February 21st, 2014
lice is no one’s fault.
so wrapped up you have no sense of civic duty is fault.
February 17th, 2014
Kila died on Tuesday, February 4. Her whole face swelled up the Friday before, big like a St. Bernard, i wanted to take a picture but that would have been cruel. The Vet and our thought was a scorpion bite or similar. Kila got a steroid and some meds, which masked some pain and the vet said would upset her stomach, so we didn’t really tumble to how little she was eating til later on Saturday, which was pretty much too late.
Kila spent a terrible day shuffling from room to room, inside then outside then back in again, staying on her feet, full of stress and dogonlyknowswhat, shunning the many pillows we laid out for her. Why wouldn’t a dog who willingly snoozes for 20 hrs a day rest if she was achey? We gave her painkillers and antacids and benadryl. She’d survived so much for so long we just thought it was an injury, even though in her whole floor-lying life shed never been bit by a scorpion. In retrospect, she was sluggish and not eating much starting on Wednesday. Easy to see now, who the fuck dies from a scorpion bite? She’s gotten so old and used to treats that its not unusual for her to skip her dry food for a day, or want a slow walk instead of a run. I didn’t take her to the Vet til noon on Friday, or panic when she didn’t quickly get better. The Vet too was calm about it, it just didn’t seem urgent.
Kila is 90 and had a great long life, loved by her family. The banality of saying that makes me strive to say something original, but I figure that sentiment is as old as mankind, so its probably genetics making me say it and believe it. The more death I see I realize its lucky to grow old, and even luckier to die gently. For months I’d hoped to one morning find Kila still and unwakeable on the porch, gone painlessly in her sleep. Not collapsed on the floor, smeared in a thin coat of her own blood. Sunday i slept on the couch next to her, til she crawled off silently in her own pain. Monday night I told her i loved her, what a good girl she was, scratched her ears and left her gasping where she’d collapsed in the back yard. Her last act was to drag herself inside out of the sprinklers. I’m sure she didn’t feel inglorious about it, versus being ripped apart by other huskies. At least she made it onto the tile to bleed.
I get it now, i have a pattern. When an old person who has had medical care finally dies, they crash down quickly, the inevitable being held off so long by money and medicine. I just didn’t expect it in dog-years.
For three days she wouldn’t eat. Only some chicken broth I found puked up in the yard a week later. We gave her meat puree and soup, we made a ham but she rejected hamfat. She drank water, her hips collapsing under her while she sipped from her bowl. Finally she was sitting, a little, falling to the side and forcing herself upright. Nodding off, fighting sleep. It must be a sick-dog thing to reject rest. I incredulously thought to myself “she is dying.”
She deteriorated. Her facial swelling had subsided, and Sunday we saw a lump on her jaw too big for a bite, which on Monday we found out to be an abscess full of staph and strep. Dog can’t talk to tell us she has a toothache, that was probably blooming into an infection for days. The parrot would have said my beak is killing me take me to an ornithologist. But not the dog. The closest she came was Thursday night, when she sat directly under the legs of my chair, another thing she’d avoided her whole floor-lying life. But never made a whimper.
We were prepared to put her down Monday, and it would have saved her so much pain, but the vet suggested draining the abscess and immediate antibiotics and subcutaneous fluid might turn it around. We wanted to give her one last shot, probably more than she wanted it. Monday was awful for Kila, she couldn’t stand, continued to slowly bleed from the shoulder, puked up food we spoon fed her, along with a stomachful of blood. She was whining and was so weak.
I hope she forgave us her last torment for 3+ yrs living with Valley Fever and 6 months of steady painkillers; medicine had been good to her so far. Any bitterness she may have felt went into the incinerator with her. They knocked $25 off the cremation price, because she was no longer 51-100 lbs. Only my guilt remains. Would you risk 1 day of pain for a chance at a few more months? I would, so I will not self-flagellate. I’m just really, really sad.
The last morning I carried her on a blanket curled up like a baby, a little dogball. I had never carried her that way before, and she had never looked at me with resignation before. Kila always looked at you like she…had a say in the matter. Always her bright eyes said she was ready, ready for something, ready to stand there slack-jawed and await the train bearing down on her but ready nonetheless to face that train. She finally was calm after they gave her the sedative cocktail, and moments after the vet finished the lethal injection her heart stopped.
