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Entries in buber the dog (17)



The month of August is rich with anniversaries for me. Happy and sad, the notable days seem to pile up in this month of the year. Here are the ones that matter most to me right now.

Buber the DogFirst, the 23rd marks three years since Buber the Dog came to join our home. He came to us as a pretty mature dog of about nine years old, and has since mellowed even more, probably just due to the advancing years. Never a digger or barker or chewer, he just is content to sleep or sit in my presence, and ever when Kelli comes home, he comes to life, doing his doggy dance, petitioning her for treats and love. He is totally in love with her. The scenes I'm privy to are beyond cute. He knows when walk time is, but we can't say the word, so we have moved from one code word to another, and he gets to understanding certain tones of voice if uttered at certain times of day. We usually go for walks after 9 pm, and that is the featured highlight of his day after a day of being indoors while we're both gone. So he gets as cute as can be, as excited as can be, when we sort of get the dishes cleaned, or leave the computer, or put on a shirt or coat at about that time. He doesn't pull like a tractor anymore, and he has mellowed a lot on walks, often seeming out of breath (he is pretty fat) in a noticeably shorter time. We usually walk him off leash to give him a bit more freedom. Kelli likes to take him to the dog parks and give him a good half hour of being a dog, but he usually likes to come sit by her, or other people, and ultimately wants to get back on the couch with her, reclined like a lover on her lap.

And speaking of Kelli, we have an anniversary this coming weekend, on the 28th. That particular one is the one I have to remember—this year, our sixth wedding anniversary—but this year, something even bigger looms, and that is that we've known each other for 20 years now.

Yes sir-eee. Twenty years. If I do my math correctly, she was 13 and I was 16 that summer when she came strolling into church with her mom and immediately seemed like part of the family there. That is because they actually were, but a part that I guess I had forgotten about, or never realized. They had been in Florida for about seven years prior to this, their return to San Diego. The story goes that her mom Kay was my Sunday School teacher when I was younger still, and that Kelli and I would have been perhaps in a different class then before they left for Florida. I just don't remember that part, so I pretty much start the clock from August 1990. And here we are, 20 years later.

She and Kay cut an interesting image then, at least compared to the people I knew and understood in that setting. Coming in with jeans and tie-dye, listening to and singing folk music, doing their clowning routine (for real, even if less so here in SD), and generally seeming like old friends I had never met, they were a blast of fresh air on that scene, just as I was reaching a point of feeling spread too thin in church life, from doing so many things there for a year straight. Kelli, a pretty thin, long haired, tie-dye and overalls wearing, classic rock listening and animated figure, was so different from the rest of our youth group pack, most of whom congregated around the new wave and alternative music from the period, or as it was, the "91X" music, after the FM station. Kelli was the first person to make it safe for me to profess my love for Jethro Tull, and the first to accept mix tapes and copied CDs. This was big stuff then.

Of course it's not like I had designs on her then. We were church kids, both born into that congregation, both in the youth group and its associated covenantal group, the Shalom Community. In that setting we got to know each other by the safe space it created. That clearly paved the way for that kind of exchange in future episodes. She was the one I went to talk to about my first breakup; we talked and met randomly during the years when I was away from church; we produced a CD of her spoken word and my sound design; she remained a go-to contact during rough times; she called me to vent when we heard of Daniel's murder (he was a member of the Shalom group); we spent the night together sometimes just as friends who liked to be in touch.

Ed and Kelli at the wedding, on the way out of the church.All that paved the way for what we have now. Still a lot of hard work came after we found ourselves in a relationship preceding our engagement and marriage. The 11-12 years before we got together in this relationship were helpful but not able to waive the work of figuring out how to be in this relationship, at this time. What they did do was to lay a foundation of trust and a sense that we had an ally. Now we've been married for six years and together for over eight and a half. That is quite something that I am proud of, though obviously I can't credit myself alone, nor even her. That takes grace too. We've done a share of work, but lots of people do that and still don't have the grace that somehow zippers up the two components into a whole. Something about our lifelong history (20 years, anyway), indicates that we're on a path, longer and more twisting, than just as two people who happen to share a house together. I keep feeling compelled, drawn, to her as someone who inspires a kind of life in me that otherwise would not be lived. I can't help but feel we need to walk this shared path together. Maybe that is why I never even really "asked the question" of her when we got engaged. I just felt like the old familiar coat that you'd reach for, when nothing else will do.

