[OTR Announce] Goodbye To A Friend and More
Announcement list for the band Over The Rhine
OTRAnnounce at overtherhine.com
Thu Oct 20 18:47:49 EDT 2005
Hello from Nowhere Farm,
A Stray Dog's Life is Good Enough For Me…
Today is Friday, October 7, 2005. There's a different kind of chill in the
air today. It's a gray day, breezy, and wet through and through with gentle
rain. Change is afoot. The grass is green. The grass loves this cooler weather.
The leaves of the maples are starting to turn now in earnest. The golden rod
isn't quite as brilliant as it was a few weeks ago, when it sugar-buzzed with
pollen-drenched, disbelieving bees.
Our garden looks like a fall garden - the zucchini and cucumber vines and
sweet corn long dried up, a few ripe tomatoes and peppers still hiding here and
there, butternut squash lying conspicuously about. I picked the last few, ripe
watermelon yesterday. They're not as big as some of the 35 pounders we hauled
out earlier, but they feel and sound ripe. So we'll sit on the porch swing
some evening soon and see what we've got. That was a childhood memory I enjoyed
reliving - bringing in a heaping wheelbarrow full of ripe watermelon.
My father tells me there is no food so good as the food grown in your own
But soon the frost will come, and the cycle of life will turn once again. The
ground will lie fallow for awhile. Rest. We'll hunker down for our first
winter on Nowhere Farm.
For a long while, we knew another day would come eventually. And it did. I
wrote the following to a few family members and close friends Tuesday morning:
Goodbye to a Friend…
I wanted to let you know that Karin and I got back from taping a radio show
Sunday night to discover that Willow was failing. She had stayed overnight with
a friend who she loves while we were gone, but had a rough time. We ran some
tests yesterday, and she has issues with her stomach and lungs and kidneys.
She had lost most of her hearing in the last 4-6 weeks. Seems like the light
is fading from her body. She's unable to eat anything except for a little
broth, and she can't seem to even keep that down.
She's very weak, but still has a spark in her eye. Miraculously, Willow
surprised us at 10am this morning and got herself up, gulped down some water and
looked at us as if to say, Let's go. We all (Karin, Willow, Elroy and I) had a
nice walk on the farm. For 15 minutes, she shook off her troubles and got lost
in what she loved. When it was over, she lay down, and it soon became even
more clear that she was dying. In a final act of kindness, we're going to take
her into Cincinnati this afternoon and say goodbye, spare her the hours or days
of further suffering.
It was almost 10 years ago to the day that she came into our lives, and we
can't imagine the last decade without her.
I still remember the Fall day 10 years ago that Karin and I drove into the
country to meet with a Weimaraner breeder. She interviewed us for hours and let
us see her dogs and talked about what would happen if we bought one of her
dogs -- it would have to be co-owned, and "finished" -- made into a bench
champion etc. We couldn't afford any of it, and were wondering, how would we do all
this and make our music?
But the woman warmed to Karin and finally said, You know if you're just
looking for a companion, a neighbor of mine just picked up a beautiful Weimaraner
that was running on the highway. She's been posting signs, and taking out ads
to see if anyone claims her. If nobody does, you might be able to help out with
giving her a home. She's a great dog, but she's been on the run for awhile...
A week later, this amazing, athletic hunting dog was in Karin's apartment. I
can't begin to describe the joy this development brought. From the moment we
laid eyes on her, we couldn't help but grin at her intelligence, energy and
just the stunningly beautiful way she was put together. Her past, prior to the
day she found us, remained a complete mystery.
Yesterday, Karin was waiting at the vet's office with Willow while he did an
emergency C-section on another dog. A woman walked into the waiting room and
said to Karin, Do you remember me? Ten years later there she was -- the breeder
who had connected us with Willow. It was one of her Weimaraners that was
being operated on and she brought out one of the little puppies with its eyes
still closed -- the cycle of life and death right there in the room.
It was almost like God saying, I gave you this animal, and I'm still here.
A friend said that dogs awake to their last day with gladness in their
We had always prayed that we wouldn't get a call somewhere on the road
informing us that Willow was gone. We wanted to be able to say goodbye. This is what
the answer to that prayer looks and feels like. Lots of tears, lots of joy.
Love from Ohio,
Linford & Karin
We knew the day would come and it did.
I had never seen an animal put to sleep. A few friends stopped by beforehand
to say goodbye, and of course Robert, the man who became like a brother to us
by visiting the Grey Ghost and taking Willow to the park and walking her and
playing with her every single day that we were away on tour in the last decade.
