She Makes Me Wonder

Bailey continues to make me wonder.

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I have this carrier.  You know, the ones with a door on the front and a top that opens. What one uses to transport a small animal to and from the Vet’s clinic.

I took Bailey to the Vet on Monday morning in that carrier, and she objected to being confined in that small space, and did so quite loudly, all the way to the clinic. Once there she quieted down, but still was not happy.

When I picked her up on Wednesday afternoon, I put her in the same carrier for the trip home, and again she objected loudly and longly, all the way home.

Once home, I released her from her “prison,” and left the carrier sitting on the living room floor. She was happy to be out, and home.

This afternoon, I found her sleeping in the carrier. I was surprised, but thought, “She must be comfortable, so leave her alone.” I did. She didn’t even come out when I came home later.

She stayed put unit I got out some of her kidney friendly food, which she has taken a liking to. She came out, ate a good amount, which made me happy, and then she went back to the carrier to lay down.

I figured, when I got her home from the Vet, she would not want to go near that carrier again, but she fooled me today. As I write this, she is once again curled up in the same carrier she hated just a few short days ago.

She continues to make me wonder at the wonder of it all.

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Bailey, a Tale of a Cat

First things first. Thank you all for your wishes and thoughts while Bailey was enduring her visit to the cat hospital. She is laying next to the computer on the table as I write this, and I think she appreciated all who wished her well.


Secondly, the clinical aspect of what happened. I took her in because she had lost some weight, and wasn’t eating or drinking enough. In retrospect, I tell myself, I should have taken her in earlier, but didn’t.

Now then, they first looked at a Complete Blood Count, along with a chemistry panel, and it showed them exactly what her problem was, kidney disease.

When I met with her doctor, she showed me the numbers, and I felt like I’d been there before. The CBC is the same thing they do with humans, but the ranges on everything are different for cats. What is clear, is that when a range is exceeded, they see the problem.

With Bailey, her Creatine and BUN numbers were above the range. Those numbers are key indicators of kidney function, something I learned a long time ago when reading Joanie’s blood work numbers. In Joanies’ case,for instance, her Creatinine was high enough for several years that they wouldn’t give her contrast when they were going to do a CT scan because the contrast itself would be hard on the kidneys.

I went through all of Bailey’s numbers they found on the first day, and after they had spent well over a day and a half giving her an IV and flushing her system, and getting her to eat, they checked her numbers again, and this time they were within an acceptable range, giving me some measure of comfort.

So, right now, on the Doctor’s recommendation, I am trying to get her on a kidney friendly mix of food, and so far she seems to have taken to it. Since she got home last night, she has been eating well, and that gives me some hope that we can control the progression of any problems. Even Brandy seems to have a taste for the same food, which can’t but help her as well. I didn’t know until today that kidney problems are fairly common in house cats, and Siamese are one of the breeds mentioned in the list.

Now then, as to my feelings around this event. This is not the first time I have taken a cat to the vet, and had to leave her there. In 2007 I had to take Muffin to the vet after they found a severe infection. That was about the same time that Joanie was going through a difficult time, and so while I loved that little fur ball, my main concern was Joanie, and how she would deal with the fact we would have to put her down. I wrote about the loss of both Muffin and Peaches in Where The Popsicles Are, and how Bailey and Brandy came to our home.

This time, dealing with a sick kitty was different for me, and harder. One of my friends on FaceBook saw it. Laurie Kaldor-Bull wrote on one post: “I’m sure that part of your suffering now is remembering.”

She was right.

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May 10, 2016

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Birthdays count years.
They are markers we use
To measure the time of our lives.

From the first to the last,
They tell the world a person was,
And how long they were.

Birthdays tell the world a person was,
But they don’t tell why a person mattered.
That’s a job for the people they touched.

It’s Joanie’s birthday today.
This is the day that marks her time
From the first to the last.
She would have been 66.

Tonight, I will be alone, but not totally.
I will have a Martini and remember, why she mattered
To so many others, and to me.

Bailey and Brandy will get treats.
They won’t know why, or wonder,
But I will tell them, “We’re having a birthday party.”