I have not experienced the sudden stillness of death since Tsaina died in 2001. I am so very lucky. There was Kila, then gone. I wanted to hold on, for Kila not to be dead, to scratch her ears and nuzzle her neck and kiss the magic doghead for just a moment more. There was nothing to be saved from that second not already tattooed in my memory, but it would have meant she hadn’t left us.
Kila’s fur is course, she looks chocolatey creamy and caramel, but its really a shiny layer of dirt and grim and dogscust. Scratching her for any length of time galvanizes upon you that you are intimate with a filthy lyingdownwith dog. Its the downy undercoat that creates Kila’s velvety impression. Her undercoat is so warm it feels hot, and sweat beads on your lip immediately when you kiss her. The fluff adheres to your nostrils and eyebrows and dries your eyes, sticks in your stubble, you pull back and wipe your face and squint. Chin-to-neck and shoulder-to-shoulder are the best ways to snuggle with Kila, inhale her richness and glow and butterscotch.
Her eyes didn’t shut, even after i tried pulling her lids down like in every tv show. I kissed her neck anyway, pushed my face all the way in. The tips of her fur were already cooling. I had to, and i had to smell the blood and rot in her mouth one last time. That’s what killed her, not me. That smell — decay, disease, death — wouldn’t leave me for several days. It engrosses me every time i edit this post.
Tsaina took a long time to die. Her body was still so strong, the cancer in her leg having not fully destroyed her. I felt so guilty over Tsaina for so long, that we went too soon and she was so young. We needed it done finally more than she did, we’d agreed on Tsaina’s fate a lot farther out. Compared to Kila’s anguish, I can finally forgive myself for the decision to not let Tsaina suffer. In Kila’s last moment did she see herself as a puppy nursing her momma again with her brothers and sisters? Did she think of us, or the kids, or see a white light? Or did she gratefully greet the soft blessing of sleep, and fade out with a blissful buzz? I miss you so much Kila, I am so sorry.
The vet will return your cremated dog’s ashes to you, if you pay an extra $50. I didn’t want her ashes, but somehow seeing her swept up like rubbish felt wrong. So i decided the family will have a wake for her. Eventually. I haven’t had the fortitude yet; I get angry listening to Alana ask questions about where Kila went and if we’ll get another dog. She is still young and so insensitive, she doesn’t realize her mercilessness.
Kila is gone, and I feel addled. Each day for the last two weeks I have been overwhelmed by the extra efforts of prewashing dishes, so many wasted calories, the cosmos will surely punish me til i adopt another dog. I made a whole ham and my dog died. Her last act as a diner was to somewhere bury the hambone that she wouldn’t eat. I haven’t found it in the yard yet. I’m sure when i do I will break down into sobs. The house is much quieter. No double slap-slap slap-slap of her going in or out, ripples of clicking tired toenails, shameless sloshing in the water bowl or toilet, tongue sliding a plate around the tile floor, barking at someone to tell them what the fuck was up. The hair on the floor, in every crevice, in my clothes are almost gone. There is less dust, and i swear the air inside the house is crisper. I get out in the mornings quicker and have an extra hour every night. So much more time to waste inside, the kids stare at video games where just days ago we took dogwalks and explored the dark. I’m in no rush to head back out. My bright eyes are shattered, its too lonely. I don’t know how to do it, watching a sunset without my dog.
January 31st, 2014
Our stay in La Fortuna was all about the Arenal Volcano. After a morning playing in the pools and chasing butterflies we walked a few miles straight uphill from the Resort. We saw only a few people, who were either surprised or concerned. M’eh. I carry water, powerbars, tp and sunscreen everywhere, and i speak passable espanol. All were put to good use.
We met the trail builders on the way back down, shuttling up with an atv and tow ropes. They had a connection that allowed them to build and ride on the Resort property, the trail went almost down to our room, not exactly hidden but hard to see if you weren’t looking. Yo quiero sus bicicletas. The secret MTBr handshake took over from there. voy a Moab, diez veces. An SLR, a dropbox account and a little blonde girl wearing an mtb jersey go even further towards not being treated like tourons. ¡pura vida! Thanks guys for letting us walk down your trail.
i stood under this tree and watched green parakeets whip by, and back again. Glances were lucky moments, amidst the constant buzzing i pictured far more birds than the few i actually spotted. Look closely and you can find it in the pic below.
