A Snoopy Philosophy — the Blessing of a Dog

“Life” according to Peanuts by Charles Schultz.

Snoopy and Charlie Brown’s conversation greeted me today in Marilyn Armstrong’s “What’s the Point of It All?” Some mornings I’m like Charlie Brown. Other days I’m like Snoopy.

More often than I’d like, I’m the human being on the left side of the dock — a morose Gloomy Gus. But I’ve most always been blessed by a Snoopy. A Maggie. A Sebastian. And, then, after Maggie and Sebastian died, a Barclay who looks on the bright side of life. How about you?

Sebastian and Maggie with Kay

Charles Schulz was a native Minnesotan. I never met Charles, but his cartoon of Charlie Brown and Snoopy sitting at the end of the dock looking out to the far horizon leads me to suppose two things about him. 1) Charles Schulz had a dog as his philosophical partner. Like me, he had a Maggie, Sebastian, or a Barclay. 2) He spent time in the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area (BWCWA), paddling a canoe through a narrow channel between the rocks, or sitting with his dog at the end of a Kawishiwi cabin dock . . . or nestled in a hammock . . . pondering the meaning of it all, and feeling more like Snoopy than a Gloomy Gus.

Kay in the Boundary Water Canoe Wilderness Area
Kay in the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area

“Yesterday I was a dog. Today I’m a dog. Tomorrow I’ll probably still be a dog. Sigh! There’s so little hope for advancement.” – Charles Schulz

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”
― Marcus Tullius Cicero

— Gordon C. Stewart and Barclay, Chaska, MN, March 14, 2019.

A Dog Day Pattern

Okay, enough of politics!

Time for something light, like a response to The Daily Posts challenge to publish something on the word ‘pattern’.

So, what’s my daily pattern, I ask myself. Kay’s out of town, so the pattern is different today. It’s just Barclay and I (or is it ‘me’?).

I get up early, as usual. I make a pot of coffee, open the front door hoping the newspaper’s waiting on the porch, pour myself a cup of coffee (four packets of Splenda – it’s bad for my health but I don’t care; two teaspoons of Cremora – made of corn starch, also bad for my health and for the planet, but I ignore it) in my special cup from our trip to San Francisco. Every morning I wish I were in San Francisco. It’s part of the daily pattern.

I turn on the MacBook Air to check for emails and find a text from Kay who’s in Charleston, South Carolina with her three sisters from Denver, Lincoln, and Charleston. Texts are rare in my normal daily pattern, but there are three of them this morning. I’m not much of a texter, though there are mornings when, though Kay and I are sitting together silently in the living room so as not to awaken Barclay, she will text me!

About 9:00 a.m. it’s Barclay time and Barclay’s pattern takes over for the next half-hour. Out from the kennel he comes, stretching his legs as though he’s been instructed by a Yoga Master, wagging his tail . . .  running over to the recliner where Kay should be. “Where’s Mom, Dad?” Sitting on the recliner with Kay is an essential part of Barclay’s pattern, but she’s not here today. He looks at me, lies down on the rug, rolls over on his back for a tummy rub, a brushing and the wiping of his eyes (Cavies have problems with their tear ducts requiring twice-daily depletion of  Kleenex). Then he gets his ball and drops it at my feet. Time to play ball – “Get the ball!” “Bring the ball!” “Get the ball!” “Bring the ball!” – until it’s time for a drink and for turning over his food dish to play with the food, as in throwing pieces of food into the air and chasing them down until he runs to the front door to ring the bell that tells me he’s ready to go out.

Anyway, that’s enough about my daily pattern, and it’s only 9:30. The rest of the daily pattern is not very interesting. After lunch we take a long nap together. We have dinner. We go to sleep. And the day begins again with an unhealthy cup of coffee and the dream of being in San Francisco. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat the pattern.

All days with Barclay and Kay are good days!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 11, 2017.

Stillness on All Hallows’ Eve

Kay in the Boundary Water Canoe Wilderness Area

Kay in the Boundary Water Canoe Wilderness Area

Woke up this morning with a song singing in my head. It happens more often as I move toward retirement. Sometimes it’s a hymn. During the World Series it was “America the Beautiful”. The music comes uninvited. Sometimes it seems to come from nowhere.

This morning, October 31 – All Hallows’ Eve, Halloween – the tune (without lyrics) was “Still, Still, Still,” the Austrian Christmas carol! It’s also our 16th Wedding Anniversary when “Still, Still, Still” (“Calm, Calm, Calm”) must have known what I feel when I think of Kay.

Here’s “Still, Still, Still” played by child prodigy Akim Camara on his violin. Look for the joy on his face.

Ora Labora

Katie delighting in Sebastian

Katie delighting in Sebastian

Today is the second anniversary of Katie’s death after a valiant battle with leiomysosarcoma, a rare terminal cancer.In today’s earlier reposting of Kay’s reflection on her blog, www.rawgrief.com, I quoted the last line of a great hymn.

The composer, T. Tertius Noble, spent his summers in the big house at the top of the wall of Old Garden Beach in Rockport, MA, one block from my grandparents’ home.  Only later in life did I learn that this favorite hymn was composed by the man in the house above the wall at the beach.

Here are the lyrics and an organ rendition of the hymn that flooded my mind this morning, as I gave thanks for Katie and thought of Kay’s reflection.

Come, labor on.  Away with gloomy doubts and faithless fears!

No arm so weak but may do service here; By feeblest agents

may our God fulfill His righteous will.

Come, labor on. No time for rest, till grows the western sky,

Till the long shadows o’er our pathway lie,

And a glad sound comes with the setting sun,

“Well done, well done!”

4:30 am Reflection (during my first few months of grieving)

4:30 am Reflection (during my first few months of grieving).

Kay and her brood -Katie, Andrew, and Kristin

Kay and her brood -Katie, Andrew, and Kristin

Two years ago today we said goodbye to 33-year-old Katherine (“Katie”), RIP. Today her mother Kay posted this amazing reflection. Click the link above the photograph for Kay’s recollection and reflection.

Below is a photograph of Katherine (she preferred her formal name in her adult years) and Christopher (“Chris”), her husband and best friend, during a family trip to Costa Rica in 2009. Chris, you were the best of the best. Payers for Chris Katie’s father, Steve, sister Kristin, brother Andrew, and Kay.  “And a glad sound comes with the setting sun: ‘Well done! Well done!'” – final stanza, hymn “Come, Labor On.”

Katie and Chris on Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

Katie and Chris on Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica