I’d like to introduce you to my little friends…

The boys at play
Brothers at play

Friends and new family members, that is…

While we have quite the cat already – Jack Kerouac – whom I introduced some time ago and can be found as part of Photography page’s gallery collection, I am and always have been a dog man…besides, Kero-chan will have nothing to do with me as he is wholly devoted to the lovely and loving wife, and who can blame him.

But that is fine by me. As a true dog man I can remember clearly all my dog buddies who were there for me all throughout my life. My first dog as a child was an old hound dog named Mickey. I remember with fondness how his tail would always slap at me whenever he was happy. And while all my dogs were great friends to me, my bestest of best friend of all was our last dog Shikibu, a tiny little snowball of Maltese magic.

Shikibu
Murasaki Shikibu
There are several reasons I am still here on earth after all the leukemia and lung disease as a result of the bone marrow transplant BS. First and foremost is that Universal Power Source of Infinite and Abiding Love we often refer to as God answering all the many, many prayers from all who love me in the form of my lovely and loving wife’s angelic grace and care, and a close second was Shikibu’s love and devotion to me throughout all that BS. Rarely could I leave my chair throughout all that BS, and rarely was Shikibu not by my side throughout all the BS…tucked away snugly, seemingly impossibly so sometimes, between my left hip and the arm of my recliner. Although eternally a puppy in looks and demeanor, she was an elderly lady when the cancer bug got me in 2009, and she was there for me through the worst of it. She died in 2011, not long after we all pretty much realized that I was going to be hanging around a little bit longer after all. She had many serious illnesses herself toward the end but it is my firm belief she held on long enough to know that I was going to be okay. It took me a long time to get over her passing; though I’m not sure that I really am…or ever will be. But recently I had finally reached a point where I was in need of more canine companion.

We knew we wanted a rescue puppy (it had to be a healthy puppy as I have enough issues of my own for my lovely and loving wife to attend to) and we knew we were going to be patient in the process. I did not realize, though, just how patient we’d have to be. I did most of my puppy searching through www.petfinder.com – it’s a very helpful place as it allows targeted search options. Still, I had no idea there are so many dogs in need out there. It took a lot of time. Always getting close, but never getting the cigar, so to speak. We’d find a pup we all could agree only to find that it was either too far away or that someone had just adopted it or any other multitudinous hurdles of a reason. It started to become tedious so we decided that we were going to wait until springtime to continue the search. That way we wouldn’t have to potty train a puppy in the snow. But a couple of days ago I just fired up the link on a whim and right away I came upon “Stella’s Boys” and that was pretty much all she wrote. We found exactly the pup we were looking for…the mostest cutest Plott Hound mix puppies you’ve ever seen

I wanted another hound dog, in honor of Mickey. One son wanted a Retriever for their loyalty and playfulness. And the other son wanted a brindle coated dog because of their unique look and cool name: brindle ~ Brindley …get it? And the wife did not want a horse-sized dog. All these desires came together courtesy of the awesome folks at the Delaware Puppy and Pet Rescue, Inc. Remembering the other pups we lost out on because of delay, I quickly filled out the online Adoption Contract and waited hopefully for the call back, which came on Saturday in the form of an email from Dianne, a hero and angel of a foster mom to the puppies, and many others, saying that we had passed the background check – a call to the references I provided and our local Vet – and invited us to her home to meet with the boys.

Yesterday we made the beautiful two-hour drive to Landenberg, Pennsylvania. If we hadn’t been on such a mission, the wife and I could have easily spent the entire day taking pictures, as the countryside drive was so pleasantly pastoral. But we were on a mission and as soon as we got to Dianne’s home and I saw all the cute puppies, I knew we were coming home with more than one.

And we did. And now I once again have my much needed and appreciated canine companion…thankfully so.

While I can pretty much guarantee you won’t be seeing many more, if any more, pictures of Kero-chan here, I cannot make that same guarantee about the newest members to our family. And while she will always be my bestest of friend and I will forever miss her, I’m pretty sure Shikibu, up in doggy heaven with Mickey, Kipper, Colonel Kish, Juno, and Sebastian, is perfectly okay with that.

Now whether Kero-chan is okay with the invasion…well, that’s a different story.

Puppies at rest
Brothers at rest
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Wiffle Bats

Wiffle Bats

Wiffle bats, baseball hats,
Touch football,

Flowers in the spring,
Leaves in the fall,

Climbing up the neighbor’s tree,
Swimming in the lake,

A mug of hot chocolate,
A barbecued steak,

Catching frogs and fireflies,
Angels in the snow,

Nighttime crickets chirping,
Thunderclouds so low,

Whistling with my fingers,
Chewing on some grass,

The seasons as they come,
And the seasons as they pass.

Wiffle bats, baseball hats,
Touch football,

I love so many things in life,
I couldn’t name them all.
 

From Poem Man

Let’s Pretend

Let's Pretend

Let’s pretend
That the world is new
And all decisions to make
Are up to you.
You can make your world
How you want it to be.
Where will you begin?
I can’t wait to see.

The world is yours. What will you do?

Let’s pretend
That math is zoo.
And monkey = 1
And tiger = 2.
Giraffe = 3
And llama = 4.
Subtract lion from bear
And you’ll get zebras galore.

What’s your answer for leopard + π

Let’s pretend
That ground is sky,
And we no longer walk–
All we do is fly.
Better keep your head down–
Looking up might hurt.
Cuz when it rains
It’s raining dirt.

If ground is sky, then what is Neptune?

Let’s pretend
That the man on the moon,
Was not a guy named Neil
But a gal named Soon.
She went to the moon
To prove her brothers wrong:
They said the moon is just for men
And that women don’t belong!

If you were Soon, would you make a stand?

Let’s pretend for real
That peace is at hand,
And that the Golden Rule
Is the rule throughout the land.
If we all pretend
Then the angels might sing.
If the whole world pretends
Is it still pretending?
 
From Poem Man

Holdin’ Toes

Holdin' Toes

Holdin’ hands is supposed to be special,
But really, anyone can do it.
Just grab a hand and don’t let go,
That’s all there really is to it.

But my way of holdin’ is a little bit different.
In fact, I’m sure no one else even knows…
Just take off your shoes, and then your socks,
Cuz my way is holdin’ toes.

 

From Poem Man

 
 

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Exploiting the Crisis

Rahm Emaneul, President Obama’s first Chief of Staff, was famously quoted as saying, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste” in response to the financial meltdown of 2008.

I imagine most would regard that quote disdainfully—a little too Machiavellian for their pleasant palates, perhaps.

But you know what? It is that exact mentality towards life in general that I have tried to apply to my life over the years, and I have been trying even harder ever since I was diagnosed with cancer and lung disease.

Because let’s face it, regardless whether your palate prefers pleasantries or not, the saying that we all know, every single one of us, that expresses so well about the horrible inevitables that life sometimes trips us up with is not “Flowers Happen!” or “Perfume Happens!” No, the saying we all know and have probably even declared from time to time in our sometimes horribly inevitable lives is:

“SHIT Happens!”

And do you want to know why we say it?

That is a rhetorical question because I know you all ready know.

We all know the answer because no matter how hard we try, no matter how much we study to get good grades, no matter how many hours we put in at work to make the money that we use to build our little nests for which to lay in our little eggs, no matter how well we plan and believe we are prepared for all the horrible inevitables we find in our paths, sometimes life can really stink.

And sometimes it can really, really stink. Sometimes life can be so smelly our noses cannot even become desensitized to it. Sometimes the smell is so bad it seems like it has become our permanent atmosphere. And in order to survive, we have to breathe it in no matter what, knowing that each breath we take is poison and will make us gag, or even kill us.

Now that is one stinky life, in my blurry view.

Fortunately for me, one of the side effects from all of the shit that has been happening in my life lately is that I lost both my sense of smell and taste.

Pretty handy when life smells so badly that you can almost taste it.

Shit happens. Yes it does.

Another less offensive way to those whose sensitivities are easily offended, and less poetic, too, of saying the same thing would be to say that life is nothing more than moving from one crisis to the next.

I guess how we manage life, then, is dependent upon how we define and deal with crises.

I am not sure how you define and deal with yours, but I define my crises as “inevitable opportunities” and, like I all ready more than alluded to with the title of this article, I deal with them by exploiting the hell out of them.

For instance, this blog is nothing but a pure and simple exploitation of the biggest crises that I have ever faced in my life.

I have been exploiting the hell out of my cancer and lung disease as much as I can. Hell, I tell you exactly as much in my cheeky, self-infatuated, hand-written blurb about me under my obviously intentionally depressing looking picture of me, used only to get you to feel sorrow for me so that you will be more compelled to read my exploitative writings.

But, there’s more to the exploitation than that.

I may sarcastically say I am exploiting my disabilities by trying to get you to feel sorry for me, but what I am really doing by all that nonsense is attempting to cope with my insecure feeling of trying step out in my new life as a writer and an author. It’s all pretty scary for me.

What I really mean when I say I am exploiting my disabilities is that I am trying as best I can to take advantage of the opportunities my crises have provided.

And the opportunities are many.

Do you think I really would have been able to pursue my life-long love of writing as aggressively as I am doing now had I not become stricken with cancer and then a chronic, debilitating lung disease?

I think not, so I am exploiting the hell out of my disabilities to blog and to facebook and to tweet and to finally publish the novel and poetry collection that I had never been able to finish before because life had always gotten in the way.

Do you think I really would have had the time to share each day and grow in partnership and friendship and love with my wife and children had I not become stricken with my diseases?

I think not, so I am exploiting the hell out of my disabilities by waking each day looking for new ways to love more and to be more loving and to continually grow as an individual.

I could give many other examples of how exploitative I am and how I am not letting my crises go to waste, but these will do for now.

