I have been married to Judy for a little over forty-six years.  That’s 16,844.5 days. Rounded up from 23 hours and 56 minutes per day, that’s approximately 404,268 minutes. 24,256,080 seconds, give or take. (I would keep going but my calculator won’t allow me to compute nanoseconds.)

In all of that time, I may have heard Judy utter anything that resembles any sort of naughty word once. I say “may” because I must have done something to elicit some sort of swear word somewhere along the way…

It was another dark and snoozy night...

Tuesday, September 5, 2017, 3:30 AM

One hour ago, I was deeply asleep, dreaming about my new Ryobi model RY08420A Backpack Leaf Blower with the large 2 cycle, 42cc engine for excellent clearing power, with a unique air-flow orientation and angled air nozzles, a variable speed throttle and a cruise control setting to make quick work of the toughest of clearing jobs;  and with the shoulder and back harness designed for ultimate comfort, that features a contoured back and easy strap adjustments; when I was awakened by the sounds of 1) Murphy (the dog) panting and whining and 2) Judy saying…

Judy: “Bill, do something about the damn dog!”

Bill (Me – suddenly and unexpectedly waking up): “Huh? What?”

J: “Do something about the damn dog! He got me up at 3:15 and I fed him and gave him some water and he won’t shut up!”

B (M): “Do you kiss your husband with that mouth?”

J: “Not if he doesn’t do something about the damn dog!”

 

 

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Driving home from Oakhurst after Mass…

Judy: “We could rent a motorhome to go to Utah. I’m kind of afraid to go to Utah, though.”

Bill (Me): “Why? Are you afraid you might want to move there?”

J: “No. I’m afraid to come home and get a call that Dean had a heart attack in Hawaii. Besides, if we moved to Utah, you would have to become Mormon.”

B (M): “Well, what would I have to become if we moved to Arizona?”

J: “You would have to become a ‘Free Spirited Artist’.”

B (M): “I could do that. I could be a ‘Free Spirited Artist’. I could become a Free Spirited Photographic Artist’… I could be a ‘Phartist’!”

Hahaha…

Hahaha…

Hahaha…

Hahaha…

J: “The next time somebody asks me what I have learned being married to you I’m just going to say, “I have learned not to be sipping a soda through a straw while having a conversation with him in the car,” and they will ask “Why shouldn’t you sip soda while having a conversation with Bill?” and I will answer “because I’m afraid of what will come out of his mouth.”

B (M): “No you’re not. You’re afraid that what comes out of my mouth will cause your soda to come out of your nose.”

Judging by what happened next, Judy, apparently, has yet to learn that lesson. 

“I, on the other hand, was just wondering if they could just tear my toenail back ninety degrees and call it a day…”

Once the catheter was inserted, things were better. For the nurse. She got to leave for a few minutes. Judy stuck around for a couple of minutes and had to go do something with paperwork, or some such thing.

I was back in the room alone again. It was just me and my catheter…

A couple of minutes later, I heard Steve’s voice outside the door asking if he could come in to see me. The wheels started turning in my head and had finished prior to the time he received permission to enter…

He walked in.

He looked at me.

My eyes were open, glazed over, staring into nothingness. My jaw was slack, my mouth a gaping cavern. I was holding my breath…

“Dad?” “Dad!?” “DAD!!”

“Yes, my son?”

For some reason, he didn’t think that was funny.

Neither did Judy when he told her a moment later. 

Neither did the nurse. 

I, on the other hand, thought it was hilarious. 

Some people have no sense of humor. 

Time, once again, for me to put something other than something I did myself up here. Love this…

There are times when I want to express my view that something is extremely positive or that I really like something about someone, somewhere or some object. This is usually not a problem for me because I am a reasonably positive person.

However, at some point in the past decade or so, I seem to have fallen into the habit of using the word “awesome” whenever I want to express my belief that something was, well, awesome. It was like, “Your (insert noun here) is awesome!” is just about the only way I would describe something that I thought was extremely positive. 

