Thoughts . . . by Mark Rich

. . . scribbled . . . scrawled . . . trimmed . . . typewritten . . . grubbed up . . . squeezed from circumstance . . .

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Empty Davenport

I have been sitting upon this announcement for a week ... after having written it five days after the event occurred that so sadly altered Martha's and my lives.

Around the solstice, Kit Reed sent an e-mail that stated, in part, how lucky Martha and I were, in having Lorna, our Scottiedog, as a part of our household.

Kit never met Lorna. I met Kit at a Readercon, very briefly, years ago -- when I seized the opportunity to express my admiration of her early fantasies of the 1950s. Our science-fictional and fantasy connections led us to discover, many years later, a shared love of Scottiedogs. So she saw photos of our Lorna; we saw others of her latest, named Killer.

Lorna, born almost exactly nine years before Kit Reed's e-mail, died at about 3:30 a.m. on December 23, 2011, with Martha at her side. Martha had been sitting in vigil with Lorna at Lorna's little davenport.

Martha and I had been taking turns, in sitting vigil: and I had just gone to bed when Martha called me back, saying she thought Lorna might be breathing her last.

Her davenport: a child's or toy sofa we found at a flea market. Once re-upholstered by Martha, Lorna made it her own, as her night bed ... before those nights came when she wanted to crawl up with us on "the big bed." After that time, for Lorna, the davenport remained her day bed. She spent no more nights upon it until her last two.

She was not alone, at least, those last two.

Lorna was unusually well-known among humans, in our area ... well-known for a dog, at least. Martha and I attend many local auctions; and over the past few years Lorna joined us at most of them, becoming an acquaintance and friend to many in our regional community of scroungers and antiquers. Her calm demeanor, her intelligence, and not least her cuteness won her many admirers.

Lorna was known, too, in the writing community. We hosted "live dog parties" at a few St. Paul, Minnesota, conventions ... where various local writing luminaries, such as poet John Calvin Rezmerski, Terry Garey and Greg Johnson, met and enjoyed spending time with her. Lorna consorted with science fiction writers William Wu and Rob Chilson, building an especial rapport with the latter; and she spent nearly as much time as I did, earlier this last year over the course of a long weekend, hanging out with renowned editor David G. Hartwell of Tor Books. Her friends in the Minneapolis-area writing community are many. (Because of unfortunately dog-unfriendly policies at Madison hotels, many of our other writing friends had no chance to meet Lorna.)

Lorna worked with us at our jobs ... at an organic maple-syrup bottling and distribution plant; then at a local vineyard and winery.

She was also often at my side during my work on my most recently published book, a biography and critical evaluation of Cyril Kornbluth and his works ... and during work on my still un-finished book relating to toys and Modern society.

Although Martha and I have cut back our performance schedule severely, Lorna was on-stage at Keg Salad performances at Diversicon, in St. Paul, and O'So Brewery, in Plover, Wis. She was certainly with us during our our many antiquing trips, our many gardening sojourns ... during our periodic forays into exploring the driftless region's roads and parks ... during our household's good days, so-so days, bad days, sunny days, foggy days ...

She was with us for the whole of our Lorna days.

Lorna, whom we adopted as a rescue, suffered digestive issues whose severity and intensity were apparent but not quite clear to us until nearly the end.

She loved to play, and was playing with energy until that last, miserable day before she left for the land where she is, we hope, still happily hunting squeak toys.

Her loss has been a devastating one, in this small, village household in Cashton, Wisconsin. As to survivors ... since she apparently had puppies, at a stage of life before she knew us, there may exist in this world Scottiedogs who carry within them some of Lorna's spirit and presence and demeanor, and who may carry on for her the bearing of the torch of tolerance for the shortcomings of humankind. She taught us a great deal. We can only hope that her children are teaching others, as well.

With cheers to loss and memory, endings and beginnings ...


  1. Sorry to hear about your loss, it sounds like she loved you well.

  2. Thanks, Jenn! It was an amazingly sad experience.