After a decade of no-go relationships with people I thought I wanted to be with, or bombed out relationships that did seem to show promise for a while, I was in a time to receive someone like Kelli about nine years ago. Not that that was all smooth; the early years took some work, but the compulsion was that it was worth it. I really savor this married life, for all the heartache that visited us at times, we still find in each other an ally for a larger journey. I don't think it trite to say that the presence of Kelli in my life makes clear the presence of God in my life too.

And of course, the presence of Buber in my life makes clear the presence of Dog in my life.


Further Revelations From Dog

buber the dog on kelli's chest while laying in bed. undeniably cute, looking at her like his one and only love.Kelli and Buber, lovebugsI was looking into the penetrating eyes of my dog Buber today. Something about that experience draws a bit more consciousness out of me. Today I was marveling at how in the deep, dark recesses of history, in the early days of civilization, dogs were not the companions we think of them as being today (though their usefulness for work was being established), but people were not as alienated as they are today. I heard an NPR Fresh Air show that brought up the matter of how coddled our pets are now, and how pet ownership has grown since the 1960s (suburban expansion and the like) and conventions for pet naming have shifted from "Fido," "Spot," and the like to names that are no different than people's names. (I am guilty as charged with Buber, named after a specific person!)

It would seem that the trend toward leading more "civilized" life drives us further and further from our primary relations among humans while simultaneously trying to reclaim what is lost by letting animals into our lives. That is because animals could never mess things up so royally as humans have with the project of "civilization" itself. Even Jesus was plenty awake to it—he turned to nature and even the animal world to illustrate right relationship. Others of his ancient time, and of equal stature in the world of religious insight often realized that humans got it wrong, but could find the way back to what is good and right. The civilized world, the world of empires, cities, massive systems are out of scale and dehumanizing. Right now, for many of us it takes an animal to reach back into our hearts to the soft, nougaty core. They are the reflection of what we've lost, or at least set aside, while we set our sights on other goals.


Christmas 2008

By popular request! The NEW and IMPROVED family portrait!

ed kelli buber on the cliffs in ocean beachKelli and Buber and I on Christmas, down at Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach.

ed kelli buber on the presidio in old town We also went to the Presidio in Old Town. Had the place to ourselves pretty much, on account of the pouring rain.


It's The (Real) Economy, Stupid

It is cold, even inside where the heater is here but does not work. The lights are on for the holidays but the cheer has to wait still. It is me and the dog, both waiting in anticipation not for Santa—it is almost a week too early for that and he isn't really what defines Christmas around here anyway. No, we are awaiting the centerpiece of our home, Kelli, who is making her final drive down from her school now upon completing her final work in seminary. Buber may not believe in Santa, but when Kelli enters, he will be as joyous and bouncy as any kid who might watch the jolly man arrive in the middle of the night in this cold season. The poor pup doesn't know what to make of her coming and going each week, but every time she comes home he is beside himself with doggy glee. As for myself, it's like getting the living part of me back.

Three and a half years ago was a lifetime ago. A nightmare of a summer preceded her beginning of school, but I was glad that she was doing it, even if it was to mean a lot of solitary time for me. It is interesting; the summer of 2005 was a time when the world outside was doing rather well—housing prices were still high (though I contend value was low), and our life was in crisis. And now, all this time later, the world outside is in shambles and we're holding our own, even better than we thought possible. As soon as she is done with school, she gets a whopping couple of days to come down and then has before her a nine month internship at a hospital, as chaplain resident. With that comes a worthwhile stipend that puts us in a rather satisfactory position while I still sling taters and onions daily. It defies logic that we're doing this well, but for this, I thank whatever power runs the universe at our local level.

But I like to think of it this way. Kelli's work will feed the souls of people, giving the medical profession some balance as it is quite clear to that profession now that a doctor alone can't simply fix people if their whole being isn't tended to. So Kelli will learn to fill that part of the healing profession. I presently actually am a link in the chain that feeds people actual caloric sustenance and gives people a reason to gather around a table. So maybe it isn't so far fetched that we are in the place we are in today. I won't go so far to say that our particular positions are recession proof, but both are more essential to human life, and reside closer to the base of the economy than do say, a bunch of Wall St. financial wizard-grifters who are now seen to be frauds who deal in greed, hype, and fear.

