Sunday, October 27, 2013

I Have Decided To Fight



The smart thing to do is not fight. That is true. That was true when Hitler invaded Poland. It was stupid for them to fight back because they could not win. It was stupid for the men at the Alamo to fight because they were certainly going to lose. In the Battle of Midway, there was no reason for the American forces to think, to wish, to dream, they might even so much as dent the mighty Japanese navy.

Save what you have for what you have left.  Live to fight another day. Don’t let this thing take over your life. Prioritize. Put it all into perspective. Don’t do anything stupid when there is so little to gain.

I have listened to the advice of those who love and care about me. I honor their wisdom. I appreciate that they see this from the outside looking in and they are not attached to this issue as I am, and they might be a bit more reasonable about this than I.

But I have decided to fight.

I do not care if I lose.

I’m taking Lucas to the University of Florida in Gainesville on the 4th of November. I am starting over and getting a second option from the best vet school I know of. My appointment is at 9:30am and by lunch I will know if I have a fighting chance.

I just had a conversation with one of my oldest friends and she told me I cannot let this consume everything I have to save Lucas. I told her that if I thought I could save Lucas I would spend everything I owned, sell everything I had, and I would never look back.

I cannot do anything less. I cannot. I cannot bear doing anything but all I can. I have to do this because if I do not it will define who I am in the light that money was more important than Lucas and that I something I cannot bear.

You can only do as much as you can bear and the idea of giving up in the name of money is something I can not bear and I will not bear it.

I am going to fight this with everything I can put on the table and then if I can get someone to loan me some more money I’ll do that and if I have to do something else I will do that too.

This is how I fight for those I love and for those who love me.

This is how I will define who I am.

Let Lucas die in the name of simple expediency and go get another dog?

I will meet the Japanese navy at Midway.

See you on the beach.

Take Care,

Mike

Friday, October 11, 2013

Lucas: Lillith and Sam.



In all the noise that is going on in regard to the health of Lucas you might have forgotten ( or you might be one of those people who keep prompting me to mention) I have two other dogs. At no point in all of this have either be neglected or forgotten by me. Lucas is not my only dog even if he is special. My Elder Mutt and My Pittie Princess have not suffered while Lucas has been attended to these few days.


Sam is Sam and Sam will always be Sam. This animal slipped into an odd form of survival mode twelve years ago and he’s never fully left that cocoon of craziness. Sam doesn’t attach himself to other dogs as much as the others I’ve known and Sam isn’t really worried that much about who leaves and who doesn’t come back. He missed Bert, I could tell that, but they were together for over a eleven years. Bert helped raise Sam and I suspect other than myself, Bert was the only living being to offer Sam any comfort for the first part of Sam’s life.

Lillith came unglued. The bond between Lucas and Lillith is a very real and very special bond. They are inseparable and this thing separated them. Never underestimate the power of love in a Pit. Never do this. They pack more heart inside of their bodies than we can ever comprehend. Lillith was going to tear down the gate and do whatever it took to keep Lucas from leaving without her. When I came home without him she was inconsolable. For no other reason, then for this I cannot allow Lucas to die. I cannot let this disease take him from Lillith. The Universe demands that love be paid homage to, it demands that love break rocks and move mountains. Love demands that I not lose Lucas because he is my dog and I cannot let him go without every single weapon at my side having been utterly spent. I cannot let him go because Lillith loves him.

What? For what are you saving this sort of effort in your own life? If not this then what else? If not to bar death from taking love from you then why do you live? Is not each day you spend with someone you love an act of defiance? Let those who worry and despair look to their material needs as they can and how they will but my life will be bartered off in the name of those who care for me and for those I care for.

I do not care what effort I must make or what it takes to do this. I will not lose Lucas. I will not let my dog die. I will save him.


Nothing less than love demands that I do this. Nothing short of Death will stop me.


Take Care,

Mike

Carma

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Lucas: The State of The Loki Mutt




Now we wait. There isn’t anything else to do. I rather ride than wait but right now we wait. Ideally, this thing is over in less than a month but less than ideally it won’t be. I have been talking to my vet about what less than ideally looks like and how long it will last. I do not like the answers or how she looks when she speaks of these things.  But first we wait.

I am dating a Saint. For someone who has known me for two years but never let on she was interested this is a woman who has bought into the partner thing with an open heart. She hasn’t blinked at going to Jacksonville twice in two days, helped navigate, didn’t say a word when I backed into her car and dented it, and all the while, she and Lucas have bonded even more.  When the time comes you discover who cares.

