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.


Laoch of Chicago said...

Sad to hear about the ailing canine. : (

It sounds like an interesting trip, although long bus journeys always leave me hurting.

It would be interesting to hear more about your course.

darsden said...

oooh big {hugs} about the puppy dog, sorry to hear. Enjoy the journey and family best you can with your concerns with your puppy, I know it was hard to leave.

Kim said...

Glad you got of that office. (I want you to know it took discipline to end that sentence with a period and not an exclamation mark. My copywriting teacher said we're only allowed four exclamation marks a year. I used two of mine already, in my e-mail thanking her for the wonderful class, and she reminded me of that in her return e-mail.) I've really missed your blogging. (More restraint exhibited here.)
Have a wonderful trip.

Mel said...

So sorry to hear of Rufus' my medical eye it sounds very much like the time is coming.....hopefully he'll hang on until you get back...

enjoy your time with your family..


Anonymous said...

I've followed that road myself, although not in a bus. I had a wonderful year in SLC, and did as much exploring as I could. It's beautiful country.

Your words about Rufus' made me go look at my precious kitty and resolve to give her more time. She's only middle-aged and fine, but she gets neglected a bit now and then, and her time will come, too. It's a hard thing.

The older I get, the more I enjoy those with siblings - and not just because the care of an aging parent could be spread around a bit. (That doesn't always happen anyway, as I'm often told.) But the thought of having those ties with brothers and sisters - it just seems luxurious in a real, very important way.

Enjoy your time!

Leone said...

So sorry to hear of Rufus's struggles. I hope he is still there when you return so you can be with him at the end.

I hope you enjoy your visit with family. How lucky you ar to have them.

I will check out the book you mentioned.

Reya Mellicker said...

Change is in the air. No use fighting it ... if possible, embrace it. At least that's what I'm telling myself every day.

I know exactly how you're feeling about Rufus. I went through all that recently. It's exhausting - all the worry and love and wondering what to do. I'm sorry Rufus is in his decline, and so glad that you're getting a break from it.

That bus bathroom smell - half urine/half sanitizer - is really awful, isn't it? Beautiful picture.

Hope you have a wonderful vacation.

Mary Ellen said...

Thanks, folks! I appreciate your words of concern. I seem to be letting myself relax into being on vacation even though I brought with me a pack of work-related things I could/should do. Peter says that Rufus is holding steady for now, but eating very little. I expect he'll be with us for a while yet.