Sunday, May 21, 2017

Goodbye to Cassidy

On Saturday we had to say goodbye to Cassidy. I really, really loved that dog. Still love her.  She'd been with me for 14 years, and she was family.  She'd been having joint pain and arthritis for a couple of years, though.  More recently her mobility had been extremely limited and she seemed to regularly be in varying amounts of pain despite efforts to control it through medication.
Even with all of this, she would still exert the effort to hop around the house and into the yard to be with me and the family.  Being with us always seemed to make her happy.  Being petted made her happy.  Being talked to made her happy.  Sitting in a warm sunbeam in the grass while we worked or played nearby in the yard made her happy.
These things kept her going up until the end.

Having been born missing a front leg, Cassidy always stood out, but the physical abnormality didn't really slow her down.  I adopted her on a trip to the Humane Society with my good friend, Jeff Wilson.  I called my dad at his office from the adoption center, I think inadvertently pulling him out of a meeting, to ask if I was crazy for adopting a three legged dog.  
"What are the drawbacks?" he asked.
"She might not like long walks?"
He just laughed and lent his support.  Hop-a-Long Cassidy came home with me that day.
Throughout her youth and much of her adult life we spent a lot of time walking the neighborhood, swimming at Barton Creek, hiking on the green belt, going to dog parks, and just hanging out around the house.  When she was younger she slept in a blanket on my bed.  Later, she slept on a dog bed on the floor, but still in easy reach of where I was sleeping.

Back when my band, Mono Ensemble, used to play at my house, she would sit right outside the practice room, wanting to be as close to me and the guys in the band as she could handle, in spite of our ridiculously loud volume and her sensitive dog hearing.

When Jefff Wilson, one of my closest friends, was unexpectedly killed by a drunk driver, Cassidy was a therapeutic and loyal companion for me, accompanying me to the swimming holes and hiking trails near Barton Creek as I spent months and months working through my grief.  We would swim in the cold water and lay in the warm sun, sometimes listening to music and sometimes just listening to the water, enjoying each other's company.

Amy mostly only knew Cassidy in her later years, but when Amy first moved in we all used to go for walks together on a regular basis.  When Amy was studying for the bar exam, I would come home to find that Amy had taught Cassidy new tricks and had been playing hide and seek with her (one of Cassidy's favorite indoor games) during her study breaks.

The rest of my family loved Cassidy, too.  She spent a lot of time with Ryan and Jamie, and really enjoyed hanging out with their dogs, Scout and Lucy.  My parents took care of her on many occasions when I was travelling, and Cassidy and I road tripped to see them down in Spring many times before my parents moved to Austin.  Cassidy always seemed really happy to see all of the members of my family.

She was just a good friend.  Some dogs are just happy to get attention from anyone.  Some dogs are skittish.  Cassidy was neither.  She liked people, but could be slightly wary around them until she got to know them.  She was a very intelligent dog (perhaps owing to the Border Collie in her), extremely loyal, and brave.  Having three legs rarely deterred her from much (although later in life the arthritis slowed her down), and she would, on very rare occasions, get into a scuffle with another dog if it growled or snapped at her aggressively at the dog park.  I never saw her get into a scrap with a dog that wasn't considerably bigger than herself.  She didn't like fighting, she just didn't like being bullied. Really just wanted to happily play with other dogs.
She was not only brave, but stubborn.  I remember jumping off of a 15 foot tall bluff once into a swimming hole at a spot near Twin Falls, figuring I would get out and go back up to get Cassidy after cooling off.  There was a happy cheer from the crowd of swimmers a couple of minutes later after three legged Cassidy, overcoming her trepidation, refused to let me swim without her and launched herself off the small cliff into the water below.  
Another time I remember a small boy approaching me at the Barton Springs spillover (a regular destination when it wasn't crowded).  Watching Cassidy clamber out of the water, he said he was amazed that she could swim so well.
He said, "That is amazing that your dog does that and only has three legs!"
Unable to stop myself, with a straight face I looked at the boy and then at Cassidy before responding, "Oh God!  When did that happen?  She had four legs when we got here!  Help me find that other leg!!"
The poor kid looked freaked out and looked like he was gonna cry, and I spent 10 minutes reassuring him that it was just a joke and Cassidy was fine.
Another time three hippie girls, dancing around in body and face paint and waving burning sage, told me they were blessing the creek with some kind of prayer or ritual or something.  They told me that Cassidy had some kind of incredibly strong karmic-cosmic energy, and they fawned over an extremely self-satisfied Cassidy for quite a while.  They were probably super stoned, but it was still a nice sentiment, and I told them I agreed about her karmic energy.