And I have.

This has been a period of enlightenment for me. People I have only known through the internet have reached out to us in a very real way.  My days as a Hermit have always been centered on me believing I was alone and would be alone. I have never fully trusted people.

The way my friends have risen in this time has inspired me and it has also humbled me. I wish I had done more when I could have. I will one day, I promise.

But right now we wait. The biopsy will take another two weeks, the second opinion Monday, and until then I am going to try to get my life back on track. The two trips to Jax did not help me in any way, except it did show me someone really cares about me.

Is there anything else worth discovering, when it gets down to it?

Take Care,

Mike

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lucas: The Road to Not Knowing.



The trip back to Jacksonville was hellish. We got struck in bumper to bumper traffic on 95 and parked for about an hour. The vet’s office said the procedure would be first thing in the morning which translated into after one in the afternoon. Why the hell would they tell me to drag Lucas in there on a Monday only to see him on Tuesday afternoon? We basically took Lucas away from his home, and us, for absolutely nothing on Monday, except they made a buck off a five minute meeting. 

A paycheck later, we discover they’ve put Lucas under looked at the lump, but made no decisions, no incisions, and sent a receptionist to tell us she doesn’t know anything at all and the doctor can’t speak to us because he is in surgery.  They did do a biopsy but they won’t know anything for two weeks on that. They haven’t ruled out the fact in might just be something simple but at the same time did nothing about it because they had other cash cows waiting in line.

So we did get to bring Lucas home, through bumper to bumper traffic again, and I still know as little as I did the better part of a paycheck ago. Lucas was stoned as hell the entire trip back, which was good, and only when he was back home did be really come back to life.

I have no idea what to do next. I’m not about to take Lucas back to that fleecing center in Jacksonville. The lump is still there and it actually looks worse.

Time to punt.

Thanks everyone for all the positive thoughts and prayers. I’ll try to have more information soon.

Take Care,

Mike

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Lucas




The trip yesterday started out very bad and got no better. Lucas did not want to get into the truck, Lillith tried to tear through the fence to save him, I backed into my girlfriend’s car, and they kept Lucas.
All the stuff they said they could get done yesterday they couldn’t so it was either take him back for a night then bring him back today or leave him. I didn’t think he would get back into the truck if I ever got him home again and Lillith wouldn’t put up with another loading experience, I don’t think.

Sometime today we will find out if the lump is due to some sort of cyst around the root of the tooth. If it is they will remove the tooth and patch him up. If it is something other than that they’ll do a biopsy and find out of this is something that is benign or not.  If is benign they will take it out of they can. If it is not then we talk about what happens next.

I left Lucas in a stranger place he did not want to go to and I left him with strangers who do not know him and he does not know. I won’t be there when he goes into surgery. I make the wrong decision not to bring him back home.  He could have slept on the bed with me last night and woke up loved.

I have no idea how to cover what this is going to cost. I will save Lucas if I can. I won’t let money decide if someone I love lives or dies.

Thank you everyone for your kind words, prayers and good thoughts.  I just can’t sit down right now and go through all the online stuff and thank everyone individually but I will when this is all done.

Thanks,

Mike

Monday, October 7, 2013

Black Pieces and Black Socks




There is always housework.  Most of the time my home has been clean it means there is company coming or I’m too stressed to write. Nervous energy with a vacuum cleaner and suddenly set in motion is the death of spider webs and the dust bunnies become an endangered species. The mop is dampened once again and the broom comes out of the closet. Housework is the last refuge of the hopelessly caffeinated. It is the last hope of those who do not know what else to do.
I’ve never been an optimist. I’ve never been good at waiting. As a chess player my biggest fault and my biggest asset was to attack now, dammit, and let the blood flow as it will, and then we’ll see if there is a game plan. Make a mess and then salvage whatever is left on the board, yes, that’s the way I have always played the game. It usually works simply because chess players are a cautious lot and they assume anyone blazing away has a target in mind, even when they do not.

Life sometimes rewards action over waiting and sometimes it doesn’t but it is just an illusion. It doesn’t matter what we try to save or destroy because we are moving along at a pace that will kill us no matter what we do. We’ve all lost someone or something and we will lose some more before someone or something losses us. The house will sit empty until someone else comes along to clean it in their own frenetic way and then they will pass on or the house will. The pieces in the box will be scattered and lost or played again.

