Monday, December 31, 2007

I've been nominated for the Best Disappearing Act in a blog. sigh. I suppose that's deserved. And I am disappearing again. This time to India. I'll be back with a full report before Martin Luther King Day. Or thereabouts.

Happy New Year!

The 'Kan EWA

Monday, December 24, 2007

Cathedral of Volterra, Italy New Year's 2007

Tidings of Comfort and Joy
The 'Kan EWA

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bob Barker, The Venerated Elder of The Chow Nation, is going to go live with Santa. While I am deeply sad about the separation, I know he will have a good life with Santa as his life here has detriorated to joyless interims of wakeful unrest. He can't see, he can't hear, his rear legs don't work anymore and he is rail thin, probably with very brittle bones. Bob has welcomed me home for over 20 years, barking when my car hit the bottom of the driveway saying, Hey! I missed you! You're back! He was there when I came through the door from my mother's funeral and from the hospital where my dad died in my arms. He was there for the pool parties, birthdays, graduations, Thanksgivings, Christmases, Easters and Halloweens. As The Chows played, he would stand by at a close distance and bark, calling the play by play. No matter who came and who left, Bob stayed with me and is the one thing that has remained constant in my life. So he goes now to a better life, a life that he fully and richly deserves. If I live simply and with a pure heart, someday maybe I'll get to go live with Santa, too, but until that time comes, I will cherish our memories together and the good life we had raising those kids of ours. Eugene O'Neill opened my heart and helped me live fully in the pain and joy of saying goodbye with this tribute to his own dog:

The Last Will and Testament of An Extremely Distinguished Dog

I, Silverdene Emblem O'Neill (familiarly known to my family,
friends and acquaintances as Blemie), because the
burden of my years is heavy upon me, and I realize the end of my
life is near, do hereby bury my last will and
testament in the mind of my Master. He will not know it is there
until I am dead. Then, remembering me in his
loneliness, he will suddenly know of this testament, and I ask
him then to inscribe it as a memorial to me.
I have little in the way of material things to leave. Dogs are
wiser than men. They do not set great store upon
things. They do not waste their time hoarding property. They do
not ruin their sleep worrying about objects they
have, and to obtain the objects they have not. There is nothing
of value I have to bequeath except my love and
my faith. These I leave to those who have loved me, to my Master
and Mistress, who I know will mourn me most,
to Freeman who has been so good to me, to Cyn and Roy and Willie
and Naomi and - but if I should list all those
who have loved me it would force my Master to write a book.
Perhaps it is in vain of me to boast when I am so
near death, which returns all beasts and vanities to dust, but I
have always been an extremely lovable dog.
I ask my Master and Mistress to remember me always, but not to
grieve for me too long. In my life I have tried to
be a comfort to them in time of sorrow, and a reason for added
joy in their happiness. It is painful for me to think
that even in death I should cause them pain. Let them remember
that while no dog has ever had a happier life (and
this I owe to their love and care for me), now that I have grown
blind and deaf and lame, and even my sense of
smell fails me so that a rabbit could be right under my nose and
I might not know, my pride has sunk to a sick,
bewildered humiliation. I feel life is taunting me with having
over lingered my welcome. It is time I said good-by,
before I become too sick a burden on myself and on those who love

It will be sorrow to leave them, but not a
sorrow to die. Dogs do not fear death as men do. We accept it as
part of life, not as something alien and terrible
which destroys life. What may come after death, who knows? I
would like to believe with those of my fellow
Dalmatians who are devout Mohammedans, that there is a Paradise
where one is always young and
full-bladdered; here all the day one dillies and dallies with an
amorous multitude of houris, beautifully spotted;
where jack-rabbits that run fast but not too fast (like the
houris) are as the sands of the desert; where each blissful
hour is mealtime; where in long evenings there are a million
fireplaces with logs forever burning and one curls
oneself up and blinks into the flames and nods and dreams,
remembering the old brave days on earth, and the
love of one's Master and Mistress.
I am afraid this is too much for even such a dog as I am to
expect. But peace, at least, is certain. Peace and long
rest for weary old heart and head and limbs, and eternal sleeps
in the earth I have loved so well. Perhaps, after all,this is best.
One last request I earnestly make. I have heard my Mistress say,
'When Blemie dies we must never have another
dog. I love him so much I could never love another one.' Now I
would ask her, for love of me, to have another. It
would be a poor tribute to my memory never to have a dog again.
What I would like to feel is that, having once
had me in the family, now she cannot live without a dog! I have
never had a narrow jealous spirit. I have always
held that most dogs are good (and one cat, the black one I have
permitted to share the living-room rug during the
evenings, whose affection I have tolerated in a kindly spirit,
and in rare sentimental moods, even reciprocated a
trifle). Some dogs, of course, are better than others.
Dalmatians, naturally, as everyone knows, are best.
So I suggest a Dalmatian as my successor. He can hardly be as
well bred, or as well mannered or as distinguished
and handsome as I was in my prime. My Master and Mistress must
not ask the impossible. But he will do his
best, I am sure, and even his inevitable defects will help by
comparison to keep my memory green. To him I
bequeath my collar and leash and my overcoat and raincoat, made
to order in 1929 at Hermes in Paris. He can
never wear them with the distinction I did, walking around the
Place Vendome, or later along Park Avenue, all
eyes fixed on me in admiration; but again I am sure he will do
his utmost not to appear a mere gauche provincial
dog. Here on the ranch, he may prove himself quite worthy of
comparison, in some respects. He will, I presume,
come closer to jackrabbits than I have been able to in recent
years. And, for all his faults, I hereby wish him the
happiness I know will be his in my old home.
One last word of farewell, Dear Master and Mistress. Whenever you
visit my grave, say to yourselves with regret
but also with happiness in your hearts at the remembrance of my
long happy life with you: 'here lies one who
loved us and whom we loved.' No matter how deep my sleep I shall
hear you, and not all the power of death can
keep my spirit from wagging a grateful
The 'Kan EWA

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The No Duong Left Behind Tour
Vietnam 2007
When I sign on to ride my bike from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, I am downtown sitting behind my desk looking out the window at snow-laden trees in the park. It is January 2007. Hard to say exactly what motivates me. I can't hear the word 'Viet nam' without thinking about my classmate Tim, who came back from from Viet nam as a decorated Navy Seal, but never came back the same. I think about Joe Montana's cousin, Butch, one of the best guys you'll ever know, who suffers still from Delayed Stress Syndrome as a result of his two tours of duty there. And of course, I think about the 60,000 people on the wall, most of whom I never knew. Viet nam has been on my mind a lot in the last five years, because it was the heartache of my generation, a mistake of mammoth proportion for which we grieve still. And now our new heartache is that we find ourselves in much the same position as we were in the days of our budding adulthood; only this time, we know much, much better and yet, it has happened to us again. Read that 'Iraq'.

But I can't say for sure if this tragic irony is what leads me to email my credit card number to a New Zealand travel company on a snowy January day; I don't know why I sign up in a flash. But I do. And so on the day after Thanksgiving 2007 in Seattle, Washington, I climb on a plane to Ho Chi Minh City for the adventure of a lifetime. I have no idea what to expect; what lays ahead.

Just as well. Just as well...

The 'Kan EWA