(With the exception of the few adventures/near disasters when we took Willow
along with us.) We realized that Robert had never once turned us down - never
said, I can't make it, there's a foot of snow on the ground, I'm too sick, or
that weekend won't work for me. Not once in ten years. When Robert walked into
the room in those last moments of her life, Willow struggled to her feet one
last time to give him the props he so deserved.
A few friends shedding tears with us… Tears of joy and sadness - they come
from the same place. Everyone said goodbye. Then it was just Karin and I and
Willow and the vet that had patched her up from time to time. (We used to joke
that there was a different scar for every year that we'd known her.) She was
completely relaxed. Her body was tired from holding it all together for us.
Earlier we had both spoken with her at length. Karin held her as we drove the hour
from the farm into the city. When I told her she was going to lie down and go
to sleep and go chase some squirrels, she looked at me with gratitude and
relief. And in a few seconds she was gone. When I saw her at complete rest like
that I knew we had done the right thing. Her work here was done.
Ten years ago, when Karin realized that she had a powerful hunting dog on her
hands, she decided communication was of the essence, so she took Willow to
puppy school and worked with her on the basic commands - Sit, stay, lie down,
OFF! (a general command meaning, Back away, don't eat that) heel, etc. Willow
was a quick study, but the command that was used to let her know she was free
from obligation was “Release.” Karin whispered that to Willow repeatedly in her
final hours. That's the command that Karin has been using as we try to let go
There are some who would argue that a dog's life is insignificant. But God so
often chooses to use insignificant things in significant ways. In the grand
scheme, we're all insignificant until love shows up. She was a spark for us,
and life is a bit dim right now without her.
What am I mourning? I'm mourning the end of the special connection I saw
between the woman I love and her very first dog. I'm mourning the fact that I'm
getting older. Ten years ago, when Willow arrived, we had no idea what to
expect. It was the start of a new adventure. Now we look back at another chapter of
our lives that has ended.
Willow was good for us. She helped us have a semblance of a routine. It was
contagious to watch how she insisted on doing what she was born to do.
We write these songs because we want to feel things deeply and listen well to
our lives. So in times of loss, maybe we feel a bit more than we wish we did,
and this makes it exceptionally painful. We know the day will come when we'll
look back with only gratitude and fondness for the ten years we woke up
together. I guess no one notices the moment a dog becomes part of the family. She
was a true kindred spirit somehow.
Road Trips, Rose Hips and More…
You all have been good to us again this year. So many memorable nights of
music and good vibes…
We had an unforgettable evening down by the river at Coney Island's Moonlight
Gardens in late August. Soon after, we drove to the Northeast, visited some
of America's great cities. Those of you who attended the concerts wrapped your
arms around us with welcome. Thanks for all the good memories and after dark
It occurred to me that you thought we were deep and it turns out we're not
deep. All we do is write simple, slightly off-kilter love songs and gather a few
people together and sing about love. We're not that deep. Songs about simply
wanting to love well those closest to us. Songs about wanting to love those
people that have hurt us, and those we've hurt. Songs about wanting to love what
we cannot name, what we have yet to see. Songs about being in love with the
reckless beauty of the sky, the lay of the land, the grin of a child. Songs
about failing to love more deeply, about being partially blind to what we want to
see more clearly. Songs in which we wonder out loud if we're in love with
God, or simply in love with all our unanswered questions.
On clear nights when we have friends visiting we have a little game we play.
We walk toward the barn and gather under a pole in the yard that has more or
less the equivalent of a street light on it, a light which silvers the blades
of grass and makes the maple trees glow in the dark. We tell everyone to look
up, and we count to three slowly, very slowly, and then flick the light off and
the entire farm is bathed in black. The stars swim instantly into precise
focus. And it seldom fails to take our breath away. And it looks like a vandal
took a pitchfork and just pricked the daylights out of the membrane sky.
Dark, dark, dark…
But then do you have days, certain days, when you know you've been given so
much, probably much more than you deserve, more vast good than you're even
aware of, and yet you can't muster up the strength to kick the melancholy out of
the house? What is that about? Those days when we can't access our joy. Voices
in our heads telling us lie after lie after lie.
--We're lousy friends.
--We're lousy partners.
--We're wasting our lives.
--We're alone out here on this fuckin', ramshackle, ragged, broke down,
heartbreakingly beautiful farm, and it's all a pile of crap.