I still have a chess set I improved back in the eighties. I took some hollow plastic chessmen and filled them with plaster and I added some lead weight to the bases and covered the bottoms with felt. It was Summer and very hot that year and I remember sweating and sweating while mixing the plaster.  I made a tiny rack to hold the pieces and I remember one of them tipped over and I spilled plaster on the floor. It was such a mess, I thought, but in the end everything turned out very well. Not that it mattered to anyone at all. I didn’t have anyone to play chess with those days and a reconstructed plastic set wasn’t something anyone thought was worth the time. Life is like that sometimes. What we value so much means so little to the rest of the world in general and to life not at all.

My grandmother liked the idea of us using the set of glassware she received as a wedding gift and I always like those glasses. They were wide at the top and narrowed to the bottom with a wide round base. Over the years, one by one, they were broken and shattered and finally gone forever. Each one took a little of her past with them, swept up into a dustpan and tossed away. Each one of them was like the people who remembered her wedding; each year brought one less witness to the event until no one ever spoke of it ever again.

It was an odd thing that woman’s funeral. My father and sister went to a lot of trouble to pick out a dress for her to wear even though the casket was closed. My father was really and truly stressed out because I was wearing white socks and he all but tackled me and redressed me in black socks. He followed me around for ten minutes with a pair of black socks in his hand, tears still running down his face, and I had to put on black socks or the world would come to an end. So I wore black socks and she was still just as dead and no one remembers who was wearing what that day and no one gives a damn.

My grandmother descended into death without grace. She fell and broke her hand and she fell and broke her foot. Her mind wandered off and there towards the end she saw and heard things that did not exist in anyone’s world but her own. She had given up driving many years before and she sat alone, mostly, and waited for someone to call or someone to come by or something to happen. When no one called her mind her voices to keep her company and when no one came her mind invented people to populate her world. All of this terrified her and her reflections of what she saw and heard was disconcerting to those of us who loved her but we had our own lives and all the wedding glasses were long gone by that time.

My grandmother died sleeping on the couch in the living room the one closest to the door, so she would know if someone came in, with the phone beside her, in case someone called, and finally Death did.

We cleaned the house and invited people over. People brought food and they overstayed their welcome. Everyone said nice things and they meant it, too. But at the end of the day the day still ended, even though I remember it being a very long, a very long day, but it has been gone for decades now.

This day, too, will end and the resolution, better or worse, will be temporary because all things are. There is no way around the truth of that and I know this. But here, in this moment, I feel fear again, and I will feel it again this very day and I know it, even if there is some relief to be found. The trip always seems long during the journey but after the day has ended where has it all gone? The pieces are back in the box and the game has ended and there is nothing left of the play but some memory of how it was done, perhaps, the tragedy of losing the Queen or the King, but the end began at the beginning or even before then.

Take Care,

Mike

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Black Night of The Black Cow.



I don’t spook easily in the dark. When I am in my house or in my yard or in my woods I feel fairly confident that I know the terrain better than anything or anyone else out there. I rarely turn on lights when I walk around at night because of my belief that my feet are going to land on the familiar and there is no reason to see any of this.
I pee in the front yard early in the morning. Men get this. I don’t have to explain this to men at all because men would rather forgo the entire seat up seat down discussion and urinate in a natural state.  Women complain about how men pee indoors and then they are totally mystified that we make the effort to go outside and pee. It saves water does it not? If you have a well it saves electricity. If you like to walk around nude in the coolness of Autumn and there is no one else around to see you and there are a billion stars in the sky, why the hell would you miss all of this just to pee in clean water inside of a house?

This is a conservation issue, dammit, and I am going to save the world by peeing in the yard and I am going to do it naked if I can. After all, I don’t have to wash clothes I’m not wearing, do I? See! All of this makes perfect sense.

Back when I was sixteen I got ahold of some truly wicked alcohol called Rye and got puking drunk. I was in someone’s yard on my hands and knees and from what I could tell, it sounded like I was puking up a Demon or something. The people at the party were being amused by the sounds until I started screaming. One of the sounds I was making clearly sounded like a wounded calf because a cow came to investigate. I was puking my guts out and suddenly this horned face comes up to me and I nearly died. I really did think I had puked up a Demon or at least was being visited by one.

