t like him.”

If there could have been anyone who didn’t like Bill, they weren’t at his wake. There was actually a line out the door of the funeral home for a long time that afternoon. During the memorial service, there were so many people there for Bill and his family that the place was almost beyond capacity. It was the first time I’ve fully realized what a wake is about: an outpouring of love. The love outweighed the grief in some ways; the grief was strong and quiet, the love strong and loud. So many people stood up to say something about Bill — how he mattered to each person, how he touched and became part of so many lives simply by being himself. I don’t mean to make him sound like a saint, but it’s hard to talk about him without saying a lot of good things. He had a genuine heart.

Going to Bill’s wake, I felt a bit awkward and nervous at first, almost like an intruder on his family’s and close friends’ loss — until I got there and saw just about everyone I knew from around town, and many others I didn’t. I ended up being one of the people who said something that day, and it surprised me. I hadn’t come prepared or even thought about standing up; it was spontaneous, and probably not very articulate… and I can’t really recall much of what I said. But the atmosphere of acceptance and ease that was a big part of Bill’s life was so strong at his wake that I know I wasn’t the only one to surprise themselves by speaking. There were a few “Bill stories,” more laughter than some people might find acceptable, a lot of tears, and all of it came out true from the heart of everyone who spoke.

Every week or every other week I’d be at Bill’s shop to get fresh-roasted and ground coffee for Nitram, and much of the time I would just stop in to say hi otherwise. Of course, stopping in to say hi to Bill meant a good half-hour of hanging around talking. He was someone you could say anything to; the things we talked about I look back on now and wonder at the mix: dogs (of course), rodents (of course), farting (why??), photography, food, work, home, books, people… really, just about everything. I even brought the rats in to visit him once after we’d been to the vet, and plopped Baby into his arms without a second thought, without asking him if he wanted to hold a giant fat and lazy rat. Bill cuddled him and Baby shat on his arm, and Bill just laughed.

Losing Bill has made me realize the truth of appreciating people when you have them, not just after they’re gone and you wish you’d spent more time with them or told them something you’d always meant to or gave them one more hug or kiss (I got a kiss from Bill every Christmas, a highlight of each year). One man who spoke at Bill’s wake quoted Rollo May in that “hate is not the opposite of love; apathy is,” and he spoke of effort as well. Making the effort to connect with people and stay connected, and to not expect it to happen on its own without some nurturing. While it really did seem effortless with Bill, just one thing I learned from knowing him is to keep making contact, keep making the effort — especially with those in our lives we might tend to take for granted.

We’ll be missing you forever, Bill, but you really will always be in our hearts.
Photo by Bill’s daughter Kaitlyn, of her daughter Kadence and Bill having a walk.

Computer Hell (or not…)


After love making by Lite Speed Photography (Matthew Romack) on Flickr.

I had this post going on about computers… got got interrupted by some great sex.

Twice.

Times like this, I love being married.