We didn't just wander into these positions. Kelli's path is longer and perhaps more substantial but she realized before she went to seminary that she had been doing ministry in the secular world as an advocate for youth and seniors, educator in schools and churches, poet and speaker. What she needed was to turn those efforts into something that could bring those circles of her interests into focus, and to get a degree to legitimate what has long seemed a calling for her. My interests in social dynamics, history, psychology, deep economics and political science helped lead me to a family owned business that deals in the thing that unites all humanity at a deep level—we all gotta eat. Yeah, I am a driver, but each work situation can teach something and this one has many small lessons as I drive. The actual work has a certain few things to teach, but moving through town where I see some of the richest people and the poorest people in town is instructive in its own profound way. There is something profound about contemplating the differences—and similarities—between the rich people of Rancho Santa Fe and La Jolla, and the desperate people on street corners and doorways in Downtown.

In many ways Kelli and I have pursued our own types of education in these few years, with much more to do. What I cherish about all that is that we trade notes on our experiences and deepen our understanding of our own realities with what the other has to say. Reflecting on the economic crashes of late, it is sad that it will cause anguish for so many. But really, a deeper look at the world's economy shows how despicable and destructive it is. What needs to happen is for a more human sized economy to emerge, and one that is more holistic in its practices. But people fear the change, and the coming of the new. But at what real price, the success of capitalism as we know it? When all is said and done, people still need to eat, and people will need the patient pastor or chaplain to hear their hearts as a lot of pain gets expressed—the disappointments and grieving for loss of all sorts of things big and small. Having known some loss individually and together, I'd like to think either of us might have been prepared to speak meaningfully to another person, even if it was against our wills to ever have the words to do the job!

But in this season of Advent, I am just joyous for Kelli and me not just surviving her schooling, but really thriving in it. Her own schooling at seminary swept me up in all sorts of new understandings. I have said many times I am glad she wasn't just a business student, else how would one really have the chance to develop and look at the world a whole new way such as has been put before me? Some professions are rather stiff and boring, but I think we've both benefited from her seminary experience and its enlivening effect. For now though, I will be happy to just enjoy her being back safely in a few hours, and Buber the Dog will be happy to get petted all of her waking hours, at least until she is off to the hospital in another big adventure.


Buberian Trifecta

Buber, my black and white beagle-bluetick coonhound dog, has been on a roll lately. Last year a Beagle won the dog show on Thanksgiving day and this year a Pointer won. Both of which are of course floppy eared and floppy jowled. And to take the cake—the real Best of Show—he is glad that Barack Obama has won too, clenching a victory for those who are black and white.

All is not well in floppy ear land, however. Buber spent a couple weeks with an ear infection that afflicts floppy eared doggies. I was treated to the sight and sound of him shaking his head every few minutes for a couple days. He had been given a medication for what seemed to be a sore paw, so I thought that the thing had a funny side effect. Finally after checking his ears and finding funk in them, we took him to the vet again and plopped down a couple hundred for meds and treatment. He's much better now.

Viva Floppy Ears!


Buber's Two Cents

Buber the Dog wanted me to share with you the fact that he is quite happy that a fellow black-and-white has ascended to the rank of president. Even though he can't vote he is most pleased with those who read his little doggy mind and elected Obama this year. But, since Obama is a Rorschach test for everyone with an agenda, Buber is of the mind that he can expect more doggy bone handouts and extensive petting.


First Day Of School

buber the dog in the trunk of kelli's car, where he tries to interfere with her plans to go to schoolAfter a summer that spanned about three and a half months, Kelli had to return to school once more. This time, it is her final semester, but from this perspective, it is the seventh time we've had this experience of going our separate ways for about 16 weeks at a time. She commutes weekly to school about 130 miles away, and is gone only three days usually but this summer in particular, I know we were both anxious about it all starting up again. Buber the Dog is also anxious and doesn't like the days when he sees the rolling suitcases pulled out. He knows something's up. He is attached to Kelli like velcro, so he doesn't take well to seeing her go. (Heck, he doesn't even like it when she leaves the couch for a drink.) He puts on his best show to convince her to stay, including something I have heard of but not seen until today.

Unfortunately for the pup, he has to witness her go about 16 times each semester, but on the bright side, he knows she comes back, and on that day, he bursts with all the doggy joy in the world.