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April 9, 2016

Today marks the eighth anniversary of the night Joanie died. All of us have dates in our lives that we can’t ignore, nor wish to. The poem that follows was written April 9, 2014, and I posted it on my blog. Some of you may have seen it before, others may not have. Anyway, as I mark this day, I decided to repost it.

She Danced.

She danced with death

All of those clouded years.

Never asking, never knowing,


She danced, and when the music changed,

She never asked the orchestra for a different tune.

The longer she danced,

Her feet gave rhythm to the music of her soul


In the end she danced into the light

Never asking, never knowing,




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She Was a Friend




She wasn’t a famous person, so those of you reading this won’t recognize her name.

You won’t recognize her from these photos either.

But Bernice Stensgaard was a friend of mine, and she died the other day.

She was a gentle woman, who lived a long and full life, raising two sons, who she was proud of, and had every right to be. She was 90 when the curtain rang down on her life in Moorhead, Minnesota.

I first came to know here when my wife, at the time, Mary Ann, went to work at Moorhead North Junior. Bernice worked with her at the library.

It was 1969, and it seems like yesterday.


It’s cold tonight, in Bismarck. The temperature is sinking, and the days ahead don’t give much hope for relief, and so as I sit here in my little tin shack, with my two friends, Bailey and Brandy, the memories of time spent with her come rushing back as if I’m watching some long ago family film because, for all of those years, she was part of our family.

It’s cold tonight, but thinking of Neecer seems to warm the evening chill.

The years between 1969 and late 1976, were years when we enjoyed her company, the company of her two sons, Dale and Daryl, and where laughter was the order of the day. We got to know her family, and they in turn got to know many members of our families.

We did some traveling together as well. A trip with Bernice and Daryl to Winnipeg, and a long road trip to the East coast with Bernice, where we hit Minneapolis, Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York, Connecticut, Boston and back again. It was a wonderful experience for the three of us, and I still have all of the photos I took during that trip.

In 1974, Bernice agreed to be a Godparent to our son Ryan. The other Godparent was a young Priest from Nativity Church in Fargo, Jack Davis. I always thought it was an interesting situation. First of all, Mary Ann was Catholic, and I was Lutheran. Now you have Bernice, a Lutheran, and Father Davis, a Catholic, as Godparents for our son, and I thought it was perfect.

I changed things in late 1976, when I initiated a separation from Mary Ann, and as anyone who has ever gone through a divorce knows, that act upsets the dynamics of many relationships with our mutual friends. With Bernice, that didn’t happen.
I knew she was a major support for Mary Ann during those late October days, but she was never judgemental, and over time, my relationship with Bernice, never changed, and that was something that I’ve never forgotten.

Those were some difficult years for me, but whenever I stopped by to see Bernice, I felt better. In 1980, I worked for Al Olson, a Republican who was running for governor, and when he won, he appointed me press secretary. Bernice gave me one of those nice portfolios, the kind that holds a legal pad, and room for a few other papers. I still have it today, and I still use it today, and every time I do, it reminds me of “Neecer”

Whenever I would come through Fargo after those years, I would stop for coffee, or meet her for lunch, and for several Christmases, as I was coming back from Minneapolis, I would bring her a small present from Nieman Marcus.

Bernice was a lovely woman, who was a part of my life, and the memories of her help warm this winter’s night. I am sad that she has left us, but I know that she had a full life, and to her two sons, I can only say to them they were really lucky to have had such a woman in their life. I think they know that.


It’s been a lot of years, and while we didn’t see each other as often as we did in the 1970’s, time and distance mitigated against it, we did keep in touch, and did find time, on ocassion, to have coffee and a visit in the house where she had lived for so many years.

So, as I said at the beginning, she wasn’t a famous person, or someone you would recognize from her photos, but to us she was famous, and to the world, she could be used as a model on how to conduct a long and fruitful life.

I am proud to have called her a friend, and will cherish the memories we created during those years.

Hail and Farewell

“Neecer,” we called her.
And Bernice didn’t mind.

She worked with Mary Ann,
At another time in our lives,
And we became lifelong friends.

Time with her was full of life and laughter,
With travels together, and memories made, 
That remain today.

Her smile was as big as her heart.

Her gentle soul
Could melt a winter’s frost,
And her light could illuminate
The corners of the darkest nights.

“Neecer,” we called her,
And she was a friend.

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