So this memory is stored away for future reference, in the back of my mind, to remind me that moderation is the way to go and in the spirit of moderation  have drank all the Rye I can drink, ever, back in the seventies. I’m sober,  it’s two in the morning, and yes, there was a reason for me to be up at two in the morning and naked. I sleep this way and the dogs got up to investigate a noise. I had to pee so the front yard seemed reasonable, right? And a cow walked up to me.

I heard the cow coming before I saw it and my mind first told me that it was Lucas because Lucas is quite large but then my mind became a little more aware that the sound was slightly larger than even Lucas and the idea it might be a horse popped into my head and then suddenly there was a very large black cow right there in front of me.

Now, I have never been bitten by a cow and I’m not thinking I ought to be afraid but at the same time it was more than a little startling. Okay, it scared the hell out of me, I admit it. I reeled in my business and retreated very calmly into the house. Okay, okay, I yelled a word I won’t repeat here and scrambled back to the porch which set the dogs off.

The dogs noticed the scent of bovines and as such, have smelled them before. Nothing new here, move along little doggies and suddenly I’m yelling. Lucas has the bray of a big dog and Lillith’s voice isn’t as small as she is by a long shot. Sam sat this one out. He’s done his time with the four legged grass eaters and he’s through with it. A Bay Mare came over one day and chased Sam under the back deck and went after Bert. The Mare had listened to as much barking as she intended to hear and sent a very strong message to the dogs about prey animals and predators.  Lucas and Lillith haven’t heard this sermon yet so their feelings towards this subject where very loudly expressed as they thundered back into the house. My entrance back into my front door was blocked by the pair. There is no way in hell I was going to open that door unless that cow cold nosed me. All bets would have been off at that point.

He may be one hundred and sixteen pounds of mutt, but Lucas will listen to me. Lillith is getting there and by and large, she isn’t going to have any an open munity over a cow. Sam didn’t want any part of a cow that hadn’t been cooked. Sam is wise. Sam is an old dog with plenty of experience with the four legged grass eaters, cooked and uncooked. So I get in, get a pair of shorts on and turn on the outside lights. Damn! There are a dozen cows out there. My neighbor’s fence has failed.

I go down to the driveway and put up a gate. Yes, I did put clothes on, thank you very much. The cows were munching on the grass in the yard and felt no need to escape. I was away for most of the day yesterday and when I got back all the cows were gone. Lucas had not doubled in size so I assume he did not eat them.

This morning I stepped into the front yard, wearing nothing but a pair of flip flops. The Big Dipper was high in the sky as was a billion other stars. Somewhere far overhead a jetliner passed with its lights blinking. Someone up there might be looking down over the land and wondering who is there while I wondered who was up there. There was no cows but there was a soft breeze and I wonder why more people don’t do this.

Take Care,

Mike


Friday, October 4, 2013

Lucas

Okay. About a month or so ago a lump appeared on the muzzle of Lucas and the vet seemed to think it was some sort of tooth infection. We ran him through some antibiotics and nothing seemed to work. Today we took him in and the diagnosis is that the swelling is some sort of mass. Monday we take him to Jacksonville to find out how bad this is. I cannot lose this dog. I will not lose this dog. I am going to save Lucas no matter what it takes.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Old Love, Young Hearts, Baseball, and Fox News.

There’s an older man who works out at the gym and he looks to be at least thirty years older than I am. He hits the treadmill and while he isn’t exactly making the machine smoke he is putting a few miles on it and his body. He does some weights and I see him in there often.

There’s a television in the locker room and usually it’s on some sports channel or another and no one really pays that much attention to it. The older man is standing there, half dressed, and he’s watching a baseball game with more than a little interest. Because my locker is next to his I say hello and he says, “That’s Kenny’s first at bat for the college. Anne has never seen him on television before. I hope he gets a good at bat.”
But things go bad for Kenny. He watches two strikes go past him as if he’s paralyzed with the idea of being on a sports channel and Kenny looks very nervous. The pitcher wastes a pitch high and outside but Kenny doesn’t flinch.
“Good eye, Kenny!” the man exclaims. This may very well be Kenny’s high point in the game; he didn’t chase a bad pitch.
The next pitch is one the pitcher might have been proud of because it’s a pitch that started out up high and then sank down low, nasty and vicious, but Kenny flails it. The ball is laced into deep left field and there is no way on earth it’s going to get caught. Kenny is on his horse at contact and his first at bat is a stand up double.
“YEAH!” the man exclaims and his world is brightened.
“Go Kenny!” I’m right there with him.