I'll miss sitting outside and playing my guitar with Cassidy for my audience.  She's probably heard more of my music than anyone else (I hesitate to say she was my biggest fan-but at least she didn't object!), and she used to jump up when I grabbed my guitar, hoping we would head outside.  She'd sit nearby and keep an eye on the yard while I played, happy to spend time together.

Despite being old, having three legs, and some pretty painful arthritis toward the end, Cassidy never snapped at or even growled at Raylan, even when he climbed on her or played with her a little too roughly (which we tried to prevent).  I think she barked at him one single time, from what I can remember, but even that sounded more like a sound of annoyance than a threat.  She could sometimes seem a little wary around rambunctious Raylan (hopping away from his curious touch at times), but she was also pretty patient with him, and he had some of his first lessons about how to be gentle and kind to other creatures while heaping affection upon her.

Anyway, I loved, loved, loved Cassidy.  She was a ridiculously smart, loyal, and loving dog.  

There have been various posts on this blog over the years that have talked about Cassidy and shown pictures of her and talked about her, so I don't feel that I have to prove anything now.  I just love her, and I'm gonna miss her.  I can't stop reflexively looking around for her in the house to check in with.  If I'm up at night after Amy and Raylan are in bed, it feels weird and lonely to not have her around.  She was a really good girl, and she'll always be in my heart.

I love you girl.  I'll always love you.  People told me that you were lucky to be adopted by me, but, in truth, I was so lucky to have you.  You made my life so much better.  I'll miss you.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Touch-a-Truck; Mother's Day

Hi!  Hope everyone had a good weekend!
Friday night I think we ate pizza and just relaxed.  I took part in a Twitter viewing of Escape from New York  that Ryan hosted for his blog, The Signal Watch.  It was fun, even though I missed the beginning because Raylan decided he didn't want to go to sleep.
Saturday morning we got up and went to Maria's Taco Xpress for breakfast.  There had been an article in the paper saying that Maria's was closing down because the property taxes on the place were making the operation unfeasible.  When I talked to the woman who took our order, though, she said she thought things had stabilized and that the plan, at least for now, was to keep the place open indefinitely.
Which is good news!  We like Maria's, and it's a sort of South Austin institution!

Raylan learns on his first trip to Maria's that the salsa is
a little bit spicy.
"I can't believe you guys almost let me die."
After breakfast we went to Touch-a-Truck over at Camp Mabry.  It's a really cool event for the kiddos, and it benefits SAFE Austin, a program designed to prevent domestic and child abuse and to help victims.
Basically Touch-a-Truck involves a bunch of trucks from the City of Austin, construction companies, fire department, EMS, etc., and the kids get to, well, touch the trucks.  They can sit in them if they want, and they're even allowed to honk the horns.  Local businesses provide treats and bounce houses and stuff like that (thanks for the popsicles, HEB!!).
Raylan loved it!  He loved touching the trucks and their tires right away.  At first he was afraid to sit in the trucks (they're pretty big), but once Amy got up into a dump truck and sat in it with him, from then out he was excited and wanted to do everything.

"These look like my toy trucks.  But they're really big.  Orrrrrr did someone
shrink us and make us really small?!?!"

"Everyone wants me to honk this one more time."

"So where do you need me to dig the hole, lady?"

Family in a front loader!

The helicopter was technically not part of Touch-a-Truck, but still
very cool!  and I'm guessing that the soldiers who work at Camp Mabry
probably don't really appreciate it on a daily basis the way that Raylan

In addition to touching the trucks, Ryaln got to go into his first bounce house (short-lived- too many big kids), play in an inflatable play pen, and run around an awful lot.
After Touch-a-Truck there was lunch and napping.  Amy and I exercised.

Saturday afternoon we went grocery shopping.  We thought it would be fun, since we had sort of a short list, to go to Central Market.  We were wrong.
It was just sort of a madhouse in there.  I like Central Market, but Saturday afternoon is apparently not the time to go.

Sunday was Mother's Day!  We got up and messed around a bit in the yard.

