creatures of love

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, your popular host, Mani the unbelievably clean, trimmed,  and super-brushed purebred border collie, here today to bring you the latest news, mostly about the guy I live with. You may remember me from such posts as “Dry Grass”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. Well, not much of anything has been happening in the garden, that’s for sure. It’s so dry, it’s dry. The guy I live with keeps saying he’s going to set a sprinkler, but it never seems to happen, so things are really crispy around here.

Even though it does rain in July and August, there’s almost never enough rain here to make plants flower.  Sometimes even to keep them alive. There are exceptions like the desert four o’clock, Mirabilis multiflora, but even this one is happier growing close to concrete, where there’s probably a little bit of water underneath. You can see it’s sprawling onto the driveway. The guy I live with says that having plants sprawling on the driveway “classes up the place some”, especially since the driveway needs to be replaced.(He doesn’t really talk like that, if you weren’t sure.)

The big news for me is that I went to the spa and got totally brushed, and all my mats were cut out. I got a bath. It made me feel pretty good. I’m going to show the picture of my hindquarters that the guy I live with posted on Facebook. I was okay with him showing a picture of my butt on social media. If he posted a picture of his that would be different.He said I was the first purebred border collie who lived here to go to a groomer, which I found hard to believe until he told me that his wife used to do all the brushing and clipping of mats and stuff.

It’s still really hot here so having all my undercoat brushed out certainly makes me feel better.

Speaking of feeling better, the guy I live with doesn’t, actually. He said that was okay, though. I hear it’s not a huge amount of fun having hot flashes and zero energy when it’s over ninety degrees, but that explains why almost no work has been done in the garden. The effects of the hormone therapy should wear off in a month or so.

I’m going to show some pictures of the inside of the shed, which the guy I live with built with his wife. She built all the shelves and things, and hung all the decorations and old farm equipment. Just to break up what I’m going to say here, since, as I think you can tell, this is going to be another post with serious things in it. Not all of these pictures are in total focus. The guy I live with suggested I title this post “cancer”, but I kind of didn’t want to, and thought that this title was way better. He said when he was first diagnosed with cancer, he had this vision of being in the center of a large, circular room, with hundreds upon hundreds of cancer patients standing in the shadows around the wall of the room, and he just stood there, looking at all the people, and the pain, and the fear, becoming all of that.

When the oncologist told him about the hormone deprivation therapy, and that a lot of men absolutely refused to do this, he lay awake at night for a week or so, fretting about it, but then something inside him decided to just go with it. He said it’s been a “trip, in the sixties sense”, which I didn’t understand. He tried to explain this to me. I didn’t really get it, but what he said was that people have a sense of their lives as being a sort of story they tell themselves, like there was a narrative of it, with the ego in center stage (I got that part’ we purebred border collies have considerable egos). When his wife died, a lot of that narrative fell apart. He still liked women (in fact he loves women), but losing the woman who loved him was utterly humiliating, in the sense of that being part of the narrative. Part of his ego. When the hormone deprivation therapy began to take hold, the guy I live had the sense that his ego was being torn down, like when you tear old wallpaper off the walls. He said that having this idea of the sense of himself being almost obliterated was so intensely liberating that he started dancing in the living room and kitchen. (No, I’m not going to show movies of this.) When the doctor asked him how he was doing, he replied, “Boundless joy”. Of course that wasn’t the response the doctor expected, so the guy I live with explained.

He also appreciated the fact that all of this was out of his control, so there could be no regret over any decisions that he made. He let the doctor do all the deciding.

Maybe the oddest thing about all of this is that, according to the guy I live with, the usual tidal wave of advice and criticism never materialized. He was waiting for all these comments about what he should be doing, or eating, that he ought to read up on this, what someone on the internet said could happen, how he ought not to feel that way, or this way, and nothing happened. That was just weird.

He really got into the radiation treatments, thirty-nine of them, though he was very disappointed that the tattoos he got weren’t cooler. When people asked him what was going to happen after this, his answer was that he didn’t know, because he never asked the doctors what to expect.
He just lives in the present, mostly.