I was so stoked from our hikes, I ganked wifi in the hotel lobby to find something even better for manana. And i did. -2k up in about 2 miles along the smaller adjacent Cerro Chato volcano. 10 min from the hotel, entry fee but no need for a guide! It wasn’t that long, but the pitch and dense rainforest made it far beyond what we could do with the kids. Beckie graciously let me have the morning to myself. It was the highlight of my trip.
i charged up for 2 hrs, seeing little perspective, knowing by my effort and gps i was making progress, but not really believing. The profile is like hiking The Canyon, but harder in a different way. Instead of bone-jarring endless steps and furnace-conditions in the Inner Gorge or ice at the top, this was slicky sticky every stride up, slippy slidey on every footplant, everything soppy and grabby. The jungle was adhesive. The rain came steadily through the glutinous mist. Not hard, each raindrop hit multiple objects as it dripped down, a baseline of clamor inside a blanket of otherwise quiet.
Our last morning we set out to find a spot we saw a few day earlier, full of parked cars and steam and bathers walking along the narrow 2-lane highway into the jungle.
January 26th, 2014
This was the sickest place i’ve ever stayed.
The B&B in Kauai, the room in Santorini — they were breathtaking. I have camped on views over canyons, snuggled with my loved-ones looking down…but 4 days of pampering with included breakfast buffets was transcendent. I have these 2 little humans, they exhaust me, and i love them. I am so happy to make it rain for them. The best days that slipped away in decades.
The hotel had gardens and pools and hot tubs, butterfly gardens and crocodilos. The layout was so beautiful that we spent hours going down slides, into the gardens, stopping for a hit of rum, taking pictures, and repeating. Taking our time was so new.
January 24th, 2014
After an awesome week, I was very psyched to get away from mas touristas near the ocean and hang out just with my family. My gps was loaded with a Costa Rica basemap and the roads were well-marked and well-paved. 1-lane roads, old trucks and a barfing 5yo were much larger contributors to our lethargic 35mph average.
About an hour into the drive we stopped at the Tarcoles River, famous for its crocodiles.
a few hours later we stopped at a small cloud garden.
When we finally got to the hotel we were all a little batty from the drive. A couple hours in the pool and watching the Eagles in the playoffs ended the day well. ¡Vaya águilas!
January 22nd, 2014
Some, sorta, a lot of Costa Rica felt like snowboarding in Tahoe. Every day cost a lift ticket, for everyone, even if they sat in the lodge. Exorbitant money for groomed equatorial entertainment, Disney-like turnkey, vans picked us up at our door and fed us comida tipica before tossing us out. The worst that happened was a monkey tried to steal our nutrigrain bars. So cliche, but still sooooo much fun we were glad to be adventure sellouts.
The Costa Ricans seem reasonably happy with the arrangement, as much as any ski bum. Outdoor jobs, not too backbreaking or cancer-inducing, with people who tip them. Costa Rica skirted the Marxist revolutions and skipped right to a specialized service economy. Costa Rica has no army, lots of recycle bins, and everyone speaks English. It helps diffuse income inequality when you can grow your own food, and the land is not covered in toxic waste, rocks and shit. And yet, for a semi-socialist country, every zipline is on private land, every trail in a parque national. Never seen so much barbed wire.
So we dripped money on guides and had rad fun, fought off bad cruise flashbacks trapped in a van full of New Yorkers, and paid people to take pictures of us. For about $12.50/person vs trashing my camera and ruining my run. They seem like ego pics, and they kinda are, but they also tell the story with such a better lense that i forgive myself. Still, I like how my pics, even the bad ones, stand in contrast with more soul.
The next day, we got on this sailboat, and they poured us obscene amounts of cacique.
The next day was my favorite. Ziplines, ladders, hiking, drops, jungle fun.
