Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

Tag: memorials (page 1 of 2)

Another Grey Left

I never met Greyhound Nigel, but I’ve been following his exploits and adventures on George’s blog for almost 5 years. I guess you could say I was a fan. He died last weekend. Maybe it’s weird to be so bummed out about the death of a dog I never met, but it’s easy to care about the people and pups on the other side of these screens.

The hardest fact of having dogs is that they just don’t live very long and yet they become such a big and important part of our lives. They are the friends who blaze through our hearts, gone almost as soon as we think they’ll always be there. Sometimes they go too soon.

So long, Nigel. The internet seems a slower place today.

A Grey Left Yesterday

There’s a blog post, one that made me laugh silly, of George & Amy’s greyhounds Giving a T. I’ve smiled thinking of it occasionally over the past 4 years, and I’ve been following Nigel and Mookie (and George & Amy’s blogs) ever since. Yesterday, they had to let Mookie go, the most painful and loving thing we can do for our animals when that time comes.

The internet is slower place today. Rest in peace, Mookie.

Friday Hound Blogging: A Grey Left Today


Why is it that the death of a dog we’ve never met can still break our hearts?

Today, Joey & Phoebe hand the blog over to another ex-racer who got lucky when he wasn’t fast enough.

Rest in peace, Vacume (aka Count Vacula).

Want to make a fast friend by saving a greyhound in Central Texas? Check these pups out. Or go here to find a greyhound near you. You can also go here to find out why greyhounds are running for their lives.

If you have dogs who need proven leadership, go here to find a cat.

Every Day Is a Gift

Thanks for reminding me of that, Fred.

The day we met Daphne her name was Fancy. She was huddled in a ball at a greyhound meet-n-greet. She was the smallest grey I’ve ever seen and with very little fur, she didn’t look particularly healthy. But the little neckerchief she wore said she needed a home. That was all it took.

Two weeks later we had a new dog. She was scared of everything, and she spent most of that summer hiding under an end table and sneaking to the bedroom at night. The first day, I had to pick her up and carry her outside when she needed to go out. I did that for a few days, but one night at about three in the morning, I heard her bouncing by my side of the bed, eyes shining and ears as up as they could go.

I took her outside, and she wanted to play. We ran around the yard under the stars and chased each other. Then she did her business and went in. After that she always told me when she needed to go out. And, for the past six years, I have gotten up at least once, sometimes twice, in the middle of the night to let her out. Every night.

One of my favorite things about leaving town is knowing that I will get to sleep through the night. But now… now, I know I will miss getting up.

I will miss watching Daphne tree the midnight possums and snap June bugs from the air as they swarm around the porch lights. I will miss hearing the midnight songs of unmated mockingbirds as they trill through the spring nights. I will miss the distant sound of trains that carries across the cool autumn air. I will miss the coyotes I sometimes hear howling in the distance.

If not for her, I’d have missed these things. That’s one things animals do for us: they fill our lives with the unexpected.

Over the years, Daphne grew a beautiful blue fawn brindle coat, thus saving us from having to have a mostly hairless dog. She grew to be playful, quirky, and the laziest animal I’ve ever known, but when she wanted attention or wanted to play, she would wrestle with me like no other dog I’ve had.

I don’t think I ever saw her walk. She preferred to run everywhere she went, glomping along with a footfall surprisingly loud for such a small greyhound. She made weird noises, and only barked at night when there was wildlife in the yard that needed a good treeing.

When Zephyr died, Daphne assumed her rightful role as the alpha dog, though she was a laid back alpha. She never learned to like walks or car rides or going anywhere for that matter, but in the house and in the yard, she was boss. She even overcame her fear of strangers, running to the door when people came over.

We just let her be the dog she wanted to be, and I think it made her happy.

Last Friday, we learned she had cancer. We brought her home for a few more of those precious days. She wouldn’t run anymore, instead walking slowly. She mostly just wanted to hop up on the couch and curl up beside us, resting her head in our laps as we read or watched TV. She still ate a little, but yesterday she took a sudden turn for the worse.

I left work early because I just had a feeling I should. When I got home, I found her on her bed with Simon the cat lying near her. She obviously wasn’t feeling well, and she’d thrown up a lot. Knowing it was time, I called the vet.

R came home shortly after, and we sat with Daphne on her bed while we waited for the vet. Joey and Phoebe and Simon even joined the vigil. When it was time, she passed peacefully in her home, on her bed, surrounded by her people.

We’ll miss our big Daph terribly, but as with the others who went before, I know it won’t be long before thinking about her makes us smile rather than cry.

And somewhere, at the great greyhound meet-n-greet in the sky, Zephyr is surely sniffing her old friend’s butt and saying, “Come on. The squirrels are this way…”

Thanks to y’all who sent well wishes.

Update: Thanks, Fred, for letting Daphne roam the marbled halls of Ironicus Maximus today.

Want to make a fast friend by saving a greyhound in Central Texas? Check these pups out. Or go here to find a greyhound near you. You can also go here to find out why greyhounds are running for their lives.

If you have dogs who need proven leadership, go here to find a cat.

So Long, Molly

When I think of Molly Ivins, I think of the importance of laughing in the face of tragedy. That’s not what she was necessarily about, but two things come to mind when I think of her…

I listened to her critique the language of George W one September morning on my way to work. It was sunny and beautiful and I sat in the parking lot at school while she finished up. I went in laughing at her jokes and disgusted with our president. Later, that Tuesday had turned into 9-11 and I drove home wondering if I’d ever laugh like that again. But then, I remembered what she said – since forgotten – and laughed. It was probably the last time I laughed at Bush with real humor and not as a defense mechanism.

Jump to November 2006. We were fortunate to go hear Molly Ivins lecture about the death of journalism. You could tell it wasn’t easy for her, but she had the audience at Hogg Auditorium laughing as she shared some her best stories: the gang pluck incident, her first murder (covered, not committed, she pointed out). She talked about the need for locality in newspapers and how a good newspaper had to be of its community.

She made us laugh; she made us think, and it was easy to see she was fighting hard, that she was losing, that she damn sure wasn’t going to give up. Being a Texas progressive taught her to fight hard and do it with a smile, and it sounds like that’s how she fought cancer.

It was a weird night, and a week later a friend of ours lost his own battle against cancer. These things are all mixed up for me now, blended together into the swirl of memory, but one thing stands out when I think of Molly Ivins: Laugh. No matter what.

Links to other blogs remembering Ivins: In the Pink Texas, Off the Kuff, PinkDome, Bad Astronomy Blog, Brains and Eggs, Capitol Annex, Eye on Williamson County, Burnt Orange Report

Update: In the comments, Jessica suggested that this post wasn’t complete without some links to Ivins’ writing. Jessica is right, so here are some links:

Let’s Watch a Carl

Note: This post is part of the Carl Sagan Memorial Blog-a-Thon in honor of the tenth anniversary of Sagan’s death.

When I was a kid in DC, I used to love visiting the Air & Space Museum. I collected everything I could get from NASA and thrilled to the images that came back from the Vikings, Pioneers, and Voyagers. I also watched Cosmos even though I didn’t understand half of what Dr. Sagan was talking about.

What I did understand, what came through loud and clear, was that sense of wonder. That awareness that there were whole worlds happening out there. Here was a man who was humbled and in awe of this grand universe of which we’re only a small part. But here, too, was a man who wanted to know all the mysteries of the universe, who seemed to be seeking knowledge for its own sake and yet possessed of a desire to share that knowledge as if in sharing it he could fill us all with the kind of wonder that makes one recognize the preciousness of life.

I gained much from joining Carl on the deck of the Ship of the Imagination over the years. I found a love for knowing, not to be a know-it-all or to amuse friends with an impressive command of trivia, but for the kind of knowledge that fills the soul, fires the imagination, and makes us whole.

As an adult, I read Cosmos and Billions & Billions and was struck by not just his passion for scientific discovery but by his compassion for his fellow beings. One thing he said or wrote (I can’t remember) that has always stayed with me was something to the effect of “if we find life on Mars, then we must leave and not go back because then Mars would belong to the Martians.” It’s this desire for knowledge, this thrill of exploration tempered by a profound respect for and love of life that I most admired about Carl Sagan.

There’s another Carl connection in my life. When I was first getting to know the woman I would later marry, we found ourselves in a video store uninspired by the shelves of recent releases. Finally, she said, “Let’s watch a Carl.”

“A Carl?”

“You know. Cosmos. I love that stuff.”

I couldn’t believe it. Something in me knew that I’d found the person I wanted to share my life with. Here was someone who was as moved by the vastness and wonder of the universe as me. Someone who had gained at least a part of that from Carl Sagan.

I hadn’t seen Cosmos in years, but we rented “Blues for a Red Planet” and fell in love cruising with Carl on the Ship of the Imagination.

Thanks, Carl.

So Long, Governor Ann

The first time I voted was in 1990, and I voted for Ann Richards.

