It is Saturday here at the homestead and as winter begins to wave a frigid farewell there were icy tendrils of rain clattering on the roof. We got a call from the folks who bought Hillside farm from us two years ago. They were taking out some ornamental grass we planted over ten years ago and wondered if we wanted the plants. ‘Of course,’ I said. ‘I’ll be right over.’ I fired up my pickup and headed down Rt. 33 to Kingsbury Rd. It’s been quite a while since I had driven on Kingsbury Rd. and longer still since I had been up that dirt road to the old homeplace. As I was driving on Kingsbury I crossed the little Shade River and there on my right was the Carlton Church and Cemetery. We shot the cover to my Stars In My Crown CD in 2006 up there by the cemetery. I have history on this road. When I came to Southeast Ohio almost thirty years ago I knew almost no one. Today I there are people buried in the Carlton Cemetery I knew… and that is how it goes.

Up at old Hillside Farm we loaded the root balls in the back of my truck. ‘Would you like to look around?’ I was asked. That I would, and that I did. Near the hemlock tree by the side of the old house so many of our four footed friends rest. I took the stone with me when we moved… but our friends will rest there until they are only dust.

The Hemlock
July 6, 2003

In our garden there are four dogs
How does this garden grows
There’s Marlo, Glory, Vin and Zoe
We loved them all, God knows

The hemlock branches shade their rest
For this and time to come
The Door Of Summer’s opened wide
So they can play and run

They say no heaven can heaven be
If my dog’s not there to welcome me
I know this saying makes some sense
In Heaven’s realm there’ll be no fence.

And when my life comes to an end
On the other side, I’ll be with friends

I got to thinking about when the Bull Terrier clan went to rest and I was reminded of the Derek Walcott poem a friend sent me about Oddjob, a Bull Terrier

The silence
is stronger than thunder,
we are stricken dumb and deep
as the animals who never utter love
as we do, except
it becomes unutterable
and must be said,
in a whimper,
in tears,
in the drizzle that comes to our eyes
not uttering the loved thing’s name,
the silence of the dead,
the silence of the deepest buried love is
the one silence,
and whether we bear it for beast,
for child, for woman, or friend,
it is the one love, it is the same,
and it is blest
deepest by loss
it is blest, it is blest.

As time went by we lost cats, and more dogs and if there is ever a second coming, a lot of our four footed family will rise from that yard on Kingsbury Rd.

On The Grassy Hill

On the grassy hill in my backyard
Two of my best friends lived and played… Hazel and Nana
Occasionally, Napoleon… the littlest friend from the house would join them and
They would sit together as friends are wont to do
And regard the Universe with quiet love

They filled it with that powerfully gentle compassion
That only true friends can muster
They barked at the wind in the trees as it gently came
Down off the hill to visit them in their world
Which in it’s own way was more complete
Than the world of humans could ever be

Our time moves fast enough and theirs faster still
We must chase them through the stars to try to learn
To love as magnificently as they do in their natural state of
Perfect Grace.

Hazel is her name and I say is because she will always live in my heart
And in that place is more than enough room
For them all…
Those who have gone before are as present to me today
As they were when as puppies they took their first stumbling steps before my amazed and wondering eyes

In her life she has travelled almost the full measure of two decades closing in on the last quarter of the second
G_d has indeed bestowed yet one more blessed gift of love upon us
Would that I were home join Vanessa on that last walk yet I can see it in my minds eye.
Run free pretty girl, run free
You filled our world with love
Your Door Into Summer is open
Run free!

… and now on the grassy hill there is only Nana

And then Nana was gone… and then we moved… and life will continue until it doesn’t, and that too, is as it should be. I think of a song I wrote in 2003.

Blue skies in the afternoon
Breeze it starts to still
Two dogs sleeping, in the sun
They lie upon that grassy hill
At such a time, you think you’d find
The way to show your heart
But though you’re reaching, for her hand
Still you walk apart

The dogs have passed through their Door Into Summer and the hill no longer belongs to us. As a pilgrim on the road of life I know I am not alone.

It is a good day to be with family!


  1. Comment made on March 29, 2018 by Paul W

    You poetry is music and your music is poetry.
    What wonderful tributes for those four-footed companions that share our journey through life.

  2. Comment made on March 25, 2018 by Mike Copeland

    As I’m sure you know my pups are most of my family. It’s always tough to lose one. They are here for only a short part of our lives but we are their whole life. Their absolute, unconditional love is a daily inspiration. They will be with us always…..

  3. Comment made on March 24, 2018 by Barbara Jacobs

    For those still reading here and interested:

    “Grandpa Joe died of a stroke in 1954. At his funeral, I asked my Uncle Ott if Grandpa was wearing his shoes in his bed? Ott threw back the covers and revealed that he was wearing his slippers. I thought that was a good idea as he would be sleeping in there for a long time.

    Then, when I was six-years old we moved from our small house in town out to the farm in January 1955. My mother was relieved, as she thought it would be much safer there for
    us. No cars, no truck traffic.

    As usual during the summer, dad had some young fellow run the milk route while he did the farming. A young man, “Dean” was a neighbor kid. He was just 16 when he and my oldest brother, Roger, had pulled into the driveway of the farm to pick up our few cans of milk. The farm still had a chicken fence around the house yard — but the gate had
    been left open that day. An oversight, a mistake.

    My mother was hanging out the wash. I was playing in the yard. My older sister was in the house cleaning. My two older brothers were out helping dad with farm chores.
    Our youngest, sister Kathy was only eighteen-months-old. She wandered out into the driveway. She was behind the truck’s rear wheels and the boys didn’t see her.
    They backed-out a few feet to make the circle out of the barnyard and drove over her.
    She died and luckily , my dad wasn’t driving the truck. Just two teenagers.

  4. Comment made on March 24, 2018 by Barbara Jacobs

    Here’s some of the real-life experience (will follow with the animal husbandry when I find that chapter). :

    “My older brothers spent a lot of time on the farm “helping” Grandpa with his work. One time, they thought they should milk Grandpa’s four cows. The problem was that it was the middle of the afternoon. After supper (when it was really the time to milk), Grandpa couldn’t understand why the cows didn’t want to come in for their usual ration of chops and hay. They hadn’t any milk to give.

    Finally, my brothers admitted their sin. They had milked them earlier, giving them their fill of chops, then fed the milk to the cats. Everyone was happy except for Grandpa.
    He was furious. The boys got a tongue-lashing in Low German that they never forgot.

    My brothers continued to help on the farm as Grandpa got too old to handle the harder work. Dad would let them drive Grandpa’s 1941 Plymouth to and from the farm, even though they were only 10, 11 and 12 -years-old. I was too young to help with the outside chores so I got special time with Grandma. She would take me along as she gathered eggs
    from her chickens and threw out the potato peelings and other scraps. The chickens loved it, they were truly free-range.

    I would go down into the basement with Grandma, watching as she washed clothes in the old wringer-washer and make myself dizzy spinning around the metal post that supported the floors above. The washer made a hypnotic rhythm which provided the music for my circular dance. This may be the attraction felt by the Grateful DeadHead spinners in the 1960’s. The real, original DeadHeads.

  5. Comment made on March 24, 2018 by Barbara Jacobs

    @Greg martelli
    There’s a chapter in the “book in limbo” about Russell Schlagbaum’s life growing up on a
    (real) diary farm in Ohio.
    When I have it on hand will post it here somewhere. It’s about animal husbandry.
    How his uncle would travel from farm to farm delivering the newest crop of livestock.

  6. Comment made on March 24, 2018 by Barbara Jacobs

    @carlo pagliano
    Rock yourself all home in Milano !!! ( if only we could all rock ourselves in Italy!)

  7. Comment made on March 24, 2018 by Greg martelli

    My first wife dad was an equine veterinarian , a gentleman , scholar , and renowned reproductive specialist.
    He wore a tie every day to work under his coveralls , even as he palpated mares( feature that?).
    He was the quintesional “country vet”, cut from the same cloth as James Herriot, I’m reluctant to quote him as I’m confident that the majority of readers here are familiar with his work, so if I were to belabor his approach to his veterinary work , we might get labeled as erudite.
    Let it suffice to say that if you have not read any of his works , you should particularly if you are a lover of all things canine.With 4- Vet’s in family , receiving a James Herriot book was de riguer for a Christmas present.
    I’m currently down from 7 dawgs to 3. A lab for waterfowling , and two German Shepard’s for companionship, and to keep the wolf from the door.

    On the JA / Jorma side , again I’m sure most have seen it , but a treat , is watching the JA on the Dick Cavett show on the Monday night after Woodstock.Some I’m home , getting back from a rigorous day of life guarding on Fairfield beach , and it’s the night after getting back from the Aquarian art and music festival.
    I watched the show with my parents( Dick Cavett), and the conversation turned to ,”So those are the people you were hanging out with at Woodstock?”The airplane show was great at 35 ‘ on Sunday Am , however the band looked haggard ( I can’t imagine why).The best on the Cavett show is Jorma with the Tatar top knot.
    When the truth is found , to,be lies.

  8. Comment made on March 24, 2018 by carlo pagliano

    Rock Them All Home Tonight Jorma!

  9. Comment made on March 24, 2018 by Barbara Jacobs

    My, how things “get better” on this comments section.

    There are many rescue efforts resulting in dogs being saved from various disaster areas in this great country. (as well as the usual efforts of no-kill shelters for local animals).
    I’ve been told that many big cities have organizations which have gone there and rescued dogs to bring them back for adoption. Anybody interested can Google it up.

    This is not to say that cats are unworthy. Cats (being cats) are hard to round-up during/after a local disaster (fires, floods…) but are probably easiest to (once you can get them) adapt to adoption.

    My best personal experience about how dogs differ from cats:
    My former apartment building was configured in a “squared-off U-shape” of apartments.
    Walk out of the elevator and go to each end and then turn off to the other apartments, not visible from the others.

    One day, I opened my door to go out and almost tripped over a cat, lounging on the carpet
    right outside my door. The residents of the apartment farthest away from mine had gone out with visiting relatives for sight-seeing. Although NYFD requires that all doors be
    on an auto-close hinge, some are not.
    So, the cat wandered out to take advantage of its new-found freedom to roam, and decided to make itself comfy in front of my door, out of sightline from its home apartment.

    I literally stepped over that cat (he not movin’ for me!) and checked out the situation trying to figure out where it came from. At the end of the “U-shaped” hallway, there was an apartment with the door left wide-open and the resident dog was in there guarding the apartment. He did not cross over the transom into the hallway, but stood guard just inside. The resident cat didn’t care that when I tried to approach that apartment door, while the dog was barking out a defensive doggie-pattern of warning, there was no way that I could get close enough just to close that apartment door. The cat was still lounging outside my apartment door, unperturbed.

    So, I took the cat to a neighbor to care for it until their humans returned home. The neighbor’s apartment was next to the doggie’s apartment and it appeared that he watched in wonder as his fellow house-mate was happy to be carried into another apartment.

    At the end of the day (literally) those humans returned home to an apartment door still left wide-open being guarded by their dog. Their cat? He was chilling-out in the other neighbor’s apartment.

  10. Comment made on March 24, 2018 by Barbara Jacobs

    @Rich L
    Next time you foster/adopt a dog requiring special medical care — let me know.
    You wouldn’t start a “go-fund-me-page” for raising funds to take a doggie to a specialist.
    Here in N.Y. we have several vets working pro-bono and some specialists working at the
    animal hospital on the east side of Manhattan.

    Keep that doggie and let me know how much the vet care/doggie meds cost. Post a P.O. Box#
    or land address of your choice and we will send you a check.

    Not everybody has the time or money to help rescue animals, yet some do the best that they can with what they have. Good on ya, Rich !