“Your hat is awesome!”, “Your house is awesome!”, “Your wall is awesome!”, “That cow in your living room is awesome!”. 

See what I mean?. Everything is awesome. It’s not “great”, “beautiful”, “amazing”, “fantastic”, “spectacular”, “breathtaking”, “formidable”, “overwhelming”, “imposing”, “magnificent”,” grand”, “majestic”, “daunting”, “mind blowing”, “wondrous”, “striking”, “astonishing”, “stunning”, “inspiring”, “nice”, “good”, “lovely”, “swell”, admirable”, attractive”, “becoming”, “charming”, “delightful”, “favorable”, “pleasant”, “nifty”, “peachy”, “cool” or “ducky”. 

It’s “awesome”. 

I suspect that many of us do this out of habit and don’t even realize it.

I have decided that I need to replace the word “awesome” with something a little less used by the general public, but something that I think would be awesome if more people used it. Something that may be used to mean (pretty much) the same thing, but with a little less imposing sound to it. Something a little more laid back to more closely approximate my own easy going personality. Something that was used long ago, and has never come back around for a second spin. 

I would like to invite you, my loyal reader(s), to work with me to bring back the word…

“Groovy”. 

Yes, “Groovy”. 

I know, I know. “Groovy” is a silly word and you may not want to go anywhere near it. I get that. But think about this – you will probably be the only one of your friends or acquaintances to use it for awhile. Pretty soon, somebody in your circle of friends is going to think it’s a pretty cool word and start to use it. Then, one of their friends will think that if that person can use it and make it sound so awesome, then maybe they should start using it, too.

The cycle will repeat itself over and over and over again and pretty soon, a fairly large group of people will start to feelin’ groovy.

And maybe some people who are moving too fast will slow down a bit and make the morning last. Maybe they will stop yelling at each other and pay attention to life around them. You know, go kickin’ down those cobblestones and looking for the positive things instead of focussing on the negative.  

Anyway, I think it’s an awes –  groovy idea.

Or am I being a little too far out? 

🙂

 

 

 

 

 

This termite goes into a saloon, hops up on a stool, slaps his hand on the counter and says, “Bartender here?”.

When I returned from Vietnam, and before Judy and I got married, I told her this joke. Her response was not what I expected. She said, “I don’t get it”.

I didn’t explain it to her. In fact, I have never explained it to anyone. Ever. And I’m not going to explain it to you now. 

But one night about seven years later, at 2:30 in the morning…

Judy: “Bill, wake up!”, she said, shaking me from my sleep.

Bill (me): “What is it? Are you OK?”

J: “I’m fine.”

B (m) (a grin starting to spread across my face in the dark): “What do you want?”

J: “I got that joke.”

B (m): “Uh…What joke?”

J: “The one about the bar.”

B (m): “Oh. Well great.”

J: “I don’t think it’s funny.”

B (m): “OK. Is that all?”

J: “No. I think I’ll tell it at work tomorrow to see what they all think about it.”

B (m): “OK. Anything else?”

J: “No, that’s it. Goodnight.”

The next night Judy came home from work…

J: “I told the joke at work. They didn’t think it was funny, either.”

B (m): “Well, how did you tell it?”

J: “Just like you told me. I said, ‘This giant ant walks into a bar, sits down and asks for the bartender…”

B (m) “Delivery needs work…”

A friend posted the following meme on Facebook… 

fluent-in-silence

…and it got me to thinking:

I am completely fluent in silence. I hardly ever talk. About anything. Well, some things I talk about, I guess, but only a little bit. Except when I think I have something really important to say. Which isn’t very often at all. Only when I run out of things to think – that’s when I feel like I have to say something. But that’s not an event that comes up very frequently. Only when I’m awake. Or asleep. I don’t talk much in my sleep, though, that would irritate Judy. So if I ever do talk, it’s mostly when I’m awake. And I run out of things to think. For example, I ran out of something to think last March, and I actually said something out loud. That surprised everybody in the room. Actually, it was in the bathroom and I was the only one there, so maybe that doesn’t count. Then there was that time in 1978 when we moved to Oregon. That was actually kinda cool, what with the 4th of July rodeo being snowed out and all. But other than that, oh yeah – there was the time when I was in the first grade and I had to go to the bathroom in the middle of class and I raised my hand and asked the teacher if I could go to the bathroom and she said “yes”. I went there and sat there and ran out of things to think, so I talked then, too. Hmmm… I think I do most of my best talking sitting on the pot. At least – oh yeah, and there was the time when I was driving to the store to get milk and carnation instant breakfast for dinner when Judy was out of town and I had to cook for myself. I ran out of things to think about and started to repeat my shopping list (which I had forgotten to write because I was in the middle of thinking of something when I decided to go to the store) so I wouldn’t forget why I was going there in the first place. When I ran out of something to think about, I just repeated over and over, “Milk. Carnation Instant Breakfast. milk. carnation instant breakfast. milk. carnation instant breakfast. milk. carnation instant breakfast…” Then I realized that I had been talking without using any capital letters so I had to start over again. “Milk. Carnation Instant Breakfast. Milk. Carnation Instant Breakfast. Milk. Carnation Instant Breakfast…” I got it right that time, so I could stop talking and start to think of something again. And there was the time that I was thinking about something – I don’t rememebr exactly what it was – but I know it must have been something important because I was thinking it – and I realized that I had been thinking about it for five minutes after I had stopped thinking about it and it made me talk. I said, “crap, what was I thinking about?” I never did rememebr, but I had fun talking about it anyway. After all, it was one of the few times I talked outloud, so it’s hard to forget that I did it. I guess the whole point is that I rarely speak or write out loud and that makes me fluent in silence. Oh – wait! There was the time when I was running to catch a fly ball in center field and …

The End.

A few months ago, we were testing some functionality on the D3300 camera. There was a guitar in the room (seven, actually, but I only have two hands, afterall). Steve and Judy decided to play along (Judy playing the part of the beatnik** in the coffee house, totally enthralled with my performance. Note the look of complete contemplation of the lyrics and the keeping of time with her foot). 

In the video, we are not actually Dixie Fried (especially me). And Judy is not a shape in a drape in this case, but she is certainly everything plus. 

And while this may have you interviewing your brains, and you think the performance is slated for Crashville, if you know your groceries, you will see I actually threw babies out of the balcony. Just be sure to focus your audio.

And yes, this is off the cob.

Murphy expresses his opinion at the 2:35 mark.

The whole thing is actually quite disturbing…

** beat·nik
ˈbētnik/
noun
 
  1. a young person in the 1950s and early 1960s belonging to a subculture associated with the beat generation.

Judy: “I love you.”

Me: “I love you, too.”

Judy: “You’re wonderful.”

Me: “You’re wonderful, too.”

Judy: “I’m not perfect.”

Me: “I am.”

Judy: “Well, I tried.”

What you said: “I set the alarm for 6:00 because I have a crock pot dinner to make.”

What I heard: “I set the alarm for 6:00 because I have a cough drop in my neck.”

What you said:  “They’ll probably want me to put sheets on their bed.”

What I heard:  “Ted scroogled the feet time good.”

Me: “You know, I would rather be right here, snuggling with you, than with all of the best smelling skunks in the whole world.”

Judy: “Nice…”

Me: “Well, a guy’s gotta start somewhere…”

What you said: “Finally… some deer appreciators.”

What I heard: “Simon lives in dirt with fish haters.”

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I sit at my keyboard with reddened eyes and tear streaked cheeks, in mourning and in gratitude. 

Mourning because my nearly constant companion and best buddy over the last three years, one week and one day, Max, is gone.

Gratitude because I thank God for seeing fit to finagle  a way  bring us together in the first place.