Raylan helping his mom water the flowers on Mother's Day morning.
Later we met up with Mom, Dad, Ryan, and Jamie for brunch at The Iron Cactus.
It was nice!  We had good food, and it was fun to hang out with everyone and celebrate.
Between Amy and Mom, we have two great mothers in our midst, and while we appreciate them every day, it's nice to get a chance to put a punctuation mark on it once a year!
When you think about all of the endless work and toil and worry and effort that goes into being a mother, there's nothing that really repays that debt like brunch once a year, right?

Love you, Amy!

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

So that was Mother's Day.  Other from that, we spent some time at home hanging out in our yard and playing with the kiddo.  I ran an errand or two.

That was the weekend!

Hope you guys had a good one!

Sunday, May 07, 2017


Hi!  How are ya?  Are weekend was pretty good.
Friday night was Cinco de Mayo.  We tried to go to La Posada to celebrate, but, despite the fact that we got there early, there was a huge line out the door.  I was troubled to an unreasonable degree by this.  I guess I've come to think of La Posada as sort of "our place", so the intrusion of all these interlopers one of our Friday night spots made me grumpy.  Momentarily.  We ended up getting something else for dinner, and going to La Posada the next morning for breakfast instead.
And after our breakfast, Raylan, of course, wanted to go to the laundromat to see the washing machines going around and around.

"I can't explain why, Dad, but this is important."
Later that morning Raylan insisted upon driving the car.

On Saturday night my Grandma and Poppa took Raylan for the night, and Amy and I went to see The New Pornographers at Stubb's.  We ran into our friend, Adam, at the show, which was really fun.
The show was really good.
Despite the punk rock sound of their name (which is apparently a reference to a claim by Jimmy Swaggart that rock music was "the new pornography"), the New Pornographers play fairly accessible, uptempo form of harmony-driven rock that alternates between being catchy, fun, and occasionally powerful.
We really enjoyed the show, and it was great to get to hang out with Adam.

Three toddler parents who all look pretty happy to have
made it over the wall to see a show!

On Sunday we ran some errands, and the Raylan came home and we spent some time just playing with him around the house.

May 2017 in our back yard.

In the evening I went to band practice, which was good.
Amy made chicken tinga for dinner.  It was excellent.

And that was the weekend!!

Over too fast...

Sunday, April 30, 2017


Pretty nice weekend, all in all.  Amy had to work a little late on Friday night.  I took Raylan over to Kerbey Lane to grab some dinner, and Amy joined us just in time to have a meal with her men.  Worked out well.
Saturday we went and visited Mandy, Donna Rene, and Spencer across the street in the morning.  Good to see them!  Saturday also involved a lot of errands.
Some more fun than others.  While Amy went shopping for make up or something like that, I took Raylan to Petsmart.  He had fun looking at the fish, birds, reptiles, rodents, and cats that were up for adoption.  
We ate dinner afterward at La Posada.  Raylan ate chicken soft tacos and some kids won a stuffed bunny from the claw machine and were nice enough to give it to Raylan, who was very excited.  Afterwards we went to one of Raylan's favorite places.  The laundromat.  To watch the clothes going around and around.
Somehow the weather changed from hot and steamy to cool and clear while we were at La Posada.  Miraculous!

On Sunday we got up and, the weather still being cool and dry, went to the zoo.

"Hey, guys!  It's been a while..."

"Mom, do NOT turn your back on the peacocks."

Sunday afternoon Amy and I exercised, and afterward we played with Raylan out in our yard.
Ryan, Jamie, and Dad came over for spaghetti dinner Sunday night.  (Mom was out of town visiting her friend, Barb). It was a really nice evening.  The food was great, it was nice to get a chance to catch up with them, and Raylan, of course, loved having everyone over (and only asked where Grandma was once).

Family Din Din

"Dragons looooove tacos, Aunt Jamie.  Also, this book has some
important warnings about spicy salsa."

It was a really nice weekend.  It went by way too fast.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Raylan Turns 2!

So it was a big week in our house! Raylan turned 2 on Thursday!  Amy and I I took Thursday off from work to spend the day with him, and I'm really glad that we did.  We had a fun time.
I took Raylan to his Gymboree class in the morning (usually mom mom takes him on Thursdays).  He had a really fun time.  There's a sort of creepy clown puppet thing that they bring out at the end of the class who sings to the kids.  His name is Jimbo (Gymbo?).  He sort of dances and sings.  I found him a little terrifying, but the kids seemed fascinated by him.

