Life without Sam

One year ago we were getting settled in Cholula. My two biggest anxieties had nothing to do with living in Mexico – they were that my grandpa would pass away while I was gone, or that Samson would.

They lived through the winter and on into spring. Grandpa grew increasingly dissatisfied with his quality of life on dialysis and at several points talked about going off of it, but soldiered on. Samson continued to lose muscle and fur, but still trotted along for his morning walks. When we got back to Ohio in May, I had the luxury of spending most of the summer with them.

And then they both passed away. First Grandpa, just a couple weeks shy of his 93rd birthday. And then, a few weeks later, Samson.

Grandpa eventually got to the point where it didn’t make sense to continue dialysis. He had made peace with the idea, and he’d talked about it long enough that we’d made some peace with it too. I will forever appreciate the honesty with which he talked about what it’s like to live to 92. He was buried in the church cemetary on the most beautiful midsummer day.

About a week after Grandpa’s funeral we made the trek back to Boston and moved into the first floor of an old Victorian. Samson came too. One week later we let him outside late at night and he tumbled in the dark and rolled down the slope of the front lawn. Without any muscle he couldn’t regain his footing, and he fell off a ledge down to the pavement.

It’s hard to write this without crying.

The day of his fall he got up and hobbled into the kitchen, so I hoped that he was just stiff and with time he’d recover. But he never did. Over the next two days he lost more and more mobility until he couldn’t get up. The vet said he’d likely injured his spine, and it wasn’t something that could be fixed. I remember thinking that I’d always assumed Sam would lose interest in food, and that would be my sign that he was ready to go. But there he was lying immobile in his bed, willing the vet to return to the treat jar on her counter.

The night before he fell Samson asked to sleep in bed with us. He hadn’t done that in years. It seems crazy to suggest it, because after all it was an accident…the fall…but Read and I couldn’t shake the feeling that somehow he knew something.

When he took his last little raggedly breath, a long, low, sad wail came out of me. My baby dog. My once in a lifetime dog. I counted once and we’d been to 24 states together. Two cross-country moves. Something like ten apartments. He was my – and then ourconstant protector and companion.

So now we’re trying to figure out life without him. In some ways it’s easier – not having to be home at certain points or carry a baby while letting him outside – but still a sense of loss hangs over so many moments. I restarted my job and R. started writing his dissertation and the baby started daycare, so there’s been all kinds of new to keep us busy. But sometimes in the evening we walk to the neighborhood dog park just to watch them play and run around, and talk about how if Sam were there, he’d be sitting off to the side with us, watching the action and pondering the next chapter of his yet-unpublished-memoir.

In the mood for more Samson stories?
The story of how he found me
That time he jumped off the balcony
That time I got a letter about his threatening behavior
That time he returned to Hocking Hills


More Mitten

Technology and humans were both going haywire this week at work. It was bonkerstown. Did you experience this too? I thought it was a full moon thing, but a check of the lunar calendar ruled that out. I passed out Thursday night and woke up 8 hours later in exactly the same position in bed. That’s when you know you’re exhausted.

In between all the turmoil I kept knitting my stranded herringbone mittens.

And look! One is done. I’ve been blocking it on my hand so that it will take shape as the right-handed mitten.

One other piece of happiness is that our friends got a puppy. This puppy was part of a litter that showed up on her parents’ doorstep in North Carolina. They drove down a few weeks ago to get her, and Sam is smitten. In about two weeks the puppy will be bigger than Sam, at which point he might not be so fond of her. We’ll see if the love lasts. But how cute are they?

Old dog, new tricks

I came home from the grocery yesterday afternoon and Samson was gone. After I checked every hiding spot in the apartment, I started to panic. How does a dog disappear from a 2nd story apartment? He wasn’t with the neighbors, nobody else has a key, he wasn’t in the stairwells…

I keep the window to the balcony open so the cats can sit out there. Did somebody break in? But why would they only take a dog? More panic.

I called the police to report a missing dog, and after hearing about the open window they sent an officer. She came to the same conclusion – didn’t look like a break in. She asked if Sam would jump from the balcony. No way. He’s old and cautious. Plus, if he did I would think he’d be lying at the bottom.


But then I talked with the neighbor. While I was out he’d heard yelping, like a hurt animal. When he went outside to investigate he saw a small dog running down the street. So Sam had jumped. But he was running…that seemed good.

I called shelters and animal hospitals. I biked the neighborhood whistling and calling. Sam has a wonderful sense of direction and always returns home from his adventures, but I couldn’t shake the dread that he was hurt somewhere. Read called on Skype from Mexico for what he thought would be pleasant conversation, only to find me crying as I canvassed the neighborhood.

And then, at 1am this morning, there was Sam. Whining at the front door. He seems no worse for the wear. Why on earth would he jump? My only guess is that, knowing how much he hates delivery people, someone came knocking at the door and Sam decided to protect the house at all costs. What am I gonna do with this dog.