Max was, as any of you who love dogs will understand, part of the family. He was just about the happiest dog I ever met. No matter what, he always had a joyful demeanor and the look to go along with it… (See above – He almost always looked like that when he was awake.)

Except, perhaps, when he was taking a bath…

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Or pointing at something…

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For which he was trained at an early age…

Or when he was just feeling lazy, or patiently waiting for me to acknowledge him or say “Ya wanna go for a walk outside?”

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He loved hiking in the woods…

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No matter what the weather…

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Even better if he was with a friend…

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And even if he had a frozen butt…

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He loved having fun in the snow, though he never quite got the concept of “mush!”…

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He loved hanging out with the family…

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And running in the back yard…

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He even liked Panther, though she only learned to tolerate him…

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And he had an affinity for waste baskets, though he never admitted it – even when he got caught he would give us the “who? Me?” look…

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He loved helping me work in the yard…

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He stuck by my side all day every day. While I was working in my office, he was right there beside my desk. I kept treats for him there, and every couple of hours I would ask him “You want a treat?”

Treat was one of the words he knew best… He never refused one. Even an hour before he died, he would still eat a treat, and be happy about it.

Max loved everything about life, I think. He was still a puppy at heart, though not in body. He kinda reminded me of my brother-in-law, Jeff, that way…

And kinda like me, too…

Being a “senior” dog (He was 13 when he died) when he first came to live with us, he had some arthritis in his hips. We spent thousands of hours massaging those hips, and happily so. He loved it. He would come up to us and we would scratch his head for about 15 seconds, and then he would start walking until his rear end was swung around and facing us, ready to be rubbed.

He loved our daily/nightly walks around the neighborhood… And he loved hiking with us in the back yard… And he always was a “puller”. No matter what mood he was in, once he was on a leash and walking around the neighborhood or the woods or anyplace else, he became a puppy again. He had to sniff everything that was associated with another animal, and when he wasn’t sniffing, he was dragging us along the path. 

And he would eat anything he could wrap his jaws around…

Until the last three days…

Every morning, he would be lying down outside our bedroom door, waiting for us to exit. And waiting for the magic word, “breakfast!”. Thursday, the 28th, I walked out and  announced  “breakfast time for Max!” as I proceeded down the hallway toward the doggie diner. . I fixed his breakfast and noticed that he wasn’t behind me waiting. I just figured that he would get to it when he felt like it.

Later that day I came downstairs for lunch, and I noticed that he hadn’t touched his breakfast. Alarm bells went off in my head, but I let it go.

Then, after work, I got him ready for a walk around the neighborhood. He was, as usual, excited about that and we started off. He wasn’t pulling me along. And he wasn’t sniffing. More alarm bells.

When we got back, I noticed that he had vomited in four places. 

At that point, I was really worried. When Judy got home, we talked about it and decided she would take him to the vet on Friday morning.

Judy and I stayed up with Max until 5:00 the next morning, trying to make him comfortable. At 9:30, Judy got him in to see the vet. They ran several tests and called Judy about noon. 

Long story short, Max was in critical condition with advanced liver cancer and in acute pain. We were crushed. They had him medicated with pain killers, and suggested they keep him overnight on IVs and check on him in the morning.

We talked about it and asked if we could bring him home and take care of him here, especially since no one would be there with him overnight. And we thought we could keep a better eye on him anyway.

They were wonderful. As long as he had no IVs inserted, we could bring him home. We picked him up at about 5:00 in the afternoon, along with several doses of the pain killer and an empathetic conversation with a wonderful nurse and doctor. But we knew that we would bring him back the next morning, and he would not be returning home with us again…

We wanted to make sure that his last night would be as comfortable and filled up with as many of his favorite things as we could… And it tore us up inside… He was in pain, his breathing was extremely labored and he couldn’t get or keep anything down.

We took him for his last walk around the neighborhood – it was slow and tough on Judy and me, but he enjoyed it…

Coming down our driveway, Max starts out on his last romp around the neighborhood.. His typically happy self..

