Toodle-oo :)

Thank you cherished friends and readers for accompanying me and my sweet Dawny (sweet as long as you are not another DOG!) on our journey these past three years.  I do believe the time has come to wrap up the blog postings.  Although, who knows for how long?  All I know for sure is that my traveling companion needs loads of love and attention and care and that is where I wish to place my time and energy and love.

So, let’s not linger on the page, let’s not get tangled up in words, and let’s not pay undue attention as health fails.  It is a respect thing.  A privacy thing.  I would like nothing better than to drive off into the sunset with my girl in a colorful flash of uncommon grace, waving the Queen’s wave from a workamper’s work cart, Dawny smiling at my side…  Later, Alligator!

For Dawny’s friends, her good days still outnumber her bad days.  For this, we are grateful.  Were she to be fully informed on the ins-and-outs of the blogging world and the potential everlastingness of the written word, I believe this is where she would like to be remembered.  Healthy enough to enjoy long walks and still full of sass.  Excited and eager on road-trip days.  Happy to receive cookies and loving from friends, old and new.  Ready to bite some random dog’s head off.

Okay, okay, I hear you.  I am placing all sorts of human feelings and motives onto a dog.  Well, since she has responded with more feeling and exhibited more honest, raw motives than many bipedal beings I have encountered, we shall claim poetic license and craft things how we please.

It is, after all, our blog.  Our journey.  Every bit as much hers as it is mine.  So, yes, this is a fitting time to pause.  Paws.  Four happy paws and a sassy wag of the tail…  After a while, Crocodile!

At this point, my hope is to find a productive focus despite my own dwindling energy (sadness has an insidious way of sapping time and energy from the day, peace and rest from the night).  I would love to concentrate more on ebook stories.  It is such a cool way to create and communicate.  I will keep you posted on any (if any) future publications here, should you wish to continue following the blog.  If you stop following, though, I will certainly understand.  Life is so full of options.  Clutter.  Noise.  Options.  Sometimes it takes real effort to sort through and find the peace.

Meanwhile, Dawny and I shall quietly retreat to a more private space.  We will continue to roll down our beautiful together-path as long as Time allows.  What happens after that is anyone’s guess.

We wish all of you simplicity, honesty, and peace in your lives and loves.  Beauty and laughter lining your roads.  Thank you for sharing ours these past three years.

Toodle-oo, Mr. Magoo! —

Carol and Dawny Virgil Prewash Sassy Generous Evans (a.k.a. Midnight Unicorn…  a.k.a. Best Road Doggy in the World…  a.k.a. Best Doggy in the World)

J.O.Y.

Saturday

Ann called today.  She is a friend from my days in Virginia, including the time when I ran a small personal services business.  Ann worked with me in that business for a while, but we knew each other primarily from church.  A few years ago, she and her family moved to south Florida.

Today Ann was passing the exit for my winter campground on her way to Georgia.  She thought of me so she gave me a call.  We had a nice chat as I lay curled up in my bed with Dawny, who hasn’t been feeling so hot lately.  Today she has had a particularly bad spell.

Ann and I chatted for awhile about this and that.  Then she mentioned that their family recently lost their beloved dog, Skipper.  Rather than crying and moaning about his death, Ann happily told me how they gave Skipper a roaring send-off, complete with a doggy bucket list.

It was a bucket list to die for.  It included chocolate and beer.  I think that if Skipper asked for it, they would have provided him with a smoke.  He enjoyed a day with Daddy on his boat and a walk in the woods without a leash….  That last one was a little scary since he got a bit away from them and poor Ann was afraid they would have to call the vet to cancel the euthanasia appointment because Skipper got himself lost in the woods.  But he came back.  And they made their appointment.  Talk about irony on top of irony.

Ann said that what has gotten her through this time–in addition to fond memories of Skipper’s life and his final days–was the acronym J.O.Y.  She explained the “J” is for Jesus, the “O” is for Others, and the “Y” is for Yourself.  If you look at the world through this kind of construct, it can help get you through some of those challenging times.  You put Jesus first, others second, and yourself last.

Jesus.  Well, I sure didn’t want to go into it over the phone, or even in person should we meet later this month as planned, but I have a real problem with the whole organized religion thing.  So let’s not even get started on that.

But if I think of what the person, the concept of Jesus means to me in a spiritual sense, it does carry a particular meaning and weight.  Simply and purely put, Jesus is Love.

Ok, I can go with that.

Others.  In the context of losing a loved one, Ann explained that you look only at what is best for them.  Ann and her husband knew that Skipper was in pain and was suffering.  They had the power to cut that suffering short, releasing the little fellow from his time here in this world.  They gave Skipper a few super special days celebrating his life and their life together.  Then they released him.