  11. Comment made on March 24, 2018 by Barbara Jacobs

    @Jim Hitchcock
    Oh Jim, you saw the “Love For Levon” concert DVD !
    Now, there’s a big thing that Roger and I don’t agree about (you know what it is).
    But, he’s been good to the memory of Levon so I can meet him at that place without holding his other opinions/efforts against him.

    @carey georgas
    Oh, carey saw it, too !

    This is yet another example of how loved ones pass away but live on in our hearts.

  12. Comment made on March 24, 2018 by carey georgas

    Yeah, Jim. I watched him tell that story on the Love for Levon Concert DVD.@Jim Hitchcock

  13. Comment made on March 24, 2018 by Rich L

    great story about those rescue dogs.

    We used to foster puppies and kittens for the Humane Society – until they were old enough to be spayed or neutered. i had to be the bad guy and say “No!” when it was time for their adoption. The key to being an effective foster person for the beasts, is to not keep any. My wife and daughter, every time, would say, “Can’t we just keep this one?!”

    i can recall my daughter coming into the house and complaining, “It smells like a kennel in here.” Then she go pick up one of the stout pit bull pups and say, “You’re just a great big fat taco bird.” Talking that talk, that baby talk!

    We did end up keeping one kitten. It was three against one and I finally relented, with a stipulation. It was in the Spring of 2010 and I said, “If the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup, we’ll keep her. But we are going to name her Stanley.” Hey…desperate times call for desperate measures!

    @Barbara Jacobs

  14. Comment made on March 24, 2018 by Jim Hitchcock

    Fun story:

    After the performance of The Wall in Berlin in 1990, Levon Helm (a native of Arkansas) gave Roger Waters an Arkansas Razorbacks baseball cap, which apparently Waters still cherishes and wears at concerts. Waters asserts that the hat “will be with me until the day I day I die because it means a lot to me”.

  15. Comment made on March 23, 2018 by carey georgas

    @Barbara Jacobs
    I wasn’t trying to speak for anyone but myself. Certainly not Jorma. The end.

  16. Comment made on March 23, 2018 by Barbara Jacobs

    @carey georgas

    No, my remarks did not get “Jorma rightly riled…” If in fact you wanted to comment about remarks “that had gotten Jorma rightly riled… ( about/on that discussion — or any other (of which there have been quite a few) you could have/should have addressed those commenters at that (or any time). But you did not. You just read silently, without comment to them, just posted your comment to me.

    In any case, I accept your apology. I’m not here to make enemies — nor to make friends.
    Luckily, I did form a very good friendship with HamnEggs and have been happy to meet him and Mrs. Eggs. We had a great time at the Willie Nelson concert at the Coney Island Amp.
    He’s a good guy who I would not have met if not for commenting here.
    Gotta take the good commenters with the bad bully trolls.

    Rest assured— if and when Jorma is ever “rightly riled” by my remarks/comments, he has my phone number and can handle it himself.

  17. Comment made on March 23, 2018 by carey georgas

    @Barbara Jacobs
    Hey, Barbara. The last time you posted on here you really lit into my ass over some remarks I made that you took as sexist. I want to apologize for giving you reason to feel that way. It was no way, no how my intention. I was trying to address trolling and online manners in general.Your remarks were the last in a string that had gotten Jorma
    rightly riled, so it was your remarks I gave my opinion on. I did not mean to imply them a in a manner that was sexist, as I consider manners a gender neutral subject. I genuinely apologize for offending you and making you feel attacked as a woman.

  18. Comment made on March 23, 2018 by Barbara Jacobs

    @rich l

    @Steve mitchel

    A rescue dog knows and appreciates being saved. We currently foster 6 dogs at home in Long Island. Our dog Poody welcomes them into his turf. Somehow, he knows.
    Our East Hampton neighbors have taken in an additional 48 dogs from Houston,
    Puerto Rico and 2 that survived the Northern California fires.
    Most of them will keep those rescue dogs. We will probably keep ours for as long as it takes to get them adoptive humans, and we expect to possibly keep them all.