I think of these thrown days as emotional tantrums where I commit every
significant sin in the space of a few hours - the sin of ingratitude, the sin of
wanting it all, the sin of not loving myself and therefore finding myself
incapable of loving anything or anyone.
Have you heard about this Japanese scientist who tapes labels to jars of
water? The water with the encouraging, affirming labels (you are beautiful, I love
you) makes lovely molecular snowflake-like crystals, the water with the bad
labels (I hate you, I wanna kill you) turns snaky brown.
Our own bodies are something like 90% water.
What are we doing to ourselves with our own thinking?
We need to try to be good to ourselves and each other.
If you squint your eyes at the distance, you can almost see the end of a year
looming. So we're heading back out, finding the slow curve of headlights on
the highway, lost at sea, happy together, on the verge. Hope you can come along
for the ride.
Please join us (see overtherhine.com for more details, or e-mail
OTRhine at aol.com):
Saturday evening, October 22, 2005: we'll be playing at Paste Magazine's
Rock-n-Reel festival in Atlanta (Decatur), Georgia. The folks at Paste magazine
have brought some much-needed fresh perspective into covering music and culture
in America. This is their first attempt at hosting a film and music festival.
Check out pastemusic.com for much more. (Over the Rhine plays at 7pm-ish after
the inimitable Erin McKeown, and before the ultimate slow burn band, LOW.)
Sunday evening, October 23, 2005: Road trip anyone? How about taking a drive
through the Fall colors and meeting us at Blue Cats in lovely Knoxville,
Tennessee. Kim Taylor opens.
Thu Oct 27: Wheaton IL, Wheaton College -- Coray Alumni Gym… One of Bono's
stops on his cross-country speaking tour, and didn't Frederick Buechner guest
on the faculty for a spell?
Fri Nov 04: Dayton OH, Canal Street Tavern - One of the coziest, most
legendary listening rooms in North America. Always a favorite. Three nights!
Sat Nov 05: Dayton OH, Canal Street Tavern
Sun Nov 06: Dayton OH, Canal Street Tavern
Sat Nov 12: Columbus OH: Grace Central (An evening of words and music with
Thu Nov 17: Kent OH, The Kent Stage - A ragged old theater with a haunted
piano and red velvet seats. This performance is part of the renowned Kent Folk
Fri Nov 18: Belleville OH, Belleville Opera House - A first for us… Come find
us in this small Ohio town, and we'll just have to see what happens now won't
Sat Nov 19: Grand Rapids MI, Calvin College Fine Arts Center - A beautiful
venue on a campus that takes its music and culture seriously. This one's
definitely worth a drive as well.
And looking ahead to our Christmas Tour, mark your calendars now! We're
talking hot mulled wine, Salvation Army Store faux-fur coats, scarves flung
exuberantly over shoulders, rosy cheeks, take-me-out-of-the-cold warm-on-the-inside
music, All I Ever Get For Christmas is Blue. groups of friends stumbling
forward together laughing outloud, scribbled back pocket poems, dinner before the
show, we do it every year,
OVER THE RHINE CHRISTMAS DATES
Thu Dec 1: Akron OH, Lime Spider
Fri Dec 2: Ann Arbor MI, The Ark
Sat Dec 03: Chicago IL, Old Town School of Folk Music (2 shows, early (7pm)
and late (10pm)…
Sun Dec 4: Des Moines IA, Vaudeville Mews
Tues Dec 6: Minneapolis, MN, Details coming soon…
Wed Dec 07: Madison WI: High Noon Saloon
Fri Dec 09: Indianapolis IN, The Music Mill
Sat Dec 10: Columbus OH, Little Brothers
Thu Dec 15: Nashville TN: 3rd & Lindsley
Fri Dec 16: A town in Kentucky near you, Details coming soon…
Sat Dec 17: Cincinnati OH, Taft Theatre. We're ending our year at home and
invite all to join us for this special show at a 2600 seat historic theater.
***Please note: Karin and I are planning extra activities for December 18 as well
- a 1pm reading & upright piano performance by yours truly, and a special
candlelight, wine & cheese catered, Q&A acoustic performance by Karin and Linford
at 5pm. (Both additional performances will be held at St. Elizabeth's
Cultural Center (A Cathedral of the Arts) in Norwood, Ohio.) We wanted an opportunity
to spend a little more time together this year. Throw a little rendezvous.
MORE DETAILS SOON. Please plan on spending the extra day with us if you're so
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