"You're no Grandma, but you'll do for today, Dad."
After Gymboree my Dad came over and we all went out to lunch at Kerbey Lane (Mom was volunteering at church).  We had a nice time.  Raylan loves their pancakes, and he loves Poppa, so it was a really good lunch for him.

Raise your hand if you think you deserve to be spoiled on your birthday.
In the afternoon, after Raylan's nap, we took him over to Dittmar Park.  He played on the playground and we walked their trails.
Uncle Ryan came out to see Raylan and brought him a birthday present.

"Walk this way, Uncle Ryan..."
I took Friday off, also.  Mom and Dad picked Raylan up in the morning so he could spend the day and night at their house, and I ran some errands to get ready for Raylan's party on Saturday.
In the evening, Amy got home from work and we went to Bombay Bistro for dinner.  We had a nice dinner.
Saturday we had a birthday party at our house for Raylan.  We had a lot of fun.
A bunch of friends came and brought their kids.  The kids ran around and played on Raylan's play fort and played with outdoor toys.  The weather was a little overcast, and unseasonably cool, but that was sort of nice, given that it'll probably just get hotter and hotter for the rest of the year.  We kept all of the windows open all weekend.

Joe and Emily with Amy.

Lizzie, June, the other Fite twin (sorry, kid- I'm bad with names), and Raylan
having snacks

Megan. Shelly, Kit, and Ryan

Ryan, Cynthia (holding August), Mary, Truett, J.R., and Kit.

Lizzie and Megan go for a slide.

Raylan gives a tour of Fort Raylan to Lizzie, Cynthia, and August


Anyway, the party seemed to be a success.  I think the kids had fun, and hopefully the parents as well.
Amy did a great job pulling it all together.  The Very Hungry Caterpillar theme seemed to impress Raylan, who happily pointed at the various decorations while pointing out that caterpillars do, in fact, have a tendency to eat too much.  And like the hungry caterpillar, Raylan got really excited and ate a lot (especially cake).

On Sunday we got up and went out to breakfast at La Posada.  It was good.  Raylan was in a really good (albeit loud) mood, still excited from his birthday celebration.

Afterward we went home and played in the yard for a while.  The weather was really nice.  I took some "turning two" pictures.
We also went up to Joslin Park.


"Mom, why don't you trust me?"

In the afternoon I ran a few errands and did a couple of chores, but mostly we laid low.

And that was pretty much our weekend!  It was a busy one, but a good one.

I can't believe Raylan is two.  Well, I can and I can't.  The time is flying by at an almost alarming rate, but I love watching him grow into his own person, with his own personality, interests, and opinions. (oh, the opinions!  Definitely go some of me in him ;-))
He is a really great kid.  He's cheerful, affectionate, bright, strong willed, brave, quite talkative, and very, very curious.
As a person who never even was sure he was going to have kids, I watch him every day with a sense of amazement and gratitude.  He's made our lives better, and he makes our extended family happy as well.
I love you, Raylan!

Now to try not to mess up this parenting thing...

Have a great week!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Easter Weekend Update

Well, I'm gonna start this post out with one more pic from Matt and Nicole's wedding from last weekend.  My Mom sent me this pic last week after I had made my blog post, or I would have included it.  I just like this picture.

This weekend was Easter weekend.  I came down with a stomach virus, so it was pretty rough.  Amy and I managed to take Raylan to ride the Zilker Zephyr before I started getting sick, though. That was on Friday.  Raylan enjoyed the train and got to play on the playground a bit.

Saturday I was in bed and feeling pretty much awful.  Amy was a trooper on single parent duty.
Sunday I woke up and felt well enough to get to church, so we piled in the car and headed to Triumphant Love.  Mom and Dad were at church serving a breakfast to people.  We saw them, but they actually went to a different service later in the morning.


After church we went home and I napped.
In the afternoon/evening we went out to my parents' house for dinner.
I was feeling a lot better and ate some food.  Ryan, Jamie, Matt, Juan, Uncle Donald, Susan, Judy, and Don were there.  We had a nice time.  Raylan, of course, had a blast.
And that was about it.  Easter turned out pretty well given how awful I felt the day and night before.

Thanks to Mom and Dad for hosting!!