    There are many rescue dogs from the various recent disaster zones, waiting to be adopted.

    On any given good weather day they are playing on the beach together.

  19. Comment made on March 23, 2018 by Steve mitchel

    On the spirit of dogs. We we’re fortunate to attend our local human society and save our new furry friend. Normally I agonize for days naming our new addition. This time the work had been done . They named him Rudy. Perfect…. If any of you get a chance saving a dog is really cool.

  20. Comment made on March 23, 2018 by rich l

    I love those lyrics from Heart Temporary – I didn’t realize you were actually writing about your dogs.

    The last dog I had to take to the vet, was sort of a rescue dog. The lady who groomed our Newfie, also breeded Newfies. (There is nothing on the Good Lord’s green earth as cute as a Newfie puppy.) She told us that she had a puppy that had a grade four out of grade five heart murmur. She said she couldn’t sell him, and didn’t know what to do with him. We said we’d take him – if he lived until 10 fine, if he died the next week fine – at least he’d have a good home while he was on this earth.

    Digit lived three years and then had what appeared to be a stroke. He was an absolute stitch. Very playful and loved wrestling with Big George. This could get a little dicey when all hell broke out in the living room. Neither one of them were to aware of things like the TV and vases, etc. They loved to rough house!

    When I’d tie my shoes at the foot of the stairs before heading to work everyday, Digit would stand in front of me with his stuffed toy with a forlorn look that seemed to say, “Please play with me.” He only lasted three years, but brought an overabundance of joy to the household. On the back deck, he dismantled every darn spindle in the wood railings. I couldn’t get him to stop – one of those things you just tend to overlook – the price of admission to the heart of such a wonderful beast and companion.

    I took him to the vet on a Saturday, and she said, “I think he needs to see a neurological specialist.” That was not in the budget unfortunately. When we got home, I almost had to carry him into the house. I laid beside him for a couple of hours – no one should be alone in their pain. The next morning when I got up, Big George was lying beside him. Not Good, as they say.

    I’m not sure where man and dog became best friends throughout history, but there is little doubt we can learn quite bit from our four legged friends. as the Humane Society’s sticker says, “Who rescued who?”

  21. Comment made on March 22, 2018 by uncle jack

    Amazing Mr Jorma, Lost a few doggie friends recently and I always lean on that phrase “the door to summer has opened” to my doggies
    peace & luv , Jack

  22. Comment made on March 22, 2018 by johno

    Do you live in/near New Paltz? Because the Mohonk ridge is just outside New Paltz.
    It’s such a beautiful place. Do you remember the Hot Tuna shows back in the 70’s? I went to school there and I sure do miss the area. It’s was so peaceful.

  23. Comment made on March 21, 2018 by Susan

    Yesterday would have been our golden Sandy’s 13th birthday. We lost her in August. I still feel like calling her name and greeting her when I come home sometimes, Last night we had a birthday cake, sang and blew out candles, just as we did every year that she was alive. But this year we sent good thoughts and wishes to her in Heaven.

  24. Comment made on March 21, 2018 by Susan

    @carey georgas
    Sure you don’t……hope you have a great birthday!

  25. Comment made on March 21, 2018 by Jim

    So good Jorma, earlier today I walked over to Jack’s final resting place and thought this will be the first spring he’ll miss in 13 years. That little Jack Russell ran with me everytime I ran into the woods up the Mohonk ridge with boundless energy until he do it no longer. I think of him when I run and the last time I ran I shouted out to him as if he were next to me urging his spirit along – Words can’t express the loss of such a companion but all of what you wrote sure hits home – Spring is here even though it’s snowing – every day is like a little life –

  26. Comment made on March 21, 2018 by carey georgas

    @Susan I don’t mean to rub it in, but…gonna be in upper 70’s to low 80’s all week long with sun and gentle breezes. Tomato plants going in the ground this weekend, birthday next Friday, and a bass fishing trip the next week. Can’t hardly wait! (pronounced “caint” for full effect).