January 15th, 2014
First week in Costa Rica we basecamped in an amazing house on the Pacific coast, with Deb&Mac, Bob&Bette, and Richard&Ann. I am really glad I don’t know how much this house cost, but I do know we are not eating out til Q2. The place was huge, had balconies everywhere, amazing views, Sunday Night Football, and a ridonkulous pool. We spent every moment not hemorrhaging money on eco-tourism at that house. I read 2, count them 2, books back-to-back for 3 days. We didn’t want to leave, which fortunately meant we didn’t eat out much either.
costa rican shopping tip: 6-pack of shitty beer=$8, liter of good rum=$10.
The first day the kids went horseback riding with Deb. I’m still fuzzy on what they did, but they allegedly had fun. If G and Alana never see pics, will they forget it happened? Beckie and I walked a few miles to the beach and national park. 3 hours driving in the dark had acclimated us to narrow roads and insane pitches, but we were unprepared for the optional nature of sidewalks when you need to leap out of the way 16 degrees uphill.
We took the kids to Manuel Antonio NP, but left the SLR at home. *fail*
The last day i went for a run on the side streets off our house, and found a steep 200 yard climb up a double track, discarded trash attesting to it being public. Everything in Costa Rica is on private land or a National Park; i’ve never seen more barbed wire. Going to a quiet corner was refreshing, so much that I drug everyone back up the ridge that evening for sunset and drinks.
December 4th, 2013
I think each run is the best one ever, but this one really was! A riddle within a riddle, using riddles as cues, lessons of context and grammatical structure G is learning in school. I thought about this course for almost a week, and rode it 6 times. It took 4 hrs to setup 2.25 miles, i had to be spot-on with the cues and the clues.
Its very hard to be Product, Dev, and QA all at once with no beta and a full production rollout. But i managed to pull it off a fuck lot better than Obamacare, they should hire me for $500/hr. I should have been a game designer!!
The riddle within:
Search behind the two horse pens.
Spot the lone saguaro that is covered in bows.
To find your prize dig under its nose.
Remember how in Doom each level would begin suddenly as the door opened in front of you?
Beckie: why is the Acria in the street?
Me: Cause i’m a genius.
nobody noticed how the first clue in the main riddle was 5 feet from where they started. note also how the truck peeks into the sidewalk so as to prevent easy access, but this anomaly goes unnoticed when you are reading a clue on the driveway! Evil geniuses are so unappreciated…
Behind the fire station.
right about here Evil Genius encountered his first usability bug. I thought the new home sites that were 100 yards to the left would be unmistakeable. tinyRunner thought she was looking for a lone saguaro. Like any good developer, I assure you this is a 2-line fix and blame the QA dept.
Jealousy gave Genevieve the shove she needed out of her funk over the riddle. Evil Genius upgraded the severity of his usability bug. Like any good developer, I blame the user. Beckie and G were never gamers, they don’t notice everything. Making things clearer is like, seriously, a 2 line fix.
both of them pulled the wooden bridge clue out of their collective riding-log asses. Though I did take Alana there 4 days before, just to help out.
December 4th, 2013
I knew a secret. My friend KennyB had just worked on the track, after 3 days of a once-in-5-year rain. He smoothed it all with a sod roller and reworked the back line. The ground was still moist and cuddled your wheels, the rocks and kitty litter had floated out of the dirt, and the surface was uniformly smooth and wide. You could almost ride eyes closed. I dragged the family there with the same aggressiveness I threw myself into the tacky hippers and berms. We shopped online, the only people who got hurt were the Chollaballs: raspberry for each child and a pedal bite to my shin.
Santa will be brining some littleGirl sized board shorts, xt brakes, and an upgraded derailleur. Not even 8 and she busted her second one riding the Sport Loop.
Alana, child of the half-empty glass, was having none of it. 10 minutes of happily putting on gear inspired 1 turn of the cranks and a rogue shit fit. 30 minutes later she was getting voted out of the family. 60 minutes later she was SpongeBob, cheerful without reason, looking me in the eye and repeating instructions, thanking her pads, jumping clear of the bike when instructed, white smile in a purple helmet and panting pink face.
4 months ahead of Genevieve. SAY IT!!! Its the only way you can believe it.