As for myself, it is an odd experience as it always has been. This semester and the last one were the only ones where we were more or less in the same situation in life. Each semester has started with various combinations of living address, employment or not, one dog or the other (Okua or Buber), and so forth. Kelli's schooling started in 2005 and each semester has been defined differently because we've moved so often and my work history has been so checkered. But most of this year, I've had one job and we've had one house spanning two semesters. While the rhythmic aspect of Kelli's comings and goings is familiar, the jarring part has been that the scenery has changed a lot, and stretches of unemployment on my part, and overwhelm on Kelli's part (schooling, and two internships) have left us a bit dizzy. We have fluidly shifted roles according to who is busy and drained; during the summer my work was draining so she did most of the domestic stuff and had a meal ready. Last semester, despite doing the same work during the day, I did a lot of cooking and stuff for Kelli and Suzanne who both would retire to their respective academic caves and come out for grub. Now, at the end of the summer, with Kelli coming and going each week we will probably find ourselves drifting back to that pattern for a while.

buber in the trunk, but kelli is kissing him to say she'll be back before long.But for Buber, he retreats to where Kelli's spirit can usually be found—right now, he's on her side of the bed, but he might just as likely be under her desk or in her recliner chair. He doesn't do his fussypup routine much when it is just he and I. Despite his clear preference for Kelli, he does make a good buddy when she is gone. He's a good dog. Still, Kelli is the center of the household here, so we're a bit adrift without her.


Deja Vu All Over Again

Damn. Lightning strikes twice! Avid TAPKAE.com readers might remember just three weeks ago when I wrote an entry on Black and White on Black and White Crime. Well, fuck me running, but it happened again, late on a Monday night. That is, our otherwise docile and sweet Buber Dog shot off like a rocket in pursuit of another black and white animal that maybe he shouldn't have messed with. This time however, we were better prepared, having on hand the hydrogen peroxide and baking soda necessary to do the business of cleaning up the poor beast. He has been getting quite a few baths lately. I almost think he is beginning to like them. You wouldn't know it if you witnessed the sound and fury on the first time or two Kelli washed him last year.


Black-And-White On Black-And-White Crime

buber the dog looking up from the porch on an autumn day. long shadows and low sun.Most of you have been introduced to Buber the Dog. He is a loving, sweet companion who usually likes to get grunty at meal time and walk time, close to 10 pm each night. Often, we give him a bit of off-leash time in certain spaces where we know he is more or less contained. Most of the time he is good about staying reasonably close. He ordinarily wears a Halti harness over his face when walking, so as to reduce his extremely muscular pulling. Most of the time he claws at it to get it off, but we walk on, even if he fights it. Sooner or later he has to move forward with us. We are used to his rolling onto the ground and clawing it so as to slip it off his muzzle, so we initially didn't think anything of tonight's exaggerated rolling when we caught up with him in the corner yard. Then when we got him back to get on leash, he reeked!

a skunk.This is Buber the Dog's newly discovered archnemesis, the Skunk. Buber was initially perversely attracted to an animal such as this (maybe because it too shares black and white coloring). We have reason to believe this might change—not the coloring, but the fascination. Buber found out on one midnight walk that maybe flirting with this sort of creature is not a great idea, and chasing after it is perhaps worse. Buber appears to have sustained a "direct hit" with the malodorous skunk-charming perfume. All the way back to the house, he was sneezing and snorting and rolling in the dirt. The sneezes were so forceful I thought he might sneeze himself inside out!

buber gets a skunk bath of hydrogen peroxide, dish soap, and baking soda. he doesn't like baths.This was actually Buber's second bath in the same day. Kelli was nice enough to give him one—tortuous as it tends to be for him—earlier in the morning. He was feeling all sleek and silky before "the encounter." He was even smelling pretty good. Since "the encounter" happened well after midnight, it was not a great time to cobble together the needed items to make the de-skunking cocktail of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and liquid soap. So Kelli did what she could with baking soda, rinses, and more applications of baking soda and subsequent rinses. His leashes were left to sit in a bleach-detergent bath, but smelled the next day. His eyes were red like hell but got better overnight.

The poor beast was still sneezing like crazy, but despite having two water torture episodes in the same day, he was a bit more compliant and maybe understood we had to help him out of his predicament. The good news is, we have a nicely washed, sleek and shiny dog now!


Ebony And Ivory

buber the dog in a desaturated photo emphasizing the grayscaleEbony and Ivory
Live together in perfect harmony
Side by side on my canine Buber
Oh Lord, why don't we?