And sure, sometimes the smell of the crises in my life are so overwhelming to me that I become numb and despondent from the smell, but those days, too, are nothing more than smaller crises that must be dealt with in the same manner as all the others: by realizing that no matter how hard I try to be positive and productive, sometimes it—my life—will just hurt too much and I am going to become deeply depressed and I am going to feel so sorry myself for being so unlucky and I am going to feel so resentful towards you for being so lucky and I am going to sit in my cocoon-like chair and let myself sink into a almost inescapable (so far) black hole of depression.

It happens. I get depressed. And I realize it will continue to happen to me from time to time until a cure is found for my lung disease.

But I accept that it will happen.

And when it does, I will deal with it by exploiting the hell out of it.

~~~~

Oh, by the way.

Now that I got you feeling sorry for me…

How about reading [download id=”7″] and letting me know what you think of it? ;)

Seiko

In Japan, today is the forty-ninth day since the death of my mother-in-law, “Mother,” “Okaa-san,” “Obaa-chan,” Seiko. Today is a special day where, in Buddhist ceremony and belief that on the forty-ninth day after passing the soul is no longer bound by karma, Seiko’s ashes can now be permanently interred. Unlike her funeral ceremony where many of Seiko’s family and friends and admirers attended to show their love and respect for her, today’s ceremony is a smaller, family-focused occasion.

How I wish I could be there with the family today to also show my love and respect for her, and to be closely surrounded by them all during this time.

But I cannot. So I think fondly of her and I pray for her and I pray that the pain of her passing will quickly ease for those of us who love and miss her so.

Seiko embodied and lived the values and qualities in character and of action that I wish I possessed as an individual and that I wish I had been able to live throughout my life.

I would have liked to have drawn a picture of her to include here, however, no matter how hard I try, I find that my eyes are too bad now and my hands shake too much that my efforts to capture her beauty, not just her physical beauty, for that she certainly had, and for which her daughter, my wife, also possesses in a very close likeness of her mother, but mostly it is Seiko’s spiritual beauty, which was profound and deep, that, regardless how well my eyes can focus or how steady my hands can draw, I am unable to, nor would ever be able to, capture in one of my feeble drawings.

So I share my loving memory of Seiko in a poem, a poem that falls well short of capturing the good and positive life that she lived, a life which touched and comforted so many in so many different, known and unknown, ways, but a poem which, nonetheless, comes closet to expressing my feelings and my love for her.

Seiko, may God continue to, and forever bless you with Eternal Peace, Happiness, and Love.

Like Incense, You Burned

 
Like incense, you burned
true, steady, reliably,
patiently purifying the world around you
with a bright, burning intensity and passion
and unending purpose
that only the gods could comprehend.

Like incense, you burned,
not for yourself but for life,
all of it.
You burned with love for each of us,
for everyone.
You burned with a love that transcended all boundaries
and all languages,
a love that transcended space and time.

Like incense, you burned,
and as you did
your presence permeated its surroundings
and filled it with your sweet soothing sensitive balm,
a healing balm,
a mystical balm,
a beautifully fragrant balm that will last and linger deep within the senses
and the soul of the universe
for all eternity.

Thank You Cancer

Certainly, if it were my choice, I would not have chosen to have my body completely revolt on me and crank up my white blood cell count from somewhere around a normal of 4500 – 10,000 healthy cells to well over 90,000 cancerous cells. But since it was not my choice and since this disease was chosen for me, it must mean that there is a reason that I am the chosen one, right? Perhaps. Regardless of the why, ever since the moment I was told that I have leukemia I have been thinking hard as to how I can best take advantage of the disease so that I can learn from it and try to become a better person.

Before I was diagnosed with cancer, those closest to me often heard me say that people make it hard for me to like them. I was, and still am I guess, a rather cynical person. But now, I’m finding that people are going to make it hard for me not to like them. One of the first things that I have learned since my disease is how awesome and full of love some people are.

Most, hopefully, are loved by someone, whether it be it romantic, familial, or friendly love. For most of us, the love is always there in various degrees: we tend to feel it more when there is a reason–new relationship, new birth, the holidays, etc.–but we always know it’s there even if we’re not thinking about it. Mostly, I believe, we just expect love to be there, like air. I, personally, have never spent one minute of my life without being loved. Unfortunately, I never thought about it too much–I just took it for granted.

However, even though we are loved, it seems that most of us, unfortunately or fortunately depending on your perspective, go through life without receiving unbelievable, repeated selfless exuberant acts and testimonies of love unless, maybe, we are lying in a casket during our funeral memorial. I, far from lying in a casket, have seen these unbelievable, repeated selfless exuberant acts and testimonies of love by my family, friends, and acquaintances–too many to list here–and I am very thankful for them. I am also thankful to my cancer for giving cause for these acts and testimonies to be expressed.

I still have much to learn about the disease that chose me against my will–and I still have much to learn from it. But what I have already learned has changed my life, which makes me look forward to what I have yet to learn. And I am very thankful for that.