The past is always there, though, as you can see by these pictures. But it is the past.
He was taken aback to discover that his gender was “ever so slightly bent”, as he put it. This was probably why so many men didn’t want to have this treatment, but it was all part of the “ego suppression”, for him–just like having me do the narration for the blog.There were sudden flashes of empathy with people in similar situations. The guy I live with said that empathy was a great gift, but sometimes came at a considerable cost.
Like the time he was downtown, and there was a guy in a wheelchair trying to get across the intersection, and refused the guy I live with’s help when he offered.
So the guy leaned over and said he recognized expressive aphasia and paralysis because his dad had that, and the guy in the wheelchair said okay, he could help, and so he pushed the wheelchair across the street.
He and the guy in the wheelchair talked about this as the wheelchair rolled along, and when the destination had been reached the guy in the wheelchair said thank you, that it wasn’t very often that he met someone who “got it”,  and that was that. The guy I live with said he cried a little as he walked away.Well, so, anyway, the guy I live with went for his blood test last week, and then went again a few days later to talk to the oncologist, who said that his PSA was negligible, and so he was done for at least a while. Something might happen in a year or so. He was extremely relieved that he didn’t have to undergo more treatment, at least for now.
The guy I live with asked the oncologist if he wanted to know how the guy I live with felt about all of this, and he said, sure, so the guy I live with said that it was sort of okay to have cancer, that it had him now, even if he didn’t have to go back for an appointment until the end of October.  Yes, he probably is kind of different, in that respect. (I think in others, too, but he would say the same thing about me.) He can talk to people who have cancer, and come from a place that hopefully makes them feel comfortable. Maybe a good way to put this is that when he and his wife were here together, happy, he would look forward to the changing seasons, and liked thinking that he was here in the shed at the end of July and that Christmas would be coming, and he and his wife would share that together (she loved Christmas).
He bought this card and tacked it onto the wall in order to be able to look at it now, in July, and think of the happiness he and his wife would share later. Like a signpost. But after she died, “the future” seemed like nothing but a nightmare. Nothing to look forward to, and a lot to dread.
Now with the cancer, there are like these signposts ahead, marking out the future. Checking and rechecking. And that’s okay with him. It actually makes him almost happy in that respect.
And of course he has his friend to be with him, especially at the times when he needs her the most (and vice versa), and he also has me, sweet-smelling and smooth as I am. And that’s how things are, right now.

Oh, except for the fact that now that I’m covered with about half the hair I was before, I can really feel bugs landing on me. That part isn’t so great. I get landed on a lot, on my walks. Why the guy I live with doesn’t attract a whole bunch of bugs is beyond me. I would think they would like landing on him even better. But they don’t.
I waited for the explanation but there wasn’t one.

Until next time, then.


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22 Responses to creatures of love

  1. Linda Meyer says:

    lots of great information here. thanks

  2. Cindee says:

    Mani, Your fur looks beautiful. I bet you are feeling lighter for sure. Hopefully cooler also. It never rains here in the summer. And that is good, otherwise we would have thunder and lightning and that would cause wild fires.
    I am happy to hear that the check up for your guy was great. I know that is a big milestone and time for a celebration! Have a great week!

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; it does make me feel better. It rains here in the summer, as the movies show, but it all comes at once and not over a period of a few days so it is almost useless for the garden. More of a psychological thing for gardeners who like to have summer flowers. Most of that is accomplished with summer watering, which used to be done a lot, here, but not any more. The guy I live with says thanks; too. He will always have to have checkups like this, so the cancer will always be part of his life, but hopefully not with any more treatment.

      Sent from Mail for Windows 10

  3. mjkeane says:

    Hi Mani, you look great after your spa pampering!! It’s good to do this sort of thing periodically. Hope your friend is doing something lovely for himself too. In his case it might involve trips to the nursery or fixating on catalogs/books about interesting new plants to try out in the garden next month.
    Your friend has experienced some intense life changing stuff. I’m glad that it has opened rather than closed his heart. There’s something precious about learning to live in the present and not focus on the past or future. Life really is pretty fluid and much of what happens is out of our control. That’s probably a good thing since we humans tend to mess things up, given the opportunity. Dogs are better at simply being.

    Oh well, enough serious chatter. Enjoy yourselves as much and as often as possible as we move into August and cooler weather.