Want to read more about Samson?
The story of how he found me
That time I got a letter about his threatening behavior
That time he returned to Hocking Hills
Life without Sam

Teeny but tasty


Pea pods! They’re itty bitty and they might stay that way, but they win the prize for first edibles to come out of the balcony gardening experiment (high five).


I’m gradually learning about the camera the best way I know how – by taking pictures of one distinguished dog and two good-for-nothing cats. Take a cue from Teddy…kick back, stretch your limbs, and wear a big smile. It’s FRIDAY!


Wandering through the North Shore

Edith's sun spot

After weeks of cold rainy weather we finally have a hot spell. The pets have all responded by suddenly going from “curled” to “sprawling” as they sleep.

Read leaves tomorrow for six weeks in Peru and Mexico where he’ll do some research and intensive language study. Sadly, I’m not tagging along on this one, so I took the day off work and we threw together a quick trip out of the city. This was one of those open-ended adventures where we picked a general destination but no itinerary. We drove all along the little towns in the North Shore – Magnolia, Essex, Rockport, Gloucester – and stopped whenever something looked interesting.

Houses by the sea in Essex, MA

We walked along the harbor in Essex…

Sam at the beach

…napped on the beach…
North Shore, MA

…walked Sam through neighborhoods of adorable houses and picked where we’d most like to live…

Frabjous Fibers merino roving

…randomly found an awesome yarn store where I bought some roving…

Woodman's of Essex

…and on the advice of a coworker, stopped at Woodman’s of Essex (“Best Place to Eat in MA” from Bon Appetit) for some fried clams. Woodman’s did not disappoint. We split a fried seafood sampler, chowder, and an ear of corn – all washed down with a cold beer. It was an indulgent and tasty closer to our early Memorial Day trip.

Woodman's in Essex, MA
Woodman's in Essex, MA

Yeah, we ate that whole plate. No wonder my stomach is making weird noises as I type.

the big TWO NINE

Last week was my 29th birthday. My mom and dad like to call first thing in the morning, which is very sweet. Mom always sings the entire happy birthday song to me, then passes the phone to dad so he can ask “so…do you feel older?

“Uhhh..(pause)…I guess so.”

Jonathan and me with our Easter tree, circa 1986

My dad likes to play on people’s apprehensions about the passage of time. As kids he used to ask us in July: “so how does it feel now that summer’s more than half over?” and then chuckle as we panicked about all the fun we had to cram in before school started.

With all of the changes last year brought I definitely felt the year go by. There were some sad parts to adjusting to a new place, but overall the last 365 days were pretty awesome. As for feeling older-in-an-aging-way, Boston traffic has not let me forget that my motion-sickness only seems to worsen the farther I get from childhood, and there are a few suspicious lines on my face that weren’t there several years ago. Also, I feel older when I have to tell people that Sam is 11. It’s hard to believe that he found me almost 7 years, 3 states, and 5 apartments ago.

Well…here’s to twenty-nine and all that last year brought me. And here’s how I celebrated:

new haircut

I got my hair cut (sorry this is a lil blurry, but it shows the back). Not exactly in honor of my birthday, just coincidentally around the same time.

new haircut

I let Carlo at Salon Cu (he is great btw) have full creative freedom. He made it kinda punk in a 29-year-old-way. I like it!

My birthday card from Taiwan

All the little messages of love from family and friends have gotta be the best part of birthdays. This little card came from Taiwan, and its sender writes the greatest notes


On birthday morning we walked to Sofra cafe down the street (I'm a big fan of morning birthday celebrations)


We ordered turkish coffee, a sweet rhubarb foccacia, and something called "morning bun" which was lemony and very delicious.


Read put a piece of "morning bun" on top of the camera, then deemed this "one of top Sam portraits ever". I guess now we know how Sam's food feels


Mom and dad sent merino/silk roving from Widdershin Woolworks. Just the excuse I needed to dust off the spinning wheel.

And to top it off this morning, a spring start on our balcony garden experiment. More on that later!

Date Cake

Today is our six-month anniversary! I think because so much has changed in the last six months, Read and I agreed that it seems like the wedding was longer ago. It was fun to look back at some pictures…

My "borrowed and blue"

My "borrowed and blue" for the wedding was this ring from Grandma. My mom wore it on her wedding day too.

Cutting peaches for pie

Cutting peaches with mom for the reception pies

first dance

first dance

We celebrated today by sleeping in, taking the bus to Harvard Square for a movie, and making dinner at home. I tried a date cake recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks – Cook Something by Mitchell Davis. I told Read it was “date nut bread,” but with two sticks of butter I think it’s more accurately classified as cake.

Date Cake

Date Cake

When I panned out to get a different angle, I noticed a certain little black dog. His expression is too much.

Date Cake

Sam wants a date with the cake