Coming down our driveway, Max starts out on his last romp around the neighborhood.. His typically happy self..

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Last night, Judy and I both slept next to Max’s bed, in front of the fireplace. Not so much sleep, actually. We spent the night being with him, petting his head and stroking his back, talking to him, telling him what a good dog he is and how much we love him and going outside with him when he needed to go outside. And trying to get pain killers down his throat. We would pet him until he fell asleep, and his breathing became somewhat easier, and then wait for him to wake up again and start over.

The next morning at about 7:30, I took him for his last walk around the back yard. I cried most of the way…

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Then he rested in the piano room…

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And played ‘hide and seek’ under the piano…

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It was time to go…

We arrived at the vet hospital and met the nurse on the back side of the building. Eventually, we got into the room, where they had laid out a fluffy, soft blanket on the floor. Max knew what to do with that, so he got comfortable. I laid down on the floor close beside him, put my arm around him, facing him, each of us looking into each others eyes. Judy on the other side of him on a short chair, caressing his back while I stroked his head and neck area, speaking to him just above a whisper when I wasn’t choking up.

The nurse came into the room to flush out the catheter on his leg and make sure it was open. She asked if we would like a few more minutes. I said, “no. but if you can arrange it, we would like to have a few more years.” The nurse began to tear up and left to get the doctor…

After a few minutes, the doctor came in and re-explained what was going to happen.

She said, “I know that making this decision was the hardest thing you’ve ever done.”

“No,” I managed to get out, “This is the second hardest thing I have ever done. The hardest thing I’ve ever done is to observe the reason I did the second hardest.”

She paused a moment with a thoughtful look on her face…

Finally, she nodded her head in agreement and said, “Are you ready?”

Judy and I both answered, “Yes,” and I started talking to Max again while she retrieved the needle..

Both of us stroking Max’s now shaking body, I spoke into his ear, repeating the words he had come to know over the past three years. “You are such a good doggy, Max. What a good boy. You”re my best buddy and my best friend, Max. I love you, Max.”

One difference this time… I ended withI Love You, Max… Goodbye, Max…”

He stopped shaking. He stopped his labored breathing. He went limp. Judy and I both broke down…

It was exactly 10:00 AM…

Sometimes “goodbye” is the toughest love of all…

We had previously agreed to talk about something else on the way home, just so we could get home in one piece. I couldn’t help myself and started to say something about the events of the past three days when Judy interrupted me with “How about them Bears, huh?”

That got us home. As we walked into the house, I almost yelled out my, now, customary “Helloooooo Max!” but caught myself.

It didn’t matter – we both fell apart anyway. We wrapped each other in a consoling hug and regained our composure. Then we started gathering Max’s beds, toys and other things… More crying and consoling…

This has gone on the entire day. We are still very emotional about it. I am a wimp, but I think that in this case I can afford to be.

There is a sign in Max’s feeding room, above his full food bowl. Judy reached for it and I stopped her. I wanted to keep it there…

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It’s still there…

Thank you, Lord, for bringing Max into our lives. Thank you for the joy he brought us.

Thank you for the laughter, the games of ‘fetch the duck’ and ‘keep away’ and a thousand other moments of fun and games.

Thank you for the buddy to take on a hike, always ready to hop into the car and take off for adventures unknown.

Thank you for allowing us into Max’s life – to give him a place and a family by whom to be loved, and to make his “golden” years a time of joy and security…

And thank you for the pain and grief we are feeling now – because from that we know that love exists…

I have often pondered, over the past three years, one week and one day, the fact that “God” spelled in reverse is “dog”. If God is love, and I believe He is, then can it be said that “Love is dog”?

Today, you would have a hard time convincing me otherwise…

Max going back up our driveway alone, ahead of us, after our last walk together around the neighborhood...We Love You, Max... Goodbye, Max...

Max going back up our driveway alone, ahead of us, after our last walk together around the neighborhood…
We Love You, Max… Goodbye, Max…

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