Tuesday, March 24, 2009

November 6, 1999 to March 24, 2009

Mushi is a Japanese Chin. He has been part of the family for 9 years. He has brought us joy and comfort and peace and belly laughs. And today his life has come to an end.

About 4 years ago the veterinarian informed me that Mushi had a heart murmur. Turns out this is typical of the breed. Japanese Chins are not the most energetic breed of dog, considering themselves too princely to run about and chase things, and his laid-back nature may have actually given him more years with this bad heart than another breed of dog. For that I am thankful.

We began to notice a severe increase in his coughing and wheezing this past weekend. A trip to the vet's office this morning confirmed my fears - Mushi is in full-blown congestive heart failure. His heart is horribly enlarged and pressing against his trachea, hence the breathing problems. His pulse is dangerously low. Medication might relieve symptoms, but he still would only have a few months to live.

A frank discussion with the doctor led to a decision I was dreading yet prepared to make. This afternoon we will take him to be euthanized. They say it is a "humane" decision. To me that translates to "humans wield power over the rest of the animal kingdom," and I do not take this power lightly.

I also refuse to watch him suffer any longer than necessary.

We knew this day would come, and I prepared the girls for the possibility that the doctor would make such a recommendation. I will pick them up early from school so that they can spend some time with him and say their "goodbyes." I will allow them to witness the procedure if they so choose.

I have never sheltered my children from illness or death. I have gently and compassionately taught them that this is part of being a living creature. I have taught them the value in caring for the sick and in releasing our deceased to the Lord. I may do many things incorrectly as a parent, but I believe in this matter I have done well.

And I have never hidden my emotions regarding these things from my children. They are perhaps the only humans that routinely get past the "walls" I surround myself with. I wish for them to witness feelings being expressed in a healthy manner. I believe I have done well in this matter, as well.

So today we will pet him and we will love him and we will thank him for being such a gift to us. We will weep. We will graciously request that those who do not comprehend our sadness keep their remarks to themselves. We will release Mushi to wherever or whomever little doggie souls go. And we will remember him always.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Been hearing a lot about "bucket lists" lately. As my friends and I get older, mortality starts to become a little more real to us. Don't get me wrong - I plan to be around for a long, long time. But one never knows.

I've thought about it all day, and I've decided that my bucket must be kinda small. I've had a pretty good life, and I've certainly had my share of excitement. And if I stick to things that are within the realm of possibility, the list isn't all that long.

Here they are, in no particular order:
  • I'd like to see Mount Rushmore.
  • I'd like to drink wine beside the Mediterranean.
  • I'd like to meet Matt Lauer. And graciously turn down the marriage proposal that is sure to follow.
  • I'd like to get back down to a size 4.
  • I'd like to go to the San Diego Zoo.
  • I'd like to drive a race car.
  • I'd like to have some of my poetry published.
  • I'd like to go sailing.
  • I'd like to watch the Cubs play at Wrigley Field.
  • I'd like to own a Pinto. Horse, that is. Not a bean.
  • I'd like to earn a PhD.
  • I'd like to sing torch ballads on stage accompanied by an orchestra.

That's all I could think of. Well, I'd also like to have "the girls" returned to their original location. But other than that, I'm good.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tour de Cafe'

Last night I attended an event hosted by Catholic Charities to celebrate the migrants that enrich our communities. There were tasty treats and beverages from around the world. There were items for sale that were handcrafted by refugees that have come through our doors. And there was entertainment. That was my favorite part.

Somehow I managed to find myself mostly responsible for locating and inviting local entertainers to perform at this Tour de Cafe'. Because of the nature of the event, we were looking for internationally-inspired entertainment. It turned out to be more difficult that I imagined. Most of the groups I approached wanted to be paid (the nerve of those people!), and we are a nonprofit agency. Those that were willing to donate their time weren't available during the week.

I needed to schedule six groups. As of the middle of last week, I had one! I decided to give it up to God. I made more calls, sent more emails, and prayed more prayers. God did what He always does - He came through. On Friday the calls started coming in. The "play list" included world drummers and dancers from Japan, Nepal, Burma, and Mexico.

I now had the folks I needed, but they all wanted to come at the same time. Figures. I did my best to schedule them when I needed them, and stepped out in faith once again that it would work out. And... it did. Some showed up way too early, others got stuck in traffic, the two precious dancers from Nepal were asked to do an encore, and a surprise guest singer (famous in his native country) even took the stage. We filled in the gaps with my Rhythm of the River CD, and one of our employees impressed the crowd with his guitar skills.

We had the perfunctory glitches, mostly with sound. I'm a singer. I know nothing about sound systems. I generally walk up to a mic that has already been set up for me. I tell the technician what I don't like, and s/he fixes it for me. I like it that way. I do not have to be an expert on everything.

Someone commented that I take this stuff seriously. Yes, I do. Did I experience stress related to the Tour? Absolutely. Was it distressing? No. Not all stress is distressing. I loved every minute of this. This is a world with which I am accustomed. I agreed to do it, and I meant for it to be successful, for the guests and for the performers. I believe it was.

Next year I'm going after the Middle Eastern dancers...

Monday, March 9, 2009


While driving to work the other morning, I spied a sign for a shop in a strip center - it was called Romance. I quickly ascertained from the items in the display window that the shop sold lingerie and other adult-themed paraphernalia. I squelched my curiosity and continued on my way.

I got to thinking about how often I have heard the terms romance and sex used interchangeably lately. And they are not interchangeable at all in my mind. In a committed relationship, they are both good. But they are not at all the same.

Romance to me has nothing to do with lacy underthings or candles or magic potions. That's sex. Sex is physical. Any member of the animal kingdom can have sex.

Romance (in my humble opinion) is more cerebral. It's about what we perceive via the subtle messages in words and deeds. It is about how we think another feels about us. It is about what we think he or she is willing to do to show those feelings. It's the "falling" part of falling in love.

I love falling in love. I love that part of a relationship when the man is working at pleasing me. When he presents himself in a clean, sweet-smelling package and opens doors for me. When he is careful to say things that will make me smile instead of frown. When he seems excited to see me and interested in what I have to say.

I also love the reciprocal nature of romance. If a man is spoiling me, I want to spoil him back. It feels natural to do so. It feels wonderful. I wish it would last forever. But... it's not meant to last forever. Most of us could never live up to that level of expectation for the long haul.

It sure is nice while it lasts, though...