Yourself.  Putting yourself last allows you to let go of your loved one.  The only thing that matters is what is best for them.  And you give that to them with love in your heart.  It is not about you.  It is all about them.

Until they are gone.

Then it can be about you.

Ann sounded very joyful on the phone today.

As I sit here with a listless Dawny at my feet, however, I weep.  Mostly for me.  Selfish, self-absorbed me.

**********

Sunday

Oh, joy!  Dawny woke up hungry and ready for her morning walk.  She did a loop and a half around the park with no problem and when the workampers’ golf cart drove by, she tried to chase it down in hopes of catching a cookie or two.

Love, except in its purest form–attainable only by God and Dog, in my opinion–is based on self-interest.  That doesn’t make it bad.  Just human.  And this highly imperfect human is grateful for every day with her nearly perfect Dog.

Today’s post is dedicated to Miss Ashley (Texas ranch dog extraordinaire), Missy and Benji (beloved canine companions belonging to friends at this winter campground), and, of course, Skipper.  Rest in peace, and bless your sweet souls for your faithful love and devotion to your respective humans.

So Brave!

I used to be so brave.  Or stupid.  Or young.  Or perhaps all of those things rolled up together, each egging the other on like a group of boisterous teens drag racing at 2:00 a.m. on a school night, oblivious to–or perhaps dismissive of–all potential consequences, near and far.

On our (leisurely) drive to our current campground in Tennessee, I was lucky to get good radio reception for NPR. I love NPR. It makes me so much smarter, at least for awhile, until I forget most of what I’ve heard. Frances Jensen, a neuroscientist-researcher-author-mother, was being interviewed about her book on the developing brain (The Teenage Brain).  She was inspired to delve into the subject when her children were teenagers and she desperately wanted some clue as to why they behaved so incredibly, well, stupid sometimes.  It turns out that until you are in your mid-20’s, the brain is simply not all there. Especially the prefrontal cortex, which is the part capable of taming the wild side.

I sure did recognize myself when she talked about teenagers’ high risk-taking and impetuous decision-making tendencies.  In my wild years, I went camping in this general area of Tennessee.  On one hike I climbed to the top of a beautiful waterfall, seeking the promise of an even more beautiful view from on high.  Before the climb, I passed a sign reading “Danger! Do Not Climb Past This Point!”  It went on to say how many people had died so far that year by not heeding its sage advice.  It gave me pause–hmmm, I wonder who the people were behind those numbers–but only a pause.  Upon reaching the summit, I promptly slipped on the mossy rocks and nearly slid off the edge of the falls, straight through that beautiful horizon.  Brave?  Dumb?  Oblivious?  All of the above.

Nearly forty years later, I find myself at this lovely state park a ways east of that waterfall.  Dawny and I are enjoying our walks through the campground and surrounding area, including a gentle stretch of riverfront.  But, as usual, I avoid paths that go through wooded areas.  Dawny tugs at her leash when we come across tempting openings into the woods–I wonder what her prefrontal cortex looks like–but I generally pull her back towards civilization and try to ignore the way she looks at me over her shoulder with distinct disappointment.  I’m just too afraid of bears and snakes and wild pigs and who knows what else coming at us while we are far from any possible help.

The other day, though, our luck and our pace shifted.  We came across a park ranger who was heading into one of the wooded paths to pick up litter and check on things back there, and he let us accompany him.  We walked along a lively creek and came upon a bunch of wild turkeys.  In another part of the park, we followed a ridge trail that wound along high above the river.  In spots, if you were to slip and fall, you would be smashed on the rocks below.  Then drowned.  Then probably eaten by a bear.  I had to be careful not to look too closely over the edge, as it set my stomach churning and my imagination shooting off into dark, illogical corners.

Finding a spot not too close to the edge with a nice break in the trees, I was treated to a breathtaking picture.  Blue-gray mountains in the distance, framed by pouffy white clouds in a crystal blue sky, forest all around, and the churning river below.  What a treat!

Maybe what I used to think of as brave was no more courageous than what I’m doing now, even though I was able to do so much more then.  Now, I practically have to have an escort to stray very far off the same path that, as a youth, I would charge up without a second thought.  Now, I’m much more aware of my own, personal horizon and its steady approach, regardless of which path I happen to be dithering along.

Well, at least I’m out here, following my dream.  It’s a pretty tame dream, and pretty safe.  But its mine, and I love it.  That might be what bravery is now, at this point of life.  My brain is reverting back to some semblance of that teenage condition as my prefrontal cortex surrenders in exhaustion from everything I’ve put it through over the years. It’s throwing up its little brain hands and squeaking in a grand-motherly voice, “Fine!  Take me where you will!  Just don’t speed, eat your vegetables, wear practical shoes . . . .  And please, do enjoy that view.”