The pitcher is rattled by easy prey slapping a great pitch into no man’s land. The next pitch slips in too far and the batter gets plunked on the back. The next batter smells blood. The man and I are intently watching now. Kenny is bouncing around on second base promising to steal third. The pitcher is in a serious jam.  The pitcher throws hard and the ball gets away from the catcher, who corrals it and without a look flings it towards second like the ball is fired out of a cannon. But the runner on first has stayed put. Kenny stands on third without a throw. He looks deliriously happy.

One of the Angry White Men comes into the locker rom.

You know the type and if you’re one of them this is how the rest of the world sees you. He walks in and without looking to see if there is anyone else around put the television on Fox News. He turns the volume way up to really make the point that he is angry. You never see a woman, or someone darker than Sprite doing this sort of thing. Usually it’s someone who looks like they got fired a day before they retired from the mill. Kenny’s fan doesn’t say anything but he looks really disappointed.

“Hey!” I say loudly. “Two on and no one out! You’re killing us here! Put it back!”
To his credit he does but he scowls at us. Back to the game we’re lucky enough to watch the pitching coach finish a pep talk to his pitcher.  I know what he said, “The man at the plate means nothing at all. Just don’t let him make things worse for you. Nibble the edges and make him swing at your pitch. If you walk him you bring the double play back into play. Just don’t give up the big inning.”

The pitcher is a man not on a mound but an island. The batter is a man who knows this entire game can be put away for good with a good at bat. “Patience, man, patience!” the older guy says out loud but he’s forgotten I’m here. Kenny is sixty feet away from scoring in his first game.  The ball is lofted high, incredibly high, but catchable. Kenny tags and trots home easily.  The older guy and I exchange high fives. I’ve got to go and there is going to be a pitching change anyway.

“That’s her granddaughter working the back door”, he told me, and I had no idea what he was talking about. “I didn’t see any action in the war in Korea at all. I worked unloading planes and stacking boxes in a warehouse. I was there for six months then the war ended and I stayed for another two years before getting shipped back. When I got back to Georgia she and I met and her parents hated me from day one. They were bound and determined to keep us apart and they did, but one night we both were at the same party and I kissed her. Everyone was going back inside and we were bringing up the rear and instead of going inside I turned around and it was like she was waiting for me.”
He paused as the new pitched struck out a batter and I realized that was the second one. I missed the first. He didn’t speak again and we watched as the next batter jumped on the first pitch and cleared the bases with a long single.





“ But that was back in a day when a girl’s parents had a lot of say as to who she’d marry so we slipped around a bit. She was a good girl and I respected that. Yet we really liked one another and we fell in love with the idea of forbidden love. Her folks went off for a weekend and she came over to my place, and I knew when she parked her car around back what she had on her mind. I let her go back and forth with the idea, deciding not to, deciding to, deciding not to and I didn’t know which way she was headed. That one was head strong and willful and she hated to be pushed or pulled and as long as her folks pulled her away from me it pushed her to me. If I tried pulling her to me it pushed her away, but this night she gave in to me, slowly, but surely, and finally she let me take her back into my bedroom. She talked a mean game about being careful but we were young, so terribly young. I was older than she was by eight years but it didn’t matter. Once we started we couldn’t stop. She broke up with me the next day and told me it was over. A dozen times she told me she couldn’t see me again but she kept coming back.  Her folks found out and it was pure hell for both of us. They shipped her off to a college in Texas, where her aunt lived, and I went on to find somebody else too.” He stopped talking and just stared off into space.

“She died young, barely thirty-five, but not before she had a pair of daughters. The oldest looks the most like her and that’s her girl at the door there.” And this was a whisper.

He stopped and looked down, as if he were done, and I had no idea why he was telling me this at all. Did he tell this tale to other people as well? But he looked up again and continued.


“You see the way she stands when she’s talking, with her left hand lifted palm up? Her grandmother stood like that when she talked with that right hip pushed out a bit and so did her mother. She’s got her grandmother’s face, and it runs strong in that family, that high forehead, the nearly blonde hair, those gray eyes, and the way their hands look, long fingers that like rings that stay forever on them. Long legged women in that family, too, even those that are shorter than the rest still have those legs on them.” And finally he did stop and made a fuss about getting his stuff ready.

I stood there long enough to realize he wasn’t going to say anything else and I left. The girl at the computer at the back door had nearly blonde hair, a high forehead and I stopped to talk to her, waiting for her to talk with her hands.

Take Care,

Mike