Friday, July 31, 2009
Return to Pocatello - changes coming
I'm writing this while riding in a jouncy, elderly bus along Interstate 15 heading north from Salt Lake City to Pocatello, ID, where I grew up. A slight taint in the air wafts from the onboard bathroom in the back. The wide valley is bordered by gray mountains and gray-brown hills, though there is more green than is usual for this time of year.
Back at home in Minnesota, the dog – who had been holding almost steady in a frail, elderly way – seems to be hitting a definite slide down: no appetite to speak of, seems very uncomfortable, shaky hind legs. He has had a growth or something in his nasal cavities that was untreatable, and this has worsened in the past weeks, pretty much destroying his sense of smell. I’ll be surprised if he holds on long enough for me to see him again at the end of this ten-day visit to my folks. Mostly, I'm weary from trying over and over to coax him to eat and from waking in the very early morning to listen to his uncomfortable panting.
Still, it’s sad that the spouse is left alone faced with making the inevitable decision (that is, unless Rufus surprises us again, as he has a couple of times in recent months, by rebounding). It would feel awkward, vacant, unhomelike, to have him missing when I get back.
Soon, however, I’ll be immersed in all things family: two brothers and my sister are there, my older brother leaving in a couple of days on a Harley trip with his long-time Harley cronies. My youngest brother is down from Alaska, just retired with a generous state pension at 54. I wish.
At work, there are rumblings of more disruption and change around the corner. A colleague is leaving for a new position in another collegiate unit of the university, a real advancement opportunity for her, and potentially leaving a hole that presents some creative possibilities for me. Another colleague in a different office has just left unexpectedly, taking a severance package, as her contract was not renewed. In our job class, that can happen to anyone at any time, and the University is facing another big set of cuts next year, post stimulus semi-reprieve.
On the trip today (airports, airplanes, bus) – I’m reading Krista Tippett Speaking of Faith and gearing up to teach again this fall (in my moonlighting adjunct instructor job), “The Spiritual Journey.” What I present in this class is wonderfully convergent with the insights Tippett shares in her book (part personal journey, part passionate defense of the importance of deep and informed thought to the vitality of religious life). For me, that’s very much what it’s all about. Lots of sparks of recognition, names to file away for further investigation, good ideas to share in class, from this book. Highly recommended.