  27. Comment made on March 21, 2018 by Susan

    My pleasure…..the snow keeps falling today and it looks beautiful, but I’m ready for warm summer nights and great music! How lucky are we that Hot Tuna comes to the Great South Bay Music Festival every couple of years? Can’t hardly wait, as Carey G. would say.

  28. Comment made on March 21, 2018 by johno

    Long Island loves its Hot Tuna. The Great South Bay Festival is a great place to see Hot Tuna. It’s such a beautiful venue right on the Great South Bay with sunsets right over the bay. Thanks for the good news!

  29. Comment made on March 21, 2018 by carey georgas

    Once again, I must say thank you for hosting this blog. Most of us have or have had pets. My pets’ cemetery is around an old wild black cherry tree in the back yard. While I remember my various pets on a random basis, I don’t have the ability to express my feelings in the way you have done it here. For you to be willing to share freely your creative expression is a blessing to me. Most with this ability (if I may be a bit cynical) generally charge admission to their thoughts, but you think out loud for all who wish to hear. Thank you for letting us see behind the veil to your true humanity.

  30. Comment made on March 21, 2018 by Susan

    Yay….Electric Hot Tuna is returning to the Great South Bay Music Festival on Sunday, July 15th!

  31. Comment made on March 20, 2018 by Jim Edmonds

    Jorma, you got me sobbing with your heartfelt memories of pets we all have lost over the years. Thanks for sharing.

  32. Comment made on March 20, 2018 by eaglesteve

    Ham n Eggs:

    That’s what education sounds like.

    Thanks for posting it.

  33. Comment made on March 19, 2018 by Susan

    @Ham n Eggs
    Thanks for that great link. Nice to see Paul, and playing with a youth orchestra. One of my kiddos is an 11 year old who plays violin. He enjoyed his first Dead and Company concerts at Playing in the Sand last month…..I’ll be showing him this link and encouraging him to expand his repertoire. Music is a gift that keeps on giving. Thanks for sharing!

  34. Comment made on March 19, 2018 by Ham n Eggs

    I’ve been remembering Paul and thinking of Arthur Hunnicut and Rod Serling while reading this and lo and behold I’ve slipped furthur into The Twilight Zone.
    Love All Ways

  35. Comment made on March 19, 2018 by Robert Burke

    I can’t navigate to the Rams Head ticket site. Any tickets left?

  36. Comment made on March 19, 2018 by chuck newman

    I’ve been gone for too long. Life will do that sometimes. I’ve missed reading Jorma’s entries here but I am so happy to see that his memoir is coming out. It’s going to be a good August.

  37. Comment made on March 19, 2018 by Ibkeaton

    eaglesteve :

    Find myself listen to Curtis Salgado’s “I Want My Dog to Live Longer” quite often.

  38. Comment made on March 19, 2018 by johno

    Got a place on my dairy farm upstate, it is a hemlock grove that has a babbling brook running thru it. It’s where I lay my pets. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t mind being buried there. I put a bench there. It’s a great place to meditate and talk to God.

  39. Comment made on March 18, 2018 by paul

    That whole thing is poetry, just beautiful sentiments for us to think and remember our own friends past & present. Thanks for writing that Jorma.

  40. Comment made on March 18, 2018 by Dan

    Always brings that drizzle to my eyes, as I look at my clan. Cassidy (our first), Spike, Babs, and Apollo (the Boxers), CiCi our most beautiful girl, Mickey the spunky ShiTzu and Boona the mighty cat. Back to the present and just took the Bull Terriers DeeDee and Reggie to the beach, all smiles. Thanks, hope our packs are all running together, so much love, so little time

  41. Comment made on March 18, 2018 by Paul Caldwell


  42. Comment made on March 17, 2018 by Joey Hudoklin

    Very moving to read this Jorma.

  43. Comment made on March 17, 2018 by eaglesteve


  44. Comment made on March 17, 2018 by Dead Head

    Nothing quite like canine and/or feline fellowships. It goes right to the gut. It is true and it is deep.

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