And you know what, there’s nothing wrong with that.
And you know what, there’s nothing wrong with that.
This loss just hurts. Hurts on a visceral, cellular level.
I play Rush at least once or twice a week. Like Zeppelin, the Stones, Steely Dan, and a bare handful of others, Rush is a constant. I am either playing albums I thought I under-played upon release, sifting through live recordings (I have a LOT of live Rush), or just giving one of the classics a turn under the microscope. Peart’s lyrics engage me and his drumming propels me.
The memory is just a wisp sometimes I think it’s a fabrication. I was outside a party, near a lake in southern Saskatchewan. It was a college/high school party that we had stumbled on while staying at my aunt and uncle’s cabin. There was music inside, a raucous roar of guitars and drums. One of the kids said, “Yeah, we got our own Zeppelin now, eh”. This might have been the most Canadian statement ever if he had only said “sorry” somewhere in there.
Shortly after that I read a story in Cream about a Canadian band called Rush. They were about to release a new album, one side of which was devoted to a science fiction story concocted by their drummer/lyricist. In the article, the bass player/lead singer said he was tired of Zeppelin comparisons. Just because they played heavy music and he had a high voice it didn’t mean they were a Zeppelin clone. And I thought to myself, I NEED to hear this record. Science fiction and heavy rock with a singer who sang high like St. Robert Plant. Count me in.
So I bought it. And played it. And played it. And played it. That summer my usual gang of concert buddies and myself saw Rush open for Blue Oyster Cult in the crowded confines of the All Seasons Arena in Minot ND. At the time, it was mostly a hockey rink. Rush must have felt right at home. Despite not having the light show that the headliners had, the Holy Triumvirate blew the roof off the place. Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson ran all over that stage and behind them was this god on the biggest drum kit I’d ever seen. It was brain melting.
And so Rush has been a constant most of my life. There was a brief time in the late 80s/early 90s when I was back in school that I couldn’t afford to keep up on the albums. So I had a gap between Grace Under Pressure and Counterparts. But I caught up. And other than the long break when Neil lost both his daughter and wife months apart, so did Rush. The last time I saw them was in 2007, on the occasion of my 50th birthday. A dear friend had won tickets through the company we worked for and kindly gave them to me. So Carjo and I sat in the corporate box in the Xcel Arena in St Paul, watching the boys rip through an audacious blistering set. They were promoting their new album Snakes and Arrows. Most acts will play a few songs from their new album. Rush played NINE of them. And the audience, all hardcore fans, wouldn’t have it any other way.
The band retired in 2015. And now Neil “The Professor” Peart has left the greater stage. I am gutted. The music and his lyrics are such a constant in my life that all I can feel is this giant hole. And so I will close with the lyrics from “The Garden”, the last song from the last (and quite brilliant) album. You read them. I can’t, there’s something in my eyes.
Nothing like a Christmas hangover!
Now we move into the 2020 with hope and trepidation.
Here is Pippin, standing in the auditor’s office in our little City Hall. There’s a tale behind this and it isn’t just a white ball of fluff.
Tuesday we were in rough shape. Carjo had the second day of a nasty cold and I was crippled with a blinding headache. So in the late afternoon, I was laying in the dark of the man cave. Pippin asked to go out and Carjo let him out, then she fell asleep on the day bed in her office. Normally, he would have come back to the door, barked, and once of us would have staggered to the door to let him back. After all, it was below zero and not fit weather for little old dogs. So we thought.
Around six pm I felt better and got up. The silly chihuahua got on my heels but I didn’t see Pip. That was odd. I asked my barely awake wife where he was. She was foggy about letting him out. I searched the house. No Pippin. I checked each door to see if he was waiting. The little man was nowhere in sight. It was dark and cold. We got worried fast.
I bundled up and walked up and down the street. He has a history of visiting dog friends on either side of us but they were inside. I expected to see him trotting down the sidewalk, sheepish at getting caught. But there was no little dog wandering out of the darkness. It was just darkness. And cold.
I drove got in the Family Truckster and drove the streets of the east end of town (the idea that he would wander farther than that was unimaginable). The streets were empty of traffic, humans, and anything on four legs. I did more neighborhood wandering on foot. There was no sign of him. We went to bed hoping that someone had let him inside and he was spending the night safe and warm. We had to hope that because the alternative was unthinkable.
The morning came and a new set of worries came with it. If he got let out in the morning he would have come home at 8:00 am. Or 9:00 am. Around ten I posted a photo on Facebook asking for friends and family to keep an open eye and I got bundled up to walk around again, hoping I wouldn’t find his frozen carcass. And then Carjo yelled from the living room, “he’s coming down the sidewalk, he’s coming down the sidewalk!”
Sure enough, there was the little sonovabitch, trotting with purpose and swagger. He stumbled up the front steps and inside the door, all bouncy and happy. The chihuahua lost what little brains she was. So did we.
A few minutes later a neighbor showed up at the front door, asking if our dog made it home. He explained, “the dog is on the City’s Facebook page.” I raced to the computer and there he was, in the photo you see above. They had let him out to pee and he took off for home. A few messages back and forth, then a phone call from the auditor and a grim story emerged.
Around eight that morning, two city workers were checking on some equipment at a new gas plant being built three quarters of a mile from town. They took an approach that they usually don’t use and right beside some excavation gear they saw a white dog, on its side. The dog was FROZEN to the snow and had peed while frozen there. Pippin had obviously given up and got stuck to the ground. They picked him up and once inside the pickup cab, he thawed out quickly. By the time they got him to the City Hall, he was downright perky and friendly. So Pippin was trotting around the City Offices, making friends. Around ten o’clock they let him back out to pee and off he went.
There are a couple theories on why he went so far. He could have got disoriented in the cold and wind. Windchill was in the minus teens and it was an arctic chill. Oil companies pull workers off rigs when it gets like this. The other theory is that something chased him out there. That would be either another large dog or maybe a coyote. I can’t imagine this eleven year old dog outrunning a coyote but who knows. Whatever happened, he went across a very dangerous set of railroad tracks and into an area where he likely wouldn’t have been found until spring. It was only chance that the city guys drove by.
Right now he’s enjoying a nap in Carjo’s office. He has been outside to use the facilities but I have noticed he’s a little wary of going anywhere near the edges of our yard. So we continue to take deep healing breaths and give thanks to whoever was watching out for him. Over at City Hall, they have a couple dozen of Carjo’s chocolate chip cookies to binge on.
Sleep well little dog. You will get through this winter and we hope a few more.
I took this photo on November 22nd last year. Guess what it looks like today? If you picked “the same fucking thing”, you may be a winner.
While we are going to be experiencing a warm couple days starting tomorrow, this morning the wind chill was a testicle receding four below. Actual temp was six above. Those are January temperatures folks. It’s almost as if the climate has changed.
So I’m sitting here at the laptop, trying to do some actual indoor work. I’ve got this corporate blog that needs updating and I’m procrastinating. I have loads of book writing to do and I’m procrastinating. Obviously this is one of those days when I’m my worst enemy. I need some caffeine and then maybe clarity will come. The odds of getting warmer weather are about the same.