    BTW, I found a copy of High and Dry. Love it. Thank you, Bob, for writing such a beautiful, often humorous, and always informative book

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; it’s pretty nice to feel all fluffy and airy. The guy I live with says it’s a very good outfit for taking afternoon naps. The guy I live with thinks about the past, a lot, sometimes, because things were mostly very good here, but having things controlled by cancer, even though it’s not measurable right now, is okay because it makes the life decisions for him. I guess that’s a way to put it. He also says he hopes you got a copy of H&D with color prints. He wanted the long first chapter to be something you could read with pleasure, of an evening (I like that phrase), but his wife’s watercolors were really the thing.

      Sent from Mail for Windows 10

      • mjkeane says:

        Yes, I have the 2008 hardcover version with the color plates. Stunning artwork! The photos are excellent too. But, honestly, it’s the writing that captures my full attention and interest.

      • paridevita says:

        The guy I live with says thanks. He has helped me be more entertaining, for sure. I guess the book went out of print about a year after it appeared.

        Sent from Mail for Windows 10

  4. tonytomeo says:

    Would you have noticed if I did not reply? Sometimes I don’t want to. There is so much that I don’t ‘get’, and I so hate it when people don’t ‘get’ what is so important to me. I hate that I so often don’t ‘get’ myself. Even though I do not understand much of what you wrote about, it is saddening anyway. Well, the liberating part and the butt and the spa are not saddening, but so much of the rest is. It is good that you can write about it without sounding so sad about it, but I suppose that your type of ‘people’ are good at that sort of thing. for other reasons, I know about dreading the future, but it is different.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks. Well, making a comment isn’t like a requirement here. He’s used to people not getting him. He’s used to people talking to him as though they had never met him. In fact that’s usually how people talk to him. It’s okay.

      Sent from Mail for Windows 10

    • Lisa says:

      I have to say, I love your “Sometimes I don’t want to.” I am so glad I’m not alone in that feeling. I sometimes think, “I don’t know what to say, so I won’t say anything,” but that isn’t usually the right thing to do! I guess saying something is better than nothing, unless of course you say something stupid… maybe that’s what I’m afraid of, so don’t say anything.
      Mani, your “butt” looks beautiful! I mean that in a Border collie way, as my not-purebred-Border collie, Boo, has fur and mat “butt” issues too!
      They guy you live with is good at explaining so much.

      • paridevita says:

        Thanks. I was at the spa for four hours and it cost $68. Not bad at all. And I feel so much better. The guy I live with said this could be a yearly thing. Saying nothing is almost always better than saying the wrong thing. Someone told him that prostate cancer was “no big deal” and at first he didn’t say anything, because the response he thought of was not terribly polite. He doesn’t say things like that, though. It’s so, so hot here. I’m ready for winter.

        Sent from Mail for Windows 10

      • tonytomeo says:

        Wow, that is more than I needed to read about butt issues. Besides, I don’t think the topic was Mani’s butt, I think it was . . . oh, nevermind.

      • paridevita says:

        It’s much fluffier now.

        Sent from Mail for Windows 10

  5. Tracy Perez says:

    Beautiful writing, beautiful shed, beautiful pure bred border collie. My almost purebred boarder collie was doubled coated and hated having his winter coat shed out so gave in and had him shaved.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks. I think I would be extremely miffed at the guy I live with if he had me shaved. Like he would make fun of me on our walks. He says he wouldn’t, but I don’t know. Of course I make fun of him all the time, but that’s different.

      Sent from Mail for Windows 10

  6. Mark Mazer says:

    ” he has his friend to be with him, especially at the times when he needs her the most (and vice versa)”…. Cancer, care, and comfort… Even after all of these years, we have not figured out who gets the most benefit… giver or recipient. Let’s call it a draw. I think that is why a sudden passing can be so devestating to the loving survivor; being robbed of the caring and comforting part.

    • paridevita says:

      Yes. The guy I live with’s neighbor watched his wife die of liver cancer for years. He and his neighbor would talk about which one was “better”, watching someone take years to die, or minutes. No real answer to that.

      Sent from Mail for Windows 10

  7. Another post that really got to me. In another post, when you wrote something about not worrying about things that are out of your control….I wish I could be like that. Maybe I would be, given a more dire reason that the usual daily things I fret about. Glad to hear the side effects of the therapy will dissipate. It is interesting that some men won’t even try that treatment. Too full of themselves and their man-ness, I guess. I see you as a better and wiser human.

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