My introduction to political awareness came when I was a freshman at UT and I decided to go to a rally for her. Among other groups, the university lesbian club was there to demonstrate their support, and a bunch of them were dancing around topless, a breast fest as my roommate called it.

We stuck around.

I was impressed by her quick wit, her tell-it-like-it-is honesty and her desire to make Texas truly great. The last time I voted for her, was also the first of many opportunities I had to vote against Bush. It was truly sad to see her torn down by the Bush machine.

Late one spring night in 1995, a few months after the start of the Bush era, a buddy of mine and I were sitting in my car outside the 7-11 on Lamar and 9th. It was probably about 10:30 or so and my then-girlfriend, now wife, was inside.

While waiting in the car we saw the 7-11 door open and out walked Governor Ann with a super giant big ultra double gulp (you thought I was going to say hairdo, didn’t you) and a bag of Doritos.

We waved frantically like a couple of idiots until she glanced over. She grinned and waved back at us. We already missed our old governor even after only a few months.

Ann Richards was the last of the great Texas Democrats, the last decent governor we had.

Here was a governor. When comes such another?

More tributes at: Capitol Annex (plus a good round up), Firedoglake, In The Pink Texas (and another one), I’m Not One to Blog, but…, and Burnt Orange Report.

Weekend Cat Blogging: Goodbye, Little Man


On Friday morning, we learned that Morrison had cancer. He’d been vomiting for a few days, and when we took him in to see the internist who had been treating his diabetes, she couldn’t hear his heartbeat because of a massive tumor. There was another one in his sinus, and she said that the best treatment would only buy him a few painful weeks if it didn’t kill him outright. She couldn’t believe he could even still breathe without oxygen.

Our little guy deserved better, and we couldn’t bear the thought of him suffering so we decided to say goodbye and euthanize him then. It’s hard to say goodbye to old friends who are such a part of the family. Morrison was my wife’s cat for two years before she met me so he really was there at the beginning. Fortunately for me he liked me as much as I liked him.

I went from being a strict dog person to a dog and cat person over the eleven years that I lived with Morrison. There are many things that I will miss such as his coming to wake us up in the morning, his unique trick of petting his face with his back paw, the way he used to lay there and chew on the dogs’ nylabones that were almost as big as him, his habit of knocking keys off the counter and looking at you like he really wasn’t trying to hit the dogs, and the way he always soldiered on despite arthritis, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and all kinds of other issues.

It was a hard two years for him, but he was never unhappy, never in pain, and always a great friend.

We’ll miss him terribly, but always cherish the time we had with him.

Update: My wife has a beautiful post about him on her blog. And a cute picture as well.

So Long, Back Room

One of the first shows I ever saw in Austin was at the Back Room. The Godfathers (of “Birth, School, Work, Death” fame) were playing sometime either in ’88 or ’89. I had just moved here and was only starting to realize that Austin was a place where I could easily see some of my favorite bands and discover new ones.

The Godfathers show was pretty fun. They were shooting a video and let the first few hundred fans come in early for the shoot. We were near the front of the line and got to participate. They played one song several times and asked the crowd to really get into it. We did. Then they let the rest of the crowd in for the real set and we rocked out with the Godfathers in all their pinstripe-suited punk rock glory.

Over the years, I caught the occasional Back Room show and when I lived in South Austin, it was only a short walk away. The last show I saw there was Spindrift sometime in the mid ’90s. It was an off night for them, but the beer was, as always, cold and cheap.

The Back Room was mainly known as a metal club, and that really wasn’t my scene, so I never got to know it as I did the other late greats: Liberty Lunch, Electric Lounge, Steamboat, but it was part of my introduction to the world of Austin music and so I’m sad to read today that it will be closing its doors.

Weekend Hound Blogging: Nigel George

This week we remember Nigel “Bubba” George, my parents’ dog, who after a long and happy life went off on Friday to chase after the great tennis ball in the sky. My parents’ dogs have always outlived their expected lifespans and Nigel, who was a big guy, was no exception.


Nigel was a lover of opera. He enjoyed standing by the stereo speakers, waiting for the tenors to start singing and then he would howl sing along. He liked hiking, but had to be carried across creeks so his feet would stay dry. His favorite game was ball. And don’t forget Nigel’s cameo appearance in this blog a few months ago…

Nigel and the Bone Box

Dogs and cats really become part of the family and so it’s hard to see them go, but it’s good to remember that he was happy and always up to something to make people laugh. Take care, Bubba, and here’s hoping your feet stay dry.

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